November 07/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site

News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to enter the LCCC Arabic/English news bulletins Achieves since 2006

Bible Quotations For today
Whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever
First Letter to Timothy 05/01-10/:”Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters with absolute purity. Honour widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once; she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way.”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 06-07/2019
World Bank Ready to Support Lebanon, Urges Quick Formation of New Cabinet
World Bank ready to support Lebanon, urges quick formation of new cabinet
World Bank Sounds Alarm about Lebanon amid Protests, Crisis
Aoun Says Corruption Investigations Won't Spare Any Incumbent, Former Official
President to Kumar Jha: Investigations will not exclude anyone, 17 files on corruption referred to judiciary
Hariri, Bassil Hold 'Positive' Second Meeting
World Bank ready to support Lebanon, urges quick formation of new cabinet
Geagea: We seek a government of experts who are independent of political majority
Women Stage Pot-Banging Demo as Protesters Scuffle with Police in Ramlet al-Bayda
State Prosecutor Authorizes Financial Prosecution to Sue 13 Public Employees
Financial Prosecutor Summons Saniora for Testimony in $11 Billion Case
STL President Convenes Trial Chamber in Hamadeh, Hawi, Murr Case
Lebanese Students Skip School, Protesters Rally Outside State Institutions to Press Demands
Jumblat to ABC: Lebanon on Verge of Economic Collapse, Needs Technocratic Govt.
School Principal Threatens to Expel Students over Demos

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 06-07/2019

Iran Starts Injecting Uranium Gas into Centrifuges at Fordow
Shtayyeh: Disengagement from Israel Is Not a Slogan
Israel Releases 2 Jordanians after Two-Month Detention
Disputes Emerge over Palestinian President’s Elections Proposal
2 Killed in Karbala as Iraqi Security Forces Try to Disperse Protesters
Sisi Says Sinai Development is ‘National Security’ Issue, Calls for Reassuring Citizens
Four Tourists among 8 Wounded in Jordan Stabbing
Public Hearings in Trump Impeachment Probe Start Next Week
Lebanon Warned on Default and Recession as Its Reserves Decline

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 06-07/2019
The Majority Of Lebanon’s politicians know no shame or blush/Elias Bejjani/November 06/2019
The Lebanon Protests: ِAudio-Views from Beirut and Policy Implications/Makram Rabah, Lokman Slim, Jean Tawile, and Hanin Ghaddar/
Washington Institute for Near East Policy/November 06/ 2019
Presidential Love/Elie Aoun/November 06/2019
“We have Reached the Brink”/Issam Kayssi/Carnegie MECenter/November 06/2019
Iran and the Specter of Political Change in the Middle East/New York Times/November 06/2019
Protests in Iraq, Lebanon Reveal a Long-Simmering Anger at Iran/Associated Press/Naharnet/November 06/2019
How Putin Outfoxed Trump, Pence and Erdogan/Malcolm Lowe/Gatestone Institute/November 06/2019
Should Europe Bring Back the Fighters Who Left for ISIS?/Alain Destexhe/Gatestone Institute/November 06/2019
‘Iranian attack on Israel is just a matter of time’/Israel Kasnett/JNS/November 06/2019
Riyadh Agreement Delivers Political Gains in Yemen, But Implementation Less Certain/Elana DeLozier/The Washington Institute/November 06/2019
Recalling the hostage crisis that made Iran forever hostile to the US/Simon Henderson/The Hill/November 06/2019
Hostage crisis set the tone for Islamic Republic’s rule/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 06/2019

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on November 06-07/2019
The Majority Of Lebanon’s politicians know no shame or blush
Elias Bejjani/November 06/2019
غالبية الطاقم السياسي لا يعرف لا الحياء ولا الخجل ويحتاج لتوبة وتقديم كفارات

Because human beings remain entangles in traps of covetousness in all times and ages.
And because their thinking components are always strongly inclined to fall in earthly temptations.
And because the eternal struggle between good and evil continues on.
And because the Lebanese in general have lost their scale of priorities.
And because many Lebanese citizens, as well as many politician are confused between what is right and what is wrong, and between what is Godly and what is evil.
And because the majority of the Lebanese politicians are hostages of corruption, greed, ingratitude, selfishness and Narcissism.
And because all these above human weaknesses, aberrations from ethical, legal and faith norm codes are sadly spreading without any accountability in the Iranian occupied Lebanon we strongly believe that some thing positive and directive Must be done to put an end to all these divergences.
So, According to all of the above “becauses” We sincerely advice all these losers being either citizens or politician to repent and offer the required penances.
And in a bid to purify their souls and put their lives again on the righteous track we recommend that they willingly and with a through concentration to read the below Biblical verse.
Hopefully they shall wake up and never ever cross over the inevitable Day Of Judgment.
Jeremiah 6/10-15/”To whom shall I speak and testify, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they can’t listen. Behold, the word of Yahweh has become a reproach to them. They have no delight in it. 6:11 Therefore I am full of the wrath of Yahweh. I am weary with holding in. “Pour it out on the children in the street, and on the assembly of young men together; for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him who is full of days. Their houses shall be turned to others, their fields and their wives together; for I will stretch out my hand on the inhabitants of the land, says Yahweh.” “For from their least even to their greatest, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed also the hurt of my people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I visit them, they shall be cast down,” says Yahweh`.”

The Lebanon Protests: ِAudio-Views from Beirut and Policy Implications/Makram Rabah, Lokman Slim, Jean Tawile, and Hanin Ghaddar
من موقع معهد واشنطن فيديو لأراء أكاديمية تتناول الثورة الشعبية في لبنان لكل من/ مكرم رباح/لقمان سليم/جان طويلة/حنان غدار
Washington Institute for Near East Policy/November 06/ 2019

Click Here To Watch the Audio Viewsاضغط هنا لمشاهدة الأراء وهي باللغة الإنكليزية

Watch four Lebanese experts explore the protests and political situation in Lebanon. Why have street protests continued beyond the resignation of the prime minister, and how will Hezbollah react if the protests threaten its dominance?
Lebanon’s unprecedented protests have already spurred Prime Minister Hariri to resign, and although Hezbollah still has the majority of parliament and a friendly president on its side, the people are intent on staying in the streets until a new transitional government is formed. How are the demonstrations developing, and what have they achieved so far?
What is needed to ensure a proper transition at a time of serious economic crisis? And how will Hezbollah react if the protests threaten its dominance?
To discuss these and other questions, The Washington Institute hosted a Policy Forum with Makram Rabah, Lokman Slim (who will join from Beirut via video teleconference), Jean Tawile, and Hanin Ghaddar.
*Makram Rabah is a lecturer of history at the American University of Beirut and lead consultant with Quantum Communications.
*Lokman Slim is director of Hayya Bina and UMAM, a Lebanese organization that focuses on Shia politics and social dynamics.
*Jean Tawile is president of the Kataeb Economic and Social Council, a board member with the Lebanese Businessmen Association (RDCL) and the Lebanese Association for Taxpayers’ Rights (ALDIC), and a former advisor to Lebanon’s minister of economy and trade (2014-2017).
*Hanin Ghaddar is the Friedmann Visiting Fellow in The Washington Institute’s Geduld Program on Arab Politics. A longtime journalist in her native Lebanon, she has worked as managing editor of the NOW news site and written for a wide range of Arabic and English media outlets.
The Policy Forum series is made possible through the generosity of the Florence and Robert Kaufman Family.

World Bank Ready to Support Lebanon, Urges Quick Formation of New Cabinet
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 6 November, 2019
The World Bank said on Wednesday it stood ready to back a new Lebanese government, warning the country had no time to waste to tackle an emerging economic crisis worsening by the day. The bank called for the rapid formation of a new cabinet and said it expected a recession in 2019 to be even more significant than an earlier projection of a 0.2% contraction in the economy. A wave of massive protests across Lebanon against the ruling elite pushed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to resign last week, toppling his coalition cabinet. There has been no sign of progress toward agreeing a new government.
The turmoil comes as Lebanon grapples with the worst economic and financial strains since the 1975-90 civil war. The World Bank is among foreign donors who pledged billions of dollars in badly needed aid last year, as long as Lebanon’s government enacts reforms it has long delayed. But with foreign allies not fully convinced, the money has yet to flow into the economy. “Lebanon does not have the luxury of time to waste to redress issues that need immediate attention,” the World Bank said in a statement after its regional director, Saroj Kumar Jha, met Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday. “There is an urgent need to stop the emerging economic crisis.” “We stand ready to extend all possible support to the new government that commits itself to good governance and creating opportunities for all Lebanese,” it added, according to Reuters.
The proportion of Lebanese living in poverty could rise to 50% if economic conditions worsen, from about a third in 2018, the World Bank said. Unemployment, which already runs at 37% for the under 35s, could rise sharply. “With every passing day, the situation is becoming more acute and this would make recovery extremely challenging,” Jha added.Aoun told the World Bank the next government would have competent ministers “of good reputation and far from suspicions of corruption”, the president’s office said after the meeting.
Public anger
Unrest erupted across Lebanon some three weeks ago amid a build-up of anger at rising costs of living, new tax plans and a ruling elite accused of rampant corruption. Demonstrators blame the political class, many of them sectarian civil war leaders, for plunging the country toward collapse after milking the state for decades. Hariri remains in office in a caretaker capacity until political parties agree a new government. Aoun, an ally of the Iran-backed Hezbollah party, has yet to begin official talks with MPs to designate a prime minister who would form the next cabinet.
Crowds protested in front of ministries and state institutions on Wednesday in the capital Beirut, as well as parts of south and north Lebanon. “We came to show that we’re in the protest squares no matter what the corrupt (authorities) do,” Rasha Hijazi, a public school teacher, said at a protest in the southern city of Sidon, where teachers and students went on strike. “It is not important to lose our hours, our archaic curriculum...This is the real revolution that we are teaching.”Lebanon has one of the world’s highest public debt burdens at 150% of GDP. Political disputes in Lebanon and regional conflict have hit economic growth. With growth around zero percent, a slowdown in capital inflows has led to a scarcity of dollars and pressure on the pegged Lebanese pound. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Lebanon’s rating to Caa2 on Tuesday, at the lower end of the “junk” grade bracket, citing the increased likelihood of a debt rescheduling it would classify as a default. Lebanon’s issuer rating, which was lowered from Caa1, remained under review for downgrade, Moody’s said. Moody’s classifies Caa ratings as very high credit risk.

World Bank ready to support Lebanon, urges quick formation of new cabinet
Reuters, Beirut/Wednesday, 6 November 2019
The World Bank said on Wednesday it stood ready to back a new Lebanese government and warned that the country had no time to waste to fix economic troubles that were becoming worse by the day. The bank called for the rapid formation of a new cabinet and said it expected a recession in 2019 to be even more significant than an earlier projection of a 0.2% contraction in the economy. A wave of massive protests against the ruling elite across Lebanon pushed Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign last week, toppling his coalition cabinet. There has been no sign of progress towards agreeing a new government.
The political turmoil comes as Lebanon grapples with the worst economic and financial strains since the 1975-90 civil war. The World Bank is among foreign donors who pledged billions of dollars in badly needed aid last year, as long as Lebanon’s government enacts reforms it has long neglected. But with foreign allies not fully convinced, the money has yet to flow into the economy. “With every passing day, the situation is becoming more acute and this would make recovery extremely challenging,” World Bank regional director Saroj Kumar Jha said in a statement after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday. “We stand ready to extend all possible support to the new government that commits itself to good governance and creating opportunities for all Lebanese, especially the youth and women,” the World Bank statement said.

World Bank Sounds Alarm about Lebanon amid Protests, Crisis
Associated Press/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 06/2019
The World Bank called on Lebanese authorities Wednesday to urgently form a new government that can address the country's worsening economic situation, warning that Lebanon "does not have the luxury of time to waste."The stark warning came in a statement issued after a meeting between the World Bank's regional director and President Michel Aoun amid ongoing mass protests and a severe economic and financial crisis. Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned his government on Oct. 29 in response to the unprecedented protests which have swept Lebanon starting in the middle of last month. The protesters erupted over proposed new taxes and have snowballed into calls for the government to resign and for the entire political elite that has ruled Lebanon since the end of its 1975-90 civil war to step aside. The protests have paralyzed the country and kept banks shuttered for two weeks. Lebanon, one of the most heavily indebted countries in the world, already was dealing with a severe fiscal crisis before the protests began, one rooted in years of heavy borrowing and expensive patronage networks run by entrenched political parties. The protesters are calling for the formation of a technocrat government that would get to work immediately on addressing Lebanon's economic crisis. They accuse officials of dragging their feet on that. Following his meeting with Aoun, World Bank Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha said he urged swift measures to ensure Lebanon's economic and financial stability. "The politics has most attention, but economy has the most risks," he said. "With every passing day, the situation is becoming more acute and this would make recovery extremely challenging," he added. "Lebanon does not have the luxury of time to waste to redress issues that need immediate attention."In a statement, the World Bank also warned "we expect the recession to be even more significant" than previously, having forecast a contraction of 0.2 percent before the ongoing political turmoil. Without quick steps to address the crisis, about half of Lebanon's population could fall into poverty and unemployment could "rise sharply," the lender said.
On Wednesday, protesters rallied outside state institutions and ministries to keep up the pressure on officials to form a new government. Dozens of people gathered outside the justice, education and other ministries as well as the state-run electricity company and the tax department. In their third week, protesters have adopted a new tactic of surrounding state institutions to disrupt their work. The protesters agreed on Tuesday to shift the focus of the protests and open main roads to ease up traffic and allow people to get back to work.

Aoun Says Corruption Investigations Won't Spare Any Incumbent, Former Official
Naharnet/November 06/2019
President Michel Aoun on Wednesday stressed that a fresh anti-corruption crackdown will not spare any incumbent or former official suspected of wrongdoing. “The new government will comprise ministers enjoying expertise, economy and integrity who are not suspected of any corruption,” Aoun told a World Bank delegation led by Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha. “The investigations that will target incumbent and former officials suspected of misconduct will not spare any of those involved,” the president added. “Lebanon is at a critical crossroads, especially at the economic level, and it is in dire need of a harmonious government that can be productive without being obstructed by political conflicts and bickering,” Aoun went on to say, noting that the new government should also enjoy “the needed support from the people.” The president also emphasized that he will not hesitate to “propose any reformist law that suits the priorities of the coming period,” revealing that “17 corruption-related files have been referred to investigation and will be addressed.”“Accountability will encompass all the culprits, participators and facilitators,” Aoun underlined.

