May 17/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
You hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel.
Letter to the Philippians 01/01-13:”Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ.

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on May 16-17/19
Lebanese Leaders, Crowds Participate in 'Farewell' Funeral of Cardinal Sfeir
Rahi bids farewell to Sfeir: He was Dean of the Maronite Church and Patriarch of Lebanon's Second Independence
Pope Francis mourns Sfeir: A free and courageous man
U.S. Department of State Pays Tribute to Cardinal Sfeir
Ruler of Dubai: Sfeir was a true example of a humble religious figure who strongly advocated justice and peace
Bkerke press office: Condolences conclude tomorrow, Friday
Report: Maritime Demarcation Talks with Satterfield Reflect ‘Positive’ Atmosphere
Hariri: The Lebanese Pound is fine and we have an opportunity to improve the economic situation
Deputy Director for International Development Visits UK Funded Projects in Lebanon

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 16-17/19
Zarif: Iran Showing 'Maximum Restraint,' U S. Escalation 'Unacceptable'
U.S. Says Iranian Missiles on Small Boats Spotted in Persian Gulf
Saudi Arabia Reopens Key Oil Pipeline after Drone Attack
Arab Coalition: Raids on military targets loyal to Houthi militia have begun
Saudi-Led Warplanes Pound Yemen Rebels after Pipeline Attack
Sudan Army Ruler Suspends Civil Rule Talks
Two Killed in Dubai Plane Crash
Libya's Haftar Tours Rome and Paris amid Military Stalemate
Sweden to Host International Meeting on IS Tribunal

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 16-17/19
Lebanese Leaders, Crowds Participate in 'Farewell' Funeral of Cardinal Sfeir/Naharnet/May 16/2019/
U.S. Department of State Pays Tribute to Cardinal Sfeir/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/
The Iranian Government's 40 Years of Hatred Towards America/Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/May 16/ 2019
Painting of Muslim Men Sexually Enslaving White Women Triggers Outrage/Raymond Ibrahim/May 16/2019
Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished/Arab News/May 16/2019
Iran may take Trump up on his offer to talk/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/May 16/2019
Europe’s dilemma as US increases pressure on Iran/Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/May 16/2019
Drone technology driving Iran’s asymmetric warfare/Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/May 16/2019

Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on May 16-17/19
Lebanese Leaders, Crowds Participate in 'Farewell' Funeral of Cardinal Sfeir

Naharnet/May 16/2019/
Thousands of mourners from all over Lebanon flocked to Bkirki on Thursday to take part in the farewell ceremony of former Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir. The funeral of the Patriarch began at 5:00 pm after the arrival of President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. "Our late patriarch wanted the Qornet Shehwan Gathering to be a unifying body of Christian forces who believed in the country's sovereignty," Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi said in his eulogy of Sfeir. "He worked on removing barricades, enhancing national unity and strengthening coexistence, which he considered to be Lebanon's essence," he added. "Everyone agrees that patriarch Sfeir is a national loss and they saw in him the patriarch of the second independence and reconciliation who will not be repeated," al-Rahi went on to say. Delivering a speech in the name of Pope Francis, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri said Sfeir was a "free and brave man who performed his mission in turbulent circumstances.""He arduously defended his country's sovereignty and independence and will always be a shining figure in Lebanon's history," he added. President Aoun meanwhile awarded Sfeir the Lebanese order of merit of the Grand Cordon grade.
Also present at the funeral were French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and representatives of the Vatican and the Saudi, Qatari and Jordanian leaderships. Le Drian told LBCI TV that Sfeir was "a man of peace," adding that he was present in Bkirji to "stress that France will always stand by Lebanon, in the difficult and happy times." "Patriarch Sfeir is the father of peace and coexistence in Lebanon and today we're taking part in the funeral at the Saudi leadership's orders," Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid al-Bukhari said. Free Patriotuc Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel and Marada Movement chief ex-MP Suleiman Franjieh also took part in the funeral. MP Taymour Jumblat meanwhile led a large delegation from the Progressive Socialist Party and popular crowds from Mount Lebanon following a call from PSP leader ex-MP Walid Jumblat
A large number of ministers, MPs and ambassadors were also present in Bkirki.
Bkirki had opened its doors on Wednesday to all mourners. The body of Sfeir arrived yesterday morning from the Hotel Dieu Hospital to the Patriarchal edifice before being transferred to the Church of Our Lady of Transition in Bkirki.
All Lebanese leaders had urged for mass participation in the funeral of the Patriarch. Sfeir, who was set to turn 99 on Wednesday, died on Sunday after days of intensive medical care. Sfeir wielded considerable political influence during the country's civil war and was an ardent advocate of a Syrian troop withdrawal. He became the leader of the church in 1986 until he resigned in 2011 due to his declining health, and held the title "76th Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant". He was a respected power broker during the 1975-1990 civil war, which saw bitter infighting between rival militias including opposing Christian factions.

Rahi bids farewell to Sfeir: He was Dean of the Maronite Church and Patriarch of Lebanon's Second Independence
Thu 16 May 2019/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rahi, on Thursday evening presided over the funeral in Bkerke for the late Patriarch Emeritus, Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir. Attending the state funeral had been President of the Republic General Michel Aoun, French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, representing French President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari, representing the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Kuwari representing the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad, Jordan's Cherge D'Affaire Wafa Al-Aytam representing King of Jordan Abdullah II, Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Dabour representing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Ambassador Christina Rafti representing Cypriot President. The funeral was also attended by House Speaker, Nabih Berri, Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, and scores of Lebanese officials, ministers, ambassadors, diplomats and dignitaries. In his word at the funeral, Patriarch Rahi eulogized the late Cardinal as the "Dean of the Maronite Church and the Patriarch of Lebanon's Second Independence and Reconciliation.""The late Patriarch shall only be absent in body but shall live on through his spread deeds," Patriarch Rahi mourned Sfeir at the funeral mass in Bkerke. Rahi deemed the late Patriarch as a personality that does not repeat itself and a great national loss. According to Rahi's words, the deceased "was in constant coordination with Pope John Paul II, he met with leaders of great states and was constantly concerned about the Maronite Church while carrying out liturgical reform."The Patriarch also mourned Sfeir as a man with a resolute and unyielding position. "The late Patriarch strengthened the bonds of national unity, rebuilt the state by eliminating the power of statelets and promoted national coexistence," said the prelate at the Requiem for the deceased Patriarch.

Pope Francis mourns Sfeir: A free and courageous man

Thu 16 May 2019/NNA - Pope Francis granted the Apostolic Blessing to the late Patriarch Emeritus Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, and to all his family and loved ones at his funeral in Bkerke, represented by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. Cardinal Sandri then presented on behalf of the Pope his condolences to the sons of the Maronite Church, which the late Patriarch has served and protected with utmost care and love for many years. "He was a free and courageous man who has carried out his mission in difficult conditions, defending the sovereignty and independence of his country and will remain a radiant face in the history of Lebanon," he said.

