August 17/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12/35-40/:‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. ‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

You have appealed to the emperor; to the emperor you will go
Acts of the Apostles 24,27.25,1-12/:After two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and since he wanted to grant the Jews a favour, Felix left Paul in prison. Three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem where the chief priests and the leaders of the Jews gave him a report against Paul. They appealed to him and requested, as a favour to them against Paul, to have him transferred to Jerusalem. They were, in fact, planning an ambush to kill him along the way. Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea, and that he himself intended to go there shortly. ‘So’, he said, ‘let those of you who have the authority come down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them accuse him.’After he had stayed among them for not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea; the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. When he arrived, the Jews who had gone down from Jerusalem surrounded him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. Paul said in his defence, ‘I have in no way committed an offence against the law of the Jews, or against the temple, or against the emperor.’But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favour, asked Paul, ‘Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and be tried there before me on these charges?’Paul said, ‘I am appealing to the emperor’s tribunal; this is where I should be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you very well know. Now if I am in the wrong and have committed something for which I deserve to die, I am not trying to escape death; but if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can turn me over to them. I appeal to the emperor.’ Then Festus, after he had conferred with his council, replied, ‘You have appealed to the emperor; to the emperor you will go.’"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 16-17/17
Peace In the Middle East/Elias Youssef Bejjani/August 16/17
Hezbollah’s hegemony will fail in Lebanon/Ali Al-Amin/Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17
Japan Concerned over Low Inflation/Noah Smith/Bloomberg/August 16/17
In Dealing with North Korea, Trump Needs Allies/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/August 16/17
Risks of Iran Nuclear Deal Collapse/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17
The View From the Kremlin: Survival Is Darwinian/Maxim Trudolyubov/The New York Times/August 16/17
Europe: Migrant Crisis Reaches Spain/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 16/17
What's next in Afghanistan/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/August 16/17
The Anti-Semitic Jewish Media/Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/August 16/17
Muqtada Sadr and the great sectarian tussle/Mashari Althaydi/Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 16-17/17
Peace In the Middle East
Hezbollah’s hegemony will fail in Lebanon
Lebanese Army Surrounds ISIS in Jurud, Installs Special Operation Room for Battle
Berri adjourns evening legislative session due to lack of quorum
Berri: Lack of quorum in legislative session is shameful
Berri: Amendments to Wage Scale, Tax Hike Bills Can't Be Discussed at Parliament Today
Parliament Scraps Controversial Rape-Marriage Law
Lebanese Army Shells IS Positions, Captures New Border Areas
Aoun deems water dams' projects keystone for development of production sectors
Hajj Hassan, Zoayter arrive in Syria to partake in Damascus International Fair
Official Lebanese delegation bound for Burkina Faso to transfer bodies of terror attack victims
Kanaa: Salary scale on track, expenditures control must include waste
Iran building long-range rocket factory in Syria - Israeli TV/Report: Iran and Russia violated UN weapons sanctions

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 16-17/17
Riyadh Says Iran Spreading Terrorism, Cannot be Negotiated with
UAE: Qatar Must Meet 13 Demands to Return to GCC
Bouteflika Sacks Algerian Prime Minister
Escalation in Southern Syria amid Demands to Amend Truce
Moscow Supports Haftar’s Counter-Terrorism Efforts, Salama Meets Politicians in Misrata
Al-Azhar Rejects Tunisia’s Call for Gender Equality in Inheritance
Iraq Oil Minister: Establishment of Iraqi-Saudi Coordination Council a Significant Step
China Tells US, North Korea to 'Hit the Brakes' on Threats
Israel Demolishes Home of Palestinian Who Stabbed 3 to Death
Conflicts in Syria, Iraq Far From over Despite IS Setbacks
Manama: Qatar conspired to overthrow the regime in Bahrain
Explosive boat attack foiled targeting UAE ship
Saudi Arabia affirms it has never requested Iranian mediation

Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 16-17/17
Peace In the Middle East

Elias Youssef Bejjani
August 17, 2017·
An Everlasting Peace in the Middle East requires honesty, love and tolerance unless the Arab countries and people give up on their deeply rooted hatred and grudges towards Israel and stop educating their generation on rejection of others and Isolation no revolutions will help them and they will keep on getting out of a trap and falling into another. Education tolerance, peace and acceptance of others are the kind of revolutions that the Arab world needs urgently.

Hezbollah’s hegemony will fail in Lebanon/هيمنة حزب الله سوف تفشل في لبنان
Ali Al-Amin/Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17
Almost all financial and economic indicators point to Lebanon’s dramatic freefall into the abyss. With public debt rising to $118 billion, the annual budget deficit has shot above 60 percent even as the total budgetary amount stands at a paltry $17 billion.
The economic and financial crisis comes amid the glaring inability of political authorities – be it the one allied to Hezbollah or the other disaffiliated from it – from taking any measures to stabilize the situation.
Statements emanating from the government show their abject disregard of the dire economic situation and an Ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach that fails to acknowledge the imminent threat.
Economy in freefall? Blame Syrian refugees
Some have made Syrian refugees the scapegoat in order to absolve Lebanese authorities from taking any responsibility for the current dismal situation. The refugee issue is also used to cover up several instances of corruption and ‘organized loot’ which has skyrocketed the budgetary deficit and the debt burden.
For example, the biggest illegal appropriation of public property over the last 10 years has been brought about by political forces that are now part of the government. The role of illegitimate arms was behind these illicit activities, which has impaired the rule of law.
Hezbollah and its allies put on a military, political and media show on a daily basis and always give the impression that they control the state, its foreign affairs as well as political and security decisions
Weaknesses cannot produce confidence. Hezbollah and its allies put on a military, political and media show on a daily basis and always give the impression that they control the state, its foreign affairs as well as political and security decisions. However, this does not create a sense of confidence in them. Something makes these powers – particularly Hezbollah –uneasy about the territories and jurisdiction they claim to possess.
Lebanese people have come to realize that there have been recent attempts at undermining the pluralistic character of their society, particularly with the promotion of the concept that Hezbollah is sacrosanct and above criticism, while all others are essentially impure and tainted.
Again, those who endorse the statements of Hezbollah and adore emblems of the Iranian outreach, which extends from Tehran to Beirut, are largely accepted and embraced.
This style of management is reflective of a military and security oriented mindset that only knows how to govern through force and repression. This approach may partially work and only under specific circumstances but it cannot be sustained for long in a country like Lebanon.
Truly Arab and pluralistic
Since the time of Lebanon’s establishment, no authority has been able to upset the political and cultural diversity of the country – irrespective of its political or military might – nor has it been able to interfere with its sense of freedom that has resisted all internal and external powers.
This characteristic is deep-entrenched and is directly linked to the country’s economic and social character. Violating the conditions of democracy and freedom will have direct and definitive impact on its economy.
Lebanon rejects any attempt at the imposition of a totalitarian system. Thanks to its essential constituents, it cannot be separated from its Arab ethos and moorings. Its distinctly Arab sense of belonging is not superficial but it is germane to its existence and continuity and is of vital significance.
Whenever any power or authority in the past has tried to drag Lebanon into something different from its true nature, the people have vociferously spoken out and revolted against any attempts at subjugation.
Lebanon is a country that is much bigger than any ideological construct developed to mobilize the masses. Its culture runs deeper than any smug idea that might presume it is in control. Its ethos is resistant to occupation, both from within and without.
Freedom in Lebanon is not a passing fad but is a deep-rooted value that is fully capable of unseating tyranny, whether in the form of men, political alliance or ideologies.

Lebanese Army Surrounds ISIS in Jurud, Installs Special Operation Room for Battle
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/Reuters 16/17/Beirut- Hours after Saraya ahl al-Sham militants and their families arrived to Qalamoun from Lebanon’s Jurud Arsal area, the Lebanese Army launched on Tuesday sweep operations in the geographical area where the militants were present, ahead of triggering a battle against ISIS in Jurud Baalbek and Qaa, expected soon. “The Lebanese Army is already inside the area previously controlled by Saraya ahl al-Sham militants and had started a sweeping operation to clean it from cluster bombs and explosives,” a military source told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday. He said that the army also secured route to the hills from where it can supervise ISIS positions and target any movement by the organization’s militants. “The announcement of the start of the military operation is now very near,” he said. According to military sources, the army also installed a military operation room inside its headquarters in Yarzeh to follow up on the field of developments minute by minute. The source also uncovered the presence of a plan to provide the public with the latest information from inside the battlefield. He also said a number of US and British experts were still present inside the air military base in the Riyaq area in Lebanon’s Bekaa. However, the military source denied that those experts were present in Lebanon to participate in the battle. “Their presence is linked to offering some training and information about the weapons they already provided to the army. They will have no role in the field developments,” the source added. On Tuesday, Lebanese Army units resumed bombarding ISIS locations in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa, using intermittent artillery fire. The army personnel also advanced on Tuesday morning in the areas of Mrah al-Sheikh, Ajram and Wadi Hmayd in the region of Arsal’s outskirts, as part of the army’s ongoing tightening on terrorist groups in the towns of Baalbek and al-Qaa, where they detected a number of explosive belts, bombs shells, booby traps and the body of an unknown person, an army statement said.

Berri adjourns evening legislative session due to lack of quorum
Wed 16 Aug 2017 /NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, adjourned the evening legislative session of Parliament due to lack of quorum.

Berri: Lack of quorum in legislative session is shameful

Wed 16 Aug 2017/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, deemed the lack of quorum during this evening's legislative session as shameful. It is to note that the quorum was not complete during this evening's legislative session, with the absence of 65 members of Parliament from said session.

