December 13/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Instructions for Christian Households
Ephesians 05/21-33/Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—  for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church, However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 12-13/17
Iran Pushing Lebanon into War/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/December 12/17
Iran’s agents: Hezbollah, Houthis and Popular Mobilization/Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/December 12/17
Russia Takes a Step Toward the Post-Putin Era/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/December 12/17
Trump's Jerusalem Declaration Long Overdue/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/December 12/17
"Eurosion": Muslim Majority in Thirty Years/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/December 12/17
Germany's Batty Plan to Deter Migrants/Stefan Frank/Gatestone Institute/December 12/17
The emergence and downfall of Communists in Saudi Arabia/Kamel Al-Khatti//Al Arabiya/December 12/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on December 12-13/17
Aoun Vows to 'Defend' Jerusalem at Istanbul Islamic Summit
General Security Warns of Deceptive Mossad Web Pages
Jumblat Says Lebanon Should Consider Kuwait Electricity Offer
Lebanese who Escaped from U.S. Prison in 1997 Arrested
Franjieh Meets Hariri, Hints at Possible Electoral Alliance
Police Arrest Man Impersonating Officer in Bekaa
Hariri Slams 'Backstabbers', Promises to Reveal Details Soon
Tens of Thousands Rally in Dahieh in Support of Palestinians
Geagea Urges Hizbullah to Emulate Moqtada al-Sadr
Report: Mashnouq Launches Slogan for Parliamentary Polls
Hariri: Lebanon Not 'Banana Republic'
Jreissati after Change and Reform meeting: Lebanon has returned to the world's map thanks to President Aoun and Minister Bassil
Future bloc renews rejection of Trump decision, holds onto Arab Peace Initiative
Franjieh visits Hariri: We will not be far from each other during the elections
Bassil to represent Lebanon at ICO's Istanbul meeting
Army: Arsal locals hand Maaloula monastery belongings to Intelligence Department
Kaag's successor arrives in Beirut
Mashnouk meets International Sanctions Monitoring Team, Saudi National Campaign for Relief of Syrians
Hariri receives new Lebanon ambassadors appointed abroad
Army Chief meets Raffoul, Financial Prosecutor
U.N. warns of new Syrian refugee wave to Europe if aid dries up
Iran Pushing Lebanon into War
Iran’s agents: Hezbollah, Houthis and Popular Mobilization

Titles For
Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 12-13/17
Syrian opposition says government obstructing Geneva talks
On Russia’s Syria pullout claims, Pentagon voices skepticism
Two Palestinians killed in Gaza, Israel denies claim of attack
Israeli tank, aircraft hit Gaza after rocket fire
Israeli minister Lieberman calls Arab MPs ‘war criminals’
Putin and Erdogan warn of rising tension after Trump’s decision on Jerusalem
Egypt's President Sisi receives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Sisi, Abbas to 'Use International Momentum against' Trump's Decision
Trump says New York attack highlights need for immigration reform
French FM Says Iran Trying to Carve Out Regional 'Axis'
New York Bomber Not on Bangladesh Terror List, Say Dhaka Police
Sadr Orders Fighters to Hand Over Arms to State

test Lebanese Related News published on December 12-13/17
Aoun Vows to 'Defend' Jerusalem at Istanbul Islamic Summit
Naharnet/December 12/17/President Michel Aoun has vowed to “defend” Jerusalem at an emergency summit for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation that he will attend in Istanbul on Wednesday. Aoun will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and a number of diplomats and will deliver Lebanon's address at the summit. “Lebanon heads tomorrow to the Istanbul conference on the city of Jerusalem, and it has the will to defend this city which contains the heritage of Christian and Muslim history,” Aoun told his visitors on Tuesday, stressing that “Lebanon insists on Jerusalem's Arab identity and on it being the capital of the state of Palestine.”Emphasizing the importance of “Lebanon's presence at international forums and conferences and the role it can play through its active diplomacy and effective foreign policy,” the president said “Lebanon can play a role in dousing the raging blazes in the region.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for the OIC summit in Istanbul to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his decision to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. Turkey currently holds the chairmanship of the OIC.
Erdogan has warned that the status of Jerusalem is a "red line" for Muslims and could even prompt Turkey to cut ties with Israel. The Istanbul summit of the OIC -- an organization founded in 1969 after an arson attack on the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem -- will offer Erdogan the chance to showcase his status as a global Muslim leader. But it remains unclear if he will be able to come close to shifting the 57 members -- including arch foes like Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia --- into anything resembling a coordinated position.

General Security Warns of Deceptive Mossad Web Pages

Naharnet/December 12/17/The General Directorate of General Security issued a warning on Tuesday asking citizens not to be tricked into getting involved with the Israeli Mossad. “The Directorate warns Lebanese citizens and residents of falling into the trap of the Israeli Mossad which is active through fake pages on the internet and social media outlets with the aim of recruiting people for its interest,” said the statement. The statement added that LIOR ANONYMOUS TEAM is one of the pages on Facebook that “involves people with Israel and misleads them into illegal acts.” Lebanon and Israel are formally at war and collaborating with Israel can be punishable by death.

Jumblat Says Lebanon Should Consider Kuwait Electricity Offer
Naharnet/December 12/17/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat said Tuesday that Lebanon should consider an offer made by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Development to finance the establishment of new power plants in the country instead of leasing Turkish generating vessels. Referring to a controversial plan to lease the power ships, Jumblat said in a tweet: “Regarding the electricity file and rumors about costly side expenses, I have known that the Kuwait Development Fund is willing to finance new power generating plants.”The MP noted that the Kuwaiti fund has made the offer earlier but it was rejected then “due to unknown reasons.”He advised saying “This offer should be taken seriously. Let us stop the clamor regarding the “Ottoman” vessels,” he concluded. In November, three companies bidding to produce more electricity in Lebanon failed to meet the book of conditions. A Turkish power company, Karadeniz, which already provides the country with electricity remains the only company to have met the requirements. But under Lebanese laws, more than one qualified bidder is required to award the tender.

Lebanese who Escaped from U.S. Prison in 1997 Arrested

Associated Press/Naharnet/December 12/17/A Lebanese inmate who disappeared 20 years ago from a U.S. federal prison in Pennsylvania is set to be returned to the state for arraignment on an escape charge. Citing U.S. media reports, The Associated Press said 66-year-old Ghassan Saleh was arrested last month after flying into New York from Lebanon. Deputy U.S. Marshal Chad Sensor says Saleh was aware that he was wanted when he decided to return to the country. Saleh was working on a grounds crew when he escaped from the federal prison near Bradford in 1997. He had been serving a sentence of almost six years after being convicted of cocaine trafficking in Michigan. Saleh is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in the Pennsylvania city of Erie on Dec. 19. He is currently being held in New York.

Franjieh Meets Hariri, Hints at Possible Electoral Alliance
Naharnet/December 12/17/Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday and hinted at a possible electoral alliance with the premier's al-Mustaqbal Movement. “The meeting with PM Saad Hariri was friendly and we will not be away from each other in the elections. We discussed the previous period and the upcoming period and we agreed on most issues,” said Franjieh after meeting Hariri at the Center House. “We hope the positive atmosphere will continue in the coming period and we should not pounce on each other at the first mistake,” the Marada leader added. Asked about the relation with the Lebanese Forces, Franjieh said: “Today, we are not in an alliance with the LF but rather in a dialogue with them. We are still evaluating things and we have said that we have turned the page on the past. When elections come, we will see how to secure the election of the biggest number of Marada MPs.”As for Lebanon's dissociation policy, Franjieh said the controversial visit by an Iraqi militia commander to the Lebanese-Israeli border “is related to Resolution 1701, not to dissociation towards Arab states.”“When we mention violations of Resolution 1701, let us count how many violations Israel carries out in one year. I wish some Lebanese would react to Israel's violations the same way they did towards this violation,” Franjieh added. “It was noteworthy that those who made a violent reaction had been allies of Israel in the past,” he went on to say.

Police Arrest Man Impersonating Officer in Bekaa
Naharnet/December 12/17/The Internal Security Forces arrested a 45-year-old man in the Bekaa Valley for impersonating a police officer, a statement released by the security agency said Tuesday. ISF detained the man after obtaining information that he has been contacting the ISF department in the Bekaa region pretending to be an officer and asking for particular services for his benefit, added the statement. The detainee, who was identified with his initials as A.M., was caught on Monday after thorough monitoring. He admitted to his charges.

