August 28/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site 

News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to go to the LCCC Daily English/Arabic News Buletins Archieves Since 2016

Bible Quotations For Today
You received without payment; give without payment
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 10/08-15/:”Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for labourers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.”

Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah
Acts of the Apostles 09/19b-30/:”And after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests? ’Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah. After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.”

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 27-28/17

UN Chief Looks To Discuss Gaza, While Israel Focuses On Lebanon, Syria/Jerusalem Post/August 28/17
Hezbollah: Iran’s Middle East Agent, Emissary and Hammer/Ben Hubbardaug/ New York Times/August 27/17
An Open Alliance with Qatar is Better/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17
Christians Who Libel Israel: The Iona Community/by Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/August 27/17
Is the world waiting for a time when there are no more Palestinians left/Tariq A. Al-Maeena/Al Arabiya/August 27/17
The true meaning of ‘jihad’ and the Brotherhood’s big con/Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/August 27/17
Qatar submits to Iran and loses the Gulf/Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/August 27/17
"It's a War on Christians": Muslim Persecution of Christians, April 2017/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/August 27/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on August 27-28/17
Lebanese Army Announces Ceasefire in ISIS Border Battle
Lebanese General Security… Dismantling Cells, Negotiating with Extremists
Bodies 'Likely' Belonging to Captive Troops Found after Army Declares Ceasefire
Israel to Press U.N. Chief on 'Blindness' on Hizbullah
U.S. Says UNIFIL Chief 'Blind' to Hizbullah Arms
Raad: Any Hesitation on Golden Equation Subjects Country to More Threats
Nabatieh Town Lebanese-Syrian Clash Escalates into Road Blocking
Street Art Brings Color to Rundown Beirut Suburb
FPM Ministers Visit Army in Ras Baalbek in Show of Support
Lebanese Army: Remains of 8 people found in Arsal outskirts, transferred to Military Hospital for DNA tests
Riachi: Where is the wisdom in letting Daesh go after discovering our soldiers' fate?
Tueni: May God rest our martyrs' souls, it is a sad hour
Bou Assi: We are all sons of kidnapped soldiers' families
Bassil, Abi Khalil inaugurate water project in Aynata
Lebanon's Defense Minister inspects military front in Ras Baalbek
UN Chief Looks To Discuss Gaza, While Israel Focuses On Lebanon, Syria
Hezbollah: Iran’s Middle East Agent, Emissary and Hammer

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 27-28/17
Regime Forces Expand alongside Jordan Border
Regime Forces Delve in ISIS Enclaves in Badia
Iraqi Military: Most of Tal Afar Captured from ISIS
Russia’s Lavrov begins Gulf tour to discuss Qatar crisis
Saudi Ambassador to US Stresses Strong Defense Ties between Riyadh, Washington
Erdogan to Discuss with Abbas Efforts to End Palestinian Authority-Hamas Division
France Prepares for Post-ISIS Phase in Iraq
Report: Trump Asked Attorney General about Dropping Arpaio Case
Venezuelans Learn to Shoot, Fight at War Drills to Defy Trump
Pro-Saleh Colonel among 3 Dead in Clashes with Allied Yemen Rebels
Tillerson Slams N. Korea Missile Test but Still Seeks Talks
Israel Finalizes Deal for 17 More F-35 Stealth Fighters
Iraqi Forces Poised for Victory over IS in Tal Afar
Merkel Backs Libyan Coastguard but Warns against Abuses

Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 27-28/17
Lebanese Army Announces Ceasefire in ISIS Border Battle
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17/The Lebanese army announced on Sunday that a ceasefire in its battle to expel ISIS terrorists from its eastern border with Syria got underway at 7:00 am.
The truce was declared to pave the way for final negotiations linked to the fate of soldiers abducted by the terrorists in 2014.The army did not mention whether the ceasefire would include the Syrian side of the border where the “Hezbollah” group and Syrian regime forces were battling ISIS in the al-Qalamoun region. The two allied sides had announced a ceasefire in the Syrian region earlier this week. The fighting began a week ago when the Lebanese army, and “Hezbollah” and Syrian forces, launched separate but simultaneous offensives against an ISIS enclave straddling the border. The Lebanese soldiers at the heart of negotiations with ISIS were kidnapped by the group in wake of clashes with the military after it and other militants overran in 2014 the northeastern border town of Arsal. ISIS abducted a number of servicemen in wake of its retreat from the battle. The fate of the nine soldiers held by ISIS has been unknown since 2014. Defense Minister Yaacoub al-Sarraf stated on Sunday that there can be negotiations over anything before the fate of the detainees is revealed. “We would not have been able to reach this point without the Lebanese army,” he stated. The Lebanese army has said it is not coordinating its attack with “Hezbollah” or the Syrian regime. Any coordination between the Lebanese army and either the Syrian regime or “Hezbollah” would be politically sensitive in Lebanon and could jeopardize the sizeable US military aid the country receives. A Western diplomat praised the Lebanese army’s performance in the border battle in “a risky and complex operation” that the diplomat said would have been “simply unimaginable” a decade ago, reported Reuters on Sunday. “We see no evidence of substantive cooperation (between the army and Hezbollah),” the diplomat added. A source familiar with the talks said there has been some communication between the Lebanese army and “Hezbollah” in the run up to the simultaneous ceasefires on Sunday. Later on Sunday, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil congratulated the Lebanese army on its victory against terrorism.He said while visiting a military base in the eastern Ras Baalbek region that the army deserves the credit in ridding Lebanon of terrorists.

Lebanese General Security… Dismantling Cells, Negotiating with Extremists
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17/Beirut- Lebanese head of General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim’s announcement on Saturday that the institution he runs is now close to end the file of the abducted Lebanese soldiers reflects the level of progress that touched the tasks of the directorate since the appointment of Ibrahim in his position five years ago. “We will not rest until we uncover the whereabouts of the abducted soldiers. We are very close to ending this file,” Ibrahim said on Saturday, adding that what the General Security and other security apparatus have accomplished is a national achievement for the state and all the Lebanese. “We will not allow any threat to harm Lebanon even if we had to pay our blood and lives for this,” he said. Ibrahim was speaking on the occasion of the General Security’s 72nd anniversary in the presence of President Michel Aoun. Mounir Akiki, a retired General from the General Security Forces and current Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Al Amn Al-Am” magazine told Asharq Al-Awsat that since his appointment in 2011, Ibrahim placed a five-year strategy with an aim to develop the institution at the logistic level and to build and improve its human capacities. At the administrative level, Akiki said that Ibrahim’s plan includes “modernizing the structure of the General Security by establishing new directorates to meet the expanding needs of issuing passports, residencies and visas,” particularly with the presence of large numbers of Syrian refugees, who presented additional pressure on the directorate. At the security level, Akiki said that the number of General Security personnel grew from 4 to 7 thousand in five years, allowing the directorate to expand in the framework of an official security plan placed earlier by the Lebanese government. According to the retired general, Ibrahim also succeeded in solving the country’s very complicated security files. “Ibrahim is currently handling three files: the Lebanese soldiers abducted by ISIS since 2014, the file of the Aleppo patriarchs, and the file of the Lebanese photojournalist Samir Kassab,” who was taken hostage by ISIS in northeast Syria three years ago.

Bodies 'Likely' Belonging to Captive Troops Found after Army Declares Ceasefire
Naharnet/Associated Press/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/ Lebanese security forces on Sunday found six bodies “likely” belonging to Lebanese troops abducted by the Islamic State group in 2014, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim announced. Speaking at the sit-in tent of the relatives of the kidnapped soldiers in Riad al-Solh Square, Ibrahim said two more bodies were expected to be unearthed by the Lebanese army and General Security agency. Ibrahim said IS fighters who had surrendered led his agency and the Lebanese army to the remains.“We’re almost certain” that these bodies belong to captive troops, Ibrahim told reporters, although he called for awaiting DNA tests for the final confirmation. “This file has been closed with a dark chapter… and we have had unconfirmed information on the fate of the captive troops since mid-February 2015,” Ibrahim added, addressing the families of the soldiers. “In my name, and in the name of the Army Commander, I address a great salutation to the families of the troops over their resilience and patience and they should be proud of their sons,” Ibrahim added. Relatives of the hostages had gathered for hours in the blistering heat on Sunday to await news of their loved ones, sitting in tents they erected three years ago during protests to pressure the government to find the troops. Ibrahim also noted that the corpses were found “in Lebanese territory,” while saying that Lebanese authorities do not have information about the fate of Samir Kassab, a Lebanese cameraman who went missing in Syria, and two Syrian bishops believed to be kidnapped by extremists. “We do not and will not bargain and we’re in the position of the triumphant party who can impose its own conditions,” Ibrahim went on to say. He had earlier in the day announced that the fate of the Lebanese troops would be unveiled on Sunday. The announcement follows a declaration by the Lebanese army on Sunday morning that it was pausing its offensive against IS militants along the border with Syria to allow for negotiations on the captive troops. The armed forces launched their campaign against IS militants entrenched in the mountainous outskirts of the towns of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa on Lebanon's eastern border on August 19. Nine troops were believed to still be held by IS after militants overran the Lebanese border town of Arsal in August 2014 and kidnapped around 30 soldiers and police.
Four were killed by their captors and a fifth died of his wounds, while 16 were released in a prisoner swap with al-Nusra Front in December 2015. The army had said the remaining missing troops were its "top concern" in its offensive against an estimated 600 IS fighters in the hilly border region. An army source told the AFP news agency on Sunday that its command had agreed to IS' request for a ceasefire in order to get more information on the missing soldiers.
"Abbas Ibrahim has been authorized to negotiate with them for information on the kidnapped soldiers," the source said.
"In the meantime, the battle has stopped. If we find any ulterior motives or if we are dissatisfied with the solution, the army will continue its fight," the source added.Hizbullah launched its own simultaneous attack against IS from the Syrian side of the border in an area known as west Qalamun.
Hizbullah's War Media channel also announced a freeze in fighting on Sunday. It said the unilateral pause was "in the framework of a comprehensive agreement to end the battle in west Qalamun against Daesh (IS)."Two sources with close knowledge of Hizbullah's operations in the area told AFP that fighters from the group were searching west Qalamun for the bodies of the missing soldiers. The army says its nine-day assault has squeezed IS into 20 square kilometers out of 120 held by the jihadists in the outskirts of Baalbek and al-Qaa. Six soldiers have been killed since the start of the assault, which the army has insisted is not being coordinated with Hizbullah. Syria's al-Ikhbariya TV quoted an unnamed Syrian field commander as saying the militants have been driven out of some 200 square kilometers (77 square miles) in Syria. Syrian media say around 400 militants and their families are expected to be evacuated toward Deir Ezzor, a city in eastern Syria that is mostly controlled by IS.The Central Military Media, an outlet run jointly by Hizbullah and the Syrian army, said the Sunday cease-fire will pave the way for a comprehensive agreement to end the fighting in the area. And a Lebanese military source told AFP IS would quit territory it held in eastern Lebanon. "When this happens, Daesh's military presence in Lebanon -- its control of geographic territory -- will be finished," the source said. But the source warned that IS still had "sleeper cells" in Lebanon.

Israel to Press U.N. Chief on 'Blindness' on Hizbullah
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/ Israel will press U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on what it says is Hizbullah's arms buildup in Lebanon during his first visit to Israel since taking office, the deputy foreign minister said Sunday. Guterres was due to arrive in the evening for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and officials, with the visit scheduled to continue through Wednesday. The trip comes as the U.N. Security Council debates renewing for a year the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, with a vote expected on August 30. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has blasted the commander of the UNIFIL peacekeepers, accusing him of turning a blind eye to alleged Hizbullah weapons smuggling. United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric has however said: "We have full confidence in (the commander's) work." Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely told public radio on Sunday: "Haley was right.""We shall not allow this blindness to continue," she said, adding that Hizbullah's alleged deployment along Lebanon's border with Israel would be a "very central issue" in the discussions with Guterres. "He will meet the head of military intelligence and receive a briefing, and also meet the prime minister, and I am sure that he will not leave here with the feeling that the mandate given to the U.N. is being implemented on the ground," Hotovely said. Beyond meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he is also expected to hold talks with Palestinian premier Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday. Guterres has told the Security Council that he intends to look at ways in which UNIFIL could beef up its efforts "regarding the illegal presence of armed personnel, weapons or infrastructure inside its area of operations."

U.S. Says UNIFIL Chief 'Blind' to Hizbullah Arms

Naharnet/Agence France Presse/Associated Press/August 27/17/The United States has blasted the commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hizbullah weapons smuggling. U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said the 10,500-strong UNIFIL force was "not doing its job effectively" and singled out its Irish leader, Major General Michael Beary. "What I find totally baffling is the view of the UNIFIL commander General Beary," Haley told reporters, accusing him of ignoring Hizbullah's arms dumps. "He seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind. That's an embarrassing lack of understanding on what's going on around him," she said. Asked about Haley's sharp criticism, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said of Beary "we have full confidence in his work." Beary pushed back this week on U.S. and Israeli criticism. The Irish general told The Associated Press that his force has no evidence of weapons being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the area, and that "if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it."Haley was speaking at U.N. headquarters as member states debate the future of UNIFIL, which is deployed to keep the peace on Lebanon's southern border with Israel. The existing mandate, last modified in 2006, expires at the end of the month, and the United States would like to see its language toughened. Washington wants the U.N. force to take a tougher line on Hizbullah. Israel alleges that Hizbullah is restocking its arms dumps and missile batteries in southern Lebanon, under the eyes of Blue Helmet peacekeepers. But Russia, which is allied with Iran and thus with Hizbullah in support of regime forces in the conflict in neighboring Syria, wields a U.N. Security Council veto. And U.S. allies France and Italy, which have hundreds of soldiers in the U.N. force that would be in danger if it clashed with Hizbullah, are also concerned. "Since 2006 there has been a massive flow of illegal weapons to Hizbullah, mostly smuggled in by Iran," Haley alleged. "They openly threaten Israel. Hizbullah is a terrorist organization that is very destabilizing to the region," she added. Haley said the mandate obliges UNIFIL to work with the Lebanese Armed Forces to disarm illegal groups and that she would seek to underline this in the renewal.