Berri: Amendments to Wage Scale, Tax Hike Bills Can't Be Discussed at Parliament Today
Naharnet/August 16/17/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has expressed his “readiness to facilitate” the introduction of bills to amend some aspects of the wage scale law and the accompanying taxes to secure its funding resources, “if presented to the general assembly of the parliament,” the pan-Arab al-Hayat daily reported on Wednesday. However, Berri's visitors quoted him as saying that "it is not possible to propose bills to the parliament to amend the wage scale law and taxes until after the publication of the two laws in the official gazette and after the signature of the President. Only then will there be no problem in discussing the law proposals,” the daily said. "In any case, new law proposals cannot be put forward during today's session because there is a specific agenda that must be followed," unnamed sources clarified to the daily. However the Speaker pointed out that he will “call for a new legislative session next week, where the said bills can be proposed.”Unnamed sources told the daily that the appointment of Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil and the Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee Ibrahim Kanaan to formulate these proposals as a result of the economic dialogue meeting held on Monday in Baabda, aims to avoid the economic and social repercussions of what some considered as “gaps,” in the approved scale and taxes. The two ministers had met shortly after Monday's economic dialogue meeting at Baabda in order set new draft laws aiming at tackling the “errors” in the wage scale and tax bills. Berri has called the parliament for a meeting on Wednesday to study and approve draft laws listed on the agenda of the two previous sessions last month that saw the approvals of the salary scale and tax hike bills.

Parliament Scraps Controversial Rape-Marriage Law
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 16/17/The parliament approved on Wednesday the annulment of a controversial law allowing rapists who marry their victims to go free. Article 522 of the penal code, which exempts the rapist from punishment in the event of his marriage to the victim, was scrapped during a legislative session held at Nejmeh Square. Article 522 -- which deals with rape, assault, kidnapping and forced marriage -- was approved by a parliamentary committee in February. Lebanese activists have ramped up several campaigns to scrap the law. The reviled article, which also deals with the rape of minors, allows offenders to escape punishment by wedding their victims.

Parliament OKs New Governorate as Protesters Spell Out Demands
Naharnet/August 16/17/In line of a legislative session set to convene on Wednesday at Nejmeh Square in Downtown Beirut, a number of protesters rallied adjacent to the parliament building in a bid to pressure the authorities into approving their demands, as lawmakers approved the establishment of a new governorate. Civil Defense volunteers gathered in Beirut's Riad al-Solh Square demanding the parliament to sign a decree that makes them full-time employees. They also demand that the retirement age be raised. On the other hand, contract teachers at vocational schools demanded the parliament to approve their long awaited rights, and threatened to escalate measures if they were not approved. Moreover, contractual public secondary school teachers have threatened to block the streets. Lebanese army veterans rallied in Riad al-Solh as they refused installed payments for pensioners. Before the legislative session convened Speaker Nabih Berri met with MP Ibrahim Kanaan, head of the parliamentary budget and finance committee, and MP George Adwan. The Speaker has called the parliament for the meeting to study and approve draft laws listed on the agenda of the two previous sessions last month that saw the approvals of the salary scale and tax hike bills. At the beginning of the meeting, Berri said: “The parliament will turn into a permanent workshop, and a public session for accountability will be held on a semi-weekly basis.”The lawmakers approved the establishment of a new administrative division (governorate) of Keserwan-Jbeil. MP Neemtallah Abi Nasr, who was the first to introduce the idea of establishing said governorate, told the press: “The Keserwan-Jbeil governorate will be based in Jounieh. We demand the allotment of the necessary funds in order to issue decrees to establish it.”

Lebanese Army Shells IS Positions, Captures New Border Areas
Associated Press/Naharnet/August 16/17/The Lebanese army continued pounding the Islamic State positions along the Syrian border overnight, massing reinforcements and pounding the area with artillery shells and rockets, the National News Agency reported. The military shelled the IS posts on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa during the night. Early on Wednesday, the military continued to target intermittently the posts of jihadists in said areas and in Northern Bekaa town of al-Fakiha, NNA added. On Tuesday, the army said that troops have advanced along the border with Syria, tightening the siege on areas controlled by the IS group. The Lebanese army said in a statement that the troops discovered bombs and explosive belts left behind by militants in areas captured on the edge of the Lebanese border town of Arsal. It said that they also found the body of an unknown man. Tuesday's advance came a day after hundreds of insurgents and civilians returned to Syria from the Lebanon border area as part of a deal negotiated with the Lebanese. With the departure of members of the Saraya Ahl al-Sham rebel group and al-Qaida-linked fighters, only IS remains in the border area. The Lebanese army has been preparing for an all-out attack on IS positions along the Syrian border for weeks, massing reinforcements and pounding the area with artillery shells and rockets. The Syrian army and Hizbullah are preparing for a simultaneous attack on the Syrian side of the border.

Aoun deems water dams' projects keystone for development of production sectors
Wed 16 Aug 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Wednesday deemed the establishment of water dams in Lebanon as an essential keystone for the development of production sectors, notably the agricultural one. "The plan for the establishment of water dams in Lebanon does not only aim at preserving and investing in water wealth, but also considered an essential pillar in strengthening the production sectors, especially the agricultural one," President Aoun said during an inspection tour on a number of water dams' projects, currently under implementation in Al-Qaisamani, Buqata, Bala'a, Jannah and Musaliha. Aoun said "the distribution of dams in the various Lebanese territories, falls within the framework of achieving balanced development, which he underlined in his oath speech. The President hailed the efforts of Water and Energy Ministry to implement water dams' projects, pointing out that other dams' projects will be implemented in a number of Lebanese regions in accordance with the plan devised by the Ministry of Energy. Water and Energy Minister, Cesar Abi Khalil gave a demonstration on the already accomplished stages in said dams and the remaining work in this regard. The President was accompanied on his tour by Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Gebran Bassil, and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Dr. Pierre Raffoul.

Hajj Hassan, Zoayter arrive in Syria to partake in Damascus International Fair
Wed 16 Aug 2017/NNA - Industry Minister, Hussein Hajj Hassan, and Agriculture Minister, Ghazi Zoayter, on Wednesday afternoon arrived in Syria to hold talks with Syrian officials and to partake in the Damascus International Fair, at the invitation of Syria's Trade and Foreign Trade Minister Mohammed Samer Al-Khalil. Ministers Hajj Hassan and Zoayter are accompanied by a delegation of representatives of the private sector. Upon arrival at Jdaidet Yabous crossing point, Minister Hajj Hassan said that they shall be meeting with several Syrian officials. Minister Zoayter, for his part, said that the activation of already signed agreements between Lebanon and Syria falls in the interest of both countries and peoples.It is noteworthy that the events of the 59th session of Damascus International Fair will be launched on Thursday under the auspices of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after a pause of 5 years.

Official Lebanese delegation bound for Burkina Faso to transfer bodies of terror attack victims
Wed 16 Aug 2017/NNA - Tasked by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the official Lebanese delegation shall leave Beirut on Thursday morning to follow up on the transfer of the bodies of the three Lebanese victims who fell in the terrorist attack on the Turkish restaurant in Burkina Faso. The delegation, led by the Higher Defense Council chief General Mohammed Kheir, includes the Honorary Consul Joseph Hajj and victims' families. General Kheir will meet with the families of the fallen victims and the Lebanese community in Burkina Faso, to offer condolences and put all the needed capabilities at their disposal. General Kheir will also secure all the necessary procedures for the transfer of the victims' bodies to Lebanon on Sunday in principle.

Kanaa: Salary scale on track, expenditures control must include waste

Wed 16 Aug 2017 /NNA - Parliamentary Finance Committee chairman, Ibrahim Kanaan, said on Wednesday that the parliament will hold weekly meetings to discuss draft laws related to the salary scale - projects around which there has been a consensus. Kanaan said the salary scale will follow the legal channels after the publication of the law in the official gazette. According to his remarks, the amendments on the salary scale law concern families of martyrs, and wounded and disabled persons. Kanaan said certain amendments concerned the cancellation of double taxation as to liberal professions and the cancellation of taxes on alcohol products. The Parliament member explained that a bill has been drafted to preserve the judges' retirement fund. Concerning the financing of the salary scale and the amendments on this law, Kanaan said these issues will be put on track in the coming days. He concluded, however, that the control of expenditure must include waste, and it should in no way affect the rights of those who devote themselves to the service of the State.

Iran building long-range rocket factory in Syria - Israeli TV/Report: Iran and Russia violated UN weapons sanctions
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/Reuters 16/17/"We vehemently oppose the military buildup by Iran and its proxies."An Israeli television report said on Tuesday that Iran is building a facility in northwest Syria to manufacture long-range rockets, and showed satellite images it said were of the site under construction. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned last week that Iran was strengthening its foothold in its ally Syria as Islamic State fighters were being displaced, and said Israel was watching developments and would act against any threat. "Our policy is clear: We vehemently oppose the military buildup by Iran and its proxies, primarily Hezbollah, in Syria and we will do whatever it takes to protect Israel's security," he said in a speech. The Channel 2 television news report showed images it said were taken by an Israeli satellite showing a site in northwest Syria near the Mediterranean coastal town of Baniyas, saying some of the construction indicated explosives would be stored there. It compared images of buildings it said were of a rocket factory near Tehran to structures at the Syrian site, and said there was a strong resemblance between them. Netanyahu has been harshly critical of a 2015 deal that six world powers including the United States under then-president Barack Obama struck with Iran to curb its nuclear program in return for an end to multilateral sanctions. Iran is Israel's avowed enemy, and Israel argues that the agreement fails to prevent Iranian weapons posing a threat to its very existence. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. The United States last month slapped new economic sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program and said Tehran's "malign activities" in the Middle East had undercut any "positive contributions" from the 2015 accord curbing its nuclear program. US President Donald Trump has frequently criticized the agreement as being too soft on Tehran, which remains subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions. US news reports have said that Israeli intelligence officials will discuss the situation in Syria and Lebanon with US counterparts in Washington this week.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
August 16-17/17
Riyadh Says Iran Spreading Terrorism, Cannot be Negotiated with
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/Jeddah- Saudi Arabia has stressed its firm position to reject any form of rapprochement with the Iranian regime which spreads terrorism in the region and the world and meddles in the affairs of other countries, an official source at the foreign ministry said.Riyadh has not requested any mediation in any way with Iran, the source was quoted as saying by t he Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Wednesday. The source pointed out that what has been circulated in the news in this regard is completely false. The source stressed “the Kingdom’s adherence to its firm position that rejects any rapprochement with the Iranian regime which is spreading terrorism and extremism in the region and the world and is interfering in the affairs of other countries.”The Kingdom believes that the current Iranian regime can not be negotiated with after a long experience has shown that it does not respect diplomatic rules and norms and the principles of international relations, the state-run agency quoted the source as saying. The statement also accused the Iranian regime of “lying and distorting facts.” It warned from “the danger of the Iranian regime and its aggressive orientations to peace and world stability,” urging all countries to work to deter it from its hostile actions and compel it to comply with international law, United Nations resolutions, and diplomatic norms and regulations.

