August 25/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
What should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 13/18-21/:"He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’And again he said, ‘To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’"

It is for the sake of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.’
Acts of the Apostles 28/16-22/:"When we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him. Three days later he called together the local leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, ‘Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, yet I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. When they had examined me, the Romans wanted to release me, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case. But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to the emperor even though I had no charge to bring against my nation. For this reason therefore I have asked to see you and speak with you, since it is for the sake of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.’ They replied, ‘We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken anything evil about you. But we would like to hear from you what you think, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.’"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 24-25/17
Bashir Gemayel is A Dream That Will Never Die/Elias Bejjani/August 23/17
Liberman and Bennett: Israel must safeguard own security against Iranian presence in Syria/Ynetnews/August 24/17
Iran, not so far away/Giora Eiland/Ynetnews/August 24/17
Afghanistan has just stumped another President/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/August 24/17
Trump, Bannon and the Republican party/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/August 24/17
Science and the ‘sinful’ eclipse/Nawar Fakhry Ezzi/Al Arabiya/August 24/17
Nothing but hammer in Trump’s Afghanistan toolbox/Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/August 24/17
"It is Our Very Existence That is Unbearable to Jihadists"/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/August 24/17
Strides in the Struggle for an Independent Kurdistan/Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/August 24/17
Qatar Bans its Pilgrims, Saudi Arabia Welcomes them/Salman Al-dossary/August 24/17
Terror in Spain Shows ISIS Is Down not Out/Tobin Harshaw/Asharq Al Awsat/August 24/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 24-25/17
Bashir Gemayel is A Dream That Will Never Die
Nasrallah: Hizbullah, Syrian Army Committed to Negotiating with IS on Captive Lebanese Troops
Nasrallah promises Army Command, families of military abductees not to accept any solution beyond revealing their sons' fate
UNIFIL Pushes Back after U.S., Israeli Criticism
Cabinet Approves Power Ships Book of Terms, Sends It to Tenders Administration
Army Advances on Last IS-Held Area, Braces for Possibly Tough Battle
Calm Engulfs Ain el-Hilweh after Palestinian Force Deployment
Aoun Moves to Beiteddine Summer Seat, Chairs Cabinet Session
Geagea, Sabhan meet
Berri meets Abu Faour, Ambassadors
Army continues to target Daesh posts, leaves behind casualties
Macron cables Jumblatt: France will continue to support Lebanon's sovereignty, unity and stability
Future bloc meeting highlights Army's exclusive battle against terrorists
Jumblat Visits Former Ally Hariri to Mend Ties
Paris Sees No Need to Revise UNIFIL Mandate as U.N. Reportedly Snubs U.S. Request
LIVE Day 6: Army to push on at right time: Aoun
Text of UN Resolution 1701

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 24-25/17
Dutch Arrest Man after Concert Canceled over Terror Tip
Iran, Saudi to Exchange Diplomatic Visits
Bahrain dismantles cell of 10 people plotting terror operation
Iraq ministry confirms 20 sailors dead after ship sinks
Qatar envoy back in Tehran to strengthen bilateral ties
New US Afghan plan a 'futile course': Russia's Lavrov
EU citizens leaving UK pushes down net migration after Brexit vote

Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 24-25/17
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

Nasrallah: Hizbullah, Syrian Army Committed to Negotiating with IS on Captive Lebanese Troops
Naharnet/August 24/17/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced Thursday that his group and the Syrian army are committed to negotiating over the captive Lebanese troops in any talks with the jihadist Islamic State group that is currently facing offensives on both sides of the Lebanese-Syrian border. “The Syrian army and Hizbullah have committed themselves to have the issue of the captive troops as the first item in any negotiations with IS. We are not acting as if there are two fronts but rather only one, contrary to some in Lebanon,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech on the latest developments. “The Lebanese Army Command and the families of the servicemen should be reassured that we won't accept to overlook the case of the troops,” he added. He noted that the Syrian leadership “will contribute positively to the success of any agreement with IS, but it wants a request for public coordination” from the Lebanese state. “Hizbullah fights for the Lebanese and Syrians, because we believe that the battle cannot be segregated or partitioned,” Nasrallah pointed out. As for the developments on the ground, Nasrallah revealed that Hizbullah liberated 20 square kilometers of Lebanese territory from IS' hands at the beginning of the Lebanese army's Operation Dawn of the Outskirts. Lauding the Lebanese army's ongoing offensive against the militants, Nasrallah said the military “did a delicate and professional job over the past few days with the least casualty toll and material losses.”“Over 270 square kilometers have been liberated on the Syrian side of the border and only 40 square kilometers remain in IS' hands,” he added. Nasrallah also pointed out that “the militants are very confused and are seeking any settlement and this is intelligence information.”“But IS' leadership is not concerned with the exit of its fighters from the region and it wants them to be killed, and this is also intelligence information,” he added. “We will have a new victory and liberation day and a new confirmation of the (army-people-resistance) golden equation,” Nasrallah went on to say.

Nasrallah promises Army Command, families of military abductees not to accept any solution beyond revealing their sons' fate
Thu 24 Aug 2017 /NNA - The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, tackled on Thursday the latest developments on the scene, sending heartfelt tribute to the fighters who are putting their lives in jeopardy on the battle fronts on the Lebanese-Syrian border, thus saluting "the Lebanese Army, the Syrian Army and the Resistance fighters, especially the martyrs and the wounded among them.""The headlines around which the battle revolves are, on one hand, the Lebanese dimension which consists of expulsing Daesh from the entire Lebanese territory; from Arsal, al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek, as well as securing the Lebanese-Syrian border, which requires sending Daesh away into the Syrian territory so as to no longer pose a threat to the Lebanese Army," he said, assuring that Daesh's further spread at the border would deplete the LAF and its forces along the borderline.
"The goal is also to reveal the fate of the kidnapped soldiers," Nasrallah stressed as well. "On the Syrian level, the target is to regain control over the entire Western Qalamoun and end the existence of Daesh there, after mountains and hills on the Syrian side of the border formed a threat to the Lebanese towns, the Syrian inside and the Damascus-Homs road. When Daesh is defeated in West Qalamoun, Homs is safe again," he said.
"The Resistance is fighting with both dimensions in mind. It is making sacrifices out of belief in the non-division of the battle."Tackling the course of the fight so far, the Hezbollah secretary-general said "After the marginal work on Saturday, the Army command announced the beginning of Fajr El-Jouroud operation. Simultaneously, an operation (...) was launched by the Resistance on the Syrian side. What has thus far been achieved on both sides is of major importance given the difficult geographic area and the presumed nature of the enemy, Daesh.""The Army Command has announced the liberation of 100 km of land, with only twenty kilometers left to battle for," he said, praising "the work of the LAF and what it achieved at the lowest possible cost and with utmost efficiency."He said that Daesh militants were now trapped inside a vast operations area between Lebanon and Syria, noting that there is a precise count of the number of militants and civilians in that besieged area. Sayyed Nasrallah praised the psychological state of mind of the Syrian Army and the Resistance on the fronts, and their deep-rooted belief in victory," pointing out that "it is only a matter of time [before the battle ends]," and calling "not to set time limits for this battle."
"The narrower the battle area, the bigger the cost, because of the presence of civilians (...) and because Daesh uses those civilians as human shields, like it did in Iraq."
"The Syrian leadership and the Resistance confirm that there will be no commitment to negotiations with Daesh unless it is tied to revealing the fate of the Lebanese soldiers abducted by the group," he announced, stressing that "the resistance acts as though the battle was one; and on one front," promising the Army Command and the families of the kidnapped "not to accept any solution beyond revealing the fate of the kidnapped Lebanese military personnel."He revealed thereon "the responsiveness of the Syrian leadership, as we were told, but in accordance with cooperation with the Lebanese government in the next phase."
The Sayyed explained that "the Resistance is negotiating without coordination or mandate from the Lebanese government, apart from formalities.""We are most likely headed towards ending it [the battle] militarily, and the reason behind that is the mentality of the Daesh leadership abroad, unlike the group's leadership in Qalamoun which tends towards seeking negotiation." Addressing the Lebanese people, Nasrallah said "You are on the verge of a new victory that you should be proud of. When this victory is achieved, we will have a Lebanese-Syrian border safe from terrorists."
He promised to delve later into the details that reveal those who truly favored sovereignty and thus wanted the battle to happen, and those who did not, hoping to "overcome some of the ambiguities around this issue."Calling on some media outlets not to surrender to foreign [US] threats that poured at them following the coverage they provided to the Arsal battle led by Hezbollah, Nasrallah told those outlets that failing to cover the western Qalamoun battle and everything going on at the Syrian side of the border would strip them off of their credibility. "This great achievement (...) is one of the results of the golden Army-people-Resistance formula, added to it the Syrian Army," he said, disregarding those who might be offended by his words. "The integration between the Lebanese and Syrian fronts is what accelerated the achievement of victory. (...) The second Liberation Day would be the day when the Lebanese-Syrian borders are completely freed from the hegemony of the Takfiri terrorists. This day must be in 2017, but the month and day are to be set later," he concluded.

