July 04/2019
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For today
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 13/31-35:”When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on July 03-04/2019
Terrorist Designations of Balochistan Liberation Army and Husain Ali Hazzima and Amendments to the Terrorist Designations of Jundallah
US efforts to start Israel-Lebanon maritime border talks ‘failed’ - report
Lebanon Says Sea Border Talks With Israel Still Pending
Increase Of Hezbollah Members In Germany State, Says Intel Report
Aoun Says Lebanese State Must Preserve Its Image
Report: Israel Refuses Border Negotiation under U.N. Auspices
Berri Hosts Hariri, Jumblat over Reconciliation Dinner
Arslan Submits Videos, Says Referring Aley Incident to Judicial Council Nonnegotiable
Jumblat Slams Bassil's 'Provocations', Urges Aoun to Rein in 'Juvenile' Acts
Khalil: Bassil is Welcome to Visit South Lebanon
Several Injured, Missing as Station's Fuel Tanks Explode in Bakhoun
Kushner Says Lebanon Palestinians Would 'Live a Better Life' if U.S. Plan Accepted
Franjieh: A Strong State Can Remove Hatred from Souls, We Count on Aoun’s Wisdom
Police Seize 73 kg of Cannabis in Syrian Encampment in Baalbek
French Defense Minister Stresses Readiness to Strengthen LAF Capabilities

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 03-04/2019
Rouhani Says Iran to Enrich Uranium to 'Any Amount We Want'
Iraq Sets Up ‘Loophole’ in US Sanctions to Buy Iranian Power
Project around Baghdad Airport Raises Demographic Fears among Sunnis
EU: No Substitute to Two-State Solution
African Mediation Announces Imminent Agreement in Sudan
Israel Braces for More Protests After Ethiopian Teen's Death
Sudan Protesters Agree to Direct Talks with Ruling Generals
Palestinian Security Forces Hold Drills in West Bank
'Outraged' U.N. Chief Demands Probe of Strike on Libya Migrant Center
Outcry as Dozens Killed in Airstrike on Libya Migrant Center

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 03-04/2019
US efforts to start Israel-Lebanon maritime border talks ‘failed’ - report/Jerusalem Post/July 03/2019
Increase Of Hezbollah Members In Germany State, Says Intel Report/Jerusalem Post/July 03/2019
Report: Israel Refuses Border Negotiation under U.N. Auspices/Naharnet/July 03/2019
An Arab Relevance In The Hong Kong Events/Hazem Saghieh/Asharq Al Awsat/July 03/2019
France: The Real Emmanuel Macron/Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/July 03/2019
White House pressure extended to Iran’s foundations/Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/July 03/2019
OPEC: Bought on the rumor, sold on the news/Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/July 03/2019
US must lead Syrian peacemaking before walking away/Charles A. Kupchan/Sinan Ulgen/Arab News/July 03/2019

The Latest English LCCC Lebanese & Lebanese Related News published on July 03-04/2019 
Terrorist Designations of Balochistan Liberation Army and Husain Ali Hazzima and Amendments to the Terrorist Designations of Jundallah
الولايات المتحدة الأميركية تضع القائد العسكري في تنظيم حزب الله علي هزيمة على قوائم الإرهاب

JULY 2, 2019

The Department of State has designated the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Hizballah operative Husain Ali Hazzima as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. Additionally, the Department of State has amended the terrorist designations of Jundallah to reflect the group’s new primary name Jaysh al-Adl and associated aliases. These aliases have been added to the group’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and as an SDGT under E.O. 13224. The Department has also reviewed and maintained the FTO designation of Jundallah. Today’s actions seek to deny Hazzima, BLA, and Jaysh al-Adl the resources to plan and carry out terrorist attacks. All of their property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them. Husain Ali Hazzima is the Chief of Hizballah Unit 200. Hizballah was designated as an FTO in 1997 and as an SDGT in 2001. Unit 200 is the Intelligence Unit of Hizballah, and it analyzes and assesses information collected by Hizballah military units.
BLA is an armed separatist group that targets security forces and civilians, mainly in ethnic Baloch areas of Pakistan. BLA has carried out several terrorist attacks in the past year, including a suicide attack in August 2018 that targeted Chinese engineers in Balochistan, a November 2018 attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, and a May 2019 attack against a luxury hotel in Gwadar, Balochistan. Jundallah, which was designated as an FTO and SDGT in 2010, began using the new name Jaysh al-Adl and associated aliases in 2012. Since its inception, the group has engaged in numerous attacks that have killed scores of Iranian civilians and government officials, including a February 2019 suicide bombing and the October 2018 kidnapping of Iranian security personnel. Today’s actions notify the U.S. public and the international community that Hazzima and BLA have committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism, and that Jundallah, having adopted the new name Jaysh al-Adl, continues to engage in terrorism that threatens the national security of the United States. Terrorist designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of U.S. agencies and other governments
A list of State Department-designated individuals and entities is available here:

US efforts to start Israel-Lebanon maritime border talks ‘failed’ - report
Jerusalem Post/July 03/2019
تقرير من الجيرازالم بوست: فشل الجهود الأميركية التوسط بين لبنان وإسرائيل لترسيم الحدود البحرية بينهما

Israel and Lebanon have a dispute over an 860 sq. km area that includes several blocs rich in natural gas.
US Acting Secretary of State David Satterfield’s efforts to get Israel and Lebanon around a negotiating table to discuss marking their maritime border has failed, according to Lebanese media reports on Wednesday.
Satterfield, who was confirmed last Friday as Washington’s ambassador to Turkey and could be making his last visit to the region trying to deal with the maritime border issue, met in Beirut on Tuesday with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and House Speaker Nabih Berri.
According to these reports, Satterfield told his Lebanese interlocutors that Israel has refused their request for UN sponsorship of the talks, and their demands that the discussions should deal not only with the maritime border but also the land border as well.
Israel and Lebanon have a dispute over an 860 sq. km area that includes several blocs rich in natural gas.
One of the key sticking points holding up the launch of the negotiations has been whether they will be open ended – Lebanon’s demand – or whether there will be a six-month deadline, Israel’s position. The US reportedly has put forward a compromise solution whereby the talks will not have a firm deadline, but that the US – in announcing the talks – will say that the hope is that they are concluded within six months.
Al Joumhouria reported that Satterfield had suggested a verbal consensus on some of the negotiating mechanisms, but that Berri – a Hezbollah ally – rejected this and said to him that he does not even trust a written agreement with Israel, let alone an oral one.
Another point of contention has to do with the UN’s role, with Lebanon wanting to see an active role for the world body, and Israel wanting to see the talks mediated by the US. The US proposed that the talks be held at a UN facility in Nakura but not under their sponsorship, something rejected by the Lebanese.
Last month Energy Minister Yuval Steintiz said he expected US-mediated talks to start within a month. On Wednesdays his office did not respond to requests for a reaction to the developments.

Lebanon Says Sea Border Talks With Israel Still Pending
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
Lebanon insists any demarcation of its sea boundary with Israel be implemented only as part of a wider package including the land border, and wants this in writing, the parliament speaker said on Wednesday. Senior US official David Satterfield has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel in an effort to launch the talks between the countries, which have remained formally in a state of war since Israel was founded in 1948. Settling the maritime dispute could help both countries exploit offshore energy reserves. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steintiz said on June 19 he expected US-mediated talks to start within a month.
But Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, speaking to MPs in his parliamentary bloc on Wednesday, said two issues were still pending and hoped that "work will be done towards solving them," one of the MPs, Ali Bazzi, said in televised comments. "The first matter is related to the linking of the land and sea (borders)," Bazzi said. "The American position was talking about a verbal agreement, but everyone knows the stance of Speaker Berri on this issue - we don't even trust Israel in a written agreement, let alone an oral one," he said. Lebanon also wants the United Nations to sponsor the talks rather than simply host them, Bazzi cited Berri as saying. A statement from Berri's office on Tuesday said Lebanon wants the UN representative in Lebanon to sponsor the meetings "to deny the Israeli enemy the opportunity of snatching Lebanese rights."A senior Israeli official has said that a UN peacekeeper position at Naqoura in southern Lebanon would be a possible venue for the US-mediated talks. Berri, Lebanon's point person with Satterfield, is a close ally of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, a political and military organization backed by Iran that has fought numerous conflicts with Israeli. Steinitz said it was likely that as soon as the talks begin, energy groups operating in both Israeli and Lebanese waters would be able to carry out the first seismological survey of the disputed area.