UAE: Qatar Must Meet 13 Demands to Return to GCC
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/London, Dubai – UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash reiterated that Qatar’s way out of the current crisis is based on the 13 demands presented by the countries fighting terrorism, urging Doha to come to Riyadh willing to negotiate the crisis with the quartet. Gargash stated in a series of tweets on Tuesday that the sovereignty slogans raised by Qatar at the beginning of the crisis are insufficient, adding: “I wished Qatar had a wiser management for the crisis.” He went on, “Qatar’s arrogant stance accuses UAE of starting the campaign against it”, stating that Qatar is burning bridges with its neighbors and is relying on external influences to mediate the crisis, which will result in deepening the crisis. Gargash wondered about the reason for publicizing Hajj season and the shameful media coverage of Awamiyah incidents in Saudi Arabia. Gargash said in another tweet that it was unfortunate “when illusions dominate realities”. The Minister referred to unnamed media outlets broadcasting messages that are “not befitting of the environment of a hereditary monarchy, which has to tolerate it.”Speaking about Leader of Sadrist Movement Muqtada Sadr’s visit to UAE, Garqash said that the promising actions of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman along with UAE and Bahrain towards Iraq is the perfect example of the great influence Gulf states have once they unite their goals.
He also said that Shiekh Mohammed bin Zayed received Sadr as part of Gulf communicating with Iraq, adding that UAE wants to see Iraq a united stable state. Meanwhile, Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Tuesday it will take a lot of time to rebuild any trust between sparring Gulf countries because of the region’s continuing diplomatic crisis. “Qatar has always been one of the founders of the GCC organization and we still consider that this has a great importance for all of us in the region,” he told reporters. Speaking about GCC, the Minister said that this organization has been built on a strategical security and on trust, however, he added that unfortunately with the crisis, trust is missing, but hoped it will be restored.

Bouteflika Sacks Algerian Prime Minister
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/Algiers– Sacking the Algerian Prime Minister could be the beginning of power struggle over the succession of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, according to observers. In less than three months after appointing him, Bouteflika sacked Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune on Tuesday, according to a presidential statement carried by state media. “President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Tuesday relieved Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune of his duties and appointed Ahmed Ouyahia,” the statement added. Ouyahia, 65, served three terms as prime minister and most recently was Bouteflika’s chief of staff. He is also leader of the National Rally for Democracy (RND), and during May’s parliamentary election he won absolute majority in the parliament along with Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN). Bouteflika is expected to name the new government soon, although reports say that Ouyahia will most likely maintain the majority of the ministers of Tebboune’s cabinet, except Minister of Industry. Political observers stated that it is possible that Bouteflika assigned Ouyahia as prime minister in an attempt to “kill his political dream” of becoming president before the 2019 presidential elections. For his part, Tebboune avoided to comment on his departure. He said “All I can say is that I’m still faithful to President Bouteflika.” Few weeks after his assignment as the PM, Tebboune entered a public media war with prominent businessman Ali Haddad who is also close to Said Bouteflika, the president’s brother and special adviser. As prime minister Tebboune was leading the austerity drive, he also spoke out about the need to separate money from politics. News about his dismissal was surprising for his supporters, especially after the rise in his popularity on social media. Few days ago, Algeria seemed to be witnessing an open political crisis after the President gave the former PM Tebboune instructions through the private TV Channel al-Nahhar. According to Algerian law, Nahhar is a foreign and not considered part of the official channels. The president’s instructions included several warnings to Tebboune’s ministers to stop meddling with businessmen and investors and asked them to refer to the law in case of violations. The president said that such behavior is bad publicity for the country. FLN Secretary General Djamel Ould Abbes reiterated that Bouteflika is the ruler of this country and there is no alternative authority. Speaking before party commanders, Abbes said he wouldn’t analyze what the president did since he is the decision maker and aware of all aspects of the issues. Founder of opposition party New Generation (Jil Jadid) Sofiane Djilali said that ever since the president appeared at the funeral of former PM Reda Malek and his public provocation of the PM, Algerians realized that the internal balances of the system are broken. Djilali said that the President’s alleged reprimand to PM Tebboune made it clear that the regime is divided. He explained that it had been agreed among the president’s entourage that he will continue in position no matter his condition or illness duration, meanwhile people around him will prepare for succeeding him. Djilali claimed that Tabboune and his supporters were against the “militia deviation of the president’s clique threatening civil peace and security.”According to Djilali, it is no longer acceptable for the other party in power to overlook the unconstitutional decisions made in the name of an irresponsible president who has nothing left other than his title. This public crisis will not be over with the departure of the PM, stated Djilali, adding that the failing system suffers from presidential vacuum and impersonation. Former Trade Minister and opposition figure Noureddine Boukrouh stated that it was pertinent if the President summoned the PM or spoke with him on the phone rather than speaking about him in the media like he is some sort of criminal to be arrested. “Whether those actions and statements came from the president, his brother, or his chief of staff, they are still nonsensical actions. And if indeed the orders attributed to the president were issued by him, this means we’re ruled by a man who is not just physically ill, but also mentally incompetent,” Boukrouh declared, adding that this requires the president’s dismissal.

Escalation in Southern Syria amid Demands to Amend Truce
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/Beirut, Tel Aviv- Syria’s southeastern areas witnessed military escalation on Tuesday as opposition factions said they brought down a Syrian jet, only few days after regime forces and their allies reached the Jordanian border, amid requests to amend the “southern truce.”Saad al-Haj, spokesman for the Osoud al Sharqiya rebel group, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the rebels shot down a Russian-built MiG in the eastern countryside of Souweida using anti-aircraft guns. Al-Haj said that the pilot is alive and is in custody of the Free Syrian Army after falling in a parachute before his jet crashed. “Rebels are interrogating him to get the needed information, and learn his name and military rank. Later, a statement including all the details will be issued,” he said. Damascus also confirmed the news saying that one of its jets crashed in southern Syria but did not say what caused the crash. The development coincides with battles launched by opposition factions in the desert, where regime forces are advancing with the help of extensive air coverage. Meanwhile, an Israeli security delegation leaves to Washington next week to conduct talks with high-ranking officials at the White House and with the US security apparatus. A military source said that the delegation would also tackle the truce agreement in southern Syria and its repercussions, adding that “Israel is not pleased with the current agreement that the US and Russia are drafting, because it fails to respect its interests.”The sources added: “It is very normal that Israel seeks to change it.” Meanwhile, Russia is working with opposition factions to draft a new truce agreement in the eastern Ghouta of Damascus as regime forces continue to pound the area, violating a ceasefire agreement signed with opposition factions last month.

Moscow Supports Haftar’s Counter-Terrorism Efforts, Salama Meets Politicians in Misrata
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/Cairo- Russia had announced Tuesday that it supports the efforts exerted by Commander of Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar’s forces to combat terrorism while Haftar stressed his determination to continue the fight against terrorism until the liberation of all cities in Libya. Haftar’s office said in a statement on Tuesday that the Russian message was received during his meeting with the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu in the latter’s headquarter in Moscow. The statement said that Shoigu expressed his appreciation for the great sacrifices made by the national army in the fight against terrorism and congratulated the Libyan leader and the Libyans for liberating the city of Benghazi from terrorist groups. Shoigu stressed the Russian leadership will stand by the Libyan armed forces in their fight against terrorism in order to achieve security and stability in Libya and its regional surrounding, according to the statement. Meanwhile, Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf al-Werfalli, a senior Libyan military commander allied with Khalifa Haftar. “I filed an under seal application with Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC for a warrant of arrest to be issued against al-Werfalli, a Major in the al-Saiqa forces, on charges of murder as a war crime under the Rome Statute for his direct participation in seven separate rounds of executions, in which a total of 33 people were murdered in cold blood in Benghazi or surrounding areas,” Bensouda said in a statement. “Such egregious crimes, including the cruel and dehumanizing manner by which they were perpetrated against helpless victims, must be stopped. Accountability for atrocity crimes is better suited to advance the ends of peace and stability, not more violence,” the statement said. Bensouda added that the Pre-Trial Chamber granted her request and issued a warrant of arrest against al-Werfalli, and that her office’s pursuit of justice and the fight against impunity in Libya continues. However, she expressed concern that the challenge now is the execution of the warrant of arrest and the surrender of al-Werfalli to the custody of the ICC. Bensouda also appealed to the international community to cooperate and assist Libya, as needed, to ensure the arrest and surrender of al-Werfalli to the ICC without delay and equally called on the UNSC to support such efforts. For his part, newly-appointed UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame visited Libya’s third largest city of Misrata on Tuesday and held talks with political and community leaders of the city. Salame, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, met with officials of Misrata’s Municipal Council, community leaders and Misrata University students, and he discussed the city’s needs and future vision. He also commended Misrata’s contribution to fighting terrorism, efforts to build one united, sovereign Libya and sacrifices made by the city’s residents to achieve stability and security across Libya. He stressed that Libya can emerge from the crisis despite challenges ahead. Addressing the students in Misrata University, Salame vowed to be unbiased and to find a new mechanism for dialogue among the Libyan conflicting parties so that they reach a consensus to amend the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).

