August 29/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
King Herod, Herodias & The Beheading Of John The Baptist
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 06/14-29/:"King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of John the baptizer.’Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.’The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

God had provided something better so that they would not, without us, be made perfect.
Letter to the Hebrews 11/32-40/:"And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better so that they would not, without us, be made perfect.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 28-29/17
Northern Nigeria's Democracy Under Threat/Nuhu Othman/Gatestone Institute/August 28/17
Palestinians: Destroying the Judiciary/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/August 28/17
Does Kissinger want ISIS to stay/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 28/17
If Mosul fails, Iraq fails too/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/August 28/17
Who really ‘made the desert bloom’: The demographic war underway in Palestine/Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/August 28/17
How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal//by John R. Bolton/ Gatestone Institute/August 28/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on
August 28-29/17
Juroud Dawn’ Ends by Handing over Bodies of Lebanese Soldiers
Washington Alleviates Proposed Sanctions Against Hezbollah
Israel to Press Guterres on Hezbollah’s Armament
Israeli Official: If Iran Expands In Syria, We Will Bomb Assad's Palace
Hariri to Declare National Mourning over Slain Troops after Release of DNA Results
After Deal, IS Allowed to Leave Syria-Lebanon Border Area
Suspected Remains of Lebanese Troops Undergo DNA Tests, Buses to Evacuate Jihadists to Syria
Aoun, Nasrallah Hold Overnight Talks on IS Exit from Lebanon
Hariri to Meet France's Macron on Friday
STL Witness Tells of Traumatic Search for Missing Father
Netanyahu Tells Guterres Iran Building Missile Sites in Lebanon, Syria
Nasrallah declares Second Liberation as last Daesh terrorists leave Lebanon
Sami Gemayel visits Ras Baalbek, voices absolute support to Lebanese army
'We Want Accountability' calls for candlelight vigil in Downtown Beirut
Aoun receives invitation to attend Musa Sadr commemoration ceremony
Jreissati: State lost martyrs' right as it secured terrorists' exit
Sarraf, Army Commander tackle current developments
Culture Minister meets Chinese Ambassador

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 28-29/17
Pope Francis to Visit Myanmar and Bangladesh
U.N. Chief Seeks 'Dream' of Israel-Palestinian Peace in First Visit
Attackers stab policeman to death in Russia's Dagestan
Car Bomb Kills 11 in Baghdad's Sadr City
Russia sends new submarines to Mediterranean
Thousands of Syrians Head Home from Turkey for Eid al-Adha
Trump Declares Emergency in Louisiana for Storm Harvey
Heavy Fighting in Last ISIS Pocket Near Tal Afar
Lieberman Says Israel Will Not Repeat Mistake of ‘Schalit Deal’
Bahrain Minister of Information: Tehran, Doha are Inciting Qataris Against GCC
Palestinian President Suspends Diplomatic Action against Israel
Iraq: Fierce Electoral Struggle in Islamic Dawa Party
Sudan, Libya Agree to Cooperate on Fighting Terrorism
Egypt Criticizes US Decision to Cut Aid
Guterres: We Support Kuwaiti Mediation to Solve Qatar Crisis
Guterres Calls for Aid Access in Coup-Held Sana’a, Hodeidah
India and China agree to end border standoff
Interviews with Daniel Pipes/Deciphering the Trump and Erdoğan Foreign Policies/August 28/17

Latest Lebanese Related News published on August 28-29/17
Juroud Dawn’ Ends by Handing over Bodies of Lebanese Soldiers
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/Beirut- The Lebanese army ended on Sunday its “Juroud Dawn” operation against ISIS after an unprecedented agreement between “Hezbollah” and the extremist organization received the blessing of the Syrian regime to allow a safe passage for ISIS militants to Syria’s Deir Ezzor following the group’s decision to uncover the fate of the Lebanese soldiers who had been taken captive in 2014. General Security Chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim said that the remains of six bodies believed to belong to the abducted soldiers have been recovered, adding that the Lebanese state had been informed about their killing in Feb. 2015 but had no evidence. Later on Sunday, Ibrahim said the bodies of two other soldiers were also found while the whereabouts of the ninth servicemen remains unknown. Also on Sunday, Hezbollah received the bodies of five of the party’s fighters. The Lebanese army had repeatedly confirmed its rejection to negotiate with the terrorists or accept a ceasefire before uncovering the fate of the Lebanese soldiers. “We can now say that the army’s battle against ISIS has ended in the Jurud, pending the execution of the last item (in the deal) on the departure of the rest of the terrorists to Syria’s Deir Ezzor in the next hours,” a military source told Asharq Al-Awsat following the agreement. When the families were informed about the sad news on the death of the servicemen, angry voices of crying mothers reverberated across the tents of the kidnapped soldiers’ relatives at Riad El-Solh Square in downtown Beirut. For their part, the families of five people who were killed last year in four suicide bombings in al-Qaa village in northeastern Lebanon near the border with Syria, refused the principle of negotiating with ISIS, and asked the Lebanese state to punish those militants instead of allowing them to leave the country.

Washington Alleviates Proposed Sanctions Against Hezbollah
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/London- Proposals to strengthen US sanctions against Hezbollah have been revised enough to relieve fears of damage to the Lebanese economy, according to well-informed banking and political sources. This new step has signaled Washington’s serious response to concerns about Lebanon’s stability. However, officials in the banking sector told Reuters that the Lebanese authorities should not underestimate the new US effort, as it was impossible to predict the position of US President Donald Trump towards Iran and its allies and that the draft law would not be voted on until Congress convenes again in the fall. When reports emerged earlier this year on US plans to expand legislation on sanctions against Hezbollah, local media warned of dire consequences on Lebanon’s weak economy and sectarian divisions. The Lebanese government, the central bank and private banks have put great pressure on politicians and banks in the United States this year in an attempt to persuade Washington to balance its tough anti-Hezbollah stance for the sake of the country’s stability. Their main message has been that the last thing needed by the United States, which backs the Lebanese army in its fight against ISIS and other militants spilling over from Syria, is another failed state in the Middle East, according to Reuters. The agency noted that those efforts have succeeded, as the draft law submitted to Congress in late July did not include the main elements that had caused fears among Lebanese politicians and financial leaders. Financial sources told Reuters the proposed anti-Hezbollah legislation, when compared with earlier draft proposals, was more specific about who could be targeted, and was no longer seen as affecting the whole of Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim population. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah has significant influence in Lebanon’s national unity government. US officials say Hezbollah is not only funded by Iran but by networks of Lebanese and international individuals and companies. The US Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 aimed to cut the group’s funding routes around the world, and in July Republican and Democratic US lawmakers proposed amendments to strengthen it.

Israel to Press Guterres on Hezbollah’s Armament
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/Jerusalem– Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that Israel would pressure UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during his first visit since he took office, on the armament of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Guterres arrived in Jerusalem Sunday evening to meet with Israeli officials. He will also head to Ramallah and the Gaza Strip to meet with Palestinian leaders, including Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah. Guterres’ visit comes as the Security Council is due to vote on the extension of the UNIFIL mission on 30 January, initially for one year. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has strongly criticized the commander of the UNIFIL peacekeepers, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling. In a statement, Haley said she wanted the international peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon to expand its functions and investigate violations committed by Hezbollah. “UNIFIL must strengthen its capacity and commitment to investigate and report on these violations,” she noted. She also criticized the commander of the UNIFIL peacekeepers, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s weapons smuggling. United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric has, however, said: “We have full confidence in (the commander’s) work.”AFP quoted the Israeli deputy foreign minister as saying: “Haley was right… We shall not allow this blindness to continue.”She stressed that Hezbollah’s 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 UN is being implemented on the ground,” Hotovely said. Guterres will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and will also hold talks with Hamdallah in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Israeli Official: If Iran Expands In Syria, We Will Bomb Assad's Palace
Jerusalem Post/August 28/17/Israel warned Russia of dire consequences if Iran is allowed to continue on its current path in Syria. A senior Israeli official warned the Russian government that if Iran continues to extend its reach in Syria, Israel will bomb Syrian President Bashar Assad's palace in Damascus, according to reports in Arab media.  Israel also warned that if serious changes do not happen in the region, Israel will make sure the ceasefire deal, reached by the United States and Russia in Astana, Kazakhstan, will be nullified. A senior Israeli source told the Al-Jadida newspaper that no understanding was reached between the Israelis and the Russians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did, however, make it clear to Putin that its concerns must be met or Israel will be forced to act. The warnings occurred in a meeting between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.  The prime minister, accompanied by Mossad head Yossi Cohen, the newly appointed head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Likud minister Ze'ev Elkin who served as his translator, flew to Sochi on the Black Sea for the meeting, returning to Israel shortly after it ended. This is Netanyahu’s fourth trip to Russia in the last 16 months, and his sixth meeting with Putin during this same time frame. Netanyahu said the majority of his discussions with Putin focused on the situation in Syria. He said the reason he wanted to hold talks now with the Russian leader was because the situation inside Syria has changed very rapidly over the last few weeks

Hariri to Declare National Mourning over Slain Troops after Release of DNA Results
Naharnet /August 28/17Lebanon is expected to declare a day of national mourning over eight troops executed by the terrorist Islamic State group once DNA testing is finalized. “Prime Minister Saad Hariri will declare a day of national mourning after the release of the DNA results,” a ministerial source told LBCI television. The suspected remains of seven troops were found Sunday in the Tallet al-Dibb area in Arsal's outskirts after IS fighters who had surrendered led Lebanese security forces to the remains. The remains of executed soldier Abbas Medlej are yet to be located. “The official inclination is to declare a day of mourning once the results of DNA tests are released. This day might coincide with the Army Command's declaration of its final victory over terrorism,” al-Joumhouria newspaper reported. The victory declaration is expected to take place before the Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins on Friday, the daily said.
According to the newspaper, President Michel Aoun has asked the relevant authorities to speed up the DNA testing. Locating the soldiers' remains was part of a deal that comes a week after the Lebanese military launched a campaign to drive out IS militants from some 120 square kilometers in a rugged mountainous area that straddles the Lebanese-Syrian border. Separately but simultaneously, Lebanon's Hizbullah group, in cooperation with the Syrian army, launched another offensive to pressure the IS militants in Syrian territories along the same border area. The deal also entails the transfer of remaining IS militants on both sides of the border to eastern Syria's Deir Ezzor province, which is mostly controlled by the extremist group. Other media reports however said that the militants want to go to areas under the regime's control to benefit from reconciliation agreements and avoid any IS retribution over their surrender.

After Deal, IS Allowed to Leave Syria-Lebanon Border Area
Naharnet /Associated Press/August 28/17/Islamic State militants and their families began leaving a border area between Lebanon and Syria on Monday as part of a controversial negotiated deal with the extremist group to end its presence there, Lebanese and Syrian media reported. An unidentified number of militants and their families headed in buses toward a town held by the Islamic State group in far eastern Syria, near the border with Iraq. The evacuation will effectively end the presence of jihadist militant groups on the border, after al-Qaida-linked fighters evacuated earlier this month. The transfer comes nearly a week after the Lebanese army launched a military campaign to drive IS from the rugged mountainous area along its border with Syria. The Syrian army and Lebanon's Iran-backed Hizbullah, which has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces in Syria since 2013, have been waging their own separate but simultaneous offensive to pressure IS on the Syrian side of the border. Nearly two dozen buses and 11 ambulances carried the militants and their families Monday from the area straddling the Syria-Lebanon border toward the IS-held town of Boukamal in eastern Syria.
Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV reported that there were about 250 militants in the transfer. The Central Military Center, a media outlet run by Hizbullah, said ambulances ferried 25 IS wounded fighters from the area. The Lebanese military on Monday took journalists on a tour of areas along the border near Ras Baalbek that were recaptured from IS in the past week. Soldiers, tanks and armored vehicles were heavily deployed along the border area, and caves used by IS bore signs of damage from the recent fighting. About 5,000 Lebanese soldiers took part in the offensive.
A senior Lebanese military official said a number of militants were also leaving from the Lebanese side of the border, to be transferred with the Syrian convoy. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not part of the negotiations, did not have a number for militants leaving Lebanon.
The transfer of the militants is part of a deal that came into effect following negotiations, led by Hizbullah, to determine the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers who were kidnapped in 2014. On Sunday, the Lebanese army, on one side, and Hizbullah and the Syrian army on another, declared separate but simultaneous cease-fires. Shortly afterward, the remains of seven soldiers were located and exhumed in an area near the border with Syria. The corpse of an eighth soldier is yet to be located amid reports that a ninth soldier had defected to IS. The bodies of five Hizbullah fighters killed while fighting the militants were also handed over, allowing for the transfer of militants. The Lebanese government and Hizbullah both cast the evacuation deal as a victory and a capitulation by IS but many in Lebanon, particularly the families of the dead soldiers, were bitterly opposed to the deal, which they said allowed their sons' killers to leave in air-conditioned buses back to Syria. Al-Ikhbariya said the Syrian government approved the transfer of militants to Boukamal to facilitate the talks over the fate of the soldiers. The military official said once the transfer is completed, the Lebanese army would take control of the evacuated areas. Before the deal, the Lebanese military successfully pushed out IS militants from about 100 square kilometers (38 square miles) while Hizbullah fighters drove IS from another 20 square kilometers (8 square miles). The Lebanese military said last week 20 square kilometers (8 square miles) remained in the hands of the militants. On the Syrian side of the border, the militants had before the offensive controlled 155 square kilometers (60 square miles). The U.S-.backed Lebanese army denies coordinating its operation with the Syrian army. Once the last of the militants depart, the border area will be free of insurgents for the first time since the early days of the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011. The clearing of the area also secures the strategic highway between Damascus and Homs, Syria's third largest city.

