August 15/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 01/46-55/:"Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’"

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
Letter to the Romans 12/09-15/:"Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."’"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 14-15/17
The West Betrays U.S. Heroes Who Prevented Another 9/11/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/August 14/17
By His Own Admission, Wilkerson Cannot Be Trusted/Dexter Van Zile//Gatestone Institute/August 14/17
President Trump’s Syria Conundrum/Dennis Ross/Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17
Trump Unifies Germans Against Him/Anna Sauerbrey/The New York Times/August 14/17
Freedom of Hate Speech/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17
A European Cure for the Arab Patient/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 14-15/17
US Delivers Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the Lebanese Army
Saraya Ahl al-Sham Rebels Evacuated from Arsal en Route to Syria
Hariri: Lebanon Will Cooperate with Kuwait on Abdali Cell
Kuwait Confirms Strong Ties with Lebanon Despite Abdali Case
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister: We Look Forward for Lebanon's Answer To Our Memorandum, Keen to Preserve Ties
Economic Dialogue over Wage Scale Begins at Baabda
Veterans Block Major Roads in Beirut over Wage Scale Demands
2 Canadians 2 Lebanese among 18 killed in Burkina Faso restaurant attack
Hezbollah leader: Perhaps Israel should move nuclear research center
Aoun before US Congressman: We aspire to good relations with US
Kataeb renews call for government resignation
Geagea, US Congressman tackle overall political situation
Khair follows up on Burkina Faso attack, puts capabilities at disposal of Lebanese community

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 14-15/17
Syrian Regime Releases 104 Nusra Captives in Keep with Arsal Deal
Gargash: Qatar’s Way out of the Crisis Is Allaying Neighbors’ Fears
Turkey Policeman Stabbed to Death by ISIS Suspect
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Welcomes Moqtada Al Sadr
Bahrain FM Discusses Regional Issues with Iraqi Officials
US Urges Iraq Kurds to Postpone Independence Vote
More Than 600,000 Syrians Return Home, Mainly to Aleppo
US VP Pence Stresses 'Peaceable' Solution Sought for Venezuela
Palestinian Woman Stabs, Wounds Israeli in Jerusalem

Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 14-15/17
US Delivers Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the Lebanese Army
Naharnet/August 14/17/The United States delivered Bradley Fighting Vehicles and armored field artillery ammunition supply vehicles to the Lebanese Armed Forces, the US embassy said in a statement on Monday. “We are here at the Port of Beirut to mark the delivery of eight M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. These are the very first of a total shipment of 32 Bradleys that will be delivered in the coming months,” US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard said at the delivery of vehicles and ammunition supply to the Lebanese Armed Forces. “This contribution to the Lebanese Armed Forces represents an investment of over 100 million dollars. It will provide the Lebanese Armed Forces with new capabilities to protect Lebanon, to protect its borders, and to fight terrorists,” she added.
The Ambassador added that the Lebanese Army will undergo “intensive training on how to operate and maintain this new, very sophisticated combat system.”
“The United States has intensified its engagement and support to the Lebanese Army over the past few years,” highlighted Richard, adding “I would just like you to review how in the past 12 months alone; the US has provided the following defense articles to the Lebanese Army:
- 40 M198 howitzers
- 50 armored Humvees
- an Armed Cessna aircraft with hellfire missiles
- 55 mortar systems
- 50 Mark-19 automatic grenade launchers
- 1100 machine guns, including 800 50 caliber machine guns
- 4,000 M4 rifles
- Over half a million rounds of ammunition
- 320 night vision devices and thermal sights
- 360 secure communication radios
“America’s support for Lebanon is based on the shared interests of the American people and the Lebanese people. Our support is based on the principle that we share the same goals for stability and security in this country, and we share the view that the Lebanese Armed Forces need to maintain their rightful place as the sole provider of security and stability to the Lebanese people,” concluded Richard.

Saraya Ahl al-Sham Rebels Evacuated from Arsal en Route to Syria
Naharnet/August 14/17/Buses carrying Saraya Ahl al-Sham rebels and displaced Syrians took off from east Arsal heading to Syria's eastern al-Qalamoun, the National News Agency reported on Monday. According to reports, the vehicles are transporting around 360 rebels and many displaced Syrians. Thirty four buses transporting hundreds of Saraya Ahl al-Sham Brigades' gunmen and their families left Lebanon towards the Syrian territories, a communiqué by the General Security indicated Monday. Patrols from the security agency convoyed the departing buses, in coordination with the Lebanese Red Cross. "The General Security's General Directorate confirms the completion of the departure of gunmen who had occupied parts of the Lebanese soil on the outskirts of Arsal, following negotiations the Directorate had made with the concerned sides," the communiqué added. Hizbullah's War Media outlet said the vehicles will head to Syria's town of Flita then to al-Ruhaiba in eastern al-Qalamoun in Damascus countryside.Hizbullah also said the vehicles took the same path that was taken by vehicles that transported former al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front militants from a restive border area in the outskirts of Arsal early in August.
The agreement deal to evacuate the militants was supposed to take place on Saturday, but it was delayed due to “logistical issues” related to the means of transport. As part of the deal between Hizbullah, the Lebanese negotiator General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, and the rebel group, the fighters are supposed to head to the government-held town of Ruhaiba, about 50 kilometers northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus where they will benefit from an amnesty by the regime and return to normal life. The evacuation deal follows a military offensive by Hizbullah fighters and Syrian troops during which they captured border areas between the two countries and left hundreds of Nusra fighters besieged in a small rugged mountainous area. The fighting ended with a ceasefire and an exchange deal that saw the release of three Hizbullah hostages captured by Nusra.

Hariri: Lebanon Will Cooperate with Kuwait on Abdali Cell
Naharnet/August 14/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri has stressed during his visit to Kuwait that Lebanon is ready to cooperate with the Emirate regarding the so-called Abdali terror cell after allegations that of Hizbullah's involvement in the cell. “I conveyed to his Highness the greetings of the Lebanese people and the President of the Republic. We clearly said that we condemn what happened regarding the Abdali cell and that Lebanon is prepared to cooperate, with all its apparatus, to end this issue,” emphasized Hariri from Kuwait on Sunday. “There is a great Kuwaiti resentment towards it and they are right about it, and we in Lebanon will cooperate on this issue.”He added: “The Kuwaiti people, State and Emir always treated Lebanon and the Lebanese as they treat the Kuwaitis. I hope that the relations will improve. We came to tell his Highness the Emir and the Kuwaiti people that Lebanon is their country and the State and the government are against any security breach because we consider the security of Kuwait and Lebanon is one and we do not allow any breach”. To a question, Hariri said “hopefully” the resentment of Kuwaitis is “not translated into measures against Lebanon.”As for the steps the Lebanese government can take to limit the repercussions of this problem, the PM said: “We came here today and spoke frankly and openly with our brothers in Kuwait, particularly with his Highness the Emir. Discussions were frank and clear and hopefully things will improve.”Whether any evidence was provided about Hizbullah's involvement, Hariri said: “ The Kuwaiti judiciary is clear and frank and there will be cooperation between the security services and the judiciary and we will cooperate to the maximum,” stressing the need to preserve relations between the two countries. Hariri concluded saying that he will personally follow-up on the issue.Hariri had traveled on Saturday to Kuwait. Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah received him on Sunday at the Emiri Diwan in Bayan Palace. The meeting was attended by the Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber a-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah, the first deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah, the Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah, the Head of the Accompanying Mission of Honor and Advisor at the Prime Minister’s Diwan Sheikh Salem al-Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the Diwan Chief Sheikha Itimad Khaled al-Ahmad al-Sabah and Kuwait’s Ambassador to Lebanon Abdul-Aal Al-Qinai.

