April 06/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 18/31-34/:"Jesus took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.’ But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said."

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled

Letter to Titus 02/01-08/:"But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behaviour, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published On April 05-06/17
Editor Of Lebanese Daily Close To Hizbullah And Assad Regime 'Al-Akhbar,' Ibrahim Al-Amin, Challenges U.S. Congresswoman Gabbard To Televised Debate On Whether She Relayed Messages From Trump To Assad/MEMRI/April 05/17
Turkey: Historic Armenian Church Now Used as a Stable/Uzay Bulut/ClarionProject/April 05/17
Condemnation will not stop Assad’s chemical war/DEBKAfile Special Report/April 05/17
White House Officials Divided on Islam, ISIS, Israel and Iran/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/April 05/17
Connecting the ISIS dots on terror in St. Petersburg/Talmiz Ahmad/Al Arabiya/April 05/17
From Petersburg to Khan Sheikhoun/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/April 05/17
Why is justice obstructed in Iraq’s integrity-related cases/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/April 05/17
Toward a deeper understanding of the western model/Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/April 05/17
Spokesman For Iran-Backed Iraqi Shi'ite Militia In Syria: 'We Have Established The Golan Liberation Army'/MEMRI/April 05/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published  On April 05-06/17
Maronite bishops welcome unified Lebanese stance at Arab Summit, urge electoral law enactment
Hariri from Brussels: Investment, education Lebanon's strategy to deal with severe repercussions of Syrian crisis
Hariri Calls on Int'l Community to 'Invest in Peace and Support Our Stability'
LF: Unacceptable to Ask Lebanese to Choose between Full Proportional Representation, Extension
Finance Ministry Employees Hit by AMAL-Mustaqbal ISF Dispute
Second Policeman Killed in the Line of Duty in Three Days
Qaouq Says Electoral Law Won't Drive Wedge between Hizbullah, Allies
Berri Accuses FPM and LF of Seeking Parliamentary Vacuum
AMAL Slams Electoral Law 'Intimidation': They're Asking Us to Accept a Sectarian Law
Mashnouq meets Prince Nayef in Tunisia
Lebanese Army Chief: Well committed to face terrorist organizations
NNA international conference 'Media Spreading Civilizations and Connecting Dialogues' advocates human values and environment conducive to dialogue
A Message from Those Who Missed The Boat!
Editor Of Lebanese Daily Close To Hizbullah And Assad Regime 'Al-Akhbar,' Ibrahim Al-Amin, Challenges U.S. Congresswoman Gabbard To Televised Debate On Whether She Relayed Messages From Trump To Assad
U.S. humanitarian assistance in response to Syrian crisis

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published  On April 05-06/17
Abdullah welcomes Trump engagement in Israel-Palestinian peace
Trump Says Syria Attack 'Crossed a Lot of Lines', Stance on Assad 'Has Changed'
U.S. Threatens Unilateral Action if U.N. Fails to Act on Syria
Day after toxic gas attack, warplanes launch fresh strikes on Idlib area
MSF Finds Signs of 'Neurotoxic Agent' in Syria Attack
Russia Says Syria Strike Hit Rebel 'Toxic' Weapons Depot
Russia after Idlib: Our stance towards Assad unchanged
UN Security Council meets on Syria chemical attack
UN: 40-50 years needed to clear unexploded mines in Iraq and Syria
ISIS militants kill 31 civilians in Tikrit attacks
Judge reveals Saddam trial details, Gaddafi’s plan to save him
One person dead after quake strikes near Iran’s Mashhad
Yemeni forces prepare to retake Hudaydah port from Houthis
Public Discontent Is the Regime's Biggest Threat, Says Former MP
Iran Regime's Guardian Council: Rohani Must Be Re-Qualified for the Next Term
Iran: Giant Corporations at Par With or Even Bigger Than the Government Do Not Pay Taxes
Here We Go Again!/Iranian trap targeting the U.S. in Mosul
Macron Targets Le Pen over Economy in French Presidential Debate

Links From Jihad Watch Site for April 04-05/17
Israel: Two Muslim clerics arrested in connection to jihad stabbing attack in Jerusalem
Death of free speech: Germany approves bill imposing massive fines for online “hate speech” and “fake news”
UK: Muslim plotted jihad attack with knife, had bomb-making guide, “Mujahideen Poisons handbook”
Italy: Parents whip Muslim girl for dressing and acting “too Western”
Canada: Imam claims that “Islam is the most feminist religion”
Australia: Muslim women accuse Ayaan Hirsi Ali of “white supremacism”
Trump administration undertaking “critical review” of American airplane sales to Iran
Sweden: Muslim school segregates boys and girls, makes girls enter bus at the back
EU tells Hungary and Poland: Accept mass migration or leave
India: Muslim cleric arrested for smuggling firearms
San Francisco police officer fired for private “anti-Muslim” text messages
Robert Spencer in PJ Media: South Carolina Terror Case Highlights U.S.’s Schizophrenic Response to Jihad

Links From Christian Today Site For On April 05-06/17
Muslim births will soon outpace Christian births – while more Christians are dying than Muslims
EXCLUSIVE: Nicky Morgan vows to keep rebelling because 'we have no effective opposition'
Prince William reads 'The Good Samaritan' at 'Service of Hope' for London attack victims
Corbyn blasts Livingstone for causing 'deep offence and hurt' to Jewish community as Labour opens fresh inquiry
UK Church leaders accuse government of imposing cruel 'two-child limit'
Ken Livingstone decision shows Labour is 'failing the Jewish community', says Chief Rabbi
Pope Francis welcomes 4 British Muslim leaders for talks at the Vatican
Former Archbishop of Canterbury attends controversial Syria conference hosting Assad ministers
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to attend 'Service of Hope' as Cardinal takes imams to visit Pope Francis

Latest Lebanese Related News published  On April 05-06/17
Maronite bishops welcome unified Lebanese stance at Arab Summit, urge electoral law enactment
Wed 05 Apr 2017/NNA - Maronite bishops held their monthly meeting at Bkirki under the chairmanship of the Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Bishara Boutros Rahi, with talks focusing on the Lebanese united stance at the Arab League, among other subjects. According to a statement read in the wake of the meeting, Bishops welcomed the distinguished unified discourse during the participation of the Lebanese at the 28th Arab Summit in Jordan under the chairmanship of President Michel Aoun, and with the participation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri and a number of ministers. "This unified stance brought Lebanon's role back as an effective actor on the Arab and international arenas, and highlighted the fact that its strength lies in the unity and solidarity of its sons," the statement read. Praising the Arab position in support of Lebanon, Bishops hoped "this will motivate the Lebanese to move forward in taking the appropriate decisions on basic issues, foremost of which is the enactment of a new election law that guarantees fair representation of all citizens on the basis of coexistence and democracy which characterize our political system." "This should be done before the constitutional deadlines," conferees urged, applauding the long awaited step taken by the government in approving the budget and developing a plan to solve the issue of electricity, despite the polarization that emerged while discussing these critical dossiers. "Lebanon needs long-term reforms and planning, in addition to coordination between the public and the private sectors. The fight against corruption, especially the waste of public money and tax evasion, which is blatantly and systematically exhausting the State, remains the main concern. The elimination of corruption and wastage is key for every reform within the State," the bishops concluded.

Hariri from Brussels: Investment, education Lebanon's strategy to deal with severe repercussions of Syrian crisis
Wed 05 Apr 2017/NNA - "We have set up a strategy to deal with the repercussions of the Syrian crisis; a strategy that relies on the investment of capitals to generate employment and education opportunities for displaced persons," said Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Brussels Conference on the future of Syria and the region held at the EU Council's headquarters. "I would like to thank Belgium, its host partners and the United Nations for this conference. I would also like to seize this gathering as an opportunity to tell you (...) the story of four million Lebanese who have hosted 1.5 million displaced Syrians, added to the half a million Palestinian refugees who already lived on the Lebanese territory," Hariri said. "As unimaginable as this story can be, it did happen. Lebanon's gross domestic product (GDP) has dropped from 8% before the crisis to just over 1% in later years. (...) The poverty rate has reached 30%, unemployment ratios have doubled to 20%, while unemployment among Lebanese youth is 30%. Besides, public services are overstretched, the infrastructure is exhausted, and it goes without saying that the budget's debt ratio has increased. Moreover, estimates show that more than 500,000 young men, between Syrian and Lebanese, face the risk of worsening social conditions," Hariri elaborated. "90% of Lebanese youth feel threatened by Syrian refugees, and tension between these two communities has reached serious levels, which could lead to social unrest and violence that would eventually threaten the security and political stability of the country," he warned. Deeming the current situation in Lebanon "a time bomb," Hariri praised Lebanon's ability to fulfill its commitments to the London Conference, and continue to provide humane services on behalf of other States, despite the major difficulties. "We need to maintain dialogue and cooperation. The conflict in Syria has lasted longer than we all thought it would, and a safe return of Syrians to their homeland is still uncertain." "The humanitarian aid has been very useful, but it still is not enough. It is high time we implement long-term solutions to this long-lasting crisis. No country has been as generous as Lebanon, given our economic and political situation and the challenges we have faced over the past years. However, I am afraid Lebanon will no longer be able to continue to shoulder the burdens of hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees on its territory, unless a new plan is put into effect," the Prime Minister urged. "We can invest in hope and pursue the vision set by the Lebanese government (...) to educate Syrians and train them as to contribute to the future of their country. Or, we can give up and allow poverty and unemployment to sweep over Lebanon, and so we would be pushing Syrian refugees to further insecurity and vulnerability to extremism. What is worse, I'm afraid, is the increasing economic decline and insecurity which may push both the Lebanese and the Syrian refugees to seek other havens," Hariri went on. "I stand before you this morning to ask you to invest in hope, just as Lebanon did," he urged his audience, explaining Lebanon's strategy "to deal with the severe repercussions of the Syrian crisis: a Large-scale capital investment to help generate employment for both Lebanese and Syrians, and education opportunities to Syrian displaced persons, including non-formal education and technical and vocational training." "Today, Lebanon represents a model of moderation and coexistence for the whole region; a model which we hope you will protect. Let us invest together in Lebanon's stable future. Let us invest together in peace and stability for the region and the world. Let us invest in Lebanon and in the future generation of Syria, for Lebanon can be the ideal ground for launching the reconstruction process in Syria," he concluded.

Hariri Calls on Int'l Community to 'Invest in Peace and Support Our Stability'
Naharnet/April 05/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday urged the international community to invest in Lebanon and to launch programs for the Syrian refugees aimed at creating a stable future while warning that the current situation in Lebanon is like a “ticking time bomb.”Explaining Lebanon's burden of hosting around two million Syrian and Palestinian refugees, Hariri said: “It is as if 500 million European Union citizens suddenly woke up to an increase of 250 million people overnight!”Hariri was speaking at the Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region. He noted that Lebanon’s GDP growth rate has dropped from an average of 8 percent before the crisis to just over 1 percent in the following years. “Total loss to our GDP since the start of the conflict reached 18 billion dollars in 2015.Poverty rate has reached 30 percent, and the overall unemployment rate doubled to 20%, while unemployment among Lebanese youth is at 30%,” Hariri said. “Our public services are overstretched and our infrastructure depleted and needless to say, our debt and budget deficit ratios have increased,” he added. “On top of that, estimates suggest that more than 500,000 Syrian and Lebanese youth are at risk as social discontent rises. 90% of Lebanese youth feel threatened by the displaced Syrians, and tensions between both communities are reaching a dangerous level,” Hariri warned. He cautioned that “this could result in social unrest and violence, which threatens the country’s security and political stability.”
“The current situation in Lebanon is a ticking time bomb,” he went on to say. The premier emphasized that “time has come to implement long-term solutions for this long-term crisis.”“No country has shown the generosity of Lebanon, given our economic and political challenges over the past years. But I am afraid that Lebanon cannot continue, and will not continue to sustain the consequences of hosting 1.5 million displaced on its territory, unless a new plan is put in place,” he added. “We can together invest in hope and pursue the vision of the Government of Lebanon, and enter an era of growth, stabilization and development, where Syrians are educated, trained and well equipped to contribute to the future of their country,” Hariri told the conference. “Or, we can surrender to despair and allow poverty and unemployment in Lebanon to increase, pushing displaced Syrians into further insecurity and vulnerability to radicalization… and what’s worse, I fear that further economic deterioration and insecurity might push both, displaced Syrians and Lebanese, to seek another home,” the PM warned. “I stand before you this morning to ask you to invest in hope. Just like Lebanon did. We have developed a clear strategy to deal with the severe repercussions of the Syrian crisis, and to put Lebanon back on a sustainable path of stabilization and development,” Hariri said. He announced that this strategy relies on “two pillars.” “The first is to launch a large-scale capital investment program that would help generate employment to both Lebanese and Syrians. The second is to provide education opportunities to displaced Syrians, including non-formal education, technical and vocational training,” he said. “I call upon you to invest in peace and support our stability. Today, Lebanon represents a model of moderation and coexistence for the entire region… Please protect it,” Hariri pleaded. “Let us together invest in the future of a stable Lebanon. Let us together invest in peace and stability of the region and the world. Let us invest in Lebanon and invest in Syria’s future generation, where Lebanon can be the perfect launching pad for Syria’s reconstruction,” he added.

LF: Unacceptable to Ask Lebanese to Choose between Full Proportional Representation, Extension
Naharnet/April 05/17/The Lebanese Forces has warned that extending the parliament's term would pave the way for successive extensions aimed at imposing “the law through which Hizbullah is seeking to realize its objectives.”“Hizbullah is mistaken if it thinks that it can replicate the course of the presidential elections,” LF sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Wednesday, reiterating that “full proportional representation is rejected.”The sources confirmed that the LF has endorsed the latest electoral format that has been proposed by Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil and that the party “rejects an extension of parliament's term if it is not accompanied by an agreement on a new electoral law.”“Extension without agreeing on a law, under the excuse of avoiding vacuum, would open the door for another extension after six months, and we would eventually move from one extension to another until the parties agree to the conditions of Hizbullah, which wants a law that would allow it to tighten its grip on Lebanon,” the LF sources warned. The sources however stressed that such a scenario “shall not pass.”They called on Hizbullah to realize that President Michel Aoun and LF leader Samir Geagea “are keen on rectifying the national imbalance and putting an end to the Syrian implementation of the Taef Accord, which tipped national balances and suspended the constitution and the National Pact with the aim of perpetuating Syrian presence in Lebanon.” The sources noted that Aoun's threat to plunge the country into parliamentary vacuum was aimed at “pushing for the drafting of a new law and not going to vacuum for the sake of vacuum.”“Moreover, it is unacceptable to take the country to extension under the excuse of avoiding vacuum, or to ask the Lebanese to choose between full proportional representation and vacuum,” the LF sources added, reiterating that “full proportional representation is rejected because it would allow the larger communities to control the country's fate, which would violate the Taef Accord, the constitution and the National Pact.”“Meanwhile, the objective behind extension is to cripple the tenure of President Aoun and put him before two choices: bowing to the conditions or the paralysis of the country,” the sources added. “Mistaken are those who think that extension would spare Lebanon a national crisis. The repercussions of such a crisis will affect everyone and walking on the edge of the abyss will subject its plotters and the country to a plunge into the abyss,” the LF sources warned.