Suspected Remains of Lebanese Troops Undergo DNA Tests, Buses to Evacuate Jihadists to Syria
Naharnet /Associated Press/August 28/17The remains of eight Lebanese soldiers kidnapped by the Islamic State group three years ago were located Sunday, a senior Lebanese official said, in a negotiated deal that followed a military offensive to drive the militants out of the border area with Syria.
Major General Abbas Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanese General Security, said seven bodies buried in Lebanon near the border with Syria were removed while the body of slain soldier Abbas Medlej was yet to be located. He said the fate of a ninth soldier remained unknown amid reports that he had defected to the Islamic State group. The soldiers' remains were transported later Sunday to Beirut's military hospital for DNA tests to determine their identities. Locating the soldiers' remains was part of a deal that comes a week after the Lebanese military launched a campaign to drive out IS militants from some 120 square kilometers (46 square miles) in a rugged mountainous area that straddles the Lebanese-Syrian border. Separately but simultaneously, Lebanon's Hizbullah group, in cooperation with the Syrian army, launched another offensive to pressure the IS militants in Syrian territories along the same border area.
The U.S.-backed Lebanese army denies it coordinated with the Syrian government. The deal also entails the transfer of remaining IS militants on both sides of the border to eastern Syria's Deir Ezzor province, which is mostly controlled by the extremist group. Other media reports however said that the militants want to go to areas under the regime's control to benefit from reconciliation agreements and avoid any IS retribution over their surrender. The Syrian government, backed by Russian air power and Iranian-organized militias, is preparing an offensive to recapture oil-rich Deir Ezzor. After a week of fighting, cease-fires were announced on both sides of the border on Sunday. The Lebanese army said the halt in fighting, which came after 100 square kilometers (38 square kilometers) were cleared of militants, was to allow for negotiations to determine the fate of the soldiers. Hizbullah and Syrian media said the cease-fire was to allow for the comprehensive deal. Hizbullah has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces inside Syria since 2013. Lebanon's main political factions are bitterly divided over the war in neighboring Syria, and many would fiercely object to any direct cooperation with Assad's government. Lebanese were also divided over the outcome of the deal, some taking to social media to criticize the negotiations with the militants. Others hailed the deal and evacuation of the militants as a victory.
Ibrahim said after IS militants were driven into Syria under pressure from the Lebanese military, the deal became possible. He said detained militants revealed the location of the soldiers' remains. They were still wearing their military uniforms, he said. Ibrahim said he was part of the negotiations over the fate of the soldiers, but Hizbullah and Syria sorted out the larger deal. "The first article in this deal was (determining) the fate of the soldiers," Ibrahim told reporters from outside the tents set up for years by the families of the missing soldiers looking for their relatives. "This case ... has regrettably been closed on a dark note." Relatives of the soldiers broke down in tears and declined to talk to the media. The soldiers were among more than 20 kidnapped in 2014 when militants linked to al-Qaida and IS overran the border town, Arsal. Most of those kidnapped were later released. It was the most serious spillover into Lebanon from the six-year Syrian war. Al-Qaida-linked militants were evacuated from the area earlier this month, following a Hizbullah offensive there. The Central Military Media, an outlet run jointly by Hizbullah and the Syrian army, said according to the cease-fire deal, buses will transport IS members and their families to Boukamal, the Syrian town in Deir el-Zour, along the Iraqi border. Media reports said Monday that buses were arriving in Syria's Qalamun region to evacuate the militants. The bodies of five Hizbullah fighters were also brought back to Lebanon as part of the deal.

Aoun, Nasrallah Hold Overnight Talks on IS Exit from Lebanon
Naharnet/August 28/17/President Michel Aoun followed up on arrangements for the withdrawal of Islamic State militants and their families from Lebanon's eastern border region in a phone call with Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, media reports said on Monday. “A phone call between President Aoun and Sayyed Nasrallah tackled arrangements for the exit of IS' militants from Lebanon,” al-Joumhouria newspaper reported. The Lebanese army had on Sunday morning announced a pause in its anti-IS offensive in the border region to allow for negotiations over the fate of nine Lebanese troops abducted by IS in 2014. Hizbullah had reached an agreement with the IS group that was facilitated by Syrian authorities. According to media reports, the agreement involves the handover of the bodies of slain Hizbullah fighters and a captive Hizbullah member, information about the missing Lebanese troops and the withdrawal of IS' militants from the Lebanese-Syrian border region to Syria's Deir Ezzor. While Hizbullah has been handed over the bodies of its fighters, the suspected remains of seven Lebanese troops were found Sunday in Arsal's outskirts after IS fighters who had surrendered led Lebanese security forces to them.
IS militants who have surrendered and their families are scheduled to be evacuated Monday to Deir Ezzor from areas on both sides of the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Hariri to Meet France's Macron on Friday

Naharnet/August 28/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri is scheduled to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday. Lebanon's National News Agency quoted the Elysee Palace as saying that Marcon will meet with Hariri “Friday morning at 8:30 am.” According to al-Liwaa newspaper, the latest military developments on the eastern border will be on the table of the talks, which will also be attended by France's prime minister and its ministers of foreign affairs, defense and economy.

STL Witness Tells of Traumatic Search for Missing Father
Naharnet /Associated Press/August 28/17The daughter of a bystander who lost his life in the massive car bomb that killed former premier Rafik Hariri spoke Monday of her family's harrowing search to find her father's body. Lama Ghalayini, 39, is the first victim to testify before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a U.N.-backed tribunal set up to prosecute those who murdered Hariri and 21 others in the huge February 14, 2005 suicide car bombing on Beirut's busy seafront. "In the beginning we always had hope that we would find something," Ghalayini told judges, speaking via video link from the Lebanese capital. Her voice at times trembling with emotion, Ghalayini described how her father Abdel-Hamid spoke to her the day before going for a walk in the area near the Beirut waterfront. He was reported missing after news of the suicide bombing -- blamed on five suspected members of Hizbullah -- became known.Completely lost "We were completely lost, we were in a state of distress and we needed to know exactly what the situation was," Ghalayini told a five-judge bench. Looking for their relatives, the family was confronted with the scene of carnage at the blast site. Ghalayini said they received no help from the authorities in their quest to find her father, a businessman and an amateur pilot. At the scene "I found body parts. There were also pieces of metal and stones. It was complete chaos," said Ghalayini. The family was so desperate that they even hired their own sniffer dogs but to no avail. Ghalayini's body was eventually discovered some 17 days after the blast, buried beneath the rubble. Monday's hearing marks the first time victims were allowed to speak in the long-running trial which started in 2014 against the five suspects indicted by the court, based just outside The Hague. However, the STL has quashed the case against one of the accused, Hizbullah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who is believed to have died in fighting in Syria in May last year. Four others, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi, Assad Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi are being tried in absentia. The STL opened its doors in 2009 and is the only international ad-hoc tribunal with the jurisdiction to try an act of terror. Hizbullah's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has previously dismissed the tribunal as a U.S.-Israeli plot and vowed none of the defendants will ever be caught.

Netanyahu Tells Guterres Iran Building Missile Sites in Lebanon, Syria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted visiting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday with blistering criticism of the international body's treatment of Israel and accusing it of failing to prevent arms from being smuggled to Lebanon's Hizbullah. Netanyahu also claimed that Iran is building sites in Syria and Lebanon for the manufacture of "precision-guided missiles," with the aim of deploying them against Israel. Both Hizbullah fighters and Iran have backed President Bashar Assad's government forces in the civil war that has ravaged Syria. "Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment, and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as warfronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel," Netanyahu said. "This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the U.N. should not accept." The Israeli leader offered no specifics to support his allegations. Guterres arrived on Sunday for a three-day visit to the region, his first since taking office at the beginning of the year. His meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders are aimed at encouraging the resumption of peace talks. Speaking at a joint press conference with the U.N. chief, Netanyahu criticized the United Nations, saying that it fails to check Palestinian hate speech, "absurdly denies" Jewish connections to Jerusalem and has not stopped arms from reaching Hizbullah in Lebanon. Guterres vowed that he will "do everything in my capacity" to ensure the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, fulfills its obligations. The U.N. peacekeeping force's mandate is up for renewal at the end of the month and Israel is pressing for the force to have an increased presence to better monitor and prevent what Israel says is Hizbullah building up its weapons. "I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective," the U.N. chief said.

Nasrallah declares Second Liberation as last Daesh terrorists leave Lebanon
Mon 28 Aug 2017 /NNA - Hezbollah's Secretary General, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on Monday announced the full liberation of the Lebanese soil from terrorists, as the last Daesh gunmen are leaving northeast Lebanon following the Lebanese army's offensive on the peripheries of al-Qaa and Ras Baalback, and that of the Resistance and the Syrian army in West Qalamoun. "We have fully liberated the Lebanese soil from terrorists. The borders are now secure and the military threat has ended along the frontiers," Nasrallah said in a televised speech devoted to giving a lowdown on the fresh developments in northeast the country. In the beginning of his speech, Nasrallah paid condolences on the martyrdom of the Lebanese soldiers who had been kidnapped and killed by Daesh. "Since the beginning, Daesh had asked for a ceasefire in order to negotiate, something that was out of question for us," the Hezbollah leader told.
"But, as Daesh found itself cornered, it surrendered and collapsed, and couldn't but accept our terms," he said. "We were conclusive as to the exit of all Daesh terroristsfrom Lebanon, and we told them that our first condition was to uncover the fate of the Lebanese military hostages, in addition to obtaining the remains of Hezbollah fighters and martyrs and hostages of different nationalities, as well as to release bishops Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazeji, and photojournalist Samir Kassab," he added. "Their answer was that they did not have the bishops and Kassab since they were not the ones who kidnapped them," he continued. Nasrallah also indicated that during the negotiations, Daesh had asked for the release of a number of prisoners at Roumieh jail, and that the Lebanese side had flatly denied that demand. As to the calls for prosecuting Daesh terrorists who had left for Syria, Nasrallah said, "We have made a deal to which we must commit; we do not stab in the back and we do not betray," calling for investigating with "those who left the soldiers in the hands of Daesh." "The Lebanese army was capable of besieging Daesh and liberating the military hostages," he said. "Who prevented the Lebanese army from doing so?" he wondered. "If you want revenge, go call the judiciary, the government, and the Parliament to investigate the kidnapping and the submissive and cowardly political decision," he corroborated. "The battle has ended and it achieved all its goals, which are the liberation of the Lebanese lands from Daesh, the liberation of West Qalamoun in Syria, securing the borders, and uncovering the fate of the military hostages," he underlined. Nasrallah revealed that 18 Hezbollah fighters and 7 Syrian soldiers were killed in the battle on the Syrian side.
"In 2000, we ended the Zionist occupation, and today, we have ended that of the Takfiri terrorists," he stressed. "Daesh and all the takfiri groups were made by the western intelligence services to serve Israel; and they fought for the sake of the Israeli scheme and the U.S. hegemony," he underlined. "The 28th of August 2017 is the date of the second liberation, written by the blood of the martyrs of the Lebanese and Syrian armies as well as the Resistance," he emphasized. Moreover, Nasrallah indicated that the Resistance would celebrate the "Second Liberation" in the city of Baalback on forthcoming Thursday, calling for a huge turnout at the event. "We are the lords of this land and we shall not leave it. We shall neither travel nor migrate. We live here in dignity; and if any occupier or takfiri threatens our country, we fight them here and we wait for nobody to fight for us," he said. "We hold only one passport, that is the Lebanese one, and we are the sons of this land. On Thursday, we shall celebrate this victory," he concluded.

Sami Gemayel visits Ras Baalbek, voices absolute support to Lebanese army
Mon 28 Aug 2017/ NNA - Kataeb Party chief, MP Sami Gemayel voiced utter support to the Lebanese army as the symbol of national unity, stressing the dire need to protect accomplishments and victory.  MP Gemayel's fresh words on Monday visited the town of Ras Baalbek along with the Party's Politburo members, as an affirmation of the Party's absolute support to the Lebanese army and the people of the region in these crucial times.  Gemayel and his accompanying delegation had several stopovers in Ras Baalbek- including the town's church, army barracks and Ras-Baalbek region- whereby he hailed Ras Baalbek people's sense of courage in facing terrorism and rallying around their national army. The Lawmaker saluted the families of the army martyrs, stressing the paramount importance of giving the army full cover. "We should protect accomplishments and victory and put aside all political calculations and utterances... and give full cover for the army," MP Gemayel said.  Gemayel and his accompanying delegation visited Ras Baalbek Front Commander, Brigadier General Fadi Daoud, at the Ras Baalbek barracks, to express all-inclusive political support to the Lebanese army.
They also visited the tent of the retired military men in the center of Ras Baalbek town.

'We Want Accountability' calls for candlelight vigil in Downtown Beirut

Mon 28 Aug 2017 /NNA - "We Want Accountability" campaign called for a candlelight vigil at 8 pm on Monday in front of the tents of the families of the kidnapped soldiers in Riad Solh Square, to press for accountability in this dossier.

Aoun receives invitation to attend Musa Sadr commemoration ceremony

Mon 28 Aug 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Monday received an invitation to attend the 39th commemoration ceremony of missing Imam Musa Sadr and his two comrades, which will be taking place upcoming Wednesday. President Aoun received the invitation from a delegation of Amal Movement, including MPs Ayoub Hmayid and Ali Bazzi, who visited him this afternoon at the Baabda palace. On the other hand, Aoun met with a delegation of Jordanian lawyers, politicians and journalists who conveyed to him congratulations on the occasion of the Lebanese army's victory over the terrorist "Daesh" Organization. The delegation also discussed with the President the current political and security developments locally and regionally, as well as the President's essential role in anchoring the steadfastness of the Christians in the East. The delegation thanked the President on his stance vis-a-vis the Palestinian cause.

Jreissati: State lost martyrs' right as it secured terrorists' exit
Mon 28 Aug 2017/ NNA - Minister of Justice, Salim Jreissati, on Monday said that the Lebanese state had lost of the military martyrs as it provided a secure exit for the terrorists from Lebanon to Syria. "The responsibility of each side who had failed to assume their duty regarding the military martyrs will be determined," Jreissati said during his visit to the soldiers' families who are gathering at Riyad Soloh Square. "There is an underway political evaluation of what happened," he indicated, adding that he will contact the families as soon as the aforementioned responsibilities are determined.

Sarraf, Army Commander tackle current developments

Mon 28 Aug 2017/NNA - National Defense Minister, Yacoub Riad Sarraf, on Monday visited Army Commander, Joseph Aoun, at his Yarzeh office, where they discussed most recent developments and the situation of the military units in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and Qaa. Talks also reportedly touched on developments regarding the kidnapped military servicemen's case.