Hariri Slams 'Backstabbers', Promises to Reveal Details Soon
Naharnet/December 12/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday hit out at “political parties” that allegedly tried to “stab him in the back” during the latest political crisis that followed his surprise resignation announcement from Riyadh.
“We are here today to tell everyone that this movement, Rafik Hariri's movement, the Blue movement, which many have tried to eliminate, remains and continues because it is the movement of truth and justice, because it puts the interest of the country above all other secondary interests. We have no personal interest and no family interest, our only interest is Lebanon,” said Hariri during a meeting at the Center House with a delegation from al-Mustaqbal Movement and Beiruti families.
He added: “The upcoming parliamentary elections are crucial for us as they are for the country as a whole, so we have to work hard as a coherent team to complete Rafik Hariri's path, which is the path of building and developing the country.”Referring to the crisis of his resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia, which he eventually rescinded, Hariri said: “We have been through a difficult crisis. There are those who wanted to exploit our privileged relations with Saudi Arabia to personally hurt me.”
“There are political parties that tried to find a place for them in this crisis by stabbing me in the back and I will deal with these cases, case by case, but I do not hold grudge against anyone, because I am convinced that the country needs all its people to rise and develop,” the premier added. Hariri, however, promised to “call things by their names” in a TV interview on LBCI on December 21. “All of you know who tried to stab us in the back, while they were pretending to defy Hizbullah and Iran's policy. They attacked Hizbullah once and Saad Hariri twenty times and they claimed that they were completing Rafik Hariri's path,” Hariri lamented.
Hariri's Future TV has recently lashed out at ex-minister Ashraf Rifi, ex-MP Fares Soaid and political activist Radwan al-Sayyed, while some members of Hariri's al-Mustaqbal Movement have criticized the Lebanese Forces.
Hariri's resignation announcement plunged Lebanon -- long a proxy battleground for bigger neighbors -- into its worst crisis in years.
Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of using armed proxies such as Hizbullah to advance its interests, from Lebanon to Yemen, Syria and Iraq. In his resignation statement Hariri accused Tehran and Hizbullah -- which has ministers in the Lebanese government -- of destabilizing the country and region.
But he eventually returned home and agreed to stay on as premier after securing an agreement from Hizbullah that Lebanon should keep out of regional conflicts.
Hariri remained in Riyadh for two weeks after his resignation, fueling speculation that he was being “held hostage.”A Lebanese source close to the premier told AFP that Riyadh threatened Lebanon with economic sanctions unless he stepped down. Macron intervened, hosting Hariri to Paris for talks, after which he returned home to a hero's welcome. Hariri has said that the fragile stability in Lebanon "appeared like a small miracle" given the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. "The desire of all in Lebanon is to save our democracy," he said.

Tens of Thousands Rally in Dahieh in Support of Palestinians
Agence France Presse/Associated Press/Naharnet/December 12/17/
Tens 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.

Geagea Urges Hizbullah to Emulate Moqtada al-Sadr
Naharnet/December 12/17/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.

Report: Mashnouq Launches Slogan for Parliamentary Polls
Naharnet/December 12/17/Although the latest US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has cast a shadow internationally and at home, Lebanon's government started restoring its normal activities paving way for a Cabinet meeting on Thursday as the interior ministry launched a slogan for the country's May elections, An Nahar daily reported Tuesday. While Prime Minister Saad Hariri resumed the meetings of the ministerial committees under his chairmanship, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq launched what was described as a “practical indicator” in line with preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled in May 2018, said the daily. Confirming preparedness to stage the polls on time, Mashnouq launched Monday the slogan “2018 Lebanon Elects” under which the elections will be held. The Minister has also presided over a regular meeting of senior officials concerned with preparations for the elections. They discussed various logistical, administrative, technical and legal issues related to the electoral process, added the daily. The participants agreed to adopt new concealment techniques for the polling booth which was designed according to modern international standards that enhance the secrecy of voting, said An Nahar. The Minister assured that the ministry is fully prepared to stage timely elections. He revealed that his meeting with Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil was aimed at confirming the readiness of the two ministries to hold the polls. Mashnouq said the finance minister has pledged to secure the required funds for the elections in full, even if the 2018 budget was not quickly approved.

Hariri: Lebanon Not 'Banana Republic'
Asharq Al-Awsat - Paula Astih/December 12/17 /Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri called Monday on the country’s security forces to act decisively with the appearances of armed elements in southern Lebanon, asserting that this behavior is bad for the state. “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.” Hariri said during his participation in the election of the President and the bureau of the Economic and Social Council of Lebanon. The Prime Minister’s comments came as a response to the tour conducted in southern Lebanon by leader of the Iraqi paramilitary group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Qais al-Khazali who declared his readiness “to stand together with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause.” Another video spread on social media websites Sunday also showed two members from “Saraya al-Islam” in southern Lebanon. Both groups are part of Iraq’s "Hashd al-Shaabi" factions. Sources from the Future Movement told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Hezbollah continues to embarrass Hariri,” adding that the videos are considered a “flagrant infringement” of the last government’s decision and its dissociation policy and is a violation to UNSC Resolution 1701, which Lebanon and “Hezbollah” pledged to respect. The government is expected to convene its first session next Thursday, following last week’s ministerial decision that underlined the country’s commitment to a dissociation policy, and after Hariri withdrew his resignation. The parliamentary sources said that Hariri’s priority is to assure a political, security and economic stability in the country, and to push other political parties to help him achieve this, instead of complicating matters. On Monday, Hariri said his government has given the priority to reactivate the state's work with all its institutions.

Jreissati after Change and Reform meeting: Lebanon has returned to the world's map thanks to President Aoun and Minister Bassil
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday said that Lebanon has returned to the world's map thanks to the President of the republic and to the action of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
The bloc held today its weekly meeting, where it lengthily tackled Bassil's speech at the Arab League, following US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "The bloc and its backbone, the Free Patriotic Movement, are still following in the footsteps of their founder, President Michel Aoun, in terms of respecting the Constitution and our Arab identity," Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said following the meeting. On the governmental level, Jreissati highlighted the necessity that the Cabinet finalize the pending dossiers, including the 2018 state budget and the oil-related decrees and regulations. He added that the Cabinet must also discuss the approach to be submitted by Minister Bassil regarding Jerusalem.

Future bloc renews rejection of Trump decision, holds onto Arab Peace Initiative
Tue 12 Dec 2017/ NNA - Future parliamentary bloc on Tuesday renewed utter rejection of President Donald Trump's fresh decision, highlighting the necessity to hold onto the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that calls for the two-state solution and guarantees the refugees' return to a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. "The unjust decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, --this holy Arab city that is the cradle of the three monotheistic religions--requires the Arab and Islamic states to cooperate to work on facing and foiling the US decision," the bloc said in a statement following its weekly meeting at Bayt-al-Wasat, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. On a different note, the bloc welcomed the outcome of the meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, hailing the international community's cleaving to Lebanon's security and political and economic stability. Also, the bloc sternly condemned the visit Sheikh Qais al-Khazaali paid to Lebanon's southern borders, maintaining support for Hariri's decision to "prevent this militia commander from entering the Lebanese territories" and to investigate this video al-Khazaali had posted on social media. Moreover, the bloc did not fail to remember late lawmaker Gebran Tueni, upon the 12th anniversary of his martyrdom. Accordingly, Future bloc renewed commitment to Lebanon's stability, sovereignty, and independence.

Franjieh visits Hariri: We will not be far from each other during the elections
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received this afternoon at the Center House the Head of Marada Movement MP Sleiman Franjieh, accompanied by his son Tony Franjieh and Minister Youssef Fenianos, in the presence of Minister Ghattas Khoury, the Prime Minister's press office indicated on Tuesday.  Discussions focused on the latest developments and continued over a lunch held by Hariri on the occasion. After the meeting, MP Franjieh said: "The meeting was a political and social one. We talked about all issues, particularly after the period that passed and the previous periods where friendliness was essential between us and the Prime Minister. Today’s meeting included political talk and how things and there was an agreement on almost all issues."
Question: Did Prime Minister Hariri inform you about who he meant when he said that he will "say everything"?
Frangieh: No. I did not ask him and he did not say.
Question: Will there be an electoral alliance among five, or six groups?
Frajieh: There are still five months before the elections. During this period, many things change and the scene today may change in days or months. We talked about all issues and we will not be far from each other during the elections.
Question: How do you visualize the coming period?
Franjieh: What should happen is what is happening now. We can see a positive atmosphere which we hope will continue and we should help each to maintain the positive atmosphere. This is the basis.
Question: There was talk about a meeting with Minister Gebran Bassil. Could this meeting take place soon?
Frajieh: Let me clarify this. I heard it in the media just as you did, but no one raised this with me. Our doors are always open to Gebran Bassil and others, but no one spoke to us about this.
Question: Al-Marada is not committed to any alliance until now?
Franjieh: Al-Marada is clear, it wants its interest in the constituency where it is now present and in all constituencies where it can have influential friends.
Question: Are the Lebanese Forces among them?
Franjieh: If our interest is with the Lebanese Forces electorally. But until now I said it clearly, we are not in the atmosphere of any alliance with the Lebanese Forces. We are in an atmosphere of dialogue with them but we are still studying things. We said that we put the past behind us and during the elections we will see how we can win the largest number of MPs who are in the line of al-Marada.
Question: What is your position regarding the disassociation policy and the breaches it witnessed?
Franjieh: We supported the disassociation policy. As for the breaches, I ask: does the disassociation include Israel or not? If we are talking about what happened in the South, it is related to UNSCR 1701 and has nothing to do with the disassociation regarding the Arab countries.
When we talk about breaching UNSCR 1701, let us count the number of breaches carried out by Israel per year. If only the Lebanese, or some of them, would react to only one percent of the breaches done by Israel as they did to the breach that took place. If you want to be fair, you should react to Israeli breaches and other breaches. As I said, we shed the light on the negative points and not on the positive ones.
When the Iraqi official visited the south, Prime Minister Hariri said that he is forbidden to enter Lebanon and the issue ended here. But the striking thing is that those who raised the voice were Israel’s allies in the past and I am not accusing them.
What I want to say in this respect is that positivity should prevail.
When there is a national responsibility, the breaches should be tackled through it.