President to Kumar Jha: Investigations will not exclude anyone, 17 files on corruption referred to judiciary
NNA -Wed 06 Nov 2019
President Michel Aoun told the World Bank Group's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Kumar Jha, whom he welcomed this afternoon at Baabda Palace, that "the coming government will include experienced, competent and reputable ministers, free of suspicions of corruption."
He pointed out that "investigations that will be conducted with current and former officials around whom there are question marks, will exclude nobody." "Lebanon is at a delicate crossroads, especially in economic terms, and is in dire need of a harmonious government capable of producing; a government that is not hampered by political conflicts and rivalries," Aoun said, noting that the project meant to fight against corruption "are in the hands of the House of Representatives, the most important of which is the lifting of bank secrecy and immunity on perpetrators, the recovery of looted funds, and the establishment of the Special Court for financial crimes." The Head of State stressed that he was working to address "a legacy of decades of corruption" and "will continue to work so that I can eradicate it and put an end to waste and chaos in State administrations and institutions."He noted that 17 corruption-related files have been referred to the judiciary, and all those involved, whether by participating or facilitating, will be held accountable. The President thanked Jha for "the support provided by the World Bank to Lebanon," pointing out that "any delay in the completion of one or more projects is due either to administrative routines or to the lack of supplementary funds," promising to "find solutions to such a delay "once the new government is formed." Jha, in turn, conveyed to Aoun the views of the World Bank on the latest developments, stressing "the continuation of assistance to Lebanon in the fields it requests help with."

Hariri, Bassil Hold 'Positive' Second Meeting
Naharnet/November 06/2019
Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil met anew Wednesday at the Center House. According to media reports, sources close to Hariri said the caretaker PM will maintain his contacts with Bassil and the rest of the parties over the coming hours in order to find the best possible solutions to the economic and financial woes. Describing the meeting as positive, the sources said the two men discussed ideas that can pull the country out of its economic crisis and respond to the demands of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have taken to Lebanon’s streets since October 17.FPM sources meanwhile told al-Jadeed TV that Hariri asked Bassil to give him time to respond to his proposal on forming a techno-political government led by a figure enjoying consensus and comprising representatives of the protest movement. “Bassil told Hariri that the FPM has no desire to represent Bassil or other prominent FPM figures in the new government but will reject overbidding on forming a government of experts,” the sources said, adding that “Hariri has reopened channels of communication with Hizbullah.”

World Bank ready to support Lebanon, urges quick formation of new cabinet
NNA -Wed 06 Nov 2019
House Speaker, Nabih Berri, raised during the Wednesday periodic meeting with lawmakers at Ain-el-Tineh, the Lebanese doubts backed by information and international reports about oil exploration led by a Greek company, of which "Total" owns 40% of shares, near the Lebanese border intertwining with the exclusive economic zone. These reports also evoked the issue of the delay in the exploration works by the "Total" Company in the offshore block 9. In this framework, Speaker Berri held contacts with the concerned official parties, and dispatched a delegate to France to meet "Total" officials. On the legislations' issue, Berri stressed the need to endorse project laws on the agenda of the forthcoming legislative session, deeming such laws as "righteous demands of the people."Turning to the current economic and governmental situation, Berri stressed the need to swiftly seek reform, political and economic solutions, including the formation of a new government. On the other hand, Berri met with the Head of the Lebanese Banks Association, Dr. Salim Sfeir, with whom he discussed the current financial and economic situation. Among Berri's itinerant visitors for today had been former Minister Karim Pakradouni, with the latest developments featuring high on their talks.

Geagea: We seek a government of experts who are independent of political majority
NNA -Wed 06 Nov 2019
"Lebanese Forces" Party leader, Samir Geagea, said on Wednesday that his party favors a government of experts who are independent of the political majority. "Any attempt to form a government of experts named by this majority is unacceptable," Geagea said in an interview with the "Free Lebanon" Radio Station, noting that it was a trap, since the key word in this matter lies in "independent." Geagea said the LF is in favor of a government that has nothing to do with politicians and the parliamentary and ministerial majority. The LF leader also pointed out that his Party has always been in full harmony with its people and community. Geagea also deemed the current popular movement as glorious, saying that people proceed with their protests by adopting several methods.

Women Stage Pot-Banging Demo as Protesters Scuffle with Police in Ramlet al-Bayda
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 06/2019
Thousands of women gathered Wednesday evening near the seat of government in Beirut’s Riad al-Solh Square, carrying candles as some banged on saucepans."O patriarchal powers, women's rights are not a footnote," they chanted. Other pot-banging protests were also held in other parts of the country as some citizens staged similar expressions of solidarity on their balconies. In the Ramlet al-Bayda area on the Beirut waterfront, security forces and activists clashed after protesters tried to enter into the Eden Bay resort, denouncing what they say is illegal privatization of public property.

State Prosecutor Authorizes Financial Prosecution to Sue 13 Public Employees
Naharnet/November 06/2019
State Prosecutor Ghassan Ouweidat on Wednesday authorized the financial prosecution to sue 13 employees, including heads of municipalities, “after their administrations procrastinated in giving prosecution permission,” the National News Agency said. “This measure is part of the memos issued by Ouweidat to the regional prosecution offices to enforce the law and secure the good functioning of justice,” NNA added. The memos have been sent to the financial prosecutor, the state commissioner to the Military Court and the prosecutors of the governorates, the agency said.

Financial Prosecutor Summons Saniora for Testimony in $11 Billion Case
Naharnet/November 06/2019
Financial Prosecutor Ali Ibrahim on Wednesday summoned ex-PM Fouad Saniora to a testimony in the case of the 11 billion dollars spent between 2006 and 2008, state-run National News Agency said. “Judge Ibrahim has asked ex-PM Saniora to show up at his office at the Justice Palace on Thursday morning,” NNA added. But State Prosecutor Ghassan Ouweidat later told NNA that "due to the failure to inform ex-PM Fouad Saniora of the date of the hearing session... it has been decided to reschedule the session to Thursday, November 14." Earlier this year, Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah called for a probe into what he claimed were missing state funds amounting to $11 billion dollars. He was indirectly pointing a finger at former PM Saniora. He submitted financial documents to the judiciary that he claimed could “land many people in jail, including former prime ministers.” Saniora later described the issue of the “missing” $11 billion as a “farce,” as he announced that those “setting up mini-states inside the state” are the real corrupts, in an apparent jab at Hizbullah.Saniora said the 11 billion dollars in question were spent on interest hikes, treasury loans for Electricite Du Liban, and wage hikes and recruitment expenses for the armed forces.

STL President Convenes Trial Chamber in Hamadeh, Hawi, Murr Case
Naharnet/November 06/2019
The President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Judge Ivana Hrdličková on Wednesday issued an order convening the Trial Chamber in the connected case related to the attacks against Marwan Hamadeh, Georges Hawi and Elias Murr. According to the STL’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Trial Chamber may be engaged in various judicial matters before the start of trial. This can include holding an initial appearance with the Accused if one is in custody, deciding whether a trial should proceed in absentia and ruling on preliminary motions. The judges of the ‘Trial Chamber II’ are: Judge Walid Akoum of Lebanon; Judge Nicolas Lettieri of Italy; and Judge Anna Bednarek of Poland. Judge Bednarek was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as new international judge. Judge Akoum and Judge Lettieri currently also serve as alternate judges in the Trial Chamber of the case against the killers of ex-PM Rafik Hariri. “I congratulate the Judges on their appointments to Trial Chamber II, and welcome Judge Anna Bednarek as new STL Judge. I wish them all the best in their judicial duties,” STL President Hrdličková said. The STL Pre-Trial Judge had on September 16, 2019 lifted the confidentiality of his decision confirming an indictment against suspected Hizbullah operative Salim Jamil Ayyash. The indictment, dated June 14, 2019, alleges that Ayyash was involved in the Oct. 1, 2004 bomb attack against Hamade, the June, 21 2005 bomb attack against Hawi and the July 12, 2005 bomb attack against Murr. These attacks were found by the STL to be “connected” to the February 14, 2005 attack that killed Hariri. The STL has put Ayyash and three other suspected Hizbullah operatives on an in-absentia trial and the judges are holding confidential deliberations prior to the issuance of sentences.
Hizbullah has denied involvement in the assassination of Hariri, describing the STL as a hostile scheme against it.

Lebanese Students Skip School, Protesters Rally Outside State Institutions to Press Demands
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 6 November, 2019
Hundreds of schoolchildren led anti-government demonstrations across Lebanon on Wednesday, refusing to return to class before the demands of a nearly three-week-old protest movement are met. In the capital Beirut, dozens gathered in front of the education ministry, brandishing Lebanese flags and chanting slogans demanding the removal of a political class seen as incompetent and corrupt. "What will I do with a school leaver's certificate if I don't have a country," one pupil told Lebanese television. In the largest pupil-led protest, crowds streamed into a central square in the southern city of Sidon, demanding better public education and more job opportunities for school leavers, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported. In a school in the resort town of Jounieh, just north of the capital, pupils mobilized against school governors accusing them of banning participation in the protests. Other pupil-led protests took place in the southern cities of Tyre and Nabatieh, the eastern city of Zahleh and the northern city of Byblos, according to NNA and other Lebanese media reports. But demonstrators, who have kept up their protests since October 17, were not blocking key roads on Wednesday morning.
Banks were open and classes resumed at most schools after a two-week gap. But demonstrators gathered around key state institutions for a second day in a row, in what appears to be a new tactic replacing road closures. The most significant in the capital was around the Palace of Justice, where hundreds demanded an independent judiciary and an end to political interference, an AFP correspondent reported. "We don't want judges who receive orders," read one placard held aloft by the crowd. A smaller group of protesters gathered near the central bank, accusing it of aggravating the country's economic crisis. Dozens of people also gathered in front of the state-run electricity company and the tax department. Pressure from the street prompted Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign last week. He remains in his post in a caretaker capacity while rival politicians haggle over the make-up of a new government.
The protesters have expressed mounting frustration with the slow pace of the coalition talks.

Jumblat to ABC: Lebanon on Verge of Economic Collapse, Needs Technocratic Govt.
Naharnet/November 06/2019
Progressive Socialist Party leader ex-MP Walid Jumblat on Wednesday said he hopes that demonstrations in Lebanon succeed in changing the political class, calling for the formation of a technocratic government in order to salvage the country. “I am no angel, but at the end of my political life, I must give a message of hope to the new generation," Jumblatt said in an interview with ABC News hoping to see the demonstrators in Lebanon succeed. He stated: “During my 40-year career in politics, it is the first time in the history of Lebanon that such a revolution, stretching from north to south Lebanon, away from sectarianism has ever taken place." saying the outcome might take a long time before bearing fruits. "I am optimistic, but it is going to take a long time," he said. On the economic situation in Lebanon, which ranks third in terms of indebtedness in the world, Jumblat said: “Lebanon is on the verge of economic collapse, we need technocratic, impartial and honest figures to handle portfolios in key ministries like finance, economy and other.”He encouraged the new generation of political leaderships to emerge from the political crisis. “It is up to the new class that will govern Lebanon to implement a policy far from neoliberalism that ruined us,” he concluded.

School Principal Threatens to Expel Students over Demos
A school principal in Lebanon threatened to expel her pupils shall they participate in the nationwide protests gripping the country since October 17 demanding to overhaul the country’s political leaders. An audio recording on Whatsapp sent by Mona Wazen, principal of Collège Notre Dame Des Soeurs Salvatoriennes - Abra, to her students went viral on Tuesday. She addressed the pupils “mainly” baccalaureate-level students, saying in a demanding tone: “Each student who chooses to partake in the movements is considered permanently expelled from the school.” A prompt reply from the Secretary of Union of Parents in Private Schools in Lebanon, attorney Sharif Suleiman, denounced in an audio what he said was an “authoritarian, intimidating rhetoric,” practiced by the principal. He vowed legal measures. Caretaker Minister of Education, Akram Shehayyeb, issued a statement condemning the “substance of the voice message,” vowing that investigations will be run into the matter. In a first since the beginning of the demonstrations on October 17, Lebanon’s school students turned to the streets on Wednesday joining the country’s revolution against the political class. Students from different parts of the country, from north to south, left their classes some gathering outside the schools’ premises and others joining protesters near the state's institutions, chanting angry slogans at an “incompetent authority.”Photos of Wazen with head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and some members of his parliamentary blocked circulated on social media.

Presidential Love/إيلي عون: الحب الرئاسي
Elie Aoun/November 06/2019
ترى أين وكيف ومتى يمكن صرف قول الرئيس عون للمتظاهرين من حزبه أما قصر بعبدا: “أنا بحبكون كلكون”

I did not listen to the President’s speech to the demonstrators in Baabda few days ago. I do not listen to anything that the three Lebanese presidents say or to any speech or a press conference held by the leaders of the major political parties. In my humble opinion, listening to them is a waste of time.
However, I heard from a news reporter that he told the demonstrators: “I Love you all, and all means all.”
If that is the case, we have the right to ask:
Where is the love to “you all” when the first thing he did as president was to raise taxes on the “you all, and all means all”?
Where are the job opportunities that he created to “you all”?
Where is the love to those who spent decades supporting him, and what he had done to achieve what they fought for?
Where is the love to the families of those who died during 1989-1990 believing in what he said, and what he had done to help them?
And the “love” list goes on…
Also, someone on the social media was commenting on a parliamentarian (presidential supporter) saying that “the demands of the revolution are the demands of the president.”
If that is the case, then why would the president ask the revolutionaries to have a “dialogue” with him and to tell him what they need if their demands are his? Does not he already know what he needs or what they need?
If the revolutionaries are a “Zionist conspiracy” and cabaret goers (as they had been accused), why would the president want to lower himself to their level by having a dialogue with them?
If the revolutionaries are a bunch of fornicators, why would fornicators want an honest government while the “holy men” who rule that government had never prosecuted a single corrupt official?
Does the “love you all, and all means all” include the Zionists, cabaret goers, and fornicators?
One problem with the ruling class is that the people are suffering while they are reciting “poetry” and trying to be “smart” to diffuse the revolution instead of pursuing viable solutions to existing problems – viable solutions which they do not have and refuse to hire anyone who does.
One problem (and there are many) of Lebanese politicians is that they are sick and detached from reality.
They lie while thinking that they are not lying.
They do everything wrong while thinking that they are not doing anything wrong.
To them, destroying people’s dreams and talents, not listening to them, not doing anything to help them, is their way of showing “love.”
Maybe “the president is love” slogan should be printed on Lebanese currency notes, to add more “confidence” and to improve their purchasing power.