Kuwait Confirms Strong Ties with Lebanon Despite Abdali Case
Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17/Kuwait– Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al- Jaber al-Sabah received visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his accompanying delegation. Hariri visited Kuwait following reports linking “Hezbollah” with the terrorist “Abdali” cell. It seems Kuwaiti-Lebanese relations have been improving since the arrest of the 13 terrorist, to which a top level Kuwaiti official said that ties between the two countries will not be affected by this crisis. Sheikh Sabah and Hariri discussed during their talks ways of promoting and developing the historic relations in all fields, and several issues of mutual interest. Several Lebanese media outlets reported that First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah informed the media delegation accompanying Hariri that Kuwait has evidence linking Hezbollah to the Abdali cell. “We have confessions of members admitting their ties with Hezbollah,” Sabah said, adding that Kuwait will present the confessions as an evidence. He held a lunch banquet in the honor of the Lebanese PM and accompanying delegation. Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled reported the Emir and the Prime Minister’s emphasis that relations with Lebanon were not affected by these issues but stressed the necessity of working together to reinforce the security of both countries and develop ties at all levels.
“We in Kuwait will continue to support our brothers in Lebanon,” he confirmed.
Speaking to reporters, Hariri hoped relations with Kuwait will improve. “The state and the government are against any security breach because we consider the security of Kuwait and Lebanon as one and we do not allow any breach,” Hariri added. When asked if there will be any measures against Lebanon, Hariri hoped not but stated that the issue must be addressed clearly and boldly because it is the duty of the state and government. Hariri confirmed that they agreed on solving this issue in a manner that preserves relations between the two countries by all means.
Kuwait lodged a complaint with Lebanese authorities over evidence that point to Hezbollah’s involvement with al-Abdali, saying it was done “bearing the best interest of both nations in mind.”Kuwaiti officials have requested their Lebanese counterparts to keep them informed on measures taken to fend off any actions and practices that undermine Kuwait’s security and stability.Kuwaiti Ambassador to Lebanon Abdallah al-Qinai stated that Kuwait called on Lebanon to take “the necessary measures to curb these disgraceful practices” by Hezbollah as it is a partner in the government. In related news, Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior announced on Sunday that security forces had arrested the 13th “al-Abdali” cell suspect. Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported that the ministry released a statement detailing the arrest of Mustafa Abdulnabi Ali Bader Khan, a Kuwaiti citizen sentenced to ten years in prison. Security forces will continue their search to capture two more Kuwaiti convicts at large, and an Iranian individual. Members of the Abdali cell are accused of providing intelligence to Iran and Hezbollah, as well as housing weapons, ammunition and communication devices.
MoI confirmed that it will continue its extensive search until all convicts have been brought to justice. On Saturday, the ministry announced it had captured in different parts of the country 12 of the 14 wanted convicts. The case had created a political crisis with Iran as the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry announced the reduction of Iranian diplomatic representation and shutting down the military, cultural and trade missions of the Iranian embassy over Tehran’s support of the “terrorist cell”. The case emerged on August 13, 2015, when the MoI uncovered a terrorist cell with a large cache of arms, ammunition and explosives hidden underground at a farm in Abdali area on the border with Iraq. Among the explosives were hand grenades, guns, RPGs and 144 kg of bomb-making material. On September 1, 2015, Kuwait’s public prosecution said 26 defendants, including one Iranian, would stand trial for the possession of weapons, ammunition and explosives and espionage for Iran and Hezbollah. On January 12, 2016, the Criminal Court sentenced a Kuwaiti man and an Iranian, Abdulreza Haidar Dahqani, to death, one defendant to life in prison and 19 others to between five and 15 years in jail. The verdicts were appealed on July 21, when the Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence against the Kuwaiti national, one life sentence and one five-year sentence. Nine men who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison, were acquitted. The court also reduced three 15-year sentences to between two and five years, one 10-year sentence to five years, and two 15-year sentences and two five-year sentences to fines of 5,000 Kuwaiti dinars.

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister: We Look Forward for Lebanon's Answer To Our Memorandum, Keen to Preserve Ties
Naharnet/August 14/17/Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah affirmed his country’s keenness to maintain the good relations that link Kuwait and Lebanon. “We emphasized to our brothers in Lebanon the importance of working together to strengthen the security of both countries and the development of relations on all levels. We in Kuwait will continue to support our brothers in Lebanon,” he said in a televised statement he made during Prime Minister Saad Hariri's visit to the Emirate. The Deputy PM evaluated Hariri's visit as “an important visit. The meetings of Prime minister Hariri with his Highness the Emir and the Prime Minister confirm the strong relation on which the Lebanese and Kuwaiti sides are keen.” He said that Kuwait has sent a “letter of protest to the Lebanese government regarding the verdict recently issued in Kuwait about the involvement of Hizbullah in training some Kuwaitis to execute acts that harm the security of the country. We hope this issue will be addressed within the context of the special relations between Lebanon and Kuwait.”“His Highness the Emir and the Prime Minister emphasized that relations with Lebanon were not affected by these issues, but we stressed to our brothers in Lebanon the necessity of working together to reinforce the security of both countries and develop the relations on all levels. We in Kuwait will continue to support our brothers in Lebanon,” he added. “We look forward to receiving an answer to the Kuwaiti memorandum, and hope that our Lebanese brothers will underscore that Kuwait’s security and stability should not be threatened. We will work together to pursue this long process of relations with greater achievements,” he concluded.

Economic Dialogue over Wage Scale Begins at Baabda
Naharnet/August 14/17/An economic dialogue meeting to discuss the wage scale law and the taxes to fund it began at the Presidential Palace in Baabda on Monday. President Michel Aoun has invited several parties to discuss the various points of dispute and disagreement over the recently approved salary scale bill and the new batch of taxes to fund said scale. “We will address together a number of complications that arose after the endorsement of the wage scale. We will collect your ideas and study them in detail in order take the appropriate decision as for both laws,” said Aoun at the beginning of the session.
He added: “There are many righteous demands which we will respect. We seek to modify some mistakes made in the wage scale, but you have to know that potentials limited and the economic situation is critical, not to mention the deficit in trade. The matter must be addressed responsibly.” “We are ready to listen to you openly and to establish a real dialogue that highlights the common issues between the parties concerned,” stated Aoun. For his part, Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed commitment to the wage scale saying “it is a first” that the recently approved scale has “introduced reforms and new taxes.”The dialogue meeting was attended by Hariri, concerned ministers, Central Bank Governor, and representatives of the economic, labor and financial institutions, as well as free professions, private schools and teachers Syndicates' heads. Before the meeting began, Aoun and Hariri discussed the general situation in the country.

Veterans Block Major Roads in Beirut over Wage Scale Demands
Naharnet/August 14/17/Armed Forces Veterans blocked several major roads in Beirut on Monday in a bid to pressure President Michel Aoun not to sign the wage scale file and related taxes that were referred to him through parliament last month. A spokesman for the National Commission of the Armed Forces Veterans, Sami al-Rammah, voiced calls on Aoun “not to sign the wage scale file but to include his remarks and return it back to the parliament.” The protesters believe that the wage scale, as approved, does no serve them justice. They refuse installed payments for pensioners. Early in the morning, the protestors blocked major roads in and around Beirut including Port of Beirut, major commercial hub the Hamra street near the Central Bank of Lebanon. The protestors banned BDL employees from joining their offices and blocked the bank's several entrances. They also prevented the Customs employees at Port of Beirut from entering into the facility. On the other hand, the Syndicate Coordination Committee also held a sit-in in Downtown Beirut demanding publishing the wage scale law in the official gazette. The campaigners' move comes in line with an economic dialogue meeting set to be held at the Presidential Palace in Baabda at Aoun's request.The President has called for the dialogue meeting to discuss the various points of dispute and disagreement over the recently approved salary scale bill and the new batch of taxes to fund said scale. The dialogue meeting will be attended by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, concerned ministers, Central Bank Governor, and representatives of the economic, labor and financial institutions, as well as free professions, private schools and teachers Syndicates' heads.

2 Canadians 2 Lebanese among 18 killed in Burkina Faso restaurant attack
Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17The Canadian Press/August 14/17/ OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – Burkina Faso‘s Foreign Ministry says one Canadian is among 18 killed in a suspected extremist attack on a popular restaurant in the country. It says other foreigners killed include two Kuwaitis and one person each from France, Senegal, Nigeria, Lebanon and Turkey. at a Turkish restaurant in the West African country’s capital late Sunday. Seven Burkina Faso citizens were also killed and authorities said three other victims had not yet been identified. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the violence, which continued into the early hours Monday. Gunfire could be heard almost seven hours after the attack began. Global Affairs Canada said it was reaching out to Canadian citizens in the area and was ready to provide consular assistance as required. “Canada strongly condemns the attack,” said spokeswoman Brittany Venhola-Fletcher. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with those affected by the terror attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.” The attack brought back painful memories of the January 2016 attack at another cafe that left 30 people dead. Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.– with files from the Associated Press.

Hezbollah leader: Perhaps Israel should move nuclear research center
Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17/Jerusalem Post/August 14, 2017/Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah spoke out against Israel and the United States. On Sunday Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech to mark the 11th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. He called to the Israeli leadership not to stop at the closure of the Haifa ammonia tank - which was ordered closed due to health hazards - but to continue and move the nuclear research center in Dimona. He also referred to the Second Lebanon War as “a divine victory.""One example of the respect and recognition Israel gives the 'resistance' is the closure of the ammonia tank in Haifa," he said. “We hope that they will look into moving the nuclear reactor in Dimona as it is more dangerous and needs extra care.”Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page. Nasrallah warned Israel against future military operations in Lebanon. He said that "any Israeli unit that enters Lebanon will be defeated," adding, "Israel’s goal in the war was to crush Hezbollah, but since [the war], our strength only increased and the Israelis know it. When Israelis speak about the capacities of Hezbollah growing they recognize their defeat in the war.""The age in which Israelis would threaten and act is over, because Hezbollah is part of the resistance that brought down the project of greater Israel, " said Nasrallah. "As the enemy knows, a military action can’t reach the goal of eliminating the resistance… they use other means. " America and Israel, two "terrorist states."The Hezbollah leader addressed the US as well, claiming that "the US and Israel are crying because the terrorist groups have failed in Syria."A few hours before the speech Nasrallah met five Hezbollah fighters who returned from Syria where they were held captive by the Al Nusra front, a salafist jihadist terrorist group. The group traded the five Hezbollah fighters in exchange for five of their own fighters that were captured by Hezbollah. The returned fighters were labeled " heroes" by Nasrallah. He went on to say that "Israel is hopeful that the administration of President Donald Trump will use pressure to achieve this goal [of weakening Hezbollah using non-military options]" and that he hoped no one in Lebanon will cooperate with the American pressure, including economic sanctions.