Finance Ministry Employees Hit by AMAL-Mustaqbal ISF Dispute
Naharnet/April 05/17/The crisis between AMAL Movement and al-Mustaqbal Movement over the latest Internal Security Forces appointments took a new turn after Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil suspended the payment of funds earmarked for ISF's clandestine operations and took a series of measures against pro-Mustaqbal ministry employees, a media report said. Al-Akhbar newspaper identified the targeted employees whose posts were changed as Tarek Barazi and Musbah Abu Orm. “This is the only the first response to al-Mustaqbal Movement's behavior, knowing that the reallocation of employees is not equivalent to the decisions that were taken by ISF chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman that defied the will of AMAL Movement and Hizbullah,” March 8 sources told the daily. “Accordingly, Khalil is expected to take further measures to respond to the decisions of Othman and ISF Intelligence Branch chief Khaled Hammoud, who have appointed Major Rabih Faqih as head of the Intelligence Branch's military security dept. and Colonel Ali Skaini as head of the North Gendarmerie Command without consulting with AMAL,” the sources added. “AMAL's problem is not with the two appointed officers, but rather with the mechanism that was followed. The same as al-Mustaqbal Movement's opinion is taken into consideration upon the appointment of regional commanders, and the same as no one bypasses MP Walid Jumblat upon the appointment of Druze officers, the same thing should apply when appointing Shiite officers,” the sources said. “AMAL Movement cannot but label this violation as an electoral move aimed at allowing Mustaqbal to control all the regional Gendarmerie commands,” the sources added.

Second Policeman Killed in the Line of Duty in Three Days
Naharnet/April 05/17/A policeman was killed Wednesday while chasing a theft suspect in the Ouzai area just outside Beirut, which makes him the second Internal Security Forces member to be killed in the line of duty in three days. Media reports identified the slain cop as Afif Jaafar. State-run National News Agency said the policeman was killed when an ISF patrol was chasing A. al-Moqdad, “who had robbed a cellphone shop at Bourj al-Barajneh's intersection before fleeing upon seeing the patrol.”“Moqdad used internal roads that are not accessible for military vehicles and he later robbed a Syrian man at gunpoint,” the agency added. “When the patrol learned of the second robbery, it went after him with the support of an army force, before managing to encircle him,” NNA said. “Moqdad then opened fire at a member of the patrol and killed him, which prompted the patrol to open fire at him and wound him in the leg before eventually managing to arrest him,” the agency added. Another policeman had been killed during a chase in the Roueissat al-Jdeideh area on Monday.

Qaouq Says Electoral Law Won't Drive Wedge between Hizbullah, Allies
Naharnet/April 05/17/Hizbullah central council official Sheikh Nabil Qaouq has warned that failure to agree on a new electoral law would spark “a dangerous political crisis” in Lebanon, while reassuring that the electoral law “will not be a reason for any rift between Hizbullah and its allies.”“There is a final chance in the next few days to pull Lebanon out of a dangerous crisis, because failure to agree on a new electoral law would spark a dangerous political crisis, especially that the margin for maneuvering has tightened and there is no more time for political maneuvers,” Qaouq added. He noted that “the only choice that rescues the country would be an agreement on a new electoral law that ensures correct and fair representation, because vacuum, extension and the 1960 law are a recipe for a new crisis.” Qaouq also emphasized that Hizbullah “will not disagree with its allies over the new electoral law, and this law will not be a reason for any rift between Hizbullah, AMAL Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement, especially that the debate today is only about the size of electoral districts.”

Berri Accuses FPM and LF of Seeking Parliamentary Vacuum
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 05/17/Speaker Nabih Berri has noted that rejecting a “technical” extension of parliament's term is aimed at “paving the way for vacuum in parliament and consequently the other constitutional institutions.”“If the reported stances are true, then their ploy has been exposed: they want vacuum,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted Berri as saying in remarks published Wednesday, noting that the parliament speaker was dismayed by the stances that were voiced by the FPM on Tuesday. MP Ibrahim Kanaan of the FPM had announced Tuesday after meeting Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea that the two parties reject a so-called technical extension of parliament's term in the absence of an agreement on a new electoral law. Berri's visitors have quoted him as reminding that Lebanon has a parliamentary system and that any vacuum in parliament would delegitimize the other institutions seeing as they were either elected by parliament or are operating under the legislature's confidence.

AMAL Slams Electoral Law 'Intimidation': They're Asking Us to Accept a Sectarian Law
Naharnet/April 05/17/Speaker Nabih Berri's AMAL Movement has accused some political forces of using “intimidation” to force other parties to accept an electoral law that they do not agree to. “There are strenuous efforts to agree on an electoral law and we are keen on reaching a fair law that produces correct representation, but it seems that there are forces who want us to choose between the bad and the worse – a sectarian electoral law or vacuum,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted prominent AMAL sources as saying in remarks published Wednesday. “The country is at a dangerous crossroads,” the sources warned. “The electoral law will not come through intimidation, but rather through consensus,” the sources added, noting that “should intimidation continue,” AMAL would once again call for a law based on proportional representation and a single electorate. Change and Reform bloc secretary MP Ibrahim Kanaan had announced Tuesday after meeting Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea that the Free Patriotic Movement and the LF reject a so-called technical extension of parliament's term in the absence of an agreement on a new electoral law.

Mashnouq meets Prince Nayef in Tunisia
Wed 05 Apr 2017/NNA - Interior and Municipalities Minister Nuhad Mashnouk, currently in Tunisia, met on Wednesday with Saudi Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, on the sidelines of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers' meeting taking place in the Tunisian capital. Talks reportedly dwelt on means of bolstering security cooperation between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, whereby both deliberated over issues related to security coordination, with Saudi Arabia fully ready to assist Lebanon with all technical means in the fight against terrorism. Talks also touched on the probability of the holding of Arab Interior Ministers' Council's upcoming round of meeting in Beirut. Saudi Crown Prince stressed the Kingdom's readiness to provide support to Lebanon. On emerging, Minister Mashnouq said that the Saudi Kingdom is keen on Lebanon and its security, relaying the Kingdom's support to all the proposals reflecting the concept of the Lebanese state.

Lebanese Army Chief: Well committed to face terrorist organizations
Wed 05 Apr 2017/NNA - Lebanese Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, confirmed the army's commitment to UN Security Council resolution 1701 and to countering and defeating cruel terrorist organizations. General Aoun's stances came Wednesday as he received at his office in Yarze a delegation of Arab and foreign military attaches accredited in Lebanon. The chief explained to his visitors the security tasks carried out by the army in defending Lebanon, saying, "We can never forfeit our sovereignty and rights."
He also presented his visionary regarding boosting the military cooperation with friendly foreign armies.

NNA international conference 'Media Spreading Civilizations and Connecting Dialogues' advocates human values and environment conducive to dialogue

Wed 05 Apr 2017/NNA - The National News Agency (NNA) announced on Wednesday the recommendations adopted by its international conference "Media Spreading Civilizations and Connecting Dialogues" which took place at the Hilton Habtoor Hotel in Beirut from March 20 and 21, underlining the need for preserving the message of media, human and social values and adopting accuracy and objectivity in the dissemination of news. The International Conference advocated the creation of an environment conducive to dialogue, respect of religions, acceptance of the other and rejection of terrorism.
The Conference called for commitment to the sanctity of the media message, and the preservation of human, social and moral values, in addition to benefitting from the current scientific and technological development to achieve greater intellectual and cultural awareness, immunization of society and public opinion and the promotion of citizenship. The Conference also emphasized the paramount importance of accuracy and objectivity in the dissemination and circulation of news, respect of religions and beliefs, and the creation of a social environment conducive for dialogue and communication as well as education on peace, acceptance of the other, and rejection of terrorism. The Conference called for the devising of a joint Arab media strategy to achieve these goals. The NNA international conference also recommended the holding of periodic training of journalists specially those relaying security and military news and adherence to the standards of the transfer of such sort of news. The Conference also highlighted the need to modernize and update the curriculum of media faculties and the complementarity of these specializations amongst them. The Conference also called for according economic media further support and concern through the holding of additional workshops and the training of economic journalists specialized in conveying related news, in order to make a qualitative leap supporting the national economy with studies and constructive reports.

A Message from Those Who Missed The Boat!
Ahmad El-Assaad March 30, 2017
Regardless of the content of the “Five Presidents’ Message” to the League of Arab States Summit, which echoes what we’ve always called for – i.e. the refusal of all illegal weapons, committing to Arab and international resolutions, and keeping Lebanon away from the Syrian crisis, etc. – our problem with this message is that it comes from parties that have no right to raise such demands, having themselves not complied to them while in power. For us, the problem is not in the fact that this message comes from five former presidents and prime ministers, nor in what many would call an override of the current president and prime minister. Given the current Cabinet’s rhetoric of compromise and disguising the facts, the Lebanese people have the right to express their true opinion, and to convey it to the Summit and to the whole world. However, the problem with the message, in our opinion, is that those who signed it were once guilty of those same practices they are now denouncing: they coexisted with Hezbollah’s weapons, turned a blind eye to its involvement in the Syrian conflict, and practically did nothing to stop any of this. If the content of this message were the stance that should be officially adopted by Lebanon in every international forum, and the operating procedure that any Cabinet should follow, then those five presidents have, each in his own way, contributed to cut deals completely contradictory to this when they were in power: they cradled Hezbollah, and made so many concessions to it, that it finally took over the reins of control in the country. In this context, we are still to this day paying the price of the historical error committed by PM Fouad Siniora in 2006, when he burst out in tears in front of the International Community, and that golden opportunity he missed to rid Hezbollah of its weapons by refusing to put UN Security Council Resolution 1701 under Article 7 of the UN Charter, after the 2006 war. That day, the International Community offered us a gift we will never again see, gave us a chance we did not know how to seize. Therefore, we think that the last to criticize, object and postulate today, is the one who missed a similar chance yesterday, and instead opted for concessions and deals that pushed the Cedar Revolution into a never ending regression.

Editor Of Lebanese Daily Close To Hizbullah And Assad Regime 'Al-Akhbar,' Ibrahim Al-Amin, Challenges U.S. Congresswoman Gabbard To Televised Debate On Whether She Relayed Messages From Trump To Assad
MEMRI/April 05/17
In mid-January, U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hi) visited Syria and met with its president Bashar Al-Assad. In an April 3, 2017 article, Ibrahim Al-Amin, editor of the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to the Assad regime and to Hizbullah, claimed that Gabbard had met with Assad on behalf of U.S. President Donald Trump to examine possibilities for cooperation between the U.S. and Assad in the war against ISIS, and that she had relayed a message to Assad from Trump, to the effect that Trump does not seek to depose him and that the lifting of sanctions and the establishment of direct ties between the countries were a matter of time.[1]
Al-Amin, who likely received leaked information reflecting the position of the Syrian regime, added that during the meeting with Assad, Gabbard inquired, on President Trump's behalf, about the possibility that the two would speak directly via telephone, and Assad instantly agreed without consulting with Iran and Russia. Al-Amin's article was translated and published by MEMRI in a report.
Al-Amin's article on Al-Akhbar's front page
That same day, Gabbard denied Al-Amin's claims, tweeting: "The exchange described in this story never happened. Claims suggesting otherwise are false."[2]
On April 5, in response to the denial, Al-Amin published another article, titled "Gabbard, Are You Willing to Debate?". In this article, which was published in Arabic and English, he challenged the Congresswoman to a televised debate, so that the audience would discover what really happened and who is telling the truth. He claimed that there are at least 13 witnesses to what transpired, and added that this affair would not diminish his "contempt for the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut which, in its majority, serves as an intelligence office on behalf of the Israeli enemy."
The following is the English version of Al-Amin's April 5 article, as it was published by Al-Akhbar.[3]
"'The exchange described in this story never happened. Claims suggesting otherwise are false.'
"What is cited above is what was said by U.S. Member of Congress Tulsi Gabbard in response to what was published in Al-Akhbar two days ago about [her] recent trip to Syria and Lebanon and the details of her meetings with presidents Donald Trump and Bashar Al-Assad. I remember former president Bill Clinton, when he appeared before the media and said ironically and firmly that he categorically denies that there was ever sexual relations between him and former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Whether it was a long time afterwards or not, it was later revealed that he was not telling the truth. And his problem was that he falsely assumed (as is common among US politicians) that there was no evidence of the charge against him. And Ms. Gabbard may need some more time to reorganize her files, [considering that] she knows full well that there are at least 13 people (here and there) who were witnesses to what transpired. We here are not accusing Ms. Gabbard of committing a major sin. And maybe it bothered her that the matter was revealed now. But is it possible to ask her if she is willing to participate in a TV debate, in the presence of whoever she wishes, no matter, provided we act on the premise of an honor code 'our word versus her word,' or that she pledges to not lie, or to commit herself to a bet about what will be exposed — by facts and days — to be false? Or that she brings with her a copy of the American Constitution, not as a sacred text but to prove that she respects it, and to say that out of respect for it she will only tell the truth. Only then the audience will find out whatever happened, and it will be revealed who is telling the truth and who is concealing the truth… and I am waiting.
PS: This matter won’t diminish my contempt for the staff of the US embassy in Beirut which, in its majority, serves as an intelligence office on behalf of the Israeli enemy. And its nervousness has increased recently, as has the symptoms of its psychological exhaustion, due to finding out that it lives today in the 'Post-Feltman[4] Lebanon.'"
[1] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), April 3, 2017.
[2], April 3, 2017.
[3] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), April 5, 2017. The original English has been lightly edited for clarity.
[4] An allusion to former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey D. Feltman, who is accused by the supporters of the resistance axis in Lebanon of flagrant interference in Lebanese affairs and of imposing U.S. policy on Lebanon.

U.S. humanitarian assistance in response to Syrian crisis
Wed 05 Apr 2017/NNA - In a press release by the US EMbassy, it said: "The sobering news of March 30 that the number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria has topped five million is a devastating reminder of the urgent need for continued humanitarian assistance from across the international community."
Release added: "Maintaining its steadfast commitment to getting lifesaving support to the people of Syria wherever they are, the United States announced that it is providing more than $566 million in additional assistance. The United States is pleased to have announced this support alongside contributions by other international humanitarian donors at the Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region conference in Brussels on April 5. This announcement, which brings U.S. humanitarian assistance to more than $6.5 billion since the start of the Syria crisis in 2012, reflects the continued generosity of the American people and demonstrates steadfast U.S. commitment to helping address the unprecedented magnitude of suffering and urgent humanitarian needs. Through this support, the United States continues to provide emergency food assistance, shelter, safe drinking water, urgent medical care, humanitarian protection activities, and other urgent relief to the 13.5 million people suffering inside Syria, as well as the more than five million Syrian refugees from Syria in the region. The funding also helps mitigate the impact of the crisis on governments and communities throughout the region that are straining to cope as they continue to generously host refugees from Syria."Release said: "U.S. humanitarian assistance supports the operations of the United Nations, other international organizations, and non-governmental organizations operating across the region. Through these organizations, the United States is able to provide assistance in all 14 governorates of Syria,-ultimately saving lives and alleviating human suffering amid daily threats of violence and deprivation."Release added: "Our assistance supports critical humanitarian needs, including those addressed in the 2017 UN appeal of $8 billion for Syria and the region. Part of the new funding responds directly to the appeal, while the remainder provides humanitarian assistance for these affected populations through funding to other international and non-governmental organizations."
Release said: "U.S. Humanitarian Assistance for the Syria Crisis to Lebanon
LEBANON: More than $167 million
New total since the start of the crisis: Nearly $1.4 billion
Today's announcement provides additional support to both refugees and Lebanese host communities. The additional U.S. funding supports basic assistance to refugees; food; health care- including life-saving hospital care and childhood vaccinations; children enrolled in public schools; shelter improvements to informal settlements and sub-standard shelters; and access to safe drinking water for refugees from Syria and Lebanese host communities and refugees."
Release noted: "Funding Numbers by Country
Country This Announcemen t Total - Since FY 2012
Inside Syria $169 million $3.3 billion
Lebanon $167 million $1.4 billion
Jordan $101 million $926 million
Turkey $90 million $537million
Iraq $23 million $279 million
Egypt $15 million $127 million
Regional $ 1 million $16 million
TOTAL $566 million $6.5 billion
*Figures are rounded to the nearest million and may not add to total due to rounding."

