May 15/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
Instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith
First Letter to Timothy 01/01-08:”Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately.”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on May 14-15/19
Patriarch Sfier’s Soul Is In Heaven & His Memory Shall Remain Glowing
Pope Hails Sfeir as 'Craftsman of Peace, Defender of Sovereignty'
Satterfield in Beirut for Talks, Sfeir Condolences
U.S. Embassy in Beirut-Statement addressing the passing away of Patriach Sfier
Ambassadors of Iran, Syria and Others Offer Condolences over Sfeir Passing
Samy Gemayel Pledges to Remain Loyal to Late Patriarch's Values
Aoun: Lira Not in Danger, Current Difficulty Temporary
Salameh Says Financial Situation Under Control, Urges National Economic Plan
Khalil: More Budget Sessions Will Be Needed
Bassil Urges Abolishing Unproductive Institutions, Raising Taxes on Banks
Bassil to Present ‘Initiative’ at Cabinet to Slash State Deficit
Foreign Ministry Condemns Attacks on Ships in UAE Waters
Int'l Military Delegation from UK College Ends Visit to Lebanon
U.N. Calls for Probe into Allegations of Torture in Lebanon
Hit with Arrest of Ex-Chair Ghosn, Nissan Profit Nose-Dives

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 14-15/19
Huthis Say Drone Attacks in Response to Saudi 'Crimes'
Pompeo: We Fundamentally Do Not Seek a War with Iran
Trump Denies Planning to Send 120,000 Troops to Counter Iran
Saudi Shuts Major Oil Pipeline after Huthi Drone Attack
Saudi energy minister: Pipeline booster stations hit by explosive-laden drones
An Emirati coast guard vessel passes an oil tanker off the coast of Fujairah.
Official: Initial US assessment blames Iran for ship attacks
Two pumping stations on a major Saudi oil pipeline were attacked by drones on
Saudi Arabia: Terrorist acts against the Gulf are targeting global oil supply
Saudi Cabinet approves the residency permit for skilled expatriates, investors
Saudi Arabia launches new website for Qatari Umrah applicants
The meeting in Jordan comes as a UN mission is to verify the redeployment
Sudan talks resume after shootings mar break through

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 14-15/19
Patriarch Sfier’s Soul Is In Heaven & His Memory Shall Remain Glowing/ Elias Bejjani/May 14/2019
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: We Trained Mujahideen In Bosnia; Rouhani, Zarif, Salehi Should Face Trial/MEMRI/May 14/2019
Time to act against Iran and its militias/Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri/Arab News/May 15/2019
Iran’s aggression threatens the world, not just the Gulf/Faisal Mrza/Arab News/May 15/2019
Trump should learn the lessons of Obama’s Iran negotiations/Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami/May 14/2019
The Flash Point Between America and Iran Could Be Iraq's Militias/Mike Giglio/ The Atlantic/May 14/2019

Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on May 14-15/19
Patriarch Sfier’s Soul Is In Heaven & His Memory Shall Remain Glowing
 الياس بجاني: روح البطريرك صفير في السماء وذكراه ستبقى حية ومتوهجة

 Elias Bejjani/May 14/2019
 Our beloved Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutrous Sfier, From the bottom of our hearts we thank you for every thing that you did for us the Maronites, for all the Lebanese people, for peace, and for our blessed Lebanon, the country of the holy cedars.
 Definitely we will miss you, but your fragrant memory of modesty, caring, love, patriotism, hard work, devotion and perseverance shall remain glowing in our hearts , minds and conscience.
 Your memory shall be remembered forever by your Church and its congregations all over the world, and shall be alive and vivid in Lebanon’s deeply rooted history of pride, faith, sovereignty, freedom and independence.
 Meanwhile, what actually is disappointing and unfortunate for us the Maronites in particular, and for the sovereign Lebanese people in general, is that our great patriarch Sfier is departing from this earthly world while his genuine wish to see his country, Lebanon a free, liberated and independent country has not been fulfilled.
 Patriarch Sfier who played a vital and pivotal role in liberating Lebanon from the criminal and oppressive Al Assad Syrian Occupation, is sadly departing while Iran and its local proxy militia, the terrorist Hezbollah, have replaced the Syrian occupation and are systematically and evilly devouring it piece by piece.
 Patriarch Sfier is departing while, Lebanon, the country that he loved and served all his life is infested and swamped with all kinds of corruption, political and social chaos, poverty, and embezzlement at all levels and in all domains.
 Patriarch Sfier is departing while the majority of the Maronite Lebanese politicians, Lebanese high ranking Maronite clergymen, Lebanese Christian political parties, as well as Lebanese Maronite officials have with disgrace, Iscariotism, Trojanism succumbed to the Iranian occupier and to his Hezbollah proxy, abandoned their patriotic, national, duties and obligations and shamefully became mere slaves, and cheap tools advocating for Iranian Mullahs’ Scheme of expansionism, hatred, terrorism, intolerance and dictatorship.
 In our Holy Christian theology, we the Christians do not believe in death in its human and earthly concepts because Jesus Christ, through his crucifixion, death and resurrection has defeated it, and destroyed its thorn.
 Mean while, what is comforting for the faithful Christians is that the departed (the dead) from this mortal world are happy where they are, and all what we are ought to do is to pray for them.
 Saint Paul in his First Letter to the (Corinthians 15/51-56) writes: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep (die), but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law
 The Holy Bible tells us that, As long as we remain here on earth in these fleshly mortal bodies, we feel lonely and alienated. We long with utmost eagerness to return to our father’s mansions, in heaven. Mansions that He has built for each and every one of us and in which no man’s hand had to do any thing in their construction. Our nostalgic and home sickness for our actual dwellings in heaven makes us always in a state of waiting with hope and happiness to return there and abandon the earthy tents, the bodies in which our souls are mere temporary guests.
 (02 Corinthians 05/01-10):”For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
 Those righteous, like Patriarch Sfier who depart from this mortal life, their souls are in heaven, in their great father’s dwelling with the angels and righteous.
 Where their souls are now, there is no pain, no sadness, no fear, no hatred, no grudges, no hostilities, no fights, no sickness, no anger, no jealousness , no anguish or problems, But peace, love, comfort and happiness all the time.
 God who grants the souls life on earth, is the one who calls on it back when the time is due.
 The departed (the dead) are happy where they are, so let us regularly pray for them.
 Day by day, our physical mortal bodies are dying. From the moment we are conceived, our flesh is in a slow process of aging until the day we reach our final breath.
 During times of affliction and trouble, we feel this “wasting away” more acutely.
 Are we disheartened today? No as faithful Christians we are immune to discouragement.
 It is true that we all lose heart now and then. But, like Saint Paul, we can look to the unseen for encouragement.
 During hard days, let our spiritual eyes come alive, and through this farsighted lens look past what is seen.
 With eyes of faith we can see what cannot be seen and get a glorious glimpse of eternity.
 It remains that our great Patriarch’s soul has been transformed from death to live and he is now in heaven beside the angels and saints .
 With faith and hope, let us all pray that the soul of Our beloved and great Patriarch, Mar Nasrallah Boutrous Sfier is resting in heaven with the peace of Jesus Christ.

Pope Hails Sfeir as 'Craftsman of Peace, Defender of Sovereignty'
Naharnet/May 14/2019/Pope Francis has hailed late former Maronite patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir as a craftsman of peace and “ardent defender of the sovereignty and independence of his country.”“I address my warm condolences to you, as well as to his family and to all the faithful of the Patriarchal Church of Antioch of the Maronites, whom he governed for many years with as much gentleness as determination,” Pope Francis wrote in a May 14 cable to Sfeir’s successor, Beshara al-Rahi. Francis called Sfeir “a free and courageous man,” saying he was “a decisive craftsman of gathering, peace and reconciliation. Ardent defender of the sovereignty and independence of his country, he will remain a great figure in the history of Lebanon.”“I ask the Father of all mercy to welcome to his home of peace and light this wise and committed pastor who showed the love of God to the people who had been entrusted to him,” the pope added.