“We have Reached the Brink”
Issam Kayssi/Carnegie MECenter/November 06/2019
Young protestors in Lebanon say they will continue until their demands are met.
“It is the first time I feel this involved. It comes from the feeling that, this time, it is for Lebanon, for all the people,” says Michele, a 24-year-old art director at an advertising company in Beirut, who has participated in the protests from day-one on October 17.
Michele echoes the feeling of many young Lebanese from all over the country who have participated in the protest movement. The protests erupted after the Hariri government announced that it planned to levy a series of new taxes, a decision that has now been rescinded.
The tax decision came at the end of a week in which the government had proven its incompetence in extinguishing fires that had consumed hundreds of acres of Lebanon’s forests as well as some urban areas. Add to that an economic crisis in which the provision of necessities such as bread and fuel are in question and the likely impending devaluation of the Lebanese pound, and you will understand the reasons for the anger and frustration that finally pushed people to take to Lebanon’s streets.
The population’s reaction surprised the government, until it finally announced its resignation on October 29. After the resignation, there was a brief withdrawal from the streets. People seemed to be waiting to see how the political elite would act. Would it form an interim rescue government, as demanded by protesters all over the country?
Lebanon has witnessed mass demonstrations before. In 2005, demonstrations (and counter-demonstrations) took place in Beirut following the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, which helped lead to the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon after a 29-year presence. In 2015, smaller demonstrations also took place in the capital, targeting the political elite, following a garbage crisis in which waste filled the streets of the country.
The difference today is that the protests are not only centered in Beirut. People from the all parts of the country have participated to reject the sectarian political class. This decentralized and spontaneous aspect of the protests has so far proven difficult to suppress.
“I have been living in Zouq all my life,” says Michele. “Three minutes away from the highway.” Zouq Mosbeh is a predominantly Christian town in the Kisirwan district of Mount Lebanon that is located a few kilometers north of Beirut. During the past two weeks of protests, protesters occupied the highway connecting northern Lebanon to the capital. “I was mainly [active] in Zouq, and I was happy to be there! It was a peaceful atmosphere and the feeling was amazing.”
Nour, a 27-year-old activist from the southern city of Tyre who had participated in the 2015 Beirut protests, says people have to be careful about what they say in southern Lebanon. In a region primarily dominated by Hezbollah and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement, protesters in Tyre have chosen to focus on their demands in order to avoid a direct confrontation with the two parties, after early outbursts that had targeted both. “Our priority right now is the formation of an independent government of experts capable of navigating the difficult economic situation that Lebanon is in, and holding early parliamentary elections,” says Nour. If activists like Nour do not get their way, they will continue to occupy the streets.
Indeed, this is what happened on November 4, when after a few days of respite protesters again blocked roads throughout the country, angry with what they considered stalling by the political elite. By then, Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, had yet to schedule consultations to name a new prime minister, even though time is of the essence given the seriousness of the economic crisis. However, the president’s party was able to organize a counter-demonstration near the presidential palace on Sunday.
Maria, a 23-year-old architecture student at Notre Dame University, who has been participating in the protests in Beirut, says that the streets are the tool. “We will follow up on every decision and clearly state our disagreement, if any, through demonstrations.”
In the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest, the protests at Nour Square never stopped. One of the buildings facing the square is colored like a Lebanese flag with a banner that reads: “We will continue [in order] to bring down the president and parliament.” Formerly considered a stronghold of the Sunni caretaker prime minister, Sa‘d al-Hariri, Tripoli has captivated Lebanon and the world with its creative chants, light shows, and even a DJ.
‘Obeida, a 29-year-old community organizer in Tripoli says people will not stop because they have “reached the brink.” He adds that “there is a lot of pain in the city. All that people are asking for are basic rights and services.” For ‘Obeida and many like him in Tripoli, “It doesn’t matter who the faces in the new government are as much as their intentions.” Young people like ‘Obeida, Michele, Nour, and Maria seem to agree on the following: They oppose reproducing the same political class in the new government.
“In order for us to move forward, this political class must admit that it has made a mistake,” ‘Obeida says. “People will not go home without fulfilling their demands for a dignified life. Even if they held elections [in the future] and new people are elected who did not meet these demands, people will take to the streets again.”
An interim independent government may face many difficulties in navigating a political landscape entrenched with civil servants who are faithful to the old elite. What is clear, however, is that demonstrators will no longer accept slogans without tangible achievements. Previous mass demonstrations in Lebanon either failed or were ultimately monopolized by traditional sectarian politicians. In 2019, the popular movement has thus far rejected electing leaders to represent it. Its demands are clear, so no leaders are required. In Lebanon today, it seems like each person who has gone into the streets feels personally responsible for the success of the protest movement, and will not back down until its demands are met.

Iran and the Specter of Political Change in the Middle East
New York Times/November 06/2019
The civic revolts raging in Iraq and Lebanon are perceived by the Iranian Islamic regime as an existential threat which questions not only its regional power politics but internal rickety equilibriums. It looks at them along geopolitical and ideological continuums which tendentially undermine Iranian security and the regime’s legitimacy. The impact of these events is carefully evaluated, especially at a time when Iran has a hard time dealing with American sanctions, eroding influence in Yemen after the latest agreement between the challenged central government in San’a and the Southern secessionist movement, and it’s circumscribed role in Syria. The contestation of the Iraqi and Lebanese pillars of Iranian power politics are once again putting at stake its power projections, at a time when the partial withdrawal of the US from North Eastern Syria seemed to pave the way for a new tidal wave of Iranian expansionism. What is mostly worrisome is the demise of the ideological pillars of its conventional power politics for the sake of civic oriented internal political reformism.
None of the ideological leitmotivs of Iranian power politics seem to matter or to structure the political agendas of reformist political movements in Iraq and Lebanon. This blatant political apathy towards Iranian power politics intersects with the prevailing political mood within the Iranian society itself, where the priorities of internal political reforms seem totally dismissive of the regime’s power politics, hollow ideological rhetorics and debased political narrative. The resumption of uranium enrichment and its military innuendos, the call for ideological radicalization and repressive politics are part of the conventional repertoire instrumentalized by the Iranian regime when coerced to deliver on major political issues, be it internally or externally. The Iranian regime apprehends international political normalization and its incidence on internal liberalization and equates it with the demise of the Islamic Revolution narrative. The deliberate sabotaging of normalization courses, political waffling and duplicity are part of its survival kit, pervasive sense of insecurity and enduring bet on complicating scenarios and strategic imponderables.
Nonetheless, what the Islamic regime seems to miss is the substantive changes in societal and political cultures, and the dominant tropes of the contemporary Zeitgeist and its impact on political dynamics. The civic rebellions, in both Iraq and Lebanon, are quite emblematic of the inter-generational divides that cannot be harnessed to the customary power games which prevail in the region: the questioning of power holders, oligarchic corruption, absence of public accountability, State violence, gender discrimination, environmental depredation, lifestyle liberalization, are not part of the usual political agenda and its basic normative framing. Hence, the Iranian regime seems to pursue its course on the very basis of its “regime of truth “, ideological blinkers, standard power politics, and ability to subvert social and political contestation. The contestation movements are bound to pursue their courses between the interstices of an imploded regional order, the collapse of normative consensuses and the hazards of colliding power politics.

Protests in Iraq, Lebanon Reveal a Long-Simmering Anger at Iran
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 06/2019
The shoes are coming off again in Iraq.
In years past, Iraqis have beaten their shoes against portraits of Saddam Hussein in a sign of anger and insult. In 2008, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at a ducking President George W. Bush during a news conference to vent his outrage at the U.S.-led invasion.
Now protesters in Baghdad's Tahrir Square are using their shoes again — slapping them against banners depicting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader.
More violent demonstrations of their fury have erupted in southern Iraq, where protesters have torched the headquarters of parties and militias linked to Iran and thrown firebombs at an Iranian Consulate.
The anti-government protests that have convulsed Iraq in the past month are fueled by economic grievances and are mainly directed at Iraq's own political leaders. But they have also exposed long-simmering resentment at Iran's influence in the country, with protesters targeting Shiite political parties and militias with close ties to Tehran.
The uprising in Iraq, and similar anti-government protests underway in Lebanon, pose a threat to key Iranian allies at a time when Tehran is under mounting pressure from U.S. sanctions. "There's a lack of respect. They act like they are the sons of this country and we are beneath them," said Hassanein Ali, 35, who is from the Shiite holy city of Karbala but came to Baghdad to protest. "I feel like the Iranian Embassy controls the government and they are the ones repressing the demonstrators. I want Iran to leave."That the protesters are mainly from Shiite areas undermines Iran's claim to be a champion of Shiites, who are a majority in Iraq and Iran but a frequently oppressed minority in the wider Muslim world. "This has embarrassed Shiite leaders close to Iran," said Wathiq al-Hashimi, a Baghdad-based analyst. "After these demonstrations, Iran may lose Iraq by losing the Shiite street."
In Tahrir Square, protesters have brandished crossed-out pictures of Khamenei and Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the architect of Iran's regional military interventions who has helped direct the response to the rallies. Demonstrators have beaten the posters with their shoes in a replay of scenes from the ouster of Saddam 16 years ago. As in many cultures, shoes are regarded as inherently dirty in Arab countries. Last week in Baghdad, a version of the Iranian flag was painted on the pavement with a swastika on it so protesters could walk on the image.
On Sunday night in Karbala, protesters climbed the walls of the Iranian Consulate by the light of burning tires as the crowd chanted "The people want the fall of the regime," one of the main slogans from the 2011 Arab Spring. Security forces dispersed the protest, killing at least three people and wounding nearly 20. The demonstration came less than a week after masked men suspected of links to the security forces opened fire on a demonstration in Karbala, killing at least 18 people.
Many protesters blame Iran and its allies for deadly violence in the southern city of Basra last year and during a wave of protests in early October, in which Iraqi security forces killed nearly 150 people in less than a week, with snipers shooting protesters in the head and chest. The spontaneous protests resumed on Oct. 25 and have only grown in recent days, with tens of thousands of people packing central Baghdad and holding rallies in cities across the Shiite south. The protesters have blocked roads and ports and have clashed with security forces on bridges leading to Baghdad's Green Zone, the seat of power. More than 110 people have been killed since the demonstrations resumed. But the grievances go way back.
Iran, which fought a devastating war with Iraq in the 1980s, emerged as a major power broker after the American invasion, supporting Shiite Islamist parties and militias that have dominated the country since then. It also supports many of the militias that mobilized in 2014 to battle the Islamic State group, gaining outsized influence as they fought along with security forces and U.S. troops to defeat the extremists. Those militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, have since grown into a powerful political faction with the second-most seats in parliament. "People make a direct connection between the failure and the corruption of the Shia political establishment, both politicians and some clerics, and the Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs," said Maria Fantappie, an expert on Iraq with the Brussels-based Crisis Group, a global think tank. There has been a "drastic change" in the perception of the Popular Mobilization Forces, with many protesters viewing them as an instrument of repression, she said. A broader crackdown on the protests "would backfire on them in a massive way."
Lebanon also has seen huge demonstrations in recent weeks against its ruling elite and government, which is dominated by allies of the Iran-backed Hizbullah militant group. They included, for the first time, protests in Shiite-majority communities seen as Hizbullah strongholds. But there the response has been different. With the exception of a brief and nonlethal attack on the main protest site in Beirut last week by supporters of Hizbullah and the Shiite Amal party, the militant group has refrained from confronting protesters, and Lebanese security forces have acted with restraint. Hizbullah and its allies have expressed sympathy for the protesters' demands and have called for the quick formation of a new government following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri last week. But they have also cast aspersions on the protesters, alleging that the U.S. and other Western powers are manipulating them to try to drag the country back into civil war. Iran's allies in Iraq appear to have adopted a similar response. Iraqi President Barham Salih, a member of a Kurdish party close to Iran, said he will approve early elections once a new electoral law is enacted. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, another veteran politician, has expressed support for the protesters but urged them to reopen roads so life can get back to normal. Qais al-Khazali, the leader of one of Iraq's most powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militias, said this week that the U.S., Israel, Arab Gulf nations and unspecified local officials are working to "incite strife and chaos."
The Trump administration, which has expressed support for the protests in Iraq, could inadvertently aid that narrative by linking them to its own efforts to curb Iran's influence. That could provoke a similar backlash against the U.S., which still has thousands of troops in Iraq and is also widely seen as having meddled in the country's affairs. Political leaders in Iraq and Lebanon have yet to offer concrete proposals to meet protesters' demands. The process of forming a new government in either country would take months, and without fundamental change would leave the same political factions in power.
In the meantime, Iran has sought to keep its alliances intact. Soleimani traveled to Najaf over the weekend to meet with top Shiite clerics, according to three Shiite political officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the talks. Iran's allies appear to be betting that as the weeks and months go by, the public will grow frustrated at the road closures and other disruptions to daily life, and that the protests will gradually fizzle out. There are already signs of frustration. Saddam Mohsen, a Baghdad resident, said the closure of three central bridges after clashes between protesters and security forces has worsened the city's already terrible traffic, causing "huge problems." "Shutting down three bridges means shutting down half of Baghdad," he said.

