English LCCC Newsbulletin For Lebanese, Lebanese Related, Global News & Editorials
For October 13/2020
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 06/16-21: “‘Whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”.

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on October 12-13/2020
Thanksgiving Day: Obligations Prayers & Wishes/Elias Bejjani/October 12/2020
Report: Schenker Soon in Beirut to Partake in Sea BorderTalks
Lebanon Names Team for Maritime Border Talks with Israel
Lebanon alters delegation for US-led talks with Israel after Hezbollah backlash
U.S. Says Border Talks Can Boost Stability in Lebanon, Israel
Hariri: Berri Very Positive towards French Paper Reforms
Aoun, Hariri Hold 'Positive' Talks, Affirm Need for French Initiative
Premiership Says Aoun Flouted Constitution in Naming Border Talks Team
Jumblat Lashes Out at Hariri, Blames Himself for May 7 Clashes
Bassil to Resume Activities after Testing Negative for Virus
Geagea Says Port Blast ‘Crime’ Won’t Go Unpunished
LibanPost Launches Initiative to Support Lebanon
The Life of Ghosn: Fugitive Tycoon to Star in Screen Productions
Lebanon makes another attempt to overcome the political impasse/Himanshu Sharma/New Delhi Times/October 12, 2020
Hezbollah official calls on Lebanon army to do more in Shia stronghold amid violence
Lebanon is Burning” for the second year with Great Success/Amal Khalil/Al Lhaleej Today/October 12/2020
The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy: Middle East Community Hails Walid Phares’ ‘The Choice’/EINPresswire.com/October 12/2020

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 12-13/2020

Azerbaijan, Armenia report shelling of cities despite truce
Armenia, Azerbaijan Clash as Ceasefire Fails to Stick
Iran Says 'Historic' US Defeat Close as Arms Embargo to Be Lifted
Iran and Iraq reach deal to release trapped energy payments
Israel, UAE Leaders Hold Post-accord Phone Talk
Official UAE delegation trip to Israel being planned for end of October: Source
Greece Slams Turkish Decision to Send Out Research Ship
Erdogan tells European Union that progress needed on improving Turkey-EU ties
Egyptian president rejects Turkey, Qatar reconciliation bids
Katai'b Hezbollah leaders fear US reprisals, signal truce
American Duo Wins Nobel Economics Prize for Work on Auctions
White House doctor says US President Trump tested negative for coronavirus
Jordan’s King Abdullah swears in new government led by Khasawneh to speed reforms

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 12-13/2020

The Plot Against America/Frank Furedi/Gatestone Institute/October 12/2020
Saudi Arabia: We, Too, Are Fed Up with the Palestinians/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/October 12/2020
Trump’s Middle Eastern Legacy and the Incoming Challenges/Charles Elias Chartouni/October 12/2020
Arab music in Israel: From ‘music of the enemy’ to mainstream popularity/Linda Abdul Aziz Menuhin/Al Arabia/Monday 12 October 2020
Why the Midwest and Rust Belt are key to US election outcome/Kerry Boyd Anderson/Arab News/October 12/2020
Iran’s evolving position in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict/Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami//Arab News/October 12/2020


The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News & Editorials published on October 12-13/2020
Thanksgiving Day: Obligations Prayers & Wishes
الياس بجاني/عيد الشكر في كندا: واجبات وصلاة وتمنيات
Elias Bejjani/October 12/2020

Let us never forget that we have a holy obligation to always no matter what to happily keep on thanking Almighty God For His generosity, love and Graces.
This Year, Our beloved Canada celebrates on the 12th of October The Thanksgiving Day.
A blessed day by all means that is welcomed and cherished with joy, gratefulness, Hope and faith.
All principles and values of humility and gratitude necessitates that each and every one of us with faith, and hope thank Almighty God for all that we have no matter what.
To appreciate what we have it is a must to look wisely around and observe the millions and millions of people all over the world who are totally deprived from almost every thing that is basic and needed for a safe and descent life.
While celebrating the “Thanksgiving Day” Let us be grateful and thank Almighty God genuinely and with full reverence.
On this very special day we have to focus on praying and combine both faith and acts together.
We need to train ourselves to witness for the truth and to be humble and generous in giving what we can to all those who are in need.
We must recognise and understand with no shed of doubt that the only weapons that a peaceful believer can use to fight hardships of all sorts are faith, honesty, self trust, righteousness and praying.
Let us all Lebanese Canadians pray and ask Almighty God for what ever we are in need for ourselves, for others and for our beloved both countries, Canada and Lebanon.
Almighty God definitely will hear and respond in case we are genuine in our prayers and praying with confidence, faith and trust, but His responses shall be mostly beyond our understanding or grasping.
Let us Pray for on going peace and prosperity in the hospitable and great Canada that gave us a home when we needed it.
Let us pray for peace in our beloved original country, Lebanon and for freedom of its persecuted and impoverished people.
Let us pray that all Families will get together on this day to support each other and mend all differences among their members.
Let us pray that all parents will be appreciated today by their family members, honoured and showed all due respect.
Let us pray for the souls of Lebanon’s martyrs that fell while defending Lebanon’s dignity and independence.
Let us pray that Jesus Christ shall grant, our mother country, Lebanon, the Land Of the Holy Cedars with faithful clergymen and brave political leaders who fear him and count for His Day Of Judgment.
Let us pray for peace and tranquility in our beloved Canada, and for all countries and people over the world, especially in the troubled and chaotic Middle East
Happy Thanksgiving Day.


Report: Schenker Soon in Beirut to Partake in Sea BorderTalks
Associated Press/October 12/2020
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker and a US delegation are set to arrive in Lebanon in the “coming hours” before a historic U.S.-mediated sea border talks between Lebanon and Israel, al-Joumhouria daily reported Monday. The talks will be held at the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura under the banner of the United Nations. The daily said that “well-informed” sources did not disclose whether the US diplomat plans to meet any of Lebanon’s officials before the maritime talks launch.
“The US embassy in Beirut had not yet requested, until late last night, any appointment for Schenker with any official and at any level,” they told the daily. The talks are expected to begin on October 14. Lebanon and Israel have reached an agreement on a framework of indirect, U.S.-mediated talks over a longstanding disputed maritime border between the two countries, the parties announced. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said that the agreement is the result of nearly three years of intense diplomatic engagement by U.S. officials. Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. They each claim about 860 square kilometres (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea as within their own exclusive economic zones. Indirect talks mean that Lebanese army negotiators will not be speaking directly to members of the Israeli delegation but through U.N. and U.S. officials.
Schenker said he will lead the U.S. mediation team for at least the first round. He would not specify exactly who would be representing the Israelis or the Lebanese adding that the talks are strictly about maritime issues and delineating a border.

Lebanon Names Team for Maritime Border Talks with Israel
Associated Press/October 12/2020
Lebanon announced on Monday the names of its delegation that will hold indirect talks later this week with Israel over the disputed maritime border between the two countries. The announcement by President Michel Aoun's office comes two weeks after Lebanon and Israel reached an agreement on a framework for the U.S.-mediated talks. The talks are scheduled to begin Wednesday at the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura. Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. They each claim about 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea as within their own exclusive economic zones. Aoun's office said the four-member Lebanese delegation will be headed by air force Brig. Gen. Bassam Yassin. The three other members are navy Col. Mazen Basbous, Lebanese oil official Wissam Chbat and border expert Najib Massihi. Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will lead the Israeli delegation, according to Israeli officials. Lebanese officials have made sure to send a team of experts to show that this week's talks with Israel are purely technical and don't mean any kind of normalization between the two countries.
Hizbullah group said last week that the talks don't mean reconciliation with Israel. A statement by Hizbullah bloc in parliament said last week that defining the border of "national sovereignty" is the job of the Lebanese state. The talks will see the Lebanese delegation speaking through U.N. and U.S. officials to the Israelis. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, is expected in Lebanon ahead of the talks to attend the opening session. The talks come as Lebanon is passing through the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. Beirut hopes that oil and gas discoveries in its territorial waters will help it come out of the crisis. Lebanon began offshore drilling earlier this year and is expected to start drilling for gas in the disputed area with Israel in the coming months. Lebanon and Israel hold monthly tripartite indirect meetings in Naqoura to discuss violations along their border. The countries also held indirect negotiations in the 1990s when Arab states and Israel were working on reaching peace agreements. Although the Palestinians and Jordan signed agreements with Israel, Lebanon and Syria did not.

Lebanon alters delegation for US-led talks with Israel after Hezbollah backlash
Joseph Haboush, Al Arabiya English/Monday 12 October 2020
Lebanon announced its delegation Monday that will take part in US-led talks with Israel later this week to negotiate Beirut and Tel Aviv’s maritime borders, but removed a Foreign Ministry official after pressure from Hezbollah.
After the initial draft of names was revealed to Al Arabiya English last week, Hezbollah and pro-Hezbollah media outlets quickly criticized the inclusion of Lebanese diplomat, Hadi Hashem. The Iran-backed militant group has been the main obstacle to moving forward with any direct or indirect talks over disputed borders. But after softening its stance amid an aggressive sanctions program by Washington, Lebanon quickly announced an agreement, on Oct. 1, on the framework for beginning indirect talks with Israel. An official Lebanese source told Al Arabiya English last week that representing the Lebanese army and heading the delegation would be Brig. Gen. Bassam Yassine. Col. Mazen Basbous, from the navy, was also to be present alongside Wissam Chbat, the head of the Lebanese Petroleum Administration (LPA). Maritime affairs expert Najib Masihi and Hadi Hashem, a senior official from Foreign Ministry, were also on the list. But after an aggressive media campaign, the list of names announced Monday excluded Hashem, the diplomat. Hezbollah said any diplomatic representation would insinuate a political aspect to the talks, rather than strictly talks on the maritime borders.
Shortly after the Lebanese presidency announced the names, the office of caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab took a jab at the president, saying the names had not been consulted with the premier.
According to political analysts, although the talks appear likely to go ahead, the public disagreement weakens Lebanon’s position going into the negotiations. On the Israeli side, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will head the delegation. Ehud (Udi) Adiri, director-general of the Energy Ministry, Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister Reuven Azar, and Brig. Gen. Oren Setter from the army will also attend. As for the US delegation, Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker is expected to land in Beirut on Monday night. A statement from the State Department said UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis and Schenker would facilitate the opening session of the negotiations. Schenker will be joined by Ambassador John Desrocher, “who will serve as the US mediator for these negotiations.”Desrocher is the US Ambassador to Algeria. Before his time as ambassador, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Egypt and Maghreb Affairs. He also spent time at the US Embassy in Baghdad. “As announced on October 1, the framework agreement to commence discussions on the maritime boundary is a vital step forward that offers the potential to yield greater stability, security, and prosperity for Lebanese and Israeli citizens alike,” the State Department said.
The specific dispute on the maritime border is almost a decade old. US diplomat Frederick Hoff went to Beirut in 2011 in an effort to reach a solution after potential offshore oil, and natural gas reserves were discovered. Hoff came up with what became known as the “Hoff Line,” which would have seen Lebanon get around 550 sq. km. out of the 860 sq. km. that is disputed. Succeeding Hoff was Amos Hochstein, who was unable to make any notable progress. The issue sat on the back burner for years until US President Donald Trump was elected and dispatched then-Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson to have a go at getting Lebanon and Israel to reach a deal. Tillerson’s efforts, like his tenure as the top US diplomat, were short-lived. Nevertheless, Washington continued hammering away over the years, and Ambassador David Satterfield was handed the file. Read more: Hezbollah softens stance on Israel maritime border dispute after Lebanese rage. Familiar with both countries and their officials, Satterfield spent significant time flying between Beirut, Washington and Tel Aviv mediating. Before being appointed as the ambassador to Turkey, Satterfield made notable progress and laid down the initial text between Lebanon and Israel. His efforts were close to succeeding before his time ran out as acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, since 2017. Schenker was able to push the final agreement forward in recent weeks but was quick to point out that the talks had nothing to do with normalization.

