February 21/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12/08-12/:"‘And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God;
but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to "

Those who do not obey God's Gospel will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
Second Letter to the Thessalonians 01/01-12/:"Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring. This is evidence of the righteous judgement of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering. For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marvelled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfil by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 20-21/17
French far-right chief says Assad solution to Syria crisis/ 20/17
The Lebanese state and its two armies
Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/February 20/17
Israel boosts missile defences against Hezbollah/Nicholas Blanford/The Arab Weekly/February 20/17
The long to-do list of Lebanon’s minister for Human Rights/Samar Kadi/The Arab Weekly/February 20/17
Shin Bet foils ISIS-affiliated terror attack/Yoav Zitun and Gilad Morag/ynetnews/February 20/17
The Lebanese state and its two armies/Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/February 20/17
France's Muslim Demographic Future/Yves Mamou/Gatestone Institute/February 20/17
Israel's Public Relations: The Problem and the Solution/Bernhard Lazarus/Gatestone Institute/February 20/17
Canada: Protesters outside mosque where imam prayed for killing of unbelievers could face hate crime charges/Christine Williams/Jihad Watch/February 20/17
The Death of Father of Terrorism/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/February 20/17/
Hop on That Train! Or You Shall Age in Darkness/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/February 20/17/
How Trump Can Make the Americas Great Again/Mac Margolis/Bloomberg/February 20/17/

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on February 20-21/17
Report: Russia Willing to Help Lebanon with Electoral Law
France's Le Pen in Lebanon, Calls for Bolstering Ties
Hariri Meets Le Pen: Amalgam between Islam and Terrorism Worst Mistake
Gemayel welcomes Le Pen, says Kataeb backs ‘safe zones’ in Syria
In Beirut, Le Pen Says Assad 'More Reassuring Solution for France'
Beirut Governor meets Le Pen
Riachy says Cabinet still looking ‘deeply’ into state budget
Reports: Nasrallah Advises Israel to 'Count to Million' before Thinking of New War on Lebanon
MP Doueihy meets official Turkish delegation
Jordan's Tourism Minister visits St Joseph Monastery in Batroun: For bolstering religious tourism
Hariri chairs Cabinet meeting devoted to budget draft
SCC Declares Wednesday Strike as Khalil Says No Taxes on Low-Income Citizens
In Iran, Berri Says Lebanon a 'Thorn in Israel's Side'
Jumblat Says Wage Scale Must Be Linked to 'Reform' and 'Fixed' Revenues
Int'l Funding for Lebanon Refugee Response Amounts to $1.9 Billion in 2016
Karam: Hizbullah Hampering Electoral Law for Regional Considerations
Electoral Law Crisis Deepens as Mashnouq Signs Electoral Decree Based on 1960 Law
French far-right chief says Assad solution to Syria crisis
The Lebanese state and its two armies
Israel boosts missile defences against Hezbollah
The long to-do list of Lebanon’s minister for Human Rights

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 20-21/17
Tehran Rejects Ontario Court Ruling Ordering Reimbursement for Supporting Terrorism
Shin Bet foils ISIS-affiliated terror attack
US 'Not in Iraq to Seize Anybody's Oil'
2,000 IS Fighters Defending West Mosul, Says U.S. Official
Pence Takes Charm Offensive to EU and NATO
Israeli Ministers Remain Optimistic on Trump
Russia's U.N. Envoy Churkin Dies 'Unexpectedly'
Saudi Arabia Seeks Death for Suspect in Germans' Shooting
Four Russian Servicemen Dead in Syria Blast
Protest in Munich Against the Iranian Foreign Minister
Iran Regime's Fear, of the Continued Courageous Protests, in the Oil Reach City of Ahvaz
Iran Regime's MP: Our Detachment From People Is a Great Risk, We Need to Be Alert
Iran TV Host Admits to Tehran's Attempts to Assassinate Regime Opponents Abroad
Iran's (IRGC) Should Be Punished and the Europeans Need to Limit Their Rush to Trade With Iran