Increase Of Hezbollah Members In Germany State, Says Intel Report
تقرير من الجيرازلم بوست: التقارير تفيد بأن أعداد عناصر حزب الله في ألماني هي بإزدياد
Jerusalem Post/July 03/2019
Chancellor Merkel refuses to outlaw terrorist entity in Germany.
The intelligence agency for Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia revealed on Thursday that the number of Hezbollah operatives rose in 2018.
According to the intelligence document reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the number of Hezbollah operatives climbed from 105 in 2017 to 110 in 2018 in North Rhine-Westphalia. The report wrote that “for more than 20 years, the Islamic Center (Imam-Mahdi-Zentrum) in Münster has been a platform and meeting place for Hezbollah supporters in North Rhine-Westphalia and western Germany. Other focal points: Essen/Bottrop, Dortmund and Bad Oeynhausen.” The 363-page intelligence report, which covers threats to the security of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, referenced the Lebanese terrorist entity Hezbollah 21 times. Hezbollah has centers in Hamburg, Berlin and Münster, according to the report.
Hezbollah’s aim “of annihilation of the state of Israel and the establishment of ‘Islamic rule’ over Jerusalem remain unchanged to this day,” wrote the intelligence agents. The intelligence agency noted that “in order to achieve these goals Hezbollah also uses terrorist means. For years it [Hezbollah] has been responsible for attacks in northern Israel, posing a direct threat to the state of Israel.” The intelligence agency wrote that “Hezbollah continues to be an internationally well-networked terrorist organization that endangers foreign affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany through the use of force or preparatory acts directed at it. For this reason, and because of its activities against the idea of international understanding, it is monitored by the North Rhine-Westphalia constitutional protection agency.”
The North Rhine-Westphalia agency for the Protection of the Constitution is the formal name of the state’s domestic intelligence agency – a rough equivalent to Shin Bet. Hezbollah-affiliated associations in the state and elsewhere in Germany celebrated May, 25, 2018 as a particular holiday – the 18th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon, noted the report. According to the document, there are 950 Hezbollah members and supporters in Germany. However, a May German intelligence from the state of Lower Saxony said the number of Hezbollah members and supporters climbed from 950 in 2017 to 1,050 in 2018. The intelligence agents from North Rhine-Westphalia wrote in the report that presently “it cannot be assumed” in North Rhine-Westphalia that Hezbollah’s organization is “pursuing concrete plans of attacks in Europe, in particular against Israeli or Jewish targets.”
However, the intelligence officials said “there is an abstract danger... spontaneous action by individuals in a violent escalation between Israel and hostile states is still to be expected.” The Post has previously reported based on additional German state intelligence reports that Hezbollah operatives raise funds in Germany, recruit new members and spread their antisemitic and jihadi ideology across the federal republic. US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has reportedly raised a full ban of Hezbollah – not merely its military wing – in every meeting with German officials. Kosovo recently decided to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. US National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted on Monday: “The U.S. commends Kosovo’s designation of Hizballah as a terrorist organization. This Iranian terror proxy continues to threaten stability in the Middle East and throughout the world. The world is recognizing Iran’s terror sponsorship and naming its chief beneficiary: Hizballah.” Hezbollah is the main strategic partner for Iran’s regime. The US, Britain, the Netherlands, the Arab League, Canada and Israel all classify Hezbollah as a unified terrorist movement. Germany and the EU merely banned Hezbollah’s so-called military wing in 2013. Hezbollah members and supporters are allowed to operate in Germany because the organization’s “political wing” has not been outlawed.

Aoun Says Lebanese State Must Preserve Its Image
Naharnet/July 03/2019
President Michel Aoun on Wednesday announced that “in Lebanon there is a state that must preserve its image.”“It also has a judiciary that is in charge of protecting citizens and enforcing the law on violators and criminals,” the president added. “As for what happened in the Mount Lebanon region on Sunday, everyone must shoulder the responsibility,” he said. The president also warned that “if we don't respect the other's freedom and the freedom of opinion and belief, our republic which is based on these three pillars would collapse.”Aoun also noted that “war on corruption is a continuous process.”

Report: Israel Refuses Border Negotiation under U.N. Auspices
Naharnet/July 03/2019
A meeting between Speaker Nabih Berri and US Acting Secretary of State David Saterfield “was not positive,” and Israel “did not agree” that border demarcation talks with Lebanon be held under the auspices of the United Nations, media reports said on Wednesday.
Al-Joumhouria daily said that Berri met with Satterfield, the US envoy mediating border talks between Lebanon and Israel that would have an impact on offshore oil and gas exploration, on Tuesday and that the latter has conveyed Israel’s “refusal” of core points regarding the border talks.
Quoting “informed” sources close to the negotiations, the daily said the US envoy “has come up with positions and proposals that undermine some of what was previously agreed.” After shuttle meetings between Lebanon and Israel, Satterfield has "conveyed to Speaker Nabih Berri, Israel's refusal to negotiate under the auspices of the United Nations,” they said. He “backed down” from a proposal that the negotiations be chaired by the UN and under its auspices. He also suggested that some of the negotiation mechanisms be agreed upon “verbally,” said the daily.
“I don't really trust anything written with Israel, how would I trust a verbal agreement,” said Berri, stressing that that talks must be presided and sponsored by the UN, “we do not accept anything else at all," he said. UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis had traveled to the United Nations for a while and was appointed to head the negotiations between Lebanon and Israel. In May, Israel had agreed to enter US-mediated talks with Lebanon on maritime borders. Last year, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in its waters, including for a block disputed by its southern neighbour Israel, with which it has fought several wars. A consortium composed of energy giants Total, Eni and Novatek was awarded two of Lebanon's 10 exploration blocks last year.It is set to start drilling in block 4 in December, and later in the disputed block 9. Last year, Total said it was aware of the border dispute in less than eight percent of block 9 and said it would drill away from that area. In April, Lebanon invited international consortia to bid for five more blocks, which include two also adjacent to Israel's waters. Israel also produces natural gas from reserves off its coast in the Mediterranean. Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, although the last Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 after two decades of occupation.

Berri Hosts Hariri, Jumblat over Reconciliation Dinner

Naharnet/July 03/2019
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday hosted Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat over a “reconciliation” dinner following their latest spat. Hariri and Jumblat had met Tuesday for the first time since their latest war of words. That meeting was held at the headquarters of the Druze religious authority in Verdun on the sidelines of condolences over the death of Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Ali Zeineddine. Hariri, Jumblat and officials from their parties had traded jabs in recent weeks over several files.Jumblat has especially criticized Hariri over his political rapprochement with Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, accusing them of seeking to monopolize power and administrative appointments.

Arslan Submits Videos, Says Referring Aley Incident to Judicial Council Nonnegotiable
Naharnet/July 03/2019
Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan on Wednesday held talks with Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab in Yarze, in the presence of State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib. “It was on occasion in which we consulted with Minister Bou Saab on the security situation and the precise ambush to assassinate a minister in the Lebanese government,” Arslan said after the meeting, referring to the deadly incident in Qabrshmoun in which two of Gharib's bodyguards were killed and a third was wounded. Gharib was in the convoy but escaped unharmed. The bodyguards clashed with Progressive Socialist Party supporters who were blocking the road and several other routes to prevent Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Jebran Bassil from touring the region. “I put the defense minister in the picture of a lot of details and I provided him with videos and accurate information about what happened,” Arslan added. Asked about his calls for referring the incident to the Judicial Council, which have been dismissed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Arslan said “the issue of assassination and ambush against an incumbent minister in the Lebanese government is not subject to political negotiation with anyone.”“Our insistence on the Judicial Council is not aimed at defiance but we consider the attack on this minister or any minister or official as a direct attack on civil peace and the state's security,” Arslan added.

Jumblat Slams Bassil's 'Provocations', Urges Aoun to Rein in 'Juvenile' Acts

Naharnet/July 03/2019
Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat on Wednesday blamed the deadly Qabrshmoun incident on Free Patriotic Movement leader Jebran Bassil's “provocative rhetoric in all regions,” urging President Michel Aoun to put an end to the FPM chief's “juvenile actions.”
“The provocative rhetoric in all regions is meaningless and it was behind yesterday's explosion,” Jumblat said after a meeting for the Druze confessional council, referring to Sunday's clash in Qabrshmoun. “I reject the premature remarks and let us await the judiciary,” Jumblat added. “We will confront calmly and openly and we'll engage in dialogue with all parties to consolidate civil peace and reconciliation,” he said. Referring to the army's raids and arrests in the Aley district that followed Sunday's incident, Jumblat said: “We salute the army for its role and we are under the law but the raids are sometimes inappropriate towards our community.”The PSP had issued a statement saying the raids and the “violation of homes' sanctity” were “barbaric and savage” and reflected “evil and malicious intentions” against the Aley region and its residents. “The defense minister has not waited for the judiciary's ruling,” Jumblat lamented. He also called on Bassil to “calm down,” telling him that “this is not the right way to reach (the presidency).” Jumblat met with General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim in Clemenceau later in the day, in the presence of Minister Akram Shehayyeb, MP Taymour Jumblat and ex-minister Ghazi Aridi. "I'm open to all solutions, in cooperation with Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, who understands all the threats of the crisis and who is the most competent person who can pull the situation out of this dilemma," Jumblat said after the meeting. "Let the law take its course," he added. Two bodyguards of State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib were killed in a Qabrshmoun clash involving the minister's convoy and PSP supporters. Another bodyguard and a PSP supporter were wounded in the incident. Gharib and his Lebanese Democratic Party have described the clash as an “armed ambush” and an “assassination attempt” while the PSP has accused the minister's bodyguards of forcing their way in and opening fire at protesters gathered in the area. The protesters in Qabrshmoun and other Aley towns, some of whom were reportedly armed, were blocking roads to prevent Bassil from touring the region.