Aoun before US Congressman: We aspire to good relations with US
Mon 14 Aug 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Monday met at the Baabda Palace with US Congressman for the State of Illinois, Darin Lahoud, and his wife, in the presence of US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, and the Executive Director of the American Task Force for Lebanon, Leslie Touma. The US Congressman, who is of Lebanese origin, briefed President Aoun on his activities through the US Action Group for Lebanon.Lahoud said that a group of US Congressmen, including Democratic and Republican deputies, are jointly seeking to secure the needed support for Lebanon and the Lebanese army in the face of terrorist organizations and to maintain stability. "The will of cooperation between the US and Lebanese armies is stable, notably that the Lebanese army is carrying out a great job in fighting terrorism," Lahoud said. President Aoun welcomed Senator Lahoud in Lebanon, thanking him for his positions within the US Congress to assist Lebanon, in general, and the army, in particular. "Lebanon wants to maintain good relations with the United States," Aoun said, indicating that the Lebanese Ambassador accredited to the US capital, Gabi Issa, shall be working to this end. Aoun thanked the US administration for the munificent aids provided to the army, most recently the delivery of a batch of American tanks.

Kataeb renews call for government resignation
Mon 14 Aug 2017/NNA - Kataeb party on Monday renewed calls upon the government to resign, as it had failed to assume its responsibilities towards the Lebanese people. "There is a flagrant government failure and an unprecedented contradiction in addressing the current issues; as if there is no executive power in the country," The party said in a statement following its weekly meeting, under the chairmanship of MP Sami Gemayel. Calling upon the government to resign, the party exhorted the formation of a technocrat Cabinet that would oversee the upcoming legislative polls in a "impartial" way. On the fresh economic meeting at Baabda palace, the party considered the event as a "confirmation" of the government's "shortsightedness," in addition to its "failure in understanding the consequences of the tax bill." "The party calls the President of the republic to revoke this bill," it added.

Geagea, US Congressman tackle overall political situation
Mon 14 Aug 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea, met at his Meerab residence on Monday, with US Congressman of Lebanese origin Darin Lahood, and the executive Director of the American Task Force for Lebanon, Leslie Touma. Talks reportedly touched on the current political situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region. On the other hand, Geagea met with a delegation of the Interim Committee for the follow-up on Syrian Refugees' Affairs in Arsal, who raised with the LF leader a range of relevant demands.

Khair follows up on Burkina Faso attack, puts capabilities at disposal of Lebanese community
Mon 14 Aug 2017/NNA - Upon the instructions of Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, the Secretary General of the Higher Relief Committee, Mohammad Khair, on Monday held the necessary contacts to follow up on the painful attack on a Turkish restaurant in the Republic of Burkina Faso, which claimed the lives of several people and injured others.Maj. Gen. Khair put all the needed capabilities at the disposal of the Lebanese community in Burkina Faso, in coordination with the concerned official authorities.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
August 14-15/17
Syrian Regime Releases 104 Nusra Captives in Keep with Arsal Deal

Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17/Beirut- Al-Nusra Front revealed on Sunday in a media broadcast aired on its affiliate outlet, Ibaa News Agency, that the Syrian regime had committed to releasing some 104 of its members, among which were 24 women. All detainees will be released from prisons in Homs, Hama and Damascus. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” has entered the third phase of implementing the Arsal agreement. The militants of Saraya Ahl Sham have begun leaving Arsal’s outskirts after a turbulent 48 hours, which included their leadership stalling the evacuation. According to Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency, some 400 fighters began leaving the Wadi Hmeid area of Arsal for the eastern slopes of the Qalamoun Mountains in Syria. “The Lebanese security forces began Sunday the implementation for sending off 400 armed terrorists from Saraya Ahl Sham with their families,” an NNA correspondent said.
The NNA added that the fighters would leave Arsal heading for Ruhaiba in Syria with their light weapons. It is to note that the Lebanese Red Cross will also accompany Saraya Ahl-Sham to the Lebanese-Syrian border. Reporters were not allowed to enter the area. A media operation run by Hezbollah posted video of a caravan of buses rolling through the dusty hills. Buses were expected to begin transporting 3,000 Syrian fighters and civilian refugees from a remote area in northeastern Lebanon to Syria on Monday morning. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it was coordinating aid for 5,288 people who had arrived in northwestern Syria from the Arsal area under the earlier deal to transfer 9,000 people. The status of the remaining people was unclear.

Gargash: Qatar’s Way out of the Crisis Is Allaying Neighbors’ Fears
Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17/Dubai- UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the best way for Qatar to get out of the current crisis is to work hard on rolling back from behavior neighbors perceive as threatening and potentially able to harm their sovereign states.
Gargash said Qatar is a small but rich country, explaining that it is using its financial resources to support terrorism.
The UAE top diplomat clarified in a meeting with a number of media and journalism personalities that the Qatar crisis is not a dispute between five countries and the peninsula, the way media has referred to it so far, but extends to international security as well. The Saudi-led bloc of four has carried out the boycott under the premise and good evidence of Doha’s funding of the extremist group the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror groups. Answering a question about the bloc of four demanding that Qatar shuts Al-Jazeera, Gargash said that Al-Jazeera Arabic is an outlet for Muslim Brotherhood propaganda while it’s state-funded and therefore represents a clear threat to regional peace. He described the peninsula as a state sponsor of terrorism, arguing that as a number of blacklisted terrorists dwell in Qatar, Doha has become a safe haven to a large number of UN-banned individuals.
Gargash said that terrorism has become a global phenomenon and that no city can be said to be 100-percent safe from its brutal attacks whether it be in India, the United States, Europe or anywhere else. He said that no amount, regardless of how little, of support be given to terrorism or extremism is acceptable, and therefore countries must work to remove any shaded areas from the overall plot and action plan against terrorism. Gargash affirmed that the Gulf Cooperation Council has proved its place and great value to all, and that it would prefer that Doha chooses to reform its ways and continues to be part of the Gulf system after it has been brought to its senses. During his visit to New Delhi, Gargash assured leaders and officials in India that the current developments in the region will have no repercussions on Indian communities in the Gulf states or economic interests of India in those countries.

Turkey Policeman Stabbed to Death by ISIS Suspect
Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17/A Turkish policeman was stabbed to death in Istanbul on Sunday by a suspected ISIS member who had been arrested for planning a suicide attack, Turkish media said. The assailant stabbed the officer at around 11 pm as he was being taken out of a patrol car near a police station following his arrest, according to the privately run Dogan news service.  The attacker, who was detained on suspicion of planning to carry out a suicide bombing, was then shot dead by police, the pro-government Anadolu agency reported. The officer, who was taken from the scene in an ambulance, died from his wounds. It was not immediately clear how the man managed to keep a knife while being taken into custody. Turkey was hit in 2016 by a succession of attacks that left hundreds dead in the bloodiest year of terror strikes in its history. The attacks were blamed on ISIS militants who had taken swathes of territory in neighboring Syria and Iraq as well as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who have battled the Turkish state in an insurgency lasting more than three decades. Last month anti-terror officers in Istanbul detained dozens of alleged ISIS members, several of whom were said to be preparing a “sensational attack” in Turkey, police said. Turkey has detained more than 5,000 ISIS suspects and deported some 3,290 foreign militants from 95 different countries in recent years, according to officials. It has refused entry to at least 38,269 people.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Welcomes Moqtada Al Sadr

Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17/Abu Dhabi- Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, hosted Moqtada Al Sadr, leader of the Sadrist Movement in Iraq, at Al Shati Palace on Sunday evening. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Al Sadr discussed the brotherly relations between their two nations and other issues of mutual interest, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.  During the meeting, which was attended by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikh Mohamed was briefed by Al Sadr about current developments in Iraq. Sheikh Mohamed stressed the importance of the stability and prosperity of Iraq, and his aspiration for Iraq to play its natural role in the Arab arena, which will enhance the security and stability of the Arab world. “Experience has taught us to always call for what brings Arabs and Muslims together, and to reject the advocates of division,” Sheikh Mohamed affirmed. He stressed that the UAE, throughout its history, has extended its hand to the Iraqi people, while noting his appreciation for the contributions of the Iraqi community to the nation’s current renaissance.
The news agency said Sheikh Mohamed renewed his congratulations to Al Sadr for the great victory of Iraq over ISIS, and stressed the importance of investing it to unite all Iraqis. He reiterated the UAE’s openness to the Iraqi government and people. He also stressed that the scenes being witnessed in the Arab world, with all its human and material losses, teach everyone about the necessity of collaborative work in protecting and preserving the Arab world.