UNIFIL Pushes Back after U.S., Israeli Criticism
Associated Press/Naharnet/August 24/17/The head of U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon is pushing back after U.S. and Israeli criticism of the mission, saying that his force has no evidence that weapons are being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the Hizbullah-dominated south. Maj. Gen. Michael Beary defended the 10,500-strong force as the U.S. and France publicly disagreed about whether its mandate, which expires on Aug. 31, should be beefed up to tackle Hizbullah. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement coinciding with Wednesday's closed U.N. Security Council consultations on the force, known as UNIFIL, that Hizbullah openly boasts about its weapons stockpile and publicly threatens the destruction of neighboring Israel. "The Security Council cannot adopt a business-as-usual approach when so much is at stake," she said. "We call on the members of the Security Council to join us in taking real action to make UNIFIL a stronger peacekeeping mission and to stand up against forces of terror in Lebanon and around the region." But France's deputy U.N. ambassador Anne Guegen, whose country is in charge of drafting the council resolution renewing the mandate, told reporters that "it is of paramount importance for the stability of Lebanon and the region, and in the best interest of all, that UNIFIL keeps its mandate and is in a position to fulfill it, with the full backing and confidence of the Security Council."
"Though the situation has remained generally calm in the south, it is also still very fragile and volatile," she said, and all parties must uphold their commitment to a 2004 Security Council resolution ordering all Lebanese armed groups, including Hizbullah, to disarm and calling for the Lebanese army to extend its authority throughout the south. Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after the council's discussion that the mandate should be renewed in its present form, noting that the Lebanese government has not asked for a change in the mandate. Asked whether there was support for the U.S. proposal to change the mandate, he replied: "I think the majority of those who spoke supported the renewal of the mandate as it is now."
Beary, the Irish commander who leads UNIFIL, said it has successfully maintained the peace for more than a decade, and prevented major "misunderstandings" from erupting between Israel and Hizbullah. "We should not be looking to upset that," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday aboard the Brazilian flagship for the UNIFIL maritime force. He said his force's mandate is "viable" and has enabled his mission to deploy south of the Litani river and along most of the 110-kilometer (68-mile) frontier between Israel and Lebanon. It also allows for patrols and helicopter reconnaissance missions. On Wednesday, UNIFIL's Maritime Task Force carried out a joint training exercise with the Lebanese army, simulating an interception at sea of a ship carrying contraband. Lebanese soldiers swooped aboard the UNIAO from a helicopter, and others boarded from two inflatable boats to seize the illegal shipment and arrest the crew members as UNIFIL and Lebanese officials watched. "I have no evidence, nor have I been provided with any evidence of weapons transfers into my area of operations," which is confined to southern Lebanon, Beary said. "We are extremely active in the area and if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it" he added. UNIFIL is not deployed along the border with Syria. Iran is suspected of shipping weapons to Hizbullah through Syria, where the militant group is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces. Israel has targeted suspected convoys there with airstrikes.
Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon told the AP that U.N. forces should have an increased presence in their area of operations, with more patrols and without any restrictions on its movements. He also said the mission should be gathering "real-time updates" about violations, saying it is often last to report them. "If Hizbullah is able to turn civilian border towns into terrorist outposts and increase their hostile activities along our border — all while UNIFIL is stationed nearby — then it should be obvious to the Security Council that significant changes are needed in the mandate," Danon said. Rear Admiral Sergio Fernando de Amaral Chaves Jr., the commander of the maritime force, the U.N.'s first and only naval unit, said his forces have helped deter smugglers and improve the conditions for Lebanon's maritime economy since it deployed in 2006. He said no weapons smuggling through sea has been reported since 2012, when in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces, two attempts to bring arms into Lebanon through ports were foiled.
"We are here patrolling. Helping to establish the security environment... this is our big contribution," Chaves said.

Cabinet Approves Power Ships Book of Terms, Sends It to Tenders Administration
Naharnet/August 24/17/The Cabinet on Thursday approved the booklet of terms and conditions pertaining to the leasing of new power generation ships after introducing a few amendments, referring it to the tenders administration. President Michel Aoun said “the electricity booklet of terms was approved as desired by the Council of Ministers.”“The deadline for submitting bids was extended from two weeks to three weeks,” Minister Enaya Ezzeddine of the AMAL Movement said. Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan of Hizbullah for his part said “the debate was positive and all remarks were taken into consideration.” Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil meanwhile said: “I don't want to take part in the 'lying party' between what they say inside and what they say outside.”Several parties had slammed the conduct of Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil regarding the bidding process, arguing that it lacked transparency.

Army Advances on Last IS-Held Area, Braces for Possibly Tough Battle
Naharnet/August 24/17/The army was on Thursday advancing on the last Islamic State-held area in the outskirts of the eastern border town of Ras Baalbek, amid relative calm on the fighting frontiers. Army units are continuing to dismantle landmines, LBCI television reported. “The army has reached a number of border points with Syria, except for the area surrounding the Mirtbayya valley, where the IS militants who have not fled to Syria are gathered,” sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Thursday. “The army forces that have reached the border have not yet detected or met with any fighters from the Syrian army or the other forces. The army will stop at the border and will not advance a single inch inside Syrian territory,” the sources added. Military sources told the same daily that the fourth stage of Operation Dawn of the Outskirts is expected to be “the most dangerous.” “It involves liberating 20 square kilometers where a number of terrorists are thought to be hiding... All options are on the table and the Army Command is devising plans to deal with the fourth phase,” the sources added.The army had announced Tuesday that it became in control of 100 out of 120 square kilometers of territory previously held by IS after capturing several strategic hills and areas.

Calm Engulfs Ain el-Hilweh after Palestinian Force Deployment
Naharnet/August 24/17/Calm has been engulfing the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh since Wednesday evening, after the Palestinian political leadership managed to bolster a ceasefire that accompanied the deployment of the Joint Palestinian Security Forces in the clashes zone, the National News Agency said on Thursday. “Normalcy has been restored in the camp while residents are inspecting their properties,” NNA said. A ceasefire agreement reached on Wednesday and drafted by the Fatah Movement and the Hamas movement involved “halting fire, the deployment of the Joint Force in the al-Tiri neighborhood with the assistance of the National Security Forces, and considering Bilal Badr and Bilal al-Orqoub fugitives wanted by security forces.” The truce follows seven days of fierce clashes that pitted the Joint Force and Fatah against two small Islamist groups led by Badr and Orqoub. Several people were killed and wounded in the fighting.

Aoun Moves to Beiteddine Summer Seat, Chairs Cabinet Session
Naharnet/August 24/17/President Michel Aoun arrived Thursday morning at the Beiteddine Palace, the summer presidential seat, in a tradition Lebanese presidents have been marking since the country's 1943 independence. The president will preside over a Cabinet session at noon. As per protocol, a Republican Guard platoon saluted the president and played the national anthem as the Lebanese flag was hoisted over the palace. Aoun was welcomed by State Minister for Presidency Affairs Pierre Raffoul, acting Mount Lebanon Governor Mansour Daou, Chouf District Officer Marlene Qahwaji, Beiteddine Municipality deputy chief Joseph Karam, Beiteddine mukhtar Maroun Ghayyad, in addition to senior presidency officials and advisers. The president then moved to his office where he held a meeting with Raffoul, the governor, the district officer, the deputy municipal chief and the mukhtar. Roads leading to the Beiteddine Palace had been decorated with Lebanese flags, portraits of Aoun and banners welcoming him.

Geagea, Sabhan meet
Thu 24 Aug 2017 /NNA - Lebanese Forces Party leader, Samir Geagea, is currently meeting in Maarab with the Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs at the Saudi Foreign Ministry Thamer Al-Sabhan and an accompanying delegation.

Berri meets Abu Faour, Ambassadors
Thu 24 Aug 2017/NNAA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, met, at his Ain-el-Tineh residence on Thursday, with MP Wael Abu Faour, with whom he discussed the current situation and latest developments. "We basically discussed the army operation in the region of Arsal and in Ras Baalback," the lawmaker told reporters following the meeting. "The entire Lebanese people stands behind the army," he said. Berri later met with Azerbaijani Ambassador to Lebanon, Aghasalim Shukurov, over the bilateral relations between the two countries. Also, Berri held talks with Swedish Ambassador to Lebanon, Peter Semneby, who came on a farewell visit upon the end of his diplomatic mission in Beirut. Separately, Berri received cables from Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, as well as from the President of the Jordanian Senate Faisal Akef al-Fayez.

Army continues to target Daesh posts, leaves behind casualties
Thu 24 Aug 2017/ NNA - The Army Command - Orientation Directorate - issued on Thursday the following statement: "As an annex to its previous statement, the military armed forces continue to target the remaining posts of the terrorist organization, Daesh, in Wadi Martabia and its surroundings, with heavy artillery and aircraft shelling, leaving behind damages in vehicles and gathering points, full destruction of the targeted posts and the fall of a number of dead and wounded in terrorists' ranks."

Macron cables Jumblatt: France will continue to support Lebanon's sovereignty, unity and stability
Thu 24 Aug 2017/NNA - President of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblatt received a cable from French President Emmanuel Macron who thanked him for his congratulations on his election as France's President, underlining the "friendship between France and Lebanon" which reflects the joint adherence to the values of coexistence, pluralism and diversity. "In the shadow of the regional crises, France will continue to stand by Lebanon in support of its sovereignty, unity and stability," French President told Jumblatt, adding that "every effort is necessary to support the Lebanese armed forces in their fight against terrorism." Macron confirmed his efforts to mobilize "the international community for the development and prosperity of Lebanon, while the Lebanese offer evidence of their exemplary solidarity over the issue of displaced Syrians and thus deserve the necessary support thereon."Macron concluded his telegram to Jumblatt by stressing that "France will continue with unswerving determination to find a credible political solution to the Syrian conflict to address the roots of the problem of terrorism and restore the region's stability."

Future bloc meeting highlights Army's exclusive battle against terrorists
Thu 24 Aug 2017/NNA - The Future Parliamentary bloc held its weekly meeting under the chairmanship of bloc head Fouad Siniora, with talks touching on the overall situation in the country. At the end of the meeting, a statement read by MP Ammar Houry, tackled the operation carried out b the Lebanese Army in al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek mountains. MPs saluted the Lebanese Army's achievements in their military operation to liberate Al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek mountains from the control of terrorists. "The Lebanese Armed Forces have proved, once again that, with its national will, the determination of its leadership, its officers and its soldiers, the sacrifices of its innocent martyrs and the suffering of its wounded, it is capable of protecting the entire homeland. The Army is determined to restore the role of the State and the prestige of the army as one of its most important instruments," the statement read.
"The LAF is carrying out this national battle with its free decision and firm will, without any dictation or partnership from anyone," Future MPs stressed. The bloc pointed out that it received with satisfaction the clear and explicit declaration by the Army command on "the absence of coordination with any party or in this military operation.""This declaration came as a strong response to the allegations of some parties that seek to build legitimacy for their illegal weapons at the expense of the nation, civil peace and the unity of the Lebanese. (...) The basic fact that unfolds in the light of what is happening in the region and Lebanon is the defeat of terrorists: the terrorism of Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian allies on the one hand, and the terrorism of Daesh and extremist groups, on the other hand." The Future bloc pointed out that "the Taif Agreement is the only way to establish balanced Lebanese-Syrian relations based on mutual respect for the independence, freedom and sovereignty of each of them."