U.S. Says Border Talks Can Boost Stability in Lebanon, Israel
Associated Press/October 12/2020
The agreement to commence discussions on the maritime boundary between Lebanon and Israel "is a vital step forward that offers the potential to yield greater stability, security, and prosperity for Lebanese and Israeli citizens alike," the U.S. State Department said Monday.
In a statement, it added that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, the top American diplomat for the Middle East, will be in Lebanon ahead of Wednesday’s talks to attend the opening session.
It also said that Schenker will be joined by Ambassador John Desrocher, who will serve as the U.S. mediator for these negotiations.The talks will be held at the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura. Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. They each claim about 860 square kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea as within their own exclusive economic zones.
Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will lead the Israeli delegation, according to Israeli officials. Lebanese officials have made sure to send a team of experts to show that this week's talks with Israel are purely technical and don't mean any kind of normalization between the two countries.

Hariri: Berri Very Positive towards French Paper Reforms
Naharnet/October 12/2020
Ex-PM Saad Hariri announced Monday that Speaker Nabih Berri is “very positive” towards the economic reforms recommended by the French initiative. “It was a positive meeting in which we discussed the economic and reformist paper of the French initiative, and Speaker Berri was clear in stating that he agrees to the reforms included in the economic paper and this is a reassuring thing to me,” Hariri said after meeting in Berri in Ain el-Tineh. Berri was “very positive towards the reforms included in the economic paper,” the ex-PM added. The Speaker meanwhile announced that he told Hariri that he has “always been positive” towards the French initiative. Hariri had earlier in the day met with President Michel Aoun in Baabda while his parliamentary bloc will visit the various political blocs in the coming days as part of a new drive linked to Hariri’s announcement that he is willing to return as premier.

Aoun, Hariri Hold 'Positive' Talks, Affirm Need for French Initiative

Naharnet/October 12/2020
Ex-PM Saad Hariri held crucial government formation talks on Monday with President Michel Aoun announcing that a delegation will be dispatched to hold contacts with Lebanon’s various political blocs to confirm their commitment to the “reform-oriented” French initiative towards Lebanon.
Hariri emphasized that the French initiative launched by French President Emmanuel Macron towards Lebanon after the August 4 explosion, is the “last chance for Lebanon to stop collapse and rebuild Beirut,” he said in remarks to reporters at Baabda Palace after meeting Aoun.
Hariri said “all political parties in Lebanon realize well that time must not be wasted in political bickering” while the country grapples with multiple crises. “I told the President that I will dispatch a delegation to communicate with all political blocs to ensure they stay committed to the French initiative submitted by Macron at the Pine Residence,” added Hariri. “The French initiative advocated for a government format made of non-partisan specialists for a period of only six months. We as political parties won't perish if we stay out of the government for six months,” stated Hariri. “Reforms (intended for Lebanon) are specified and detailed in the Pine Residence paper. This allows Macron, according to what he pledged, to mobilize the international community to invest in Lebanon and provide funds. This is the only way to stop Lebanon’s terrible collapse,” he concluded.

Premiership Says Aoun Flouted Constitution in Naming Border Talks Team
Naharnet/October 12/2020
The Premiership said Monday that President Michel Aoun made a “clear and blatant violation of a constitutional text” by not coordinating with caretaker PM Hassan Diab in the formation of the team that will handle negotiations over maritime border demarcation with Israel.
Noting that Article 52 of the Constitution stipulates that the president should coordinate with the premier when negotiating over international treaties, the Premiership pointed out that it had communicated several times with the Directorate General of the Presidency with the aim of “committing to the aforementioned constitutional texts, seeing as this negotiating issue is considered a sovereign issue.” “Accordingly, negotiating and tasking (a team) with negotiating should happen through a common agreement between the president and the premier… and any different approach represents a clear and blatant violation of a constitutional text,” the Premiership added. Aoun's office had earlier announced that the four-member Lebanese delegation will be headed by air force Brig. Gen. Bassam Yassin. The three other members are navy Col. Mazen Basbous, Lebanese oil official Wissam Chbat and border expert Najib Massihi. The announcement comes two weeks after Lebanon and Israel reached an agreement on a framework for the U.S.-mediated talks. The talks are scheduled to begin Wednesday at the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the southern Lebanese border town of Naqoura.
Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. They each claim about 860 square kilometers of the Mediterranean Sea as within their own exclusive economic zones.
Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will lead the Israeli delegation, according to Israeli officials. Lebanese officials have made sure to send a team of experts to show that this week's talks with Israel are purely technical and don't mean any kind of normalization between the two countries.

Jumblat Lashes Out at Hariri, Blames Himself for May 7 Clashes
Naharnet/October 12/2020
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Monday blasted ex-PM Saad Hariri and accused him of “designating himself” as premier prior to the binding parliamentary consultations.“Over the past three years, Hariri handed over the Lebanese state to the Shiite duo and the Free Patriotic Movement represented in Jebran Bassil,” Jumblat said in an interview on al-Jadeed TV. “The constitutional norms have changed, seeing as today there is a new norm and self-designation,” he added. “Hariri has designated himself and it is possible that he has set up a deal to split shares with Jebran and the (Shiite) duo,” Jumlat went on to say, noting that he has refused to meet with a Mustaqbal Movement delegation dispatched by Hariri. “Hariri says that he wants a government of specialists without politicians, but isn’t he a politician? Sheikh Saad, you are a politician. Will you name angels as ministers and will the Amal Movement name astronauts as ministers?” Jumblat asked. As for Hizbullah, the PSP leader said such an extent of collapse in the country is not in the party’s interest, urging Hizbullah to give the Lebanese some “hope.”Separately, Jumblat admitted that he was behind the May 5, 2008 decisions that led to the May 7, 2008 clashes with Hizbullah. “I sparked (the) May 7 (incidents) and someone encouraged me to do that,” Jumblat said.

Bassil to Resume Activities after Testing Negative for Virus

Naharnet/October 12/2020
Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil has finished his treatment from coronavirus, his press office said on Monday. “He underwent all the necessary tests and the result of the PCR test came out negative, which confirms his full recovery from the virus,” the press office added in a statement.
“He will resume his public activities and will deliver a speech tomorrow on the anniversary of October 13,” 1990 -- the day when then-army chief and head of military government General Michel Aoun was ousted from the Baabda Palace, the press office said. Bassil, 50, had spent around four days in hospital after suffering from some coronavirus symptoms.

Geagea Says Port Blast ‘Crime’ Won’t Go Unpunished
Naharnet/October 12/2020
Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea said Monday that two months have passed since the colossal port explosion and the Lebanese people still have “no clear definition of the responsibilities.”“More than two months have passed since the port explosion that killed around 200 people, wounded thousands and inflicted damages on tens of thousands. Until this moment no indication emerged about the nature of this sinful explosion or about those responsible,” said Geagea in a statement. “It's not a normal crime,” said Geagea about the explosion of 2,500 tons of ammonium nitrate. Adding that “in similar cases the judiciary, the related authorities and justice ministry are required to put the Lebanese in the picture of investigations, but we have not seen this happen.”
“We will not allow this crime to pass without a clear definition of responsibilities,” he said, regardless of how “high-level” are the one involved, said Geagea. A massive blast at Beirut’s port killed nearly 200 people, injured about 6,500 and caused damage worth billions of dollars. Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizers, exploded at Beirut’s port on Aug. 4. The material had been stored at the facility for six years. It is still not known what ignited the nitrate but more than two dozen people, many of them port and customs officials have been detained since.

LibanPost Launches Initiative to Support Lebanon
Naharnet/October 12/2020
In the midst of the storm, the global difficulties, and the succession of crises we have been going through in Lebanon we still feel blessed to witness acts of kindness in our country, with people reaching out to each other, opening their arms and homes despite their limited means, in order to support their fellow citizens, LibanPost said in a press release on Monday. The Lebanese have once again demonstrated humanity, resilience and unity while facing one of Lebanon’s darkest hours, it added. We are also grateful for the various comforting expressions of solidarity we received from all over the world, and for all the individuals, corporations, organizations, institutions and governments that have generously supported NGOs actively operating on the ground. But the needs for reconstructing the infrastructure, for equipment and for first necessities remain so massive, that help should not be suspended. To be of service, LibanPost decided to issue a “Postal Bloc/stamp” commemorating the dramatic Beirut Port Blast, at a face value of 10,000 Lebanese Pounds. All the proceeds of this stamp will be donated to the Lebanese Civil Defense, a public emergency service that carries out patient transportation, search and rescue activities and fire-fighting response.LibanPost is inviting fellow citizens, philatelists and companies to join forces for that cause and participate in buying and promoting the sales of this stamp as a gesture of support and solidarity.

The Life of Ghosn: Fugitive Tycoon to Star in Screen Productions
Agence France Presse/October 12/2020
Fugitive auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn and his wife will take part in a documentary and a mini-series about his life, co-producers Alef One of France and MBC of Saudi Arabia said Monday. The ex-Nissan chief was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on financial misconduct charges and spent 130 days in detention, before he dramatically jumped bail and smuggled himself out of the country late last year. The 66-year-old businessman for the first time appeared in public in Lebanon in January, claiming he was a victim of a plot by Nissan and Japanese officials. The documentary and six-part series will trace Ghosn's colorful story, "from his status as one of the most powerful bosses in the automobile industry to that of Japan's most wanted fugitive after his escape to Lebanon where he now resides," the producers said. "Both productions will include exclusive contributions by Carlos and Carole Ghosn," they said in a statement. Shooting for the documentary started last month in Beirut and is to continue until the end of the year on location in France, Japan and the United States, said the producers, and will include interviews with the Ghosn couple and other key figures. As director, they hired Briton Nick Green, whose documentary work includes "A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad".The mini-series comprising six one-hour episodes will be based on a screenplay supervised by Mark Goffman, who was a writer for "The West Wing" and, more recently, the executive producer for the Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy".The Ghosn series, to be shot in 2021, will be directed by Charlotte Brandstrom, of "Conspiracy of Silence" and "Madam Secretary" fame.