The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 06-07/2019
Iran Starts Injecting Uranium Gas into Centrifuges at Fordow
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 6 November, 2019
Iran has started to inject uranium gas into centrifuges at its underground Fordow nuclear facility, state TV reported on Wednesday, further distancing itself from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that curbed its atomic work. The deal bans nuclear material from Fordow and, with the injection of uranium gas into its centrifuges, the facility will move from its permitted status of research plant to become an active nuclear site. “With the presence of inspectors from International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran started injecting (uranium) gas into centrifuges in Fordow,” TV reported. Iran agreed in 2015 to turn Fordow into a “nuclear, physics and technology center” where 1,044 centrifuges are used for purposes other than enrichment, such as producing stable isotopes, which have a variety of civil uses. Last year, US President Donald Trump exited the deal and said it was flawed in Iran’s favor. Washington has since renewed and intensified its sanctions, slashing Iran’s economically vital crude oil sales by more than 80%. Responding to Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy, Iran has bypassed the restrictions of the deal step-by-step - including by breaching both its cap on stockpiled enriched uranium and on the level of enrichment. “Iran has taken its fourth step to decrease its nuclear commitments to the deal in reaction to the increased US pressure and inactivity of European parties to the deal to save it,” state TV added. In Vienna, the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, said its inspectors are on the ground in Iran and will report back on relevant activities. Iranian authorities also said on Tuesday that Tehran will enrich uranium to 5% at Fordow, which will further complicate the chances of saving the accord, which European powers, Russia and the European Union have urged Iran to respect. The agreement capped the level of purity to which Iran can enrich uranium at 3.67 percent - suitable for civilian power generation and far below the 90% threshold of nuclear weapons grade. Iran denies ever having aimed to develop a nuclear bomb.Iran said on Monday it had accelerated enrichment by doubling the number of advanced IR-6 centrifuges in operation, adding that it was working on “a prototype called the IR-9, which works 50-times faster than the IR-1 centrifuges”. The nuclear deal, under which international sanctions against Iran were lifted, was tailored to extend the time Iran would need to accumulate enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb - sometimes referred to as the “breakout time” - to about a year from 2-3 months. Iran, which flatly denies seeking a nuclear bomb, has given another two-month deadline to Britain, France and Germany to salvage the deal. Leaving room for diplomacy, Tehran says talks are possible if Washington lifts all the sanctions and itself returns to the nuclear deal. On Monday, European Union spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic described the bloc as "concerned" by Iran's latest breaches. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus decried the move, saying Iran originally built Fordow as a "fortified, underground bunker in which to conduct secret uranium enrichment work.""Iran has no credible reason to expand its uranium enrichment program, at the Fordow facility or elsewhere, other than a clear attempt at nuclear extortion that will only deepen its political and economic isolation," Ortagus said. Fordow sits some 25 kilometers northeast of Qom, the site of a former ammunition dump. Shielded by the mountains, the facility also is ringed by anti-aircraft guns and other fortifications. It is about the size of a football field, large enough to house 3,000 centrifuges, but small and hardened enough to lead US officials to suspect it had a military purpose. Iran acknowledged Fordow's existence in 2009 amid a major pressure campaign by Western powers over Tehran's nuclear program.

Shtayyeh: Disengagement from Israel Is Not a Slogan

Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 6 November, 2019
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that breaking away from the occupation is not a slogan, but a push for the Palestinian national product and openness to the world. Shtayyeh, speaking at the opening of the Palestinian Industries Exhibition 2019, added that the government has designated a day for the national product with the goal of helping disengagement from the Israeli economy and as a step closer to total independence. He pointed to the importance of economic openness to the world, applauding the visits made by the government to Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, in addition to preparations for government delegations and businessmen to visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Russia to discuss the prospects of economic cooperation. Shtayyeh also noted that imports from countries other than Israel have gone up 16%, signaling the Palestinian market’s openness increasing. He saluted the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, representative bodies of the private sector, banks, telecommunications companies, and other security agencies for bringing security to the economy and helping in creating jobs. Shtayyeh insisted that disconnecting from the Israeli economy is the way despite all the threats received by the Palestinian Authority on the matter. There have been conflicting reports on Israel revoking permits that allow Palestinian merchants to move freely in Israel as part of the sanctions it began against the PA in response to the freeze on the import of calves from Israel. Israel has threatened to take a series of measures against the Palestinian Authority because of its continued boycott of Israeli cows. The Israeli authorities are considering barring the Palestinian Authority from importing goods.

Israel Releases 2 Jordanians after Two-Month Detention
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 6 November, 2019
Israel released on Wednesday two Jordanian citizens following two months of administrative detention. Hiba Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri crossed the King Hussein Bridge back into Jordan on Wednesday. Labadi, 24, was arrested in August after crossing to the West Bank to attend a family wedding. She subsequently went on a hunger strike and was hospitalized after her health deteriorated. Miri, 29, was arrested last September after he also crossed into the West Bank to visit relatives. He has been battling cancer since 2010 and he requires frequent medical checkups. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi had said on Monday that the two citizens would return home “before the end of the week”. Israel mainly uses “administrative detention”, or imprisonment without trial, against Palestinians suspected of anti-Israeli activities. It says the measure, which human rights groups have condemned, is aimed at preventing further violence in cases where there is insufficient evidence to prosecute or where court proceedings could expose the identity of secret informants. Last week, Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultation to protest the detentions.

Disputes Emerge over Palestinian President’s Elections Proposal
Ramallah – Kifah Zboun/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 6 November, 2019
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has informed factions that he refuses to hold any leadership meeting before issuing a decree calling for general elections, informed Palestinian sources said. This stance was submitted in writing to Chairman of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC) Dr. Hanna Nasser, who will review it and pass it to all the factions in the Gaza Strip for their written responses. The move has however, sparked disputes. Abbas agreed to hold the meeting after issuing the electoral decree and on condition that he first set the general elections date, the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. The presidential elections will be set at a later date. They added that he also demanded that the polls be held according to the proportional representation electoral law. The sources stressed that the factions rejected Abbas’ demands, relaying to Nasser their insistence to hold a national meeting before the president issues his decree. The meeting will be aimed at tackling pending disputes, such as the electoral system. Hamas politburo chief Ismail Hanieyh had met with Nasser on Sunday. He called for holding an “all-inclusive national meeting,” saying parliamentary and presidential elections must be held. This will lead to national assembly elections. The national meeting would be dedicated to discussing “all the details”, he explained. Sources noted that Nasser had requested that factions send him separate responses to Abbas' proposal. They will later be reviewed with the president in an attempt to overcome differences. Fatah wants to hold elections to ensure the end of the division between the West Bank and Gaza. It says that the victor will rule both sectors. Hamas, however, wants elections to be held as part of general consensus and to include the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

2 Killed in Karbala as Iraqi Security Forces Try to Disperse Protesters
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 6 November, 2019
Two more Iraqi protesters have been killed in renewed clashes in the city of Karbala, a flashpoint in weeks of anti-government demonstrations, a protester and a medic said Wednesday. They said the two were killed in overnight clashes near the provincial headquarters in the city. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks in the capital, Baghdad, and across the south, demanding sweeping political change. The protesters complain of widespread corruption, a lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, with regular power cuts despite the country's vast oil reserves. The protesters have focused their anger on Shiite political parties and militias, many of which have close ties to Iran. Across the south, they have attacked party and militia headquarters, setting some of them ablaze.
In Karbala, protesters attacked the Iranian Consulate earlier this week, hurling firebombs over its walls. Security forces killed at least three people and wounded several others as they dispersed the protest.
Days earlier, masked men suspected of links to the security forces opened fire on a demonstration in Karbala, killing at least 18 people. In Baghdad, security forces opened fire to disperse protesters gathered on a bridge, shooting live bullets in the air, a Reuters witness said. There appeared to be no casualties.
Protesters had blocked the Shuhada bridge since Tuesday afternoon as part of efforts to bring the country to a standstill. The demonstrators have been trying to reach the Green Zone that is located on the other side, which houses government offices and foreign embassies. Security forces shot dead at least 13 protesters in the 24 hours to late Tuesday, dispensing with weeks of relative restraint in favor of trying to stamp out dissent. In the southern oil-rich province of Basra, security forces forcibly dispersed a sit-in overnight but there were no deaths reported, security sources said. Protesters had camped out in front the provincial government building. The US embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday condemned the deadly violence against unarmed demonstrators, and urged Iraq's leaders to engage urgently with the thousands who have been protesting. "We deplore the killing and kidnapping (of) unarmed protesters, threats to freedom of expression, and the cycle of violence taking place. Iraqis must be free to make their own choices about the future of the nation," it said in a statement. Security forces have killed at least 269 protesters in two major waves of demonstrations since early October. Iraq's leaders have promised reforms and early elections, but the process they have laid out could take months, and the protests have only grown in recent days.

Sisi Says Sinai Development is ‘National Security’ Issue, Calls for Reassuring Citizens
Cairo - Mohamed Nabil Helmy/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 6 November, 2019
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the massive investments in the Sinai province are an issue of national security his country. He called on officials to “reassure” citizens to avoid falling for “attempts to spread rumors and lies.”“During the past five years, Egypt has invested heavily in Sinai. The investment cost of the projects implemented has amounted to 800 billion pounds,” Sisi said during an event to inaugurate of a number of projects in the Suez region and in southern and northern Sinai. The Egyptian military has for years been waging operations against terrorist groups in the Sinai Peninsula. The security forces launched in February 2018 a massive couter-terrorism operation aimed at ridding the region of the groups. Addressing ministers and senior state officials at the ceremony, Sisi said they needed to “talk more” and prevent Egyptians from being deceived by parties that are distorting the truth. “We are all responsible, and the state, with its institutions and media, is the protector of the Egyptian people.”Egypt is seeking to develop the Canal Zone governorates of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez and southern and northern Sinai to transform them into an economic hub. This would help turn North Sinai into an attractive location for investment. The projects inaugurated by Sisi on Tuesday included two desalination plants with a capacity of 36,000 cubic meters per day for the phosphate and compound fertilizers complex, a 1,000 cubic meters per day plant for the Suez Canal Economic Zone Authority and a Red Sea desalination complex with a total capacity of 512,000 cubic meters per day, as well as other projects.

Four Tourists among 8 Wounded in Jordan Stabbing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 06/2019
Eight people, including four tourists, were wounded in a knife attack on Wednesday at the famed archeological site of Jerash in northern Jordan, a security spokesman told AFP. Four tourists -- three Mexicans and a Swiss woman -- were wounded, along with a Jordanian tour guide and a security officer who tried to stop the assailant, public security directorate spokesman Amer Sartawi said. The attack took place around noon (1000 GMT) at the Roman ruins of Jerash, a popular attraction 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital Amman. The health ministry confirmed that eight people had been wounded, with Sartawi saying earlier that they had "been transported to hospital for treatment."He said the assailant had been arrested but did not specify his nationality, noting that the motive was as yet unknown. Jordanian tour guide Zouheir Zreiqat was at the scene and told AFP that the attack happened "just before midday when around 100 foreign tourists" were at the site. "A bearded man in his twenties wearing black and brandishing a knife started to stab tourists," according to Zreiqat. He said others started to shout for help and he, along with three other tour guides and three tourists managed to stop the assailant. "We chased him until we could grab him and get him on the ground," Zreiqat said. "We took the knife from him. He stayed silent, without saying a word until the police arrived and arrested him."
- Violent attacks -
It was not the first time tourist sites have been targeted by attacks in Jordan. In December 2016, in Karak, home to one of the region's biggest Crusader castles, 10 people were killed in an attack that also left 30 wounded.  Seven police officers, two Jordanian civilians and a Canadian tourist were killed in the attack. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) and sparked concern over its impact on tourism, a mainstay of the Jordanian economy. Ten people were convicted of carrying out the attack, with two sentenced to death. Several violent incidents struck the country the same year, including a suicide attack in June claimed by IS that killed seven Jordanian border guards near the frontier with Syria. Amman has played a significant role in the United States-led coalition fight against IS in Syria and Iraq, both neighboring Jordan.
- Economic troubles -
Lacking in natural resources, the country of nearly 10 million depends on tourism and the kingdom has been working to pull the key sector out of a crisis caused by regional unrest in recent years. Jordan's economy as a whole was hit hard by the combined impact of the international financial crisis, the Arab Spring uprisings that convulsed the Middle East in 2011 and the conflict in Syria. Tourism accounts for 10 to 12 percent of gross domestic product and the government aims to double this by 2022, former tourism minister Lina Annab told AFP in an interview last year. The country boasts 21,000 archaeological and historical sites that span millennia, according to the tourism board. They include the Roman ruins of Jerash, the ancient city of Petra, the Dead Sea and Wadi al-Kharrar, or Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where some believe Jesus was baptized. Jordan welcomed seven million tourists in 2010, but arrivals plunged to around three million in each of the following two years, tourism board head Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat said in April. Numbers have rebounded as spillover from the war in neighboring Syria has abated, officials have said, with the government working to bring annual tourist arrivals back up to 7 million by 2020.

Public Hearings in Trump Impeachment Probe Start Next Week
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 06/2019
The first open hearings in the impeachment inquiry against U.S. President Donald Trump will occur over two days next week, the congressman overseeing the process said Wednesday, as the investigation heads into a much-anticipated public phase. Two US officials including William Taylor, the current top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine who has bolstered the accusation that Trump sought to pressure Kiev to launch investigations that could help the president politically, will testify next Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said in a statement. The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who told investigators she was ousted from her post over "false claims" spread by Trump allies, is scheduled to testify on Friday, November 15, Schiff said.