Jumblat Visits Former Ally Hariri to Mend Ties
Naharnet/August 24/17/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat held reconciliation talks overnight with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Center House. The Druze leader was accompanied by his son Taimur and MP Wael Abu Faour and the meeting was held in the presence of Minister Ghattas Khoury. “The visit was agreed on a long time ago, but my personal circumstances and travel, and then Sheikh Saad's travel to the U.S., have delayed it for merely technical and personal reasons,” Jumblat told reporters. “Today we meet to evaluate the situations in the country, which are improving,” the PSP leader added. “There are other issues that we will discuss with Sheikh Saad – social issues and other topics – and it is not strange that I'm at the Center House now,” Jumblat went on to say. “We had some disputes and we have to organize them and to listen to Sheikh Saad's suggestions,” the PSP leader added. He also promised to “fine-tune” his tweets, some of which were the reason behind the strain in ties between the two allies. Hariri's nomination of Michel Aoun for the presidency and his acceptance of proportional representation were also among the points of contention between the two leaders.

Paris Sees No Need to Revise UNIFIL Mandate as U.N. Reportedly Snubs U.S. Request
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 24/17/France said Wednesday it wants the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon to stick to its current mandate, opposing U.S. calls to strengthen the force's authority to deal with arms movements by Hizbullah. Turkey's official news agency meanwhile reported that the U.N. Security Council “rejected a U.S. request to revise the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).” Anne Gueguen, France's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told reporters her government saw no need to change the 2006 Security Council resolution that sets the mission's current mandate, which expires at the end of August. "We want to keep the mandate as such," she said, adding that "does mean there won't be any change in the resolution." The 10,500-strong United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has been in southern Lebanon since 1978, when it was charged with confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces from a demilitarized zone between the two countries. After a 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, the U.N. force's mandate was expanded to include keeping the peace and helping the Lebanese army reassert its authority in the aftermath of the conflict. "We are for a reaffirmation of its mandate and the optimal effectiveness of its mission," the French diplomat said, speaking before closed door Security Council consultations on renewing UNIFIL's mandate. n August 7, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said UNIFIL's mandate should be enhanced to prevent the spread of illegal weapons in southern Lebanon, which she blamed on Hizbullah and said threatened the region's stability. "UNIFIL must increase its capacity and commitment to investigating and reporting these violations," she said. France, which contributes 800 troops to UNIFIL, plans to submit a resolution extending the force's mandate for another year, Gueguen said. "UNIFIL plays a decisive role to stabilize the south of Lebanon in a very difficult original context and it has demonstrated a stabilizing effect in the volatile, complex and troubled environment," she said. In a letter to the Security Council on August 4, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he wanted to look at ways to improve UNIFIL's efforts "regarding the illegal presence of armed personnel, weapons or infrastructure inside its area of operations." A Security Council vote on renewing UNIFIL's mandate is expected on August 30.

LIVE Day 6: Army to push on at right time: Aoun
The Daily Star/ August 24/2017
BEIRUT: As the Lebanese Army's offensive along the northeastern border entered its sixth day Thursday, roughly 20 square km of Ras Baalbeck's outskirts remained under Daesh (ISIS) control and the military gears up for a final assault.
2:30 p.m.
Local media reported that Daesh's Emir in Lebanon Mouaffak Abu al-Sous has fled Lebanon after requesting negotiations with the Lebanese state to reach a settlement for their withdrawal from the border region. Authorities reportedly rejected the request without first receiving information regarding the fate of nine Lebanese servicemen held hostage by the militants. The news comes after a source told The Daily Star early Thursday that Daesh had also requested talks with Hezbollah.
2 p.m.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri reports to Cabinet on his visit to Army positions on the outskirts of Ras Baalbeck Wednesday, according to local media.
Hariri praised the high spirits of the military personnel, as well as their delicate work and their achievements.
"The Army is positioned in all the locations that have been liberated from terrorists. Observation centers and fortifications will be erected, and the Army's needs will be set based on that," reports quoted Hariri as saying.
1:30 p.m.
Army units are continuing their combat and logistics preparations on the outskirts of Ras Baalbeck and Al-Qaa, to gear up for for the fourth phase of the Fajr al-Joroud offensive.
“The Army artillery and its warplanes are continuing to combat what remains of the terrorist positions and to target their gatherings and movements in Wadi Martabya and its surrounding,” the statement said.
“The specialized Explosive Ordnance Disposal units are continuing to cut through new roads and cleanse the liberated areas, dismantle explosive devices, booby traps, landmines and suspicious objects that the militants left behind.”
1:20 p.m.
President Michel Aoun says that the Army's Fajr al-Joroud operation has been a success.
"The majority of the area has been liberated and there only remains a small space [under Daesh control] and work to liberate it will be done at the right time," Aoun told ministers during a Cabinet session.
"The Army has received political and public support and everyone is proud of what it’s doing," Aoun added.
The president highlighted the need to supply the Army with all it needs for victory.
At the beginning of the session, Aoun requested that a minute of silence be observed for those soldiers killed in the offensive.
12 p.m.
Local media report that the Army is targeting Daesh positions in the area of operations.
9:40 a.m.
Ras Baalbeck Mayor Duraid Rahal tells The Daily Star that there was quiet overnight Wednesday with no shelling or gunfire heard from the town around dawn – a rarity since the fighting started Saturday morning as the Army has regularly launched concerted pushes at first light.
Rahal suggests that the calm may be because Army units are continuing to reposition and Explosive Ordnance Disposal units are clearing the area in preparation for the fourth phase of the offensive. The Army has also regained significant territory near the areas closest to Ras Baalbeck with the final canton of Daesh ground closer to the border and some distance from the conurbation.
9:30 a.m.
Local daily Al-Joumhouria quoted military sources as saying that the fourth phase of the Army offensive is set to be the most dangerous yet, as Daesh militants pulled back from now recaptured areas into the last remaining unsecured territory that the army will have to now assail. However, the source did tell the daily that it was possible some militants had fled to the Syrian side of the border and therefore outside the Lebanese Army’s area of operations.

Text of UN Resolution 1701
The text of Resolution 1701, passed unanimously by the UN Security Council aimed at ending the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
AUGUST 11, 2006
The Security Council,
Recalling all its previous resolutions on Lebanon, in particular resolutions 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004), 1655 (2006), 1680 (2006) and 1697 (2006), as well as the statements of its president on the situation in Lebanon, in particular the statements of 18 June, 2000, of 19 October, 2004, of 4 May 2005, of 23 January 2006 and of 30 July 2006;
Expressing its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hezbollah's attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons;
Emphasising the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasising the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers;
Mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel;
Welcoming the efforts of the Lebanese prime minister and the commitment of the government of Lebanon, in its seven-point plan, to extend its authority over its territory, through its own legitimate armed forces, such that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon, welcoming also its commitment to a UN force that is supplemented and enhanced in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operation, and bearing in mind its request in this plan for an immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces from southern Lebanon;
Determined to act for this withdrawal to happen at the earliest;
Taking due note of the proposals made in the seven-point plan regarding the Shebaa farms area;
Welcoming the unanimous decision by the government of Lebanon on 7 August 2006 to deploy a Lebanese armed force of 15,000 troops in south Lebanon as the Israeli army withdraws behind the Blue Line and to request the assistance of additional forces from Unifil as needed, to facilitate the entry of the Lebanese armed forces into the region and to restate its intention to strengthen the Lebanese armed forces with material as needed to enable it to perform its duties;
Aware of its responsibilities to help secure a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution to the conflict;
Determining that the situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security;
1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;
2. Upon full cessation of hostilities, calls upon the government of Lebanon and Unifil as authorised by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the South and calls upon the government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from southern Lebanon in parallel;
3. Emphasises the importance of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty, so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon;
4. Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line;
5. Also reiterates its strong support, as recalled in all its previous relevant resolutions, for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949;
6. Calls on the international community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under the authority of the government of Lebanon, reopening airports and harbours, consistent with paragraphs 14 and 15, and calls on it also to consider further assistance in the future to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;
7. Affirms that all parties are responsible for ensuring that no action is taken contrary to paragraph 1 that might adversely affect the search for a long-term solution, humanitarian access to civilian populations, including safe passage for humanitarian convoys, or the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons, and calls on all parties to comply with this responsibility and to cooperate with the Security Council;
8. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:
Full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;
security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorised in paragraph 11, deployed in this area;
Full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;
No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government;
No sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;
Provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession;
9. Invites the secretary general to support efforts to secure as soon as possible agreements in principle from the government of Lebanon and the government of Israel to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 8, and expresses its intention to be actively involved;
10. Requests the secretary general to develop, in liaison with relevant international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including by dealing with the Shebaa farms area, and to present to the Security Council those proposals within 30 days;
11. Decides, in order to supplement and enhance the force in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operations, to authorize an increase in the force strength of Unifil to a maximum of 15,000 troops, and that the force shall, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426 (1978):
a. Monitor the cessation of hostilities;
b. Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon as provided in paragraph 2;
c. Coordinate its activities related to paragraph 11 (b) with the government of Lebanon and the government of Israel;
d. Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
e. Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment of the area as referred to in paragraph 8;
f. Assist the government of Lebanon, at its request, to implement paragraph 14;
12. Acting in support of a request from the government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, authorizes Unifil to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilised for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers, and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence;
13. Requests the secretary general urgently to put in place measures to ensure Unifil is able to carry out the functions envisaged in this resolution, urges member states to consider making appropriate contributions to Unifil and to respond positively to requests for assistance from the Force, and expresses its strong appreciation to those who have contributed to Unifil in the past;
14. Calls upon the government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel and requests Unifil as authorised in paragraph 11 to assist the government of Lebanon at its request;
15. Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft;
a. the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and;
b. the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above, except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorised by the government of Lebanon or by Unifil as authorised in paragraph 11;
16. Decides to extend the mandate of Unifil until 31 August 2007, and expresses its intention to consider in a later resolution further enhancements to the mandate and other steps to contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution;
17. Requests the secretary general to report to the Council within one week on the implementation of this resolution and subsequently on a regular basis;
18. Stresses the importance of, and the need to achieve, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967 and 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973;
19. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 24-25/17
Dutch Arrest Man after Concert Canceled over Terror Tip
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 24/17/Dutch police said Thursday they had arrested another man after canceling a Rotterdam concert by a U.S. rock band following a tip-off about a possible terror threat. The man was detained before dawn in the Brabant region, police said in a statement, adding that the driver of a van with Spanish plates carrying gas canisters who was detained late Wednesday in Rotterdam also remained in custody. The arrests came after last week's twin vehicle attacks in Spain that killed 15 people, which were claimed by the Islamic State group. "A 22-year-old man from Brabant was arrested Thursday morning in the investigation into a terrorist threat Wednesday evening in Rotterdam," police said in a statement. It was the second arrest after that of the Spanish van driver who was detained only hours after officials canceled a concert by Californian rock group Allah-Las. The driver, who was "possibly driving under the influence", was "arrested because of his driving", police said, adding that officers had found a "number of gas canisters" in his van. The man, whom police said was a mechanic, will be interviewed again Thursday. But Dutch authorities have cautioned there may be no link between the van driver and the tip-off about a terror threat which came from Spanish police.