Al-Azhar Rejects Tunisia’s Call for Gender Equality in Inheritance
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/Cairo- The calls of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi for gender equality in marriage and inheritance began on Tuesday to take a regional dimension after several Arab regional institutions commented on the issue. Essebsi had called for the abolition of a circular that banned Tunisian Muslim women from taking non-Muslim husbands and to amend inheritance laws to allow equality between male and female inheritors. In this regard, Egypt’s Al-Azhar criticized the move. Deputy of Al-Azhar Sheikh Abbas Shuman said equality in inheritance is “unjust for women and is not in line with Islamic Sharia.” In a statement, Sheikh Shuman said: “The call for equality in inheritance between genders is unfair because women can already inherit more than men in certain situations.”As an example, Shuman said a mother would receive a bigger share of her deceased daughter’s legacy, as the mother receives one-third while the brother inherits only one-sixth. He also commented on the law to allow for marriage between a non-Muslim man and a Muslim woman, saying that such a move is not in the interests of either women or men. “Such a marriage would obstruct the stability of marriage,” the Sheikh said. Under the current law, a Tunisian Muslim woman is banned from marrying a non-Muslim man unless he converts to Islam. In a speech marking Women’s Day on Sunday, Essebsi said he had set up a committee to look into his proposals and present a report. On Monday, Tunisian Islamic scholars at Diwan al-Ifta issued a statement in support to the president’s proposed changes. The scholars said that Essebsi’s proposals “support the status of women, guarantee and activate the principle of equality between men and women in the rights and duties called for by Islam,” in addition to the international conventions ratified by Tunisia in this regard.

Iraq Oil Minister: Establishment of Iraqi-Saudi Coordination Council a Significant Step
Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17/Baghdad- Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi returned on Tuesday to Baghdad after an official visit to Riyadh, where he held meetings with senior Saudi officials. The minister’s office revealed in a press release that “the kingdom will implement a number of health and humanitarian projects at its expense, including two hospitals in Baghdad and Basra. It will also allocate funds in Saudi universities, open border crossings and establish free trade zones.”He added that Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Mohammed bin Salman has affirmed the kingdom’s support to Iraq with all its components without any sectarian discrimination, and keenness to reinforce and activate bilateral ties in various fields. Following the meeting between Luiabi and bin Salman, the Iraqi official stated that the vice-custodian stressed the importance of activating the Iraqi-Saudi coordination council to accelerate the execution of agreements in the fields of oil, energy, industry, minerals, technology, investment, agriculture, trade exchange and banks. Commenting on the establishment of the coordination council, Luaibi described it as a significant step towards cementing and developing bilateral ties between the two fraternal states. In Jeddah, he met Saudi Trade and Investment Minister Dr. Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi and they agreed on taking practical steps that would promote bilateral ties – one of them is the prospective visit of Qasabi to Iraq. On his meeting with Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Luiabi said that Jubeir expressed the kingdom’s keenness to develop Saudi-Iraqi ties and take practical steps to reach an integrated partnership.

China Tells US, North Korea to 'Hit the Brakes' on Threats
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 16/17/China is telling the U.S. and North Korea to "hit the brakes" on threatening words and actions and work toward a peaceful resolution of their dispute, in a sign of growing concern over the standoff on the part of Pyongyang's only major ally. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that the two countries should work together to contain tensions and permit no one to "stir up an incident on their doorstep," according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website. "The most important task at hand is for the U.S. and North Korea to 'hit the brakes' on their mutual needling of each other with words and actions, to lower the temperature of the tense situation and prevent the emergence of an 'August crisis,'" Wang was quoted as saying in the Tuesday conversation. The ministry quoted Lavrov as saying tensions could rise again with the U.S. and South Korea set to launch large-scale military exercises on Aug. 21. "A resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue by military force is completely unacceptable and the peninsula's nuclear issue must be peacefully resolved by political and diplomatic methods," Lavrov was quoted as saying. China is North Korea's main economic partner and political backer, although relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have deteriorated amid the North's continuing defiance of China's calls for restraint. In recent months, China has joined with Russia in calling for the U.S. to suspend annual military exercises with South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang halting its missile and nuclear tests as a first step toward direct talks. On Wednesday, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, continued a visit to China following talks the day before with his Chinese counterpart that touched on North Korea. No details of the talks have been released. Dunford on Tuesday told Fang Fenghui, chief of the People's Liberation Army's joint staff department, that the sides had "many difficult issues" between them but were willing to deal with them through dialogue. On Monday, Dunford was in Seoul to meet with senior South Korean military and political officials and the local media, seeking to ease anxiety while showing his willingness to back President Donald Trump's warnings if need be. The U.S. wants to peacefully resolve tensions with North Korea, but Washington is also ready to use the "full range" of its military capabilities, Dunford said. His visit to Asia, which also will include a stop in Japan, comes after Trump last week declared the U.S. military "locked and loaded" and said he was ready to unleash "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to threaten the United States. North Korea's military on Tuesday presented leader Kim Jong Un with plans to launch missiles into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam and "wring the windpipes of the Yankees," even as both Koreas and the United States signaled their willingness to avert a deepening crisis, with each suggesting a path toward negotiations. The tentative interest in diplomacy follows unusually combative threats between Trump and North Korea amid worries Pyongyang is nearing its long-sought goal of being able to send a nuclear missile to the U.S. mainland. Next week's start of U.S.-South Korean military exercises that enrage the North each year could make diplomacy even more difficult. During an inspection of the North Korean army's Strategic Forces, which handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a "close and careful plan" and said he would watch the "foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said. Kim appeared in photos sitting at a table with a large map marked by a straight line between what appeared to be northeastern North Korea and Guam, and passing over Japan — apparently showing the missiles' flight route. The missile plans were previously announced. Kim said North Korea would conduct the launches if the "Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity," warning the United States to "think reasonably and judge properly" to avoid shaming itself, the news agency said. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Washington on Tuesday, "We continue to be interested in trying to find a way to get to dialogue, but that's up to (Kim)." Lobbing missiles toward Guam, a major U.S. military hub in the Pacific, would be deeply provocative from the U.S. perspective. A miscalculation on either side could lead to military confrontation.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, a liberal who favors diplomacy, urged North Korea to stop provocations and to commit to talks over its nuclear weapons program. Moon, in a televised speech Tuesday on the anniversary of World War II's end and the Korean Peninsula's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, said Seoul and Washington agree that the nuclear standoff should "absolutely be solved peacefully." He said no U.S. military action on the Korean Peninsula could be taken without Seoul's consent. North Korea's military said last week that it would finalize the plan to fire four ballistic missiles near Guam, which is about 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) from Pyongyang. It would be a test of the Hwasong-12, a new missile the country flight-tested for the first time in May. The liquid-fuel missile is designed to be fired from road mobile launchers and has been described by North Korea as built for attacking Alaska and Hawaii.

Israel Demolishes Home of Palestinian Who Stabbed 3 to Death
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 16/17/Israeli forces demolished the home on Wednesday of a Palestinian who fatally stabbed three Jewish residents of a nearby settlement as tensions soared last month over Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound. The military confirmed the demolition in the village of Kobar in the occupied West Bank. Residents said that army vehicles and bulldozers entered the area north of Ramallah around 3:00 am (0000 GMT) and surrounded the two-storey house, one floor of which was still under construction. In recent weeks, Israeli authorities also arrested the father, mother and three brothers of the 19-year-old attacker, Omar al-Abed, according to villagers. The family members are suspected of having known of Abed's plans to carry out the attack in the nearby Israeli settlement of Neve Tsuf, also known as Halamish, and of failing to prevent it, Israeli media reported.
The Israeli army said the assailant had spoken of Al-Aqsa and of dying as a martyr in a Facebook post. He was shot while carrying out the attack and later arrested. The July 21 attack came with tensions high over the highly sensitive mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. Violence erupted in and around the compound last month after three Arab Israelis shot dead two policemen on July 14 before being killed by security forces. Israel responded to the July 14 deadly shootings by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the holy site, used as a staging point for the attack. For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and held mass prayers in surrounding streets. Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead and the stabbings of the Israelis at the settlement was carried out at the height of the tensions. The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors. The Jerusalem holy site, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews. Central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the compound is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community. Palestinians fear Israel will gradually seek to assert further control over it, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to the status quo. Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinian attackers, calling it a deterrent against future violence. However, human rights groups say it amounts to collective punishment, with family members forced to suffer for the acts of relatives.