Lebanon Warned on Default and Recession as Its Reserves Decline
Justin Villamil and Dana Khraiche/Bloomberg/November 06/2019,
Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Pocket Cast or iTunes.
Lebanon received some of the starkest warnings yet that a default and a deeper recession are increasingly a possibility as protests rock the nation.
Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded Lebanon deeper into junk for a second time this year, reflecting “the increased likelihood” of what may constitute a default under its definition. The World Bank, which earlier projected a small recession in 2019, now expects it “to be even more significant due to increasing economic and financial pressures.”
Lebanon is in dire financial straits just as it succumbs to political paralysis and protests grip the country for a third week. The outcry already prompted the resignation last month of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. But the president has yet to set a date for the start of binding parliamentary consultations to name a new premier, raising concerns the country will be unable to implement measures urgently needed to avert economic meltdown
“The politics has the most attention, but economy has the most risks,” Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank’s regional director, said after a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday. “With every passing day, the situation is becoming more acute and this would make recovery extremely challenging.”
Lebanon has never defaulted on its obligations despite straining under one of the world’s biggest debt burdens, but the country has seen its credit risk soar as confidence crumbles in the government’s ability to cope with distress.
Investors have turned away from Lebanon’s debt despite a package of emergency measures rolled out in October. Its Eurobonds are the world’s worst performers this year after those of Argentina. Their average yield has doubled to 21% since the start of 2019, according to a Bloomberg Barclays index.
“Moody’s is right to be concerned. A number of indicators, especially in the banking system, are flashing red. The downgrade reduces any possibility of Lebanon accessing financial markets. It has to rely on reserves to meet its external financing needs.”
The nation’s currency peg, in place for more than two decades, is also coming under pressure as local businesses struggle to access dollars from banks at the official rate. After reopening last Friday following two weeks of closures, banks tightened informal restrictions on money transfers that were in place prior to the unrest, in an effort to curtail capital flight.
Moody’s lowered Lebanon’s credit rating one level to Caa2 -- the fourth-lowest junk grade -- and said it remains on review for downgrade. Lebanon’s central bank retains a “usable foreign exchange buffer” of only about $5 billion to $10 billion, according to Moody’s. Just over a month ago, the rating company said its usable holdings were no less than $6 billion. Without new net inflows, the stockpile is now likely to be depleted by the government’s looming payments on external debt, estimated at $6.5 billion this year and next, Moody’s said.
In an effort to boost liquidity and stave off possible downgrades, Lebanon’s central bank this week instructed local lenders to raise their capital by 20% by next June.
Earlier, it also agreed to slash $2.9 billion in interest payments on its holdings of local currency-denominated government debt by waiving coupon payments. The proposal was part of a sweeping package of reforms that aimed to lower the budget deficit to 0.6% of gross domestic product
Protesters are meanwhile keeping up the pressure on government officials as students led the demonstrations Wednesday, especially in the capital and outside state entities including the Education Ministry, the Judicial Palace and the electricity company. Thousands have been on the streets, demanding the resignation of a political class that they say has left the country on the verge of bankruptcy. The World Bank warned of the steep cost the crisis could inflict, saying poverty could rise to 50% should there be no immediate solution and if the economic predicament worsens. A third of the Lebanese were estimated to have been in poverty in 2018. “In the absence of rapid and significant policy change, a rapidly deteriorating balance of payments and deposit outflows will bring GDP growth to or below zero, further stoking social discontent, undermining debt sustainability and increasingly threatening the viability of the peg,” Moody’s analyst Elisa Parisi-Capone said.
— With assistance by Paul Wallace, and Dana El Baltaji