Iran, Saudi to Exchange Diplomatic Visits
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/August 24/17/Iran and Saudi Arabia will soon exchange diplomatic visits, Tehran said, in a possible sign of tensions easing after the archrivals cut ties last year. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told local media the visits would take place after this year's hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is due to start at the beginning of September. "Visas have been delivered for the two sides. The final steps need to be completed so our diplomats can go inspect our embassy and consulate in Saudi Arabia and for Saudi diplomats to come inspect their embassy and consulate," Zarif told news agency ISNA. It would be the first exchange of diplomats between the two countries since they cut ties in January 2016, after Iranians stormed Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran in response to the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. There have been signs of a thaw in relations in recent months, including an agreement to allow Iranians to participate in this year's hajj, a pilgrimage that Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetimes if they are able to do so.Iranians were unable to attend the hajj last year after talks on security and logistics fell apart. Relations between Tehran and Riyadh have been at their worst in years, with the countries trading frequent accusations of meddling and supporting different sides in conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Zarif urged Riyadh to reconsider its foreign policy. "Saudi Arabia's behavior goes against its own interests. We want security and stability throughout the region and insist on the need to fight against the dangers that threaten us all," he said. "Saudi Arabia has not benefited from two years of war and horrific acts against the Yemeni people, on the contrary," he said. "It's the same in Syria or in Bahrain. We hope they will choose another path."

Bahrain dismantles cell of 10 people plotting terror operation
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishThursday, 24 August 2017/Bahrain today said that it had dismantled a 10-member cell suspected of involvement in terrorist acts, led by 31-year-old Hussein Ali Ahmed Dawood, 31. Dawood was one of the leaders of the Saraya al-Ashtar, the terrorist armed wing of the so-called Al-Wafaa Islamic movement, and a fugitive from Bahrain, living in Iran. He hasbeen sentenced to life imprisonment in three terrorist cases and is closely linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. In the operation to dismantle the cell, the Bahraini investigators came upon a trove of incriminating information that lso led to the seizure of explosive materials at various sites in centrally populated areas, intended to be used for bomb-making and manufacturing of explosive devices. The authorities found large quantities of highly explosive materials, estimated at more than 127 kg, in addition to various weapons.

Iraq ministry confirms 20 sailors dead after ship sinks
AFP, BasraThursday, 24 August 2017/The bodies of 20 Iraqi sailors have been recovered after their ship sank following a collision off the country’s southern coast, the transport ministry said on Thursday. The Al-Mesbar sank in Iraqi waters on Saturday following the collision with a foreign-flagged vessel, after which eight sailors were rescued and the bodies of four others found. The ministry said in a statement that 16 more bodies were found when the ship was raised on Thursday. Iraqi authorities have ordered the foreign vessel impounded following the collision, which took place in the Khor Abdullah maritime canal between Iraq and Kuwait.

Qatar envoy back in Tehran to strengthen bilateral ties
Reuters, DubaiThursday, 24 August 2017/Qatar said on Wednesday it decided to return its ambassador to Tehran, more than 20 months after he was recalled in protest over the ransacking of Saudi Arabia’s missions in Iran by demonstrators angry at Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite Muslim cleric. The Qatari decision comes amidst a row between Doha and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which together with Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge it denies. “Qatar announced that its ambassador to Tehran will return to resume his diplomatic duties,” the Qatari foreign ministry’s information office said in a statement in Arabic on its website. It added that Doha wanted to strengthen ties in all fields with the Islamic republic.
Boost relations
The information office also said that Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani discussed “bilateral relations and means of boosting and developing them” in a telephone call with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif. Qatar recalled its ambassador to Tehran in January last year after Saudi Arabia cut ties with the Islamic Republic, accusing it of failing to protect its embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashahd against demonstrators who had ransacked them. The demonstrators were protesting Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite Muslim cleric convicted on terrorism charges. The Qatari foreign ministry did not say when the ambassador will return to Tehran. Iran has allowed Qatar’s national carrier to use its airspace and sent fresh food supplies to Doha after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties and cut transport and trade ties with Doha in June. In the dispute with Qatar, the four countries have also accused Doha of cozying up to arch-foe Iran, a charge it denies, saying other Gulf countries had even warmer ties with Tehran.

New US Afghan plan a 'futile course': Russia's Lavrov
Thu 24 Aug 2017/NA - Russia's foreign minister called the new US strategy for Afghanistan regrettable Thursday, saying the blueprint unveiled by President Donald Trump was a "futile course". Speaking at a press-conference in Moscow, minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has expressed "regret that the main focus of the new (Afghanistan) strategy announced by Washington is regulation by methods of force." "We are certain this is a futile course," he said, furthermore rejecting suggestions that Moscow was behind supplying the Taliban. Trump this week announced 4,000 new troops for deployment to Afghanistan, backtracking from his earlier promise to end America's longest war, though other specifics of the plan remain unclear. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson furthermore on Tuesday suggested Moscow is arming the Taliban. "To the extent Russia is supplying arms to the Taliban, that is a violation, obviously, of international norms," he said. "It's not the first time we are accused of supporting and even arming the Taliban," Lavrov said. "Not one fact has been presented" to support this. Earlier this year, a similar allegation was made by NATO commander Curtis Scaparrotti, who said Moscow is assisting and possibly supplying the Taliban and its influence is growing in Afghanistan. Lavrov said Moscow only contacts the Taliban for two things: ensuring safety of Russian citizens in Afghanistan and pushing the Taliban to hold talks with the Afghan government. The resurgent Taliban is an officially banned organization recognized as a terrorist group in Russia but some Russian officials have said Moscow is exchanging information with the group when it comes to fighting Daesh (ISIS) extremists. Moscow fought a disastrous military campaign in Afghanistan in the 1980s which was widely considered a factor in the Soviet Union's eventual collapse. -- AFP

EU citizens leaving UK pushes down net migration after Brexit vote
Thu 24 Aug 2017 /NNA - Net migration to Britain fell to its lowest level in three years in the 12 months to the end of March, with more than half the drop caused by European Union citizens leaving and fewer arriving since the Brexit vote. The biggest drop in the figures came from eight eastern European countries, including Poland and Hungary, that joined the EU in 2004, leading to a migration to Britain of many eastern Europeans hoping for better-paid jobs. Net migration, which shows the annual difference between those moving to and leaving the country, has been falling since Britain's June 2016 vote to exit the European Union. According to the Office for National Statistics, it stood at 246,000 in the 12 months to the end of March, down 81,000 from the previous year and compared with the 336,000 record number that was published just before the Brexit referendum. Within the 246,000, some 127,000 were from the EU, down 51,000 to its lowest level since the 12 months ending December 2013, as emigration rose and immigration fell compared to the previous 12 months. usiness leaders said the drop in net migration was a serious concern for firms worried about wage inflation and an inability to fill skills gaps with British workers.
"No one should celebrate these numbers," Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills Policy at the Institute of Directors, said in a statement. "Given unemployment is currently at its lowest level ever (4.5 percent), without the 3 million EU citizens living here the UK would have an acute labour shortage. Signs that it is becoming a less attractive place to live and work are a concern." According to an industry survey published on Thursday, nearly half of businesses operating in Britain's food supply chain say EU employees are thinking about leaving because of uncertainty around Brexit. Nearly a third said staff had already left. The government has said it is still committed to an election promise to reduce the numbers to the "tens of thousands", first made in 2010 and designed to reassure Britons who were worried about the impact immigration had on public services. Many Britons cited immigration as their reason for voting "Leave" in the referendum. Britain has said it aims to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and particularly important to sectors of the economy such as construction and the food and hospitality industries. But Migration Watch UK, an advocacy group which has long called for immigration to be cut, said that while Thursday's figures were a positive sign, they remained too high. "This is a step forward but it is largely good fortune," said Chairman Andrew Green. "This should not obscure the fact that migration remains at an unacceptable level of a quarter of a million a year with massive implications for the scale and nature of our society." ---Reuters

