August 22/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 13/01-05/:"At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’

And so it was that all were brought safely to land
Acts of the Apostles 27,27.33-37.39-44/:"When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the sea of Adria, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’ After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (We were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.) In the morning they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned to run the ship ashore, if they could. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea. At the same time they loosened the ropes that tied the steering-oars; then hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. But striking a reef, they ran the ship aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the force of the waves. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none might swim away and escape; but the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest to follow, some on planks and others on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 21-22/17
No more trust in Hariri Or Geagea/Elias Bejjani/August 21/17
Mercenary Lebanese Politicians & the Sheep/Elias Bejjani/August 20/17
A new Lebanese Leadership is a must/Elias Bejjani/August 19/17
Why do We Attack the World/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/August 21/17
Trump and the GOP Need a Restart/Hugh Hewitt/The Washington Post/August 21/17
US strategy is missing on Iran's 'land bridge/Seth J. Frantzman/Jerusalem Post/August 21
Target the Nurseries of Terror Indoctrination/Khadija Khan/Gatestone Institute/August 21/17
Trump Must Stop North Korea from Striking American Soil/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/August 21/17
Palestinians: When Suicide Attacks Are Bad/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/August 21/17
Sabotaging this year’s Hajj: Tehran and ‘a few’ in Doha/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 21 /17
Enhancing rational position against sectarian discourse/Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/August 21 /17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 21-22/17
No more trust in Hariri Or Geagea
Mercenary Lebanese Politicians & the Sheep
A new Lebanese Leadership is a must
Army Pounds IS Jihadists for Third Day in a Row
Gen. Aoun Visits Injured Troops as Huge IS Arms Haul Seized
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Holds Talks with Aoun, Bassil, Jumblat
Berri Praises Army's 'Heroic' Work
Fatah Advances against Islamists in Ain el-Hilweh Clashes
Paris Voices 'Admiration, Support' for Army's Anti-IS Operation
Hizbullah Using Weaponized Drones against IS in Syria
Mashnouq: Lebanon Helped Foil Terror Plot to Bomb Emirati Plane in Australia
Kataeb deems army sole defender of nation's existence, borders
Sami Gemayel from Qartaba: Army protector of sovereignty
Bassil launches official biometric and diplomatic passports
PM politburo: To associate terrorists' likely surrender with uncovering kidnapped soldiers' fate
French Embassy voices support for Lebanese military in battle against Daesh
Riachy meets French Senator Bockel
Hezbollah drones attack ISIS positions on the Lebanese border

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 21-22/17
Barcelona fugitive shot dead outside city wearing bomb belt
One dead after van hits people at Marseille bus stop
Spanish police reportedly kill Barcelona attacker Younes Abouyaaqoub
Erdogan: Turkey-Iran operation against Kurd rebels always possible
Finnish court names knife attack suspect Abderrahman Mechkah
US destroyer in collision off Singapore, rescue efforts launched
Qatar Denies Blocking Saudi Hajj Pilgrimage Flights
Insecticidetainted eggs scandal reaches Italy
Migrant boats in Black Sea spark fears of new route
Jordan King receives U.S. secretary of Defense
Despite losing terrain, Islamic State's attacks rose in 2016: study

Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 21-22/17
No more trust in Hariri Or Geagea
Elias Bejjani/August 21/17
Sadly, both Mr. Hariri, and Mr. Geagea are fully responsible for the unwise, unpatriotic and vicious dismantling of the Lebanese patriotic opposition, the coalition of 14th of March. They both and because of their mere personal ambitions, hunger for power and poor political calculations and zero future national vision they fell prey to the Terrorist Hezbollah and surrendered to its occupational agenda and to the Iranian expansionism scheme. Both of them exchanged the genuine and patriotic opposition of 14th of March coalition with personal governing power gains. They both killed their conscience and practically sided with Hezbollah's hegemony...although rhetorical they are still in the frame of camouflage criticising Hezbollah in bid to maintain their image in the eyes of their supporters. Simply we can not and should not trust them any more.. Accordingly new patriotic leaders are a must for Lebanon's salvation. We fully understand the back ground of many of our honest people who based on a nostalgic longing still blindly support Mr. Geagea and deal with his alliances, choices and wishes as holy and accordingly must be obeyed.. It is time for both men to resign from the political life and arena ...New Leadership is a must

Mercenary Lebanese Politicians & the Sheep
Elias Bejjani/August 20/17
The Iranian-Hezbollah occupied Lebanon it at the present time in an SOS urgent need for genuine, free, honest and patriotic voices.
The occupied county and its oppressed and impoverished people are in need of  patriotic voices that are loud, strong and witnessing for the mere truth with no fear, Dhimmitude or personal agendas.
Sadly the majority of the current active Lebanese politicians, if not all of them, the so called Lebanese feudal, Mafiosi parties, as well as 99% of the officials are ugly, hungry - evil merchants.
in reality and actuality, they are a role model for narcissism and trogon horses, while all their prime focus, interests, alliances, affiliations, activities and stances are totally tailored and engineered to revolve around their own personal power ambitions and their coffers'-bank accounts gains agendas..
In this derailed context he majority of the Lebanese politicians are a living miserable model for evilness and corruption.
They never ever honour or respect the Lebanese peoples' rights or abide by the constitution  or any ethical-faith-honesty-transparency codes.
They are professional acrobats and pioneering experts in prostituting any thing and every thing in a bid to promote and serve their own greediness and power-money hungry ambitions.
The sad part in this funny on going theatrical play and dilemma lies in the fact that unfortunately many... many Lebanese citizens are ignorant, lack the ABC of self respect, have no insight in all that is patriotism and blindly follow the corrupted politicians and against all odds accept happily the role sheep.
Yes sheep no more no less.
Our main problem as Lebanese citizens from all religious denominations and all walks of live is deeply rooted in our education, our norms for what is wrong and what is not, in our willingness to be subservient if it serves our agendas, in our rotten mentality of opportunism and in our lack of loyalty to our great country...the Land Of the Cedars.
In conclusion, unless we change our own education and mentality and adopt genuine patriotic stances we shall continue to go down more and more. It remains that and as our popular proverb says:" God does not change what people think and do unless they themselves initiate and work hard on the change"

A new Lebanese Leadership is a must لبنان القداسة والتاريخ بحاجة إلى قيادات جديدة
Elias Bejjani/August 19/17
Lebanon, the land of the Holy Cedars,
Lebanon the holiness and the Godly treasure
Lebanon the heavenly gift,
Lebanon the freedom, the coexistence, the tolerance, the civilization, the sovereignty and independence, this beloved Lebanon that is deeply and solidly rooted in our hearts minds and conscience is the Lebanon that we the patriotic Lebanese have an obligation to fight for, proclaim and safeguard.
This Lebanon of the 7000 years of history and civilization is the Lebanon that we should never ever abandon no matter what the sacrifices are or will be.
This Lebanon, the Godly gift must be the prime salvation task for all the Lebanese citizens in both Lebanon and Diaspora from all denominational sects and from all walks of live.
The ABC of Lebanon's salvation from terrorism ,terrorists, local mercenaries and all the Iscariot like leaders-politicians-parties-clergy and officials starts with kicking out of the political life and arena the majority of the current corrupted, Trojan leaders and the so called political parties.
We, the free, faithful and patriotic Lebanese must select and elect wisely a new political patriotic figures and leadership who are 100% Lebanese by all means, on all level, in all domains and by all standards of devotion and honesty.
A new Leadership is a must and all the other resistance steps and stages will evolve and grow solidly around the clock.
God Bless and Safeguard Our Beloved Lebanon

Army Pounds IS Jihadists for Third Day in a Row
Agence France PresseNaharnet/August 21/17/The Lebanese army heavily pounded the hideouts of the Islamic State posts for the third day in a row, as it scored advances in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa, media reports said on Monday. The troops have intensified their operations primarily following an attempted suicide attack Sunday that aimed to target their positions on Lebanon's eastern border where the battle rages. On Monday evening, the army issued a statement saying army units were continuing their bombardment of IS' posts with "heavy artillery and aircraft." "Direct hits were recorded among the ranks of the terrorists and the vehicles they were using, as the army's Engineering Regiment continued the removal of landmines, traps and explosives from the way of the advancing units," the statement said. The sound of shelling had resonated throughout Sunday night and continued until dawn. Army troops shelled the IS positions, amid concerns that jihadists could plan another suicide attack, mainly that the militants have been besieged in more than one position, al-Joumhouria daily reported. Later during the day, NNA said that army units heavily shelled the remaining IS posts in said outskirts while engineering units scanned the liberated areas for landmines. The army began its operation in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa region early on Saturday, and has already recaptured two thirds of the territory in the area, the military said. The retaken area covers about 80 square kilometers (around 31 square miles) once controlled by the jihadists, the army said. But an army source warned on Sunday that ousting IS from the rest of the territory would be tough.A mine blast killed three Lebanese soldiers Sunday while their way to join the offensive to oust IS, the military said in a statement. The army also said soldiers blew up an explosives-packed car and a booby-trapped motorcycle carrying would-be suicide bombers in Ras Baalbek outskirts, preventing an attack on the troops. Lebanon's battle against IS comes as the jihadist group faces assaults in both neighboring Syria and Iraq, where the government early Sunday announced an offensive on the group's bastion of Tal Afar. It also comes amid a simultaneous anti-IS assault by Hizbullah and the Syrian army on the Syrian side of the border region.