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 06-07/2019
How Putin Outfoxed Trump, Pence and Erdogan
Malcolm Lowe/Gatestone Institute/November 06/2019
President Donald Trump claimed the entire credit for this outcome. But in reality it was the culmination of a scheme that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been planning since at least January 2019.
The drama of recent weeks began with joint Turkish-US patrols along the Syrian side of the border and ended with joint Russian-Turkish patrols. This switch already indicates who intimidates Erdogan and who does not.
Above all, the "Joint U.S.-Turkish Statement" nowhere defined the length or even the depth of the "safe zone," allowing Erdogan to understand it to mean – as in the various Turkish statements at the UN – the entire length of the border and a variable depth enabling the settlement of one or two or three million Islamist Syrian refugees.
Assad and Putin may be scheming to recapture Afrin in same style as they have used to regain most of western Syria, namely, Assad regime infantry backed by heavy Russian bombing. Only this time the SDF will be available to serve as infantry.
Note the opinion of Robert Pearson, a former US Ambassador to Turkey, speaking on Middle East Forum Radio on October 23, that "Sooner or Later, Putin Will Force Turkey out of Syria."
On October 17, brandishing President Donald Trump's threat to destroy the Turkish economy, US Vice President Mike Pence visited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Feigning a spirit of compromise, Erdogan agreed on a memorandum with Pence that effectively gave Erdogan the green light to complete his ethnic cleansing of the Syrian Kurds.
On October 22, Erdogan went to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin. This time, Erdogan feigned full satisfaction with a joint memorandum that limited his ethnic cleansing to an Arab-majority stretch of Syrian territory adjacent to the Turkish border, where few Kurds live anyway, while conceding the protection of all other Syrian Kurds to Putin.
Trump claimed the entire credit for this outcome. But in reality it was the culmination of a scheme that Putin had been planning since at least January 2019, when he promoted a meeting between representatives of the Syrian Kurds and of the Assad regime.
In short, the two meetings ended with the US administration claiming its strategic wisdom precisely as it surrendered its former substantial influence in Syria and established Russian supremacy in Syria. Before we examine the details, however, a brief geography lesson is needed.
It Began with a Railway
The idea of building a Berlin-Baghdad Railway originated in the late nineteenth century when Syria and Iraq were parts of the Ottoman Empire. The project gained impetus from German-Turkish cooperation in the years leading up to World War I, when work began on various stretches of the route. Although the stretches were not all linked up until 1940, by World War I a stretch did run from Çobanbey in the west to Nusaybin (the classical Nisibis) in the east.
After the war, Turkey was deprived of all its Arab territories. Most of the west-to-east border between the new Republic of Turkey and the French Mandate for Syria was determined to run along the Syrian side of that stretch of railway. One result was that the towns that grew up around the railway stations were now split into twin towns. Nusaybin matches Qamishli, one of the biggest Syrian Kurdish centers. Çobanbey matches Al-Ra'i, where Kurds were largely driven out by Erdogan's so-called Operation Euphrates Shield (from August 2016 to March 2017). Thereafter, Turkish forces sought to capture Manbij, further south, from the majority Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF responded by inviting Assad regime forces (with Russian backing) first to the outskirts of Manbij in December 2018 and now, in late October 2019, to take over the town in order to frustrate Erdogan's current so-called Operation Peace Spring (as we shall see).
The Kurdish towns in Syria consist mainly of various points where the Kurdish population that dominates southeastern Turkey spills over into the Syrian side of the frontier between the two states. Only in the triangle of territory at the northeastern end of Syria, lying between Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan, is there a considerable Kurdish population more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Turkish frontier. So when Erdogan announced that Operation Peace Spring was intended to establish a "safe zone" extending 32 kilometers into Syria from which the SDF would be expelled in order to resettle millions of Syrian Arab refugees, he was plainly planning an ethnic cleansing of Kurds. As explained in an earlier article, Erdogan disguised his intentions by undertaking the ethnic cleansing in a piecemeal fashion, first with Operation Euphrates Shield and then, starting in January 2018, with Operation Olive Branch (the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds in the Afrin area – the westernmost Kurdish spillover into Syria). But he intended a total ethnic cleansing of Kurds all along. Operation Peace Spring was meant to do east of the Euphrates river what he had already accomplished west of the river with the two earlier operations.
Prelude to Turkish Aggression
The drama of recent weeks began with joint Turkish-US patrols along the Syrian side of the border and ended with joint Russian-Turkish patrols. This switch already indicates who intimidates Erdogan and who does not.
In a speech at the United Nations on September 24, Erdogan set off the drama by presenting "a map of Syria with a red line drawn across the top" and declaring: "We intend to establish a peace corridor with a depth of 30 kilometres and a length of 480 kilometres in Syria and enable the settlement of two million Syrians there with the support of the international community." Three days later, details of the plan were published by Rudaw (an Iraqi Kurdish network), gleaned from a Turkish newspaper:
Unnamed sources told Turkish media Haberturk on Friday that 140 villages, each to house 5,000 Syrian refugees, and 10 districts, each accommodating 30,000 Syrian refugees, will be built in the so-called safe zone Turkey wants to see established some 30-40 kilometres deep into Syrian territory. In total, 200,000 residences will be built to house about a million Syrians who have fled to Turkey since the civil conflict erupted in 2011 and the subsequent rise of the brutal extremist Islamic State (ISIS). The construction plans also include sport halls, schools, youth centres, mosques, and medical clinics. The whole project is estimated to cost about $27 billion. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shared this plan with American officials during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly this week, according to Turkish media reports.
As Rudaw recalled, Erdogan, in his speech to the UN, spoke of even larger numbers, while euphemistically dubbing this scheme a "peace corridor":
"We want to be able to resettle two million Syrians into the peace corridor with the support of the international community. If we can extend this corridor to the Deir ez-Zor-Raqqa line, we can increase the number of Syrians to return home from Turkey, Europe, and other countries to up to three million."
The line mentioned is more than 100 kilometers south of the Syrian border with Turkey. Rudaw also recalled that "Turkey and the US agreed in early August to set up a safe zone in some parts of northern Syria to address Ankara's security concerns about the Kurdish forces in northern Syria" and "discussed relocating some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey." Only what the US wanted to talk about – in agreement with the Syrian Kurds - was merely resettling in this area refugees that had fled from it, not the vastly greater number intended by Erdogan (let alone $27 billion). Rudaw concluded:
Turkish and US troops have begun aerial and ground patrols in the proposed safe zone, but Erdogan says this is not enough. He has threatened to go it alone, establishing the safe zone by the end of September if the US does not act more quickly.
Pence Proposes
It was against such a background that Erdogan, in a phone call on October 6, told Trump that he was going ahead with his plans, whereupon Trump decided on the spot to withdraw the US personnel from the joint patrols. Trump was fully informed of the scale of the population transfer envisaged by Erdogan and thought that he could deter Erdogan with a pair of tweets on Twitter:
"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...
"... the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!"
When Erdogan showed indifference to threats of obliteration, Trump proceeded to send him a yet more hyperbolic letter on October 9:
Dear Mr. President,
Let's work out a good deal! You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy—and I will. I've already given you a little sample with respect to Pastor Brunson.
I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal. General Mazloum is willing to negotiate with you, and he is willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past. I am confidentially enclosing a copy of his letter to me, just received.
History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!
I will call you later.
Upon receiving it, according to Turkish officials, Erdogan "threw Trump's 'don't be a fool' letter in the trash and considered it 'the final straw' before launching his offensive in Syria." The assault stretched all the way from Kobani in the west to Qamishli and Derik (both of which include numerous Christians) in the east. Turkey contributed aerial bombing, artillery and tanks, but assigned the role of infantry to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), a militia created out of Islamist Arab refugees from the Syrian Civil War. As the Trump administration should have anticipated – forewarned by the example of Afrin – wherever the militia arrived it committed atrocities that have been described by Amnesty International and summarized by Seth Frantzman. Videos have surfaced in which the militia summarily executed captured civilians and boasted that it would decapitate any "infidel Kurds" that it came across.
The history of Kobani to date in the Syrian Civil War illustrates the bitter paradox. It began in late 2014, when American planes arrived to bomb the positions taken up in the town by the Islamic State (ISIS), in order to facilitate a counterattack by Kurdish forces after most of the population had fled. On the ground, the Syrian Kurds were reinforced with artillery supplied by Iraqi Kurds. Last year, after the SDF captured the ISIS "capital" Raqqa, Kobani's residents told the reporter that they were living in peace and rebuilding. After the American withdrawal early in October, Turkish American-made planes came to bomb the villages around Kobani in order to facilitate its capture by another Islamist force, provoking a fresh flight of the population. Today it is Assad's troops, but especially the Russian military police that accompany them, who protect Kobani.
After both parties in both Houses of Congress united to propose sanctions on Turkey, Trump on September 17 sent Vice President Pence to Ankara. The same day, the White House announced "an historic agreement," according to which:
Turkey is implementing an immediate ceasefire.
The two governments committed to safeguard religious and ethnic minorities.
Both governments are increasing cooperation to help detain ISIS fighters.
Relations between the United States and long-standing NATO ally Turkey have been bolstered.
This agreement is the result of President Donald Trump's forthright leadership over the past week and the successful negotiations in Ankara led by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, backed by a team of skilled and dedicated diplomats and military officers.
Turkey has agreed to pause its offensive for 120 hours to allow the United States to facilitate the withdrawal of YPG forces from the Turkish-controlled safe zone. Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire upon completion of the YPG withdrawal. The U.S. has already begun to facilitate the YPG withdrawal from the safe zone area.
The Administration laud's [sic] President Erdogan's willingness to step forward, agree to a ceasefire, and take this opportunity for resolution. The two governments are committed to a peaceful safe zone in northeast Syria.
The text of a "Joint U.S.-Turkish Statement on Northeast Syria" completed the White House statement.
In a subsequent press conference, Trump switched from threats to the warmest of compliments for Erdogan: "I just want to thank and congratulate President Erdogan. He's a friend of mine and I'm glad we didn't have a problem because, frankly, he is a hell of a leader and a tough man, a strong man." Trump also tweeted triumphantly:
"This deal could NEVER have been made three days ago. There needed to be some 'tough' love in order to get it done. Great for everybody. Proud of all!
"This is a great day for civilization. I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this 'deal' for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!"
Unfortunately, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu gave a very different account of what had been agreed:
"We will suspend the Peace Spring operation for 120 hours for the PKK/YPG to withdraw. This is not a ceasefire. A pause of Turkey's operation in Syria is not a ceasefire, ceasefire can only be declared between two legitimate parties."
The American media were also not impressed. Among many examples, Fox Media's Chris Wallace questioned "whether the US-brokered deal in Syria is a cease-fire or a surrender."
The natural reading of the 13 points of the "Joint U.S.-Turkish Statement on Northeast Syria" reinforces Wallace's doubts.
Point 9: "The two sides agreed on the continued importance and functionality of a safe zone in order to address the national security concerns of Turkey, to include the re-collection of YPG heavy weapons and the disablement of their fortifications and all other fighting positions."
Point 10: "The safe zone will be primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces..."
Point 11: "The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow the withdrawal of YPG from the safe zone within 120 hours. Operation Peace Spring will be halted upon completion of this withdrawal."
Point 12: "Once Operation Peace Spring is paused, the US agrees not to pursue further imposition of sanctions..."
Above all, the "Joint U.S.-Turkish Statement" nowhere defined the length or even the depth of the "safe zone," allowing Erdogan to understand it to mean – as in the various Turkish statements at the UN – the entire length of the border and a variable depth enabling the settlement of one or two or three million Islamist Syrian refugees. On the other hand, the Trump administration assured the SDF – and the SDF thankfully agreed – that the depth of the "safe zone" would be 30 kilometers (19 miles) and that it would extend from Tel Abyad in the west to Ras al-Ayn in the east. Their twins on the Turkish side of the border are respectively Akçakale and Ceylanpinar.
Out of the 440 kilometers from Kobani to Derik, the distance between the two towns is merely 120 kilometers. This is a stretch in which the Kurdish population is relatively small because here the Arab population of Syria spills over into Turkey. At the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, the FSA – the militia now sponsored by Turkey – seized the area from the Assad regime. Then ISIS took over until it was driven out by the SDF. At various stages, part of the Arab population fled into Turkey. In Turkey's current attack upon the Syrian Kurds, this was the only area where the FSA pushed back the SDF, although the latter fought to hold positions in Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn themselves.
It made sense, therefore, for the SDF to withdraw from this area alone, in accordance with its stance that refugees should be allowed to return only to where they had originally come from. Of course, it will be no fun for Arabs to live under the regime of head-chopping and subjugation of women practiced by the FSA Islamists. The SDF, by contrast, set up a system of decentralized administration (also described here) whereby each town was governed by a council reflecting the local ethnic mix and the council was headed jointly by a man and a woman.
Yet Turkey had unleashed its assault along the full 440 kilometers. On October 20, as the "ceasefire" (US version) or "pause" (Turkish version) was breaking down, Erdogan reiterated that his "safe zone" must be 440 kilometers long, destroying the assurances (of 120 kilometers by 30 in depth) that the Trump administration had given to the SDF. As an issue of the Yetkin Report remarked, this was one of the "13 unsafe questions about the Safe Zone in Syria."
Putin Disposes
In those three days between October 17 and 20, however, the SDF and the Assad regime activated an agreement that they had been quietly negotiating since January and intensively since July, by when the SDF realized that they would indeed be abandoned by the Trump administration and exposed to a devastating invasion by Trump's "friend," that "hell of a leader" Erdogan. Forces of the Assad regime, accompanied by Russian military personnel, rushed to all the frontier areas where the SDF had stemmed the attacks of the FSA. The Russian contribution was 300 extra military police and 20 armored vehicles, somewhat more than the 50 or so US troops that Trump pulled out, precipitating the Turkish invasion.
The guiding genius of this development, acting behind the scenes for months, was Putin. Already on January 23, Putin had praised the Syrian Kurds for opening a dialogue with the Assad regime under Russian auspices. This was reported by the Voice of America, adding:
Earlier this month, White House national security adviser John Bolton appealed to the YPG to refrain from dialogue with Damascus. "I think they know who their friends are," Bolton said, referring to the Kurds.
Bolton was truly their friend and was still trying to persuade Trump to be one. On September 10, Bolton gave up trying and resigned. (Trump claimed to have fired him.) The Syrian Kurds were proved to have had a shrewder estimation of whom they could trust.
What the Syrian Kurds want from Assad is at a minimum the end of the policy of Arabization imposed by Assad's father in the 1970s, whereby Kurdish towns and villages were given new Arabic names (Derik is officially "Al-Malikiyah") and Kurdish was banned from public life. To this end, they have started Kurdish schools that they want to retain in any deal with Assad. They would like further autonomy, but would settle for the system of decentralized administration described above.
From the early months of the Syrian Civil War, incidentally, there was an ambiguous relationship between the Kurdish YPG and the Assad regime. Sometimes they were struggling against each other, but sometimes they were fighting in parallel against Islamists, until Assad removed his forces in August 2012 to areas in western Syrian where they were desperately needed. Such a relationship has now been renewed.
The situation immediately after the arrival of Assad's military was described in a report by El Pais. Natalia Sancha in Qamishli told of seeing SDF and Assad regime positions stationed one alongside the other, from which both were jointly fighting back against the FSA. Andrés Mourenza on the Turkish side of the frontier in Ceylanpinar recounted that most of its 87,000 residents had fled because of shells fired back against the FSA by the SDF from Ras al-Ayn.
Also on October 20, Erdogan demanded that Assad's forces should withdraw from the entire frontier so that he could realize his dream of resettling millions of refugees. This, he said, would be on the agenda when he met Putin on October 22. But the outcome of the meeting, a memorandum of understanding comprising ten points, was to dash Erdogan's dreams maybe forever. It is enough to cite points 3 and 5:
3. In this framework, the established status quo in the current Operation Peace Spring area covering Tel Abyad and [Ras al-Ain] with a depth of 32km (20 miles) will be preserved.
5. Starting 12.00 noon of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons to the depth of 30km (19 miles) from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours. At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10km (six miles), except Qamishli city.
Comparing these two points with the points quoted from Pence's agreement with Erdogan, note firstly that (unlike the wording of Pence's "U.S.-Turkish Statement") Turkey's presence in Syria is expressly restricted to the area that it had captured, contradicting Erdogan's expectations of the meeting. Second, this area is described as a "status quo," not as an area to which Turkey has any rights. Third, elsewhere Turkish forces are restricted to joint patrols with Russians and to a mere 10 kilometers from the frontier, while they will not enter Qamishli – the largest Kurdish population center – at all. Thus fourth, there is only a small area where Erdogan can resettle refugees and it is an area whose existing population is Arab and not Kurdish. Fifth, while Pence agreed that the heavy arms of the Kurds would be re-collected, now the Kurdish forces can take them along when they withdraw.
How could Putin crush Erdogan so quickly? Partly because Erdogan had alienated all his NATO allies, first by ordering anti-aircraft missiles from Russia, which obliged the USA to stop selling aircraft to Turkey, and then by his assault upon the Syrian Kurds, which prompted European NATO members to impose arms embargos. But also because Putin is able at any time – and is merely biding his time – to initiate a fresh bombardment of Turkey's proxies (the FSA and others) in northwestern Syria. That threat could work to intimidate Erdogan where Trump's tweets failed.
What seems to have generally been overlooked here is that no disarmament of the SDF is so far envisaged, unlike what happened when the Assad regime regained control elsewhere in Syria. The answer to this puzzle is to be found in remarks by Assad on this occasion:
Syrian President Bashar Assad has vowed to reunite all the territory under Damascus' rule. On Tuesday, Assad called Erdogan "a thief" and said he was ready to support any "popular resistance" against Turkey's invasion. "We are in the middle of a battle and the right thing to do is to rally efforts to lessen the damages from the invasion and to expel the invader sooner or later," he told troops during a visit to the northwestern province of Idlib...
Assad called Erdogan "a thief, he stole the factories and the wheat and the oil in cooperation with Daesh (the Islamic State group) and now is stealing the land." He said his government had offered a clemency to Kurdish fighters - whom it considers separatists - to "ensure that everyone is ready to resist the aggression" and fight the Turkish assault.
Indeed, what better tool could Assad have for this purpose than the well-trained, heavily armed and battle-hardened 100,000 members of the SDF? Moreover, although Erdogan falsely claims that the YPG (the Kurdish component making up some 60% of the SDF alongside allied Arab and Christian militias) is merely an extension of the PKK (the Kurdish terrorists who have been fighting against the regime in Turkey), there is one place where the YPG is sponsoring an insurgency against Turkey and its FSA, namely, in order to regain the Afrin area. So Assad and Putin may be scheming to recapture Afrin in same style as they have used to regain most of western Syria, namely, Assad regime infantry backed by heavy Russian bombing. Only this time the SDF will be available to serve as infantry.
Note the opinion of Robert Pearson, a former US Ambassador to Turkey, speaking on Middle East Forum Radio on October 23, that "Sooner or Later, Putin Will Force Turkey out of Syria." He also predicted that the Trump administration would frustrate efforts in Congress to sanction Turkey:
To be honest with you, Erdoğan doesn't care what the U.S. does because [it has] now completely abdicated any influence or control in Syria. [It has] nothing on the table with Turkey that Turkey would find appealing to bargain about. So the real question is whether the Senate will pass a veto-proof heavy sanctions bill that would punish Turkey economically as a result of the incursion. I think that President Trump and his allies are working strenuously to let the heat about this issue out without allowing any of the substantive reaction that the Senate's been talking about.
Returning to the area of Syria granted to Erdogan by Putin, what is meant by "30" or "32 kilometers south of the border between Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn"? The media repeat this formula without explanation. Apparently, the reference is to Highway M4, which runs approximately parallel to the border at more or less that distance from it. The question, then, is whether this stretch of the road will be controlled the Assad regime or by the invaders. After the SDF withdrew from Ras al-Ayn, Turkey's FSA proxy advanced south to Tel Tamr on Highway M4, where it was repulsed by Assad's forces on October 24. Tel Tamr, however, is not south but slightly southeast of Ras al-Ayn, therefore definitely outside the so-called "safe zone" as defined by Putin. Nevertheless, Assad will surely want the strategic road to be entirely in his own hands, he may claim the right to use the SDF – now his ally – to defend it, and Putin is likely to back Assad (with Russian airpower if necessary).
On October 23, with Putin's scheme accomplished, Trump held a briefing at the White House in which he claimed for his administration total and exclusive merit for the outcome.
"This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else, no other nation. Very simple... In any event, by the moves that we've made, we are achieving a much more peaceful and stable area between Turkey and Syria, including a 20-mile-wide safe zone.... Thousands and thousands of people have been killed in that zone over the years. But it's been sought for many, many decades, and I think we have something that's going to be strong and hold up... I want to thank Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo for leading the American delegation so successfully to Turkey several days ago, along with National Security Advisor O'Brien."
These claims bear no relation to the truth. The outcome was achieved by Putin "and nobody else." Far from being "successful," the delegation sent by Trump to Turkey was hoodwinked by Erdogan in the same way as Erdogan had been hoodwinking the Trump administration for two years about his real aims in Syria. As for "many, many decades," it is indeed a matter of hardly two years since Erdogan concocted his scheme and the Syrian Civil War itself began only in March 2011.
The irrelevance of the Trump administration was also asserted by Robert Pearson in the interview cited above. The small US military presence on the ground should have been kept, he said, in order to "ensure that the Kurds made the best deal possible with the Damascus and with Turkey regarding their future in Syria."
"By fleeing as we did, we made it impossible for them to do that, and they had to jump into the arms of the Russians and the Syrians just for survival purposes. That's where we are today."
Indeed, once Trump decided to withdraw from Syria, all of his efforts to influence the situation – documented in the tweets and briefings quoted above and his peculiarly undiplomatic letter to Erdogan – were in vain. We wonder whether, nevertheless, Trump does believe all those illusory claims. Since John Bolton left his administration, there is nobody left to advise him otherwise but only adulators like Stephanie Grisham ("the genius of our great President").
More generally, we wonder how Trump habitually decries the "fake news" of the US media, when all those statements about Syria, Turkey and the Kurds conspicuously lack a factual basis and so are themselves eminent candidates for being fake news. For his statements up to October 19, a useful summary – with links to more detailed analysis – is available here. And there are more examples since then, as we shall now see.
Belittling the Kurds
Ever since he abandoned the Syrian Kurds to annihilation, Trump has sought to belittle their contribution to the fight against ISIS and to US interests in general. To put things in proper perspective, there is a Wikipedia article on "Casualties of the Syrian Civil War" that makes a brief mention of the United States:
8 servicemen killed
A U.S. pilot was killed on 30 November 2014, when his F-16 fighter aircraft crashed in Jordan following a combat mission against the Islamic State jihadist group. Also, a U.S. special forces member died due to a bomb explosion while supporting Kurdish-led forces during the Wrath of Euphrates offensive against ISIL-held Raqqa. Two other service members died due to non-combat causes in northern Syria in 2017. A US servicemen died on 30 March 2018 by an IED explosion in Manbij. Four Americans, including two soldiers, were killed by a bombing in Manbij city on 16 January 2019. One American soldier was killed on 28 April 2019, possibly due to a Turkish shelling.
On the other hand, around 12,000 Kurdish fighters died fighting Islamists and many thousands more were injured. The American contribution consisted mostly of air power, but also a small contingent of special forces and trainers; hence the tiny number of casualties.
Yet this is how Trump described the Kurdish role in the defeat of ISIS during a cabinet meeting on October 21, in the middle of the current crisis:
"Now, as far as ISIS is concerned, when I took over – November, 2016 – ISIS was all over the place. I'm the one – meaning it was me and this administration, working with others, including the Kurds – that captured all of these people that we're talking about right now.
"Because President Obama – it was a mess...
"As you know, most of the ISIS fighters that we captured – 'we.' We. Not Obama. We. We captured them. Me. Our country captured them, working with others, including the Kurds. And we helped them, don't forget. We helped the Kurds. Everyone said the Kurds helped us; that's true. But we helped the Kurds. They're no angels, but we helped the Kurds..."
The reality, as usual, is other than Trump believes or maintains. Not "We" but the SDF did all the capturing and SDF holds the ISIS captives in separate camps for the 11,000 males and tens of thousands of dependents. In the biggest camp, holding 68,000 dependents, one problem is that the women hold secret trials in which women and even children are convicted of "apostasy" and killed. Formerly, the SDF guards sought to frustrate this phenomenon, but afterwards many of them were withdrawn to combat the Turkish invasion and they can barely guard the perimeter; some inmates already escaped. The locations of the camps form one of four maps available in an excellent BBC guide.
As for the comparisons with Obama, the Kurdish YPG began its expulsion of ISIS and other Islamists on its own in July 2013. Then, from September 2014 on, the Obama administration provided the airpower that enabled the SDF to recover all the Kurdish home towns, expand to broader areas of northeastern Syria, and begin the advance southwest toward Raqqa, the so-called ISIS capital. Only the actual conquest of Raqqa, where the SDF took heavy casualties over an area that it did not need for its homeland, took place under the Trump administration. To claim that it was all "We... we" and belittle Obama and the Kurds in this regard qualifies as fake news. Also Trump "took over" not in November 2016 but in January 2017.
Trump originally motivated his abandonment of the Syrian Kurds by the need to bring American troops home and spare them further casualties. As noted above, precisely in Syria the US military had suffered only eight deaths, compared with thousands in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Second, the Defense Department decided instead that the withdrawn troops should go to Iraq to assist in mopping-up operations against ISIS remnants (where the troops would be seriously exposed to injuries and deaths, unlike in Syria). The Iraqi government, when it heard about that, protested that its permission had not been given and the troops could only pass in transit on their way home. Then Trump had a third idea: he would use some of them to secure Syrian oil fields.
After Trump abandoned the Syrian Kurds on October 6, he received two visits from retired General Jack Keane, now a Fox News analyst, on October 8 and 14, the second time accompanied by Senator Lindsey Graham. They showed him maps displaying oil fields in the SDF-controlled areas. Keane and Graham spoke of the oil fields falling into the hands of Iran, an unlikely prospect, but apparently because they guessed that Trump would react only to the word "Iran." Trump thereupon decided to send thirty tanks to the area along with support personnel (a total numerically comparable with the troops that Trump was intending to withdraw in the first place).
On October 24, Trump proclaimed his reasoning with typical factually conflicted tweets:
"The Oil Fields discussed in my speech on Turkey/Kurds yesterday were held by ISIS until the United States took them over with the help of the Kurds. We will NEVER let a reconstituted ISIS have those fields!"
"I really enjoyed my conversation with General @MazloumAbdi. He appreciates what we have done, and I appreciate what the Kurds have done. Perhaps it is time for the Kurds to start heading to the Oil Region!"
Brett McGurk responded: "The President of the United States of America appears to be calling for a mass migration of Kurds to the desert where they can resettle atop a tiny oil field." (We recall that McGurk was Trump's own envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition until he resigned in 2018 over Trump's announcements about leaving Syria.) The main oil fields are in the Deir ez-Zor region, captured by the SDF in October 2017, but more than 100 kilometers south of the Kurdish homeland, so it would require a mass migration of all the Kurds to find safety there.
But Keane rather was considering the Karatchok and Rumeilan oil fields, which lie some 20 kilometers south of the Turkish frontier between Qamishli and Derik (thus within Erdogan's version of the "safe zone," but which Putin forced Erdogan to renounce). The Kurds can hardly "head to" this "Oil Region" because they are already there, unless Trump meant an evacuation from the rest of their homeland to this one spot. The Kurds freed this area from ISIS already in October 2013, three years before Trump was elected and eleven months before the US intervention in northeastern Syria began in September 2014. So Trump's tweet that these oil fields "were held by ISIS until the United States took them over with the help of the Kurds" was therefore more fake news.
Trump has gone on to speculate about bringing in an American oil company to exploit the oil fields and letting the Syrian Kurds have some of the proceeds to help them economically. This means that he did not think about the oil fields until just weeks ago. And he still does not know that the Kurds captured them from ISIS on their own, that they began to supply oil from them to the Assad regime among others, and that the proceeds have already been the main source of revenue for the confederation of self-governing towns set up by the SDP. Also, if a US firm instead of locals operates the oil fields, it is technically a war crime (pillaging foreign territory).
On October 31, Assad gave his own reaction to Trump's oil scheme. After acknowledging the deal arranged by Putin:
Assad also said Trump's decision to keep a small number of U.S. troops in the Kurdish-held areas of Syria "where they have the oil" showed that Washington was a colonial power that was doomed to leave once Syrians resist their occupation as in Iraq.
But he said his country could not stand up to a great power such as the United States and that ending the presence of American troops on Syrian soil was not achievable soon
Assad also confirmed that even after Putin's deal the SDF need not yet disarm:
The Kurds would not be asked to immediately hand over their weapons when the Syrian army enters their areas in a final deal with them that brings back state control to the large swathe of territory they now control, Assad said in the interview.
"There are armed groups that we cannot expect they would hand over weapons immediately but the final goal is to return to the previous situation, which is the complete control of the state," he said.
There is a possibility, moreover, that the Trump administration has not considered. What if Assad offers the Syrian Kurds this deal: "You can keep your decentralized administration and your Kurdish schools as they are, just hand over the oil fields to us and split the revenues with us." Trump would need more than thirty tanks to face a coalition of the SDF, the Assad regime and Russian air power. Also internationally, even among its closest allies, the USA would hardly find support for clinging on to the oil fields in those circumstances,
The killing of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Caliph of the Islamic State, provided another opportunity to belittle the Syrian Kurds. Here are extracts from Trump's briefing:
"The United States has been searching for Baghdadi for many years. Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration. U.S. Special Operations Forces executed a dangerous and daring nighttime raid in northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style. The U.S. personnel were incredible. I got to watch much of it...
"Baghdadi has been on the run for many years, long before I took office. But at my direction, as Commander-in-Chief of the United States, we obliterated his caliphate, 100 percent, in March of this year...
"I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. And I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us. This was a very, very dangerous mission."
Remember, again, that the US military lost only one soldier when "we obliterated his caliphate"; here the Syrian Kurds, who bore the brunt of the casualties, are not even mentioned. It was they who set Al-Baghdadi "on the run." They are also mentioned only last of those whom Trump thanked in regard of al-Baghdadi's death, although they should have been first and foremost.
Shortly after Trump's remarks, it emerged that all the vital intelligence on al-Baghdadi had come from Kurds. And the Syrian Kurds continued to supply the intelligence even after Trump has abandoned them. According to a senior official at the US Special Forces Command: "I don't think we could have done this without the help we got from the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, which continued after we began the troop pullout." On the other hand, other senior military officials indicated that the operation "occurred largely in spite of Mr. Trump's actions" because Trump's decision to remove troops from Syria "disrupted the meticulous planning and forced Pentagon officials to press ahead with a risky, night raid before their ability to control troops and spies and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared."
Before their ability disappeared? Al-Baghdadi was about to move to Jarabulus – in the zone captured by the FSA during Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield! So Trump's repeated claims that after evacuating Syria he could rely upon Erdogan to take care of ISIS turned out to be true, only literally rather than figuratively. What is the surprise? The FSA today includes former ISIS fighters and it was the Turkish frontier that ISIS volunteers generally crossed – without interference – to swell the ranks.
Through interrogating one of his wives, the Iraqi Kurds found the general location of al-Baghdadi in an unexpected corner of northwestern Syria that was thought to be ruled by Islamists hostile to ISIS. But the main intelligence came from a disaffected follower of al-Baghdadi who supplied information to the SDF repeatedly over a considerable time at great personal risk. Whenever the informant was summoned to meetings held by al-Baghdadi, he sought to remember everything that he saw, including the layout of buildings. He also managed to steal underpants belonging to al-Baghdadi and even a blood sample, providing DNA material that checked with other DNA information about al-Baghdadi. And he learned about the planned move to Jarabulus.
Without such information, the Special Forces obviously could not have found and pursued their target, both quickly and without taking casualties. They evacuated the informant as they left.
*Malcolm Lowe is a Welsh scholar specialized in Greek Philosophy, the New Testament and Christian-Jewish Relations.
© 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.