Bassil to represent Lebanon at ICO's Istanbul meeting
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil will represent Lebanon at the ministerial meeting for the Islamic Cooperation Organization, to be held in Istanbul tomorrow (Wednesday.)

Army: Arsal locals hand Maaloula monastery belongings to Intelligence Department
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - The General Directorate of the Intelligence Department received from Arsal locals a church bell and ancient 11 religious books terrorist groups had seized from Maaloula monastery during the Syrian events, a communiqué by the Lebanese army indicated on Tuesday.
The belongings will be handed later to the monastery's presidency, the communiqué added.

Kaag's successor arrives in Beirut
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - Pernille Dahler Kardel of Denmark arrived this evening in Beirut to assume her new post as the United Nations' Acting Special Coordinator for Lebanon, as the mission of her predecessor Sigrid Kaag had ended, National News Agency correspondent reported on Tuesday.

Mashnouk meets International Sanctions Monitoring Team, Saudi National Campaign for Relief of Syrians
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - Lebanon has succeeded in realizing outstanding security achievements in the fight against terrorism, Interior and Municipalities Minister, Nouhad Mashnouk, told a visiting delegation of the International Sanctions Monitoring Team of Al-Qaeda and Daesh. "Lebanon, thanks to the vigilance and professionalism of its security apparatuses, has succeeded in carrying out a large number of pre-emptive operations and has succeeded in dismantling dormant cells and eradicating terrorist groups," he told the international delegation that visited his ministerial office today. "The security apparatuses, in cooperation with the Lebanese Central Bank and the Anti-Money Laundering Investigation Commission, are endeavoring to prevent the use of Lebanese banks to finance terrorist groups," the Minister said, adding that the Lebanese army has been able, in cooperation with the Interior Ministry's security apparatuses, to monitor and control the Lebanese borders and prevent attempts to sneak into Lebanese territory. Separately, the Minister also received a delegation from the "Saudi National Campaign for the Relief of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon", headed by campaign leader, Fahd al-Qanas. Mashnouk told his visiting delegation that delegates from the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs had drafted a plan to address the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. "This draft began to be discussed by the concerned ministerial committees," Mashnouk said, expressing optimism that this plan will be approved "despite the existence of disagreements on a number of points."

Hariri receives new Lebanon ambassadors appointed abroad
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri met, at the Grand Serail on Tuesday, with a panel of diplomats newly appointed as Lebanon's ambassadors abroad. The visitors included Ambassadors Albert Samaha (Oman), Ara Khajatorian (Columbia), Mohammad Hassan (Algeria), Ali Daher (Ukraine), Maya Dagher (Armenia), and Fouad Dandan (UAE).

Army Chief meets Raffoul, Financial Prosecutor
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - Lebanese Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, on Tuesday met with State Minister for Presidential Affairs, Pierre Raffoul, over the current general situation on the local scene. Aoun later met with Financial Prosecutor, Judge Ali Ibrahim, with talks touching on an array of judicial affairs. He also received attorney Joseph Abu Sharaf.

U.N. warns of new Syrian refugee wave to Europe if aid dries up
Tue 12 Dec 2017/NNA - Syrian refugees could again seek to reach Europe in droves if aid programmes are not sustained in five neighbouring countries hosting the bulk of them, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was giving details of the ê4.4 billion appeal to support 5.3 million Syrian refugees in surrounding countries as well as to host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt that have taken them in. The agency, which has received only 53 percent of its ê4.63 billion appeal for 2017, needs international support, Amin Awad, director of UNHCR's Middle East and North Africa bureau, told a news briefing. He listed "many reasons", including: "The vast number of refugees that we have in the region, the geopolitical status of that region, the risk that a population of 5.3 million people can bring to an area, a small region already volatile as it is, if there is no assistance. "We had the experience of 2015, we don't want to repeat that," he said. The lack of funding led to an acute shortage of services that year, when one million refugees fled to Europe, he added. About half were Syrians, UNHCR figures show. An EU-Turkey deal has largely halted the flow, but a UNHCR funding shortfall has led to fresh cutbacks in vital programmes providing food, health care, education and shelter to Syrian refugees, Awad said. "That means we're not able to provide stoves, we are not able to deliver kerosene, we are not able to deliver enough thermal blankets, we are not able to winterise tents, we are not able to drain water and snow from camps, we are not able to do engineering work to insulate some of the buildings. People are sitting in cold, open buildings," he said. Turkey currently hosts 3.3 million Syrian refugees, the largest number, followed by Lebanon with one million. "These are the biggest donors, these are the real donors. They provided space, international protection," Awad said. "Now the material assistance is left to the donors and international community... And that's not coming through. So we have to be prepared for consequences," he said. Awad, asked about countries in the region closing their borders to Syrian refugees, replied: "Borders are managed, in some instance are closed." Host countries have cited concerns over security, economic crises, and xenophobia, but Syrians continue to arrive, he said. "Lebanon is still accepting vulnerable cases, medical cases, so is Turkey," Awad said. There have been cases of "refoulement", returning refugees to places where they could face war or persecution, in violation of law, he said. "We are seeing expulsion, we are seeing people sent back." UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards declined to provide specifics on Syrian refugees being expelled. ---Reuters

Iran Pushing Lebanon into War
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/December 12/17
The recent visit of Qais Khazali, one of Popular Mobilization Forces’ leaders, to the Lebanese borders is a dangerous development within the framework of regional conflict.
The leader of an Iraqi militia who is involved in an Iranian mission to spark a clash between Lebanon and Israel!
Both Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Popular Mobilization, are militias affiliated with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Coprs (IRGC) and managed by General Qassem Soleimani.
We are well-aware that neither Hassan Nasrallah nor Qais Khazali have any real authority despite all their speeches delivered on television channels. Their militias are neither Lebanese nor Iraqi as everyone knows that for over three years now, they have been fighting in Syria as part of Iran’s forces.
So, why did the leader of an Iraqi militia, Khazali, head to the town of Kafr Kila on the Lebanese borders wearing a military uniform, whereas the Syrian borders are closer to him where his militiamen are located with the rest of the Popular Mobilization in Syria?
It was not a threat message but rather a provocative act aiming to expand the scope of war and involve Lebanon in it.
Khazali knows that if he visited the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and threatens Israel from there, he will probably be a target for the Israeli forces, given that Syria is a battlefield open for all forces.
Iran sent Khazali to Lebanon wanting to implicate the country in a new war with the Israelis who previously threatened Hezbollah of launching an attack similar to that of 2006.
The war in 2006 was also Iran-orchestrated when it kidnapped an Israeli soldier and refused to release him.
Hamas, like Hezbollah, is also a group run by Iran.
When former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak succeeded in negotiating the exchange of Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit with 1,000 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons, Syrians, who represent Iran, caused the failure of the operation.
Then, Hezbollah tried to kidnap Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese borders which resulted in killing them during the operation. Israel then launched its war against Hezbollah, which was actually Iran’s aim.
The war destroyed most of Lebanon’s infrastructure and killed Lebanese people’s hopes of salvation from war while Hezbollah’s forces went underground.
Iran is doing this again now.
For a while now, Tehran has been trying to launch a war front through Lebanon to avoid confronting Israelis in Syria after its militias were bombed for several times there.
Iran views Lebanon as a state that is not firmly controlled and does not have any real central government.
Lebanon's Foreign Minister’s recent statement, where he threatened Israel and the US, voices Iran’s rhetoric and can never be accepted by most Lebanese people.
The statement was ridiculed by the entire world. He said: “We, in Lebanon, do not evade our destiny to confront and resist until martyrdom. Jerusalem is part of our identity. We only live as free men and revolt against every invader.”
Surely, this is not the Christian minister’s language or words; it is as though the speech came directly from Hassan Nasrallah’s office.
The current Lebanese government has reached this extent of submission and decline! It was so easy to sacrifice its sovereignty and now accepts to sacrifice its own citizens to serve an agenda dictated by a foreign party!
This is a hijacked state that cannot admit the truth about its situation. Now that Iran dominates Syria, Lebanon’s situation became annexed to the war's results and agreements. Tehran’s domination increased to an extent that it now dares to send its militias and their leaders to demarcation lines with Israel attempting to drag it into a new war.
Since Lebanese party and government leaders do not voice their rejection of Hezbollah’s behavior, we are faced with a new phase of Lebanon’s political life.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is now managing Lebanon's affairs, from Khazali's visit to southern borders till the foreign minister’s speech, and this phase will end at the slaughterhouse of regional conflicts.