Khalil: Bassil is Welcome to Visit South Lebanon

Naharnet/July 03/2019
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil of the AMAL Movement emphasized on Wednesday that Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil is “most welcome in South Lebanon,” affirming that “AMAL is keen on the country’s stability.”
Khalil said in a televised interview on OTV: “Minister Bassil is most welcome in South Lebanon,” a region with a majority of Shiite inhabitants. He said the FPM is one of the “strongest” Christian parties in Lebanon and has a large parliamentary bloc which calls for “building strong relations with all political forces on the basis of rules of openness and reconsideration.”The Minister’s comments came after reports that Bassil has cancelled a planned visit to the Sunni majority northern city of Tripoli after Sunday’s Qabrshmoun incident. On Sunday, supporters of the Progressive Socialist Party, led by Druze leader ex-MP Walid Jumblat, closed roads in Qabrshmoun to prevent Bassil from touring the region. Moreover, an armed clash erupted between the convoy of Saleh al-Gharib, the minister of state handling refugee issues, and the people who were closing the road to prevent Bassil from passing.
Two of Gharib’s guards were killed and one person was critically injured.

Several Injured, Missing as Station's Fuel Tanks Explode in Bakhoun

Naharnet/July 03/2019
Several people were injured Wednesday as fuel tanks exploded at the al-Shahrouq station in the Dinniyeh district town of Bakhoun.
The blast fully destroyed the two-story station amid ambiguity over the fate of its five workers, the National News Agency said. Nearby shops and houses were also damaged by the explosion according to TV networks.

Kushner Says Lebanon Palestinians Would 'Live a Better Life' if U.S. Plan Accepted

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 03/2019
Jared Kushner hinted Wednesday that his Middle East peace plan will seek to better integrate Palestinian refugees inside Arab countries, including Lebanon, as he finalizes proposals despite being shunned by the Palestinian leadership. A week after he convened an economic workshop in Bahrain that dangled the prospect of $50 billion in investment under a peace deal, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser said he will announce the next steps "probably next week."Kushner, promising a fresh approach to Middle East peacemaking after decades of failed attempts, said the Trump administration deliberately opened with economic incentives and will later give details on core political questions. But in a conference call with Arab media, Kushner appeared to favor normalization of the status of Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced out of Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, as well as their descendants. Noting that a similar number of Jews fled or were expelled from Arab countries, Kushner said: "What's happened to the Jewish refugees is they've been absorbed by different places, while the Arab world has not absorbed a lot of these refugees over time."
"This situation exists because it exists. And when we put out a political solution, we're going to try to put forward the best proposed solutions that we think are pragmatic, achievable and viable in this day and age," he said. Asked about Lebanon -- where Palestinian refugees are mostly denied citizenship and many live in squalid camps -- Kushner said he believed that the country, long torn by communal tensions, wanted a "fair" solution. "I also think that the Palestinian refugees who are in Lebanon, who are denied a lot of rights and don't have the best conditions right now, would also like to see a situation where there is a pathway for them to have more rights and to live a better life," Kushner said. Israel has adamantly opposed a right of return by Palestinian refugees, saying it would effectively end its presence as a “Jewish state.”
Wide Palestinian suspicion
The Palestinians accuse the Trump administration of trying to use money to force pro-Israel solutions and are suspicious of Kushner, a family friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump took the landmark step of recognizing bitterly disputed Jerusalem as Israel's capital and Kushner earlier suggested that his plan would not mention a Palestinian state, a longtime goal of U.S. diplomacy. A poll released Wednesday found that an overwhelming 90 percent of Palestinians do not trust the Trump administration in its stated goal in Bahrain of helping the Palestinian economy. Seventy-nine percent backed the leadership's boycott and a similar number called the participation of Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia an abandonment of the Palestinian cause, said the survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research of 1,200 adults across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
But Kushner said the Palestinian leadership looked "very foolish" for its boycott, saying it had not shown any better way to improve the livelihoods of its people. "It's been more hysterical and erratic and not terribly constructive," Kushner said of the Palestinian reaction.
But Kushner said that Trump, who values personal interaction, was open to meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Trump "likes him very much personally and, at the right time, if they're willing to engage I believe that they'll find that they will have an opportunity," Kushner said.
The United States has also severely slashed funding for the U.N. refugee body that provides education and health services to five million Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem. The Trump administration has called for the 70-year-old United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees to be dismantled, with its work taken over by host countries.

Franjieh: A Strong State Can Remove Hatred from Souls, We Count on Aoun’s Wisdom

Naharnet/July 03/2019
Marada chief Sleiman Franjieh on Wednesday urged a State role in calming the tense atmosphere in the country, saying a “strong state is the one capable of removing hatred from the souls.”“Everyone must shoulder national responsibility to face the phase we are coming upon because things can spiral out of control. A strong state is the one capable of removing hatred from the souls,” said Franjieh. His remarks came after joining the monthly meeting of the Maronite Bishops Council in Bkirki. “My visit to Bkirki was scheduled before the latest incident,” he said, referring to Sunday’s Qabrshmoun clash. It is crucial to maintain “political security, it is more important than direct security,” he said. Franjieh said everyone must be vigilant about the fragility of the situation in the country, “we count on the wisdom of President Michel Aoun,” to defuse the tension, he added.

Police Seize 73 kg of Cannabis in Syrian Encampment in Baalbek

Naharnet/July 03/2019
Seventy-three kg of cannabis were seized on Wednesday in an encampment of Syrian refugees in Baalbek in the eastern Bekaa valley, the National News Agency reported on Wednesday. NNA said a patrol of the General Directorate of State Security raided the encampment in the town of Buday and seized approximately 73 kg of hash, tools used in the manufacturing of narcotics, and a hunting rifle. Meanwhile, investigations are underway to uncover the others involved.

French Defense Minister Stresses Readiness to Strengthen LAF Capabilities
Beirut - Hanan Merhej/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
French Defense Minister Florence Parly visited Lebanese officials to renew her country’s readiness to boost the capabilities of the Lebanese army. Sources in the Lebanese Defense Ministry revealed that the visit would activate a loan to buy helicopters and boats to protect the Lebanese maritime economic zone.
President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri held separate meetings on Tuesday with the French minister, who was leading a delegation of military officials, the National News Agency reported. Aoun hailed the “brethren relations between Lebanon and France,” stressing eagerness on “promoting them at various levels mainly at the level of military aid provided by France to the Lebanese Armed Forces, and its participation in the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces in south Lebanon.”During the meeting, which was attended by Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab, Aoun affirmed Lebanon’s commitment to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, pointing out that the situation was stable on the southern Lebanese border, at a time when contacts continue to begin negotiations on demarcation of the maritime border through a US mediation and in cooperation with the United Nations.
Meanwhile, sources in the defense ministry told Asharq Al-Awsat that Parly discussed with Lebanese officials details of a loan approved in the Rome 2 Conference, which aims to strengthen the capabilities of the Lebanese air and naval forces, and which is estimated at 400 million Euros.

Titles For The Latest English LCCC Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 03-04/2019
Rouhani Says Iran to Enrich Uranium to 'Any Amount We Want'
Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
Iran's president warned European partners on Wednesday that Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to any amount it wants, starting on Sunday. The comments by President Hassan Rouhani come as tensions remain high between Iran and the US over the deal, which President Donald Trump pulled America from over a year ago, the Associated Press (AP) Reported. According to authorities, Iran did break through a limit placed on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.An increasing stockpile and higher enrichment closes the estimated one-year window Iran would need to produce enough material for a nuclear bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the nuclear deal sought to prevent. Speaking at a Cabinet meeting in Tehran, Rouhani's comments hinted that Europe has yet to offer Iran anything to alleviate the consequences of the renewed US sanctions targeting its oil industry and top officials. Iran's nuclear deal currently bars it from enriching uranium above 3.67%, which is enough for nuclear power plants but far below the 90% needed for weapon-grade levels, according to AP.
"In any amount that we want, any amount that is required, we will take over 3.67," Rouhani stressed.