Conflicts in Syria, Iraq Far From over Despite IS Setbacks
Despite the recapture of swathes of territory from the Islamic State group, the conflicts in Iraq and Syria are far from over as their governments face major political challenges, experts warn. In July the jihadists lost control of Iraq's second city Mosul in a major setback three years after declaring a "caliphate" straddling the two countries. Across the border around half of IS's de facto Syrian capital Raqa has been retaken by US-backed fighters. But divisions across political, religious and ethnic lines will again rise to the surface in Iraq after the extremist group is driven out of its last bastions, said Mathieu Guidere, an expert on jihadist organisations. A month before Iraq declared the liberation of Mosul, the country's autonomous Kurdish region announced plans to proceed with a referendum on statehood in September. The idea was not new but its timing was criticised by Baghdad, which opposes Kurdish independence, and by Washington, coming as it did with the anti-IS campaign still unfinished. Analysts said the referendum is one of the many challenges facing the Iraq government along with the presence of a Shiite paramilitary force in Sunni-majority areas and the fate of minorities such as the Yazidis. How the government deals with these thorny issues will determine whether it succeeds in a post-IS era, experts said. The jihadist group "is the illustration -- violent, long and complex -- of the dystrophy that reigns in Iraq", said Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, professor of international history at Geneva's Graduate Institue.
- New Iraq 'covenant' -Ould Mohamedou advocates a "new national covenant" for Iraq that would allow the Shiite-dominated government to gain the trust of the Sunni population and other minorities, particularly in the northern Mosul region. At the same time the government will also have to skilfully deal with the paramilitary Hashed al-Shaabi umbrella organisation which is dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias. Some of the components within Hashed al-Shaabi, which battled IS in Iraq, have for years been sending fighters to support the Syrian regime in its conflict with various rebel groups. Even as leaders in both Iraq and Syria savour the setbacks inflicted by their forces on IS, they still need to examine the reasons that led to the formidable rise of the jihadist group.
After declaring "victory over brutality and terrorism" in Mosul, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said there were "lessons to be learned" to ensure his country never again falls into the grip of IS. "Huge mistakes have been made," he said.
- 'Reorganisation, redeployment' -Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also faces huge challenges in the country's multi-sided war, despite his forces being backed by allies Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah in the battle against jihadists and rebels. IS fighters are steadily losing chunks of Raqa to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed Arab-Kurdish alliance which broke into the northern city in June. A Russian-backed government offensive has also targeted IS forces in the central Syrian desert. Analysts said that if Raqa falls, the Kurdish fighters that dominate the SDF could clash with regime troops. Assad "does not want an autonomous administration" taking control of Raqa, said Syria expert and geographer Fabrice Balanche. Ould Mohamedou said the war in Syria "goes beyond the question of IS," having erupted six years ago with peaceful anti-government protests that were brutally put down by the regime. "In the name of the fight against Islamist terrorism, more and more Western governments have closed their eyes to the massacres perpetrated by the Syrian regime," he said. The war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people while millions more have been displaced in the two countries. Rebuilding infrastructure and restoring stability to allow the displaced to return home will be a massive challenge. The United Nations has said the level of destruction in Mosul alone is one of the largest and most complex challenges it has faced. Unless all these challenges are tackled, IS jihadists driven out of territory in Syria and Iraq could re-emerge as a more brutal and formidable force. For IS "the key words now are reorganisation and redeployment", said Guidere. Ould Mohamedou said that even if IS is defeated in Syria and Iraq "it will bounce back elsewhere and... with a new look".

Manama: Qatar conspired to overthrow the regime in Bahrain
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Wednesday, 16 August 2017/Bahrain reported on Wednesday a connection between a senior official in the Qatari leadership and a terrorist suspect. Manama confirmed that there was contact between Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr and terrorism suspect Ali Salman. Bahrain said Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr had protests in the country to continue in 2011. The Bahraini TV broadcast a recording attributed to Hamad bin Jassim and Ali Salman, in which they plot to destabilize the country's independence. It explained that the Qatari initiative in coordination with the opposition called for the formation of a transitional government in Bahrain within two months.The public prosecutor investigated the telephone conversation between Hamad bin Jassim and Ali Salman after it was revealed. Arabic phone conversation between Hamad bin Jassim and Ali Salman

Explosive boat attack foiled targeting UAE ship
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Wednesday, 16 August 2017/Yemeni forces destroyed an explosives-laden boat targeting a United Arab Emirates military vessel at Mokha port on Wednesday. A source at the port said that the foiled terror attack was initiated by Houthi militias. A large explosion was heard across the port when forces eliminated the threat before it reached the docked ship. Earlier on Wednesday morning, Yemen National Army forces repelled a Houthi militia attack south of Taiz city. The militia sustained heavy casualties in a battle that involved the use of heavy weapons.

Saudi Arabia affirms it has never requested Iranian mediation
By Staff Writer, Al Wednesday, 16 August 2017/A Saudi official on Wednesday said that the Kingdom has never requested Iranian mediation in its affairs.Any news that says otherwise is false, he added. According to an SPA report, the official said: “Saudi Arabia affirms its strong stance which rejects any association in any shape or form with the Iranian regime which spreads terrorism and extremism in the region and internationally, and interferes in other countries’ matters.”
Iran negotiations
He continued noting that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “sees that negotiations are not possible with current Iranian system after time has shown that it is one that doesn’t respect rules, diplomatic norms and the principles of diplomatic relations.”“It is a system that continues to lie and distorts facts. The Kingdom affirms the dangers of the Iranian regime and its hostile tendencies towards international peace and stability, he added.”The Kingdom, he said, “calls upon all countries of the world to work towards deterring the Iranian regime from its aggressive actions and to compel it to comply with international law, United Nations resolutions and diplomatic regulations and customs.”
False statements
Earlier, statements attributed to the Iraqi Minister of Interior, Qassem al-Aaragi, claimed that the Kingdom had asked the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haydar al-Aabadi, during his visit to Saudi Arabia to mediate with Iran. However, Aaragi issued another statement proclaiming the statements were false. Speaking to Al Sumaria News website, he said: “Saudi Arabia did not ask Aabadi to mediate between them and Iran,” said a report they published on Monday.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 16-17/17
Japan Concerned over Low Inflation

Noah Smith/Bloomberg/August 16/17
Japan is the graveyard of economic theories. The country has had ultralow interest rates and run huge government deficits for decades, with no sign of the inflation that many economists assume would be the natural result. Now, after years of trying almost every trick in the book to reflate the economy, the Bank of Japan is finally bowing to the inevitable. The BOJ’s “dot plot” shows that almost none of the central bank’s nine board members believe that the country will reach its 2 percent inflation target: Accordingly, the bank has pushed back the date at which it expects to hit its 2 percent target. That’s a little comical, since by now it should be fairly obvious that the date will only get pushed back again and again. If some outside force intervenes to raise inflation to 2 percent, the BOJ will declare that it hit the target, but it’s pretty clear it has absolutely no idea how to engineer a deliberate rise in inflation. The bank will probably keep interest rates at zero indefinitely, but if decades of that policy haven’t produced any inflation, what reason is there to think that decades more will do the trick? Some economists think more fiscal deficits could help raise inflation. That’s consistent with a theory called the “fiscal theory of the price level,” or FTPL. But a quick look at Japan’s recent history should make us skeptical of that theory — even as government debt has steadily climbed, inflation has stumbled along at close to 0 percent: Japan’s situation should also give pause to economists who want to resurrect the idea of the Phillips Curve, which purports to show a stable relationship between unemployment and inflation. Japan’s persistently low inflation comes even though essentially everyone in Japan who wants a job has one. Basic econ theory says that as the labor market gets tighter, competition should push up wages, which will then boost consumer prices via increased demand and higher costs. In Japan, nothing of the sort has happened — wages and prices show little sign of rising despite the disappearance of unemployment. So much for the Phillips Curve. So Japan’s experience underscores one central, disturbing truth: Economists really have no idea how inflation works. It is simply a mystery. Macroeconomists have been thinking about inflation for decades, but no real progress has been made in understanding where it comes from or how to produce it with policy.
But that said, is Japan’s lack of inflation really such a bad thing? The country’s per capita growth is pretty low, but that’s just because of population aging. Measured in terms of real gross domestic product per employed person, the country has been growing in recent years:
In other words, despite a near-total lack of inflation, Japan has managed to grow and increase employment. That means Japan is in the midst of that rarest of situations — a disinflationary boom.
In many ways, growth without inflation is the optimal outcome for an economy. Price stability makes it easier for companies and workers to plan their pricing and wage demands, while also reducing uncertainty for investors. Some macroeconomists, especially monetarists, claim that disinflationary booms are rare or nonexistent. But if it really is possible to have growth without inflation, most would agree it should be done.
So despite all the hand-wringing over Japan’s low inflation, in many ways it’s in a goldilocks situation. There’s just one catch — government debt.

In Dealing with North Korea, Trump Needs Allies
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/August 16/17
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has defiance in his blood. It’s said his grandfather once asked what would happen if the United States defeated North Korea in war, to which his father answered: “If we lose, I will be sure to destroy the Earth. What good is the Earth without North Korea?”
President Trump has decided to confront what’s probably the most reckless, risk-taking regime on the planet. His hope for a diplomatic solution depends on convincing North Korea and China that he’s ready for the “fire and fury” of nuclear war should negotiations fail. If Hollywood were pitching the story, it would be “The Art of the Deal” meets “Dr. Strangelove.”
A careful look at the details of US military and diplomatic planning shows why this confrontation would be so delicate and dangerous. Despite Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric this week, the path ahead is really about finesse: Both the military and diplomatic paths require close cooperation with regional partners. The United States can’t go it alone in Korea, in either war or peace. The danger is that Trump’s rhetoric could destabilize partners more than adversaries.
Robert Work, a deputy defense secretary in the Obama administration who stayed on and just left the Pentagon, explains: “A preemptive war to protect our homeland from future attack is an option, but the major risks would be borne by South Korea and Japan, which face the threat of missile attacks today.”
Let’s start by examining the military option. “OPLAN 5027,” as it’s known, is a compendium of logistical details, but the basic premise is simple: The United States would fight alongside South Korea to gain control of the peninsula, and the Pentagon would need nearly two months to transport needed soldiers and equipment.
This protracted prep period would be a time of nuclear brinkmanship. If Trump decides that negotiations aren’t likely to succeed, he would presumably start moving materiel and troops from the United States, Europe and the Middle East. The cargo manifest would include armed drones, counter-battery artillery, communications and intelligence gear, scores of planes and many thousands of troops. The military calls it the “time-phased force and deployment List,” or TPFDL.
All the while, as the United States conducts this 45-to-60-day buildup, Seoul and its 10 million residents would be vulnerable to a preemptive North Korean attack. What would Pyongyang do as the assault force gathers? Bargain, or strike?
Significant civilian casualties would be inescapable if war comes. North Korea has thousands of artillery tubes just across the Demilitarized Zone. If attacked or threatened with decapitation, the regime could launch a barrage. The Pentagon estimates that on the first day, North Korea could fire up to 100,000 rocket and artillery rounds.
To protect the estimated 300,000 American civilians in Seoul from this artillery inferno, the Pentagon plans to stage “noncombatant evacuation operations.” Organizing planes and ships for so many people would be a nightmare, as would the chaos among those left behind. Analysts estimate that an additional 1 million non-Koreans may live in the country, including many Chinese. How would they get out? China might help in an evacuation, but at what political price?
The United States could try a lightning strike to preempt a North Korean attack, perhaps using cyber and other exotic weapons. But the Pentagon cautions policymakers that there isn’t a way to guarantee that North Korea couldn’t launch a nuclear missile in response to such an attack. It would be a cosmic roll of the dice. What about diplomatic options, if war is so scary? The Trump administration has been working for months to encourage China to help broker negotiations. To woo Beijing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has pledged that the United States doesn’t seek regime change or collapse in Pyongyang, won’t support any quick Korean reunification and doesn’t want to send US troops north of the 38th parallel. This formula satisfies Beijing’s conditions about the future of the peninsula, and it should assuage some of Kim’s worries, too.
Tillerson, who is driving Korea policy (at least when Trump isn’t tweeting or speaking publicly), told reporters that Kim can demonstrate he’s ready for talks by halting missile tests.
The table is set for negotiations. Sources knowledgeable about China say that party leaders are being briefed at their annual seaside retreat this month about possible tougher moves to squeeze Kim, including a cut in oil deliveries or even a naval blockade. At a moment that requires subtlety, Trump unwisely amped up his rhetoric once more Thursday, warning the North Koreans of things “they never thought possible.” He talks like the promoter of a WWE wrestling match. But this is real.