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published On April 05-06/17
Abdullah welcomes Trump engagement in Israel-Palestinian peace

Ynetnews/Reuters/05.04.17/US President Trump holds a press conference with Jordanian King Abdullah II after their meeting at the White House; Trump: 'I work very, very hard to try to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians.' US President Donald Trump met Wednesday with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the White House. At the end of the meeting, Trump said at a joint press conference that he is "working 'very, very hard' to try to create peace between Palestinians and Israel."King Abdullah praised US President Trump's commitment to addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said he had hope for the Arab League peace initiative proposed for the region. "The president's early engagement in bringing the Palestinians and Israelis together has been a very encouraging sign for all of us," Abdullah said at a White House news conference with the new American president.
Abdullah said the Arab League peace initiative "offers a historic reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians."

Trump Says Syria Attack 'Crossed a Lot of Lines', Stance on Assad 'Has Changed'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 05/17/U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday denounced the Syrian regime's latest alleged chemical weapons attack as an "affront to humanity" and warned it would not be tolerated. Speaking alongside Jordan's King Abdullah at a White House news conference, Trump did not lay out in any detail how the United States would respond to the killings. But Trump renewed his criticism of his predecessor Barack Obama's failure to take military action in 2013 after Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2013 crossed a "red line" in his use of chemical weapons. "It crossed a lot of lines for me," Trump said of this week's attack. "When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies... that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line, many, many lines."
Trump also announced that his stance on Assad "has changed very much."

U.S. Threatens Unilateral Action if U.N. Fails to Act on Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 05/17/The United States warned Wednesday that it could take unilateral action if the United Nations fails to respond to a suspected chemical attack in Syria that has left scores dead, including children. "When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action," U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said. The warning came during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called by France and Britain after the attack in the early hours on Tuesday on a rebel-held town in Idlib province. Haley lashed out at Russia for failing to rein in its ally Syria, standing in the council chamber to hold up photographs of victims -- one showing a young child lying lifeless, a mask covering his face. "How many more children have to die before Russia cares?" she asked. "If Russia has the influence in Syria that it claims to have, we need to see them use it," she said. "We need to see them put an end to these horrific acts."At least 72 people, among them 20 children, were killed in the strike on Khan Sheikhun, and dozens more were left gasping for air, convulsing, and foaming at the mouth, doctors said. It is thought to be the worst chemical weapons attack in Syria since 2013, when sarin gas was used. "If we are not prepared to act, then this council will keep meeting, month after month to express outrage at the continuing use of chemical weapons and it will not end," Haley said. "We will see more conflict in Syria. We will see more pictures that we can never unsee." Britain, France and the United States have presented a draft resolution demanding a full investigation of the attack, but Russia said the text was "categorically unacceptable." The draft resolution backs a probe by the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and demands that Syria cooperate to provide information on its military operations on the day of the assault. Russia's Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the council that the proposed resolution was hastily prepared and unnecessary, but voiced support for an inquiry.
"The main task now is to have an objective inquiry into what happened," he said. Negotiations were continuing on the draft text after Russia's foreign ministry said in Moscow that "the text as presented is categorically unacceptable."

Day after toxic gas attack, warplanes launch fresh strikes on Idlib area
Agencies Wednesday, 5 April 2017/Warplanes mounted five air strikes on Wednesday in a rebel-held area of northwestern Syria where dozens of people were killed the day before in a suspected chemical attack, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The Syrian army could not immediately be reached for comment on the reported air strikes in town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Wednesday. An Observatory report did not identify the warplanes. The United States has blamed the chemical attack on Syrian government forces. The army has denied any role. Russia's defense ministry said on Wednesday that poisonous gas contamination in the area was the result of gas leaking from a rebel chemical weapons depot after it was hit by Syrian government air strikes. The Observatory said the chemical attack was carried out by warplanes believed to belong to the Syrian military.
United Nations
The United States, Britain and France on Tuesday proposed a United Nations Security Council resolution to condemn the suspected deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria, which diplomats said would likely be put to a vote on Wednesday. The three countries blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces for the attack, which killed dozens of people. The Syrian military denied responsibility and said it would never use chemical weapons. UN Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura said the "horrific" chemical attack had come from the air. The draft text, seen by Reuters, says Syria's government must provide an international investigation with flight plans and logs for Tuesday, the names of all helicopter squadron commanders and provide access to air bases where investigators believe attacks using chemicals may have been launched. It asks UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report monthly on whether the Syrian government is cooperating with an international investigation and a fact-finding mission into chemical weapons use in Syria. The draft resolution "expresses its outrage that individuals continue to be killed and injured by chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, and expresses its determination that those responsible must be held accountable. It was not immediately clear how Russia, an ally of Assad, and China would view the move. In February, Russia, backed by China, cast its seventh veto to protect Assad's government from council action, blocking a bid by Western powers to impose sanctions.
The Security Council is due to be briefed on the suspected toxic gas attack on Wednesday. An investigation by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, found Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and that ISIS militants had used mustard gas. Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Moscow and Washington. The Security Council backed that deal with a resolution that said in the event of non-compliance, "including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone" in Syria, it would impose measures such as sanctions. The draft resolution proposed on Tuesday recalls that decision. The Hague-based OPCW set up fact-finding mission in 2014 to determine cases where chemical weapons had been used in Syria. The UN Security Council then established a joint team of UN and OPCW investigators in 2015 to assign blame in cases where the fact-finding mission had determined chemical weapons had been used. (AFP and Reuters)

MSF Finds Signs of 'Neurotoxic Agent' in Syria Attack
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 05/17/Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday that its team had found victims showing symptoms consistent with toxins such as sarin gas after an attack in a rebel-held area of Syria that killed more than 70 people. The team saw victims at the Bab al-Hawa hospital, 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of the attack on Tuesday, the charity said in a statement. "Eight patients showed symptoms –- including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation -– which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds," the statement said. The team also visited other hospitals where casualties were being treated "and reported that victims smelled of bleach, suggesting they had been exposed to chlorine." Russia stood by its ally Syria on Wednesday ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting to address accusations that President Bashar al-Assad's government had launched a chemical attack. Moscow denounced a proposed UN resolution on the incident as "unacceptable."At least 72 people, including 20 children, were killed in the attack in Khan Sheikhun.

Russia Says Syria Strike Hit Rebel 'Toxic' Weapons Depot
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 05/17/Russia defended its ally Damascus on Wednesday in the face of an international outcry over a suspected chemical attack that killed scores of civilians, saying a Syrian air strike hit a "terrorist warehouse."
The U.N. Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting later Wednesday on the attack, which killed at least 72 civilians, among them 20 children, in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday. Washington and London have pointed the finger at President Bashar al-Assad's government for the attack, though the regime has denied any use of chemical weapons. Moscow, which launched a military intervention in 2015 in support of Assad's forces, said the deaths were caused when a Syrian air strike hit a "terrorist warehouse" containing "toxic substances."The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that the building housed "a warehouse making bombs, with toxic substances," without saying if the strike was accidental or deliberate. The ministry said the "arsenal of chemical weapons" was intended for fighters in Iraq, describing its information as "completely reliable and objective." The use of such weapons "by terrorists has been repeatedly proved by international organizations as well as official authorities" in Iraq, it added. Syria's army had earlier denied any use of chemical weapons, saying it "has never used them, any time, anywhere, and will not do so in the future."Its denials have done little to quiet international condemnation, with U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday saying the "horrific events" showed that "war crimes are going on in Syria."
'Dead in the streets'
Others have blamed Damascus more directly for the attack, including British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who said "all the evidence I have seen suggests this was the Assad regime."U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also pointed the finger at the regime, saying "it is clear that this is how Bashar al-Assad operates: with brutal, unabashed barbarism."If confirmed, the attack would be among the worst incidents of chemical weapons use in Syria's brutal civil war, which has killed over 320,000 people since it began in March 2011.It unfolded in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with airplanes carrying out strikes that released "toxic gas" on Khan Sheikun, in the northwestern province of Idlib, according to witnesses and a monitoring group. "We ran inside the houses and saw whole families just dead in their beds," resident Abu Mustafa told AFP of the attack's aftermath."Children, women, old people dead in the streets."The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said at least 160 people suffered the effects of the gas, with medical sources reporting incidents of vomiting, fainting, breathing problems and foaming at the mouth. Medic Hazem Shehwan told AFP he saw victims with "pinpoint pupils, convulsions, foaming at the mouth and rapid pulses."Medics worked frantically in the hours after the attack to treat a steady stream of patients, administering oxygen and hosing down victims to wash off chemical residue.Even as they worked, air strikes hit a medical facility treating victims, an AFP correspondent said, bringing rubble down on top of medics and patients.
Security Council resolution
Air strikes hit Khan Sheikun again on Wednesday morning, the Observatory said. There were no immediate details on a toll. Syria officially relinquished its chemical arsenal and signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, to avert military action after it was accused of an attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds. But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use since, with a U.N.-led investigation pointing the finger at the regime for at least three chlorine attacks in 2014 and 2015. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it was "seriously concerned" by reports of Tuesday's attack. The U.N.'s Commission of Inquiry for Syria said it had also begun investigating the "alleged use of chemical weapons". Britain, France and the United States were to present a resolution to the Security Council Wednesday calling for the OPCW to quickly report findings on the attack. But it was unclear if Russia would veto the measure, as it has often done with previous Security Council resolutions concerning Syria. The text calls on Syria to provide flight plans, flight logs and other information on its military operations on the day of the assault. Successive rounds of peace talks aimed at ending Syria's civil war have failed to produce results, and Syria's opposition warned Tuesday that the attack cast doubt on the prospects for future negotiations.

Russia after Idlib: Our stance towards Assad unchanged
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Wednesday, 5 April 2017/The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, announced that Russia will continue its military operations supporting the Syrian regime and President Bashar al-Assad after the regime air force unleashed a chemical attack on Idlib. Peskov added that he is engaged in negotiations. Russia will argue at the UN Security Council emergency session called to discuss the issue that the chemical attack was caused by the opposition. A spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow said that the draft resolution at the UN is “unacceptable” and is “based on wrong information,” adding that it will “add more instability to the region.”Peskov stressed that “Russia’s stance towards Assad remains unchanged.”A statement from the Ministry of Defense earlier said that the poisonous gas that killed at least 72 people, among them 20 children, in North West Syria leaked from an opposition chemical weapons’ warehouse after a Syrian air strike on it. The Turkish foreign ministry on the other hand stated on Wednesday that it reminded Russia and Iran of their responsibilities in preventing a violation of the cease-fire in Syria after the chemical attack on Idlib.

UN Security Council meets on Syria chemical attack
AFP, United Nations, United Statesh Wednesday, 5 April 2017/The UN Security Council on Wednesday opened an emergency session to discuss an apparent chemical weapons attack in Syria that killed scores of people including children. Britain, France and the United States have presented a draft resolution demanding a full investigation of the attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province, but Russia said the text was “categorically unacceptable.” “We are talking about war crimes here, war crimes on a large scale, war crimes with chemical weapons,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters as he entered the council chamber. The draft resolution calls for a full investigation by the Organisation of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of the attack in the early hours of Tuesday in the town of Khan Sheikhun. At least 72 people, among them 20 children, were killed in the strike, and dozens more were left gasping for air, convulsing, and foaming at the mouth, doctors said. The proposed measure requests that the joint UN-OPCW investigative panel set up to determine who is responsible for chemical attacks in Syria begin work immediately to identify the perpetrators of the latest attack. The text, seen by AFP, calls on Syria to provide flight plans, flight logs and other information on its military operations on the day of the assault. Damascus would be asked to provide the names of all commanders of helicopter squadrons to UN investigators and allow them to meet with generals and other high-ranking officials within five days of their request, the draft resolution said. Syria would also allow UN and OPCW teams to visit air bases from which the attacks involving chemical weapons may have been launched, according to the text. Negotiations were continuing on the draft, but in Moscow, Russia’s foreign minister said “the text as presented is categorically unacceptable.”No vote was immediately scheduled, but Western diplomats said they would not negotiate for long, suggesting Russia could resort to a veto to block the measure. “A Russian veto would mean that they are spending more time defending the indefensible,” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters. Britain, France and the United States blame President Bashar al-Assad’s forces for the attack, but the Syrian army has denied any involvement. Moscow, which launched a military intervention in 2015 in support of Assad’s forces, earlier defended Damascus against accusations of responsibility for the attack. It said the deaths were caused when a Syrian air strike hit a “terrorist warehouse” used for making bombs containing “toxic substances”, and pledged to continue its military support for Assad.

UN: 40-50 years needed to clear unexploded mines in Iraq and Syria
The Associated Press, United Nations Wednesday, 5 April 2017/It will take 40 to 50 years to clear the mines, improvised explosive devices and other unexploded ordnance from Iraq and Syria, the United Nations said Tuesday. "We are looking at decades of work for these countries to look like post-World War II Europe where we still find some unexploded ordnance here and there," Agnes Marcaillou, director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, told a news conference marking International Mine Awareness Day. She said her office, which also deals with IEDs and unexploded ordnance, is looking at a "ballpark figure" of between $170 million to $180 million a year to clean up the areas retaken from the ISIS extremist group in Iraq. Marcaillou said that figure includes $50 million annually needed just to rid weaponry from Mosul. Iraqi forces and a US-led international coalition have been engaged in a months-long operation to retake Mosul, the country's second-largest city, from the ISIS extremist group. In January, Iraqi authorities declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated." Fighting is now underway to recapture the city's western side. Marcaillou said making Iraq and Syria safe will require a complex, sophisticated effort of "huge magnitude," but she said it can be done. "The more funding there is available the more teams we will be able to hire, the more training we will be able to dispense to Iraqi forces and others," she said. "The end game is to empower the government of Iraq to take care of its own problem like the French and the Germans" and the British did after World War II. Macaillou urged the international community to step up funding if it wants refugees and internally displaced Iraqis and Syrians to return and live in safely. As for assisting victims hurt by mines, IEDs and unexploded ordnance, Macaillou said the U.N. is "very involved in looking at 3D printing of prosthetic limbs."She said using 3D printing could lower the cost of artificial limbs from about $18,000-$20,000 to $3,000-$5,000.