U.S. Department of State Pays Tribute to Cardinal Sfeir
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/
The U.S. Department of State paid condolences on Thursday for the passing of former Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir who will be laid to rest today. “Patriarch Sfeir was a brave leader against tyranny and oppression. He spearheaded the notion of Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence,” the DoS said in a statement. Sfeir, who was set to turn 99 on Wednesday, will be laid to rest today. He died on Sunday after days of intensive medical care.Sfeir wielded considerable political influence during the country's civil war and was an ardent advocate of a Syrian troop withdrawal. He became the leader of the church in 1986 until he resigned in 2011 due to his declining health, and held the title "76th Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant". He was a respected power broker during the 1975-1990 civil war, which saw bitter infighting between rival militias including opposing Christian factions. Sfeir, who spoke fluent Arabic and French, was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

Ruler of Dubai: Sfeir was a true example of a humble religious figure who strongly advocated justice and peace
Thu 16 May 2019/ NNA - Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Thursday expressed condolences to the Lebanese upon the loss of Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir. “Our condolences to the Lebanese people upon the death of Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir. He was a peacemaker and a true example of a humble religious figure who strongly advocated for justice and peace,” Al-Maktoum said via his twitter account.

Bkerke press office: Condolences conclude tomorrow, Friday
Thu 16 May 2019/NNA - Bkerke Press Office announced in a statement on Thursday that condolences for the loss of late Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir will end tomorrow, Friday. As per the statement, condolences will take place tomorrow from 10:30 am and ends at 18:00 pm.

Report: Maritime Demarcation Talks with Satterfield Reflect ‘Positive’ Atmosphere
Naharnet/May 16/2019/Diplomatic sources confirmed that the maritime border talks between State Department's acting assistant secretary for near eastern affairs, David Satterfeld with Lebanese officials reflected a "very positive" atmosphere paving way for a real opportunity to restore Lebanon's full sovereign rights and provide suitable conditions for extracting energy, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Thursday. The sources told the daily on condition of anonymity that “there is a unified Lebanese position at the level of the government regarding the issue.” Satterfield visited Beirut Tuesday and discussed with senior Lebanese officials the disputed maritime border with Israel as Lebanon looks to start offshore exploration for hydrocarbons. According to Lebanese sources familiar with the talks, one of the points of discussion revolves around the question "at what level will the role of the United Nations be," stressing that the UN represents the international reference and the main legitimacy of similar agreements. The negotiation process would pass through resolving the outstanding points in the land border and demarcation of the maritime border at the same time, sources said. There are proposals that the negotiation mechanism be similar to the negotiation mechanism for delineating the land border under the auspices of the United Nations, and in the presence of a US mediator, they said. Last year, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in its waters, including for a block disputed by its southern neighbour Israel, with which it has fought several wars. Lebanon had reportedly received "positive signals of an American desire to play the role of mediator between Beirut and Tel Aviv".

Hariri: The Lebanese Pound is fine and we have an opportunity to improve the economic situation
Thu 16 May 2019/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri said: “We have an opportunity that I will not allow to be lost and those who want to waste it should bear responsibility”, adding: “There is a chance to improve our situation, but without serious reforms there won’t be any improvement, investments or job opportunities.”Hariri’s stances came during an Iftar held tonight by the union of Beirut families at the Sea Side Arena, in the presence of a number of dignitaries and representatives of Beiruti families. This is the speech: “It is true that we gather today upon the invitation of the Union of Beirut families, but the truth is we are all one family, the family of Beirut. Beirut brings us together because it is Lebanon’s spirit and there is no country without a spirit. Your beloved Premier Rafic Hariri knew this since the beginning. He knew that the country cannot be healed from war if Beirut is not well and if its people aren’t well and safe. He started from Beirut because it is the cornerstone of the country.
Those who are annoyed by the work that is done in Beirut, we tell them: Beirut is the spirit of the country, the whole country is in Beirut and the work in it is for all people from all regions.Today Beirut is waiting, just like all the Lebanese, to see what the government will do about the financial and economic situation.
The people fear for their livelihood and their income. There are thousands of young men and women waiting for a ray of hope to find a job opportunity in the country. Past experiences did not really encourage people to have confidence in the country, because promises were many but the implementation wasn’t right.You know how they used to hinder the work of Premier Rafic Hariri and what happened in Paris I, II and III.
Rafic Hariri used to take the responsibility and tell the international society: I am the guarantor. But unfortunately there were some people ready to disable all the guarantees. Today we have a chance that I will not allow it to be lost. Those who want to waste it should bear responsibility. There is an opportunity to improve our situation, and without serious reforms, there will not be any improvement, investments or job opportunities. We all hear economic theories every day on television, and everybody has become an expert on economy, the Lebanese Pound and infrastructure projects. We know where the country stands, and the difficulties we face in economy. We all have to work to get out of this economic situation, because we really have an opportunity. It is true that we want to reduce spending, but at the same time, there is CEDRE, with $12 billion for the infrastructure. Does anyone believe that our infrastructure is fine? Of course not. This is why we have to apply austerity on one hand and implement these projects on the other, because they will create between 30 and 50 thousand job opportunities per year. I assure you that we will reach solutions regarding the budget that satisfy everyone. Everybody feels that they are sacrificing today, but all we are not saying that we will have ten years of austerity. We saw what happened to neighboring countries, who are still in a financial crisis, after six or seven years. What we are doing is not a sedative, but a treatment, and this is why we should carry out these reforms. I will always be honest with you and we will continue the path together. Things may be difficult these days, but after the approval of the budget things will be better because we would have reached the place that we, as state and government, should reach. CEDRE and all its projects will been launched. There is a lot of alarmism in the country, but President Michel Aoun said yesterday that the Lebanese Pound is fine and I assure you that the Pound is fine because we have a governor at the Central named Riad Salame who is working hard. We all have to work together and no political team can enhance the country alone. We all of should do it together”.