Links From Jihad Watch Site for on February 20-21/17
Canada: Protesters outside mosque where imam prayed for killing of unbelievers could face hate crime charges
Canada: Montreal pushed to become “sanctuary city” for migrants
Establishment media mocks Trump for Sweden comment while Swedish MP’s demand billions for police amid growing crisis
Exclusive: NSA pick McMaster told the National Defense University that “the Islamic State is not Islamic”
Jamie Glazov Moment: Georgetown’s Prof. Jonathan Brown Supports Islamic Slavery and Rape
After Islamic jihadi attacks Ohio State students, campus hosts talk on “Islamophobia”
Washington Post gives Georgetown prof Jonathan Brown platform to explain away his pro-slavery remarks
Muslim Olympian who claimed she was detained because of Trump ban actually detained under Obama
Toronto mosque: “O Allah! Give us victory over the disbelieving people…slay them one by one and spare not one of them”
UK: Headteacher gets death threats from Muslim parents over her “offensive clothes”
Denver: Muslim who shot transit guard says he did it for the Islamic State, investigators say he didn’t
Texas: Muslima kidnapped woman because her “lifestyle brought shame to the Muslim community”

Links From Christian Today Site for February 20-21/17
Norma McCorvey: A Tragic Tale Of Putting Politics Above People
Iraq Poised For Disaster As 750,000 Civilians Remain Trapped In ISIS-Held Mosul
Trump Criticism Costs Southern Baptists Dear As Megachurch Withholds Funds
Christian Leaders Protest Franklin Graham Visit: He 'Compromises Jesus's Mission Of Justice And Love For All
Malaysia Arrests North Korean Man As Row Over Kim Jong Nam's Death Escalates
I Just Grabbed God...' Musician And Anglican Priest Peter Skellern Dies Aged 69
ISIS Releases New Video Calling For Slaughter Of Egyptian Christians
Samantha Cameron: My Christian Faith Grounded Me After My Son Died
Christians In Mideast Reject Trump Plan To Prioritise U.S. Resettlement Of Christian Refugees: 'Wrong Message, Wrong Policy'

Latest Lebanese Related News published on February 20-21/17
Report: Russia Willing to Help Lebanon with Electoral Law

Russia is likely to give Lebanon a helping hand in finding a new parliamentary electoral law format acceptable by all political parties, to save the country from “sliding into a political crisis,” al-Akhbar daily reported on Monday. “Moscow will possibility make a move to help (Lebanon) find a format for a new electoral law acceptable by all forces, to avoid potentials of a political crisis that could open the door on an exposed security situation in Lebanon,” sources told the daily on condition of anonymity. Moscow is one of many other countries that call for staging the elections in Lebanon based on a new law, said the daily. However, the sources stressed that the Russian Embassy in Beirut is weighing “the best vision for an electoral law that suits a diverse country like Lebanon.”“Theoretically, adopting proportionality based on a single electoral district is the most appropriate, because groups who do not have the opportunity to be represented in the parliament will eventually become radicals,” they noted. The country has not organized parliamentary elections since 2009 and the legislature has instead twice extended its own mandate. While al-Mustaqbal Movement has rejected that the electoral law be fully based on proportional representation, arguing that Hizbullah's arms would prevent serious competition in the party's strongholds, Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat has totally rejected proportional representation, even within a hybrid law, warning that it would “marginalize” the minority Druze community.
Hizbullah, Mustaqbal, AMAL Movement, the FPM and the Lebanese Forces are meanwhile discussing several formats of a so-called hybrid law that mixes proportional representation with the winner-takes-all system.

France's Le Pen in Lebanon, Calls for Bolstering Ties
Associated Press/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 20/17/France's far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Monday met for the first time with a foreign head of state, holding talks in Beirut with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun. "We discussed the long and fruitful friendship between our two countries," the National Front (FN) leader said after her 30-minute encounter at the presidential palace in Baabda with Aoun, the Middle East's only Christian president. She said they also discussed the refugee crisis in Lebanon, where more than one million Syrians have fled from conflict. “Discussions with President Aoun focused on the issue of refugees which constitutes a burden on Lebanon,” Le Pen said. She also stressed the “importance of cooperation between Lebanon and France to combat Islamic extremism.”The FN leader, whose party takes an anti-immigrant stance, called Sunday for the international community to step up humanitarian aid to keep the refugees in Lebanon. The National Front leader is hoping to burnish her credentials as a defender of Christians in the Middle East, ahead of France's April 23 presidential elections. Upon her arrival in Lebanon, media reports quoted Le Pen as saying: “This is my first visit to Lebanon ...Our relations need to be strengthened significantly.” Rival presidential hopeful and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut on January 24, where he met both Aoun and Hariri. Le Pen is a leading candidate in the polls. She is running on an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union platform that critics say is a cover for islamophobia and xenophobia. Her arrival Sunday precedes two days of meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai, and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. Lebanon is a former French protectorate. Its Christians have long looked to France for security against the Middle East's turmoil.

