December 12/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right
Ephesians 06/01-09: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Question: "Is the Bible relevant for today?" Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” While the Bible was completed approximately 1900 years ago, its accuracy and relevance for today remain unchanged. The Bible is the sole objective source of all the revelation God has given us about Himself and His plan for humanity. The Bible contains a great deal of information about the natural world that has been confirmed by scientific observations and research. Some of these passages include Leviticus 17:11; Ecclesiastes 1:6-7; Job 36:27-29; Psalm 102:25-27 and Colossians 1:16-17. As the Bible’s story of God’s redemptive plan for humanity unfolds, many different characters are vividly described. In those descriptions, the Bible provides a great deal of information about human behavior and tendencies. Our own day-to-day experience shows us that this information is more accurate and descriptive of the human condition than any psychology textbook. Many historical facts recorded in the Bible have been confirmed by extra-biblical sources. Historical research often shows a great deal of agreement between biblical accounts and extra-biblical accounts of the same events. However, the Bible is not a history book, a psychology text, or a scientific journal. The Bible is the description God gave us about who He is, and His desires and plans for humanity. The most significant component of this revelation is the story of our separation from God by sin and God’s provision for restoration of fellowship through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. Our need for redemption does not change. Neither does God’s desire to reconcile us to Himself.
The Bible contains a great deal of accurate and relevant information. The Bible’s most important message—redemption—is universally and perpetually applicable to humanity. God’s Word will never be outdated, superseded, or improved upon. Cultures change, laws change, generations come and go, but the Word of God is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Not all of Scripture necessarily applies explicitly to us today, but all Scriptures contain truth that we can, and should, apply to our lives today.
Recommended Resource: The Quest Study Bible

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 11-12/17
Open Letter to Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil/Elie Aoun/December 11/17
The Debate Is Not Over – Dissociation Vs Hezbollah’s Regional Ambitions/Jean AbiNader/American Task Force for Lebanon/December 11, 2017
Seven years after the Arab Spring, what has happened to calls for positive change/Michael Young/The National/December 11/2017
The Cost of Devaluing Women/Sallie Krawcheck/The New York Times/December 11/17
Four Scenes from a Region in Turmoil/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/December 11/17
President Trump: The Courage to Act/Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/December 11/17
Firebombing Jewish Children in Sweden/Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/December 11/17
Bangladesh: Runaway Muslim Persecution of Hindus/Mohshin Habib/Gatestone Institute/December 11/17
A Saudi-UAE alliance to maintain Gulf security/Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/December 11/2017
On the road to Jerusalem/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/December 11/2017
Bitcoin: Is it the future of currency/Rashid bin Mohammed Al-Fawzan/Al Arabiya/December 11/2017
US embassy to Jerusalem: The Aftermath/Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/December 11/2017
Will Iran’s Expansionist Scheme Fail?/Rahim Hamid/Clarion Project/December 11, 2017

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on December 11-12/17
Tens of Thousands Rally in Dahieh in Support of Palestinians
Aoun Says Trump's Decision Violates UN Resolutions
Aoun receives letter from Abbas thanking him for his positions in support of Palestine
Berri tackles developments with Ein Teeneh itinerants
ESC Votes for New Head, Hariri Hails Move as Govt Achievement
Nasrallah Says 'Axis of Resistance' to Focus on Palestine, Urges '3rd Intifada'
Geagea Urges Hizbullah to Emulate Moqtada al-Sadr
Kataeb: State sovereignty violated by armed militias in South Lebanon, rioters in Awkar
Jreissati requests of Hammoud to sue Assaad Abu Khalil
Machnouk launches 'Lebanon Votes 2018' slogan, says Interior Ministry totally ready for elections
Hariri: The Economic and Social Council is one of the pillars of the modern state
Reports: Khazali's Visit an 'Iranian Message'
South Korean Special Envoy Arrives in Beirut
Sarraf receives Ambassador of Spain
State Security arrests Syrian affiliated to Daesh

Titles For
Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 11-12/17
US Vice President Pence responds to Palestinian refusal to hold meeting
Putin Orders Partial Pullout of Russian Forces from Syria
On Mideast Trip, Putin Orders Partial Russia Troop Pullout from Syria
Egypt to sign contracts for nuclear power plant during Putin’s visit
Tense Meeting between Macron, Netanyahu due to Trump’s Jerusalem Decision
Macron to Netanyahu: I disagree with Trump’s decision on Jerusalem
Sisi, Abbas Hold Summit to Discuss Jerusalem Crisis
Syrian Regime, Allies Mobilize in 'Death Triangle'
Houthis Kill Dozens in Northern Yemen
ICC reports Jordan to UN Security Council for not arresting Sudan's Bashir
'Terror' Bomber Strikes NY Subway, Three Hurt
Kazakhstan to Hold New Syria Talks Next Week
Jordan Parliament to Review Peace Treaty with Israel
Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Cinemas
Kuwait Ruler Names Son Defense Minister in New Cabinet

Latest Lebanese Related News published on December 11-12/17
Tens of Thousands Rally in Dahieh in Support of Palestinians
Agence France Presse/Associated Press/Naharnet/December 11/17/LebanonTens of thousands of people have turned out for a Hizbullah rally in Beirut's southern suburbs that was called to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The rally on Monday, one of several large demonstrations recently held across the Middle East to protest the move, was called by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. The protesters marched through the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hizbullah stronghold, waving flags and chanting in support of the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. The demonstrators also chanted "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" in protest over Trump's decision. "Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Palestine" and "Jerusalem is Ours", read some of the banners carried during the rally. "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine and will be until Judgement Day," said Iman Ghadboun, 28, attending the protest with her seven-year-old daughter. The rally came a day after a violent protest organized by leftist and pan-Arabist Lebanese and Palestinian factions near the U.S. Embassy in Awkar, where security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at rowdy protesters who pelted them with stones.

Aoun Says Trump's Decision Violates UN Resolutions
Naharnet/December 11/17/President Michel Aoun said on Monday that US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital violates the entire UN resolutions. “Trump's decision on Jerusalem is a big mistake that violates resolutions of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly,” Aoun's media office quoted the president as saying on twitter. On an Islamic summit to be held on Wednesday in Istanbul, Aoun said he will “ask Muslim leaders to take necessary decisions to preserve the Arab identity of Jerusalem, the city of all divine religions.”Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan has invited leaders of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states to convene on December 13 to discuss the US move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The OIC meeting aims to display a joint action and coordination among Muslim countries against US President Donald Trump's move.

Aoun receives letter from Abbas thanking him for his positions in support of Palestine
Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, on Monday received a letter from Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, conveyed to him by Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Dabour.
In his letter, the Palestinian President thanked Aoun for his positions in support of the Palestinian cause.

Berri tackles developments with Ein Teeneh itinerants
Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, received on Monday a delegation representing the Ukrainian-Lebanese Parliamentary Friendship Group, headed by Deputy Sergei Sobolev and Ukraine's Ambassador to Lebanon, Ihor Ostash. Talks reportedly touched on the most recent developments, as well as on the best means to bolster Ukrainian -Lebanese Parliamentary ties. On another level, President Berri met head of Lebanon Bar Association Andre Chidiac. Among Ein el Teeneh visitors have also been Beirut Maronite archbishop, Mgr. Boulos Matar, the high committee of Catholic schools, and the consul of Lebanon in Detroit, Suzane Mozi.

ESC Votes for New Head, Hariri Hails Move as Govt Achievement
Naharnet/December 11/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Monday that elections of the Economic and Social Council of Lebanon, revived in October after 15 years of suspension, constitute a new achievement for the government. “The government has placed the reactivation of its institutions at the top of priorities. Electing Charles Arbid as chairperson of the council is an additional government achievement,” said Hariri. “We still have many challenges ahead of us. Many economic difficulties face us and we have to cooperate to find solutions,” added Hariri. On Monday, Arbid has won by acclamation the chairmanship of the Economic and Social Council. Arbid has good ties with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri's adviser, Nader Hariri, reports say. In October, the Cabinet appointed 71 new members on the Economic and Social Council of Lebanon, reviving it after 15 years of suspension. The Council is comprised of 12 women representing 17% of the total number of members.

Nasrallah Says 'Axis of Resistance' to Focus on Palestine, Urges '3rd Intifada'
Naharnet/December 11/17/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced Monday that the “axis of resistance” in the region will once again focus its attention on the Palestinian cause, as he urged Palestinians to launch a “third intifada” against Israel. “I'm not speaking on behalf of Hizbullah but on behalf of the entire axis of resistance. The countries of the axis of resistance are emerging victorious, strong and firm from the crisis of the past years, despite the wounds and the pains. This axis is defeating all the takfiri tools and today the axis of resistance will once again make Jerusalem and Palestine its top priority,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech during a mass Hizbullah rally condemning U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He called on “all resistance factions in the region” and “all those who believe in resistance” to communicate and gather to “devise a plan to confront the aggression.”“Let us lay out a unified confrontation strategy so that we all confront under a clear and unified strategy. Let us devise a practical and operational plan in which roles would be distributed and efforts would be integrated in this grand confrontation. We in Hizbullah will fully perform our responsibilities in this regard,” Nasrallah said. Commenting on Trump's decision Hizbullah's leader stated: “In the face of this blatant American-Zionist aggression against Jerusalem, the holy sites and the nation, we reiterate our stance and commitment until victory or martyrdom.”He said Arab and Islamic governments “must immunize the stances of the European nations that have rejected Trump's decision.”Nasrallah cautioned “anyone counting on the U.S.” to “realize that it is not a sponsor of peace in the region but rather the creator of Daesh (Islamic State group) and the sponsor of terror, occupation and sedition.”“The Palestinian Authority should not negotiate with Israel before Trump reverses his decision,” Hizbullah's chief urged. He also noted that “the most important response to Trump's hostile decision should be the declaration of a third intifada across the occupied Palestinian territories.”Trump's controversial announcement has prompted global diplomatic alarm and street protests across the Islamic world. Tens of thousands of protesters took part in Monday's Hizbullah-organized rally in Beirut's southern suburbs.

Geagea Urges Hizbullah to Emulate Moqtada al-Sadr
Naharnet/December 11/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Monday called on Hizbullah, without naming it, to emulate influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, the leader of a militia that fought against U.S. forces in Iraq and later against the Islamic State group. “I wish those we have in Lebanon would emulate Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr, who ordered the disbanding of (the) Saraya al-Salam (militia) once the war on IS ended,” Geagea tweeted, in an apparent reference to Hizbullah. Earlier in the day, al-Sadr had ordered Saraya al-Salam to hand over its weapons to the Iraqi government “as soon as possible,” in a speech marking the end of the anti-IS war. Geagea's remarks also come a day after the circulation of a video showing alleged members of Saraya al-Salam in south Lebanon. The date on which the video was filmed is still unclear but its social media spread follows the circulation of a similar video showing the commander of Iran-backed Iraqi group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazali, in a tour on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Kataeb: State sovereignty violated by armed militias in South Lebanon, rioters in Awkar
Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - Kataeb Party Political Bureau held its regular weekly meeting on Monday under the Party's deputy head, Joseph Abu Khalil. Talks reportedly touched on the latest developments at the local and regional scenes. In line with Awkar riots, Kataeb issued in the wake of the meeting a stern warning to the Lebanese political authority "not" to ignore the seriousness of these acts. "These acts have nothing to do with al-Quds cause, and the result is an outright violation of the sovereignty of the state and its laws. These acts will only wind up exacting the Lebanese people with a dear price at the expense of their security, stability, and livelihood," Kataeb's statement said. Also, the party warned that the appearance of armed Iraqi and Afghan militias in south Lebanon under the auspices of Hezbollah, without the permission of the army leadership and the competent authorities, provoked a new violation of the state's sovereignty. Kataeb finally warned of "the transformation of the Lebanese political power into a security rule that drags the country back to the dark periods of Lebanon's history."

Jreissati requests of Hammoud to sue Assaad Abu Khalil
Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - Minister of Justice, Salim Jreissati, on Monday requested of State Prosecutor, Judge Samir Hammoud, to take legal action Lebanese journalist Assad Abu Khalil, in accordance with Article 157 of the Military Court, annexed to article 209 of the Criminal Code. Last Friday, Abu Khalil, who writes for Al-Akhbar daily, accused via his Twitter account the Lebanese Army Command of treason and requested the disarmament of the Army troops so that only the weapons of "Hezbollah" remain. "Shame on the Lebanese army that meets Israeli army officers at a time when the Arab street rumbles about Jerusalem. We call for the disarmament of the troop so that only the weapons of the resistance remain," Abu Khalil tweeted.