Lebanon makes another attempt to overcome the political impasse
Himanshu Sharma/New Delhi Times/October 12, 2020
On October 7, the Office of the President of Lebanon announced that President Michel Aoun will begin Parliamentary consultations to name a new Prime Minister. According to information available on the official website of the Presidency of the Republic of Lebanon, “ Pursuant to the provisions of Clause 2, of Article 53, of the Constitution, His Excellency the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, will conduct Parliamentary consultations to name the designated Prime Minister in charge of forming the new Government, on Thursday, October 15, 2020, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda”.
As per the information, the first meeting will take place with Najib Mikati, Saad El-Din Hariri Tammam Salam and Elie Ferzeli in the same order. The meetings with these four leaders are scheduled for 15 minutes each. After that, 10 minutes will be allotted to the following political blocs in the order given: Future Movement Bloc, Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, National Bloc, Progressive Socialist Party Bloc, Independent Central Bloc, National Social Bloc, Consultative Gathering Bloc and Powerful Republic Bloc. This will be followed by a 5-minute meeting with 9 independent Member of Parliament (MPs). The Strong Lebanon Bloc, Armenian Representative Bloc and Mountain Guarantee Bloc will be the last three political outfits with which consultations will be held.
As of now, there is no clear picture whether Lebanon’s political groups have decided on the name of a Premier. There are reports suggesting that Najib Mikati has put forward a proposal for a 20-member Cabinet consisting of 14 experts and six politicians.
This will be third time in less than a year when Lebanon will attempt to name a new Prime Minister and thereby seek a lasting solution to the political imbroglio which has further intensified due to a spate of resignations. On August 10, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hasan Diab, who formed his government in January 2020 after a protracted political crisis, submitted his resignation to the President in the aftermath of the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut and the public protests that followed.
The massive blast at Beirut, which killed at least 160 people, injured thousands and left more than 250,000 homeless, was blamed on the detonation of 2,750 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been improperly stored for six years at the Port of Beirut. The blast, which many blamed on Lebanon’s political elite, sparked political and economic devastation and exacerbated previously existing problems in the country.
Diab was succeeded by Prime Minister designate Mustapha Adib. On September 26, Adib stepped down from the post. There was no consensus in Adib’s government as to who will control the critical Finance Ministry. Lebanon’s two main Shiite parties- the militant Hezbollah and its ally Amal led by Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri – had insisted on retaining the finance ministry in the new government and on naming all the Shiite Cabinet ministers.
Announcing his resignation. Adib said in a televised speech, “I apologize for not being able to continue the task of forming the government.” His resignation also represented a setback for French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron blamed the Hezbollah and the power brokers in Lebanon for the impasse. “I’m ashamed of the Lebanese political leaders. Ashamed,” Macron said and accused them of “collective betrayal” and choosing “to favour their partisan and individual interests to the general detriment of the country.” Macron warned that lack of progress would lead to “a crisis that would not only be a political crisis but that would lead to the risk of a civil war’.
Hezbollah criticised the remarks of Macron and said that Hezbollah “is and will remain an army facing Israel and will keep supporting Syria and its people against extremists.”.
The European Union too expressed its concerns over the resignation of the Adib. The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, urged Lebanon’s leaders to “unite and do their utmost for the timely formation of a government that must be able to meet the legitimate needs and demands of the Lebanese people.” Borrell said the new Cabinet should be “committed to address Lebanon’s acute and multiple challenges — notably its humanitarian, socio-economic and financial crises, the Coronavirus pandemic and the reconstruction of Beirut”.
It is imperative that a lasting solution be achieved to resolve the political impasse in Lebanon. The country is in a dire economic situation as the reserves of the Central Bank are being depleted. The talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the bailout package have stalled. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the crisis-laden country.


Hezbollah official calls on Lebanon army to do more in Shia stronghold amid violence
Jacob Boswall, Al Arabiya English/Monday 12 October 2020
A Hezbollah official has called for a stronger presence from the Lebanese army in the Shia group’s stronghold of Baalbek-Hermel, near the border with Syria, after several days of clashes between local clans. “The security situation in the Bekaa governorate and especially in Baalbek-Hermel is the responsibility of the state’s security agencies … who must do their job better and with greater regularity,” former Lebanese minister Hussein Hajj Hassan told local media at a press conference Sunday. Last week, members of two rival clans in the town circulated images and videos of their heavy arsenals of weaponry, including RPGs. The Chamass and Jaafar clans’ parade of military strength came after four members of the Jaafar clan killed a member of the former family the previous week, provoking a series of retaliatory attacks. The two warring clans have a long history of animosity and competition in the lawless region around the historic town of Baalbek. Speaking alongside Baalbek’s mayor, Hajj Hussein emphasized that increased military action would be needed to ensure the governorate’s stability. “The role that the security apparatus is currently taking on in Baalbek-Hermel is minimal when it is compared to the scale of the security problem,” he explained. The former agriculture minister added that politics should be removed from the equation when it comes to security issues. “We say to the security forces: do your part, and in politics, we receive all the space we want.” Critics have called on Hezbollah to do more in the area, where it has significant influence. Baalbek-Hermel residents have long complained of negligence from the state in an area with little resources in agriculture, education, and healthcare. The cultivation of cannabis has been a leading source of income for residents. Growing marijuana for medical use was approved by Lebanese lawmakers recently; however, disagreements remain over whether the sector should be state-run or privatized. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has advocated for it to be state-run. The Shia sect has a leading role in the state-run tobacco company, and opposition lawmakers fear similar corruption in any future cannabis sector.

“Lebanon is Burning” for the second year with “Great Success”!
Amal Khalil/Al Lhaleej Today/October 12/2020

Without much change, the “Lebanon Burning” scenario has been repeated in recent days, with a version similar to the fires that swept Lebanon a whole year ago. Apart from the change in the names of the regions, the logistical capabilities are still the same, failing to deal with disasters in light of the confusion in managing crises.
Inaam Awad does not feel that the fire that destroyed her house in Debbieh, on the coast of the Chouf, happened a year ago. “Umm Ali” has been “burning” since then. Her heart is not only what ignites forcibly on the necessities, furniture, clothes, and memories that were consumed by fire, but also the bones of her neck and back after the burning of the medical pillow, which she was unable to buy after the high prices. That day, the fire of embarrassment behind her ground floor home spilled over into every detail of her diary. The woman, who lives with her husband from a store located in the same building, has lost everything. The tightness of the situation, which increased with the worsening of the economic crisis and the collapse of the exchange rate of the lira, impeded its ability to replace all that it lost. With the help of some philanthropists and NGOs, two rooms of the house were renovated “from my relatives”. With “comfortable installments,” she fixed the windows and painted the walls, but she was unable to remove the fire marks from the tiles due to the high price of cleaning them, as some neighbors supplied her with clothes and furniture. The “state” was not among those who helped it. Many “from the municipality came to the army, the gendarmerie, the High Relief Commission, and the NGOs… We filled out several forms in which we counted the size of the damage and the losses we suffered. We promised to obtain compensation that we are still waiting for »The effects of the fires are still in the forests of Debbieh today. Green did not grow in the scorched earth. Tree structures all around were standing like charred corpses, witnessing what happened and what might happen at any moment. The “Burning Trees Exhibition” extends throughout the Chouf coast, from Dibbiyeh to Mazraat Dahr and Joun to Iqlim al-Kharroub and Naameh. In Damour Hills, a year ago the forest fire spread to the headquarters of the “Arkansas” association, which sells used furniture. The three-storey building, which was a destination for the limited and amateurs of “antica” and old designs, most of its contents have been burned. A year later, the association displayed new items in the ground floor amid the charred walls and dilapidated ceilings.
The largest “black board” is still “displayed”, for a year, on the Mushrif Hills. The small town, which sits in the middle of millions of meters of woodland, was not affected by the fires of past days. Pierre and Juliet Nasr hold their breaths at the prospect of recapturing last year’s nightmare. With live meat and a small “jug”, they raced to extinguish the fire that spread to their field near their home in Mushrif. Goliath tears after a year of the incident: “We are still vulnerable at any moment. But there is no trick in hand. ” Villas and palaces in the region, their owners did not wait for state compensation. Currently, carriers and foreign workers are busy clearing the dry weeds on its border. But individual efforts are not accompanied by general efforts. The “Al-Mushrif Ideal Company”, which includes these villas, had noted the creation of water intakes to extinguish fires. But the intakes have not been maintained for a long time and have not been used to extinguish last year’s fires, despite the availability of water sources. “Our hand is on our heart since the beginning of this month, for fear of a repeat of last year’s disaster,” said Mayor Zahir Aoun. A year ago, “The municipality’s resources were zero. Today, after the moderator has turned to the kiss of official and popular attention, the level of potential has risen to slightly above zero »! Aoun asserts that only a few NGOs continued to support and follow up after the “upheaval” subsided. One of the associations has persevered during the last period to clean the woods and create corridors within it to facilitate the intervention process and reach the depth of the embarrassment in the event of a fire. It also trained a number of townspeople, in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross, on how to control the fire when it starts to happen to prevent it from spreading. In exchange for volunteers, the municipality provided limited means to deal with potential fires, and conducted constant patrols to monitor forests from loggers and hikers. In anticipation of the usual fire season, the municipalities of Al-Mushrif and Kfarmatta and the neighboring municipalities have worked for about a month to clean the forests and remove the weeds from the sides of the roads. And “With a donation from the residents of the Al-Mushrif Model Village, the municipality bought a small water tank for firefighting and agreed with two owners of the tanks to put it at the disposal of the municipality in case the incident occurred. Since the civil defense firefighting vehicles only come and their tank is empty of water, we have equipped the wells that pass through the town as part of the Al-Awali water project to Beirut, with a generator and fuel to pump water without interruption. As well as hiring a person to maintain the pumping station ». As for the water intakes in the model village, “one of the donors undertook to maintain them because the municipality is unable to repair them because of the high cost of repair.” Aoun acknowledges that these capabilities are capable of facing a small fire. What if the disaster was repeated last year? “May it not be repeated, as the closest civil defense fire station to us in Damour has been operating for some time with one fire engine, because the rest of the vehicles are out of order. The same situation is in the nearby Debbieh center. ”
Aoun and his colleagues in the neighboring municipalities wrote to the Ministry of Agriculture to authorize the cutting of the burning trees and allow people to benefit from them in light of the high fuel prices. The ministry revealed the scorched land and has not made its decision yet. In Mushrif, the municipality planted about 1,500 pine trees to replace some of what was burned. What is required, according to Aoun, is the ministry’s support for planting alternative trees that resist fire and grow again, such as carob, laurel and oak trees.
The Civil Defense apologizes: our machines are broken
The condition of the heads of the municipalities of Tire, Bint Jbeil, Nabatiyeh, Marjeyoun, Akkar, Al-Qay’a and Al-Minya in the past two days was no better than the situation of their colleagues in the municipalities of the Chouf coast last year. The version of fires 2020 centered in the south and Akkar. But the result is the same. Residents faced the fire that threatened their homes and livelihoods with live meat and limited resources.
The head of the Tire Center in the Civil Defense, Ali Safi al-Din, apologized on Saturday from those besieged by the fire because the only viable mechanism in the Tire Center had broken down, to join the six that were subsequently disrupted and await the approval of the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities to sign a maintenance contract. Safi El-Din’s scream was followed by the screams of a number of his colleagues from the heads of the civil defense centers in the regions that are partially functioning due to the failure of their mechanisms. “Al-Akhbar” The Civil Defense Directorate has reviewed, without getting an answer, because its director, Brigadier General Raymond Khattar, is traveling outside the country, while the Information Office closes its doors on Saturday and Sunday.
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The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy: Middle East Community Hails Walid Phares’ ‘The Choice’
EINPresswire.com/October 12/2020
Members of the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy are raving about Walid Phares’ new book, "The Choice: Trump vs. Obama-Biden I US Foreign Policy."
"Walid Phares has done a great public service in writing this book. Middle East foreign policy shows the most striking difference between President Trump and the alternative future policy of Joe Biden," said AMCD co-chair John Hajjar. "Dr. Phares' book reminds us what a nightmare the Obama-Biden years were for Middle Easterners — ISIS running rampant, failed states right and left, the Muslim Brotherhood on the rise and a vastly strengthened Iran regime menacing its neighbors."
"After all that President Trump has done for the Middle East, he is just getting started in bringing stability and prosperity to the people," added AMCD co-chair Tom Harb. "If America changes course and re-enters the Iran deal, it will result in untold human suffering – possibly even ending with a nuclear Iran which would radically alter the balance of power in favor of our most implacable enemies."
"God bless Walid Phares," continued Sheikh Mohammad Haj Hassan, leader of the Free Shi'a movement. "He continues to tell Americans the truth about the Middle East and that truth is this: if America changes course now, the result will be renewed bloodshed and chaos all over the region – just like existed when Trump first took office. President Trump has done what they said couldn't be done. He's actually brought more peace and stability to the Middle East. Bravo to Dr. Phares for having supported him from the beginning."
"Trump and Phares were right and Obama was wrong on the Middle East, that much is clear," continued AMCD vice-chair Hossein Khorram. "Have Americans forgotten the endless beheading videos? The drownings in cages? The Jordanian pilot who was burned alive on camera? Obama dithered while all that was going on. Not only that, but he actually sent pallets of cash to the mullahs to get our hostages released! President Trump has been getting hostages released from all over the world – paying nothing. Under Obama-Biden, Kayla Mueller was raped and tortured for months and they delayed action, despite having good intelligence on her whereabouts, until she was sadly killed. Do we want to go back to that? I don't think so."
Ibrahim Ahmad el Beja, leader of the East Sudan American Coalition said, "Dr Phares has advised US leaders on the best foreign policy worldwide and in Africa as well. He continuously raised the issues of terrorism and suppression of civil society across North Africa and in particularly in Sudan and its marginalized populations. His new book, "The Choice," is an opportunity for Americans to better understand the two directions they have to select from. Phares has been a national teacher for decades."
Dalia Aqidi, a noted Iraqi American journalist, Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and a former Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota, praised the book, and the work of Dr Walid Phares: "In such a crucial time, people need to be reminded of how the Obama-Biden foreign policy has weakened the position of the United States, globally. Dr. Phares highlighted the most important decisions that were made by the Obama administration and led to a total chaos and confusion in certain regions such as the Middle East. Foreign policies have a prodigious impact on our national security. This timely book is a must read to understand what made the Trump administration’s approach successful."
"Walid Phares has done a great service. He lays out the case and allows the reader to make up his or her own mind," added AMCD executive director Rebecca Bynum. "The case against going back to the Obama-Biden years is overwhelming. We cannot go back. President Trump has mapped out the only way forward that will result in peace."
AMCD stands for peace in the Middle East. That is why most Mideast Americans have and continue to endorse President Donald J. Trump.
Rebecca Bynum
The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy
+1 615-775-6801