Gen. Aoun Visits Injured Troops as Huge IS Arms Haul Seized
Naharnet/August 21/17/Army Commander General Joseph Aoun on Monday visited soldiers wounded in the ongoing border offensive against Islamic State militants, as troops discovered a large arsenal of arms belonging to the terrorist group. State-run National News Agency said Aoun inquired about the health of the soldiers at the Saint George Hospital and the Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui in Beirut, hailing their “sacrifices and bravery on the battlefield” and wishing them a speedy recovery. The Army Command meanwhile issued a statement saying advancing army units seized large quantities of arms and explosives in border areas recaptured from IS' militants. The confiscated weaponry include “mortars, medium- and heavy-caliber machineguns, assault rifles, hand grenades, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, explosive devices, anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines, shells and ammunition of various calibers, in addition to quantities of communication and photography devices, various military gear, medicines and steroids,” the statement said. The army heavily pounded IS' hideouts and posts for the third day in a row on Monday, as it scored advances in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa. The military began its operation in the border region early on Saturday, and has already recaptured two thirds of the territory in the area. While more than ten soldiers have been wounded in the clashes, a mine blast killed three troops Sunday while on their way to join the offensive.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Holds Talks with Aoun, Bassil, Jumblat
Naharnet/August 21/17/Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hussein Jaberi Ansari held talks Monday in Lebanon with President Michel Aoun and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil after arriving in the country on a two-day official visit. According to the National News Agency, Aoun stressed to Ansari that “the Lebanese stance is firm in terms of refraining from interfering in the domestic affairs of Arab countries and staying away from external conflicts.” He also told the Iranian visitor that “the Lebanese army is receiving unanimous national support in its war against terrorism, which will soon result in ending the presence of the terrorists in the northeastern border outskirts.”And hailing “the bilateral ties between Lebanon and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Aoun promised to visit Tehran at the official invitation that was recently addressed to him after agreeing on its date through diplomatic channels, NNA said. Ansari for his part relayed to Aoun Iran's congratulations on “the success that the Lebanese army has achieved in ousting the militants of the terrorist Islamic State group from the eastern border's outskirts.”He also emphasized that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is keen on “developing bilateral cooperation in the various economic and commercial fields,” lauding “the achievements that have been made during President Aoun's term, especially in terms of extending security and stability across Lebanon and regularizing political life.”Ansari also held talks with FM Bassil after which he told reporters that the case of Lebanese national Nizar Zakka, who has been held in Iran for around two years, was not addressed in the meeting. The Iranian official however hoped that “the case will soon be put on the right judicial track.”In the evening, Ansari held talks in Clemenceau with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat. "We consider the national political role that Walid Beik Jumblat has been playing to be a reflection of the national political school that he belongs to, especially that he has always contributed to all the constructive political achievements that serve Lebanon's higher interest," Ansari said. Jumblat for his part said he sensed Iran's keenness on "stability on Lebanon and on its diversity" as well as its support for the country's "anti-terror fight on the Lebanese border -- recently by the Resistance and today by the Lebanese army." "The most important issue that we focused on was addressing Iranian-Arab disputes through dialogue, from Yemen to Iraq to Syria," Jumblat added, saying he and the Iranian visitor also stressed the importance of finding a political solution for Syria. The Iranian diplomat is also scheduled to hold talks with Speaker Nabih Berri.

Berri Praises Army's 'Heroic' Work
Naharnet/August 21/17/Speaker Nabih Berri hailed on Monday the army's endeavors to eliminate the Islamic State group jihadists from Lebanon, praising the military forces as “heroic and patriotic,” al-Joumhouria daily reported. “Military troops are doing a heroic and patriotic work. They are achieving great accomplishments,” Berri told his visitors said the daily. “The troops are battling and winning against terrorists who are fighting the battle for life or death,” added Berri. Berri's remarks came after the army pressed an offensive Saturday in the mountainous outskirts of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa, and in the first day captured around 30 square kilometers of territory. On Sunday the army captured new hills from the Islamic State group, as three soldiers were killed in a landmine explosion. During a daily press briefing on the operation, an Army Command spokesman said the army seized control of 30 square kilometers of territory on the second day of the offensive. He added that the army has so far managed to oust the IS group from 80 out of 120 square kilometers it initially held.

Fatah Advances against Islamists in Ain el-Hilweh Clashes
Naharnet/August 21/17/A bomb exploded early on Monday at the southern Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh, breaching a ceasefire agreement reached a day earlier, as clashes resumed between the secular Fatah Movement and members of two small Islamist groups. The intersection at the vegetable market-al-Tiri in al-Fawqani street witnessed sniper shooting and bomb explosions, added the agency. In the evening, TV networks said a new ceasefire agreement was reached after a meeting at Usbat al-Ansar official Sheikh Abu Tarek al-Saadi. NNA has reported in the afternoon that Fatah fighters were advancing against the Islamist militants in the al-Tiri neighborhood, the stronghold of the Islamist groups. Two Islamist militants were killed and another was wounded in the clashes, the agency added, reporting an injury toll of eight on Monday. A ceasefire had been reached Sunday after a night of violent clashes that left two people dead and around seven wounded, media reports said. Contacts involving Palestinian and Lebanese national and Islamist forces had led to that ceasefire. The fighting pitted the Fatah Movement and the Joint Palestinian Security Force against the two groups of the Islamist militants Bilal Badr and Bilal al-Orqoub.The clashes first broke out Thursday when gunmen from Badr's small group opened fire on a position of Palestinian security forces inside Ain al-Hilweh, a Palestinian source said. Two people were killed in that fighting. The clashes have forced dozens of families to flee the camp and seek shelter in Sidon mosques.

Paris Voices 'Admiration, Support' for Army's Anti-IS Operation
Naharnet/August 21/17/The French Embassy in Lebanon on Monday expressed “utmost admiration and support for the Lebanese army in its battle against the Islamic State group.”“Lebanon and France are today facing a common enemy,” added the Embassy in a tweet. It also extended condolences to the families of the soldiers who were killed in the ongoing operation and expressed solidarity with the wounded. The army heavily pounded IS' hideouts and posts for the third day in a row on Monday, as it scored advances in the outskirts of the border towns of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa. The military began its operation in the border region early on Saturday, and has already recaptured two thirds of the territory in the area. While more than ten soldiers have been wounded in the clashes, a mine blast killed three troops Sunday while on their way to join the offensive.

Hizbullah Using Weaponized Drones against IS in Syria
France Presse/Naharnet/August 21/17/Hizbullah has used weaponized drones against the Islamic State group across the border in war-ravaged Syria, its media arm said on Monday. A source on the ground told the AFP news agency it was the first time that Hizbullah had deployed weaponized drones against IS in Syria, where the Iran-backed party is fighting to bolster President Bashar al-Assad's forces. "The armed drones of the Resistance (Hizbullah) targeted Daesh positions and fortifications in western Qalamun," Hizbullah's War Media channel said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. On Saturday, Hizbullah said it had launched an operation against IS in a hilly region known as western Qalamun, near Syria's border with Lebanon.The Lebanese army announced a simultaneous offensive on the Lebanese side of the frontier, and has already recaptured two-thirds of the area. A source on the ground told AFP on Monday that "this is the first time Hizbullah has used weaponized drones in a clash with IS." The group had deployed such drones in previous clashes with other jihadists and rebels, "but now we are unleashing a barrage of bombs," the source said. Security along Lebanon's unmarked eastern border with Syria has long been a concern. Last month, Hizbullah waged a six-day assault against al-Qaida's former affiliate in the border region, al-Nusra Front, which ended in the evacuation of the jihadists and thousands of civilians. The current offensive targets remaining territory further north along the frontier where IS militants have entrenched themselves. The Lebanese army has denied any coordination with Hizbullah or the Syrian army on the ongoing assault. IS itself has used weaponized drones to defend territory it holds in Iraq and Syria from U.S.-backed offensives.

Mashnouq: Lebanon Helped Foil Terror Plot to Bomb Emirati Plane in Australia
Naharnet/August 21/17/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq announced on Monday that the ISF Intelligence Branch, in collaboration with Australian authorities, have foiled a terror plot to blow up an Emirati airplane in Australia bound for Abu Dhabi. “The ISF has foiled an attempt of a Lebanese suicide bomber, who hails from al-Khayyat family, to blow up an Emirates Airplane in Australia that was bound for Abu Dhabi,” announced Mashnouq in a press conference. He said the plane was carrying 120 Lebanese passengers out of 400 on board. Mashnuq pointed out that the would-be suicide attacker was identified as Lebanese Tarek Khayyat and hails from north Lebanon. “They are four Lebanese brothers, one of them moved to Syria's Reqqa and is a senior Islamic State group member,” he said, pointing out that the "Intelligence Branch has tracked him down."Mashnouq said the bomb was discovered “as the result of an overweight suitcase which was destined to blow up 20 minutes after the Emirati plane takes off.” “It was a message to the UAE,” added Mashnouq, as he highlighted coordination between Lebanese and Australian authorities. Mashnouq did not disclose the exact date of the operation or its relation to a similar incident late in July in Australia. Australian authorities have said they thwarted a credible terrorist plot to down an airplane by smuggling a device onboard. They have provided few details, including the precise nature of the threat or any airlines involved.

Kataeb deems army sole defender of nation's existence, borders
Mon 21 Aug 2017/NNA - Kataeb Party hailed the Lebanese army as the sole defender of the nation's existence, borders, sovereignty and dignity, saying that the "Dawn of the Outskirts" operation has proved that the army is well prepared and capable of solely tackling and winning this battle and any other battle fought."We bow in tribute of the army's martyrs and the wounded soldiers.. We declare full solidarity with the military institution at these crucial moments," Kataeb Party said in a statement on Monday in the wake of its politburo's weekly meeting, chaired by Party chief MP Sami Gemayel. The meeting took up the latest developments on the local arena. Kataeb stressed that "there is neither salvation nor hope except through the military institution", urging all the Lebanese to overcome all considerations and rally around the military. The Lawmaker also said that the army's victory in its battles reinforces the concept of the state and its sovereignty. On the other hand, Kataeb said that the opposition led by the Phalange Party in the face of the electricity generating vessels' tender, in terms of exposing its scientific and legal flaws, forced the political authority to cancel the "canned tender."The Party warned the political authority not to repeat its mistakes and jumping over the law, rules and principles.

Sami Gemayel from Qartaba: Army protector of sovereignty
Mon 21 Aug 2017/NNA - Kataeb Party head, MP Sami Gemayel, on Monday maintained that the Lebanese, regardless of their religious and political views, are all beside the Lebanese army in its heroic battle against Daesh on the outskirts of Ras Baalback and al-Qaa. "Nobody else enjoys unanimity and support to be the shield protecting all of us and defending Lebanon's sovereignty and independence," Gemayel said during the inauguration of Kataeb's new center in the Jbeil town of Qartaba. "We have always called for the army to hold weapons alone to defend Lebanon; today, we reiterate that we do not want anyone but the army to defend us, our destiny, and the future of our youth," he stressed.
"Kataeb will be back to Jbeil to lead the electoral battle in it," he concluded.