Iraq Sets Up ‘Loophole’ in US Sanctions to Buy Iranian Power
Baghdad- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
Iraq is establishing a financial “loophole” to continue buying vital gas and electricity from Iran despite US sanctions, AFP has learned, mirroring a European mechanism that came into effect Friday. The “special purpose vehicle” would allow Iraq to pay for imported Iranian energy in Iraqi dinars, which Iran could use to exclusively buy humanitarian goods, three senior Iraqi officials said. The workaround would allow Baghdad to keep the lights on and avoid shortage-driven protests without triggering U.S. sanctions, as it treads an increasingly precarious tightrope between its two main allies Tehran and Washington. One senior government official told AFP it was the product of months of talks between Iraqi, Iranian and U.S. officials. “The Iraqi government will continue to pay Iran for gas by depositing money into a special bank account inside Iraq, in Iraqi dinars,” the official said.
“Iran will not be able to withdraw the money, but will be able to use it to purchase goods from outside Iraq.”Iraq has an outstanding bill of around $2 billion for previous gas and electricity purchases, according to Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh. A US official told AFP that Washington was aware of the mechanism’s creation. The US Embassy in Baghdad declined to comment, while Iran’s Embassy did not respond to an AFP request. Two additional high-level Iraqi officials confirmed Baghdad was establishing such an account with U.S. knowledge, but could not say whether payments into the account had begun. “How else is Iraq supposed to pay what it owes Iran? We have no other choice,” the second official said. ‘IRAN’S ATM’To offset its notorious power shortages, Iraq imports around 1,400 MW of electricity and 28 million cubic meters of gas for power stations from neighboring Iran, which together make up about a third of Iraq’s power supply. That reliance has angered the US, which slapped tough sanctions on Iran last year but has granted Iraq several temporary waivers to keep purchasing Iranian power until October. The US insists Iraq wean itself off Iranian energy, but Baghdad has said that could take up to four years, during which it would need to keep purchasing at least Iranian gas. To do so, the central banks of Iran and Iraq agreed in February to create a payment method that steers clear of US sanctions, Iran’s state news agency IRNA said, without providing additional details. That would mean not dealing in U.S. dollars and purchasing only “humanitarian goods” allowed by the US - like food and medicine. “We would become Iran’s ATM,” another Iraqi official told AFP. According to two of the senior Iraqi officials, Baghdad’s SPV would likely be set up at the Trade Bank of Iraq. The TBI has handled most of the Iraqi government’s international transactions since its establishment in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. A senior TBI source told AFP the bank had been involved in the negotiations but the account had not yet been created.
“The US Treasury has confidence in the TBI’s processes. We are in discussions to reach an agreement, which would be fully within US exemptions,” the source said. It would effectively be a “loophole” around the US sanctions, said Ahmed Tabaqchali, senior fellow at the Sulaymaniyah-based Institute of Regional and International Studies. “It’s like a ledger. You record the money paid, and Iran has that much credit in Iraq,” Tabaqchali told AFP. The system would work much like INSTEX, a mechanism recently activated by Britain, Germany and France to trade legitimately with Iran without falling foul of US sanctions. Still, the system is fraught with several political, financial and practical complexities. Iraq’s economy relies almost exclusively on oil revenues, paid in dollars, which leaves Baghdad extremely vulnerable to any punitive measures the US could take in response to a violation. It also remains unclear what exactly Iran could purchase from Iraq as trade is heavily tilted in the other direction. “Credit would develop in Iran’s favor but how would it actually cash it?” Tabaqchali said. Importing goods from outside Iraq would require a third party willing to take the political and financial risk of such a transaction, he told AFP. And, ultimately, much of Iraq’s transactions with Iran are cash purchases of commercial goods - something US authorities implementing sanctions are unable to monitor. “Cash is untraceable,” Tabaqchali said.

Project around Baghdad Airport Raises Demographic Fears among Sunnis
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa/Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
A government decision to allow a foreign company to invest in more than 100,000 dunams of agricultural land around Baghdad International Airport has raised concern among the local Sunni community. They charged that the decision was taken without taking into consideration the possible demographic change that could occur in the area, known as the Baghdad Belts. The move has sparked popular concern and parliamentary action to halt the deal. Residents of the area have been living there since the Ottoman age and have the documents to prove their ownership of property. State of Law coalition MP Ammar al-Shibli said that the deal will force the displacement of thousands of locals. Speaking at a press conference with MP Zeitoun al-Dulaimi at parliament on Tuesday, he said that the deal was struck during the transition period before Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi assumed his post. Dulaimi called on the premier to “save more than 7,000 homes and agricultural properties that will be bulldozed as a result of the project.” She revealed that Abdul Mahdi had pledged to review all decisions that were made during the transition period and he has indeed so far fulfilled this promise. “We have hope that he will stand against this decision,” she added, revealing that the it was taken without consulting the concerned parties and the residents themselves, who refuse to be vacated from their homes. MP Mohammed al-Karbouli told Asharq Al-Awsat that the investment deal is aimed at “creating demographic change in the Baghdad Belts area,” indirectly referring to Sunni tribes residing there. “We, along with the people, will not remain silent over such a plot,” he declared, warning against “violating the social and tribal fabric that has existed in these regions for hundreds of years.”Moreover, he revealed that several fake investment projects were approved in the past only for the seized property to be distributed to non-locals. “This cannot take place again,” he demanded. Former MP Iyad al-Jubbouri, who also hails from one of the targeted areas, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the project has “an obvious goal that has nothing to do with investment.”

EU: No Substitute to Two-State Solution
Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
The European Union declared on Tuesday that there can be no substitute to the two-state solution in ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference 2019 in Israel, EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process Susanna Terstal said that the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside and Israeli one is the only solution to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. Any other solution will be seen as undemocratic and will only increase instability, she added a week after the United States held in Manama a workshop to present the economic aspects of its yet undisclosed peace plan. The Palestinians boycotted the meeting and have cut contacts with the United States after it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017. They have rejected the economic workshop and will oppose the US peace plan. They are instead hoping for EU support to launch an international peace conference that will yield a mechanism to sponsor negotiations. Terstal added that the EU enjoys good ties with Israel and was looking forward to joint efforts being exerted to resolve the conflict through diplomatic and democratic means.

African Mediation Announces Imminent Agreement in Sudan
Khartoum, Washington – Ahmed Younes and Elie Youssef/ Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
The joint African-Ethiopian mediation has confirmed that an agreement between the Sudanese Transitional Military Council (TMC) and Forces of the Freedom and Change Declaration is “imminent”, announcing that both parties will be invited to direct negotiations on Wednesday. African Union (AU) mediator Mohamed El-Hassan Labat told a press conference held Tuesday in Khartoum that most of the two sides’ proposals were incorporated into a new document, except for the dispute over the formation of the “sovereign council”. Labat added that constructive proposals had been reached and would be included in the final document, asserting that “the main point of contention revolves around the formation of the body [sovereign council] that will lead the transition process.”He noted that if an agreement was reached on the council before the joint meeting, it will be included in the document, otherwise, it will be the first point discussed on the first joint agenda and the mediation will be ready to help overcome the difficulties. The mediator confirmed that the agreement between the Council and the coalition is “just around the corner.”The regional official appealed to the press and the international community to support mediation efforts aimed at reaching an appropriate solution that opens the horizons for realizing the aspirations of the Sudanese people. Ethiopian envoy Mahmoud Dreir said mediation had set a date for the direct negotiations between the two sides. The AU had set June 30 as a deadline for the military to hand over power to civilians, after which it froze Sudan's membership in the organization. Labat announced that the AU will hold a summit in Niamey, Niger, on July 7 and 8, adding that the African Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to hold a meeting on the situation in Sudan. The opposition coalition had organized several protests in Khartoum and 30 other cities on Sunday which saw the participation of millions to demand the handover of power to civilians and bringing killers of the June 3 crackdown on protesters to justice. However, the junta authorities faced the protesters with excessive violence, live ammunition and tear gas, killing 11 people. Meanwhile, the US State Department condemned the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters. State Department spokeswoman Peri Farbstein said peaceful demonstrations in Khartoum and many other cities across Sudan on June 30 assert the Sudanese people's demand for a transitional government led by civilians. Farbstein told Asharq Al-Awsat that the use of live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators is reprehensible and that the military authorities should be held accountable for the resulting deaths.
The spokesman did not mention any steps the US might take as a result of the recent escalation, knowing that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East African affairs and Sudan Makela James warned last week that Washington was “considering all options, including sanctions at any time, if such violence is repeated.” Farbstein called on the TMC and Forces of Freedom and Change to agree on a government led by civilians, asserting the support of State Department to the efforts of the AU and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his mediation team.

Israel Braces for More Protests After Ethiopian Teen's Death
Tel Aviv- Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
Israeli police are bracing for another day of violent protests Wednesday after demonstrators called for renewed street demonstrations in response to the killing of an Ethiopian-Israeli teen by an off-duty police officer. Protesters blocked major highways around the country Tuesday, snarling traffic for hours. They also attacked police and vandalized vehicles in response to what they see as continued police brutality. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said more than 110 police officers were wounded, including from stones and bottles hurled at them. The protesters burned tires and set a vehicle on fire, clashing with police and assaulting those who tried to break through their makeshift roadblocks. Overnight, the protesters continued rioting, flipping over a police cruiser. Rosenfeld said more than 130 suspects have been arrested. The protests erupted after Solomon Teka, 18, was fatally shot in a Haifa suburb on Sunday and escalated after his funeral on Tuesday. The officer in question says he was at a public playground with his young children and felt their lives were in danger from a group of rioting teenagers. He says he opened fire toward the ground and had no intention of killing anyone. He is being investigated by internal affairs and remains under protective custody.
The protesters view the killing as part of a pattern of systematic discrimination by police, who they accuse of using excessive force.
Israeli police say they will permit peaceful protests, including a limited blocking of roads, but will not accept renewed violence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement acknowledging that "there are problems that need to be solved," but he warned demonstrators that the authorities "will not tolerate the blocking of roads." "I ask you: Let us solve the problems together while upholding the law," he said. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also called for calm, warning against what he called "a civil war." "We need to stop and think how we move forward," he said. "We need to complete the investigation of Solomon's death and prevent the next death, the next harming, the next humiliation. We are all committed to this."The Ethiopian Jews, who trace their lineage to the ancient Israelite tribe of Dan, began arriving in large numbers in the 1980s, when Israel secretly airlifted them to the Holy Land to save them from war and famine in the Horn of Africa. The new arrivals struggled as they made the transition from a rural, developing African country into an increasingly high-tech Israel. Over time, many have integrated more into Israeli society, serving in the military and police and making inroads in politics, sports and entertainment. Israel has touted their success as proof of the country's acceptance and diversity. But many in the community complain of racism, lack of opportunity and routine police harassment. Today, they number around 150,000 out of Israel's 9 million citizens. The Ethiopians immigrants have long alleged discrimination. In the late 1990s, it was discovered that Israel's health services were throwing out Ethiopian Israeli blood donations over fears of diseases contracted in Africa. Some landlords have also refused them as tenants, and accusations have been raised that Israel has deliberately tried to curb their birth rates.
But frustrations only boiled into a public outcry with a younger generation far more willing to take on the establishment. Mass protests first erupted in 2015 after a police officer was filmed beating a uniformed Ethiopian Israeli soldier, and there have been sporadic demonstrations since.