Should Europe Bring Back the Fighters Who Left for ISIS?

Alain Destexhe/Gatestone Institute/November 06/2019
This debate about repatriation is another example of how confused the West has become when trying to apply its moral principles. The real victims here are the people who were murdered, injured, raped, tortured or displaced by ISIS. Their children, if still alive, will have to live with the consequences of ISIS terror.
If European governments have to choose between supporting a Yazidi rape survivor and her unwanted child or a woman who willingly left Europe to spit in the face of Western societies and the values of her country of origin to join ISIS, they should choose the former. Sorry, do-gooders. These deserters should not be allowed back to Europe.
European governments are confronted with the thorny problem of what to do with their citizens who were "foreign fighters" for ISIS. Most of the surviving fighters are being held in Iraqi or Kurdish jails. There is currently growing pressure to bring them back to Europe.
After the Turkish offensive into Syria, European governments are confronted again with the thorny problem of what to do with the "foreign fighters".
Foreign fighters are Muslim extremists who left their countries of residence to join ISIS and fight against Western civilization and values. Most of them are men, but many women joined them to support the Caliphate. Many of these women later became pregnant with the children of ISIS terrorists.
Since the fall of Mosul and Raqqa, most of the surviving fighters are currently being detained in Iraqi or Kurdish jails. Some are also in detention in northern Syria, a territory whose future is uncertain. Most women (and their children) live in refugee camps, often in miserable conditions.
Up to now, Europeans governments have remained reluctant to bring their nationals back, and have merely organized the repatriation of women and children on a case-by-case basis. There is currently, however, growing pressure to bring all of them, jailed or not, back to Europe.
In Belgium, a group of 300 academics launched a petition in late October, asking for the "urgent return of the Belgians from Syria". In an op-ed published in a major Belgian daily, De Standaard, two senior fellows of Belgium's Royal Institute for International Relations advocated that the repatriation of Belgian fighters is "the right choice". The European Council of Foreign Affairs supported a similar idea in its report "Beyond Good and Evil: Why Europe should bring foreign fighters home?" Even Frederic van Leeuw, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor (in charge of fighting terrorism) pleaded for organizing the repatriation of jailed terrorists and holding their trials in Belgium.
Their arguments may vary but are, in substance, that as Iraqi (or Syrian) courts and prisons do not meet international standards, the return of ISIS supporters to Europe would be the best way to ensure they remain under control and that they can go through programs of de-radicalization and become moderate Muslims. Women are often portrayed as innocent victims and children at risk of radicalization if they remain in the region's camps.
A common pattern of these calls for repatriation is that they never mention the immense suffering imposed on Europe, the Middle East, and the world by the Islamic State.
All those appeals fail to address the main issue. By joining ISIS, these men and women made a choice. They decided to leave behind their European citizenship and join a "state," the fundamental values of which are totally incompatible with those of Western societies. These men and women decided to join a terrorist group whose objective was mercilessly to murder people of their home countries, as they did in Nice, Berlin, Brussels, Paris and many others places; a group that burned alive in a cage a captured Jordanian fighter pilot and raped hundreds of Yazidi women, to mention just some of their atrocities. At the time they joined ISIS, they knew what they were doing and could not ignore the nature and the acts of this terrorist group. They should be stripped of their Western nationalities because they themselves renounced them by joining a terror organization.
Almost all the persons concerned are first -- and more often, second or third -- generation immigrants to the West. In most instances, they also retain the nationality of the country their families hailed from: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or Pakistan. So, by losing their Western nationalities, they would not become stateless.
From a legal point of view, it is a principle of international law that crimes committed in a country should be tried in the country where these crimes were committed. There is no reason to show mercy to people who tried to kill their fellow citizens and destroy their societies. Women and their children born in Iraq or Syria should also not be allowed to return to Europe. Their other countries of citizenship are free to take them back, but there is neither any duty nor responsibility for European governments to do so.
Advocates for repatriation usually raise the "moral argument". Children born in the Caliphate, they say, are not responsible for the crimes of their parents and should be taken care of. That is certainly true. But why would they deserve better treatment than other children born in Iraq or Syria? What about the children of Yazidi women raped by ISIS fighters? What about the Syrian, Kurdish and Iraqi orphans whose parents were murdered by ISIS? Don't these mothers and children deserve our help and support more than the women who were already living in Europe and, now, pretend to have "made a mistake" by joining ISIS? A bloody mistake, indeed: they are, at the very minimum, accomplices in the crimes and atrocities committed by ISIS. As the British commentator Piers Morgan wrote:
"These are the women who leave their homes, families, friends and countries to go and marry the world's worst terrorists. They have sex with them, they breed with them, they cook for them, they clean for them, they love them and they worship them. And while they're doing all this, their husbands are busy raping, torturing, stoning, beheading and murdering people."
This debate about repatriation is another example of how confused the West has become when trying to apply its moral principles. The real victims here are the people who were murdered, wounded, raped, tortured or displaced by ISIS. Their children, if still alive, will have to live with the consequences of ISIS terror. In Iraq alone, after the fall of the Caliphate, more than 200 ISIS mass graves were discovered. ISIS victims worldwide probably number in the millions.
If European governments have to choose between supporting a Yazidi rape survivor and her unwanted child or a woman who willingly left Europe to spit in the face of Western societies and the values of her country of origin to join ISIS, they should choose the former. Sorry, do-gooders. These deserters should not be allowed back to Europe.
*Alain Destexhe is an honorary Senator from Belgium and former President of International Crisis Group.
© 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

‘Iranian attack on Israel is just a matter of time’
Israel Kasnett/JNS/November 06/2019
And if the Islamic Republic does attack, there will have to be a massive retaliation against its interests by the Jewish state, ideally with reassurances of backup from the United States.
'Iranian attack on Israel is just a matter of time'
As Iranians took to the streets this week to commemorate 40 years since the US embassy takeover in 1979, Iran announced new violations of the nuclear deal it signed in 2015. The rogue Islamic Republic admitted that it now operates 60 advanced IR-6 centrifuges and is working on a new type of centrifuge that will work 50 times faster than what is currently permitted under the deal.
This announcement comes after Iran has engaged in attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities, shooting down an American drone, and, of course, its ongoing and aggressive efforts to build a war machine against Israel in Syria and elsewhere.
For its part, on Monday the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions against nine Iranian military commanders and officials. US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions in an effort to curb the regime’s destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and around the globe.
Regardless, Tehran has continued to engage in destabilization efforts and heavily supports terror activity and weapons buildup in the Middle East.
Yaakov Amidror, a former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and currently an analyst at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and a fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, told JNS that the Iranians want to remain far away from the Jewish state, but at the same time build “a ring of fire” around it. Iran supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and the terror organization is estimated to have as many as 100,000 missiles. Iran is also trying hard to create an independent war machine in Syria, which Israel has been working to dismantle. According to foreign and some Israeli reports, Israel has struck 300 targets in Syria so far.
According to Amidror, Iran realized that Israel has been succeeding in Syria, so it began to build a branch of its independent war machine in Iraq, taking advantage of the fact that the Iraqis don’t have total control of some parts of their land. For Iran, the idea is to have a military capability close to Israel, while it itself remains at a distance.
“An interesting question,” Amidror said, “is what should Israel’s reaction be in such a situation? We know the head of the snake is in Iran. Will Israel go after targets in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon or Yemen? Or will we go directly to the head of the snake?”Iran has the capability to attack Israel from multiple locations, including Lebanon and Syria – and now Iraq and possibly Yemen – as Netanyahu mentioned recently.
‘This will be complicated’
Eytan Gilboa, professor and director of the Center for International Communication at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan and a senior research associate at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, told JNS that a number of elements have changed recently that impact Israel’s preparedness and decision-making.
First, Iran attacked the Saudi oil fields. Second, the United States withdrew from Syria. And third, Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf were not met with any aggressive American answer.
“We also see Islamic Jihad in Gaza, on orders from Iran, trying to sabotage and undermine the situation there,” he said.
Like Amidror, Gilboa noted that Israel has been trying to prevent Iran from building another front in Syria, saying “this strategy has been extended to Iraq.”He laid out the current state of affairs from Israel’s perspective. According to Gilboa, “it is obvious, for all kinds of reasons, that Iran would not attack Israel directly from its own territory. Iran lost some of the surprise that could have been inflicted on Israel had it not used cruise missiles against Saudi Arabia.”Israel is preparing adequate answers to this kind of threat as it expects Iran to attack it with precision-guided cruise missiles and drones.
Gilboa suggested that the components of Israeli strategy must first be to reveal Iran’s plan. Then, Israel must threaten direct and severe retaliation. Finally, Israel must make it clear that Syria and Lebanon will pay the price if attacks on Israel originate on their soil.
“If Iran orders Nasrallah to attack Israel, this will be complicated,” said Gilboa. “In the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Israel distinguished between the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah. This is no longer the case. If Israel comes under attack, it will attack Lebanon, including Hezbollah. The same is true for Syria. Israel is trying to persuade [Syrian President] Basher Assad and Russia that if Israel comes under attack from Syria, it is Assad who will pay the price.”Additionally, continued Gilboa, Israel must inform Russia of potential Israeli action after any attack by Iran. “These exchanges of fire between Israel and Iranian attempts to build a base in Syria is completely not in Russia’s interest, and this is why Russia is not protesting Israeli military actions in Syria,” he said. Israel should work to procure an American statement of support and must coordinate with the United States to announce that attacks on Israel will trigger American action.
“On the face of it,” Gilboa said, “these components should create some level of deterrence. Israel’s main strategy is to create deterrence or at least limit any potential Iranian attack.”If Iran does indeed attack, there will have to be a massive retaliation against Iranian interests. According to Gilboa, Europe should not be expected to join in the fight against Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and support of global terrorism. They are “stupid and deaf,” he charged, and only trying to appease Iran.
Both Amidror and Gilboa agree that Iran is certainly bent on Israel in its crosshairs.
“Confrontation between Iran and Israel is unavoidable,” said Gilboa. “There is great probability for some Iranian military action; this is something Israel is preparing for.”
“Our assumption,” said Amidror, “is not a question of if, but when.”
Reprinted with permission from