Iran’s agents: Hezbollah, Houthis and Popular Mobilization
Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/December 12/17
First of all, let’s remind our American, British and European friends and allies and the rest of the world about Gulf security as it is a regional and international challenge. More importantly, what threatens us the most are not Iran’s ballistic missiles and nuclear program. The harm Iran inflicts on us does not come from Qom or from Tehran but through its three Arab agents, Hezbollah, the Houthis and the Popular Mobilization. The latter harbors Bahraini terrorists and trains them with Hezbollah. These three agents along with some armed militias and brigades are the real current threat. Our priorities are focused on stopping the expansion of these armies, weakening them in the region, cutting their flow of funding and confronting them militarily. Even if Iran buys missiles and develops them, these missiles will stay in Tehran and will not be used against us. Iran is not brave enough to directly confront us, and it will not jeopardize the security of Iranian people and cities during its current bad situation on the economic and political fronts. Iran uses a bunch of traitors in the Arab world that base their activity on religious beliefs, which stipulate that Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Iranian armed forces, is “the shadow of God” and the “deputy” of their absent imam. They think he is infallible. This belief contradicts with Prophet Mohammed’s statement “All people are sinners and the best sinners are those who repent.” It also contradicts with Jesus’ words: “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.” Iran’s Arab armies who believe in this concept of the completeness of Wilayat al-Faqih lack logic. It’s therefore not possible to reason with them. When the US lists some of these organizations as terrorists, the “infallible” Khamenei tells them this is an honor!
The harm Iran inflicts on us does not come from Qom or Tehran but through its agents, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Popular Mobilization
Politicized organizations
When we militarily confront these armies, we will not await your approval to do so and we will also not pay attention to politicized international organizations that publish reports which are not objective and which serve some countries’ political purposes. We must also note that we actually differentiate well between these armies and Shiite Arab brothers. Our diplomacy will certainly work on mobilizing support, but if we do not attain this support, we will not halt our activity. We will move forward to secure our countries from the terrorist threats, which Iran sponsors.
During the recent Manama Dialogue, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa noted that there are three Iranian agents in the region whom we must focus on to prevent them from carrying out their terrorist activities that serve Iranian interest and harm our security and stability.
During the first plenary session entitled “Creating a Stable Regional Security Architecture,” the foreign minister talked about the first Iranian agent, the Houthis. He said: “They (the Houthis) have betrayed the Yemeni people and want to control Yemen by turning it into an Iranian branch. We will not accept this, and we cannot accept this. Our alliance is determined to combat the Houthis and liberate Yemen and to pave way towards restoring stability and security to all the Yemeni people.”Commenting on Hezbollah, he said: “We cannot stand idle when a dangerous and armed terrorist organization enters one country after the other. Meanwhile, we will continue to urge our friends to recognize that Hezbollah is in fact a terrorist organization.”
The noble call
On the third agent, the Popular Mobilization, Sheikh Khalid said Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on the Iraqi people to stand up and defend their country. This noble call to combat the terrorist ISIS organization was not just directed at the Shiite people but to all the Iraqi people. However, Sistani did not ask Qassem Soleimani to handle this matter and he did not call for sectarian divisions. The FM added that the Popular Mobilization takes orders from Soleimani and not from the Iraqi government. He noted that around just 20 percent take orders from the Iraqi government. This does not only pose a problem for Iraq but for the entire region and it also affects Syria. Sheikh Khalid added that the Popular Mobilization is developing towards becoming a terrorist organization and most of its militias can be considered as terrorist organizations that we must cautiously look at and impose sanctions on.
Together, we will direct our armies and diplomacy toward them. Our interests with the states that are not capable of deterring them will be linked to their capability to curb them and their disrespect of sovereign borders. We will not cozy up to anyone anymore.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 12-13/17
Syrian opposition says government obstructing Geneva talks
AP/December 2017/The Syrian opposition claims the government delegation to the Geneva peace talks is coming up with new conditions, making it difficult to move forward. Opposition spokesman Yahya Aridi said on Tuesday that the Damascus delegation told UN envoy Staffan de Mistura they won't negotiate directly. He said de Mistura told them about the government's stance. Aridi says the opposition delegates "consider this to be a precondition." There was no immediate response from the government team in Switzerland. Syrian opposition and government delegates are back in Geneva for a new round of UN-sponsored talks after a short break. The government delegation has protested the opposition's insistence on the absence of President Bashar Assad from any future transition period. The opposition has been calling for the indirect peace talks to become direct.

On Russia’s Syria pullout claims, Pentagon voices skepticism
AFP/December 12/17/The Pentagon on Monday voiced skepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he had ordered the partial withdrawal of troops from Syria. Putin visited the war-torn nation Monday and said a “significant part” of the Russian troop contingent in Syria is heading home after their mission had been largely completed. But Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said 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 US priorities in Syria,” he said. A US official told AFP that Putin was likely to carry out a “token withdrawal” of some aircraft, then follow up by demanding the United States pulls its forces out of Syria. The US military last week said it would stay in Syria, where it is fighting ISIS, as long as necessary to ensure the jihadists don’t return.
Defeating ISIS
The “coalition will continue to operate in Syria in support of local forces on the ground to complete the military defeat of ISIS and stabilize liberated territory, in turn allowing for displaced Syrians and refugees to return,” Rankine-Galloway said. The open-ended US commitment in Syria is likely to rile Russia, which since late 2015 has conducted a separate military campaign to prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. 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. The Pentagon later announced that the two principal US-backed forces that have been fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria met at the border between the two countries. The Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi Security Forces met at the border “in order to reaffirm their commitment to ensure that ISIS does not take root again,” said another Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Rob Manning.

Two Palestinians killed in Gaza, Israel denies claim of attack
AFP/December 12/17/Two Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday with authorities in the Hamas-run territory blaming an Israeli strike, but Israel's military immediately denied the claim, AFP reported. Palestinian health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP the two men were killed "in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza after an Israeli strike targeted a motorcycle."The Israeli army immediately denied it, saying in a statement "contrary to Palestinian reports earlier today, the (army) did not attack in the northern Gaza Strip."

Israeli tank, aircraft hit Gaza after rocket fire
AFP/December 12/17/The Israeli military said it hit the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers with tank and aircraft fire after Palestinians launched rockets at southern Israel on Monday. At least two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, with the second intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, the army said. After the first rocket was fired, the army issued a statement saying that in response, “a tank and the Israel Air Force targeted Hamas military posts in the southern Gaza Strip.”It did not say where the first rocket fell or report any casualties. There was also no word on injuries on the Gaza side of the border.
After the interception of the second rocket, Israeli tank and aircraft fire targeted Hamas military posts in the north of the Gaza Strip, the army said. There were no immediate reports of injuries. It was the first rocket fire since Friday evening, which triggered repeated Israeli strikes throughout that night and into Saturday in which two members of Hamas’s military wing were killed. The Israeli army says it holds Hamas responsible for all attacks originating from the territory under its control. The latest wave of rocket fire followed US President Donald Trump’s statement on Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.On Thursday, Israel also targeted Gaza sites with air strikes and tank fire after what a military statement described as “a projectile” was fired into southern Israel. Palestinian security officials in the enclave said the strikes hit two Hamas posts. The Israeli military said the targets were “two terror posts”, without identifying them.

Israeli minister Lieberman calls Arab MPs ‘war criminals’
AFP/December 12/17/Israel’s defense minister on Monday called Arab MPs “war criminals”, a day after he urged a boycott of Israeli Arabs living near the scene of clashes over the US president’s Jerusalem declaration. Avigdor Lieberman was speaking in a televised parliamentary debate on a motion of no confidence in the right-wing government filed by the mainly Arab Joint List alliance. Presenting the motion, Joint List lawmaker Hanin Zoabi said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, because he is a war criminal.”“Occupation is always belligerent, violent, illegitimate and a basis for war crimes,” she added, referring to Israel’s 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories. “All the Joint List are war criminals, every one of you,” Lieberman responded. The alliance has 12 Arab members and one Jew. “You exploit the weaknesses and advantages of a democratic state to destroy us from within, we have no illusions,” he told them. “You are here by mistake and the time will come when you will not be here.”
Descendants of Palestinians
Arab Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who remained on their land following the creation of Israel in 1948. Today they account for some 17.5 percent of the population. Lieberman has long advocated land-swaps in a future peace deal that would see some Arab areas of Israel handed over to the Palestinians in exchange for Israeli retention of some West Bank Jewish settlements. He has also proposed conditioning the Arabs’ continued Israeli citizenship on them taking oaths of loyalty to the Jewish state. “Those who demonstrate in Israel holding Hezbollah, Hamas and PLO flags are not part of the state of Israel,” Lieberman said. “I therefore call on Israeli citizens to impose an economic boycott on Wadi Ara -- don’t shop there, don’t eat in the restaurants and don’t buy services from them.” Jewish Israelis must simply “give them the feeling they’re not wanted here,” he said, noting instances in which Arabs from the area carried out attacks against Israelis or supported militant activities.

Putin and Erdogan warn of rising tension after Trump’s decision on Jerusalem
Agencies/December 12/17/Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned against the repercussions of Washington's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel asserting it would be the cause of heightened tension in the Middle East and derail the peace process. "Russia and Turkey believe that this decision does not help stabilize the situation in the Middle East, but on the contrary, it adds to an already complex situation," Putin said. Speaking Monday after a hectic day that took him from a Russian base in Syria to Cairo and Ankara, Putin said the US move "doesn't help the Mideast settlement and, just the other way round, destabilizes the already difficult situation in the region." The Russian leader added that it may "finish prospects for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process."He added that Moscow believes that the status of Jerusalem should be settled through talks between the Palestinians and Israel in line with United Nations resolutions.The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Erdogan said an OIC summit would be held in Istanbul on Wednesday and would mark a "turning point" in the move to counter US President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. During the press conference on Monday, Putin stressed as well the strengthening of areas of cooperation between Ankara and Moscow.
Erdogan says officials to meet to 'finalize' Russia defense deal
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that Turkish and Russian officials would meet in the coming days to finalize the deal for Russia to supply its latest S-400 air-defense system to Ankara. "Officials will come together in the coming week to finalize the necessary work on the S-400 issue. I wish them success," Erdogan said during a press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Ankara. He did not give further details. "In the course of today's work we finally agreed a credit agreement which I hope, and I emphasize this, will be signed in the nearest time," Putin said, but at no point did he mention the S-400 deal directly. "We see a considerable perspective to widen cooperation in the military technical sphere," he added during his visit to Ankara. The purchase of the surface-to-air missile defense batteries, Ankara's most significant deal with a non-NATO supplier, comes with Turkey in the throes of a crisis in relations with several Western states. There are also worries in the West, including in the US, over the missile system's technical compatibility with the alliance's equipment. The Pentagon previously said that "generally it's a good idea" for NATO allies to buy inter-operable equipment. Putin was in Ankara after a sprint across the Middle East and North Africa region. He began with a surprise first visit to Syria to meet President Bashar al-Assad at a Russian airbase before meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, two of Ankara's prime foes in recent years. Then he arrived in Ankara for talks with Erdogan for the two leaders' eighth meeting this year, during which they discussed the over six-year Syrian conflict and energy matters.