Risks of Iran Nuclear Deal Collapse
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17
We can sense fear in statements made by Iranian officials and most recently President Hassan Rouhani who warned against the consequences of the big scheme’s collapse – the reconciliation agreement with the West based on the nuclear deal signed during the term of former US President Barack Obama.
The Congress shocked the Iranian government when it reinstated a number of economic sanctions on Iran, and US President Donald Trump insisted on his stance that the nuclear agreement serves Iran more than the US, threatening to abolish it.
Countries of the European Union (EU) are keen to preserve the agreement, which they believe it ushered in a new phase with the Iranian regime. Since signing it, they rushed to seal huge trade deals with Tehran, a move that was previously not possible because the US government would have put any European company that dealt with Iran on the blacklist. Arab states, especially Gulf countries, were the most provoked by this agreement. They were neither against sealing a deal that eradicates the Iranian nuclear danger nor against dealing commercially with Iran but objected over its high cost – extending Iran’s powers via fighting in Syria, Yemen and Iraq and threatening other Arab states.
In case Iran considered that imposing sanctions abolishes the nuclear deal then it will resume uranium enrichment, renewing tension. Iran offers the West two options: its nuclear project that will threaten the West and Israel in the future, or being allowed to have hegemony over the region.
Tehran used the second option as a weapon to blackmail the West: Obama’s administration struck with it a deal that only aims at halting its nuclear program, allowing it to enjoy its powers in several areas, including those that the US considers as interest zones such as the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Yet, Iran’s commitment to ceasing the nuclear project is a significant progress that makes Iran worthy of the removal of economic and commercial sanctions. But Obama’s administration went so far in its concessions and allowed Tehran to wage wars, for the first time and in a direct manner, even in states not lying on its border such as Syria and Yemen.
The nuclear agreement is partially responsible for the region’s chaos.
There are more than 50,000 extremists fighting in Syria – directed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and brought in from various countries at the time when the international community was endeavoring to get rid of extremist groups such as ISIS.
Because the nuclear agreement was negotiated discreetly between the Obama and Rouhani teams, the region hasn’t been aware of its details until recently – the Obama administration left behind it a dangerous mine. Iran has become more aggressive after signing the agreement, this is evident.
The deal might succeed in disrupting the nuclear project for another decade but it has fueled a more dangerous war in the Middle East and posed an unprecedented level of threat to regimes since the revolution in Iran in 1979. It also reinforced extremists in Tehran.
The new Iranian threats against the US economic sanctions must be taken seriously because they trigger Iran’s way of imposing what it wants via violence and chaos. But the US relapse in Syria represents a huge tactical mistake because Syria is where Iran can be besieged and obliged to cooperate regionally and internationally. There is a contradiction here because Washington is escalating with Iran on the nuclear level and allowing it to operate freely on the Syrian front.

The View From the Kremlin: Survival Is Darwinian
Maxim Trudolyubov/The New York Times/August 16/17
MOSCOW — In a rare move, the United States Congress has voted to intensify sanctions against Russia, and President Trump has signed them into law. Even before the American leader put pen to paper last week, President Vladimir Putin of Russia fired back by demanding the removal of hundreds of Americans and Russians from the staffs at American diplomatic missions in Russia.
Mr. Putin had watched the United States turn an already painful list of sanctions from an easily reversible presidential decree into a law that would be next to impossible to repeal any time soon — a sorry result of a policy that the Kremlin had adopted in hopes of lifting sanctions altogether.
Indeed, Moscow had suspended an earlier threat of a symmetrical response when, in 2016, President Barack Obama upgraded sanctions in reaction to indications that Russian hackers had interfered in the American election to help Mr. Trump. With a Trump presidency about to begin, Mr. Putin was waiting for a possible improvement in Russian-American rapport. But now the only conceivable source of those hopes, Mr. Trump himself, is not delivering.
So the debacle left Mr. Putin with no option but retaliation. On Wednesday, the Kremlin softened the impact a bit by saying it would not retaliate beyond the measures already announced. But that still left a paradox: While Mr. Trump’s hands in conducting a Russia policy were now tied by Congress, Mr. Putin was left free to experiment.
To be sure, America can inflict more economic pain on Russia than Russia can on America. But recent experience shows that Russia does not let debacles faze it. Instead, it often unleashes a creativity born of desperation, rather than acceptance of being trapped in a foreign-policy cul-de-sac.
Another way to say that is that the Kremlin makes drastic policy moves when pushed by a ticking clock. Spurred by the moment, Mr. Putin often finds a new feat to perform.
Annexing Crimea in March 2014 was such a move. The debacle then was the collapse of a Russia-supported political coalition that had ruled Ukraine since the mid 2000s. The Kremlin had been increasing its pressure on Ukraine’s president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych, who then encountered only more resistance — and finally an ouster — from Ukrainians.
One reason for the Kremlin’s behavior may have been its strong belief that any popular movement has “weapon-grade” potential — an outlook that depicted the Ukrainian resistance to Mr. Yanukovych as an act of global political warfare, with the West manipulating Ukrainians against Moscow.
The Kremlin’s response was telling. It did not try to build bridges with Ukrainian society or its new government. In other words, Mr. Putin was not addressing his response to Ukrainians as much as he was responding to a strategic challenge from “the West.” His move was designed to deal a blow to a Western-sponsored security architecture in Europe, and to its double-standard-bearing underwriter, the United States.
In Syria as well, Moscow has been responding not so much to that small divided nation as to the West. This is the move of an embattled grandmaster of geopolitics, not just a new actor belatedly entering a regional drama. In 2015 it was becoming clear that Russia’s Syria policy was failing; the regime of its ally, Bashar al-Assad, was on the brink of collapse. As Kremlin thinking went, it was not Moscow whose policies were failing; it was the United States and its sidekicks who were preparing another debacle like Libya — the murder of a secular ruler that would open the floodgates for all kinds of dangerous new forces.
Mr. Putin had long opposed Western interventionist policies and explained many of the world’s political crises as Western-sponsored regime-change operations. So a demise of his ally would have been a personal defeat for his worldview. This is why Russian military intervention in Syria, starting in September 2015, was not, from Moscow’s vantage point, about Syria proper; it was and is about Russia’s opposition to the West. While the United States tries to deal with Russia one on one, Russia sees itself dealing with a global conspiracy led by Washington.
The sanctions approved last week are a new debacle commensurate with the failures of Russia’s early Ukraine or Syria policies, both of which Moscow mitigated somewhat with surprise comebacks that humbled the West.
But this time the standoff is more principled and, in the eyes of Americans, much closer to home. Moscow is accused of an attempt to hack or influence not just a bunch of computers but the United States’ executive office itself. I remain an agnostic as to whether the Kremlin has really attempted to intervene in the thick of America’s electoral process, but there is little doubt that Moscow was heavily invested in the outcome of the 2016 elections. Hillary Clinton was seen in Moscow as an initiator of an attempt to use Russia’s 2011 parliamentary elections to overthrow Mr. Putin’s regime. Whatever Moscow was doing to try to disrupt the American election was, in Moscow’s view, a tit-for-tat — the usual thing a self-respecting world power would do to foreign conspirators.
One recent conversation I participated in illuminated these issues and brought, at least in my mind, some historical perspective to Mr. Putin’s vision. With the historian Timothy Snyder, the author of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century,” we were discussing the political and economic sensibilities the Soviet rulers had when they were taking over Eastern and Central European societies after World War II.
Mr. Snyder put it this way, referring to the Soviet political police: “When the N.K.V.D. arrives in Eastern Poland, the essence of their reports back to Moscow is something like this: ‘We have found some Poles, and we have found some Ukrainians, and they are part of the same conspiracy, they are run by the international capitalism, they are all taking orders from the British.’ Now, that was completely incorrect. The British are not in charge, the Poles and Ukrainians are fighting against each other, the various groups the N.K.V.D. encounter have different and usually incompatible goals.
“But the important thing,” Mr. Snyder continued, “is that ideology gives the N.K.V.D. certainty about what they see and confidence about what they are going to do, which is to penetrate and destroy these groups. So, you can be totally wrong and you can be effective.”
With formal official ideology long dead, we may never know precisely what theories the Kremlin adheres to these days, but we may be sure that it has full confidence in its presumptions. In fact, Mr. Putin may be right about many things. International relations are no place for moralists. Many political, business and military projects do have global reach and are competitive in nature.
But the problem with his type of approach, in its Kremlin variety, is that it seems to equate international competition with a Darwinian fight for survival.
The very audacity of Moscow’s moves must be driven by a feeling of an existential threat. Many of the world’s countries may compete for dominance in specific markets and for political influence, but Russia is distinct in that it seems to fight for survival in situations that no one else sees as existential.
This, to me, serves as an explanation of why Moscow often stands out as one of the world’s most unpredictable actors. The costs are mostly paid by the Russian people and, obliquely, by most other nations, especially Russia’s neighbors, because the price of constant uncertainty is punishingly expensive military spending and rising threats to peace and prosperity.