Machnouk launches 'Lebanon Votes 2018' slogan, says Interior Ministry totally ready for elections
Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - Interior and Municipalities Minister, Nouhad Machnouk, launched on Monday "Lebanon Votes 2018" slogan, which will brand all the stages of the forthcoming legislative elections. Within this framework, the Minister chaired a regular meeting by senior officials that have been tasked to follow up on preparations underway for the impending round of Parliamentary elections. Discussions featured high on the logistical, administrative, and technical electoral means, as well as the required legal procedures during the electoral process inside and outside Lebanon. Participants agreed to provide voters with a new voting booth designed in accordance with modern international standards and said that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) would fund thousands of voting booths. For his part, Mashnouk confirmed that the Ministry of Interior was fully ready to hold elections on the scheduled date.

Hariri: The Economic and Social Council is one of the pillars of the modern state
Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - This is the speech delivered by the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri during his participation in the election today of the President and the bureau of the Economic and Social Council of Lebanon, in the Council building:
"I am very happy to be with you today to participate in the long-awaited election of the Economic and Social Council Bureau. This is an additional achievement for the "Restoring-confidence Government", the confidence we are working to restore in deeds not in words.
Our government has given the priority to reactivate the state's work with all its institutions, so I congratulate everyone and Lebanon on the launching of the Economic and Social Council. The Taef Agreement noted in its reformist provisions the establishment of the Economic and Social Council. It was no coincidence and came from a serious awareness of the importance of having a council in which the productive society (associations, trade unions, liberal professions, expatriates and civil society) is represented, accompany the work and reforms of the successive governments.
I am fully convinced that the Economic and Social Council is one of the pillars of the modern state. The constructive economic and social dialogue between the State and all members of the productive society is characteristic of democratic societies determined to advance and prosper.
We have a large and important workshop. It is a stage that requires the cooperation of all to promote the Lebanese economy and achieve economic development.
I hope that you will accompany us in the next stage. We need your expertise and look forward to dialogue and consultation with you on the future steps.
He added: I would also like to address the conference held in Paris with the aim of supporting Lebanon's political, security and economic stability.
What happened in Paris is the political support, and the security support will be through the quest for convening the Rome II Conference to support the Lebanese army and all military forces. An economic conference to support the Lebanese economy will also be held. Therefore, we have a great deal of work, and the Paris Conference was a roadmap for political, security and economic support.
You and I have a lot of work to do and the government will be very cooperative, whether the Prime Minister or the ministers. I would like to thank His Excellency President Michel Aoun, who was the driving force behind the launching of the Economic and Social Council. I would like to thank Speaker Nabih Berri for being a key supporter of this achievement.
Congratulations to you all. Today is a beginning. There is a lot of work and great challenges ahead. We are a country facing great economic problems and we must all cooperate to find the solutions that are needed.
Sometimes it will be difficult to make the right decisions, but we have a better future ahead hopefully."
Upon leaving the Economic and Social Council, Prime Minister Hariri replied to the questions of the reporters:
Question: Will there be a session of the Council of Ministers on Thursday?
Hariri: Hopefully.
Question: How is the relationship with the Lebanese Forces?
Hariri: The relationship is good and we want to bring the Lebanese together. Our main concern is that all political forces in Cabinet consider Lebanon's interests first. We are now going through a stage in which all the forces in the government have to disassociate themselves for the economy and the interests of Lebanon with its surroundings, the Arab and Gulf countries. We have to work positively and if there are some things that we disagree on we put them aside, because in the end our differences are affecting the economy, politics and several things. The main thing is to build on the pros, and things that need to be resolved. We are working to solve them together.
Question: What do you think about what happened in Awkar yesterday and the appearance of armed forces on the border?
Hariri: The appearance of armed elements is bad for the state, and the security forces must act decisively in this matter, and anyone who raises his weapon must pay the price. We are not in a banana republic. We are a state and whoever violates the law must pay for it. This is decisive for me. Whoever wants to peacefully demonstrate has the right to do so and the security forces must defend this right and the peaceful demonstration.
Yesterday, if it had been a 100% peaceful demonstration, the demonstrators would have been able to deliver their message to the whole world in a much better way. This is the message that we want to deliver, that we reject the American decision that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. On the contrary, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine and full stop.
Hariri then received at the Grand Serail the Canadian Ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuelle Lamoureux, and discussed with her the developments and bilateral relations between the two countries.
Hariri also chaired a meeting of the Ministerial Committee tasked with discussing the salaries scale for employees in public institutions that are not subject to Labor Law. The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health Ghassan Hasbani, Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, Minister of Education Marwan Hamade, Minister of Communications Jamal Jarrah, Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury, Minister of Energy and Water César Abi Khalil and the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Fouad Fleifel.

Reports: Khazali's Visit an 'Iranian Message'
Associated Press/Naharnet/December 11/17/Iran planned to deliver a message to world powers through a controversial visit paid by an Iran-backed Iraqi militant to Lebanon's border purporting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as “grasping control" in the region, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday. An unnamed opposition source told the daily that Qais al-Khazali's visit to south Lebanon “is an Iranian message to decision-making circles around the world purporting that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard controls political, security and military decisions in the region.”Khazali, a commander of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq, has visited the Lebanon-Israel border expressing support for the Lebanese and Palestinians against the Jewish state and sparking harsh criticism from Prime Minister Saad Hariri who ordered him banned from entering the country. The video was aired by Asaib Ahl al-Haq al-Ahd TV station Thursday night showing al-Khazali along with members of Hizbullah in military uniforms as they showed him around areas overlooking Israeli towns and villages. An-Nahar daily, said the video was not leaked by error and that it aimed to “translate” a speech delivered by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah when he said that “any Israeli aggression on the axis of resistance may open the skies for hundreds of thousands of jihadists and fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to be partners in this battle.”The visit was blasted by Prime Minister Saad Hariri who said in a statement that it is a "flagrant violation" of Lebanese laws, adding that the appearance happened six days ago. Hariri ordered al-Khazali banned from entering Lebanon again. A statement released by the Iraqi militia commented on the PM's statement saying “it carries a lot of contradictions,” and that the “visit came in accordance with the rules using Iraqi passports. The military uniform is an expression of solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinian people against the common enemy."Hariri's office said the prime minister contacted security officials to investigate the incident and prevent any person or group from carrying out any military activities on Lebanese territory.

South Korean Special Envoy Arrives in Beirut
Naharnet/December 11/17/A special envoy to South Korea's new president Moon Jae-in arrived in Beirut on Monday for talks with Lebanese officials, the National News Agency reported on Monday. The envoy was greeted at the Beirut airport by South Korean Ambassador to Lebanon Young Man Lee and a number of embassy staff and Lebanese Foreign Ministry representative Ziad Riachi, added NNA. The envoy later met with President Michel Aoun. He handed the President a message from the South Korean leader affirming willingness to establish firm bilateral relations between the two countries, Aoun's media office said on twitter.

Sarraf receives Ambassador of Spain
Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - Minister of Defense, Yaacoub Sarraf, received on Monday Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon, Jose Mariane Ferre de Lapina. Talks between the pair featured high on the best means to boost bilateral ties.

Ambassador of Netherlands visits Army chief
Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - Lebanese Army Commander-in-Chief, General Joseph Aoun, received in Yarzeh on Monday Minister of Telecommunications, Jamal Jarrah, and Minister Ali Qanso. The Army Chief also welcomed Jan Waltmans, the new Dutch Ambassador to Lebanon, accompanied by Military Attaché, Johan Careb Gerritsen.

State Security arrests Syrian affiliated to Daesh

Mon 11 Dec 2017/NNA - The General Directorate of Lebanon's State Security on Monday arrested in Qob Elias Syrian national (Kh. A) over affiliation to Daesh terrorist group. The detainee, nicknamed Abu Rayan, confessed to having been the deputy chief of the terrorist group's press office in Raqqa. He provided the terrorist group's radio station with security information and published it on "youtube". The intelligence branch of the army in Bekaa handed the terrorist to the military court.

Open Letter to Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil
رسالة مفتوحة من ايلي عون إلى وزير الخارجية جبران باسيل
Elie Aoun/December 11/17
I am writing regarding your speech at a meeting of foreign ministers at the Arab League in Cairo on December 10, 2017.
Firstly, you called for a “unified popular uprising” that “should not stop before the implementation of all the stipulations of the Arab League Initiative…” If that measure is implemented in Lebanon, could you please explain to us what would happen to Lebanese security and governance if “popular uprisings” take place on Lebanese soil and do not stop until the objective you mentioned is achieved, if it is achieved?
Secondly, you said that Arab countries are facing two choices: “Revolution or the death of a dormant nation.” In reality, a revolution (the type you are calling for) is death. Can you provide us with a list of “revolutions” which did not devour or betray their own, so that we can imitate them? Can you remind us about the outcome of the “Arab Spring” revolution?
If what you called for is beneficial and logical, would you be willing to initiate a revolution or an uprising from your hometown of Batroun to achieve the objective you mentioned? If not, why would you call for an action which you yourself will not implement?
Thirdly, you called for diplomatic, political, economic, and financial measures against the United States. Really? How specifically do you propose to accomplish that? Do you want the Lebanese Diaspora to join in that process? Would it be unpatriotic for a Lebanese-American or an Arab-American not to boycott the political, economic, and financial sectors in the United States?
Neither America nor Israel is an enemy, but the true rulers of America and Israel are an enemy. As a matter of fact, the best hope for the Arabs is for each Arab country to implement a similar form of a Bill of Rights and common-law principles upon which the United States was founded -- and which empowered the United States to become a superpower in less than 200 years. However, no Arab politician would explain that distinction to the people. Why? Who benefits when the Arabs (by deception and blind hatred) are made to hate that which is the most beneficial to them?
Mr. Foreign Minister, you are taking advantage of people’s anger to point them in a destructive path. It is certain that you aim to profit from their ignorance and that you do not care about them. The implementation of what you called for would be irresponsible, leading to disastrous implications. There are many constructive alternatives, but it would be a waste of time to elaborate on them since there are no good intentions to pursue constructive options. Those who want to be Palestinians more than the Palestinians are free to relocate to Gaza or the West Bank to launch any uprising, revolution, or sanctions they deem to be necessary. No one is restraining them from doing so. Those who believe in the Palestinian, Syrian, or Iranian cause have a Palestine, Syria, or Iran to go to, acquire their citizenship, and pursue their objectives. But those who believe in the Lebanese cause do not have another Lebanon to go to. Therefore, any non-Lebanese cause cannot be pursued from Lebanon. In the same manner that we, as patriotic Lebanese, respect their opinion to rally behind whatever cause they choose, they also have to respect our opinion when we rally behind the Lebanese cause and oppose anything that threaten the well-being of the country. Why would you want to pursue measures from Lebanon that would threaten it when you have available means to pursue those same measures from elsewhere without threatening Lebanon? If other territories do not permit you to go there and pursue those measures which you claim are for their benefit, why would you want to jeopardize Lebanon’s well-being to benefit them? Those who have ideals beyond the realms of Lebanese sovereignty have available to them other citizenships and territories from which to pursue those ideals. They have to preserve Lebanese territory solely for Lebanese ideals -- and go elsewhere wherever they are welcomed to pursue their regional bravado.