Egypt's President Sisi receives Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Al Arabiya/December 12/17/Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday to discuss the repercussions of US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Ambassador Bassam Radi, the spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency, said that a lengthy session of talks was held between the delegations of the two countries to review the latest developments. Egypt asserted keeping the historical and legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of the relevant international references and resolutions, while continuing to support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinian president detailed the efforts to resume the peace process, pointing out that the recent US decision came as a surprise despite all the flexibility and willingness shown by the Palestinian Authority to reach a solution where East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine according to the borders agreed upon in June 4, 1967. Trump's decision upended decades of US foreign policy and went against an international consensus that Jerusalem's status should be decided in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, who claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Abbas has said Trump's decision has in effect disqualified the US from continuing in its role as the traditional mediator of peace talks. The move ignited protests in several Arab and Muslim nations, including Egypt, where the country's leading Muslim and Christian clerics have refused to meet with US Vice President Mike Pence on his upcoming visit to the region.(With AP)

Sisi, Abbas to 'Use International Momentum against' Trump's Decision
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat/December 12/17 /Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi underlined during his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo on Monday, Egypt’s firm stance against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to transfer the US embassy to it. The Egyptian presidency said in a statement after the meeting that the two leaders agreed to “continue coordination and intensive consultation and use the international momentum against the recent American decision to preserve the rights of the Palestinian people and work towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.” The statement quoted Sisi as saying that he “stressed Egypt’s firm position on the need to preserve the historic and legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international resolutions... with Egypt continuing to support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.” The Egyptian president also told Abbas that the Palestinian reconciliation process should be maintained as a “key strategic option, in light of the unprecedented dangers facing the Palestinian cause and Jerusalem.”Abbas said during the meeting: “The recent US decision came as a surprise despite all the flexibility shown by the Palestinian Authority and its willingness to reach a solution… based to the borders of the fourth of June 1967.”Abbas left Cairo for Istanbul, where he will deliver a speech at the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), following talks with Sisi and Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit, with whom he discussed developments in the US decision. According to a statement issued by the Arab League, Aboul Gheit “listened to a detailed explanation by the Palestinian president about the steps that the Palestinian side intends to take to respond to this unfair American step that isolated the United States and undermined its role as a historic sponsor of the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”
“The Arab consensus on rejecting and condemning the American decision is clear and solid,” Aboul Gheit told the Palestinian president. “The Arab League will continue to use the diplomatic and media paths in order to translate this consensus into concrete steps,” he added. Meanwhile, the Arab Parliament underlined the need to hold an emergency Arab Summit “to mobilize all powers to end the Israeli occupation of the territory of the State of Palestine and its eternal capital Jerusalem.” The Arab Parliament issued a decision at the end of its emergency session on Monday, calling for “an effective Arab action plan at all levels, through the League of Arab States, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab Parliament and the establishment of an open-ended committee for this purpose.”

Trump says New York attack highlights need for immigration reform
Reuters, Washington/December 12/17/President Donald Trump said on Monday the homemade bomb attack in New York City that authorities said was carried out by a Bangladeshi man highlights the “urgent need” for Congress to enact immigration reform legislation. Trump said in a statement the suspect had entered the United States on a family immigrant visa, benefiting from a US policy known as chain migration, which the president said “is incompatible with national security.”The suspect, Akayed Ullah, was taken to a hospital after suffering burns from the explosive device, which was attached to his body with Velcro and zip ties and did not fully ignite, officials said. Investigators told Reuters they believe the attack in midtown Manhattan was intended to be a suicide bombing. The attack came just six weeks after police say an Uzbek man, Sayfullo Saipov, plowed a truck through a crowd of pedestrians along a bike path in lower Manhattan, killing eight in an act for which ISIS later claimed responsibility. In September 2016, a man injured 31 people when he set off a homemade bomb in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.
Akayed had a black cab/limousine driver’s license from 2012 to 2015, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission said.
Bangladesh condemns attack
Bangladesh’s government condemned an attack on New York City’s subway system, as it emerged that the suspect is an immigrant from the South Asian nation. “Bangladesh is committed to its declared policy of ‘Zero Tolerance’ against terrorism, and condemns terrorism and violent extremism in all forms or manifestations anywhere in the world, including Monday morning’s incident in New York City,” the government statement said in a statement.
Police in Bangladesh said Tuesday that they were not in a position to comment on the suspect, identified by US authorities as Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant. Akayed is accused of strapping a crude pipe bomb to his body and detonating it during rush hour Monday in an attack in which only he was seriously wounded. Akayed arrived in the United States in 2011 and the Department of Homeland Security said he’s a lawful permanent resident of the US who was living in Brooklyn. He came to the US on a visa issued to him based on a family connection to a US citizen. Akayed’s family in the US said in a statement that it was heartbroken and deeply saddened by the suffering the attack has caused.(With AP inputs)

French FM Says Iran Trying to Carve Out Regional 'Axis'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 12/17/French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday hit out at Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of trying to carve out an "axis" of influence stretching through Syria to the Mediterranean Sea. Speaking about the role of Russia and Iran in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regain the upper hand in the civil war, Le Drian said: "Russia supplies aviation and support on the ground but Iran supplies its militia and supports Hizbullah."On Monday, President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian troops from the war-torn country, saying their task had been largely completed. In a France 2 television progam on Syria to air Tuesday evening Le Drian was particularly critical of Iran, which is vying for regional supremacy with Saudi Arabia. "Iran's presence (in Syria) and Iran's desire to create an axis from the Mediterranean to Tehran: No!" Le Drian declared, insisting that any deal on Syria's future needed to ensure it remained "independent from the pressure and presence of other countries."This is not the first time Le Drian has expressed concern over Iran's intervention in conflicts. Tehran and Riyadh support opposing camps in Syria and Yemen's wars and are also accused of pulling strings in Lebanon.In remarks following a visit to Saudi Arabia by French President Emmanuel Macron in November, Le Drian accused Iran of having "hegemonic" intentions in the region. A furious Iran accused France of having a "biased and partisan approach to the crises in the region," alleging the stance was "contributing to turning potential crises into real ones."Macron has announced plans to visit Iran in 2018.

New York Bomber Not on Bangladesh Terror List, Say Dhaka Police
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/December 12/17/Bangladesh police Tuesday were scrambling for details about New York subway bomber Akayed Ullah, but uncovered little about the extremist sympathiser who detonated a homemade pipe bomb in the underground. The 27-year-old immigrant from Bangladesh set off a crude bomb strapped to his body in a crowded New York subway passage on Monday but the device failed to detonate properly, leaving him the only one seriously harmed. Ullah told police investigators he wanted to avenge US airstrikes on the Islamic State group and was also inspired by Christmas terror plots in Europe. Bangladesh police are investigating whether Ullah was radicalised in his Muslim-majority homeland, where foreigners have been among those targeted in deadly assaults claimed by the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda. But a probe into his background has revealed little apart from the fact Ullah did not have a criminal record and was not on a watchlist of extremist suspects. "So far, his name is not on our wide-range list of radicalised persons or members of terror groups, both from Bangladesh and outside," senior counter terrorism police officer Sanwar Hossain told AFP. "We are trying to gather more details," he said. Ullah arrived in the United States seven years ago as the member of a family already living there under what is known as "chain immigration". Bangladesh police said Ullah's family hailed from Sandwip, an island off the coast of the southern port city of Chittagong, but his father had migrated to the capital Dhaka some 30 years ago. Police could provide little else at this stage about Ullah's early life in Bangladesh. The impoverished riverine nation of 160 million has been waging a war against homegrown extremism in the wake of numerous attacks by radical groups in recent years. In July last year militants stormed a Dhaka cafe and massacred 22 hostages, including 18 foreigners, in an assault claimed by the Islamic State group. Bangladesh last month arrested an alleged militant from Ansarullah Bangla Team, a homegrown extremist group with links to Al-Qaeda, over the 2015 stabbing murder of a prominent US blogger in Dhaka. The secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has vowed to root out extremism but says international radical groups do not operate inside Bangladesh. Security forces have killed more than 70 alleged militants in a fierce crackdown since the high-profile cafe siege last year.