The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 12-13/2020

Azerbaijan, Armenia report shelling of cities despite truce
BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) /October 12/2020
Azerbaijan on Sunday accused Armenia of attacking its cities and villages in violation of the cease-fire deal brokered by Russia that seeks to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that Armenian forces shelled villages in the Aghdam, Terter, Aghjabedi and Fizuli regions of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani authorities earlier accused Armenian forces of firing missiles at Ganja, the country’s second largest city, and the city of Mingachevir overnight. Nine civilians were killed and more than 30 others wounded in Ganja, officials said. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev called the attack on the city “a war crime” and a “gross” violation of the cease-fire on Twitter, promising “a befitting retaliation.”Nagorno-Karabakh’s military officials denied attacking Ganja and said the territory’s army is observing the cease-fire. They added that during the night Azerbaijani forces shelled Stepanakert, the region’s capital, and other towns in violation of the truce. The recent bout of fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces started Sept. 27 and left hundreds of people dead in the biggest escalation of the decades-old conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh since a separatist war there ended in 1994. The region lies in Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia. The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a truce in Moscow after Russian President Vladimir Putin had brokered it in a series of calls with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. The cease-fire took effect at noon Saturday, after talks in Moscow that were sponsored by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The deal stipulated that the cease-fire should pave the way for talks on settling the conflict. If the truce had held, it would have marked a major diplomatic coup for Russia, which has a security pact with Armenia but also cultivated warm ties with Azerbaijan. However, minutes after the cease-fire took force, both sides accused each other of continuing attacks in violation of the deal. The situation in the region was “relatively calm” on Sunday morning, according to Nagorno-Karabakh leader Arayik Harutyunyan, with only minor hostilities along the front line. But it was unclear whether the calm would last, he said. Later Sunday, Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian reported attacks by Azerbaijani forces on southern and northeastern directions, saying that Nagorno-Karabakh’s forces “resolutely suppress all enemy operations.”Nagorno-Karabakh’s army in a statement Sunday promised a “disproportionately harsh” response if Azerbaijan “continues to violate the cease-fire.” The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that “the political and military leadership of Armenia bears the responsibility for the aggravation of the situation in the region.” Azerbaijan’s president said in an interview with the Russian RBC news outlet that “if the Armenian side is committed to the cease-fire regime ... the phase of political settlement will begin.”
**Associated Press writers Daria Litvinova in Moscow, and Avet Demourian in Yerevan, Armenia, contributed to this report.'


Armenia, Azerbaijan Clash as Ceasefire Fails to Stick
Agence France Presse/October 12/2020
A ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region was failing to hold Monday as the two Caucasus rivals exchanged new fire while international mediators were to relaunch efforts for a sustained truce. Armenia and Azerbaijan have for the last two weeks engaged in bitter fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan controlled by Armenians after a 1990s war and whose independence is recognised by no other state. The clashes, the worst since a 1994 ceasefire, have sparked fears of a regional conflict with Turkey backing Azerbaijan, Armenia seeking to pull ex-Soviet ally Russia in on its side and Iran looking on warily. After 11 hours of talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Moscow, the two sides agreed early Saturday to a humanitarian ceasefire.
- Thumping echoes of shelling -
But repeated clashes have so far made a mockery of the truce deal. An AFP correspondent in the Azerbaijani town of Barda not far from the front line heard thumping echoes of shelling Monday morning. In Karabakh's main city of Stepanakert, an AFP photographer heard the sounds of shelling from the direction of the town of Hadrut. "Armenian armed forces, which did not comply with the humanitarian truce, repeatedly tried to attack the positions of the Azerbaijan army," the Azerbaijani defence ministry said. It said it had destroyed a "large number of enemy forces" as well as one T-72 tank and three Grad multiple rocket launchers. Armenian defence ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanyan said for her part that Azerbaijan was "now intensively shelling the southern front". Armenia claimed that "the adversary suffered great losses of manpower and military equipment" but did not provide further details.  The 1990s war -- which ended with the 1994 ceasefire that did not present a long-term solution to the conflict -- resulted in the deaths of about 30,000 people. Nearly 500 people including more than 60 civilians, have been killed in the latest fighting since last month, according to a tally based on tolls given by both sides. The ceasefire negotiated in Moscow had agreed to pause hostilities to exchange prisoners and the bodies of people killed, with Azerbaijani officials insisting it was only going to be a temporary measure that would not halt its campaign.
- 'Continued military activities' -
Analysts have long warned that Nagorno-Karabakh was the most combustible of the frozen conflicts left over after the fall of the Soviet Union, with Azerbaijan vowing to regain control of the territory and Armenians insisting they would never cede ground. The EU's diplomatic chief Josep Borrell said on Sunday he was concerned by "reports of continued military activities, including against civilian targets, as well as civilian casualties" in violation of the ceasefire. The so far fruitless decades-long search for a settlement over Karabakh has been overseen by the Minsk Group of world and regional powers chaired by France, Russia and the United States. Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan was in Moscow on Monday for a visit including meetings with the Minsk Group co-chairs as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Lavrov lamented at the start of the talks that the ceasefire "was not being fully observed" with fighting continuing. He expressed hope that talks with both sides would allow "the full implementation" of the agreements made in Moscow last week. Renewed fighting has stoked fears of a full-blown war embroiling Turkey, which strongly backs Azerbaijan and has been accused by Paris and Moscow of sending pro-Ankara Syrian militiamen to help Baku. Russia, meanwhile, has a military base in Armenia and counts Yerevan as an ally in the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).  However the Kremlin has kept its distance from Armenian encouragement to become involved, saying that the CSTO treaty does not extend to Karabakh. Iran, which has warm relations with Armenia and is wary of Baku's military cooperation with Israel, has also expressed alarm over the reports of Syrian militia being sent to Azerbaijan. In a statement, the Iranian foreign ministry expressed regret "over the violation of the announced ceasefire", urging both sides to resume talks.

Iran Says 'Historic' US Defeat Close as Arms Embargo to Be Lifted
Agence France Presse/October 12/2020
Iran on Monday said the US was facing a "historic" defeat as an arms embargo against Tehran is to be lifted within days despite Washington's bid to have it extended.Addressing the issue at a news conference, foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh also lashed out at the "insanity" of the latest US sanctions against banks in the Islamic republic. On Sunday the "historic defeat of the United States will be realised, and that came to be despite its attempts, trickery and extrajudicial moves," Khatibzadeh said. "Iran again showed that the United States is not as all-powerful as it says," he added. The embargo on the sale of arms to Iran is due to start expiring progressively from October 18 under the terms of a UN resolution that blessed the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic republic and world powers. Washington suffered a setback in August when it failed to win support from the United Nations Security Council to indefinitely extend the embargo.President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal in 2018 before reimposing US sanctions on Iran. Since then, the US has slapped additional sanctions on Iran as part of a campaign of "maximum pressure", with the latest on Thursday concerning 18 banks. "We used to say they are addicted to sanctions, but now they have reached insanity," Khatibzadeh said. The spokesman added that the excessive use of sanctions had caused the Americans to "cannibalise" themselves, as well as prompted other countries to find alternatives to the US dollar. The US claims that transactions involving humanitarian goods such as food and medicine are exempt and that sanctions are "directed at the regime".Yet statements from experts and rights groups indicate the sanctions have had dire humanitarian consequences and caused suffering for the people of Iran.


Iran and Iraq reach deal to release trapped energy payments
Bloomberg/Tuesday 13 October 2020
Iran has secured a trade agreement with Iraq that will enable it to access funds trapped in Baghdad because of US sanctions, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported. Abdolnaser Hemmati, head of the Central Bank of Iran, visited Baghdad on Monday to finalize the deal, which allows Iran to use accumulated payments from energy exports to buy essential goods from Iraq, IRNA reported, quoting Hemmati. He didn’t give any figures or a time frame for the agreement. In June, Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said Iraq owed Iran at least $800 million for electricity imports. In February last year, Tehran said Iraq owed around $2 billion for purchases of natural gas.Iraq was Iran’s second-biggest trade partner after China in the year ending March 2019, the destination for around $9 billion worth of goods, according to Iranian customs data. Imports from Iraq accounted for just $58 million.

Israel, UAE Leaders Hold Post-accord Phone Talk
Agence France Presse/October 12/2020
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan have spoken by phone to build on their countries' normalisation accord, Sheikh Mohammed said in a tweet Monday. In the call initiated by Netanyahu, the two leaders agreed that the deal signed at the White House on September 15 "opens the way to a new era of cooperation", he wrote. They also discussed joint efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Netanyahu, for his part, told the Israeli cabinet that he had spoken at the weekend with his "friend" Sheikh Mohammed, who is crown prince of Abu Dhabi and effective ruler. "I invited him to visit Israel, he invited me to visit Abu Dhabi, but before that we'll see here a delegation from the UAE, and another delegation of ours will go there," the prime minister said. The normalisation deals signed the same day with both the United Arab Emirates and fellow Gulf state Bahrain "reflect the dramatic change in Israel's regional standing", he said. "Arab nations want to make peace with us since they see how we turned Israel into a regional power."Netanyahu said that he told the prince the Israel-UAE deal would be ratified this week by his government and then in parliament.


Official UAE delegation trip to Israel being planned for end of October: Source
Emily Judd, Al Arabiya English/Monday 12 October 2020
An official UAE delegation trip to Israel is being planned for the end of October, an Emirati source told Al Arabiya English on Monday. An Israeli delegation already visited the UAE’s capital city Abu Dhabi on August 31, taking the first direct flight in history from Israel to the UAE.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that he invited Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Israel, and that the Crown Prince had extended a reciprocal invitation to the UAE capital. The invitations were expressed during a phone call in which the two leaders discussed strengthening bilateral ties call and examined “prospects for peace” in the region. Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, Bahrain’s FM . The Israeli government officially approved the normalization agreement with the UAE on Monday. The plans for normalization were first announced on August 13 and culminated in a signing ceremony at the White House in Washington last month. Israelis in the government and finance sectors have traveled to the UAE over the past two months to meet with their Emirati counterparts to set up collaboration. The first visit to the UAE following the announcement by an Israeli official was the head of Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad, Yossi Cohen, on August 18. Cohen met with the UAE’s national security adviser. Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat then followed, arriving on a flight with American and Israeli officials, on August 31. Ben-Shabbat met with the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash.The first official Israeli trade delegation arrived in the UAE on September 8, including the CEO of the biggest bank in Israel.
Dov Kotler, the head of Bank Hapoalim, landed in Dubai and meet with government officials and the heads of the largest banks in the UAE.