ISIS militants kill 31 civilians in Tikrit attacks
Reuters Wednesday, 5 April 2017/At least 31 people were killed, including 14 police officers, and more than 40 wounded in attacks overnight by ISIS militants in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, security and medical sources said on Wednesday. The militants wore police uniforms and used a police vehicle to enter the city, located 175 km north of Baghdad, police colonel Khalid Mahmoud told Reuters. He said there were around 10 attackers, including two suicide bombers. A total of 31 bodies were taken to hospital, including 14 belonging to policemen, said Nawfal Mustafa, a doctor at the city’s main hospital. The death toll rose in the morning as more bodies were found, belonging to civilians killed in their shops. The attacks targeted a police checkpoint and the house of a police colonel, who was killed with four members of his family, officers said. Two suicide attackers detonated their vests when surrounded by police, and three others were killed in separate clashes. Five militants are thought to be hiding and Mahmoud said Tikrit authorities had declared a curfew on Wednesday. Sporadic gunfire could be heard in the morning. The attacks come as a US-backed offensive is underway to dislodge Islamic State from the remaining districts under its control in Mosul, 225 km away, the groups last major urban stronghold in Iraq. The militants overran about a third of Iraqs territory nearly three years ago, capturing most Sunni Arab cities located north and west of Baghdad, including Tikrit. Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias drove the militants away from Tikrit two years ago. Tikrit is the home region of Saddam Hussein, the former president toppled in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Judge reveals Saddam trial details, Gaddafi’s plan to save him
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Wednesday, 5 April 2017/Al-Arabiya has learnt new details related to the trial of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi’s bid to save him. Judge Mounir Haddad, who chaired the trial of late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, revealed new details related to the trial and about Saddam’s last moments. In an interview to Al-Arabiya’s Point of Order, the judge said they expedited Saddam’s execution because they believed it was possible to smuggle him out of prison. He said that late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was trying to bribe American guards and smuggle Saddam out. Haddad said that unlike previous reports former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani voiced his implicit approval for Saddam’s execution. The judge also said that – unlike many Iraqi and American media reports – what distinguished Saddam during the verdict was his calm and composure. Judge Mounir Haddad, who chaired the trial of late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, revealed new details related to the trial and about Saddam’s last moments. (Al Arabiya)
Saddam’s will
Haddad added that he received Saddam’s will himself as a Sunni cleric was not present when he was executed. According to the judge, he asked Saddam about his will and he just replied wishing health and wellbeing to the judge. Haddad said that it is not right to categorize Saddam as a Sunni as he was a dictator who killed many people, including many Sunnis. He also said that the Baath Party is Shiite and was established in a Shiite city, adding that its first leaders were Shiites. Haddad is set to reveal more such details in the episode which will air on Al-Arabiya news channel on April 14.

One person dead after quake strikes near Iran’s Mashhad
Reuters, London Wednesday, 5 April 2017/A powerful earthquake struck northeast Iran on Wednesday near the holy city of Mashhad, leaving at least one person dead and several injured. The quake, of magnitude 6.1 according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), occurred 76 km east-southeast of the city and at a depth of 33 km. The governor of the province said on the state television that the quake happened at 10:39 a.m. local time (0609 GMT) and had shaken a vast area. State news agency IRNA quoted emergency services spokesman Mojtaba Khaledi as saying there were fears that casualties in villages and small towns could be high. Red Crescent teams and emergency services had been deployed to the area, he said. A Red Crescent official was quoted by state media as saying one person had died in a village near the city of Fariman and at that least four were injured. Pictures posted on social media showed deep cracks in streets and buildings and Tasnim news agency reported that phone lines in some of the affected area were disrupted. Local people said in media reports and on Twitter they had felt more than a dozen aftershocks, with some afraid to go back.

Yemeni forces prepare to retake Hudaydah port from Houthis
Reuters, Aden Wednesday, 5 April 2017/Yemeni government forces and their Arab allies are massing north and south of the Houthi-held Red Sea port of Hudaydah despite United Nations and aid groups warnings that a military operation there would put millions of civilians at risk. Hudaydah port and province is controlled by the Iran-aligned Houthis and has been the entry point for 70 percent of Yemen's food supplies as well as humanitarian aid. The country has been torn by more than two years of civil war that pits the armed Houthi group against the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, which is backed by a Saudi-led Arab alliance. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict and hunger is widespread. Local officials said that Hadi's government, building on recent gains that included capturing the coffee export hub of al-Mokha in February, has amassed two recently-trained brigades -- one in Midi about 230 km (140 miles) north of Hudaydah near the border with Saudi Arabia, and another outside al-Khoukha region, some 130 km (80 miles) south of the city. Government forces will have to cross large areas of Houthi-held territory from both sides as the movement still controls the most populated areas in Western Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, and the regions surrounding the port city. Mohsen Khasrof, a senior military official in President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi's Aden-based government, said it was only a matter of time for an attack on Hudaydah to start after the United Nations rejected coalition demands that it take steps to ensure that no weapons reach the Houthis through it. "The political decision of liberating Hudaydah has been taken and military preparations have been completed, only the timing remains to be decided," he told Reuters by telephone.
"The continued military escalation in Yemen, specifically the militarization of large regions on its Western Coast and the associated increase of humanitarian access obstacles and population movement restrictions, are of grave concern to the humanitarian community," the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen said in a statement issued on Tuesday. The port is located in a densely populated urban center where thousands of people live. "This is only resulting in more displacement, more institutional collapse, and more suffering," the statement highlighted. More than two years of civil war have cut food deliveries by more than half and pushed the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country to the edge of famine. The United Nations says nearly 3.3 million people, including 2.1 million children, are acutely malnourished. "The Yemen Humanitarian Country Team calls on all warring parties and on those with influence over the parties to ensure the continued functioning of Hudaydah Port," the statement said.

Public Discontent Is the Regime's Biggest Threat, Says Former MP
NCRI/Wednesday, 05 April 2017/ - According to Quds terrorist group’s Tasnim news agency, former Member of Parliament’s board of directors Mehrdad Bazrpash said that “the Islamic Republic of Iran’s main problem is not the United States, being attacked by ISIS, or threatened by some western countries, but it lies elsewhere. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s main threat is that 38 years (after the revolution) people feel that the regime is not able to address their problems properly.” “If we fail to respond to this problem quickly, people will no longer wait for our response”, he added. Pointing to the 2017 presidential election, Bazrpash said that “the opposite side managed to push the idea that the country’s problems in 2013 were due to (the government’s) insistence on moving ahead with the nuclear program, saying that Iran’s nuclear program had led the country towards sanctions and economic problems, so it’s needed that people be elected that are good at negotiations.”Bazrpash also referred to the situation in customs administrations across the country in recent years, saying “65 to 70 thousand billion tomans in contraband goods are imported through the country’s customs administrations (each year). How many governments and parliaments should be changed so that the issue of smuggling commodities is resolved? And the interesting point is that despite this huge volume of contraband goods, we’re still seeking to resolve youth unemployment.”“The total amount of government spending is 300 thousand billion tomans, while the amount of bank loans has been 500 thousands, which is much bigger than the state budget”, said Bazrpash. Pointing to the unprecedented recession, Bazrpash maintained that “the country’s current recession, which has been unprecedented in the past 50 years, has not come overnight. Some experts believe that 300 thousand billion tomans is needed to take the economy back to where it was two years ago.”

Iran Regime's Guardian Council: Rohani Must Be Re-Qualified for the Next Term
NCRI/Wednesday, 05 April 2017/ NCRI - Spokesman for the Guardian Council talked once again about the possibility of President Hassan Rouhani’s disqualification and said that qualification of the President is limited to four years and he must be re-qualified for the next term.
Abbasali Kadkhodaie in an interview with the weekly "Mosallas" that was published on Sunday, April 2, on the Entekhab website, in response to a question about the nomination of Hassan Rohani after meeting with Khamenei said, "We are going our own way."Kadkhodaie announced that parliamentary and presidential elections qualification of all candidates "is limited to the same four-year period."He added that the former opinion of the Guardian Council about the qualification of the President, was for the past four years. Abbasali Kadkhodaie had said on January 4, 2017 that the Council always checks the qualification of “sitting” Presidents for their second term and there was “no guarantee” that the incumbent president would be re-qualified. Ten days after these words, Nejatollah Ebrahimian, another member of the Guardian Council, said that legally there is no difference between the president and others, and the president may also be disqualified. In response, some so-called pro-reform figures, including Feyzollah Arabsorkhi, described the purpose of raising this debate as to "demoralize reformers". Meanwhile, Mohammad Reza Tabesh, vice chairman of the parliamentary faction of Omid on February 5, 2017 announced "the problem of disqualification" of Hassan Rohani in presidential elections of 2017 was resolved "with the guidance of the regime’s senior officials," stressing that the purpose of psychological warfare against President was to dissuade him from standing in elections. Tabesh did not express more details about what he called, "resolving the problem of disqualification of Rouhani with the guidance of senior officials". But political figures and Iranian websites in some cases that do not have the possibility of naming Khamenei explicitly, refer to him as "a regime’s high official".

Iran: Giant Corporations at Par With or Even Bigger Than the Government Do Not Pay Taxes
NCRI/Wednesday, 05 April 2017/Hassan Rouhani faction newspapers (April 3, 2017) have described the actions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as the source of corruption and smuggling, as well as the destruction of the economy.
State run Jomhouri newspaper wrote in this regard: To fight trafficking we must go to the authorities and facilities that hinder the government and do not care about the three branches about and enjoy the docks and airports to import whatever they want and do what they deem necessary. This state run newspaper adds: In our country governments cannot uproot the trafficking… because some power brokers can import whatever they want without permission or customs duties and unanimously and in all steps of supply chain from transport to sale to consumption no one can confront them and they cannot be controlled or monitored. Consumer who is not entitled to deal with them, cannot control. Giant corporations and government equal to or even greater than that of the state do not pay taxes. There are giant corporations at par with the government or even greater than the government who do not pay taxes. The state run Arman newspaper associated with Rouhani’s faction wrote: "The recession and unemployment is at the head of artillery of Principalists. The reality is that the Rouhani government has failed to have a tangible achievement for different classes of society. The President, instead of giving halfhearted defense, must answer how much of the mega economy is in the hands of the government as the executive branch and how much is in the hands of institutions, organizations or other entities. They are neither accountable to the government nor to the Parliament and do not pay a penny in taxes. So Mr. Rouhani while accepting the criticism about recession and unemployment must address the macroeconomic issues of Iran. Arman wrote: Rouhani must tell people that creating investment security is not in the hands of the government and Iran is not in a desired situation in terms of the climate of investment.

Here We Go Again!/Iranian trap targeting the U.S. in Mosul
NCRI/Wednesday, 05 April 2017/
Iran has an operative presence on Iraqi and Syrian territories through Iranian fighters and military leaders who are in command of Shiite militias. Some of them are Arabs who joined the Popular Mobilization in Iraq, Hezbollah in Syria or non-Arab militias recruited by Iran to fight in Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIS. Wrote Sawsan Al Shaer in Al-Arabiya on April 3,2017.This is an occupation project that has cost the Islamic Republic of Iran billions of dollars and many lives that got back in coffins covered with Iranian flag. Will Iran easily give up on the positions it occupied just because of some Arab breakthroughs or closures with the Iraqi government or because of some Gulf concessions related to the survival of the Assad regime? Is the Iraqi government or the Syrian regime capable of taking a decision to abandon Iran and return to the Arab circle?
Iran is keen to convince the international coalition, led by the United States, that it (Iran) is the only and unique force that can defeat ISIS in this region because it is the only one with operative presence on the ground. ISIS cannot be eradicated from Mosul and Raqqa without cooperation from Iran, that is to say that even the international coalition is forced to cooperate with the Iranians. So will it stand idly and watch the American enthusiasm pulling the rug from under its feet in the region and prove that the elimination of ISIS is possible without Iran itself? This is why we ask: Did Iran set a trap for American forces when it leaked false information through its Shiite militias about alleged military targets that turned out to be civilian ones and caused a disaster in Mosul? The Pentagon admitted last Saturday that an examination showed that the international coalition targeted – upon the request of Iraqi security forces – ISIS fighters and equipment on March 17, with reports that civilian casualties resulted from this attack.
Defenseless civilians
Basma Basim, the head of Mosul’s provincial council, confirmed that more than 500 defenseless civilians were killed in the raids of the International Coalition on the Mosul district, during the Iraqi forces preparations to enter Mosul about a week ago. She added that what happened was practically intended because it did not target ISIS fighters who were not more than 6 in number. Bashar al-Kiki, head of the provincial council for Nineveh, said that “they are still searching for bodies underneath the rubble.” Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi accused the International Coalition and the Iraqi Federal Police of using excessive weapons, aircraft, artillery and missiles during the battle; he called for rapid investigations and the protection of citizens’ lives and dignity. The American-Iranian “cooperation” on Iraqi territories is a test for the credibility of the US-Iranian relations during Trump’s tenure; the U.S. forces responded to the demand of the Popular Mobilization, which the US Treasury classified as terrorist and sectarian, controlled by Iranian leaders led by Qassem Soleimani. The Pentagon announced that it was cooperating with it and undertook the attack based on the request of the so-called “Iraqi security forces” but it turned out that there were civilians on the site, which led to many casualties. The coordination between the U.S. forces and Iranian leaders or Popular Mobilization Shiite leaders, is still in full swing and is not limited to Mosul. The coordination is also on the level of U.S. General Stephen Townsend, commander of US forces in Iraq and Syria, and Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis, leader of Iraqi Hezbollah, top advisor to Qasim Soleimani in Tal Afar and Popular Mobilization Deputy who was listed by the US Treasury on the terrorism list.
Obama’s legacy
Moreover, according to the “Strategic Observatory”, the cooperation is still on between U.S. officers and Badr militias led by Hadi al-Amiri, where Mcgork and Townsend maintain close relations with him since the presidency of Obama. The Iranian-American cooperation in Iraq and Syria, is still working under Obama’s policies, where there is absolute confidence in the synchronization between Iranian and American objectives. So, are these common goals still the same during Trump’s presidency, or did they change? Do U.S. field leaders have full trust in the Iranian leadership?
Logically, one of Iran’s goals in Syria and Iraq is the withdrawal of American troops and its one-sided presence on the ground. The trap that has been set up for U.S. forces causing Iraqi civilians casualties is not surprising and is intended to provoke discontent and outrage that would eventually lead to Iraqis calling for the US withdrawal. We should be very careful. Iran will not leave the region in peace, especially that its allies see it as the only means for salvation. The U.S.-Gulf understanding and the American enthusiasm to end ISIS is a threat to Iranian interests.
Thus, when we deal with the Iraqi government, we should not forget that it is, along with the Shiite armed militias, a segment of the Iranian army.