Deputy Director for International Development Visits UK Funded Projects in Lebanon
Naharnet/May 16/2019/New Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa Division for the Department for International Development (DFID) Jonathan Hargreaves ended a two-day visit to Lebanon (13-14 May) to see for himself the progress of UK assistance to Lebanon in the education, humanitarian and economic opportunities sectors. He visited three UK aid funded projects in the Bekaa Valley, a press release said. In Zahle, he met with the Union of Municipalities in Qalaat Al Istiklal – Rachaya and farmers that are benefiting from the Lebanon Host Communities Support Programme (LHSP) delivered in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs and UNDP. With the construction of a facility for packaging local agricultural products, the project will provide jobs, security and access to regional/international markets to local farmers affected by the close down of regional markets since the Syria crisis. The residents of the surrounding villages rely mainly on the production of fruits and vegetables as a source of main income and livelihood. Since 2014, the UK support to LHSP has reached over £48 million so far. Visiting an Informal Tented Settlement, Jonathan met with Syrian refugee families who had fled Syria’s now eight year-long conflict. UK support - in partnership with the UN’s World Food Programme - is supporting tens of thousands of the most severely vulnerable families with cash assistance. This monthly allowance enables households to meet their most urgent survival needs whether it be food, household supplies or vital medicine for children. Since summer 2017, over £91 million of UK humanitarian support has been dedicated to this life-saving programme. Given education is a UK priority in Lebanon, with UK support from 2016-21 reaching up to £165 million, Jonathan visited a Community Based Early Childhood Education Centre, in Zahle, for children aged 3-6 years. The centre is run by World Vision International and funded through the ‘No Lost Generation Initiative-NLGI’ programme, which is delivered by UNICEF. DFID has committed £65 million of support to NLGI programme to deliver non-formal education to up to 100,000 vulnerable out of school children across Lebanon to support them into formal education as well as psychological support for 140,000 women and children effected by trauma. At the end of his visit Jonathan Hargreaves said: ‘I’m delighted to be back in Lebanon to follow-up on UKaid funded programmes across the country. Lebanon continues to be one of the highest recipient of UKaid in the region. It was heart-warming to meet with beneficiaries from across the humanitarian, education and economic sectors and to see the positive impact UKaid projects continue to have on people’s lives’.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 16-17/19
Zarif: Iran Showing 'Maximum Restraint,' U S. Escalation 'Unacceptable'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/ Iran accused the United States Thursday of an "unacceptable" escalation of tensions and said Tehran was showing "maximum restraint" despite Washington's withdrawal from a nuclear deal with world powers. Tensions were already high after President Donald Trump walked away from the accord a year ago, but they have ratcheted up recently with the U.S. deploying an aircraft carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over alleged threats from Iran. "The escalation by the United States is unacceptable," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in Tokyo, where he is holding talks with Japanese officials."We exercise maximum restraint... in spite of the fact that the United States withdrew from JCPOA last May," Zarif said earlier, referring to the agreement on Tehran's nuclear program known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
He added that Tehran remains "committed" to the deal, and said continuing assessments showed Iran was in compliance with the multilateral agreement. Later, Zarif told reporters there was "no possibility" of negotiations with the United States to reduce spiralling tensions, describing U.S. pressure as an "act of suicide."Zarif's comments came after the U.S. on Wednesday ordered non-emergency staff evacuated from its Baghdad embassy due to an "imminent" threat from Iranian-linked Iraqi militias. The move added to growing fears that the long-time rivals could be on course for conflict despite both sides stressing they have no desire for war. Trump, however, predicted Iran would "soon" want to negotiate and denied there was any discord in the White House over moves that critics say could lead to war in the Middle East. "I'm sure that Iran will want to talk soon," the president tweeted. He also blasted media reports of White House turmoil, saying "there is no infighting whatsoever. Different opinions are expressed and I make a final and decisive decision."Zarif dismissed that assertion late Thursday, telling reporters: "I don't know why President Trump is confident, but it's totally wrong."Opponents of Trump say hardliners led by national security advisor John Bolton, who has long advocated toppling the Iranian regime, are pushing the country into war.
'Imminent threat'
Despite international scepticism, the U.S. government has been pointing to increasing threats from Iran, a long-time enemy and also a rival of U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. Senior State Department officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the threat came from Iraqi militia "commanded and controlled" by Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. "It is directly linked to Iran, multiple threat streams directly linked to Iran," said one official. "This is an imminent threat to our personnel," said a second official. "There is no doubt in my mind that under the circumstances, a partial ordered departure (from the embassy) is a reasonable thing to do." Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tuesday insisted the showdown with the United States was a mere test of resolve. "This face-off is not military because there is not going to be any war. Neither we nor them (the U.S.) seek war," he said. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed that sentiment, saying in Sochi, Russia: "We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran."Despite the insistence that neither party wants conflict, world powers have rushed to urge calm and voiced concern over the escalating tensions. Washington says it has received intelligence on possible attacks by Iranian or Iranian-backed forces, possibly targeting U.S. bases in Iraq or Syria. But U.S. allies continued to show skepticism over Washington's alarm bells. Britain's Major General Chris Ghika, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition fighting the jihadist Islamic State group, said Tuesday there was no special heightened alert. After Ghika's comments drew a sharp retort from the U.S. Central Command, Britain's defence ministry said Wednesday they have "long been clear about our concerns over Iran's destabilizing behaviour in the region" -- while still not confirming any new imminent danger. Some observers speculate Tehran is seeking to retaliate over Washington's decision in April to put Iran's Revolutionary Guards on a terror blacklist -- a move designed to stymie their activities across the Middle East. But since the first U.S. warning on May 5, the only incident has been a still-mysterious "attack" Monday on tankers anchored off Fujairah, an Emirati port located at the strategically crucial entrance to the Gulf. One or more vessels incurred light hull damage, but what caused the damage and who was behind it remains unknown.

U.S. Says Iranian Missiles on Small Boats Spotted in Persian Gulf
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/A U.S. official said Thursday that Iranian missiles loaded on small boats in the Persian Gulf were among the "threats" that have triggered a beefed-up military deployment in the region.
"The missiles on civilian boats are a concern," said the official, who asked not to be named. The person was confirming reports in The New York Times saying that Washington reacted to aerial photos from U.S. intelligence agencies showing traditional boats carrying Iranian missiles in the Gulf, one of the world's most strategic waterways. The fully-assembled missiles were loaded on the boats by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which the U.S. has designated a "foreign terrorist organization," the newspaper reported. "What the military and the intelligence are concerned about is the intent," the U.S. official told AFP. The Trump administration has been ramping up pressure on Tehran for the past 10 days, reinforcing its military presence in the Gulf region to ward off what it warned were Iranian threats to U.S. assets and allies there, without providing any evidence of the danger. The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, did not deny the shipment of the missiles in an interview with National Public Radio. "We have to prepare ourselves," he said. "I am not in a position to talk about military preparedness in Iran. But what I can tell you is that all these allegations are part of fake allegations which are being directed against Iran to prepare something like a conflict or something like a war."

Saudi Arabia Reopens Key Oil Pipeline after Drone Attack

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/Saudi Arabia has reopened a key oil pipeline after it was shut down by drone attacks claimed by Iran-aligned Yemen rebels, an official said Thursday. The official from state oil giant Aramco told AFP that the East West Pipeline "is fully operational". Yemen's Huthi rebels had claimed responsibility Tuesday for twin drone strikes on the pipeline from the oil-rich Eastern Province to the Red Sea coast.

Arab Coalition: Raids on military targets loyal to Houthi militia have begun
DUBAI: Arab News//May 16/2019/The Arab Coalition has begun an operation against military targets loyal to the Houthi militia in Yemen’s capital Sanaa. “Coalition efforts in Yemen continue against terrorist organizations to maintain regional and international security,” a coalition spokesman said, adding that the raids were consistent with international law. The coalition also confirmed it had taken all measures to ensure civilian safety, and that the mission was to neutralize the militia’s capabilities to carry out hostile attacks. “The Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco oil pipes prove their loyalty to Iran,” Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister, said. "Houthis are a tool to advance Iranian agenda in the region.”Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that armed drones hit two oil pumping stations in the Kingdom but did not disrupt output or exports. The Houthis said they were responsible. Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said the attack on Saudi oil pipelines was ordered by Iran and the militants are an inseparable part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.  “The Coalition Forces to Support Legitimacy in Yemen carried out on Thursday an air operation on legitimate military targets that contain military bases and installations, weapon and ammunition warehouses for Iran-backed Houthi militia as per military information and intelligence.The raids hit their targets with accuracy. The coalition forces also ascertained that the Iranian-backed Houthi militia’s attacks on the vital facilities in the Kingdom, are considered serious violations of the international human law and customary rules and amount to war crimes. Coalition forces will keep chasing and target terrorists all over Yemen and reach all the locations from which the attacks are launched. The coalition operations will continue in compliance with international humanitarian law and its customary rules to neutralize these military and legitimate targets and prevent Houthi militia from using them.”

