April 13/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Jesus Shares His Desciples The Passover Meal
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 22/01-23./:"The festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present. Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.’They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for it?’ ‘Listen,’ he said to them, ‘when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters and say to the owner of the house, "The teacher asks you, ‘Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ " He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.’So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.

Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord
First Letter to the Corinthians 11/23-32/:"I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 12-13/17
Thursday of the Holy Mysteries: Sacraments, Humility and Temptation/Elias Bejjani/April 13/17
A Strike in Syria Restores Our Credibility in the World/Tom Cotton/The New York Times/April 12/17
In Syria’s Next Big Battle, the US has a Crucial Role to Play/Josh Rogin/The Washington Post/April 12/17
Syria … Post the US Strike!/Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al-Awsat/April 12/17/
Church explosions and Brotherhood’s hesitant condemnation/Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/April 12/17
Universities are for learning, they’re not for politics and guns/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/April 12/1
Terrorism in Egypt: the cultural myth/Mohammed Nosseir/Al ARabiya/April 12/17
Muslims in Europe, identity questions and failure of discourse/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/April 12/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on April 12-13/17
Thursday of the Holy Mysteries: Sacraments, Humility and Temptation
Aoun Suspends Parliament for One Month under Article 59 of Constitution
Protests cancelled after Parliament session halted
FPM Delegation from Bkirki: We'll Confront Extension on Behalf of All Lebanese
Berri Says All Electoral Laws to be Based on Full Proportional Representation after Extension
Berri Says Extension a 'Necessary Evil' to Avoid 'Lethal and Destructive Vacuum'
Berri adjourns parliamentary session to May 15
UNIFIL head calls on Speaker Berri, Prime Minister Hariri
Tensions Flare between Baabda, Ain el-Tineh over Electoral Law, Extension
Mashnouq: Security Forces to Protect Freedom of Expression, Prevent Blocking of Int'l Highways
Lebanon Calls on International Community to Launch Investments in Infrastructure
Ex-PM Mikati says Parliament extension part of political deal

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 12-13/17
Russia Vetoes U.N. Draft Resolution on Syria Gas Attack Probe
Canada deplores Russia UN veto on Syria
Ottawa Cooperates with Saudi Arabia in Advanced Technologies, Mining, Energy
‘No doubt’ Syria responsible for deadly chemical attack: Mattis
Tillerson: ‘Low level of trust’ between US and Russia
Sweden to fast-track tighter law on joining militant groups
Stockholm attack suspect tried to join ISIS in Syria
Egypt church curtails Easter celebrations after bombings
Egypt reveals identity of Alexandria church suicide bomber
Trio who tried to blow up US plane gets 15-year jail in Jordan
Killing of key militant a success and worry for Philippines
Pakistani gangster in military custody for leaking sensitive information to Iran
Ex-president Ahmadinejad submits name for Iranian presidential election
China Leader Urges Peaceful Resolution of N. Korea Tensions in Trump Call

Links From Jihad Watch Site for April 12-13/17
US embassy in Cairo warns its citizens to avoid “identifiable places of worship”
Graphic: Images and video of Palm Sunday’s Coptic church bombings
Italy: Muslim truck driver who posted jihad material to be “deradicalized”
Stockholm truck jihad murderer: “I’m pleased with what I’ve done…I drove towards the infidels”
Swedish PM vows: Sweden will never go back to the days of mass immigration
UK: Muslim who claimed killing British soldiers was justified becomes leader of Muslim group with influence in government
Germany: Muslim arrested for soccer team bus bombing, letters found saying attack carried out in name of Islam
Hugh Fitzgerald: A Few Scenes, Drawn from Life, of the Latest in Muslim Outreach (Part I)
Erdogan: “Europe is collapsing…Europe will pay for what they have done” in humiliating and oppressing Turks
Truman State University in uproar as Thought Criminal Robert Spencer set to speak on campus
Robert Spencer, Here’s to You”

Links From Christian Today Site on April 12-13/17
Coptic churches in Egypt cancel Easter celebrations, mourning Palm Sunday bombings
The children being raped, drugged and used as suicide bombers by Boko Haram
Fourteen per cent of US Christians left their churches after Trump's election, new research finds
Christians in Hungary call on Church leaders to speak up for refugees
Franklin Graham hits back at Saeed Abedini over claims he failed to help the pastor after his release from Iranian prison
Egyptians honour the Muslim woman police officer who died saving Christians
Christ with a barbed wire crown: St Paul's Cathedral installs Wallinger statue to highlight plight of prisoners
Despite bombings, Pope Francis to go ahead with Egypt trip and show solidarity with besieged Coptic Christians

Latest Lebanese Related News published on April 12-13/17
Thursday of the Holy Mysteries: Sacraments, Humility and Temptation
Elias Bejjani/April 13/17
On the Thursday that comes before the "Good Friday, when Jesus was crucified, Catholics all over the world, including our Maronite Eastern Church celebrates with prayers and intercessions the "Thursday of the Holy Mysteries", which is also known as the "Washing Thursday ", the "Covenant Thursday", and the "Great & Holy Thursday". It is the holy day feast that falls on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with His 12 Apostles as described in the gospel. It is the fifth day of the last Lenten Holy Week, that is followed by the, "Good Friday", "Saturday Of The Light and "Easter Sunday".
Christianity in its essence and core is Love, Sacrifice, honesty, transparency, devotion, hard work and Humility. Jesus during the last supper with His 12 Apostles reiterated and stressed all these Godly values and principles. In this holy and message proclaiming context He executed the following acts : He, ordained His Apostles as priests, and asked them to proclaim God's message. “You have stayed with me all through my trials; 29 and just as my Father has given me the right to rule, so I will give you the same right. 30 You will eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and you will sit on thrones to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22/28 and 29)
He, taught His Apostles and every body else, that evil temptation and betrayal can hit all those who detach and dissociate themselves from God, do not fear Him, lack faith, lose hope and worship earthly treasures. He showed them by example that even a disciple that He personally had picked and choose (Judas, the Iscariot) has fell a prey to Satan's temptation. “But, look! The one who betrays me is here at the table with me! The Son of Man will die as God has decided, but how terrible for that man who betrays him!" Luke 22/21)
He, washed His Apostles' feet to teach them by example modesty, devotion and humility. “So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13/12-16).
Modesty was stressed and explained by Jesus after His Apostles were arguing among themselves who is the greatest: "An argument broke out among the disciples as to which one of them should be thought of as the greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the pagans have power over their people, and the rulers claim the title ‘Friends of the People.’ But this is not the way it is with you; rather, the greatest one among you must be like the youngest, and the leader must be like the servant. Who is greater, the one who sits down to eat or the one who serves? The one who sits down, of course. But I am among you as one who serves." (Luke 22/24 till 27)
Thursday of the "Holy Mysteries", is called so because in His Last Supper with the 12 disciples, Jesus Christ established the Eucharist and Priesthood Sacraments when "He received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves, for I tell you, I will not drink at all again from the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God comes.” "He took bread, broke it and gave it to the disciples saying: This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me. And when He Likewise, took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you".
Thursday of the Holy Mysteries (Secrets-Sacraments) is the heart of the last Lenten holy week, in which the Maronite Catholic Church lives with reverence and devotion the Lord's Last Supper spirit and contemplation through prayers and deeply rooted religious rituals and traditions:
The Patriarch prays over and blesses the chrism (Al-Myroun), as well as the oil of baptism and anointing that are to are distributed on all parishes and churches.
During the mass that is held on this Holy Day, the priest washes the feet of twelve worshipers, mainly children (symbolizing the apostles numbers). Jesus washed His disciples feet and commanded them to love each other and follow his example in serving each other.
Worshipers visit and pray in seven Churches. This ritual denotes to the completion of the Church's Seven sacraments (Secrets) : Priesthood, Eucharist, Holy Oil, Baptism, Confirmations, anointing and Service.
This tradition also denotes to the seven locations that Virgin Mary's went to look for Her Son, Jesus, after she learned about His arrest. The detention place, The Council of the Priests, twice the Pilate's headquarters, twice the Herod Headquarters, till She got to the Calvary.
Some Christian scholars believe that this tradition was originated in Rome where early pilgrims visited the seven pilgrim churches as an act of penance. They are Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter, Saint Mary Major, Saint Paul-outside-the-Walls, Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, Holy Cross-in-Jerusalem, and traditionally Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls. Pope John Paul II replaced St. Sebastian with the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Divine Love for the jubilee year of 2000.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper is accompanied by the ringing of bells, which are then silent until the Easter Vigil. Worshipers used to kneel and pray the rosary in front of the Eucharist (Blessed Sacrament) all Thursday night. The Blessed Sacrament remains exposed all night, while worshipers are encouraged to stay in the church as much as they can praying, meditating upon the Mystery of Salvation, and participating in the “agony of Gethsemane” (Garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives) in Jerusalem where Jesus spent his night in prayer before His crucifixion on Good Friday.
After the homily washing of feet the service concludes with a procession taking the Blessed Eucharist (Sacrament) to the place of reposition. The altar is later stripped bare, as are all other altars in the church except the Altar of Repose.
Thursday of the "Holy Mysteries", is called so because in His Last Supper with the 12 disciples, Jesus Christ established the Eucharist and Priesthood Sacraments when "He received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves, for I tell you, I will not drink at all again from the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God comes.” "He took bread, broke it and gave it to the disciples saying: This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me. And when He Likewise, took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you".
Jesus ordained His disciples as priests of the New Testament when he said to them during the Last Supper: "But you are those who have continued with me in my trials. I confer on you a kingdom, even as my Father conferred on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. You will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Before Celebrating the Resurrection Day (Easter) worshipers live the "Paschal Mystery" through the Thursday Of the Sacraments, Good Friday and Saturday Of The Light.
Because He loves us and wants us to dwell in His Eternal Heaven, Jesus Christ for our sake willingly suffered all kinds of torture, pain, humiliation and died on the Cross to pave our way for repentance and salvation.
Let us pray on this Holy Day that we always remember Jesus' love and sacrifices and live our life in this context of genuine, faith, love, meekness and forgiveness.