Raad: Any Hesitation on Golden Equation Subjects Country to More Threats
Naharnet/August 27/17/MP Mohammed Raad, the head of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc, warned Sunday that “any hesitation” regarding the so-called “army-people-resistance equation” would subject Lebanon to new threats. “The equation that always leads to victories in a country such as Lebanon is the resistance-people-army golden equation,” Raad said. He cautioned that “any hesitation in committing to this equation would subject the country to more threats and attacks, and would encourage the aggressors to violate Lebanon’s sovereignty.” Referring to the victories over the Islamic State group in the offensives that have been launched by the Lebanese army on the Lebanese side of the border and by Hizbullah and the Syrian army on the Syrian side of the border, Raad said “this will go down in Lebanon’s history and in the record of the new presidential tenure in Lebanon.”Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had recently stirred controversy in Lebanon by adding the Syrian army to the so-called army-people-resistance equation. Some also accused him that his real equation also involves Iraq's Shiite militias, Yemen's Huthi rebels and Iran's Revolutionary Guard.'

Nabatieh Town Lebanese-Syrian Clash Escalates into Road Blocking
Naharnet/August 27/17/A clash between residents of the Nabatieh town of Sir al-Gharbiyeh and a number of Syrian refugees has left several people wounded from both sides, the National News Agency reported on Sunday. “The violence erupted after a verbal dispute between the Syrian Ahmed Ata and a number of the town’s young men before escalating into a fistfight involving the of sharp objects,” NNA said. A group of young men then gathered and attacked the Syrians, blocking the public road that links Sir al-Gharbiyeh to the town of al-Qusaibeh. Patrols from the army and the Internal Security Forces eventually arrived on the scene and reopened the road, arresting a number of those involved in the clash, the agency added.

Street Art Brings Color to Rundown Beirut Suburb
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/Seen from the highway out of Lebanon's capital Beirut, the Ouzai neighborhood is a jumble of haphazard construction, but venture inside and its low-slung buildings transform into street art canvases. Artists taking part in the "Ouzville" project have painted walls in brilliant blues, reds, yellows and greens, adorning others with enormous murals, doodles, and cartoon characters. The project is a breath of fresh air for Ouzai, a rundown and largely informal neighborhood on the Mediterranean coast south of Beirut.
It was once a sleepy seaside village, with long stretches of beach that attracted sunbathers from miles away. But during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, civilians displaced from elsewhere built slapdash housing in the area, often without permits, to accommodate their needs. For decades, the neighborhood chaos of jumbled buildings and the web of electrical wires hanging overhead have been among the first things visible from planes landing at Beirut airport. Ayad Nasser, the property developer behind the Ouzville project, was born in Ouzai in 1970 but moved overseas during the civil war. He said each landing at the nearby airport was a painful reminder of the neighborhood decline. "Every time, I was sad landing here. I said, 'I'm going to take care of Ouzai,'" he told AFP.
'Brought joy'
Nasser launched his project 18 months ago, inviting Lebanese and international street artists to beautify parts of Beirut -- Ouzai in particular. "I felt that the most abandoned area in Lebanon is Ouzai," Nasser said in English. "It's been 40 years that nobody is taking care of it: not the government, not the local parties, not even the local peoples." He worked with Ouzai residents to identify streets and buildings to be brightened up with bursts of color. Around 140 buildings have now been painted, with a handful done by the residents themselves. From the street below her first-story home, Jumana Yunis can be seen preparing green beans for lunch, framed by a large window in the bright yellow outer wall of her building. Below the window is a large mural of a girl's face, rendered in serene shades of turquoise and royal blue. At 38, Yunis has spent her whole life in Ouzai and is raising her four children in the home where she was born. For her, the Ouzville project has "brought joy" to a neighborhood she loves. "You're happy when you go outside and see the colors, even if sometimes it's strange. You feel that this is a new neighborhood," she told AFP. "Lots of new people came to the neighborhood, and we got to meet strangers. It's really lovely, the neighborhood has flourished with the colors." Nasser said part of the project's goal is to "break the stereotype" of Ouzai, which many in Lebanon see as a slum to be avoided. Much of the $140,000 (120,000 euros) he has spent on the project has gone on hosting people elsewhere in Lebanon and abroad at a local fish restaurant to encourage them to engage with Ouzai's residents.
'Like Disneyland' -
Rania al-Halabi, an amateur artist participating in the project, admits that Ouzai is "an area that we usually only enter with a car, in the best of circumstances."But she said the project inspired her from the minute she heard about it. "Color can make everything in life beautiful, and this is something that will certainly change everyone's lives," she said, as she daubed green paint around a stark face several meters high. While residents welcome Nasser's initiative, they note it underlines the relative absence of local services -- although municipal workers were digging up a street when reporters visited recently. "It should be the municipality that does this kind of work, not just here in our area," said Zakaria Kobrosly, a 57-year-old fisherman, whose home is meters from the shore. And the project's future will depend on residents' willingness to continue the work. Nasser plans to bow out after he launches a crowd-funding campaign later this month to raise $35,000 towards continuing the project. Laila Slim, 51, preparing parsley for a salad next to the salmon-colored outer wall of her home, gestured to an area where the paint was peeling. "The project is very lovely, but with the humidity, it is damaged already. I hope they will come back again," she said. Kobrosly said the project had improved the neighborhood's social fabric.People used to socialize in their houses, now you find them out in the street below together," he said. "It has calmed people's nerves... they've started to get to know each other." The best view of Ouzai, he said, is from his fishing boat out in the Mediterranean. "You can see it all together, with all the colors. It's like Disneyland or something!"

FPM Ministers Visit Army in Ras Baalbek in Show of Support
Naharnet/August 27/17/Five Free Patriotic Movement ministers on Sunday visited the army’s operations room in the eastern border town of Ras Baalbek in a show of support for the military’s border offensive against the Islamic State group. The delegation comprised Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, Defense Minister Yaacoub al-Sarraf, Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil, Tourism Minister Avedis Kedanian and Economy Minister Raed Khoury. “Entire Lebanon is living a new victory, which was achieved by Lebanon alone. The same as it was the only country to triumph over Israel, Lebanon is now winning against takfiri terrorism with its own capabilities and strength,” Bassil told reporters. “Our thoughts go to the captive troops, the cameraman Samir Kassab and the two bishops,” the FM added. Sarraf for his part said “there will be no negotiations over any issue before the fate of the captives is unveiled.” After ousting IS from much of the eastern border region in a nine-day offensive, the Lebanese army announced Sunday a ceasefire aimed at allowing for negotiations over the fate of nine troops kidnapped by the jihadist group in 2014. Hizbullah, which declared a simultaneous ceasefire in its anti-IS assault on the Syrian side of the border, is reportedly involved in the negotiations.

Lebanese Army: Remains of 8 people found in Arsal outskirts, transferred to Military Hospital for DNA tests
Sun 27 Aug 2017/NNA - Within the framework of following-up on the fate of the kidnapped soldiers by Daesh terrorists, Army units found the remains of eight bodies in the locality of Wadi al-Dib in the outskirts of Arsal, which were transferred to the Central Military Hospital to conduct DNA tests and verify their identity, an Army Command communiqué indicated on Sunday. A statement will be issued immediately when the DNA test results are out, the communiqué added.

Riachi: Where is the wisdom in letting Daesh go after discovering our soldiers' fate?
Sun 27 Aug 2017/NNA - "Where is the wisdom in letting Daesh go after discovering the fate of our soldiers?" questioned Information Minister, Melhem Riachi, via Twitter on Sunday. "Wisdom lies in their captivity, trial..and destruction!" he exclaimed.

Tueni: May God rest our martyrs' souls, it is a sad hour
Sun 27 Aug 2017/NNA - "May God rest the souls of our martyrs, for it is a sad hour, but we pride ourselves in them for sacrificing their lives for our sake and the future generations to come," said State Minister for Combating Corruption, Nicola Tueni, via Twitter on Sunday. Tueni expressed his deepest condolences to their families, wishing them patience and solace in coping with their huge loss.

Bou Assi: We are all sons of kidnapped soldiers' families
Sun 27 Aug 2017/NNA - "We are all sons of the families of our kidnapped soldiers," deemed Social Affairs Minister, Pierre Bou Assi, via Twitter on Sunday.

Bassil, Abi Khalil inaugurate water project in Aynata
Sun 27 Aug 2017/NNA - Pursuing their Bekaa tour on Sunday, Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister, Gebran Bassil, and Water and Energy Minister, Ceasar Abi Khalil, inaugurated the Ain Daher water project in the village of Aynata, in presence of several of the region's dignitaries. Bassil and Abi Khalil inspected the tunnel from which 6,000 cubic meters of water flow daily.

Lebanon's Defense Minister inspects military front in Ras Baalbek
Sun 27 Aug 2017/NNA - Defense Minister, Yaacoub Sarraf, visited on Sunday the Military Front Command in Ras Baalbek where he toured the front lines, namely Hills of Halimat al-Kabu and Qara separated by the Maratibia Valley, where the fifth phase of the miliatry operations was supposed to be carried out.

UN Chief Looks To Discuss Gaza, While Israel Focuses On Lebanon, Syria/
الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة يريد أن يبحث مع الإسرائيليين ملف غزة في حين تركيزهم هم على لبنان وسوريا
Jerusalem Post/August 28/17
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Israel on Sunday evening for his first visit in his current position, with Israeli diplomatic officials saying that while Jerusalem is keen on discussing Hezbollah and the dangers presented by Iran in Syria, the UN chief will want to focus on the situation in Gaza.
Guterres is scheduled to meet on Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is expected to give Guterres the same message he gave Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, and which he sent to Washington the week before: Israel will not tolerate a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria. In addition, he will raise the issue of Iran building missile factories in Lebanon.
The reason this message is important to pass onto Guterres is twofold, according to one senior Israeli diplomatic official.
On the one hand, the UN head meets regularly with world leaders and can relay this message on further; and secondly, because if Israel is forced to take military action in Syria, the chances are good that this would then go to the UN for condemnations and Security Council resolutions.
“His visit gives us an opportunity to with Guterres to focus on Hezbollah and the situation in Syria, Guterres is especially interested in the situation in the South, and while he will not travel to the northern border during his two-day trip, he is scheduled to go to Gaza on Wednesday, shortly before departing.
According to diplomatic officials, Guterres will not meet any political leaders there, but rather limit the visit to meeting with UNRWA officials and focusing on UN projects in the Strip.
While he will not travel to the northern borders, Guterres is scheduled to receive an in-depth briefing on the situation in Lebanon and Syria from the head of military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi. Guterres will also receive a security briefing from Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.- Gen. Yair Golan, and from Maj.-Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
In addition to going to Gaza, Guterres will also tour the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip, and will be taken to a Hamas terrorist tunnel.
Characterizing Guterres’s visit as “very important,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Israel is in the midst of trying to get the UN to update and strengthen UNIFIL’s mandate in southern Lebanon, and that it is clear to everyone that Hezbollah is violating the conditions of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. That resolution set the terms for the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and called for the disarming of forces in Lebanon.
UNIFIL, she said, has turned a blind eye to the arming of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and this “needs to change.”
Another issue that Israel will raise with Guterres, Hotovely said, is the anti-Israel bias of the world body. For too many years, she said, the UN has pointed a finger at Israel, while “ignoring the real problems in the region.”
She said the time has come to state clearly that if this does not end, the UN will not only lose its integrity, but also a big chunk of its financial support.
She said that the US is wagging the threat of withholding funds to the UN if its treatment of Israel doesn’t change. She said that this should provide Guterres with the necessary motivation to implement the changes toward Israel.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said that Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, has in general “tried to be objective” on Israel.
“We expect the secretary general to be objective; we don’t expect that he will support Israel,” Danon said. “When he took over the job he said he will treat Israel like all other counties in the UN. If he lives up to that commitment, that would be a great achievement.”
Danon said that the general sense in Jerusalem is that Guterres is trying to give Israel a feeling that it is being treated equally in the UN. Israel is not against criticism in the UN, Danon said, as long as it is “reasonable” and not “done in an obsessive manner, as is usually the case.”
Danon said that there was no doubt that statements about the UN from US President Donald Trump, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and some congressional representatives about the need to alter the UN bias against Israel has had an impact on him as well.
“Our position is that we are not against the UN, or that it should be closed,” he said.
“Our position is that it should be more effective. UNIFIL is a perfect example. We are not against UNIFIL; we welcome its presence. But it needs to do a lot more than it’s doing.”
In addition to meeting Netanyahu on Monday, Guterres will also meet President Reuven Rivlin, opposition head Isaac Herzog, and the families of the soldiers whose bodies are being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
In addition, he will go to Yad Vashem, as well as to Mount Herzl, where he will lay a wreath on the grave of Shimon Peres, with whom he was friendly, and of Theodor Herzl.
In the evening he is scheduled to take part in an innovation exhibition with Netanyahu at the Israel Museum.
On Tuesday, Guterres is scheduled to travel to Ramallah for meetings with Palestinian officials, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Wednesday, in addition to going to Gaza, the UN chief is also expected to deliver a speech at The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot that focuses on antisemitism.
Danon said that Guterres has made some comments over the last eight months in office that pleased Israel, and others that did not.
For instance, Guterres said at a World Jewish Congress gathering in March that “Israel needs to be treated like any other UN member state,” and that it has an “undeniable right to exist and to live in peace and security with its neighbors.” He added that “the modern form of antisemitism is the denial of the existence of the State of Israel.”
And in January, after a UNESCO vote in October expunged a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, Guterres said in an interview that it is “completely clear that the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple.”
On the other hand, on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, he issued a statement saying, “This occupation has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”
He continued: “The occupation has shaped the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. It has fueled recurring cycles of violence and retribution. Its perpetuation is sending an unmistakable message to generations of Palestinians that their dream of statehood is destined to remain just that, a dream; and to Israelis that their desire for peace, security and regional recognition remains unattainable.”
Danon took issue with the secretary-general’s statement at the time, saying: “It is preposterous to blame terrorism and violence in the Middle East on the one true democracy in the region.”