Bahrain FM Discusses Regional Issues with Iraqi Officials
Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17/Baghdad– Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa arrived in Iraq on Sunday on an official visit where he held meetings with Iraqi President Fuad Masoum, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Notably, the Iraqi FM and his Bahraini counterpart didn’t hold a joint press conference following their meeting. Relations between Iraq and Bahrain have been tense following statements made by Iraqi officials after the conviction of several Bahraini citizens. Earlier, a source at the Ministry of Interior informed Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Iraq is planning to hand wanted convicts to Bahrain soon. Abadi held a meeting at his office with the Bahraini FM and his accompanying delegation during which they discussed enhancing bilateral relations in various fields, the situation in the region and the war on terrorism.
Abadi stated Iraq’s victories against ISIS terrorist organization and ongoing efforts to liberate its territory. He noted the importance of regional integration and enhancing the interests of the peoples of the region. The PM reiterated the importance of fighting sectarianism that serves terrorism, pointing out that all international and regional efforts must be exerted to put an end to ISIS’ terrorism. On behalf of the government and the people of Bahrain, the Bahraini FM congratulated Abadi on the liberation of Mosul and the victories achieved against ISIS. Al Khalifa reaffirmed that Bahrain stands with Iraq in its war against terrorism. He also confirmed his country’s willingness to strengthen political, economic, trade and cultural ties between the two countries. Bahrain’s FM also discussed bilateral relations with the Iraqi president at al-Salam Palace. During the meeting, Masum confirmed the need for joint efforts to strengthen Iraqi-Bahraini relations in all fields, including political, economical, and trade ties, according to the presidential statement.Bahrain’s FM confirmed that his visit to Baghdad will open up new prospects of communication and cooperation between both countries. The foreign affairs committee of the Iraqi parliament stressed the importance of the Bahraini FM’s visit, saying it ensures Iraq’s openness to the Arab region. Committee member Hasan Khodeir al-Shuwaider stated that Iraq is a founding member of the Arab League and can’t be singled out of its Arab roots. He reiterated the importance of the Bahraini FM’s visit, saying it is aimed at mending strained relations between Iraq and neighboring Arab countries. Shuwaider told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraq’s return to the Arab environment ensures its political and economic integration with its neighboring countries. Iraq’s relations with its Arab surrounding has been improving over the past few months with several Arab officials visiting Baghdad. The Iraqi government wants to enhance its ties with Arab countries and the Gulf in particular.

US Urges Iraq Kurds to Postpone Independence Vote
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 14/17/Washington has urged Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani to postpone an independence referendum scheduled for next month but he requested something in return, his office said Saturday. The timing of the September 25 vote has drawn criticism from both the Baghdad and Western governments, coming as the campaign against the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq if still unfinished. In a telephone call on Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington "would want for the referendum to be postponed and that the issues between the Kurdistan region and the federal government in Baghdad should be addressed through dialogue", Barzani's office said in an English-language statement. The Kurdish leader responded that were it to be put off, "the people of the Kurdistan region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future".Some Iraqi Kurdish officials have openly acknowledged that calling the referendum was intended as a bargaining counter in negotiations with Baghdad on other issues. The Kurdish regional government's representative in Iran, Nazem Dabbagh, said last month that the Kurds wanted Baghdad to meet their longstanding demand for plebiscites on incorporating other historically Kurdish-majority areas in their autonomous region. He said they also wanted Baghdad to ratify laws on oil revenues and funding for the Kurdish security forces, known as the peshmerga, who have played a crucial role in the fight against IS. The referendum would in any case be non-binding and is strongly opposed by neighbours Iran and Turkey, which have sizeable Kurdish minorities of their own and whose acquiescence is seen as key to achieving a viable separation.

More Than 600,000 Syrians Return Home, Mainly to Aleppo
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 14/17/More than 600,000 displaced Syrians have returned to their homes since the beginning of the year, with most of them heading to Aleppo, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration. Between January and the end of July, 602,759 displaced Syrians returned to their homes, many of them citing an improved economic and security situation in the areas they had fled from, IOM said in a statement. A total of 84 percent of those who have returned had taken refuge elsewhere within the war-ravaged country, while the remaining 16 percent returned from neighbouring countries Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. More than a quarter of returnees said they did so to protect their assets and properties, while nearly the same number referred to the improved economic situation in their place of origin, and 11 percent cited the improved security situation there. Fourteen percent meanwhile pointed to the worsening economic situation in their place of refuge, IOM said. But while most of the returns had been spontaneous, it warned they were "not necessarily voluntary, safe or sustainable," it said. Aleppo Governorate, the scene of the harshest battles of Syria's bloody six-year war, had received 67 percent of all returnees so far this year, IOM said. And within the governorate, Aleppo city, which was recaptured by the Syrian army last December after a suffocating five-month siege, has received most returnees, it said. Many of those returning meanwhile must struggle to get bare necessities, with only 41 percent having access to clean water and 39 percent with access to health services.This "is dangerously low as the country's infrastructure has been extremely damaged by the conflict," IOM said. And even as returns from within Syria especially appear to be on the rise, the agency warned that the war-torn country is still seeing high rates of fresh displacement. "From January to July 2017, an estimated 808,661 people were displaced, many for the second or third time, and over six million in total currently remain displaced within the country," it said. More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

US VP Pence Stresses 'Peaceable' Solution Sought for Venezuela
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 14/17/The United States "will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles," Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday, but he emphasized a peaceful path even as he stood by President Donald Trump's startling warning that US military action remained a possibility.
"We have many options for Venezuela, but the president also remains confident that working with all of our allies across Latin America we can achieve a peaceable solution," Pence said in a news conference alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, as he began a week-long Latin America tour of four countries. His trip comes after Trump on Friday said he was mulling a range of scenarios for crisis-hit Venezuela -- "including a possible military option if necessary." Trump's comment drew condemnation from Caracas, which called the threat "reckless" and "craziness." The rest of Latin America -- even countries strongly opposed to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's usurpation of his country's democratic institutions -- also strongly rejected it. Santos re-affirmed that regional stance by saying he told Pence frankly "that the possibility of a military intervention shouldn't even be considered."He added: "The Latin American continent, every country in Latin America, would not favor any form of military intervention." - Seeking Venezuela's 'isolation' -Colombia, Venezuela's neighbor, is a stalwart US ally and a fierce critic of Maduro and his policies. But it and many other Latin American countries have bitter memories of past US adventures in the region, including invasions, the propping up of military dictators and the sponsorship of guerrilla groups and paramilitaries. Pence's trip to Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama was dominated by US efforts to find joint action with Latin American partners to increase pressure on Maduro.
Washington has already imposed unilateral sanctions on Maduro and nearly two dozen of his officials over the establishment of a new loyalist body, an all-powerful Constituent Assembly, that supersedes the legislature controlled by the opposition. Specifically on the threat of military action, Pence said: "President Trump is a leader who says what he means and means what he says."But he emphasized his trip was "to marshal the unprecedented support of countries across Latin America to achieve by peaceable means the restoration of democracy in Latin America, and we believe it is achievable by those means."
- Eclipsing other issues -Trump's stated possibility of a US military operation looked likely to shadow Pence at every stop, eclipsing bilateral issues, especially trade, that he was raising along the way. In Venezuela, Maduro's regime has seized onto Trump's threat as proof of its oft-repeated claim that the United States wanted to topple the current leftist government to get its hands on Venezuela's oil reserves, the largest in the world. The Venezuelan opposition coalition seeking to oust Maduro through early elections on Sunday also rejected "the use of force, or the threat of applying such force, by whatever country against Venezuela," in a statement. Venezuela's leftist allies Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua meanwhile all backed Venezuela in a confrontation against its "imperialist" foe. Venezuela's economy is heavily reliant on its oil exports, and shipments to the US -- its biggest customer -- account for 40 percent of its crude production, but only eight percent of American oil imports.The US sanctions so far have been against individuals and not targeted Venezuela's oil industry, which would have consequences for US refineries.