Aoun Suspends Parliament for One Month under Article 59 of Constitution
Naharnet /April 12/17/President Michel Aoun used his presidential powers on Wednesday to suspend parliament's activities for one month, which consequently led to Speaker Nabih Berri's postponement of a controversial legislative session aimed at extending parliament's term. “I have decided to suspend parliament's activities for one month in line with Article 59 of the Lebanese constitution,” Aoun said in a televised address to the nation. It is the first time ever in Lebanon's history that a Lebanese president resorts to this article, according to media reports.“Upon my election as president, I performed the oath of office, vowing loyalty to the constitution of the Lebanese nation and its laws and to preserve Lebanon's independence, unity and territorial integrity,” Aoun said. “The Document of National Accord, which has become an inseparable part of the Lebanese constitution, stipulates that the parliamentary elections should take place according to a new electoral law,” he added. The president also reminded that in his oath of office, he had vowed to “work on correcting the political representation of the Lebanese people according to the aforementioned constitutional principles.”
Aoun's move follows marathon political talks led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Media reports said the president's move was coordinated in advance with Berri and Hizbullah. “After the president used Article 59 of the constitution which gives him the right to suspend parliament's convention for a period not exceeding one month, I once again consider that this step by the president is aimed at securing more time that can be utilized to reach an agreement on a new law,” Berri said in a statement, reminding Aoun that he had always called for an electoral law based on proportional representation. “In turn, and in line with his stance, I'm postponing tomorrow's session to May 15,” Berri added. He also hoped that the parties will agree on a new electoral law during the coming period “to allow for a technical extension that would steer us clear from lethal vacuum that would lead Lebanon into certain suicide.”Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi called Berri after the statement to “congratulate him on his stance,” the National News Agency said. The Parliament Bureau had called for a Thursday legislative session that had a one-year extension of parliament's term on its agenda, which angered the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces who called for street protests and vowed to boycott the session. The Kataeb Party was also expected to boycott the session and to take part in street protests together with several civil society groups. Hizbullah and its allies have repeatedly called for an electoral law fully based on proportional representation amid reservations by al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party, and most recently the LF. But Mustaqbal's leader, PM Saad Hariri, has recently announced that he is willing to accept full proportional representation. FPM chief Jebran Bassil and LF leader Samir Geagea have meanwhile called for a hybrid electoral system that mixes proportional representation with the winner-takes-all system, arguing that it grants Christians better representation.

Protests cancelled after Parliament session halted
The Daily Star/April 12/17/BEIRUT: Protests against a planned Parliamentary extension scheduled for Thursday were canceled after President Michel Aoun postponed the controversial Parliament session for one month on Wednesday. In a brief televised speech from Baabda Palace, Aoun exercised Article 59 of the Constitution, which allows the president to adjourn one Parliament meeting per session for a period not exceeding one month. Aoun's decision prompted the Lebanese Forces to cancel their call for a public strike and a mass rally in Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square against the extension attempt by lawmakers.
The Free Patriotic Movement and Kataeb Party also followed suit. Protest movements, including You Stink and We Want Accountability also canceled their protests. Several political parties and activists in Lebanon earlier on Wednesday mobilized for rallies ahead of the Parliament session that was expected to see the extension of lawmaker's mandate for a third term. You Stink movement called in a news conference in Beirut's Riad al-Solh on Lebanese to take part in Thursday's protest en masse to prevent lawmakers from extending their terms. "They have invented excuses to renew their terms. We will return to the streets to tell the illegitimate Parliament that they will not [hijack] our voices again," one of the movement's members had said reading a statement. The movement called on the Constitutional Council to assume its responsibility and Aoun to exercise his powers under Article 59 of the Lebanese Constitution to adjourn Thursday's session.
Parliament's tenure ends on June 21.
A new political rift emerged on Tuesday over attempts by Speaker Nabih Berri to proceed with plans to extend Parliament’s term for one more year, following two extensions in 2013 and 2014.Berri and parties that support the extensions say they aim to prevent the country from falling into parliamentary vacuum.
The Lebanese Forces and their Christian allies FPM, both opposed to the extension, called on their supporters to take to the street on Thursday. "The real solution to this problem is by creating a new electoral law that guarantees the greatest degree of equality, and not a third parliamentary extension," the LF said in a statement. “The LF urges citizens, at this historic and crucial moment in which the correction of the misalignment in the Taif Accord is possible, to be ready for popular movements, whose time and place will be determined eventually and whenever necessary,” the statement added. Change and Reform MP Ibrahim Kanaan Wednesday vowed to challenge a third extension for the Parliament, which he said would pose a new threat to Lebanon. "As Christians, we are today taking a stance to defend all Lebanese whose wills have been oppressed, defending the Constitution and coexistence," Kanaan said during a news conference after talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Bkirki, north of Beirut. Tripoli and Beirut's Bar Associations also decided to go on strike on Thursday to protest the planned extension. Activists from the mushrooming civil society campaigns, including We Want Accountability and For the Republic, have also called on the Lebanese to rally in the area. Security forces deployed Wednesday evening in preparation for the next day’s rally, as protesters from different movements gathered at Martyrs' Square. Security forces will be prepared and present "at the highest level" during Thursday’s protests, said Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk after a security meeting. "We support the right to freedom of speech and expression," he said. "But we oppose blocking traffic and damaging public and private property."
"Prime Minister Hariri cares about freedom of expression on one hand, and also cares about security on the other," Machnouk added.

FPM Delegation from Bkirki: We'll Confront Extension on Behalf of All Lebanese
Naharnet /April 12/17/MP Ibrahim Kanaan of the Free Patriotic Movement announced Wednesday that the FPM and the Lebanese Forces will confront the attempt to extend parliament's term through all possible means “in defense of the constitution.”“Why is it permissible to vote on extension and not on an electoral law?” Kanaan said after meeting Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki along with an FPM delegation. He was referring to Thursday's key parliamentary session that has a one-year extension of parliament's term on its agenda. “As Christians, today we are taking a stance to defend every Lebanese citizen whose will is being usurped, and this is in defense of the constitution and coexistence,” Kanaan added. “What does a third extension mean? Isn't it a usurpation of power? Should impotent MPs be rewarded with extension? (Syrian) hegemony was the excuse in the past but today what is the excuse?” the MP went on to say. “They are saying that they will vote on extension without us. Is this how we build the State and abide by our promises and vows?” Kanaan asked. He said that the Christian alliance “will confront extension on behalf of Christians and Muslims.” “All discussions are accepted and we still have time to agree on a new law,” Kanaan noted. He stressed that “no one has the right to bypass the constitution and the pact of national partnership that gathers the Lebanese,” calling on “all those who believe in Lebanon” to be ready to act on Thursday. “We are before an existential and rightful legal and constitutional situation and all Lebanese must unite when Lebanon is in danger,” Kanaan added.

Berri Says All Electoral Laws to be Based on Full Proportional Representation after Extension

Naharnet /April 12/17/Nabih Berri has emphasized that all electoral laws in Lebanon will be based on full proportional representation in the future should parliament extend its own term for a third time during Thursday's legislative session. “The country faces a test on Thursday and it will either be honored or insulted... This extension is necessary and it is in the country's interest. This session is aimed at motivating them and it represents the last attempt to reach an electoral law,” local newspapers quoted Berri as saying in remarks published Wednesday. “Should this law be reached in the next 48 hours, the matter will become very easy: I would merge the (extension) draft law submitted by MP (Nicolas) Fattoush with the draft law that the government reaches and it would be deemed a proposal for a technical extension,” Berri added. “After this extension, all electoral laws in Lebanon will be based on full proportional representation,” the speaker underlined. “There is a proverb that says that a bad ruler is better than no ruler at all. Should parliament cease to exist, the country will have no more governance or authorities and vacuum would destroy the country,” Berri warned.