Hezbollah: Iran’s Middle East Agent, Emissary and Hammer//حزب الله وكيل ومطرقة ورسول وعميل إيران في الشرق الأوسط
Ben Hubbardaug/ New York Times/August 27/17
BEIRUT, Lebanon — For three decades, Hezbollah maintained a singular focus as a Lebanese military group fighting Israel. It built a network of bunkers and tunnels near Lebanon’s southern border, trained thousands of committed fighters to battle Israel’s army and built up an arsenal of rockets capable of striking far across the Jewish state.
But as the Middle East has changed, with conflicts often having nothing to do with Israel flaring up around the region, Hezbollah has changed, too.
It has rapidly expanded its realm of operations. It has sent legions of fighters to Syria. It has sent trainers to Iraq. It has backed rebels in Yemen. And it has helped organize a battalion of militants from Afghanistan that can fight almost anywhere.
As a result, Hezbollah is not just a power unto itself, but is one of the most important instruments in the drive for regional supremacy by its sponsor: Iran.
Hezbollah is involved in nearly every fight that matters to Iran and, more significantly, has helped recruit, train and arm an array of new militant groups that are also advancing Iran’s agenda.
An Israeli Merkava tank with its cannon twisted like a pretzel is displayed at a war museum operated by Hezbollah near the village of Mleeta in southern Lebanon. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Founded with Iranian guidance in the 1980s as a resistance force against the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, Hezbollah became the prototype for the kind of militias Iran is now backing around the region. Hezbollah has evolved into a virtual arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, providing the connective tissue for the growing network of powerful militias.
Months of interviews with officials, fighters, commanders and analysts from nine countries, and with members of Hezbollah itself, bring to light an organization with new power and reach that has not been widely recognized. Increasingly, Iranian leaders rely on it to pursue their goals.
Iran and Hezbollah complement each other. Both are Shiite powers in a part of the world that is predominantly Sunni. For Iran, a Persian nation in a mostly Arab region, Hezbollah lends not just military prowess but also Arabic-speaking leaders and operatives who can work more easily in the Arab world. And for Hezbollah, the alliance means money for running an extensive social services network in Lebanon, with schools, hospitals and scout troops — as well as for weapons, technology and salaries for its tens of thousands of fighters.
The network Hezbollah helped build has changed conflicts across the region.
In Syria, the militias have played a major role in propping up President Bashar al-Assad, an important Iranian ally. In Iraq, they are battling the Islamic State and promoting Iranian interests. In Yemen, they have taken over the capital city and dragged Saudi Arabia, an Iranian foe, into a costly quagmire. In Lebanon, they broadcast pro-Iranian news and build forces to fight Israel.
The allied militias are increasingly collaborating across borders. In April, members of a Qatari royal hunting party kidnapped by militants in Iraq were released as part of a deal involving Hezbollah in Syria. In southern Syria, Iranian-backed forces are pushing to connect with their counterparts in Iraq. And in the battle for Aleppo last year — a turning point in the Syrian war — Iranian-supported militants hailed from so many countries their diversity amazed even those involved.
“On the front lines, there were lots of nationalities,” said Hamza Mohammed, an Iraqi militiaman who was trained by Hezbollah and fought in Aleppo. “Hezbollah was there, Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis – everyone was there, with Iranian participation to lead the battle.”
Mr. Nasrallah delivered a televised address during a June rally in Beirut. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
The roots of that network go back to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, when Iran called on Hezbollah to help organize Iraqi Shiite militias that in the coming years killed hundreds of American troops and many more Iraqis.
Recent wars have allowed Iran to revive and expand the web, and some of the groups Hezbollah trained in Iraq are now returning the favor by sending fighters to Syria. More than just a political alliance, Hezbollah, whose name is Arabic for Party of God, and its allies have deep ideological ties to Iran. Most endorse vilayat-e-faqih, the concept that Iran’s supreme leader is both the highest political power in the country and the paramount religious authority. They also trumpet their goal of combating American and Israeli interests, while arguing that they fill gaps left by weak governments and fight Sunni jihadists like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Many wonder what these tens of thousands of experienced fighters will do after the wars in Syria and Iraq wind down. Hezbollah leaders have said they could be deployed in future wars against Israel.
But Tehran’s rising influence has made both Iran and its allies a target, the focus of military and diplomatic action by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States, all of which consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
For Hezbollah, moreover, expansion has come with a cost. The grinding war in Syria has saddled it with heavy casualties and growing financial commitments.
In an interview, Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general, proudly acknowledged his organization’s efforts to pass its rich militant experience to other Iranian-aligned forces.
“Every group anywhere in the world that works as we work, with our ideas, is a win for the party,” he said. “It is natural: All who are in accordance with us in any place in the world, that is a win for us because they are part of our axis and a win for everyone in our axis.”
The Lebanese and Hezbollah flags outside the mountainous bunker complex at the war museum operated by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
War Without Borders
Hezbollah has become active in so many places and against so many enemies that detractors have mocked it as “the Blackwater of Iran,” after the infamous American mercenary firm.
The consequences are clear far from Hezbollah’s home turf.
In an expanding graveyard in the Iraqi city of Najaf, a militia fighter, Hussein Allawi, pointed out the headstones of comrades killed abroad. Some of the graves were decorated with plastic flowers and photos of the dead.
“This one is from Syria, that one is from Syria — we have a lot from Syria,” Mr. Allawi said.
Many had begun their careers as he did. After joining a militia, he received military training in Iraq. His most experienced trainers were from Hezbollah.
In recent years, much of the world has focused on the Sunni jihadists who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State. But less attention has been paid as Iran fired up its own operation, recruiting, training and deploying fighters from across the Shiite world.
At the heart of that effort, Hezbollah has taken on increasingly senior roles in ventures once reserved for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — the force that helped create Hezbollah itself.
In Iraq, Iran has redeployed militias originally formed to battle American troops to fight the Islamic State. It has also recruited Afghan refugees to fight for a militia called the Fatemiyoun Brigade. And it has organized a huge airlift of fighters to fight for Mr. Assad in Syria. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps provides the infrastructure, while commanders from Iran and Hezbollah focus on training and logistics.
Militiamen interviewed in Iraq described how they had registered at recruitment offices for Iranian-backed militias to fight the Islamic State. Some were trained in Iraq, while others went to Iran for 15 days of drills before flying to Syria to fight. More experienced fighters took advanced courses with Iranian and Hezbollah commanders in Iran or Lebanon.
Iran rallied the combatants with cash and religious appeals, effectively pitting one international jihad against another.
For Ali Hussein, an Iraqi high school dropout, the battle began after the Islamic State stormed into northern Iraq in 2014 and he went to the recruitment office of an Iranian-backed militia to sign up to fight the jihadists.
But first, Mr. Hussein was told, he had to fight in neighboring Syria, against rebels seeking to topple the government. He agreed and was promptly launched into an extensive, Iranian-built network of loyal militants scattered across the Middle East.
He was bused to Iran with other recruits and airlifted to Syria, where he received military training and lectures about holy war. After a month on the front lines, he returned to Iraq with $1,000 and a newfound ideological fervor.
“I want to continue fighting jihad until victory or martyrdom,” he said.
Phillip Smyth, a University of Maryland researcher who studies militant groups, said more than 10,000 Iraqi fighters were in Syria during the battle for Aleppo last year, in addition to thousands from other countries.
Officers from Iran coordinated the ground forces with the Syrian military and the Russian air force while Hezbollah provided Arabic-speaking field commanders, the fighters said.
Iraqi militia leaders defended their role in Syria, saying they went to protect holy sites and fight terrorists at the request of the Syrian government.
“If anyone asks why we went to Syria, ask them what allowed the Americans to occupy countries,” said Hashim al-Musawi, a spokesman for an Iraqi militia active in Syria. “We didn’t sneak in, we entered through the door.”
Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon have surfaced on Iraq’s battlefields, too.
Ali Kareem Mohammed, an Iraqi militia sniper, recalled a battle with the Islamic State in central Iraq when the jihadists kept sending armored cars filled with explosives that his comrades’ weapons could not stop. They called for help, and a group of Lebanese fighters brought advanced antitank missiles.
“Everyone knew they were Hezbollah,” Mr. Mohammed said. “If anyone came with a suicide car, they would hit it.”
Today, his group uses the same missiles without Hezbollah’s help, he said.
Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah with portraits of Mr. Nasrallah at a June rally in a Beirut suburb. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Other Hezbollah relationships extend further afield, including with the Houthi rebels in Yemen who stormed the capital, Sana, in 2014, later toppling the government and prompting an air campaign by Saudi Arabia and its allies aimed at pushing the rebels back.
Although the Houthis follow a different sect of Islam, Iran and Hezbollah have adopted the Houthi cause in speeches by their leaders, raising the group’s profile. They have also provided some military and logistical support. Ali Alahmadi, a former Yemeni national security chief, said that Houthi fighters began receiving military training in Lebanon as early as 2010 and that two Hezbollah operatives were arrested in Yemen in 2012 and returned to Lebanon through Oman.
“We sent them to Oman with a verbal message to their bosses: Stop meddling in Yemen,” Mr. Alahmadi said.
Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’JULY 15, 2017
In Afghanistan, U.S. Exits, and Iran Comes InAUGUST 6, 2017
After the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, Hezbollah operatives went to Iraq to help organize militias to fight the Americans with roadside bombs and other insurgency tactics.
Some of those militiamen now lead forces that have made common cause with Hezbollah again, this time in Syria.
“Today, we have one project in the region,” said Jaafar al-Husseini, the military spokesman for another Iraqi militia that works with Hezbollah. “The threat in Syria, the threat to Hezbollah and the threat in Iraq have convinced us that we need to coordinate and work together more.”
A Hezbollah operations center, hidden deep within a mountainous bunker complex, at the war museum operated by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Bleeding for Assad
While Hezbollah has extended its regional reach, it has made its greatest foreign investments — and paid the highest costs — in Syria, and its intervention there has reshaped the group.
Its leaders have portrayed the war as a conspiracy by Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia to use extremists to destroy Syria and weaken the pro-Iranian axis in the region. This, in their view, makes their intervention an extension of the “resistance” against Israel.
But that argument falls flat for many in the region, who see a military force built to fight Israel turning its guns on fellow Muslims.
That was the feeling for many in Madaya, a Syrian mountain town that had joined the uprising against Mr. Assad in 2011. Four years later, the government decided to squeeze the rebels out and imposed a siege. Snipers moved in, and the fighters unleashed religious battle cries, letting Madaya’s residents know they were under siege by the Party of God.
“It was a spiteful siege,” said Ebrahim Abbas, a computer technician who took a bullet in his gut during the operation, in 2015. Aid shipments were cut off, and malnutrition spread.
Hezbollah went to Syria aware that if Mr. Assad fell, it would lose its only Arab state sponsor and the weapons pipeline from Iran. So Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary general, consulted with officials in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and they made a commitment to back Mr. Assad, according to Iranian officials and analysts close to the group.
Since then, Hezbollah has deployed as many as 8,000 fighters to Syria at any one time, analysts say. Now, with the immediate threat to Mr. Assad gone, many suspect that Hezbollah will maintain a permanent presence in Syria. It has organized Hezbollah-style militias among Syrians, evacuated border communities it considered a threat to Lebanon and established a branch of its Mahdi Scouts, a long-term investment in the cultivation of fighters.
Syria has given a new generation of Hezbollah fighters extensive experience, including in offensive operations and in coordinating with the Syrian military and the Russian air force.
But many have also returned in coffins, and their faces are enshrined on martyr posters throughout Lebanon.
In May, hundreds of people wearing yellow Hezbollah sashes crowded into a community hall in Natabiya in southern Lebanon to pay their respects to the group’s wounded fighters — 18 of them at this particular ceremony, many from battles in Syria. Five were in wheelchairs, one missing a leg, another missing two. Others leaned on canes and crutches.
When the Lebanese national anthem played, only six could stand up.
Some analysts say the group has lost 2,000 fighters or more in Syria and that more than twice that many have been wounded — a substantial toll for a force that analysts say can draw on a maximum of 50,000 fighters.
In an interview, Sheikh Qassem, Mr. Nasrallah’s deputy, denied that Hezbollah had long-term ambitions in Syria. He also declined to discuss any numbers related to fighters, other than calling reports of more than 2,000 dead “enlarged.”
“In the end, we consider the results that we reached in Syria much greater than the price, with our respect to the great sacrifices that the young men of the party put forward,” he said.
Hezbollah fighters led a tour for Lebanese and foreign journalists in July at the Lebanese-Syrian border. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Strained Resources
Hezbollah has long put great resources into supporting the families of its dead fighters. It also takes care of the wounded, although they pose a different challenge, returning to their communities as reminders of war’s cost.
se families is expensive, and there are now more on Hezbollah’s payroll than ever before. Running a war and other international operations also drives up costs at a time when the United States has targeted the group’s finances.
Hezbollah’s leaders have acknowledged that most of the group’s budget comes as cash from Iran. But residents of Hezbollah communities say they have felt the pinch in recent months, with less money in the economy as the party cuts spending.
Hezbollah’s success has multiplied its enemies. The more it grows, the more they want to destroy it.
“If you wait for the Iranian project to mature and take hold, you will see that this ragtag militia has become a competent military with ideological leadership and with what I would call a social support system,” said Anwar Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs in the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the coalition fighting Iranian-aligned rebels in Yemen. “The Iranians have done it before.”
Israel, too, has been worried about Iran’s expansionism in Syria, through Hezbollah.
One concern is that Hezbollah has been able to move missile batteries into Syria, giving it another potential platform for attacks on Israel besides Lebanon.
A cave once used by a Syrian militant group near the border between Lebanon and Syria. It was captured by Hezbollah. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Hezbollah forbids its fighters to speak with outsiders, but through an acquaintance I met two fighters in April who agreed to speak on the condition that I concealed their identities.
One, with a pistol in his belt and flecks of white in his black beard, showed me videos of himself fighting in Syria and said he had joined the party at age 15 to fight Israel.
I asked if fighting other Muslims in Syria was different from fighting Israel, and he said it was the same battle: “Nothing has changed for us; we are still the resistance.”
He denied sectarian motivations. But he held no sympathy for Syrians who opposed Mr. Assad, and he dehumanized the rebels.
“I get disgusted by the way they look, their long beards and shaved mustaches,” he said, referring to the grooming practices of some conservative Muslims.
“If it were not for Hezbollah,” he added, “Syria would have fallen a long time ago.”
Asked about the use of siege tactics in Syrian towns like Madaya, one fighter claimed that it had been the rebels who had caused the hunger, by hoarding food.
The other chalked it up to the cost of winning the war.
“Either you are strong or you are weak, and if you are weak you get eaten,” he said. “Now, Hezbollah is strong.”
Hezbollah fighters escorted a convoy of journalists in July near the Syria-Lebanon border. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
The Home Base
It is from Beirut that Hezbollah runs the wide-ranging political, social and military operations that give it power at home and increasing clout abroad. Hezbollah does not control the state as much as maintain the power it needs to block any effort to undermine its force, diplomats and Lebanese officials said.
The center of its operations is the southern suburbs of Beirut, which serve as the party’s headquarters and a virtual diplomatic district for its regional allies. Inside, Hezbollah bureaucrats run a private school system and social services network. Representatives of Iraqi militias and Yemen’s Houthi rebels maintain a presence. And a range of satellite television stations run by Hezbollah and its allies blanket the region with pro-Iranian news.
The party’s history has helped solidify its place in Lebanon.
After the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, Iranian leaders sent officers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to organize Shiite militias in the Lebanese civil war. The result was Hezbollah, which also began waging a guerrilla war against the Israeli occupation in southern Lebanon.
Israel’s withdrawal, in 2000, helped enshrine Hezbollah as the centerpiece of the resistance. Its reputation was further burnished in 2006, when it fought Israel to a standstill in a 34-day war that killed more than 1,000 Lebanese and dozens of Israelis.
Some suspected that the war’s destruction would be the beginning of the end for Hezbollah. But Iran flooded the country with money, underwriting an enormous reconstruction campaign and also helping the party expand its military.
While Hezbollah has extended its regional reach, it has made its greatest foreign investments – and paid the highest costs – in Syria, and its intervention there has reshaped the group. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Few checks remain on Hezbollah’s domestic power.
But the group’s activities abroad remain troubling to many Lebanese, while its strength poses risks for the country.
Hezbollah has more than 100,000 rockets and missiles pointed at Israel, in addition to 30,000 trained fighters and a smaller number of reservists, said Brig. Gen. Ram Yavne, the commander of the Israeli Army’s strategic division. Israel also says Hezbollah is so integrated into the Lebanese state that it may not differentiate between the two in a new war.
For now, Hezbollah appears to be avoiding escalation with Israel in order to focus elsewhere. And the party’s political clout in Lebanon has many political figures here finding ways to work with the group.
Alain Aoun, a Christian member of Parliament from the president’s party, said that Hezbollah kept its domestic and regional activities separate and that he considered it a valuable political partner.
But he said that calls for Lebanon to contain Hezbollah were unrealistic after decades of support from Iran and Syria, and that confrontation with the United States and Israel had helped it grow.
“All these countries contributed for 30 years to creating this power, so now you say, ‘Go, Lebanese, and fix this problem,’ ” Mr. Aoun said. “It is bigger than us.”
**Reporting was contributed by Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Nour Youssef from Cairo, Karam Shoumali from Istanbul, Falih Hassan from Baghdad, and Ian Fisher from Jerusalem.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 27-28/17
Regime Forces Expand alongside Jordan Border
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17/Beirut- Syrian regime forces expanded on the eastern border with Jordan and curbed control of the Free Syrian Army whose factions stated on Saturday that the regime attacks are targeting Wadi Mahmoud, south east Damascus countryside.Information contradicted regarding the regime advance to this strategic area. Lions of the East Army reported that fierce clashes are ongoing between the Free Syrian Army and regime forces in Wadi Mahmoud and Swaida countryside in an attempt by the regime forces to move forward to that region. Reliable sources said that regime forces seized the region while Saad al-Haj, spokesman for Lions of the East Army, stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that the regime only advanced to regions where the tribal army backed off, denying an expansion in the border region. “The conflicts zone is 17 kilometers away from the border with Jordan,” he added. Haj stressed that the strategic importance of this region is that it is near the border with Jordan. “The regime is bragging every time it advances in a hill,” he continued. On the contrary, “Hezbollah” war media reported that the regime forces and its allies have laid hands over Ghadir Mahmoud and Wadi Mahmoud near the Saudi-Jordanian border. The regime forces now have control over 40 kilometers of the eastern border line with Jordan, revealed Syrian Observatory director Rami Abdul Rahman. He declared to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the regime is mobilizing forces and conducting operations in that region to fully restore control over the border line with Jordan and to close faction outlets.” Jordan and Syria share 370 kilometers land border.