Hariri Meets Le Pen: Amalgam between Islam and Terrorism Worst Mistake
Naharnet/February 20/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri received on Monday France's far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, accompanied by MP Gilbert Collard, her chief of staff Nicolas Lesage in the presence of Hariri's chief of staff, Nader Hariri.During the meeting, Hariri cautioned against associating his religion with the terrorist attacks of the jihadists who have repeatedly targeted France. "The worst mistake would be the amalgam between Islam and Muslims on one hand and terrorism on the other hand,” Hariri said, in a statement issued by his office. "The Lebanese and Arabs, like the majority of the world, consider France to be the homeland of human rights and of the republican state that makes no ethnic, religious or class distinction between its citizens,” he said. On the refugee crisis, Hariri called on the international community "to assume its responsibilities", he said: "Lebanon, whose population does not exceed 4 millions, now hosts around 2 million refugees, which subjects its economy and infrastructure to an unparalleled pressure. “The Lebanese government is currently preparing an integrated plan to face this situation and calls on the international community to assume its responsibilities in this crisis.”Before meeting Hariri, Le Pen held talks with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace. On Tuesday, Le Pen is to meet Lebanon's grand mufti, the leader of its Sunni community, the Maronite patriarch and rightist party leader Samir Geagea. Shunned by European leaders over her party's stance on immigration and anti-EU message, Le Pen's meeting with Aoun aims to boost her international credibility. France had mandate power over both Lebanon and Syria during the first half of the 20th century. Rival presidential hopeful and former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut on January 24, where he met both Aoun and Hariri. Le Pen has met few top foreign officials since taking control of the FN in 2011. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to meet with her.

Gemayel welcomes Le Pen, says Kataeb backs ‘safe zones’ in Syria
Mon 20 Feb 2017/NNA - French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen visited on Monday Kataeb chief, MP Sami Gemayel, who underlined to his guest "the common values between the Lebanese and French people," as indicated by a party’s statement. "Lebanon has weathered extremism in the hardest times. It shall remain a model of living in freedom and dignity," Gemayel reportedly said. "Extremism undermines the basics of civilized values," he added, highlighting the importance of Lebanon’s "positive neutrality."Moreover, the lawmaker said that his party backed the establishment of safe zones in Syria, under the supervision of the international community. For her part, Le Pen promised to exert efforts to bolster friendship with Lebanon.

In Beirut, Le Pen Says Assad 'More Reassuring Solution for France'
Naharnet/February 20/17/France's far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Monday announced from Beirut that Syrian President Bashar Assad is “a much more reassuring solution for France” than the jihadist Islamic State group. “We each expressed our position. On certain points, we have of course common analysis, in particular on the absolute necessity of being able to bring around the table all the nations that want to fight Islamic fundamentalism and Daesh (IS),” said Le Pen after talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail, according to an English-language statement distributed by the premier's “Daesh also recruits in France, in our neighborhoods, and Islamic fundamentalism is gaining importance and support in France,” Le Pen added. She noted that she had “some differences” with Hariri on a number of other points. “They may be related to the geographical locations of our two countries,” Le Pen added. “I clearly stated that, in the context of policy of the lesser evil, which is a realistic policy, it appeared to me that Bashar Assad is obviously today a much more reassuring solution for France than the Islamic State,” the French presidential candidate went on to say. “France is not Lebanon and each of us defends... the interest of their own country, which of course is not the same,” Le Pen added. Shunned by European leaders over her party's stance on immigration and anti-EU message, Le Pen's meetings with Lebanese leaders aim to boost her international credibility. France had mandate power over both Lebanon and Syria during the first half of the 20th century. Rival presidential hopeful and former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut on January 24, where he met both President Michel Aoun and Hariri. Le Pen has met few top foreign officials since taking control of her party in 2011.

Beirut Governor meets Le Pen
Mon 20 Feb 2017 /NNA - Beirut Governor Ziad Shbib met on Monday with French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, and the accompanying delegation, at Beirut municipal palace. During the meeting, Shbib welcomed the leader of France's National Front, before whom he maintained that Beirut was a model of coexistence, as well as of cultural and civilizations' pluralism. Following the talks, Shbib and his visitors toured Downtown Beirut.