Macron Targets Le Pen over Economy in French Presidential Debate
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/April 05/17/
French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron attacked far-right leader Marine Le Pen over her economic policy and plans to scrap the euro on Tuesday in an unprecedented debate between all 11 contenders ahead of this month's election. The discussion was at times chaotic and dominated by the anti-capitalist and virulently anti-EU smaller candidates who made their first major appearance ahead of the first round of the two-stage vote on April 23. The most telling clash between the frontrunners came at the end of the first section when 39-year-old Macron took on what is considered one of Le Pen's vulnerabilities -- her plans to scrap the euro and revert to the franc. "What you are proposing, Madame Le Pen, is a reduction in French people's spending power because, by withdrawing from the euro, for savers, workers, it's a reduction in spending power," he said. Polls show only a third of French voters support scrapping the euro, many of them anxious about the impact of a devaluation which would hit their savings and spur inflation. The clash and Macron's more combative performance could point to the tone and shape of the campaign ahead, with Macron and Le Pen having emerged as the clear frontrunners. Macron accused her of wanting to start an "economic war" with France's neighbors and denounced her nationalist stance, which he said had torn the continent apart in the past and filled graveyards near his hometown Amiens in northeast France.
With just 19 days until the first round of voting in a rollercoaster contest, the debate could influence the momentum of the campaign, with around a third of voters still unsure of how they will vote. Polls show far-right candidate Le Pen and centrist independent Macron in a dead heat at around 25 percent heading into the first round on April 23. Macron is seen easily winning the second round on May 7.
'Unfettered globalization'
Le Pen put in a steady performance under fire, warning about the closure of factories, and the danger of Islamists and immigrants eroding France's national identity. "I consider that in this election our civilization is at stake," she said at the start of the debate, promising to restore order and combat "unfettered globalization."When questioned about legal problems surrounding her National Front party including campaign financing and the use of expenses at the European parliament, she said she considered herself to be "politically persecuted."Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon scoffed at her defense, saying it was "amusing to see you playing the victim while spending your time attacking immigrants".For the second time, Hamon found himself eclipsed by his rising far-left rival Jean-Luc Melenchon, who put in another assured performance, according to a poll published by BFM television after the debate.
One candidate who needed to shine was conservative Francois Fillon, whose campaign was almost derailed by criminal charges over claims he paid his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for fake parliamentary jobs.
He concluded by saying that if voters did not want the "the chaos proposed" by Le Pen or "the continuity" represented by Macron, then they should vote for him. Unlike the first debate, Tuesday's featured all of the candidates ahead for the first time in French history. They included fast-talking autoworker Philippe Poutou, who featured widely on social media after taking on Le Pen and Fillon over their legal problems in unusually blunt language. "With Fillon, the more you look the more corruption and cheating you find," he said. Communist firebrand Nathalie Arthaud vowed to protect French workers from being "strangled by the capitalist system", while anti-EU nationalists such as Francois Asselineau, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and Jacques Cheminade enjoyed rare airtime.
'Race to the bottom'?  It was the first time that all candidates had debated before the first round of a presidential election in France with many observers sceptical about whether the format would help inform voters. Writing in Le Monde before the debate, Michel Noblecourt, noted that President Francois Hollande -- who decided in December not to seek re-election -- warned that the "dangerous" innovation in French politics risked "a race to the bottom." The final result of an election that is being watched closely around the world is still seen as highly unpredictable. Dissatisfaction and outright hostility towards mainstream politics is high in France and surveys show around a third of voters plan to abstain.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published On April 05-06/17
تركيا تحول كنيسة أرمنية تاريخية إلى اسطبل
Turkey: Historic Armenian Church Now Used as a Stable
Uzay Bulut/ClarionProject/April 05/17
The historic Armenian Surp (Saint) Minas church in the city of Erzurum in eastern Turkey is now used as a stable. The Turkish newspaper Erzurum Pusula recently covered the situation in an article titled “If you have a church, you have a nuisance!”
“There are ruins of a historic church in Gezkoy which has been nationalized,” said the report. “The Council of Monuments has recently registered it. Actually, if we leave aside its architecture that is different from the other structures there, one thousand witnesses would be needed to call it a church. It is collapsing, completely uncared for and unprotected. This church has an interesting trait. It belongs to an individual.”
According to the report, a lawyer from Erzurum “bought” the church which is located in the Aziziye town in 1934. After he died, the church passed on to his heirs. The church is now used by drunk people in the summer and as a stable in the winter.
The mayor of the town of Aziziye, Muhammet Cevdet Orhan, wants to either turn the “deserted, unused” church into a mosque or restore it, claimed the newspaper, which concluded the report by saying that “the church has caused such trouble for the mayor.”
The news site Haberler also reported in 2012 that the church was used as a stable.
The heir to the church, Sabri Ergin, lives in Germany. The newspaper Agos conducted an interview with him last year. Ergin said that he inherited the Surp Minas church from his mother, who had inherited a piece of land from his father on which the church is located. “The church cannot be used right now as there are no more congregants there,” said Ergin, who continued:
“When I went to the Armenian patriarchate, someone there told me to give the church to him. We are not distributing property here. Also, some other people wanted to buy it. They told me that some other church was sold for 1,5 million dollars but I did not sell the church.”
Ergin added that he had been threatened by the Aziziye municipality twice with destroying the church: “They told me they would destroy the church if I did not get it restored in a week. So, I got the church registered as a historical monument in 2010.” But in 2016, the municipality contacted Ergin again and told him they wanted the church to be destroyed. Ergin said that he would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if the church, which also has the status of a historical monument, was destroyed.
Ergin added he prepared a project to restore the church in 2012 but he could not realize it as he could not provide the required finance: “When we prepared the project, the budget turned out to be about 500 thousand dollars. We want the church to host cultural and artistic activities… If there were even a small Armenian congregation there today, it would be much easier.”
From Karin/ Theodosiopolis to Erzurum
Erzurum, or Karin in Armenian, is a city located in the Armenian highland of eastern Turkey. It was for centuries within the borders of Armenian kingdoms. It then became a part of the Roman Empire. But the population remained pre-dominantly Armenian under the Roman rule and the city still had a sizable Armenian community under the Ottoman rule.
However, other than “Islamized” or hidden Armenian Christians whose exact number is unknown, there is not an Armenian or other Christian community in Erzurum today. It is now a fully Islamized city. There are only Turks, Kurds, and Azerbaijanis. How did this happen?
According to the International Dictionary of Historic Places: Southern Europe, “The modern city of Erzurum traces its origins to the founding of Theodosiopolis in the late fourth century. Both the Arabs and the Turks knew Theodosiopolis as Arz-ar Rum, variously translated as ‘Land of the Romans,’ ‘Domain of the Byzantines,’ or ‘Frontier of Greece,’ from which its present name is derived.”
The Turks referred to all orthodox Christian communities in Anatolia as the ‘Roman community,’ and labeled the people ‘Rum,’ meaning Roman, a term which is used until this day.
The city was a continued target of Muslim armies such as the Arabs, the Turkish tribes from the Central Asia, the Ottomans and the Turkish republic.
“Toward the end of the fourth century A.D. Roman emperor Thedosius I built a frontier fortress on the site of what is now Erzurum and named it Theodosiopolis… Theodosiopolis fell in 653 to the Arabs, who occupied the town for nearly a century… Theodosiopolis became a Byzantine dependency, called Karin, in 978, but shortly thereafter it was taken by the Bagratid Armenian kingdom of Kars.”
Turkish armies from central Asia: New frontiersmen of Islam
“In the eleventh century, a new threat appeared from the east: a Turkoman clan led by Seljukid chieftains. The Turks originally emerged in central Asia in the seventh or eighth century, began migrating westward, and encountered the Arabs in the ninth century. The Arabs had converted the majority of Turks to Islam by the end of the tenth century, and recruited them as warriors. The appearance of the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia set the stage for the decline of Roman-Byzantine-Christian rule.
“The Seljuks began raiding Byzantine territory in 1045; a large force led by Ibrahim Inal sacked Theodosiopolis in 1048. [In 1071] Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan… decisively defeated the demoralized army of Byzantine emperor Romanus VI Diogenes in Manzikert (now Malazgirt), in eastern Anatolia.
“After the battle of Manzikert, the mainly Armenian inhabited Erzurum fell to the Seljuks, and the way was left open for uncontrolled Turkoman clans – the new frontiersmen of Islam, the creators of a basically Turkish Turkey – to swarm across Anatolia.”
The imposition of the religion, language and customs of the Turks spread steadily across the region. The Seljuk Turks emerged as the champions of Sunni Islam not only against Christianity, but also against the Shia.
In 1514, the Ottoman Turks captured Erzurum from Esmail, a Shiite Turkoman clan leader. Christians in the Ottoman Empire became “dhimmis”, indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty to Muslim domination.
Massacres and forced conversions
The author Robert Aram Kaloosdian, whose father was from the village of Tadem in Kharpert, which is today called Elazig in eastern Turkey, writes in his 2015 book “Tadem, My Father’s Village: Extinguished during the 1915 Armenian Genocide”:
“Heavy-handed government discriminated against non-Muslims, including Jews as well as Greeks and other Christians, and treated them with contempt and suspicion. Religious discrimination and forcible conversion to Islam wore down the Armenian population, and some communities abandoned their Christian faith.
“By the 1800s, the empty churches and monasteries across the countryside stood silent witness to a population that had left the Armenian Church out of fear and coercion. In some areas of ancient Armenia, such as the sparsely populated Dersim plateau, the locals had mostly turned to Islam to avoid persecution and the burdens of onerous taxation.”
The mid-1890s were when the Armenians were exposed to widespread massacres across the Ottoman Empire. The genocidal massacres of large numbers of Armenians were sanctioned by Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II between 1894 and 1897. The estimates range from a “low” of 80,000 to a high of 300,000. However, the 1915 genocide dwarfed these previous massacres and resulted in the systematic extermination of up to 1.5 million Armenians across the Ottoman Empire.
Genocide in Erzurum
The Armenians in Erzurum as well as other Ottoman cities were wiped out from their homeland by the most savage methods imaginable. Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, the German Vice Consul in Erzurum in 1915, describes the genocide in the city: “They killed the women, children, and elderly people by burning them to death, shearing, strangling the rivers, group shooting and rolling them from the rocks to deep rifts. Starving and frosted people were condemned to death through brutal torture. Thousands of deported Armenians were dying on the way and epidemics in deportation camps.”
**Professor Ugur Ümit Üngör writes in his article “The Armenian Genocide, 1915”:
“In early 1915, 40,000 Armenians living in the city of Erzurum were deported to Der el-Zor. The German Consul in Erzurum reported in no uncertain terms that the deportation would end in ‘an absolute extermination’ (eine absolute Ausrottung). And indeed, many Armenians had already died or were seriously weakened even before the convoy from Erzurum had reached the provincial border. Once they reached the city of Kemah the survivors of the march were slaughtered and their bodies thrown into the Euphrates. The total number of Armenians from Erzurum that actually reached Der el-Zor was probably less than 200, a destruction rate of 99.3 percent.”
Ongoing cultural genocide
Since the Armenians and other Christians have largely been exterminated, it has become almost impossible to preserve the historic churches in Turkey. Many Armenian, Greek and Assyrian/Syriac churches Turkey have either been destroyed or used for sacrilegious purposes.
The researcher Raffi Bedrosyan writes: “As the Armenian population got wiped out of Anatolia in 1915, so did these churches and schools. Along with the hundreds of thousands of homes, shops, farms, orchards, factories, warehouses, and mines belonging to the Armenians, the church and school buildings also disappeared or were converted to other uses. If not burnt and destroyed outright in 1915 or left to deteriorate by neglect, they became converted buildings for banks, radio stations, mosques, state schools, or state monopoly warehouses for tobacco, tea, sugar, etc., or simply private houses and stables for the Turks and Kurds.”
Native Christian civilizations have for centuries been systematically erased from Anatolia by Turkish governments and citizens. It is high time that the West finally stood up to protect the churches and other Christian sites in Turkey that are on the verge of disappearing forever.
**Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist formerly based in Ankara. She is presently in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at

الإدانة لن توقف حرب الأسد الكيماوية
Condemnation will not stop Assad’s chemical war
DEBKAfile Special Report/April 05/17

Seven nations maintain elite military units in Syria – the US, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, Jordan and Israel. American, Russian and Turkish troops are backed by air support. Had those powers decided to destroy the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s poison chemical arsenal, they could have combined to do so and finished the job in a few days - and this week’s horrific tragedy possibly been averted. The death toll from the Syrian chemical warfare bombardment of the rebel-held town of Kkhan Sheikhoun Monday, April 3, is now estimated at 150 with several hundred injured, cared for in totally inadequate medical facilities. The number of child victims has raised the pitch of world condemnation The total figure fluctuates according to source. But the most tragic truth of all is that no one in Moscow, Washington or Ankara is ready go ahead with this operation, any more than they are focused on ending the six-year old Syrian war, which has claimed a death toll of more than 600,000 – most civilians – and the displacement of 12 million refugees. Instead, they are calling the UN Security Council into another emergency (useless) session.
The most cynical aspect of this international wringing of hands is the sorry record of the way Assad’s toxic warfare record has been handled.
On May 3, 2014, the US military reported that efforts to bring about the dismantling of the Syrian army’s chemical weapons had come to naught after Bashar Assad refused to hand over the 27 tons of sarin precursor chemicals, so long as the UN disarmament agency (OPCW) insisted on his destroying their underground storage sites..
According to debkafile’s sources, 12 of those bunker facilities are still operational and barred to access by UN inspectors. Five months later, OPCW reported that Assad’s chemical weapons stocks had been liquidated. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shook hands in Geneva to flashing cameras to celebrate the successful outcome of their negotiations on the subject. This turned out to a charade, staged to cover up President Barack Obama’s decision to dodge his own red lines and abstain from action against the Assad regime if he resorted to chemical warfare.
Careful reading of the final OPCW report gives the game away: “To date, nearly 95 percent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by the possessor states have been destroyed under OPCW verification." For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.
So 5 percent of the poisonous substances remained intact. In the interim four years, the Syrian ruler was able to substantially build up his depleted stocks of poison gas, the use of which also spread to the war in Iraq. The Syrian air force meanwhile began unbridled air strikes with chlorine bombs. They were replenished by Iranian freight planes landing at the Damascus military airfield and the T4 military air base near Palmyra with fresh consignments of chlorine bombs custom-made at Iran’s military industry factories. Neither the Obama administration in Washington nor the Kremlin in Moscow lifted a finger to stop these deliveries. In the opposition camp, certain Syrian rebel groups, ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front branch started tests on homemade chemical weapons, some of them successfully building up stocks of primitive poison weapons. Other rebel groups simply purchased Syrian chemical weapons from Syrian army officers.
Today, no international inquiry commissions would be able to establish beyond doubt the source of the chemical substances that poisoned hundreds of people in Idlib this week or determine who was ultimately responsible for this atrocity. It must be said that only the Syrian military had the ability to carry out an aerial attack like the one that struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Russians will certainly try to use as a pretext for vetoing a condemnatory UN Security Council resolution the claim that Syrian warplanes had only struck an insurgent storehouse containing toxic substances.
The task of locating destroying Assad’s stocks of pernicious weapon of war can only be performed by troops on the ground. And that is unlikely to happen.