Riyadh Agreement Delivers Political Gains in Yemen, But Implementation Less Certain

Elana DeLozier/The Washington Institute/November 06/2019
The new agreement will score a win if it brings the most important players to the table for wider talks, but implementing its often-vague provisions so quickly will prove challenging.
After numerous delays, the Hadi government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) have signed a power-sharing agreement in Riyadh that provides the legitimacy that each of them craved, while perhaps temporarily halting their hostilities in Yemen. Yet the vague language of the November 5 document portends difficulties in implementation.
An even more worrisome obstacle is the utter lack of trust between the two parties, who did not negotiate the agreement face to face. Instead, Saudi negotiators have been going back and forth between them since August 20, and the signing ceremony may be the first time the parties have been in the same room since violence erupted this summer. This level of distrust may limit their ability to meet the document’s call for organizing under a single political and military chain of command, even with Saudi mediation.
The four-page agreement cites the common objective of defeating the Houthi rebels, then lays out a series of general mandates that grants each party the legitimacy it seeks. For the Hadi government, the document states that all military and security forces, including those aligned with the STC, are to fall under the Ministry of Defense. This is a win for President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who demanded that the STC explicitly recognize his role as the leader of Yemen’s only internationally legitimate government.
For the STC, the agreement says they will participate on the government’s side in final peace negotiations with the Houthis. This is a compromise, since their ultimate goal remains for south Yemen to secede from the north. Yet without international support for secession at present, and having lost a battle to Hadi-backed forces in the critical province of Shabwa on August 26, the STC decided it was best to secure a seat at the table for final talks. In their view, this grants them legitimacy as a representative of southern desires and will ensure those desires are not marginalized. Having the southern issue on the table in final talks will in turn allow them to fight another day for a referendum on secession.
The arrangements laid out in the document are designed to stop the fighting and integrate the STC’s political, security, and military forces under a single Yemeni command. Yet these measures fall under exceptionally tight thirty-, sixty-, or ninety-day timetables and are couched in vague language—echoing the lack of specificity that has dogged the stalemated Stockholm accord that Hadi and the Houthis agreed to in December 2018.
For example, today’s agreement stipulates that Hadi appoint a new technocratic government with up to twenty-four ministers in the next thirty days. Half must be from the south, but the agreement does not explicitly say they must be STC-aligned, nor does it make clear who will fill the most important roles such as prime minister, interior minister, and defense minister. Since a misstep on those appointments could undermine the entire accord, it is likely that negotiations on these details are under way or already agreed upon.
Moreover, the document indicates that individuals involved in the fighting in Aden since August are not eligible for ministerial appointments. Although this clause was meant as a confidence-building measure, it excludes some powerful figures and may have the unintended effect of steering them toward the role of spoilers in the future. On a related note, the agreement calls for all medium and heavy weapons to be put in military depots under the supervision of the coalition in Aden within fifteen days, but it is unclear how the government or STC will collect such weapons, especially from those parties who feel excluded.
The agreement also fails to deal with other issues that will inevitably arise when trying to unify rival forces. For example, it states that the Facility Protection Forces, who are responsible for securing key installations such as the Central Bank, ports, and refineries, will be chosen either from their current ranks, Hadi’s forces, or the STC’s forces. This kind of inexact language, which is littered throughout the document, kicks the can of tough, tactical decisionmaking down the road—a road that is only thirty days long.
Adding to the confusion, the sequencing of various components is unclear and is widely believed to be one of the factors behind the agreement’s delay, along with concerns over major ministerial appointments. One can only hope that the Saudis already began negotiating such tactical decisions behind the scenes well before this week.
Indeed, implementation will likely fall entirely on Riyadh’s shoulders. To demonstrate unity of purpose, Emirati crown prince Muhammad bin Zayed had a front-and-center seat next to Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman at the signing ceremony. Yet the UAE is not mentioned in the agreement, its forces have continued to draw down in Yemen, and its leaders appear to have left management of the Hadi-STC negotiations to the Saudis.
Meanwhile, Hadi-STC discussions about implementation seem far off. During today’s ceremony, President Hadi and STC head Aidarous al-Zubaidi left the signing to lower-level officials and do not appear to have shaken hands. Afterward, they met with the Saudi crown prince separately, suggesting they may continue relying on Saudi-led shuttle diplomacy going forward. It is difficult to fathom Hadi and STC forces mixing nicely together—let alone cooperating effectively to counter the Houthis—if their leadership will not even shake hands. Indeed, the Houthis will be closely monitoring Saudi efforts at implementation over the next few weeks to see if a unified, capable coalition arises.
On a positive note, if the agreement is implemented even partially, it has the potential to create better conditions for UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, since any comprehensive peace talks he is able to convene would now include parties that might otherwise act as spoilers. For example, the Hadi delegation to such talks could plausibly include representatives from the Islah Party (assuming they retain some ministerial positions) and the STC, while the Houthi delegation would continue to include representatives from the General People’s Congress Party. Although Yemen’s increasing fragmentation lends itself to additional spoilers, their impact would be greatly mitigated if the above key players are similarly invested in successful rather than failed talks. Thus, even if the Riyadh agreement suffers the same halting implementation as the Stockholm agreement, it may still be a political win that moves the Yemen war closer to some kind of resolution.
*Elana DeLozier is a research fellow in The Washington Institute’s Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy.

Recalling the hostage crisis that made Iran forever hostile to the US
Simon Henderson/The Hill/November 06/2019
Forty years ago this week, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized by revolutionaries apparently angered by diplomatic contacts between the nine-month-old, post-Shah Islamic regime and U.S. officials. This motive, seeking to make the new Iran implacably and permanently hostile to the United States, has been very successful, in the judgment of most of us. The elusive question has been whether the people of Iran share their government’s view so that by changing their leadership, a new relationship could be created.
On the positive side, there is a persistent belief that Iranians actually like individual Americans, although not successive U.S. administrations. The foundations for this, being largely anecdotal, are commensurately weak. I was the Financial Times correspondent in Tehran for six months after the embassy seizure and on Nov. 23, 1979, I reported: “A westerner walking in the street meets fewer jibes of ‘Yankee go home’ than at the time of the revolution,” which I also had covered earlier that year. On the negative side, there is the danger that sanctions will hurt these Iranians more than the regime, a case of U.S. policy shooting itself in the foot.
But there are things happening that might give cause for optimism. Last weekend, Iraqi Shia protestors in the holy city of Karbala attacked the local Iranian consulate — an outrageous action! Are diplomatic premises not sacrosanct? I doubt whether Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appreciates irony, but many of the rest of us do. The protests in Karbala, as well as in the major Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Basra, seem to be part of “Arab Spring 2.0” sweeping portions of the Middle East, to protest government corruption and incompetence. In Iraq, they seem to have an anti-Iran angle, which may seem strange because both countries are majority Shia Muslim, and Iraq was the first domino that fell to Iran after the disastrous American invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein.
My album of newspaper clippings prompts a considerable sense of déjà vu. “Carter warns Iran of grave consequences” was one headline. In another story, I wrote that the “students” who took over the embassy “show a confidence born of religious conviction and a belief that they hold most of the cards. … At times they appear a rag-tag collection of poorly-trained guerrilla fighters hardly capable of organizing a press conference, but some are very sophisticated.” In one story, I wrote that the foreign minister at the time was “very much a man of many faces.”
Those early months of the revolution showed the fragility of the Islamic regime. In December 1979, there was an open disagreement between Turkish-speaking Azeris in the northwestern city of Tabriz supporting a clerical rival of the revolution’s leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. A radio station was seized and there were clashes that killed and injured people. In Tehran, a senior clerical aide of Khomeini was shot dead by unidentified gunmen. The chaos occasionally was ridiculous: Two correspondents of Time magazine were expelled, victims of bureaucratic muddle, after successfully winning an interview with Khomeini himself, who was going to be “Man of the Year.”
On a professional level, the job was challenging. I wrote: “Deciding on how much store to put on the statements of Iranian officials … is just as much a problem for diplomats as it is for journalists.”
In retrospect, the hostage crisis established the regime. Hardliners were given the powers to assert their authority and they seized the opportunity. Picking a fight with the United States made it an enemy, boosting Iranian nationalist pride. Similar ingredients underlined the impact of the eight-year war with Iraq after Saddam’s invasion in 1980. Israel, always diplomatically unrecognizable, is now the enemy du jour.
Could Washington do anything to change this? President Obama tried but failed. The Iran of Ayatollah Khamenei did not want to be friends, and with President Trump has even less reason to try. The restraint on U.S. pressure used to be that it was trying to avoid backing Tehran into a corner and prompting it to lash out. But then in September, Iran launched a wave of cruise missiles at the Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia’s greatest concentration of oil processing infrastructure. To the astonishment of allies, there was essentially no response from the U.S. Perhaps it is grasping at straws, but might it be that the lack of a forceful response could change the way that Tehran defines its antipathy to America?
*Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Follow him on Twitter @shendersongulf.

Hostage crisis set the tone for Islamic Republic’s rule
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/November 06/2019
Iranian politicians and state-controlled Persian media outlets this week celebrated the 40th anniversary of the taking of the US Embassy in Tehran. The Islamic Republic broke international laws by instigating the 1979 hostage crisis, in which the Iranian regime detained and humiliated 52 Americans and did not release them for 444 days — the longest hostage-taking in modern history.
The crisis ought not to be viewed as an isolated or aberrant incident when examining the four-decade history of the Islamic Republic, its foreign policy and US-Iranian relations. It gave Iran’s hard-liners, ultra-conservatives and Principlists the platform to consolidate their power. By taking 52 Americans hostage, the Islamic Republic declared to the international community its core revolutionary principles, which include anti-Americanism, the pursuit of hegemonic ambitions and the willingness to break international laws and norms in order to advance the regime’s parochial interests.
The then-newly established theocratic government evidently desired to project the power it had recently acquired. From the Iranian leaders’ perspective, their hostage-taking policy was successful, as they had scored a victory against their new enemy, which it called the “Great Satan.” Minutes after President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981, Iran releasedthe hostages. It was obvious that Iran’s move to engineer the hostage crisis and President Jimmy Carter’s inability to bring the American citizens home was one of the reasons for his defeat in the presidential election of 1980.
Several factors demonstrate that hostage-taking remains an indispensable part of Iran’s political establishment. Not only has the regime never offered an apology for the 1979 hostage crisis or any of its subsequent hostage-taking efforts, but those behind the crisis now hold senior positions after being promoted by both the hard-liners and the so-called moderates. They include Masoumeh Ebtekar, known as “Sister Mary,” who was the spokeswoman for the hostage-takers and is now Iran’s vice president for women and family affairs; Hamid Abutalebi, the political adviser to President Hassan Rouhani and who was the president’s candidate to be Iran’s representative to the UN; Hossein Sheikholislam, who is adviser to Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif; Mohammad-Ali “Aziz” Jafari, who was commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and is now in charge of the Baqiollah Cultural and Social Headquarters; and IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan, who was defense minister in Rouhani’s first term from 2013 to 2017 and is currently adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on defense industries and army support.
While, four decades ago, the Iranian regime took hostages mainly for political gain and to consolidate its power, it now takes foreign hostages as pawns to extract economic concessions and obtain geopolitical and financial gain. Tehran also uses hostages as a tool to silence the opposition, as well as to pressure the West into ignoring its military adventurism, violations of international law, nuclear proliferation and testing of ballistic missiles.
The Iranian regime now takes foreign hostages as pawns to extract economic concessions and obtain geopolitical and financial gain.
International diplomacy and appeasement have not changed this core character of the Islamic Republic. For example, the Obama administration reached out to the theocratic establishment and sealed the 2015 nuclear deal, lifting US sanctions and helping to remove four rounds of UN sanctions against Tehran. The argument for these concessions was that they would inspirethe Islamic Republic to change its malignant behavior, and that the resulting freedoms would trickle down to the ordinary people. But Tehran only proceeded to take more Americans and Europeans as hostages. For instance, in 2016, it seized two US Navy boatsand their crews. Iran currently holds several foreign citizens as hostages in its prisons.
The response to such belligerence cannot simply be further appeasement. That route has been tried and has failed. The international community can see first-hand the consequences of this approach.
This pattern of hostage-taking and disregard for diplomacy and international standards has continued and escalated in the last four decades, as it has become a core pillar of this rogue state’s foreign policy and a crucial tool for the ruling mullahs to strengthen their hold on power and ensure the regime’s survival.
Over the last four decades, the taking of hostages, blackmail, and defiance of international laws have come to be the key underlying characteristics of Iran’s political establishment. As long as the ruling mullahs are in power, Tehran will not alter its character. If the international community submits to Tehran’s blackmailing and hostage-taking game by accepting its terms, it will only embolden and empower the regime’s hard-liners.
*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
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view