Sudan Protesters Agree to Direct Talks with Ruling Generals
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 03/2019
Sudan's protest leaders Wednesday agreed to hold direct talks with the country's ruling generals after African Union and Ethiopian mediators called on the two sides to resume stalled negotiations to form a new governing body. Negotiations between the two sides collapsed in May over the make-up of the governing body and who should lead it -- a civilian or a soldier. Tensions further soared after a brutal crackdown on a longstanding protest camp in Khartoum killed dozens of demonstrators exactly a month ago. The mediators have now come up with a compromise to resolve the overall crisis that has rocked Sudan for months, following the military ouster of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in April amid widespread protests against his rule. On Tuesday the mediators called on the generals and protest leaders to resume talks on Wednesday. "The Alliance for Freedom and Change met and decided to accept the invitation for direct negotiations" with the generals, prominent protest leader Madani Abbas Madani told reporters on Wednesday, adding one of the conditions for the talks was to reach a decision "within 72 hours." The ruling military council that seized power after the army's ouster of Bashir has still not responded to the plea for talks by the mediators. But state television announced that General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chief of the military council, was expected to make an announcement soon.The blueprint drafted by the mediators calls for a civilian-majority governing body.
Test of mobilisation -
Protest leaders have exerted pressure on the generals since the June 3 raid, by men in military fatigues, on the protest camp outside army headquarters in Khartoum. The ruling military council insists it did not order the violent dispersal of the sit-in. At least 136 people have been killed across the country since the raid, including more than 100 on June 3, according to doctors close to the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change. The health ministry says 78 people have died nationwide during the same period. On Sunday, in what was the first mass protest against the generals since the raid, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets demanding civilian rule.The mass protest had been seen as a test for the protest leaders' ability to mobilise the crowds after the generals imposed a widespread internet blackout and deployed security forces in the capital's key squares and districts, its twin city Omdurman and other towns and villages. On Monday protest leaders upped the pressure on the generals by calling for a similar mass protest on July 13, to be followed by a nationwide civil disobedience campaign a day later. The civil disobedience campaign, if observed, would be the second such agitation since the June 3 raid. The first, held between June 9 and 11, paralyzed the country, hitting an already dilapidated economy hard. Protest leaders have been supported by Western nations in their call for civilian rule, while the generals appear to have backing of Arab allies like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, experts say.

Palestinian Security Forces Hold Drills in West Bank
Ramallah – Asharq Al-Awsat/Wednesday, 3 July, 2019
Palestinian security services carried out large-scale security maneuvers in a number of West Bank cities, covering attacks, violence and emergencies. The rare exercises took place in Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem and Jenin with the participation of all Palestinian security services. Police closed several streets, and security forces conducted drills involving shootings, explosions and evacuation of hostages, dealing with riots and blocking of convoys, as well as earthquakes and fires. They were held even as the security agencies suffer from budget cuts due to a halt of US aid and Israel’s seizure of Palestinian tax revenues.
Israeli security authorities have drawn up several scenarios on the possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the spread of chaos. However, the security maneuvers delivered a different message. Commander of Bethlehem Brigadier Nader Abu Omar said they aim at increasing efficiency and readiness and testing the level of coordination in the security forces. He oversaw a scenario that simulates blocking the president’s convoy in Bethlehem. The president's guards, national security, intelligence, preventive security, civil defense and military medical services participated in the hours-long exercises.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian security forces carried out joint field exercises in Jenin “simulating the dispersal of illegal gatherings to carry out acts of violence.”“These maneuvers coincide in several major cities and involve several security services, in addition to the ambulance and civil defense teams,” said Jenin Governor Major General Akram Rajoub in a statement published by the state agency. In al-Bireh, Ramallah, security services were trained on a scenario simulating a major fire in the city’s municipality building and containing a terrorist group holed up in a house in the town of Beitunia.
Officials in Ramallah said the exercise was aimed at ensuring the readiness of the security services to deal with emergency cases and the effectiveness of field integration among security services and with civilian institutions to boost their capabilities and address their weaknesses. In Nablus, security services carried out an exercise to simulate earthquakes in the eastern area of the city. Director of Public Relations in the Civil Defense Captain Mahmoud Musleh said this exercise comes within the framework of measuring the joint tool among emergency authorities in Nablus in case of disasters and earthquakes.

'Outraged' U.N. Chief Demands Probe of Strike on Libya Migrant Center
Associated Press/Naharnet/July 03/2019
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday voiced outrage after a detention center for migrants was hit by an airstrike in Libya and called for an independent investigation. Guterres recalled that the United Nations had shared the coordinates of the Tajoura detention center east of Tripoli with the warring sides to ensure that civilians sheltering there were safe.

Outcry as Dozens Killed in Airstrike on Libya Migrant Center

Associated Press/Naharnet/July 03/2019
International condemnation mounted on Wednesday after more than 40 migrants were killed in an air strike on a detention centre in Libya that the U.N. said could constitute a war crime. The U.N. Security Council was set to hold urgent talks about the situation in the North African country following what the European Union called a "horrific" attack that the U.N.-recognized government blamed on strongman Khalifa Haftar. Bodies were strewn on the floor of a hangar in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura, mixed with the belongings and blood-soaked clothes of migrants, an AFP photographer said. "There were bodies, blood and pieces of flesh everywhere," a survivor, 26-year-old Al-Mahdi Hafyan from Morocco, told AFP from his hospital bed where he was being treated for a leg wound. Tuesday night's strike left a hole around three meters (10 feet) in diameter at the centre of the hangar, surrounded by debris ripped from the metal structure by the force of the blast. At least 44 people were killed and more than 130 severely injured, the U.N. said. "This attack clearly could constitute a war crime, as it killed by surprise innocent people whose dire conditions forced them to be in that shelter," U.N. envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said. He urged the international community to punish those who ordered, carried out and provided arms for the strike -- the second time the facility has been attacked. "The absurdity of this ongoing war today has led this odious bloody carnage to its most hideous and most tragic consequences," Salame said.
Around 600 migrants and refugees were held in the Tajoura detention center, the head of the compound Noureddine al-Grifi said, adding that other people were wounded in another hangar.
'Heinous crime'
In a statement, the Tripoli-based internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) denounced the attack as a "heinous crime" and blamed it on the "war criminal Khalifa Haftar." Turkey, which backs the GNA, called for an international probe into what it called a "crime against humanity."Qatar's foreign ministry said the attack was a "flagrant violation of international laws that protect human rights, and may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity." Haftar, who controls much of eastern and southern Libya, launched an offensive to take the capital in April. The UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are seen as Haftar's key supporters while he accuses Turkey and Qatar of supplying weapons to his rivals. The GNA accused pro-Haftar forces of having carried out a "premeditated" and "precise" attack on the migrant center. No-one has so far claimed responsibility, but pro-Haftar media reported Tuesday night a "series of air raids" in Tripoli and Tajoura. The suburb of Tajoura, which has several military sites belonging to pro-GNA armed groups, is regularly targeted in air raids by Haftar's forces. "Migrants and refugees must NOT be detained; civilians must NOT be a target; Libya is NOT a safe place of return" for migrants and refugees, the head of the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi tweeted. The European Union had also called on the U.N. to launch an investigation. "Those responsible should be held to account", EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn and migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a statement.
Migrants 'at risk'
UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley told AFP in Geneva that the agency had asked to have the centre evacuated a few weeks ago after "a near miss from a similar air strike". The center was thought to have been used to store weapons, he added, reiterating "that using civilian infrastructure like that constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law." The U.N.'s mission in Libya has said around 3,500 migrants and refugees held in detention centers near the combat zone are at risk. Wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising against dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has become a major conduit for migrants seeking to reach Europe. Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said the strike was "another tragedy that demonstrated the atrocious impact of the war on the civilian population."France called for "an immediate de-escalation" while the Arab League urged a "halt" to the fighting. Rights groups say migrants face horrifying abuses in Libya, which remains prey to a multitude of militias vying for control of the oil-rich country. The plight of migrants has worsened since Haftar launched the offensive against Tripoli. More than 700 people have been killed and 4,000 wounded since the assault began in early April, while nearly 100,000 have been displaced, according to U.N. agencies. The two rival camps accuse each other of using foreign mercenaries and enjoying military support, especially air, from foreign powers.