Culture Minister meets Chinese Ambassador

Mon 28 Aug 2017/NNA - Minister of Culture, Ghattas Khoury, met, at his office in the Ministry on Monday, with Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, Wang Kejian, with whom he discussed the bilateral cultural ties between the two countries. The pair mainly dwelt on the foundation of a national music conservatory, expected to be built in Dbayeh as per a donation by China. During the meeting, the diplomat expressed his country's wish to develop cooperation with Lebanon through the estbalishment of a Chinese cultural center in Beirut.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on August 28-29/17
Pope Francis to Visit Myanmar and Bangladesh
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /August 28/17/Pope Francis will travel to Myanmar and Bangladesh later this year for a landmark visit set to focus international attention on the plight of the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority. The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will be in Myanmar November 27-30 and neighboring Bangladesh November 30-December 2, the Vatican announced on Monday. The visit to Myanmar will be the first by any pope to the country formerly known as Burma. Former Pope John Paul II visited Bangladesh in 1986. Francis has regularly spoken out in defense of the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim group in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. In his latest comments on Sunday, he bemoaned the latest "sad reports of the persecution of a religious minority, our Rohingya brothers. "I would like to express my closeness to them and all of us ask the Lord to save them and to prompt men and women of good faith to help them and ensure their full rights."His comments came after clashes between Myanmar security forces and suspected Rohingya militants on Friday and Saturday left scores of people dead. The fighting caused hundreds of civilians to flee remote villages in Rakhine state in northern Myanmar with most of them aiming to cross the border into mostly-Muslim Bangladesh.The Vatican said Francis would visit Yangon and capital Naypyidaw while in Myanmar and Bangladesh's capital Dhaka on the second leg of his trip. The full program has yet to be finalized.

U.N. Chief Seeks 'Dream' of Israel-Palestinian Peace in First Visit
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /August 28/17/U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres held talks with Israeli leaders Monday on his first visit since taking office, making a forceful argument for a two-state solution with the Palestinians and speaking of his "dream" for peace. Guterres also spoke of what he called obstacles to peace when meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, including Israeli settlement building and the need for Palestinian leaders to condemn what Israel labels as "terrorism." "I dream that I will have the chance to see in the Holy Land two states able to live together in mutual recognition, but also in peace and security," Guterres said in remarks at Netanyahu's office. He recalled past secret talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders at his office when he was prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, saying it had exposed him to the difficulties of the peace process.
Guterres spoke of improving economic and social conditions for Palestinians to provide them with a "dividend" and incentive for peace. The U.N. chief's meeting with Netanyahu was part of his three-day visit that ends Wednesday and came with the two-state solution, long the focus of international diplomacy, under threat. Earlier in the day he met Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and is due in Ramallah on Tuesday for talks with Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is visiting Turkey and is not expected to meet Guterres during the trip.Guterres will then travel to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.
Concessions not possible?
After arriving on Sunday evening, the U.N. chief met Jason Greenblatt, a top aide to U.S. President Donald Trump charged with pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Greenblatt was part of a U.S. delegation last week including Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner that held talks with Netanyahu and Abbas. He remained in the region for further discussions. Peace efforts have been at a standstill since April 2014 and Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank has continued. Trump has said he wants to reach the "ultimate deal", but he himself has cast doubt on the two-state solution, saying he could support a single state if it meant peace. Such statements deeply concern Palestinians, while delighting right-wing Israelis who want their country to annex most of the West Bank. The two-state solution envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and has been the focus of international diplomacy since at least the early 1990s. At the same time, many analysts say both Netanyahu and Abbas are not in position to make any major concessions for now. Netanyahu faces pressure from his right-wing base not to do so and to continue settlement building, and there is little incentive at the moment for him to change course, some analysts say. The 82-year-old Palestinian leader is unpopular and his Fatah party, based in the West Bank, continues to be divided from Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.
Iran, Syria
While Guterres spoke at length in his public comments on Monday on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli leaders' interests lie elsewhere for now.
Netanyahu pressed Guterres on the U.N. peacekeeping force in neighboring Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, with Israeli officials having accused it of "blindness" to what they call an arms buildup by Hizbullah. The trip comes as the U.N. Security Council debates renewing the force's mandate for a year, with a vote expected on Wednesday. Guterres told Netanyahu: "I will do everything in my capacity to make sure that UNIFIL fully meets its mandate."United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric has expressed "full confidence" in the force's commander. Netanyahu also spoke of what he sees as Israel's arch-rival Iran seeking to expand its presence in the Middle East, particularly in neighboring Syria. He accused Iran of building sites to produce "precision-guided missiles" in both Syria and Lebanon. "Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as war fronts (for) its declared goal to eradicate Israel," Netanyahu said in English. Beyond that, Netanyahu again accused U.N. bodies of bias against his country, saying they had "an absurd obsession with Israel," and called on Guterres to address it. Guterres, meanwhile, said: "To express that the right of existence of the state of Israel doesn't exist or the wish to destroy the state of Israel is an unacceptable form of modern anti-Semitism."

Attackers stab policeman to death in Russia's Dagestan
Mon 28 Aug 2017/NNA - Two attackers stabbed one policeman to death and wounded another in Dagestan in Russia's North Caucasus Monday before being shot by police, investigators said. The attackers used knives in the assault before being "neutralised" by police at a petrol station in the town of Kaspiisk, the regional Investigative Committee said. A reporter at the scene for state television Rossiya 24 said it appeared to be "an attempt to repeat" recent stabbings in western Europe claimed by the Daesh (ISIS), but could not confirm the Dagestan incident was a terrorist attack. Daesh has claimed a number of attacks on police in Dagestan in the last couple of years that have involved guns and explosives. The Rossiya 24 reporter quoted law enforcement sources as saying that one of the attackers had a black extremist banner in his rucksack. An unidentified source also told the state TASS news agency that investigators found two knives and items with the Daesh logo. The regional health ministry spokeswoman said the injured policeman also suffered gunshot wounds. But his life was not at risk, TASS reported. An investigation has been opened over the policeman's murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life in jail, the Investigative Committee said in a statement. Extremist rebels from Dagestan, which lies immediately east of Chechnya, are known to have travelled to join Daesh. In 2015, the group declared it had established a "franchise" in the North Caucasus.--AFP

Car Bomb Kills 11 in Baghdad's Sadr City
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /August 28/17/A car bomb in the Iraqi capital's Shiite-majority district of Sadr City on Monday killed 11 people and wounded another 26, security officials and medical sources said. A police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said the bombing in northeastern Baghdad left "11 dead and 26 wounded." Members of Iraq's security forces were among the victims, medical sources said, confirming the toll. Security sources said the bombing occurred near one of Baghdad's largest shopping centers at around 10:30 am (0730 GMT). The casualties were evacuated to two hospitals in Sadr City. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State jihadist group has claimed previous bombings in the capital. The car bomb comes as Iraqi forces and the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary coalition dominated by Shiite fighters, some from Sadr City, battle IS members in their last pocket in the northern province of Nineveh.

Russia sends new submarines to Mediterranean
Mon 28 Aug 2017/ NNA - Russia has sent two large newly-upgraded submarines to reinforce its naval presence in the Mediterranean, where it has a Syrian base, the defence ministry said Monday. "The Black Sea fleet's new large diesel and electric submarines, Kolpino and Veliky Novgorod ... have arrived in the Mediterranean," the ministry said in a statement on its website. It added the stealth submarines, which entered service in 2016 and have a speed of 20 knots under water, are intended to boost the Russian navy's permanent presence in the Mediterranean. The submarines, both with crews of 50 and built in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg, are classified by NATO as "Improved Kilo" class. They are fitted with new navigation systems, fully automatised control systems, high-precision missiles and powerful torpedo equipment, the defence ministry said. At Russia's Syrian base of Tartus in the eastern Mediterranean, Russian ships have played a prominent role backing up an aerial bombing campaign in support of leader Bashar al-Assad. During its military intervention in Syria, Russia has deployed warships, submarines and aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean. In December last year President Vladimir Putin signed an order to expand the naval base at Tartus and allow Russian warships into Syrian waters. In January, Moscow and Damascus signed a 49-year deal for Russia to expand and modernise the facility. Russian submarines used in the region are covered from Syria by Moscow's S-300 and S-400 missile systems and its Bastion coastal defence system. According to official figures from last year, some 4,300 Russian military are deployed in Syria. ---AFP

Thousands of Syrians Head Home from Turkey for Eid al-Adha
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /August 28/17/Tens of thousands of Syrians who fled their country's civil war to Turkey are returning home temporarily to Syria to celebrate a major Muslim holiday, Turkish officials said Monday. Almost three million Syrians have taken refuge in Turkey since the conflict broke out in 2011, the vast majority living in big cities rather than in camps. But a relative stability has descended on some areas in northwest Syria following a Turkish military operation against jihadists and a ceasefire backed by Ankara and Moscow earlier this year. The authorities in Turkey's southern province of Kilis bordering Syria have put in place a special system whereby Syrians can go home for the Feast of the Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha in Arabic, Kurban Bayrami in Turkish) and return to Turkey afterwards. After uploading details on a special Internet site and registering, they can leave Turkish territory through the Oncupinar border gate until Wednesday and then must return by October 15. Long lines of Syrian families, laden with baggage, were queuing Monday to cross through Oncupinar in time for the start of the holidays, an AFP photographer said. A local Turkish official, who asked not to be named, said 40,360 Syrians had crossed over so far with around 4,000 people now crossing every day. Some used umbrellas to protect from the merciless afternoon sun while young children slept in the shade on rugs as the formalities were carried out. The crossings have been allowed since August 15, according to the Kilis governorate. Turkey will celebrate the Feast of the Sacrifice on Friday.  The Syrians were returning to towns including Al-Bab and Jarabulus, which were cleared of Islamic State (IS) group extremists in Turkey's Euphrates Shield cross-border operation which wrapped up earlier this year.
Turkish state media reports have indicated that life in the towns is gradually returning to normal with schools reopening and municipal services resuming. Turkey had previously allowed Syrians to return home temporarily earlier this year for the Eid al-Fitr festival that follows the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The Feast of the Sacrifice is a festival celebrated throughout the Islamic world marking the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son to God, who then sent a sheep to kill instead.

Trump Declares Emergency in Louisiana for Storm Harvey
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /August 28/17/U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday declared an emergency in Louisiana as part of the southern state was pelted with rain from tropical storm Harvey.
The declaration allows the federal government, specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate relief efforts. It also provides federal funding for disaster relief. "This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency has inflicted on the local population," the White House said in a statement. "Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."As of Monday morning, Harvey was hovering on the Gulf coast of Texas, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Houston. It was expected to start moving toward the northeast on Tuesday, bringing heavy rains through Friday to already inundated parts of east Texas and into neighboring southwestern Louisiana.

Heavy Fighting in Last ISIS Pocket Near Tal Afar
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/Iraqi forces engaged in heavy clashes Monday near Tal Afar with the last pocket of ISIS militants in the northern province of Nineveh. An Agence France Presse journalist saw fierce clashes pitting Iraqi government forces and allied militia against ISIS militants in the town of Al-Ayadieh 15 kilometers north of Tal Afar. Iraqi troops, police and special forces took control of all districts inside Tal Afar on Sunday, a week after launching their latest offensive against an ISIS stronghold. Clearing operations were continuing and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was expected to soon arrive in the city to announce its “liberation” from ISIS. Some of those inside Tal Afar were believed to have fled to Al-Ayadieh, located on the road between the city and the Syrian border, where they appeared to be making a desperate last stand. The militants launched three suicide car bomb attacks at Iraqi forces on Monday morning and smoke could be seen rising above the town from air strikes carried out in support of ground troops. In Iraq, the terrorist organization now only controls the city of Hawija, about 300 kilometers north of Baghdad, and desert areas along the border with Syria. Also Monday, a car bomb ripped through a busy market area in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 12 people, Iraqi officials said. The explosives-laden car went off at the wholesale Jamila market in Sadr City, a police officer said. The explosion also wounded 28 other people, he added, saying the death toll was expected to rise further. A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, though the attack had all the hallmarks of ISIS.

Lieberman Says Israel Will Not Repeat Mistake of ‘Schalit Deal’
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/After 5 years of being held captive, Israeli soldier Shalit was exchanged for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. Addressing the resignation of Col. (res.) Lior Lotan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former coordinator on the issue of prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action, Lieberman referred to the 2011 deal which released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for setting free Schalit, who was held captive by Hamas for five years. Lotan, who was working without remuneration, resigned on Thursday after three years in the position. He was appointed in 2014, replacing David Meidan who played a key role in formulating the prisoner exchange deal which led to Schalit’s release. Israel says it lost two soldiers during the last war in the Gaza Strip, but they were killed, and now are bodies held by Hamas. The Defense Minister stated that Israel “will not repeat the mistake of the Schalit deal, which freed 1,027 terrorists, including murderers and their agents, including Mahmoud Qawasmeh, who was released to the Gaza Strip and financed the abduction of three youths, and Yahya Sanwar, who leads Hamas in the Gaza Strip.”Qawasme is accused by Israeli forces to having helped fund the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and Sinwar, who was elected as Hamas leader in Gaza in February, is regarded by Israeli security officials as one of the most uncompromising leaders of the movement. Lieberman criticized that seven Israelis have been murdered by Palestinians released in the deal and 202 have since been rearrested for involvement in terrorism, of whom 111 are still in Israeli prisons.

Bahrain Minister of Information: Tehran, Doha are Inciting Qataris Against GCC
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/He said the TV network is trying to push for demands by the people for Qatar’s withdrawal from the council.Qatar’s current media policy is to fabricate allegations based on historic and political fallacies, explained the minister, adding that its main purpose is to belittle the council and even allude Qataris into believing that all the measures taken were directed at them. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Romaihi pointed out that the Qatari media is now working on slandering the whole system with baseless lies. He expressed his deep regret that the media is trying to include the public in this political crisis. The minister indicated that since the establishment of al-Jazeera channel, Qatari media has been trying to spread the lies and is continuing to do so through many programs and news reports. He also mentioned that Jazeera never promoted Gulf unity, and since it was first on air, it broadcast programs that doubted the council and it even permitted its guests to insult GCC and its leadership. According to the minister, the organized campaign is even promoted on social media in an attempt to show a public demand to withdraw from the council. Romaihi regretted that Iranian media outlets are participating in this campaign and promoting that Qatar will gain benefits from leaving the GCC. Media in Tehran is even going as far as calling for a Qatari-Iranian-Syrian coalition, according to the editor in chief of an Iranian news agency. The minister reiterated that GCC leaders ensure the stability and unity of the council and want the stability and security of all members without interfering in other states’ internal affairs. During the opening of the 48th session of the Council of Arab Information Ministers held at the Arab League in Cairo, Rumaihi said in his speech that “Qatar is siding with terrorism regularly, and that it is not following any of the media ethics.”Rumaihi also accused in his speech al-Jazeera and Iranian TV stations of carrying out attempts to undermine regional security and spread rumors and lies.The minister called for adopting a firm stance against them for “posing a threat to the Arab national security.”