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 24-25/17
Liberman and Bennett: Israel must safeguard own security against Iranian presence in Syria/وزراء في اسرائيل يطالبون بأن تحمي إسرائيل نفسها من الوجود الإيراني في سوريا
Moran Azulay, Shahar Chai and Alexandra Lukash/Ynetnews/August 24/17
Def. Min.Lieberman and Edu. Min. Bennett say Israel has only itself to rely on regarding Iran's growing power in Syria; former national security advisor Amidror responds to Iran's suspected attempt to create 'a corridor' from Tehran to Mediterranean by saying, 'Israel can do nothing to stop it, but it can draw red lines in Syria and say that if they're crossed, it will retaliate.'
Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman spoke Thursday morning at a conference organized by the Israel Institute of Energy and Environment, assuring Israel will not stand idly by as Iran entrenches its position in Syria.
"Iran, via its Revolutionary Guard, is trying to create a new reality in the region with Iranian airforce and naval bases in Syria, with Shiite militias numbering thousands of mercenaries and by manufacturing precise weaponry in Lebanon," he said. "Israel does not intend to resign itself to these attempts and will not act as onlooker from the sidelines."Minister of Education Naftali Bennett also spoke on the matter, saying that "we'll do everything in our power to ensure no Iranians will stand at our borders," he asserted.
Bennett also commented on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "At the end of the day, whether we're turning to the US or to Russia, we'll try to harness them but won't rely solely on them," he stated. "Israel reserves the right to defend itself by itself, including against the Iranians near our borders. We're always keeping up-to-date on the processes in play here, it's one of the more vital and sensitive issues on our plate. At the moment, as we speak, Iran is funneling Shiite and Iranian militias into Syria."
Bennett wished to send a message to Israeli citizens. "We'll look after ourselves," he promised. "Menachem Begin didn't allow the threat then posed by the reactor in Iraq to build and grow, but acted to nip it in the bud.""We're always together and always alone. That is, we always have partners and allies, we have a political plan of action, but we've never and will never outsource Israeli national security. All options are absolutely on the table."Bennett went on to speak about ISIS, calling it a "tactical problem."
"It's a meaningful one, but tactical nonetheless," he said, "and you don't sacrifice a strategic interest of preventing the creation of a Persian empire from Tehran to the Mediterranean to solve a tactical problem."
Former Major General Yaakov Amidror, who served as the national security advisor, also spoke about Netanyahu's meeting with Putin and the growing Iranian threat. "Russia is one of the more important forces in determining Syria's fate, making their meeting crucial," he said.
Amidror further commented on the Netanyahu-Putin meeting, saying, "Israel has a lot of strength and it needs to decide whether to put it to use. If it does, it should consider the reaction. The talk with Putin is important in order to make the Russians understand exactly what the Israeli interest is and what we plan to do, so they're not caught off-guard."
Amidror also weighed in on the land corridor to the Mediterranean Iran is trying to construct by taking over Syria. "That's without a doubt a seismic shift in the Middle East. It may actually be too big for Israel's britches. Israel can do nothing to stop a corridor starting in Tehran, passing through Baghdad and terminating in Damascus, but it can draw red lines in Syria and say that if they're crossed, it will retaliate."
Amidror then added Israel should set the aforementioned red line when it comes to Iranian presence in Syria. "We're not asking the Russians for permission," he said, "but we have to make it clear to them where that line passes and should decide whether we act once it's crossed—that is, the point beyond which Israel will forcefully respond to Iranian provocations."
"In any event, it's best to keep the Russians in the picture," Amidror continued. "It's been working rather well up until now, at least. According to foreign publications, we've been quite active in Syria with the Russians already present there. It should be very careful and precise, but it needs to be done."
"World media has taken Iran's words out of context"
In the past few days, Iran has threatened that in a matter of days, it will be capable of producing enriched uranium at a level sufficient for the production of nuclear weapons. According to Dr. Tamar Eilam Gindin , a specialist on Iran from the Shalem Academic College and the Azari Center, the western media distorted the Iranians' true intentions in this case.
"The media took what they said out of context," she said. "What they meant was they're loyal to the agreement and have no intention of breaking it, but should the US place the sanctions back on them, within five days they can have the Fordo reactor up and running and reach twenty percent enrichment."
"And even that is a long ways off from an actual bomb," he explains, "it's simply their previous pre-agreement ability."
"The Iranians want the nuclear agreement maintained," she assures. "The head of the Iranian atomic agency said, 'We were able to reach this agreement with so much effort and won't give it up so easily. But Trump is threatening to place the sanctions back on us. You can't expect that if you threaten us with sanctions we'll stick to our side of the agreement.'"

Iran, not so far away/إيران ليست بعيدة عن إسرائيل
Giora Eiland/Ynetnews/August 24/17
Op-ed: With Iran seemingly gaining more and more power in Syria, Israel has to take action to ensure Tehran will never make it to the Israel-Syrian border. This plan must include a multi-layered approach that will enlist the US, Russia and Syrian allies, as well as the understanding that an overt confrontation between Israel and Iranian forces will mean nothing short of war.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Moscow visit on Wednesday can be seen to signal a change for the worse and a significant, national security risk in the making. The civil war in Syria is nearing an end, and it appears that the coalition of President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia has won. If this victory would lead solely to the stability of Assad's regime, Israel should have been able to accept this. The problem is that Iran demands compensation for the many resources it invested in the war: already the de facto ruler in Lebanon through its control over Hezbollah, Iran is now looking to recreate a similar power dynamic for itself in Syria.
In concrete terms, the Iranians want to establish a second Hezbollah, a force of Shiite militias that will be deployed on the Golan Heights along the border with Israel, and which will get its instructions from Tehran. When such a situation occurs, any confrontation with Hezbollah will lead to a wider confrontation that will include the Syrian arena. Moreover, Assad, who, weakened, finds himself grateful to Iran, will be committed to helping in this endeavor. As such, a confrontation with Hezbollah could quickly lead to a full-scale war between Israel and Syria.
Israel's response to this dangerous possibility is limited. Countries act according to self-interests. It will not help us explain to the American administration or to the Russians why Iran's expansion all the way to the Mediterranean is bad for us. Nor will it necessarily help if we explain to Putin that strengthening of Iran's presence in Syria contradicts Russia's interests in the long term. Communicating to all the Sunni states, and namely Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, that Iran's establishment in Syria interferes with their own prerogatives, won't be enough to block Iran's advancement, as these states are too weak to manage such a feat.
The way Iran is for Israel to push a four-pronged approach. First, it needs to convince the US to agree to a deal with Putin that would have the US cancel the economic sanctions it has placed on Russia, while also recognizing Russia's presence in eastern Ukraine, in return for Russia's preventing the Iran's continued presence in Syria.
Second, Israel must make it clear to Russia that the IDF will take action to prevent Iran from building any kind of military force of its own near the Golan Heights border. In the past two years, Israel and Russia have managed to reach a quiet understanding that apparently enabled the Israeli Air Force to attack inside Syria while Russia turned a blind eye. After Russia has achieved what it wants in Syria and has no interest in another military escalation that would jeopardize its achievements. A firm and credible Israeli message on this issue will oblige Putin to take it into account.
Third, Israel will have to explain to both its allies and its enemies that if Hezbollah starts a military campaign against us, it will not be fought only against Hezbollah alone, but as an all-out war between the countries of Israel and Lebanon. This approach is both just and wise: it is just because the Lebanese president has openly claimed that Hezbollah is part of Lebanon's defensive force. And it is wise because no one, certainly not Saudi Arabia, Europe and the US, but even Syria or Iran, would want Lebanon to be destroyed.
Fourth, it would benefit Israel to exploit the hatred of those living in the Syrian Golan against Iran and Hezbollah. Israel can and should discreetly strengthen its ties with these people far beyond the aid it gives to Syrians wounded it the country's civil war. Israel has so far refrained from becoming too involved in Syria's internal conflict, but in light of the changing reality, the need to cultivate true allies who are close to the Golan Heights border is growing fast.
For the first time in many years, Israel is in danger of facing a detrimental regional development, and it is therefore warranted to dedicate all the attention and efforts required to properly address this situation.

Afghanistan has just stumped another President
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/August 24/17
How easy it is to shout “common sense” on Twitter – and how difficult it is to make decisions “when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office”. Something any adult person in public life could have told you, but still seems to have come as surprise to President Trump.
It turns out Afghanistan is not amenable to simple solutions like withdrawing and leaving the Kabul government at the mercy of the Taliban, after all. What is a pleasant surprise however is that not even the Trump administration is willing to pay the price of such simple-minded and superficially populist policy.
Viewing the world from “behind the desk in the Oval Office” comes with the benefit of having the best intelligence about what happens just about anywhere in the world. But sitting behind that desk comes with the burden of having to make responsible decisions based on knowledge that you cannot share with your democratic public. Or just knowledge that your electoral base simply does not care to delve on.
Fortunately, the White House somehow managed to make a decision in the national interest of the United States, and in the security interest of all of its allies, despite the fact that this will play badly with Trump’s base. And so Trump has had to do what he criticized Obama for. Despite promising that he would get us out of this failed war, just as Obama had promised during his initial presidential run, he has increased troop numbers by 4,000.
If there is one thing that the most powerful army in history can do, it is to destroy things, overthrow governments and kill enemy leaders
War failure
And let us not mince words. The Afghan war is a failure. The original aim of the war was to remove the Taliban from power for having harboured and aided al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden both before 9/11 and after. In that, America and its allies succeeded. If there is one thing that the most powerful army in history can do, it is to destroy things, overthrow governments and kill enemy leaders.
What it cannot seem to do, what it has failed to do consistently since at least the 90s, is to win the peace. 16 years of brutal war later, Afghanistan still has not been persuaded to accept the peace and the political order desired by Washington. And half of the country continues to be under Taliban control.
The Western-backed government in Kabul still cannot sit on its own feet. And the United States will, by the looks of it, have to sustain that government in power through its own blood and coin for as far as we can see into the future. The United States is committed to be the military guarantor of Kabul in perpetuity.
And yet, there is no better option. We have already seen a sizeable expansion into Afghanistan of ISIS. Things are only likely to get worse as the last remnants of ISIS in Syria are dispersed. The Taliban are just as likely to fight ISIS incursions as the Western-backed forces for the time being, but this is circumstantial.
Back to square one
If ISIS forces could be directed by the Taliban outward, say, toward targeting Western interests, there is no reason why a Taliban -dominated Afghanistan would not harbour ISIS in the same way they harboured al-Qaeda in the 90s. If we left the Kabul government to its own fate, we would soon be back to square one. It would be absurd for us to trust the Taliban with our medium to long-term interests.
Trying to overpower the Taliban again, like we have done during the “surge”, is likely to fail for the same reason it failed last time: the Taliban are an integral part of rural Afghan society. Every time you kill a Taliban fighter you kill someone’s brother, or father, and you have just recruited another Taliban fighter. It is neither sensible, nor desirable to wage war against a society like that.
So the only alternative left, the only way to protect American and Western interests and lives by preventing Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist haven once again, is to do what we are doing now: maintain a force in the country to sustain the Kabul government and destroy ISIS and other militant groups, and manage a slow and painful low-level conflict of attrition with the Taleban.
This is not a ‘solution’. And it is deeply offensive to our natural preconception that wars are fought to be won, and that conflicts like this need resolution. There will continue to be loss of lives on both sides, and unfortunately, some of those lives will be civilian lives. But as Colin Powell famously said of Iraq, “if you break it, you own it”. And though Afghanistan was a mess before America invaded, America owns the ways in which Afghanistan is broken now. And America cannot fix it. The only thing it can do is continue to pay the maintenance costs.