Sadr Orders Fighters to Hand Over Arms to State
Baghdad - Asharq Al-Awsat/December 12/17 /Head of the Sadrist Movement Moqtada Sadr ordered on Monday his affiliated Saraya al-Salam brigade to hand over their arms to the state and he indirectly demanded the questioning of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the fall of Mosul. Speaking from Najaf, Sadr suggested transforming the Saraya al-Salam to a service organization, and called on the brigade’s fighters to hand over weapons they had received from the state to the Iraqi government and leave liberated areas for the Iraqi army to control. Sadr's Saraya al-Salam, or Peace Brigades is a paramilitia operating under the umbrella of the "Hashd al-Shaabi" in Iraq. The Iraqi cleric warned that no party should run under the banner of the "Hashd al-Shaabi" in the country’s upcoming elections. He added that the central government should “remove uncontrollable elements” in the Iraqi security forces, and “punish those responsible” in human rights violations during the fight against ISIS. Sadr also requested that government to reopen the cases of the fall of Mosul in 2014 to ISIS and the Camp "Speicher" massacre in Tikrit where an estimated 1,700 Iraqi soldiers were mass killed by ISIS in June 2014. Maliki is considered as the first suspect in this case. Although “Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas” brigade announced two days ago it was dismantling itself, the fate of the armed factions, which are part of the "Hashd al-Shaabi", remains the main concern of all Iraqi parties. Several observers still ignore how the operation of dismantling those groups would exactly be achieved, particularly that some factions say that their military wings are legitimately related to the State under the umbrella of the official “Hash al-Shaabi.” For his part, Safa Tamimi, spokesperson for Saraya al-Salam told Asharq Al-Awsat that the arms used by the Saray in its war against ISIS was originally owned by the State and therefore, those weapons will be returned to the state.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 12-13/17
Russia Takes a Step Toward the Post-Putin Era
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/December 12/17
Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement that he would run for a fourth term as president was long predicted, though it seemed to some Russian observers (incorrectly) that he waited unusually long to make it. Less predictable is how the system Putin built will plan its perpetuation after his term ends in 2024, when he's constitutionally barred from running again.
Putin's third term has been his most important one, more momentous even than his first, in 2000-2004, which was marked by US Republican-style economic reforms, a flat income tax, the harsh taming of the 1990s oligarchs and the recentralization of power. In 2012-2018, Putin abandoned any pretense of playing along with the US and its European allies and sought to make it clear to the rest of the world that Pax Americana was ending. In that, he has been largely successful. He has, however, neglected the base on which his geopolitical achievements rest -- his own Russia, the vast, still poor, increasingly cynical and potentially very angry nation that Putin may not quite represent, or even run, anymore.
Putin claims his biggest successes outside of Russia. He has held on to illegally annexed Crimea, and the Kremlin retained operational control over the mob-run, separatist "people's republics" in eastern Ukraine, most recently through what looked like an engineered coup in one of them. Putin was held back from further territorial gains by cost considerations -- it appears important to him to keep regular military casualties low while making proxies shoulder most of the burden -- but his minimum goals, including instability in Ukraine, have been achieved. It's obvious even to the most biased observers that, despite massive Western support, modern Ukraine is a corrupt mess that is hardly more European than when its people decided to break away from the Russian orbit at the beginning of Putin's third term.
Despite US resistance, Putin helped ally Assad, win his civil war. At the end of 2017, it's clear that if Assad is leaving at all, he's not being toppled, the way the US and its allies toppled Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi. Putin's successful, resource-light intervention has redrawn the Middle Eastern relationship map, helping effectively rip Turkey out of the Western alliance and building good working relationship between Saudi Arabia and Moscow, which was solidified by an oil policy alliance.
Putin has also given hope to illiberal forces throughout Europe, which failed to win critical elections this year but which will remain useful allies. And, deservedly or not, Russia has been established in the Western elite's mind as a hacking superpower, a different kind of tech force than the US with its commercial internet behemoths. It's a reputation Putin is looking to strengthen by embracing cryptocurrency technology as an alternative to the Western-dominated financial system.
All of this has cost Russia its place in the G-8 and its vague aspirations to membership in a greater Europe, stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. But it hasn't made Russia a pariah to the rest of the world, most notably to China, which has benignly allowed Putin to shake the foundations of the Western-led global order. Putin's third term will likely be remembered as the four years that made a multi-polar world if not a reality, then a possibility.
But as Putin's skill was applied to geopolitics, he was an increasingly absent feudal lord at home. Gleb Pavlovsky, a Kremlin political operator during Putin's early years in power, captured this feeling best in an interview with Echo Moskvy radio on Wednesday:
For the world, it's Putin's Russia. But inside, it's no longer Putin's, it's already post-Putin, and all the main players in it try, so to say, to make their own moves, set up their own chessmen, build up a potential for the moment Putin is no longer there. Putin is just walking around trying to get in on this process. I don't think it's possible for him to own it anymore.
Indeed, if first- and second-term Putin was a competent micromanager, making all the important decisions and mediating every significant conflict, Putin now appears to have lost that ability.
One high-profile example is the ongoing trial of former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev, against whom a close Putin associate, Igor Sechin, the head of state-owned oil giant Rosneft, organized a sting operation to accuse him of extorting a $2 million bribe. The trial has been open to the press, and the secretive Rosneft chief has suffered the indignity of being repeatedly summoned to appear and inventing excuses not to. This is the kind of conflict that, in earlier days, Putin wouldn't have allowed to play out in the open -- at least not for long.
Another example is the defiant independence of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin-installed head of Chechnya. His conspicuous wealth, violent suppression of opponents and insistence on conservative Islamic values in a secular state are an ongoing challenge to Moscow's authority -- but Kadyrov's warlord reputation seems to keep the federal law enforcement apparatus at bay. Again, Putin hasn't intervened.
Even the banishment of Russian officials from next year's winter Olympics is indicative of Putin's weakening leadership. Russian state propaganda outlets discuss it in terms of geopolitical retribution -- but Putin could have staged a domestic clean-up and kicked out officials who had, at best, failed to out a doping conspiracy in Russian sports and at worst, participated in it. He could then have appealed to his old friend International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach for support. Yet no such clean-up has taken place, indicating Putin's remoteness and relative indifference.
Throughout the third term, Putin also drifted on economic policy. Little was done to prepare Russia for an era of low oil prices. A modest agricultural boom which has turned the country into a top grain exporter is no substitute for the lost hydrocarbon revenues, and snail-paced economic growth based on a borrowing-fueled consumption surge isn't enough to generate economic optimism. Putin has repeatedly shown a reluctance to promote any bold change that would show Russians a more hopeful future.
Though Putin remains by far Russia's most popular politician, Russians have been apathetic about the March election. According to Levada Center's latest poll, only 58 percent of voters intend to cast ballots. In 2012, 65.3 percent turned out, and polls at the same time in the electoral cycle indicated that more than two-thirds would cast votes. Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption activist and Putin's only serious opponent, won't be allowed to run against him despite months of campaigning and mustering visible support in the Russian hinterland, especially among the young. He has promised to campaign actively for a boycott of the election.
The Soviet-style campaign announcement on Wednesday -- during a visit to a truck factory in Nizhny Novgorod, where a worker asked him a "spontaneous" question about the election -- is evidence of the Kremlin's lack of ideas, characteristic of its domestic policy during Putin's third term. Putin's legitimacy after his inevitable win will be the lowest of his reign, spurring an ever more active battle for succession, in which new players are likely to start emerging as soon as Putin is re-enthroned.
Putin has cast Russia in the role of the world's biggest geopolitical disruptor. But its current performance is unsustainable without coherent, successful domestic policies. Putin has presided over, indeed enabled, a corrupt, inefficiently run country where people -- including those in the top echelons of business and power -- just fend for themselves as best they can. The question of what kind of future Russia might have will arise after Putin's re-election, and Putin won't necessarily have much say in it.

Trump's Jerusalem Declaration Long Overdue
John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/December 12/17
President Trump's announcement Wednesday that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was both correct and prudent from America's perspective. Much more remains to be done to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but this was a vital first step.
What is now critical is implementing Trump's decision. Will the State Department actually carry out the new U.S. policy — which State's bureaucracy strongly opposed — or will the entrenched opponents of moving the embassy subvert it quietly by inaction and obfuscation?
In 1948, the United States, under Harry Truman, was the first country to recognize the modern state of Israel upon its declaration of independence. Nonetheless, Truman, at the State Department's urging, declined to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a mistake continued by his successors. Trump has now corrected this error: Jerusalem has been Israel's capital since 1948, and the sooner the American flag flies over the American embassy there, the better.
In 1948, the United States, under President Harry Truman, was the first country to recognize the modern state of Israel upon its declaration of independence. (Image source: Harry Truman Library/Wikimedia Commons)
The expected protests and violence from the usual suspects in the Middle East have already begun, and more can be expected. Fear of these protests has deterred prior administrations from moving the embassy to Jerusalem. But it is wrong for America to bend to such efforts to intimidate us. Congressional support will be overwhelming, as it should be; over 20 years ago, the House and the Senate legislated almost unanimously that the president should relocate our embassy to Jerusalem. Given the inevitable bureaucratic obstructionism, however, Congress must continue playing an important role — by constantly prodding the State Department and by providing prompt and adequate funding for building a first-class new embassy.
At a stroke, Trump has also extinguished numerous fantasies still thriving at the United Nations and in many national capitals around the world. The first is that several General Assembly resolutions from the U.N.'s early days in the late 1940s still have any force or effect. Trump's announcement, for example, means that Resolution 181 (creating an Arab and a Jewish state out of Britain's Palestinian mandate and establishing Jerusalem as a corpus separatum — an independent city under U.N. Trusteeship Council authority) is a dead letter. Moreover, the so-called "right of return" for Palestinian refugees arising from Israel's 1947-49 war of independence, long out of date and flatly rejected by Israel, is now also on history's trash heap.
Trump's embassy decision helps bring into focus the real issues that now need to be addressed. The Middle East peace process has long needed clarity and an injection of reality, and Trump has provided it. Palestinian leaders have for decades said that moving the embassy would bring negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to a grinding halt. That is true only if the Palestinians wish it, and would demonstrate that their commitment to true peace that recognizes the permanence of Israel was a snowflake, insincere from the start.
No lasting peace can be based on illusions, and Trump's approach has made that objective more rather than less likely.
**John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".
This article first appeared in Pittsburgh Tribune Review and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