Palestinian Woman Stabs, Wounds Israeli in Jerusalem
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 14/17/A Palestinian woman stabbed and wounded an Israeli man near an east Jerusalem flashpoint on Saturday, before she was arrested, police said. They said in an English-language statement that the incident occurred next to the Old City's Damascus Gate, site of repeated past attacks. It said that a "female Arab terrorist" stabbed the man, injuring him lightly. The woman, a Jerusalem resident aged about 30, was arrested at the scene, police added. The Old City is located in east Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community. The July 14 killing there of two policemen by three Arab Israeli gunmen led to spiralling unrest after Israel responded by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the Al-Aqsa mosque complex, used as a staging point for the attack. For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and staged mass prayers in surrounding streets. Ensuing protests left six Palestinians dead. The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors but tension remains high. A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has killed 293 Palestinians or Arab Israelis, 47 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP toll. Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks. Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 14-15/17
The West Betrays U.S. Heroes Who Prevented Another 9/11

Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/August 14/17
"Those who work as spies know the risks from America's enemies, but they shouldn't have to worry about politicized retribution from its friends" — The Wall Street Journal.
These officials should have never be prosecuted in a court; they should be protected from such actions. This prosecution is a betrayal of those who worked hard to prevent more massacres and to cripple the infrastructure of jihad.
That is the most important lesson: our spies and officials involved in the war against Islamic terrorism, like those who prevented another 9/11, now fear not only the wrath of the jihadists, but also the witch hunt of our media and judicial system.
One of the most important chapters in the war on terror is being rewritten -- with a moral inversion. Islamic terrorists who were arrested and deported have become "liberal causes célèbres", while agents of the CIA who questioned them are not only being condemned but also financially crushed by punishment and legal bills -- for having tried, legally, to save American lives.
Guantanamo Bay has supposedly become "the Gulag of our time"; the psychologists who interrogated the murderer who sawed off Daniel Pearl's head have been charged with working "for money"; the "black sites" in the Polish and Lithuanian forests have been compared to Nazi concentration camps, and the U.S. jurists and officials who conducted the war on terror have been compared to the Germans hanged in Nuremberg.
"In just a few months, Obama had sent the CIA back to the September 10 culture of risk aversion and timidity that had contributed to the disaster of 9/11", Bruce Thornton wrote in his book, The Wages of Appeasement. A few examples of Obama's policy include a directive to release Justice Department memos on the process of vetting interrogation techniques for legality. The attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, appointed a special prosecutor to determine if the CIA officers involved in the interrogation program had been guilty of breaking the law.
A judicial condemnation, however, has begun only now. A federal judge in Spokane, Washington, has opened one of the most important trials in the recent U.S. history. For the first time after September 11, three American citizens involved in interrogating Islamic terrorists have been called to answer to a judge. The New York Times released the video of their testimony. The federal court in Spokane, Washington, heard Bruce Jessen, James Mitchell and Jose Rodriguez testifying on their role in the war on terror. They are among the heroes who prevented another 9/11; now they are on the bench.
"I'll tell you a story," Bruce Jessen testified.
"Two Christmases ago, I get a call from the CIA; my grandchildren and my daughter and son-in-law are living with us. You have 15 minutes to get out of your house because ISIS has found someone to come and kill you and your family... Now, those -- that isn't the only threat I've received over the years, I've received lots of them. And I'm not afraid, and I did my duty and I stood up and I went to war, and I'll stand up to any of them again, but I don't want them messing with my family... And when you stick your face in the public eye, you get people like the SSCI and [Senator Dianne] Feinstein and the ACLU and other people who accuse you of things you didn't do, who out your name, who give them your address, who print articles that are full of crap about you, and it makes it difficult."
Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA clandestine service, told the court what was at stake:
"George Washington did not face an enemy like Al Qaeda. These are people who want to die as martyrs and see the killing of thousands of innocent men, women, and children as justifiable to promote their cause. Making a few of the worst terrorists on the planet uncomfortable for a few days during their first month of imprisonment is worth it in order to save thousands of lives".
John Rizzo also testified. In 2002, when George W. Bush signed the executive order in which he argued that the Geneva Convention does not apply to terrorists, Rizzo was an interim legal advisor. "No, I can't honestly sit here today and say I should have objected to that", Rizzo said.
Now, Judge Justin L Quackenbush of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, cleared the way for the case to move to the trial phase, rejecting the psychologists' lawyers request for summary judgement. "This is a historic day for our clients and all who seek accountability for torture," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said in a press release. "The court's ruling means that for the first time, individuals responsible for the brutal and unlawful CIA torture program will face meaningful legal accountability for what they did".
These officials should have never be prosecuted in a court; they should be protected from such actions. This prosecution is a betrayal of those who worked hard to prevent more massacres and to cripple the infrastructure of jihad.
Many former CIA directors explained that the program of enhanced interrogation techniques worked extremely well:
"It led to the capture of senior al Qaeda operatives, thereby removing them from the battlefield; it led to the disruption of terrorist plots and prevented mass casualty attacks, saving American and Allied lives; it added enormously to what we knew about al Qaeda as an organization and therefore informed our approaches on how best to attack, thwart and degrade it".
The CIA claimed the demonstrable successes of the interrogation program: the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed; the capture of José Padilla, accused of wanting to commit an attack in the United States with a dirty radiological bomb; preventing an attack on the US consulate in Karachi, Pakistan; a second wave of attacks after September 11 with a plan to hijack a plane and crash it into Library Tower in Los Angeles.
Jessen and Mitchell are not the only psychologists now in trouble for their involvement in this program. There are also the military psychologist Morgan Banks; Stephen Behnke, a former director of the American Psychological Association's ethics office; Joseph Matarazzo, a former chairperson of the Psychologist Association, who allegedly wrote an opinion for the CIA in which the deprivation of sleep would not constitute "torture".
One of the most important cases of rendition took place in the Italian city of Milan against Abu Omar; the verdict ended by condemning CIA agents. Robert Seldon Lady, the former head of the CIA in Milan, and involved in the Abu Omar case, was arrested and released in Panama. In a rare interview, the Wall Street Journal wrote:
"Mr. Lady, who had planned to retire and become a security consultant from a farm house he bought with his life savings in Italy's Piedmont region, received the stiffest sentence — eight years in prison, increased to nine on appeal. Before the case went to trial, Magistrate Armando Spataro sued to seize Mr. Lady's house and use the proceeds to pay damages to Abu Omar. Mr. Lady fled Italy in 2005 but lost his property. His 30-year marriage, he says, was another casualty".
Sabrina De Sousa, another CIA agent involved in the Milan rendition, avoided the jail only thanks to being pardoned by the Italian authorities.
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Macedonia for the rendition of a German citizen. The European judges also condemned Poland for hosting one of the CIA's secret sites. Spanish judges opened a criminal file against some senior Bush administration officials, including John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee of the Justice Department, and William Haynes, a former senior Pentagon jurist. John Yoo, now a professor at University of California, Berkeley, wrote the 2003 memorandum authorizing the CIA's interrogation techniques. The German attorney Wolfgang Kaleck filed a criminal complaint against Yoo; Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the Law School at the California University, asked to prosecute Yoo, who was also sued by José Padilla, a convicted American terrorist. In 2009, Spanish judges opened a criminal file against some senior Bush administration officials, including John Yoo (pictured) of the Justice Department. Yoo, now a professor at University of California, Berkeley, wrote the 2003 memorandum authorizing the CIA's interrogation techniques. (Image source: Commonwealth Club/Wikimedia Commons)
Recently, attorneys of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin, filed a criminal complaint against Gina Haspel, now the CIA's number-two person under Director Mike Pompeo, and charged her with being involved in directing a secret CIA detention facility near Bangkok, Thailand. Will U.S. officials fear that traveling in Europe might expose them to arrest?
The Wall Street Journal wrote last year, regarding the De Sousa case:
"The threat from terrorism is worse than at any time since 9/11, even as the West has limited its capacity for self-defense... Those who work as spies know the risks from America's enemies, but they shouldn't have to worry about politicized retribution from its friends. Sabrina De Sousa's abandonment by the U.S. government sends a demoralizing message to all who serve in the shadows, even as the war on terror enters a dangerous new phase."
That is the most important lesson: our brave spies and officials involved in the war against Islamic terrorism, like those who prevented another 9/11, now fear not only the wrath of the jihadists, but also the witch hunt of a Western media and judicial system.
As James E. Mitchell said, by prosecuting what the U.S. and the West have done in the war on terror, "we will be standing on the moral high ground, looking down into a smoking hole that used to be several city blocks".
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