Palestinian President Suspends Diplomatic Action against Israel
Ramallah- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided to take by Arab states’ advice and grant the US administration a chance to propose a peace plan, Palestinian sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat. The sources stated that Abbas will suspend Palestinian action against Israel in the Security Council, the UN and other institutions so that he wouldn’t be accused of hindering peace and frustrating a US initiative. Head of the US delegation Jared Kushner, who visited the region last week, urged Abbas and Arab officials to grant him a chance to propose a peace plan. The sources added that Jordan’s King Abdullah II and other leaders advised Abbas to deliberate, despite the US ambiguity and stances that seem biased to Israel. Abbas demanded warranties for the peace process based on the two-state solution from Kushner who said he would suggest the matter to US President Donald Trump but didn’t promise to back such a solution. Kushner was keen throughout his tour to evade mentioning the two-state solution and only expressed his commitment to achieve peace. “Committing to the two-state solution would likely be a bias,” stated Washington. Palestinian officials were irked by this statement and offended the US delegation, accusing it of being one-sided. Washington seems to suggest a regional peace plan instead of the two-state solution. It believes that regional peace would be the most possible solution in the region but Palestinians reject this proposal. A Palestinian official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US approach is so far unclear.“We are not against Arab-Israeli peace but not before ending the conflict and establishing the Palestinian state,” he stated.

Iraq: Fierce Electoral Struggle in Islamic Dawa Party
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/Baghdad- Indicators show a fierce and early electoral struggle in Iraq’s Dawa Party, the ruling party since 2005. This struggle is mainly between Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Vice President Nouri al-Maliki. Suspending party membership of Baghdad’s former governor Salah Abdulrazeq and leaking the internal investigation document reveal the ongoing struggle between the two parties. Sources from Dawa party affirm that the pro-Abadi party deliberately leaked the document to media to defame Maliki due to his tight relation with the former governor. Some sources see that the continuous US pressures on Abadi to tackle corruption and hold corrupts accountable might have pushed him to address the corruption file of one of his party members. The organizational office of Dawa Party carried out a discreet investigation, five days before this was intentionally leaked to the media. “Given the information raising suspicion about Salah Abdulrazeq financial corruption and the defamation caused by that, it has been decided to suspend Salah’s party membership until the matter is fully cleared,” the party investigation reported. Despite the former governor denial, considering these accusations as an early electoral campaign that targets him personally, several documents from Baghdad province and council showed administrative and financial breaches made by him. Besides Salah, also his two sons residing in Europe are facing similar corruption accusations – videos and documents showed their enormous wealth, knowing that one of them manages a nightclub in Netherlands. This event embarrassed the ruling party, but the step was welcomed by national and political circles given that it opens the door to increasing accountability in prime parties and blocs.

Sudan, Libya Agree to Cooperate on Fighting Terrorism
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/Khartoum– Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the head of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, agreed to cooperate on security issues, in particular fighting terrorism in order to restore Libya’s stability. In a joint news conference with Sarraj in Khartoum, Bashir said his country had no agendas in Libya except to achieve unity and stability and restore security. “We confirm that we do not have a special agenda that is not in the interests of the Libyan people,” he said. Bashir stressed that his government’s support for the revolution against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 was based on the desire to achieve the aspirations of the Libyan people and to consolidate security and stability in the country and the region. “Unfortunately, things went against what we wanted, and we confirm that we have maintained our efforts to support the Libyan people and the country’s security,” he said. He noted that some Sudanese members of rebel groups were active in Libya as mercenaries, stressing that they represented a real threat to Sudan. “We are affected directly by the insecurity in Libya, which has made it expensive for us to fight human trafficking, illegal immigration and cross-border crimes,” Bashir said. “Those who are committing these crimes are using the instability in Libya, and using Sudanese territories to commit their crimes,” he added. For his part, Sarraj told reporters that he discussed with Bashir challenges facing the two countries, latest developments in Libya on the political, economic and security levels, and efforts to achieve national reconciliation and end divisions.He added that talks have also touched on the means to secure common borders, the implementation of security agreements, the development of bilateral relations and the exchange of support in the economic fields, as well as the promotion of investment. Sarraj arrived in the Sudanese capital on Monday on a two-day official visit, after a previous trip to the country was postponed in mid-March due to security unrest in Libya. Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters at Khartoum airport that the official visit would tackle bilateral relations, Sudanese armed movements active in Libya, economic issues and coordination on regional and international levels.

Egypt Criticizes US Decision to Cut Aid
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/Cairo- The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has denied prior knowledge of the US administration’s decision to cut aid to Egypt. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abo Zaid said that Cairo was notified only hours before the decision’s announcement. Washington decided earlier to cut USD95.7 million of aid provided to Egypt and withhold USD195 million. US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert stated on Wednesday that the Egyptian side had prior knowledge of this step. US State Department officials said that the decision attributes to the Egyptian government’s failure to achieve any progress in respecting human rights and democracy. But The Egyptian side hinted that this decision would have consequences on Egyptian-US ties. The Egyptian Ministry announced that the decision “reflects misappreciation of the strategic ties between the two countries throughout decades, and following an approach that lacks accurate understanding of how important it is to support Egypt’s stability not to mention the huge economic and security challenges facing Egyptians.” This might lead to consequences on the joint interests, added the ministry. Abo Zaid said that Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received a phone call from his American counterpart Rex Tillerson on the evening of Tuesday August 22, while he was in Vilnius Airport of Lithuania returning to Cairo. The Trump administration decided to reprogram military aid to Egypt worth USD65.7 million starting from fiscal year 2014.

Guterres: We Support Kuwaiti Mediation to Solve Qatar Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/Kuwait, Manama- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres asserted on Sunday that he supported the efforts spent by the State of Kuwait to solve the Qatar crisis.
Following a meeting with the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Sunday, the UN news center quoted Guterres as telling reporters that “the position of the UN is very simple: we are here to support the Kuwaiti mediation.”The UN Chief added that his visit to Kuwait is an occasion to express deep appreciation and generate ideas about ways to strengthen the cooperation and dialogue between Kuwait and the UN, “as we believe Kuwait is an extremely reliable partner in our common commitment to peace and security around the world.”Guterres also met on Sunday with Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, and both men discussed aspects of existing cooperation between Kuwait and the UN and its agencies, along with the latest regional and international developments. During their meeting, Sheikh Sabah Khalid praised the UN chief’s efforts to uphold regional and international security and stability, Kuwait’s News Agency KUNA reported. The Secretary-General visited Kuwait as part of a regional tour before heading to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Sunday evening. For his part, Bahrain’s Information Minister Ali bin Mohammed Al Rumaihi spoke on Sunday about the presence of Qatari news spread by Al Jazeera channel to disfigure the image of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He said such news targets the Qatari viewers and aims to push for Qatari popular movements that demand Doha’s withdrawal from the Council. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday, Rumaihi said he was sorry to announce that Iranian news agencies were also contributing to the campaign by promoting gains that Qatar could earn by withdrawing from the Council.

Guterres Calls for Aid Access in Coup-Held Sana’a, Hodeidah
Asharq Al-Awsat/August 28/17/Kuwait- UN Chief António Guterres urged Yemeni conflicting parties to agree on allowing the delivery of humanitarian aid to each of the Houthi controlled cities Sana’a and Hodeidah. “I hope it will be possible for an agreement to be achieved between the parties to allow for Hodeida and Sana’a to be fully operational for the humanitarian needs of the Yemeni people who are suffering in such a terrible way. “They deserve our solidarity and our commitment,” Guterres told reporters after meeting with Kuwait’s emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The United Nations has tried to mediate between Yemeni warring parties to end the conflict but failed to do so. Asked about plans to begin negotiations in Kuwait on the crisis in Yemen, the Secretary-General said the UN is doing its best to create the conditions for the present stalemate to be overcome. “Kuwait has been very successful in the first conference that was organized. We will be working very closely with the [parties] to see when and how a new strong initiative will be possible,” he stressed. To a question on getting aid through Sana’a airport or Hodeida port, Guterres said that his Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is pushing to create the conditions for both Hodeida and Sana’a to allow for an effective use, for humanitarian purposes, of these two very important infrastructures.

India and China agree to end border standoff
Mon 28 Aug 2017/NNA - India and China have agreed to an "expeditious disengagement" of troops in a disputed border area where their soldiers have been locked in a stand-off for more than two months, India’s foreign ministry said on Monday. The decision comes ahead of a summit of the BRICS nations - a grouping that also includes Brazil, Russia and South Africa - in China beginning on Sunday, which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend. Indian and Chinese troops have been confronting each other at the Doklam plateau near the borders of India, its ally Bhutan, and China, in the most serious and prolonged standoff in decades along their disputed Himalayan border. The Indian ministry said the two sides had agreed to defuse the crisis following diplomatic talks. "In recent weeks, India and China have maintained diplomatic communication in respect of the incident at Doklam," the ministry said in a statement. "On this basis, expeditious disengagement of border personnel at the face-off site at Doklam has been agreed to and is on-going," it said in a statement. It did not offer more details of the terms of disengagement from the area which had raised fears of a wider conflict between the Asian giants who fought a brief border war in 1962. China said Indian troops had withdrawn from the remote area in the eastern Himalayas. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Chinese troops would continue to patrol the Doklam region. "China will continue to exercise sovereignty rights to protect territorial sovereignty in accordance with the rules of the historical boundary," she said. The Chinese defense ministry said troops would remain on a state of alert. "We remind the Indian side to learn the lesson from this incident, earnestly respect the historical boundary and the basic principles of international law, meet China half way and jointly protect the peace and tranquillity of the border region," spokesman Wu Qian said in a statement. "The world is not peaceful, and peace needs to be safeguarded. The Chinese military has the confidence and the ability to protect the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests," Wu added.
The trouble started in June when India sent troops to stop China building a road in the Doklam area, which is remote, uninhabited territory claimed by both China and Bhutan. India said it sent its troops because Chinese military activity there was a threat to the security of its own northeast region.
But China has said India had no role to play in the area and insisted it withdraw unilaterally or face the prospect of an escalation. Chinese state media had warned India of a fate worse than its crushing defeat in the war in 1962. Indian political commentator Shekhar Gupta said there was too much at stake for the two countries to fight over a small piece of territory. "Hopefully, Doklam is a new chapter in India-China relations. Too much at stake for both big powers to let legacy real-estate issues linger," he said in a Twitter post. India and China have been unable to settle their 3,500-km (2,175-mile) frontier and large parts of territory are claimed by both sides. Lin Minwang, an India expert and the deputy director of the Center for South Asia Studies at China's Fudan University, said the detente would ensure a smooth BRICS meeting. "Both sides should be happy. Modi is also happy. They can conduct a meeting smoothly and naturally. If there was still a stand-off, how could they meet?" ---Reuters