Satterfield in Beirut for Talks, Sfeir Condolences
Naharnet/May 14/2019/U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield arrived Tuesday in Beirut for talks with Lebanese officials. Satterfield began his visit by offering condolences in Bkirki over the death of ex-Maronite patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. He later held talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The U.S. official's visit to Lebanon comes after U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard was informed of a unified Lebanese stance over the demarcation of the maritime border, which indicates that the trip is aimed at continuing discussions over a U.S.-mediated mechanism. Last month, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told the commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Stefano del Col, that Beirut is ready to establish the maritime border and special economic zone with Israel. There are some 860 square kilometers of waters claimed by the two countries, which are technically in a state of conflict.

U.S. Embassy in Beirut-Statement addressing the passing away of Patriach Sfier

May 12/2019/U.S. Embassy Beirut is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of His Beatitude Patriarch Emeritus Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, staunch advocate of Lebanon's sovereignty and independence.
We offer our heartfelt condolence to the Lebanese people, and especially the Maronite community, for the loss of this national spiritual symbol, who played a pivotal role during key stages of Lebanon’s history.

Ambassadors of Iran, Syria and Others Offer Condolences over Sfeir Passing
Naharnet/May 14/2019/Foreign diplomats, Lebanese officials, religious and security figures flocked to Bkirki for the second on Tuesday to offer their condolences to Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi over the passing of former Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. Iranian ambassador to Beirut Mohammed Jalal Firouznia said “Sfeir was a distinguished figure and has a great role in the history of contemporary Lebanon. Our relationship has spread over decades through direct contact with Iranian political and religious delegations who stressed with his Beatitude that cultural heritage and religious dialogue and civilization is the moral bridge for convergence among peoples of this region.”The Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim also paid condolences. UAE Ambassador to Lebanon Hamad al-Shamesi said from Bkirki “Sfeir was one of the most important figures in Lebanon’s history. He is a man of moderation, tolerance and love. In the year of tolerance, the Embassy of the Emirates had plans to honor one person, Patriarch Sfeir, with a General Emancipation Shield of the Embassy of the Emirates in Beirut for a moderate, wise national figure. The honoring was on 26 Ramadan, but God took his trust.”Religious figures including Grand Sunni Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan, Druze spiritual chief Sheikh Naim Hassan visited Bkirki. Sfeir, who wielded considerable political influence during the country's civil war and was an ardent advocate of a Syrian troop withdrawal, died Sunday at the age of 98.

Samy Gemayel Pledges to Remain Loyal to Late Patriarch's Values 14th May 2019/A Kataeb delegation, headed by the party leader Samy Gemayel, offered condolences over the passing of Patriarch Emeritus Nasrallah Sfeir in Bkirki on Tuesday. “Patriarch Sfeir is an icon to us because he was always a father to the Kataeb party,” Gemayel said following the visit. “He was a father to those who struggled and resisted in the face of the Syrian occupation during the tutelage era. Witnessing to his struggle, morals and charisma which played a key role in accomplishing Lebanon’s second independence is the least we can do today,” Gemayel noted.
“He was an important idol and a haven that we resorted to during difficult times,” he stressed. "We will keep on seeking to achieve the principles that Cardinal Sfeir taught us. We promise his beatitude to remain loyal to the cause he had always advocated,” he affirmed. “We promise him to kim on defending the constants that had set out and to always follow in his footsteps by refusing to compromise, speaking the truth and sacrificing ourselves for the sake of Lebanon," Gemayel plegded. "We shall continue our struggle and work on fulfilling the principles based on which Lebanon was founded."The Kataeb leader called on the Kataeb partisans and the Lebanese to take part in bidding the Patriarch farewell starting tomorrow and attend the funeral on Thursday.

Aoun: Lira Not in Danger, Current Difficulty Temporary

Naharnet/May 14/2019/President Michel Aoun on Tuesday reassured that the Lebanese lira is “not in danger.”“The Lebanese lira is fine and not in danger and the difficulty we are going through is temporary and limited,” Aoun said in a speech at the annual iftar banquet in Baabda. “Several decisive steps have been made on the path of eradicating corruption from Lebanon,” the president said. He added: “Lebanon is going through a difficult economic, financial and social crisis, but it is temporary and we are capable of overcoming it if we cooperate in the rescue process.”“We must accept the sacrifices and stop the sit-ins, strikes and demonstrations that paralyze the public and private sectors,” Aoun went on to say. Lebanon is set to impose austerity measures to combat its bulging fiscal deficit. It is one of the world's most indebted countries, with public debt estimated at 141 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, according to credit ratings agency Moody's. The budget for 2019 has yet to be finalized, but thousands of Lebanese public employees went on strike last week amid fears that their salaries and benefits would be cut as part of strict austerity measures to reduce a ballooning budget deficit and massive national debt. They included employees at Banque du Liban, Beirut's port, the Social National Security Fund and the main state-run landline telephone company. Retired servicemen have also staged a series of protests across Lebanon.

Salameh Says Financial Situation Under Control, Urges National Economic Plan 14th May 2019/Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh on Tuesday voiced confidence over the financial situation and the Lebanese pound’s stability, stressing faith in the country's ability to overcome hardships. “The monetary situation is under control and we are not afraid of an economic downfall,” Al-Joumhouria newspaper quoted Salameh as saying. “Spreading fear among the Lebanese is unjustified,” he pointed out, reiterating that nothing can affect the Lebanese pound’s stability based on the financial facts and data he has. “I am confident of our ability to ensure financial stability for a year or two or even more, and to continue funding the state's basic expenses," he assured. "However, the state should devise solutions and set out policies that allow an economic growth to be achieved." Salameh pointed out that the main problem lies in the absence of a comprehensive economic vision, warning that this increases the burden on the Central Bank. "The drastic solution to the economic crisis must be based on two main foundations: increasing economic growth and adopting a serious plan to contain the public debt.”“Further indebtedness does not generate economic growth,” he stressed, calling for creating a favorable environment to attract investments that would help decrease the unemployment rate and initiate economic dynamism.

Khalil: More Budget Sessions Will Be Needed
Naharnet/May 14/2019/Lebanon’s Cabinet is holding successive meetings to finalize an already belated state budget which Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said requires more discussions probably until Friday, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Tuesday. “Currently we are studying the budgets to be allocated to the ministries, discussions are touching on the smallest details which makes it unlikely to finalize discussions today. We might need additional meetings probably until Friday,” Khalil told the daily. The Minister assured that “the budget debate is going on in a normal and detailed manner, we will reach a final version that meets the desired goal mainly in slashing the deficit. It is a fundamental step that must be obtained,” he stressed. Lebanon has vowed to slash public spending to unlock $11 billion worth of aid pledged by international donors during an April 2018 conference in Paris. Last month, Prime Minister Saad Hariri vowed to introduce "the most austere budget in Lebanon's history" to combat the country's bulging fiscal deficit, sparking fears among public sector employees that their salaries may be cut.Lebanon is one of the world's most indebted countries, with public debt estimated at 141 percent of GDP in 2018, according to credit ratings agency Moody's.

Bassil Urges Abolishing Unproductive Institutions, Raising Taxes on Banks
Naharnet/May 14/2019/Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil on Tuesday called for abolishing “unproductive public administrations” and raising taxes on banks, as part of suggestions he made in Cabinet to further reduce public spending. Speaking after the weekly meeting of the Strong Lebanon bloc, Bassil said he raised five suggestions in Cabinet related to “the state's size, funds waste and tax evasion, debt interests and trade balance.”“We are concerned with the success of the state budget, not scoring points against each other, and we are seeking true reform that relieves people and rescues Lebanon,” he added.“We're all in the government dismayed because we have not yet reached the place we want and our only choice is a reformist budget,” Bassil went on to say. Moreover, Bassil said the FPM supports putting an end to illegal employment and unjustified travel by officials and employees, while also suggesting modified working hours. Bassil also called for putting an end to “bonuses” in the public sector and “limiting them to a specific category of employees.”Furthermore, he rejected limiting salary cuts to ministers and MPs, saying they should affect wider segments of civil servants. Lebanon has vowed to slash public spending to unlock $11 billion worth of aid pledged by international donors during an April 2018 conference in Paris. Last month, Prime Minister Saad Hariri vowed to introduce "the most austere budget in Lebanon's history" to combat the country's bulging fiscal deficit, sparking fears among public sector employees that their salaries may be cut. Lebanon is one of the world's most indebted countries, with public debt estimated at 141 percent of GDP in 2018, according to credit ratings agency Moody's.