White House Officials Divided on Islam, ISIS, Israel and Iran
الرسميون في البيت الأبيض منقسمون حول الإسلام وداعش وإسرائيل وإيران
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/April 05/17
The decision to select Army Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond "H.R." McMaster to replace retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security advisor is setting into motion a cascade of other personnel decisions that, far from draining the swamp, appear to be perpetuating it.
Trump has decided to retain Yael Lempert, a controversial NSC staffer from the Obama administration. Analyst Lee Smith reported that, according to a former official in the Clinton administration, Lempert "is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left."
Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who served as the NSC's Iran director during the Obama administration, is now in charge of policy planning for Iran and the Persian Gulf at the Trump State Department. Nowrouzzadeh, whose main task at Obama's NSC was to help broker the Iran Nuclear Deal, is a former employee of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a lobbying group widely believed to be a front group for the Islamic dictatorship in Iran.
"The people who are handling key elements of those conflicts now are the same people who handled those areas under Obama, despite the results of the last election. No wonder the results look equally awful." — Lee Smith, Middle East analyst.
The people U.S. President Donald J. Trump has chosen to lead his foreign policy team may complicate efforts to fulfill his inaugural pledge to eradicate "radical Islamic terrorism" "from the face of the Earth" — a Herculean task even under the best of circumstances.
An analysis of the political appointments to the different agencies within the U.S. national security apparatus shows that the key members of the president's foreign policy team hold widely divergent views on the threat posed by radical Islam — and on the nature of Islam itself. They also disagree on approaches to Iran, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the European Union, Russia, globalism and other national security issues.
The policy disconnect is being exacerbated by the fact that dozens of key positions within the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies remain unfilled. The result is that the administration has been relying on holdovers from the Obama administration to formulate and implement U.S. foreign policy.
Current foreign policy advisors can be roughly divided into several competing factions and ideological schisms: career staffers versus political appointees, civilian strategists versus military tacticians, Trump supporters versus Obama loyalists, politically correct consensus-seekers versus politically incorrect ideologues, New York moderates versus populist hardliners, Palestinian sympathizers versus advocates for Israel, proponents of the Iran deal versus supporters of an anti-Iran coalition — and those who believe that Islamism and radical Islamic terrorism derive from Islam itself versus those who insist that Islam is a religion of peace.
The winners of these various power struggles ultimately will determine the ideological direction of U.S. policy on a variety of national security issues, including the war on Islamic terror.
During his presidential campaign, voters were promised a radical shift in American foreign policy, and the consensus-driven foreign policy establishment in Washington was repeatedly blamed for making the world less stable and more dangerous.
Although much can change, the current incarnation of the national security team indicates that the administration's foreign policy, especially toward the Middle East and the broader Islamic world, may end up being more similar than different to that of the Obama administration. Those hoping for a radical change to the politically correct status quo may be disappointed.
National Security Advisor
Among recent personnel decisions, arguably the most fateful has been to select Army Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond "H.R." McMaster to replace retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as national security advisor. This change is setting into motion a cascade of other personnel decisions that, far from draining the swamp, appears to be perpetuating it.
Flynn, who resigned on February 13 after leaked intelligence reports alleged that he misrepresented his conversations with a Russian diplomat, has long argued that the West is in a civilizational clash with Islam, and that the war on terror must be expanded and intensified to reflect this reality.
By contrast, McMaster emphatically rejects the notion of a clash of civilizations. His statements on Islam are highly nuanced and not materially different from those of former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
President Donald Trump appears with Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond "H.R." McMaster, on February 20, 2017. (Image source: PBS News video screenshot)
Flynn, in a speech delivered at a synagogue in Stoughton, Massachusetts in August 2016, warned that the ultimate goal of radical Islam is world hegemony:
"We are facing another 'ism,' just like we faced Nazism, and fascism, and imperialism and communism. This is Islamism, it is a vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people on this planet and it has to be excised."
That same month, Flynn addressed a Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas:
"I don't see Islam as a religion. I see it as a political ideology that will mask itself as a religion globally, and especially in the West, especially in the United States, because it can hide behind and protect itself by what we call freedom of religion."
In Flynn's book, "The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War against Radical Islam and its Allies," he warned:
"We're in a world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people, most of them inspired by a totalitarian ideology: Radical Islam.... We've got to stop feeling the slightest bit guilty about calling them by name and identifying them as fanatical killers acting on behalf of a failed civilization."
In an opinion article published by the New York Post in July 2016, Flynn wrote that America's war against radical Islam is being run by political leaders who refuse to see the big picture:
"If our leaders were interested in winning [the war against radical Islam], they would have to design a strategy to destroy this global enemy. But they don't see the global war. Instead, they timidly nibble around the edges of the battlefields from Africa to the Middle East, and act as if each fight, whether in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya or Afghanistan, can be peacefully resolved by diplomatic effort....
"No, we're not going to talk our way out of this war, nor can we escape its horrors. Ask the people in San Bernardino or South Florida, or the relatives of the thousands killed on 9/11. We're either going to win or lose. There is no other 'solution.'
"I believe we can and must win. This war must be waged both militarily and politically; we have to destroy the enemy armies and combat enemy doctrines. Both are doable. On military battlefields, we have defeated radical Islamic forces every time we have seriously gone after them, from Iraq to Afghanistan. Their current strength is not a reflection of their ability to overwhelm our armed forces, but rather the consequence of our mistaken and untimely withdrawal after demolishing them....
"We have the wherewithal, but lack the will. That has to change. It's hard to imagine it happening with our current leaders, but the next president will have to do it."
McMaster, however, has openly repudiated Flynn's — and Trump's — views on Islam. He rejects any connection between terrorism and Islam, even though Islamic scripture clearly states that true Muslims are duty-bound to wage jihad on non-Muslims until the entire world is brought under the submission of Islam and Sharia law.
On February 23, during his first staff meeting as the newly minted national security advisor, McMaster reportedly urged National Security Council employees to avoid using the term "radical Islamic terrorism" because, according to McMaster, groups such as the Islamic State represent a "perversion of Islam" and are therefore "un-Islamic." McMaster added that "he's not on board" with using the term because it castigates "an entire religion" and may alienate Muslim allies in the Middle East.
Less than a week later, McMaster urged Trump to remove references to "radical Islamic terrorism" from the speech the president was to deliver to Congress on February 28. The president nevertheless prevailed. "We are also taking strong measures," he said, "to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism."
Long before becoming America's leading advisor on national security matters, McMaster, who has a long history of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, consistently echoed the Obama administration's rhetorical efforts to delink Islamic terrorism from Islamic doctrine.
In November 2016, during a speech to the Virginia Military Institute, McMaster said that the Islamic State "cynically uses a perverted interpretation of religion to incite hatred and justify horrific cruelty against innocents."
In May 2016, during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he said:
"Groups like the Islamic State use this irreligious ideology, this perverted interpretation of religion to justify violence. They depend on ignorance, and the ability to recruit vulnerable segments of populations to foment hatred, and then use that hatred to justify violence against innocents."
In August 2014, when McMaster was the featured speaker for the President's Lecture Series at the National Defense University, he reportedly declared: "The Islamic State is not Islamic."
In 2010, McMaster enthusiastically endorsed a book entitled, "Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat," by U.S. Navy Commander Youssef H. Aboul-Enein and published by the Naval Institute Press. A review by analyst Youssef M. Ibrahim found its claims, "many of which the Obama administration followed to disastrous results, to be incorrect and problematic."
Aboul-Enein's central objective is to urge American policymakers to distinguish between militant Islamists such as members of the Islamic State and non-militant Islamists such as members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ibrahim counters: "In reality, all Islamists share the same ultimate goal of global Islamic hegemony. They differ in methodology — but not in their view of us as the enemy to be crushed."
Ibrahim continues:
"Aboul-Enein also suggests that if an American soldier ever desecrates a Koran, U.S. leadership must not merely relieve him of duty, but offer 'unconditional apologies,' and emulate the words of Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, which Aboul-Enein quotes as exemplary: 'I come before you [Muslims] seeking your forgiveness, in the most humble manner I look in your eyes today, and say please forgive me and my soldiers,' followed by kissing a new Koran and 'ceremoniously' presenting it to Muslims.
McMaster's endorsement of the book, which appears on the jacket cover, reads:
"Terrorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause. Understanding terrorist ideology is the first and may also be the most important step in ensuring national and international security against the threat that these organizations pose.
"Youssef Aboul-Enein's book is an excellent starting point in that connection. Militant Islamist Ideology deserves a wide readership among all those concerned with the problem of transnational terrorism, their ideology, and our efforts to combat those organizations that pose a serious threat to current and future generations of Muslims and non-Muslims alike."
McMaster's position on the nuclear deal with Iran remains unclear. If his views on Islam are any indication, McMaster, unlike Flynn, probably does not view Iran in ideological terms.
The president has described the "Iran Deal" as a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated." On February 1, after Iran launched a ballistic missile, the White House signaled a tougher line on Tehran. Flynn said:
"President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran, the Obama administration as well as the United Nations as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States in these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice."
Flynn's ouster less than two weeks later was rumored to have been orchestrated by Obama confidants in order to preserve the Iran Deal. According to reporter Adam Kredo:
"The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes — the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber — included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn's credibility, multiple sources revealed.
"The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration's efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration."
Strategic Initiatives Group
McMaster's views on Islam are also diametrically opposed to those held by Stephen K. Bannon, the administration's chief political strategist. Bannon has long warned that the Judeo-Christian West is in a civilizational conflict with Islam.
On January 28, the president signed an executive order making Bannon a permanent invitee to all meetings of the National Security Council, and also making him a regular member of the so-called Principals Committee, the Cabinet-level senior interagency forum that is led by the national security advisor and decides foreign policy issues that do not go to the president. The executive order significantly increased Bannon's influence and power in the White House decision-making process.
At the same time, Bannon and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have established the Strategic Initiatives Group, an internal White House think tank that some analysts believe will challenge policy advice coming from McMaster and the National Security Council.
The Strategic Initiatives Group, which has been described as a "shadow NSC," is run by assistant to the president Christopher Liddell and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and includes deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka, author of the book, "Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War." Like Bannon, Gorka believes that "the global jihadi movement is a modern totalitarian ideology rooted in the doctrines and martial history of Islam."
McMaster is rumored to be considering a reorganization of the White House foreign policy team that would give him more control. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said that McMaster has full authority to organize his staff, but that any change in Bannon's status must be approved by the president. Either way, conflict between McMaster and Bannon seems inevitable.
National Security Council
McMaster's first personnel decision was to name Dina Powell to serve as Deputy National Security Advisor, the number two position on the National Security Council — and a post already filled by K.T. McFarland.
McFarland, a former official in the Reagan administration, has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration's timidity in the face of radical Islam, which she has described as "the most virulent, lethal, apocalyptic death cult in history." In an opinion article that was published in the wake of the jihadist attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016, McFarland wrote:
"Global Islamist jihad is at war with all of Western civilization. President Obama and other Western leaders may not see it as a war, but the other side does. Left largely unchecked over the last seven years, radical Islam has exploded worldwide....
"We have been one step behind this enemy for years. We're still tongue-tied by political correctness, while they're setting off bombs at train stations, airports and community centers.
"We are losing this war. Our losses grow greater every day, while terrorists recruit off the images of the West's most innocent and vulnerable fleeing in horror. The hour is already late to defeat this growing scourge. But if we are to defeat radical Islam, it will be only with a multifaceted, comprehensive strategy that calls on all the aspects of the national power of ourselves and our allies — like we summoned to defeat the Nazis in World War II or the Communists in the Cold War."
McFarland, whose future at the NSC has been uncertain since Flynn resigned, reportedly has been offered the post of U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
Dina Habib Powell, 43, a former executive with Goldman Sachs, is the first Arab-American to join the Trump White House. She was born in Egypt and immigrated to the United States as a child with her Coptic Christian parents. Fluent in Arabic, she worked in the Bush administration, on public diplomacy to improve perceptions of America in the Arab world.
Powell is also said to be close to many Democrats, including some who have worked in the Obama administration. According to Politico, Powell has a strong personal relationship with Valerie Jarrett, one of the closest advisors to Barack Obama. Jarrett, who was born in Iran, and is widely rumored to be the architect of the Iran Nuclear Deal, reportedly has moved into Obama's home in Washington, D.C. to lead a resistance movement against Trump's efforts to reverse his predecessor's foreign and domestic policies.
Powell's ascendancy is tied to Trump's daughter, Ivanka, who hired her to provide advice on politics in Washington. Powell has been described as "Ivanka Trump's woman in the White House."
Meanwhile, McMaster has tried to replace Ezra Watnick-Cohen, the NSC's senior director for intelligence programs. Watnick-Cohen, another Flynn protégé, is a 30-year-old intelligence operative with the Defense Intelligence Agency who has reportedly fallen out of favor with some people at the Central Intelligence Agency. Politico reported that Cohen-Watnick and Flynn "saw eye to eye about the failings of the CIA human intelligence operations," according to an operative. "The CIA saw him as a threat, so they tried to unseat him and replace him with an agency loyalist," he said.
Cohen-Watnick appealed McMaster's decision to Bannon and Kushner, both of whom brought the matter to Trump. The president eventually agreed that Cohen-Watnick should remain as the NSC's intelligence director.
McMaster reportedly also wanted to replace Cohen-Watnick with Linda Weissgold, a longtime CIA official. During the Obama administration Weissgold served as director of the CIA's Office of Terrorism Analysis. Journalist Michael Warren wrote:
"In her position at OTA, she was also involved directly in drafting the now infamous Benghazi talking points, which government officials revised heavily to include factually incorrect assessments that stated the attackers were prompted by protests. According to the House Select Committee on Benghazi's report, Weissgold testified she had changed one such talking point to say that extremists in Benghazi with ties to al Qaeda had been involved in 'protests' in the Libyan city, despite the fact that no such protests occurred there on the day of the attack."
The CIA also rejected a security clearance for Robin Townley, the NSC's senior director for Africa and one of Flynn's closest advisors. The denial of a request for so-called "Sensitive Compartmented Information" clearance forced Townley, a former Marine intelligence officer who had long maintained a top secret-level security clearance, out of his NSC post. The rejection was approved by Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director.
Flynn and his allies reportedly believed that the rejection was motivated by Townley's skepticism of the intelligence community. "They believe this is a hit job from inside the CIA on Flynn and the people close to him," said one source, who argued that some in the intelligence community felt threatened by Flynn and his allies. "Townley believes that the CIA doesn't run the world," the source said.
The Cohen-Watnick and Townley episodes have highlighted ongoing tensions between the CIA and Trump advisors who are skeptical of the agency. Flynn was said by some as waging "a jihad against the intelligence community" while others have pointed to Flynn's ouster as an example of how the CIA is trying to undermine the Trump administration and retain its own autonomy.
At the same time, Trump has decided to retain Yael Lempert, a controversial NSC staffer from the Obama administration. Analyst Lee Smith reported that, according to a former official in the Clinton administration, Lempert "is considered one of the harshest critics of Israel on the foreign policy far left." The source added:
"From her position on the Obama NSC, she helped manufacture crisis after crisis in a relentless effort to portray Israel negatively and diminish the breadth and depth of our alliance. Most Democrats in town know better than to let her manage Middle East affairs. It looks like the Trump administration has no idea who she is or how hostile she is to the U.S.-Israel relationship."
Smith noted:
"This is the same Trump administration that said it was going to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? Making big promises to Jewish voters during campaign season and then dumping them in the trash along with yesterday's campaign lawn signs is old hat in Washington, though. And after eight years of Obama's very public ministrations to his favorite 'donors,' Jewish votes are especially cheap — you can name Louis Farrakhan's former spokesman as vice chairman of your party and the faithful will sigh with relief. So why should Trump bother?"
Smith also revealed that the Trump administration has retained Brett McGurk, the Obama administration's special envoy to lead the campaign against the Islamic State. According to Smith:
"One of the main reasons Obama's ISIS policy failed was because Sunni actors refused to engage in an intramural civil war whose spoils would go to the Iranians and their Shia allies. McGurk was the point man on this pro-Iran policy, famously arranging for Iran to get $400 million in cash delivered on wooden pallets to the IRGC in exchange for American hostages.
"Remember when the Trump administration promised to make public the secret agreements that Obama made with Iran? McGurk signed some of the secret documents, relieving sanctions on a key financial hub of Iran's ballistic-missile program, and dropping charges against 21 Iranian operatives linked to terrorism. Notably, none of those documents has actually been made public. Maybe that's because McGurk's name is on them."
State Department
Meanwhile, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who served as the NSC's Iran director during the Obama administration, is now in charge of policy planning for Iran and the Persian Gulf at the Trump State Department. Nowrouzzadeh, whose main task at Obama's NSC was to help broker the Iran Nuclear Deal, is a former employee of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a lobbying group widely believed to be a front group for the Islamic dictatorship in Iran.
In an opinion article published by the Washington Examiner on March 16, Amir Basiri, an Iranian human rights activist wrote:
"Obama's failed Iran policy is a clear testament to the damage that appeasement and rapprochement does to the Iranian people, Middle East nations, and U.S. interests. The ill that Nowrouzzadeh and her ilk have caused only underlines the necessity to drain the Iran appeasement swamp in the State Department, and to stand with the Iranian people for a change."
Other notable holdovers from the Obama administration include:
Chris Backemeyer, who serves as deputy assistant secretary for Iranian affairs under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Backemeyer is now the highest-ranking official at the State Department for Iran policy. During the Obama administration, Backemeyer was tasked with persuading multinational corporations to do business with Iran.
Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., a career foreign service officer who serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Shannon, the State Department's fourth-ranking official, has warned that scrapping the Iran Deal would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. "Any effort to step away from the deal would reopen a Pandora's box in that region that would be hard to close again," he said. His statement indicates that Shannon could be expected to lead efforts to resist any attempts to renege or renegotiate the deal; critics of the deal say that Iran's continued missile testing has given Trump one more reason to tear up his predecessor's deal with the Islamist regime.
Michael Ratney, a top advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria policy. Under the Trump administration, Ratney's role at the State Department has been expanded to include Israel and Palestine issues. In July 2016, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations disclosed that Ratney, who was the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem between 2012 and 2015, oversaw $465,000 in U.S. grants to the OneVoice Movement, a liberal group that waged a clandestine campaign to smear and remove Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office. Ratney admitted to Senate investigators that he deleted emails containing information about the Obama administration's relationship with the non-profit group.
On March 30, Trump's State Department announced that it would allow Jibril Rajoub, a Palestinian official known for promoting the murder and kidnapping of Israelis, into the United States for a series of high-level meetings on the Israel-Palestinian peace process.
Rajoub was sentenced in September 1970 to life in prison for throwing a grenade at an Israeli Army bus near Hebron. He served 15 years in prison, but was released in a 1985 prisoner exchange. Since then, he has repeatedly praised Palestinian terrorists who kill Israeli civilians. In an October 2015 television interview, Rajoub said:
"These are individual acts of bravery, and I am proud of them. I congratulate everyone who carried them out. I say to you, we are proud of you. Whoever confronts, fights, dies as a Martyr, is arrested or injured, they are assets to the entire Palestinian people."
The Trump administration issued an anodyne statement that could easily have come from the Obama administration:
"The U.S. government does not endorse every statement Mr. Rajoub has made, but he has long been involved in Middle East peace efforts, and has publicly supported a peaceful, non-violent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We continue to press Fatah officials, including Rajoub himself, to refrain from any statements or actions that could be viewed as inciting or legitimizing others use of violence."
Foreign affairs columnist Lawrence J. Haas has sharply criticized the administration's embrace of Rajoub:
"Rajoub is no peace activist who just needs to tone down his rhetoric. He's a hardcore Israel rejectionist who honors 'martyrs,' promotes murder and kidnapping, and envisions a Palestine that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, erasing Israel in the process.
"The embrace of Rajoub raises profound questions as to whether President Donald Trump has a coherent policy toward Israel or, as seems more likely, disjointed policies are emerging from competing power centers across the administration that view Israel and the U.S.-Israeli alliance in profoundly different ways."
Historian Daniel Pipes believes the Trump administration may follow Obama's footsteps and ultimately turn against Israel. In an interview, Pipes said:
"I also wouldn't be surprised if he [Trump] turned against Israel, seeing it as the intractable party because that is what often happens. Look at Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama: they make efforts and they get frustrated that the Israelis don't give more because there is an enduring belief that if only the Israelis gave more, the Palestinians would relent and stop being rejectionists and everything would be fine. So, I am worried."
Department of Defense
At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis's initial choice to be his second in command was Michèle Flournoy, a Democrat who was seen as a leading candidate for Defense Secretary in a Hillary Clinton administration. Flournoy turned down Mattis's offer and the position continues to be filled by Robert O. Work, who was appointed to the job by President Obama. Some Republicans blame Work for Mattis's failure to advocate for a greater increase in the defense budget.
Mattis, who fell out with the Obama administration over Iran, also proposed Anne W. Patterson as his choice for undersecretary for policy. Patterson served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 2011 to 2013, a time when the Obama administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government of then-President Mohamed Morsi. Patterson's nomination was vetoed by the White House. The position is being filled by Theresa Whelan, a career member of the Senior Executive Service.
For the post of undersecretary for personnel and readiness, Mattis proposed Rudy de Leon, a veteran of the Clinton administration and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank founded by Clinton acolyte John Podesta. De Leon, it so happens, signed a January 30 letter opposing Trump's moratorium on migrants from six Muslim countries. The letter says the suspension is "inhumane" and "beneath the dignity of our great nation."
Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed frustration with Mattis. An aide to a Republican Senator on the Armed Services Committee said: "He certainly has got a tough job, but it sometimes feels like he forgets that we won the election." Another said: "We've waited eight years for this, to be able to fill these posts with Republicans. We know Trump isn't part of the establishment and that it's going to be a bit different, but it should go without saying that a Republican administration is expected to staff federal agencies with Republicans."
National Economic Council
The National Economic Council, the main forum for developing and coordinating the president's economic program, is headed by Gary Cohn, a registered Democrat and, like Dina Powell, a former executive of Goldman Sachs. So far, so good.
As Trump's top economic policy advisor, however, Cohn has sparred with Bannon over key aspects of the administration's economic, tax and trade policies. Among other issues, the two men are said to have competing positions on the border adjustment tax (Bannon is for it, Cohn is not), the carbon tax (Cohn is for it, Bannon is not) and trade. Cohn is a free trade globalist who supports multilateral trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while Bannon is an economic nationalist who eschews them.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly described NAFTA as a "disaster" and vowed to renegotiate the deal. On March 30, however, the Wall Street Journal, reviewing an administration draft proposal, reported that the White House is now seeking mostly minor changes to NAFTA and plans to retain some of its most controversial provisions.
Fox Business Correspondent Charlie Gasparino wrote:
"How Bannon and Cohn became senior officials in the Trump administration speaks to the president's unorthodox management style, where he appoints people to key positions often based on gut and personal relationships.
"While Trump was naturally attracted to Bannon's political and economic policies, he is said to be fond of Cohn's assertive management style and stature; while at Goldman, Cohn was an imposing figure on the firm's trading floor and later as a top executive, where he was regarded as the heir apparent to the firm's chief executive Lloyd Blankfein.
But now Trump's management style is being put to the test on economic issues as Bannon and Cohn compete for the president's ear."
Roger Stone, a longtime Trump loyalist, has accused Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, of feeding "lies and intel" to the media to hurt Bannon and others who are arguing against the "globalist agenda." In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Stone said:
"The president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, perhaps the one presidential aide who cannot be fired, is now in regular text-message communications with Joe Scarborough [a cable news and talk show host]," Stone said. "Many of the anti-Steve Bannon stories that you see, the themes that you see on 'Morning Joe' are being dictated by Kushner."
Cohn and Powell are said to be allied with Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka and Kushner. They are allegedly leading a White House faction that has been referred to as the "New York liberals." They are reportedly battling with the Bannon faction of populist hardliners for policy influence on a wide variety of policy issues.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal adviser to the president, put it this way: "It would be interesting to see to what degree the New York liberals change Trump and to what degree Trump changes the New York liberals."
Trump has the opportunity to fill as many as 4,000 leadership and policymaking positions across the federal government, but he has vowed to leave many political appointments unfilled "because they're unnecessary to have."
As Lee Smith points out, the policy implications of the unfilled vacancies and the ongoing turf wars within the Trump administration are far-reaching: "The main point is this: While the Trump cabinet is at daggers drawn, while it can't hire the staff to implement the policies the president campaigned on — to destroy ISIS, to rein in Iran and crash the nuclear deal, to protect American citizens and interests, and to realign with allies like Israel that Obama made vulnerable — there are much more decisive and deadly conflicts going on almost everywhere around the world. The people who are handling key elements of those conflicts now are the same people who handled those areas under Obama, despite the results of the last election. No wonder the results look equally awful."
Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Connecting the ISIS dots on terror in St. Petersburg
Talmiz Ahmad/Al Arabiya/April 05/17
In the afternoon of Monday, 3 April, the historic city of St. Petersburg joined other European cities like Brussels, Paris and Nice in becoming the target of a terrorist attack. The victims were travelling on the city’s Metro rail system that carries two million passengers daily. Between two stations, a suicide bomber blew himself up and killed 14 passengers, besides himself, and injured dozens of others, many of them quite severely. A second larger device was discovered at another station and defused suggesting to investigators that this might have the main attack but for the fact that the bomb failed to explode. The bombing took place on the day President Putin was visiting St. Petersburg to meet his counterpart from Belarus. Investigators are said to be looking for two other associates of the bomber. The perpetrator has been identified as 23-year old Akbarzhon Jalilov, a Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, who has been living in Russia for the last six years. While most official sources have so far been cautious about discussing the affiliation of the bomber, the Russian Interfax news agency has said that Djalilov was “linked to radical Islamic groups”. Russia experienced considerable terrorist violence in the 1990s and 2000s, but these were linked to separatist movements in Chechnya and Dagestan. In 2002, Chechen rebels had taken 170 hostages at a theatre in Moscow, and later, in 2004, they occupied a school in Beslan and took 1,100 hostages. About 390 persons were killed in the rescue operation. In January 2011, in a suicide attack at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport by the Chechens left 37 people killed. Terrorists associated with the Dagestan struggle were responsible for the suicide bombing at Volgograd station in December 2013 in which 16 persons were killed, followed by an attack on a trolley bus a day later in which 14 were killed. Russia has also experienced violence carried out by ISIS, but this has been outside Russia itself. In October 2015, the Russian Metrojet airliner blew up over the Sinai, in which 224 passengers were killed.
As ISIS collapses in the Levant, its lethal tentacles have reached out several thousand kilometers to perpetrate violence upon its enemies
ISIS backlash?
While a direct link of ISIS to the St. Petersburg is not yet apparent, commentators note that, in the wake of attacks in Mosul and Raqqa, in recent months ISIS leaders have asked potential recruits to avoid coming to their capital cities and instead carry out attacks in their own home countries. This has led to an upsurge of “lone-wolf” attacks in different cities by persons with no direct links with ISIS or other radical groups, who were perhaps motivated to violence by the allure of extremist propaganda on social media. Such a scenario cannot be ruled out in the case of the St. Petersburg bombing. Russia is home to at least 200,000 legal Central Asian migrants and a similar number of illegals, who work in gruelling conditions of discrimination and injustice to support families at home. They have in the past flocked to join militant groups in the conflict theatres of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.ISIS has had a special allure for Central Asian fighters. A Georgian Chechen, Abu Omar Al Shishani, was a senior field commander in the ISIS forces till his death in a US air attack in July 2016.
In 2015, the special services chief of Tajikstan, Gulmurod Khalimov, defected to ISIS and had urged Central Asian workers in Russia to join the organization with the words: “Working in Russia you became slaves of kafirs [non-believers]. You’re churki [“dark-skinned”, a pejorative Russian word used to describe Central Asians] for them, nothing more… Do jihad, come to the ISIS.”It is estimated that between 1500-4000 Central Asians joined militancy in Syria, with some militia specially dedicated to these fighters. With ISIS now under pressure, potential recruits are available to perpetrate terror at home.
Putin’s role in Russia
In Chechnya, this is facilitated by the Chechen independence movement now calling itself the “Caucasus Emirate”, seeking to set up a “caliphate” in Chechnya and calling fighters from all the neighboring republics. Besides the Chechen factor, attacks on Russia by radical groups have been encouraged by the strong military and political support that Russia has extended to the Assad regime in Syria. Not only has Russia boosted the military capabilities of the Assad regime, its air force has also carried out massive attacks on ISIS positions across Syria. This has ensured not just the survival of the regime but also the imminent destruction of “caliphate” itself. There are reports that some days before the St. Petersburg bombings some ISIS websites had encouraged attacks on Russia and President Putin himself for his role in Syria. One image showed an ISIS fighter standing in front of the Kremlin with the caption “kill them where you find them”, while another encouraged its supporters to launch strikes on Moscow. After the attacks, some ISIS-related websites have shown its supporters celebrating the attacks: an ISIS supporter on the group’s al-Minbar platform wrote: “We ask Allah to bless the operation by the lions of the Caliphate, we ask Allah to kill the Crusaders.” Another said that the bombing created “a metro to hell for the worshipers of the Cross”, and claimed that the attacks were revenge for Russia’s attacks on ISIS in Syria.
As ISIS collapses in the Levant, its lethal tentacles have reached out several thousand kilometers to perpetrate violence upon its enemies.