By His Own Admission, Wilkerson Cannot Be Trusted
Dexter Van Zile//Gatestone Institute/August 14/17
Lawrence Wilkerson is blaming Israel and its supporters for a problem for which he himself is culpable.
Despite his self-admitted involvement in these scandals, Wilkerson has become MSNBC's go-to source for testimony about what is going on in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.
And if, by his own admission, Wilkerson was involved with efforts to distort the truth about the two of the biggest failures in American foreign policy -- the attack on 9/11 and the lack of WMDs in Iraq, then why is he a reliable source about the Iran nuclear deal or Israel today? Why is he qualified to appear on MSNBC, aside from his willingness to spout anti-Israel rhetoric?
On July 23, retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson appeared on MSNBC and accused Israel of increasing the tension surrounding Al Aqsa Mosque by installing metal detectors nearby. "The ultimate [Israeli] goal with regard to the mosque is to drive the Palestinians and Arabs in general out completely," he said, adding that the Israeli government's "ultimate goal is to cause the Palestinians to react in a way that it can then react viciously and violently as it has in Gaza repeatedly."
With such invective, Wilkerson depicts metal detectors, which are used at holy sites throughout the Middle East, as a provocation against the Palestinians. He also inverts cause and effect, portraying the metal detectors (and Israel's attacks on Hamas in the Gaza Strip) as the cause, rather than the response to Palestinian violence.
A few days after Wilkerson offered his assessment on MSNBC, Israel removed the metal detectors it had installed, thereby demonstrating that when it comes to assessing Israeli intentions, Wilkerson had no idea what he was talking about. If anyone is trying to increase the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, it is Palestinian leaders who have used the Al Aqsa Mosque as a pretext and as a staging ground for jihadist attacks against Jews for decades.
Wilkerson's recent appearance on MSNBC was not the only time he has defamed Israel. In 2016, he declared that a gas attack on civilians universally blamed on Syrian President Bashar Al Assad "could have been an Israeli false flag operation." When pressed by his interviewer from an internet TV station to describe what the motivation for an Israeli gas attack would be, Wilkerson dodged the question. All he could say is that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "too clueless" to know what was in his country's best interest in the Middle East.
It is Wilkerson who needs a clue. In the same July 21 MSNBC interview, Wilkerson reported a conversation he had with an unnamed Catholic Bishop in Ramallah in 2002 or 2003, who had declared that, "that the biggest enemy for him -- for Christians -- in that region was not the Arabs, it was the Jews."
The notion that that "the Jews" are the biggest enemy for Christians in the region is, sadly, laughable. In recent years, Christians have been subjected to genocide in Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIS. Christians have suffered terrible violence at the hands of Salafists in Egypt. Moreover, the genocide of Armenian, Assyrian and Pontic Christians in the Anatolian peninsula in the early 20th century remains a terrible scar on the region.
By way of comparison, Israel is the one country in the Middle East where the indigenous population of Christians is safe and growing. Palestinian Christians in the West Bank were some of the most obvious beneficiaries of the Six Day War. The population of Christians in the West Bank, which had declined during the Jordanian occupation, began to increase in the years after the war, a fact quietly admitted by Palestinian Christians themselves.
No Christian living in the West Bank would ever trade places with Christians living in Egypt, Syria, or Iraq. Israel is not the enemy of Christians in the Holy Land; it is their best protector. Again, Wilkerson has no idea what he is talking about.
Nevertheless, the retired colonel has become the darling of outlets such as MSNBC, which ignore an important aspect of Wilkerson's career. By his own admission, Wilkerson, who currently serves as an adjunct professor at William and Mary College in Virginia, has been involved in two other efforts to misinform the American people.
The first episode came when Wilkerson was serving as chief of staff for Colin Powell, Secretary of State for the Bush Administration. Working at the State Department, Wilkerson helped prepare Powell's now-infamous presentation to the United Nations in February 2003 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This presentation helped convince many people in the United States and Great Britain that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that the U.S. and its allies needed to oust Hussein from power. Subsequent events have revealed that Powell's testimony was filled with misinformation, some of it coming from an Iraqi citizen given the code name "curveball" who has since admitted lying to Western spy agencies about WMDs in Iraq.
When speaking of his involvement in preparing Powell's speech to the UN, Wilkerson typically places the blame on operators in the U.S. intelligence community who gave him and his boss a dodgy file to justify the invasion that was so badly wanted by what the retired colonel characterizes as a cabal of neoconservative radicals in the Bush Administration, a cabal that -- by his own admission -- he lacked the courage to confront.
"It was anything but an intelligence document," he told one interviewer years later. "It was as some people characterized it later, a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose."
Wilkerson also paints himself as someone who knew the information he and his boss had been fed by the intelligence community really was insufficient to justify an invasion and that the presentation Powell gave to the UN was "hokey, circumstantial crap."
In 2011, Wilkerson told Paul Jay from Real News Network that he had written his resignation to his boss a few days before Powell gave his speech. He wrote the resignation in his office at the State Department, he said, after spending several days preparing Powell's speech at CIA headquarters.
"My thinking is, I want out of here; I'm resigning," he told Jay from Real News Network.
"So why didn't you?" Jay asked.
"I did. I just didn't have the guts to submit it," Wilkerson replied.
In another version of the story offered in a documentary about how the "Israel lobby" controls America, Wilkerson's epiphany comes during Powell's speech to the UN, not before:
"I realized as I watched it there at the UN Security Council for the first time because every time I watched it before, I was you know running around trying to get things changed, 'do this, do that' talking about the graphics and everything else, but there in the UN Security Council, I sat down quietly and heard Secretary Powell make his presentation."
His assessment?
"'I wouldn't go to war based on that' – that's what I told myself," he said.
But go to war we did, in part because of a speech that Wilkerson prepared and which he came to realize (either before or while Powell gave his speech) was filled with misinformation. Who does Wilkerson blame for the push to invade Iraq? Among other actors, the "Jewish lobby."
Wilkerson's assessment flies in the face of an admission on WBUR in 2007 from John Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, that the push to invade Iraq came from the White House and that once Israel realized the invasion was a fait accompli, it "embraced" the invasion while continuing to remind the Bush Administration that it regarded Iran as a larger threat to its security.
Mearsheimer said that once the Israelis "came to understand that Iraq would be the first operation, and we would subsequently deal with Iran and Syria, they embraced the idea of attacking Iraq, although they continually reminded us that we had to do Iran and Syria afterwards."
Instead of promoting the push to invade Iraq, Israel went along with the decision. "It wasn't Israel that persuaded the Bush administration of the war's necessity, but vice versa: the administration persuaded and then enlisted Israel," wrote Martin Kramer in 2006. "It did so, in considerable measure, by implying that the United States would be better positioned to deal with Iran once it had disposed of Saddam."
There is a fair amount of evidence to sustain Kramer's assessment. A year before Wilkerson helped his boss prepare for his appearance before the United Nations, Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to the United States to tell the Bush Administration that Iran was a bigger threat than Iraq.
And in late 2002, Sharon told his own cabinet to stay quiet on U.S. plans to invade Iraq. In its story, The New York Times reported that two prominent Israeli military leaders, Chief of Staff Gen. Moshe Yaalon and Chief of Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aharon Farkash both downplayed the threat Iraq posed to the region. "Even as Mr. Bush has sought in recent days to play up the imminence and potency of the Iraqi threat, some of Israel's top security officials have played both down," The New York Times reported.
One Israeli expert went so far as to tell The Los Angeles Times in October 2002 that it was in Israel's best interest for Saddam Hussein to stay in power and that his ouster would threaten the safety of the Jewish state:
"Saddam Hussein, a weakling as he is today, is in Israel's interests," said Aharon Levran, a brigadier general in Israel's reserve army and author of a book about the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Levran, one of the more outspoken Israeli critics of Bush's policy on Iraq, says Baghdad is no longer capable of anything more than a border skirmish.
"A war against Iraq will divert the United States from its clear-cut campaign against Islamic fanaticism," Levran said. "And if it fails, we in Israel will pay the price." Nevertheless, Levran asserted Israel probably should support the invasion should it take place. "The United States has supported us in our catastrophes, so we have to support the United States in theirs."
Despite all this, Wilkerson blames Israel and its supporters for the push to invade Iraq. Israel's security establishment had a more honest and open debate over the threat Iraq posed to its neighbors than the United States did. And again, by his own admission, Wilkerson himself was one of the actors that hindered honest discussion about the need to invade Iraq.
In sum, Wilkerson is blaming Israel and its supporters for a problem for which he himself is culpable. Another time that Wilkerson helped misinform the American people came when National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell were called to testify before the 9/11 Commission established by Congress to obtain a full accounting of the circumstances that preceded the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. Again, by his own admission, Wilkerson helped Powell and Rice prepare their testimonies so that they would not contradict one another before the 9/11 Commission.
"I wouldn't say that we actually told an outright lie, but I would say that we massaged the information considerably so that it looked like the Bush Administration was far more attentive to Al Qaeda and its threat than it really was," Wilkerson stated, adding that "We were covering our asses."
Despite his self-admitted involvement in these scandals, Wilkerson has become MSNBC's go-to source for testimony about what is going on in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.
He is also a participant in the echo chamber Ben Rhodes created to sneak the Iran nuclear deal past the American people, co-authoring op-eds promoting negotiations with Iran with Kate Gould from the Friends Committee on National Legislation in 2013 and 2015.
All this raises a few questions such as: If Wilkerson got played about Iraq's WMD capabilities, how can we be sure he has got it right regarding Iran's willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program?
He got fooled once, who is to say he will not get fooled again?
And if, by his own admission, Wilkerson was involved with efforts to distort the truth about the two of the biggest failures in American foreign policy -- the attack on 9/11 and the lack of WMDs in Iraq, then why is he a reliable source about the Iran nuclear deal or Israel today? If Wilkerson helped misinform the American people twice before -- with at least some degree of knowledge -- who is to say he will not do it a third time?
Why is he qualified to appear on MSNBC, aside from his willingness to spout anti-Israel rhetoric?
Clearly, Wilkerson has a lot to atone for. But his campaign to malign Israel and its supporters with ugly lies about Jews being the enemy of Christians, being responsible for the invasion of Iraq -- and potentially responsible for gassing civilians in Syria -- only adds to his sins. It does not expunge them.
*Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