Bassil to Present ‘Initiative’ at Cabinet to Slash State Deficit
Naharnet/May 14/2019/The Cabinet held another budget session on Tuesday amid reports that Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil plans to present an “initiative” that will help in slashing the state’s budget deficit. “Bassil will make a qualitative intervention at the government meeting to put the budget on the final route,” said Minister of State for Presidency Affairs Salim Jreissati of Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement. For his part, Industry Minister Wael Abu Faour commenting on Bassil’s intended statement at Cabinet said he has no knowledge about it.
Information Minister Jamal Jarrah ruled out the possibility of finalizing the budget discussions today, saying “the possibility is zero over ten. We will not be able to finish discussions today. We have discussed the budget items but still have to tackle reformative articles. Bassil and other ministers will make suggestions to slash the budget.”

Foreign Ministry Condemns Attacks on Ships in UAE Waters
Naharnet/May 14/2019/The Lebanese Foreign Ministry condemned in a statement the sabotage attacks on four commercial civilian ships in the UAE's territorial waters. The Ministry voiced calls on the United Nations and the international community to seek to maintain the security, safety and freedom of global maritime navigation. Saudi Arabia said Monday two of its oil tankers were damaged in mysterious "sabotage attacks" in the Gulf as tensions soared in a region already shaken by a standoff between the United States and Iran.Tehran called for an investigation into the "alarming" attacks and warned of "adventurism" by foreign players to disrupt maritime security. The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels of various nationalities had been targeted by acts of sabotage off the emirate of Fujairah. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE gave details on the nature of the attacks. The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates will probe the "deliberate sabotage" of the ships.

Int'l Military Delegation from UK College Ends Visit to Lebanon

Naharnet/May 14/2019/An international delegation of fifteen senior military officers from the British Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) led by Air Vice Marshall Garry Tunnicliffe visited Lebanon for one week to learn about the political, economic, security, and social challenges facing Lebanon and how these relate to regional and international stability. As part of their overseas study tour, the RCDS delegation of Colonels and Brigadiers from the UK, Chile, Ethiopia, Luxemburg, Brazil, Japan, China, India, Uganda, Albania and Georgia met with President Michel Aoun, Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab, Commander of the Lebanese Army General Joseph Aoun, and industrialists and businessmen from across Lebanese society. “They saw first-hand how the UK supports Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces during a visit to Four Land Border Regiment at Baalbeck. Through meetings with prominent members of the business community, they hope to understand how Lebanon can move the economy forward in challenging times,” the British embassy in Lebanon said in a statement. The delegation also visited UNIFIL’s Headquarters in Naqoura and met with UNIFIL Commander Major General Stefano Del Col, to talk about how the U.N. is conducting a large U.N. mission in a volatile part of the Middle East. They also met with representatives from UNHCR and the Lebanese Petroleum Administration.Welcoming the RCDS’ senior officers to Beirut, British Ambassador Chris Rampling said: “It is a privilege to host top military officers from the UK and the world, for the second year in a row, as part of their Royal College of Defence Studies study tour focusing on Lebanon. Their visit, a first for many of the senior officers attending, is another example of the strategic importance that Lebanon has politically, socially and from a security perspective on regional stability and prosperity.”“We’re proud of the UK’s strong defense links with Lebanon, and I am certain that the officers’ experience will be like no other in the region,” he added.  Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) is based in the UK for military officers and senior government civil servants from the UK and allied nations. The aim of the course is to instruct members in defense and international security matters.

U.N. Calls for Probe into Allegations of Torture in Lebanon
Associated Press/Naharnet/May 14/2019/The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is calling for "a thorough, effective and independent investigation" into the death of a Lebanese man who was allegedly tortured by police intelligence. Michelle Bachelet says Hassan al-Diqa died Saturday despite numerous interventions by a variety of U.N. entities with Lebanese authorities after he was allegedly tortured while detained on drug-related charges in November. Bachelet said Tuesday that Diqa's death "highlights what appears to be a number of very serious failings in Lebanon's legal and prison systems."
She says those who ordered the crime must be held accountable. Diqa's father, Toufic, says his son suffered partial paralysis of his left leg. He was admitted to hospital in early April and remained there until his death.

Hit with Arrest of Ex-Chair Ghosn, Nissan Profit Nose-Dives
Associated Press/Naharnet/May 14/2019/Japanese automaker Nissan, reeling from the arrest of its former chairman Carlos Ghosn, reported Tuesday that annual profit nose-dived to less than half of what it earned the previous year, and forecast even dimmer results going forward. Nissan Motor Co.'s profit for the fiscal year ended March totaled 319.1 billion yen ($2.9 billion), down from 746.9 billion yen the previous fiscal year — the worst showing since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Yokohama-based Nissan said profit for the fiscal year through March 2020 will drop to 170 billion yen ($1.5 billion), as its earnings are slammed by restructuring and product development expenses combined with currency-related losses and rising material costs. "This is a very critical situation," Nissan's chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa, told reporters at its headquarters in Yokohama. He said efforts were underway to reshape Nissan's business, especially in North America, where profits have dropped because of incentives and over-production. Nissan's sales for the fiscal year that ended in March totaled 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion), down 3% from the previous fiscal year. Vehicle sales for the fiscal year slipped 4% to 5.5 million vehicles. Nissan did not break down quarterly results. Saikawa promised that Nissan's business will be turned around over the next two or three years. He blamed what he called an overly aggressive sales growth strategy spearheaded by Ghosn, though Saikawa himself has faced criticism over his leadership since he became CEO in 2017. Saikawa apologized to customers and shareholders for the shoddy results, giving a short bow rather than the usual deep bow held for nearly a minute by Japanese executives apologizing for corporate wrongdoing. Ghosn, who led Nissan and its alliance with Renault SA of France for two decades, was arrested in November on financial misconduct charges. He has been accused of under-reporting retirement compensation, having Nissan shoulder investment losses and diverting Nissan money for personal gain. He says he is innocent. He says the compensation was never paid or agreed upon, the losses were never suffered and the payments were for legitimate services. Ghosn has expressed concern over Nissan's operations, saying its current leadership lacks vision. The scandal over Ghosn's arrest and dismissal added to Nissan's problems. It logged 9.2 billion ($83 million) in costs for the fiscal year through March from alleged underreporting of Ghosn's compensation. Some analysts say the brand has been tarnished. It is unclear when Ghosn's trial will start, as preparations in Japan take months. Prosecutors wanted Ghosn kept incarcerated during the preparation, but he was released on bail in March, rearrested and then released again in April. The latest release forbids Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, from contact with his wife, a restriction that prosecutors have defended as necessary to prevent evidence tampering. Saikawa brushed off speculation that Renault may be pushing for a merger, saying Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, who recently joined Nissan's board, agrees that fixing Nissan comes first. Renault owns 43% of Nissan. Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, owns 15% of Renault. Saikawa also brushed off a reporter's question about his resignation. He said he planned to hand over the reign to another leader "when the timing is right."For now, he said, he needs to focus on a turnaround.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 14-15/19
Huthis Say Drone Attacks in Response to Saudi 'Crimes'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/2019/Yemen's Huthi rebels said they carried out Tuesday's drone attacks in Saudi Arabia that halted the pumping of crude oil along a major pipeline in response to the kingdom's "crimes" in Yemen. "The targeting of Saudi vital installations is a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide crimes and impose a siege on the Yemeni people," tweeted Mohammed Abdusalam, spokesman for the Iran-aligned Huthis fighting the Riyadh-backed government.