Regime Forces Delve in ISIS Enclaves in Badia
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17/London, Beirut- Syrian regime and allied forces advanced in Badia, east Hama city. They seized one of the last enclaves of ISIS in a desert area, mid of Syria, stated the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Pro-regime sources said that the overall space of the seized enclave is around 2,000 square kilometers. Last week, regime forces and allies besieged ISIS extremists after they advanced in the south to join the group near Al-Sukhnah in Homs – the enclave extends from west Sukhnah to the nearby Hama. Syrian regime forces – supported by Russian air force and Iran affiliated armed men – seized Sukhnah this month, which was the last village in Homs under ISIS control. Throughout the past year, ISIS lost ground to separate campaigns whether the Syrian regime forces and its allies or opposition armed groups supported by the US. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored the military operations of the regime forces against ISIS in the Syrian areas, as the regime forces managed to restore control of tens of thousands of square kilometers, and they approached to end the presence of ISIS in two new provinces. “The regime forces and their allied militia armed men of Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian, Lebanese, Afghan and Palestinian nationalities, and with the air cover of Russian and the regime’s warplanes, managed to restore control over an area of about 34 thousand square kilometers of the areas controlled by the group in Syria,” documented the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The regime forces-held areas have become more than 77 thousand square kilometers of the whole area of the Syrian territories, with a control percentage of about 42% of the geographical area of Syria. This large advancement of the regime forces within 15 weeks exceeds the area controlled by the regime forces in entire Syria during the months preceding it.

Iraqi Military: Most of Tal Afar Captured from ISIS
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17/The Iraqi military announced on Sunday that its forces have captured the majority of the northwestern city of Tal Afar from the ISIS terrorist group. All 29 neighborhoods in Tal Afar city had been taken back from the terror group, the military said in a statement. The battle for the city was kicked off only eight days ago. Fighting was however ongoing in al-Ayadiya, a small area 11 kilometers northwest of the city, where terrorists who fled the district’s city center were hiding out, Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said. Iraqi forces were waiting to retake the area before declaring complete victory in the offensive, he said. Tal Afar was the latest objective in the US-backed war on the terror group following the recapture in July of Mosul, where it declared its self-proclaimed “caliphate” over parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. The offensive on Tal Afar, which lies on the supply route between Syria and the former ISIS stronghold of Mosul, started on August 20. Up to 2,000 terrorists were believed to be defending the city against around 50,000 attackers, according to Iraqi and western military sources. Such a quick collapse of ISIS in the city would confirm Iraqi military reports that the terrorists lack command and control structures west of Mosul. Residents who fled Tal Afar days before the start of the offensive told Reuters that the militants looked “exhausted” and “depleted”. Tens of thousands of people are believed to have fled in the weeks before the battle started. Remaining civilians were threatened with death by the terrorists, according to aid organizations and residents who managed to leave. Iraqi military investigators said Friday they have discovered two mass graves near a former ISIS prison outside Mosul that contain the bodies of 500 ISIS victims. The Media Cell Security Investigation team said in a statement that one grave near the Badoush Prison site contained the bodies of 470 prisoners killed by ISIS. It said a second grave contained 30 victims. Authorities were continuing to look for more graves. ISIS has scattered mass graves across Iraq and Syria.
The Associated Press last year documented and mapped 72 of them. For at least 16 of the Iraqi graves, officials do not even guess the number of dead. In others, the estimates are based on memories of traumatized survivors, ISIS propaganda and what can be gleaned from a cursory look at the earth. But even the known numbers of victims ranges from 5,200 to more than 15,000.

Russia’s Lavrov begins Gulf tour to discuss Qatar crisis
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 28 August 2017/Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Kuwait on Sunday as part of a Gulf tour that the Russian foreign ministry said would also include the UAE and Qatar to discuss the Syrian issue and the Gulf crisis. The Russian ambassador to Kuwait, Alexei Solomatin, told the Kuwaiti newspaper ‘Al-Jarida’ that “the visit comes within the efforts of Russia to support the Kuwaiti mediation to solve the crisis.”The ambassador added that the visit will address the situation in Syria and discuss international and regional issues of common concern.

Saudi Ambassador to US Stresses Strong Defense Ties between Riyadh, Washington
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17/The ambassador stressed during his visit and talks with US air force officials the strong defense ties between Saudi Arabia and the US. Upon his arrival at the exercise hall, Prince Khalid was received by Commander of Nellis Air Force Base Major General Peter Gersten and then met with a number of Saudi pilots. The ambassador voiced his gratitude to the pilots, highlighting the sacrifices they made in protecting and defending their nation’s security and stability.“The Kingdom’s leadership, headed by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque King Salman bin Abdulaziz, will not spare an effort in bolstering the capabilities of its citizens in various civil and military fields,” said Prince Khalid. The “Red and Green Flag 2017 joint military exercises strengthen our ability to work together against terrorist groups, including ISIS,” the envoy said through the Saudi Embassy’s official Twitter account.

Erdogan to Discuss with Abbas Efforts to End Palestinian Authority-Hamas Division
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17/Ramallah – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will underline during upcoming talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the need for Hamas to dissolve its administrative committee in the Gaza Strip. This should be followed by general elections. Only then will the Palestinian Authority (PA) reverse the measures that it has taken against the Hamas-controlled coastal strip, an informed Palestinian source revealed. Abbas and Erdogan are scheduled to meet next week. The source made its statements after Hamas’ branch in the West Bank exerted pressure on its Gaza branch to hold reconciliation with Abbas. Erdogan had offered a mediation to end the divide between Abbas and Hamas and the dispute over Gaza. “Turkish officials informed the PA that they will provide guarantees for the formation of a consensus government in Gaza and that they will follow up on the issue. However, they want to discuss how to meet Hamas’ demand that its employees will remain in positions they currently occupy,” added the source. Hamas is leaning towards complying with the Turkish mediation, asking that the guarantees not affect its employees. The source noted however that this issue will be difficult to resolve because the Palestinian government will face challenges in taking in all the Hamas employees at one go. “The PA cannot act as Hamas’ ATM. The current proposal was made by Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdullah,” said the source. The premier suggested that Hamas allow PA employees to return to their old jobs and that they be given priority in filling vacancies. The proposal was rejected by Hamas. Abbas will meanwhile listen to and discuss Turkish proposals to end the Palestinian divide. The president is however insistent on the roadmap that he had placed to end the dispute, revealed informed sources. “The president set a roadmap that starts with dissolving the administrative committee and allowing the formation of a national unity government that includes Hamas. This will be followed by general elections. Without this, there can be no solution,” explained the sources. “Whoever wins the elections will run the country,” they added, warning that Abbas will continue with his measures against Gaza until his roadmap is accepted. Abbas had taken a series of measures against Gaza, such as cutting salaries and forcing employees to retirement, in an effort to pressure Hamas to end its takeover of Gaza and restore it to the PA. The measures were announced after Hamas announced the formation of a government committee aimed at managing the ministries in the Gaza Strip. The step was seen by the PA as a coup against the consensus government. A Hamas source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movement will await the results of the Abbas-Erdogan talks before taking any stance.

France Prepares for Post-ISIS Phase in Iraq
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17/Paris- French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Defense Minister Florence Parly arrived in Baghdad on Saturday before heading to Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region, in the framework of the French efforts to prepare for the post-ISIS phase, Iraqi military sources said. At a joint press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibarhim al-Jaafari, Le Drian uncovered France’s intentions in Iraq by saying: “We are present in war and we will be present in peace.”Le Drian’s statement reveals that from one part, France wishes to contribute to the national reconciliation efforts in Iraq, but also to play a role in the reconstruction efforts estimated at between $700 and $1000 billion. According to a foreign ministry statement, France will grant a 430 million euro loan to Iraq before the end of the year. A French source close to the matter told Asharq Al-Awsat that Paris wants to reap the political, economic and financial fruits of what it cultivated in Iraq in the past three years, adding that its target is to build “long-term relations” with Baghdad at all levels. Also, Paris sees that Iraq currently faces three main political challenges: “The Kurdish upcoming referendum and its repercussions at the regional and internal levels, the government’s capacity to implement a reconciliatory policy that could gather all elements of the Iraqi society, and finally an agreement on a structure to administer Mosul and Nineveh, both characterized by their religious diversity.” According to Paris, the current blazing file is certainly the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming referendum on independence, scheduled for Sept. 25. Similar to other regional and international parties, France sees in this referendum an “imminent threat,” and considers itself a “friend of the Kurds” since the 1990’s and of being capable to influence them. However, Paris “supports the Kurdish rights of self-administration but in the framework of the current Iraqi Constitution.”

Report: Trump Asked Attorney General about Dropping Arpaio Case
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/Donald Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions about dropping a criminal case against controversial ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio, a close ally of the Republican president who has since received a pardon, The Washington Post reported Saturday. Trump was advised that closing the criminal contempt case against Arpaio, who was convicted for ignoring a court order to stop detaining illegal migrants, would be inappropriate, said the Post, citing three unnamed sources with knowledge of the conversation. The president decided to let the case go ahead, but said he would pardon Arpaio if necessary -- one source said Trump was "gung-ho" about the idea, the Post said. Trump has received pushback on the pardon by members of his own party -- most recently from the highest ranking Republican in Congress, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. "The speaker does not agree with this decision," Ryan spokesman Doug Andres said in a statement late Saturday. "Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States," Andres said. "We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon."
Both Republican senators from Arizona, John McCain and Jeff Flake, earlier criticized the presidential pardon. Trump's reported chat with Sessions over Arpaio stands as evidence of the inability -- or unwillingness -- of the 71-year-old billionaire U.S. leader to maintain the traditional distance between the White House and the Justice Department on specific cases. It also bears similarities to two situations that have dogged Trump for months. One is his alleged bid to influence a federal inquiry into his onetime national security advisor Michael Flynn, and his bid to persuade high-level officials to downplay the possibility of collusion between his campaign team and Russia, which is still under investigation. The 85-year-old Arpaio, a divisive figure who was once dubbed "America's toughest sheriff," was granted a presidential pardon on Friday -- the first since Trump took office, and one that seemingly did not follow regular protocols. "He kept Arizona safe!" Trump tweeted, calling Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa County, a "patriot." Arpaio had been due for sentencing in October. The move ensured he would serve no time in prison. Both Trump and Arpaio pushed the "birther" conspiracy theory that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States. They also found common ground on the campaign trail on illegal immigration. The move however earned immediate scorn from Democrats, some Republicans and rights groups, who said Trump skirted the normal procedures by not consulting the Justice Department before granting clemency. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told the Post: "It's only natural the president would have a discussion with administration lawyers about legal matters. This case would be no different."