The Debate Is Not Over – Dissociation Vs Hezbollah’s Regional Ambitions
Jean AbiNader/American Task Force for Lebanon/December 11, 2017
Although the government of Lebanon agreed this week to a renewed commitment to dissociation, Hezbollah’s representatives said that it was nothing different in content from the previous Cabinet agreement and reserved the right to issue its own position. Importantly, the restatement enabled Prime Minister Saad Hariri to withdraw his resignation and take up his position in the government, which has a full agenda in advance of the May 2018 Parliamentary elections.
As a recent article by an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy put it, “Now that Hariri has returned to Lebanon and suspended his resignation, the question is no longer about him. Rather, it is how Iran will move beyond this hurdle to consolidate its achievements in Lebanon and the region.”
This is the obvious conundrum. Will Hezbollah continue to act as Iran’s proxy across the region and continue ramping up its military presence in Lebanon threatening Israel, or will it resume its Lebanese character and limit its ambitions to its home country? As the article points out, “When Hizballah decided to join Iran’s regional foreign legion, it was only a matter of time before Lebanon would be dragged with Hizballah to the regional confrontation. Now, any dialogue among the Lebanese people or possible resolution to nation’s crisis is going to be tied to regional negotiations over the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.”
To successfully navigate between its commitments, to Iran and Lebanon, Hezbollah will have to choose between continuing its involvement in Yemen and Iraq while advancing towards a more nuanced and evolving posture in Syria. In fact, Hezbollah could be helpful in working with the Lebanese government to reduce threats along the border as hostilities wind down, and provide pathways for solving the refugee presence in Lebanon and well as its participation in Syria’s reconstruction.
Analysts are offering two contradictory scenarios: the entire episode has strengthened Hariri’s hand and weakened Saudi Arabia, or weakened Hariri and strengthened Hezbollah. What is even murkier is how public opinion will morph from now until the 2018 Parliamentary elections.
And what are the Lebanese saying about this?
Implications of the Hariri crisis on the election results are very hard to predict. According to NDI, despite some naysayers, the new election law does not of itself favor Hezbollah. It puts more districts up for grabs, and Hezbollah may benefit because of its better organization. If enough young voters are mobilized in these competitive districts around capable candidates, the results may not reflect the usual sectarian patterns.
According to a Washington Institute article on political affiliations among Lebanese, it points out that “a reasonable estimate is this: around 40 percent are Shia Muslim; 30 percent Sunni Muslim; 25 percent Christians (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian, Protestant, and other); and the remaining 5 percent mostly Druze, plus a few other small minorities.”
“Asked about their attitude toward Hezbollah, the extent of Lebanese sectarian polarization is sharply evident. Among Sunnis, 85 percent express a negative view and just 14 percent a positive one. But among Shia, the proportions are almost exactly the reverse: 88 percent voice a positive opinion of Hezbollah (including a striking 83 percent “very positive”); while a mere 11 percent say they have a negative opinion.”
What is critical about these numbers is that they are no longer the only indicator of voting outcomes in the Parliamentary elections. Political affiliations in the abstract do not always coincide with voter behavior. “For example, in the 2016 local elections, 45 percent voted against Hezbollah and affiliated Amal candidates, even in their supposed stronghold of Baalbek.”
The Christian voters are likewise is flux. “Lebanon’s substantial Christian minority remains split almost down the middle on Hezbollah: 45 percent in favor, 55 percent opposed. Yet almost half of Lebanese Christians still apparently adhere to the view of the country’s Maronite president, Michel Aoun, that Hezbollah represents a positive player in the Lebanese arena. How his position evolves, if at all, in the coming months will be telling.
Despite disagreements about Iran and Syria evident among the respondents, there was a high degree of agreement regarding support for coexistence between Sunnis and Shias and the overriding importance of domestic reforms compared to foreign policy.
Moving on
The international pushback that reversed Hariri’s sojourn in Riyadh demonstrated that Lebanon has an intrinsic value to Western countries that value its role as a buffer state that strives to preserve it tolerant, multi-confessional character in a very tough neighborhood, made more dangerous by Iran’s aggressive policies in the region. The zero sum game between Saudi Arabia and Iran can have no winners without dangerous and unprecedented instability throughout the region.
Even President Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will only for a moment be a common cause among Sunnis and Shias. It only opens the door for Hezbollah to reassert its presence in the south and make menacing noises that may, though misjudgment and miscalculation by either party, lead to a catastrophe for Lebanon.
So the tension around the resignation and restoration, coupled with the US announcement on Jerusalem may only result in more instability in the near term, hopefully dissipating before the election season begins.
As the European Council on Foreign Relations noted in an article, “The collective memory of Lebanon’s own civil war and the buy-in of key political leaders to the current order still hold firm. But renewed political paralysis and associated economic shock – which could be made considerably worse if Riyadh tightens the financial noose – will feed intensified instability and the further hollowing out of the state.”
It further states that “These are precisely the conditions which will help Hezbollah reinforce its parallel, non-state ascendancy,” which may be worsened if the war of words about Jerusalem turns violent.
Lebanon’s hope in the run-up to the election is that “A broad-based government and legitimate parliament, even if it includes Hezbollah, still likely represent a better means of establishing some political counter-weight to the group’s dominance. It is also key to providing the governance services needed to maintain the semblance of a functioning state able to act as a legitimate alternative to Hezbollah.”
The Hariri episode is but one in the continuing and challenging efforts to rebuild Lebanon’s role in the region as a hub for intellectual, cultural, and economic progress.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 11-12/17
US Vice President Pence responds to Palestinian refusal to hold meeting
Agencies/December 11/2017/Press Secretary for US Vice President Mike Pence Alyssa Farah said on Sunday that the Palestinians' refusal to meet with Pence is "walking away from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region."The statment added: "The administration remains undeterred in its efforts to achieve peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work to put together a plan," according to the Jerusalem Post. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ aide said on Saturday that he would not hold a planned meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence following Washington’s controversial policy shift on Jerusalem. “There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine,” diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khaldi told AFP. “The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision.” The White House warned on Thursday that cancelling the meeting planned for later this month in the West Bank would be “counterproductive”, but Abbas has been under heavy domestic pressure to shun Pence following President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah party, told AFP the same day that Pence was “not welcome in Palestine”. US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday in a move that outraged Palestinian leaders, but which was hailed as historic by Israel.

Putin Orders Partial Pullout of Russian Forces from Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday/December 11/17/ President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered Russian forces in Syria to start partially withdrawing, saying Moscow would keep the Hmeimim air base in Syria's Latakia Province as well as a naval facility at the port of Tartous.
Putin made the announcement during a surprise visit to the air base where he held talks with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, and addressed Russian military servicemen. Putin on Monday gave the order for Russian forces to start withdrawing to their permanent bases in Russia, the Kremlin said on its website. He said that after a two year military campaign, Moscow and Damascus had achieved their mission of destroying ISIS. "The task of fighting armed bandits here in Syria, a task that it was essential to solve with the help of extensive use of armed force, has for the most part, been solved and solved spectacularly," Putin said, in remarks broadcast on Russian television. "I congratulate you!," Putin told Russian servicemen gathered at the base. He added in remarks carried by Russian news agencies that "if the terrorists again raise their heads, we will deal such blows to them they have never seen." Russia first launched air strikes in Syria in September 2015 in its biggest Middle East intervention in decades. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that ISIS militants have been driven out of Syria's Idlib province, two days after making an incursion into the region bordering Turkey. The group captured the Idlib village of Bashkun at the weekend after clashes with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. "After fierce fighting, Tahrir al-Sham has once again chased ISIS out of Idlib," said the Britain-based monitor.

On Mideast Trip, Putin Orders Partial Russia Troop Pullout from Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 11/17/Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Ankara Monday for the last leg of a frantic day-long diplomatic dash during which he made his first visit to Syria and ordered the partial withdrawal of Russia's troops from the war-torn country. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Putin at his presidential complex in Ankara for a closed-door meeting. This is the eighth face-to-face meeting between Putin and Erdogan this year, a sign of the intensity of a relationship that had hit rock bottom in November 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian war plane over Syria. Putin was welcomed earlier in the day at Russia's Hmeimim airbase by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a surprise stopover. In a televised speech to Russian troops, Putin said he had ordered his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to start a partial withdrawal.
"I have taken a decision: a significant part of the Russian troop contingent located in Syria is returning home to Russia," he said at the base in Latakia province, a government stronghold. Russia first intervened in the conflict in 2015, staging air strikes in support of its ally Assad targeting both the Islamic State group (IS) and other jihadists as well as rebels fighting government troops. Putin said the troops had helped the Syrian army crush the "most battle-ready group of international terrorists," apparently referring to IS.
"On the whole the task has been completed. And completed brilliantly."
'Our homeland thanks you'
Putin said last month that efforts to end the war were entering a "new stage" as the focus shifted from military intervention to political reforms. He said both Hmeimim and Russia's naval facility in Tartus would continue to function and warned that Russia would repel any fresh attacks by militants. "If terrorists rear their heads again we will inflict the blows that they have not seen yet," he said. Putin made the Syria stopover, the first by a Russian head of state since then president Dmitry Medvedev visited in 2010, en route to Egypt where he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, one of Ankara's prime foes in recent years. The Kremlin strongman thanked the troops for defending Russia from terrorism and helping Syria remain a "sovereign independent state." He said the conflict proved that Russia's armed forces, including intelligence officers, pilots, sailors, special forces, military police, sappers and military advisers, were on top form, and he also praised the country's defense industry. "Our homeland thanks you, my friends," he said. "Have a safe trip. I thank you for your service."Putin also inspected the troops who goose-stepped to the tune of a popular Soviet-era song about World War II, and held talks with Assad.
'Deep gratitude'
Assad expressed his "deep gratitude" for Russia's role in the conflict.
"The Syrians will never forget what the Russian forces did," official Syria media quoted him as saying. Putin said he would discuss Russia's efforts to convene Syria's political congress with the leaders of Egypt and Turkey, and then brief Assad. While Turkey has backed the anti-regime opposition and Russia along with Iran is the main international supporter of Damascus, Putin and Erdogan have worked closely to resolve the Syrian conflict in recent months. Ankara officially remains opposed to Assad staying in power in any transition but has notably toned down its rhetoric against the Syrian leader in recent months. The Kremlin last week said the meeting in Turkey would be a chance to discuss "above all the progress of joint projects in energy", in what appeared to be a reference to the TurkStream gas pipeline project and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.
Pentagon skepticism
Last week Putin announced he would be standing in the March presidential election that he is expected to effortlessly win, and his lightning visit to Syria can be expected to play well with the voters. The commander of Russia's forces in Syria, Sergei Surovikin, said 23 Russian planes, two helicopters and military police would be returning to Russia soon, national television reported. The first jets were scheduled to leave Monday. The Pentagon voiced skepticism about Putin's announcement, saying such declarations were not necessarily reflected by action. "Russian comments about removal of their forces do not often correspond with actual troop reductions, and do not affect U.S. priorities in Syria," Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said. The size of the Russian deployment in Syria is not known but independent Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer has told AFP that up to 10,000 troops and private contractors could have taken part in the conflict. Putin had ruled out dispatching ground forces in Syria, making the air force the mainstay of Moscow's Syria campaign. Around 40 Russian servicemen have reportedly been killed in Syria since Moscow's intervention. The Kremlin has acknowledged some of those deaths. But the losses may be higher given the number of Russian troops and mercenaries believed to be in the country, observers say. More than 340,000 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against Assad's rule that sparked a brutal crackdown.

Egypt to sign contracts for nuclear power plant during Putin’s visit
Reuters, Cairo/December 11/2017/Egypt will sign contracts with Moscow during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cairo on Monday for the country’s first nuclear power plant, three senior sources told Reuters on Sunday.
The construction of the 4,800 megawatt (MW) capacity plant, which is supposed to be built at Dabaa in the north of the country, is expected to be completed within seven years, added the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry told Russia Today in an interview on Saturday that “they have completed several stages” of the plant and “soon” it will be finished. Moscow and Cairo signed an agreement in 2015 for Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Egypt, with Russia extending a loan to Egypt to cover the cost of construction. Egypt’s official gazette said last year the loan was worth $25 billion and would finance 85 percent of the value of each work contract, services and equipment shipping. Egypt would fund the remaining 15 percent. The trial operation of the first nuclear reactor is expected to take place in 2022.
Egypt, with a population of nearly 104 million and vast energy needs, wants to diversify its energy sources. The nuclear plant is expected not to just cover the country’s energy needs, but to produce excess which can be exported, the sources told Reuters on Sunday. Putin is scheduled to visit Cairo on Monday to meet with his counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, where they will discuss bilateral relations, trade and Middle Eastern issues, the Kremlin said last week.