Berri Says Extension a 'Necessary Evil' to Avoid 'Lethal and Destructive Vacuum'
Naharnet /April 12/17/Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday described the controversial proposed extension of parliament's term as “a necessary evil” aimed at avoiding “lethal and destructive vacuum in the country.”“We have always been open to discussions to produce a new electoral law and hold the polls according to it, but in the absence of an agreement on the law, we are obliged to accept extension as a necessary evil aimed at avoiding lethal and destructive vacuum in the country,” MPs quoted Berri as saying during his weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain el-Tineh. “After agreeing on an electoral law and passing it, we would become able to revise the extension period,” Berri noted. The MPs also said that Berri is “keen on the new presidential tenure and state institutions.” “But this keenness requires us all to prevent a parliamentary vacuum,” Berri was quoted as saying. Ain el-Tineh sources meanwhile told MTV that “the issue is not about who wants extension and who does not want it, but rather about who wants vacuum and who does not want it.” The Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces have lashed out at the proposed extension of parliament's term, vowing to boycott Thursday's session and stage massive street protests.

Wed 12 Apr 2017/NNA - The Free Patriotic Movement announced on Wednesday the suspension of tomorrow's protest following the decision of President of the Republic Michel Aoun to suspend parliament's sessions for one month. FPM head, Gebran Bassil, congratulated in an audio message FPM members and cadres for the great success in preventing the extension based on the jurisdiction of the President. Minister Bassil said: "You have contributed to this success through your efforts during the last 24 hours whereby you proved the Lebanese and the Movement's pulse rejecting loopholes in the state." "We will rest today for a short period at a time we shall remain ready to end this process and reach a new vote law," Bassil said, vowing once again all the Lebanese to have a new vote law which would secure proper representation and guarantee our rights.

Berri adjourns parliamentary session to May 15
Wed 12 Apr 2017/ NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, announced on Wednesday the adjournment of the legislative session till May 15, 2017./"After President Aoun used Article 59 of the Constitution, this plan aims at availing more time to reach a new vote law, and henceforth the parliament session is adjourned till May 15, hoping to reach a unified format that allows us to have a technical extension dissociating us from undesired vacuum," Speaker Berri said. Berri deemed the step, used by President Aoun for the first time in the history of Lebanon, as a mean to give further time to reach an agreement over a new election law under the ceiling of proportionality as has always been proclaimed by the President. On the other hand, he received a phone call from Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rahi, congratulating him on his position.

UNIFIL head calls on Speaker Berri, Prime Minister Hariri
Wed 12 Apr 2017/NNA - In a press release by UNIFIL, it said: "UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary today met separately with the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, and Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut."
Release added: "In both meetings, the UNIFIL head thanked the Lebanese leaders for their continued support to UNIFIL in the fulfillment of its mandate in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), while noting that Lebanon's continued commitment to the UN resolution is critical."
Major General Beary briefed the leaders on the situation in the UNIFIL area of operations (AO) and along the Blue Line, further stating that the situation remains calm and stable. He said that UNIFIL has, over the past months, increased its outreach to the local population as well as intensified engagement with local leaders and communities in the Mission's ongoing efforts to preserve the calm environment and stability.  While briefing on UNIFIL's liaison and coordination mechanism, Major General Beary emphasized that the UNIFIL-led Tripartite forum is critical to de-escalating tensions and preserving stability along the Blue Line.  "It would be in the interest of everyone for both the parties to continue working with UNIFIL to address developing issues and prevent any escalation along the Blue Line," said Major General Beary during his meeting with Speaker Berri.
He commended the Lebanese leaders for their important role in preserving the peace and stability in south Lebanon. Release added: "Speaking on the Strategic Dialogue process in both meetings, the UNIFIL Head of Mission reiterated UNIFIL's intention to work with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in advancing the process." Release sadi: "During both meetings, Major General Beary also briefed the Lebanese leaders on the recent Strategic Review of UNFIL, which was conducted - at the request of the UN Security Council - to ensure that the UN Mission is adequately structured and resourced to carry out its mandate." Release concluded: "Earlier today, the UNIFIL Force Commander also met with the Director General of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), Major General Imad Osman, in Beirut. It was their first meeting since Major General Osman's promotion to the post last month. During the meeting, Major General Beary praised the important work of ISF and ensured continuous cooperation in UNIFIL's area of operation."

Tensions Flare between Baabda, Ain el-Tineh over Electoral Law, Extension
Naharnet /April 12/17/Baabda Palace sources have accused Speaker Nabih Berri of “rushing” to schedule a legislative session aimed at extending parliament's term without giving a grace period to a ministerial panel tasked with mulling a new electoral law that held its meeting on Tuesday. Sources close to Berri meanwhile told al-Joumhouria newspaper that Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil has rejected to discuss the proportional representation electoral system. “For more than four years, we've been hearing the president calling for proportional representation and nothing else and he lectured about it, but Minister Bassil surprised us when he rejected even the mention of (full) proportional representation,” the sources said. “Some want to tailor the laws to fit their interests and to limit representation to them by excluding the other Christians. Aren't the MPs Suleiman Franjieh and Butros Harb and others Christian?” the sources added. The Parliament Bureau has called for a Thursday legislative session that has a one-year extension of parliament's term on its agenda, which has angered the FPM and the Lebanese Forces who have called for street protests and vowed to boycott the session. Hizbullah and its allies have repeatedly called for an electoral law fully based on proportional representation amid reservations by al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party, and most recently the Lebanese Forces. But Mustaqbal leader and Prime Minister Saad Hariri has recently announced that he is willing to accept full proportional representation. Bassil and LF leader Samir Geagea have meanwhile called for a hybrid electoral system that mixes proportional representation with the winner-takes-all system, arguing that it grants Christians better representation.

Mashnouq: Security Forces to Protect Freedom of Expression, Prevent Blocking of Int'l Highways

Naharnet /April 12/17/Security forces will “protect the freedom of expression” of all citizens who might stage street protests on Thursday to reject a proposed extension of parliament's term but will prevent any “blocking of international highways” and any “attacks on public and private properties,” Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said on Wednesday. “No one will intercept the protesters, who will be able to practice their freedom of expression in any place they might gather at,” Mashnouq announced after a security meeting at the Grand Serail. Asked about reports that some protesters might try to prevent some MPs from reaching the parliament building, Mashnouq said such a move would be “an attack on the freedom of expression of others.”“If we're protecting protesters' freedom of expression, we will also protect MPs' freedom of expression and freedom of movement,” the minister added. Hariri for his part called on security chiefs during the meeting to “avoid any friction and focus on protecting protesters' security and preventing the blocking of roads.”The Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces have called on their supporters to “maintain preparedness to take to the streets” on Thursday to reject the proposed extension of parliament's term. The Kataeb Party and several civil society groups have also called for protests on Thursday.

Lebanon Calls on International Community to Launch Investments in Infrastructure
Asharq Al-Awsat/April 12/17/Beirut – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri called on the international community on Tuesday to invest in Lebanon’s infrastructure and assist the country in bearing the burdens of the Syrian refugee crisis. “The displacement of our brothers in Lebanon, fleeing the criminality of the Syrian regime, is pressuring the ability of the state to ensure these basic services and doubles the pressure on the infrastructure which is already exhausted,” Hariri said in a speech at the opening of the “Business and Financial Forum: Regaining the Trust”, held in Beirut. “Invest in the infrastructure and public services and everyone will benefit: the Lebanese first and then the displaced,” he stated, addressing local and foreign businessmen and officials. On the political level, the Lebanese premier said the government should regain people’s confidence by bolstering the work of state institutions and end corruption. “Our duty is to regain confidence after years of constitutional vacuum, deadlock in institutions, vertical political divide, tension in Arab and international relations and bleakness in economy and investments,” Hariri said, according to a statement released by his media office. He went on to say that the election of the president and the formation of the government represented the first step towards the achievement of the country’s goals. He noted that since its formation, “the government has taken rapid steps towards regaining confidence by adopting vital decrees and decisions, last but not least of which was the adoption of the budget after 12 years of absence, that is 12 years of absence of accountability and transparency.”

Ex-PM Mikati says Parliament extension part of political deal

The Daily Star/April 12/17/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati Wednesday said the Parliament extension endeavor was part of the deal that saw the election of President Michel Aoun. "What happened came as no surprise. Some [parties] struck a political deal that led to the election of Aoun, which included the postponement of the Parliamentary elections," the north Lebanon lawmaker said in a tweet. Aoun was elected in October last year after almost three years of vacuum. He blasted the Cabinet for ignoring the proposed electoral laws and surpassing the deadlines. "Most of the Lebanese don't want the extension, but at the end, we have two options ... either extension or vacuum," Mikati said. "Stop bragging and announce your deal to the people," the MP added, lashing out at the parties that are threatening to take to the street on Thursday. "Implement the Constitutions and endorse a new electoral law ... away from sectarian rhetoric."A new political rift emerged on Tuesday over attempts by Speaker Nabih Berri to go ahead with plans to extend Parliament’s term for one more year, following two extensions in 2013 and 2014. Berri and parties that support the extensions say they aim to prevent the country from falling into parliamentary vacuum. The Free Patriotic Movement and its Christian ally the Lebanese Forces said they would boycott Thursday’s Parliament session devoted to extending the legislative body’s mandate for one year in opposition to a new extension, warning that they would take to the streets. President Michel Aoun has also warned against extending Parliament’s term without first coming to an agreement on the broad lines of a new electoral law. He has said such a move would not be in the interests of Lebanon and its democratic system.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on April 12-13/17
Russia Vetoes U.N. Draft Resolution on Syria Gas Attack Probe
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /April 12/17/Russia on Wednesday vetoed a U.N. draft resolution demanding the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation of a suspected chemical attack that the West blames on President Bashar al-Assad's forces. It was the eighth time that Russia has used its veto power at the U.N. Security Council to block action directed at its ally in Damascus.