President Trump’s Syria Conundrum

Dennis Ross/Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17
The Trump Administration has been consistent on one thing: its priority in Syria is ISIS. Even though it retaliated for Assad’s use of chemical weapons, its focus has been ISIS-not Assad and not Iran in Syria. Going back to the presidential campaign, President Trump was certainly consistent in saying that he wanted to work with the Russians in Syria and that, too, now seems to guide the policy. After the meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin on the margins of the G-20, Secretary of State Tillerson announced an agreement on a ceasefire in southern Syria. He spoke of it being a first step and said at the time that the Russians may be “more right on Syria” than we are. This was a remarkable statement given the unlimited bombing of civilian areas that the Russians have conducted and the message he was sending them, perhaps inadvertently, about our readiness to acquiesce in their approach.
It is easy to be skeptical about this policy. The Russians, after all, have agreed to several previous ceasefires or cessations of hostilities and have enforced none of them. When the Assad regime or the Iranians and their Shi’ite militias violated the understandings, the Russians did nothing. On the contrary, they have used their air power to provide air cover for the Syrians and the Shi’ite militias as they have extended their reach in the country. Could it be different this time? Could Putin have an interest in making this ceasefire understanding stick, and actually impose it on a regime that declares loudly that it seeks to “take back every inch” of the country?
Perhaps, Putin probably does have an interest in lowering Russia’s costs in Syria. He faces an election next year and he does not need the price of Russian involvement in Syria to go up. Moreover, he has achieved everything (and more) of what he hoped for in intervening in Syria. Russia now has an air base in Syria, something that even the Soviet Union did not achieve. It is expanding its naval facility at Tartus, turning it into much more of a functioning base. It has established an air defense umbrella in Syria that stretches into the eastern Mediterranean. And, Putin has demonstrated that Russia is an arbiter of the conflict in Syria and increasingly in the region. Today, when it comes to security, every state in the area needs to reckon with and come to Moscow — and if one looks at who now travels to see Putin from the Middle East, it is all the leading states. In fact, they seem to be going to Moscow more than they are coming to Washington DC.
In theory, therefore, Putin might have an interest in stabilizing the conflict in Syria and containing an ongoing war that could end up draining Russian coffers and imposing higher casualties. The problem is that at this point, the Assad regime with the manpower of “Hezbollah” and Iran’s other Shi’ite militia proxies are not just consolidating their control but extending it in the Damascus suburbs, in Idlib province, and eastern Syria on the Damascus-Baghdad highway. They are fulfilling the Iranian desire to create a land bridge from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, and the ceasefire in the Russian de-escalation zones serves their purpose for the time-being. But what happens when the current consolidation-expansion is completed, and Assad and his Iranian partners/masters then turn their attention to gaining control of Syria’s borders with Jordan and Israel? And, given the Iranian desire to extend their leverage in the region, it is almost certain they will seek to do so.
The Israelis have already publicly expressed their opposition to the ceasefire because they see it as legitimizing the Iranian and Shi’ite militia presence in Syria and potentially close to their border. The Israelis have made it clear they won’t let Iran open up a second front against them in Syria. Maybe this will deter the Iranians; at a minimum, they will test and probe to see just how serious the Israelis are. Unfortunately, they are far less likely to be deterred from trying to position themselves along the Jordanian border, convinced this will give them the means to de-stabilize the Hashemite Kingdom and threaten the Gulf States from yet another direction.
Unlike in the case of Israel, the ceasefire agreement is supposed to keep the Syrian regime and the Iranians 40 kilometers from the Jordanian border. That, however, depends on the Russians stopping the Syrians and Iranians. If the past is any guide, they won’t, unless, of course, they decide that this will extend the conflict and increase their costs.
The Trump Administration could make it clear that there is a cost. If it was prepared to say the US will enforce these ceasefire areas and buffer zones if the Russians don’t, Putin would pay attention. Not only would it signal that the US was going to be an arbiter of events in Syria — something Putin seeks to avoid — but it would also mean we would act to punish the Syrian regime for its transgressions.
One of Putin’s objectives has been to show that the Russians stand by and protect their friends. He is not going to want to have to protect further Syrian efforts at expansion if it costs the Russians and he is also likely to be leery of having the insurgency re-emerge after seemingly containing it. One way for the US to punish the regime would be to resume lethal assistance to Syrian opposition groups. That may seem very unlikely after the Trump Administration has ended that assistance, but if the Russians appear to be retreating from the ceasefire agreement, this could be an option for the administration.
The irony for the Trump administration is that if it wants to defeat ISIS and not have it re-emerge, there must not be a vacuum left after the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa and its remaining pockets of control in Syria. Presently, the Iranians expect such a vacuum and are positioning themselves to fill it. If they do so, we can expect to see them once again introduce the kind of sectarianism and exclusion of Sunnis that produced ISIS in the first place.
The administration needs to focus on preventing such a vacuum by ensuring that Iran and the Shi’ite militias don’t keep expanding their presence in Syria. President Trump needs to convey to Putin that cooperation in Syria depends on the Assad regime and the Shi’ite militias not expanding from where they are now. That we will punish violations of the ceasefire agreements if the Russians do not and that while we will not seek to roll-back the regime and the Shi’ite militias, we won’t tolerate their establishing a presence and control in more areas of Syria.
President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis are clearly reluctant to get more deeply involved in Syria, but unless they are prepared to prevent the further expansion of the Iranians and Assad’s forces after ISIS’ defeat, they may well be greater instability in the region and the re-emergence of the next incarnation of ISIS. If they want to avoid such a scenario from materializing, they need to establish limits now and make sure Putin understands them.

Trump Unifies Germans Against Him
Anna Sauerbrey/The New York Times/August 14/17
Believe it or not, there was a time when German politicians were cool. There was Helmut Schmidt, the 1970s chancellor, packing up the sails of his boat, sleeves rolled up, his face roughened by the wind, tobacco and the Cold War. But that was then; in the decades since, the country has been run by stolid men and women — and, until lately, we’ve been fine with that. For good reason, Germans have a certain allergy to political charisma. But then came a new crop of stylish world leaders — Barack Obama, first, and now Justin Trudeau of Canada and Emmanuel Macron of France. So Germany has decided to take another shot at making politics cool again — not just lauding camera-ready politicians but also trading in the sort of anti-Trump “resistance” posturing that has caught fire worldwide. This is a mistake.
The latest politician to take a stab at cool is Christian Lindner, the 38-year-old leader of the pro-business Free Democratic Party, who poses for campaign posters with his face bestubbled, his shirt collar unbuttoned. But he can’t quite pull it off — his posing seems, well, posed.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has a dry, witty sense of humor, and she can be cool in a hard-boiled, implacable way. But she’s not cool in the breezy manner of Mr. Macron and Mr. Trudeau; she bears the weight of the world on her shoulders, and she wants us to know it.
At the beginning of the year, when the Social Democrats declared Martin Schulz their candidate for this fall’s election, young people joined the party in droves. At his rallies, supporters held up posters imitating Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster, with Mr. Schulz replacing Mr. Obama.
But Mr. Schulz couldn’t live up to it. He is competent but humorless, a party functionary, not a political visionary. He recently appeared in a white protective suit and cap while visiting a smoked-fish manufacturer — and he looked more comfortable than he ever has on the stump.
Why can’t Germans do cool politics? There are the clichéd explanations, all of them true to some extent. Is it because of our Nazi past? Is it because after decades of working their way up through the German party system, candidates have lost their sense of daring? Is it because we are a nation in doubt, a nation of permanently self-reflecting ditherers?
Coolness is not a democratic necessity, of course, and we have no right to expect that our policy makers entertain us. You could even argue that the sort of maverick quality that we marvel at in Mr. Macron is inappropriate, because democracy is not about lone decision-making but about seeking broad compromise. But coolness can serve as a means to engage people in politics, to create a sense of belonging. Coolness has the power to create cohesion.
So we keep trying. Lacking a figure to rally around, Germans have found one to rally against: Donald Trump. If we can’t be inspired by the positive, we have decided to embrace the negative, to join the “resistance” as a way of unifying, motivating and aestheticizing our politics.
After all, sometimes all you need is a good evildoer to make a story work. And Mr. Trump is the perfect villain, particularly to the German left. The political coolness everyone can agree on is to be anti-Trump.
A “cool” political culture needs a code that insiders can quickly recognize to create social cohesion. The more people you’d like to be involved, the simpler the code needs to be. And so we’ve reduced Mr. Trump to a caricature — his yellowish hair, his ill-fitting suits, his figure rendered into various comic-book-villain tropes (the Joker is a favorite among Germans). During the G-20 summit meeting, such depictions were everywhere. An uninformed visitor might assume that Mr. Trump is a candidate in the coming election.
Predictably, Mr. Schulz has tried to harness the anti-Trump cool for his own campaign. He embraces the resistance, telling supporters, “It is our duty to step into this man’s way with everything we stand for.” He personalizes the fight, trying to make himself the star of the anti-Trump show, even going after him on Twitter. When Mr. Trump tweeted that his son’s meeting with a Russian lobbyist was business as usual — “most politicians would have gone” — Mr. Schulz replied: “I wouldn’t have gone there. This is not politics.”
This might be good for politicians, but it’s bad for our politics. In the same way that the public often swoons over charismatic candidates, losing sight of their flaws and nuances, turning Mr. Trump into a cartoon bad guy renders him unreal. If he’s too bad to be true, we may forget that he actually exists.
It also distorts what voters should really worry about. Of course it’s relevant to Germany what happens in the United States, our closest ally. But Mr. Trump is not running for chancellor. Mr. Trump is nothing but a strange surrogate for the lack of catchy slogans and German political coolness.
Eventually, he’ll go away. In the meantime, German politics needs to find a more positive, sustainable way of engaging with the public, speaking to the issues that matter to them.