Titles For The Latest LCCC English analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 03-04/2019
An Arab Relevance In The Hong Kong Events?!
Hazem Saghieh/Asharq Al Awsat/July 03/2019
An island that is around ten times the size of Lebanon, with seven million people, has dominated the world news. Last month, its people took to the streets, protesting a law to prosecute them on the mainland. China’s officials and media responded by saying that it was an external conspiracy, and they had already interpreted the Tiananmen uprising as a plot! This time, the climate of commercial warfare with America has made it easier for them to argue. But things were quieting down and Beijing went back on its law until clashes broke out between the police and protesters on the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the mainland. Demonstrators attacked the parliament. One of them raised the British flag.
So the problem lies in this unity. The beginning dates back to 1997: Britain fulfilled its pledge to return the "daughter" to her "mother", whose position was strong and grew up against the conditions of other communist countries, which less than a decade ago, seemed to be scattered and disowned by their own communism.
China, on the other hand, promised the British to maintain the Hong Kong political system and its independent administrative status, raising the slogan of “one country, two systems”.
Economically, it seemed as if mainland China has joined Hong Kong: in the unity year, the latter’s investments in China exceeded $60 billion, and China’s gross national product rose from $620 billion in 1994 to $900 billion. It was in China’s interest to accept half the unity with that “special administrative territory”: Beijing appoints the ruler of the island, who carries the tools of repression, and flags flutter on the official buildings; but Hong Kong retains its currency, passport and legal systems... They are Chinese but not part of China.
Since then, the island has shown its discontent with returning to the bosom of a single-party country. Beijing is trying to complete the unitary process and remove exceptions. It tried it twice in 2003 and 2014 and was met with mass protests. This tradition has led some Chinese experts to predict the worst as they watched last month’s moves: the authorities must be planning more strikes that would tighten the grip on the island.
The Hong Kong event saw also a struggle between two ideas: the idea of giving priority to belonging to a great nation and melting in hundreds of millions of people, even if they were ruled by one party; and the notion of freedom of political choice, way of life and the right to the initiative.
It also saw a conflict between two other ideas: one that says that colonialism has become something from the past as it is surpassed by its own notions; and another that colonialism is eternal, while national unity is the most important element for fighting it.
Going over some books on the history of the island can show us the causes of this dual intellectual conflict: The British have tarnished, with opium, the "perfume harbor," i.e. Hong Kong. Since the mid-19th century, they have made it a port for that criminal trade, from which they wanted to drag the Chinese into free trade at the expense of their way of life, dignity, and will, and at the expense of their health as well.
And in 1949. With the triumph of communism, Mao Zedong’s forces did not occupy Hong Kong for fear of a clash with Britain, which had a better response: it recognized the new regime, in violation of the Western consensus that accompanied the beginning of the Cold War.
But with the establishment of communism on the mainland, the Chinese of Guangdong County fled the repression and hunger of Hong Kong. Among those were textile manufacturers in Shanghai, who arrived with their sense of initiative and their entrepreneurship culture. The inhabitants of the island, who were then two million, provided them with cheap labor. By taking advantage of cheap prices, Hong Kong’s goods, especially toys, ready-made clothes and watches, successfully competed with international products. The island has become the headquarters of the world’s companies, and as the 1990s, it GDP even surpassed that of Britain.
Before that, and under the shadow of Britain, Hong Kong became the first and most successful of the "four dragons" or the "new industrialized countries", and achieved remarkable economic growth accompanied by a qualitative rise in average per capita income.
Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea accompanied it on this journey. Thus, what has become known as "economic nationalism", has become stronger in the face of the Chinese nationalism.
Moreover, Hong Kong’s factories moved to the mainland, which had been subjected to the capital reforms of Deng Xiaoping. The island's investments in the mainland have increased and the resulting employment opportunities have multiplied. The people of Hong Kong, as a result of that experience, chose freedom over nationalism, happiness over greatness, and new horizons over inherited roots.
The implicit wisdom is that identity can also be something to be made. On the other hand, the conspiracy theory no longer gives credence but to one thing: accusing colonialism of making Hong Kong’s population more prosperous and longing for freedom!
There is certainly some Arab relevance in some of these Chinese debates!