Pompeo: We Fundamentally Do Not Seek a War with Iran

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/2019/U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the United States does not want war with Iran but vowed to keep pressuring Tehran."We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran," Pompeo told a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi.

Trump Denies Planning to Send 120,000 Troops to Counter Iran
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/2019/U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday rejected a report that he is considering sending 120,000 troops to counter Iran, but didn't rule out sending "a hell of a lot more" soldiers in the future. "I think it's fake news," Trump said of a New York Times report that the White House is considering a plan to send 120,000 troops to the region as part of a tightening pressure campaign against the Iranian government. "Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that," Trump told reporters. "Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that."The Pentagon has already dispatched an aircraft carrier and nuclear-capable bomber planes to the region in the last few days.

Saudi Shuts Major Oil Pipeline after Huthi Drone Attacks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 14/2019/Drone attacks claimed by Iran-aligned Yemen rebels shut down one of Saudi Arabia's major oil pipelines Tuesday, further ratcheting up Gulf tensions after the mysterious sabotage of several tankers. The White House however played down tensions, despite days earlier deploying bombers and an assault ship to bolster an aircraft carrier in one of the world's most sensitive waterways as it exchanged barbs with Saudi arch-rival Iran. "We fundamentally do not see a war with Iran," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude exporter and OPEC kingpin, said two pumping stations had been targeted early Tuesday.
They lie on the East West Pipeline, able to pump five million barrels of oil a day from the oil-rich Eastern Province to a Red Sea export terminal. The announcement came hours after Yemen's Huthi rebels said they had targeted vital installations in Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition against them. Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Aramco had "temporarily shut down" the pipeline to "evaluate its condition" but added that oil production and exports had not been interrupted. He said the incident was an "act of terrorism... that not only targets the kingdom but also the security of oil supplies to the world and the global economy." Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on Twitter that the attacks were "a response to the aggressors continuing to commit genocide" against the Yemeni people. In a statement carried by rebel-run Al-Masirah TV, the Huthis warned of other "unique operations... if the aggressors continue with their crimes and blockade.""We are capable of executing unique operations on a bigger and wider scale in the hearts of the enemy countries," they said.
'Sabotage attacks'
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates intervened in the Yemen war to bolster the internationally recognized government's efforts against the Huthis in March 2015. The 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) pipeline reportedly hit Tuesday serves as an alternative for Saudi crude exports if the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf were to be closed. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of a military confrontation with the U.S.
The reported pipeline attacks came after the UAE said four ships were damaged in "sabotage attacks" off the emirate of Fujairah, on the mouth of the Hormuz, on Sunday. Washington and its Gulf allies did not immediately blame Riyadh's regional arch-rival Tehran for the sabotage, but U.S. President Donald Trump has warned Iran against doing anything to harm U.S. interests. The attacks came after the United States deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, an amphibious assault vessel, a Patriot missile battery and B-52 bombers, triggering fears of a possible military confrontation. However, Trump later denied a New York Times report that he is considering sending 120,000 troops to counter Iran. "Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that," Trump told reporters. "Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that."
'Exercise restraint'
A UAE government official said the Saudi oil tankers Al-Marzoqah and Amjad were attacked off the emirate of Fujairah along with the Norwegian tanker Andrea Victory and an Emirati ship, the A. Michel. No casualties were reported and none of the vessels sank. The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the Emirates would probe the "deliberate sabotage". Saudi Arabia said its two tankers suffered "significant damage" but there was no oil spill. The Andrea Victory's managers, Thome Group, said the ship's hull had been pierced "after being struck by an unknown object on the waterline". Asked whether the U.S. believed Iran played a role in the attacks, Washington's Iran envoy Brian Hook declined to comment, saying only that U.S. authorities would help the investigation at the request of the UAE. The United Nations urged all sides to "exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace."Oil prices initially spiked in response to news of the attacks, but were largely flat in trading on Tuesday. Fujairah port is the only Emirati terminal located on the Arabian Sea coast, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz through which most Gulf oil exports pass. Iran and the U.S. have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks since Tehran began to roll back commitments set out in a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.Trump withdrew the United States from the deal last year and has unilaterally reimposed tough sanctions on Iran.

Saudi energy minister: Pipeline booster stations hit by explosive-laden drones
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Tuesday, 14 May 2019/Two oil-pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit by explosive-laden drones, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih said on Tuesday, calling the attack "an act of terrorism" that targeted global oil supplies. Al-Falih said that Saudi oil output and exports for crude and refined products were continuing without disruption. He added that a fire broke out in one of the stations as a result of the attack, but was quickly contained. "Saudi Aramco took precautionary measures and temporarily stopped operation of the pipeline, as it is evaluating the situation and working on restoring the operations of the affected pump station and the pipeline," al-Falih said in a statement cited by state news agency SPA. Yemen’s Houthi-run Masirah TV had cited a military official saying seven drones staged attacks on vital Saudi installations. Saudi Aramco confirmed that there were no injuries or casualties following the attacks. The 1,200-kilometre (750-mile) pipeline carries crude from Saudi Arabia's main eastern oil fields to the Red Sea port city of Yanbu in the west. They were located in Saudi Arabia’s town of Al al-Duwadimi and the city of Afif. Al-Falih added that the drone attack was done with the aim of disrupting world oil supplies. The energy minister said that Saudi oil production and exports will still continue uninterrupted, adding that the attack “proves the importance of confronting all terrorist organizations.”Reuters reported that an Aramco official said Saudi Arabia is determined to increase oil supplies to Europe by three million barrels. Following the attacks, oil prices made limited gains, not exceeding 1.5 percent following Al-Falih’s statements about the continuity of oil supplies.

An Emirati coast guard vessel passes an oil tanker off the coast of Fujairah.
Agencies/Tuesday, 14 May 2019/Three Western countries will be part of an investigation into mysterious “sabotage attacks” on ships in the Gulf, an Emirati official told AFP on Tuesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States, France and Norway would be involved in the investigation along with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The UAE’s foreign ministry had announced on Sunday that four commercial vessels were targeted by “acts of sabotage” near the territorial waters of the UAE. Two of the four commercial vessels that were targeted by “acts of sabotage” near the UAE’s territorial waters were from Saudi Arabia, while the other two were from the UAE and Norway, reported Al Arabiya’s correspondent. The UAE’s foreign ministry said in its statement, published on WAM state news agency, that the concerned authorities have taken all the necessary measures, and are investigating the circumstances of the incident in cooperation with local and international bodies. A US official had said on Monday that an American military team’s initial assessment is that Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies used explosives on Sunday to blow large holes in four ships anchored off the coast of the UAE.The official said each ship has a 5- to 10-foot hole in it, near or just below the water line, and the team’s early belief is that the holes were caused by explosive charges. The team of US military experts was sent to investigate the damages at the request of the UAE, but American officials have not provided any details about what exactly happened.