Canada deplores Russia UN veto on Syria
April 12, 2017 – Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“Canada deplores the Russian veto during today’s UN Security Council vote. This is Russia’s eighth veto on Syria. This systematic obstruction at the UN callously ignores the suffering of Syrians and prevents the perpetrators of these horrifying atrocities from being held accountable.
“Of the 15 members of the UN Security Council, only Bolivia joined with Russia, who vetoed the resolution. Canada would like to thank Egypt, Italy, Japan, Senegal, Sweden, Ukraine, and Uruguay, who all voted in favour, especially France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the resolution’s co-sponsors. Canada would also like to acknowledge China, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan, who abstained from this vote.
“Canada urges Russia and Iran, as supporters of the Assad regime, to join with the international community in condemning this heinous and illegal use of chemical weapons.”
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Ottawa Cooperates with Saudi Arabia in Advanced Technologies, Mining, Energy
Asharq Al-Awsat/April 12/17/Riyadh – Canada revealed Ottawa’s plan to expand cooperation with Riyadh in education, healthcare, advanced emerging technologies, mining and sustainable energy at a time when Saudi Arabia ranks 6th among countries that send foreign students to Canada. Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dennis Horak told Asharq Al-Awsat that his country is committed to increase flow of commodities, services and investments between the two countries, confirming that it is time to promote this economic relation to a higher level. Horak noted that the volume of bilateral trade exchange reached around $3.2 billion in 2016, which is less than that in 2014 that reached $4 billion. He said that this decrease was the result of lower oil prices. The Canadian Ambassador explained that 17 Canadian educational institutes will participate in the International Exhibition and Conference of Higher Education, which will be held from 12 to 15 April 2017 in Riyadh, and will include 13 universities, two colleges and two language schools. “Trade relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia are strong as the Kingdom has always been a major trade partner for Canada in the region,” Horak told Asharq Al-Awsat. “However, we can increase cooperation since there are tremendous potentials to achieve comprehensive growth, and we in Canada are particularly interested in programs and opportunities provided by Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program,” Horak said. Horak added: “There is an economic complementarity between our economies; given the significant role the resources in Canada and Saudi Arabia play. But, this extends to include great ties the two countries have established in education, healthcare, emerging advanced technologies, mining and sustainable energy sectors.”Canada will expand its economic cooperation with Saudi Arabia in various sectors in general and in education sector in precise, Horak noted. He stressed that his country represents a great chance for Saudi students to achieve their academic aspirations and improve their career opportunities, noting that Canada received more than 11,600 Saudi students in 2015, placing Saudi Arabia in the 6th rank among countries sending their students to Canada.

‘No doubt’ Syria responsible for deadly chemical attack: Mattis
AFP, Washington Wednesday, 12 April 2017/The United States has “no doubt” that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for last week’s chemical attack on a rebel-held town that left dozens dead, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said Tuesday. Mattis told reporters that Washington’s military strategy in Syria had not changed even after its retaliatory missile strikes on a Syrian air base, noting “our priority remains the defeat” of ISIS. “There is no doubt the Syrian regime is responsible for the decision to attack and for the attack itself,” Mattis said. “In response to the attack,” US national security officials came up with “diplomatic and military options” presented to President Donald Trump, said Mattis, who added that he also spoke with Washington’s allies. “The National Security Council considered the international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons, the Syrian regime’s repeated violations of that international law and the inexplicably ruthless murders the regime had committed,” he said. “We determined that a measured military response could best deter the regime from doing this again.”The Pentagon chief also emphasized Washington’s focus on defeating ISIS extremists. “ISIS represents a clear and present danger and immediate threat to Europe and ultimately a threat to the United States homeland,” he said. Mattis’ comments came just after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Russia on Tuesday to confront the Kremlin over its support for Assad. A US official speaking on condition of anonymity said Washington was investigating whether Russia was complicit in the alleged chemical weapons attack.

Tillerson: ‘Low level of trust’ between US and Russia
Agencies Wednesday, 12 April 2017/US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday there was a “low level of trust” between Moscow and Washington after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. “There is a low level of trust between our two countries,” Tillerson said at a news conference following the talks. “The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship.”Russia vetoes UN resolution on Syria attack, China abstains. Russia again cast a veto at the United Nations Security Council to shield Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, blocking a Western bid on Wednesday to condemn a deadly gas attack in Syria and push the Syrian government to cooperate with investigators. China, which has vetoed six resolutions on Syria since the civil war began six years ago, abstained from Wednesday’s vote, along with Ethiopia and Kazakhstan. Ten countries voted in favor of the text, while Bolivia joined Russia in voting no.
US, Russia must agree on Syria: UN envoy
The United Nations peace envoy for Syria on Wednesday urged the United States and Russia to agree on a way forward to end the war in Syria and pave the way for a “real negotiation.”Special envoy Staffan de Mistura told the UN Security Council that he was ready to convene a new round of talks in May but that US-Russian cooperation was needed. His appeal came as Tillerson was in talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Lavrov following US missile strikes in Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack. The two countries have “serious differences” but also a “common interest” in ending the six-year war that has killed 320,000 people, De Mistura said. “They must find a way to work together to stabilize the situation in a deliberate, realistic and concerted way in support of the political process,” he said. The United Nations is ready to lead a “real negotiation” on a “package for an orderly, mapped-out, credible and irreversible, agreed political transition” to end the war, he added. The council was meeting ahead of a vote later in the day on a draft resolution demanding that the Syrian government cooperate with an investigation of the suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun. Russia is expected to veto the measure -- which would mark the eighth time that Moscow has used its veto power to block Security Council action directed at its ally, Syria. “Let us view this moment of crisis -- and it is a moment of crisis -- as a watershed and an opportunity for a new level of seriousness in the search for a political solution,” said De Mistura.

Sweden to fast-track tighter law on joining militant groups
Reuters, Stockholm Wednesday, 12 April 2017/Sweden’s center-left government wants to fast-track plans to make it a criminal offence to be a member of what it deems a terrorist organization, Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said, bringing Sweden into line with neighbor Norway. The deadly truck attack in central Stockholm that left four dead and injured another 15 has led to widespread calls for tighter laws, more resources for police and a speedier framework for deporting people who have been denied asylum. “Freedom of association was never intended to mean that you could be active in terrorist organisations,” Johansson told a news conference. "In the circumstance, this will be fast-tracked."Similar measures have been discussed previously in Sweden, but were abandonded because they could clash with civil liberties enshrined in Sweden's constitution.
The government has appointed a high court judge to investigate legal framework for a new law, which could be introduced by autumn next year. Police have said that Rakhmat Akilov, who is suspected mowing down shoppers on a busy Stockholm street in a hijacked truck, had expressed sympathies with extremist organizations. Security services had not viewed him as a militant threat. Sweden already has a law making it illegal to travel abroad for terrorist purposes. Norway introduced a law making it illegal to be a member of a terrorist organization in 2013.

Stockholm attack suspect tried to join ISIS in Syria
AFP, Moscow Wednesday, 12 April 2017/The Uzbek national suspected of mowing down pedestrians in Stockholm last week had tried to join the ranks of the ISIS militant group in Syria, an Uzbek source told Russian agencies. The 39-year-old suspect, Rakhmat Akilov, “fell under the influence of emissaries of the Tajik cell of the ISIS, making attempts to take part in combat in Syria on the side of the fighters,” an unnamed law enforcement source in the Central Asian state said. According to the source, Akilov attempted to cross Turkey’s border with Syria in 2015 but was detained. “Given his refugee status he was deported back to Sweden,” the source said. The source added that Uzbek authorities had added Akilov to an international wanted list in late February after a criminal case on “religious extremism” was opened against him. Akilov on Tuesday confessed to a “terrorist crime” for the truck attack that killed four people and injured 15 others on Friday, his lawyer said. He had reportedly said he had received an “order” directly from IS to carry out the attack, according to Swedish media reports. Akilov, a construction worker who had been refused permanent residency in Sweden, was arrested several hours after the attack. He had gone underground after his application for Swedish residency was rejected last year, police said.