Europe: Migrant Crisis Reaches Spain
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 16/17
"The biggest migration movements are still ahead: Africa's population will double in the next decades. A country like Egypt will grow to 100 million people, Nigeria to 400 million. In our digital age with the internet and mobile phones, everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle." — German Development Minister Gerd Müller.
"Young people all have cellphones and they can see what's happening in other parts of the world, and that acts as a magnet." — Michael Møller, Director of the United Nations office in Geneva.
"If we do not manage to solve the central problems in African countries, ten, 20 or even 30 million immigrants will arrive in the European Union within the next ten years." — Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament.
Spain is on track to overtake Greece as the second-biggest gateway for migrants entering Europe by sea. The sudden surge in migration to Spain comes amid a crackdown on human smuggling along the Libya-Italy sea route, currently the main migrant point of entry to Europe.
The westward shift in migration routes from Greece and Italy implies that Spain, situated only ten miles from Africa by sea, may soon find itself at the center of Europe's migration crisis.
More than 8,300 illegal migrants have reached Spanish shores during the first seven months of 2017 — three times as many as in all of 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Thousands more migrants have entered Spain by land, primarily at the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the north coast of Morocco, the European Union's only land borders with Africa. Once there, migrants are housed in temporary shelters and then moved to the Spanish mainland, from where many continue on to other parts of Europe.
In all, some 12,000 migrants have arrived in Spain so far this year, compared to 13,246 for all of 2016. By comparison, 14,156 migrants have arrived in Greece so far in 2017.
Italy remains the main migrant gateway to Europe, with around 97,000 arrivals so far this year, compared to 181,436 for all of 2016. Italy has been the main point of entry to Europe since the EU-Turkey migrant deal, signed in March 2016, shut off the route from Turkey to Greece, at one time the preferred point of entry to Europe for migrants from Asia and the Middle East. Almost 600,000 migrants have arrived in Italy during the past four years.
Migrants wait to be rescued by crewmembers from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) Phoenix vessel on June 10, 2017 off Lampedusa, Italy. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
In May, Italy signed a deal with Libya, Chad and Niger to stem the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean through improved border controls. In July, Italy also reached a deal with France and Germany to tighten the regulation of charities operating boats in the Mediterranean and to increase funds to the Libyan coast guard.
Since then, the Libyan coast guard has prevented thousands of migrants from leaving the Libyan coast for Italy. The crackdown, however, has sent would-be migrants scrambling for an alternative route to cross the Mediterranean. This appears to explain the increase in migrants arriving in Spain.
On August 14, Frontex, the European Union's border agency, reported that the number of African migrants arriving in Italy from Libya had dropped by more than half in July compared to the month before. During this period, the number of migrants arriving in Spain rose sharply.
Frontex said that 10,160 migrants had arrived in Italy by sea in July — 57% fewer than in June and the lowest level of arrivals for a July since 2014. According to Frontex, 2,300 migrants made it to Spain in July, more than four times as many as the year before. Most of the migrants arriving in Italy and Spain are believed to be economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe, not refugees fleeing war zones.
"The vast majority of migrants crossing to Italy from Libya come from Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and other west African countries," said Joel Millman, an IOM spokesman, in an interview with the Financial Times. "Given the crackdown on migration from Libya, it seems natural that many would forsake the dangerous dessert [sic] crossing to Libya and choose to cross from Morocco."
Julio Andrade, a city councilor in Málaga, a port city in southern Spain, called it "the balloon effect." In an interview with the Irish Times, he said: "If you squeeze one area, the air goes elsewhere. If there is a lot of police pressure and arrests of mafias around the Mediterranean routes via Greece and Italy, for example, then the mafias will look for other routes."
Spanish authorities have reported that there is a surge in African migrants attempting to cross the land border at Ceuta by scaling fences that are up to six meters (20 feet) tall and topped by razor wire. Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said there were 2,266 attempts to jump the perimeter at Ceuta during the first seven months of 2017, compared to a total of 3,472 attempts in all of 2016.
On August 7, more than 300 mostly sub-Saharan Africans ambushed Spanish and Moroccan security forces and stormed the border crossing at El Tarajal; 186 migrants made it onto Spanish territory. On August 8, more than a thousand migrants armed with spears and rocks attempted to breach the same crossing. On August 9, Spanish authorities closed the border for a week. On August 10, around 700 migrants stormed the border; 200 migrants were arrested.
Meanwhile, on August 9, a video showed a rubber boat carrying dozens of migrants arrive at a beach full of sunbathers in Cádiz. José Maraver, the head of a rescue center in nearby Tarifa, told the Telegraph that a second boat had landed on another beach in the area and that this scene was now a regular occurrence. "Every day there are boats, every day there is migration," he said. "The situation is getting very complicated."
Migrants are also using other means to reach Spain. On August 6, for example, four Moroccans reached the coast of Málaga on jet skis. During July and August, police intercepted at least two dozen migrants using jet skis to cross over to Spain. On August 10, police using motion detectors and thermal imaging sensors found 56 migrants, including 14 children, hiding inside trucks en route from Ceuta to the mainland ferry port in Algeciras.
In an August 9 editorial, Spain's El País newspaper said that it was "obvious that migratory pressure has moved to the western Mediterranean and there is no indication that this situation will change in the near future." It added:
"The migratory pressure Spain has experienced during the past several weeks is an increase of such dimensions that it exceeds all measures of surveillance and control. The massive entry of sub-Saharan people across the border of Ceuta, whether by jumping the fence or crossing the El Tarajal border, reveals the enormous difficulties in stopping the entry of those fleeing war, famine or economic hardship....
"The management of migratory flows requires a strong European policy and sufficient economic resources. Spain cannot stand alone as the guardian of southern Europe."
German Development Minister Gerd Müller recently warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa:
"The biggest migration movements are still ahead: Africa's population will double in the next decades. A country like Egypt will grow to 100 million people, Nigeria to 400 million. In our digital age with the internet and mobile phones, everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle."
The director of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has echoed those concerns:
"What we have been seeing is one of the biggest human migrations in history. And it's just going to accelerate. Young people all have cellphones and they can see what's happening in other parts of the world, and that acts as a magnet."
The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said that in order to staunch the flow of migrants from Africa, the European Union would need to invest billions and develop a long-term strategy to stabilize the continent: "If we do not manage to solve the central problems in African countries, ten, 20 or even 30 million immigrants will arrive in the European Union within the next ten years."
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 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.

What's next in Afghanistan?
John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/August 16/17
As President Trump wrestles with America's role in Afghanistan, he should first decide what our objectives are today compared to what we wanted immediately after Sept. 11, 2001.
Initially, the United States overthrew the Taliban regime but failed to destroy it completely. Regime supporters, allied tribal forces and opportunistic warlords escaped (or returned) to Pakistan's frontier regions to establish sanctuaries.
Similarly, while the Taliban's ouster also forced al-Qaida into exile in Pakistan and elsewhere, al-Qaida nonetheless continued and expanded its terrorist activities. In Iraq and Syria, al-Qaida morphed into the even more virulent ISIS, which is now gaining strength in Afghanistan.
In short, America's Afghan victories were significant but incomplete. Subsequently, we failed to revise and update our Afghan strategic objectives, leading many to argue the war had gone on too long and we should withdraw. This criticism is superficially appealing, recalling anti-Vietnam War activist Allard Lowenstein's cutting remarks about Richard Nixon's policies. While Lowenstein acknowledged that he understood those, like Sen. George Aiken, who said we should "win and get out," he said he couldn't understand Nixon's strategy of "lose and stay in."
Today in Afghanistan, the pertinent question is what we seek to prevent, not what we seek to achieve. Making Afghanistan serene and peaceful does not constitute a legitimate American geopolitical interest. Instead, we face two principal threats.
Taliban's Return To Power
First, the Taliban's return to power throughout Afghanistan would re-create the prospect of the country being used as a base of operations for international terrorism. It is simply unacceptable to allow the pre-2001 status quo to re-emerge.
Second, a post-9/11 goal (at least one better understood today) is the imperative of preventing a Taliban victory in Afghanistan that would enable Pakistani Taliban or other terrorist groups to seize control in Islamabad. Not only would such a takeover make all Pakistan yet another terrorist sanctuary, but if its large nuclear arsenal fell to terrorists, we would immediately face the equivalent of Iran and North Korea on nuclear steroids. Worryingly, Pakistan's military, especially its intelligence arm, is already thought to be controlled by radical Islamists.
Given terrorism's global spread since 9/11 and the risk of a perfect storm — the confluence of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction — the continuing threats we face in the Afghan arena are even graver than those posed pre-9/11. Accordingly, abandoning the field in Afghanistan is simply not a tenable strategy.
However, accomplishing America's goals does not require remaking Afghanistan's government, economy or military in our image. Believing that only "nation building" in Afghanistan could ultimately guard against the terrorist threat was mistaken. For too long, it distracted Washington and materially contributed to the decline in American public support for a continuing military presence there, despite the manifest need for it.
There is no chance that the Trump administration will pursue "nation building" in Afghanistan, as the president has repeatedly made clear. Speaking as a Reagan administration alumnus of USAID, I concur. We should certainly continue bilateral economic assistance to Afghanistan, which, strategically applied, has served America well in countless circumstances during the Cold War and thereafter. But we should not conflate it with the diaphanous prospect of nation building.
Nor should we assume that the military component in Afghanistan must be a repetition or expansion of the boots-on-the-ground approach we have followed since the initial assault on the Taliban. Other alternatives appear available and should be seriously considered, including possibly larger U.S. military commitments of the right sort.
U.S. Army soldiers fire mortars at a Taliban position in northeastern Afghanistan, September 2, 2011. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Even more important, there must be far greater focus on Pakistan.
A Volatile and Lethal Mix
Politically unstable since British India's 1947 partition, increasingly under Chinese influence because of the hostility with India, and a nuclear-weapons state, Pakistan is a volatile and lethal mix ultimately more important than Afghanistan itself. Until and unless Pakistan becomes convinced that interfering in Afghanistan is too dangerous and too costly, no realistic U.S. military scenario in Afghanistan can succeed.
The stakes are high on the subcontinent, not just because of the "Af-Pak" problems but because Pakistan, India and China are all nuclear powers. The Trump administration should not be mesmerized only by U.S. troop levels. It must concentrate urgently on the bigger strategic picture. The size and nature of America's military commitment in Afghanistan will more likely emerge from that analysis rather than the other way around. And time is growing short.
*John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".
*This article first appeared in The Pittsburgh Tribune Review and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the 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.

The Anti-Semitic Jewish Media

Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/August 16/17
Almost everyone in a position to do something is a coward. Politicians continue to recite the mantra that "Muslims are today's Jews," even though in Europe today Muslims are far more often the tormentors than the tormented, and Jews lead the list of victims of public abuse.
Needless to say, the immigrants Trump wants to keep out of the U.S. are precisely the type who, in Europe, are currently Jew-bashing people like Stephen Miller -- and Rob Eshman. But Eshman doesn't want to think about this ticklish fact, which challenges his own simplistic, self-righteous pontifications.
Linda Sarsour is the very personification of stealth Islamization and an obvious anti-Semite. But as Davidson himself noted, she's acquired plenty of Jewish allies and defenders, "including Jeremy Ben-Ami, Mark Hetfield, Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Brad Lander."
For years now, Jews across western Europe have been the targets of harassment by Muslims. Police officers stand guard outside of synagogues. Recently, when I stayed in the Jewish Quarter in Rome, I couldn't help notice the presence of multiple police kiosks, each manned by an armed cop. Many Jews in European cities have long since ceased wearing yarmulkes or Stars of David. Jewish kids are instructed by their parents to avoid identifying themselves as Jews at school lest they be beaten up by their little Muslim friends.
Meanwhile, almost everyone in a position to do something is a coward. Politicians continue to recite the mantra that "Muslims are today's Jews," even though in Europe today Muslims are far more often the tormentors than the tormented, and Jews lead the list of victims of public abuse. Police prefer not to prosecute Muslim perpetrators for fear of being called "Islamophobes." Teachers don't want to deal with Muslim bullies in their classes for the same reason.
Yet you would hardly know this to read much of America's Jewish media. On August 2, the Jewish Journal ran a piece slamming Trump adviser Stephen Miller for dismissing (quite properly) the suggestion by CNN's Jim Acosta that the new immigration bill favoring English-speakers violated the "spirit" of Emma Lazarus's Statue of Liberty poem, "The New Colossus," and emphasizing, as if it had anything to do with the issue, that Miller himself is the great-grandson of Jewish immigrants. This was not the first time the Jewish Journal had gone after Miller for being a Jew who supports immigration reform. In March, another piece in that publication, headlined (I kid you not) "From Hebrew School to Halls of Power," noted that Miller was "a principal author of Trump's draconian immigration measures, including the executive order the president signed in late January targeting immigrants from Muslim-majority countries," even though "[t]hese politics are generally reviled in the liberal circles of his Jewish upbringing."
The big hit-job, however, came a year ago, when the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal, Rob Eshman, sneered at Miller for the way in which he "froth[ed] the mob" at Trump rallies over immigration. Eshman professed shock at the news that Miller is Jewish. How, he asked, could "this young anti-immigrant leader" be "the descendent of immigrants"? Eshman looked into Miller's family tree, and discovered that his maternal great-grandfather, seeking to escape persecution by Cossacks, fled Antopol (in present-day Belarus) and settled in Pennsylvania, where he founded a thriving business. And yet, thundered Eshman, Miller dares to serve as "Trump's anti-immigrant avatar." Imagine: "The great-grandson of a desperate refugee can grow up to shill for the demagogue bent on keeping desperate refugees like his great-grandfather out."
Stephen Miller, Senior Advisor to the President for Policy, talks to reporters about President Donald Trump's support for creating a "merit-based immigration system", August 2, 2017. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Needless to say, the immigrants Trump wants to keep out of the U.S. are precisely the type who, in Europe, are currently Jew-bashing people like Stephen Miller -- and Rob Eshman. But Eshman doesn't want to think about this ticklish fact, which challenges his own simplistic, self-righteous pontifications. No, better to demonize Miller as "an American Jew [who has] turn[ed] on immigrants," who has "tak[en] the side of people who... would have met your own great-grandparents at the docks with stones and spitballs," and who is "stoking anti-immigrant fear and hate, by calling for a ban on an entire religion."
As it happens, Trump has never sought to enact a ban on an entire religion, although the present situation in Europe certainly makes a good argument for such a ban (with ample room for sensible exceptions, of course).
On August 3, over at the Forward, formerly the Jewish Daily Forward, one Steven Davidson actually served up one of the most idiotic articles of the year, entitled "19 People Jews Should Worry About More Than Linda Sarsour." Sarsour, of course, is the devout, hijab-wearing, sharia-loving, Israel-boycotting Muslim who, since her high-profile appearance at the Women's March on the day after Trump's inauguration, has become a hero of feminism and of the left generally. Linda Sarsour is the very personification of stealth Islamization and an obvious anti-Semite. But as Davidson himself noted, she's acquired plenty of Jewish allies and defenders, "including Jeremy Ben-Ami, Mark Hetfield, Rabbi Jill Jacobs and Brad Lander."
As for Davidson, while finding some of her language "coarse and insensitive," he insists that criticism of her has "no basis in reality." In his piece, he encouraged readers to move from Sarsour and focus their concerns instead on 19 other people, including Louis Farrakhan, David Duke, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. Well, I don't know about you, but I'm capable of hating all these other people while still having enough hate left for Linda Sarsour. (I'm also capable of noticing that nobody in the American mainstream is celebrating most of these other creeps, while Sarsour, under a Hillary Clinton administration, would probably have been in line for a Presidential Medal of Freedom.)
Also on the list, however, are White House counter-terrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka, whom Davidson smears as "a member of a far-right group founded by Nazis"; Trump strategist Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart, which "spew[s] xenophobic hate"; Milo Yiannopoulos, who although half-Jewish "disseminat[es] Jewish conspiratorial tropes"; and President Trump himself, whose crimes against the Jewish people, according to Davidson, include "[r]efus[al] to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day." Never mind that he has a Jewish daughter and grandchildren; we are supposed to believe that it is Trump, not Sarsour, who threatens Jews. Perhaps Davidson should have a little chat with some of the growing number of European Jews who are heading straight to Trump's America to escape Sarsour's coreligionists who, in countries run by politicians of whom Davidson doubtless approves, are being allowed to turn Europe once again into a place from which Jews feel compelled to flee.
**Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
© 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.

Muqtada Sadr and the great sectarian tussle

Mashari Althaydi/Asharq Al Awsat/August 16/17
Iraq’s Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr’s visits to Saudi Arabia and the UAE have changed a few hearts and opened outlets. Two weeks after visiting Jeddah, and his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Muqtada al-Sadr visited the UAE and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Both meetings proved fruitful and timely. In Abu Dhabi, the popular Shiite leader with his black turban met with the Sunni Sheikh of Iraq, Sheikh Ahmed al-Qubaisi who was wearing his red Kufiyah. Both leaders said that they were seeking the common good of Iraq, the Shiites and Sunnis alike.
According to the UAE news agency, the focus was on the words of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, to Muqtada al-Sadr, who said: “Past experiences taught us to always call for what brings Arabs and Muslims together, and to reject the advocates of division and rift.”This noble endeavor, which affects a large number of Iraqi Shiites, is admirable, not because he is trying to get close to Saudi Arabia or the UAE, as some may imagine, but because he wants his country Iraq to have a safe and prosperous future. This is a significant step, which seeks to obliterate the ongoing tussle between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq.
The well-being of Iraq reflects on all Arabs and Muslims in general as Iraq is the place where all sects were born
Process of conciliation
This Iraq-Gulf rapprochement is vital even though it has come a tad too late. Saudi Arabia started this process of conciliation after Riyadh and Baghdad announced in June that they would form a coordination council in an effort to improve relations. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair’s visit to Baghdad in February furthered this process. The well-being of Iraq reflects on all Arabs and Muslims in general as Iraq is the place where all sects were born. The first Khawarej battle, the Battle of Nahrawan, the clash between Umiyah and Hashem, the Battle of Saffeen, and the tragedy of Karbala, all took place on the battlefield of Iraq. The symbol of the first Muʿtazila, Wasel bin Atta, the founder Salafist, Ahmed bin Hanbal, and the prominent Shiite Sheikh Shaykh Tusi, are all men of Iraq. Therefore, Iraq and its people find an important place in the Muslim mind.
Muqtada al-Sadr’s steps may seem small to some but they resemble the steps of American astronaut Neil Armstrong in the sense that they are huge for Arabs and Muslims at this difficult time. In April, he became the first Iraqi Shiite leader to urge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power, showing his disagreement with Iran and the fighters supporting the Syrian government. Sadr’s office said the meeting with Prince Mohammed at the end of July resulted in an agreement to study possible investments in Shi’ite areas in southern Iraq.