Greece Slams Turkish Decision to Send Out Research Ship
Agence France Presse/October 12/2020
Greece on Monday condemned as a "direct threat to regional peace" Turkey's decision to send back to the eastern Mediterranean the research ship at the centre of tensions over energy rights. The move which comes as Athens and Ankara are trying to set a date for talks to defuse the row between the two NATO neighbours. The Turkish navy on Sunday said the Oruc Reis vessel would carry out activities in the region, including the south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo, from Monday until October 22 in a message sent to the maritime alert system NAVTEX. Greece's foreign ministry said the move was a "direct threat to regional peace and security". Turkey was "unreliable" and "does not sincerely desire dialogue", it said in a statement. It added that Ankara was "the foremost factor of instability" in the region "from Libya to the Aegean and Cyprus, Syria, Iraq and now Nagorno-Karabakh."
"I'm not looking for a fight, nobody should," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a Monday interview with Greek daily Ta Nea that was conducted before Turkey announced its move. Turkey and Greece were locked in a row over gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean in August, which saw the two countries stage rival air and navy drills in strategic waters between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete.


Erdogan tells European Union that progress needed on improving Turkey-EU ties
Reuters/Monday 12 October 2020
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told European Council President Charles Michel on Monday that progress was needed on improving ties between Ankara and the bloc, the Turkish presidency said, amid renewed tensions between Turkey and Greece over the eastern Mediterranean.
In a statement, the presidency said Erdogan told Michel in a phone call that Turkey expected "concrete steps" from the EU on holding a regional conference with eastern Mediterranean states, and that Greece was "continuing steps to escalate tensions in the eastern Mediterranean despite Turkey's well-intentioned approach".The phone call comes after a Turkish ship set sail to carry out seismic exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, prompting Greece to issue a furious new demand for EU sanctions on Ankara in a row over offshore exploration rights.The European Union's executive said last week that Turkey's government was undermining its economy, eroding democracy and destroying independent courts, leaving Ankara's bid to join the EU further away than ever. Blaming "excessively" centralized presidential power for deteriorating conditions in freedom of speech, prisons and the central bank, the European Commission said the government was also exposing Turkey to "rapid changes in investors' sentiment"."The EU's serious concerns on continued negative developments in the rule of law, fundamental rights and the judiciary have not been credibly addressed by Turkey," the Commission said in its annual report on the country."Turkey's (EU) accession negotiations have effectively come to a standstill," it said. A NATO ally, Turkey has been negotiating its EU membership since 2005 after economic and political reforms that made it an important emerging market economy and trade partner. Although never easy because of disputed Turkish claims over Cyprus, talks rapidly unraveled after a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016 and President Tayyip Erdogan's ensuing crackdown on perceived opponents. "In Turkey, the serious backsliding observed since the 2016 coup attempt continued," the Commission said.
There was no immediate comment from Turkey. Ankara has said in the past that EU criticism is unfair and disproportionate. Turkey has since faced several years of harsh Commission reports, and the EU executive once again intensified its criticism, citing monetary policy, public administration and widespread corruption as failures of the Turkish government. While the EU, Turkey's biggest foreign investor, relies on the country to house some 4 million Syrians fleeing civil war rather than let them proceed to Europe, Brussels also reiterated its threat to impose economic sanctions on Ankara over an energy dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Egyptian president rejects Turkey, Qatar reconciliation bids
The Arab Weekly/October 12/2020
There will be “no reconciliation with those who want to destroy Egypt, and those who harm the people of Egypt,” Sisi said.
CAIRO – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi decisively rejected any form of reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and its regional sponsors, Turkey and Qatar, during an armed forces educational symposium Sunday. There will be “no reconciliation with those who want to destroy Egypt, and those who harm the people of Egypt,” Sisi said.
Political sources revealed to The Arab Weekly that Cairo had received indirect messages through mediators representing different parties expressing Turkey and Qatar’s desire to resolve contentious issues. Egypt, however, rejected those offers.
The same sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Cairo has hardly any trust in those countries’ leadership, which engage in double discourse, support anti-state groups, provide safe havens for alleged terrorist elements and foster instability in Egypt.
In September, Ankara sent clear signals from senior officials that it was ready to engage in dialogue on political and security issues with Egypt.
Ankara also expressed its desire to resolve current disputes but Cairo ignored the messages and continued to react harshly to Turkish intervention in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, which Egypt sees as a threat to its interests.
Cairo accuses Ankara and Doha of supporting extremist and terrorist organisations, and considers Doha’s intervention in the Gaza Strip as an attempt to undermine Egypt’s role there.
Cairo has also refused to cooperate with Qatar on any regional issues, because this could be understood as a stamp of approval for Doha’s policies.
Qatar’s intervention in Gaza led to a rupture between Egypt and Hamas, which has tried to expand its margin of manoeuvre by involving Doha as another mediator in disputes with Israel or competing Palestinian factions.
Pro-government media outlets in Egypt are launching a fierce campaign against Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, showing pictures of him stained with blood to depict him as a supporter of violence in the region.
These media outlets also accuse Sheikh Tamim of tampering with Egypt’s national security.
Security expert and former assistant to the Egyptian interior minister, Mohamed Noureddine, said Sisi realises that Cairo cannot reconcile with the Muslim Brotherhood because of both political concerns and public opinion.
Noureddine told The Arab Weekly that there are those from the army, the police, the media and the judiciary whose sons fell victim to the Muslim Brotherhood and its regional sponsors, and that they would fiercely oppose any form of reconciliation with the group.
Noureddine added that Sisi had learned from the experiences of his predecessors and will be careful not to repeat the mistakes made by former presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat.
According to Noureddine, the problem with the Muslim Brotherhood and the regimes supporting the group, notably Qatar and Turkey, is that they only want to reconcile on their terms.
The Egyptian state apparatus knows that inciting people to demonstrate, causing confusion and questioning the state are manoeuvres used by Ankara and Doha to pressure and undermine Cairo.
Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV channel and similar outlets in Istanbul have long attacked the Egyptian regime, exaggerating social and economic crises in the country to fuel a climate of social unrest and encourage people to hold demonstrations.
Since the end of last September, these media outlets have ramped up their attack on Cairo, telling viewers that the situation in Egypt is getting ready to explode. In his speech, Sisi said, “The fourth and fifth generation wars are continuing against Egypt to provoke public opinion and question the performance of (the) country’s leadership and the armed forces,” stressing the need to be aware of all plots that aim to undermine state stability.
He added that the challenge is to maintain the firmness and stability of the state along with the awareness of the people, stressing that the essence of the country’s progress is stability. Observers believe that media attacks and political incitement are aimed at pressuring Cairo to accept a comprehensive reconciliation deal with Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sisi’s recent remarks are the first official, high-level reference to the two countries’ intervention in Cairo. The departure marked a change from Sisi’s usual strategy of ignoring messages from Doha and Ankara.
Sisi’s comments are likely to close the door on recent attempts by senior Qatari and Turkish officials to ameliorate tensions, and possibly create security holes that Ankara could exploit by suggesting there is coordination on Libya to avoid a military confrontation. The Egyptian president further toughened his stance against the Muslim Brotherhood, after some experts suggested there is a possibility Cairo could turn a new page and engage in dialogue with Islamist leaders in prison to achieve reconciliation.
Sameh Eid, an expert on political Islam, confirmed to The Arab Weekly that young Muslim Brotherhood members had exerted pressure on their leaders to forge an agreement with Cairo to achieve temporary reconciliation that would allow for some detainees to be released.
He explained that young Islamists have recently been unhappy with their leaders’ refusal to take any positive steps towards Cairo in order to secure the release of prisoners. The current stalemate, according to Eid, is due to the group’s refusal to renounce violence or reevaluate its ideology, the source of major division between younger Islamists and senior Brotherhood leaders.
The Egyptian president’s tone appeared decisive in his latest speech, leaving no room for reconciliation and rejecting all messages from Ankara, specifically regarding potential rapprochement with Cairo.
Sisi’s statements indicated that reconciliation with Turkey will not be achieved before the Muslim Brotherhood is repudiated, or at least before the Turkish regime presents evidence that it no longer supports terrorism.
Eid noted that Sisi has put the ball in the court of those who hope to reconcile, basically saying: “If you wish for forgiveness, then prepare for harsh conditions from Cairo.”The Egyptian president often speaks at armed forces educational seminars about national and foreign policy issues.
Experts argue the Egyptian regime is confident it has the upper hand against the schemes of Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.
For seven years, since the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime in Cairo in July 2013, none of the Islamists’ plots have succeeded in shaking Cairo’s political, security and economic pillars.
Experts say the Egyptian authorities prioritise social cohesion at home, and have responded to all attempts to weaken that country’s stability through rumours and the dissemination of fake news.

Katai'b Hezbollah leaders fear US reprisals, signal truce
The Arab Weekly/October 12/2020
The Kadhimi government denies reaching a conditional truce with the pro-Iranian militia.
BAGHDAD – The Iraqi government has denied that it negotiated with Iran-affiliated militias to try and reach a conditional truce to stop the US Embassy in Baghdad from being shelled by Katyusha rockets. The denial came hours after Iraqi militia Kata'ib Hezbollah announced that Iranian-backed armed factions had agreed to suspend their missile attacks on US forces in Iraq on the condition that the Iraqi government provide a timetable for the withdrawal of these forces from the country. A source from the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi denied during an interview with The Arab Weekly's correspondent in Baghdad that the government had negotiated with any armed faction to stop the attacks on the US Embassy in Baghdad. “The government did not reach a conditional truce with any armed faction to stop targeting the US embassy,” the source said, noting that “Kataib’s announcement came after the Iraqi army began a redeployment operation in many areas inside the Iraqi capital to pursue those launching Katyusha rocket at Baghdad airport and the American embassy.”
“The government is not aware of any negotiations between the factions and any other party regarding stopping the missile attacks on the US embassy,” he added. For his part, Mohammed Mohi, spokesman for Kata'ib Hezbollah, said, “The factions gave a conditional truce, and this conditional truce is directed at the Iraqi government in particular, because it is the one concerned with implementing the decision of the House of Representatives.”
He added that the agreement “basically includes all factions, (including) the factions that may also target US forces,” pointing out that the Iraqi government must enforce a decision made in parliament last January to call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Iraq.
Iraq's parliament issued the decision following the American drone strike at Baghdad airport that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and the leader of militant Shia factions in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, which at the time raised fears of a general Iranian-American confrontation on Iraqi soil.
Mohi said there was no specific deadline by which the government had to implement the decision, but warned that if the Americans did not respect the Iraqi parliament's decision, factions affiliated with Iran would use “all the weapons available to them,” noting that the Katyusha rockets launched at the American forces and diplomatic compounds “were messages addressed to the Americans.” More severe attacks may occur later, he warned.
Political sources in Baghdad believe that the announcement by pro-Iranian militias that they are halting attacks on the US embassy may just be a response to the stern threats expressed by the United States, which has grown exasperated with the assaults on its mission.
The same sources pointed out that the United States was about to close its embassy in Baghdad due to the nearly daily missile attacks, noting that US officials recently expressed to their Iraqi counterparts that shutting the US embassy in Baghdad could represent a heavy blow to Iraq.
The US embassy closure could result in Washington suspending support to Iraq, especially in the military and economic fields, or targeting pro-Iranian militia leaders in Iraq. Observers say that pro-Iranian militia leaders may have sensed the danger of the deteriorating situation in Iraq, which put them at risk of being taken out by the Americans like Soleimani and Muhandis. This, they say, prompted them to announce the suspension of hostilities against the US Embassy in Baghdad. Kata'ib Hezbollah is the largest Iraqi armed group affiliated with Iran, and its announcement that it is halting missile attacks on the US embassy shows it is taking responsibility for the hostilities at US interests in the country, after months of procrastination and media manoeuvres to avoid it. Observers say that Kata'ib Hezbollah and other known large militias in Iraq have tried to hide behind aliases and names of fictitious militias, to which they attributed attacks against American interests in Iraq, but now that America’s anger is at its peak, they decided to implicitly acknowledge their responsibility for these hostilities.Such a declaration by the militias represents a big blow to the image of invincibility they were trying to cultivate among the Iraqi public.