Egypt church curtails Easter celebrations after bombings
AFP, Cairo Wednesday, 12 April 2017/Egypt’s Coptic Church announced on Wednesday that it would cut back Easter celebrations to a simple mass after twin bombings killed 45 worshippers last weekend. “Given the current circumstances and our solidarity with the families of the dead, we are going to limit our celebrations to Easter mass,” a statement said. The traditional handing out of sweets to children by Coptic Pope Tawadros II before the start of Easter mass on Sunday will also be cancelled. “There will be no decorations in churches and the rooms normally reserved for the reception of worshippers wishing to exchange season’s greetings will remain closed,” an official at the Coptic patriarchate told AFP. Also read: Brother of Alexandria bombing suspect reveals new surprises. The militant group said it was behind the bombings at churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria, and threatened further attacks against Egypt’s Christian minority. The government ordered a three-month state of emergency which was unanimously approved by parliament on Tuesday. Sunday’s first bombing at the Mar Girgis church in Tanta, north of Cairo, killed 28 people. The second struck outside Saint Mark’s church in Alexandria, killing 17 people after a suicide bomber was prevented from entering the building. Pope Tawadros II had led a Palm Sunday service in the church shortly before. The violence comes ahead of Catholic Pope Francis’s first visit to Egypt, which a Vatican official said will go ahead as planned on April 28 and 29 despite the attacks.

Egypt reveals identity of Alexandria church suicide bomber
Reuters, Cairo Wednesday, 12 April 2017/Egypt’s interior ministry identified suicide bomber in Alexandria church attack as 31-year-old Mohamed Hassan Mubarak Abdullah, a resident of Suez province, a statement said on Wednesday. Abdullah detonated his explosives at the entrance to Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing 17 people as mass was being conducted. Hours earlier, another bomb tore through a church in Tanta, a city in the Nile Delta. Egypt’s government imposed a three-month state of emergency in the wake of the attacks. The interior ministry said in a statement that Abdullah had been a resident of Suez province and used to work for a petroleum company. It posted a photograph on its Facebook page of a man it said was Abdullah, placing the image alongside a picture taken by a surveillance camera outside the church. ISIS claimed responsibility for the Palm Sunday attacks, which killed 44 people in total and wounded scores more a week before the Coptic Easter. The interior ministry said Abdullah had links with the extremist militant cell behind the December suicide bombing on Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral, an attack also claimed by ISIS. Authorities are still trying to identify the Tanta attacker, the ministry said. It added that security forces killed seven suspected militants in a shootout on Monday as they met to plan attacks on minority Christians. The statement named 19 other suspected militants believed to belong to the same cells and offered a 100 thousand Egyptian pound ($5,515.72) reward for any information on them. Sunday’s attacks were the latest against a religious minority increasingly targeted by extremist militants, and a challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has pledged to protect them as part of his campaign against extremism. ISIS has waged a low-level war against soldiers and police in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for years but it is increasingly targeting Christians and broadening its reach into Egypt’s mainland.

Trio who tried to blow up US plane gets 15-year jail in Jordan
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Wednesday, 12 April 2017/The State Security Court in Jordan on Wednesday handed over a 15-year imprisonment sentence along with hard labor to three terrorists who were convicted of plotting to carry out attacks and provide the funding for terror operations. The public hearing took place amid tight security measures. According to the indictment, the General Intelligence Department managed to foil their plot to carry out a terror attack last July. The three planned to target a US plane in Marka Airport, a military bus, foreign tourists as well as a security checkpoint in the capital.
The Jordanian news agency Petra quoted the court as saying that the main suspect was in Yemen in 2012 and joined al-Qaeda. He was arrested in Yemen by the security services there and sent to a rehab center for two years. During his stay at the center, he was introduced to two Yemeni al-Qaeda members. Upon returning to Jordan, he kept in touch with the two al-Qaeda men and was introduced to a third one in Yemen. In 2015, when the main convict was communicating with one of al-Qaeda members over the Telegram app, he informed the latter that he had seen a US plane at Marka airport. Consequently, he went along with the members of al-Qaeda in Yemen to target the plane with an RPG that would be sent to him from Syria. He was asked to wait, but the contact between him and al-Qaeda members was cut. At the beginning of 2016, the main convict was seeking to go to Syria to join al-Qaeda there, but he could not find a way to do it. He then decided to carry out military operations on the Jordanian territories by targeting a military bus and killing foreign tourists who were passing near the Roman amphitheater, which was also near the Raghadan tourist complex. He kept in touch with the members of the organization in Yemen and offered to execute these operations. The latter suggested that their organization was ready to provide material support or consultation. They then linked him to the two other suspects to execute the operations. When the two other suspects agreed to carry out these operations under the command of the main suspect, the latter got in touch with members of al-Qaeda in Yemen to plot for these operations. The main suspect monitored the schedule of the bus carrying soldiers and provided the organization with detailed reports. They told him that they would send him explosives and $6,000 with someone coming from Yemen in order to buy weapons and pay for the car used in the operation.

Killing of key militant a success and worry for Philippines
The Associated Press, Manila, Philippines Wednesday, 12 April 2017/The killing of a Muslim extremist leader on a resort island in the central Philippines this week was a clear victory for the military, but it also drove home an unsettling reality: that the militants are venturing farther from their jungle hideouts to spread terror. Military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said that troops recovered and identified the remains of Abu Sayyaf group commander Moammar Askali at the scene of the battle in the coastal hinterlands of Bohol island. Five other Abu Sayyaf gunmen, three soldiers and a policeman also were killed in Tuesday’s clashes. “This is a major blow to the Abu Sayyaf,” Ano told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “If they have further plans to kidnap innocent people somewhere, they will now have to think twice.”“We are gaining important headway in our fight to degrade the ASG in regard to our timeline,” Ano later told a news conference, referring to a military objective to considerably cripple the extremist group of more than 300 armed fighters within six months.
Former Abu Sayyaf militants identified Askali from a photo troops took of the young militant leader after his death, confirming that the gunmen who quietly cruised into Bohol on three motorboats under cover of darkness late Monday before clashing with troops belonged to the Islamic extremist group. Askali, who used the nom de guerre Abu Rami, had partly served as an Abu Sayyaf spokesman in recent years.
Askali was an emerging hard-line leader of Abu Sayyaf and had pledged allegiance to the ISIS group. Abu Sayyaf was founded in 1989 as an offshoot of a decades-long rebellion by minority Muslims in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. He had received bomb-making training from Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, or Marwan, a top Southeast Asian militant leader who was killed in 2015, according to a police profile.
It was Abu Sayyaf’s first known attempt to carry out ransom kidnappings deep in the central Philippine heartland, far from the group’s jungle lairs in the southern provinces of Sulu and Basilan. Ano said the troops were still hunting for at least five Abu Sayyaf gunmen, though fighting had eased Wednesday.
While the bold kidnapping attempt appears to have been foiled, the militants’ success in penetrating the bustling region of beach resorts and other popular attractions could raise concerns among tourists and businessmen.
The US Embassy in Manila had earlier advised Americans to take precautions amid “unsubstantiated yet credible information” of possible kidnappings by terrorists in Bohol and other central areas.
The United States and the Philippines both list Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for bombings, kidnappings for ransom and beheadings.
Bohol island lies about 640 kilometers (397 miles) southeast of Manila and is about an hour by boat from Cebu province, a trade and tourism center that has hosted some of the meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the regional bloc the Philippines is leading this year. Ano said military intelligence operatives had been trying to track the movements of Askali’s group for several days after learning of their planned abductions.
The gunmen traveled on motorboats along a river into a village in Bohol’s Inabanga town where government forces assaulted them, military officials said, adding that troops recovered four rifles, a homemade bomb and a sack load of bomb-making materials from the slain gunmen. In past years, Abu Sayyaf militants have crossed the sea border with Malaysia on powerful speedboats and kidnapped scores of foreign tourists, reflecting their growing capability and desperation for money. In 2001, they sailed as far as western Palawan province, where they seized 20 people from a resort, including three Americans, one of whom was beheaded and another shot and killed during an army rescue. Although they rely mainly on ransom kidnappings, Abu Sayyaf has displayed incredible resiliency and has survived through US-backed military offensives under six presidents. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June, has ordered troops to destroy the extremists and has threatened to declare martial law in the country’s south if the threat posed by Abu Sayyaf and other extremist groups aligned with the ISIS group gets out of control. Although weakened by years of battle setbacks, the militants again hogged headlines last year when they separately beheaded two Canadians then decapitated a German hostage earlier this year after ransom deadlines lapsed. Askali was involved in those kidnappings and the captives’ gruesome murders, Ano said. The militants are still holding at least 29 captives in Sulu’s jungles.
A confidential government threat assessment report obtained by the AP last year said that the militants have started to target slow-moving tugboats crisscrossing the Sulu Sea and the busy sea border between the southern Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia in their effort to avoid constant military offensives in the southern provinces where they operate and raise desperately needed funds. In the first half of last year, the militants raised 353 million pesos ($7 million) in payments from ransom kidnappings, according to the report.

Pakistani gangster in military custody for leaking sensitive information to Iran
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Wednesday, 12 April 2017/A notorious gangster who was arrested in Pakistan last year was taken into military custody Wednesday early morning apparently for leaking sensitive information to Iran, the Pakistan Army has announced. According to a news report, Uzair Baloch has been arrested in accordance with the Pakistan Army Act. Uzair was arrested outside Karachi in January last year in what the paramilitary force said was a raid. The court had then handed him over to the police on remand. Also read: Is Iran beginning to feel the Middle East heat?
A JIT formed to probe the case in May 2016 said Uzair had allegedly worked for an Iranian intelligence agency, and had recommended that the head of the outlawed Peoples Amn Committee be tried by a military court for “espionage”.According to the JIT report, Uzair was involved in “espionage activities by providing secret information regarding army installations and officials to foreign agents (Iranian intelligence officers) which is a violation of the Official Secret Act 1923”.