Bassil launches official biometric and diplomatic passports
Mon 21 Aug 2017/NNA - Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Gebran Bassil, on Monday launched the official biometric and diplomatic passports and service, during a ceremony attended by the General Security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, at the Ministry's new Foreigners Department office. In his delivered word, Major General Ibrahim said that the biometric passports' project was carried out jointly by the Foreign Ministry and the General Security Directorate General. "This passport effectively shifted Lebanon to the ranks of developed countries," Ibrahim said, noting that some countries have already started to prevent the entry of non-biometric passport holders into their territories. Ibrahim said that the biometric passport gives the holder access to all countries of the world, and includes security standards considered the most accurate in the world, and contains international specifications in terms of quality and security standards. Minister Bassil, for his part, hailed the cooperation between the Ministry and The Directorate General in crystallizing such an achievement, which puts the country in an advanced stage in meeting the international standards in this regard.
Bassil also noted the presence of further electronic work to be undertaken, to enable all the Lebanese across the world to benefit from the Ministry's services in an uncomplicated manner. On the other hand, Bassil met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, Hussein Jaber Ansari, accompanied by Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Fathali. On emerging, Ansari said that he shall be meeting during his visit to Lebanon with a number of political, spiritual and social dignitaries, deeming Lebanon as a great symbol of confronting terrorism, whether the state terrorism represented by the Zionist entity or the Takfiri terrorism represented by the extremist spiteful groups. The Iranian official also voiced Iran's determination to consecrate and reinforce bilateral relations and cooperation with Lebanon at the various levels. Later, Bassil received a delegation from the Maronite League, led by lawyer Antoine Qlimous, who saluted the Lebanese army and its sacrifices for the sake of the country.

PM politburo: To associate terrorists' likely surrender with uncovering kidnapped soldiers' fate
Mon 21 Aug 2017/NNA - The Free Patriotic Movement's politburo on Monday highlighted the necessity to link any likely surrender of terrorists to uncovering the destiny of the soldiers kidnapped by Daesh, in addition to that of the Orthodox bishops and photojournalist Samir Kassab. "The army is the master on the Lebanese soil and it is recuperating the lands through a sheer Lebanese operation, armed with the Lebanese decision to lead the battle and score victory," FPM's political committee said in a statement issued following its weekly meeting under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
Moreover, conferees highlighted the role of the Lebanese army in adopting the necessary measures to control the security situation inside Syrian and Palestinian refugees' camps.On a different note, conferees maintained that it was normal for the Minister of Economy to communicate with his Syrian counterpart, stressing on the political decision to improve ties between the two countries. Furthermore, they upped calls upon the Parliament to speed up the endorsement of the state budget, and to devise a national economic plan.

French Embassy voices support for Lebanese military in battle against Daesh
Mon 21 Aug 2017/NNA - The French Embassy in Beirut said, in a tweet on Monday, that Lebanon and France were facing a joint enemy today, voicing admiration and support for the Lebanese military in its battle against Daesh. "All the admiration and support for the Lebanese army in its battle against Daesh. Lebanon and France are facing a joint enemy. We offer condolences to the families of the soldiers who fell while fighting terrorism, and we voice solidarity with the wounded," the Embassy tweeted.

Riachy meets French Senator Bockel
Mon 21 Aug 2017NNA - Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, met, at his Ministry office on Monday, with French Senator Jean-Marie Bockel, and the accompanying delegation. "The meeting with Minister Riachy was fruitful," Bocker told reporters following the meeting. "I have presented a report on the situation of refugees, especially in Lebanon and Turkey. We are at an important stage after Lebanon has reached a certain level of balance; but the big question is that about the future of the country amid the Syrian refugee crisis," he said. "We discussed this issue with Minister Riachy; Lebanon is the country of coexistence and it can become a model for the Middle East region. Peace in the region gives citizens hope and keeps them away from extremism," he added. "The number of refugees has doubled and this is a problem; amid the current economic situation, the return of refugees to their country is necessary. The international community cannot remain cross-handed before this crisis that must not last," he underlined. Separately, Riachy met with former lawmaker Talal Merehbi, with whom he discussed the latest political developments on the local scene. Riachy later welcomed a delegation of Go 4 Media Training Center.

Hezbollah drones attack ISIS positions on the Lebanese border
Roi Kais/Ynetnews/August 21/17/Shiite terror organization conducting large-scale operation with Syrian army against ISIS on border with Lebanon, using drones to bomb ISIS targets; according to organization, UAVs attacked positions and fortifications and recorded direct hits; video footage of attack was released by Al-Mayadeen network. On Monday afternoon, Hezbollah released a video documentation of its drone attacks against ISIS targets as part of its operation on the Syrian-Lebanese border. According to the Shiite terrorist organization, the UAVs attacked positions and fortifications of members of the Sunni terrorist organization and recorded direct hits.A video of the strike was released on Monday afternoon by the Al-Mayadeen network. This is not the first time that Hezbollah has been documented using drones to attack in Syria. The organization has in the past released similar documentation of its drone attack in the Aleppo area. In recent years there has been talk of Hezbollah's attempt to upgrade its UAV capabilities. According to estimates, Hezbollah has hundreds of UAVs. ISIS is being attacked on both sides of the Syrian-Lebanese border by Hezbollah, the Syrian army and the Lebanese armed forces. The operation of the Lebanese army on the Syrian border, which began Sunday, is the largest the army has conducted against ISIS in the region. On Sunday, Lebanese soldiers renewed fire on IS group positions on the country's eastern border with Syria after capturing a third of the territory held by jihadists in the area. The Lebanese army also suffered its first casualties, when an armored vehicle hit a landmine, killing three of its occupants. Lebanese military spokesman Col. Fadi Boueid said the blast that killed the three soldiers also critically wounded a fourth, and that troops were able to destroy a vehicle and a motorcycle driven by IS suicide attackers before they could hit their targets. Boueid added that 15 militants were killed on Sunday as a result of fighting and bombardment. On the other side of the border, Hezbollah and the soldiers of the Assad-controlled Syrian army are fighting against ISIS forces, as Hezbollah promised to "remove the terror threat from the borders of our country" and to fight "shoulder to shoulder" with the Syrian army. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in a speech on Sunday that he receives assistance from Iran and its proxies, such as Hezbollah. "Hezbollah fighters protected the land of Syria like any Syrian fighter defending his homeland," he said. "Iran supported us from day one, provided us with equipment, weapons, military advisers and political support. "Russia defended Syria in the Security Council and supported the Syrian army. It sent out its forces and sacrificed soldiers. The support of our allies has helped the Syrian state stand firm. In the chapters of history, it will be written about the assistance provided by Russia and (Vladimir) Putin, Iran and (Ali) Khamenei, and Hezbollah and (Hassan) Nasrallah."Meanwhile, the head of the Arab media department at the IDF Spokesperson's Office, Major Avichai Adre'i, published a picture in which two tanks, one with a Lebanese flag and one with a Hezbollah flag, were seen participating in operations against ISIS on the Syrian-Lebanese border. "(There is) a question that comes to all who are watching this picture: What is the meaning of two flags in one campaign?" he noted. "Does the Lebanese army not wage a national war against terrorism under the Lebanese flag? If Hizbullah claims to be Lebanese, is not it more logical to fight under the banner of its homeland? Or is it fighting under a different banner?"

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 21-22/17
Barcelona fugitive shot dead outside city wearing bomb belt

The Canadian Press /August 21/17
SUBIRATS, Spain — A man thought to be the driver in the Barcelona van attack was shot dead by Spanish police Monday after authorities announced he also was suspected of killing the owner of a hijacked getaway car. The fugitive was wearing a bomb belt, authorities said.
Younes Abouyaaqoub was shot when officers confronted him in Subirats, a rural area known for its vineyards about 45 kilometres (28 miles) west of Barcelona, police in Spain's Catalonia region said. A bomb disposal robot was dispatched to approach him, police said.
Abouyaaqoub, 22, had been the target of an international manhunt that had raised fears throughout the region since Thursday's van attack in Barcelona.
Authorities said Monday they now have evidence that Abouyaaqoub drove the van that plowed down the city's famed Las Ramblas promenade, killing 13 pedestrians and injuring more than 120 others.
They said Abouyaaqoub, who was born in Morocco and has Spanish residency, also is suspected of carjacking a man and stabbing him to death as he made his getaway, raising the death toll between the Barcelona attack and a related attack hours later to 15.
Another vehicle attack early Friday by other members of what Catalonia regional police have described as a 12-member extremist cell killed one person and wounded several others in the coastal town of Cambrils. That ended in a shootout with police, who killed five attackers.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Roser Ventura, whose father owns a vineyard between the towns of Sadurni d'Anoia and Subirats, said he alerted the regional Catalan police when they spotted a car crossing their property at high speed.
"The police told us to leave the premises and go home. We heard a helicopter flying around and many police cars coming toward the gas station that is some 600 metres from the property," Ventura said.
Earlier Monday, regional police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said investigators have "scientific evidence" showing Abouyaaqoub drove the speeding van in Las Ramblas and killed the owner of a hijacked sedan on Thursday night.
He said the suspect walked through Barcelona for about 90 minutes after the van attack — through the famed La Boqueria market and nearly to Barcelona University — before hijacking the car. Abouyaaqoub is believed to have made his getaway in the stolen car with Perez's body inside.
Perez was parking his car, a Ford Focus, in a lot between 6:10 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. Abouyaaqoub stabbed him before 6:32 p.m., put him in the car's rear seats and drove away, Trapero said.
Trapero said Perez was already dead when Abouyaaqoub then rammed the car through a police checkpoint minutes later and police opened fire on his car.
The suspect ran over a police officer as the car evaded the checkpoint. About 7 p.m., police found the car and Perez's body 3 kilometres (nearly 2 miles) away from the checkpoint, near Sant Just Desvern, a town west of Barcelona, but Abouyaaqoub was nowhere to be found.
The Spanish newspaper El Pais published images Monday of what it said was Abouyaaqoub leaving the van attack site on foot. The three images show a slim man wearing sunglasses walking through the La Boqueria market.
Abouyaaqoub escaped and had not returned to his home in Ripoll, said Trapero. The manhunt for him reached well beyond Spain's borders. Four other suspects have been arrested.
Regional authorities said Monday that 48 people were still hospitalized from both attacks, eight of them in critical condition.
Abouyaaqoub was believed to be the lone attacker on the run by Sunday. Authorities hadn't confirmed his identity because they were having difficulty identifying the remains of at least two extremists who died Wednesday in an explosion at a house in Alcanar where explosives were being prepared.
The explosion destroyed the house, but police found remnants of over 100 butane gas tanks and materials needed for the TATP explosive, which has been used previously by Islamic State militants.
Those discoveries, and reports that Abouyaaqoub had rented three vans, suggested the militant cell was making plans for an even more massive attack on the Catalonia's regional president, meanwhile, said regional and local authorities rejected the Spanish government's suggestion to place traffic barriers to protect the Las Ramblas promenade because they deemed them "inefficient."
Carles Puigdemont told La Sexta television the barriers wouldn't have prevented vehicles from entering the promenade at other points — and he said closing off Las Ramblas was impractical because emergency vehicles still needed access.
On Monday, crowds of people continued to lay flowers, candles and heart-shaped balloons at the top of pedestrian promenade where the van struck and at other smaller tributes.
Las Ramblas also regained some normality Monday, with throngs of people walking up and down, tourists arriving and residents going about their daily business.
"We have to stand strong in front of these betrayers, assassins, terrorists," said resident Monserrat Mora. "Because Barcelona is strong and they will not be able to prevail with us."
*Associated Press writer Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Lori Hinnant in Barcelona contributed./Joseph Wilson And Aritz Parra, The Associated Press