Tense Meeting between Macron, Netanyahu due to Trump’s Jerusalem Decision
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday/December 11/17/Despite the aspirations of French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to add some warmth to their meeting Sunday at the Elysee Palace in Paris, a joint press conference that followed their talks revealed the tensions between them over Washington’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It was evident that Macron sought to push Netanyahu in the direction of adopting moderate positions or initiative to defuse tension with the Palestinians. His efforts however fell on deaf ears and each side remained attached to his known stance concerning Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The French President reiterated that his country refused the move based on two main justifications: The decision contravenes all rules of international law and poses a threat to peace in the Middle East. Paris believes that the region does not need further hotbeds of tensions that add to the existing wars. Macron had previously even directly talked by telephone with Trump and said his move on Jerusalem was “regrettable.”Faced with the French positions, Netanyahu had no choice but to reiterate his previous statements delivered last Wednesday. “Recognition of Jerusalem was essential for the peace process because peace must be built on the foundation of truth,” the Israeli Prime Minister said. And like every occasion, Netanyahu held the Palestinian side responsible for its consistent refusal to resume talks with Tel Aviv since spring 2014 because of the Israeli cabinet’s rejection to freeze the building of settlements. In this regard, despite Macron’s repeated calls that Netanyahu initiate a courageous move and build trust with the Palestinians to end the current stalemate, his cries were not positively received by the Israeli PM.

Macron to Netanyahu: I disagree with Trump’s decision on Jerusalem

Staff writer, Al Arabiya/December 11/2017/French President Emmanuel Macron said he had told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he rejected the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a press conference held Sunday at Elysee Palace in Paris. French President asked Netanyahu to show "courage" in his dealings with the Palestinians to build goodwill that would help rekindle the peace process. "I urged the prime minister to show courage in his dealings with the Palestinians to get us out of the current dead-end," Macron said after talks in Paris with the Israeli leader. He began his prepared statement by condemning "all the attacks in these last few hours and days" against Israel following US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The French president had made a statement immediately after the US president announcement on Wednesday, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, that this decision is unfortunate, and that Paris does not support it. Macron called for "avoiding violence at all costs" after the Trump move. (With AFP)

Sisi, Abbas Hold Summit to Discuss Jerusalem Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday/December 11/17/Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is scheduled to hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo Monday, the Egyptian presidency unexpectedly announced, while Palestinian sources said that Jordanian King Abdullah II could also join the meeting. Sisi invited his Palestinian counterpart to Cairo to discuss the latest developments concerning the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, said a statement issued by the Egyptian presidency. It said Sisi wants to discuss with Abbas ways to deal with the crisis while preserving the Palestinian people’s rights, including their legitimate right to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Egyptian-Palestinian summit comes eight days ahead of the visit of US Vice President Mike Pence to the region. Abbas has already announced his rejection to meet with Pence in protest over US President Donald Trump’s decision to transfer his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump’s decision last Wednesday has drawn a wave of condemnation from the Arab and Muslim world and from Western countries. Egypt has rejected Washington’s decision and described it as a violation of UN resolutions. Sisi telephoned on Sunday both the Jordanian King and Abbas. The Egyptian President discussed with King Abdullah II developments related to Jerusalem in light of the US decision. The Jordanian King stressed the importance of supporting the Palestinians in their quest to establish an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. He also highlighted the need to intensify Arab, Islamic and international efforts to protect the rights of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem, which is key to achieving peace and stability in the region. Meanwhile, the Arab League on Sunday warned that attempts to change the legal status of Jerusalem or to "change the Arab identity of the city" are "provocations to the feelings of Muslims and Christians throughout Arab and Islamic worlds and peace-loving peoples around the world.”

Syrian Regime, Allies Mobilize in 'Death Triangle'

Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday/December 11/17/ Syrian regime forces and their allies mobilized on Sunday in the “death triangle” that lies between Daraa, Quneitra and Damascus, ahead of a battle to recuperate the strategic areas on the frontiers of the de-escalation zones between Damascus and the Jordanian borders and at the disengagement line in the occupied Golan Heights. Opposition sources told Asharq Al-Awsat there are little chances that regime forces could produce any breach in the “death triangle,” asserting that the factions “are ready, and have the advantage in the area, because of their positioning on the top of the hills and mountains, particularly in the strategic Tal al-Hara.”The sources said that the “death triangle” is the geographical area that links north Daraa with east Quneitra and the south of Damascus’ western suburbs. They added that regime forces and their allied militias have tried in vain to control Tal al-Hara. Leader of Moataz Bellah army in the southern front Lieutnant Bara’ Nabolsi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “reaching al-Hara is impossible.”He said a long distance separates al-Hara from the first line of contact with regime forces. Nabolsi said regime forces were spreading false rumors about a possibility to reach the hills as part of their propaganda to boost the morale of the Syrian soldiers who have repeatedly failed to reach the area. Meanwhile, another section of a video spread on social media websites Sunday showing two members from “Saraya al-Islam” in southern Lebanon. The group is part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces.The video came amid a wave of anger in Lebanon sparked by a video released on Saturday, showing leader of the Iraqi paramilitary group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazaali, on the Lebanese-Israeli border. Al-Khazaali declared his readiness “to stand united with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause.”A “Future Movement” representative from Lebanon’s cabinet called on Labor Minister Mohammed Kabbara to arrest al-Khazaali and prosecute him for “violating the Lebanese sovereignty.”

Houthis Kill Dozens in Northern Yemen
Asharq Al-Awsat/Monday/December 11/17/Houthi militias have killed and detained dozens of people from across the country's north since killing their ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, reported Yemen’s official SABA news agency on Monday. The militants appear to be escalating their crackdown on any possible sign of rebellion among their one-time allies from Saleh's party, the General People's Congress. The crackdown included the region of al-Hodeidah, Rima, Haja and al-Mahwet, SABA added.In the Hajja province alone, at least 20 people were eliminated and some 150 detained, it continued. The Houthis also blew up 20 houses there and replaced the province's governor, who was a onetime Saleh associate. In al-Mahwet, the militia detained 49 people and threatened others with blowing up their houses if they do not turn themselves over for arrest.

ICC reports Jordan to UN Security Council for not arresting Sudan's Bashir
Reuters, Amsterdam/December 11/2017/The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Monday it would refer Jordan to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Amman in March. The court issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 over his alleged role in war crimes including genocide in Sudan's Darfur province. Jordan, as a member of the ICC, is obliged to carry out its arrest warrants. Sudan is not a member of the Hague-based permanent international war crimes court, and the ICC therefore does not have automatic jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes there. However, the UN Security Council referred the case to the international court in March 2005.The Security Council has the power to impose sanctions for a failure to cooperate with the ICC, but has so far not acted on court referrals. A diplomatic row broke out when Bashir visited South Africa in 2015 and Pretoria failed to arrest him. South Africa's government argued that doing so would have been a violation of the immunity Bashir enjoys as a head of state. That argument was rejected by South African courts as well as the ICC. The ICC ultimately did not refer South Africa to the Security Council, however, saying it was not clear that doing so would have any effect. Kenya and South Africa have threatened to withdraw from the ICC over perceived bias against African countries. Burundi, which is under ICC investigation, has actually withdrawn. Bashir is accused by ICC prosecutors of five counts of crimes against humanity including murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape, as well as two counts of war crimes for attacking civilians and pillaging. He faces three counts of genocide allegedly committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur, Sudan, from 2003 to 2008.

'Terror' Bomber Strikes NY Subway, Three Hurt
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 11/17/A man carrying a pipe bomb strapped to his body detonated it in a crowded New York subway passageway during the morning rush hour Monday, seriously injuring himself but only lightly injuring three others. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the bombing an "attempted terrorist attack," and identified the 27-year-old man identified as Akayed Ullah. The blast took place at the height of morning rush hour in the subway station at the new York Port Authority bus terminal, not far from the city's iconic Times Square, sparking commuter panic and travel disruptions.
Subway trains were bypassing the Port Authority and Times Square stations as the investigation continued. The bomber was in custody and sent to a hospital with burns and wounds on his body. The explosion rattled a city still scarred by the devastating September 11 attacks, and a truck attack on October 31 that left eight dead on a bike path. "This is New York. The reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters. "This was an attempted terrorist attack," Mayor Bill de Blasio added. "Thank god the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals." New York police commissioner James O'Neill said the 27-year-old suspect had strapped the explosive device, which resembled a crude pipe bomb, to his body. He suffered burns to the hands and abdomen, and other injuries. Photos circulating on social media shoed the man on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back and injuries to his torso. Former New York police chief Bill Bratton told MSNBC television that he had been told the suspect was originally from Bangladesh and may have been acting in the name of the Islamic State group. Police quickly evacuated the Port Authority station and closed roads in the area, which were filled with police cars and ambulances with flashing lights.President Donald Trump was briefed on the explosion, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote on Twitter.
'One of our worst nightmares' The city remains constantly on edge as a target of possible terror attacks, and is on high alert ahead of the holidays, which culminate every year with the giant New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, attended by hundreds of thousands of revelers. On October 31, Sayfullo Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, drove a rented truck down a busy bike and pedestrian path, killing eight people and injuring 12. It was the first deadly terror attack in New York since 9/11, though several plots since then have been disrupted. Monday's attack highlighted one of New York City's greatest vulnerabilities -- its underground transit system. A bomb in a subway station "is in many ways one of our worst nightmares," Cuomo said. "We have the Statue of Liberty in our harbor, and that makes us an international target. We understand that," he added.

Kazakhstan to Hold New Syria Talks Next Week

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 11/17/A fresh round of Syrian peace talks is scheduled for next week in Astana, Kazakhstan said Monday, as part of a Moscow-led push to end the six-year conflict. The two-day talks in Astana will begin on December 21 and will focus on freeing prisoners, the delivery of humanitarian aid, the functioning of de-escalation zones and other issues, the foreign ministry said in a statement. The announcement came as Russian leader Vladimir Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian forces in Syria during a surprise visit to the war-torn country earlier Monday. Nearly all of the seven rounds of Syria negotiations in Astana have involved representatives of the Syrian regime and the armed opposition, as well as the three power-brokers: Russia, Iran and Turkey. Moscow has spearheaded the talks in Astana since the start of the year as it tries to turn its game-changing military intervention into a negotiated settlement. Both Russia and Iran have thrown their support behind the regime of Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has provided backing to the rebels. The negotiations, which run in parallel to broader U.N.-backed talks in Geneva, involved armed rebels and government officials and have focused mainly on military issues.The Kremlin also hopes to convene a political congress in the Black Sea resort of Sochi which would bring together regime officials and the opposition to reinvigorate a hobbled peace process.More than 340,000 people have been killed since the conflict broke out in March 2011 when protests against Assad's rule sparked a brutal crackdown.

Jordan Parliament to Review Peace Treaty with Israel
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 11/17/Lawmakers in Jordan have tasked a parliamentary committee to review all agreements with Israel, including a 1994 peace treaty, following the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.Jordan, which is the custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, accused US President Donald Trump of violating international law with the decision last week. Meeting late on Sunday, Jordanian lawmakers voted unanimously to authorise the judicial affairs committee to "review all agreements with the Zionist state including Wadi Araba," official news agency Petra reported. When it was signed in 1994, the Wadi Araba treaty made Jordan one of only two Arab countries to have reached a peace agreement with Israel, along with Egypt in 1979. Under Jordan's constitutional monarchy, only King Abdullah II would have the power to eventually rescind the peace deal with Israel.

Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Cinemas
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 11/17/Saudi Arabia on Monday lifted a decades-long ban on cinemas, part of a series of social reforms by the powerful crown prince that are shaking up the ultra-conservative kingdom. "Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years," the culture and information ministry said in a statement, adding that the government will begin licensing cinemas immediately. Reviving cinemas would represent a paradigm shift in the kingdom, which is promoting entertainment as part of a sweeping reform plan dubbed "Vision 2030", despite opposition from conservatives. "This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom," information minister Awwad Alawwad said in the statement. Hardliners, who see cinemas as a threat to cultural and religious identity, were instrumental in shutting them down in the 1980s. Saudi Arabia's highest-ranking cleric warned in January of the "depravity" of cinemas, saying they would corrupt morals. But authorities appear to be shrugging off the threat. Saudi filmmakers have long argued that a ban on cinemas does not make sense in the age of YouTube. Saudi films have been making waves abroad, using the internet to circumvent distribution channels and sometimes the stern gaze of state censors.