France: The Real Emmanuel Macron
Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/July 03/2019
Charles de Gaulle refused to speak of the many French who had collaborated with the authorities of the German occupation. He refused to commemorate D-Day. He even went on to claim that the Normandy landings had "not been the beginning of the liberation of France," but "the starting point of an American attempt to colonize France".
President Emmanuel Macron went one step further, saying that France and Germany should create a European army to "protect themselves against Russia, China, and even the United States".
France also supported the PLO at a time when it was openly a terrorist movement, unreservedly dedicated to destroying Israel and murdering Jews..... Macron continues the same policy as his predecessors. He never misses an opportunity to invite the current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the Elysée Palace and he never forgets to kiss him.
President Donald Trump now knows Macron. Trump probably remembers that during Macron's visit to Washington 14 months ago, Macron seemed friendly toward him; then, when he went to the Congress, spent his whole speech running down the essential decisions of the Trump administration.
French President Emmanuel Macron said, on November 8, 2018, that France and Germany should create a European army to "protect themselves against Russia, China, and even the United States". Pictured: Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a press conference on November 18, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)
June 6, 2019. Normandy, France. The remains of 9,387 American military dead are buried at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial; 9238 Latin crosses for Christians and 149 Stars of David for Jews are aligned on the bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, one of five sectors on the Normandy coast where 132,000 soldiers of the Western allies landed on June 6, 1944. US President Donald J. Trump delivers a speech praising heroism, duty, honor and freedom, and pays tribute to the young Americans who gave their lives; he also speaks of the other soldiers who fought in the Normandy landings: Canadians, British, French. He behaves as a great statesman.
Just before he spoke, French President Emmanuel Macron also paid tribute to those brave soldiers. He added some remarks -- that immediately were seen as a way to lecture the American President:
"America is never as great as when it fights for the freedom of others. It is never as great as when it is faithful to the universal values defended by its founding fathers when two and a half centuries ago, France came to support its independence".
Macron had earlier indicated that he intended to emphasize "French values" and "the art of being French". ​​Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former French Prime Minister and today one of Emmanuel Macron's political advisors, said the that French President thought the United States had "abandoned core ethical principles" and that "America today would not fight for the freedom of Europe. "
The day before that, Macron organized a ceremony to pay homage to the French resistance. "Without the resistance and all the French fighters," he said, "France would not have regained freedom". At another ceremony to pay tribute to the 177 Free French soldiers who landed at Normandy on D-Day, he said that the French were "everywhere to liberate their own country, on land, at sea, in the air".
President Macron's will to pay tribute to the French resistance and the French who landed on D-Day is understandable. Many French citizens fought bravely. His attempt, however, to describe the French playing a vital role in the liberation of their country, as if the French had liberated France, is harder to accept. It merely diminishes the role of all those who were not French who fought and died to liberate the country.
His words and attitude appear to have their roots in those of General Charles de Gaulle at the end of World War II. The general was filmed in Normandy, a few days after June 6, 1944, just a few miles from the beaches where thousands of young Americans had been killed and not yet even been buried. "France," he said, "begins to free itself and will soon be free, thanks to the French". During the rest of his political career, de Gaulle stressed that France had been liberated by the French. When he talked about the Vichy regime, he said it was composed of "a handful of traitors who had ceased to be French".
De Gaulle refused to speak of the many French who had collaborated with the authorities of the German occupation. He refused to commemorate D-Day. He even went on to claim that the Normandy landings had "not been the beginning of the liberation of France," but "the starting point of an American attempt to colonize France". He then added that "the American occupation of France" had ended during his presidency, when he had decided to "leave NATO and ask the United States to close the American military bases on French territory". He never spoke of the crucial role of the Marshall Plan in rebuilding France, or that NATO was created to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union.
What de Gaulle said had a profound effect. Until the early 1970s, twenty-five years after the war, no book or film in France dealt with "collaboration". The history textbooks used in French schools omitted the close ties between many French people and German occupation authorities just a few years earlier. Instead, students learned that France had been occupied, and that the Resistance had liberated the country with the help of "Allies". The role of the Americans was barely mentioned. The vast support of the French population for Marshal Philippe Pétain, the anti-Semitism of the wartime Vichy regime and the active contribution of the French police and gendarmes in deporting Jews to concentration camps were never mentioned. Books such as Harvest of Hate by Leon Leo Poliakov (1951) noted the crimes of the Third Reich, but not the crimes of the French police and gendarmes. Only a few copies were sold.
Robert Paxton's book, however, Vichy France, translated into French in 1973, created a scandal. Paxton used countless documents that no one had seen before to describe the extent of "collaboration" in France and the zealous contribution of the Vichy regime to deporting Jews. Many French commentators wrote that the book was not only full of lies but an insult to the honor of France.
Until 1984, no French President even took part in D-Day ceremonies -- and the events were discreet, to say the least.
The commemorations of the 1942 "Vel d'Hiv roundup" (a Nazi-directed raid and mass arrest of Jews in Paris by the French police) became official only in 1992. Before that, only Jewish organizations had participated; newspapers never wrote about it. In 1995, President Jacques Chirac recognized that France was guilty of the Vel d'Hiv roundup and of deporting of tens of thousands of Jews to concentration camps; many French politicians to this day nonetheless persist in saying that he was wrong and that France is not guilty.
Since 1945, no French political leader has ever breathed a word of gratitude to the United States for its contribution to the liberation of France without adding remarks emphasizing the moral values of France and the essential role of the French Resistance. Whenever possible, they have also done their best to show that they could prevail against the United States if they so wished.
The speech delivered by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin at the United Nations on February 14, 2003 -- criticizing the decision of US President George W. Bush's administration to invade Iraq -- stated that "France is standing up, faithful to its values". The speech earned Villepin unanimous praise in France. Villepin did not, however, mention that France had just concluded secret oil contracts with Iraq's Saddam Hussein and did not want to lose money. When President Nicolas Sarkozy defined his own foreign policy in a speech on August 27, 2007, he stressed that France was allied with the United States, but "not aligned". President François Hollande repeated the same formulation -- "We are allied, not aligned" -- in 2012.
Macron went one step further. On November 8, 2018, he said that France and Germany should create a European army to "protect themselves against Russia, China, and even the United States". Three days later, at a November 11 ceremony, while looking at President Trump, who had not long before that praised "American nationalism", Macron suggested that "patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is its betrayal."
Previously, on April 25, 2018, Macron had delivered an address in front of the US Congress on the Iranian nuclear program in which he enjoined the United States to "respect their signature". "France will not leave the Iranian nuclear deal," he said, "because we signed it [and] we respect our commitments. "
As France apparently feels no guilt about its role in the genocide of Europe's Jews, French leaders have long been indifferent to anti-Semitism. They began to talk about it only in the 1980s -- in order to demonize the "far right". That is what they continue to do.
French foreign policy became anti-Israeli in the 1960s, when, at the end of Algerian war, French politicians thought that it would be more lucrative to establish closer links with the Arab world. France is still anti-Israeli. On November 27, 1967, General de Gaulle delivered remarks mixing anti-Semitism with verbal attacks against Israel. He described the Jews as "domineering and sure of themselves", spoke of their supposed "ardent and conquering ambition" and described Israel as a "war-like state bent on expansion". In June 1967, three days before the Six-Day War, when threats from the Arab world against Israel were impossible disregard and war seemed imminent, de Gaulle decided to institute an embargo on delivering arms to Israel.
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, French Foreign Minister Michel Jobert refused to condemn Egypt's and Syria's aggression against Israel: "Attempting to set foot at home," he misstated, "does not necessarily constitute aggression".
France also supported the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) at a time when it was unreservedly a terrorist movement, openly dedicated to destroying Israel and murdering Jews. France voted in favor of a United Nations resolution supporting the PLO, and as early as January 27, 1976, called for the "creation of a Palestinian state". President Jacques Chirac unabashedly supported the PLO and, as he put it, the "need to create a Palestinian state". In November 2004, he provided a warm welcome in France to the Palestinian arch-terrorist, Chairman Yasser Arafat just before the latter's death, and offered him a funeral cortege worthy of a great democratic parliamentarian.
On September 21, 2011 President Nicolas Sarkozy also told the UN that France wanted the creation of a Palestinian state as soon as possible "in the lines of 1967", and said that "Palestine" had to have an "observer state" seat at the United Nations "similar to the one the Vatican has". Six weeks later, on October 31, France voted in favor of the entry of the "State of Palestine" into UNESCO.
Macron continues the same policy as his predecessors. He never misses an opportunity to invite the current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to the Elysée Palace and he never forgets to kiss him. Macron also asks for the creation of "a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital". He condemns all the decisions in favor of Israel made by the Trump administration, and describes the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as a "grave mistake". On May 15, 2018, when Hamas sent terrorists hidden among civilians to storm Israel's border fence with Gaza, and Israeli soldiers had to shoot armed people to prevent their border being breached, Macron condemned "the violence of the Israeli armed forces against the protesters". Only several months later, when rockets were launched into Israel from Gaza, did he condemn Hamas's terrorist activity.
On May 8, 2018, President Trump -- explaining that Iran was now "the leading sponsor of terrorism", and that it "support[ed] terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas" and was still trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability -- decided to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal. He announced there would be American sanctions to encourage Iran to change its behavior and come to the table for new talks. From that point on, France and Germany have done all they can to circumvent American sanctions and to continue working with Iran. On June 17, 2019 -- when Iran's regime was threatening to use precision missiles to hit "all enemies – at least the ones in the region or the ones who have forces in the region" -- and two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were struck, Macron advised Iran to be "patient and responsible".
Since 1945, the French attitude towards the United States has been marked by arrogance and ingratitude. In 2005, the American journalist Richard Chesnoff quoted a French professor, Dominique Moïsi:
"When France was a great power, America was a nascent power, when America became a superpower, France became a middle-size power, and now that America is the hyper-power, France is not anywhere near being in the same league."
Chesnoff added that this had led to a mix of unavowed envy and hidden resentment.
At the time of the French Revolution, France claimed to have a universal message; France saw only later that the United States had become "the country embodying the values ​​of freedom and human dignity on earth", wrote Jean-François Revel in 2002 in Anti-Americanism. He added that a French politician had told him, "America stole universality from us". He also stressed that the French claim of having a universal message was often "contradicted by the appalling reality of France's behavior".
France's behavior towards the United States, Israel, and the Iranian regime today might well illustrate his observation.
Macron's remarks in Normandy on June 6 seemed unnecessarily arrogant -- an attitude especially insufferable as, at the moment he spoke, France was still trying to circumvent American sanctions on Iran's malign regime. He is also in no position to make such pointed remarks. For six months, protests by the "yellow vests" have been hitting the French economy hard. They have revealed the extent of the discontent among those French who are disadvantaged. Macron reacted with contempt and brutality: he called protesters a "hateful crowd" and asked the police to restore order "ruthlessly" (twenty four people have lost an eye, five others lost a hand). Macron may have received the support of the elites, but the despair of the protestors did not disappear.
Illegal immigration has transformed many areas of the country into shanty towns. Hundreds of no-go zones in the suburbs have been described by the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal and the journalist Éric Zemmour as small Islamic republics in the making. Jews in France must now conceal their religious identity in public wherever they are.
On November 13, 2018, President Trump, reacting to Macron's November remarks, said in a tweet thread, "there is no country more nationalist than France" and, "it was Germany" that invaded France. "[I]n World Wars One & Two... The French were starting to learn German when we came around."
On June 6, Trump used more diplomatic language. He said that his relationship with France and Macron was "exceptional". But he now knows Macron. Trump doubtless remembers that during Macron's visit to Washington 14 months ago, Macron had seemed friendly toward him, but then, in Congress, spent his whole speech running down the essential decisions of the Trump administration.
On April 24, 2018, Macron, to show his friendship, offered an oak tree to Trump; they planted it together on the White House lawn. The oak, which had been was quarantined by US agricultural authorities, was reported to have died four days after the 2019 D-Day ceremonies. Macron promised to send Trump another oak; it has not yet arrived. Oaks may live eight hundred years. Macron's friendly words seem to have a shorter life expectancy.
*Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.
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White House pressure extended to Iran’s foundations

Dr. Theodore Karasik/Arab News/July 03/2019
The White House’s campaign last week went up a notch in several directions. The war of words is dying down simply because these are voices of panic who fail to understand the ongoing efforts to get Iran to capitulate on key security issues that affect the Middle East and, quite frankly, the world at large.
Importantly, US sanctions against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s foundations, his office, and to “any person or entity appointed by the leader or the leader’s office” threaten action against anyone or any entity worldwide. Last week’s order covered Iran’s many religious foundations, including those administering shrines in Mashhad, Shiraz and Rey; the Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam (Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Orders), which controls assets valued at $95 billion; and the Mostazafan Foundation, which has nearly $1 billion in annual exports and may be the Islamic Republic’s second-biggest commercial enterprise after the National Iranian Oil Company. These foundations help to fund Iran’s militias and other nefarious activity around the region and the world. The foundations have a wide range of assets, such as investments in agriculture, banking, insurance, manufacturing and other businesses. Some estimate that 20 to 30 percent of the Iranian economy is within or linked to foundation coffers. Any entity globally that transacts with such a foundation or individual is now subject to sanctions.
The scope of the sanctions against the foundations is important. Khamenei appoints clerical members of the Guardian Council, the legal authority of the chief justice, the head of state broadcasting and media, and senior military commanders. His representatives under this scope include the head of the Islamic Centre in London’s Maida Vale and other properties in countries throughout Europe and the world.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also designated eight Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders, including the navy’s Alireza Tangsiri, aerospace commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh and ground force commander Mohammed Pakpour. The sanctions also targeted the commanders of the IRGC Navy’s five districts — Abbas Gholamshahi, Ramezan Zirahi, Yadollah Badin, Mansour Ravankar, and Ali Ozma’i — for their role in its “malicious regional activities, including its provocative ballistic missile program, harassment and sabotage of commercial vessels in international waters and the IRGC’s destabilizing presence in Syria.” These sanctions are directly related to IRGC and proxy activity against oil tankers in and around the Strait of Hormuz. Mnuchin said that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is next in line for designation.
The mapping of foundation assets needs to be put into the context of the earlier designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Together these sanctions are a double whammy for Iran. The FTO designation, when mixed with foundation activity, can open the possibility of taking more direct action against Iranian proxy networks throughout the region and the world. The ability to close down these networks helps to further strangle the Iranian leadership.
Some estimate that 20 to 30 percent of the Iranian economy is within or linked to foundation coffers.
Events in Iraq also show how maximum pressure works. Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s decree to curb the powers of Iranian-backed militias and force them to integrate more closely with the formal armed forces is seen in the context of isolating Iran by cutting off its routes into the Levant. The militias, together known as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), have broad influence in Iraqi politics and are close to Iran in terms of their support networks. To be sure, the PMU already reports to the prime minister, who is the commander-in-chief of Iraq’s armed forces, but Abdul Mahdi’s decree forces the groups that make up the PMU to choose between political and paramilitary activity. The last straw for many regional powers was the PMU-supported raid of the Bahraini Embassy in Baghdad to protest the Manama conference on Palestine. Now, the PMU militias have until July 31 to abide by the new regulations.
Gulf and US pressure on Iraq is helping it to break Iran ties. The move to bring the PMU in line with the government is a critical step to isolating those militias that should be sanctioned under the scope of the IRGC FTO, including their funding, which is coming from Iranian clerical foundations. Stopping these networks is critical, given their ability to move missile components and armed drones.
But the biggest message sent to Iran was two weeks ago after Tehran lashed out at the US by shooting down an RQ-4A Global Hawk surveillance drone with a surface-to-air missile over the Strait of Hormuz. This helped the US identify the command and control of such an attack and, in response, the White House ordered a cyberattack on the IRGC’s missile control system. This strategy, developed by US Cyber Command, helps to flush out Iranian capabilities, bringing Washington’s wide arsenal of capabilities to the forefront with the appropriate countermeasures in place.
Combining targeted cyberattacks on IRGC command with ordering Iraq’s PMU groups to break their ties to Iran, while using the IRGC FTO in emerging situations, is the logical path forward and is proof the ongoing maximum pressure campaign is working.
*Dr. Theodore Karasik is a non-resident senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and a national security expert, specializing in Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East. He worked for the RAND Corporation and publishes widely in the US and international media. Twitter: @tkarasik