Saudi-Led Warplanes Pound Yemen Rebels after Pipeline Attack
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/Saudi-led coalition warplanes struck Yemeni rebel targets, including in the capital Sanaa, on Thursday two days after the insurgents claimed drone strikes that shut a key oil pipeline in the neighbouring kingdom. The new bombardment came after the UN envoy, who has been spearheading efforts to end more than four years of conflict in the Arab world's poorest country, warned it still faced the threat of plunging into all-out war. The Saudi-led coalition, which has been battling the Huthi rebels since March 2015, confirmed that its warplanes were carrying out multiple strikes following twin rebel drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's main east-west pipeline on Tuesday. "We have begun to launch air strikes targeting sites operated by the Huthi militia, including in Sanaa," a coalition official, who declined to be identified, told AFP. One witness in the rebel-held capital told AFP he heard a loud explosion in the city centre. The rebels' Al-Masirah television reported six strikes on the Arhab district of Sanaa province, followed by further strikes, including at least one in Sanaa itself. A second witness told AFP that the raids began around 8 am (0500 GMT) while many Yemenis were asleep awaiting the end at sunset of the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. "There were many strikes," he added. The rebels said their Tuesday attack on the Saudi pipeline was a response to "crimes" committed by Riyadh during its bloody air war in Yemen, that has been criticised repeatedly by the United Nations and human rights groups. The pipeline, which can carry five million barrels of crude per day, provides a strategic alternative route for Saudi exports if the shipping lane from the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz is closed. Iran, which Arab Gulf states accuse of supporting the Yemeni rebels, has repeatedly threatened to close the vital conduit for global oil supplies in case of a military confrontation with the United States.
'Retaliate hard'
The Saudi cabinet called on Wednesday for "confronting terrorist entities which carry out such sabotage acts, including the Iran-backed Huthi militias in Yemen." Key ally the United Arab Emirates echoed the call. "We will retaliate and we will retaliate hard when we see Huthis hitting civilian targets like what happened in Saudi Arabia," the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen when President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile as the rebels closed in on his last refuge in Yemen's second city Aden after sweeping through most of the rest of the country. The intervention has retaken much of the south but the capital and most of the populous central highlands remain in rebel hands. A grinding war of attrition has since gripped the country with third city Taez and the vital Red Sea aid port of Hodeida turned into battlegrounds.
In December, UN mediators brokered hard-won truce deals for both cities during talks in Sweden but the hoped for momentum for talks on a comprehensive peace has failed to materialise. On Tuesday, UN observers confirmed that rebel fighters had pulled out of Hodeida port and two other Red Sea terminals, unilaterally carrying out a key redeployment that was supposed to follow the December ceasefire.
UN envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed the pullback, but warned the Security Council on Wednesday that the risks of a slide into all-out war remained high. "Despite the significance of the last few days, Yemen remains at the crossroads between war and peace," he said. "There are signs of hope," he added, but there are also "alarming signs" of war. Griffiths nonetheless hailed "a new beginning in Hodeida," where rebel fighters handed control of the port to coastguards, saying that "change is now a reality." Hodeida 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. More than four years of conflict has triggered what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million -- more than two-thirds of the population -- in need of aid. The head of UNICEF, the UN children's agency, said that while a ceasefire was largely holding in Hodeida, fighting was raging "across 30 active conflict zones -- home to nearly 1.2 million children.""We are at a tipping point. If the war continues any longer, the country may move past the point of no return," Henrietta Fore told the Security Council. "Hospitals, clinics and water systems are in ruins -- with half of the country's hospitals and clinics destroyed."

Sudan Army Ruler Suspends Civil Rule Talks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/Sudan's military rulers on Thursday suspended crucial talks with protesters on installing civilian rule, insisting more time was needed to finalise the deal as Khartoum's security situation deteriorated. On Wednesday army generals and protest leaders were expected to decide on the make-up of a new body to govern Sudan for three years, the thorniest issue in instating civilian rule following the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir last month. But after at least eight people were reported wounded by gunshots near a sit-in outside the army complex in the capital, Sudan's army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced negotiations would be suspended for 72 hours.Burhan -- the chief of the ruling military council that took power after Bashir was toppled -- left the door open to resume talks but demanded protesters dismantle roadblocks in Khartoum, open bridges and railway lines connecting the capital and "stop provoking security forces". There were "armed elements among demonstrators who were shooting at security forces", he added. Earlier on Wednesday, protest leaders told AFP of the ruling military council's decision to suspend talks. "They asked us to dismantle barricades in parts of the capital," Rashid al-Sayid, a spokesman of the umbrella protest movement the Alliance for Freedom and Change said.
'Many assaults on us'
Roadblocks on key thoroughfares are being used by demonstrators to pressure the generals to transfer power to a civilian administration. The protest group that spearheaded the campaign against Bashir said the generals wanted the demonstrators to restrict themselves to the sit-in area where thousands have camped for weeks in central Khartoum, demanding civilian rule. Some roadblocks were later removed after the protest group urged demonstrators to abide by the request, an AFP correspondent reported. Protester Mohamed expressed disappointment over the suspended negotiations, telling AFP they had "delayed so many times and there have been so many assaults on us". The protest movement is demanding a civilian-led transition, which the generals have steadfastly resisted since bowing to their demands and toppling longtime autocrat Bashir. During the first two days of talks the two sides had agreed on an overall civilian structure, including a three-year transitional period for the full transfer of power to a civilian administration. They had also agreed that parliament be composed of 300 members for the transition, with 67 percent from the alliance and the rest drawn from other political groups. The composition of the new sovereign council has been the toughest part of the negotiations, with the two sides so far proposing different compositions of the body which is expected to take all key decisions concerning national issues. The generals want it to be military-led, while the protesters insist on a majority civilian body.
'Provoking security forces'
Earlier General Yasser al-Atta, one of the members of the current ruling military council, had vowed to reach a deal by early Thursday that "meets the people's aspirations". But in his statement announcing the suspension, chief Burhan said the protesters were "provoking the security forces", referring to reports of clashes between demonstrators and members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The RSF had "taken the side of the people's revolution and played an important role in its victory". Hours before the talks were due to start on Wednesday, the Alliance for Freedom and Change wrote on Facebook that eight people had been wounded by live fire. A witness told AFP that gunshots had been fired near the sit-in. The British ambassador to Khartoum said Sudanese security forces had fired at protesters. "Extremely concerned by use of live ammunition by Sudanese security forces against protesters in Khartoum today, with reports of civilian casualties," Irfan Siddiq wrote on Twitter. "Military council must act to stop this now. No more excuses." Security forces were seen chasing protesters in downtown Khartoum and removing some roadblocks, an AFP correspondent said. Tension had flared since Monday when five protesters and an army officer were killed in shootings near the sit-in. The new council is expected to form a transitional civilian government, which would then prepare for the first post-Bashir election after the three-year changeover period ends. Protest leader Khalid Omar Yousef downplayed the role of the proposed ruling council, insisting Sudan would have a powerful cabinet. "All powers will be in the cabinet's hand, which will be formed by the Alliance for Freedom and Change," he said. Only the defence and interior ministries would be headed by military figures, he said.