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on August 28-29/17
Northern Nigeria's Democracy Under Threat
by Nuhu Othman/Gatestone Institute/August 28/17
As is the case across the globe, the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others are a double-edged sword. They are used for a disseminating information, but also for spreading disinformation and lies, as well as for recruiting fighters to the Boko Haram terrorist group, based mainly in Northern Nigeria, and responsible for the bulk of the suicide bombings and other mass murders committed in Africa.
Although people such as the members of the Humanist Society of Northern Nigeria have the same constitutional rights as anyone else in Northern Nigeria, if they try to express their political beliefs in the 2019 presidential election, they are liable to face persecution in different forms, including through the penal code.
After 2000, criminal cases in Northern Nigeria were placed under the jurisdiction of Sharia courts. Suspects began being tried for offenses such as blasphemy and adultery. To make matters worse, even when some of these cases were overturned by the Nigerian Supreme Court, the accused remained stigmatized in their communities. This is likely to be the fate of the members of the Humanist Society, particularly if they are perceived to pose a political threat in the next elections. There is also no indication that the authorities will protect them in such an event. Such a betrayal is unacceptable in a country that says it prides itself on being a democracy.
Nigeria's fragile democracy is under fire. Nigerian Islamists in the highly religious Islamic north of the country have been targeting a marginal non-profit organization of secularists, the Humanist Society of Northern Nigeria (HSNN). The problem is worth examining.
Since the return of democracy to the largest African country in 1999, freedom of speech has been expressed mostly on social media. Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of internet users in Africa -- about 91 million. Yet, as is the case across the globe, the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others are a double-edged sword. They are used for a disseminating information, but also for spreading disinformation and lies, as well as for recruiting fighters to the Boko Haram terrorist group, based mainly in Northern Nigeria, and responsible for the bulk of the suicide bombings and other mass murders committed in Africa. To understand the significance of HSNN, one must grasp that 18 years ago, with the introduction of multiparty elections in Nigeria, most of the northern states used the ballot box to choose a system of Sharia (Islamic religious law).
HSNN describes itself on Facebook as "A Society of Northern Nigerian Humanists, Philosophers, Scientist and other thinkers," and says, "If you're a Northerner who thinks Human beings of every creed, society, race and tribe deserved to respected and their lives cherished then this is place for you." It has garnered only 16 members of in their 20s and 30s since its establishment. It is, however, part of a wider movement that aims to encourage "critical thinking" across Africa. It was, for example, among the participants of the 2nd Annual African Humanist Youth Days event in Lagos in July 2017.
The logo of HSNN proudly displays the Union Jack, an apparent nod of solidarity with the West -- which Islamists fiercely oppose. Also noteworthy is that one of its members, when asked by a hostile Facebook commenter where he was located, replied by claiming, falsely, that he was in the southern part of Nigeria. That reply indicates a worrisome level of fear on the part of members of the group that their lives could be in danger due to their lack of faith in the tenets of Islam.
Although such people have the same constitutional rights as anyone else in Northern Nigeria, if they try to express their political beliefs in the 2019 presidential election, they are liable to face persecution in different forms, including through the penal code.
Prior to the adoption of Sharia in most Northern Nigerian states in 2000, the penal code was limited to personal status and civil issues. After that, criminal cases were placed under the jurisdiction of Sharia courts. Suspects began being tried for offenses such as blasphemy and adultery. To make matters worse, even when some of these cases were overturned by the Nigerian Supreme Court, the accused remained stigmatized in their communities. This is likely to be the fate of the members of the Humanist Society, particularly if they are perceived to pose a political threat in the next elections.
There is also no indication that the authorities will protect them in such an event. Such a betrayal is unacceptable in a country that says it prides itself on being a democracy. The Nigerian government needs to act swiftly and forcefully to ensure that the rights of all of its citizens, regardless of religious or political affiliation, are upheld and safeguarded.
**Nuhu Othman is a Senior Consultant on Political and Security Risks at Atta Zubairu & Associates, Abuja, Nigeria.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Palestinians: Destroying the Judiciary
by Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/August 28/17
Now that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership have succeeded in their effort to intimidate social media activists and journalists, they are turning their repressive gaze on judges and lawyers.
The PA government's proposed bill authorizes the executive branch to dismiss judges; the critics say that this constitutes a breach of the Palestinian Basic Law and jeopardizes the independence of the judicial system. The controversy surrounding the PA government's new bill targeting the judicial authority is yet another indication of how the Palestinians are marching backward, and not forward, in establishing proper and transparent state institutions.
Abbas and his government are quietly and successfully turning the PA into an autocratic one man-show, making it a private Abbas fiefdom. After the journalists, the media and the judiciary, it remains to be seen whose turn is next.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is facing sharp criticism over its attempt to "encroach" on the judicial authority and turn it into a tool in the hands of President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian lawyers, judges and legal experts say that a new bill proposed by the PA government in the West Bank would have a negative impact on the independence and integrity of the judiciary system.
The controversial draft bill aims at amending the law of the judicial authority so that Abbas and his government would be able to tighten their grip over the work of the courts and judges.
The PA leadership's bid to take control over the judicial authority comes on the heels of an ongoing crackdown on the Palestinian media and journalists. In recent weeks, PA security forces have blocked more than 20 news websites and arrested scores of journalists. In addition, Abbas has approved a Cyber Crimes Law that gives his security forces expanded powers to silence his critics on social media.
Protests by Palestinian journalists and some human rights organizations have thus far failed to persuade Abbas to abandon the Cyber Crimes Law and punitive measures against reporters. As of now, Abbas's campaign to muzzle his critics appears to have worked.
Deterred by the new law, which was passed secretly and without consultation with the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the arrest of seven journalists in the past few weeks, many of Abbas's critics are keeping a low profile.
This month, PA security forces arrested Mashal Alkouk, a Palestinian-American, for posting critical comments on Facebook. Alkouk, a prominent member of the Palestinian community in the US, was arrested on August 19 when he came to the West Bank to attend the wedding of a family member. He was released four days later. A statement issued by his friends in the US strongly condemned Alkouk's arrest as a "flagrant assault on individual and public freedoms and freedom of expression."
The statement noted that Alkouk was arrested for his public activities on website called "Palestinians in the US." It said that the website is based in the US and serves as a platform for Palestinian and Arab activists living in the US.
The arrest of the Palestinian-American activist is clear proof that Abbas's long arm reaches any critic, even one with US citizenship.
Now that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have succeeded in their effort to intimidate social media activists and journalists, they are turning their repressive gaze on judges and lawyers.
For Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah, the international community's silence over the crackdown on journalists and social media activists is a green light to pursue similar measures against the judicial authority.
Palestinian judges and lawyers say they are going to put up a fight against Abbas's latest bid to turn the judicial system into his personal instrument of reprisal. They have already begun a series of public protests to demand that the PA government abandon its plan to amend the law of the judicial authority in a way that allows the executive body to interfere with the work of the judges and courts.
Judges of the Palestinian Authority (PA) justice system protest in Al-Bireh against the PA's plan to amend the law of the judicial authority in a way that allows the PA government to interfere with the work of judges and courts, August 23, 2017. (Image source: Watan TV video screenshot)
Osama Al-Kilani, Chairman of the Palestinian Judges' Forum, warned that the proposed bill would have a negative impact on public freedoms and people's rights.
He also cautioned that the PA government's attempt would shatter Palestinians' confidence in their judicial system. "The new bill will place the judicial authority under the tutelage of the executive authority," Al-Kilani complained.
Palestinian lawyers have joined the protest, warning that the PA government was seeking to turn the judicial system into a branch of the executive authority. "This will put an end to the independence of the judiciary," they said in a statement. "This is also an assault on the principle of separation of powers."
Critics also argue that the proposed bill violates the Palestinian Basic Law, which stipulates that the Palestinian Legislative Council is the only party authorized to introduce changes and amendments to existing laws.
Pointing out that the PA government's proposed bill authorizes the executive branch to dismiss judges, the critics say that this constitutes a breach of the Palestinian Basic Law and jeopardizes the independence of the judicial system.
They also take issue with the proposed bill because it makes the prosecutor-general subordinate to the PA government – another violation of the Palestinian Basic Law.
The controversy surrounding the PA government's new bill targeting the judicial authority is yet another indication of how the Palestinians are marching backward, and not forward, in establishing proper and transparent state institutions.
Like the journalists, the judges and lawyers have good reason to be worried, largely because the international community does not seem to care much about human rights violations and assaults on public freedoms by the PA in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas sought to become his people's editor-in-chief by controlling the Palestinian media, and he got what he wanted, despite protests by Palestinian journalists.
Now, Abbas seeks to become the chief judge of the Palestinians by changing the law so that he would be able to meddle in the internal affairs of the judicial authority and fire or appoint judges whenever he feels like it.
Abbas and his government are quietly and successfully turning the PA into an autocratic one man-show, making it a private Abbas fiefdom. After the journalists, the media and the judiciary, it remains to be seen whose turn is next.
**Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Does Kissinger want ISIS to stay?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/August 28/17
In a recently published column in the same daily, Iranian writer Amir Taheri commented on Henry Kissinger’s views regarding the West’s confrontation of ISIS and similar groups in Syria and Iraq. Kissinger’s advice is not to rush into eliminating ISIS and similar groups because this means paving way for the Iranian Khomeini republic to dominate in Syria and Iraq. This theory surprised Taheri and he voiced his opposition of Kissinger’s opinion by stating that the latter hails from an old political culture that’s based on the principle of “balance of powers” which is a remnant of the European Westphalian eras.
To Taheri, eliminating ISIS does not mean not eliminating the Khomeini regime later as Khomeinism, ISIS, al-Qaeda and Taliban are all faces of one ugly truth. Taheri added that during World War II, eliminating the Nazi threat was not postponed out of fear of the USSR’s expansion, noting that the USSR was later eliminated. He thus concludes that the same must happen to confront the threat of ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. In order to eliminate ISIS and other similar groups, “Khomeinism” must also be confronted
Confrontation over leniency
Kissinger is not the first one to convey such views as there are several American figures stating that President Trump must confront such threats in the Middle East and compensate for the years lost or rather for the leniency, which Obama adopted in hopes of some “Khomeinist moderation.”
Last week, Foreign Policy said in a report that Trump confronts another threat and which is to be reminded by history that he defeated ISIS only to pave way for the Iranian caliphate. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the West, including Russia, that letting groups affiliated with Iran dominate in Syria is something that Israel completely rejects considering its effects on Israeli security. We all remember the Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria. There’s a frantic race in Syria and bids for dreams and plans following the defeat which ISIS, al-Nusra and similar groups is suffering from and after armed factions affiliated with the “moderate” opposition “complied.”
Bashar’s illusions
Bashar’s regime has its illusions that everyone will become obedient while Syria’s Kurds have dreams to achieve through their enthusiastic confrontation of ISIS in East Syria. Iran’s groups, such as Hezbollah, also have aspirations such as Nasrallah’s recent attempt to force the Lebanese government to normalize relations with Bashar. Aside from Taheri’s argument, there is no doubt that defeating ISIS, al-Nusra and their propaganda machine cannot be achieved by deploying the Supreme Leader’s soldiers guided by Qassem Soleimani in Syria.
This only provides an environment which produces more of ISIS and al-Qaeda. In order to eliminate ISIS and other similar groups, Khomeinism must also be confronted.

Qatar and Iran are now united
Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/August 28/17
We are now playing with open cards. Qatar and Iran have united in every place where they funded warring groups. When Qatar supported al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front in Syria, they actually fought popular Syrian factions more than they fought the Syrian regime. Meanwhile, Iran also supported Hezbollah and Shiite militias in Syria to fight popular Syrian units. Qatar and Iran are thus united in Syria and are not rivals. Qatar supported al-Qaeda in Yemen while Iran supported the Houthis. Both fought legitimacy there and did not fight against each other. Doha and Tehran are therefore also united in Yemen.
What unites Qatar and Iran is not just the northern oil field. What they also have in common is their rivalry toward Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf countries and their desire to topple governance there and dismantle the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Qatar and Iran are partners, and the bonds between them are stronger than bonds between Qatar and Gulf countries. Iran and Qatar fund the most dangerous project in the Middle East with the aim to topple its countries.Qatar donated money to fund Sunni terrorist groups and Iran donated money to fund Shiite terrorist groups. Both pushed these groups to fight in Arab countries and to undermine the bases of the Arab state. Qatar and Iran are partners, and the bonds between them are stronger than bonds between Qatar and Gulf countries
Funding exposed
Now that this funding is exposed, they will unite in publicly funding and supporting the most foolish Arab groups, whether Sunni ones or Shiite, in support of Iran’s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guides. Can you imagine the irony! Can you imagine those funding al-Nusra embracing the funder of Hezbollah? Can you imagine al-Qaeda’s funder and the funder of the Houthis announcing the close ties between them? The most important question is how will the Qatari government impose a reality which it is not easy to subjugate people to? The Qatari people may have their own opinion about certain affairs and in this case we wonder what will their opinion be about normalizing relations with Iran? Even if the relations of the Qatari regime – as governed by Hamad bin Khalifa and Hamad bin Jassim – with Iran are very normal, it seems impossible for the Qatari people to establish relations with the Iranians at the expense of their Gulf brothers. This is not chauvinism or sectarian or ethnic intolerance but simply about blood relations which are irrelevant to politics. Removing the Qatari people from their ordinary family and convincing them that their Iranian step father is better than their Gulf father will be impossible.
Even if Doha’s relations with Tehran are normal, Qatar’s relations with the GCC will be impossible under the governance of Hamad bin Khalifa and Hamad bin Jassim. Qatar’s rivalry and hostility is deep especially considering it has agreed to be used as a Trojan horse by Iran to storm the GCC’s fort – something that no one in the Gulf will accept.

If Mosul fails, Iraq fails too
Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/August 28/17
Iraq is an ancient place, but a place that has never been its own, standalone country prior to its creation as a League of Nations mandate under British control in 1920. Though some of the earliest documented civilisations came out of the Land between the Rivers, it has never been a cohesive place, with a unified cultural identity. Indeed, as time wore on, it seems to have accrued more and more diversity – of peoples, of religions, of identities. To this day, despite decades of ethnic cleansing under Saddam Hussain and over a decade of brutal sectarian fighting, it remains one of the most diverse countries in the world.
In that long history, this region has seen decades where peace prevailed, and in which its diverse population produced some of the most vibrant and scientifically advanced cultures in the world at that time, such as during the early Mesopotamian Empires, or during the Abbasid Caliphate, when Baghdad was the capital of the largest, most prosperous and most advanced empire in the world. But it has also seen decades upon decades of brutal infighting between the many peoples, cultures and religions in the area. Iraq’s more recent sectarian problems originally stem from the Franco-British agreement to segment the previous territories of the Ottoman Empire among themselves after WW1, and Britain’s decision to lump three very distinct former Ottoman provinces into one state: the north-eastern Kurdish territories, the north-western Sunni territories, and the southern Shi’a territories.
Iraq’s more recent sectarian problems stem from the Franco-British agreement to segment the previous territories of the Ottoman Empire
Imposing peace
Unlike at previous time in its history, this left no ethnic-religious group clearly in charge over the region, and thus clearly able to dominate everyone else and impose the peace. And the three roughly-matched regions, and their peoples, have been in intense competition ever since. But though while Britain was acting as an imperial overlord and arbiter this may have worked fine, after the Kingdom of Iraq became independent in 1932, this was a recipe for trouble. And 85 years of trouble is exactly what followed. Fast forward to 2017, and the battle for the future of Iraq is fought in Mosul – a city in northern Iraq that until recently was held by ISIS. Prior to the Iraq War, Mosul was majority Sunni Arab, but it and its environs had substantial numbers of Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens, Kurds, Yazidis, Mandaeans, Circassians, and other ethnic groups, and religions such as Shi’a Islam, Christianity, Salafism, Sufism, Yazidism, Mandaeism were observed. Mosul was a microcosm of that history of diversity in Mesopotamia. During the ISIS occupation of the city, many of the religious and ethnic minorities have been targeted for abuse and persecution. The most visible was the genocide against the Yazidis, who, in the warped mind of the militants, were thought of as devil-worshippers. And yet despite the horrors of the past five years in particular, the city, and the region, maintain much of their diversity – much like the rest of Iraq does. That is why, what happens now that ISIS have been driven out of the city is so important.
Baghdad’s forces, which are majority Shiite, have expended considerable blood and treasure to recapture Mosul from ISIS. Military veterans say it was one of the toughest counter-insurgency operations in history.
But can they, unlike the American invasion in 2003, also win the peace? Can they re-forge a successful, cohesive and peaceful city out of an ethnic and religious patchwork who have suffered differentially under the Sunni ISIS, or prior to that under the Baghdad sectarian Shiite government of Maliki, or prior to that under the Sunni Ba’athist Baghdad government of Saddam Hussain?
Axes to grind
There will be many axes to grind in Mosul after the liberation, there will be the blood of many relatives to be washed on all sides, and there will be fear for the future and a lack of trust, which will make civilised living extremely difficult. If that were not bad enough, the Kurds continue to aspire to an independent homeland, and northern Iraq is the most likely place they will get it. That drags regional neighbours such as Turkey and Iran into the equation, as many local groups will seek to forge alliances with international backers who will be only too happy to play their own conflicts with each other through their proxies in the city, and the wider Iraq. And we have not even talked about the money needed to rebuild the city – estimated at over one billion dollars. Where will the money come from, and how is it going to be allocated such that it does not fuel further conflicts between the local peoples?
Can Mosul be rebuilt, and if so, how? The answer depends on whether there is the political will on all sides to make Mosul work as a city once more after all the troubles it has suffered in its recent history. If the people of Mosul can rebuild their city, then that bodes extremely well for the rest of Iraq.
The state of Iraq may yet become a cohesive and successful country. If Mosul fails, however, the shockwaves will also crack the fragile fibre that keeps the rest of Iraq together. And many more people will die before the flames of conflict burn themselves out once more.