OPEC: Bought on the rumor, sold on the news
Cornelia Meyer/Arab News/July 03/2019
The 14 OPEC nations and their 10 non-OPEC allies, known as OPEC+, met for two days in Vienna at the beginning of this week. At the onset of the meeting Brent overshot 66.5. dollars a barrel mark. By mid-morning of the day after the meeting the price of a barrel had slumped to 62.4 dollars. OPEC+ had largely delivered what was expected. It rolled over its production cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd).
There had been a debate as to whether the rollover should last six or nine months. The decision to go for nine months was wise and clearly needed when looking at the market reaction. The wisdom lies in giving markets some certainty beyond the next OPEC meeting, which will take place in December.
The price drop between Monday and Wednesday morning was about 6.3 percent. Some of this can be explained by the time-old tradition of buying on the rumor and selling on the news. It had been pretty clear that the production cuts would be rolled over after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had agreed to do so on the margins of the G20 summit.
On Monday markets were also temporarily euphoric about the trade truce that Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump had reached during the G20 summit. Weak Purchasing Managers Index numbers out of China and another set of soft economic indicators from Germany dampened spirits as the day went on. Reality also set in, because the understanding between Trump and Xi was a truce, not an agreement. There could still be many bumps on the road going forward.
There also remains uncertainty as to what will happen on the trade front with Europe, as well as if and when the US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) will finally be signed. Europe is concerned about the impact a trade spat with the US would have on its automotive industry. Cars still constitute an important component of oil demand.
OPEC has been proclaimed dead many times in its nearly 60-year history. However, if we look at the price action over the past two and a half years, it was precisely OPEC+ that managed to curtail extreme volatility.
The market got what was expected from the meeting. The question was always whether 1.2 million bpd of production cuts would be sufficient. If we are to believe the forecasts of the International Energy Agency (IEA), markets will be hit by an incremental 2.3 million bpd of non-OPEC supply in 2020 and demand may be sluggish. The IEA predicts that next year the call on OPEC crude will be 600,000 bpd below current OPEC production at a time of OPEC+ overcompliance, aided by Iran sanctions and the continuous woes of the Venezuelan economy.
OPEC+ also managed to agree on the framework to create a charter formalising their alliance under the Agreement of Cooperation. This is a significant step. Ever since the 24 nations started working together it was this framework that helped stabilize the markets and ease the peaks and trophy in oil price volatility. Whenever there was a glut and inventories became too high, OPEC+ enacted production cuts. Whenever markets became too tight, OPEC+ released some of its spare capacity. Ahead of every meeting though, markets were uncertain whether the cooperation would hold. Before every OPEC+ gathering news outlets were afloat with rumors that some countries, especially Russia, would cease to cooperate. A charter will put some of these rumors to rest.
The most significant news from the meeting went largely unnoticed. OPEC+ and its Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) use OECD oil stocks as the underlying metric informing their decisions. In 2016 they decided on the five-year average of OECD stocks as the benchmark. This was changed to the average between 2010 and 2014, reflecting the huge impact increased US shale production had on this metric. It was a clear signal to the market as to just how serious OPEC+ is about its role in balancing the markets.
All in all, the surprises coming out of the meeting were few and the markets had largely priced in the cuts going into the meeting. There were criticisms that OPEC was dead, because OPEC+ was basically run by the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Russia. Conversely, one can argue that having the top level of the two largest producers endorse decisions shows that these governments are dedicated and on board, which in turn is beneficial for the rest of the participants.
OPEC has been proclaimed dead many times in its nearly 60-year history. However, if we look at the price action over the past two and a half years, it was precisely OPEC+ that managed to curtail extreme volatility. Less volatility is helpful, because it provides an environment allowing producers to allocate investments and consumers to forecast their costs more accurately.
• Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macro-economist and energy expert. Twitter: @MeyerResources

US must lead Syrian peacemaking before walking away
Charles A. Kupchan/Sinan Ulgen/Arab News/July 03/2019
People look at the damage in the aftermath of an explosion in a rebel-held area of the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib. (AFP/File Photo)
While the world frets about a possible conflict between the US and Iran, the bloodshed in Syria is escalating once again. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has intensified its onslaught against the remaining opposition stronghold in Idlib province, which is home to some 3 million people, including many who have been internally displaced. To avoid a new humanitarian nightmare and another mass exodus of refugees, the US must renew its peacemaking efforts.
Since a US-backed coalition of (mostly) Kurdish forces succeeded in dismantling Daesh’s territorial caliphate, the US has begun walking away from Syria. Late last year, President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops there, effectively ceding negotiations over the country’s future to Russia, Iran and Turkey.
It is now clear that Trump jumped the gun. The renewed fighting in Idlib is a potent reminder that Syria remains a tinderbox. Almost a third of the country is controlled by a Kurdish-led militia that Turkey regards as a mortal enemy. Owing to America’s support of the Kurds and Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian anti-aircraft missiles, US-Turkish relations are near breaking point. Meanwhile, Russia has orchestrated its return to the region by backing the Assad regime, and Iran has established a Syrian foothold of its own, enhancing its regional influence and increasing the prospect of war with Israel.
Instead of ignoring these risks, the US needs to get back in the game of shaping Syria’s future. As a first step, it should launch a new contact group that includes Turkey, Russia, the EU, and the UN. The initiative should have three critical objectives, the first of which is to pressure the Assad regime to end the violence and accept a decentralized state in exchange for international help with reconstruction. To end the conflict, the regime must abandon its offensive in Idlib, and the opposition groups clustered there must agree to disarm and stand down.
Instead of ignoring these risks, the US needs to get back in the game of shaping Syria’s future.
The political framework for peace and stability in Syria will require a new constitution that provides for a significant measure of regional devolution, while preserving the Syrian government’s monopoly over the use of force. Allowing a potpourri of autonomous militias to remain in operation would almost certainly lead to a failed state.
For the international community, marshaling the reconstruction assistance that would accompany this political compact should be a top geopolitical and humanitarian priority. Failure to rebuild Syria’s war-torn communities and restore the state’s capacity to deliver essential services would leave the door open to an extremist resurgence. Groups like Daesh prey on social distress. To start the process, the EU, backed by the UN, should take the lead on overseeing the return of refugees, raising the needed resources, and implementing a program of post-conflict reconstruction.
The contact group’s second goal should be to strike a deal with Syria’s main Kurdish party, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). In exchange for regional autonomy within a decentralized Syrian state, the PYD would end its alignment with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a separatist terror campaign inside Turkey for decades. Provided that the PYD has broken ties with the PKK, the contact group should then spearhead a stabilization plan for the Kurdish region of Syria.
The US, for its part, has an obligation to secure the political rights of Syria’s Kurds, who led the fight against Daesh. But it also must repair its relationship with Turkey. The only way it can do both is to broker a rapprochement between Turkey and the PYD. To that end, the US should honor its pledge to reclaim heavy weapons that it previously transferred to the Kurds and press the PYD to restore local control to the communities it occupied during the campaign against Daesh.
The US also needs to help keep Kurdish fighters away from the Turkish border, which could be accomplished with a safe zone in northern Syria — a proposal that is currently under discussion in Ankara and Washington. The Turkish government’s recent re-engagement in direct dialogue with the PYD leadership is an encouraging sign.
The contact group’s third objective should be to reduce, if not eliminate, Iranian influence in Syria. With its forces and proxies on the ground, not to mention its considerable leverage over the government in Damascus, Iran can stir up trouble not only in Syria, but also in Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel. Simply establishing a new contact group would reduce Iran’s diplomatic clout by barring it from the main forum for negotiating Syria’s future. Beyond that, the group should also make the delivery of reconstruction assistance contingent upon Assad distancing himself from the Iranians.
Trump is right to want out of Syria. But, to extricate itself from the conflict, the US must first initiate a new diplomatic peacemaking effort. If Trump walks away prematurely, Syria will be left chronically unstable, and thus vulnerable to a revival of radicalism. Moreover, America’s break with Turkey will have passed the point of no return, Russia will have an unchecked proxy in the Middle East, and Iran will be empowered to foment chaos across the region. The conditions would be ripe for a renewed conflict that drags the US back into the region at an even higher cost. The choice is an easy one.
*Charles A. Kupchan, Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, served on the National Security Council from 2014-2017.
*Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat, is executive chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe. Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2019.