One dead after van hits people at Marseille bus stop
By AFP, Marseille Monday, 21 August 2017/One person was killed and another seriously injured in the southern French city of Marseille on Monday after a van ploughed into people at two different bus stops, police sources, adding that the suspected driver had been arrested.
Marseille’s prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux said that investigators had no “element pointing to a terrorist attack” and that the driver was believed to suffer from “psychiatric” problems. “He was found with a letter from a psychiatric clinic and we are leaning towards treating it as a mental health case,” Tarabeux told AFP.The vehicle first drove at speed towards a bus stop in the city's northern 13th district at around 9:00 am (0700 GMT), leaving one person seriously hurt.
Causing fatality
The driver then continued onto the eastern 11th district, where he drove at another bus stop, causing one fatality. The incident comes as police across Europe search for the driver of a van that mowed down pedestrians in Barcelona last week, killing 13. Several European cities, including London, Berlin and Stockholm, have been targeted in a wave of attacks by Islamist radicals using vehicles to run down people. Also read: Finnish court names knife attack suspect Abderrahman Mechkah. Terrorism experts have warned that the intense media coverage of the attacks could spur copycat attacks by people with mental health problems that include a propensity for violence. Julien Ravier, mayor of the 11th and 12th districts, told the BFMTV news channel that the victim in the Marseille incident was a woman in her 40s who was waiting alone for a bus. A police source, who asked not to be identified by name, said the driver was in his mid-30s and was not from Marseille. Minor offences. The local La Provence newspaper reported that he was known to police for minor offences. BFMTV reported that a bystander noted the registration number of the van, which the police used to trace the vehicle to the city’s Old Port district, where the suspect was arrested. Police sealed off the port area and urged residents in a tweet to avoid the neighborhood, which is popular with tourists. Police forensic teams also combed the area around the bus stops for evidence. Also read: Finland suspect an asylum seeker, targeted women: police
The bloodiest vehicle attack in Europe took place in the French city of Nice in July 2016, when a radicalized Tunisian drove a truck through crowds celebrating France's national holiday, killing 86 people. The ISIS group has claimed responsibility for several of the attacks.

Spanish police reportedly kill Barcelona attacker Younes Abouyaaqoub
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 21 August 2017 /The main suspect in the Barcelona van attack that killed 13 people last week, 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub, was arrested on Monday in Sant Sadurni de Noya, west of Barcelona, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia said. Spanish police declined to confirm the report but said on Twitter shortly before that an "incident" was under way in Subirats, 10 km (6 miles) away, without giving further details. Several Spanish media, including Cadena Ser radio, said one man wearing an explosive belt had been shot dead in Subirats. Abouyaaqoub is one of 12 suspects last Thursday's attack on Las Ramblas, Barcelona's most famous boulevard, in which a van plowed into holidaymakers, killing at least 14 people.The 22-year-old originates from the small town of Mrirt in Morocco, about 150 km south east of the capital, Rabat. Abouyaaqoub's brother El Houssaine and first cousins Mohamed and Omar Hychami are three of five men killed by police during a subsequent attack early on Friday in the Catalan town of Cambrils, further down the coast from Barcelona. Younes’ aunt said that he moved to Spain around 1999, a year after his father, Omar Abouyaaqoub, and the both travelled there by boat.

Erdogan: Turkey-Iran operation against Kurd rebels always possible
AFP, IstanbulMonday, 21 August 2017/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that a joint operation with Iran against Kurdish militants was “always on the agenda”, a week after Tehran’s top armed forces commander visited Ankara for rare talks. “It is always on the agenda to carry out a joint operation with Iran against those terror organizations which pose a threat,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Iranian affiliate the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), which both have rear bases in neighboring Iraq.

Finnish court names knife attack suspect Abderrahman Mechkah
AFP, HelsinkiMonday, 21 August 2017/The 18-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker suspected of killing two women and wounding eight people with a knife in Finland on Friday is called Abderrahman Mechkah, a court said on Monday.
The crimes are being treated as murder and attempted murder with terrorist intent, the court said an emailed statement. Police have requested that Mechkah, who is currently in hospital, be detained during preliminary investigations.

US destroyer in collision off Singapore, rescue efforts launched
AFP, SingaporeMonday, 21 August 2017/A rescue operation is under way after a US destroyer was damaged in a collision with a tanker east of Singapore on Monday, the US Navy said, in the second accident involving an American warship in two months. Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with the merchant vessel Alnic MC east of Singapore and near the Straits of Malacca in the early hours, it said a statement. “Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities,” it said. “The extent of damage and personnel injuries is being determined. The incident will be investigated.”The navy added that the ship was sailing under its own power and heading to port. Ten sailors are missing and five injured after the collision, the US Navy said. “There are currently 10 sailors missing and five injured,” said the navy in an update on the collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and merchant vessel Alnic MC in the early hours. US Senator John McCain tweeted that he and his wife “are keeping America’s sailors aboard the USS John S McCain in our prayers tonight -- appreciate the work of search & rescue crews”. The rescue operation involves tug boats, a helicopter and a police coast guard vessel, and US aircraft were also responding, the navy said.The collision was reported at 5:24 am (2124 GMT Sunday) while the ship was heading for a routine port visit in Singapore, it said. The ship involved in the collision was a Liberian-flagged tanker used for transporting oil and chemicals and weighing over 30,000 tons, according to industry website Marine Traffic.

Qatar Denies Blocking Saudi Hajj Pilgrimage Flights
Agence France Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 21/17/Qatar on Monday denied it had banned Saudi Arabian flights from landing in the emirate to transport Muslim pilgrims to Mecca, after an accusation by authorities in Riyadh. Saudi Arabian Airlines on Sunday said Qatari authorities had refused to grant a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, scheduled to transport Qatari hajj pilgrims, permission to land at Hamad International Airport. The flight is one of a select few that will allow Qataris to land in Saudi Arabia, which last week temporarily opened its borders to pilgrims to the Saudi city of Mecca, the most revered site in Islam, more than two months into a diplomatic crisis that has seen Riyadh cut all ties with Qatar and ban its citizens from entering. An official source in the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority on Monday "described as baseless the news... that allegedly claimed that the state of Qatar refused to allow Saudi Airlines to transport the Qatari pilgrims," according to a report carried on the state-run QNA news agency. Qatar's civil aviation authority confirmed that it had received a request from the Saudi carrier for permission to land and had referred the airline to the ministry of Islamic affairs "in accordance with past practices". The hajj to Mecca, a pillar of Islam that capable Muslims must perform at least once, takes place at the start of September this year. It is expected to draw around two million Muslims from around the world. The pilgrimage has turned into a point of contestation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are locked in a diplomatic crisis that has seen Saudi Arabia and its allies cut all ties with Doha over accusations of state support for Islamist extremist groups and ties to Shiite Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations. Saudi Arabia last month said Qatari pilgrims would be allowed to enter the kingdom for this year's hajj but imposed several travel restrictions, including flying in only on airlines approved by Riyadh. The move sparked a backlash in Doha, where authorities said the pilgrimage had been used as political ammunition.Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5 in what has become the worst political crisis to grip the Gulf region in decades.