Who really ‘made the desert bloom’: The demographic war underway in Palestine

Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/August 28/17
While many Middle East analysts are busy decrying the defunct “peace process”, a much more conse-quential, yet overlooked issue is taking form across the West Bank and among Palestinian Arab com-munities in Israel. Throughout Palestine there is a decided campaign of ethnic cleansing underway, one house at a time, one village at a time. Palestinian communities living in so-called Area C – nearly 60 percent of the West Bank that has re-mained under total Israeli control after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 – are denied permission to expand their communities and their homes are thus routinely demolished for violating military rules. Meanwhile, illegal Jewish settlements in these areas are in constant expansion.
communities in and around occupied East Jerusalem are being choked off by the tightening ring of Jewish settlements aimed at annexing all of Jerusalem for Israel. While their land is coveted by Israel, they are rejected as outsiders within their own homeland. One such community is Al-Walajeh, a Palestinian village situated between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. As many as 14 structures in the village have been given notice of impending demolition. The military orders cite the lack of “necessary permits”. However, acquiring such permits is almost an impossible feat simply because the Israeli government has comprehensive plans for the expansion of Jewish communities and illegal Jewish settlements, which exclude any plans for Palestinians. The Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse the Bedouins of the Negev is no different from the plan to colonize the West Bank, Judaize the Galilee and Palestinian East Jerusalem
Jerusalem 2020
The residents of Al-Walajeh are being pushed out of their homes as part of an expansionist project known as the “Jerusalem 2020”, under which the borders of the Jerusalem municipality keep growing to include illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank – thus normalizing the occupation while reducing the number of Palestinians in the city. As a further result, the natural expansion of Palestinian communities is not only halted, but these com-munities are, in many instances, also shrinking.
It is a demographic war par excellence. Israel’s 972Magazine reports that while Israel has built over 1,000 Jewish communities throughout the country, Arab towns like Sakhnin has actually shriveled into a much smaller version of its original boundaries. That “vacated” space was readily, in fact, purposely, occupied by Jewish communities. This war is most pronounced in the Naqab (Negev) desert, where Palestinian Bedouin communities are fighting for their very survival and way of life. The last homes to be destroyed this year were in the small town of Wadi al-Naam, on August 22. Every attempt at halting the destruction has failed, as is often the case.Israeli army bulldozers make no distinction between Area C in the West Bank, the Negev or Palestinian communities inside Israel, or what Israel refers to as the ‘Green Line’.
These demarcations are in fact, of little relevance in everyday reality. They are largely imaginary lines, for Israel perceives its fight with Palestinians as an existential one. Thus, the mere demographic or phys-ical expansion of Palestinian communities anywhere is considered by Israel, a threat to its very exist-ence.
It is reported that last year alone more than 1,000 Palestinian homes were demolished in the Negev un-der various pretenses. Currently, the Negev is the focal point of Israel’s colonial war on Palestinian communities, and the cen-ter of that particular fight is taking place in the village of Al-Araqeeb.
After the 1947-48 emptying of Palestine from most of its original inhabitants, Israel turned its focus to the Negev desert, initiating a brutal campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinian Bedouins from their an-cestral homeland, and replacing them with newly-arriving Jewish immigrants.
By 1953, nearly 90 percent of all Palestinians from the northern Negev area were expelled – some placed in reservations with limited economic opportunities and others sent to live in crowded refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jordan.
Their story is the story of all Palestinian refugees who, despite their harsh conditions, remained resolute in their determination to return home. Yet, no other refugee community symbolizes the journey of exile and return as much as the residents of Al-Araqeeb, an “unrecognized village” inhabited mostly by the Al-Turi Palestinian Arab tribe.
On August 1, the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb was destroyed for the 116th time. As soon as Israeli bulldozers had finished their job, and hundreds of soldiers and police officers began evacuat-ing the premises, the village residents immediately began rebuilding their destroyed homes.
By now, the residents of the devastated village are all familiar with the painful routine, considering that the first round of destruction took place in July 2010.
Not only has Israel destroyed the resolute village numerous times, but in violation of international and humanitarian law, it actually delivers a bill to the homeless residents expecting them to cover the cost of the very destruction wrought by the Israeli state.
According to latest estimates, the families that live in makeshift huts and rely on rudimentary means to survive are expected to pay a bill of 2 million shekels, around $600,000.
Israel dubs Al-Araqeeb, along with dozens of villages in the Negev, as 'unrecognized' by the Israeli government’s master plan, hence they must be erased and their population driven into townships desig-nated and created for the Bedouins.
Bedouins ‘made the desert bloom’
The Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse the Bedouins of the Negev is no different from the plan to colo-nize the West Bank, Judaize the Galilee and Palestinian East Jerusalem. All such efforts always culmi-nate in the same routine – the removal of Arabs and their replacement with Israeli Jews.
In 1965, Israel passed the Planning and Building Law which recognized some Palestinian Arab villages in the Galilee and southern Negev, but excluded others. Nearly 100,000 Bedouin were forcibly re-moved to 'Planned Townships' to endure economic neglect and poverty.
Currently, according to the Institute of Palestine Studies (IPS), roughly 130,000 individuals live in the so-called unrecognized villages “under the constant threat of wholesale demolition.” The anomaly is that these Bedouin communities prove the fallacy of the Israeli claim that it was Jewish settlers – not Palestinians – that “made the desert bloom.”
A simple look at statistics demolishes that deceptive claim entirely. As of 1935 – 13 years prior to the existence of Israel – Bedouins “cultivated 2,109,234 dunums of land where they grew most of Pales-tine’s barley and much of the country’s wheat,” stated IPS. Moreover, Jewish settlers did not arrive in the Negev till 1940 and, by 1946, the total Jewish population there did not amount to more than 475.
Pioneering settlement
“The amount of land cultivated by the Bedouins in the Negev prior to 1948 came to three times that cultivated by the entire Jewish community in all of Palestine even after sixty years of “pioneering” Zi-onist settlement,” IPS concluded.
To reverse this indisputable historical reality, Israel has led a decided campaign aimed at vanquishing the Bedouins by severing their relationship with their land. Although this has been done with a great degree of success, the struggle is not yet over. To preclude any legal wrangling, the Israeli government has been actively pursuing wholesale, irreversi-ble actions to seal the fate of Bedouins once and for all.
In 2013, Israel announced the “Prawer Plan”, the goal of which was the destruction of all unrecognized villages in the Negev. However, massive mobilization involving the Bedouins and Palestinians through-out the Occupied Territories defeated this idea, which was officially rescinded in December of the same year.
War on Bedouins
But, now, the Prawer Plan is being revived under the name 'Prawer II.' A draft of the plan, which was leaked to local media, was introduced by Israel's Agricultural Minister, Uri Ariel. It, too, aims to “deny Bedouin citizens land ownership rights and violate their constitutional protections,” Patrick Strickland reported. The war on the Bedouin is, of course, part of the larger war on all Palestinians, whether in Israel or un-der military occupation. While the latter are denied the most basic freedoms, the former are governed by at least 50 discriminatory laws, according to the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights. Many of these laws are aimed at depriving Palestinians of the right to own land or even to claim the very land upon which their homes and villages existed for tens and hundreds of years.
It should come as no shock, then, to learn that, while Palestinian citizens of Israel are estimated at 20 percent of the population, they live on merely 3 percent of the land, and many of them face the con-stant danger of being evicted and relocated elsewhere.
The story of Al-Araqeeb is witness to the never-ending Israeli desire for colonial expansion at the expense of the indigenous population of Palestine, but also of the courage and refusal to give in to fear and despair as demonstrated by the 22 families of this brave village.

How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal/كيفية الخروج من الاتفاقية النووية مع إيران
by John R. Bolton/ Gatestone Institute/August 28/17
Although candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama's Iran nuclear agreement, his administration has twice decided to remain in the deal. It so certified to Congress, most recently in July, as required by law. Before the second certification, Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred. But no such options were forthcoming, despite "a sharp series of exchanges" between the president and his advisers, as the New York Times and similar press reports characterized it.
Many outside the administration wondered how this was possible: Was Trump in control, or were his advisers? Defining a compelling rationale to exit Obama's failed nuclear deal and elaborating a game plan to do so are quite easy. In fact, Steve Bannon asked me in late July to draw up just such a game plan for the president — the option he didn't have — which I did.
Here it is. It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, hundred-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement. There is no need to wait for the next certification deadline in October. Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity.
I offer the paper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible. Although he was once kind enough to tell me "come in and see me any time," those days are now over.
If the president is never to see this option, so be it. But let it never be said that the option didn't exist.
Abrogating the Iran Deal: The Way Forward
I. Background
The Trump Administration is required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the July 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — JCPOA), and that this agreement is in the national-security interest of the United States.[1] While a comprehensive Iranian policy review is currently underway, America's Iran policy should not be frozen. The JCPOA is a threat to U.S. national-security interests, growing more serious by the day. If the President decides to abrogate the JCPOA, a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.
Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the President must certify every 90 days that:
(i) Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement, including all related technical or additional agreements;
(ii) Iran has not committed a material breach with respect to the agreement or, if Iran has committed a material breach, Iran has cured the material breach;
(iii) Iran has not taken any action, including covert activities, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and
(iv) Suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the agreement is –
(I) appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program; and
(II) vital to the national-security interests of the United States.
U.S. leadership here is critical, especially through a diplomatic and public education effort to explain a decision not to certify and to abrogate the JCPOA. Like any global campaign, it must be persuasive, thorough, and accurate. Opponents, particularly those who participated in drafting and implementing the JCPOA, will argue strongly against such a decision, contending that it is reckless, ill-advised, and will have negative economic and security consequences.
Accordingly, we must explain the grave threat to the U.S. and our allies, particularly Israel. The JCPOA's vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran's direction; Iran's significant violations; and its continued, indeed, increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level internationally demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national-security interests of the United States. We can bolster the case for abrogation by providing new, declassified information on Iran's unacceptable behavior around the world.
But as with prior Presidential decisions, such as withdrawing from the 1972 ABM Treaty, a new "reality" will be created. We will need to assure the international community that the U.S. decision will in fact enhance international peace and security, unlike the JCPOA, the provisions of which shield Iran's ongoing efforts to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. The Administration should announce that it is abrogating the JCPOA due to significant Iranian violations, Iran's unacceptable international conduct more broadly, and because the JCPOA threatens American national-security interests.
The Administration's explanation in a "white paper" should stress the many dangerous concessions made to reach this deal, such as allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium; allowing Iran to operate a heavy-water reactor; and allowing Iran to operate and develop advanced centrifuges while the JCPOA is in effect. Utterly inadequate verification and enforcement mechanisms and Iran's refusal to allow inspections of military sites also provide important reasons for the Administration's decision.
Even the previous Administration knew the JCPOA was so disadvantageous to the United States that it feared to submit the agreement for Senate ratification. Moreover, key American allies in the Middle East directly affected by this agreement, especially Israel and the Gulf states, did not have their legitimate interests adequately taken into account. The explanation must also demonstrate the linkage between Iran and North Korea.
We must also highlight Iran's unacceptable behavior, such as its role as the world's central banker for international terrorism, including its directions and control over Hezbollah and its actions in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The reasons Ronald Reagan named Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984 remain fully applicable today.
II. Campaign Plan Components
There are four basic elements to the development and implementation of the campaign plan to decertify and abrogate the Iran nuclear deal:
1. Early, quiet consultations with key players such as the U.K., France, Germany, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, to tell them we are going to abrogate the deal based on outright violations and other unacceptable Iranian behavior, and seek their input.
2. Prepare the documented strategic case for withdrawal through a detailed white paper (including declassified intelligence as appropriate) explaining why the deal is harmful to U.S. national interests, how Iran has violated it, and why Iran's behavior more broadly has only worsened since the deal was agreed.
3. A greatly expanded diplomatic campaign should immediately follow the announcement, especially in Europe and the Middle East, and we should ensure continued emphasis on the Iran threat as a top diplomatic and strategic priority.
4. Develop and execute Congressional and public diplomacy efforts to build domestic and foreign support.
III. Execution Concepts and Tactics
1. Early, quiet consultations with key players
It is critical that a worldwide effort be initiated to inform our allies, partners, and others about Iran's unacceptable behavior. While this effort could well leak to the press, it is nonetheless critical that we inform and consult with our allies and partners at the earliest possible moment, and, where appropriate, build into our effort their concerns and suggestions.
This quiet effort will articulate the nature and details of the violations and the type of relationship the U.S. foresees in the future, thereby laying the foundation for imposing new sanctions barring the transfer of nuclear and missile technology or dual use technology to Iran. With Israel and selected others, we will discuss military options. With others in the Gulf region, we can also discuss means to address their concerns from Iran's menacing behavior.
The advance consultations could begin with private calls by the President, followed by more extensive discussions in capitals by senior Administration envoys. Promptly elaborating a comprehensive tactical diplomatic plan should be a high priority.
2. Prepare the documented strategic case
The White House, coordinating all other relevant Federal agencies, must forcefully articulate the strong case regarding U.S. national-security interests. The effort should produce a "white paper" that will be the starting point for the diplomatic and domestic discussion of the Administration decision to abrogate the JCPOA, and why Iran must be denied access to nuclear technology indefinitely. The white paper should be an unclassified, written statement of the Administration's case, prepared faultlessly, with scrupulous attention to accuracy and candor. It should not be limited to the inadequacies of the JCPOA as written, or Iran's violations, but cover the entire range of Iran's continuing unacceptable international behavior.
Although the white paper will not be issued until the announcement of the decision to abrogate the JCPOA, initiating work on drafting the document is the highest priority, and its completion will dictate the timing of the abrogation announcement.
A thorough review and declassification strategy, including both U.S. and foreign intelligence in our possession should be initiated to ensure that the public has as much information as possible about Iranian behavior that is currently classified, consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods. We should be prepared to "name names" and expose the underbelly of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard business activities and how they are central to the efforts that undermine American and allied national interests. In particular, we should consider declassifying information related to activities such as the Iran-North Korea partnership, and how they undermine fundamental interests of our allies and partners.
3. Greatly expanded diplomatic campaign post-announcement
The Administration, through the NSC process, should develop a tactical plan that uses all available diplomatic tools to build support for our decision, including what actions we recommend other countries to take. But America must provide the leadership. It will take substantial time and effort and will require a "full court press" by U.S. embassies worldwide and officials in Washington to drive the process forward. We should ensure that U.S. officials fully understand the decision, and its finality, to help ensure the most positive impact with their interlocutors.
Our embassies worldwide should demarche their host governments with talking points (tailored as may be necessary) and data to explain and justify abrogating JCPOA. We will need parallel efforts at the United Nations and other appropriate multilateral organizations. Our embassies should not limit themselves to delivering the demarche, however, but should undertake extensive public diplomacy as well.
After explaining and justifying the decision to abrogate the deal, the next objective should be to recreate a new counter-proliferation coalition to replace the one squandered by the previous Administration, including our European allies, Israel, and the Gulf states. In that regard, we should solicit suggestions for imposing new sanctions on Iran and other measures in response to its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, sponsorship of terrorism, and generally belligerent behavior, including its meddling in Iraq and Syria.
Russia and China obviously warrant careful attention in the post-announcement campaign. They could be informed just prior to the public announcement as a courtesy, but should not be part of the pre-announcement diplomatic effort described above. We should welcome their full engagement to eliminate these threats, but we will move ahead with or without them.
Iran is not likely to seek further negotiations once the JCPOA is abrogated, but the Administration may wish to consider rhetorically leaving that possibility open in order to demonstrate Iran's actual underlying intention to develop deliverable nuclear weapons, an intention that has never flagged.
In preparation for the diplomatic campaign, the NSC interagency process should review U.S. foreign-assistance programs as they might assist our efforts. The DNI should prepare a comprehensive, worldwide list of companies and activities that aid Iran's terrorist activities.
4. Develop and execute Congressional and public diplomacy efforts
The Administration should have a Capitol Hill plan to inform members of Congress already concerned about Iran, and develop momentum for imposing broad sanctions against Iran, far more comprehensive than the pinprick sanctions favored under prior Administrations. Strong congressional support will be critical. We should be prepared to link Iranian behavior around the world, including its relationship with North Korea, and its terrorist activities. And we should demonstrate the linkage between Iranian behavior and missile proliferation as part of the overall effort that justifies a national-security determination that U.S. interests would not be furthered with the JCPOA.
Unilateral U.S. sanctions should be imposed outside the framework of Security Council Resolution 2231 so that Iran's defenders cannot water them down; multilateral sanctions from others who support us can follow quickly.
The Administration should also encourage discussions in Congress and in public debate for further steps that might be taken to go beyond the abrogation decision. These further steps, advanced for discussion purposes and to stimulate debate, should collectively demonstrate our resolve to limit Iran's malicious activities and global adventurism. Some would relate directly to Iran; others would protect our allies and partners more broadly from the nuclear proliferation and terrorist threats, such as providing F-35s to Israel or THAAD resources to Japan. Other actions could include:
End all landing and docking rights for all Iranian aircraft and ships at key allied ports;
End all visas for Iranians, including so called "scholarly," student, sports, or other exchanges;
Demand payment with a set deadline on outstanding U.S. federal-court judgments against Iran for terrorism, including 9/11;
Announce U.S. support for the democratic Iranian opposition;
Expedite delivery of bunker-buster bombs;
Announce U.S. support for Kurdish national aspirations, including Kurds in Iran, Iraq, and Syria;
Provide assistance to Balochis, Khuzestan Arabs, Kurds, and others — also to internal resistance among labor unions, students, and women's groups;
Actively organize opposition to Iranian political objectives in the U.N.
IV. Conclusion
This effort should be the Administration's highest diplomatic priority, commanding all necessary time, attention, and resources. We can no longer wait to eliminate the threat posed by Iran. The Administration's justification of its decision will demonstrate to the world that we understand the threat to our civilization; we must act and encourage others to meet their responsibilities as well.
A May 17, 2016 meeting between then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Vienna, Austria, to discuss the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. (Image source: U.S. State Department)
**John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".
[1] Although this paper will refer to "the JCPOA," the abrogation decision should also encompass the July 14, 2015, statement by the Security Council's five permanent members and Germany, attached as Annex B to Security Council Resolution 2231. The JCPOA is attached as Annex A to Resolution 2231.
© 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.