"Eurosion": Muslim Majority in Thirty Years?
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/December 12/17
Even if all current 28 EU members, plus Norway and Switzerland, closed their borders to migrants, the Islamic population will continue to exponentiate.... Today, it is an increase of six million in seven years. And tomorrow?
What will happen in major European cities, where the Muslim communities are currently based? Will London, Marseille, Stockholm, Brussels, Amsterdam, Antwerp and Birmingham all have Muslim majorities?
Under the "medium" and "high" projections in Pew's scenarios, how can Europe preserve all its most precious gifts -- freedom of expression, separation of church and state, freedom of conscience, rule of law and equality between men and women?
One of the most debated arguments about Muslims in Europe is the "Eurabia" claim: that high birth rates and immigration will make Muslims the majority on the continent within a few decades. For years, most of the media and analysts dismissed the claim as alarmist and racist. "Dispelling the myth of Eurabia", sniffed a major Newsweek cover.
Not many had the courage to sound an alarm. The great Arabist scholar, Bernard Lewis, sent out a warning more than a decade ago that Europe would turn Muslim by the end of this century, and dissolve into "part of the Arab West, the Maghreb". The late scholar Fouad Ajami also cautioned that "Europe is host to a war between order and its enemies, fueled by demography"; and the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci imagined a continent with "the minarets in place of the bell-towers, with the burka in place of the mini-skirt". Mark Steyn explained that "the future belongs to Islam" with an "enfeebled" West in a "semi Islamified Europe".
Ten years later, since Europe opened its borders to a massive wave of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, the demographers reviewed their assessments.
New projections by the Washington-based Pew Research Center should be on the table of every European official and politician. The projections foretell that if the current wave of immigrants persists, in thirty years Europe's Muslim population will triple. If high migration continues, the Muslim share of Germany's population, could grow from 6.1% in 2016 to 19.7% by 2050. Even if all current 28 EU members, plus Norway and Switzerland, closed their borders to migrants, the Islamic population will continue to exponentiate. According to Pew's data, Muslims made up 4.9% of Europe's population in 2016, with 25.8 million people across 30 countries, up from 19.5 million people in 2010. Today it is an increase of six million in seven years. And tomorrow?
Pew's researchers looked at three scenarios: "zero migration" between 2016 and 2050; "medium migration", in which the flow of refugees stops but people continue to migrate for other reasons; and "high migration", in which the flow of migrants between 2014 and 2016 continues with the same religious composition.
In the medium migration scenario – considered by Pew "the most likely" - Sweden would have the biggest share of the new population at 20.5%. The UK's share would rise from 6.3% in 2016 to 16.7%. There will be similar percentages everywhere, from Belgium (15%) to France (17.4%). If high migration continues until 2050, Sweden's Muslim share will grow to 30.6%, Finland's to 15%, Norway's to 17%, France's to 18%, Belgium's to 18.2% and Austria's to 19.9%.
Pew's dramatic scenarios do not tell the whole story, however. What will happen in major European cities, where the Muslim communities are currently based? Will London, Marseille, Stockholm, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin and Birmingham all have Muslim majorities?
What will happen in major European cities, where the Muslim communities are currently based? Will London, Marseille, Stockholm, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin and Birmingham all have Muslim majorities? (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
The French demographer Jean-Claude Chesnais in his book "Le Crépuscule de l'Occident" predicted an opulent but sterile continent, one in which population is characterized by death, not birth. According to the national statistics agency Istat, fewer than 474,000 births were registered in Italy last year, down 12,000 from the year before, with an even bigger drop from the 577,000 born in 2008. Italy has "lost" 100.000 births in ten years. The loss has been called "the great Eurosion". The old continent is "frailing".
Moreover, the fastest-breeding demographic group in Europe is also the most resistant to the pieties of a secularized liberal European democracy, which is seen as a sign of moral abdication from the true "path" or "way".
Under the "medium" and "high" projections in Pew's scenarios, how can Europe preserve all its most precious gifts: freedom of expression, separation of church and state, freedom of conscience, rule of law and equality between men and women?
According to the French author Eric Zemmour:
"If tomorrow there were 20, 30 million French Muslims determined to veil their wives and to apply the laws of Sharia, we could only preserve the minimal rules of secularism by dictatorship. That's what Atatürk, Bourguiba or even Nasser understood in their day".
Will Europe retreat into a non-democratic regime to preserve its own freedoms or will it lose these freedoms under the rise of this large Islamic communities? Considering what Europe witnessed in the last couple of years under terrorism and multiculturalism, what will happen in the next thirty years?
Jean-Claude Chesnais rightly called this shift a "crépuscule", a twilight. We are living through the self-extinction of the European societies of the Enlightenment. It has shaped the humanitarian age we live in – but may not any more.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Germany's Batty Plan to Deter Migrants
Stefan Frank/Gatestone Institute/December 12/17
Every German knows that hardly any asylum seekers whose applications are rejected are forced to leave Germany. But if their application is rejected and they do decide to return to their home country, they are rewarded with an allowance of between €1000 ($1,200) and €3000 ($3,600).
This information campaign, however, must have been carefully hidden from the German public -- no major newspaper reported it at the time.
"The only authentic and honest thing about this movie were the closing credits...." — Henryk Broder, columnist, Die Welt.
The German foreign ministry has launched a website to discourage would-be migrants from making their journey to Germany: "Rumours about Germany: Facts for Migrants". It aims -- In English, French and Arabic -- to debunk "some of the most common false promises made by traffickers", such as:
"Every refugee receives a welcome payment of 2,000 euros",
"Germany grants a house to every refugee" or,
"The ship for the crossing is very big, it even has a pool and a cinema."
The new website comes in the wake of "AWARE MIGRANTS", a similar project jointly developed by the Italian Ministry of the Interior and the International Office for Migration(IOM) in July 2016. Whereas the goal of "AWARE MIGRANTS" was to raise awareness about the dangerous journey across the African desert and the Mediterranean, "Rumours about Germany" focuses mostly on the economic aspects of asylum seekers' lives in Germany -- which the website paints as one of hardships and dismal prospects:
"Those entering Germany illegally will not be able to get a job. Also note that the German government does not provide refugees with jobs. ... Contrary to rumours and misinformation deliberately spread by human traffickers, Germany does not provide a welcome payment. Nobody will be given his own house. In fact, finding a place to live has become more and more difficult in Germany, especially in the big cities. Also note that you cannot choose freely where to live while you seek asylum and may have to stay in remote places where no one understands your language."
"With the website," the foreign ministry explained in a press release, "the foreign ministry continues an information campaign of the same name which it started abroad in the fall 2015".
This information campaign, however, must have been carefully hidden from the German public – no major newspaper reported it at the time. To find information about it, one has to go to the foreign ministry's website and find a press release from January 2016 in which the ministry describes its anti-migration campaign in Afghanistan:
"During the first phase at the end of 2015, large billboards were placed in in Kabul, Masar-e Scharif and Herat on locations with a particularly high volume of traffic. They contain questions in the local languages Dari and Pashtu: 'Leaving Afghanistan? Are you sure?' and 'Leaving Afghanistan? Have you thought this through?'"
Obviously, the billboard advertisement did not have the effect the German government was looking for -- probably why it had to launch the new website. The foreign ministry's press release quotes Andreas Kindl, the ministry's "Agent for Strategic Communication", as saying:
"The website is optimized for smartphones and speaks in simple, clear language to people who are thinking about coming to Germany, who are on their way or who already are here."
Kindl, a graduate in Islamic Studies was, until September 2017, Germany's ambassador to Yemen. The German government might think that the job requires a certain kind of cultural expertise, but there is a problem: even if a would-be migrant happens to go to the "Rumours about Germany" website -- which seems unlikely -- why would he be convinced by claims such as this:
"Many asylum seekers do not qualify for protection and their applications are rejected -- they are not allowed to stay and have to leave Germany. Then they return [home] with no money and have to start from scratch."
Every German knows that hardly any asylum seekers whose applications are rejected are forced to leave Germany. If their application is rejected and they decide to return to their home country, they are rewarded with an with an allowance of between €1000 ($1,200) and €3000 ($3,600). Thus, contrary to what "Rumours about Germany" claims, making the journey to Germany still appears as a win-win proposition.
To the German reader, the whole campaign and its central messages must seem disturbing. Since 2015, when Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Germany's borders to more than a million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, the German public has been kept under the impression that every single migrant entering Germany was a refugee who had fled a war zone such as Syria or Iraq. To keep up this fiction, politicians and journalists never speak of migrants, immigrants or illegal aliens, but only of "refugees" (Flüchtlinge) or "protection seekers" (Schutzsuchende).
As soon as someone without legitimate papers sets foot on German soil, he becomes, by definition, a "protection seeker". According to the German statistics agency (Statistisches Bundesamt), for instance, there are 1.6 million asylum seekers currently in Germany. So far, so good. But the foreign ministry's new campaign now raises a puzzling question: How can the idea that every newly-arriving migrant is an asylum seeker be made consistent with the new finding, according to which many are actually seeking jobs, housing or money?
Moreover, critics were quick to point out another contradiction. In 2014, the government's own Agency for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, BAMF) produced a 17-minute-long promotional video supposedly describing the arrival of a fictional refugee from Iraq: how he files an asylum request and is admitted to an refugee shelter. In the entire film, there was no mention of any obstacles or unpleasant situations. Instead, the fictional refugee encounters smiling officials who have seemingly have been waiting just for him -- their only client -- to show up. One of them even speaks Arabic. Also, the refugee shelter in the film is not an overcrowded hot-spot of violent crime, but a cozy place with just two other residents who happen to be friendly and smiling: "One of them also speaks my language. Arsalan has already been here for a few weeks and offers me his help."
A promotional video produced in 2014 by the German government shows the arrival of a fictional refugee from Iraq, with no mention of any obstacles or unpleasant situations; just smiling officials who have seemingly have been waiting just for him. (Image source: Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge)
**Henryk Broder, a columnist with the daily Die Welt and publisher of the popular blog Achse des Guten ("Axis of Good") commented on the promotional film:
The only authentic and honest thing about this movie were the closing credits [with the disclaimer]: "The asylum-seekers shown in this film are actors with a fictional escape story."
As to the government's new efforts to scare away migrants by painting a somber picture of the situation of migrants in Germany, Broder says: "It's as if a drug dealer were advising his customers not to buy from him."
Stefan Frank is a journalist and author based in Germany.
© 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.