Kuwait Ruler Names Son Defense Minister in New Cabinet
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 11/17/The Kuwaiti ruler swore in a new government on Monday, handing the defense ministry to his eldest son and appointing new oil and finance ministers. The move comes weeks after the previous government, which had been formed a year ago, resigned following a dispute with members of parliament who filed a no-confidence motion against a senior minister. Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed Al-Sabah issued a decree naming the new line-up with Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family, staying on as prime minister. Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, the emir's eldest son aged 69, was appointed as first deputy premier and defense minister. This is the first ministerial job for Sheikh Nasser, who has been the head of the royal court since early 2006. He is seen as the main driving force behind "Silk City," one of Kuwait's mega projects with investments estimated at more than $100 billion. The 16-member cabinet features nine newcomers, including changes at the oil and finance ministries. Bakheet al-Rasheedi, a former top oil executive, replaces the outgoing oil minister Essam al-Marzouk. Nayef al-Hajraf, former head of the Capital Markets Authority, will take over the finance ministry from Anas al-Saleh who was appointed as state minister for cabinet affairs. The previous cabinet resigned at the end of October after opposition lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion against Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al-Sabah, then the state minister for cabinet affairs.
The deputies accused him of alleged financial and administrative irregularities, which he denied. Sheikh Mohammed, a senior member of the royal family, was left out from the new cabinet. Kuwait is the only Gulf state with a fully elected parliament and the government is controlled by the ruling family. The oil-rich country has been shaken by political disputes between lawmakers and the government for over a decade with parliament and cabinets dissolved several times. Kuwait, with a native population of 1.35 million and 3.1 million foreigners, pumps 2.7 million barrels of oil per day.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 11-12/17
Seven years after the Arab Spring, what has happened to calls for positive change?
Michael Young/The National/December 11/2017
The West has been too reluctant to promote universal values, which is a basic instrument of international relations
It is remarkable, seven years after the beginning of the Arab uprisings, that the message of that time appears to have been completely forgotten, both in parts of the Middle East and among countries outside.
What began as demonstrations in favour of freedom, democracy and good governance quickly descended into widespread violence and the collapse of several states, such as Syria, Libya and Yemen. As a consequence, the initial impulse of the revolts has been forgotten, to the advantage of those defending stability in the context of an inflexible reading of the national interest.
Western countries, where the idea of Arab democracy would, presumably, have provoked more sympathy, proved to be just as wary of its consequences in the region, behind a facade of defending democracy and human rights. Because of the threat of jihadi groups, they soon abandoned those who were fighting for their freedom. That is why even if Bashar Al Assad’s future remains uncertain today, few leaders are calling for his departure as a precondition for a negotiated end to the Syrian conflict.
The United States in particular has played a profoundly negative role since 2011. Former president Barack Obama was always someone more fearful of disorder and commitment than he was supportive of democracy. This was particularly true in Syria, where behind periodical assurances that Mr Al Assad’s rule had ended, Mr Obama did nothing to change the balance to the rebels’ advantage, even before the arrival of radical Islamic groups such as the Nusra Front and ISIL.
Donald Trump has, similarly, had little concern for what happens in Syria. His administration has made contradictory statements about its desired political outcome for the country but has been largely absent from all of the diplomatic tracks on Syria, whether in Geneva or Astana. Given his narrow nationalistic agenda, Mr Trump has no interest in spreading human rights, democracy and good governance, which are all motivated by a universalist approach to foreign affairs. Indeed, there is some question as to whether the president even considers such aims important.
However, do the Arab states benefit from adopting a similar transactional line on domestic and foreign relations? The political realism that permeates the region, the priority of pursuing the national interest, has often posed problems for the Arab states. It is what left them hopelessly divided during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It was the cause of the Arab cold war in the 1950s and 1960s. And today, it is why Arab states seem unable to co-ordinate a unified response to the Iranian threat, or even to those issues over which there is a consensus, such as the status of Jerusalem.
That is not to say, of course, that states in the region must give up on their national interests. However, defending universal values, much like placing collective interest before the national interest in given situations, can often be a more effective way of improving a country’s position and welfare.
The United States has gained a great deal from projecting a democratic image abroad. That doesn’t imply that its democratic efforts have succeeded everywhere, but they have been a fundamental part of its dealings and its soft power overseas, particularly since the end of the Second World War.
Similarly, the European Union learned long ago the advantages of sacrificing aspects of national sovereignty in favour of political and economic collaboration that would benefit all. The European project has certainly faced difficulties but not as many as those countries that have sought a break with Europe, as the current negotiations over Britain’s exit from Europe have highlighted.
In other words, promoting universal values and transnational interests, and occasionally yielding on national sovereignty, is a basic instrument of international relations. How does advancing universal values tie in with the Arab uprisings? By providing Arabs with something to which they can aspire. That many western countries deserted the Arabs after 2010 was a testament to their shortsightedness, because if problems are not adequately addressed, nothing guarantees that uprisings will not resume in the future.
The aspiration for stability is understandable. But immovability is hardly stabilising, as it increases frustrations among an increasingly younger population in the region’s countries. Adopting an insular definition of national interest, one that dismisses universal values and transnational interests in a world where such ideas can circulate freely via the internet, is a recipe for disaster.
Not surprisingly, the man of the moment is Russian president Vladimir Putin. He is the outsider many leaders in the region trust. His philosophy of iron stability at least has the merit of being clear, whereas Washington, depending on who is in office, remains erratic. But from 2010 to 2011, the US happened to be closer to Arab realities. That it refuses to draw the lessons of that fateful period is shameful.
**Michael Young is editor of Diwan, the blog of the Carnegie Middle East programme, in Beirut

The Cost of Devaluing Women
Sallie Krawcheck/The New York Times/December 11/17
My first job out of college in the late 1980s was at Salomon Brothers, a trading house of cigar-smoking, expletive-spewing strivers. One day, I leaned over a colleague’s desk to work on a spreadsheet, and heard loud laughter from behind me; one of the guys was pretending to perform a sex act on me. Almost every day, I found a Xerox copy of male genitalia on my desk.
I was not alone in being treated this way: During that era another brokerage house, Smith Barney, paid out $150 million in a bias and harassment case — known as the “boom-boom room” suit, named after a basement party room in one of its branches. Wall Street was a hypermasculine culture, where the all-nighter was a badge of honor and the ever-bigger deal was proof of one’s status, and women were not safe, either emotionally or physically.
In the 1990s, I changed firms and was now a midlevel professional. The harassment shifted: Instead I had to rebuff a client, a chief executive, who asked me to join him — “Just you, no need to bring the rest of the team” — in his hotel room at 11 p.m. to go over some numbers. One company rescinded a job offer upon learning I had a baby at home.
I changed firms again and moved another rung up the corporate ladder, and it felt a little less fraught to deal with the inevitable. I was able to say no to the senior government official who said, “How about we go up to my hotel room?” before obscenely wagging his tongue at me in front of my colleagues. I could knock the portfolio manager’s hands off my leg without too much fear of retribution.
These are stories I have not often revisited. Maybe I’ve shared them over drinks with female friends or with younger women in the industry, to let them know what it used to be like. But in the dizzying past few weeks, as this crucial moment of reckoning on sexual harassment continues, it’s clear that the harassment I was subjected to is not in the past. Worse, I know that being a white woman afforded me a privilege in dealing with these issues that unfortunately not everyone has.
What we are only beginning to recognize is that demeaning and devaluing women is an insidious, expensive problem. It’s not just the eye-popping settlements in some cases, like the $32 million paid by Bill O’Reilly to settle a harassment claim. Nor is it just the high salaries network stars have been making while allegedly assaulting subordinates, like the $20 million, or more, for Matt Lauer. It only starts there.
The bigger cost derives from how women’s ideas are discounted and their talent ignored. I have seen it up close in the two worlds I know best: Wall Street, where I was chief executive of Smith Barney and of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and in Silicon Valley, where I’ve raised money to run my start-up, Ellevest. These places are perhaps the purest microcosms of capitalism, and their lessons are instructive for all of us.
Both Wall Street and venture capital are industries whose product is money: Wall Street directs trillions of dollars to the sectors or businesses that it believes will deliver the highest returns. Likewise, Silicon Valley invests hundreds of billions of dollars in start-ups that it believes will deliver the best returns. Both pick economic winners and losers.
Wall Street has for years prided itself on being a “meritocracy,” arguing that its performance-based culture drives capital to the best trading ideas and the best deals. Despite research showing that companies with more diversity, and particularly more women in leadership, offer higher returns on capital, lower risk and greater innovation than firms without such leadership, Wall Street has been, and is, predominantly male at the top. Its trading floors are 90 percent men. This ignores studies indicating that members of homogeneous groups tend to trust one another too much, leading to potential market mispricings.
Homogeneity has led Wall Street firms to travel in packs, going after the same opportunities at the same time: junk bonds in the 1980s, tech stocks in the late 1990s and subprime lending in the run-up to the crash 10 years ago. In particular, when the subprime bet proved wrong, the big banks went essentially bankrupt and were bailed out by the United States government because officials worried that the economic cost of their failure would have been catastrophic.
Thus one can draw a line from the gender discrimination on Wall Street through to the lack of women — and lack of diversity of thought — in the industry to increased risk and to the financial crisis.
Silicon Valley today is rife with parallels to Wall Street, its lessons unlearned. Like Wall Street, it prides itself on its meritocratic culture, arguing that its performance-based orientation will drive capital to the best start-ups. There are few senior women at the top venture capital firms. The industry funds few start-ups run by women. Last year, of the approximately $60 billion that venture capital firms invested, just $1.5 billion went to businesses with female founders.
One might argue that start-ups run by men just happen to deliver the highest possible returns. The mythology around the industry bolsters this, with venture capitalists boasting of investing in Facebook practically out of the dorm room.
But that argument doesn’t hold up. Investors in venture capital funds would have been as well off simply investing in the stock market over the past five to 15 years. That’s what I see in reviewing the data from the research firm Cambridge Associates: Investors in the high-risk, high-reward world of start-ups essentially did no better than they could have opening an account at their neighborhood brokerage. What might help those venture capitalists? First Round Capital reports that its investments in companies with a female founder have posted 63 percent better returns than men-only firms.
Venture capital and Wall Street are both funded by “other people’s money.” Pension funds, endowments, mutual funds and individual investors provide the fuel that enables this sexist, exclusionary behavior. The irony is that so many of these endowments and foundations exist to make the world a fairer place, not to exclude vast segments of the population. Yet because their money is tied up in industries where women’s perspectives, and diversity of viewpoints, aren’t valued on the whole, their causes — and their bottom lines — lose out.
This moment of ferreting out sexual harassers is a step forward. It also reveals how much work we have to do on the biases that allowed such behavior to flourish.
This summer, I was in Silicon Valley, pitching for a round of funding for my company. I was the only woman in a room of 18 venture capitalists. A few of the men were engaged, a few were typing on their iPhones, and the lead investor was alternating between peppering me with questions and leaning back in his chair with his arms folded. He challenged my knowledge on digital acquisition, on acquisition costs.
Fair enough, even if he was being a little prickly. Finally, I noted that our business was planning to hire a few financial advisers. He proceeded to give me chapter and verse on how financial advisers are hard to manage and instructed me on the economics of the financial advisory business.
I was astonished, because I have managed more financial advisers in my career than probably anyone in the country. And though it’s been years since I have been sexually harassed the way I was at Salomon, I realized in that moment how deep our gender views run, how men are still seen as leaders and women as more junior.
This man naturally assumed that he knew more about it than I did. It was his ingrained view of women — a view that’s costing all of us.