Venezuelans Learn to Shoot, Fight at War Drills to Defy Trump
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/Venezuelan troops taught civilians how to shoot rifles, fire missiles and engage in hand-to-hand combat during drills held in defiance of U.S. sanctions and President Donald Trump's threat of military action. War planes, tanks and 200,000 troops of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) deployed along with 700,000 reservists and civilians as socialist President Nicolas Maduro launched two days of military exercises. In a Caracas military academy, soldiers taught civilians how to use their fists, rifles, ba zookas and anti-aircraft guns and supervised them on obstacle courses. "Yankees out!" 60-year-old Erica Avendano yelled as she bashed a rag dummy with her rifle on an assault course. "I hope nothing will happen, but we are ready for anything," she told the AFP news agency.
'Possible military option'
Trump warned earlier this month that the United States was mulling a range of options against Venezuela, "including a possible military option if necessary."Top U.S. officials later played down the threat. "No military actions are anticipated in the near future," said US national security adviser HR McMaster.
But Trump's tough talk bolstered Maduro's oft-repeated claim that Washington is plotting to topple him and wants to grab control of Venezuela's oil -- the largest proven reserves in the world. Gregorio Valderrama, a 23-year-old father of three, received a shooting lesson from soldiers on Saturday. Valderrama said he was there to learn "to defend my country and my family." "We may not know how to handle a rifle and when to shoot, but here we are learning," he added.
Military loyalty
Elected in 2013, Maduro, the political heir to the late Hugo Chavez, has hung onto power despite food shortages and social upheaval. His grip is largely thanks to the support of the military, which holds vast powers in his government, including over food distribution. The opposition has repeatedly called on the army to abandon Maduro but so far he has faced only low-level dissent. Military analyst Rocio San Miguel judged the weekend's exercises to be "mere propaganda" rather than a meaningful challenge to Trump. She said they aimed to discourage "any disloyalty in the ranks of the FANB, which is a worry for the intelligence services," and "to reinforce the anti-imperialist line."On Thursday, the president warned the armed forces not to break ranks. "This is no time for any fissures," he said in a speech to the top military brass. "Never before has Venezuela been threatened in such a way."
'Financial blockade'
Tension surged again however when the White House on Friday unveiled its first-ever sanctions to target Venezuela as a whole, rather than just Maduro and his inner circle. The measures ban trade in new bonds issued by the Venezuelan government or its cash-cow oil company, PDVSA. That could choke off access to New York debt markets and raise the risk of Venezuela being forced into default. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said the armed forces support "all measures being implemented to counter the financial blockade."
International pressure
Venezuela's center right-led opposition and international powers including Washington say Maduro is turning Venezuela into a dictatorship. Maduro's opponents accuse military police and pro-Maduro militia of beating and killing anti-government protesters who are demanding elections to replace him.
Protest clashes have left 125 people dead so far this year, according to prosecutors. Maduro says the violence and the economic crisis are a U.S.-backed conspiracy. On Friday, he accused opposition leaders in his country of pushing for the U.S. sanctions and called for legislative speaker Julio Borges to be tried for treason. Also on Friday, Maduro called an "urgent" meeting of American companies that buy Venezuelan oil and hold Venezuelan bonds to discuss the sanctions.

Pro-Saleh Colonel among 3 Dead in Clashes with Allied Yemen Rebels
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/A Yemeni colonel loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and two rebels have been killed in clashes, Saleh's party and a news agency said Sunday, in an unprecedented escalation of violence between the allies. Colonel Khaled al-Rida was killed in clashes in the rebel-held capital Sanaa late Saturday, a statement released by Saleh's General People's Congress party said. Rida was the deputy head of foreign relations in the party. While the statement did not name the Huthi rebels, it accused a "group that knows no morality or oaths" of being behind the killing -- a thinly-veiled reference to the Huthis, who over the past week have lashed out at Saleh as a "back-stabber" and "traitor" as tensions rise within the rebel alliance. The rebel-run Saba news agency said two members of the Popular Committees, a triba l alliance largely dominated by the Huthis, were killed late Saturday in Sanaa. A source within the GPC said the clashes erupted at a rebel checkpoint in the southern neighborhood of Hadda after a dispute between fighters manning the checkpoint and armed supporters of Saleh who were driving by. Saleh and his one-time foe Abdul Malik al-Huthi joined ranks in 2014 in a shock alliance that drove the internationally recognized government out of Sanaa and into the southern province of Aden. A war of words between Saleh and rebel leader Huthi has escalated in the past week. The two have publicly accused each other of treason, with Saleh hinting his allies were merely "a militia" and the rebels warning the former president he would "bear the consequences" of the insult. The Huthis reportedly suspect Saleh has been negotiating with a Saudi-led military coalition that supports the Yemeni government. Saleh, meanwhile, is said to be displeased with the Huthis' newfound power in the capital, where they run a number of key offices. The war between the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by the coalition, and the rebel camp has killed more than 8,300 Yemenis since 2015 and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

Tillerson Slams N. Korea Missile Test but Still Seeks Talks
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared Sunday that North Korea's latest missile test was a "provocative act" but said he still hopes to persuade Pyongyang to come to the negotiating table. Earlier this month, Washington's top diplomat suggested a diplomatic opening might be close after North Korea reacted to a new round of United Nations sanctions with what he termed "some level of restraint."And on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump seized upon the lack of immediate North Korean missile tests as evidence that the country's leader Kim Jong-Un "is starting to respect us."But on Saturday, true to recent form, North Korea test-fired three short-range ballistic missiles, with Kim apparently thumbing his nose at calls for him to send Washington a signal that he is serious about nuclear disarmament. "The firing of any ballistic missile is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions," Tillerson told Fox News Sunday. "We do view it as a provocative act, a provocative act against the United States and our allies." But he added, "We continue to want the Kim regime to understand (there) is a different path that he can choose."Asked whether he and Trump had been too quick to imagine that Kim might be ready to show restraint, Tillerson said: "I don't know that we are wrong ... I think it's going to take some time to tell.""Clearly they are still messaging us as well that they are not prepared to completely back away from their position," he said. "Having said that, we are going to continue our peaceful pressure campaign as I have described it," Tillerson said, "working with allies, working with China as well, to see if we can bring the regime in Pyongyang to the negotiating table, begin a dialogue on a different future for the Korean peninsula and for North Korea."

Israel Finalizes Deal for 17 More F-35 Stealth Fighters
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/Israel has finalized a deal to purchase 17 more F-35 stealth fighters in addition to 33 of the ultra-high-tech jets already ordered, the defense ministry said Sunday. Israel has already taken delivery of five of the jets, made by U.S.-based Lockheed Martin and the most expensive in history, beginning in December. The aim of the purchase is to allow Israel to maintain its military superiority in the turbulent Middle East, particularly regarding its arch-foe Iran and the S-300 anti-aircraft system delivered to it by Russia. It had previously announced its intent to purchase 17 more planes, bringing the total to 50."The F-35 will be a key element in assuring Israel's defense both along our borders as well as far from them," Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said. The cost of the next batch of 17 F-35s will be less than $100 million each, the ministry said, a significant reduction from the initial 33 planes. Those were purchased at an average of about $110 million each. The cost of the jets has been sharply criticized, including by U.S. President Donald Trump.  Israel's first jets are to be operational this year. While other countries have ordered the planes, Israel -- which receives more than $3 billion a year in U.S. defense aid -- says it will be the first outside the United States with an operational F-35 squadron. Among its main features are advanced stealth capabilities to help pilots evade sophisticated missile systems. The single-pilot jets can carry an array of weapons and travel at a supersonic speed of Mach 1.6, or around 1,200 miles per hour (1,900 kilometers per hour). The pilot's helmet, at a cost of about $400,000 each, includes its own operating system, with data that appears on the visor and which is also shared elsewhere.
Thermal and night vision as well as 360-degree views are possible with cameras mounted on the plane.

Iraqi Forces Poised for Victory over IS in Tal Afar
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/Iraqi forces backed by local militia and a U.S.-led coalition were poised Sunday to drive the Islamic State group from the city of Tal Afar, dealing another blow to the jihadists. Just a week after authorities announced an offensive to push the jihadists from one of their last major urban strongholds in Iraq, the Joint Operations Command said Iraqi forces held all 29 districts of the city and were pursuing final clearing operations. Pro-government fighters could already be seen celebrating, flashing victory signs as their tanks rolled through the streets, waving Iraqi flags and taking down black IS banners from buildings and lamp posts. The offensive comes just weeks after Iraqi forces retook second city Mosul from IS, in their biggest victory since the jihadists seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq in mid-2014. Much of that territory has since been retaken with support from coalition air strikes and IS is also facing a major U.S.-backed offensive against its de facto Syrian capital Raqa. The loss of Tal Afar, in northern Iraq between Mosul and the Syrian border, will deprive IS of what was once a significant hub for movement between the Syrian and Iraqi components of the self-styled "caliphate" it declared three years ago. On Saturday, Iraqi forces reached Tal Afar's Ottoman-era citadel and took control of the city center. Government troops and units of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition launched the assault last Sunday after weeks of coalition and Iraqi air strikes. Progress in Tal Afar has been far more rapid than in Mosul, which fell to Iraqi forces only after a grueling nine-month battle. Officials have said they hope to announce victory by Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday set to start in Iraq on September 2. The next target in the area was the town of Al-Ayadieh 15 kilometers (10 miles) north of Tal Afar and strategically located on the road between the city and the Syrian border.
Next target -I
n the whole Tal Afar region, "1,155 square kilometers (445 square miles) of 1,655 square kilometers (640 square miles), or 70 percent of the area, have been taken" the JOC said late on Saturday. Pro-government forces faced an obstacle course of roads blocked with earth embankments and strategically parked trucks, as well as sniper fire and mortar shelling during the battle for Tal Afar. Troops also said they discovered a network of underground tunnels used by IS to launch attacks behind lines of already conquered territory, or to escape. Most of the city's 200,000-strong population had fled after IS seized it. Until its takeover by IS, Tal Afar was largely populated by Shiite Turkmen, whose beliefs are considered heretical by the Sunni jihadists of IS. Officials have said the capture of the city would make it even more difficult for the jihadists to transport fighters and weapons between Iraq and Syria. The jihadist group has lost much of the territory it controlled and thousands of its fighters have been killed since late 2014, when the U.S.-led international coalition was set up to defeat the group. Once Tal Afar is retaken, Baghdad is expected to launch a new offensive on Hawija, about 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of the Iraqi capital. The coalition has announced carrying out strikes near Hawija in recent days, including two that killed IS fighters and destroyed a command post.
IS is also present in the vast western province of Anbar, where it controls several zones along the border with Syria, including the al-Qaim area.
Despite its losses in Iraq and Syria, IS has continued to claim responsibility for attacks carried out by its members or supporters abroad, including this month's deadly attacks in Spain and knife attacks in Russia and Brussels.

Merkel Backs Libyan Coastguard but Warns against Abuses
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/August 27/17/German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday said the Libyan coastguard should be supported in its efforts to stem the flow of migrants to Europe, but warned that rights abuses would not be tolerated. A day before a Paris summit on the migrant crisis, Merkel said the Libyan coastguard had to become capable of patrolling its waters and should be given "the necessary equipment to do its job". "At the same time, of course we also consider it of the utmost importance that the Libyan coastguard adheres to international law, both in its dealings with refugees and migrants as well as non-governmental groups," she told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. "Should any doubts be raised about this, then we will investigate the allegations," she vowed. The Libyan government sparked controversy this month when it barred foreign vessels from a stretch of water off its coast, claiming that charity boats active in the search and rescue zone were facilitating illegal migration. The move was welcomed by Italy, the main port of arrival for migrants from north Africa, but several NGOs have since suspended their sea missions, accusing the Libyan coastguard of making threats and creating a hostile environment in the Mediterranean. So far this year more than 100,000 people have made the perilous journey from Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration, and the European Union is eager for Libya to clamp down on the influx. Over 2,300 have died attempting the crossing. "We cannot allow the business of people smugglers who have the deaths of so many on their conscience," said Merkel. French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting talks on the crisis at the Elysee Palace on Monday, with Merkel and her Spanish and Italian counterparts in attendance. Libya's unity government chief Fayez al-Sarraj and the leaders of Chad and Niger will also attend the gathering. Merkel, who is campaigning for a fourth term in next month's general election, told Die Welt am Sonntag that she had no regrets about her bold move to open Germany's borders to refugees in 2015. "I would make all the important decisions of 2015 again in the same way," she said. The arrival of hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, mainly from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, deeply divided Germany and hurt Merkel's approval ratings.But as the influx has slowed in recent months, Merkel's popularity has rebounded and her conservatives are comfortably leading in the polls ahead of the September 24 vote.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 27-28/17
An Open Alliance with Qatar is Better
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al-Awsat/August 27/17
Saudi Arabia revealed the involvement of a cell of five Saudis who are spying for Iran and their formation of a terrorist cell in the Kingdom aimed at carrying out terrorist attacks, bombings and assassinations of Sunni religious figures (as revealed by Asharq Al-Awsat). Bahrain announced the arrest of seven out of ten people who formed an Iran-operated terrorist cell affiliated with the al-Ashtar Brigades that is blacklisted by the four counter-terrorism countries of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. This cell is operated by a fugitive in Iran, who has been sentenced to 90 years in jail on terrorism-related charges and who enjoys close ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Throughout all these developments, Qatar completely flipped the script by returning its ambassador to Tehran, saying that it “looks forward to bolstering bilateral ties with the Iranian republic in all fields.”
The truth is, whether Qatar has an ambassador in Tehran or not and whether Tehran has an ambassador in Doha or not, the two countries’ pursuit to preserve balanced ties, even during the worst times in the region, has not stopped. Despite the barrel bombs between Doha and Iran, in Syria in particular, so far none of them have exploded. In fact, they have cooperated in the displacement of the residents of Kafraya, al-Foua, Madaya and al-Zabadani. The displacement saw cooperation between Qatar and al-Nusra Front on the one hand and Iran and “Hezbollah” on the other. Were it not for the special Qatari-Iranian relations, such an agreement would never have taken place.
In my estimation, Qatar did well in returning its ambassador to Tehran and it did well when it strengthened its alliance with Iran. The worst that its neighbors have suffered over the past two years are the double standards and under the table dealings that Qatar is so adept at.
The Qatari policy is famous for its contradictions and one of the strengths of its foreign policy. The best example of this is its housing of an Israeli diplomatic office, its eventual expulsion of the members of this mission and bringing in Hamas under its financial and diplomatic wing.
The new chapter in the Qatari alliance with Iran is that it is taking place directly, clearly and frankly. It is therefore proving right the four countries that have boycotted Doha.
How can we possibly believe Doha’s trick of withdrawing its ambassador from Tehran when a major security agreement between the two sides still stands. One of the most important articles of this agreement is confronting any danger that threatens either country’s national security. This explains Qatar’s minor participation in Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen against the Houthis. This also explains why Doha chose to side with the Houthis against the Arab Coalition and in favor if its Iranian alliance. This stems from its need to defend Iranian national security.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries are not losing much in Qatar’s clear and open leaning towards the Persian bank of the Arab Gulf. Its stance may be provocative as Iran is the spearhead of global terrorism and an alliance with it will put Qatar in the same boat. Iran is working on spreading chaos and destabilizing regional and international security. If Qatar wants to be in the same boat, then it is confirmation that it is adopting a policy that is harming the region and the world. It is confirmation of the fears that pushed the four boycotting countries to sever ties with it. These countries had eyed suspiciously Doha’s ties with Iran and they had to treat Qatar as a “fraternal” state as part of the Arab-Iranian confrontation. This strategy was unfortunately proven wrong after Doha took advantage of the Gulf umbrella to conceal its strategic ties with Iran. Had Qatar not returned its ambassador to Tehran and affirmed its keenness on bolstering its alliance with Iran, it would have embarrassed the four boycotting countries because of the lack of evidence of its suspicious ties with Iran. Doha is however exposing itself one time after the other and it is presenting generous gifts to the four countries. Shouldn’t we after all this say “Thank you, Qatar”?