The emergence and downfall of Communists in Saudi Arabia
Kamel Al-Khatti//Al Arabiya/December 12/17
It is not entirely clear how leftist ideas found their way to Saudi Arabia. The early leftists, who played active roles in the establishing years of the 1940s and 50s, did not provide us with clear information about how leftist ideas reached and prevailed accompanied with labor rights awareness, among oil workers in the east of the Kingdom. Researchers, who have contributed studies and research papers on leftist ideas in Saudi Arabia, were unable to provide a coherent record about the identity of the element conveying these ideas to the oil labor society.
Although there is an opinion, not supported by any evidence, that says Saudi communists participated in the Middle East Communists Conference that was held in Batum in the Soviet Republic of Georgia in 1950. Another opinion lacking evidence alleges that communists from Bahrain and Iraq contributed in establishing a communist trend in Saudi Arabia.
However, the names of the non-Saudis who were arrested as a result of the 1964 security crackdown only brings up one Bahraini called Khalifah Khalfan who came to Saudi Arabia between 1958 and 1959, It was clear that he arrived to Saudi Arabia after the National Liberation Front was foundation, so I was convinced by the idea that Arabs contributed in establishing any communist party structure inside Saudi Arabia. All these views that believe that the Arab and non-Arab elements had a great influence in the establishment stage is a traditional arrogant view of Arabs from outside the Arabian Peninsula towards the Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula.  But these ideas certainly echoed after canceling the Communist International with almost two years, as I found no trace of those ideas before 1945. Thus, leftist ideas have taken their course towards Saudi Arabia in a different way than those adopted by Marxist-Leninist ideas in other Arab countries and regions such as Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco; In Palestine, Levant, Egypt and Iraq the studies and researches reveal the great role played by the Communist International in the establishment of communist parties, in particular the role of Jewish immigrants who had communist ideas before their immigration to Palestine after the end of the First World War. The major crisis of Arab communist parties was the Soviet acceptance of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947 to divide Palestine
Local branches
Communist parties in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco were local branches of the French Communist Party, which was a member of the Communist International. Ironically, the leftist movement in Saudi Arabia, with all its components, has risen to an active level within a short period of time since the it first reached the national labor society, opposed to the majority of leftist movements in various Arab countries; where these movements currents have existed since the beginning of the 20th century, but these movements and currents took decades before they became active.
These beginnings of the communist movement in the Arab world have negatively affected the organizational capabilities of communist parties following the Soviets, in certain cases prevented them from being the central core that leads the struggle of the working class and put them in existential crisis when confronted with the great national rights. One of the most prominent dilemmas is the fact that the communist parties have abandoned the national bourgeoisies that led the national liberation from colonialism.
The concept of "class struggle against another" imposed on the communist parties to consider the national bourgeoisies as enemies without taking into consideration the objective conditions of the Arab world, The non-Arab leaders who led the early Arab communist parties played a major role in establishing the Bolsheviks and in resisting what was then known as the "nationalist chauvinist tendencies" among the Arab communists.
The major crisis of the Arab communist parties was the Soviet acceptance of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947 to divide Palestine, which was accepted by the Arab communist parties according to the Soviet position. The other crisis was the Stalinist definition of the nation, which makes the Arab communist parties confront the Arab nationalist forces which believe that the Arabs have the characteristics of a one nation, and these characteristics is a sufficient motive to achieve the Arab unity.
This was not the case in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia did not enjoy this importance before the oil flow, the Ottoman Empire as well had lost its power and authority in the Arabian Peninsula. Only Hijaz, and eastern Jordan were under its authority after the beginning of the first world, Sharif Hussein was waiting for the opportunity to take over these areas from the Ottomans, and the opportunity came with the war, where he announced the launch of the Great Arab Revolution encouraged by the British promise to appoint him as Caliph for Muslims and King of the Arabs instead of the Ottomans.
In Gertrude Bell’s papers, entitles “the recent history of Iraq”, Miss Bell explains the positive role played by the Sultan of Najd Ibn Saud, Sheikh of Kuwait Bin Al-Sabah, Sheikh al- Muhammarah Khaza’l al-Kaabi, Sultan of Muscat, the sheikhs of the Trucial States and the sheikhs of Bahrain in controlling their citizens and preventing them from threatening the British interests during Britain's preoccupation in the Ottoman war.
Since the Arabian Peninsula did not know the major agricultural properties, did not know the feudal lordship in the agricultural relations, it has been devoid of the suitable environment in which socialist ideas or modern human rights may flourish, thus the tribal structures provided a state of relative stability during and after the First World War, while the progressive ideas did not reach the region until the oil industry was established.
Jordanian Noor Allah and the Egyptian Ahwani in the Saudi labor society
After this introduction, it is possible to say that the national working class in the oil industry has become subject to test its modern human rights awareness, after their formation experiencing a clear discriminatory policy applied by Aramco; this discriminatory policy of Aramco, put considers the white man as the Master who possesses all the authorities, enjoys full privileges and has the right to set his working hours, appropriate housing, advanced medical care, entertainment from sports venues, movie theaters and luxurious dining halls, entertainment, sports venues, movie theaters and luxurious dining halls, as well as extremely high monthly wages. In contrast to the national and foreign non-American, Canadian and British employment, the discriminatory policy of ARAMCO has placed them in a lower position where unsanitary housing, low wages, lack of entertainment, medical care and a working day that is not limited to 8 hours in addition to other discriminations.
According to researchers’ speculation, and some participants’ diaries, Aramco has brought in thousands of Arab citizens who are fluent in English from Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and Jordan and assigned them to translating, training and teaching national labor, which illiteracy was widespread among them; Aramco also brought in Italian citizens, some of whom were probably captives of the second world war.
These numbers, brought by Aramco, had some extent of human rights awareness either by experiencing unionist experiences and human rights protest movements, or that some of them were engaged in leftists organizations in their own country. I knew personally from one of the pioneers of labor activists that Mahmoud al-Ahwani, an Egyptian communist, and Abdullah Noor Allah, a Jordanian communist, worked for Aramco during the 1940s and 1950s, and that each of them conveyed in some way the ideas he had from his previous experience, to the Saudi colleagues who worked with them in Aramco, and influenced some of them.
Which could be a frequent case at that time. We note that the awareness of the importance of the trade union, the awareness of the strike as a pressure on the employer to have the rights, has grown steadily in a short period since the first strike in the mid-1940s, until the Great Strikes Movement in 1953. The strikes in 1953 were able to cause complete paralysis in the oil industry; the solidarity of the labor force forced the authorities to release the leading elements who were arrested due to the major strikes and imprisoned in the slave prison in Al-Ahsa. This led to establishing the Workers’ Committee.
After the death of King Abdul Aziz, King Saud issued a general amnesty, in which the expelled activists, such as Abdulaziz Al-Sunaid, returned to Saudi Arabia, King Saud also ordered to establish a permanent association for work and workers; directly linked to the Council of Ministers, headed by Abdulaziz bin Muammar, a “hiding communist” according to Western diplomatic reports, seems he has adopted the communist ideas during his college years at the American University of Beirut (Ibn Mu'ammar was arrested on May 2, 1955 and the Association was headed by Turki al-Ateishan, a senior official of the Eastern Province). The Commission government officials, human rights activists and workers' representatives, it was found out more than one of them was influenced by or adopted leftist ideas, such as Abdul Aziz al-Sunaid, who came from Iraq with his experience as a member in the Iraqi Communist Party, and Abdul Rahman al-Bahijan, who seems to know these ideas and adopted them during his the time he spent in Britain for vocational training, Mohammed Hoshan, who received his university degree from the University of Baghdad, and Abdullah al-Jishi, who was educated in Iraq.