Ex-president Ahmadinejad submits name for Iranian presidential election
Reuters, London Wednesday, 12 April 2017/Iran’s hardline ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted his name on Wednesday for registration as a candidate for May’s presidential election, defying the wishes of the country’s religious leadership. Although the move, reported by state media, was seen as an attempt by Ahmadinejad to bolster the candidacy of an ally, it was also a challenge to the authority of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had warned him not to run. Registration for the May 19 election started on Monday and will last five days, after which entrants will be screened for their political and Islamic qualifications by a vetting body, the Guardian Council. President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who engineered Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that secured a removal of international financial and trade sanctions against Tehran, is expected to seek re-election but faces a stiff challenge from conservatives who oppose the Ahmadinejad, who frequently enraged the West with his rhetoric during his eight years in office, wanted to challenge Rouhani’s bid for a second term, but Khamenei warned him last year not to nominate himself. Khamenei, who has the final say in Iran’s clerical establishment, said in September that Ahmadinejad’s candidacy could create division in the country and harm the nation. Ahmadinejad, who had a rift with Khamenei in his final years of office, announced in a public statement in October that he would abide by the order and would not run.
However, he named one of his main allies and former deputy Hamid Baghaei as a candidate. Ahmadinejad accompanied Baghaei to the interior ministry on Wednesday for registration. By putting his name forward, analysts say Ahmadinejad is trying to make any disqualification of Baghaei costly for the Guardian Council. The powerful election vetting body is close to Khamenei as he appoints half of its members. Mehr news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that he registered as a candidate “only to support Baghaei.”Ahmadinejad was also quoted as saying by ILNA news agency that “the Supreme Leader advised me not to run. As a candidate I accepted his guidance, although it was not an order... I am still committed to my moral promise.”While conservatives are worried that Ahmadinejad or Baghaei’s presence might split their votes, allies of Rouhani are also concerned about the attractiveness of populist candidates with nationalist anti-establishment slogans. Baghaei, 48, was held under arrest in 2015 for almost seven months on charges that were not made public but many suspected were related to corruption. Iran’s judiciary spokesman said in March that his case was still open.

China Leader Urges Peaceful Resolution of N. Korea Tensions in Trump Call
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /April 12/17/Chinese leader Xi Jinping has urged Donald Trump to peacefully resolve tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program, as the U.S. president touted the power of a naval "armada" steaming towards the Korean peninsula. Chinese state media said Wednesday the two leaders had spoken by phone, in an apparent effort to avoid further escalation after Trump deployed the aircraft carrier-led strike group in a show of force. It headed for the region with a renewed warning that Washington was ready to take on North Korea alone if Beijing declined to help rein in its maverick neighbor’s nuclear ambitions. Pyongyang has so far responded in typically defiant fashion, saying it was ready to fight "any mode of war" chosen by the United States and even threatening a nuclear strike against U.S. targets. The sabre-rattling has unnerved China, which has made clear its frustration with Pyongyang’s stubbornness but whose priority remains preventing any military flare-up that could bring chaos and instability to its doorstep. In his phone call with Trump, Xi stressed that China "advocates resolving the issue through peaceful means," the foreign ministry said.
On Tuesday, the U.S. president tweeted that "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A."A barrage of recent North Korean missile tests has stoked U.S. fears that Pyongyang may soon develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the U.S. mainland. There is speculation that Pyongyang could be preparing a missile launch, or even another nuclear test, to mark the 105th birthday anniversary of its founder Kim Il-Sung on Saturday. In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump warned: "We are sending an armada. Very powerful." "We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier."The flotilla includes the Nimitz-class aircraft supercarrier USS Carl Vinson, a carrier air wing, two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser. "This goes to prove that the U.S. reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase," a spokesman for the North's foreign ministry said in response.
China's Global Times newspaper, which is often nationalistic in tone, said a new nuclear test would be a "slap in the face of the U.S. government" and that Beijing would not "remain indifferent" to further provocations. Pyongyang has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and analysis of satellite imagery suggests it could be preparing for a sixth. "Presumably Beijing will react strongly to Pyongyang's new nuclear actions," the newspaper said, adding there was increasing popular support for "severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before".The language suggested China -- the North's sole major ally and economic lifeline -- could restrict oil imports to the North, after already announcing a suspension of all coal imports until the end of the year.
'Outstanding' relationship
The phone call between the leaders of the world's largest economies followed their first face-to-face meeting late last week. During their call, Xi told Trump that China remains "willing to maintain communication and coordination with the American side on the issue of the peninsula," according to the foreign ministry. Trump, it added, said it was vital for the two heads of state to maintain close ties, and that he agreed the U.S. and China should work together to "expand pragmatic cooperation in a wide range of areas."
The high-profile summit was overshadowed by a missile strike on Syria that Trump launched as he hosted Xi. The move, which came in retaliation for the Damascus regime's suspected sarin attack against civilians in a rebel-held town in Syria, was widely also interpreted as a warning to North Korea. Xi told Trump on the call that the Syria issue "must continue to move towards a political solution", and that "any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable." He said their summit produced "significant results", and that both sides would work together to ensure Trump visited China later this year. Trump's election campaign was marked with acerbic denouncements of the Asian giant's "rape" of the US economy and his vow to punish Beijing with punitive tariffs. But he dropped his anti-China bombast in Florida, afterwards hailing an "outstanding" relationship with his Chinese counterpart.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on April 12-13/17
A Strike in Syria Restores Our Credibility in the World
Tom Cotton/The New York Times/April 12/17
After President Bashar al-Assad of Syria once again attacked his own citizens with poison gas, the civilized world recoiled in horror at images of children writhing in pain and suffocating to death. President Trump voiced this justified outrage at a news conference on Wednesday, and the next day he took swift, decisive action against the outlaw Assad regime. But these strikes did more than simply punish Assad and deter future attacks; they have gone a long way to restoring our badly damaged credibility in the world. It’s hard to overstate just how low the standing of the United States had fallen because of President Barack Obama’s failure to enforce his own “red line” against Mr. Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013. I was one of the few Republican members of Congress who supported strikes against Syria then. Because of that, I’ve heard from dozens of world leaders expressing their doubts about the security commitments of the United States. It wasn’t only Mr. Obama’s refusal to act in the moment that undermined our credibility. The fig leaf to justify inaction was an agreement with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons, which Russia and Syria plainly violated from the outset. Yet Obama administration officials continued to celebrate it as a triumph. It’s also worth remembering that Mr. Obama backed down partly because he so badly wanted a nuclear deal with Assad’s patron, Iran. But his weakness in Syria only emboldened Iran.
In one night, President Trump turned the tables. He showed the world that when the United States issues a warning, it will back up its words with action. There was no hand-wringing, no straw-man choice between doing nothing and launching a massive ground invasion, no dithering for consultations with others who do not have the power to act.
The American president voiced his disapproval, conducted an orderly and secret process at the National Security Council, and then delivered a retaliatory strike many years overdue. The world now sees that President Trump does not share his predecessor’s reluctance to use force. And that’s why nations across the world have rallied to our side, while Russia and Iran are among the few to have condemned the attack. Mr. Obama’s lack of credibility is one reason the United States watched in isolation as Russia and Iran took the lead at recent Syrian peace conferences. It’s also why Iran got the better of us in the nuclear negotiations and North Korea has defied us for years. With our credibility restored, the United States can get back on offense around the world. In Syria, Assad knows that we have many more Tomahawk missiles than he has airfields. So do his supporters in Moscow and Tehran.
Further, leaders in Iran must now question the risks of being put “on notice” earlier this year by President Trump. After all, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo are noted Iran hawks. If they recommended decisive action in Syria, the ayatollahs have to wonder if they may be next.
Finally, Russia’s geopolitical standing has taken a severe blow. Mr. Putin was powerless to protect his client in Damascus. Moscow now faces a Hobson’s choice of empty words of condemnation or escalation on behalf of a global pariah, which risks further American action. After years of Russian aggression being met by empty American words, Putin finds his credibility at stake.In every theater, President Trump now has the opportunity to press our advantage and protect our interests with strong diplomacy backed by America’s restored credibility. It’s been a long time coming, but friend and foe alike have been reminded that the United States not only possesses unmatched power, but also once again will employ our power to protect our interests, aspirations and allies.