Trump, Bannon and the Republican party
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/August 24/17
Those who think President Donald Trump spends his time on Twitter do not see the real scene as he’s cautiously walking on tight ropes and he’s surrounded by enemies who are shaking these rope in an attempt to make him fall.
One of the most dangerous ropes is the internal American nationalist movement, which played a big role in getting him to the White House. He wittingly rose through its anger which escalated during 8 years of Obama’s rule. This white base was thrilled when he won.
During the inauguration speech, he looked like a populist president from the third world but he was acting right as a politician who knew well whom he was addressing. He thanked this base and repeated the slogan “America First,” the enthusiastic slogan, which this base alone is behind.
President Trump take this influential electoral base into consideration but this may cause unexpected problems. Trump was recently criticized for saying there were good people with the extremists among the racist white supremacist movement that protested in Charlottesville in Virginia and whom one of its members rammed into people killing a woman.
Actually, Trump at the beginning delivered a good speech condemning these racist groups but he appeared in a press conference a day after and made this lapse. It wasn’t a lapse in Trump’s mind though because he’s thinking about his popularity and does not want to be viewed as someone accusing his supporters of racism.
He probably felt that his first speech would be interpreted as such and thus affect him so he tried to correct the situation and attacked the left which is really suffering from an unprecedented state of disobedience and intolerance. His critics said the time is not right to attack leftist groups and the media launched an attack describing him as a racist.
Those who make mean insults against Trump are not the Democrats and liberals but the Republicans who think that he hijacked their party
Embarrassing facts
These critics and accusations are the last thing he’s thinking of though as he wanted to tell his audience that he’s still their man in the White House. He’s a frank man who says the embarrassing facts which people hate to hear and which politicians avoid to say out of fear of the trolling media and angry people.
It’s for this base’s sake that Trump is wittingly placing his feet on the edge of the abyss to satisfy it. This is why he said he will ban Muslims from entering the US during the electoral campaign. Once elected, he made the decision to ban the citizens of seven countries. This is in addition to his statements about the wall with Mexico and the fierce war against terrorists and illegal immigrants.
However, there is one man who had an important role in mobilizing this white base, and it is Steve Bannon who was recently removed from his role at the White House. Perhaps removing him will turn out to be a wrong decision that Trump regrets in the future. Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor, made a mistake and had to leave. He was a fierce fighter and military commander but he was not a provoking man who pressed the psychological buttons which mobilized people like the dangerous Bannon does.
Bannon’s exit will be read as giving up on the people who got Trump into the White House and it will be viewed as abandoning the message that aims to shatter the political institution with its republican and democratic aspects and break outdated traditions. In the conversation between Trump and Bannon before the latter was removed from his post, he promised Trump that he will defend him and attack and the elite and the institution.
However, after he was removed, Bannon said in The Weekly Standard: “The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over.” Bannon, who returned to lead Breitbart News as editor-in-chief, also criticized Trump’s plan to keep a bigger number of troops in Afghanistan. (His analysis is of course wrong but he’s only viewing the matter from the US domestic perspective.)
Bannon’s exit is a loss for Trump but the latter is also a man who has his audience. He knows how to mobilize people and unite them. However he certainly lost an influential and significant man. Trump also has his reasons which explain his move and which actually reveal the second dangerous tight rope he’s walking on.
The liberal leftist movement launched a fierce campaign against Bannon and described him as a racist and a demon. They tried to cause problems between him and Trump by saying that he’s the one who rules America and manages the White House. All these were false allegations and failed attempts.
However the real conflict was inside the White House between Bannon and members of Trump’s administration, particularly with national security advisor Mcmaster, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka. The conflict between them is ideological as there’s a deep dispute regarding the working methods. All three have a conservative mentality with a liberal touch, unlike Bannon, the impelled nationalist. All three believe in cooperation with the traditional republican institutions and communicating with democracy while Bannon despises it and believes in destroying it and replacing it.
Veteran Republicans
In the end, the team consisting of Trump’s son-in-law and daughter won against Bannon. After the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump clearly realized that if he wants to achieve some of the promises he made to his voters, then he must make some concessions to the veteran Republicans and ask for their help.
Keeping Bannon, who insults them, away is a message to get closer to them. However, these republicans and neither Ivanka nor her husband can mobilize people like Bannon and his fiery speech can. According to Trump, what matters now are the achievements in cooperation with the institution he previously mocked. The task of revolutionizing the people now falls on him.
This leads us to the third tight rope Trump is walking on, which is that of the Republican Party which he abandoned his best man for its sake. This party which twice failed to topple Obama despised its candidate, Trump, at the beginning and began to run after him after he won the presidency. It is a tense relation where deep hatred, apparent love and mutual interests mix up.
Those who make mean insults against Trump the most are not the Democrats and liberals but the Republicans who think that he hijacked their party, trivialized it and destroyed it to serve his interests and selfish aims. The biggest treason came from McCain who stabbed him in the back when he surprisingly changed his mind during voting and prevented repealing Obamacare.
Trump cooperated with the party, which he does not trust because it is the only way to achieve any domestic progress. At the same time, he does not want his supporters to view him as the traditional republican but as the leader who does not care about the anger of the corrupt elite.
This is what Trump comprehends and repeatedly does. He must walk cautiously. He does not want to separate from the people and at the same time, he does not want to lose those who hold the key to fulfilling achievements.
These are the three tight dangerous ropes and not the media, which is actually an easier battle for Trump. It is a clear war with clear enemies who want to get rid of him as soon as possible or exhaust him until he is an easy prey in the next elections against democratic competitors.
However, he is exploiting these attacks against him to increase his popularity. This is why Trump does not restrain his punches in response to their war and he is escalating the tone via controversial statements and tweets.
The more they crucify him on liberal television channels, the more he is loved by the conservative supporters who view him as their messenger and savior.

Science and the ‘sinful’ eclipse
Nawar Fakhry Ezzi/Al Arabiya/August 24/17
The “heavens” and “celestial objects” have intrigued human beings on different intellectual levels throughout history. Mathematicians, physicists and astronomers have been interested in unraveling their scientific mysteries while ancient cultures attempted to understand them through myths and legends.
The changes of these heavenly bodies and their movements have inspired and evoked a wide range of emotions in people’s hearts and minds from love and serenity to fear and lunacy that have been manifested in the great works of poets and writers around the world.
So, imagine what happened to our ancestors when they saw the sun or the moon suddenly darken; it must have felt apocalyptic. Some cultures considered solar and lunar eclipses to be signs of their god’s wrath or bad omens. Other cultures that had gods and goddesses of the sun and moon, such as the Greeks and Hindus considered an eclipse to be the result of the action of an evil creature that was trying to devour the god’s power.
Arabs before Islam thought that the eclipse was the universe’s way to grieve for the death of a great person. It was illustrated in people’s reaction to the eclipse of the sun that was witnessed in the tenth year of the Hijri calendar in Madinah, coincidently, on the same day that Ibrahim, the son of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), died. They thought that the eclipse was to grieve the Prophet’s (pbuh) tremendous loss.
However, the Prophet (pbuh) corrected their misconception by saying: “The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life (i.e., birth) of someone, but they are two signs amongst the signs of Allah. When you see them, offer the prayer.” Without any available scientific explanation at the time, his statement was devoid of any metaphysical explanation and as factual as it could be while advising them to pray, which seems an instinctive reaction to the darkening of their source of light.
A collaborative effort between religious leaders, educators and scientists should be made to increase awareness among the general population
Prayer and explanation
Muslims still pray when there is an eclipse even after we learned the scientific explanation, just like we pray five times a day according to the sun’s position in the sky and perform voluntary fasting during the three “white” days every month when there is a full moon. The correlation between astronomy and worship in Islam is a whole other area of research.
In general, however, prayers offer us peace and tranquility. They equip us emotionally and spiritually to cope with any changes in our lives while maintaining a strong connection with our Creator that we always rely on when every constant we depend on in this life can fade, including sunlight.
Sadly, in this time and age, some Muslims insist that an eclipse occurs as a result of people’s sins, which is a “fact” that we learned in school and our children are still learning in most Saudi schools in the Islamic studies curriculum. The scientific explanation is taught in science, but this is mentioned as the “religious” explanation of their occurrence and regarded by many as the “true” explanation. It would be interesting to conduct a study to find out how many of us fall into this category.
Dr. Abdullah Almisnad, associate professor of climate and geography in Qassim University, has conducted extensive research to debunk the myth of this correlation between an eclipse and sin supported by scientific and religious evidence. Unfortunately, his efforts are undermined by the influence of some religious leaders and an Islamic studies curriculum that still affirms the relationship.
Piece of evidence
One piece of evidence that he puts forth is the precise eclipse schedule that is calculated for years in advance. The rare and amazing solar eclipse that was witnessed across the United States last Monday was projected 38 years ago, and according to calculations, some parts of Saudi Arabia will witness a similar one in 2027 and 2034, according to Dr. Almisnad.
The sun and moon are beautiful celestial objects that provide us with light, life and tools to find time and direction. In the Holy Qur’an, when Abraham (peace be upon him) was looking for God, he immediately looked at the sky and started his spiritual quest in finding his Creator among the stars, moon and the sun until he realized that as grand as those objects were, his Creator must be bigger and more constant and reliable than these “setting” objects.
Our children should learn to follow this reasonable line of thinking in their spirituality and learning process. We want to have future astronomers, not astrologers, who know that these are some of God’s amazing signs, which result from the alignment of the sun, moon and earth without sin having anything to do with it. A collaborative effort between religious leaders, educators and scientists should be made to increase awareness among the general population and to rectify Islamic studies curricula to make them only teach about how to pray when the eclipse occurs and leave the causes of the eclipse to the science class.

Nothing but hammer in Trump’s Afghanistan toolbox
Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/August 24/17
In a rare primetime address to the nation on Monday, US President Donald Trump gave shape to his administration’s foreign policy approach toward Afghanistan.
In an embarrassing about-face, Trump reversed his earlier views on Afghanistan saying that “A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al-Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11”.
This is a departure from what presidential candidate Trump had called for during his election campaign, “an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan”. His stated objective now is to fight on and win.
Targeting terrorists, not terrorism
Trump delivered his address to an audience of uniformed men and women of the armed forces from Fort Myer near Washington, DC. His speech started with an acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by American soldiers to preserve the nation’s values and way of life. He pledged to give them the necessary tools and means to complete their job in Afghanistan.
Trump tried to set clear goals for victory: “Attacking our enemies, obliterating the ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge”. The wording might be a tad different, but these objectives were already part of the US policy in the region during the presidential terms of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Going after the terrorists is justified in the short term, yet it cannot be an effective long term solution for eradicating global terrorism. It is essential to first address the political causes which compel some people to choose the path of violence against civilians as a political tool for change. Terrorists take recourse to such tactics as they believe it is the most effective option – if not the only one – available to them.
Trump’s approach does not draw any medium to long term vision for resolution of conflicts not through violence but by political means. Even if the military is able to exterminate terrorists in Afghanistan and stops providing them safe havens in the region, it will not stop lone wolves from conducting terror attacks. The struggle will continue unless the root causes are addressed, an important issue that Trump neglected to address in his speech.
Trump’s approach does not draw any medium to long term vision for resolution of conflicts not through violence but by political means
The Afghanistan quagmire
The US has been fighting in Afghanistan for over 15 years, which makes it the longest running war in American history. US citizens are said to have limited appetite for lengthy engagements in overseas conflict. From a strategic standpoint, it is important for the US to finish the job that George W. Bush started in 2001. Lack of progress on this front is undermining trust in any plans or promise of success as the cost of war continues to mount along with the number of US soldiers killed in the war. The history of Afghanistan provides a lesson which the US has found difficult to learn from. In addition, terrorists find Afghanistan’s inhospitable terrain advantageous to their cause - both geographically and politically. For many decades, it has shown that an unfinished engagement will only lead to deeper conflict and a disastrous outcome.
This long term involvement is very problematic for the US as it has to reset its policy every four to eight years in line with its presidential elections. Considering the time constraints within which presidents have to operate, Trump did not offer any clear benchmarks or time limits for assessing the progress of his approach.
In the political vacuum left after US supported Afghan and foreign fighters (collectively called the Mujahideen) defeated the Soviet army in 1989, the country turned into a safe haven for terrorists, namely al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden, the terrorist group’s leader, took credit for the 9-11 attack on the US. The moral of the story was not lost on Trump, yet he completely missed the lesson.
“We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live, or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.”
In this statement, Trump confirmed that he could not understand the difference between ‘supporting’ and ‘dictating’. Dictating how Afghans should manage the affairs of their nation will not succeed, but without financial and political support Afghanistan will not graduate from a failing state to a functioning one. Thus, terrorism will persist.
A myopic vision
Reducing the US role in Afghanistan to a military-centred one is insufficient for achieving the goals outlined by the president. The manner in which he sought the assistance of Pakistan and India seemed to lack the desired diplomatic finesse.
The influence US has on these competing nuclear powers requires a delicate diplomatic balance. Targeting Pakistan without giving it any credit will only cause resentment and resistance toward advancing US interests in the region.
Although Trump’s strategy appears short-sighted, it appears to be a major political coup. Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, is standing by the Afghanistan plan. Indeed, political observers and experts breathed a collective sigh of relief when Trump retracted from his pre-election call to pull out of Afghanistan. Is it a sign of maturity, learning on the job or finally listening to the experts? It is too soon to speculate even as Trump stuck to his speech this time and resisted the urge to speak off the cuff.
But what we know about Trump is that he is all about taking on the next challenge. It is a gung-ho style of governance. However, Afghanistan and the role it plays in the region makes for a complex situation requiring level-headed plans and decision-making. Advancing US national security is a long term process.
The president’s job is to set the policy and step aside to allow qualified experts to frame the appropriate strategies. In fact, foreign policy must strike a balanced diplomatic, economic and defence strategy. It is not possible for a solely military-backed approach to deliver an effective Afghan policy.

"It is Our Very Existence That is Unbearable to Jihadists"
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/August 24/17
The Islamist attacks against Spain, Finland and Germany unmasked the central problem: Pacifism will not protect Europe from either Islamization or terror attacks. Spain and Germany were, in fact, among the most reluctant countries in Europe to take an active role in the anti-ISIS coalition.
The Spanish press did not participate in a discussion of the Mohammed cartoons; no Spanish writer was accused of "Islamophobia" and no Spanish personality was put under police protection for "criticizing Islam". It seemed as if Spain were not even interested in what was at stake in Islamist attacks on Europe's very existence. No Spanish city made headlines for having multicultural ghettos, as in France and Britain. The attack in Barcelona should have ended this illusion. Terrorists do not need an excuse to butcher "infidels".
The sad conclusion seems to be that that jihadists do not need a "reason" to kill Westerners. They attack equally France, which conducts military operations in the Middle East and North Africa, and countries such as Spain and Germany, which are neutral.
In 24 hours, Spain suffered two major terror attacks. A jihadist cell killed 15 people in Barcelona and the seaside resort of Cambrils. In the past year, Germany was the other European country hit hard by armed Islamists. First, a jihadist plowed a large truck through a Christmas market in central Berlin and murdered 12 people. Then a man wielding a knife murdered one person during an attack at a supermarket in Hamburg.
One day after the carnage in Barcelona, another terror attack took place in Turku, Finland. Two women were murdered in the market square of the country's oldest city. Jihad -- in Finland?
Jihad -- in Finland? Terrorists do not need an excuse to butcher "infidels". On August 18, an Islamic terrorist murdered two women in in Turku, Finland, during a stabbing spree in the city's market square. Pictured: The Aura River in Turku. (Image source: Arthur Kho Caayon/Wikimedia Commons)
The Islamist attacks against Spain, Germany and Finland unmasked the central problem: Pacifism will not protect Europe from either Islamization or terror attacks. Spain and Germany were, in fact, among the most reluctant countries in Europe to take an active role in the anti-ISIS coalition.
John Vinocur of the Wall Street Journal recently defined Germany as "a country where the army and air force basically do not fight". And Spanish politicians, since the 2004 train bombings, have not backed U.S. and NATO operations in countries such as Libya and Mali. Spain has been described as a "reluctant partner" in the anti-ISIS coalition.
Spain and Germany contribute less than others to NATO's efforts. US President Donald Trump has made clear that the existence of NATO is contingent on members meeting their agreed-upon obligations of spending 2% of GDP on defense. Spain spends less than half of that -- 0.91 percent. Germany does only a little better -- at 1.19 percent. Finland never even joined NATO.
The surprise of the Finnish élite over the Turku attack was noted by The Financial Times:
"The Nordic country of 5m people does not feature prominently in jihadi invective against the west. Despite Finland's armed forces having occasionally supported Nato missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the country's longstanding nonaligned and peaceable military status has insulated it from most blowback from crises in the Middle East."
In 2004, al-Qaeda, for the first time, was able to effect a regime change in Europe after committing terror atrocities on Madrid's trains. Shortly after those bombings, Spain's election turned into a referendum on its involvement in the Iraq War. The Socialist Party's dramatic upset victory was followed by a withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. Since then, Spain has been almost non-existent in the international arena. Probably assuming that pacifism shielded it from further attacks, Spain was regarded as "the forgotten front in Europe's ISIS war".
The Spanish press was diligently indifferent to any debate on freedom of expression, then, as now, under attack by Islamists in Europe. The Spanish press did not participate in a discussion of the Mohammed cartoons; no Spanish writer was accused of "Islamophobia", and no Spanish personality was put under police protection for "criticizing Islam". It seemed as if Spain were not even interested in what was at stake in Islamist attacks on Europe's very existence. No Spanish city made headlines for having multicultural ghettos, as in France and Britain. The attack in Barcelona should have ended this illusion. Terrorists do not need an excuse to butcher "infidels".
Germany, the most generous country in Europe in welcoming Muslims, followed the same fate as Spain. The German government struck a cozy deal with Turkey about the migrants; and when a comedian, Jan Böhmermann, made a joke about a Muslim politician, the German government allowed its legal system to put the comedian on trial.
The sad conclusion seems to be that that jihadists do not need a "reason" to kill Westerners. They attack equally France, which conducts military operations in the Middle East and North Africa, and countries such as Spain and Germany, which are neutral. It is enough for them to state, that, according to Islamic doctrine, land once under Muslim rule is forever under Islamic rule. As Spain ("Al Andalus" for Islamists) was under Islamic rule until the Christian Reconquista (which began in 722), and then Muslims were expelled in 1492, the country, according to Muslim extremists, permanently belongs to Islam and therefore must be taken back.
About the massacre in Barcelona, the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner commented:
"no one is immune.... The picture that comes to me is that of The Plague of Albert Camus: a scourge that falls on an innocent city. The extension of the field of jihadist struggle is universal. The terrorists charge the whole world for their failure. They knock where they can hit. Trying to please them is vain, it is our very existence that is unbearable to them". To paraphrase Trotsky, you may not be interested in fighting jihadism, but jihadism is interested in fighting you.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Strides in the Struggle for an Independent Kurdistan
Lawrence A. Franklin/Gatestone Institute/August 24/17
The regional regime that is in the best position to threaten the drive for a free Kurdish state is that of Iran.
The country that has the most to lose in the event of an independent Kurdistan is Turkey, due to its huge population of ethnic Kurds, some of whom support the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has battled Turkey's military for decades. Ironically and thankfully, this combination of recently acquired combat experience on the part of the Kurds -- plus widespread unrest in the region, still reeling from the "Arab Spring," and the loss of Syrian and Iraqi sovereignty over swaths of their territories -- improves the chance of a peaceful secession of Kurdistan from Iraq.
On September 25, 2017, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan will vote overwhelmingly in favor of establishing an independent nation-state. All ethnic groups, from Erbil to Zakho -- and in other disputed areas claimed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), such as Kirkuk, Sinjar and Makmoor -- are eligible to take part in the referendum.
Although the result of the plebiscite will not be binding, it is likely to enhance existing secessionist sentiment among the populace and increase pressure on KRG officials.
The Kurds' dream of a separate state is more than a century old. Yet geography and the imperialist designs of outside forces have conspired to render that goal a nightmare. Predictably, the most vehement opposition to the establishment of an independent state for the Kurds comes from the major powers with large Kurdish minorities -- including Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. Apparently fearing that a Kurdish state would heighten irredentist sentiment among the Kurdish minorities within their territories to merge with a "Greater Kurdistan," the governments of these countries view any form of Kurdish independence as a national-security threat. It is thus quite possible that one or more of the KRG's neighbors will move militarily to prevent a Kurdish secession from Iraq.
The regional regime that is in the best position to threaten the drive for a Kurdish Free State is that of Iran. It already employs small pro-Iranian militias -- the Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq and the Badr Organization -- on KRG territory, operating under the rubric of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). Should Iran decide to take military action to prevent a Kurdish secession from Iraq, it will likely deploy the PMF to do so.
However, while the political and military asymmetry between Iraq's Kurdish region and outside regional powers have seemed fixed, the historical inequality no longer exists. Currently, in fact, no state in the region easily could crush a determined effort by the Kurds to sever the artificial ties that have bound them, disadvantageously, to the Arab people of Mesopotamia.
This is chiefly due to the Peshmerga ("those who defy death"), Kurdish fighters who have become combat-hardened warriors; so much so that, with NATO air support in August 2014, they fought the Islamic State fighters to a standstill outside the gates of their regional capital, Erbil. In the event of a confrontation against the Peshmerga, even the pro-Iran PMF militias would pay a heavy price.
Most of Iran's Kurds live in the western part of the Islamic Republic, in Kordestan, West Azerbaijan and the Kermanshah provinces. Although regionally concentrated, they are not in a position to secede from Iran, due mainly to the efforts of Tehran's intelligence services to suppress Kurdish irredentism by eviscerating rebel organizations. That could change, however, if Iraq's Kurds are successful in seceding from the central government in Baghdad. For one thing, it might buoy Iran-based Kurdish groups -- such as the Komela (Society of Revolutionary Toilers of Kordestan), the Kurd Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and the Free Life Party of Kordestan (PJAK) -- and spur them to rise up against the regime in Tehran.
The country that has the most to lose in the event of an independent Kurdistan is Turkey, due to its huge population of ethnic Kurds, some of whom support the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has battled Turkey's military for decades.
Although Turkey is also the greatest obstacle to Kurdish independence, Turkish troops have become entangled in the Syrian civil war. They have also not recuperated from the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the summer of 2016, an act that resulted, among other things, in a massive purge within the Turkish military.
To allay Istanbul's apprehensions that an independent Kurdish state on its borders might energize Turkey's Kurds to seek autonomy, KRG political leaders are likely to forswear any assistance to the PKK, at least publicly. Kurdish spokesmen will probably also point out that Turks could benefit from a stable Kurdistan's pledge to keep the oil flowing to Turkey from Kurdish fields around Kirkuk.
Syria also has a Kurdish minority, making up about 10% of the general population, most of whom reside in the north and northeast -- where they have established the Democratic Administration of Rojava. Due to the raging civil war, Damascus currently cannot spare the troops and resources it would take to suppress this Kurdish enclave. Nor does the Assad regime have the current capability to dismantle the Kurdish military opposition in Syria, particularly the effective Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). In additions, tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds -- along with Syria-based Turkmen, Arabs, Assyrians and Armenians – have banded together to form the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have been fighting ISIS, particularly in Raqaa.
Even if the Assad regime survives the bloody war, now in its sixth year, it will be too weak initially to suppress secession from its own Kurds.
Furthermore, the Syria that eventually emerges is likely to be a good deal smaller than its current size, which would force it to rely its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies to conquer Rojava. Such a scenario would be thick with dangers, including a possible American military response.
Ironically and thankfully, this combination of recently-acquired combat experience on the part of the Kurds -- plus widespread unrest in the region, still reeling from the "Arab Spring," and the loss of Syrian and Iraqi sovereignty over swaths of their territories -- improves the chance of a peaceful secession of Kurdistan from Iraq.
*Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
© 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.