Freedom of Hate Speech

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17
The late author Ghazi al-Gosaibi was one of the most prominent figures to confront the hate movement during the early 1990s. His book “Until there is no more strife” is a significant historical and intellectual reference during that Saudi era plagued with the extremist awakening “Sahwa” movement.
Public declaration of hatred and social incitement on media outlets is still a common culture, but is carried out under different pretenses. In earlier times, hate and hostile rhetoric against different ideologies were religious principles taken out of context and adopted by followers of a movement against their rivals.
Today, some justify its usage by claiming to be freedom of expression. But freedom of expression is limited to time and place and is against collective incitement that is considered a crime. Blatant statements and incitement are not the same as freedom of expression and discussion which can be tolerated even if it included racial ideas. During the 1990s, hate speech first emerged in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf accompanied by regional and political disturbances and the development of technology. It also concurred with the imported ideas of Awakening movement which exploited religion that basically copied the culture of Muslim Brotherhood and brought foreign political agendas into the kingdom.
Standards of freedom differ according to the country and cultural experience.
The concept of a national Arab state is still new and requires a lot of time to mature. This can happen through fusion of society into a harmonized civilized system. But it’s not an easy task. This is the case today with Syria, Libya, and Yemen. All of the wars erupted in those countries to promote notions such as nationalism, reform, demanding rights, and rejecting dictatorships of Assad, Gaddafi and Saleh. However, they ended up being narrow-interest partisan projects. Hate speech might seem a spontaneous simple expression to some and fits in with the inherited racism, but in reality, it is the most basic threat to the state’s entity. Allowing groups to call for antagonizing groups within a single society endangers the whole country and paves way for tribal and regional discrimination. Hatred occurred in two different places at the same time which only means that the disease is present even if the country is developed.
The first incident was when racist bigots antagonizing the society against mourners for the death of the great Kuwaiti actor Abdul Hussein Abdul Reda in our region. The second occurred when white nationalists protested in Charlottesville against other races.
For anyone supporting their freedom of speech, please note that almost none of the US media supported or defended the racist protesters.
Hate speech is rejected even though freedom of expression is protected by the constitution.
In the US, as well as our countries, social media is a challenge for the state because it is out of control and used by racists to promote their ideas and mobilize public opinion for their support. Surely, if racist rhetoric became a phenomenon that threatens the society’s stability, US legislators will most likely intervene to set limits and sanctions on using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook. But things didn’t get that far yet. Racism might seem prevailing in the US and people are allowed to express it, but in reality they are banned from practicing it. The law prohibits refusing to hire someone or educating people for racial reasons and prohibits discrimination. We are aware that sectarian people criticizing tributes to Abdul Hussein Abdul Reda are in fact not targeting him personally or insulting and rejecting him, but rather exploiting the occasion to impose their opinions in order to create clashes.
Like wars, racism is a disease that is present in all societies and will always exist. Civilized countries aim to fight racism via laws, batons and also via education. Expressing hatred towards another citizen could undermine the whole country. So, when we reject hate promoters, it is not only out of respect for the late Abdul Hussein or defending him, but also to protect the entity of the nation. Racism is a series of endless practices against anyone who is not of the same region, town, sect, color, race or against those who have different opinions. Such behaviors lead to division and clashes in society.

A European Cure for the Arab Patient
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/August 14/17
For years, he used to sit at the cafe near his home. He would sit with his book, newspaper and coffee cup before leaving. In the early 1980s, all that remained was eluding time, being wary of weather changes, wisely spending his pension, listening to doctors’ orders and counting the number of friends he has left.
He does not like to delve into politics. He believes that it requires a great knowledge of the details, but this does not eliminate the fact that he harbors bad feelings towards former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He said that Britain had committed enough mistakes throughout history and it does not need another one, like when it invaded Iraq. He stressed that his country does not have the right to topple a leader and appoint another. Perhaps the United Nations could play such a role in times of great need. Britain does not have the right to overthrow a regime and then withdraw, leaving behind a war that does not spare any human or building from its destruction.
Recently a new woe was added to the old ones. The man participated in the referendum on leaving the European Union. He cast a vote for remaining part of Europe. It never occurred to him that the majority of Britons would choose divorce. The result devastated him.
He said that the Britons committed great treason against the major dream called the European house. He noted that the dream was stabbed by people who do not have a memory and who have forgotten that this dream came true after a horrific tragedy that the continent witnessed and bloodied the whole world with it. He said that this is a very serious issue, asking: Can such a major accomplishment be placed in the hands of a generation whose feelings can be manipulated through social media? He warned that the manipulation by populists, who are chanting flashy slogans, could lead the world on adventures that were long thought to be history. He stressed that he is an honest Briton, who is proud of his roots. This loyalty is not directed against others, but it is European as much as it is British. He said that he is happy because he has a grandson working in Spain and another working in Belgium. He considers that the presence of other Europeans in Britain is natural and a source of prosperity and stability. He revealed that the European dream enriched him and offered him opportunities of cooperation to resolve problems. The decision to exit Europe diminished this dream and the room for maneuvering. It also restored the fear of returning to cages where bruised nationalism and old hatred thrive.He recounted to me how, when he was young, German planes had pounced on Britain, how cities after the war looked like fields of orphans, widows, rubble and sad stories. He said that the beasts of history were awakened in that period and maps were ripped up, capitals were destroyed and nothing remained but the stench of fear, death, defiance, sweat and tears.
The European dream was born out of these horrors. The Europeans decided that the time had come to bury the hatred of history and its knives. They took a major decision whose essence was thinking of the future of their grandchildren instead of continuing in waging the wars of their ancestors. British-French and grueling German-French wars were now subjects left to historians. The Europeans decided to save their children and grandchildren from Hitler and his kind. Institutions are the secret of the European house. These institutions guarantee, punish, plan and preempt. They have an independent judiciary, modern management and freedom of expression. These institutions prevent Europe from falling into wars similar to the ones of the past. The Yugoslavian explosion was an exception. The European institutions allowed the continent to contain the world war-like fallout of the collapse of Soviet empire.
I listened to my British friend and thought about the terrible Middle East, specifically the position of the Arabs and the many human and financial losses that the Arab countries have suffered that are equal to a world war. The storms have exposed us. He have countries that are prone to fragmentation, peoples ready for displacement, intifadas that can be aborted and armies with weakening loyalty We have women who are ready to be widowed and children who are destined to be orphaned. Only the institutions can save us from this long stay in hell.
When will our people wake up? Where are our universities? Where are our writers and pioneers? It is as if we enjoy living in the dark like bats. We want development, progress and dignity. We want cities, universities and job opportunities. We want institutions that plan and hold accountability. We are fed up with standing on the margins of history, We want to forge ahead into the future and save our grandchildren from the fate of our ancestors.
We will not be able to leave the terrible Middle East if we keep holding on to the daggers, spite and intolerance of our ancestors. We want other ideas that are open to this age and open to tomorrow. We want to be a normal and respectable nation. We will not be able to leave the age of Arab ruin unless we learn from out catastrophe as Europe learned from its own. It is not enough to take off the clothes of your grandfather, but you should put the thoughts you inherited to the test of the age. You will not head to the future if you do not ease the weight of intolerance and darkness.