From Petersburg to Khan Sheikhoun

Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/April 05/17
On Monday, the terrorist attack which targeted Saint Petersburg Metro killed at least 11 and injured dozens others. On the very next day, the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib in North Syria suffered from a serious war crime after the Syrian regime attacked it with chemical gas killing at least 58 civilians. It is a dangerous coincidence and shows how crises and attacks across the world are linked to each other. What happened against innocent civilians in Russia is a crime and that is beyond doubt. According to preliminary investigations, the attack was carried out by Akbarzhon Jalilov, who is originally from Kyrgyzstan and was affiliated to the ISIS. The man who carried out the Istanbul nightclub shooting on New Year’s Eve was also from the same country. What happened in Khan Sheikhoun is a major disaster for the international community. The pictures of Syrian children with their eyes wide open after the deadly chemical attack raises feelings of anger and panic. The entire civilized world condemned the St. Petersburg attack. However, does this “entire” world also clearly, unhesitatingly and strongly, condemn the Khan Sheikhoun crime? In all fairness, the western world, France and the European Union spoke loudly against this attack. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini slammed the chemical attack and said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for it. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on everyone to shoulder their responsibilities and called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting. Honestly speaking, explosions targeting Russia were expected as Russia has been a tempting target for terrorist groups even before it intervened in Syria, let alone following its intervention
Evading responsibility
As usual, the Assad regime invented a story to evade responsibility, just like it did with the infamous Abu Adas incident. It evaded the responsibility for the attack and said the opposition was angry because it is being defeated. Oh well! Does this anger mean the opposition will attack its own people in Khan Sheikhoun using chemical gas? The Russians also denied any role and said their jets were not there. Most probably, or rather almost certainly, the perpetrator is Bashar al-Assad whose forces have carried out a similar attack in the past in eastern Ghouta. Back then, Barack Obama threatened him with “red lines!”
Mohamed Sabra, chief negotiator for the Syrian opposition during the Geneva talks, said the chemical attack puts Geneva talks, which aim to settle the dispute, into question. Honestly speaking, explosions targeting Russia were expected as Russia has been a tempting target for terrorist groups even before it intervened in Syria, let alone following its intervention. When Washington, London and Paris condemned Assad, particularly after he carried out chemical attacks, Moscow and Beijing used their veto powers seven times. The attack in Petersburg and the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun should both be condemned. Evil summons evil. May God protect us from all wickedness.

Why is justice obstructed in Iraq’s integrity-related cases?
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/April 05/17
This is not the first time that an Iraqi political leader or government official has hinted that the judiciary has taken too long to look into cases or neglected them or finalized them via making decisions which do not comply with all the conditions of justice. On Friday, Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Supreme Council, called on the judicial institution to look into all the cases submitted to it and take action. He added that the judiciary must specifically look into cases, which obstruct implementation of justice – particularly cases related to terrorism, accountability, justice and administrative and financial corruption. During a recent visit to the Iraqi Commission of Integrity, it seemed to me that the major complaint was related to the delays in finalizing these cases. Some of these cases are dangerous and significant as well. However, the judiciary has failed to address them despite the availability of conclusive evidence such as documents and confessions.
Obstacle of corruption
Administrative and financial corruption is now the biggest obstacle, which hinders the prospects of stability, peace and rooting out of terrorism. Achieving all this would mean pursuing economic development that can overcome the financial, economic and social crises the society struggles from. Administrative and financial corruption within the system of the Iraqi state has been one of the major sources of terrorism during the past 10 years. The judiciary is not seriously and appropriately dealing with the gravity of these cases and this is probably because it is being pressured by prominent political figures and statesmen. The Commission of Integrity’s data stipulates that there are cases linked to prominent officials in the government or to businessmen who have strong ties to influential politicians and officials. The judiciary is not seriously and appropriately dealing with the gravity of these cases and this is probably because it is being pressured by prominent political figures and statesmen. Some judges claim that the delay is due to the number of cases they have to look into even as others suddenly decide that they are not convinced by the commission’s investigation or the evidence provided by it.
Commission of Integrity
The Commission of Integrity, however, makes strenuous efforts to provide the required information, and it is only an institution that conducts investigations as its role ends once cases are transferred to the judiciary whose only governor is the judge’s conscience. To resolve this problem, demands have been raised for establishing a department that deals with cases linked to integrity. These demands are not without a reason as they deal with administrative disputes. It is represented in the administrative court that is not affiliated with the judicial authority but with the ministry of justice.Establishing specialized integrity courts that deal with cases relevant to administrative and financial corruption and that have strong ties to the Commission of Integrity will speed up the process of looking into and finalizing these cases.
This will mean restoring tens of billions of dollars stolen from people which has hindered the country’s economic and social development and the achievement of peace.