American Duo Wins Nobel Economics Prize for Work on Auctions
Agence France Presse/October 12/2020
U.S. economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson won the Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for work on commercial auctions, including for goods and services difficult to sell in traditional ways such as radio frequencies, the Nobel Committee said.
The duo was honored "for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats," the jury said. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted that the discoveries by Milgrom, 72, and Wilson, 83, "have benefitted sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world," it said in a statement.
"Auctions affect all of us at every level. Moreover, they are becoming increasingly common and increasingly complicated," the academy said, listing examples such as flexible electricity prices set by daily auctions and countries raising funds through government bond auctions.
Wilson, a professor at Stanford in the U.S., was spotlighted for developing a theory on auctions focusing on a common value, such as the future value of radio frequencies, or the rights to extract minerals in a particular area. This common value "is uncertain beforehand but, in the end, is the same for everyone," according to the academy.Wilson's work, which resulted in three influential papers in the 1960s and 1970s, showed why bidders tended to bid under what they actually thought the good was worth. The answer was that they feared the "winner's curse," or winning the auction but paying too much. Milgrom then came up with a more general theory of auctions by analyzing bidding strategies in different auction forms, publishing his seminal papers around 1980. Also a professor at Stanford, Milgrom and Wilson live on the same street. The academy noted that while "people have always sold things to the highest bidder," societies have also had to allocate "ever more complex objects... such as landing slots and radio frequencies" among users. "In response, Milgrom and Wilson invented new formats for auctioning off many interrelated objects simultaneously, on behalf of a seller motivated by broad societal benefit rather than maximal revenue," the academy said. Their theories were put into practice by U.S. authorities in 1994 to sell radio frequencies to telecom operators, and are applied by governments around the world in the current rollout of 5G networks.
The winners will share the prize sum of 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.1 million, 950,000 euros). Speaking to reporters in Stockholm via a telephone link, Wilson said the announcement had been "very happy news," conceding that despite his research focus he himself had "never participated in an auction."
However, he quickly had to retract his statement. "My wife is pointing out that we bought ski boots on eBay, I guess that was an auction," Wilson said. Last year the honor went to French-American Esther Duflo, Indian-born Abhijit Banerjee of the U.S., and American Michael Kremer for their experimental work on alleviating poverty.
- Not created by Alfred Nobel -
Even if it might be the most prestigious prize an economist can hope to receive, the economics prize has not reached the same status as the awards originally chosen by Alfred Nobel in his 1895 will founding the awards, which included medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace.
It was instead created in 1968 through a donation from the Swedish central bank and detractors have thus dubbed it "a false Nobel." Since the prize was first awarded in 1969, Americans have dominated the category, accounting for 63 out of 86 laureates, including those with dual citizenship. The award closes the 2020 Nobel season, which saw the closely-watched peace prize awarded to the U.N.'s World Food Program. Women have been more prevalent than usual this year, with four laureates in total. But while the number of female winners has risen sharply since the turn of the century, they still represent only about one out of every 20 Nobel medals since 1901. Winners would normally receive their Nobel from King Carl XVI Gustaf at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, but the coronavirus pandemic means it has been replaced by a televised ceremony showing the laureates receiving their awards in their home countries.

White House doctor says US President Trump tested negative for coronavirus

AFP/Monday 12 October 2020
US President Donald Trump has been determined negative for the coronavirus using a rapid test, his White House physician said Monday, 10 days after the president announced he had contracted the potentially-deadly illness. “I can share with you that he tested negative, on consecutive days, using the Abbot BinaxNOW antigen card,” Sean Conley said in a memo released to the public. Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates. The doctor said the negative determination had taken into account a number of measurements, and not just the rapid test alone. Antigen tests are less sensitive than the more traditional PCR diagnostic test to low levels of virus. Conley, who does not specify the days on which the tests were performed, nevertheless added that the data allowed the medical team to conclude “that the president is not infectious to others.”This brief statement was issued while the president was on board Air Force One en route to Florida for a campaign rally.


Jordan’s King Abdullah swears in new government led by Khasawneh to speed reforms
Reuters/Monday 12 October 2020
Jordan’s King Abdullah on Monday swore in a new government led by veteran diplomat Bisher al-Khaswaneh that will seek to accelerate IMF-backed reforms as the economy faces its sharpest contraction in decades due to the coronavirus crisis. British-educated al-Khasawneh, 51, was appointed on Wednesday to replace Omar al-Razzaz, at a time of rising popular discontent about worsening economic conditions and curbs on public freedoms under emergency laws to contain the pandemic. The new premier, who comes from a family that has long held senior political posts, has spent most of his public career as a veteran diplomat and peace negotiator with Israel with a last stint as palace adviser. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Finance Minister Mohamad al-Ississ, who oversees the country’s reform program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), kept their posts in a 32-member cabinet dominated by a mix of technocrats and conservative politicians who held sway in previous governments. The new government faces an uphill task to revive growth in an economy that is expected to shrink by around 6 percent this year as it grapples with its worst economic crisis in many years, with unemployment and poverty aggravated by the pandemic. Khasawneh will oversee parliamentary elections due on November 10. The contest will take place under an electoral law that marginalizes the main Islamist opposition and independent political parties to maintain a majority of pro-government deputies.

The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 12-13/2020

The Plot Against America

Frank Furedi/Gatestone Institute/October 12/2020
It seems that this election is not just about which candidate gets elected -- it is ultimately about America's commitment to empirical facts, its extraordinary Constitution and its determination to maintain its leadership role in the world by refusing to allow cheating and corruption, in either its elections or its governmental institutions. One can only hope that the ideals of the Founding Founders will prevail.
In the Western world, the past has become the target of an ideological crusade. Many of its historic monuments and symbols are being vandalised, defaced or destroyed altogether. Pictured: The vandalised statue of educator Sophie Bell Wright, whose father served in the Confederate Army, on July 10, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
From Europe, the culture war raging in the United States is disturbing. In the presidential election, it seems that radical anti-American forces are questioning the very foundation on which Western civilisation was built. The New York Times seems too similar to the propaganda we were fed by the Hungarian Stalinist Pravda during the days of communist tyranny.
Contaminating the Past
In the Western world, the past has become the target of an ideological crusade. Many of its historic monuments and symbols are being vandalised, defaced or destroyed altogether. In the United States, the national flag has been treated with derision and denounced by leading members of its cultural institutions as a symbol of racism, oppression and discrimination. Commentators have been regularly condemning their nation's past and portraying it as a source of irredeemable shame.
In recent times, hostility towards the very foundation on which different Western nations rest has acquired a systematic form. This trend is most strikingly articulated by The New York Times' 1619 Project -- to devalue and criminalise the founding of the United States.
Through distorting America's history, this project claims that the year 1619, and not 1776, constitutes the origin of the United States. It was in 1619 that African slaves arrived in Jamestown, and this event has been rebranded as the origins of the US. Why? Because the 1619 Project insists that the US was founded for the purpose of entrenching slavery and that to this day, this nation is dominated by that legacy. According to this inaccurate version of the past, the American Revolution was not so much a war of independence but a selfish act of preserving exploitation and oppression. In this way, the contribution of the American Revolution to the development of the Western ideals of individual liberty and personal responsibility is erased from history. America's Declaration of Independence and -- especially for the time -- its remarkably advanced liberal and democratic Constitution and Bill of Rights are implicitly renounced as slave-owners' charters.
Most significantly, the 1619 project is designed to contaminate the tradition and foundation that underpins the opportunity and mobility that have come to characterise the American way of life. This attempt to vandalise the tradition of a nation and its historic memory is far more toxic than toppling over a statue. Certainly, one of the main authors of the 1619 project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, is in no doubt that her objective was to plunder the past in order to undermine the moral authority of present. Recently she responded to critics who claim that she has distorted history by stating on Twitter:
"I've always said that 1619 project is not history. It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and therefore national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is about the past."
Hannah-Jones's explicit conflation of the present and the past should not be seen as an innocent disregard of fundamental temporal boundaries but as a project devoted to contaminating the past in order de-legitimate the institutions of the US in the present.
A script for the vandalisation of history
The way in which the authors of the 1619 Project attempt to seize control of the national narrative is by providing a simplistic, inaccurate but highly evocative script for members of the public. It is a script that many protestors, rioters and looters in the United States have effortlessly internalised. Hannah-Jones has little inhibition about promoting a script that regards not only the Founders of the US but members of the white race with contempt. As she noted in a 1995 letter to a newspaper, "the white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world". Her reference is not simply to the white people that settled America in the 17th and 18th centuries. She added:
"Even today, the descendants of these savage [white] people pump drugs and guns into the Balck community, pack Black people into the squalor of segregated urban ghettos, and continue ot be bloodsuckers in our community."
In a different world, the denunciation of an entire race would be interpreted as not a million miles from racist prejudice. We live in a world, however, where scripts like the one promoted by the 1619 Project are strongly supported by many of the cultural and educational institutions of society. It is after all The New York Times -- once the paper of record in the US -- that promoted and endorsed Hannah-Jones' narrative of hate towards the nation's past. And to demonstrate that Hannah-Jones enjoyed the moral support of the commentariat, she was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Hollywood celebrities rushed in to demonstrate their support for the 1619 Project. Predictably, Oprah Winfrey and the global content platform, Lionsgate, teamed up with Hannah-Jones to bring her work to an even wider audience through multiple platforms.
The embrace of the 1619 Project by celebrities, online influencers and leaders of America's cultural industry highlights one of the most important development that encourages the cancelling of American culture. The most significant feature of the war against the past is the complicity of cultural institutions and their leaders in the project of estranging society from its traditions and history.
It is not merely universities that promote a vision of the nation's past as one that people should view with shame. The claim that contemporary cultural institutions bear the burden of guilt for the crimes committed by their ancestors also seems to have been widely internalised by the cultural elites. According to their playbook, America's history is a story of unremitting violence and greed. There are no "good old days" that can serve as a focus for redemption and nostalgia. Instead of nostalgia, the current regime promoting a vision of the past as "the bad old days" incites guilt, shame and self-loathing. This corrosive orientation towards one's history invites the performance of apology. The ritualization of remorse towards the events of the past is one of the important accomplishments of this movement.
It seems that this election is not just about which candidate gets elected -- it is ultimately about America's commitment to empirical facts, its extraordinary Constitution and its determination to maintain its leadership role in the world by refusing to allow cheating and corruption, in either its elections or its governmental institutions. One can only hope that the ideals of the Founding Founders will prevail.
*Frank Furedi's Why Borders Matter: Why Humanity Must Relearn the Art Of Drawing Boundaries is published by Routledge.
© 2020 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.