In Syria’s Next Big Battle, the US has a Crucial Role to Play
Josh Rogin/The Washington Post/April 12/17
Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack on a town in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, prompting President Trump to retaliate with missile strikes, was the opening salvo in what could be a final, epic battle to determine the future of Syria. As that struggle unfolds in Idlib, the United States has a crucial role to play. In its first months, the Trump administration has concentrated primarily on the fight against ISIS in and around the city of Raqqa, where U.S.- and Turkish-supported Arab and Kurdish fighters have been slowly but surely advancing on the capital of the terrorists’ self-declared caliphate. Meanwhile, Washington has largely ignored Idlib, where the bulk of the Syrian rebels are massed and preparing for an existential fight for the survival of the revolution. Former Syrian prime minister Riyad Hijab, the head of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee, told me that there are tens of thousands of opposition fighters and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced civilians crowded into Idlib. This is the result of the Assad regime’s years-long strategy to assemble all his enemies — including U.S.-backed rebels and jihadists — in one place. “Assad’s plan was to gather all the fighters, to push them away from their towns and make them gather in Idlib and that was on purpose,” he said. “Assad’s plan is to urge the international community and the United States to kill these people.”
The United States has been conducting limited strikes against al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Idlib, now called Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, which has a significant presence on the ground. Meanwhile, however, the administration has also cut off all aid to moderate groups fighting in Idlib, according to Hijab, placing them at a disadvantage as they struggle to maintain credibility among the civilian population. Aid groups warn that up to 1.5 million civilians could face a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib if the Assad regime begins bombarding the province on a large scale, causing a huge flow of refugees into Turkey and Europe and resulting in devastation and suffering on a scale many times greater than what was seen during last year’s siege of Aleppo.
“An Assad regime campaign in Idlib is inevitable,” said Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. “When exactly it will happen we don’t know, but the U.S. needs to be prepared for that.”Stretched thin after six years of war, the Syrian forces cannot take Idlib through conventional means. That’s why Assad is using weapons of terror, such as nerve gas, to break the will of the civilians before the battle there begins in earnest. When the ground war erupts, a thick stew of Shi’ite militias, “Hezbollah” fighters, Afghan mercenaries and Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers, all covered by Russian air power, will be ready to take on the regime’s adversaries. Despite the risks and challenges, the best option for the United States is to reengage with those rebel groups on the ground that are most closely aligned with U.S. objectives and give them the money, arms and training necessary to defend Syrian civilians from the onslaught to come, said former State Department Syria official Frederic Hof, now at the Atlantic Council.
“There are units on the ground with which we have had relationships for years,” he said. “These units are fighting a three-way battle right now, against the regime, al-Qaeda and ISIS. They need our support.” Doing so would not only save Syrian civilian lives, but would also raise the cost for Assad, Russia and Iran of laying waste to Idlib. If the United States provided some rebels with anti-aircraft capabilities, such as man-portable air-defense systems, it could make Moscow think twice before bombing the hospitals and schools that the people of Idlib depend on for a semblance of normal life.
Crucially, the United States has an interest in preventing Assad from achieving his primary goal, which is to force the international community into a binary choice between supporting his regime or the extremists. The Obama administration recognized that imperative, but mismanaged its Syrian opposition support programs to such a degree that they were counterproductive. The Trump administration may have deterred Syria from using chemical weapons in Idlib, but that is only one of the cruel and indiscriminate tools Assad is using to terrorize the population, and his determination to take back Idlib persists. If Trump truly believes in preventing slaughter in Syria, he must instruct the US government to turn its attention to Idlib before it’s too late.

Syria … Post the US Strike!
Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al-Awsat/April 12/17/
All over the six years of the Syrian crisis, all parties involved never took former US President Barack Obama seriously. Moderates didn’t believe him and extremists realized he couldn’t go into battle. Damascus criminal Bashar al-Assad understood that Obama wanted to pass time until the arrival of the next president for the Syrian crisis to become the latter’s issue. Like Assad, Iran and Russia decided to use their power in the crisis after it became certain that Tehran had failed in protecting Assad who was about to be ousted back then. Moscow was aware that the best time to intervene in Syria would be during Obama’s presidency to impose the status. The right moment for Russia to enter Syria was in 2013 after Assad used chemical weapons. It was then that he had crossed all the “red lines” set by Obama. When Obama did nothing about the chemical attack, Russia understood they are facing a weak and hesitant president.Today, we are under Trump’s presidency, and for Trump’s administration to have a value and significance in the Syrian crisis, the president must establish a strategy different from that of his predecessor. Trump also had to send a message to all parties supporting Assad that he won’t resort to Syrian talks only, but he will be part of the joint strikes in Syria. Such a message that can make it clear to every party that they are not faced by an incompetent hesitant president, but rather with one who can launch strikes against the Assad regime. Iran and Russia target Syrians in Syria. Even Moscow targeted the opposition which accepted the political solution.
We all remember how Russia manipulated Obama for a long time to determine the definition of opposition and extremists. In Syria, too, Israel targets Assad regime and the terrorist Hezbollah. Even when Turkey downed a Russian plane, there was no war, and then the Turkish-Russian relations were even revived.
Therefore, everyone is fighting in Syria and striking points, except the US. The Russian-Iranian contempt with the US powers reached an extent to call for Astana talks during which Assad allies mocked that neither Washington nor Saudi Arabia are worthy; not even the western powers.
Now, President Trump proved to everyone that he is ready to act and target the Assad regime and the White House spokesperson, addressing Assad, said: “If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, I think you will see a response from this president.”Clearly Trump decided to intervene in the Syrian crisis through a strong and influential strike not through an envoy. We will be able to see that in the Syrian talks no matter what Russia or Iran might say.

Church explosions and Brotherhood’s hesitant condemnation
Turki Aldakhil/Al ARabiya/April 12/17
What a horrific scene it was. The smiling child at Alexandria’s church could not survive as a terrorist sneaked among the crowds, evaded all security checkpoints and blew himself up. Dozens of innocent people fell victims to the attack.
Such terrorist attacks certainly happen elsewhere too, no matter how fortified countries are or how tight the security is. Terrorist attacks are these days expected anywhere in the world because it is indeed targeted at every one. It has struck the most secure capitals as well as the least prepared ones.
However, the issue is not just related to security, which security experts understand well. The point is related to condemnation following the painful attack.
Implied statements
Some extremists have not differentiated between their rivalry with the Egyptian regime and innocent Egyptians – that is if they truly view themselves as “peaceful” opposition. Their statements implied the attack satisfied their thirst for revenge as they thought it punished the regime and people.
Biggest proof to this was the statement of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guide Yusuf al-Qaradawi who said in cold-blood: “Explosions in Egypt only happen during the eras of tyranny. Throughout, its entire history, Egypt only witnessed explosions that target a group of citizens during the eras of tyranny which do not provide security or freedom or a dignified life.”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s statement was not any different from Qaradawi’s tweets. It was an extension of Qaradawi’s political statements.
The way Brotherhood condemned the terror attack did not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the group. It did the same following September 11 attacks and following Casablanca, Riyadh and Khobar explosions
Abu Assem signed the statement, which said: “The explosions today at the Mar Girgis Church in Tanta and at the Saint Mark’s Church in Alexandria, which killed and injured dozens, confirm that fascist regimes have one approach to force their survival. They create a fake enemy called terrorism to cover their failure and incapability and gain the sympathy of naïve people. The explosion at Saints’ Church during the era of Hosni Mubarak was not a long time ago”.
“The military coup militias are manipulating the lives of innocent people and not taking their lives seriously and are employing them to serve their malicious plans which aim to tear the national fabric. The rushed statements which the coup authorities issue to calm down the public opinion, and in which they make random accusations that are not based on evidence and later turn out to be all lies, and the random criminal campaigns against the opposition will never contribute to revealing facts or stopping crimes or achieving security.”
Ideological debate
The condemnation was less than one sentence and the rest of the statement goes on to discuss politics and engage in ideological debates. They exploited the moment and saw it as a chance to be present. This is their wish. The problem here is in fact humanitarian. The victims of this tragedy are Egyptians.
If those who are hesitant to condemn the attack or who make incomplete condemnation statements consider themselves part of the society, then what’s with this horrible lack of care toward ISIS crimes?
Political statements must not be issued when crises strike nations, unless it is the Brotherhood, which is blacklisted as a terrorist organization in several countries. It wants to improve its political and social presence in Egypt by way of violence. This exposes the group’s moral flaw.
Religious, national and moral duties make it imperative for the Muslim Brotherhood to just settle with condemning the terror attack and not exploit these moments of grief to make political statements. Otherwise the condemnation which they only mentioned in one sentence throughout an entire statement is more like a justification. It is a group that goes like: “We condemn the explosion, but.”
The way Brotherhood condemned the terror attack did not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the group. It did the same following September 11 attacks and following Casablanca, Riyadh and Khobar explosions. It even sweet-talked the Houthi aggressors who launch missiles against civilians in Kaaba on the House of Allah. Exploiting aftermath of violence as opportunity for political point scoring is immoral because the victim here is not the regime, which you oppose, but your bother in the country who has been devoured by terrorism. He is the same brother you used to threaten others with in Rabaa few years ago. Are we surprised? Actually, no. This is the group that says “we condemn, but …”

Universities are for learning, they’re not for politics and guns
Adnan Hussein/Al ARabiya/April 12/17
A disturbing event happened in an Iraqi university on Sunday. It could have been avoided - or rather it shouldn’t have happened to begin with.
Members of the armed forces entered the campus of the University of Al-Qadisiyah in Al-Diwaniyah and opened fire injuring two students - causing panic. According to news reports, the military were providing protection for a political leader who was invited to speak during an event in support of the Popular Mobilization. Regardless of who was wrong and who provoked who, gunfire could have been avoided if the bodyguards respected the campus’ sanctity and left their guns outside. The entire incident could have been avoided if it was taken into consideration that universities are for learning and that political activity inside them is not appropriate. Social arenas outside universities are wide and they can accommodate all political and non-political activities. Out of all playgrounds, they are politicians’ most feasible playground
The former regime through its totalitarian outlook was what laid the basis for turning universities into arenas for political work and intelligence activity. One of the worst consequences of such an approach is the dangerous deterioration of the standard of education in Iraq’s universities. Degrees from Iraqi universities are not well received at international academic and educational forums. The educational system, at both basic and higher education, has almost collapsed.
The call to keep politics out of universities does not mean completely isolating universities and students from political life. University students are an essential part of society and there’s nothing wrong with their involvement in politics. However, they must do so outside university. If there’s a need to hold a political event inside campus, such as a conference or seminar, then they must make sure that the event does not incite divisions or stir conflict among students. It’s understood that such activities happen through student unions and relevant associations. If politicians, especially leaders, want to participate in these events - and this is a guaranteed right - then they must abide by the campus rules, which include the restriction of weapons inside campus and not instigating violence.
Social arenas outside universities are wide and they can accommodate all political and non-political activities. Out of all playgrounds, they are politicians’ most feasible playground.