Official: Initial US assessment blames Iran for ship attacks

The Associated Press, Washington/Tuesday, 14 May 2019/An American military team’s initial assessment is that Iranian or Iranian-backed proxies used explosives Sunday to blow large holes in four ships anchored off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a US official said Monday. The official said each ship has a 5- to 10-foot hole in it, near or just below the water line, and the team’s early belief is that the holes were caused by explosive charges. The team of US military experts was sent to investigate the damages at the request of the UAE, but American officials have not provided any details about what exactly happened or any proof as yet about the possible Iranian involvement in the explosions. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gulf officials have characterized the damage to the tankers as sabotage. Two Saudi oil tankers, a Norwegian-flagged vessel, and a bunkering tanker flagged in Sharjah, one of the UAE’s seven emirates, all suffered similar damage Sunday. The US has warned ships that “Iran or its proxies” could be targeting maritime traffic in the region, and America has moved additional ships and aircraft into the region. The incident comes after months of increasing diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran, which the US accuses of threatening American interests and allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Two pumping stations on a major Saudi oil pipeline were attacked by drones on
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Tuesday, 14 May 2019/Several Arab countries have condemned the attacks on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, with Egypt adding that coordination with the Kingdom was at the highest level to counter challenges and threats. Two oil-pumping stations for the East-West pipeline were hit by explosive-laden drones on Tuesday in an attack which Saudi Arabia called "an act of terrorism" that targeted global oil supplies. Egypt’s foreign ministry expressed in a statement on Tuesday its solidarity with Saudi Arabia in confronting all attempts to undermine its security and stability. The statement from the foreign ministry also said that coordination between the two countries is at the highest level in order to face the common challenges and address terror threats which target national and regional security and stability. Saudi Arabia condemned both the attacks on the oil stations in the Kingdom and the recent attacks on ships in the Arabian Gulf. Energy Ministry Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Arabia views the attacks as a “cowardly act of terror aimed at destruction.”Jordan also condemned the “cowardly terrorist attack” in the strongest terms and confirms its stance with Saudi Arabia in the face of any threat to the security and stability of the Kingdom, according to Sufian al-Qudah, spokesman for the Jordanian foreign ministry. The head of the Arab League condemned the attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi militias against an oil pipeline and other energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. Ahmed Aboul-Gheit says in a statement that the attacks were a “serious threat to the regional and international security, and the world economy.”He says the Arab League stands by Saudi Arabia to “counter these terrorist threats aimed at stabilizing the region.” The Gulf Cooperation Council countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates also issued similar statements of condemnations. Bahrain said the “cowardly terrorist acts target the security and stability of Saudi Arabia and the region and also threatens the safety of the world’s energy supply.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the attacks were not only aimed at the Kingdom but “are aimed at destabilizing the region as a whole,” and called on all to “stand firmly against these acts and those behind them.”Djibouti strongly denounced the attacks and stressed the need for concerted efforts and strengthening international solidarity to deal with terrorist acts. “The Republic of Djibouti expresses its strong condemnation and denunciation of the terrorist attack on two oil pumping stations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which poses a serious threat to the stability of the region and the safety of energy supplies. It affirms its full solidarity with the Saudi people and its wise leadership against all those who try to violate the security of the Kingdom or its interests,” a statement from Djibouti’s foreign ministry read.

Saudi Arabia: Terrorist acts against the Gulf are targeting global oil supply
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 15 May 2019/The Saudi Cabinet said on Tuesday that the terrorist acts against the oil-pumping stations are targeting global oil supply. The Saudi Cabinet added that the terrorist attack on the two Saudi ships is a direct threat to maritime safety and reflects negatively on regional and international peace and security. Two oil-pumping stations for the East-West pipeline had been hit by explosive-laden drones, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Falih said earlier on Tuesday.Four commercial vessels, two of which are Saudi, were targeted by “acts of sabotage” near the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Saudi Cabinet approves the residency permit for skilled expatriates, investors

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Wednesday, 15 May 2019/Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet approved on Tuesday the special residency permit for entrepreneurs, investors, and skilled expatriates. Saudi’s Shoura Council had approved the special visa last week. The new Green Card-style “Privileged Iqama” (residency permit) law will see foreigners benefit from the new residency scheme, which will not require a Saudi sponsor or employer. According to the law, the residency permits will be offered to highly skilled expatriates who will benefit from added advantages including the ability to recruit workers, own property and transport, and enter and exit the Kingdom without a sponsor. The permits will also include a family status so that a holder can issue visit visas for relatives. There will be two types of systems under the permit, one which can be used for an unlimited period and the other valid on a yearly basis and subject to renewal. Requirements for foreigners to obtain the new Privileged Iqama permit include having a valid passport, a good credit report, a health report, and a clean criminal record.

Saudi Arabia launches new website for Qatari Umrah applicants
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Tuesday, 14 May 2019/The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah dedicated on Tuesday a new website for Qatari applicants who want to perform Umrah, according to a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The move comes after Qatari authorities blocked the previous website, which was also dedicated to the same task as per the statement. Also read: For the third year, Saudi Arabia receives Qatari citizens and expats for Umrah. The new link is part of the Saudi government’s efforts “to ease the procedures of applying for Umrah, and overcome all obstacles that may face them to perform this rite,” the SPA statement said.

The meeting in Jordan comes as a UN mission is to verify the redeployment
AFP, UN/Tuesday, 14 May 2019/UN officials will meet with Yemen’s government and Houthi militias in Amman on Tuesday to discuss managing revenues from Red Sea ports after the Houthis agreed to pull out of those facilities. The meeting in Jordan comes as a UN mission is to verify the redeployment of the militias from the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Issa. The talks will focus on using revenues form the ports to pay public sector salaries in the Hodeidah province and throughout the country, a UN statement said. Most of Yemen’s public workers have gone unpaid for months as the country’s finances and economy collapsed in the war, which has dragged on for at least four years. The Houthis agreed to begin a withdrawal from the ports on Saturday, turning over control to a coast guard to ensure security at those facilities. The government says the coast guard is close to the Houthi militias. Hodeidah’s governor had also said that that the move did not comply with the agreed upon terms of the Stockholm Agreement. This stipulated that the government be part of the redeployment monitoring teams, and that the Houthis clear all landmines before redeployment. Hodeidah is the main entry point for the bulk of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, providing a lifeline to millions of people who are on the brink of famine. If the redeployment is confirmed, it could provide a boost to UN efforts to end the war in Yemen.

Sudan talks resume after shootings mar break through
Arab News/May 14/2019/KHARTOUM: Protest leaders resumed talks with Sudan’s military rulers Tuesday seeking to build on a political breakthrough overshadowed by deadly shootings. The protest movement is demanding a civilian-led transition following 30 years of rule by President Omar Al-Bashir, but the generals who toppled him have been holding onto a leadership role. An army major and five protesters were killed by unidentified gunmen at a long-running sit-in outside military headquarters in Khartoum late on Monday, just hours after the two sides announced they had reached agreement on the structure and powers of bodies that will oversee a transition. The Alliance for Freedom and Change — the protest movement umbrella group negotiating with the ruling military council — said the shootings were an attempt to “disturb the breakthrough.”The military council said it had “noticed some armed infiltrators among the protesters” at the sit-in, but did not identify them. Protest leaders changed their stand on Tuesday. “It’s their (military) direct responsibility to guard and protect the citizens,” Mohamed Naji Al-Assam, a prominent figure in the movement, told reporters. On the political track, protest leaders remained locked in talks with council representatives expected to focus on the composition of transitional bodies to run the country. The protest movement has demanded they have civilian majorities. The military is ready to accept a mainly civilian Cabinet but has been demanding a military majority in a proposed sovereign council that will have the final say on matters of state. Also on the agenda was the duration of the transition, with the military calling for a two-year timeframe, while the protesters want four years to allow time for preparatory reforms. The latest round of talks which opened on Monday come after a break in negotiations that saw protest leaders threaten “escalatory measures” to secure their central demand of civilian rule. The issue has kept protesters camped outside army headquarters around the clock ever since Bashir’s overthrow.The sit-in has become the focal point for the protest movement, overtaking the near-daily protests that had been held across Sudan while the veteran president remained in power. But on Tuesday, following the previous night’s violence at the Khartoum sit-in, protesters held demonstrations in the Abbassiya and Al-Arbaa regions. In Al-Arbaa, some demonstrators blocked roads with burning tires, a witness said, adding that troops deployed to the area. Doctors, who along with other professionals have played a major part in organizing the protests, have set up field clinics at the sit-in where they treated the wounded from Monday’s shootings. “So far all cases are stable, and those unstable have been transferred to hospital,” a duty doctor told AFP.

Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 14-15/19
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: We Trained Mujahideen In Bosnia; Rouhani, Zarif, Salehi Should Face Trial
MEMRI/May 14/2019
On April 14, 2019, an interview with former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi was uploaded to the Iranian media website Gen. Ghasemi said that ISIS had been created by Hillary Clinton and he criticized the Iranian government for focusing on the JCPOA nuclear deal rather than Iran’s "great victory" against ISIS. He criticized Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for not having visited Syria yet, and said that if Iran joins the JCPOA then people from France, the Netherlands, and the U.S. would come and rape Iranian women like American forces did in Okinawa. Ghasemi recounted his experience training mujahideen in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the cover of being a Red Crescent member and said that the IRGC worked alongside Al-Qaeda during that time. He said that it was "marvelous" that people who were loyal to Iran came from Turkey, France, Germany, and Tunisia to fight in Bosnia, like the foreigners who had come to fight in Syria. Ghasemi praised Hizbullah Sec.-Gen. Hassan Nasrallah and Iranian filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh, and said that if the Arak reactor ever fell into the hands of "the people of the party of Allah," then Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian FM Javad Zarif, and Iran's atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi would be prosecuted, and that he would then give them a prison uniform, a ball and chain, a pickaxe, and a sledgehammer so they could take out the cement that had been poured into the reactor.
To view the clip of former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi on MEMRI TV, click here or below.
I Saw The U.N. Soldiers Going To Park Vey Junction, Picking Up Iranian Girls, Bringing Them To The Hotel Lobby, And Taking Them Up To Their Rooms"
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: "The story of ISIS... Hillary Clinton said: 'I created it. I'm the mother of the ISIS members.' Bill Clinton... Or that nobody, Trumpet... He slammed her, saying: 'You created it, now go clean up your mess.' Netanyahu said to Hillary: 'You idiot, we have never had Iranians on our border! What is this uncontrollable thing that you have created?' The defeat of ISIS was a great victory over the leadership of heresy. I'm taking this opportunity to criticize the irrelevant [Iranian] government. Not only have they not helped, but their great 'victory'... They make so much noise about the silly and failing JCPOA, but they say nothing about the great victory of the army of Islam in Syria's liberation. [Rouhani] is still not ready to travel to Syria, not even once – but he did go to garbage-dump countries like Thailand.
"After U.N. Resolution 598 [ending the Iran-Iraq war], the U.N. forces were brought over. We and the guys [from the IRGC] were sent to Hotel Azadi in order to serve as liaisons with the U.N. people.
"I saw that the U.N. people were wearing military uniforms. I was about to open the elevator door when I saw an American, 2.1 meter tall, in Western clothes: a leather vest, shoes with spurs, and a leather belt with a buckle, like that... The only thing he didn't have were revolvers. When the elevator door opened, I bumped into his chest. I had to look up to see his face. They brought this typecast – cowboy clothes, American style... What you see in the movies. He was wearing a Western hat. He gave me a slap on the back and said: 'Hello, my friend!'
"The following day, I saw the U.N. soldiers going to Park Vey junction, picking up Iranian girls, bringing them to the hotel lobby, and taking them up to their rooms. Excuse me, but we are guards of the army of Islam! We fought... The next day, we were told to take them to the frontline near Fakkeh, where the body of one of our warriors still lay. They were drinking alcohol, and they threw the bottles into the ditch. At that moment I said: 'That's it. I'm leaving. Goodbye, everybody.' For several years after this, I didn't deliver any speeches. Everybody knows this. Mentally, I was a mess. Even now, when I tell the story, it torments me. If you accept the JCPOA, they will come – the French, the Dutch, the Americans in the form of the U.N. – and they will do what they did in Japan and Okinawa – Rape. Official rape. They come and take [the girls] before your eyes, and you, as a guard in the army of Islam, will be there and you will see your honor being plundered, and you are the one guarding [the rapists]. I said: 'Goodbye to you all!'"
"We Went [To Bosnia] As Red Crescent Members To Provide Military Training To The Mujahideen Forces"
"I recall that [then-senior IRGC official] Hossein Allahkaram came to my house about Bosnia.
"I said: 'Bosnia?' and he said: 'Yes.' As he left, my wife said: 'What's going on? The ambassador of death came again?' I said: 'No.' She said: 'Where are you going?' I answered: 'We want to go to Bosnia.' She said: 'Bosnia?' At the time, there was talk about Muslims being slaughtered [there]. I said: 'Don't be afraid. We will go as diplomats.' My wife burst into laughter. She said: 'Diplomat? Saeed Ghasemi wants to go as a diplomat?'"
Interviewer: "What was your role there? Jihadi? Military? Consultation?"
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: "Now I can tell you what the role was. Everyone knows now. We went as Red Crescent members to provide military training to the mujahideen forces."
Interviewer: "So the Red Crescent was a cover, and you functioned as military advisors..."
"One Of The Officials Responsible For Exposing This Information Was That Dishonorable Spy For CNN And BBC, Christiane [Amanpour]"
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: "Since the Americans wrote about this in their books... Several books have been published so far. This lady... Our 'countrywoman'... The reporter during the discord of 2009, Ms. Christiane [Amanpour]. All our statesmen like being interviewed by her. Mr. Ahmadinejad likes speaking with her, and Mr. Rouhani, for instance... She is probably like a godsister to our statesmen. One of the officials responsible for exposing this information was that dishonorable spy for CNN and BBC, Christiane."
Interviewer: "She was a reporter."
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: "The last time she came was during the discord of 2009. Her last report was directly from Enghelab Street, and Azadi Square could be seen behind her. [She said:] 'This is the end of the road of revolution' – meaning, 'this report I am making is the Revolution's last station.'"
"There was A Time When We Were In Bosnia And Herzegovina Together With Al-Qaeda Members – They Copied Our Style, From The Headband And The Flags"
"The truth is that in Bosnia – in the heart of Europe – things happened that our presence and that in our footsteps... Al-Qaeda came... There was a time when we were in Bosnia and Herzegovina together with Al-Qaeda members. They copied our style, from the headband and the flags... They named their regiments such-and-such..."
"What Happened In The Last Five Or Six Years In Syria Happened Before In Bosnia, Turks Who Were [Loyal To The Regime] And Disciples Of Imam [Khomeini] Came From Turkey – Those In France, Germany, And Tunisia Also Came"
"Something new happened there – the establishment of Muslim jihadi units. What happened in the last five or six years in Syria happened before in Bosnia. Turks who were [loyal to the regime] and disciples of Imam [Khomeini] came from Turkey. Those in France, Germany, and Tunisia also came. It was a marvelous event. The Basij movement of the world of Islam – [it] was Ruhollah [Khomeini]'s dream."
Interviewer: "Seeds of resistance."
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: "Yes, seeds of resistance formed there."
Interviewer: "I will tell you a few names. Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind. Very briefly, of course.
"Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah."
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: "The real standard-bearer of Islam's revolutionary movement, and the real son of Ruhollah [Khomeini]."
Interviewer: "The reactor in Arak."
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: "A place that if it were to one day fall into the hands of the people of the party of Allah, figures like [Ali Akbar] Salehi, [Javad] Zarif, and Hassan Rouhani would be prosecuted, and I would dress them in striped prison uniforms with a ball and chain, and give them a pickaxe and a sledgehammer so they can take out the cement they put in the [reactor] and so that people can learn a lesson from history."
Interviewer: "Nader Talebzadeh."
Former IRGC General Saeed Ghasemi: "The fighter on the media frontline."