Qatar Bans its Pilgrims, Saudi Arabia Welcomes them
Salman Al-dossary/August 24/17
Saudi Arabia threw the ball in Qatar’s court when it agreed to send seven Saudi airplanes to transport Qatari pilgrims directly from Doha and when it exceptionally opened its land border for those wanting to perform Hajj.
The kingdom has firmly shut the door to the Qatari authorities’ overwhelming desire to ban its nationals from visiting holy sites. Riyadh is aware that since the beginning of the crisis in June, Doha has been looking for excuses to prevent its citizens from performing the fifth pillar of Islam. Yet, Saudi Arabia granted Qataris what hasn’t been granted to others, not even Saudis. It didn’t request any electronic passes for the Qataris to enter Saudi territories and they were included within the Guest Program of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques which usually includes politicians, leaders, scholars and ministers from all over the world.
Riyadh is aware of the fact that Qatari pilgrims have nothing to do with their government’s attempt to use them as a pressure “card” on Saudi Arabia.
But, what makes Qatar so desperate to ban its 1,600 pilgrims from performing the Hajj? Why is it putting these obstacles, including not issuing landing permits for Saudi planes?
I believe there are three reasons for Qatar’s attempt to politicize this issue. First of all, it tried to blame Saudi Arabia internationally, thinking it can harm it and affect its efforts in serving millions of pilgrims each year. Surely, it was an epic fail that did not even attract its closest allies Iran or Turkey.
A non-Muslim country like Norway was furthermore surprised that an issue like politicization of Hajj has been discussed with it.
Second, Qatari authorities are aware that they deluded their citizens when they warned them from attending this year’s Hajj, claiming they fear for their safety.
Aside from the fact that it is impossible for Saudis to harass their Qatari brothers, and that Hajj is a religious act, Qatari authorities know their warnings and accusations will be revealed later on when the pilgrims are allowed to attend.
Saudi Arabia is used to serving all pilgrims of all nationalities without any discrimination. The reason for Hajj is to boost equality among all pilgrims; all of the worshipers wear white and perform Hajj in a single place at the same time without being able to distinguish whether they are Saudis or Qataris or Egyptians.
The final reason is Qatar’s delusion that by politicizing Hajj it can negotiate the severance of ties and limit the conditions set for the end of the embargo. Doha thought it can embarrass Saudi Arabia by focusing its political, diplomatic and media war against the Hajj season.
Yet, Doha failed to see that neither the world noticed its attempts to stir trouble against the Hajj season, nor did its citizens believe that they are endangering their safety by traveling to Saudi Arabia.
The 443 Qatari pilgrims who entered Saudi Arabia by land will debunk their government’s claims once the season is over and once they return safely to their country.
Despite its hopeless attempts, Qatari pilgrims will attend Hajj this year in probably the biggest political and social blow to the government. The only thing it managed to do was to cause more trouble to them; instead of heading to Saudi Arabia by plane, the pilgrims are forced to travel by land into Saudi territories and from there they will be transferred through Saudi planes into Mekkah.
Unfortunately, the Hajj season of 2017 will be a shameful stigma in Qatar’s history that will not be eradicated when the political crisis is over.
Qatari nationals will always remember that their government banned them from Hajj, and they will recall that despite Saudi Arabia’s political disagreement with their country, they were welcomed and well received.
Most importantly, they will also remember how the kingdom didn’t allow their government to ban them from practicing their religious duties.

Terror in Spain Shows ISIS Is Down not Out
Tobin Harshaw/Asharq Al Awsat/August 24/17
Spaniards have long lamented that Las Ramblas, the winding main artery of Barcelona, has devolved over the years from the tree-lined strolling place of Catalan flaneurs into a tourist trap filled by kitsch vendors and a cheesy sex museum. Now it will be associated with the deaths of 13 people when a van driven by a jihadi terrorist smashed into the crowded walkway on Thursday. More than 100 people were injured. It was one of several attacks along Spain’s Mediterranean coast, including an explosion at a house suspected of being a bomb factory. ISIS has claimed responsibility.
In the litany of European terrorist attacks over the last three years — Paris, Brussels, Manchester — the last three days in Spain were the least deadly. But in terms of European security — and the threat still posed by a terrorist group thought to be on its last legs in Syria — they are just as worrisome. And they are also just the tip of the iceberg: Last year, Europe suffered 47 terrorist attacks that killed 142 and injured 379. More than 90 other plots either failed or were foiled by police and security services. Nearly all were the work of extremists.
This data comes courtesy of a very timely report on trends in European terrorism from Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. While Cordesman and his team didn’t come up with the data — the figures come from IHS-Jane’s and the University of Maryland’s excellent center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (or Start) — their study provides crucial context of how the threat has changed over time, particularly between 2011 and 2016. On Friday I contacted Cordesman to see how the Catalonian attacks fit into those larger patterns.
Tony Cordesman is the reigning polymath of the defense-policy elite. He has written more than 50 books for both the professional and lay audiences, and in the last year alone he has put out reports on stabilizing Iraq after ISIS; the dollar cost of America’s current wars; China’s emerging power; key metrics and developments in the Afghan War; the postwar rebuilding of Syria; hard choices in the war in Yemen; the national security economics of the Middle East — well, that only takes us back to March, but you get the idea.
Cordesman said no one who looks at the data in detail over time sees clearly predictable patterns. If you look at trends from 1970 to 2016, you see just the opposite: sudden shifts in patterns of violence, targets, methods of attack, and weapons by country.
We need to remember that we never saw Sept. 11 coming in the US and largely forced terrorist to chose other targets and methods of attack afterwards. This isn’t a “war” you can “win” by predicting how it will change.
If you look at the data, you see all too clearly that the patterns of locations of terrorism keep changing, and that this is an ongoing struggle that reaches far beyond ISIS. Historically, terrorist and extremists have also always been willing to find strange bedfellows, ranging from outside governments to drug lords.
The real risk, however, is that some movement or figure can unite extremist and jihadist movements on a broad enough level to be truly dangerous. The ideological core here is a level of extremism at the far margins of Islam, just like extremism in Israel, and Christian extremism in the US and Europe.
Historically, such movements tend to fragment and limit themselves, and there are literally well over a hundred jihadist movements recognized by the State Department. Some, like ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, however, are already far larger than others. No one can predict whether a truly charismatic leader will unify many such movements, and this is the most serious threat.
ISIS is also only a small part of the problem today. The Start database used by the US State Department in its annual country reports on counterterrorism indicates that ISIS was responsible for 4,343 incidents in 2011 to 2016 — from its rise to the end of last year. This was 6.1 percent of the world total during the same period and 7.2 percent of the total in the Middle East and North Africa. Defeating the ISIS caliphate will not begin to defeat terrorism.
More than that, it will do nothing to reduce the causes of terrorism in the Islamic and other parts of the world: massive population growth, economic development and major unemployment problems, and resentment of secular governments.
There are good reasons why almost no one actually involved in the fight against terrorism believes this will be over in less than a couple of decades, and the current impact of the ISIS caliphate must be kept in perspective.