Riachy says Cabinet still looking ‘deeply’ into state budget
Mon 20 Feb 2017/NNA - Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, indicated on Monday that the Cabinet was still looking "deeply" into the state budget issue, adding that the Ministerial Council will meet on Wednesday and Thursday for further talks. Riachy, who spoke following a session for the Cabinet at the Grand Serail today, said that he had nothing else to add regarding the ministerial meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Reports: Nasrallah Advises Israel to 'Count to Million' before Thinking of New War on Lebanon
Naharnet/February 20/17/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Monday advised Israel anew against waging any war on Lebanon, warning that his group will not abide by any “red lines” in any future confrontation, media reports said. “Israel must 'count to one million' before waging any war on Lebanon and we're prepared for any threat,” the reports quoted Nasrallah as telling Iran's state television. “We are not advocates of war. We are in the defense position,” Hizbullah's chief reportedly noted. “In the face of Israel's threats to destroy Lebanon's infrastructure, we will not abide by red lines, especially regarding Haifa's ammonia and the nuclear reactor in Dimona. Hizbullah possesses the full courage for this,” added Nasrallah. Israel's Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz had on Thursday warned that "if Nasrallah dares to fire at the Israel homefront or at its national infrastructure, all of Lebanon will be hit," in response to threats launched earlier in the day by Nasrallah. Nasrallah advised Israel Thursday to "dismantle the Dimona nuclear reactor," warning that it poses a threat to Israel's existence if hit by his group's missiles. A 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah killed about 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and around 160 Israelis mostly soldiers before ending in a United Nations-brokered cease-fire. The Israel-Lebanon border has remained mostly quiet since the 2006 war but there have been sporadic outbursts of violence.

MP Doueihy meets official Turkish delegation
Mon 20 Feb 2017 /NNA - MP Estphan Doueihy met on Monday with an official Turkish delegation, headed by Bouchra Binali Yildirim, daughter of the Turkish Prime Minister, accompanied by Ambassador Cagatay Ercyes, at Le Gray Hotel, Beirut. Doueihy, whose daughter was injured during Istanbul New Year's attack, conveyed to PM Yildirim a message, hereby highlighting the obligation to undertake a political and cultural action against terrorism. "My daughter and her friends were not targeted because there are Christian's or Lebanese; they were targeted because terrorism and blind hatred targets the culture of life," the lawmaker underlined.

Jordan's Tourism Minister visits St Joseph Monastery in Batroun: For bolstering religious tourism
Mon 20 Feb 2017/NNA - Jordan's Tourism and Antiquities Minister Lina Enab, currently in Lebanon, visited on Monday Jrebta St. Joseph Monastery where St. Rafka shrine is placed in the district of Batroun, whereby the Minister was greeted by Monastery head Melanie Maksoud. After touring the various sectors of the Monastery and St Rafka's shrine and museum, Minister Enab listened to a briefing on the life of St. Rafka and the history of the Monastery. Speaking afterwards, Enab said that she is currently on a visit to Lebanon to have a closer look at the significant religious sites across Lebanon, saying "the visit comes in the framework of bolstering exchange between Lebanon and Jordan at the level of religious toturism.""Tourism means to build bridges of love and peace and there is nothing as beautiful as the religious spirituality bridge which can connect people to each other," she said.

Hariri chairs Cabinet meeting devoted to budget draft
Mon 20 Feb 2017/NNA - Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, is currently presiding over a meeting of the Council of Ministers at the Grand Serail, to continue discussing the budget draft.

SCC Declares Wednesday Strike as Khalil Says No Taxes on Low-Income Citizens
Naharnet/February 20/17/The Syndical Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, on Monday called for a strike and a demonstration on Wednesday to press the government to approve the long-stalled new wage scale. “We will only take our rights in the street and we call for massive participation on Wednesday,” SCC official Nehme Mahfoud said during a press conference. “We do not want new taxes on the people, which have been exhausted by your direct and indirect taxes,” Nehme added, calling on the government to instead impose taxes on the revenues of banks, put an end to the squandering of public money, corruption and tax evasion, and endorse a diversified economic policy. Speaking before a Cabinet session dedicated to discussing the draft state budget, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil reassured that “any tax that harms low-income citizens is rejected and shall not pass.”Several ministers are reportedly calling for the exclusion of the new wage scale from the draft state budget. Briefing reporters after the session, Information Minister Melhem Riachi said the Cabinet will continue its discussions in new sessions on Wednesday and Thursday and that the issue of adding the new wage scale to the draft budget will be tackled. Due to disputes between the rival political parties, Lebanon has not approved a state budget since 2005.