Christians Who Libel Israel: The Iona Community
by Denis MacEoin/Gatestone Institute/August 27/17

"Why Gaza does not have bomb shelter[s]? Hamas took control of Gaza Strip in 2005 following Israeli withdrawal. However, hostilities never ended... Had Hamas built bomb shelters, the causalities would have been reduced. It seems Hamas does not pay much attention to the number of dead Palestinians." — Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, journalist, Arab News, 2014.
Israeli soldiers do not set out to kill Palestinian children. Palestinian terrorists, however, knowingly and with malice aforethought, shoot, blow up, and slit the throats of Israeli children. You come from a Christian community, yet you appear to show compassion only for Palestinian children. If you do have feelings for Jewish children, I have never heard you say so.
Israeli children are never taught to hate and kill Palestinians. Their schools inculcate peace-making and the Jewish ethic of tikkun olam, "repairing the world," making it a better place. No international body has ever shown otherwise. But there is a vast body of evidence showing that Palestinian teachers and leaders do the exact opposite. British and other foreign aid money paid to the Palestinian Authority goes "into Palestinian schools named after mass murderers and Islamist militants, which openly promote terrorism and encourage pupils to see child killers as role models."
You have close connections to the Palestinian people and ought to have influence on them, to preach a Christian message of love and brotherhood. Are you willing to tackle them on their destructive use of children as cannon fodder and their educational system that turns little boys and girls into Jew-hating fanatics? Will you have the humility to apologize to the Jews of Israel for your unjustified accusations, to speak with them, to meet senior officers in their military, and to learn at first-hand how they work for eventual peace, however many times their efforts to bring it are thwarted by Palestinian rejection? I think you owe them that.
The Iona Community, about which I have written here before, is an ecumenical Christian fellowship in Scotland. Its headquarters are in Glasgow, but its main activities take place on the island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides, which is seen as a place for spiritual retreats. It has an international reputation for preaching love, a spiritual vocation, and fellowship among Christians. To me however it is also deeply anti-Semitic through its extreme hatred for the state of Israel and its one-sided support of the Palestinian narrative – according to the definitions of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and the US State Department.
The Abbey of the Iona Community, on the island of Iona, Scotland. (Image source: Akela NDE/Wikimedia Commons)
Earlier this year, Sammy Stein, chairman of Glasgow Friends of Israel, complained to the group about remarks made at a meeting addressed by Iona's Leader-Elect, Dr. Michael Marten. Marten had argued[1] more than once that Israeli soldiers routinely and deliberately shoot Palestinian children, while knowing that they are children. In a reply[2] to Mr. Stein, Marten and the Reverend Peter Macdonald, the community leader, asserted that Marten's statement had been true, and tried to back up their vilification by referencing a number of media and UN reports, including anti-Israel NGOs such as B'Tselem and Electric Intifada. I was asked to respond to their diatribe; the result is the letter below. Will Macdonald and Marten, take in what it says and find a more honest way to express Christian concern, not just for the children of Gaza and the West Bank, but for Jewish children murdered in their beds and at school by Palestinian terrorists?
Dear Rev. Macdonald and Dr. Marten,
Earlier this year, you co-signed a letter to Mr Sammy Stein, Chairman of Glasgow Friends of Israel, in which you cited sources and made statements regarding the belief that "Israeli military forces routinely attack children", regularly shooting and killing them. Mr Stein has asked me to respond to your letter, which I believe to be anti-Semitic under the most widely accepted definition of the term, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition, signed by and accepted by 32 countries, including the UK and the European Parliament, and therefore having force in the jurisdiction in which you live and act. I am not Jewish, but for most of a long life I have defended Israel as the only safe haven for Jews and Middle East Christians, faced on all sides by violent enemies and by the rapid recrudescence of vicious anti-Semitism across Europe as well as a centuries-old hatred of Jews across the Islamic world.
I would ask you not to make a knee-jerk dismissal of my arguments before you come to them, and I ask you to reflect on what I have to say and to pray about it. For I hope to show how far you stand as Christians from a fair, honest, and compassionate understanding of the sufferings endured by the people of Israel, whether they be Jews, Muslims or Christians. I say that because Israel is quite literally the only country in the Middle East and far beyond that provides freedom of religion and equal rights for all its citizens. As a former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies, a Middle East historian, and the holder of a doctorate in Iranian Studies, I make that statement in the firm understanding that it is true.
The limited sources you cite in evidence of routine attacks on Palestinian children include several, such as B'Tselem and Electric Intifada, that are notorious as anti-Semitic and unreliable in the extreme. As an academic, I would not touch them with a bargepole. It is also vital to ask why you do not cite a single Israeli or pro-Israel source in an attempt to seek a balanced approach to the issue. When you wrote your letter, I believe you had already made up your mind and showed no interest in a more informed examination. Three of the sources you cite are dated from 2014, from the time of a war that was started by Hamas, disseminating information that was even then unreliable.
Yes, Palestinian children are often killed. The real questions are: why are they killed, who kills them, and whether the Israeli army, the Israel Defence Force (IDF), has a policy that leads to routine killings. Before going further, I assure you that no such policy exists or has ever existed. As I shall show, the exact opposite is true. I also want to ask why you do not once mention the frequent deaths of Jewish children by Palestinian terrorists. I shall return to that later, but I would like to know why your reported compassion for dead children recognises only Palestinian children, not Jewish boys and girls who have had their throats cut while asleep in bed or blown to pieces by suicide bombers seeking paradise by slaughtering Jews. Do you care about them at all? How far does Christian love extend?
In 2015, a body known as the High Level Military Group (HLMG) visited Israel six times in the wake of the 2014 war with Gaza, to which conflict several of your sources refer. The HLMG is made up of eleven former senior military personnel who issue reports on conflicts between democratic armies and terrorist organizations. These officials had held top positions in the US, British, German, Spanish, French, Indian, Australian and Colombian defence forces and were, they said, afforded a level of access to the Israeli military that was "undoubtedly in excess of what our own countries would afford in similar circumstances." They included a former chairman of NATO's Military Committee, Klaus Naumann, and sometime commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp. All were from NATO and other democratic countries. Unlike yourselves and the commentators you cite, these are individuals of deep experience in warfare and in the command of soldiers in combat. Like yourselves, I am not a military expert, so I have a high appreciation of their insights into the IDF. I trust that you too will show respect for their conclusions.
Their 80-page report on the Israel Defence Force and its third war with Hamas in 2014 should surprise if not shock you with information that calls into question your portrayal of Israeli soldiers. It will only have such an import however, if your minds and hearts are open to the possibility that your judgement may be grossly distorted. You may also like to read and ponder on an article by this author, asking whether Israel committed war crimes in that war – an allegation which all the evidence, confirmed by the HLMG report, disproves.
In its report, the HLMG states:
We can further be categorically clear that Israel's conduct in the 2014 Gaza Conflict met and in some respects exceeded the highest standards we set for our own nations' militaries. It is our view that Israel fought an exemplary campaign, adequately conceived with appropriately limited objectives, displaying both a very high level of operational capability as well as a total commitment to the Law of Armed Conflict. The IDF not only met its obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict, but often exceeded these on the battlefield at significant tactical cost, as well as in the humanitarian relief efforts that accompanied its operation. (p. 11)
On the other hand, they say the following about Hamas, an internationally identified terrorist group that started this war as it did two earlier conflicts:
Hamas in turn not only flagrantly disregarded the Law of Armed Conflict as a matter of course as part of its terrorist-army hybrid strategic concept, but rather it abused the very protections afforded by the law for military advantage.
Embedding its entire military machinery in civilian locations and sensitive sites, including those of the United Nations, Hamas indiscriminately targeted Israeli civilians throughout the conflict with extensive rocket fire and willfully sought to draw the IDF into battle in a prepared urban stronghold amid the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza, for which it located its operational headquarters in Gaza's main hospital.
It is important to note that Hamas's strategic concept actively seeks the death of its own civilians as an advantageous reinforcement of its strategy aimed at the erosion of Israel's legitimacy. (p. 11)
So high were Israel's standards that even the HLMG's rapporteur, Davis Lewin, was concerned that "Some of the precautions were so extensive they worried that they could become norms in international law in terms of having to fight their own battles elsewhere." It is Israeli policy to warn enemy civilians of impending attacks by dropping thousands of leaflets, making telephone calls, sending text messages, and even dropping projectiles called "knocks on the roof" to give residents advanced warnings to evacuate the premises. This practice alone makes Amnesty International's accusation of "callous indifference" to civilian deaths utterly indefensible. Giving advance warning of attacks is disadvantageous for the Israeli Air Force in two ways: it warns Hamas fighters and rocket-launching teams that they have been spotted and designated as targets, and it allows Hamas to order civilians to remain in buildings or go onto flat roofs to dissuade Israelis from firing. This policy of warning civilians of a coming attack is stated clearly in Israel's Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006).
Hamas does the exact opposite, not just with its indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilian centers, but in its callousness regard for its own civilians, including children. There is overwhelming evidence that Hamas used human shields in various ways. Children have been used to protect fighters, who physically hold them or open fire right next to them.[3] Numbers of civilians have been ordered onto roofs, to remain in homes that may be targeted. Hamas places rocket launchers inside or directly next to civilian sites. There is much evidence that Hamas military structures, rocket launch pads, and command centers have been situated directly in or next to civilian dwellings, a church, hospitals,[4] mosques, and schools.[5] Even the UN has admitted this. If you will take the care to watch the videos I have linked to, you will see stark evidence of those crimes.
Does it not shock you to learn that Hamas fired rockets from 31 UN facilities, 41 hospitals, 50 children's playgrounds, 85 medical clinics, 248 schools, 331 mosques, and 818 other civilian sites. One report reads that "Hamas uses UN facilities, schools, children's playgrounds, water towers, mosques and countless other active civilian facilities as launching sites for rockets and attacks. In this operation [2014 war] alone, Hamas has launched above 1,600 rockets from civilian sites."
This is historically a deliberate Hamas policy, as is clear from a 2008 video of a speech by Fathi Hammad, the Hamas Interior Minister:
"The enemies of God do not know that the Palestinian people have developed their methods of death and death-seeking. For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, as do all the people living in this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahidin [i.e. the jihad fighters] and the children. This is why they have formed human shields [duruq bashariyya] of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahidin, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death, just as you desire life.'"
Read that again -- "they have formed human shields [duruq bashariyya] of the women, the children...." -- and you are outraged that Palestinian children are killed, and blame that on soldiers in an army that goes morally far beyond any other army in the world, and that puts its own troops' lives in danger in order to avoid hurting enemy civilians?
In your letter, you say nothing about Hamas or the Palestinian Authority which carry out or condone terror attacks, frequently inciting their own children to carry out stabbings or teaching them to become suicide bombers. As far back as 2014, Hamas killed 160 Palestinian children used to build terror tunnels, some of which ended under Israeli kindergartens. You say not a word about any of this.
It is a matter of record that Islamic terrorists use children from an early age as fighters and suicide bombers, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere. Iran used children to explode landmines during its war with Iraq, and is still calling for young boys to fight in Syria. ISIS has used around 1,500 children (as young as seven) as fighters, suicide bombers, and executioners, putting them in harm's way and causing severe mental illness for any who may survive.
These things are well known across the world. I do not doubt that you condemn this. But Hamas, whom you do not condemn, is part and parcel of the international Islamic terrorist campaign against the West. Their use of children falls into the same category as that of the Taliban, ISIS, and other murderous criminal enterprises. Yet you criticize Israel whose soldiers fight to defend their people from this evil.
Israel builds bomb shelters to protect its civilians, including children, from Hamas rocket attacks. Most Israelis have a small shelter in their homes: "In 1951, three years after the State of Israel declared its independence, the country instituted a civil defense law requiring all homes, residential buildings and offices to be equipped with shelters or 'safe rooms'." In Sderot, however, close to the Gaza border, Jewish children have a mere 15 seconds to run from playgrounds to shelter. On July 2, 2016, in Sderot, a Hamas rocket landed directly in an early childhood development center. A 2012 study showed that almost half all pre-teen children living in Sderot suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Writing in Arab News in 2014, journalist Abdulateef Al-Mulhim asked a simple question:
"Why Gaza does not have bomb shelter[s]? Hamas took control of Gaza Strip in 2005 following Israeli withdrawal. However, hostilities never ended. In one of the conflicts around 1,500 Palestinians lost their lives and the Israeli side sustained few casualties. Undoubtedly, Israel is militarily more powerful than Hamas. Had Hamas built bomb shelters, the causalities would have been reduced. It seems Hamas does not pay much attention to the number of dead Palestinians
You do not even refer to these facts or mention other places inhabited by children, and instead blame Palestinian children's deaths on Israeli soldiers. This is morally irresponsible and reprehensible, and I do not hesitate to call you out for this transparent obliquity.
I mentioned above the many deaths of Israeli children at the hands of Palestinian terrorists who deliberately set out to take innocent lives. Allow me to mention just a few, and then to ask you why, to my knowledge, you have never condemned your Palestinian friends whose schools, television and radio broadcasts, political speeches, and religious sermons encourage their fellow citizens to go out to kill Jews, telling their own children that they should regard murderers as role models and aspire to carry out similar attacks once they are old enough.
In May 1974, three armed members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine entered Netiv Meir elementary school in Ma'alot in the Western Galilee and took over 115 people hostage. The victims were male and female student visitors from a religious high school together with escorts. Of the 115 hostages, 105 were children. The siege lasted two days, with demands made for the release of 23 terrorist prisoners. When IDF soldiers stormed the building, 25 hostages, 22 of them children, were killed, while 68 were injured. In the struggle, the terrorists killed children with grenades and automatic weapons. (For a full account of the massacre, see here.)
Between 2000 and 2005, the Second Intifada -- an outbreak of senseless violence targeting Jewish civilians -- hundreds of children were murdered in suicide and bus bombings, car shootings, and sniper fire. See Here for some of them. In March 2011, five members of a religious Jewish family, the Fogels, were slaughtered in their beds in Itamar by Hakim Awad, an 18-year-old Palestinian. He cut the throats of the father, and the mother, then proceeded to do the same to 3-month-old Hadas, 4-year-old Elad, and 11-year-old Yoav. Three other children, who were not at home, survived but were mentally scarred for life.
Last year, a 13-year-old Israeli girl, Hallel Yaffe Ariel, was stabbed to death while sleeping in her bed after a 19-year-old Palestinian man broke into her family home. Her mattress and the floor of her room were covered in blood.
Israeli soldiers do not set out to kill Palestinian children – the moral qualities of the Israeli military have been made clear above. Palestinian terrorists, however, knowingly and with malice aforethought, shoot, blow up, and slit the throats of Israeli children. You come from a Christian community, yet you appear to show compassion only for Palestinian children. If you do have feelings for Jewish children, you never say so.
Israeli children are never taught to hate and kill Palestinians. Their schools inculcate peace-making and the Jewish ethic of tikkun olam, "repairing the world," making it a better place. No international body has ever shown otherwise. But there is a vast body of evidence showing that Palestinian teachers and leaders do the exact opposite. British and other foreign aid money paid to the Palestinian Authority goes "into Palestinian schools named after mass murderers and Islamist militants, which openly promote terrorism and encourage pupils to see child killers as role models." Last summer, "a Gaza kindergarten graduation ceremony sponsored by the Islamic Jihad, featured children dressed in military fatigues, holding toy weapons, acting out attacks on an Israeli army base, firing mortar shells, planting explosive devices, kidnapping soldiers and even delivering mosque sermons that praise martyrdom." In 2012, senior Hamas commander Zaher Jabarin told Hamas' Al-Quds TV that Hamas labors "day and night" to educate Palestinian children in Gaza to become suicide bombers. In 2013, Gaza's Hamas-run al-Aqsa TV showed children singing the virtues of suicide attacks, and wishing to blow themselves up to "liberate" Jerusalem and Palestine.[6]
You have close connections to the Palestinian people and ought to have influence on them, to preach a Christian message of love and brotherhood. Are you willing to tackle them on their destructive use of children as cannon fodder and their educational system that turns little boys and girls into Jew-hating fanatics? Will you have the humility to apologize to the Jews of Israel for your unjustified accusations, to speak with them, to meet senior officers in their military, and to learn first-hand how they work for eventual peace, however many times their efforts to bring it are thwarted by Palestinian rejection? I think you owe them that. Surely, that is what Jesus would have done.
Yours sincerely,
Dr. Denis MacEoin
[1] Cited in private letter by Mr Stein and in letter signed by Marten, shared with author.
[2] Ibid.
[3] See also here.
[4] See also here.
[5] On all of these, see here.
[6] See also here, here, and especially here, where a Hamas fighter uses a little girl to fire a sub-machine gun at Israeli troops.
© 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.