Saudi Arabia: We, Too, Are Fed Up with the Palestinians
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/October 12/2020
[M]any Saudis and other Gulf citizens expressed support for Prince Bandar bin Abdulaziz's criticism of the Palestinians, with some saying the time has come for a new Palestinian leadership that prioritizes its people's interests and does not pocket the financial aid sent to them by the Arab countries and the West.
"Palestinian leaders stole the aid sent to the Palestinian people and built mansions in Washington, Paris and London, while ignoring the suffering of their people." — Saudi political analyst Abdel Rahman Al-Mulhem, Al-Yaum, October 9, 2020.
According to Fahd Al-Shoqiran, a Saudi researcher and columnist, Palestinians "must be reminded that the hundreds of billions of money their leaders received to support their cause from Saudi Arabia throughout its history were capable of building the Palestinians huge cities." Instead, Al-Shoqiran said, Palestinian leaders used the money to buy private planes and luxurious buildings in Europe and the US... "The prince's speech was clear, direct, accurate and frank. The speech is a wake-up call. Things have changed...."
What is evident, meanwhile, is that, where Saudi Arabia is concerned, the Palestinians are on very thin ice. In fact, they may wake up to discover that the ice is melting all over the Arab world.
Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz's scathing and unprecedented attack on the Palestinian leadership adds Saudi Arabia and its citizens to the growing list of Arabs who regard the Palestinians as "ungrateful."
Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz's scathing and unprecedented attack on the Palestinian leadership, during an interview aired by Saudi Al-Arabiya television station on October 6, adds Saudi Arabia and its citizens to the growing list of Arabs who regard the Palestinians as "ungrateful."
During the interview, the prince, a former Saudi ambassador to the US, said that "the Palestinian cause is a just cause, but its advocates are failures, and the Israeli cause is unjust, but its advocates have proven to be successful."
He accused the Palestinians of cozying up to Saudi Arabia's foes, Iran and Turkey, and criticized them for accusing the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain of betrayal for agreeing to establish relations with Israel." He also accused the Palestinians of "ingratitude or lack of loyalty" toward Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that supported them for decades.
After the interview, many Saudis and other Gulf citizens expressed support for Prince Bandar bin Abdulaziz's criticism of the Palestinians, with some saying the time has come for a new Palestinian leadership that prioritizes its people's interests and does not pocket the financial aid sent to them by the Arab countries and the West.
"I believe that the time has come to form a permanent Arab committee under the umbrella of the Arab League to manage the Palestinian issue and conduct face-to-face dialogue with Israel," said Emirati columnist and political analyst Abdullah Nasser Al-Otaibi. "Today, after this very revealing and frank talk (by the Saudi prince), I strongly believe in the need for the Arabs to find a way to manage the Palestinian issue."
Al-Otaibi is one of several Arab commentators who have recently talked about the need for the Arab countries to take matters into their own hands and try to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict without involving the failed and corrupt Palestinian leadership. This is a demand that no Arab has dared to make in the past few decades. It demonstrates that a growing number of Arabs believe that there can be no solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict as long as the current Palestinian leadership remains in power.
Saudi political analyst Fahim Al-Hamid noted that over the past several decades, the Palestinians have missed many opportunities to find a solution to their conflict with Israel.
Referring to the ongoing power struggle between the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Al-Hamid accused the two parties of 'trafficking" in the Palestinian issue.
"When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it was possible for the Palestinians to seize the opportunity to achieve more gains," he wrote.
"Hamas, however, refused to unite the Palestinians and established the foundations for the beginning of the division between the Palestinians. Instead, Hamas sought to raise funds from Turkey, Qatar and Iran."
Praising Prince Bandar's statements, Al-Hamid added:
"It is unfortunate that the Palestinian brothers have traded in their issue for more than 60 years and insisted on not compromising, sabotaging negotiations and rejecting all peace initiatives. The time for trafficking in the concerns of the Palestinian people is over. The interest of the people in Gaza and the West Bank requires the intervention of rational Arabs to achieve comprehensive peace in the region. We tell the Palestinians what (US) President (Abraham) Lincoln said: 'You can fool all the people some of the time and some people all of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.'"
Saudi columnist Mohammed Al-Saaed, echoing Prince Bandar bin Abdulaziz's criticism, refuted Palestinian claims that they do not meddle in the internal affairs of Arab countries:
"Over the past six decades, the Palestinians have presented themselves as being neutral on Arab issues. However, they [Palestinians] have turned themselves into puppets in the hands of Qatar, Turkey and Iran. The Palestinians have practiced systematic terror against most Arab countries and directed their guns and bombs against the Arabs."
Al-Saaed said that the Palestinians have also been engaging in another form of terrorism: extorting money from the Arabs "or else they count you as hostile (to the Palestinians). We must not forget their terrorist operations against consulates and embassies, assassinations of Saudi figures, as well as the hijacking and bombing of airplanes."
He went on to accuse the Palestinians of insulting Saudi Arabia by burning its flags and pictures of its leaders and publishing offensive cartoons in media outlets run by members of Fatah and Hamas. Al-Saaed added:
"Saudi Arabia only wants (the Palestinians) to stop hurting the kingdom and its citizens. The Palestinians must be aware that the popular mood on the Saudi street is no longer able to tolerate these abuses. The Palestinian leadership must take a rational position before losing Saudi Arabia's support."
Saudi political analyst Abdel Rahman Al-Mulhem praised the Saudi prince for exposing the Palestinian leadership failures. "The masks have fallen and the truth has been revealed," Al-Mulhem wrote. "Palestinian leaders could have ended the tragedy of the Palestinian people by accepting United Nations Resolution 242," he said, referring to the November 22, 1967 resolution that talked about "the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security and peace within recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."
Al-Mulhem said he fully agreed with the Saudi prince's assertion that Palestinian leaders do not want to end the conflict with Israel because they want to preserve their personal interests, and added:
"Palestinian leaders missed many opportunities that could have ended the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but they squandered these opportunities so that they could continue to trade in the Palestinian issue... Palestinian leaders have chosen to align themselves with Iran, the No. 1 enemy of the Arab nation. What has Iran done for Palestine since 1979? Iran is a terrorist country. Terrorism only breeds terrorism. Palestinian leaders stole the aid sent to the Palestinian people and built mansions in Washington, Paris and London, while ignoring the suffering of their people."
Commenting on the Saudi prince's statements about the Palestinian leadership's corruption and ineptitude, Fahd Al-Shoqiran, a Saudi researcher and columnist, wrote that the Palestinians "must be reminded that the hundreds of billions of money their leaders received to support their cause from Saudi Arabia throughout its history were capable of building the Palestinians huge cities."
Instead, Al-Shoqiran said, Palestinian leaders used the money to buy private planes and luxurious buildings in Europe and the US. "For the Palestinian leaders, the Palestinian issue is just an investment project that generates huge profits," he said.
"That's why the talk about the need for an efficient alternative political leadership causes them to panic. The prince's speech was clear, direct, accurate and frank. The speech is a wake-up call. Things have changed, and whoever wants a solution should seek ways to achieve one."
Palestinian leaders, meanwhile, appear to be afraid of responding to the serious charges made by Prince Bandar bin Abdulaziz.
These leaders have not sent their people to the streets to burn Saudi flags in protest of the criticism made by the prince and other Saudis. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his officials are well aware that, unlike the UAE or Bahrain, Saudi Arabia is a large and extremely powerful country. They also know that losing the support of Saudi Arabia would mean forfeiting the backing of several other Arab countries closely associated with the kingdom.
The latest Saudi media onslaught against the Palestinians could be seen as a prelude for Saudi Arabia following suit with the UAE and Bahrain by establishing relations with Israel. What is evident, meanwhile, is that, where Saudi Arabia is concerned, the Palestinians are on very thin ice. In fact, they may wake up to discover that the ice is melting all over the Arab world.
*Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.
© 2020 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.

Trump’s Middle Eastern Legacy and the Incoming Challenges
Charles Elias Chartouni/October 12/2020
شارل الياس شرتوني: إرث ترامب في الشرق الأوسط والتحديات القادمة
The Trump administration is about to finish one’s last legs, and the challenges lying ahead are still pending and await conclusive answers insofar as the bolting strategic voids, the unresolved geopolitical dilemmas in a region which has lost its traditional moorings and failed to redefine its future dynamics away from the open-ended conflicts and zero sum game scenarios, the irreconcilability of clashing political and societal subcultures, and it’s inability to embrace the values of modernity in terms of rational and discursive conflict resolution, consociational political arrangements, Constitutional Statehood, integrated development schemes, and normative pluralism. Far from following the conventional script of interstate diplomacy or public diplomacy, the Trump administration transactional diplomacy is predicated on negotiating working deals with power brokers, removing roadblocks and steamrolling its path towards immediate political rewards. However controversial this policy conduct might be, it’s proactive nature, bluntness and indifference to faked political commiseration have proven to be highly effective dealing with the sabotaging politics of Arab and Muslim radicalism, the Palestinian inability to achieve an independent moral and political stature vis a vis regional and Islamic power politics, the ineptitude of Arab and Muslim political authoritarianism and its incapacity to engage the world community on the very basis of formal inter-State diplomacy, and the interactive dynamics elicited by the international civil society.
Donald Trump was successful doing away with the logjams of an unstructured political space on the basis of political business deals without having to tackle the structural problems of failed Statehood, conflict-prone political and religious cultures, deeply entrenched tribal feuds, religious self righteousness, and self contained political spheres unable to extract themselves from their conflictive inwardness. This voluntaristic style of diplomacy was predicated on US National interests and re-election calculations, and the strategic need to tackle the threats featured by ISIS and the Iranian expansionist drive in the larger Middle East area. The military defeat of ISIS is still short of an overall political stabilization which helps overcome the widening gaps of an imploded inter-State system, and the lurking religious radicalism which intertwines the chronic deficit of legitimacy of Arab and Islamic regimes; and the idiosyncrasies of the Iranian regime, whose political messianism trumps its faked attempt on international normalization, perceived on a continuum with the liberalization proclivities of an estranged Iranian civil society, which has a hard time adjusting to the mandates of a bankrupted Islamic autocracy and its disparaged narrative. In addition, the incoming US diplomacy is bound to bring Israelis and Palestinians into direct negotiations, and put an end to the pull and sway of international and regional power politics on the very basis of inclusive mediations and international arbitrations.
The defeat of ISIS, the cancellation of the nuclear treaty with Iran, the head on confrontation with its Middle Eastern subversion strategy through the assassination of Qassem Suleimani, the enhancing financial sanctions, and the consecutive checkmating in Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf countries, and the proactive counterterrorism strategies are inevitable predicates in any forthcoming US policy. The next stage should set the path to the finalization of this proactive personal diplomacy through formal negotiations and treaties which put an end to the incremental volatility of a disintegrated political order with no moral compasses, and no intellectual gravity of whichever nature. The political retreat of the Obama administration and the erratic arrangements in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian Territories should concede to systematic conflict resolution, topical treatment and the shrinking of the strategic voids and destructive interventions of Iranian, Turkish and Russian power politics and their total indifference to geopolitical stabilization, State building, political reforms and overall normalization in the Middle East.