Insecticidetainted eggs scandal reaches Italy
Mon 21 Aug 2017/NNA - Two of 114 egg samples tested in Italy have shown traces of the insecticide fipronil, Italy's health ministry said Monday (Aug 21), making the country the latest to become embroiled in a Europe-wide scandal.
The ministry did not specify where the insecticide traces were found. The samples came from Italian and imported eggs or from food containing eggs. Fipronil is commonly used to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks from animals but the European Union has banned its use in the food industry.
The insecticide has now been discovered in eggs in 17 European countries since the scandal came to light at the start of August, and was even found as far away as Hong Kong. Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves and dozens of poultry farms closed, and the European Commission is to hold a crisis meeting in September. Belgium became the first country to officially notify the EU's food safety alert system of the presence of tainted eggs on July 20, followed by the Netherlands and Germany. Italy's agricultural association, Coldiretti, called on the government to publish a list of the at-risk products in order to prevent mass panic over eggs. The association said Italians eat on average 215 eggs per person every year, and got a large part of them - about 610,000 kilogrammes' worth (1.34 million pounds) between January and May - from the Netherlands. ---AFP

Migrant boats in Black Sea spark fears of new route
Mon 21 Aug 2017/NNA - Romanian authorities said Monday that they had caught a fishing boat with 68 asylum seekers off Romania's coast, the second such incident in a week, raising fears that a new migrant route to Europe is opening up. The boat carrying Iraqis and Syrians, including 23 children, was intercepted late Sunday in the Black Sea in Romania's southeastern Constanta region, officials said."They were accompanied by two Turkish traffickers," Ionela Pasat, a spokeswoman for the Constanta coastguard, told AFP. The group was brought to the port of Mangalia for medical examinations on Monday before being handed over to the immigration authorities, she said. On August 13, coastguards discovered a boat with 69 Iraqi migrants in Romanian waters. One Bulgarian and one Cypriot were taken into custody on suspicion of human trafficking. EU member Romania, which is not part of the bloc's passport-free Schengen zone, has largely been spared the continent's worst migration crisis since World War II. But Bucharest worries that the Black Sea could become an alternative route to the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. More than 111,000 migrants have reached Europe by sea so far this year, most of them arriving in Italy from Libya, according to the most recent figures. Over 2,300 have died attempting the crossing. This month, NGO rescue ships were banned from patrolling waters off Libya where hundreds of thousands of people have been rescued in recent years and brought to Italy. ---AFP

Jordan King receives U.S. secretary of Defense
Mon 21 Aug 2017/NNA - His Majesty King Abdullah II on Monday received U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and discussed with him the strategic partnership between Jordan and the United States as well as regional issues. The meeting, which was attended by HRH Prince Faisal Bin Al Hussein also dealt with military and defense cooperation between the two countries as well as the support provided by the United States to Jordan in this field. The meeting also focused on the current situation in the Middle East, mainly the Syrian crisis, developments in Iraq as well the war on Daesh terrorist group.
The King and the US defense secretary also reviewed the repercussions of the Syrian refugee crisis on Jordan that is placing economic, social and security challenges to Jordan. The US defense secretary affirmed the US administration's support to Jordan as well as its willingness to increase this support to enable the Kingdom to address challenges facing it. The meeting was attended by the minister of foreign and expatriate affairs, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the director of the King's office, the King's Advisor and Rapporteur of the National Policies Council and the US delegation accompanying the defense secretary. ---Jordan News Agency (Petra)

Despite losing terrain, Islamic State's attacks rose in 2016: study
Mon 21 Aug 2017 /NNA - Although Islamic State is losing fighters and territory in Iraq and Syria, it remained the world’s deadliest militant organization last year, according to a report from the University of Maryland. Islamic State operatives carried out more than 1,400 attacks last year and killed more than 7,000 people, a roughly 20 percent increase over 2015, according to the university’s Global Terrorism Database. The increase occurred even as overall militant attacks worldwide and resulting deaths fell by about 10 percent in 2016.  Islamic State claimed credit for the van attack on Thursday in Barcelona, Spain, that killed 13 people, as well as a knife attack in Russia on Saturday that wounded up to eight people. It is unclear if the claims are accurate. But senior U.S. counterterrorism officials said the latest attacks fit a pattern in which the group adapted to significant battlefield setbacks in Syria and Iraq, where its control of territory peaked in August 2014, by intensifying calls for attacks by individuals or small groups using whatever means possible. In addition to violence tied to Islamic State's core group in Iraq and Syria, other groups affiliated with it carried out more than 950 attacks last year that killed nearly 3,000 people, said the university report, which was released last week. In 2016, four additional groups pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Affiliates in Bangladesh, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan-Pakistan and the Philippines killed significantly more people and executed more attacks than in the previous year, the report said. Most of the affiliates were already engaged in conflicts before allying with Islamic State, said a senior State Department official. Islamic State "was able to manipulate and hijack" them, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The group also has issued more calls for its followers to carry out lone-wolf attacks such as those that occurred in recent years in Orlando, Florida, San Bernardino, California, London and Manchester, England, and Nice, France. "During this same time period, we (also) saw an increase in the number of individual assailants," said Erin Miller, author of the University of Maryland study. Since September 2014, when the international coalition fighting Islamic State was formed, the militant group has encouraged followers to strike coalition nations with any weapon available. "If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car," spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani told the group's followers in 2014. He was killed by a U.S. air strike last September. "These calls increased as the U.S.-led coalition continued targeting the group, with ISIS media releases and social media accounts of its fighters regularly calling for attacks in warring countries," said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant groups online. Since its first issue last September, Islamic State’s monthly Rumiyah magazine has provided detailed attack guides, including directions on how to perform stabbing and vehicular attacks, and to strike economic and religious targets. ---Reuters

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 21-22/17
Why do We Attack the World?

Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/August 21/17
Whenever an explosion shakes a city, the same scene is repeated. I see eyes fastened to the breaking news on the screens. I hear the whispers of my colleagues: let’s hope the perpetrator is not an Arab; let’s hope he’s not a Muslim; we don’t need more…
I hear them and share their hopes; but the events quickly contest our wishes. It is no longer a secret that the attack on the world is an appalling specialty that we are unique in.
I know quite well that the man who ran over the tourists here or there does not represent his country or the confession to which he belongs; that he did not obtain official permission to commit his crime; that he was wanted in his country before being included in international lists of wanted individuals; and that the threat he represents to his hometown is more dangerous than his threat to the distant crime scene.
I know that intolerance is not confined to a certain people, a sect or a country; and that frenetic persons are sons of many different springs. But we have to admit unequivocally that we are the record holders of world aggressions. And we have booked ourselves an invincible position in the Guinness Book.
I do not exaggerate dear reader. The sight of tourists bleeding to death as a result of an attack perpetrated by a person coming from our region hits me in great confusion. I don’t know why I feel the duty to apologize to a Chinese family, who happened to be in Barcelona, or a Japanese man who was strolling in Nice, or a German who was on a visit to Luxor. This is awful.
Who gave us the right to violate maps, states and cities? Who gave us the right to assassinate young people celebrating life in Istanbul? Who gave us the right to assassinate the residents of the twin towers in New York?
The invocation of injustice here or there is just a curtain to hide a deep desire to kill the other; a deep desire to eliminate those whose features and affiliations do not match ours. Let’s suppose that injustice was done; do we respond to it by inflicting even greater injustice on innocent people? Talks about the world’s hatred of us are not true.
One cannot deny limited harming practices that can occur sometimes in the West in response to our rude performances, but they certainly do not rise to the level of death banquets that we organize at different and far-flung theaters.
Those, who know the West, are aware that the law there has sovereignty and priority that benefits even the advocates of hatred. Many know that Arab and Muslim communities enjoy freedom in Europe often lacking in their homeland.
Why do we attack the world? Is it because it chose to sail towards the future, while we are determined to sail back to the past? Is it because it invented the plane in which we travel? The car we ride? And the cancer medicine we use in our hospitals?
Then what is the validity of this hatred towards the West when we wish to see our children and grandchildren graduate from its universities?
Why do we attack the world? Is it because we have failed to build modern states… to achieve development… to provide employment… to guarantee freedoms and consolidate the rule of law?
Do we see in the progress of the other a defeat to us and a threat to our existence?
Does the solution lie in detonating ourselves or instead coming out of the tunnels in which we have long chosen to reside?
Is it true that we are horrified by the multiplicity of colors, choices and opportunities and we seek to preserve the one-color world that we perceive as the guarantee of our existence and the continuity of our identity far from any interaction or enrichment?
Is it true that we are alarmed whenever we hear the bells of the new era ringing? The bells of science, technology, medicine, ideas, culture, education and music…
Why do we attack the world? From where did we bring this huge amount of hatred? Why are we tempted to collide with the world instead of living with and within it?
Why do we favor explosions over dialogue? Death over interaction and settlement? Rubble over accommodation in common homes? Ashes over multiplicity? Why do we prefer to retreat instead of extending our hands to peace? Why do we choose the recipe of murder rather than dialogue and recognition?
We cannot continue to attack the world. This policy means destroying our societies before destroying a cafe, museum or a tower in other people’s world.
Roving killers assassinate their homeland while they have the illusion of attacking other countries.
Those countries, which seem fragile, are able to live with the danger, because they are states and institutions that commit mistakes, correct them, reconsider their calculations and promote their capabilities.
It is time to put the war on extremism as a first priority in our life. It is imperative to eradicate the extremism dictionary from homes, neighborhoods, schools and the different curricula. The flow of hatred feelings on the screens and social media must be stopped.
We must ask ourselves about the culture that promotes the rise of this tendency to attack the world. In the absence of a daring rational confrontation, we will sink even further in mud and blood and we will produce more roving killers.

Trump and the GOP Need a Restart
Hugh Hewitt/The Washington Post/August 21/17
British politicians are familiar with the term “reshuffle,” when senior figures in the government switch portfolios or get tossed out or brought into the government. And they’re also very familiar with “coalition governments,” when ruling governments divide jobs and authorities between two or more parties. American politicians could find study of both concepts useful. The executive branch has completed a major reshuffle over the past month. If the White House can match that with a smart policy push, the coalition between the Trump White House and the Capitol Hill GOP, though battered, could come together again quickly out of shared self-interest.
I’ve been arguing for months that what we have in Washington is a coalition government between President Trump, his team and his core voters, and congressional Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.). The bridge between the coalition’s halves has often been kept open by the vice president, but the president himself has proven adept at quietly working with coalition’s many elements. Both the president and vice president can now spend some of the balance of the summer ensuring that it is indeed open and that there is traffic flowing in both directions.
As for the reshuffle, the exit of Stephen K. Bannon completes a restructuring of the West Wing that began almost as soon as the president took office and is now apparently complete. Like the physical renovation of the West Wing, it was noisy and not very attractive but necessary. The partnership between the executive- and legislative-branch Republicans simply could not have lasted without changes in the administration.
Six months in, the president has assembled the best national security team of my lifetime, led by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. While his communications team remains somewhat in flux, interim communications director Hope Hicks has been at the president’s side since the beginning of his campaign and enjoys his confidence. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is growing in confidence and command of the press briefing room. Vice President Pence’s new chief of staff , Nick Ayers, a capable staffer liked by all sides of the GOP, will be an invaluable resource not just to the vice president but to the president’s entire senior executive team.
On the domestic policy front, senior economic adviser Gary Cohn and White House Counsel Don McGahn, along with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, are firmly in control of the domestic policy process. Committed reformers such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price are in strong and stable positions now as staffing of political appointees accelerates. (I leave out Rex Tillerson’s State Department, where there remains an extraordinarily high degree of instability.)
On the Hill, the congressional GOP is hungry for more success beyond the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. The Veterans Affairs reform bill and 14 Congressional Review Act laws , while enormously significant, were low-profile victories. The filling of dozens of additional federal court vacancies behind Gorsuch is getting organized and moving forward finally, and dozens of confirmations, particularly of the key circuit court openings, and perhaps the end of the anti-constitutional “blue slips” are crucial wins within reach too. But what is needed above all is either a tax bill or resurrection of a health-care fix. Slashing the corporate tax rate is probably the easiest (and perhaps most economically significant) bit of legislation to accomplish, but so too must arrive the repeal of the Budget Control Act, which has devastated national security via the “sequester” and hamstrung a key Trump promise — that of a 355-ship Navy. Both the corporate tax cut and repeal of the BCA are worth daring the Democrats to shutter the government over, as voters understand both are crucial to the well-being of the country.
A grand bipartisan agreement on infrastructure and immigration is within reach as well. Senators enjoying the president’s confidence such as Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) can team with reasonable senators across the aisle such as Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and Angus King (I-Maine) to draft a genuine breakthrough bill: one that delivers much-needed sanity to legal immigration goals, a legal form of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and of course infrastructure funding, including a long, strong border fence — the visible expression of a genuine commitment to border security. Infrastructure funding — which is mostly block-granted to county governments — allows federalism’s beauty to work and puts Americans to work on needed projects quickly, and, if drafted the right way, won’t be as ineffective as 2009’s “stimulus.”
The last ingredient in a successful reset will be the president’s rhetoric. He gave great speeches in Saudi Arabia and Poland on crucial issues of extremism and the inherent goodness of the West. Now he needs to give some key addresses at home, about American equality and the essential demands of citizenship, including an iron commitment to the rule of law and respect for constitutional norms.

Analysis: US strategy is missing on Iran's 'land bridge'
Seth J. Frantzman/Jerusalem Post/August 21
In the two months since June, the Iranian-backed regime in Damascus has expanded its power.
Over the last several months the notion that Iran is trying to construct a land bridge or corridor of power from Tehran, via Baghdad and Damascus, to Beirut, has gained traction.
The only country capable of stopping or interdicting that corridor is the United States. Although Europe and Israel and others may play a role, the power and treasure that the US possesses makes it the sole country that could stop up the various linchpins that Iran needs to complete its goal. However, the US is not going to act, not yet at least.
Over the last year, several writers have explored aspects of Iran’s goal. In October 2016 Martin Chulov argued in The Guardian that “militias controlled by Tehran are poised to complete a land corridor that would give Iran huge power in the region.”
In June, on the pages of The Jerusalem Post, Jonathan Spyer looked at the implications of US policy on this issue. “If the US and its allies are eclipsed in eastern Syria, the result will be the establishment of a contiguous land link from Iran, across Iraq and Syria and to Lebanon and the Israeli border.” The “land bridge” idea is now widely accepted with articles in most major Western newspapers on this issue.
In the two months since June, the Iranian-backed regime in Damascus has expanded its power. On top of continuing evidence of Iranian missile factories and other weapons transfers, the regime is inching toward Deir al-Zor and Abu Kamal on the Euphrates.
The problem with getting any response from Washington is that there is no evidence that there is a coherent plan to confront Iran’s land corridor. Washington is busy looking over the Iran nuclear deal, but its main focus in the region is defeating ISIS. In July, leaks and then confirmation, revealed that the CIA was ending support for some anti-Assad Syrian rebel groups. The US has also supported cease-fire deals in Syria, particularly one signed in July with Russia and Jordan.
Trump’s rhetoric on Hezbollah has been tough, calling it a “menace” in late July and saying it threatens the region. The administration also announced new sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program. But what is missing from all this is the announcement of a real policy change on Iran to challenge it on the ground regionally. That announcement doesn’t seem to be forthcoming, even though Trump huddled with generals and national security officials on August 18 at Camp David.
Myths about the US using its anti-ISIS coalition partners in Syria in a race for the Iraqi border to somehow cut off the Iranian militia land-corridor have persisted despite dwindling evidence of their practicality.
In an email exchange with the coalition, Col. Joe Scrocca, director of CJTF-OIR, the US-led coalition against ISIS, stressed that “the coalition has no fight with the Syrian regime or its allies in the counter-Daesh fight.” The US emphasis is on “deconfliction” with the Syrian regime. “The deconfliction line exists to enable operations by all parties to defeat a truly evil enemy of the people of Syria, the region and the world.”
The coalition “will not support any operations that are not against Daesh,” Col. Scrocca wrote. This is as clear as it gets. There is no plan to race Syrian regime troops to get to Abu Kamal on the Iraqi border.
The same is true in Iraq where the US is partnered with the Iraqi government and the government forces include Iranian-backed Shia militias. The US doesn’t work with the militias, but they will fill the void left by ISIS. To imagine that US policy would change on this would require a major shift. It would mean changing Washington’s view of Baghdad as a close partner, and seeing the Syrian regime as an enemy. That isn’t realistic at the moment.
Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says that the administration is frustrated in part by the policies it inherited from its predecessor. “They inherited a mess that empowered Iran. The administration is aware [of the Iranian threat],” he says. “The problem is aligning our other strategies and policies to make sure Iran doesn’t gain from the fall of ISIS.”
Washington is concerned about Tehran’s rise, but it wants a policy consistent with its values, he says. That means a “light footprint” on the ground, having others contribute, and not conducting an expensive war. “So they are now in the process of trying to determine what is feasible and advisable.” They want to craft an “overarching Iran policy” but haven’t completed it yet.
The question for the US and its allies, such as Kurds in Iraq and Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others, is whether they are being left behind bit-by-bit on the ground with a fait accompli along the Iraqi-Syria border. Every day that goes by Iran grows stronger while US allies, most of whom don’t see eye to eye on other issues, wait for Washington to sketch out its mission.

Target the Nurseries of Terror Indoctrination
Khadija Khan/Gatestone Institute/August 21/17
The gutless response of world leaders to so many terrorist attacks suggest that the world has apparently bought into the "victim narrative" of these extremists, who first set their own countries on fire and then entered Europe with the baggage of their totalitarian ideology, aiming to enslave the masses here too.
The free world, if it would like to win this war, will first have to give up its duplicity. It will have to target the nurseries of terror indoctrination without cherry-picking and keeping favorites. If not, the global security organizations will find themselves exhausted running after the individual suspects, but each time looking just at the "minnows", never the pond they swim in.
Europe bleeds again as terrorists in Spain plowed their vehicles into crowds of pedestrians in tourist areas in Barcelona and Cambrils. The men killed 14 people and injured more than 100.
Spanish police are currently investigating a local imam for possibly having radicalized the terrorists. The imam had apparently been preaching at a mosque in the town of Ripoll for two years, but stopped just a few months ago. The question has arisen if the mosque administration may have found out something about the imam and fired him, but never bothered to report the information to the local police and to clear the mosque of blame.
The day after the attacks in Spain, two people in Finland were hacked to death in another Islamist terrorist attack, leaving some eight injured.
We hear yet again the promises to root out the terrorism, with a warning from security agencies that they cannot stop each and every terrorist attack -- words that translate into the admission that terror has gone beyond the control of European governments.
Yes, there were candlelight vigils for the victims; flags of Spain and Finland on social media profiles; there might even be a "Je Suis Barcelona" campaign -- and then the long silence as if we are all in a loop, waiting for another terrorist attack..
We have seen -- and these are just the recent ones -- Islamist-inspired attacks in London, Manchester, Paris, Brussels, Nice, Berlin and Stockholm, all of the violence leaving scores of women, children and men dead, and even more injured and possibly disabled for life.
It does not take much common sense to understand that individuals cannot commit mass murder without any training, support and most importantly, indoctrination.
The gutless response of world leaders to so many terrorist attacks suggest that the world has apparently bought into the "victim narrative" of these extremists, who first set their own countries on fire and then entered Europe with the baggage of their totalitarian ideology, aiming to enslave the masses here too.
One can measure the effect of sympathetic propaganda towards these extremists across the globe by looking at the two very different responses towards Charlottesville attack and what followed in Barcelona and Turku, Finland.
For the Charlottesville attacker, the whole world wanted the toughest crackdown against the organizations and supporters of right-wing marchers. CEOs of giant multinational companies abandoned the US government for not immediately having provided moral clarity by denouncing reprehensible organizations by name.
The critics of the US right-wing wanted their government to tear down each and every group that showed sympathy towards right-wing ideology, while they criticized President Trump for not being specific enough; unfortunately, they seemed to prefer overlooking similarly unattractive speech on the left, such as "Pigs in a blanket; fry 'em like bacon," accompanied by a rash of just-as-real murders of equally innocent people.
They also seem to overlook a call to blow up the White House; a display of the president's severed bloody head and "hope" from a sitting state senator that the president is assassinated.
The media get exercised when President Trump does not parrot their scripts, but they never minded that Barack Obama would not call out leftist rioters and violent leftist organizations by name. As inner cities would burn, with innocents watching their life savings go aflame as mobs burned down their stores in cities from Baltimore to Ferguson, the Obama Administration avoided planting blame or naming hate groups. When a jihadist murdered Americans serving our nation faithfully at Fort Hood, Obama attributed the murders to "workplace violence." Obama never could articulate the term "radical Islamist terrorist," as though he were Lou Costello fearing what would happen to him if he said "Niagara Falls."
Many of these people, however, would probably rush to defend extremist Islamist organizations -- whether Hamas, the Council on American-Islamic Relation (CAIR), Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and so on -- by stating that these poor people had nothing to do with the criminals who carried out the terror attacks in the name of their religion.
No global CEO would resign, and many of the same people would probably be very tough on President Trump for being "too tough" on Islamists in his tweets and public statements, as they were when he announced that people who applied to move to the US should first be vetted.
Moreover, the so-called "political wing" of the notorious organization Hezbollah, was allowed to join the so-called Al-Quds Day march in the streets of London just a few weeks back, on June 18.
If a terrorist organization has a political wing, does that make it less of a terrorist organization or does just legitimize its terrorism? What about inventing "political wings" for al-Qaeda and ISIS?
On Al-Quds Day, the marchers chanted slogans such as "boycott Israel" and "Zionism = Racism" but the local authorities choose to keep their eyes shut despite appeals by thousands of concerned citizens to Mayor Sadiq Khan to cancel the event. Perhaps officials thought it was not harmful for Britain if somebody spews venom against "other people" on their soil.
Former commander of British forces in Afghanistan Col. Richard Kemp tweeted Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May:
"If Enough is Enough, why does the government continue to appease Jihadists by allowing the so-called 'Al-Quds Day' march through London?"
The march even tried to incite the public against Jews by falsely accusing Zionist people and supporters of Israel for the Grenfell Tower apartment building fire, which left 58 people dead. One speaker was reported saying:
"Many innocents were murdered by Theresa May's cronies – many of which are supporters of Zionist ideologies. Some of the biggest corporations who are supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party."
It was a shock to see people from other faiths joining a rally with these Islamists, and so-called human rights activists who were joining with the members of a terrorist organization, Hezbollah.
At the recent Al Quds Day march in London, it was a shock to see people from other faiths joining a rally with Islamists, and so-called human rights activists who were joining with the members of a terrorist organization, Hezbollah. Pictured: The 2014 Al Quds Day march through central London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
In a separate event in Australia, one television anchorman asked Wassim Doureihi, the local spokesman of an Islamist organization, Hizb ut-Tahrir, to condemn ISIS, but Doureihi simply kept juggling the debate around and avoided condemning the group. He even went on indirectly to endorse ISIS by stating, as Palestinian terrorists do, that organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda consider themselves a "resistance" force:
"Groups like ISIS or al-Qaeda don't exist in vacuum. They exist as a reaction to Western interference in Islamic lands. And they view themselves, rightfully or wrongfully, irrespective of my opinion or otherwise, as a resistance effort to what they regard as an unjust occupation."
Hizb ut-Tahrir is an extremist organization that believes in imposing an Islamist caliphate on the world using all available means. It is declared a terrorist organization by countries such as Germany and Pakistan, but ostensibly in the name of "freedom of expression", allowed to grow across the West.
The same is true for organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, which manage to survive in West despite being loathed by enough Egyptians to have gathered 22 million signatures to overthrow its rule there in 2013.
The demand to end support for the Muslim Brotherhood is also the issue at the heart of current standoff between Qatar and many other Middle Eastern states known as the "Saudi coalition," presumably for its potential of overthrowing their governments.
It is in the atmosphere of this openly-stated wish for global political hegemony that Islamic hardliners successfully operate and indoctrinate local Muslim youths to further anti-democratic agendas.
The world cannot win this war by trying to catch only the minnows. As we have seen, if government agencies try to stop terrorists from bombing, they pick up machetes and knives or plow down the public with vehicles.
The terrorists are already doing their job by striking the fear in civilians. They appear determined first to establish their dominance in the minds of people through terror, probably in the hope that the public, scared and tired, will, as the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told the psychologist James Mitchell, "eventually expose her neck for us to slaughter"
The free world, if it would like to win this war, will first have to give up its duplicity. It will have to target the nurseries of terror indoctrination without cherry-picking and keeping its favorites. If it does not, global security organizations will find themselves exhausted running after individual suspects, but each time looking just at the "minnows", never the pond they swim in.
*Khadija Khan is a Pakistani journalist and commentator, currently based in Germany.
© 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.