Is the world waiting for a time when there are no more Palestinians left?
Tariq A. Al-Maeena/Al Arabiya/August 27/17
Every day, Palestinian civilians are being murdered in cold blood by the ruthless and heavily armed Israeli forces operating in occupied Palestine. Coupled with the viciousness of the armed Israeli settlers who have illegally encroached on Palestinian lands, the situation is beyond dire. It is a holocaust of some proportions as ethnic cleansing is in full swing under the patronage of Benjamin Netanyahu, who will undoubtedly one day be charged with having committed crimes against humanity. And yet, the world watches in silence.
Along with thousands of illegal settlers, Netanyahu is calculatedly following the game plan set by his mentor Ariel Sharon, a former Israeli prime minister who once said in a recorded interview: “I don’t know something called International Principles. I vow that I’ll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child are more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child’s existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I’ve killed 750 Palestinians in Rafah in 1956.”
Israeli brutality has reached its peak in recent years with the uncensured daily murders of Palestinian civilians. Crimes against women and children have reached unprecedented levels. In a span of three days, Israeli Occupation Forces shot a 13-year-old Palestinian girl because she “wouldn’t stop.” They then tried to cover up the documented video clip by falsely claiming that she was attempting an attack, when in reality she was on her way to her friend’s house.
The next day, Israeli occupation forces beat, and then kidnapped a Palestinian girl near the illegal Israeli Jewish settlement of Itmar, south of the West Bank city of Nablus. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli occupation forces called on the girl from a distance of about 50 meters and asked her to raise her hands and sit down. The girl obeyed the order and did all that she was ordered to do by the heavily armed and intimidating Israelis. They then approached the girl, beat her, blindfolded her and took her to an unknown place. In justifying their actions, the Israeli media reported that Israeli occupation army sources claimed that the girl was kidnapped because she had a knife with her. As has been their recent modus operandi, the Israeli forces failed to provide any proof that the girl was indeed carrying a knife.
Two Palestinian brothers, unarmed and on their way home, were accosted by the Israeli Occupation forces and shot. Mousa Khadour was killed, while his brother Raghad was seriously injured. Their other sibling Majd had been killed by the Israelis two months earlier.
Israeli terrorism
Iyad Hamed was another unfortunate victim of Israeli terrorism. He was gunned down by Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Silwad. In the face of overwhelming evidence, the army was forced to admit that the victim had not, in fact, been a terrorist and was not carrying a weapon. Witnesses reported that he had lost his way, panicked when he saw the soldiers, and tried to run to safety, whereupon he was shot in the back. This was corroborated by medics who examined his wounds on the scene. What makes the case of Iyad Hamed tragically significant is that he had a mental disability. He was a simple-minded father who was on his way home from the store to deliver candy to his children, who themselves had special needs, before, as a witness stated, he was murdered and “the candies he bought for his children were mixed with his blood.”
Israeli Occupation forces executed four Palestinians in less than 24 hours, including one with Jordanian citizenship. Among the victims was a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed Rugby who was the third victim executed in a terror swoop. The following day, an Israeli settler ran over and killed a six-year-old Palestinian girl with his car as she stood in front of her home.
Sabra, Shatila, and Jenin are not the only reminders of mass murder against the Palestinian population. Such atrocities continue unabated and unchecked today with sinister intentions. Such acts of calculated violence have not escaped the attention of those who have not been swayed by the propaganda of the Israeli government. A German diplomat was incensed and asked me angrily: “Have Arabs lost their soul? Don’t they see what is going on in Gaza and the rest of Palestine today? The Nazis used similar tactics: terror, intimidation and finally murder. Today, the Israelis expect the world to apologize for those sins of long ago, while they brazenly keep committing similar ones.”
What is the rest of the world waiting for? For a time when there are no more Palestinians left? Have those hapless people reached the point of no return?

The true meaning of ‘jihad’ and the Brotherhood’s big con
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/August 27/17
The most important weapon in the hands of terrorists is to violate and abuse the term “jihad” and link it to terrorist and suicide attacks. Leaders of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood were the first to exploit and violate this noble concept since the beginning of their terrorist operations, when they assassinated Egyptian prime minister El Nokrashy Pasha in mid-20th century. Since that time, terrorist operations began to pick up pace. The deceitful Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi tried to give doctrinal legitimacy to suicide operations to make it look legitimate jihad in Islam.
Jihad in Islam - as it is known - has its conditions, specifications and caveats. Since early times, the scholars of Islam had thought through these stipulations. Throughout history, jihad was not associated with indiscriminate killing of people or deliberately bringing about destruction. It was not until this ridiculous organization came along to preach what was not even mentioned in the Quran. Nevertheless, the Muslim Brotherhood became very popular and young, ignorant people lined up in queues to become suicide bombers, in order to enjoy the pleasures of Paradise. Muslim Brotherhood exploited the repressed sexuality of the youth and their tendency to commit violence for the benefit of the organization. For bringing about revolution, Muslim societies need to follow the obligation of obedience of Sunnis towards their guardian, and the impossibility of dissent against it. Salman al-Awda has published a book called Questions in the Revolution in which he cites all the evidence on this issue, interprets some of them and completely discredits others. The government censored his book and prevented him from selling it in libraries. Nasser al-Omar also issued an inflammatory book against the Shiites titled The Reality of Shiites in the Country of Monotheism, in which he launched an atonement campaign against them, although they are native citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a basic constituent of society.
Such misleading calls made it easier for ISIS to attract Saudis to conduct suicide attacks in mosques of the Shiite community in the Kingdom. It goes without saying that the legitimate jihad in Islam is to be under the banner of the guardian or with his permission. Therefore, all those who call for jihad, whether through a sermon, a public statement, or a book; instigate against a constituent or group within a society, or foment a culture of hatred to provoke young people and pave the way for their recruitment to terrorist movements, should be prosecuted, because they have a central role in creating the atmosphere of terrorism. Al-Qaradawi cannot be tried and punished because he lives in a state that believes in his doctrine. As for the Saudi instigators, it is time to try them and hold them accountable, especially since evidence condemns them and their terrorist operations, their seditious practices and their suspicious relations in the cradle of Qatar. Their punishment is a duty and an obligation.

Qatar submits to Iran and loses the Gulf
Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/August 27/17
Anyone who is more biased to a country other than his homeland or submits to a stranger is the one who loses out. Any state that goes hand in hand with foreigner against its brothers and neighbors is also at a loss.
Qatar’s crisis has revealed several crises which the Gulf intellectual and Arab intellectual suffer from. Some of these crises are related to specifying priorities, stop making mistakes, understanding the geographic surrounding and differentiating between the enemy and the friend and between those who wish well and others who wish evil. There are other crises pertaining to loyalties and affiliations and to visions and stances. This is in addition to crises pertaining to reasoning, understanding interests and arranging options, such as what comes first, money or the homeland? It’s such a real and huge crisis that the Gulf has seen nothing like and may see nothing like. It showed us a lot as it’s only through it that we learnt things we would not have learnt through compliments. There are many details we would not have realized if we had kept silent over Qatar’s destructive role in the region and the world and if the four countries hadn’t made their decision to boycott Doha or if they hadn’t announced the real reasons they decided to boycott it. If none of this happened, we would still be deceived by Qatar and its command which showed us that the affairs of Gulf and Arab countries are the least of its concerns and that it’s been working to serve the interest of their enemies or rather to serve the interest of anyone who has ambitions in the region.
A swamp of conspiracy
Qatar is involved, or actually drowned, in a swamp of conspiracy against its brothers and neighbors. This is why the scandal shocked the Qataris more than it shocked the rest of the world. Instead of stopping what it’s doing, Qatar chose to be stubborn and arrogant and decided to keep walking down this wrong path. Its submission went as far as requesting from the Iranian regime to let it open its embassy in Tehran. Less than two years after summoning its envoy in Iran following the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad, Doha decided to return its envoy without providing details or making clarifications. The logical explanation is that after its relations with its neighbors and brothers went bad, Qatar started to get closer to Iran and submitted to it. Doha also hopes to enhance bilateral relations with it in all fields while losing the Gulf. What kind of policy is this? What sovereignty does Qatar speak of? Who benefits from this step which even the Iranians mocked? Mustafa Abdali, an Iranian political analyst, warned of rapprochement with Qatar and called on his government not to forget that Qatar supports terrorism! Qatar’s understanding of regional affairs is shallow, as Doha has taken foolish decisions, such as reopening the Iranian embassy. Is this a logical move?