Terrorism in Egypt: the cultural myth
Mohammed Nosseir/Al ARabiya/April 12/17
Many of our problems in Egypt are simply a reflection of cultural traits that stimulate our thinking process. Terrorism, the most complicated challenge in modern history, is heavily shaped by our culture. The Egyptian state always wants to isolate this crisis from other challenges, yet terrorism is entwined with our sociopolitical problems. The recent twin terrorist attacks highlighted many Egyptian cultural deficiencies:
Same Destruction, Different Day: After St. Mark’s Cathedral was blown up last December, I had imagined that terrorists would never again be able to enter a single Egyptian Church. Obviously, I was wrong. Sadly, we don’t learn from our mistakes and didn’t take the measures to counter our security breaches permanently. Moreover, in Egypt we work in fits and starts. In the months following an attack, everyone is on guard against terrorism; when nothing happens for a while, we tend to relax – until another outbreak of terrorism takes us by surprise.
Working better when the boss is present: While one terrorist was easily able to enter St. George’s Church in Tanta, substantially better security measures made it difficult for another to enter the Alexandria church where Pope Tawadros II was present. The fact that the explosion happened outside the church is a partial defeat of terrorism (and obviously resulted in fewer casualties).
Thinking of today should not be at the expense of tomorrow: Imposing a state of emergency will not scare away a single brainwashed terrorist willing to commit suicide for a false cause. However, it will certainly affect tourists and investors who will be discouraged from either visiting or investing in Egypt. Additionally, by neglecting ordinary crime and violence, we are sending a message to terrorists that there is a room for them to get away with their acts successfully.
For Egypt to better address the challenge of terrorism, we need to develop a strategy in which government entities, independent institutions and citizens provide true inputs and have genuine ownership. Single-handed action that imposes the government’s philosophy on the community won’t help
Overburdening Police: We can’t realistically expect a segment of society to be continuously on guard against possible terrorist attacks while the great majority of the Egyptian workforce behaves recklessly. We need to work on upgrading the entire society to act professionally, even if this is a long-term task. The Egyptian state wants to rely on a few police officers and intelligence personnel to handle this chronic challenge and refuses the help of others – which is desperately needed. Meanwhile, regime affiliates who speak to the media 24-hours a day are certainly stimulating terrorists.
Disparity is common, but we don’t notice it: We Egyptians tend to be biased in our daily life! We largely favor male gender to female, we prefer to employ people we know to unknown calibers (even when they have better qualifications), companies that are Muslim-dominated rarely employ any Christians, and companies owned by Copts have substantially more Christian employees. No wonder terrorists attack Churches.
Friends with one-way benefits: The Egyptian state is always calling upon other nations to support us in our fight against terrorism – a legitimate demand that should not be overlooked. Yet our government does not want to listen to a single suggestion offered by other countries on this subject, labeling it as interference in our national affairs.
Heroes, martyrs and government compensation: After each terrorist incident, the government works on identifying heroes, labeling victims as martyrs and financially compensating their families. Neglecting the real cause of the crisis, the state tries to convey this narrative to society: the hero is the “role model” we should emulate during the next terrorist attack, the victims, as martyrs, are in a better place today, and their families will be financially taken care of.
For Egypt to better address the challenge of terrorism, we need to develop a strategy in which government entities, independent institutions and citizens provide true inputs and have genuine ownership. Singlehanded action that imposes the government’s philosophy on the community won’t help. The entire population must be extremely alert to confront this challenge, which necessitates thoroughly addressing our cultural problems, such as inequalities and a laidback attitude.
We must provide our police force with state-of-the-art technology that can help them to tackle terrorism better. If we need the support of other nations, we must be willing to listen to their advice carefully.
Finally, we need to ensure that the law is applied fairly to all citizens; this will prevent terrorist leaders from brainwashing and recruiting marginalized citizens, based on the claim that they will be fighting against an irreligious and unjust society.

Muslims in Europe, identity questions and failure of discourse
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al ARabiya/April 12/17
The European media, in all its versions, advertise some gatherings of Muslims residing in Europe, who want to evaluate the European experience, and perhaps aspire to change its regime to establish the desired model of governance, like the rule of the Brotherhood, an al-Qaeda state or an ISIS “caliphate”.
The speech of the Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer Dr. Tarek Ramadan considers Islam and Muslims as a part of the European fabric. He has long debated identity, and has engaged in lengthy dialogues with Edgar Moran, which I have written on more than once in the past.
However, the problem of identity is not the recognition of the existence of the other, but respecting the other’s civilization and not interfering in the fabric of society, as is the case of some refugees in Germany. Some want to modify the nation’s own system and this stems from central pressure and a false belief that the others are in desperate need for our experience and our minds, and our “spiritual experience”, which is nonexistent in the Islamic religious deliberation. As a matter of fact, the stands are full with non-polite methods, sermons inciting death; atonement and destruction. What a truly spiritual experience indeed!
The failure of all attempts to renew the Islamic discourse and push it towards urbanization instigated the right wing to wage a comprehensive war against that discourse, its constituents and branches, and to destruct all its platforms
That inferior view of the others they seek reinforces the presence of the extreme right and its entitlement to victory in France and Germany. The failure of all attempts to renew the Islamic discourse and push it towards urbanization instigated the right wing to wage a comprehensive war against that discourse, its constituents and branches, and to destruct all its platforms.
It made Muslims socially problematic, with the many opportunities that they have been given over the past two decades to improve the presence of discourse in European society. In the middle of the right-wing wave, a moderate voice may be a key link for a healthier relationship between Muslims and Europeans, especially new refugee groups from conflict areas in Libya, Syria and elsewhere.
“Freedom of belief”
Volker Kauder, the prominent politician in the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said in an interview with DW that: “Muslims are a part of Germany but Islam, isn’t” adding that “Freedom of belief is an existential matter of freedom in itself, and there is no freedom of belief when there is no freedom. Freedom of belief is existential for freedom itself, which is true in principle for every religion - and, of course, within the limits of German law and fundamental law. Islam is a religion that gets freedom in our country, so Muslims are allowed to build their mosques, but of course we cannot allow mosques to do anything against our democracy and our social system.”
The European thesis focuses on the need to respect the values and laws and learn the language, because one of the obstacles to the development of a Muslim society with the other is the lack of integration and fusion within other societies. In retrospect, the hosting society respects their rituals, allows the establishment of mosques, and provides Halal food and freedom of expression.
Throughout the past year, governmental religious institutions have placed religious pamphlets around the world for the purpose of spreading Islam, raising awareness and carrying out acts of preaching to God. However, the rapid events and the growth of extremism have made the nature of their work questionable. They did not identify the basic problem and did not recognize the imbalance in the discourse. They have rather perpetuated stereotypes, alienating the contrary opinion.
They did not separate the religious discourse within the Muslim community from the propagation of the Western societies in general. Thus reinforcing the formation of an offensive image of the religion as being Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Abu Hafs al-Mauritani and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. All of the Muslim preachers did not succeed in dispelling these names from the minds of the Western recipient.
This is the dilemma of renewing the religious discourse, which made some people consider it impossible to modernize it with the linguistics of religion but rather with a scientific method of deconstruction and anthropology. This left behind the ‘closed dogmatic fences’ as expressed by Professor Mohammed Arkoun, who has been plagued by the subject of refugees, identity and Muslims since the days of terrorism in Algeria, which caused his displacement to France, as he tells in his books, notably in his two books “from Manhattan to Baghdad” And “Islam, Europe, the West”.
The stage shows the level of conflict between the two visions: the first which claims that Muslims are a part of Europe but Islam isn’t, and the second that believes Islam and Muslims are part of Europe. The results of the battle will appear in the upcoming elections in Europe but one thing is certain, that the current situation for Muslims will not be as it has been since the first migrations until the second half of the twentieth century.