Two Killed in Dubai Plane Crash
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/The pilot and co-pilot of a small plane were killed in a crash Thursday, causing delays at Dubai airport, the emirate's government media office said. "An accident involving a small plane with four passengers occurred resulting in the death of the pilot and his assistant," it said in a statement. The small Diamond Aircraft, owned by U.S. tech giant Honeywell, crashed due to a technical malfunction, it said. "All operations at the Dubai airport are running smoothly after a slight delay and diversion of some flights as a precautionary measure to ensure security," it added.Dubai's international airport is one of the world's busiest aviation hubs.

Libya's Haftar Tours Rome and Paris amid Military Stalemate
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who has launched a military offensive against the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, held surprise talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome on Thursday ahead of a visit to Paris next week, officials said. Conte said he urged Haftar to call a ceasefire to his assault on the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who also travelled to Rome and Paris for talks last week. "It was a fairly long meeting, a lengthy exchange of information," Conte told journalists. "I informed him of the government's position. We want a ceasefire and we feel that the political path is the only solution." Conte said last week that he wanted to meet Haftar after his talks with Sarraj.The Libyan military chief, whose forces control large swathes of the country's east, will travel next week to Paris for talks with President Emmanuel Macron, his office said. "The goal will be to discuss the situation in Libya and the conditions for resuming a political dialogue... in conjunction with the UN and our partners," an Elysee Palace official said. France and Italy are the two lead European powers seeking to find a solution to years of instability, spreading Islamic extremism and a migrant crisis in Libya which fell into chaos after the NATO-backed toppling of dictator Moammsr Gadhafi in 2011. But the neighbours are seen by experts as competing for influence and the issue has caused tensions between the governments. Sarraj, who is seen as being close to Rome, has accused France of supporting "dictator" Haftar's campaign against his internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). Paris has rejected the claims, saying it supports Sarraj but also considers Haftar a key player in rebuilding Libya after years of strife. Haftar's bid to unseat Sarraj and take control of the Libyan capital has reached a military and political impasse after more than a month of fighting. After the initial advance, forces loyal to the GNA launched a counter-offensive that has led to a stalemate on the ground. The fighting has killed at least 430 people and wounded over 2,000 while displacing 55,000 others, according to U.N. estimates. The European Union on Monday called for all sides in the conflict to put down their arms and commit to U.N. talks, saying the offensive was a threat to international peace. "The situation in Libya is very worrying because the roadmap proposed by the United Nations... has been jeopardized by both the move by Marshal Haftar and by the move, or non-move by Prime Minister Sarraj," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Sweden to Host International Meeting on IS Tribunal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 16/2019/Sweden will host an international meeting on June 3 aimed at setting up a tribunal to judge militants who fought with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, the government said Thursday. The tribunal would preferably be set up somewhere in the Middle East, Sweden's Minister for Home Affairs Mikael Damberg told AFP. He said he believed a tribunal based closer to the region would have an easier time processing cases and securing convictions than countries such as Sweden and Britain. "A regional mechanism would be closer to both evidence and witness testimony, which could increase the number of convictions," Damberg said. Damberg said several countries were looking into the matter, and therefore the Swedish government believed the time was right to host a meeting of experts and state officials to exchange knowledge and gauge whether it would be possible to move forward jointly. Damberg said the Netherlands, Britain, France and Belgium all planned to attend the Stockholm meeting. The specific type of crimes the tribunal could pursue would be left up to the attending parties to discuss, and Sweden had actively chosen not to present its own model at this stage, Damberg said. He conceded that the creation of a tribunal was still far off and the road ahead would be complex. He noted that normally, a legal mechanism would be developed with the affected country -- but a cooperation with the Syrian regime appeared out of the question.
"Neither Sweden nor any country I've spoken with have any interest in having a collaboration with the Assad regime. That makes the situation more complicated," Damberg said.

Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 16-17/19
The Iranian Government's 40 Years of Hatred Towards America
ماجد رافيزادا/معهد كيتستون: أربعون سنة من كراهية الحكومات الإيرانية لأميركا
Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/May 16/ 2019
It was Iran, not the US, that breached international law by carrying out the US Embassy takeover in Tehran.... It was also Iran, not the US, that immediately began using its proxies, such as Hezbollah, to commit terrorism and incite antagonism towards America.
Should the mullahs be appeased for killing thousands of Americans? For continually taking Americans as hostages? For being the leading executioner of children in the world? For ranking the first in the world per capita when it comes to executing people? For being the world's top state sponsor of terrorism? For making every possible effort to damage US national security and scuttle US foreign policy objectives?
The Iranian government's hatred towards the US often seems the most important reason for its existence. As long as the ruling mullahs remain in power, the Islamic Republic will continue its acts of terror and deep antagonism against Americans, their Sunni neighbors, the lands they try to control -- such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, parts of Gaza and Venezuela, Lebanon -- and the West.
Iran breached international law by carrying out the 1979 US Embassy takeover in Tehran. Iran detained and humiliated 52 Americans and did not release these hostages for 444 days, the longest hostage-taking in modern history. Pictured: Two of the American hostages held by Iran after the takeover of the US Embassy, November 4, 1979. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
The argument that the US must take an apologetic stance towards the theocratic establishment of Iran is being repeatedly made without the evidence of any effectiveness to back it up.
Former President Barack Obama created this policy, and insisted that it would be successful. Even as Iran flaunted its disregard for the American government, as well as human life, President Obama would continually apologize to the Iranian leaders. He made it sound as if America was to blame for initiating the hatred that the Iranian government projects toward the United States.
But let us get the historical facts straight. Hatred and deep antagonism towards the US, Israel and the Jews are indispensable pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran. When the ruling mullahs came to power in 1979, it was not the US that started the hatred by criticizing or opposing the ruling clerics. In fact, former President Jimmy Carter welcomed the Islamic Republic and viewed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as a good religious holy man. According to recently declassified documents, the Carter administration even paved the way for Khomeini to return to Iran.
Such amicable behavior and support from the US, however, did not change Tehran's policies. The Islamic Republic still publicly declared its revolutionary ideals, which, from the outset, included standing against Israel and the US.
It was Iran, not the US, that breached international law by carrying out the 1979 US Embassy takeover in Tehran. Iran detained and humiliated 52 Americans and did not release these hostages for 444 days, the longest hostage-taking in modern history.
This was the beginning of the journey of hatred. It was also Iran, not the US, that immediately began using its proxies, such as Hezbollah, to commit terrorism and incite antagonism towards America.
Hezbollah has been accused of terrorist attacks, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, in which 241 U.S. Marines were killed; the 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut; the 1984 United States Embassy annex bombing in Beirut; as well as the 9/11 attacks in the United States, for which federal courts ordered Iran to pay $7.5 billion to the families of the victims of the horrific attack. Hezbollah and Iran were also reportedly behind the 1992 attack on Israel's Embassy in Buenos Aires during which 29 people were killed, as well as bombing the USS Cole.
It was the Iranian government that provided aid to Al Qaeda to carry out terrorist attacks against the US. A New York court found that "The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran ("Iran") has a long history of providing material aid and support to terrorist organizations including al Qaeda, which have claimed responsibility for the August 7, 1998 embassy bombings."
The New York federal court added that "Iran had been the preeminent state sponsor of terrorism against the United States and its interests for decades. Throughout the 1990s — at least — Iran regarded al Qaeda as a useful tool to destabilize U.S. interests. As discussed in detail below, the government of Iran aided, abetted and conspired with Hezbollah, Osama Bin Laden, and al Qaeda to launch large-scale bombing attacks against the United States by utilizing the sophisticated delivery mechanism of powerful suicide truck bombs."
While former President Barack Obama was busy apologizing to, and appeasing Iran, the Islamic Republic continued its terror against the US by carrying out unneighborly acts such as detaining 10 U.S. Navy sailors, humiliating them, and releasing a video of the episode. The list goes on.
The US has nothing to apologize for. Why should the US appease the Iranian leaders? Should the mullahs be appeased for killing thousands of Americans? For continually taking Americans as hostages? For being the leading executioner of children in the world? For ranking the first in the world per capita when it comes to executing people? For being the world's top state sponsor of terrorism? For making every possible effort to damage US national security and scuttle US foreign policy objectives?
The Iranian government's hatred towards the US often seems the most important reason for its existence. As long as the ruling mullahs remain in power, the Islamic Republic will continue its acts of terror and deep antagonism against Americans, their Sunni neighbors, the lands they try to control -- such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, parts of Gaza and Venezuela, Lebanon -- and the West.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
© 2019 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Painting of Muslim Men Sexually Enslaving White Women Triggers Outrage
Raymond Ibrahim/May 16/2019
To highlight the apparent threat male Muslim migrants pose to women in Germany, a political party has triggered many on both sides of the Atlantic by using an older painting in its campaign.
Painted in France in 1866 and titled “Slave Market,” the painting “shows a black, apparently Muslim slave trader displaying a naked young woman with much lighter skin to a group of men for examination,” probably in North Africa.
The Alternative for Germany party (AfD), founded in 2013 and first elected to Germany’s national parliament in 2017, has been putting up posters of the painting with the slogan, “So that Europe won’t become Eurabia.”
“We are strongly opposed to the use of this work to advance any political agenda,” objects Olivier Meslay, director of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which houses the original painting. He said his museum had written to AfD, “insisting that they cease and desist in using this painting.” Despite the rather legal tone, the painting is in the public domain; even Meslay acknowledges that “there are no copyrights or permissions that allow us to exert control over how it is used other than to appeal to civility on the part of the AfD Berlin.”
For its part, the AfD said the U.S. museum’s call is “a futile attempt to gag the AfD,” adding that “[t]he German public has the right to find out about the truth about the possible consequences of illegal mass immigration.”
Other elements in Germany are even more hostile to the AfD’s painting/poster: almost as soon as they are put up, every poster has been torn down, so that “party workers have had to repeatedly put up new copies, only to see them destroyed again the following night.”
What to make of all this? Objectively speaking, the “Slave Market” painting in question portrays a reality that has played out countless times over the centuries: African and Middle Eastern Muslims have long targeted European women—so much so as to have enslaved millions of them over the centuries (as copiously documented in my recent book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, from which the following quotes and statistics are derived).
The Muslim demand for, in the words of one historian, “white-complexioned blondes, with straight hair and blue eyes,” traces back to the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, who enticed his followers to wage jihad against neighboring Byzantium by citing its blonde (“yellow”) women awaiting them as potential concubines.
For over a millennium afterwards, Islamic caliphates, emirates, and sultanates—of the Arab, Berber, Turkic, and Tatar variety—also coaxed their men to jihad on Europe by citing (and later sexually enslaving) its fair women. Accordingly, because the “Umayyads particularly valued blond or red-haired Franc or Galician women as sexual slaves,” Dario Fernandez-Morera writes, “al-Andalus [Islamic Spain] became a center for the trade and distribution of slaves.”
Indeed, the insatiable demand for fair women was such that, according to M.A. Khan, an Indian author and former Muslim, it is “impossible to disconnect Islam from the Viking slave-trade, because the supply was absolutely meant for meeting [the] Islamic world’s unceasing demand for the prized white slaves” and “white sex-slaves.” Emmet Scott goes further, arguing that “it was the caliphate’s demand for European slaves that called forth the Viking phenomenon in the first place.”
As for numbers, according to the conservative estimate of American professor Robert Davis, “between 1530 and 1780 [alone] there were almost certainly a million and quite possibly as many as a million and a quarter white, European Christians enslaved by the Muslims of the Barbary Coast,” that is, of North Africa, the telling setting of the painting. By 1541, “Algiers teemed with Christian captives [from Europe], and it became a common saying that a Christian slave was scarce a fair barter for an onion.”
With countless sexually enslaved European women—some seized from as far as Denmark, Iceland, and even Iceland—selling for the price of vegetables, little wonder that European observers by the late 1700s noted how “the inhabitants of Algiers have a rather white complexion.”
Further underscoring the rapacious and relentless drive of the Muslim slave industry, consider this: The United States of America’s first war—which it fought before it could even elect its first president—was against these same Islamic slavers. When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams asked Barbary’s ambassador why his countrymen were enslaving American sailors, the “ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that … it was their right and duty to make war upon them [non-Muslims] wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners.”
The situation was arguably worse for Eastern Europeans; the slave markets of the Ottoman sultanate were for centuries so inundated with Slavic flesh that children sold for pennies, “a very beautiful slave woman was exchanged for a pair of boots, and four Serbian slaves were traded for a horse.” In Crimea, some three million Slavs were enslaved by the Ottomans’ Muslim allies, the Tatars. “The youngest women are kept for wanton pleasures,” observed a seventeenth century Lithuanian.
Even the details of the “Slave Market” painting/poster, which depicts a nude and fair-skinned female slave being pawed at by potential buyers, echoes reality. Based on a twelfth-century document dealing with slave auctions in Cordoba, Muslim merchants “would put ointments on slave girls of a darker complexion to whiten their faces… ointments were placed on the face and body of black slaves to make them ‘prettier.’” Then, the Muslim merchant “dresses them all in transparent clothes” and “tells the slave girls to act in a coquettish manner with the old men and with the timid men among the potential buyers to make them crazy with desire.”In short, outrage at the Alternative for Germany’s use of the “Slave Market” painting is just another attempt to suppress the truth concerning Muslim/Western history—especially in its glaring continuity with the present. For the essence of that painting—Muslim men pawing at and sexually preying on fair women—has reached alarming levels all throughout Western Europe, especially Germany.
Note: The historic events, statistics, and quotes narrated above—and more like them—are fully documented in Raymond Ibrahim’s Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West.

Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished
Arab News/May 16/2019
The attacks on Tuesday by armed drones on Saudi oil-pumping stations, and two days beforehand on oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, represent a serious escalation on the part of Iran and its proxies, should the initial conclusions of an international investigation prove to be accurate.
Riyadh has constantly warned world leaders of the dangers that Iran poses, not only to Saudi Arabia and the region, but also to the entire world. This is something former President Obama did not realize until the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the US Navy three times in late 2016. The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today’s world of commerce. Tehran should not get away with any more intimidation, or be allowed to threaten global stability.
It was in 2008 that the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called upon the US to “cut off the head of the snake,” in reference to the malign activities of Iran. Nearly a decade later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” We are in 2019 and Iran continues to wreak havoc in the region, both directly and through its well armed proxies. Crown Prince Mohammed was therefore clearly correct when he argued that appeasement does not work with the Iranian regime, just as it did not work with Hitler. The next logical step — in this newspaper’s view — should be surgical strikes. The US has set a precedent, and it had a telling effect: The Trump strikes on Syria when the Assad regime used Sarin gas against its people.
We argue this because it is clear that sanctions are not sending the right message. If the Iranian regime were not too used to getting away with their crimes, they would have taken up the offer from President Trump to get on the phone and call him in order to reach a deal that would be in the best interests of the Iranian people themselves. As the two recent attacks indicate, the Iranians insist on disrupting the flow of energy around the world, putting the lives of babies in incubators at risk, threatening hospitals and airports, attacking civilian ships and putting innocent lives in danger. As the case always is with the Iranian leadership, they bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they have done nothing. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that they were behind the attack on our brothers in the UAE while their Houthi militias targeted the Saudi pipelines.
Our point of view is that they must be hit hard. They need to be shown that the circumstances are now different. We call for a decisive, punitive reaction to what happened so that Iran knows that every single move they make will have consequences. The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions — again in the world’s interest — but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region.
We respect the wise and calm approach of politicians and diplomats calling for investigations to be completed and all other options to be exhausted before heading to war. In the considered view of this newspaper, there has to be deterrent and punitive action in order for Iran to know that no sinister act will go unpunished; that action, in our opinion, should be a calculated surgical strike.

Iran may take Trump up on his offer to talk
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/May 16/2019
Several TV outlets and newspapers controlled by the Iranian government this week put significant emphasis on US President Donald Trump’s call for negotiations with the Islamic Republic.
This was a totally unexpected message for the Iranian leaders. Trump stated in remarks to reporters at the White House: “What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me… What they should be doing is calling me up, sitting down; we can make a deal, a fair deal… We’re not looking to hurt Iran.” He added: “I want them to be strong and great and have a great economy. But they should call, and if they do, we’re open to talk to them.”
To Iran’s surprise, the White House even passed a phone number to Swiss officials in Tehran in order to give to the Iranian government in case it wanted to call the president directly.
The Trump administration is likely carrying out the carrot and stick approach, combining rewards and pressure, in order to hopefully change Iran’s aggressive policies and induce constructive behavior from Tehran.
The US this month deployeda Patriot missile battery, the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, the USS Leyte Gulf guided missile cruiser, Carrier Air Wing Seven, and destroyers from Destroyer Squadron Two to the Middle East in order to deter the Iranian regime from carrying out its threats, which include closing the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly a thirdof the world’s traded oil passes.
Gen. Ali Reza Tangsiri, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) navy, was last month quoted by the semi-official Tasnim News Agency as saying: “If we are banned from using it (the Strait of Hormuz), we will close it.” In addition, the US has reportedly received credible intelligence that Iran is planning to attack US bases and forces in the Middle East through its militias and proxies.
How did Iran portray Trump’s announcement that Tehran should call him? The regime attempted to show that the US president’s call for negotiations was a sign of weakness on the side of the White House. Iranian leaders are trying to project power and appease its proxies and hard-line base.
History has shown us that, whenever the Iranian regime is under significant pressure, it has resorted to negotiations.
Meanwhile, some state-controlled newspapers arguedthat Trump is seeking to negotiate in a bid to achieve an important foreign policy objective and utilize it to win his bid for re-election in November 2020.
Putting Tehran’s rhetoric aside, the key question is whether or not the Iranian leaders will respond to Trump’s statement and give him a call. The theocratic establishment will, more than likely, contact the White House for two critical reasons. Firstly, history has shown us that, whenever the Iranian regime is under significant pressure economically and geopolitically, it has resorted to negotiations and bilateral talks. This is due to the fact that financial austerity can pose a threat to the ruling clerics. In addition, the loss of revenues makes it extremely difficult for Tehran to continue supporting, training, sponsoring, funding and arming its proxies and militias across the region.
For example, during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic reached their peak, as four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions crippled the regime’s economy. This led to a new era of negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the US and the other members of the P5+1 (Germany, the UK, China, Russia and France). If it was not for the green light given by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to the so-called moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president would have not pursued the negotiations. This is because Iran’s supreme leader and the IRGC’s senior cadre enjoy the final say in critical matters regarding both domestic and foreign policies.
As a result of the negotiations, the Iranian government received billions of dollars in revenues thanks to sanctions relief, joined the global financial system, gained legitimacy, and secured and ensured its hold on power. Now, however, as Rouhani has admitted, the Islamic Republic is facing the worst economic crisis since its establishment. The second reason behind the belief that Iran will most likely call the White House is the fact that Tehran will view this as an opportunity to buy time. The Iranian leaders believe Trump is unlikely to get re-elected in 2020 and, if they can stall until another president — this time from the Democratic Party — assumes office, they believe they can weather the storm.
In a nutshell, Iran is facing its worst economic crisis since 1979. As a result, the regime will likely reach out to Trump in order to buy time until the US presidential elections in 2020.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman, and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Europe’s dilemma as US increases pressure on Iran
Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/May 16/2019
The Europeans were caught in the middle when the US last year unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which had been signed in 2015 between the permanent five representatives of the UN Security Council plus Germany and Iran. Their stance was that Tehran had complied with the letter of the agreement, which had been attested by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini even tried to devise an alternate non-dollar denominated payment system to enable European companies to circumvent the US sanctions and continue trading with Iran. The plan was a flop. European companies were afraid that, even if they circumvented the dollar, trading with Iran might shut them out of the US banking system. The US is still the world’s largest economy and Iran, with its 80 million people and roughly $440 billion of gross domestic product, can’t stack up to that. However, Switzerland has devised a smaller non-dollar denominated payment channel for humanitarian goods like medicines, which are exempt from US sanctions, and that mechanism seems to be working.
One year on, US President Donald Trump and National Security Adviser John Bolton want to apply maximum pressure on Iran. On May 2, they cancelled the exemptions from oil sanctions they had granted to eight nations and, since then, the rhetoric has ratcheted up considerably.
Iran’s reaction was to give the remaining JCPOA countries an ultimatum of two months or it would resume activities regulated under articles 26 and 36 of the agreement. This means they would no longer sell heavy water and enriched uranium to Russia and Oman, but store them in the country. This did not go down well in Europe.
Unlike the US, Europe is the Middle East’s near neighbor, and the Europeans are concerned about the lack of stability in their vicinity. Failed states like Libya and Syria and the tenuous situation in Iraq have resulted in streams of refugees that European governments find difficult to deal with. It has also given rise to alt-right movements and parties, who have written xenophobic and Islamophobic slogans on their banners.
Europe, then, is looking on with bated breath at recent developments, as the US is sending an aircraft carrier and airborne squadrons to the Gulf. Trump has also warned that he could send 100,000 soldiers to the Middle East. On Wednesday, the US ordered all non-essential personnel in its diplomatic missions in Iraq to return for fear that they might be attacked — only to be contradicted by Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, the British deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the US-led coalition against Daesh, that there was no increased danger from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.
Also, this week, two Saudi oil tankers and one each from the UAE and Norway were sabotaged off the shores of the port of Fujairah, and two drones damaged the east-west oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. Houthi rebels assumed responsibility for the drone attacks. The pipeline is important. It was built in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War precisely to circumvent the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hurmuz. Twenty percent of global crude oil trade has to pass through the Strait of Hormuz to reach global markets, making it a potential choke point for worldwide oil supplies.
Unlike the US, Europe is the Middle East’s near neighbor, and the Europeans are concerned about the lack of stability in their vicinity
Against that backdrop, Europe and, for that matter, the world fear that any spark might ignite a situation so laden with tension, although all parties assure that they do not want war. The Middle East is a geopolitical powder keg, which could hardly take yet another armed conflict.
Europe is concerned. Everybody prefers to live in a peaceful neighborhood. This brings us to what the Europeans can do. Norbert Roettgen, a Member of the German Bundestag and head of its foreign affairs select committee, proposed that Germany, France and the UK (the Europeans signatories to the JCPOA) should take a leadership role in trying to mediate in the matter. He admitted that the JCPOA had some faults, especially in as much as it did not include Iran’s military involvement and influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen. He is of the opinion that these issues need to be addressed, but he felt that the JCPOA was a good starting point. He reinforced that Iran had adhered to the letter of the agreement but opined that the two-month ultimatum was singularly unhelpful.
Roettgen had a point. Alas, it will be difficult to get the Europeans to act as one at this point. Brexit makes the British position difficult, while France and Germany are currently at loggerheads on many issues. It would also be important to engage in a meaningful way with the US administration in order for any efforts to mediate to be effective.
In this context, it did not help that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cancelled a scheduled visit with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at short notice in order to go to Iraq. Pompeo was also not able to convince the EU foreign ministers when he met them in Brussels on Monday. Mogherini was very clear in as much as she wanted to see tensions cooled. Pompeo’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not go any further.
In the meantime, the saber-rattling continues and tensions are on the rise. While both Trump and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei say that they do not want war, things could unintentionally get out of hand. Roettgen’s notion that there might be a role for the Europeans to mediate may have some validity. However, they would need to have a very clear game plan in order to stand a chance of succeeding — however slim that chance might be.
• Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macro-economist and energy expert. Twitter: @MeyerResources