"It's a War on Christians": Muslim Persecution of Christians, April 2017
by Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/August 27/17
"The shopkeepers returned, trapped him in his home, set the room on fire and locked it. They stayed outside the room and did not allow any of the family members or local residents to unlock the room to save Ameen's life." The man was burned alive. — Pakistan Christian Post.
Mike said that five uniformed railway transport officers stood by idly watching the attack. According to a local Orthodox priest, "There are gangs of these young fellows of Muslim background who have been harassing people they identify as Christian... You don't hear about it because no one's reporting it." — Sydney, Australia.
According to a new study, 59% of Indonesians who responded to a survey have carried out acts of intolerance against non-Muslim minorities, and religious radicalization is on the rise. Only 11% of Indonesians are strongly opposed to an Islamic nation that governs according to strict Islamic law, Sharia. Around 11.5 million Indonesians are "spiritually" ready to make radical fundamental changes in Indonesian society. "They want to adopt laws inspired by Sharia, and their demands will become more and more radical," said a spokesperson for the statistical study. — Indonesia.
As in former years, Easter was under attack in various Muslim nations, most spectacularly in Egypt. On April 9, two Coptic Christian Orthodox churches packed with worshippers for Palm Sunday Mass, which initiates Easter holy week, were attacked by Islamic suicide bombers. Twenty-seven people—mostly children—were killed in St. George's in Tanta, northern Egypt. "Where is the government?" an angry Christian there asked AP reporters. "There is no government! There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives." Less than two hours later, 17 people were killed in St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria. Since the original building, founded by the Evangelist Mark in the first century, was burned to the ground during the seventh century Muslim invasions of Egypt, the church has been the historic seat of Coptic Christianity. Pope Tawadros, who was present—and apparently targeted—emerged unharmed. About 50 Christians were killed in the two bombings, 126 wounded and many mutilated. (Graphic images/video of aftermath here).
A few days earlier, on April 1, 3,000 fatwas [opinions by Islamic authorities] inciting the destruction of churches in Egypt had been circulated throughout Egypt. A number of Egyptian Christians interviewed after the twin bombings said that government-funded mosques regularly incite hatred and violence for Christians over their loudspeakers. In other mosques, according to Michael, a middle-aged Christian, "there are prayers to harm Christians. "They incite to violence, youths are being filled with hatred against us and acting on it. It concerns us all. It leads to terrorism and to Christians being targeted."
Separately a Christian woman said, "The problem starts at school where children are treated differently. In school some refused to speak to me because I was a Christian."
In Nigeria, Muslim Fulani herdsmen randomly opened fire on a Christian village. According to Bishop Bagobiri, "The attack came when the people were in the church for the Easter Vigil celebration." The Muslim gunmen killed "at least 12 persons on the spot, with many injured," including women and children. Instead of celebrating Easter Sunday, the bishop and a local priest presided over the burial of "at least ten Catholics." The bishop publicly accused the local governor, a Muslim, of complicity with the perpetrators and bias against their victims.
In Pakistan, a "major terrorist attack" targeting Christians during Easter celebrations was foiled, according to the nation's military. An Islamic militant was killed and four soldiers injured during the raid. Among the Muslim terrorists arrested was a female second-year medical student who said she was preparing to "martyr" herself as part of a suicide attack on a church during Easter Sunday. Last year in Lahore, an Easter Day Islamic attack left more than 70 people dead.
In Indonesia, 300 Christians from two churches remain sealed by authorities in West Java, celebrated their fifth Easter by protesting outside the presidential palace in hopes that the president lifts a banning order preventing them from holding services in their own houses of worship. Both churches are legally registered but "are being persecuted by local authorities who refuse to allow them to worship in their own churches, after citing opposition by local Muslims," according to the report. One church, in order to open, had to agree that a mosque could be built next to it. The church officials agreed and the mosque was built, but the church remains closed.
In Seville, Spain, men, shouting "Allah is great" during a Good Friday parade, prompted a mass stampede that left 17 people hospitalized. The report notes that "the eight people arrested are not of Arabic origin;" however, as many Muslims are not Arabs, that leaves many other possibilities.
The rest of April's roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Egypt: A Christian boy was murdered "by Islamic extremists hoping to intimidate Christians" according to a report. Gamal, 16, described as being "loved by all his friends and teachers at school" and "a very peaceful and polite person," was found by his family in a village in Upper Egypt "with his throat slit and lying in a pool of blood" four days after the Palm Sunday church bombings. According to the slain boy's father, the Islamic State was responsible: "They are the only ones who slaughter people like that. They slaughtered my son because of his faith in Jesus Christ. It's a war on Christians, and all honest people should stand up to those who are waging this war."
Another report, based on eyewitness testimonials, gives the details—including demands of conversion to Islam—behind the slaying of one of several Christians killed by ISIS-linked Muslims in el-Arish, Egypt last February:
Two Isis fighters wielding guns approached their target. Bahgat Zakhar, 58, was an Egyptian Copt on a "kill list" and the terrorists had been tracking him for days.... Bewildered, the polite veterinary surgeon stood up to shake the hands of the jihadists. They rammed him into the concrete terrace. "Repent, infidel. Convert and save yourself," one of the men said, pressing the gun barrel to Mr. Zakhar's temple and forcing him to his knees. The father-of-two shook his head, an eyewitness later told the family. So they shot him and strolled off. "They didn't even run."
Sudan: In response to the Islamist government's ongoing attempts to purge the nation of all Christian vestiges—which includes a recent decision to demolish 25 churches on claims that they were built on land intended for other use—on April 3, Christian minorities gathered around the Evangelical School in Omdurman for a peaceful protest against its illegal appropriation by a Muslim businessman. Police came to arrest the men, while a mob armed with knives and other weapons attacked and beat the women. A number of Christian men from the nearby Bahri Evangelical School rushed in to help the women. One church elder was stabbed to death during the clash, another wounded, hospitalized, and later released.
Pakistan: When Ameen, 45, an impoverished Christian husband and father could not make his instalment payments to Muslim shopkeepers, they and their accomplices raided the Christian man's home, beat him with sticks and cricket bats, and threatened to kill him if he did not instantly finish his payments (Ameen had nothing and had already sold some of his possessions to make ends meet). Early the next morning, on April 4, "the shopkeepers returned, trapped him in his home, set the room on fire and locked it," says the report. "They stayed outside the room and did not allow any of the family members or local residents to unlock the room to save Ameen's life." The man was burned alive. His three children who were present during the ordeal were left "traumatized" and "shocked after witnessing the brutal death of their father," said his widow.
Muslim Attacks on Christian Sites and Symbols
Egypt: One week after the two churches were bombed on Palm Sunday, militant Muslims attacked the police checkpoint guarding the entrance to the St. Catherine Monastery in south Sinai, one of the world's most important Christian sites. At least one policeman was killed and four others wounded in the attack. Founded in sixth century, St Catherine's, one of the world's oldest monasteries, is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site. Muslim militant groups around the Sinai regularly refer to it as a premier infidel site that needs to be demolished.
In a separate incident, on April 13, shortly after Christian villagers held a prayer service in the home of a local Christian, a Muslim mob burned three Christian homes and injured eight Christians, including two women, in the village of Kom El-Loufy, in Egypt's Minya Governorate. One of the Christians present spoke on condition of anonymity: "We asked the local security authorities to grant us a permit [to] hold prayers and they agreed. They granted us a permit to hold these prayers and the security forces came to secure the mass. At about 10:00 a.m., after the worship ended, we started on our way to our homes. Then, a mob of Muslims gathered and began to attack us and our homes. They hurled stones at our homes and set fire on three houses owned by Christians." The village, which holds about 1,800 Christians, has no church and local Muslims and governors refuse to allow one to be built. A similar attack occurred less than a year earlier; the homes of four Christian brothers were plundered and torched on the rumor that they were attempting to build a church in the village. Another Christian eyewitness present said "All these attacks occurred despite the presence of the police in the village. There are eight big cars from the central security and more than 15 police cars. I don't know why the police haven't arrested anyone who [has] attacked us till now."
Uganda: Muslims armed with swords and clubs tore through a Christian pastor's property, attacking his church, farm, and home. The pastor, Christopher Kalaja, a married father of six, said, "As they were approaching, they were shouting 'Allah Akbar' and immediately started cutting down the trees on my farm, and thereafter pulled down the church building. I then took off for the sake of my life." He filed a lawsuit against the vandals, prompting police, who were initially unresponsive, to visit the site and summon the suspects. "Since then, I have been receiving threats that they will come for my life, that they will soon destroy me completely." Driven from his home, he and his family have since taken refuge inside a thatched hut of a friend. This is only the latest attack on him and his family from the residents of the predominantly Muslim region: "My outreach to Muslims has led to all these fights that I have been receiving from the Muslims. These people have been hunting for me since the early '80s. And as a result, they even managed to kill my mother by poisoning, and after the death of my mother, they went ahead and killed my livestock. They are provoking me to leave the area."
Saudi Arabia: A towering concrete sculpture that had long stood by a governmental building in the city of Buraydah was demolished after
residents complained that it resembled a Christian cross. A book about Saudi Arabia published 30 years ago describes Buraydah as "a hotbed of fundamentalism even in the most normal of circumstances."
Muslim Contempt and Hate for Christians
Australia: In Muslim enclaves of southwest Sydney, Christians are regularly warned (by both Muslims and Christians) not to wear overtly Christian symbols such as crucifixes. One Australian man of Greek Orthodox heritage discovered too late what happens to those who ignore the warning. Mike, 30, wore a large cross while traveling on a train from Belmore Station, Sydney, with his girlfriend. Suddenly four young men of "Middle Eastern" appearance violently ripped the crucifix from around his neck, threw it to the ground and stomped on it, while yelling "F*** Jesus" and making references to "Allah." They then punched and kicked him, including in the face. When his girlfriend attempted to defend him, two Arabic-speaking women attacked her. Mike said that five uniformed railway transport officers stood by idly watching the attack. According to a local Orthodox priest, "This is not an isolated incident. There are gangs of these young fellows of Muslim background who have been harassing people they identify as Christian... You don't hear about it because no one's reporting it." He said there have been at least three other similar attacks around public transport in southwest Sydney recently: "It's like their territory; they don't want Christians or other types of infidels there... "
In Muslim enclaves of southwest Sydney, Christians are regularly warned not to wear overtly Christian symbols such as crucifixes. A Greek Orthodox man wearing a crucifix necklace was recently violently assaulted by four Muslim men who yelled "F*** Jesus", while he was traveling on a train from Belmore Station, Sydney. Pictured: All Saints Greek Orthodox Church, Belmore, Sydney, Australia. (Image source: Sardaka/Wikimedia Commons)
Pakistan: Despite several promises to reform, schools continue to "teach their children to hate Christians and other religious minorities," a new investigation found. Pakistan's National Commission for Justice and Peace said the government has failed to keep its promise of eradicating religious "hate material" from textbooks used in schools, which it vowed to do after a deadly Taliban attack on a school in 2014, when Islamic gunmen killed 132 students. According to the report, however, "instead of minimizing hate materials and discouraging religious extremism, the opposite seems to be occurring with a growing trend toward a more biased curriculum and more religious extremism being taught in Pakistan's public schools."
Indonesia: According to a new study, 59% of Indonesians who responded to a survey have carried out acts of intolerance against non-Muslim minorities, and religious radicalization is on the rise. Only 11% of Indonesians are strongly opposed to an Islamic nation that governs according to strict Islamic law, Sharia. Around 11.5 million Indonesians are "spiritually" ready to make radical fundamental changes in Indonesian society. "They want to adopt laws inspired by Sharia, and their demands will become more and more radical," said a spokesperson for the statistical study.
Central Asia: When a Muslim family in an unidentified Central Asian nation learned that their deaf daughter, Saida, had become Christian, they demanded she renounce Christ. She refused, was beaten, and had to be hospitalized in intensive care.
United States: Ehab Abdulmutta Jaber, 45, a Muslim man, recorded himself on Facebook Live brandishing a gun outside a Christian event and warning viewers during a profanity-laden declaration to "be scared." Because a Christian event in Sioux Falls featured a former Muslim-turned-Christian pastor who spoke unflatteringly against Islam, the local Islamic Center denounced the event as "Islamophobic." According to the report, "Jaber had been spotted filming the event with his cell phone in the back of the room and was advised by a security guard that recording was not allowed. The Facebook Live video shows Jaber filming the cover of his Koran before scanning the crowd of approximately 500 people.... After being ejected from the gathering because he was carrying a firearm, Jaber recorded another Facebook Live video in his car in which he brandished several handguns and rifles, warning viewers amid expletives to 'be scared.'" He was charged with one count of making terrorist threats.
Pakistan: Armed Muslim men broke into and robbed a Christian household before kidnapping the family's 14-year-old daughter at gunpoint. Although cash and jewelry were taken, the family says that Maria was the primary objective for the 3 am raid: they heard men outside the house shouting, "Have you got the girl yet?" They said one of the kidnappers was a Muslim neighbor named Amjad, who had apparently taken a liking to Maria. The family was told to forget about the girl –that they would never see her again -- and were threatened with death if the matter was reported to police. Although the parents immediately contacted police, they, as is typical in such cases, did little. "Every day I am without my daughter I feel like dying," said Maria's mother. "I asked the men to take me and leave my children but they stole my eldest child from me." Up to 700 Christian girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriages each year, according to a 2014 report.
In a different incident, the father and brothers of a Muslim woman assaulted a 21-year-old Christian man, stripped him naked, and burned him with fiery hot iron rods for being involved in a romantic relationship with her. Although he survived, he suffered severe burns. His family has since been pressured to drop the case by both the assailants and the police.
Tanzania: Two years ago, a nine-year-old Muslim girl came to disrupt a church service at the Free Pentecostal Church. Pastor Yohana Madai, who was preaching, went outside where the girl was banging on the door, took her by the arm before she could run away, and brought her to local government leaders. The next day the girl's mother went to police and filed a charge of child abuse. She said the pastor had removed her daughter's veil and had touched her breasts. Although a conviction would have carried a 30-year prison sentence, the case was eventually dropped for lack of evidence and witnesses. However, after the officer in charge was transferred to another area, the mother—this time accompanied by an Islamic sheikh and other Muslims—filed charges again against the pastor. After several more hearings—in which the accuser again could not produce any witnesses or evidence—the judge dismissed the charges. Nonetheless, as the pastor walked out of the courtroom, he was arrested again on unspecified charges and jailed. According to a statement from the leaders of the Pastors Alliance of Zanzibar, they "went there on Friday [April 7] to question officials and struggled much to help Pastor Madai be released, but we found that it was a religious matter with the purpose of persecuting the Christians. We were not given a hearing. Those handling the case are all Muslims.... They have started with Pastor Madai, and tomorrow they will arrest another.... [I]f the case is manipulated, pastor Madai will be sentenced to not less the 30 years in jail according to Tanzania and Zanzibar laws."
Europe: According to Martin Kugler, an Austrian historian who also serves as head of an anti-discrimination group, Christians are increasingly being marginalized on the continent while Muslims are treated with great respect. Europe's elites are pressuring Christians into hiding their faith while permitting Muslims to display theirs. Whereas it was long believed that secular Europe would no longer offer special accommodation to any religion, the establishment has gone out of its way to accommodate Islam. It has for instance, removed crosses from public places but allowed the Islamic veil. "If Christians had the freedom to follow their conscience, with their schools and their rights," Kugler said, "it would be much easier for them to confront the rise of Muslim culture."
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by Muslims is growing. The report posits that such Muslim persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location.
Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (published by Regnery with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).
Previous reports
March, 2017
February, 2017
January, 2017
December, 2016
November, 2016
October, 2016
September, 2016
August, 2016
July, 2016
June, 2016
May, 2016
April, 2016
March, 2016
February, 2016
January, 2016
December, 2015
November, 2015
October, 2015
September, 2015
August, 2015
July, 2015
June, 2015
May, 2015
April, 2015
March, 2015
February, 2015
January, 2015
December, 2014
November, 2014
October, 2014
September, 2014
August, 2014
July, 2014
June, 2014
May, 2014
April, 2014
March, 2014
February, 2014
January, 2014
December, 2013
November, 2013
October, 2013
September, 2013
August, 2013
June, 2013
May, 2013
April, 2013
March, 2013
February, 2013
January, 2013
December, 2012
November, 2012
October, 2012
September, 2012
August, 2012
July, 2012
June, 2012
May, 2012
April, 2012
March, 2012
February, 2012
January, 2012
December, 2011
November, 2011
October, 2011
September, 2011
August, 2011
Follow Raymond Ibrahim on Twitter and Facebook
© 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