Four Scenes from a Region in Turmoil
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/December 11/17
Four scenes from Sunday’s news have captured the attention of the Arab reader. These scenes point to the magnitude of the problems facing the Middle East, some of which are turning into prolonged conflicts that are passed down from generation to generation.
The first scene is the emergency meeting of the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers held in Cairo to discuss US President Donald Trump’s decision to consider Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to begin the process of transferring the US embassy to it.
After asking the United States to reverse its decision on Jerusalem, the Council affirmed that East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian State and that no security, stability and peace in the region could be achieved without establishing a free, independent and sovereign Palestine based on the lines of June 4, 1967, in accordance with relevant resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative.
One of the journalists asked Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit about the possibility of withdrawing the Arab Peace Initiative. He replied that if the Arabs tried to withdraw it, “they would be shooting themselves. There is no alternative.”
The truth is that putting an emphasis on the international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative would further bridge the gap with the countries that opposed any settlement to the fate of Jerusalem outside the framework of negotiations and adhered to international norms, rules and standards.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a long and ongoing one, and Trump’s position is a mere episode in this lengthy crisis. A position taken by a state, even a superpower, cannot change the nature of things and the course of events. The history of this conflict provides more than a proof of that.
Based on Arab, Islamic and international reactions, it is clear that there is a firm conviction among most of the countries of the world that this conflict cannot be resolved on the basis of the vulnerability of a party and by forcing it to recognize the status quo. Everything shows that the Israelis will not enjoy peace as long as the Palestinians are deprived of their rights.
The second scene was the official announcement made by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on “ISIS’ defeat” and “the end of the war”. The news is important for Iraq as well as for the region, because ISIS, with its cruelty, produced a series of disasters in a number of countries and peoples, and was responsible for the bloodshed and the birth of armies of widows and orphans.
Two statements included in Abadi’s speech on the occasion reflected the magnitude of the tasks that the Iraqi government must undertake.
The first statement is that “fighting corruption will be a natural extension” of the liberation process, while the second stresses the need to “restrict arms to the state and to implement and respect the rule of law as the bases for state-building.”
It is clear from both sentences that the challenge facing Iraq after its victory over ISIS is that of building a state of law.
Abadi, by virtue of his affiliation, official position and experience, knows that the war against “ISIS” and then the disciplinary measures taken in response to the Kurdish referendum, have underlined the urgent need to subject all military and security institutions to the rule of law.
Videos showing abuse by members of the “Popular Mobilization Forces” have revealed that the battle for building the Iraqi state would not be easy. Some of the Forces’ militias do not operate under the command of an Iraqi general, and assuming the role of “small mobile armies” fascinates them.
The third scene, though not publicly broadcast, is the news that Houthi militias buried the body of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in his hometown of Beit al-Ahmar in Sinhan, south of the capital, in the presence of a limited number of his relatives and leaders of his party.
The story is not simple. We are talking about a man who has been the backbone of Yemen’s political life for the past four decades. His party, the General People’s Congress, has a popular and tribal strength that surpasses by far that of the militia that killed him and buried him without shedding a tear.
It is a very dangerous precedent for a militia representing a minority and backed by a regional power to impose its authority on a country that seeks to change its position and its language despite its long-standing membership and roots.
The fourth scene is the appearance of the Secretary-General of the Iraqi “Asaib Ahl al-Haq” – a part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, Qais al-Khazali. From an area in southern Lebanon and in military uniform, Khazali overlooked or forgot that he was not on Iraqi territories, but on the soil of another country, Lebanon, to which he was supposed to enter through legitimate gates and after receiving the permission of its authorities.
The situation was further exacerbated by the fact that it came at a time when Lebanon's “dissociation” policy has received international support through the conference held in Paris. It came at a time when the Lebanese were trying to convince themselves that the tent of “dissociation” – a trembling and ragged tent - might be able to withstand at least some time waiting for the parliamentary elections next year.
Al-Khazali’s appearance raised a clear question: Did the recent wars lead to the collapse of the international borders between Iraq and Syria and between Syria and Lebanon? Does roaming within this area no longer require a visa and official border crossings if the rover belongs to the “Popular Mobilization Forces”?
These are four scenes from a region whose children will not have a normal life unless the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ends in a comprehensive and just peace, and unless the state-building project is sought at the expense of hegemony, interventionism and the spread of militias.

President Trump: The Courage to Act
Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/December 11/17
The reaction around the world in recent days has been a reminder of the one central truth of the whole conflict. Those who cannot accept that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel tend to be exactly the same as those who cannot accept the State of Israel.
Trump comes out of the whole situation well -- taking on a promise that his three predecessors made, but on which only he had the courage to act. Those who have most forcibly criticised him, on the other hand, have shown something weak, as well as ugly, about themselves.
President Trump's announcement on the status of Jerusalem last week was both historic and commendable. Historic because it is the first time that an American president has not just acknowledged that the Israeli capital is Jerusalem but decided to act on that acknowledgement. Commendable for breaking a deceitful trend and accepting what will remain the reality on the ground in every imaginable future scenario. As many people have pointed out in recent days, there is not one prospective peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians in which Tel Aviv becomes the capital of the Jewish state.
Yet, the Palestinian leadership, much of the mainstream media, academia and the global diplomatic community take another view. They believe that the American president should have continued with the fairy tale and should never have said "That the United States recognises Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and that the United States Embassy to Israel will be relocated to Jerusalem as soon as practicable." They claim that this is not a simple recognition of reality and not simply the American President granting the State of Israel the same right every other nation on the planet has -- which is to have their capital where they like. Such forces claim that this is a "provocative" move. Amply demonstrating the illogic of this position, the first thing the Turkish Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan did after the American president made his announcement was to threaten a suspension of Turkish relations with Israel.
The reaction around the world in recent days has been a reminder of the one central truth of the whole conflict. Those who cannot accept that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel tend to be exactly the same as those who cannot accept the State of Israel. Consider the expert whom the BBC's flagship current affairs programme Newsnight chose to bring on to receive soft-ball questions on this issue. Dr. Ghada Karmi, from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, a notorious opponent of Israel, was inevitably given the sort of respectful interview style that Newsnight presenters generally reserve for when they are interviewing Madonna or some other mega-star they cannot believe their luck at having gotten to speak with.
Here is what Ghada Karm had to say -- with no meaningful challenge from the programme's presenter, Emily Maitlis.
Ghada Karmi: We know that Donald Trump is not a free agent. He is surrounded by pro-Israel advisors, pro-Israel officials.
Emily Maitlis (BBC): To be fair the American stance towards Israel has not differed particularly from one President to another.
Karmi: No, because it's always been dictated by Israeli interests.
Maitlis (BBC): So what are you saying – that he cannot broker peace or America cannot broker peace in the region.
Karmi: No – of course not. He can't. He's compromised. He is surrounded by pro-Israel propagandists, people who want Israel's interests above any other and he cannot operate as a free agent even if he had the wit to do it.... Why it is so dangerous is because you know one of the first things that might happen -- and watch for this -- is that Israel will be emboldened to take over the Islamic holy places. It's had its eye on the Aqsa mosque for a long time.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, when Maitlis then turned to interview the Israeli ambassador to the UK, she adopted a different tone.
Ambassador Mark Regev was not given these sorts of soft-ball questions. If he had claimed that the Palestinians were planning to bulldoze the Western Wall, it seems unlikely he would have been allowed to say it uncontested. He was in fact treated throughout as though he were simply some well-known variety of idiot or liar, who had no concept of the "offence" (a favourite threat term) that this move by the American President would cause Palestinians.
Ghada Karmi was not challenged on the claim that the Israelis were about to take over any and all Islamic holy places (to do what?), but Ambassador Regev's suggestion that the State of Israel already has its Parliament, Supreme Court and every wing of government in Jerusalem, and that Jerusalem might just be Israel's capital, was treated as though it were the most inflammatory nonsense the BBC had ever heard.
Most disappointing was the response of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May. Goaded on by the deeply anti-Israel (not to mention anti-Semitism-harbouring) Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, May, for the second time in a fortnight, chose to berate the President of Britain's closest ally. Captured by the logic of the UK's Foreign Office, May announced:
"We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement.
"We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region. The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it.
"Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states.
"In line with relevant Security Council Resolutions, we regard East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
Following President Trump's historic and commendable announcement on the status of Jerusalem last week, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May chose to berate Trump. Pictured: PM May, on January 27, 2017 addresses the media in Washington, DC alongside President Trump.
There is something which the entire world ought to recognise about the British government's attitude towards "occupied territory", which is that the august entity in Whitehall still believes that land in northern Israel should be returned to Syria's Bashar al-Assad. Even now, the greatest minds of the Foreign Office in London advocate that Assad has not had enough territory to immiserate and destroy in recent years. Who knows, perhaps President Assad could have killed more than a half a million people in his country's civil war if he could only have got an extra sliver of land?
Perhaps May feels the pressure of the Foreign Office status quo. Or perhaps she feels the pressure of Jeremy Corbyn's band of anti-Semites at her back. Or -- who knows -- perhaps she worries about the millions of British Muslims from South Asia who can occasionally be whipped up into believing that the prime responsibility of Muslims worldwide is to rage about Middle Eastern politics -- only of course if Jews are involved (otherwise they remain placid). Certainly that appeared to be on the national broadcaster's mind, with the BBC choosing to go straight to the Muslim-dominated city of Bradford to ask South Asian Muslims there what they thought about Jerusalem.
There have been reactions around the world to US President's historic announcement. Trump comes out of the whole situation well -- taking on a promise that his three predecessors made, but on which only he had the courage to act. Those who have most forcibly criticised him, on the other hand, have shown something weak, as well as ugly, about themselves: When the facts on the ground were staring them in the face, they chose instead to bow to domestic fantasies of their own creation.
**Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
© 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.

Firebombing Jewish Children in Sweden
Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/December 11/17
December 11, 2017 at 4:30 am
On Friday night, an anti-Trump rally in Malmö drew about 200 people, many of whom shouted anti-Jewish remarks and threatened to "shoot the Jews."
Saturday's attack on the Gothenburg synagogue may have been immediately triggered by Trump's recognition of Israel's capital, but it is part of a pattern of persecution and savagery that has been in place, and that has been systematically ignored, denied or played down by the news media and public officials, ever since the Islamization of Western Europe began.
On Saturday, December 9, masked men threw firebombs at a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden. The attack took place shortly after 10:00 pm, at a time when about thirty children and teenagers (the Swedish word "ungdomar", used in media reports, suggests they were teens, but could be younger or both) were attending a party at the Jewish Center adjoining the main building. When the assault began, the guards rushed them into the cellar, and finally allowed them to go home at about 11:30 pm. (Guards, of course, are a fixture at European synagogues these days.) A mother of one of the girls at the party received a text message from her daughter saying that she was scared and that there was a smell of gasoline.
Yes, in Western Europe, in 2017, a group of young Jews stood huddled in a basement, helpless, amid the gasoline fumes from firebombs. (It is not clear whether the people guarding them were armed, or why, facing the threat of a possible conflagration, they chose to send them into a cellar.)
The synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden, which was firebombed on December 9. (Image source: Lintoncat/Wikimedia Commons)
Gothenburg, by the way, is the same city in which, as we reported recently, the churches will be opening their doors every night this winter to provide shelter for homeless immigrants -- whether legal or illegal -- but not for homeless Swedes. There is probably no direct connection whatsoever here, but it is hard not to find a certain dark irony in this juxtaposition of events.
A small fire did indeed spread out at the synagogue, but was soon extinguished by firefighters. Fortunately, there were no injuries; alas, there were only three arrests. When asked by the daily Expressen to say something about the identity of the suspects, a police spokesperson would say only that the three persons taken into custody were about 20 years old. In the aftermath of the attack, Swedish police have intensified security arrangements around the handful of other synagogues in the country.
Perhaps surprisingly, given their distaste for stories that challenge the narrative of a harmonious multicultural Sweden, the mainstream Swedish media have given this episode extensive coverage. Politicians have rushed to condemn the synagogue attack. Several commentators have suggested that it was motivated by President Trump's decision to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Dan Eliasson, head of the national police, said flat out that Trump's move had made the situation of Jews in Sweden more precarious. Should threats of violence, however, a form of extortion, really determine policy?
Svante Weyler, head of the Swedish Committee against Antisemitism, told the daily Aftonbladet that this probably will not be the last occurrence of its kind in Sweden. (That is a pretty good bet.) He further noted that anti-Semitism is, indeed, quite severe and on the rise in Europe -- especially in Sweden -- but, unless Aftonbladet cut something out, he was careful not to mention Islam. (That is par for the course.)
There was more from Weyler. In the wake of attacks on European Jewish targets, European Jewish leaders like him routinely distance themselves from Israel, underscoring that it is wrong for enemies of Israel to blame European Jews for Israeli actions. Weyler served up a version of this argument, pointing out that "those young people who were gathered together in the synagogue have no direct connection to what is happening in the Middle East or to what Trump does." Rarely does a European Jewish leader -- or anyone, for that matter -- simply stand up and defend Israel.
It is not just European Jewish leaders who, in such cases, feel driven to draw a sharp distinction between European Jews and the Jewish state. In an interview with Expressen, Jonas Ransgård, a member of the Gothenburg city council, lamented the fact that "Jews in Sweden are held responsible for what Israel thinks is right or wrong." Such remarks, of course, imply:
that Swedish Jews, being Swedes, are surely too sensible and humane to agree in any large numbers with Israeli (or pro-Israeli) policies or actions, and
that Israel, by virtue of its supposedly provocative behavior, is at least indirectly responsible for anti-Jewish attacks in Europe.
If the firebombing of the Gothenburg synagogue was motivated by Trump's decision on Jerusalem, it was not the only notable response to that decision in Sweden this weekend. On Friday night, an anti-Trump rally in Malmö drew about 200 people, many of whom shouted anti-Jewish remarks and threatened to "shoot the Jews." On Saturday, anti-Trump protesters marched in Stockholm and set fire to the Israeli flag. A search through the major Swedish online media did not yield any details about the ethnic or religious backgrounds of the participants in any of these incidents.
What, sadly, is hardly ever acknowledged by Europe's establishment media is that Jews -- and Israel, the only openly pluralistic country in the Middle East -- are under constant assault by Western European leaders, citizens, and (especially) so-called "new Europeans," as well as by the governments of no fewer than 21 Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East.
The attack on the Gothenburg synagogue may have been immediately triggered by Trump's recognition of Israel's capital, but it is part of a pattern of persecution and savagery that has been in place, and that has been systematically ignored, denied or played down by the news media and public officials, ever since the Islamization of Western Europe began.
**Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
© 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.