Time to act against Iran and its militias
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri/Arab News/May 15/2019
Iran is continuing its terrorist activities, and is carrying them out by sea, sky and land against targets in Gulf countries. Two days ago, Saudi oil tankers were attacked off the coast of the UAE. On Tuesday, oil pipelines in Saudi Arabia were attacked by armed drones.
Tehran is showing its real face by undermining stability in the region. It is demonstrating that it can use its terrorist militias in the region to implement its nefarious designs. The two incidents have sent a message to the whole world that Iran is out to destroy regional security and stability. By undermining regional security, Iran has become a threat to international security as well. The drone attack on oil pipelines and the sabotage of four vessels, including two Saudi tankers, are aimed directly at threatening global oil supplies. This should force the international community to stand against these terrorist attacks and make joint efforts to condemn and punish the perpetrators of these acts. Now is the time for real, concrete and serious actions against Iran and its militias. The militias need to be dismantled, not merely listed as terrorist organizations
These attacks prove that it is important to face terrorist entities, including the Houthis in Yemen, who are 100 percent backed by Iran. Saudi Arabia is encountering one of the worst kinds of terror in the region from organizations such as Daesh, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and militias in Iraq and Syria — most of them aligned with Tehran.Most of these organizations are a product of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). They have been classified by world organizations and key members of the international community as terrorist entities.
However, is it enough to merely list them as terrorist organizations? Is it not incumbent on the international community to prevent them from sabotaging international interests and the global economy? It is time to put an end to this regime in Tehran, which is funding, recruiting, training and hosting all terrorists in the region. Why is the world keeping silent and giving in to Iranian blackmail? If there is no real deterrence against this regime, the whole region will be in chaos. Terror will be everywhere. Preventing nuclear proliferation will become extremely difficult. Nobody is calling for war, but there is a serious need for real action to dismantle Iran-backed militias in the region and force Tehran to change its malign behavior.
• Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar.
Twitter: @DrHamsheri

Iran’s aggression threatens the world, not just the Gulf

Faisal Mrza/Arab News/May 15/2019
It is surely no coincidence that Tuesday’s attack on energy facilities in the Kingdom came just two days after four commercial ships, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged off the UAE coast.
Details are sketchy as to who was behind the twin attacks, but they both carry the fingerprints of the region’s primary aggressor: Iran.
The drone attack on Tuesday targeted the East-West Pipeline, which stretches from Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province to the Red Sea, where the Kingdom has significant export capacity. The pipeline has recently been expanded to carry about 7 million barrels of oil per day — equivalent to the majority of Saudi Arabia’s daily exports.
The physical damage in the attack was limited, although the main target was a psychological one, delivering a clear threat concerning Saudi Arabia’s ability to export crude. It is an important fact that exports via the Red Sea bypass the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran has threatened to close multiple times.
The back-and-forth in the blame game for that attack would have been comic, were the situation not so grave. Early on Tuesday, Al Arabiya television reported that the Iran-backed Houthi militia of Yemen had claimed they had targeted Saudi energy facilities with drones. With no apparent sense of irony, the Houthis later backtracked on that statement, saying the attack emerged from within Saudi Arabia. It’s almost as if someone else was pulling the strings.
There are several parallels between this attack and Sunday’s “sabotage” of four ships near Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast. That too caused little damage, yet can be seen as a clear threat to Saudi Arabia’s ability to export oil, via a facility outside of the Strait of Hormuz.
The cynical and cowardly attacks on the Gulf energy industry this week, therefore, endanger more than just the security of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They pose a threat to countries, and consumers, worldwide.
There were also the predictable shenanigans at play when it came to attributing blame. Iran called the Fujairah incident regrettable, and then, with a straight face, pointed the finger of blame at its arch-foe Israel. Yet an initial assessment by the US found that Iran was probably behind the attack.
More details will doubtlessly emerge in the coming days. But both attacks must been seen in light of the increased global pressure on the Tehran regime — notably the bolstered US military presence in the Gulf, along with Washington’s tighter sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
If Iran did indeed back the two attacks, it would hardly be without precedent.
Saudi Arabia was last year forced to temporarily suspend moving crude through the Red Sea shipping lane of Bab Al-Mandeb, after attacks by Houthi militias on oil tankers.
And Iran has made frequent threats to block the Strait of Hormuz; in 2011, Tehran said “not a drop” of oil would pass through if sanctions against it were widened. It has not followed through with this threat, but the impact on oil prices — which in early 2012 were above $100 and later hit unsustainable levels — was profound.
Such statements from Tehran, plus this week’s two attacks, suggest a three-pronged threat to Gulf energy exports — covering those via the Strait of Hormuz, Red Sea, and east coast of the UAE.
Yet these are not salvos confined purely to the region’s messy proxy wars. The actions mark a serious threat to global energy security — as the spike in oil prices on Tuesday illustrated.
More is at stake aside from unhealthy movements on the energy markets, however. Impeding the international passage of oil tankers has serious repercussions for free shipping and international trade — and will help push up insurance costs.
The cynical and cowardly attacks on the Gulf energy industry this week, therefore, endanger more than just the security of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They pose a threat to countries, and consumers, worldwide.
*Faisal Mrza is an energy and oil market adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Reach him on Twitter: @faisalmrza

Trump should learn the lessons of Obama’s Iran negotiations
Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami/May 14/2019
Washington’s policy of exerting the maximum degree of pressure on Iran’s regime continues, with more steps taken by the US to weaken the foundations of the regime’s economy. Iran is now under fresh US sanctions, which were imposed last week and are expected to escalate in the coming weeks. For its part, Tehran has taken countermeasures to increase the pressure on the other P5+1 signatories of the 2015 nuclear agreement, particularly the European countries.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced last Wednesday that Iran would partially withdraw from the nuclear deal by selling heavy water and enriching uranium in excess of the amounts permissible under the terms of the deal. According to the nuclear agreement, Iran has the right to retain a maximum of 300 kilograms of enriched uranium and 130 tons of heavy water. Rouhani stated that, if the European countries in particular do not comply with the implementation of the nuclear deal within 60 days — especially by ensuring sanctions relief on Iran’s oil exports and activating the financial channels they promised to continue transactions with Tehran despite US sanctions — Iran will renounce its commitment to enriching uranium to 3.67 percent, returning to its former 20 percent enrichment level.
In a message sent by Rouhani to the P5+1 signatory states, he warned that, if there is no Western agreement to comply with the nuclear agreement and the nuclear file is referred to the UN Security Council, Iran will take further steps. This message provoked strong international criticism, with senior figures warning Iran of the grave consequences of it renouncing the nuclear deal.
Even if Iran wishes to give the impression that it is undertaking countermeasures, some observers argue that the Iranian move is a bluff, as the US has issued a decision prohibiting the purchase of Iranian heavy water and enriched uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report issued in February 2019 asserts that the total quantity of heavy water currently in Iran’s possession is about 120 tons, and that Tehran’s production capacity will not exceed 1.6 tons per month.
On the subject of enriched uranium, meanwhile, the IAEA announced that Iran’s regime had retained 120 kilograms as of May 2018, which rose to 163.8 kilograms in February 2019. Both these amounts are far less than the maximum quantity Iran is permitted to retain. The IAEA also stated that Iran’s production during the 60 days announced by Rouhani in the so-called first phase would not permit it to exceed the amounts it is allowed to retain under the nuclear deal.
The US pressure has led the Iranian regime to disclose the real nature of its controversial nuclear program.
This was confirmed by the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, in a statement to Iranian state-run television, in which he said: “Iran cannot increase the amounts of the low-enriched uranium unless it increases the number of the sophisticated IR3 centrifuges.” If Iran was to choose this option, it would constitute another breach of the nuclear deal and the Iranian regime’s friends, as well as its sympathizers, would dwindle. Also, the number of states willing to stay in the nuclear deal would fall.
However, the regime’s latest step, as announced by Rouhani, has put Iran in an awkward position with the Europeans in particular and the world in general. Rouhani’s announcement clearly reveals the regime’s intention to abandon the nuclear deal at a time when doing so serves its expansionist schemes and interests in the region. This shows that the pressure from Washington has led the Iranian regime to reveal its true face and disclose the real nature of its controversial nuclear program.
In Washington, President Donald Trump reacted to the latest Iranian measures by stating that the US would continue to exert pressure on Iran, while also underlining his administration’s readiness to negotiate. “What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me,” he said, adding, “We can reach a fair deal. We don’t want them to have nuclear weapons — not much to ask.” Trump concluded by saying: “But they should call. If they do, we are open to talk to them.”
At the same time, however, Trump did not dismiss the possibility of a military face-off with Tehran. Washington has already sent some US military vessels to the Arabian Gulf in a step that suggests the military option against Iran is on the cards, particularly if the Iranian side commits provocations and targets US interests in the region or, in case of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, attempts to block energy supplies through the Strait of Hormuz.
The “carrot and stick” policy currently being pursued by the US administration puts more emphasis on the stick than the carrot. This is the exact opposite of the strategy adopted by former President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry, which focused on the carrot when dealing with Iran, without any suggestion of using the stick. Obama’s policy gave Iran’s regime complete freedom to continue pursuing its expansionist objectives and subversive interventions in the region.
In the end, if Trump resorts to the carrot policy with Iran, as he hinted at in his recent remarks about his country’s readiness to negotiate and engage in dialogue with Iran, his administration should learn from the mistakes made by his predecessor, who ignored the interests and concerns of the region’s countries, leading to dangerous tensions, which have continued to escalate. Security and stability in the region are primarily linked to the wellbeing and interests of its countries, particularly by ensuring that their sovereignty is safeguarded, while protecting them from extremism, terrorism and sectarianism.
*Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami

The Flash Point Between America and Iran Could Be Iraq's Militias
Mike Giglio/ The Atlantic/May 14/2019
All the Americans could do was shake their heads as a Shiite militia flag waved above their base.
The troops from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division were still getting used to living alongside an old enemy. It was the fall of 2016, the start of a U.S.-backed offensive to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. Some Americans who’d come to aid the effort had also fought in the Iraq War, when the U.S. military suffered hundreds of deaths in battles with Shiite militia groups. Five years after that war ended, they found themselves at an airfield south of Mosul, where the Airborne was stationed in one section, and a militia outpost sat in another. Concrete blast walls separated the two sides. But someone had climbed a radio tower overlooking the U.S. barracks and tied a militia flag to its peak.
An American soldier pointed out the flag one morning with a wry look that suggested he appreciated the troll.
The global fight against ISIS created strange alliances—and the de facto one between the U.S. military and Iraq’s Shiite militias, some of whom are backed by Iran, was among the most striking.
While the two sides had a shared interest in defeating the Sunni extremist group, the alliance was never going to be enduring, and there was always the risk that if tensions between America and Iran ever ignited, the militias could be a flash point.
Those tensions have now spiked.
On Sunday, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that U.S. warships had been dispatched to the Arabian Peninsula in response to unspecified threats from Iran. Later, U.S. officials reportedly cited the risk to American forces and allies from Iran-backed militia or proxy forces. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a planned visit to Berlin in order to visit Baghdad, where he said he discussed “the increased threat stream” with Iraqi leaders and stressed the need to protect U.S. forces there. At the same time, Iran announced that it will stop complying with some parts of the 2015 nuclear deal, continuing the pattern of escalation set in motion by the Trump administration’s decision to walk away from the agreement.
Though U.S. officials have so far been vague about the nature of the threat, Phillip Smyth, an expert on Shiite militia groups, told me he takes the risk they pose to U.S. forces seriously. The militia groups that act as Iranian proxies in Iraq, he said, would be an effective tool for further escalation—and for reviving an old narrative that casts U.S. troops as an occupying force in the country.
“Now that [ISIS] is more dislodged and not anywhere near its 2015 state, the narrative of ‘opposing a resisting force’ makes more sense from the Iranians’ ideological and political perspectives,” said Smyth, who is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Some Iran-backed militias have made open threats against U.S. forces in recent years, Smyth said. Because of the Trump administration’s aggressive sanctions against Iran, he added, “the threats take on a new and possibly more dangerous trend.”
United under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces and an official part of the Iraqi security forces, a constellation of Shiite militia groups emerged in 2014 in response to the Iraqi military’s capitulation to ISIS, recruiting thousands of new fighters. Some militia groups are seen as Iranian proxies and have been trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, while others oppose Iranian influence and bill themselves as Iraqi nationalists. Kata’ib Hezbollah, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Smyth noted, are among those in the former category that U.S. officials may be watching closely.
In a 2017 speech, Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, claimed that the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia are enemies of Iraq. Documents recently declassified by the Pentagon state that during a stint as a U.S. prisoner during the Iraq War, Khazali admitted to authorizing attacks that killed American soldiers. In January, Khazali predicted that the Iraqi parliament would eventually vote to expel U.S. troops from the country — and said that if they didn’t leave, they could be driven out “by force.”
The Shiite militias played a key role in the fight against ISIS, such as when they helped recapture the city of Tikrit in 2015, and suffered heavy losses. But they also claimed credit for victories largely won by government troops, and were accused of massacres, torture, and other abuses against Sunni civilians at a rate that far outpaced similar accusations against other forces. During the Mosul offensive, civilians regularly listed the militias among their foremost concerns in Sunni-majority areas freed from ISIS.
During the anti-ISIS campaign, U.S. military planners were wary of inadvertently providing air cover for the militias when they advanced in concert with the Iraqi army, worried about aiding forces that worked so closely with Iran. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps advisers were often on the front lines with the militia groups they supported, and Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force, was occasionally photographed on the battlefield. (This wasn’t the first time the U.S. military found itself in an unlikely alliance in Iraq: During the Iraq War, it teamed up with some hard-line Sunni groups as part of its campaign to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS’s predecessor.)
Even before the warship move, the Trump administration had designated the IRGC a terrorist group, prompting the Iranians to respond by declaring U.S. forces in the region a terrorist group too. Yet 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, in close proximity to Iran-backed forces.
After Bolton’s announcement, I spoke with U.S. military officers who served in the country during the fight against ISIS, and they made two points. The first is that the risk the militias pose to U.S. troops in Iraq has been there since the anti-ISIS campaign began in 2014—and so, in a sense, the threats U.S. officials are discussing are nothing new. The second is that while they considered the threats to be manageable, they were real causes for concern.
“The Shiite militias definitely kept some of us up at night,” one officer, who has since retired from the military, told me, recalling the feeling of living and working around the groups even as some continued with “very clear anti-U.S. rhetoric.”
“They were a wild card that we always had to keep an eye on.”
Another recently retired officer noted an instance in which he suspected that U.S. troops already had been targeted by militias: A roadside bomb killed a U.S. service member in October 2017, an incident for which the U.S. military has not assigned blame. Last year, the State Department evacuated the U.S. consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra, citing attacks by Iran-backed militias. “That’s always been there,” he said. “When I hear [U.S. claims of new threats], I’m like, ‘Really, there’s a new threat from Iran-backed militia?’ I remember back in 2004 when we were fighting Iran-backed militias in Iraq. It’s an existing threat that’s been there for years, but it’s up to Iran to dial it up or dial it down depending on the political end state they want to achieve.”
Both of these sources requested anonymity to avoid jeopardizing continued work with the U.S. government, as did a third officer, who remains with the military.
This officer, who also served during the Iraq War, said returning to the country for the anti-ISIS fight and finding himself posted beside Shiite militias was alarming at first—“but as we got to live together, not as much.”
With the ISIS war winding down, though, the two sides no longer have a common enemy. “That dynamic of a co-enemy has changed, and the power of the Shia militia groups has changed as well,” he told me, as militia-allied candidates made surprising gains in last year’s Iraqi elections.
Colonel Scott Rawlinson, a U.S. military spokesman, declined to comment on whether Shiite militias pose a risk to U.S. troops in Iraq, but he stressed that the threat from ISIS remains. The group “has lost its territorial caliphate but has transitioned into a disaggregated network of sleeper cells with the goal of resurging through intimidation and attacks on civilians, community leaders, and security forces,” he said.
The fact that U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria remain heavily engaged in the fight against ISIS underscores the risks of a U.S. strategy in the region that seeks to pivot to a new enemy, in Iran, even as the battle with the old one remains a work in progress.
And as the past few days have shown, both the United States and Iran have levers with which they can escalate tensions.
“Just like the U.S. maintains and refreshes planning for a variety of contingencies, so does Iran. This dynamic—of increasing U.S. pressure and Iranian countermoves amidst mistrust and imperfect information—increases the risk of miscalculation,” Eric Brewer, a former senior official on the Trump administration’s National Security Council who is now a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told me.
“We are entering a somewhat more dangerous and escalatory period. Those of us watching this have been warning that the administration’s maximum-pressure campaign was—at some point—going to generate an Iranian response.”