Toward a deeper understanding of the western model
Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/April 05/17
Like others people in the Gulf have been influenced by the West. However, it is the financial prosperity that has brought them closer to western products and technological advancements. This may have increased in recent decades as people have been dragged toward western fashion and trends as they travel there and are influenced by movies. The West represents a magical and captivating model and there are several reasons why the world looks up to it. At the end of it all though, it is all about exercising personal choices and there is indeed nothing wrong in admiring western civilization.
If we look at the achievements of the West, we realize that they linked to science and philosophy. Institutions that took shape with the renaissance of the 16th century, summed up by French Philosopher Rene Descartes, achieved worldwide acclaim. Descartes was born hundreds of years ago and his philosophical proposition “I think therefore I am” changed history as it includes the self, intellect and existence. These concepts have dominated the history of western intellectual debates until today. Despite struggles, civil wars and two world wars, many countries in the West rose from their ravages due to purely scientific temper. We can consider Japan as part of the western community considering it kept up with this development.
Secret of success
Germany, whose cities were destroyed completely, managed to rise again in just 50 years thanks to scientific and social factors. In his book Heritage and Modernity, Critic Mohammed Abed al-Jabri explains Germany’s secret of success and discusses its history and cultural growth.
“The philosophy of history in Germany was an ideological context that reflected Germany’s desire for unity and development. The Germans sought the unity of their disintegrated society and wanted to catch up with and be as developed as other European countries. Then-feudal Germany thus lived that dream at the time. Its philosophers’ look into history was inspired or rather based on their present problems and future aspirations”.
“They looked at history’s development in such a way, which allowed them to justify Germany’s civilization in the past and its absence from the industrial revolution at their present time. They made old civilizations the childhood of humanity, Greek and Roman civilizations the youth of humanity and Germanic civilization the maturity of humanity. A German thinker said history is the total of possible things which have been achieved. This means there are other possibilities which are about to be achieved, and this includes the future Germany,” he wrote.
The western fabric and core have a lot in common on the level of methods and characteristics and this is what pushed the West toward advanced cultural excellence
Western civilization is a general term, which refers to the rise of Britain, France, Germany and the US. However, each country followed its own path in terms of scientific achievements. This is why we see distinctions among these countries. One country would thus be more skilled while the other would be better in terms of technological development.
This is common due to diverse interests of societies. The western fabric and core have a lot in common on the level of methods and characteristics and this is what pushed the West toward advanced cultural excellence.
Values of civilization
Being influenced by western civilization is vital and is evidence of the interaction with other countries. However, what is more important is discovering the values which this civilization was based on and understanding the philosophies and sciences behind it. By doing so, other societies will benefit more from this influence. Civilization is much deeper than the magical and captivating achievements of cinemas or fashion or developed cities. These are things, which everyone can see. Searching for the secrets of development and understanding the statements made by literary and intellectual figures and scientists during the transition from the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages, are what alters intellectual structure. It empowers the passion for knowledge and benefits Arab and Islamic societies, which really need to be inspired by these successful models – and the West has the clearest and most successful model. We are fully drowned in this western influence but what’s more important is to be preoccupied with understanding the questions that woke up the West.

Spokesman For Iran-Backed Iraqi Shi'ite Militia In Syria: 'We Have Established The Golan Liberation Army'
MEMRI/April 05/17
On March 8, 2017, Hashem Al-Mousawi, the spokesman for the Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militia Al-Nujaba, gave an interview to the Iranian news agency Tasnim, highlighting the militia's activities in Iraq and Syria. He accused Saudi Arabia and the U.S. of being responsible for ISIS's actions, stressing that Iran is the only country that has helped his militia. He also said that Iraqi-Saudi relations were like "a failed marriage," adding that "we do not want a separation between Iran and Iraq."
Al-Mousawi said that his militia would not allow foreign forces to remain in Mosul, and revealed that the American administration had heavily pressured the Iraqi government to prevent the Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militia from entering Sunni cities liberated from ISIS. He also said that the U.S. had demanded to appoint a civilian governer in Mosul, but that their demand had been rejected.
Al-Mousawi warned Turkey that if it did not withdraw from Bashiqa in northern Iraq his organization would take military action against it, adding that Al-Nujaba opposes the presence of former Iraqi prime minister Tariq Al-Hashimi – a Sunni currently living in exile – at conferences organized by Turkey to discuss Iraq's fate.
He also stressed that his militia forces have been in Syria for four years and do not intend to withdraw until after "the terrorists" leave, and expressed fear of ethnic cleansing in the Shi'ite villages of Fu'ah and Kefraya in Syria.
Additionally, Al-Mousawi announced that his militia has established the "Golan Liberation Army," which he said "comprises special forces that have received training and equipment." This force, he said, "has detailed plans" for action, but requires the authorization of the Syrian government to be present in the Golan. Al-Mousawi admitted that his militia is directly tied to the PMU and the Iranian resistance axis, and said that the militia was expanding its activity to combat Israel on the Golan Heights because "Israel is fundamentally [responsible for] the destruction of Iraq… and took steps to destroy our infrastructure." He also warned the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen not to advance on Iran, because Iran is "a powerful country."
Al-Nujaba And The Iranian Connection
The Al-Nujba militia was established by Akram Al-Ka'bi, who left the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Iraqi militia Asaeb Ahl Al-Haqq and moved to Syria to supervise Al-Nujaba's activity, which includes participating in combat to defend the Assad regime. In an interview with the Iraqi daily Al-'Alam Al-Jadid, Al-Ka'bi said that Iran supports his organization both militarily and logistically, and stressed its close ties with Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s (IRGC) Qods Force, and with Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.[1] According to reports on Syrian opposition websites, militiamen are trained by the IRGC and Hizbullah, and are deployed throughout Syria – in Al-Raqqa, Aleppo Province, and Damascus.[2] Published images indicate that the militia operates Iranian drones (see images below). Additionally, in light of its close ties with Iran's Qods Force, the militia published a song praising Qassem Soleimani. To view the video, click here.
Al-Nujaba militia leader Al-Ka'bi (left) with Iran's Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani (, April 20, 2015)
Al-Nujaba logo, which is similar to logos used by the IRGC and other resistance organizations (, October 9, 2014)
Following is a translation of the interview with Al-Nujaba spokesman Hashem Al-Mousawi, which has been reordered by topic: [3]
Al-Nujaba Spokesman: "We Demanded That [Saudi Foreign Minister] Al-Jubeir Take Back The Gifts He Had Given Iraq"
"In this [interview] I will discuss the events in the region and in Iraq. Terrorism wishes to besmirch Islam and destroy the infrastructure of Islamic countries. The sectarian wars in the region are meant to destroy [these countries]. That is why foreign media refer to the regional war as a sectarian one [between Sunnis and Shi'ites]. We are a united nation in Iraq fighting against terrorism. ISIS is the standard bearer of sectarianism, and its goal is to destroy the sanctities of Islam.
"Many cities have been liberated and ISIS has lost many leaders, most of them Saudi. During the recent visit by [Saudi Foreign Minister] 'Adel Al-Jubeir [to Iraq], we demanded that he take back the gifts he had given Iraq.
"In Mosul, ISIS destroyed all its documents within two days, killed its injured, and set up gallows for those who surrendered. ISIS elements wish to flee to Syria and establish an autonomy there. But America wants to send all the terrorist elements to Yemen and Syria, so that terrorism spreads throughout the entire region. America also wants to revive terrorism in Africa.
Hashem Al-Mousawi being interviewed by Tasnim
"The war in Mosul is easy because the terrorist groups [there] have been eliminated. In accordance with our plan, we cut Tal Afar off from Mosul, and this was the death of ISIS. In response, the enemy sent over 30 martyrdom vehicles and suicide drones, [but] we managed to deal with them."
"Iran Is The Only Country That Helped Us And Sent Us Its Military Advisors"
"We accept refugees regardless of religion. The images and videos attacking the PMU and the [Iranian-led] resistance are part of a media war waged by terrorist elements.
"We assess that the war in Mosul will end within days. American forces are in Mosul to steal the Iraqi people's victory in this war. When ISIS stole Syria's oil from the Ayn Al-Assad base, America merely [stood by and] observed.
"ISIS benefits from American weapons, Saudi vehicles, and Qatari food [rations]. When Mosul was captured [by ISIS], we expected the establishment of an Arab coalition, but sadly, [the Arabs] only looked on. Their excuse was that Iraq obeyed Iran, even though Iran is the only country that has helped us and sent us its military advisors, led by [IRGC Qods Force Commander] Qassem Soleimani. We asked Arab countries, 'Why do you take a stand against us because of a single Iranian military advisor, but say nothing about the thousands of American military advisors? Alternatively, why don't you send [us your own] military advisors?' The Arab media fought us, calling us a militia while referring to ISIS as 'the Islamic State.'"
Iranian Yasir drone used by the Al-Nujaba militia (, March 25, 2015; Abna, Iran, December 23, 2014)
"America Heavily Pressured The [Iraqi] Government To Prevent The PMU From Entering Tal Afar And Mosul"
"America heavily pressured the [Iraqi] government to prevent the PMU from entering Tal Afar and Mosul. [In response,] we prevented American forces from entering liberated areas in Iraq.
"ISIS uses civilians as human shields. The [Iraqi] security forces absolutely do not damage infrastructure. [This,] unlike America, which destroyed over 6,000 homes while liberating Al-Ramadi.
"We closed the Syrian-Iraqi border, [but] an Iraqi airstrike in Syria worried [Saudi Foreign Minister] 'Adel Al-Jubeir, who wished to put an end to it, yet we persisted..."
"We Will Not Allow Foreign Forces To Remain In Mosul..; We Do Not Want A Separation Between Iran And Iraq"
"Saudi-Iraqi ties are like a failed marriage. We hope [the Saudis] officially recognize the political process in Iraq and work with us from that angle. We will not allow foreign forces to remain in Mosul.
"So long as there are no sectarian motives, we support all efforts to preserve the political process in Iraq, but totally reject interference in Iraqi affairs. We certainly will not agree to Iraq becoming a wrestling arena for other countries. We do not recognize Al-Jubeir's visit [in Baghdad] as a step that will improve the situation in Iraq. Iraq has complicated problems and we want [the Saudis] to leave Iraq and its people alone. [But] we do not want a separation between Iran and Iraq...
"America wants to appoint a non-military governor in Mosul. The Iraqi regime rejected this. There is another group named Ninveh that wants to control this area. We will not allow them to.
"Militarily speaking, we [Al-Nujaba] have achieved victory in Mosul. We will not participate in a future political process and we want nothing from Mosul other than to liberate it. After that, we will carry out our ideological and cultural work.
"America wants to save the leaders of ISIS from Iraqi elements, which is why we have severed the aid routes [to them]. The decision by ISIS leaders to enter Al-Raqqa [in Syria] took place before we entered those areas. America intends to create new fronts in Sinai and Africa..."
If Pressuring Turkey To Withdraw From Bashiqa Yields No Results, "We Will Take A Military Move"
"As for the Turkish military presence in Bashiqa [in northern Iraq], the Iraqi parliament called the presence of Turkish forces [there] 'occupation.' We have applied pressure on Turkey to withdraw. If this pressure is fruitless, we will take a military move. Turkey prevented the PMU from being present in Tal Afar, using the excuse of [preventing] a sectarian war...
"[Turkey's President] Erdogan deceived [the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Mas'oud] Barzani, but the Turkish delusion was buried on the outskirts of Sinjar. With no authorization from the central [Iraqi] government, Barzani retaliated in Kobane and later in Sinjar, in order to become a hero for the Kurds. But the Kurdish parties do not want this dictator. The Turks and Americans want these Kurdish conflicts to persist.
"As for the influence Mosul's liberation had on Iraq's parliamentary elections – currently, Iraqi conferences are taking place in Turkey, attended by terrorist elements who fled [Iraq], such as [former Iraqi Vice President] Tariq Al-Hashimi. We do not accept this..."
"Al-Nujaba Has Been In Syria For Four Years... We Will Not Leave Until All The Terrorists Do"
"Al-Nujaba has been in Syria for four years. Turkey stole Syria's equipment, infrastructure, and intelligensia.
"Food and medicine shortages, as well as frequent attacks in the area of the [Shi'ite villages of] Fu'ah and Kefraya [in Syria], worry us, since it is possible that ethnic cleansing could take place...
"Regarding the renewed fighting in Rif Aleppo, one of our top priorities is to remove the siege from Fu'ah and Kefraya. International pressure is being applied to remove this siege because some countries want it to continue in order to promote their own political interests...
"The violence and crimes committed by [Turkish President] Erdogan against his [own] people could repeat themselves in Fu'ah and Kefraya. That is why we asked the Syrian foreign minister to rejoin the Arab League, so that we can show the world what is happening in Fu'ah and Kefraya. The illusion of the Ottoman Empire has collapsed in Syria...
"We will not leave Syria until all the terrorists do. We are fighting in Syria for the different sects and religions and we absolutely do not want population transfers."
"We Have Created The Golan Liberation Army... If The Syrian Regime Asks Us To, We Are Ready To Act To Liberate The Golan"
"After the recent victories, we created the Golan Liberation Army. This army has been trained and has detailed plans. If the Syria regime asks us to, we are ready to act to liberate the Golan [from Israel] along with our allies. We will not allow Arab and Islamic countries to be smaller in size than Israel...
"The Golan Army comprises special forces who have received training and equipment. They have not [yet] entered any war [against Israel] and have been busy only with ending regional wars. There is a need for authorization from the Syrian government so that the Golan Army can be present there [in the Golan]...
"Regarding the Golan Army, we are part of the PMU, and before that we were part of the resistance [axis]. So long as there is a threat in the region, we will not lay down our weapons.
"Israel is fundamentally [responsible for] Iraq's destruction. That regime took steps to destroy our infrastructure and scientists. Whether Iraq is on Trump's list or not, we consider [the U.S.] a supporter of regional terrorism..."
"We Advise The Anti-Yemen Coalition... Not Advance On Iran, Which Is A Strong, Developed Country"
"The Arab media has shut its eyes to the events and killing in Yemen. The anti-Yemen coalition has suffered many defeats, and the resistance has exchanged defensive warfare for offensive warfare. We advise the anti-Yemen coalition, which has not managed to defeat [even] a small country like Yemen, not to advance on Iran, which is a strong, developed country..."
[1], April 20, 2015.
[2], August 19, 2014;, March 26, 2015.
[3] Tasnim (Iran), March 8, 2017.