Drone technology driving Iran’s asymmetric warfare
Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/May 16/2019
The Iranian-supplied drone attacks carried out by the Houthis on Saudi energy infrastructure on Tuesday are an immediate concern for all supporters. Here, the Houthis, who the same day had finished observing the Stockholm process for clearing out the port of Hodeidah, launched Tehran’s drones into Saudi Arabia. For some, that is a direct attack by the Islamic Republic of Iran. There is a much bigger picture to understand when it comes to Iranian-backed attacks on energy infrastructure, and Tehran’s dangerous games in the face of mounting economic pressure and international isolation are a warning of what is to come. Iran’s drone doctrine is based on asymmetric warfare. Most people focus on governments deploying drones, but terrorists, insurgents and other non-state actors are using them as well. Hezbollah has been operating Iranian-built drones against Israel for years, but these have been predominantly military-grade models and thus fairly sophisticated. To be clear, Hezbollah acquires advanced models from Iran and is one of only 10 entities that have fired missiles from a drone at targets on the ground. The other nine are all countries, not violent non-state actors.
Iran uses its drones in what should now be seen as a very threatening manner. In March, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) held a drill codenamed “Towards Jerusalem 1” near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. It flew about 50 “offensive and combat” drones to the Arabian Gulf, including “Saegheh” unmanned combat aerial vehicles, which are based on the American RQ-170 that Tehran captured a few years ago and that it was able to duplicate to use against the US’ Arab partners. The drones took off from bases up to about 1,000 kilometers from the targets on Bani Farur island and successfully bombed them. It was the first time such a high number of offensive drones had participated in a drill.
In Yemen, the story is a continuation of the Iranian model. The Houthis have made effective use of drones in their fight against government forces and the Saudi-led coalition. They have struck targets inside and outside Yemen with ballistic missiles, with US-supplied Patriot missile batteries being the primary defense against these attacks. But drones have not only appeared in the air — Houthi forces have also conducted attacks on coastal shipping using remotely controlled explosive “drone boats.” The most significant example was an attack on a Saudi frigate in January 2017.
Iranian forces are using drones for every possible mission, from logistics to surveillance, and probably soon airstrikes with payload.
Now the threat against energy assets from Iran and its proxies in terms of asymmetric warfare through the use of drones is only growing. Culture seems to be a driver in Iran’s use of drones. The 1990 movie “Mohajer,” based on a true story, depicted the start of drone operations in Iran during the closing years of the Iraqi-imposed war of the 1980s. The Qods Mohajer drone first flew in 1985, so Iranian experience with drones is neither unknown nor new.The Iranian armed forces actually started using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including drones, at around that time, mostly for intelligence gathering, including imaging, and bombing operations.
Now we live in a more combative time, as Iran shows off its networks and ability to spread technology in response to increasing sanctions affecting the country’s economic sectors. Iranian forces are using drones for every possible mission, from logistics to surveillance, and probably soon airstrikes with payload. Iran deploys surveillance and armed drones in its border areas, including for reconnaissance and target identification, as well as in the neighboring countries in which it is militarily involved, like Iraq and Syria. Moreover, with Houthi successes, strikes on energy infrastructure by Iran and its proxies appear to be a well-structured model for targeting such assets in the immediate future. That Iran and its proxies can use such asymmetric tactics, which cover land and sea, brings into focus the threat from such technology in Tehran’s hands.
Geographically, the reach of such Iranian-based asymmetric tools is problematic because of the way Iran is teaching its proxies, or how its proxies modify and adapt, to use drones and other technology against energy infrastructure or transport. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are primary asymmetric targets because of Iran and its proxies’ modus operandiand their proximity. Unfortunately, the spread of such technology, which can strike other energy infrastructure, is likely because of the ease of transportation, assembly, launching and striking of energy-related targets. Iran’s global network, supported by Hezbollah, is a primary threat and allies of both exist in West Africa and Latin America. The ideal targets for Iran and its proxies remain oil pipelines, certain oil export infrastructure and oil industry personnel that are close to any locations from where drones can be launched. Other target sites include utilities and electric power plants. Wellheads will still be a target but, thanks to drone technology, bigger targets with higher psychological impacts loom. The US’ designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is part of the attempts to try to mitigate the spread of such technology. Indeed, Iran is playing a dangerous game as President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign continues.
*Dr. Theodore Karasik is a non-resident senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and a national security expert, specializing in Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East. He worked for the RAND Corporation and publishes widely in the US and international media. Twitter: @tkarasik