Arab music in Israel: From ‘music of the enemy’ to mainstream popularity
Linda Abdul Aziz Menuhin/Al Arabia/Monday 12 October 2020
One Saturday in the summer of 1971, my aunt took me to her gym in Tel Aviv. The scene was familiar, like a Baghdad swimming pool in the sixties. I sat in a comfy chair and turned my little transistor radio to Voice of Israel, playing a song by Egyptian singer Umm Kalthoum. My aunt swiftly asked me to turn the volume down.
This was a surprise and a shock for me. I had been in Israel for only a few months after fleeing the hell that was Iraq at the end of 1970.
Since then, Arabic music in Israel has achieved great success over the last two decades. In 2020, Israel is a place where Arabic music, thanks to the impact of immigration, has succeeded in breaking through the barrier placed before it by Ashkenazi hegemony who viewed it as the music of the “enemy.”
Arabic was the spoken language of 850,000 Jews who came from different parts of the Arab world. Their broad contours of musical taste were somewhat similar: shaped by a scene dominated by Arab legends such as Umm Kalthoum, Abdel Wahhab in Egypt, and Salima Murad in Iraq.
The Arab-Israeli conflict placed a political burden on these romantic songs. This is how Jews from the East found their Arabic culture and music held hostage in their new homeland.
Part of the arts sector in Israel, Eli Greenfield said that “the real launch of Arabic music began with the arrival of Sapho, a French Moroccan singer to Israel in 1988, where she performed in the ‘Heichal Hatarbut,’ one of Tel Aviv’s grandest halls, singing Umm Kalthoum songs.”
I believe that Israel has gradually rid itself of its Arab complex over the years, especially after the signing of the peace accords with Egypt and Jordan, in 1979 and 1994, respectively.
Five years ago, the group Firqat Al Noor first showed up on the Israeli scene. The 25-member orchestra, directed by Ariel Cohen, of Moroccan origin, are standard-bearers for the traditional Arabic music once played on Voice of Israel radio.
No doubt, many Israelis have been exposed to the musical giants of Tarab - traditional Arab music that emphasizes long melodic notes - in the synagogue, after Iraqi-born Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef allowed religious hymns to be set to these melodies.
Festivals championing the cause of peace and coexistence in the Middle East have similarly helped the spread of Arabic music, especially Jerusalem’s annual Oud Festival—a huge pull for a large and diverse audience, including Israelis who do not have Eastern roots.
The popularity opened up the genre to mainstream platforms, including the grand elegant halls that typically play host to plays and musicals rooted firmly in the West.
The second generation of Jews from the Arab world do sing quite well in Arabic, especially in the Iraqi dialect. One new star is Ziv Yehezkel, of Iraqi descent, who has captured the hearts of the Arabs in Israel over the last few years.
Other Israeli musicians have reworking melodies of childhood into something more familiar to contemporary youth, along with reviving cultural classics for a new generation of listeners.
The Yemenite trio A-WA, made up of three sisters, is an example of this, as well as Neta Al Kayam, an artist who sings and performs in Moroccan Arabic.
Al Kayam is hosted by Al Firqa Al Maqdisiya Sharq Gharb, a band which distinguishes itself through a broad repertoire, a concoction of both classic and modern sounds.
The band is led by Thomas Cohen, in collaboration with Ravid Kahlani, who is of Yemenite roots, and one of the most famous Israeli artists performing internationally in Arabic.
Now, after Israel’s signing of the Abraham accords with UAE and Bahrain, we can expect to see new inspiration for Arabic music in Israel.
In fact, Firqat Al Noor has already recorded a cover of the song “Ahibak” by Emirati star Hussein Al Jasmi. The band said the performance was “in honor of the hope-inspiring peace agreement.”
*Linda Abdul Aziz Menuhin is an independent journalist and expert in Arabic music in Israel. She established the NGO Kanoon to promote Iraqi Jewish music. She is also an activist in civil society for promoting peace.

Why the Midwest and Rust Belt are key to US election outcome
Kerry Boyd Anderson/Arab News/October 12/2020
As the US presidential election nears, both candidates are working hard to win votes in the Midwest. President Donald Trump tells Midwestern voters that his competitor, Joe Biden, would pursue policies that would destroy jobs and communities. Biden tells the same voters that Trump is a wealthy man’s son who has broken his promises. The extent to which either candidate gains or loses support in the region is likely to be crucial in determining the election’s outcome.
The Midwest of the US covers the states that sit between the eastern, southern and western states: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. The Rust Belt region — an informal term referring to areas that were once manufacturing powerhouses — overlaps with much of the northern Midwest along the Great Lakes, as well as including Pennsylvania.
Together, these two regions are critical to presidential elections. Of the approximately 13 “battleground states” — which could vote either Republican or Democratic and play a key role in shaping the outcome in the Electoral College that determines the presidency — five are in the Midwest, plus Pennsylvania.
In 2016, winning Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, plus Florida, were the keys to Trump taking the Electoral College. Today, these are still battleground states that both parties are contesting. A FiveThirtyEight model, which considers polling and other factors, projects that Biden is likely to win Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (though some other analysts consider Pennsylvania to be very close). It projects Trump winning a close race in Iowa. Ohio currently leans toward Biden but is a toss-up. Other states, such as Florida and North Carolina, are important, but the number of battleground states in the Midwest and Rust Belt highlights the importance of these regions.
The Midwest and the Rust Belt are important to elections partly because of their diversity. Often seen as homogenous by other Americans and foreigners, the reality is that these regions include a wide array of demographics: Both prosperous and economically struggling areas; manufacturing centers, urban areas, and agricultural regions; and voters with college educations and those without. While the regions often appear to be largely white, many areas have significant racial and ethnic diversity. The demographics have been changing, as many white residents emigrate to other parts of the country and are replaced with younger, black or brown immigrants.
A key feature of many of these states is a division between urban, suburban and small town or rural areas. Several of the states have at least one metro area with more than 1 million residents — an important baseline for developing an urban culture that is likely to vote Democratic, according to some scholars. Chicago is the third-largest metro area in the country. Suburbs often include a mix of Democratic and Republican voters. Around these metro areas, the map tends to be deep “red” — small towns and rural areas that strongly lean Republican.
The mix of different types of people in these areas is what makes several of the states “purple” — a mixture of Democratic blue and Republican red, with the potential for candidates from either party to win. Some, like Ohio and Pennsylvania, have large populations that bring more Electoral College votes to a presidential candidate.
Multiple issues affect voting in these regions. Changing demographics is a challenge for many communities that were accustomed to a more homogenous culture. Some Rust Belt cities are among the most racially segregated parts of the US, reflecting a long history of complicated race relations that have been highlighted by the recent protests over race and policing. The trade war with China badly hurt many Midwestern farmers, but there was significant government aid to help cushion the effects. The coronavirus disease pandemic, which initially hit coastal areas, has fully spread to the Midwest and several of the Midwestern states now have some of the highest current infection rates.
Identity plays a crucial role in politics in these areas. The Midwest and Rust Belt are more socially conservative than the eastern and western parts of the country, especially outside the cities. Another major factor is the long-term decline of manufacturing communities in the Rust Belt, which has caused extensive job losses and depopulation in some areas; many voters there who used to vote Democratic turned to Trump in 2016. Trump tapped into an important identity issue — a sense that Democratic “elites” and coastal voters look down on the people of the Rust Belt and Midwest. They feel judged by the Democratic Party, which has embraced issues such as diversity and equity, which are not priorities for many white voters in these regions.
Often seen as homogenous by other Americans and foreigners, the reality is that these regions include a wide array of demographics.
Four years ago, Trump reinforced many of these voters’ sense of grievance, reassured them that their culture and values are great, and made them feel good. Many will vote for him again, particularly white men without a college education. However, Biden is much more capable of relating to these voters than Hillary Clinton was. He comes from a family that struggled financially in Pennsylvania. He argues that Trump is a wealthy New Yorker who has failed to meet the needs of Midwestern and Rust Belt voters.
The election might depend on whether Midwestern and Rust Belt voters see Trump or Biden as the candidate most likely to respect them, listen to them, and help improve their lives. Neither party can take several of these key states for granted — now and in the future.
*Kerry Boyd Anderson is a writer and political risk consultant with more than 16 years’ experience as a professional analyst of international security issues and Middle East political and business risk. Her previous positions include deputy director for advisory with Oxford Analytica and managing editor of Arms Control Today. Twitter: @KBAresearch

Iran’s evolving position in the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict
Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami//Arab News/October 12/2020
As the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has erupted once again, with Turkey displaying immediate bias toward Azerbaijan, some anticipate that the future of the conflict in the Caucasus will see a 2+2+1 alliance formula: Azerbaijan and Turkey versus Armenia and Iran, with Russia acting as a mediator, though showing bias toward Armenia. This alliance formula is due to the nature of the Turkish-Iranian rivalry in the Caucasus and Iran’s desire not to allow Azerbaijan to emerge as a powerful nation, recapture its territories, ally with Turkey and control the most important project to transfer gas and oil from the Caucasus to Europe — the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. However, a number of variables have contributed to Iran not adopting this formula and instead announcing a neutral official position, making only slight changes to the rhetoric it has adopted in relation to the conflict.
The official Iranian rhetoric has always called for the dispute to be settled via negotiations, without showing much enthusiasm toward the Azerbaijani position. It has also attempted to act as a mediator. But Russia refuses to let Iran serve as a mediator at the official level, insisting that the Minsk Group, which functions under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, acts as the official mediator. Moscow co-chairs the Minsk Group in partnership with the US and France.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan believes that Iran’s neutrality is questionable, given the significant economic cooperation between Iran and Armenia, especially after the construction of a gas pipeline between the two countries, which was inaugurated in 2007, and Tehran’s implementation of road projects within the Azerbaijani territories that are occupied by Armenia.
After the conflict erupted once again on Sept. 27, Iran only belatedly issued its first statement on the ongoing fighting; unlike the Turks, who immediately stated their position, standing firmly behind Azerbaijan. The first Iranian statement made use of the same rhetoric as past statements issued when such fighting broke out. It called for the conflict to end and for the warring parties to engage in negotiations. However, the official Iranian rhetoric swiftly changed, with Tehran mentioning Azerbaijan’s right to retrieve its entire territories that were occupied in 1994. This rhetoric had never emanated from Iran before.
There are several variables that contributed to Iran shifting its rhetoric. Perhaps a primary issue was Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announcing his two conditions to stop the fighting: Armenia returning Azerbaijani territories and Turkey partaking in the negotiations as a mediator. There is no doubt that the second condition would threaten Iran’s standing in the Caucasus and deepen the Turkish presence in the region. By seeking to woo Azerbaijan via its official statements, Iran wanted Baku to ease its opposition to allowing it to participate as a mediator. This is because it is expected Armenia will veto Turkey’s participation as a mediator, resulting in the need for others to get involved.
The second variable is Iran’s concern about the possible expansion of Azeri protests within its borders. This minority makes up 20 percent of Iran’s population and they support Azerbaijan in its quest to recapture its territories. This concern deepened when a number of Azerbaijanis protested in front of the Iranian Embassy in Baku, chanting: “Persians, Russians and Armenians are the enemies of us and the Turks.” This is in addition to protests inside Iranian Azeri-majority cities like Tabriz and Ardabil, which denounced Iran’s support for Armenia. These protests pose a threat to Iran’s domestic security and could lead to the Azeri minority taking action against the regime in Tehran.
To calm the situation and mollify the Iranian Azeris’ resentment, deputies of the supreme leader in the four Azeri-majority provinces of Zanjan, Ardabil, East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan announced that Iran is supportive of Azerbaijan. They stated that Iranian territories would not be used to deliver Russian weapons to Armenia.
The official Iranian rhetoric swiftly changed, with Tehran mentioning Azerbaijan’s right to retrieve its entire territories that were occupied in 1994.
It seems that the idea of Iran passing Russian weapons on to Armenia has some basis. Russia shares no land borders with Armenia. They are separated by Georgia, which has massive economic interests in Azerbaijan, as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline passes through Georgian territory on its way to the Turkish coast. This is in addition to the Russian-Georgian dispute over the two regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In contrast, Iran is directly connected to Russia via the Caspian Sea and is connected to Armenia by land via the Meghri corridor. Due to the military alliance between Russia and Iran and Moscow’s previous use of Iranian airports during the Syrian war, suspicions have grown about the Russians using Iranian territory to provide Armenia with weapons.
The third variable, which is dominating the Iranian mindset, is the reported Azerbaijani use of militias made up of Syrians transferred by Turkey to Azeri territories from both Syria and Libya. There is no doubt that these militias will pose an imminent danger to Iran after the fighting stops if Turkey does not take them back to Syria. Many of these militias believe that their No. 1 enemy is Iran, not Russia, Armenia or even Bashar Assad. Hence, Iran will bear the brunt of this use of militias — a weapon it has been solidifying and using itself in many Middle Eastern disputes.
Therefore, Iran demonstrating some degree of sympathy with Azerbaijan and its ally Turkey may be to safeguard itself from the militias stationed a stone’s throw away from its borders. These groups are sufficiently combat-ready to engage in guerrilla warfare within Iran, just like the Fatemiyoun and Zainabiyoun militias, which Iran brought from Afghanistan and Pakistan, respectively, to battle the Syrian opposition.
*Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami