August 23/17

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 22-23/17
Bashir Gemayel is A Dream That Will Never Die/Elias Bejjani/August 23/17
No more trust in Hariri Or Geagea/Elias Bejjani/August 21/17
Supporting the Army is totally inconsistent with supporting the supreme terrorist organisation: Hezbollah/Roger Bejjani/Face Book/August 22/17
The Body of the Martyr is a Living Eucharist/Fr Georges Massouh/August 22/17
Comments on Trump's strategy on Afghanistan/Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/August 22/17
Trump’s Afghanistan plan: Support is ‘not a blank check’/Matthew Kazin/Fox News/August 21/17
Russia’s Election Meddling Backfired/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/August 22/17
Spain: Barcelona Attack Was Preventable/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 22/17
Vision behind the Global Commission on the Future of Work/Ameenah Gurib-Fakim/President of MauritiusStefan Löfven/Prime Minister of Sweden/August 22/17
Trump and the GOP Need a Restart/Hugh Hewitt/The Washington Post/August 22/17
Gulf IPO pipeline making the right headlines/Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/August 22/17
Qatar and the black list of agents and conspirators/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/August 22/17
Immoral amendments of Iraq’s amnesty law/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/August 22/17
A freewheeling conversation over coffee addiction/Mahmoud Ahmad/Al Arabiya/August 22/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 22-23/17
Bashir Gemayel is A Dream That Will Never Die
No more trust in Hariri Or Geagea
Supporting the Army is totally inconsistent with supporting the supreme terrorist organisation: Hezbollah
The Body of the Martyr is a Living Eucharist
General Qanso: No information about military hostages
Emirates denies one of its planes has been targeted with a bomb
Iran Assistant FM: We are Committed to Consolidating Ties with Lebanon
Lebanon: Ceasefire Agreements Stumbling in Ain al-Hilweh
IS 'Emir' Seeks Exit to Deir Ezzor as Ibrahim Asks for Info on Held Troops
Army Liberates 100 Out of 120 Sq Kms as IS Explosives Kill Soldier
ISG Urges 'Continued Int'l Support to Further Strengthen LAF Capabilities'
Harb from Parliament: Not calling for by elections is constitutional violation
Change and Reform bloc calls to celebrate army victory
Hariri, Ansari discuss bilateral ties
Youssef Saadeh visits Meerab
Ain el-Hilweh Rocked by Fierce Clashes for Sixth Day

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 22-23/17
Trump Backs Off Afghan Withdrawal, Lambasts Pakistan
Iran Threatens to Return to High Enrichment if U.S. Quits Nuclear Deal
UN: Iraq must do more for ISIS sex abuse victims
Bahrain accuses Qatar of plot to topple regime with ‘Academy of Destruction’
US Secretary of Defense in Surprise Iraq Visit to Discuss ISIS Fight
Syria Peace Talks in Astana Postponed to September
Washington Monitors 10,000 Qaeda Militants in Idlib
Lavrov: ‘Idlib Complications Delay Astana Talks, Calls with Riyadh to Form Unified Opposition Delegation’
Riyadh Pays 4 Months of Financial Aid to Palestinian Authority Budget
Abbas: Trump’s Administration is in Chaos
Bahrain King: Our Support to Yemen’s Legitimacy Will not End
Asharq Al-Awsat Reveals Latest Details of Qatari Pilgrims Crisis

Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 22-23/17
Bashir Gemayel is A Dream That Will Never Die

Elias Bejjani/August 23/17
It is a historical fact that patriotic, national, religious causes cannot be killed by assassinating their founders or those who lobby for them. In fact, the contrary usually happens.
History shows that major worldwide religions spread after the departure of their founding leaders. Christianity, for example, spread all over the world after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The Pharisees crucified Jesus, believing his death would put an end to his new religion. They were disappointed, and Christianity became the number one religion in the whole world. Luke 12:4 in the Holy Bible reads, “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body and can do nothing more.”
On August 23/1982, following in the steps of the Pharisees, Lebanon’s collaborators joined by some regional tyrants deluded themselves into believing that assassinating President-elect Sheik Bashir Gemayel, would also kill the Lebanese cause. They thought killing Bashir would destroy Lebanon’s history and identity, and sever the Lebanese from their roots.
What happened 2000 years ago, happened again in a way. History repeated itself and the contemporary Pharisees were no more lucky than the Pharisees of the Christ era.
Today the Lebanese cause is known worldwide and every day more Lebanese everywhere are committing themselves to it in spite of the hardships and difficulties.
On the annual anniversary of Bachir’s election as Lebanon’s president on August 23/1982, we renew our vows and declare again our commitment to Bashir’s cause and dream, to our national Lebanese identity, to liberation, to basic dignity and to holy resistance against the occupation.
Bashir’s cause is not dead. It cannot die, will never die as long as one Lebanese remains committed to Bashir’s patriotic beliefs and loyalty to Lebanon, to 7000 years of history and civilization … Lebanon the 10452 km2.
Bashir’s national dream for Lebanon is not dead, for no criminal can kill dreams about freedom. Dreams are acts of intellectual imaging and portrayal of aspirations, objectives and hopes that people endeavour to fulfill in reality. Bashir’s dream is alive in the hearts and spirits of every patriotic Lebanese all over the world.
Our deep-rooted Lebanese identity is unique.
It was carved by our faithful ancestors in Lebanon’s mighty mountains and planted with sweat and blood in its holy soil throughout six thousand years of heroism and sacrifices. Generation after generation, Lebanese have built Lebanon and made it into a fort and oasis for freedom, and an asylum for the persecuted…. Lebanon may not be a big country, but it is big in deeds.
For 7000 years Lebanon was successful in surviving with dignity, through hundreds of invaders, tyrants and conquerors…all were forced to depart defamed and in humiliation, defamed.
Bashir gave our identity worldwide dimension and made it a cause and purpose for each and every Lebanese.
Lebanon’s liberation is the aim of every patriotic Lebanese.
Virtues of dignity and resistance are known characteristics for Lebanon and its people.
They are deeply rooted in Lebanon’s holy soil and in the Lebanese minds, spirits and conscience, as well as in their noble conduct and faith.
Bashir portrayed and personified wisdom, patriotic conduct, courage, national devotion and leadership traits, all the distinctive Lebanese virtues.
He carried the liberation torch, and never abandoned the Lebanese cause, and became its martyr.
Bashir Gemayel scared those who feared truth, justice and sainthood.
He frightened collaborators, traitors and those who never believed in Lebanon’s history and identity.
Bashir was a nightmare for all Lebanon’s enemies when he was alive, and still is years after his assassination.
Sheik Bashir, Sheik Bashir, 35 years after your departure, you are still in our conscience and hearts.
Your dream is still our dream, and we are still fighting for the same cause.
Lebanon is still occupied and the 10452 km2 are not yet liberated. But in spite of all hardships and difficulties, the torch that you carried is still held high, and the battle rages.
By God’s will, the fight will not cease before the complete liberation of our Lebanon, the Lebanon that you loved, cherished and worshipped.
Bashir, Bashir, you are alive. When the Pharisee’s murdered you, only your flesh passed away. And in that moment your sanctified image was burned forever into the hearts of your people.
Your heroism was sealed.
Bashir, you speak to the conscience of every Lebanese who believes in Lebanon and its people. You live on in us, and in our blessed heritage.
Long Live Free Lebanon.
*This article was first published in year 2000. This above copy is slightly modified

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

Supporting the Army is totally inconsistent with supporting the supreme terrorist organisation: Hezbollah
Roger Bejjani/Face Book/August 22/17
The Lebanese Army has proved that it is by far the mightiest military force in the country and above all, together with the ISF, Amn el 3am and the other official security forces, the ONLY NATIONAL UNITING force the smashing majority of Lebanese trust in terms of security and defence.
Unfortunately, the resident of Baabda, against all odds, still thinks together with the morAouns, that we do need a fundamentalist Iranian sponsored organisation labelled as terrorist by over 180 countries to defend us!
Resolution 1559 should be implemented and Hezbollah boycotted nationwide until it dissolves is military apparatus
Supporting the Army is totally inconsistent with supporting the supreme terrorist organisation: Hezbollah. The morAouns should make up their mind.
What I liked while observing the Army throughout the "dawn of hills" campaign, contrary to previous events:
1. The Army's press conferences were professional, pragmatic and non emotional.
2. The soldiers did not raise the portrait of the Army's commander or the portrait of the President like third world countries' armies would do. They only raised the pictures of their brothers in arms who fell against the thugs of Daesh.
3. I have not seen any video showing soldiers shooting in the air celebrating victory and I hope that this will not happen. it happened back in 2014.
4. Raising the Spanish flag was a very smart and meaningful stunt.
The whole process and actions looked from the outset very professional and dignified away from folkloric usual acts.
Finally, a big salute to the inhabitants of Kaa; especially to the women who mobilized and have provided good food to our soldiers.

The Body of the Martyr is a Living Eucharist
Fr Georges Massouh/August 18/17
After years of work, Dr Elias Rachid Khalil and a team of researchers have published, at the initiative of Association of Alumni of Maronite Seminaries in Lebanon, an Encyclopedia of the Martyrs of the Churches in Asia Minor, the Middle East and North Africa (one volume, 1072pp.). This scholarly encyclopedia, which received the blessings of the heads of the Orthodox and Catholic churches in the Middle East, is distinguished by something new in the history of the Church, which is that it has brought together the lives of the saints who are celebrated in each of the churches. As for the importance of this encyclopedia, the letter from His Beatitude Patriarch John X at the beginning of the book says it best: "We find in this new work a fundamental step towards greater acquaintance with our shared Middle Eastern heritage, a reminder of the history of the Church militant in our country and a confirmation of our united witness in this stormy time."
Below are selections from my study "The Body of the Martyr is a Living Eucharist: The Witness of the Rum of Antioch" published in the encyclopedia.
The history of the Church celebrates the accounts of the holy martyrs who did not fear death but faced their tormentors with resolve and courage beyond description and did not flinch from declaring their firmness in faith in the Lord Jesus as Lord, God, Redeemer and Savior. The causes of their martyrdoms varies across circumstances, contexts, eras, regions and states. The first of them, Saint Stephen (cf. Acts 7), was killed by the Jews. Some were victims of the pagan Roman emperors, some were martyred under the Islamic caliphate, some were martyred in our present era under states based on the principle of "secularism", and some met their fate at the hands of other Christians who regarded them as heretics who must be punished with death.
Archimandrite Touma Bitar, who has the distinction of having published the Orthodox Synaxarion in Arabic, states that, "The first of those to forge the path to being honored in worship were the martyrs. The faithful honored them in the places where they had been tormented or were martyred and buried. Their remains were kept with care as the most precious treasures, not necessarily because they had miraculous effects, but because they had fought the good fight, completed their struggle and kept the faith (cf. 2 Timothy 4:7). They offered their bodies as a holy living sacrifice pleasing to God (cf. Romans 12:1). They imitated the Lord's death (cf. Philippians 3:10). They bore the marks of the Lord Jesus on their bodies (Galatians 6:17). They are those who no longer live, but Christ lives in them (cf. Galatians 2:20).
It goes without saying that honoring the martyrs began at an early phase of the Church's history. In the account of the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (d. 158), the author mentions the Christians' celebrating the first commemoration of his martyrdom. One of the witnesses recounts that Polycarp's killers refused to hand his body over to the Christians for burial and then burned it. But those who loved him collected his bones, which for them were "more precious than gold and silver." From this arose the holy tradition that continues to this day which requires churches to be built over the graves of martyrs or the placing of pieces of their relics in them. The Council of Carthage (397) ordered the destruction of churches that were not constructed over the graves of true martyrs, while the canon seven of the Seventh Ecumenical Council says, "Let the remains of holy martyrs be placed in the churches that were built without them and let him who consecrates a church without any remains of martyrs be deposed for his violating the traditions of the Church."
It is possible for us to say, then, that in Christianity, it is the martyr who celebrates the liturgy, offering his body as a living Eucharist in place of bread and wine. His body is transformed into the body of Christ. His body is transformed into the "Church" in every sense of this word. Did not the Holy Apostle Paul liken the Church to the "body of Christ"? Therefore we honor his relics because they have become a holy Eucharist. In the life of Saint Eubulus (d. 204), it confirms this prevailing belief, as the saint cries out in the face of his tormentor who asks him to offer sacrifices so that he could pardon him and he could stay alive, "Yes, I will offer a sacrifice. But I will offer myself up before Christ God and I do not have anything else to offer."
In this context, Metropolitan Georges Khodr says, "The early Christians performed the sacrifice over the bodies of martyrs because the martyrs are alive and the liturgy is new life... All this means that the martyr or the saint is alive with his Lord and contributes to giving us life." But with the spread of churches and the lack of relics of martyrs, the Church deemed it proper that "the remains of the saints and martyrs be places in the foundations of a new church and likewise the altar. There we make a small hole where we place these remains during the consecration of the church and then we cover the altar with a covering." Metropolitan Khodr closes his discussion of this topic by stating that "the relics of the saints are not merely bones. They are the body of someone in whom holiness has dwelt, the body of someone longing for the resurrection."
As for the necessary conditions for declaring the sainthood of a believer who is witnessed to be upright, it is not a matter of a formal decision being taken by the Orthodox Church after a process of investigations, examinations and interrogations. Rather, each local church may declare the "sainthood" or "glorification" of a new saint. This is because honoring the saints begins with the people who call upon them, honor them, and visit their tombs. Then the spiritual leadership recognizes the truth of this popular movement and declares the sainthood of the person in question. It is worth mentioning that the Orthodox Church does not require miracles as a measure of sainthood, but rather two things must be determined, as Metropolitan Georges Khodr says:
1) The one whose beatification is sought must be of upright belief if he wrote anything. Someone whose beliefs deviate cannot be declared a saint even if, according to his outward behavior, he was a good person.
2) He must have great virtues and have no crime attributed to him.
When talking about Christian witness, we must recall the centrality of the cross in spurring Christians to bear witness to the truth and to keep themselves from bearing false witness. The cross is the essence and epitome of Christ's teachings. Christian behavior cannot be sound without accepting the cross as the sole standard for life in the world and the sole path to the perfection to which are called those who believe in the crucified and risen one. Therefore, the cross is not merely a banner that we raise here and there. It is a way of life and an imitation of the life of Christ the Lord from its alpha to its omega.

General Qanso: No information about military hostages

Tue 22 Aug 2017/NNA - Director of the Lebanese army's Guidance Director, General Ali Qanso, on Tuesday indicated that there was no information about the soldiers kidnapped by Daesh. "We have no detainees or hostages from Daesh, and we there are no information till now about the military hostages," General Qanso told a press conference devoted to tackle the military operations on the outskirts of Ras Baalback and al-Qaa. "All terrorists' posts have been demolished and other [terrorists] have fled," he said. "Nine posts have been destroyed, and weapons, munitions, and explosives have been seized," he added. "We took over nearly 20 km2, and we still have another 20," he continued. "Our units are getting ready to carry on the operation, while taking into consideration the international humanitarian law," he stressed. General Qanso also indicated that an explosive devise had detonated, leaving one martyr and four injured.

Emirates denies one of its planes has been targeted with a bomb
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishTuesday, 22 August 2017/A spokesman for Emirates Airlines said that the national carrier has strongly denied reports that one of its planes had been targeted for bombing on Monday, confirming that the news was baseless to local newspaper Emarat Alyoum. Lebanese Interior Minister Nuhad al-Mashnouk revealed the involvement of four Lebanese in an attempt to blow up an American passenger plane on its way from Australia to Abu Dhabi. Mashnouk said in a press conference on Monday that the thwarted attack was coordinated by the Information Division of the Department of Homeland Security and Australian authorities

Iran Assistant FM: We are Committed to Consolidating Ties with Lebanon
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/Beirut – Iran’s assistant Foreign Minister for Arab and African affairs Hussein Jaber Ansari reiterated his country’s determination to “consolidate and strengthen bilateral relations and constructive cooperation with Lebanon in various fields,” praising the country’s stance against terrorism. On Monday, Ansari began an official visit to Lebanon by meeting with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblat. During his talks with Aoun at the Baabda presidential palace, in the presence of Iran’s Ambassador to Beirut Mohamed Fath Ali and members of the accompanying delegation, Ansari welcomed Lebanon’s efforts to reach peaceful solutions that would restore security and stability to war-shaken Arab countries. He underlined in this regard the importance of dialogue and negotiations in Astana to end the crisis in Syria. The Lebanese president told the Iranian official that Beirut’s position was steadfast in terms of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, highlighting national support for the army in its war against terrorism. Aoun commended bilateral relations between his country and Iran, stressing the importance of strengthening them in all fields. He also conveyed his greetings to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and promised to accept the official invitation to visit Tehran.The Iranian official delivered to Aoun Rouhani’s greetings and his keenness to develop bilateral cooperation in various economic and trade fields. He also congratulated him on the success of the Lebanese army in expelling armed militants from the eastern borders. In a separate meeting, Ansari discussed with Berri latest developments in Lebanon and the region. “Two main tasks were entrusted to the Iranian foreign ministry by President Rouhani for the next stage: the first and fundamental task is to expand relations with Arab countries, and the second is to strengthen economic relations with the countries of the region,” Ansari stated.

Lebanon: Ceasefire Agreements Stumbling in Ain al-Hilweh
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/Beirut– Successive ceasefire agreements in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon since last Thursday have failed to restore security in the area. The latest agreement was reached on Monday afternoon through a decision by the Palestinian political leadership, which includes representatives of the most prominent factions, however, residents of Ain al-Hilweh are still uncertain of the current situation and expect new rounds of fighting to erupt at any time between extremist militias and members of Fatah movement. Clashes were renewed on Monday morning, resulting in the injury of three people and raising the toll of fighting that broke out last week to four dead and 16 wounded. Sources in Fatah movement suggested that the latest ceasefire agreement would be “more stable than the previous arrangements”, since extremist groups have put pressure on the Islamic forces, especially on “Esbat al-Ansar” and “the Islamic militant movement” to reach a new agreement that would end the fighting, after receiving strong blows among their militias and hence need to rearrange their ranks. Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported that a high state of tension dominated the Palestinian refugee camp on Monday night. It noted that clashes that took place Monday between the Palestinian joint force and Fatah Movement on one hand and the other two groups – Bader and Arkoub – caused more than nine injuries, in addition to material damage. The NNA also said that a meeting was scheduled to take place on Tuesday at the Palestinian Embassy in an attempt to enforce a ceasefire and restore calm across the camp.

IS 'Emir' Seeks Exit to Deir Ezzor as Ibrahim Asks for Info on Held Troops

Naharnet/August 22/17/The so-called emir of the Islamic State group in Lebanon’s eastern border region, Mouwaffaq Abu al-Sous, is seeking a mediation that would secure the withdrawal of his embattled militants from the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa to Syria's Deir Ezzor, a media report said on Tuesday. Al-Akhbar newspaper said that since the Lebanese army started its major anti-IS offensive on Saturday, the besieged jihadist “has been requesting negotiations on daily basis,” telling the Lebanese side, “There is no problem between us and the Lebanese army.” Abu al-Sous is demanding “a safe route to withdraw to Deir Ezzor, specifically to the city of al-Mayadeen,” al-Akhbar added. “But the Lebanese side, represented by General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, has rejected the demand, after Abu al-Sous insisted on securing a ceasefire before negotiations, whereas Ibrahim insisted on negotiations under fire,” the daily said. According to al-Akhbar, Ibrahim also underlined that Lebanon would only negotiate on two points: “offering information on the army's troops who have been kidnapped since August 2014, and surrender.”
The IS “emir” for his part said that he “would not disclose any information about the captives before leaving Lebanese territory.” The military began its operation in the border region early on Saturday, and has already recaptured more than two thirds of territory in the area. Security along Lebanon's eastern border with Syria has long been a concern, and in 2014 jihadists invaded the town of Arsal and kidnapped 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen. Four were executed by their captors while a fifth died of his wounds. Sixteen were released by al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front in a prisoner swap in December 2015, but another nine solders are believed to remain in IS hands, their fate unknown

Army Liberates 100 Out of 120 Sq Kms as IS Explosives Kill Soldier
Associated Press/Naharnet/August 22/17/The Lebanese army announced Tuesday that it has launched the third phase of a broad offensive to capture areas controlled by the terrorist Islamic State group on the border with Syria.
After fierce clashes, the advancing units managed to seize control of the strategic Ras al-Kaff and al-Kahf areas. And as troops scoured Ras al-Kaff for any remaining militants, the engineering units were detonating explosives and traps left behind by the jihadists. The army later announced that its units captured six new hills in the area and an Army Command spokesman announced that the military was now in control of 100 out of 120 square kilometers of territory previously held by IS. "Nine terrorist posts were destroyed as arms, ammunition and explosives were seized," the spokesman said. "We captured around 20 square kilometers (on Tuesday) and therefore we still have around 20 square kilometers" to liberate, he added. The spokesman also told reporters that the army does not have any IS detainees from the current battle or any new information about nine troops taken hostage by IS in 2014. Earlier in the day, the army said in a statement that one of its mine experts, Abbas Kamal Jaafar, was killed and four others were wounded early Tuesday when explosives left behind by the extremists went off as they dismantled them.The Syrian army and Lebanon's Hizbullah have launched a simultaneous operation to clear IS militants from the Syrian side of the border in the western Qalamun mountain range. Hizbullah has been fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad's forces since 2013.

ISG Urges 'Continued Int'l Support to Further Strengthen LAF Capabilities'

Naharnet/August 22/17/The members of the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon said in a statement Tuesday that they “commend the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in their efforts to combat terrorism and to shield Lebanon’s territorial integrity and security.”Referring to the army's ongoing offensive on the eastern border against the Islamic State group, the ISG members extended “sincere condolences for those servicemen who have lost their lives,” wishing the injured a speedy recovery. “The members of the ISG reiterate their strong and unanimous support to the LAF as the defender of Lebanon,” they said in the statement. They also called for “continued international support to further strengthen the LAF’s capabilities.”The ISG comprises the U.N. and the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the UK and the U.S., together with the EU and the Arab League. It was launched in September 2013 by the U.N. Secretary-General with ex-President Michel Suleiman to help “mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon’s stability” and to “encourage assistance for the Lebanese Army and Syrian refugees in Lebanon and host communities” as well as “government programs and public services impacted by the Syrian crisis.”

Harb from Parliament: Not calling for by elections is constitutional violation
Tue 22 Aug 2017/NNA - MP Boutros Harb on Tuesday indicated that the current government had violated the Constitution when it failed to call for the by-elections, explaining that there were vacant seats before the extension of the Parliament's mandate. In remarks made during the Parliament session, Harb highlighted the necessity to preserve the independence of the judiciary. Moreover, he called for finding radical solutions to the electricity issue and for the establishment of power plants in Lebanon.

Change and Reform bloc calls to celebrate army victory
Tue 22 Aug 2017/NNA - The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday upped calls upon the Lebanese to prepare for a central national celebration to mark the Lebanese army's victory against terrorists on the outskirts of the Anti-Lebanon region. The bloc convened in their weekly meeting today, under the chairmanship of Head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. In a statement issued following the meeting and read out by MP Hikmat Dib, the bloc indicated that Syria was a neighbor and that the bloc had no position against the Syrian state. "What governs the relations between Lebanon and Syria is interest," he stressed. Furthermore, the bloc called to speed up the endorsement of the state budget. Moreover, Dib indicated that the meeting tackled the judicial dossier. "The process of reforming the judiciary is still underway, and nobody will stop it," he underlined.

Hariri, Ansari discuss bilateral ties
Tue 22 Aug 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri welcomed, at the Grand Serail on Tuesday, Iran's Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, Hussein Jaber Ansari, accompanied by Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Fathali. The pair reportedly dwelt on the current situation and latest developments in Lebanon and the broader Middle East region, in addition to the Lebanese-Iranian bilateral ties. "I had the honor to visit Prime Minister Hariri, to whom I confirmed that the Islamic Republic of Iran was determined to entrench the bilateral relations with Lebanon, whether on the political or the economic level," Ansari told reporters following the meeting. "The meeting was also an occasion to discuss the latest political developments, on the regional and international levels, as well as the political dossiers," he said. Moreover, Ansari congratulated the Lebanese government, people, army, and resistance, on the fresh victories scored against terrorists. "We are fully confident that Lebanon will be able to end the terrorist and takfiri perils across the nation," he added. In response to a question, Ansari indicated that talks with the Prime Minister touched on the latest developments in Syria, with both sides agreeing on the necessity to combat terrorism and extremism, and to reach a political solution to the crisis next door. "The Islamic Republic of Iran is still on its position as to providing assistance in reaching a political solution to the Syrian crisis," he stressed.

Youssef Saadeh visits Meerab
Tue 22 Aug 2017/NNA - Former Minister Yousef Saadeh on Tuesday visited Maarab, where he met with the head of the Lebanese Forces (LF) Party, Samir Geagea, with talks reportedly touching on the current political situation, and the course of Marada-LF relationship and its development, as per a statement by Marada Movement.

Ain el-Hilweh Rocked by Fierce Clashes for Sixth Day

Naharnet/August 22/17/Armed clashes intensified Tuesday afternoon in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in the southern city of Sidon, state-run National News Agency reported. According to NNA, the sounds of rocket-propelled grenades and heavy gunfire were echoing across the camp's al-Tiri neighborhood, the bastion of the small Islamist groups led by the militants Bilal Badr and Bilal al-Orqoub. The clashes are pitting the two groups against the secular Fatah Movement and the Joint Palestinian Security Force. “Since the morning hours, the camp had been witnessing intermittent gunfire, while at noon the Fatah Movement scoured areas inside al-Tiri neighborhood after seizing control and hoisting flags on seven houses previously containing militants loyal to Badr and al-Orqoub,” NNA said. “Two houses went up in flames after being targeted by RPGs,” the agency added. It said the heavy fighting is concentrated on the frontiers of al-Tiri, al-Suhoun and the vegetable market and that the sounds of shelling were echoing across the camp. A ceasefire agreement had been reached on Monday evening after a meeting at the house of Usbat al-Ansar official Sheikh Abu Tarek al-Saadi, TV networks said. Several such agreements have so far failed to put an end to the fighting. 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. Several people have been killed and injured in the violence while dozens of families have been forced to flee the camp and seek shelter in the city of Sidon.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 22-23/17
Trump Backs Off Afghan Withdrawal, Lambasts Pakistan
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 22/17/President Donald Trump cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan Monday, backtracking from his promise to rapidly end America's longest war, while pillorying ally Pakistan for offering safe haven to "agents of chaos."In his first formal address to the nation as commander-in-chief, Trump discarded his previous criticism of the 16-year-old war as a waste of time and money, admitting things looked different from "behind the desk in the Oval Office." "My instinct was to pull out," Trump said as he spoke of his frustration with a war that has killed thousands of US troops and cost US taxpayers trillions of dollars.But following months of deliberation, Trump said he had concluded "the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable" leaving a "vacuum" that terrorists "would instantly fill."While Trump refused to offer detailed troop numbers, senior White House officials said he had already authorized his defense secretary to deploy up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan. He warned that the approach would now be more pragmatic than idealistic. Security assistance to Afghanistan was "not a blank check" he said, warning he would not send the military to "construct democracies in faraway lands or create democracies in our own image.""We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists."The U.S. has grown increasingly weary of the conflict that began in October 2001 as a hunt for the 9/11 attackers has turned into a vexed effort to keep Afghanistan's divided and corruption-hindered democracy alive amid a brutal Taliban insurgency.The Islamist group later vowed it would make the country "a graveyard" for the United States and would continue its "jihad" as long as American troops remained in the country. "If America doesn't withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, soon Afghanistan will become another graveyard for this superpower in the 21st century," Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban in Afghanistan, said in a statement. Trump also indicated that single-minded approach would extend to U.S. relations with troubled ally Pakistan, which consecutive U.S. administrations have criticized for links with the Taliban and for harboring leading jihadists -- like Osama bin Laden. "We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting," he said, warning that vital aid could be cut. That will have to change and that will change immediately." Ahead of the speech Pakistan's military brushed off speculation that Trump could signal a stronger line against Islamabad, insisting the country has done all it can to tackle militancy. "Let it come," army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told reporters, referring to Trump's decision. "Even if it comes... Pakistan shall do whatever is best in the national interest."
About face
Trump for the first time also left the door open to an eventual political deal with the Taliban. "Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan," he said. "But nobody knows if or when that will ever happen," he added, before vowing that "America will continue its support for the Afghan government and military as they confront the Taliban in the field."His Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went further, saying the United States would "stand ready to support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban without preconditions."The Trump administration had originally promised a new Afghan plan by mid-July, but Trump was said to be dissatisfied by initial proposals to deploy a few thousand more troops. His new policy will raise questions about what, if anything, can be achieved by making further deployments, or repeating the demands of previous administrations in more forceful terms. In 2010, the United States had upwards of 100,000 U.S. military personnel deployed to Afghanistan. Today that figure is around 8,400 U.S. troops and the situation is as deadly as ever. More than 2,500 Afghan police and troops have been killed already this year.
'Rigorous debate'
Trump's announcement comes amid a month of serious turmoil for his administration, which has seen several top White House officials fired and revelations that members of Trump's campaign are being investigated by a federal grand jury. He sought in his address to convince Americans weary of his controversial off-the-cuff remarks. "I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle," he said, hoping to show he has sufficiently pondered the decision to send more young Americans into mortal danger. One of the main voices arguing for withdrawal, Trump's nationalistic chief strategist Steve Bannon, was removed from his post on Friday. His strategy did however win over national security-focused Republicans with whom he has had strained relations, such as influential Senator John McCain.

Iran Threatens to Return to High Enrichment if U.S. Quits Nuclear Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 22/17/Iran can resume high-level uranium enrichment within five days if the United States tears up the nuclear deal, the head of its Atomic Energy Organization said Tuesday."If we make a determination, at most in five days we can start 20 percent enrichment in Fordo (nuclear plant)," Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview with state broadcaster IRIB. "Of course we would not like such a thing to happen as we made a lot of effort to achieve the JCPOA (nuclear deal)," he added. The 2015 nuclear deal with world powers saw sanctions eased in exchange for curbs to Iran's nuclear program. That included a ban on high-level enrichment of uranium of 20 percent or more -- a process which would take Iran close to the level needed for a nuclear weapon. U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to tear up the nuclear deal during his campaign, and it has come under mounting pressure after Tehran carried out missile tests and Washington imposed new sanctions -- with each accusing the other of violating the spirit of the agreement..

UN: Iraq must do more for ISIS sex abuse victims
AFP, GenevaTuesday, 22 August 2017/Iraq must do more to ensure that thousands of women and girls who survived sexual violence by ISIS militants receive care, protection and justice, the UN said Tuesday. In a fresh report, the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN rights office also warned that the children born as a result of the sexual violence risked facing a lifetime of discrimination and abuse. “The physical, mental and emotional injuries inflicted by (ISIS) are almost beyond comprehension,” UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement. “If victims are to rebuild their lives, and indeed those of their children, they need justice and they need redress,” he insisted.
Horrific abuse
Tuesday’s report pointed to the horrific abuse suffered by women and girls, especially from the Yazidi minority, in ISIS-controlled areas, including rape, abduction, slavery and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. In 2014, ISIS militants massacred Yazidis in Sinjar, forcing tens of thousands of them to flee, and capturing thousands of girls and women as spoils of war to be used as sex slaves. The women were sold and traded across the militants’ self-proclaimed state in Syria and Iraq. Around 3,000 are believed to remain in captivity. The UN report stressed that Baghdad was responsible under domestic and international law to prosecute the perpetrators and help ensure reparations for the victims. It decried “gaps” in Iraq’s criminal justice system, “which largely fails to ensure the appropriate respect and protection of women and children who have been subjected to sexual and other forms of violence.”
ISIS ex-wives
It also warned that women who were married to ISIS fighters, with or without their consent, risked “discrimination and forms of collective punishment” based on the suspicion they cooperated with the group. The report raised particular concerns over the situation of hundreds of children born to women in ISIS-controlled areas without birth certificates or with ISIS-issued documents not accepted by Baghdad. “The government must ensure (these children) are protected from marginalization and abuse,” Zeid insisted. He urged Baghdad to ensure that these children are “neither exposed to discrimination through references on their birth certificate that they were born out of wedlock or have a father linked to (ISIS), nor left unregistered and at risk of statelessness, exploitation and trafficking,” he said.

Bahrain accuses Qatar of plot to topple regime with ‘Academy of Destruction’
By Staff Writer, Al Arabiya English Tuesday, 22 August 2017/Bahraini TV has broadcast a documentary entitled the "Academy of Destruction" that shed light on the work of the Academy of Change which Doha backs and aired confessions that Doha wanted to topple the regime in Bahrain. According to the aired confessions, figures who were embraced by the academy were sent to Manama to execute the Qatari goal to spread incitement and chaos to topple the regime in Bahrain. The Academy of Change is headed by Hisham Morsy, the son-in-law of Yusuf al-Qaradawi who is on the black list issued by the four countries which boycotted Qatar. What’s dangerous is that there is a relation between the Academy of Change and the terrorist cells in Qatif and the violence that erupted there.According to the confessions aired by the Bahraini TV, the academy’s ideas and principles are based on The Nahda Project which Azmi Bishara, the former Knesset member and the consultant of Qatar’s emir, supervises.

US Secretary of Defense in Surprise Iraq Visit to Discuss ISIS Fight
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis made a surprise visit to Iraq on Tuesday to hold talks with officials on the battle against the ISIS terrorist group. He made the trip just days after Iraqi forces launched an operation to recapture the city of Tal Afar from the organization, warning that the end of ISIS is far from close. “ISIS’ days are certainly numbered, but it is not over yet and it is not going to be over anytime soon,” Mattis told reporters in Amman. Mattis said that after retaking Tal Afar, Iraqi forces would move against the western Euphrates river valley. He added that Iraqi security forces were capable of carrying out simultaneous operations. Iraqi security forces launched an offensive to take back the city of Tal Afar on Sunday, their latest objective in the US-backed campaign to defeat ISIS. The city lies 80 km (50 miles) west of Mosul in Iraq’s far north. Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the coalition against ISIS, told reporters that while the battle for Tal Afar would be difficult, Iraqi forces had retaken 235 square kilometers (90.7 miles) in the first 24 hours. In Baghdad, Mattis was meeting with senior Iraqi government leaders and with US commanders. He also planned to meet in Irbil with Masoud Barzani, leader of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region. US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mattis, who will meet Abadi and Defense Minister Arfan al-Hayali, would discuss the future of US forces in Iraq after the fall of the remaining cities under ISIS and the role they could play in stabilizing operations. The officials said that while major cities like Mosul have been largely been cleared of ISIS militants, there were concerns about the ability of Iraqi forces to hold territory. The US Defense Secretary said pockets of resistance remained in west Mosul, including sleeper cells, and attention would be turned after they were cleared. “It is not going to happen overnight…it is going to be a heavy lift for them going forward, but the proper governance would involve local representation in their day to day lives,” Mattis said. Expelled from their main stronghold in northern Iraq, ISIS militants are now trapped in a military vise that will squeeze them on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border, he added. ISIS is also on the back foot in Syria, where Kurdish and Arab militias backed by a US-led coalition have captured swathes of its territory in the north and are assaulting its former Syrian “capital” of Raqqa. McGurk said that about 2,000 ISIS terrorists remained in Raqqa and as much as 60 percent of the city had been retaken. The terrorist group is now falling back deeper into the Euphrates valley region of eastern Syria. He credited the Trump administration for having accelerated gains against the militants. “I think that’s quite significant and partially due to the fact we’re moving faster, more effectively,” as a result of Trump’s delegation of battlefield authorities to commanders in the field, McGurk said. He said this “has really made a difference on the ground. I have seen that with my own eyes.” The ranking US Air Force officer in Iraq, Brigadier General Andrew A. Croft, said that over the past couple of months ISIS has lost much of its ability to command and control its forces. “It’s less coordinated than it was before,” he said. “It appears more fractured — flimsy is the word I would use.” It seems likely that in coming months Trump may be in position to declare a victory of sorts in Iraq as ISIS terrorists are marginalized and they lose their claim to be running a “caliphate” inside Iraq’s borders. Syria, on the other hand, is a murkier problem, even as ISIS loses ground there against US-supported local fighters and Russian-backed Syrian regime forces.

Syria Peace Talks in Astana Postponed to September
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 22/17/Kazakhstan said Tuesday that the next talks to try to thrash out a Syria peace plan in its capital Astana may be held in mid-September, after Russia had planned to hold them in late August. Kazakhstan's foreign ministry wrote on Facebook that the timing of the talks would be set at a meeting this month between experts from Russia, Turkey and Iran and "provisionally, we could be talking about mid-September."The ministry said it was quoting diplomatic chief Kairat Abdrakhmanov's comments to journalists on the sidelines of a government meeting.
Abdrakhmanov said that the date change was based on "information received from Russia." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists in Moscow on Monday that the expert-level meeting would be held "by the end of the month or right at the start of September."He did not give a precise date for the full Astana talks. Russia had previously been planning a fresh round of talks in the Kazakh capital in late August. Earlier peace talks in Astana saw Russia, Turkey and Iran hammer out a plan to establish safe zones across swathes of Syria. U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said last week that he hopes to launch "real, substantive" peace talks between the government and a still-to-be-formed unified Syrian opposition in October. De Mistura has previously hosted seven rounds of largely unsuccessful talks in Geneva, with the fate of President Bashar al-Assad standing out as a main obstacle to progress.

Washington Monitors 10,000 Qaeda Militants in Idlib
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/London – Washington is currently monitoring the presence of around 10,000 Qaeda leaders and militants in Syria’s province of Idlib and Moscow has asked the US earlirt this year to halt airstrikes against leaders of the organization in the north and west of Syria, informed sources revealed on Monday. The sources said that Washington did not accept to change the name of “al-Nusra Front” to “Fatah al-Sham Front” and its joining later the ranks of “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham”. It considered the move as a maneuver planned by the Syrian branch of Qaeda, which is listed in United Nations Security Council resolutions as a terrorist group. “Idlib is not only the largest headquarters of the Qaeda worldwide, but it also includes 10,000 of the group’s most dangerous leaders and militants,” US officials said during closed-door meetings with their international and regional allies when speaking about al-Nusra and other ISIS and Qaeda-linked factions that support the group. The sources also said that in addition to the Washington-led international coalition fighting ISIS in Syria’s Raqqa, the US recently began to focus on the province of Idlib, where it plans to launch a battle against the terror group, which means that the country will witness additional wars. In the meantime, leader of Fatah al-Sham Abu Mohammad al-Joulani was planning to convince several moderate factions and religious figures to join his plan of establishing a “civil administration” in Idlib. He also proposed to western diplomats a plan to send his militants to fight ISIS in eastern Syria. However, the US responded to the proposal by saying: “Al-Nusra plans to hide behind a civil administration.” Meanwhile, several donor states have started to reconsider whether they should continue to offer aid to civil and development institutions and agencies operating in Idlib. In this regard, one German non-governmental agency decided to suspend aid delivery to Idlib, a decision which would negatively affect the lives of around 2 million civilians currently living in the province, including refugees from other areas. Meanwhile, US and Russian officials held a meeting in Amman to follow up on the “southern Syria” truce agreement in Daraa, Quneitra and Souweida and to discuss a mechanism that monitors the ceasefire and observes how far Iranian-linked militias are from the Jordanian border.

Lavrov: ‘Idlib Complications Delay Astana Talks, Calls with Riyadh to Form Unified Opposition Delegation’
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/Moscow- Recent developments related to the efforts to establish de-escalation zones in Syria, form a unified delegation representing the Syrian opposition in the negotiations with the regime and the overall efforts of the political settlement of the Syrian crisis were the main topics discussed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry during a round of talks in Moscow on Monday. The two sides also tackled bilateral relations and crises faced by several countries in the Middle East, including the situation in Libya, Yemen and Iraq. They stressed the necessity of adopting international references and internal dialogue to find solutions for these crises. They also stressed the importance of the Palestinian cause and the need to activate the settlement efforts on the basis of a two-state solution to end the conflict. The two foreign ministers expressed their conviction that efforts should be mobilized to counter terrorism and work to stop its funding and its ideological support. In a press conference following his talks with his counterpart, Lavrov said that Moscow and Cairo have been working together to help the Syrian opposition form a unified delegation to negotiate with the Syrian regime. Lavrov pointed out that Moscow is also carrying out talks with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries in this regard, and the results will be announced soon. Egypt plays an important role in supporting the idea of establishing de-escalation zones in Syria, he added. On the progress of negotiations on establishing de-escalation zones in the countryside of the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, Lavrov stressed that particular process is difficult, recalling that Russia, Turkey and Iran as the guarantors of the truce participate in various discussions and negotiations as regards the issue. He revealed that between the last week of August and the first week of September there will be a high-level meeting between experts from guarantor states, in order to get prepared for the next round of negotiations on settlement of the Syrian crisis in Astana. He explained that the purpose of these talks is about reaching agreements between the forces that oppose the Syrian government. These agreements should include a consensus so that a de-eslaction zone can be established in Idlib province, and ways to ensure security in the safe belts on the borders of the province. Lavrov noted that negotiations are conducted primarily on military level, with diplomacy actively supporting the process. For his part, Shoukry affirmed that Egypt supports the de-escalation zones agreement in Syria, noting that his country’s role in this regard is limited to providing the appropriate ground for it politically, and that its role is not expected to expand to any participation on the ground in monitoring these areas. He reiterated his country’s insistence that the political solution to the crisis in Syria is the way that should be adopted and supported by all parties until Syria regains its stability.

Riyadh Pays 4 Months of Financial Aid to Palestinian Authority Budget
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/Cairo – Saudi Arabia has transferred $30.8 million to the Palestinian Authority’s Finance Ministry account as part of its financial aid to the Palestinian budget, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Egypt Ahmed al-Qattan said Monday. The Kingdom’s permanent representative to the Arab League pointed out that the funds transferred are part of the Saudi government’s monthly contributions to support the Palestinian budget for the period from April to July 2017. He said in a statement that Riyadh has committed to support the Palestinian Authority’s budget with $7.7 million per month. Saudi Arabia will continue to support the Palestinian cause on the political, humanitarian and economic levels, he said.

Abbas: Trump’s Administration is in Chaos
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/Ramallah– Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that since President Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, he had held over 20 meetings with US officials, yet still had little idea what their plans for peace negotiations were. Abbas told parliamentarians from Meretz party visiting Ramallah on Sunday that the entire Trump administration is in “chaos,” and indicated that the White House disarray was affecting peace efforts. “I don’t even know how they are dealing with us, because his entire administration is in chaos,” Abbas told the delegation. He said that each time they reiterate their commitment to a two-state solution and the stop to settlement building, adding that he urged them to tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that, but they refrain. It is impossible to know what Trump and his team are planning, according to Abbas, and he doesn’t know to what extent this will be reflected in the results of the upcoming visit of the US delegation, part of Trump’s effort to restart the peace process.Abbas’ comments came as Trump is set to send three top aides to the region in an attempt to relaunch peace efforts. Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper had previously published reports about the Palestinian growing anger with the US administration. Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell will all head to the Middle East, according to the White House, and will begin a lengthy tour in the Middle East where they will meet leaders from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The US delegation is expected to pressure for the launch of real negotiations between Palestine and Israel and will also discuss the possibility of regional peace. Last negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis were held in March 2014 after nine months of US-sponsored talks. Palestinians relied on the new US president’s capabilities of sponsoring negotiations and they requested that they begin from where they reached with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert focusing on borders and that it has to be limited by a timetable with guarantees to end the occupation. They also want Israel to commit to stopping settlements and to release detainees. But, after series of Palestinian-US negotiations, Palestinian officials realized that Washington is more biased to Israelis. A top official told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that this prompted Abbas to reject meeting US Envoy Greenblatt.
Abbas told the Israeli group that he intends to ask Kushner again to have the White House express its commitment to a two-state solution and to demand a halt to settlement construction. Abbas noted that the Palestinian Authority recently approached Israel, offering to resume some kind of security cooperation, but Israel has not responded to the offer. Security cooperation between the two states had been suspended following al-Aqsa Mosque crisis on July 21. Despite the suspension in security coordination, Abbas instructed Palestinian security forces to increase surveillance of individuals who might be liable to carry out terrorist attacks on the Mount, and did so to prevent another clash that would turn the conflict into a religious one. The president also said that Palestinian security forces briefed the Trump administration on all the steps they take in the war against terrorism. Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Ahmed Majdalani said Monday that there is no meaning for any US effort unless it focused on the two-state solution and end of settlements establishment. Speaking to Voice of Palestine radio, Majdalani said the US administration’s peace efforts focus on minor issues rather than the major ones and therefore there are no signs of progress in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The top official explained that the efforts should focus on the main issue, and not on minor secondary ones, and that is how to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine based on international resolutions. “There are no signs that the US delegation’s visit to Palestine scheduled for the end of the month is going to have any breakthrough in the peace process deadlocked since April 2015,” he told the Radio. Majdalani warned that Palestinian cause is not a priority issue to the US administration which focuses its efforts on issues of China, Iran, Russia and North Korea. Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that connections are stopped between both parties except in urgent or humanitarian cases. Netanyahu aide told Reuters that the reported remarks are simply incorrect. The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to elaborate, citing policy of not publishing details on security contacts with the Palestinians.

Bahrain King: Our Support to Yemen’s Legitimacy Will not End
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/Manama – Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa reiterated his Kingdom’s firm support for the legitimate rule and the restoration of security and stability in Yemen. In comments during a meeting on Sunday with Yemeni Premier Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr, the monarch underlined the need to preserve the country’s sovereignty, unity and Arab identity and to achieve the people’s aspirations for peace and security. He added that Bahrain would continue to support the Saudi-led Arab alliance, reiterating his firm belief in Arab solidarity and cooperation to protect the Arab region and its people from foreign schemes and interference. For his part, Bin Daghr expressed thanks and appreciation to the king, hailing Bahrain’s honorable stance, sacrifices and participation in the Saudi-led Operation to restore Yemen’s legitimacy. He lauded Bahrain’s humanitarian relief aid to affected people in his country, praising the crucial role of the Royal Charity Organization (RCO), which provides assistance and medical care to Yemeni people. The Yemeni premier pointed out that Iran has stumbled in its calculations and its “desperate attempts to export the Khomeini’s revolution to Arab countries, with the aim to destabilize security and stability in the region.”“It has failed in Iraq, and it is also failing in Yemen,” he said, adding that ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis on the borders of Saudi Arabia were Iranian-made and smuggled by Iranian-led militias. He said that his country did not have “ballistic missiles that can reach Mecca or even some Yemeni cities,” accusing Tehran of building those missiles and sending them to militias. During a meeting in Bahrain with diplomats including the ambassadors of the peace-sponsoring countries in Yemen on Monday, Bin Daghr called for a decisive and urgent decision by the international community regarding Iran’s interventions in the Arab region and Yemen in particular, stressing that the Arabs stand with the international community and would stop the Iranian expansion in the region. In another meeting, Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman reaffirmed that Manama would support the reconstruction phase and would stand with the Yemeni people in all circumstances. He also reiterated the need to work towards the achievement of Yemen’s unity and territorial integrity and Bahrain’s rejection of Iranian interference in the region.

Asharq Al-Awsat Reveals Latest Details of Qatari Pilgrims Crisis
Asharq Al Awsat/August 22/17/Riyadh – A Saudi official narrated the last decisive hours in the crisis of the Qatari pilgrims, who were supposed to be transported by seven Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) flights to the Kingdom in tandem with guidelines of Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and following a mediation by Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani. In a statement, the Qatari civil aviation authorities denied rejecting transporting Hajj pilgrims from Hamad International Airport to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. A reliable source in the Saudi aviation authority revealed that Doha’s official response was not received until 9:30 pm on Sunday. The Saudi request to Qatari civil aviation authorities could have been finalized in two hours, but it took Qatar four days to respond, a behavior Riyadh described as “intentional procrastination”. Saudi Arabian Airlines Director General Saleh al-Jasser said that his carrier has so far not been granted permission to land in Qatar, despite submitting the application several days ago. “The national carrier planes are fully ready to move to Doha airport once a Qatari response is received. The ball is in the Qatari authorities’ court. We are ready to move airplanes once a positive reply is received, but it seems that Doha prefers to stall,” added the reliable source in the Saudi aviation authorities.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 22-23/17
Comments on Trump's strategy on Afghanistan
Dr. Walid Phares/Face Book/August 22/17
I see five points made by the President on the new US policy regarding Afghanistan
1) Moving away from President Obama's withdrawal policy from all battlefields with the Jihadists, from Iraq to Afghanistan, President Trump is right to argue that if we leave Afghanistan as is, it would mainly fall to the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS. Such a nightmare is not acceptable for the region and for US national security. So the US needs to remain engaged as long as the threat is omnipresent.
2) The Taliban and other Jihadi groups have used Pakistan as a base and this must stop. Regardless of if these groups are hosted, tolerated or imposing themselves, the US should engage Pakistan, a nuclear power, to insure the dismantlement of these networks. Aid to Pakistan according to President Trump should be linked to the elimination of the Jihadi network in that country
3) Trump favored a partnership with India against the terror forces, but requested that India invested heavily in Afghan economy. India should help financially in the recovery of Afghanistan
4) Back to Afghanistan: Trump wants to use more assets, as much as needed, in order to defeat the Taliban. A better posture than Obama's for sure. The US should be able to decisively win on the ground. But the question is how do we win in Afghanistan? It sounds that the President's advisors have convinced him that by weakening the Taliban, the latter somehow will negotiate. I am not sure. For over the past 16 years, we've seen that the Taliban and the Jihadists negotiate when they are weakened then leap when they get stronger. This is an open ended war based on how the Taliban maneuvers. It won't work. You'd need a decisive victory over the Jihadists. It has to begin on the battlefield but what comes next is not negotiations with the Taliban but with their opponents. Otherwise the Madrassas will reproduce more terrorists
5) The missing point the President didn't discuss was the Afghan people itself. The Kabul Government and the Taliban were mentioned, but not the people of Afghanistan. Since 2001, a whole new Afghanistan was born. Civil society has evolved as well: women, youth, minorities. There are new political parties, there are new NGOs, and a whole segment of society is up to battle the Jihadists. They need to be integrated in the US strategy and we need to partner with them. We can't win without them. The Administration needs to add an extension to its strategy factoring in the people of Afghanistan or else we will lose again The President's new strategy has the merit of changing the course from the past policies and committing to defeat the enemy decisively. But it needs to present a path to political victory on top of the military one

Trump’s Afghanistan plan: Support is ‘not a blank check’
Matthew Kazin/Fox News/August 21/17

Takeaways from Trump's Afghanistan speech
Army Special Forces veteran Ben Collins, former State Department press officer Morgan Ortagus, former Trump campaign national security advisor Walid Phares on President Trump's speech in Virginia.
President Donald Trump announced late Monday evening changes to the U.S. strategy in the Afghanistan, saying America must maintain a military presence in the country as the consequences of a quick exit would be “predictable and unacceptable.”
“A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists—including ISIS and Al Qaeda—would instantly fill, just as happened before Sept. 11,” Trump said in a prime-time address before a group of U.S. service members at Fort Myer in Arlington, Va.
The president said America’s interests in the Middle Eastern countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan are to prevent the “re-emergence of safe-havens,” which allow terrorists to thrive and threaten the U.S., and to stop nuclear weapons and materials from reaching terrorists. Though he did not talk about number of additional troops that would be deployed to the region, Fox News reported earlier in the day Opens a New Window. that Trump approved sending 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Currently, the U.S. has about 8,400 troops in the area.
Following what he called a “comprehensive review” with his cabinet and generals at Camp David last week, Trump announced the new strategy in the Middle East would rest upon multiple “pillars,” including a transition from a “time-based approach to one based on conditions” and a shift in policy regarding Pakistan.
“We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” Trump said. “Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists.”
More on this...
Trump: Pakistan gives a safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror
Takeaways from Trump's Afghanistan speech
Trump: We are not nation building again, we are killing terrorists
Sending more troops could improve the situation in Afghanistan: James Woolsey
Additionally, Trump said the U.S. would focus on working with allies instead of using the military to rebuild nations with an American “image,” and allow Afghans to secure and rebuild their country.
“America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress,” Trump said. “However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The American people expect to see real reforms and real results.”
Despite the new strategy in Afghanistan, Trump, who has stepped up military action in the country since taking office, has not always been in favor of keeping U.S. forces in the region. He admitted in his speech Monday night that his “original instinct was to pull out,” and tweeted in 2013—then a private citizen—against keeping troops in the war-torn country.
Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 21, 2013
Trump’s message on Monday, however, was clear when it came to what he hopes to accomplish by maintaining a U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
“Our troops will fight to win,” he said. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over the country, and stopping mass terror attacks against Americans before they emerge.”

Russia’s Election Meddling Backfired
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/August 22/17
Intelligence officers sometimes talk about “blowback,” when covert actions go bad and end up damaging the country that initiated them. A year later, that is surely the case with Russia’s secret attempt to meddle in the US presidential election, which has brought a string of adverse unintended consequences for Moscow.
The Kremlin is still issuing cocky statements accusing the United States of “political schizophrenia” in its response to Russian hacking. And there are vestiges of the triumphal tone I encountered in Moscow this summer — a sense that the United States is in decline and that a mistreated but resurgent Russia is in the driver’s seat. But Russia’s confidence must be flagging.
Interference in the US election has created antibodies to Russian power: America is angry, Europe is newly vigilant, and Syria and Ukraine are becoming quagmires. Moscow remains a dangerously ambitious revanchist power, but its geopolitical goals look harder to achieve now than they did a year ago.
The basics of Russia’s covert operations were best summarized in a Jan. 6 report by the US intelligence community: “President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.” Russia’s goals were to “denigrate” Hillary Clinton and “help . . . when possible” Donald Trump. A broader aim was “to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order.”
So, how’s it going for the folks at Lubyanka Square? Well, Trump was certainly elected, though the factors driving the US vote were much deeper than Russian trolls and bots. And there’s definitely disarray in the global order. But since Trump’s inauguration, the world has begun moving in reverse from what Moscow’s active-measures specialists must have hoped.
Let’s take a brief inventory of this global resilience:
●Russian meddling has produced a strong bipartisan counter-reaction from Congress. Last month’s overwhelming passage of new sanctions against Russia showed how Putin’s assault on US politics has united otherwise polarized legislators. “Russia” is once again a toxic word in US politics, as Russian commentators are lamenting. It may take years to recover. And Putin has nobody to blame but himself.
●European politics similarly has been galvanized by Russia’s attempt to manipulate debate. The populist firestorm the Russians were secretly fanning — which engulfed Britain in the Brexit vote — has been dampened. The moderate center has held in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Russia’s covert support for right-wing nationalists has partially deflated those movements. To be credible, European politicians left and right are voicing their independence from Moscow.
●Russia’s Internet manipulations have spawned a new push by companies and civil society groups to combat such “fake news.” One example is the online “dashboard” created by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy. It monitors 600 Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations to collect a regular summary of trending hashtags, topics and URLs. (Note: I’m a GMF trustee.) The world is forewarned now, and partially forearmed.
●Internet and social-media companies are seeking technology solutions to bots, trolls and fake news. Facebook plans to identify dubious articles and steer them to independent fact-checking organizations, which will warn users if supporting evidence can’t be found. Google is creating algorithms to identify reliable sources from the billions of pages it indexes. Such private-sector efforts are the best hope for sustaining a fact-based electronic environment.
●Investigations have exposed groups and companies with alleged links to Russia’s hacking campaign, such as WikiLeaks. The Russia-WikiLeaks connection is explored in a new edition this month of “The Red Web,” the superb book by Russian investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan. Among their claims is that WikiLeaks moved at least part of its Web hosting to Russia in August 2016.
More heat: A New Yorker piece this week by Raffi Khatchadourian challenges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s denials of Russian involvement in the release of hacked documents. And the New York Times reports that a Ukrainian hacker known as “Profexer,” who may have helped write code used by the Russian covert operators, may now be talking to the FBI. The active-measures structure is weakening.
One of the few positives for Putin is his new support from Republicans. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Republicans who say they trust the Russian leader has nearly doubled since 2015, although to just 34 percent.
Putin’s problem is that he overreached. His dislike of Clinton and enthusiasm for Trump led him to violate the cardinal rule of covert action — namely, make sure it stays covert. As Putin discovers anew every day, secret influence operations backfire if they’re exposed. Revelations compromise sources and methods, including the cutouts who masked Russia’s hand.
Putin, the ex-KGB officer, should appreciate the paradoxical lesson of this spy story: In the Internet era, deception may be amplified. But eventually the truth will out.

Recognizing the Real and Present Enemy: Radical Islam, Not Russia
Alexandre del Valle/Gatestone Institute/August 22/17
In the military and strategic sense of the word, an "enemy" is an entity that truly threatens our short- and long-term survival and vital interests -- not one that simply does not share our concept of democracy and human rights.
Another dangerous geopolitical mistake made by Western societies is viewing only Islamic terrorist groups as enemies and targeting them in a vacuum. Equally, if not more, important to combat are those Islamist movements that condemn terrorism but spread their ideology "peacefully" in our countries.
Before launching military campaigns on behalf of human rights, we in the West should first invest in strengthening our values at home, and encourage our Muslim minorities to adopt those values, rather than let them fall into the hands of radical Islamist organizations. The West must stop demonizing its own Judeo-Christian-European identity and rid itself of multiculturalist extremism.
Defining post-Soviet Russia as the main enemy of the West, while considering the Sunni Islamic monarchies of the Middle East and neo-Ottoman-Islamist Turkey as allies or friends, is a dangerous geopolitical mistake. The primary interest of the West and the main mission of NATO is not to demonize regimes it does not like, such as Putin's authoritarian kleptocracy or other non-democratic states that do not pose a direct military threat. Rather, it is to safeguard our land, sea, airspace and populations.
In order to accomplish this, however, we have define the "enemy." In the military and strategic sense of the word, an enemy is an entity that truly threatens our short- and long-term survival and vital interests -- not one that simply does not share our concept of democracy and human rights.
Radical Islamism meets this definition, since its adherents aim to replace our way of life in the West through their antagonist theocratic system of Sharia (Islamic law). This is a clear challenge to our democratic-secular order and to Judeo-Christian civilization.
Islamic terrorists are tools -- a human non-conventional weapon employed even by "friendly" organizations (for example, the Muslim Brotherhood, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Muslim World League, World Islamic Congress) and states (such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan, Kuwait and Qatar) to destroy the West. They do this by playing a double game: They are our economic allies, but simultaneously support those who openly aim to subjugate our nations to Sharia.
Russia may be an enemy of Ukraine; it is perceived as a threat to Poland, as well. However, it does not aim to destroy Judeo-Christian civilization. On the contrary, post-Soviet Russia espouses Orthodox-Christian values that are similar to those of many Western Christian conservatives. Nor does Moscow plan to attack the United States.
Another dangerous geopolitical mistake made by Western societies is viewing only Islamic terrorist groups as enemies and targeting them in a vacuum. Equally, if not more, important to combat are those Islamist movements that condemn terrorism but spread their ideology "peacefully" in our countries. Theirs is not merely a fundamentalist or revivalist doctrine, such as that espoused by certain Christian or Jewish groups, but rather a totalitarian political-religious ideology, capable of jeopardizing all of humanity. This is because its ultimate goal is to dominate the world, much like Nazism and communism.
Therefore, sending troops to Middle Eastern countries to fight terrorists on the battlefield is useless when the radical Islamist ideology of those terrorists is being spread "legitimately" in mosques and madrassas in the region and on our soil, often with the support of our governments and multiculturalist lobbies. In other words, tackling the "foot soldiers" while allowing the doctrine to flourish is an exercise in futility.
Another problem the West has yet to grapple with is philosophical -- it cooperates with Muslim states and opens up its societies to radical Islamist groups without any form reciprocity. Muslim countries and non-governmental organizations take advantage of Western democracy to engage in activities -- such as proselytizing -- that they themselves prohibit. In the West, they enjoy freedom of speech and religion. At home, they imprison or execute non-Muslim and Muslim "apostates" alike.
As the late political philosopher Karl Popper wrote in The Open Society and Its Enemies:
"If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."
The current situation can be traced back to decades of geostrategic errors and counter-productive wars. One classic example among many -- such as in Pakistan, Turkey, the former Yugoslavia and Macedonia -- was Operation Cyclone, the CIA backing of a jihadist group, the Mujahedeen, against the Red Army, prior to, during and after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 1979.
This short-sighted move, to support a fanatical Islamist group to fight a different enemy, was born out of an "anti-civilizational" paradigm -- one that minimizes the power of culture and religion as driving forces. It is a model still used by many Western strategists, who compare American aid to the Mujahedeen to that given to the Nicaraguan Contras in 1981 and to the Polish Solidarity movement in 1980.
It is a false comparison. Unlike the fanatical Mujahedeen and their fighters, the Contras and Solidarity trade unionists had no megalomaniacal, totalitarian goals. Their only aim was freedom from tyranny.
Today, it is imperative that we not allow internal battles in Washington to prevent us from acknowledging the wider conflict, which rears its ugly head with every car-ramming attack in a European capital, and to create a strategy to save the West from its most immediate enemy.
A three-pronged approach is in order:
Before launching military campaigns on behalf of human rights, we in the West should first invest in strengthening our values at home, and encourage our Muslim minorities to adopt those values, rather than let them fall into the hands of radical Islamist organizations.
The West must stop demonizing its own Judeo-Christian-European identity and rid itself of multiculturalist extremism.
A new "Pan-Western" strategy should be created to enhance and cement the U.S.-Old Europe bond, and to encourage Russia to be a part of it. It is time to focus on the actual enemy -- the one on our doorstep placing our societies in its crosshairs.
Defining post-Soviet Russia as the main enemy of the West, while considering the Sunni Islamic monarchies of the Middle East and neo-Ottoman-Islamist Turkey as allies or friends, is a dangerous geopolitical mistake. (Image source:
Alexandre del Valle is a French writer, professor, columnist and political commentator focusing on radical Islam, new geopolitical threats, civilizational conflicts and terrorism. He is the author, most recently, of "Les vrais ennemis de l'Occident: Du rejet de la Russie à l'islamisation des sociétés ouverte" ("The real enemies of the West: From the rejection of Russia to the Islamization of open societies").
© 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.

Spain: Barcelona Attack Was Preventable

Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/August 22/17
The measures to place bollards or planters in public areas were never implemented in Barcelona because the leaders of the Catalan independence movement did not want to be seen as taking orders from the central government in Madrid.
Far more difficult to explain is why no one reported suspicious activity at the chalet.
Although some Catalans are having second thoughts about the wisdom of promoting Muslim mass immigration as a strategy to achieve Catalan independence, at least 10,000 Catalans with links to the separatist movement have actually converted to Islam in recent years.
As details emerge of the August 17 jihadist attack in Barcelona, the evidence points to one overarching conclusion: the carnage could have been prevented if a series of red flags had not been either missed or ignored.
The failure to heed intelligence warnings, enhance physical security and report suspicious activity are all factors that facilitated the attack, which had been in the planning stage for more than six months.
The attack was also enabled by the idiosyncrasies of Spanish politics, especially the tensions that exist between the central government and the leaders of the independence movement in Catalonia, the autonomous region of which Barcelona is the capital.
Failure to Install Bollards on Las Ramblas
The Barcelona attack could have been prevented had municipal officials complied with an order to install bollards, vertical poles designed to prevent car ramming attacks, on the Rambla, the city's main tourist thoroughfare.
On December 20, 2016, one day after a Tunisian jihadist drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 56, Spanish National Police issued a circular ordering all central, regional and municipal police departments in Spain to "implement physical security measures to protect public spaces" to prevent jihadist attacks "in places with high numbers of people." The circular advised:
"Municipalities should protect these public spaces by temporarily installing large planters or bollards at access points to hinder or prevent the entry of vehicles."
The measures were never implemented in Barcelona because the leaders of the Catalan independence movement did not want to be seen as taking orders from the central government in Madrid.
After receiving the directive, Catalan autonomous police, known as the Mossos d'Esquadra, accused the central government of "alarmism" and insisted that it would not order municipalities in Catalonia to implement this "indiscriminate measure." The Mossos also claimed to have the jihadist threat under control, that local police were trained to "detect symptoms or radicalization," and that there were "no concrete threats."
After the Barcelona attack, Deputy Mayor Gerardo Pisarello blamed the absence of bollards on the Catalan Interior Ministry. "The City of Barcelona has never refused to install bollards. Whenever it has been requested, we have done so," Pisarello said. Ada Colau, Barcelona's leftwing mayor, however, has repeatedly refused to "fill Barcelona with barriers," insisting that it must remain "a city of liberty."
El Periódico de Catalunya, a paper based in Barcelona, elaborated:
"The total absence of police collaboration between the Mossos d'Esquadra, which is the police force deployed on the ground, and the National Police and the Civil Guard translates into huge security deficiencies. The relationship between police forces — influenced by the political situation — is terrible and, in the case of the Mossos and the National Police, it is open war.
"The result is that the information services of the Mossos, on the one hand, and those of the National Police and the Civil Guard, on the other, do not exchange information. The cooperation is reduced to the personal relationships of individual agents who, without the knowledge of their superiors, exchange information and put safety first."
On August 19, hours after the jihadist attack in Barcelona, Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido repeated that it would be "appropriate" for all municipalities to comply with the December circular. His ministry issued a new letter calling on municipalities to install safety measures in the neuralgic points of cities. It remains to be seen if Catalan officials will now implement the recommendations.
Too little, too late.
Police officers line the street on Las Ramblas on August 18, 2017, near the scene of the previous day's terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Failure to Heed Warnings
In June, the CIA reportedly warned Catalan police that Barcelona was being targeted by jihadists: "Two months ago the Central Intelligence Agency warned Catalan police of a threat to Las Ramblas," according to El Periódico.
Additionally, on June 30, two weeks before the Barcelona attack, a Twitter account associated with the Islamic State warned of an impending attack against al-Ándalus, the Arabic name given to those parts of Spain, Portugal and France occupied by Muslim conquerors from 711 to 1492. Many jihadists believe that territories Muslims lost during the Christian Reconquest of Spain still belong to the realm of Islam and that Islamic law gives them the right to re-establish Muslim rule there.
It remains unclear why Catalan authorities failed to increase security in light of the warnings and threats. El Periódico wrote:
"In recent years Barcelona has become a city known all over the planet. Both because of its attraction as a tourist destination and because of the media impact of the Barça football club, the Catalan capital is a world icon. In the eyes of the jihadists, that makes it a priority objective, as they seek to attack sites that generate a great impact at the international level.
However, neither the authorities nor the citizens seems to have realized that their city is on the same list of targets as other major cities such as New York, Paris, London or Madrid."
Failure to Report Suspicious Activity
The jihadists prepared for the Barcelona attack at a chalet in the beachfront town of Alcanar, situated 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Barcelona. A year ago, the terror cell "occupied" the property, which was foreclosed and had been vacant. Squatters are protected by Spanish law, so it is common for youth in Catalonia to take over vacant properties. This may explain why neighbors did not contact the police.
Far more difficult to explain is why no one reported suspicious activity at the chalet. During the course of several months, the jihadists collected more than 100 large gas canisters, which investigators believe were to be used as car bombs. An explosion on August 16, the night before the Barcelona attack, leveled the property. Investigators later found traces of the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP), also known as the "Mother of Satan," a substance widely used by members of the Islamic State in Europe.
Failure to Follow-Up on Leads
Police found the remains of at least two people in the rubble of the Alcanar chalet. The head of the Mossos d'Esquadra, Josep Lluís Trapero, confirmed that one of the bodies was that of Abdelbaki Es-Satti, a Muslim cleric who is suspected of organizing the terror cell and radicalizing its members.
Es-Satti, a Moroccan national who lived in the Catalan town of Ripoll, served in a local mosque. He was a convicted drug trafficker who had spent four years at a prison in Valencia, where he is believed to have met Rachid Aglif, known as "The Rabbit," one of the main plotters of the 2004 Madrid bomb attacks that killed 192 people and wounded 2,000. Police are now looking into whether Es-Satti was involved in the ISIS attacks on the Brussels airport and metro in 2016.
Ali Yassine, the director of the mosque in Ripoll, said that he had reported Es-Satti to local police more than a year ago as part of a security protocol to monitor Muslim preachers. Authorities did not place him on a watch list, however, even though he had been convicted of trafficking drugs and violating Spanish immigration laws.
Catalan Migration Policy Fuels Radicalization
Catalonia not only has the highest Muslim population in Spain, it is also one of the most Islamized regions of the country. Catalonia has 7.5 million inhabitants, including an estimated 510,000 Muslims, who account for around 7% of the total Catalan population. In some Catalan towns, however, the Muslim population is above 40% of the overall population.
In his book "Jihadism: The Radical Islamic Threat to Catalonia," Catalan terrorism analyst Jofre Montoto estimates that at least 10% of the Muslims in Catalonia are "radicals" who are hardcore believers in the "doctrine of jihadism."
A five-page diplomatic cable, dated October 2, 2007, described the link between mass immigration to Catalonia and the rise of radical Islam in the region:
"Heavy immigration — both legal and illegal — from North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria) and Southeast Asia (Pakistan and Bangladesh) has made Catalonia a magnet for terrorist recruiters. ... The Spanish National Police estimates that there may be upwards of 60,000 Pakistanis living in Barcelona and the surrounding area; the vast majority are male, unmarried or unaccompanied, and without legal documentation. There are even more such immigrants from North Africa. ... They live on the edges of Spanish society, they do not speak the language, they are often unemployed, and they have very few places to practice their religion with dignity. ... Individually, these circumstances would provide fertile ground for terrorist recruitment; taken together, the threat is clear....
"There is little doubt that the autonomous region of Catalonia has become a prime base of operations for terrorist activity. Spanish authorities tell us they fear the threat from these atomized immigrant communities prone to radicalism, but they have very little intelligence on or ability to penetrate these groups."
Many of Catalonia's problems with radical Islam are self-inflicted. In an effort to promote Catalan nationalism and the Catalan language, Catalonian pro-independence parties have deliberately promoted immigration from Arabic-speaking Muslim countries for more than three decades, in the belief that these immigrants (unlike those from Latin America) would learn the Catalan language rather than speak Spanish.
Although some Catalans are having second thoughts about the wisdom of promoting Muslim mass immigration as a strategy to achieve Catalan independence, at least 10,000 Catalans with links to the separatist movement have actually converted to Islam in recent years.
It is believed that two out of every ten Catalan radicals who belong to the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), a far-left political party, are converts to Islam. The ERC, which now governs Catalonia, has vehemently refused to sign a cooperation agreement with the central government in Madrid to fight jihadist terrorism.
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Vision behind the Global Commission on the Future of Work
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim/President of Mauritius
Stefan Löfven/Prime Minister of Sweden
Asharq Al Awsat 22/17
It is our belief that work is the foundation for people and societies to grow. With a decent income, work can pave the way for broader social and economic advancement, strengthening individuals, their families and communities.
Yet technology, demography, climate change and globalisation are transforming work more quickly, more profoundly and on a greater scale than ever before. These changes have great potential, but we also face many uncertainties about the future of work. The fear that while some may benefit greatly from these sweeping changes, many will not, has become a major concern – not least at a time when so many countries are facing high unemployment.
And if too many people worry that they are being left behind and that our societies are no longer capable of delivering positive change, there is a strong chance that disruptive forces will undermine growth and destabilise social and political harmony. Indeed, the tendency that we are witnessing a shift towards populist thinking is one of the key challenges of our time.
Therefore, we need to support the job-creating potential of the shift to environmental sustainability and a fair and open world trading system, founded on strong values of rights, freedom and solidarity. Globalisation must benefit all. Only people who feel safe in the present can welcome an uncertain future.
Rather than adopting a wait-and-see approach, we must think seriously about the future of work that we want and how to get there. The future is not pre-determined and can be influenced by the societal choices and policies that we make today.
To generate ideas and solutions for addressing these fundamental work-related challenges, we have agreed to co-chair the new Global Commission on the Future of Work launched today by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This Commission, which is part of the ILO’s Future of Work initiative, brings together eminent thinkers and practitioners from around the world. It will report to the ILO’s member states in 2019.
This initiative is, indeed, a truly global effort – more than 100 countries have held national dialogues, with governments, employers and workers, to elaborate on approaches to meet the future challenges in the labour market. The contribution of the Commission will also be an important part of the follow-up to the landmark 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. Goal eight, in particular, entails promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
For almost a century, the ILO has made a significant contribution to making the world of work a much better place. It has done this by bringing together representatives of governments, workers and employers to promote social justice.
By recognising that the future of work is ours to create, rather than one imposed by forces which we are powerless to control, we are convinced that the future holds a powerful message of hope. We are committed to leading this Global Commission in that spirit, and to focus on concrete solutions, policy advice and best practices, with the goal of making the future of work, a future that includes everyone.

Trump and the GOP Need a Restart
Hugh Hewitt/The Washington Post/August 22/17
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.

Gulf IPO pipeline making the right headlines
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/August 22/17
While the headlines from the Gulf has been focused on the on-going Qatar spat with her GCC partners and Egypt, the international financial markets are gleefully awaiting for the latest Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) that are in the pipeline, especially from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. With the eagerly awaited Saudi Aramco IPO is expected sometimes in 2018, and is showcased as being central to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 transformation, the UAE’s planned IPOs are also attracting keen interest in terms of their timing and viability. A slew of companies from both sovereign-owned and privately held, are lining up initial public offerings in a bid to capitalize on money returning to emerging-market funds this year and as states in the region make their stock exchanges more liquid. IPO offerings have many purposes – raising capital from international investors and helping the listed companies increase their level of profitability, governance and meeting multi shareholder interests. For Aramco, it is also raising proceeds from an expected 5 percent sale to invest through the Public Investment Fund domestically and abroad and increase the Kingdom’s non-oil revenue base.
Varied menu
The UAE’s IPO menu is more varied and has already attracted a diverse range of international interest as diversity also brings with it diversified risk. At least six new listings from the Emirates may raise as much as $11 billion are at various stages of completion. To put this in perspective these are a bit more than a tenth of the $100 billion Saudi Aramco IPO, although there have been many estimates that the final IPO offering value could be less than that figure. Gulf and international investors will be spoilt for choice from the varied list of IPO offerings by appealing to different investor sectors and nudging others to consider the same
The question is also one of timing for both countries, as the first mega IPO deals tend to suck local liquidity and attracts domestic investors, while later IPO offerings have to contend with either international investor interest or local investors selling their current portfolios and buying new offerings.
The consequence is that some listed company shares fall on the back of these fire-sales or that bank loans to individuals increase to enable new share purchases, pushing up lending rates. However, one has to put the MENA region’s IPO efforts to date in perspective with global realties.
Companies in the Middle East and Africa have raised about $2.9 billion from IPOs that began trading in the last 12 months, compared with about $204 billion worldwide, and this why the mega Aramco IPO and those planned in the UAE are attracting some genuine interest.
Diverse sectors
The UAE deals span a veritable diversity of economic sectors and includes Sanaat, GEMS, Emaar Real Estate, ADNOC, Emirates Global and Abu Dhabi Ports. Each one is attractive in its own right, ranging from government owned entities to private sector operators. The IPO listing amounts range from an estimated $1 billion for Abu Dhabi Ports, to $3-4 billion for GEMS Education and ADNOC Services Stations. The last is an interesting IPO, for unlike the IPO of Aramco’s main company, ADNOC is deciding to sell parts of its operating units to foreign investors and it has attracted a list of blue chip underwriters like Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc. Another is Emaar Aluminium, the largest aluminium producer in the Middle East, which is considering an IPO in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, potentially making it one of the first companies to be represented on both exchanges, and setting a trend for dual listing for Gulf companies and hoping to raise as much as $3 billion. It is owned by two of the Gulf’s sovereign wealth funds - Abu Dhabi’s sovereign fund Mubadala Investment Co. and the Investment Corp. of Dubai, making this potential IPO another first for a diverse sovereign ownership.
Largest share sale
Dubai’s Emaar Properties, the developer of the world’s tallest tower, expects to complete the IPO by November 2017, with a size similar to its Emaar Malls PJSC offering, which raised about $1.6 billion in 2014 and is the largest share sale in the UAE in the past nine years. One of the more interesting planned IPO is that of GEMS Education, one of the Gulf’s leading education group, and the IPO is backed by some international investment banking heavyweights like Blackstone Group LP and Dubai based Fajr Capital Ltd. and wealth fund Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co making this also a multi investment banking initiative. Whatever is finally decided, Gulf and international investors will be spoilt for choice from the varied list of IPO offerings by appealing to different investor sectors and nudging others to consider the same. For once, these will make the right headlines for the Gulf countries.

Qatar and the black list of agents and conspirators
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/August 22/17
Saud al-Qahtani, an advisor in the Saudi royal court, has said that Saudi Arabia and its allies will announce a black list that includes all of Qatar’s agents in the four boycotting countries and in Arab countries and the world. His statement was welcomed by the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash. One cannot win any battle without isolating the fifth column consisting of agents and traitors and without preventing them from influencing citizens or harming national security to serve enemies’ agendas and conspiracies. This is a key orientation that will have a great effect in harming the hostile propaganda against the four boycotting countries. It is not acceptable under any circumstances to keep silent over Iran’s, Qatar’s and the Brotherhood’s agents’ attempts to sow divisions and destroy national unity, and they must be stopped. Throughout history, nations and people have despised traitors, legally criminalized them and punished them. In Gulf and Arab countries, there are agents and traitors who belong to ideological fundamentalist terrorist movements. Some of them belong to the Iranian sectarian project and some of them belong to a fundamentalist terrorist one. Some are traitors because they are just after money and Qatari prestige. It is the moment of truth and time for accountability. The declared mercenaries of Qatar, like Azmi Bishara, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Mohammad Al Ahmari, Mohammad Ash-Shinqitee and others, must be on top of the black list. All terror movements, organizations and icons blacklisted by the four boycotting countries and everyone who serves the Qatari project in these countries or promotes Qatar’s policies or supports Qatar’s stance in any way whatsoever must be added to the list. Punishing this fifth column does not mean being unjust to anyone or unfairly treating a citizen or a resident. It means legal accountability and punishing whoever deserves to be punished
Conspiracies exposed
Some may be excused due to their ignorance, and others may be excused because they have been deceived during the past few years. However, what’s their excuse now after facts became clear and conspiracies detailing dates, names and numbers were exposed? This is no longer based on analyses, which some writers and experts concluded years ago but everything is now based on accurate information and government decisions and official stances. So is it acceptable to accept that trick of strategic silence or to excuse ignorance or deception? There are also those defending the Qatari command’s betrayal and conspiracies and calling for reconciling and decreasing measures against it without demanding Qatar to acknowledge or apologize or amend any of its destructive policies. These are all agents and their cases must be legally and judicially addressed. Qatar always had agents in the four boycotting countries, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, the rest of the Arab and Gulf states and even in some western countries and across the entire world. Some of them represent political and cultural symbols and belong to leftist and nationalist movements while some belong to political Islam movements and organizations. Their treason and conspiracies helped them make fortunes and gain fake popularity. These people must be exposed so people can all learn who they are. Hiding behind the concept of McCarthyism is no longer useful to avoid making necessary national decisions. Even the most democratic countries do not allow any activity by a fifth column that is affiliated with the enemy and that conspires with it. They do not accept it under any excuse or justification. Laws, traditions and religions reject this category of people which punishment is a must. Punishing this fifth column does not mean being unjust to anyone or unfairly treating a citizen or a resident. It means legal accountability and punishing whoever deserves to be punished. Finally, anyone who has been involved in these conspiracies must take the initiative himself and inform the relevant authorities of what he’s done to exonerate himself.

Immoral amendments of Iraq’s amnesty law

Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/August 22/17
The present Iraqi government inherited a huge budget deficit due to the unbridled corruption of former governments and a precipitous fall in oil prices. However, the ongoing but ineffective austerity program could achieve many of its desired results and save hundreds of billions of dinars a year if it simply downsizes the country’s gargantuan judiciary, beginning with the office of the chief justice down to the lowest-ranking court functionary. In fact, we no longer need the judiciary or judges as we already have 328 members of parliament, who have assigned unto themselves the authority of judges, as they now adjudicate as to who must be jailed or fined and who should not be tried. Instead of spending huge sums on the judiciary and its employees, let these members of parliament act as officials of the judiciary in addition to their legislative and regulatory responsibilities.
Crimes of terror, corruption
Last year, the parliament approved a general amnesty law that allows the grant of amnesty to Sunni terrorists in lieu of pardoning members involved in corruption from members of the Shiite community. The law is the outcome of long and sustained efforts by Shiite parties, as most convicts or offenders involved in corrupt administrative and financial activities (public funds embezzlement, money laundering, fraud etc.) are linked to them. Meanwhile, most convicts or wanted men involved in terrorist activities are affiliated with Sunni parties. The amendments which members of parliament are trying to introduce in the general amnesty law are immoral
Mutual interests dictated Sunni and Shiite parties, which have for long efficiently managed their conflicts of incitement and sectarian hatred, agree on the amnesty law. These parties are now working on further amending this law by including more categories of offenders, whether involved in acts of corruption or terrorism, so that they never land behind bars. The parliament now seeks to limit prosecuting those acts of terrorism, which were committed after June 10, 2014, i.e. when the terrorist ISIS organization occupied Mosul. Thus attempts are being made to discard those acts of terrorism which plagued the country for over a decade before 2014. There is also a legislative bid to absolve those high-ranking officials who had produced fake degrees to achieve their current positions. To the parliament, a forged degree is a simple mistake where the payment of a fine is sufficient punishment. What does this mean?It means that the efforts of hundreds of judges who had earlier issued their just verdicts against corrupt men and terrorists will now go in vain. The efforts of their aides and general prosecutors will also come to naught. Maybe they may now have to apologize to the corrupt men and terrorists for issuing verdicts and sentences against them in the first place. One wonders whether they may they may have to pay some compensation to the erstwhile convicts. The amendments which members of parliament are trying to introduce in the general amnesty law are immoral. The amnesty law as it stands today is also immoral. Both the law and the proposed amendments seem to incentivise falsehood and injustice.

A freewheeling conversation over coffee addiction
Mahmoud Ahmad/Al Arabiya/August 22/17
I was engaged in an interesting discussion with a group of friends of which some of whom are managers and heads of sections at private companies while others are regular employees both in private and public sectors. As is the case with every discussion after random talk, the discussion generally veers toward a central topic. So did our discussion when after the initial casual talk our discussion gained heat with a cool central topic — coffee. I know the word must have jarred you readers for a debate on java (slang for coffee) was the least expected topic by you all. But let me bring you’ll back to the issue from the start. The discussion started with all weighing in on the bad performance of some employees during the month of Ramadan. All of us attributed many reasons to the bad or poor performance of employees that included lifestyle and general behavior toward work and lack of ethics. But here was the rider, despite all the reasons many zeroed in on one culprit. Yes you guessed it coffee or to be precise the lack of it! Interestingly the overwhelming majority placed the blame on addiction to coffee, be it the regular Arabian coffee or the branded ones sold in major coffee shops. My friends then turned toward me and asked me to bring this point out. They also urged me to keep the title of the article as simply this: “Ban coffee” because of what I believe the troubles they faced during Ramadan with coffee addicts.
People should stop any habit that harms the body and definitely they need to read about the danger of caffeine addiction
Branded cups
It is a tradition to have Arabian coffee with dates in the morning hours, either at home or work, every day. Some people walk into their offices carrying their branded coffee cups. I was told by a friend of mine at a workplace that he cannot function at work without starting the day with his cup of coffee. This is how addicted some of the people are to coffee. This of course will affect people at work during Ramadan. A friend of mine who supervises 12 employees in his department called openly to ban coffee at workplace and treat and educate people who are addicted to coffee because he suffers during the month of Ramadan not because of his habit of drinking coffee, but because of the others, who are addicted to coffee. He describes them with the title of the famous TV series “the walking dead” because of the coffee addicts similarity in the slow shuffle as they walk inside the office. He gave up on them giving their 100 percent at work simply because they cannot. He said that the best of such coffee addicts was the one who gave 30 percent performance during Ramadan. Of course, with a section suddenly having become non-performing assets, the load generally falls on those who are not coffee addicts, and they end up doing the work of others. In addition, those of the coffee addicts who show up to work, then add to becoming a nuisance with the constant refrain ‘Oh, how I miss my cup of coffee,’ or ‘without the morning bracer I just cannot keep my eyes open,’ or some other line in the similar vein. Though they would waste time in complaining about their lot without their coffee, they would not be ready to face the fact that how so much they moan, they’ll have to do without the cup and buckle down to work.
Fasting without the brew
Another friend, who is a manager in a private company, said that three of his employees were fighting to take the whole month of Ramadan as vacation. They openly told him that they cannot work during Ramadan without their brew. And they prefer to spend the morning sleeping and waking up just few hours before Iftar during the month, and that was the reason for the fight to get the time off from office. To my friend, this is no excuse for taking leave, for he believes being addicted to coffee or cigarettes is one’s own problem and work should not be affected due to this. Few other workers, who were addicted to coffee, prepare for the month well in advance. They choose to reduce their dosage of coffee two months before Ramadan by slowly phasing out the intakes so it would not be a problem during Ramadan as the craving for caffeine is reduced. Ironically there is a history in banning coffee. It was banned at different times in history as was revealed in some history sites. Sourcing the mental_floss magazine here, “Sweden gave coffee the ax in 1746. The government also banned “coffee paraphernalia” — with cops confiscating cups and dishes. King Gustav III even ordered convicted murderers to drink coffee while doctors monitored how long the cups of java took to kill them, which was great for convicts and boring for the doctors.”
After Murad IV claimed the Ottoman throne in 1623, he quickly forbade coffee and set up a system of reasonable penalties. The punishment for a first offense was a beating. Anyone caught with coffee a second time was sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the waters of the Bosporus.
Interestingly speaking, coffee was banned in Makkah back in history, as the rulers in Makkah at that time declared it haram (forbidden) and ordered to punish the drinkers, seize and destroy the quantity from the stock. There are essays and written research for those interested to read about it.
Waste by extravagance
To heavy coffee drinkers I say that Islam urged us to balance everything to a level that it does not harm us as it is clear in the holy Qur’an here “and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).”
For someone who cannot function, work, focus and defiantly spend time on worshipping because of coffee is an extreme addiction case. People should stop any habit that harms the body and definitely they need to read about the danger of caffeine addiction. It is always good to balance everything in life so no one will be addicted to anything. As for the problem of my friends in the stories mentioned above, it was reported, “last cure is cauterization”. I advised my friends in this case, tongue in cheek of course, to reject any vacation for coffee addicts next year in Ramadan and force them to give a 100 percent performance, which I believe is an impossible mission even for non-coffee addicts.