Bangladesh: Runaway Muslim Persecution of Hindus
Mohshin Habib/Gatestone Institute/December 11/17
If you want to root out a Hindu family from its ancestral home in Bangladesh, just accuse one of its members of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. You will find thousands of Muslims rushing to burn the Hindu family's whole neighborhood down, without hesitation or evidence.
In a horrible twist, an investigation into the Facebook post that ostensibly sparked the riots revealed that the user who wrote the supposedly offensive comments was MD Titu, not Titu Roy.
Within 30 years, there will be no Hindus left in Bangladesh, based on "the rate of exodus over the past 49 years." — Dr. Abul Barkat, Dhaka University.
If you want to punish a non-Muslim, especially a poor Christian in Pakistan, point your index finger at him and utter the word "blasphemy." You will soon find thousands of Islamic hardliners beside you chanting, "Death to blasphemers!" Similarly, if you want to root out a Hindu family from its ancestral home in Bangladesh, just accuse one of its members of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. You will soon find thousands of Muslims rushing to burn the Hindu family's whole neighborhood down, without hesitation or evidence.
Such behavior towards minorities -- Christians in Pakistan and Hindus in Bangladesh -- has become commonplace among fundamentalist Muslims in both countries, whose governments have surrendered to Islamists.
Hindu women stand beside the ruins of their home in Chittagong, Bangladesh, after it was destroyed by Islamists who attacked their community, in March 2013. (Image source: Mehedi Hasan Khan/Global Voices/Wikimedia Commons)
On November 5, for instance, a Bangladeshi Muslim, Alomgir Hossein, filed a complaint against a Hindu, Titu Roy, for allegedly posting derogatory remarks about the Islamic Prophet Muhammed on Facebook. The Muslims of Titu Roy's hometown of Thakurpara (a Hindu-dominated village in Rangpur) gave police a 24-hour ultimatum to arrest the "blasphemer," or they would take action.
Although Titu Roy lives with his wife and two children 500 miles away in Narayanganj, a few days later, after Friday prayers, around 20,000 Muslims from neighboring villages descended upon Thakurpara to take "revenge." Ignoring police attempts at dissuasion, the mob set fire to at least 30 Hindu homes, and looted and vandalized others.
When police intervened, clashes erupted. One man was killed and 20 others were injured, including four policemen. The police claimed it was activists from the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami who led the arson attacks to create unrest ahead of the parliamentary elections.
In a horrible twist, an investigation into the Facebook post that ostensibly sparked the riots revealed an apparent case of mistaken identity. It turned out that the user who wrote the supposedly offensive comments was MD Titu, not Titu Roy. (MD is an abbreviation for Muhammed, used by millions of Muslims across the world; Titu is one of the rare names that is used by both Muslims and Hindus.)
This was also not the first time that Muslims used social media pots as an excuse to attack Hindus in Bangladesh. According to the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report for 2016:
"There were a significant number of attacks against religious minorities [in Bangladesh], particularly Hindus. In October hundreds of villagers in the eastern part of the country vandalized more than 50 Hindu family homes and 15 Hindu temples, following a Facebook post believed by some to be offensive to Islam. High levels of election-related violence in June resulted in the death of 126 individuals and injuries to 9,000 others. In one attack in a suburb of Dhaka, the media reported hundreds of attackers used sticks and bamboo poles to beat a group of Catholics and vandalize their homes and shops, injuring an estimated 60 people."
The report further cited religious minorities in Bangladesh who claim that the government continues to discriminate against them in property disputes, and does not adequately protect them from attacks. A report from Minority Rights Group International, released in November 2016, confirmed the findings:
"A large number of attacks targeting religious minorities in particular have subsequently been claimed by the organization Islamic State — a claim vigorously denied by the Bangladeshi government, which has attributed the attacks to domestic militant groups. Regardless of their authorship, since the beginning of this new outbreak of violence, the authorities have visibly failed to ensure the protection of those targeted."
According to an eminent Bangladeshi economist and researcher, Dr. Abul Barkat of Dhaka University, within 30 years, there will be no Hindus left in the country, based on "the rate of exodus over the past 49 years." Barkat, author of "Political Economy of Unpeopling of Indigenous People: The Case of Bangladesh," said that between 1964 and 2013, 11.3 million Hindus had left Bangladesh due to religious persecution and discrimination.
The Hindus of Bangladesh, a country created in 1971 from East Pakistan, have a long history of repression at the hands of Muslims. According to a 2013 report by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF):
"Hindu minorities living in countries throughout South Asia and other parts of the world are subject to varying degrees of legal and institutional discrimination, restrictions on their religious freedom, social prejudice, violence, social persecution, and economic and political marginalization. Hindu women are especially vulnerable and face kidnappings and forced conversions in countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. In several countries where Hindus are minorities, non-state actors advance a discriminatory and exclusivist agenda, often with the tacit or explicit support of the state."
The HAF has designated Bangladesh as one of four "egregious violators" of the human rights of their Hindu populations, second only to Afghanistan. It is little wonder, then, that the Hindu population there is in steep decline, with a 2011 national census suggesting that a mere 8.4% remained, with nearly one million having left the country after 2001. To this day, Hindus continue to seek refuge in neighboring India.
Although secularism is enshrined in the constitution of Bangladesh, the country is being "purified" by -- and for -- its fundamentalist Muslims.
**Mohshin Habib, a Bangladeshi author, columnist and journalist, is Executive Editor of The Daily Asian Age.
© 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.

A Saudi-UAE alliance to maintain Gulf security
Hassan Al Mustafa/Al Arabiya/December 11/2017
Coordination and cooperation efforts between Saudi Arabia and the UAE are ongoing amid several regional wars and crises. The two stable Gulf countries are surrounded by a number of “failed” regimes and other regimes that have unsuccessfully tried to escape the quagmire of terrorism and violence.
It has been a difficult time for these countries, especially due to sectarian, racist and fundamentalist rhetoric that fuels divisions and pushes armed militias and parties toward absurd conflicts.
On the first week of December, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan issued a decision to form a cooperation committee between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The committee’s tasks will be to “cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, commercial and cultural fields and other fields as required by the two countries’ interests.” The committee will also have “all the needed jurisdictions to carry out its tasks.”
Before that, specifically in May 2016, they signed an agreement in Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah to establish a coordinating council.
Among the issues, which Abu Dhabi and Riyadh seek to work on, is maintaining security and stability of the Gulf and shielding it from unrest
A sovereign decision
This strong cooperation between the kingdom and the UAE is the result of a sovereign decision by the two countries. It does not make one follow the other and it does not imply that the two countries have matching perspectives on all matters, as each country values its own national interest.
This bilateral relation reflects the two state’s capabilities to overcome differences and neutralize them so they do not turn into obstacles that delay possible mutual work, which is necessary to address urgent challenges.
Confronting terrorism, violence and sectarian rhetoric and deterring the threat of politicized Islamist groups, which exploit religion for partisan purposes as well as Iranian expansion in the region and the presence of armed groups, are among the many areas they cover.
These matters cannot be efficiently addressed by one state alone, and they require efforts on the intelligence, security, economic and cultural fronts. Any complete project can be the gist of the experience of several countries, which have visions that somehow resemble one another and which have mutual interests and mutual enemies and threats.
Among the issues, which Abu Dhabi and Riyadh seek to work on, is maintaining the security and stability of the Gulf and shielding it from unrest since it is the most secure Arab region and the one with the most financial capabilities at the moment.
Any structural shortcoming can harm Gulf countries and lead to chaos and conflicts weakening a united front against Iran. This will create gaps which groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS will be able to exploit to carry out destructive operations in Gulf countries. This is a grave threat, which we must be aware of and prevent from happening.
The alliance between the UAE and Saudi Arabia must not worry any of their neighbors because it seems to create a safety net, which everyone will benefit from. This alliance can be the core of a strong and efficient alliance that compensates for the disputes and stalemate in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

On the road to Jerusalem
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/December 11/2017
I understand Arab and Muslim anger and general anger of the American decision to transfer the US embassy to West Jerusalem after it recognized it as the capital of Israel.
The word “Jerusalem” alone is enough to move general sentiment of Muslims in particular and of course of Christians and Jews. Jerusalem is the city of prayer, as Fairuz sang, and the soul’s capital where all three monotheistic religions meet.
The image of Jerusalem’s mosques has been printed on Saudi currency for a long time now. It reflects the special attention, which Saudi Arabia gives to Jerusalem, whether politically, financially and militarily, like in the 1948 war.
Morocco’s king is the chairman of al-Quds Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Jordan’s King has special responsibilities toward Jerusalem for many reasons.
Iran, in its Khomeini version, tried – though late – to employ Jerusalem’s special status. It created Quds Day and the Quds Brigade or Force – as Nasrallah tends to correct it. All there is of “Jerusalem” is the name of that day and brigade.
Meanwhile, they kill and displace the Syrians and engage in destructive practices that harm the Iraqis, Lebanese, Bahrainis and Yemenis, upon the blessings of Jerusalem’s major conqueror Hajj Qassem Soleimani.
How did things escalate to this day?
It’s an old, painful and complicated story. Palestinians as well as Arabs and Muslims contributed to it. And of course, it was the British colonial authorities which troubled the entire world with it.
Jerusalem is the city of prayer, as Fairuz sang, and the soul’s capital where all three monotheistic religions meet
Exploited in politics
However, today is nothing like yesterday. Have the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims learnt from the past’s lessons and tragedies? Have they understood how Jerusalem and Palestine were exploited in politics, whether by leftists, nationalists or the Brotherhood and finally by the Khomeini regime?
Not at all, no one learnt anything. We have seen insolent protestors in Gaza insult some Arab countries and burn their flags, including Saudi Arabia’s. It’s such a shameful deviation from the real arena of confrontation.
There are bids, lies and outrageous screams that deafens ears, and what is the end result? Absolutely nothing that serves the cause itself and Jerusalem and Palestine.
Last Wednesday, the Iranian news channel al-Alam broadcast a statement, which Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun made from Tehran. “The road which connects Tehran to Mosul, Aleppo and Beirut is clear toward Jerusalem,” he said. For God’s sake, what deprives the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem of their worth more than this?
“We await clear Iranian alertness to reap the fruits of this anger,” Hazem Saghiyeh wrote in his recent article in Al-Hayat daily. He also inquires, “is Palestine the central cause?” only on the verbal front while on the practical level it’s actually the means to escape from all actual causes?
At the end of the day, how do all this fuss and all these insults and bids by groups affiliated with Iran, Qatar and the Brotherhood serve Jerusalem and Palestine?