Interviews with Daniel Pipes/Deciphering the Trump and Erdoğan Foreign Policies
Monday Talk with Daniel Pipes
Vocal Europe
August 28, 2017
Interviewed by Madalina Sisu Vicari
V.E. title: "Monday Talk with Daniel Pipes on the New Middle East, Europe and the US"
I. Trump's Foreign Policy
Vocal Europe: How do the Obama and Trump administrations differ in their policies toward the Middle East?
Daniel Pipes: The Obama Middle East policy is [He%20conceives%20of%20his%20role%20being%20to%20reach%20out%20to%20enemies,%20reduce%20America's%20cowboy%20ways,%20make%20it%20one%20of%20the%20pack,%20and%20render%20the%20world%20a%20safer%20place.]easy to describe, as it was quite consistent over eight long years: Apologize for past American transgressions, "lead from behind," reach out to enemies, and denigrate allies.
In contrast, seven months of Trump leave a picture of near-complete confusion. Perhaps the best example is Trump in April praising Egyptian president Sisi for doing "a fantastic job," followed in August by a substantial cut in U.S. aid – and which the Egyptians only learned about by reading a Reuters dispatch! While the contradiction can be explained, it confirms the chaos.
Other examples of ambiguity: whether to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, whether to rip up the Iran deal, whether to stand with the Saudis et al. against Qatar, and whether to fight Hizbullah or provide it with free weapons. Obviously, this record does not encourage confident predictions.
VE: In October, Trump will have to take one of his most important decisions: whether to continue certifying Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal reached in 2015. He opposes it but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson believes the U.S. should stay in the deal and hold Tehran accountable, including its acting as "a good neighbor." Given Iran's support for foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, its support for proxies, including arm shipments, which option would best induce Iran to act as a "good neighbor" - re-certification, declaring Iran non-compliant, or something else?
DP: I favor tearing up the JCPOA. (By the way, what exactly is a "plan of action"?) As Trump said, it is "the worst deal ever negotiated." Or, as I say, it is the worst foreign deal in American history. But, as with Obamacare, it's easier to rail against the prior president's two major accomplishments than to undo them.
VE: Do you expect that Washington will take tougher actions against Iran?
DP: Lacking a philosophical basis for his views and actions, Trump responds to immediate stimuli, making him notoriously difficult to predict. If the Iranians appease him, no. If they anger him, yes.
Incidentally, I find it curious that several Middle East actors in addition to Tehran (ISIS, the Palestinian Authority) ignore this basic insight about Trump and openly defy him, at their risk. In contrast, Saudi Arabia's Mohammad bin Salman and Israel's Binyamin Netanyahu have him figured out.
VE: How do you assess U.S. policy toward the Qatar crisis?
DP: The president went off on his own tangent (full-throated support for Riyadh) while the foreign policy establishment pulled another way (low-profile mediation). It appears the establishment view has prevailed.
VE: What do you make of the current visit to the Middle East by a White House delegation led by presidential adviser Jared Kushner?
DP: It's a ritualistic act of diplomacy that will be quickly forgotten.
VE: Is there a possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
DP: Yes, but only when Palestinians recognize that the Jewish state is permanent and stop trying to harm it. When this happens, both parties will gain. Israelis won't get murdered at pizzerias; Palestinians can begin to build their polity, economy, society, and culture.
II. Erdoğan's Foreign Policy
VE: Israel and Turkey exchanged ambassadors in late 2016 after a six-year rupture. What are the challenges to the full normalization of Turkey-Israel relations?
DP: Full normalization is impossible so long as Turkey's government uses Israel as an instrument to whip up Islamist antisemitism.
Turkey's President Erdoğan (top right) and Israel's President Rivlin (bottom right) with, respectively, the new Israeli and Turkish ambassadors In December 2016. Which national pair looks happier?
VE: The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will hold a referendum on independence on Sep. 25, 2017. Why does the Trump administration ask the KRG to postpone the vote until at least after the Iraqi national elections in April 2018?
DP: The State Department stated in June its concern that the referendum will distract from "more urgent priorities" such as the defeat of ISIS. To me, that's not a reason (I don't even want ISIS to disappear because, horrid as it is, it holds off Iranian expansion, which is yet more threatening).
Although I support Kurdish independence and a single, grand Kurdish state, I see the referendum as a danger to all concerned by further unsettling a highly unstable region, perhaps provoking any of Turkish, Iranian, or Iraqi central government invasions of the KRG, perhaps leading to a confrontation between U.S. and Russian forces.
VE: Ankara wants the KRG to cancel the referendum. If the KRG refuses, how will the referendum affect Turkish-KRG relations?
DP: It could lead the Republic of Turkey to diminish economic ties and might even lead to a Turkish invasion.
VE: How will it affect Turkey's relations with the Kurds of Turkey and Syria?
DP: I expect Ankara to crack down even harder on its Kurdish citizens and to become more aggressive towards the Kurds of Syria.
VE: During a rare visit to NATO-member Turkey by Iran's military chief of staff two weeks ago, Turkish and Iranian military leaders discussed counterterrorism and cooperation in Syria; does this signal a strategic rapprochement between the two governments?
DP: I doubt it. As I just wrote in a historical review of the two countries' relations, "the Idlib accord looks flimsy and transient. Tehran and Ankara will probably soon turn against each other and with renewed vigor continue their perpetual rivalry."
VE: Will their improved relations trigger a further deterioration in U.S.-Turkish ties?
DP: For sure. A NATO member purchasing a major defense system from Russia, jointly exercising with China, and coordinating with Iran? To Americans, Turkey looks a lot more like adversary than ally.
VE: What do you make of Turkey's demands for extradition of Fethullah Gülen from the United States for his alleged role in the July 2016 coup attempt?
DP: The Turkish opposition calls it the "controlled" coup d'état in the sense that it "was foreseen, not prevented and benefited from" by Erdoğan and the ruling AK party; I agree with this description, in part because the Turkish government has systematically resisted an independent inquiry into the coup.
Turning to Gülen: [Gülen%20kerry%20extradition]U.S. government sources have indicated that Ankara has not produced evidence of his complicity in, much less his leadership of, the coup attempt. Accordingly, I dismiss this accusation as the usual Erdoğan puffery and deceit.