Trump Must Stop North Korea from Striking American Soil
by John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/August 21/17
Yet another tumultuous week in domestic affairs, starting with the Charlottesville tragedy and ending with Steve Bannon departing the Trump White House, drove the continuing threats of international terrorism and nuclear proliferation off America's front pages. The media's vicissitudes may be inevitable, but they constantly produce "surprising" strategic developments that were both predictable and long in the making.
In that vein, one of the Trump administration's principal legacies could well be that North Korea (and Iran) became full-fledged nuclear-weapons states on its watch. If so, the risks of radical Islamic terrorism will also increase correspondingly. Certainly, President Trump's predecessors made critical blunders in counterproliferation policy, thereby laying the foundation for this potentially massive failure. But historical blame rests inevitably with the administration that missed the last clear chance to prevent it.
The mortal risk that terrorists will acquire nuclear (or chemical and biological) weapons is all too clear. ISIS claimed responsibility for Thursday's deadly terrorist attack in Barcelona, which now appears part of a larger, more complex effort, foiled in part by Spanish authorities. Friday's terrorist knifings in Finland added to the grim news. Imagine these or other terrorist attacks that deployed weapons of mass destruction.
Ironically, North Korea warranted media attention last week only because of Bannon's remark, in an interview just before he left government, that no real military option exists against Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities. The media, however, largely bungled the significance of his comments, determined instead to prove broader intra-administration disagreements on national-security policy. Unfortunately, whatever the internal dynamics, President Trump's nuclear-proliferation advisers appear far closer to Barack Obama's views than anyone would have predicted.
The press quickly contrasted Bannon's "dovish" remark that "there's no military solution here" with Secretary of Defense James Mattis's "hard line." But note carefully what Mattis actually said last week: "There are strong military consequences if the DPRK initiates hostilities." That statement is not "hard line." It simply expresses what nearly every American believes: If we are attacked, we will retaliate, presumably with devastating force. I don't understand Bannon to be anywhere close to opposing retaliation if North Korea were to obliterate New York.
Paradoxically, on Iran, press reports portray Bannon as nearly alone among Trump's senior advisors in advocating U.S. abrogation of Obama's disastrous nuclear deal. Whether Trump now pursues his personal inclinations to withdraw, repeatedly expressed publicly, or whether he will be smothered a third time by internal administration advocates of the deal, remains to be seen.
Mattis's statement is consistent with what he and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrote in a Wall Street Journal column last week: They want to eliminate the North's nuclear and missile programs through "carrots and sticks" diplomacy, and they ask North Korea to seek "international acceptance," an approach that has repeatedly failed for 25 years.
Instead, U.S. policy on North Korea and Iran should turn on one central point: Will America and its allies be safe employing Cold War-style policies of containment and deterrence, or are we safe only if rogue states's nuclear and missile capabilities are eliminated?
The Trump administration is now the fourth in a row whose stated objective is the latter, but its policies are indistinguishable from its three predecessors, the failure of which have brought us to the current crisis. Maintaining these policies will enable Pyongyang to continue building an extensive nuclear and ballistic-missile arsenal. History will record today's events as the "First North Korean Nuclear Crisis," soon followed by the "Second North Korean Nuclear Crisis," and so on into the indefinite future.
Even as the authors of prior administrations's failed efforts are forced to confess their failure, they blithely propose instead, as Obama adviser Susan Rice recently did, that we "tolerate" a North Korean nuclear-weapons capability. And surely, that is where we will finish if we fall for dangerously facile Cold War analogies. A series of nuclear standoffs with the likes of North Korea and Iran, whose cost-benefit analyses in no way resemble Moscow's back in those good-old Cold War days, is hardly a scenario we should wittingly embrace.
The preferred outcome is resolving the threat by eliminating its source, namely North Korea's regime, preferably by reuniting the two Koreas under the South's model, or failing that, by a coup replacing as much of the current leadership as possible. North Korea is manifestly more than a Northeast Asia problem. Kim Jong Un would unhesitatingly sell any technology it possessed, including nuclear, to anyone with hard currency. Iran is one such potential customer. Terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, befriended by wealthy governments or individuals, could also be buyers.
Accordingly, if the regime-change options fail, then a preemptive military strike to eliminate the North Korean and Iranian programs may well be the only way to avoid decades of nuclear blackmail by Pyongyang, Tehran and inevitably others, including the terrorist groups who might acquire weapons of mass destruction. Israel has twice before reached this conclusion, in 1981 against Iraq and in 2007 against Syria. It was not wrong to do so.
The terrorist and weapons-of-mass-destruction threats are converging. Fortunately, no terrorists have yet laid hands on these assets (that we know of), but the complexity of terrorist attacks, as Barcelona demonstrates, may again be on the increase. Short media attention spans may be a contemporary inevitability, but the disease should not spread to U.S. national-security decision makers. President Trump's unwavering objective should be to stop the birth of two new nuclear-weapons states. If he fails, we are all at risk.
**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 Hill 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.