Bitcoin: Is it the future of currency?
Rashid bin Mohammed Al-Fawzan/Al Arabiya/December 11/2017
From the time I start writing this article to the time I finish it, the fluctuating price of the digital currency ‘bitcoin’ would have most likely risen or fallen appreciably.
How does this digital currency work, and from where has it emerged? It is said that it was started by an anonymous group with a Japanese name in 2007, who set the standards and computing algorithms for its “production”.
I will leave the details about its founding and focus now on the question as to why has it emerged? Bitcoins came into existence because of it is a currency that is not controlled by any state or central bank. It mainly relies on an old economic standard called “artificial scarcity” which is used to protect it from unauthorized access or control over the system.
Therefore, if a hacker is able to produce the currency in the millions its value would automatically come to nought, as there is only a fixed amount in which the currency is produced. Like gold, the power of the bitcoin lies in its scarcity.
The criticism of this currency by international financial institutions ranges from it being a ‘fraudulent’ form of currency to being a completely ‘ridiculous’ medium of exchange. On the other hand; many experts see it as the future of currency and believe if it continues it could threaten the use of state currencies, even replace them. The criticism of this currency by international financial institutions ranges from it being a ‘fraudulent’ form of currency to being a completely ‘ridiculous’ medium of exchange
‘Petro’ currency
Meanwhile, Venezuela has decided to issue its own crypto-currency under the name ‘Petro’. There are also other new, more innovative currencies such as ‘ethereum’ that are showing growth. Venezuela has shown interest in developing this form of currency to evade the ill effects of economic boycott.
Thus, many countries suffering from economic blockade might show interest in such crypto-currencies. Such currencies may also be used economically dubious transactions, be it weapons trade, drug dealing, money laundering…etc. These are some of the adverse effects related to these virtual mediums of exchange? There is also the danger of these currencies causing inflation?
There are a host of other questions that need satisfactory answers. What are the reasons behind the significant growth of the Bitcoin currency?
Why are big financial powers like the US and Europe watching these currencies operate, without them trying to stop them? Should it be left to market forces, which might arguably make its own corrections?
Certainly this seems to recipe for financial disasters as there appears no legitimate economic basis for supporting such systems. This also seems to be a safe haven for people involved in price manipulation and all kinds of speculative activities.
Major industrial countries could face a grave challenge in the future because of these crypto-currencies and the reality or illusion of such technological innovation will blow up soon?

US embassy to Jerusalem: The Aftermath
Walid Jawad/Al Arabiya/December 11/2017
There are a number of statements that we can agree on: recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to it is a shortsighted, irresponsible decision by US President Trump. This should be the time the disadvantaged parties to reexamine the history of the Middle East conflict with clear eyes and intellectual minds instead of the prevailing emotional reaction of old. The future is bleak long as Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims keep resorting to same old feel-good responses. A long-term effective strategy to achieve a resolution will be fraught with hard work, tough decisions, and agonizing negotiations. Above all, it requires constant and frank discussions between the conflicting parties. There is no other way to achieve peace. To be clear, on the face of it, Trump’s decision predetermines the outcome of the sensitive and complex status of the holy city of Jerusalem. Palestinians and the greater Muslim world are rightfully furious. The prospect of increased violence in the Middle East is palatable. This decision rubs the face of Palestinians further down in the mud of injustice. Muslims feel that such US recognition of Jerusalem as a Jewish city is tantamount to negating the sacredness of al-Aqsa; Islam’s first Holy mosque. Trump’s poor judgment regarding the middle East conflict extends to hammering the last nail in the coffin of America's claim to neutrality. The US role as an objective mediator is all but dead.
Let’s be true to ourselves, protesting the decision will not lead to its reversal. So what are the options to respond to this skewed decision? The answer can be found in deep introspection accounting for the deteriorating Palestinian negotiating position over the previous seven decades starting with Palestinian division between Fatah and Hamas. Both Palestinian groups need to advance the primary goal entrusted to them by the Palestinian people: stopping any further suffering of the people and ending the state of perennial conflict. A resolution without negotiations in impossible.
The energy spent on outrage needs to be redirected into public campaigns to win over the sympathetic American people
Realistic gain
Negotiations without tangible and realistic gains is a charade. Past theatrics steeped in emotional grandstanding in the cause of abstract dignity and justice will no longer pacify the masses. Palestinian basic rights and exercisable self-governance must be the guiding light.
This Jerusalem episode is the latest example of lack of progress by the Palestinians, and Arabs by extension, over the life of the conflict. The emphasis has been on dignity and justice when there are none to be had. War is war. The humiliation of defeat doesn’t take away from the honor of the fight. Multiple wars against Israel had lead to Arabs losing more land than gaining.
Arab dignity would have been preserved by gracious acceptance of defeat on the battlefield. Justice is an abstract concept that means something different to different people. Calls from pushing Jews into the sea (once a battle cry) to live-and-let-live and every combination in between qualify as calls for justice.
It remains that the responsibility of Palestinian leaders is to stop any and all unnecessary suffering by the Palestinian people before making any demands under the banner of justice. Once that is achieved, justice must be fair and practical to acknowledge trauma and correcting of the ensuing suffering.
The peace process
The stalled peace process emboldened Trump to hijack one of the most sticking points reserved for final status negotiations. Nevertheless, Jerusalem’s final status will be decided exclusively by the Palestinians and Israelis as part of the final status negotiation.
Although Palestinians feel that Trump has forced their hand into an undesirable outcome, it is not the case. Perhaps they feel it will lead to nullifying any future peace negotiations. Whatever the feelings are, the future of the Middle East resides with Palestinians signing off on a satisfactory peace agreement.
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a political gesture that doesn’t damage the peace process; it’s already stalled. Yet its potential for permanent damage is real. A trap, so to speak. It's the trap that only the Palestinians can walk in if they wish to acquiesce. Potential change to the reality of Jerusalem is directly correlated to the degree the parties are willing to allow for. Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only possible through an agreement both sides willing to accept. It is worth remembering that numerous opportunities were squandered in the past. Half of historic Palestine would have been a reality if Arabs would have accepted the UN’s 1947 partition plan. now the starting point is much less; noncontiguous land along the 1967 lines. Friday’s Day of Rage protests will not change the equation. To affect change in US policy one must understand that American foreign policy is confined to the four year limit of the presidential election cycle. Peace has been elusive over the decades despite earnest attempts by many US presidents. The isles of the White House and the State Department has always been a model of frustrated busy work looking for ways to help move the parties closer to an agreement.
The fallout of instability
The US knows that it can sway the equation in favor of Israel, but will have to live with the fallout of instability and violence. Every US president up until Trump took office, has attempted to be even-handed with both sides. The results have been disappointing.
That delicate dance only invited the ire of both sides. Now that it is taking sides, it is, in fact, marginalizing itself. Nevertheless, there is no scenario where the peace process would not include the US. It is important to account for the tremendous leverage the US has on the process
The outrage of the demonstrators on the streets are in vain. The energy exerted by them is not directed toward creating the right environment for peace to prevail. Demonstrators need to understand that US foreign policy is guided by the American people.
The energy spent on outrage needs to be redirected into public campaigns to win over the sympathetic American people. Communicating the suffering befalling the Palestinian people will induce empathy and connection with the Palestinians and their cause. Digital tools are abundant and offer unparalleled reach.
The only limitation is activists’ ability to translate the injustice into an emotional language that would resonate with Americans. Protesting has its utility, but it needs to be one that prompts their own leaders to engage in effective political strategies based on results and not empty rhetoric.

Will Iran’s Expansionist Scheme Fail?/هل ستفشل مؤامرة إيران التوسعية
Rahim Hamid/Clarion Project/December 11, 2017
Iran’s theocratic regime, which has maintained power domestically via brutal oppression for over four decades, is continuing its devastating expansionist policies across the Middle East, paying no heed to the bloody results of its subversive policies. The fallout from Iran’s policies is not limited to the terrible destruction in those regional nations where the regime has established a foothold, but also seems to be wreaking havoc on the Iranian state itself. Iran’s regime and the entire country are isolated, exhausted, and militarily and financially stretched to their limit. Recent indications suggest the regime’s regional clout is waning, with the proxy militias starting to fall out among themselves. Failure on the ground and rising public discontent among local populations (including the large minority populations) make it impossible for them to follow through with Iran’s political program.
Exploiting the Arab Spring
Iran publicly voiced support for the uprisings against various oppressive regimes in the Arab world which broke out in early 2011, with many viewing the regime’s claims as insincere and motivated by the leaders’ wish to capitalize on and exploit the revolutions for Iran’s own benefit, to gain leverage in the region.
Tehran saw the turbulence of the Arab Spring as an opportunity for exploitation, allowing it to foment divisions and fuel sectarian schisms, which could be used as part of a “divide and rule” policy.
Iran’s regime wants its 1979 “Islamic revolution” – which itself ended with the crushing of all the country’s democratic parties — to be the sole successful example of an uprising in the region, with any genuinely popular movement for freedom which might threaten the regime’s domination of the Middle East ruthlessly crushed as in Syria.
Since first coming to power in 1979, the regime has planned and worked tirelessly to divide and fragment Arab societies. Rather than striving for normal relations with these nations, the regime’s sole objective is to weaken and undermine these countries via infiltration as a prelude to occupation and subjugation.
The regime viewed the Arab Spring as a perfect pretext for putting these plans into operation under the guise of supposedly supporting the revolutions.
The tightly-controlled regime media even termed the Arab revolutions collectively as an “Islamic Awakening” in a flagrant bid to hijack them for its own agenda.
In the years since 2011, however, Tehran’s hypocrisy and true oppressive nature have been laid bare, with the ayatollahs providing the most brutal Arab regime that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, with a near-limitless supply of money, weapons, military advisors and rank and file militiamen.
This once again underlined that the theocratic regime in Iran never had any interest in supporting freedom. Its sole imperative is expansionism and regional control In pursuit of this objective it spent billions of dollars on helping to slaughter and dispossess millions of people and to reduce whole nations to rubble, while claiming implausibly to be fighting terror.
Losing Yemen
Since the Houthi coup in 2015, the Yemeni people have shown a heroic and genuine resistance to Iran’s project for regional domination. Iran is keen to retain control of Yemen for several reasons; foremost among these, the regime wants to maintain an unassailable position in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the main point of entry to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. The regime also wants to control the Gulf of Aden and to deploy affiliated forces on the Saudi borders to threaten the stability within its main regional rival; this was a primary consideration in showering the Houthis with weapons and money. The major losses currently inflicted on the Houthi militia in Yemen represent a severe blow to the Iranian regime’s regional plans. The Houthis’ targeting of Saudi cities, including Mecca, Taif and Riyadh with Iranian-produced missiles, led to infighting among the Houthis and their other accomplices, causing chronic deadlock in the political process in the country and widespread anger among many Yemenis. Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa demanding the ousting of the militias from the city. Despite the Houthis’ best efforts and the devastation wreaked in their ongoing battle for control, however, forces affiliated with Yemen’s General People’s Congress (GPC) recently gained “complete control” of Sanaa Airport from the Houthi militias.
The GPC-affiliated forces also recently recaptured the Sabaa Media Agency, Yemen’s central bank and many embassy buildings, most prominently the Saudi, Emirati and Sudanese embassies, along with the Defense Ministry building.
These losses are almost as painful to Iran’s regime as the financial losses it sustained in its campaign in the country, spending at least $10 billion to date on funding the Houthis. Iranians are likely to wonder why the regime directed these massive amounts of money, especially while poverty continues to worsen at home and enthusiasm for the regime’s regional wars wanes.
Disgruntled minorities
Some analysts have predicted the Ahwazis, Turks, Kurds, Baluchis and other minorities, will be in the vanguard of those who will revolt against the savagely-repressive theocracy. Those groups which have experienced every form of torture, discrimination, oppression and marginalization at the regime’s hands are unlikely to accept the status quo for much longer, even under supposed reformists. All of these groups are keenly monitoring the behavior of the U.S. under the Trump Administration towards Iran. According to the latest reports from Iran, the regime is stepping up domestic security, becoming increasingly fearful of a domestic uprising. Although the regime is still using its tools of repression and intimidation, it is likely the leadership is preparing to react against outbursts of public anger. One sign of the regime’s concerns over domestic unrest is the recent visit of President Hassan Rouhani to the province of Sistan and Baluchistan, where he gave a lengthy speech, underlining the necessity of sticking to unity. During this visit, some Iranian regime officials made remarks, tacitly threatening the eastern and southern provinces. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Baluchi political activist inside Iran suggested the regime may unleash terror groups in these areas to repress any popular uprisings, a technique it has deployed elsewhere in the region. These groups will be tasked with aborting any insurgencies or uprisings against the regime, he added.
Ultimately, Tehran’s plans for regional hegemony are doomed to fail, with the regime facing massive challenges which it is not equipped to tackle.
Domestically, tensions with non-Persian ethnic minorities are rising, while the economy is in a tailspin, and the return of multiple coffins daily carrying the remains of the fighters sent to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq is further increasing anger and disillusionment among the Iranian public. How many more signs are needed that the Iranian regime is teetering on the brink and that its project for regional hegemony is destined to fail?