Iran In First Year Of Trump Administration, Second Year Of Historic Nuclear Deal: Regional Expansion, Religious War With No Political Boundaries, 'Death To America,' And Show of Readiness To Confront U.S. Militarily As Supra-Regional Power
By: A. Savyon and Yigal Carmon and U. Kafash*
MEMRI/August 28, 2017
Inquiry & Analysis Series No.1333
The Great Reversal: The U.S. vs. Iran – From Might And Deterrence To Weakness And Retreat
Within three months, the U.S.'s position in the Middle East has changed from one of might and deterrence against Iran to one of weakness, retreat, and being deterred by Iran. This situation, of course, in no way reflects the real balance of power between the U.S. and Iran, neither generally nor regionally. It is an image created jointly by President Trump's policies and Iran's offensive approach.
In the first three months of Trump's term, Tehran was apprehensive about what his Iran policy would be. It significantly dialed back its provocations – both its verbal threats and its naval forays against U.S. vessels in the Gulf – and even cancelled the launch of a ballistic missile, removing the missile from its launching pad on the eve of Iran's Revolution Day on February 10, after the Trump administration announced that Iran was being "put on notice."[1]
Three months later, Iran has changed its approach: It is stepping up its naval provocations; its anti-U.S. discourse is again in evidence – including the "Death to America" chant; and its verbal threats against the U.S. are increasing. Additionally, the same missile which was taken off the launching pad last February was launched on July 27, 2017, in disregard of the U.S.'s warning.[2]
The naïve expectations of President Trump, that, as with a business deal, a positive approach on his part would be met with an equally positive approach, yielded the opposite. Like what happened with President Obama – whose experience President Trump ignored – Iran reacted to the U.S.'s positive policy with more hostility and aggression. The Iranians have interpreted both presidents' approach as weakness, and stepped up their antagonism to the U.S., including threats and chants of "Death to America." Moreover, they have used the Trump approach as an opportunity to advance their regional expansion and the ideology of exporting the Islamic Revolution.[3]
It is the approach of the Trump administration – which has agreed to Iran's regional expansion, under the cover of the war on ISIS – that has prompted this huge shift in the attitude of Iran, which also is relying on Russian backing.
What Happened In Recent Months That Led To This Huge Reversal?
During this time, the Trump administration has changed its approach towards Iran: While the discourse remained confrontational, the actual political moves reflected a clear attempt to advance understandings with Iran, thus continuing President Obama's policy. National Iranian American Council director and head of the unofficial Iranian lobby in Washington Trita Parsi also noted this, saying: "Prior to the revelation of Trump's Iran certification meltdown, most analysts and diplomats believed that Trump's rhetoric on Iran was just that – empty talk. His bark was worse than his bite, as demonstrated when he certified Iran's compliance back in April and when he renewed sanctions waivers in May. The distance between his rhetoric and actual policy was tangible. Rhetorically, Trump officials described Iran as the root of all problems in the Middle East and as the greatest state sponsor of terror. Trump even suggested he might quit the deal. In action, however, President Trump continued to waive sanctions and admitted that Iran was adhering to the deal. As a result, many concluded that Trump would continue to fulfill the obligations of the deal while sticking to his harsh rhetoric in order to appease domestic opponents of the nuclear deal – as well as Trump's allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel."[4]
The Washington Post's August 20, 2017 editorial too, while expressing concern that Trump is planning to pull out of the JCPOA, also noted his practical conciliatory moves towards Iran: "Despite much heated rhetoric, the Trump administration is doing little to counter Iranian aggression. In Syria, its strategy of striking deals with Russia has opened the way for Tehran’s forces to establish control over a corridor between Damascus and Baghdad. In Afghanistan, Iran is steadily building a strategic position even as President Trump balks at a plan to strengthen U.S. support for the Afghan government. In Yemen, the United States enables its Persian Gulf allies to pursue an unwinnable proxy war with Tehran whose main result has been the world’s worst humanitarian crisis... Yet perversely, Mr. Trump is matching his passivity toward Iran’s regional meddling with an apparent determination to torpedo the nuclear pact."
What Were Trump's Conciliatory Steps Towards Iran?
- In April and July 2017, the Trump administration sent Congress a letter confirming that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. The IAEA reports reflected, and will also in future reflect, the results of inspecting only the nuclear sites that were declared by Iran, and at those sites Iran has apparently complied with the JCPOA. However, the Trump administration totally ignored the fact that the JCPOA does not allow the IAEA to conduct inspections in any other location, including military sites (which in the past were used for secret nuclear military activity), and therefore IAEA certification is meaningless, since it reflects inspection only where Iran allows it. It appears that neither President Trump nor his national security team have read the JCPOA, and that they do not know that the agreement, designed by President Obama, does not allow real inspections in Iran. Indeed, had they been familiar with the limitations imposed by the JCPOA on inspections, they would not have requested that IAEA to conduct inspections in military facilities, as did U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley during her August 23 visit to IAEA headquarters in Vienna. The Trump administration's silence about the impossibility of real inspection because of the terms of the JCPOA is a clear cover-up for the Obama administration. It should be stressed that had the Trump administration demanded a change in the terms of inspection, such a change would not have constituted a change in the essence of the JCPOA, which is the lifting of the nuclear sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran's temporary and targeted suspension of some of its nuclear activities.[5] Therefore, it seems that Trump's much-celebrated public demand in the media that his national security team bring him, by October 2017, evidence of Iranian violations without any change in the terms of inspections which preclude doing so is nothing but a broadly announced alibi for not demanding a change in the terms of inspection. In October, Trump will have to say that as much as he wanted to act against the JCPOA, his national security team brought him no evidence that would allow him to do so, and that as a result his hands are tied and he must recertify the JCPOA. The intelligence agencies will be blamed, and nothing will be said about President Trump's failure to demand a change in the ridiculous terms of inspection – which are not even of his own making, but are inherited from Obama.
Moreover, even if Trump's national security team does provide the president with intelligence information about violations by Iran, the JCPOA imposes a process of verification which precludes practical action against Iran. Trump can, of course, on the basis of such intelligence, act unilaterally, disregarding the JCPOA, the P5+1, and the UN Security Council, and do whatever he sees fit. But as long as he wants to act according to the agreement and in coordination with the P5+1 and the Security Council, he is obliged to deal with this intelligence as specified in the JCPOA – which makes the intelligence useless.[6]
In response to Ambassador Haley's visit to the IAEA, several Iranian officials stated that the U.S.'s policy is chaotic, that the Americans are not familiar with the agreement, and that Section 74 of Annex 1 of the JCPOA does not allow the ambassador to demand this of IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano. Hassan Firouzabadi, senior military advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and former Iranian armed forces chief of staff said, on August 27: "The U.S. representative to the UN, Haley, is lying when she claims that the JCPOA allows visits to military sites in Iran, because the JCPOA does not allow this... It is best that America stop inciting [against Iran]. Trump is seeking, with this puppet show, to distract the world from the racist conflicts in America." Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Salehi said, also on August 27: "The framework of the cooperation with the IAEA is set in advance, and cannot be changed. We will not submit to the excessive demands of certain governments, and will not allow foreigners entrance into places defined as forbidden by the JCPOA."[7]
- In April 2017, the Trump administration also endorsed the G7 Statement on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, which states that the G7 countries support the JCPOA as "an important contribution to the [nuclear] non-proliferation regime."[8]
- On April 18, 2017, after his highly confrontational anti-Iran speech, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that there would be a comprehensive review, by all branches of the administration, of the U.S.'s Iran policy – for which no official concluding deadline has been given. This review, which would appear to be unnecessary considering how Tillerson depicted Iran in his speech, has in effect stalled Senate bill S.722 – Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.[9]
- The administration has refrained from designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) a terror organization, following Iranian pressure.
- President Trump made a public statement at the May 2017 Riyadh conference that the U.S.'s allies should not expect the U.S. to act for them: "America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them."[10]
- President Trump legitimized Iran's expansion into Syria and in fact all the way to the Mediterranean by accepting the Russia-Turkey agreement, the De-Escalation Zones Plan, in Syria. Illustrating this was the June 2017 statement by the spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition, Col. Ryan Dillon, who said that the U.S.'s goal is to defeat ISIS wherever it exists. He added that if others, including the Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian allies, want to fight the extremists as well, then "we absolutely have no problem with that."[11]
- According to Iranian officials, Iran and the U.S. have exchanged messages about the status of the IRGC in other matters (see MEMRI reports).[12]
Changes In The Political Arena In Iran And Region Have Also Contributed To The Great Reversal
Prominent pragmatic camp leader Hashemi Rafsanjani's disappearance from the political scene, with his death in January 2017, as well as the military victories of the IRGC and its local Shi'ite militias in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen in recent months, have strengthened the ideology and consolidated the path of the camp headed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, pushing it ahead of the pragmatic camp. It would be a mistake to interpret Hassan Rohani's May 2017 electoral win as a victory for the pragmatic camp, which has in the past been critical of the policy of regional expansion led by the IRGC. This is because the position of President Rohani and his camp has shifted, and they have recently expressed their full support for this expansion. They are mending their relationship with the IRGC and doing everything they can to defend the IRGC against the U.S. administration and to prevent it from being designated a terror organization.
Rohani's second presidential term marks the pragmatic camp's new direction in the Iranian political arena, as it now unhesitatingly accepts the policy of regional expansion that is led by Khamenei by means of the IRGC – and is even advancing it. Thus, Rohani's reelection constitutes a victory for the ideological camp headed by Khamenei, as Rohani becomes increasingly subordinate to both and does their bidding.
Several IRGC commanders, including Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, IRGC commander Ali Jafari, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Brig.-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Basij commander Gholam-Hossein Gheibparvar, and Gen. Kothari met with Rohani on July 24, 2017. It was reported that Rohani thanked the IRGC for its efforts and said that it must preserve "unity" and strengthen the military might of the IRGC and the Iranian Army.[13]
At his August inauguration, Rohani gave his "nuclear speech," in which he announced that the U.S. needed to know that if it continues its violations of the JCPOA, Iran can, "within hours," restart its nuclear program, even at a more advanced stage than where it was prior to the JCPOA.[14]
Future Trends – Assessment
According to the discourse of Iranian regime officials, including both members of the Iranian armed forces and the ayatollahs, it appears that the regional expansion of Iran has become the main goal of the Iranian regime during Trump's presidency, including a declared readiness to confront the U.S., strengthening its own and its allies' military readiness, and openly endorsing supra-regional goals. This was expressed, for example, in speeches by Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and deputy IRGC commander Hossein Salami, and in statements by Ayatollah Alam Alhoda, who is close to Khamenei:
Qods Force commander Soleimani said on August 20, 2017 at the World Mosque Day conference in Iran: "Thank God, today Iran enjoys real might that cannot be harmed. It is unprecedented in Iran's history that it will have such might, that will manage to merge two ideologies – the Shi'a and the Sunna...
"When we intervened to defend the Iraqi people, we never differentiated between Iran's interests and Iraq's interests. We defined the interests of the Iraqi people as our own... We didn't say that if Palestine did not declare [itself] Shi'ite we would not support it. The Palestinians are 99.99% Sunni, but we defend them.
"Iran is the factor in the stabilization of the region... ISIS has created a state that was bigger than Iraq or Syria, and called it the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham [Syria], [but] God has determined that our state [Iran] will be the center of the Islamic world, and will be responsible for instating stability in the region..."[15]
IRGC deputy commander Hossein Salami said at a conference of IRGC Navy commanders and directors on July 18, 2017: "The political geography of the Islamic Revolution is expanding. The conditions of power in the world are changing in light of the sphere of influence, the atmosphere of development, and the role shown by Iran's sympathizers in the region.
"The spread of the political geography of the Islamic Revolution is increasingly marginalizing the classical political and imperialist control. Once, the countries were under enemy security, political, economic, and intelligence control. But today, they have become great arenas of fighting, [in which we fight] against our enemies.
"A great structure of power is coming into being, inspired by the Islamic Revolution. This power can struggle against distant countries that are the enemies of Islam, can stop them, can divert them, and can destroy them.
"Our power has global legitimacy. Today, the enemies officially recognize this capability of ours, and treat it like something special, like a superpower...
"Today, our strategy is steadfastness that is active, not passive; we are both advancing and expanding the region of our power. We are further developing our area of activity, enlarging its quantity and quality, and also improving the technical capability of our [fighting] apparatuses..."[16]
At a ceremony commemorating IRGC fighter Mohsen Hojaji, who was beheaded recently by ISIS, Salami said: "Today, the geography of the jihad knows no national borders. Our [i.e. Iran's] borders are the borders of [Islamic] ideology and jihad. We must trap the enemy outside the borders, bury his policy, and send his wishes to the graveyard. With young revolutionary believers [such as we have], no power – not even one with might equaling that of America – can defeat us...
"Today, in the regional equation, America is marginalized... We are not concerned about the sanctions, because the leader [Khamenei] and the rest of the officials are united as never before, and they have decided to stand against the enemy on the first front of the fighting and to force him to accept Iran's unrestrained might...
"When we control the Persian Gulf, will the world be able to besiege us? And when we can fight any naval force, can the world speak to us in the language of threats? We have succeeded in transferring the war from Karcheh and Karun [in Iran] to the eastern Mediterranean and to the Red Sea."[17]
Ayatollah Alam Alhoda, who is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said at the tomb of Imam Reza, the eighth imam in Twelver Shi'a, in Mashhad on August 18, 2017: "The forces going out from here are in fact the emissaries of the Imam Reza, who come to the battlefront of Islam in order to fight global unbelief. Today, Iraq, Syria, and the Mediterranean shores are no longer considered regions outside Iran's borders. The battlefront of Islam was created here. The forces going out to defend the holy places, and giving their lives at the battlefront, are in effect the emissaries of the Imam Reza, who come to Iraq and Syria in order to expand the religion...
"Oh filthy arrogant ones [i.e. Americans, people of the Global Arrogance], you have tried to make Iran the abode of corruption and licentiousness; you have attacked us in order to strip our nation of its cultural identity and pollute our young people with various types of moral corruption. You wanted to strip the religion from our young people, with [your] immodesty, immorality, and prostitution... [But] this is our generation, [that calls] 'Death to America'... Oh brothers and sisters, today, Mashhad and Khorasan are considered the direction of prayer in Islam, and the site of the [tomb of] the Imam Reza is considered the Ka'aba of Islam in the world."[18]
* A. Savyon is director of the MEMRI Iran Studies Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI; U. Kafash is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.
[1] This was due to the sense of besiegement and threat developing against Iran and in light of its fear of the formation of a U.S.-Russia-Arab front. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1305, Facing Trump Administration, Iran Shows Fear And Military Self-Restraint, Halts Provocations, Threats, And Incitement – While Boosting Morale At Home And Delegating The Bulk Of Conflict To Its Proxies, March 20, 2017.
[2] See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6958, IRGC Navy General: 'Think Of 300 Fast Boats Armed With Weapons And Katyusha [Rockets] Approaching [An Aircraft Carrier] At 130 Km/Hr – Who Will Win?', June 12, 2017 and MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1320, Resistance Axis Forces Directly Threaten U.S.: We Are On The Brink Of War On Syria-Iraq Border; The U.S. Will Pay Dearly If It Acts Against Us In Syria, June 14, 2017.
[3] Also vis-à-vis Afghanistan, the Trump administration is showing a similar naïve approach, which reassures the Iranian leadership that it understands Trump's moves very well, and that it can continue its aggressive approach. This is because while the administration announced that it was sending another 4,000 American troops there to "fight to win," although these additional troops cannot bring about any military victory, and while Trump is also reiterating that ever since his election campaign his basic approach has been that the U.S. must withdraw from Afghanistan, Secretary of State Tillerson is explaining that this step is just a threat aimed at obtaining the Taliban's consent to negotiations for a solution to the crisis. It seems that U.S. policymakers have not even the smallest grasp of how to manage political and strategic affairs, and that they are counting on one outcome in a place where it is elementary that the opposite outcome will occur, just as happened vis-vis Iran, both during the Obama administration and now during the Trump administration. Additionally, the messages that are coming from the U.S. State Department are different from those coming from the White House. Tasnim, Iran, August 20, 2017.
[4] Trita Parsi, "The Mask Is Off: Trump Is Seeking War with Iran,", July 28, 2017.
[5] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1325, Discussion Of Iranian Violations Of JCPOA Is Futile; The Inspection Procedure Designed By The Obama Administration Precludes Actual Inspection And Proof Of Violations, August 18, 2017. Several supporters of the JCPOA in the U.S. fear, due to an incorrect assessment of President Trump's policy, that he is about to exit the JCPOA, and are proposing that negotiations be held with Iran to extend the agreement's duration. For example, The Washington Post recently discovered, suddenly, that there is a weakness in the agreement, and explained in its August 21, 2017 editorial that this weakness lies its short duration – not in its failure to provide any possibility of conducting real inspections – and proposed that such negotiations be launched. The truth is that the main problem with the JCPOA is that its inspection procedure precludes actual inspection, in light of the fact that the file of Iran's PMDs was closed by political decision after the inspection of the Parchin site was carried out by the Iranians themselves as IAEA observers looked on, and when it was impossible to know where the samples provided to them by Iran were taken from. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA's PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 26, 2015 and Special Dispatch No. 6113, Atomic Energy Organization Of Iran Chief Ali Akbar Salehi: We Have Reached An Understanding With The IAEA On The PMD, Now Political Backing Exists And The Results Will Be Very Positive, July 22, 2015.
[6] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1325, Discussion Of Iranian Violations Of JCPOA Is Futile; The Inspection Procedure Designed By The Obama Administration Precludes Actual Inspection And Proof Of Violations, August 18, 2017.
[7] Tasnim (Iran), August 27, 2017. Also, Abbas Aslani, director-general of the foreign policy department at the Tasnim news agency, which, is close to the IRGC, said in an August 27 television interview that "Section 74 of the first annex of the JCPOA" does not allow inspection that is not "in good faith." Tasnim, Iran, August 27, 2017.
[8], April 10-11, 2017.
[9] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1314, Iran Tests The Trump Administration, May 8, 2017.
[11], June 23, 2017.
[12] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1322, At This Stage, The Trump Administration Consents To Iran's Regional Expansion, Exchanges Messages Seeking An Understanding With Iran; Qatar Crisis, Escalation Of Conflict Between Iran And Its Axis And Saudi-Sunni Camp Are Outcome Of U.S.'s Incoherent Dual Policy, June 29, 2017, and MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1317, Iran's Presidential Election And The Trump Administration's Emerging Shift Towards The Iranian Regime, June 2, 2017.
[13], Iran, July 24, 2017.
[14] It should be further noted that the new sanctions on Iran by the U.S. administration in July 2017 were defined by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and senior negotiating team official Abbas Araghchi himself as follows: "He [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] stressed that every new law, even [one passed] on the pretext of human rights, constitutes a violation [of the JCPOA]. At this time there are no new sanctions; people have only been added to the list. With regard to the question of whether this matter is considered a new sanction, I spoke with the [Iran's] supervisory team [for the JCPOA] and they did not have that impression." Tasnim (Iran), July 30, 2017.
[15] Tasnim (Iran), August 20. 2017.
[16] Fars (Iran), July 18, 2017.
[17] Tasnim (Iran), August 14, 2017.
[18], August 18, 2017.
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