Palestinians: When Suicide Attacks Are Bad
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/August 21/17
The emergence of ISIS-inspired groups in the Gaza Strip has long been an open known secret. This is the inconvenient truth that Hamas has been working hard to conceal for the past few years.
Obstinately holding on to an imaginary dream, some political analysts and journalists have misinterpreted the Hamas document as a sign of "moderation" and "pragmatism," and argued falsely that the Islamist movement is ready to join a peace process with Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar could not be clearer on this point.
Hamas, as we all know, is hardly opposed to suicide bombings. Yet when the boomerang returns, suddenly the attacks become "cowardly terror" actions perpetrated by "outlaws" and "intellectually and religiously and morally deviant" terrorists. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and ISIS may disagree on many issues, but targeting Jews and "infidels" is not one of them. On that point, they are in savage agreement.
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas is finally getting a dose of its own medicine -- in the form of a suicide bombing targeting its members in the Gaza Strip. During the past two decades, Hamas was responsible for dozens of suicide attacks that maimed and killed hundreds of Israelis, particularly during the Second Intifada between 2000 and 2006. Hamas is famous for its suicide attacks and hails the perpetrators as "heroes" and "martyrs."
For Hamas, suicide bombings are a noble deed when they are carried out by its members and the victims are Jews.
In their own words, Hamas leaders and spokesmen continue to defend their suicide attacks against Israel as a "legitimate tool of resistance" against Israel.
Hamas is famous for its suicide attacks and hails the perpetrators as "heroes" and "martyrs." Pictured: Masked Palestinian members of Hamas dress as suicide bombers during an anti-Israel rally on June 4, 2004 at the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Ahmad Khateib/Getty Images)
Recent events, however, may have left a bad taste for suicide attacks in Hamas's mouth.
On August 17, Nidal Al-Ja'fari, a member of Hamas's military wing, Ezaddin Al-Kassam, was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The suicide bomber was identified as Mustafa Kallab, a member of a jihadi group that is affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.
According to Hamas, Kallab detonated the explosive belt he was wearing as he and another jihadi tried to cross from the Gaza Strip into Egypt. The slain Hamas security officer, Al-Ja'fari, was among a border security patrol that intercepted the jihadis and attempted to stop them from infiltrating into Egypt. It was the first time a suicide bomber had ever targeted Hamas members.
Eyad Al-Bazm, a spokesman for Hamas, said the incident took place early August 17, when a Hamas unit noticed two suspects who were trying to cross the border from the Gaza Strip into the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. When the Hamas soldiers approached the suspects, Kallab detonated an explosive belt wrapped around his body, killing Al-Ja'fari.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, things look a bit different. The Islamist movement, which is not used to being targeted by suicide bombers, has employed powerful rhetoric to condemn the terror attack and those behind it. This is the same Hamas that is used to applauding and glorifying suicide bombings and other terror attacks against Israel.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denounced the suicide bomber as an "outlaw" and said that his movement will deal with force and firmness against "those who deviate from the values and traditions of the Palestinian people." Other Hamas leaders have described the suicide bomber as an "ideological deviant."
Interestingly, several Palestinian factions, which regularly applaud stabbing and car-ramming attacks, as well suicide bombings, are now calling the August 17 attack along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt a "cowardly terror attack."
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack that killed the Hamas officer. But this statement has not stopped the Palestinian manipulation machines from pointing a finger at Israel -- completely without evidence.
This false accusation is an excellent example of the Palestinian modus operandi -- at all cost, divert attention from a disturbing truth.
In this case, Hamas is diverting attention from the fact that ISIS jihadis have long been operating under its rule in the Gaza Strip.
Actually, many of the ISIS jihadis are former members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The emergence of ISIS-inspired groups in the Gaza Strip has long been an open secret. This is the inconvenient truth that Hamas has been working hard to conceal for the past few years.
Understandably, the presence of ISIS individuals and groups in the Gaza Strip is discomfiting for Hamas, especially in wake of its continued effort to win legitimacy and recognition by the international community. In the past few months, Hamas has been attempting to project itself as a "moderate" movement that accepts the two-state solution.
To back its claim, Hamas recently published a "policy document" that states that the movement would be prepared to accept a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines. What it refrains from mentioning, however, is that this acceptance would in no way include an acceptance of Israel's right to exist.
In other words, Hamas is saying that it will use a future Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem as a launching pad to destroy Israel.
Obstinately holding on to an imaginary dream, some political analysts and journalists have misinterpreted the Hamas document as a sign of "moderation" and "pragmatism," and argued falsely that the Islamist movement is ready to join a peace process with Israel.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar could not be clearer on this point -- he has repeatedly denied the claim that his movement has abandoned its ideology and dream to destroy Israel, explaining that the real goal remains to "liberate all of Palestine, from the (Mediterranean) sea to the (Jordan) river."
Timing is everything -- and the timing of the August 17 suicide attack is particularly bad for Hamas. Hamas has been working overtime to improve its relations with Egypt in light of reports that jihadis from the Gaza Strip have been infiltrating Sinai to carry out attacks against the Egyptian army.
Now, the truth is out: this suicide attack demonstrates rather convincingly that the Egyptian charges are not unfounded.
Kallab was among a group of jihadis that was on its way to join ISIS and other Islamist terror groups in Sinai that have been waging a wave of terror attacks against the Egyptian army in the past few years. It is worth noting that Hamas has always denied the presence of ISIS in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has also denied that jihadis from the Gaza Strip were involved in terror attacks in Sinai. It now remains to be seen how the Egyptians will respond to the Hamas lies. The unprecedented suicide attack, which caught Hamas by surprise, showcases the Gaza Strip for what it is: a breeding ground for jihadis and other Islamist terrorists. And, Hamas's denunciation of the jihadis as "ideologically and religiously and morally deviants", is beyond the bounds of irony.
On the other hand, Hamas may use the suicide bombing to try and persuade the Egyptians that it is serious in its effort to stop terrorists from crossing from the Gaza Strip into Egypt.
Hamas and the ISIS-inspired groups and individuals in the Gaza Strip are birds of a feather. Each and every one promotes and preaches extremist Islamist teachings.
Kallab and the ISIS jihadis in the Gaza Strip are sons of the Hamas school that has poisoned the hearts and minds of many Palestinians.
Hamas, as we all know, is hardly opposed to suicide bombings. Yet when the boomerang returns, suddenly the attacks become "cowardly terror" actions perpetrated by "outlaws" and "intellectually and religiously and morally deviant" terrorists.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and ISIS may disagree on many issues, but targeting Jews and "infidels" is not one of them. On that point, they are in savage agreement.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
**Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Sabotaging this year’s Hajj: Tehran and ‘a few’ in Doha
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 21 /17
The season of Hajj pilgrimage is about to commence. Upon its approach, attempts are being made to spread disinformation and lies. Earlier, such mischief was done by people associated with Khomeini. The principal method used was by conducting a heretic ceremony they named “The Repudiation of the Polytheists,” which Khomeini and his cohorts had devised to launch propaganda campaigns in support of the Iranian regime. What is new this time is the introduction of Qatari policies in the mix. Here, I am not suggesting the involvement of the Qatari state or its people. If attempts to politicize Hajj might be perceived to benefit Qatar, it might be equally tempting for Iran which has a far larger population and is more mobilized than before! The pilgrimage season has been politically targeted ever since Khomeini came to power in Iran in 1979. Khomeini, the Brotherhood and Muammar Qaddafi were all upset that the Two Holy Mosques and the Hajj and Umrah were, as they still continue to be, under the care and custodianship of Saudi Arabia. This is why those associated with Khomeini and those who currently seek to imitate them from among Qatar’s politicians try to cast doubts about the convening of the Hajj and Umrah in Mecca and Medina. This is nothing new and is part of a carefully orchestrated plan.
Khomeini’s Ruse
Nabil Khalife, a Christian Lebanese researcher, has studied these old tricks conceived by Khomeini. In his book Targeting Sunnis, he provides the following insights into Khomeini’s policy: “Since it is a geo-demographic minority in the Islamic world, it (Iran under Khomeini) depended on a cynical strategy and propaganda to consecrate its existence, efficiency and credibility as a radical Islamic movement confronting the traditional Sunni persuasion.” According to Khalife, the policy exploited the Hajj pilgrimage to undermine the Saudi leadership, for instance through the 1987 Mecca incident. It exploited the Palestinian struggle, a purely Islamic cause, to help Shiites rise up with Hezbollah and raised the slogan of Jerusalem against Mecca. Khalife’s views are significant. He has a PhD from Sorbonne in Arab Islamic civilization, and he has been assistant editor-in-chief of al-Mostaqbal magazine and was in charge of the Arab Center for International Studies. He was a broadcaster in Radio Monte Carlo when Khomeini was exiled to Paris and was living in Neauphle-le-Château. At the time, he wrote an early study about Khomeini when the revolutionary Shiite cleric’s charisma was a “global rage.”The study was entitled: “Imam Khomeini’s revolution in the light of Iran’s modern history and Islam’s political philosophy.” It was published in the ‘Future Magazine’ on March 17, 1979. The study made Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal curious and according to Doctor Nabil Khoury, he asked Shokri Nasrallah, a journalist from the ‘Future Magazine’ for copies of the edition. It seems however that the study did not change any of Heikal’s illusions about Khomeini’s republic. In the end, bidders have come and gone but Mecca and Medina have remained in the care and custodianship of Saudi Arabia.

Enhancing rational position against sectarian discourse
Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/August 21 /17
Saudi diplomatic activity in Lebanon, based on dialogue and building bridges with various symbols and sections of society, continued through the visits of the Charge d’ Affaires of the Saudi Embassy in Beirut, Walid Bin Abdullah Al-Bukhari, who met with the President of the Supreme Shiite Islamic Council Sheikh Abdul Amir Qablan. Bukhari supported the stand of Qablan on “Arab and Islamic unity, and to strive for all what is good for the people.” After his visit, Bukhari visited the home of late Hani Fahs, praising his role as “one of the pillars of moderation, religious tolerance and enlightened thought in Lebanon and the region, and that his death was a great loss for this approach which we are in real need of today.” These activities, based on the promotion of cultural interrelationship, did not start today, but are part of the diplomacy of the Saudi Embassy in Beirut through a series of visits and seminars in a country that represents an important source of thought and writing in the Arab world.On April 13, 1975, the Saudi Embassy held a cultural symposium entitled ‘Imam al-Sadr’s approach and moderation’. The event highlighted the thoughts and personal positions that believed in equality between human beings, and that the country should embrace all its people.It is not easy to make a political action plan that relies on “soft” power as this force needs great skill and deep cultural and social understanding
Opposition to civil war
Sadr was opposed to ‘civil war’ and sought openness for all religions in Lebanon and the Arab world, to establish political and cultural understandings that would serve as a safety net against crises and wars, thus creating an environment in which people would live in dignity and pride. In 1974, Imam Musa al-Sadr visited Saudi Arabia and met with the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz. Moreover, Sadr has had personal relations since the early 1970s with the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, when he was Emir, where they were brought together on many special occasions and meetings. Recalling the memory of the relationship between Sadr and Saudi Arabia at this time, following the visit of Moqtada al-Sadr to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is of special importance, as it strengthens the rational position against the sectarian discourse.Building on this memory, and the Sadr family’s religious and philosophical presence in the Gulf, will provide the momentum for positive relations, with moderate approaches that support the stability and security of the region.
Diplomacy based on ‘soft power’
Culture, dialogue and communication are effective and constructive Saudi diplomacy tools. These tools are capable of building bridges and establishing dialogue as a true solution for the crisis that prevails in the region today. Diplomacy has its “soft” tools, which some may underestimate, despise or consider insignificant, forgetting that the concept of international relations is basically based on communication, negotiation, reaching compromises and understandings, and creating common grounds. It is not easy to make a political action plan that relies on “soft” power as this force needs great skill and deep cultural and social understanding. It also needs expert implementers, who can understand the contradictions that prevail in society, and who can face and overcome the difficult situations with ease.