In Iran, Berri Says Lebanon a 'Thorn in Israel's Side'
Naharnet/February 20/17/Speaker Nabih Berri arrived Monday in Tehran to take part in the 6th conference for supporting the Palestinian people that will kick off Tuesday. “We cannot forget that Israel has greedy ambitions, not only in the region but also especially in Lebanon, which is a thorn in its side,” Berri said upon his arrival. “We do not forget the Islamic Republic of Iran's support for the resistance in Lebanon, which secured that victory and, God willing, permanent victory,” he added. He also noted that “from the era of (Islamic revolution founder) Imam (Ruhollah) Khomeini until the era of the leader Imam (Ali) Khamenei, all of the Islamic republic's initiatives have always been aimed at Palestine.”

Jumblat Says Wage Scale Must Be Linked to 'Reform' and 'Fixed' Revenues
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat stressed on Monday the need to secure “firm resources” for the longtime awaited wage scale file. “Beware of chaos. The wage scale must be linked to reform and fixed resources and it should be part of the budget plan,” said Jumblat in a tweet on Monday. The salary scale will be deliberated during the cabinet's meetings scheduled this week to approve the country's 2017 state budget. Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil has said that extra taxes were proposed in the 2017 budget to secure the needed revenues to finance the wage scale hikes. The proposal was widely criticized. Public sector employees have been demanding the approval of the wage scale since 2012 under the government of PM Najib Miqati. In previous years, the Syndicate Coordination Committee staged many demonstrations and strikes in several public schools, to pressure into including the scale on the parliament's agenda.The parliament has failed on numerous meetings to agree on a pay raise draft law for the public sector. Demands are mounting urging the upcoming cabinet meetings scheduled this week, to study the salary scale and refer it to the parliament for approval.

Int'l Funding for Lebanon Refugee Response Amounts to $1.9 Billion in 2016
Naharnet/February 20/17/International funding for Lebanon in 2016 amounted to USD 1.9 billion, as shown by the funding update released by the Office of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon. This amount includes a total of USD 1.57 billion disbursed by donors in 2016 and USD 344 million carried over from 2015 by U.N. Agencies, the World Bank and NGOs. The consolidated data shows “a continued high-level of donor support to Lebanon in 2016 in response to the impact of the Syrian crisis,” a U.N. statement said. Moreover, donors have also reported an additional amount of over USD 1.3 billion committed for 2017 and beyond for Lebanon. Regarding available resource in support of the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan, U.N. agencies and NGOs reported a total of USD 1.13 billion received under the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) framework in 2016. This represents 53% of the overall 2016 appeal, taking into consideration the carry-over of USD 186 million related to the LCRP. Commending the “strong solidarity” for Lebanon, U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Philippe Lazzarini stressed that the aforementioned support has not been enough to turn the tide of refugees’ deepening poverty and vulnerabilities affecting both Lebanese host communities and refugees. The 2016 Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees shows that families are surviving on the bare minimum, having long exhausted their limited resources. The assessment showed that 70.5% of Syrian refugees in Lebanon live below the poverty line with $3.8 a day.
Some 30 percent of the Lebanese population also live below the poverty line and 10 percent live in extreme poverty. “Needs are outpacing donor funding. And with competing humanitarian crises globally and limited resources, we might face a situation where humanitarian support has reached its ceiling. The more protracted the crisis in Lebanon becomes, the more innovative and efficient have to be in order to genuinely make a difference,” Lazzarini said. Lazzarini also encouraged international partners to focus beyond the short-term emergency response in the country: “We need to get better at combining life-saving assistance and longer-term responses that address the country’s security and socio-economic challenges. We have to support Lebanon in reversing its economic decline by investing in key productive sectors, modernizing the country’s infrastructure, and encouraging key structural reforms.”
“This would benefit both the Syrian refugees and the Lebanese, would allow the country to better deal with the impact of the crisis and would make it an anchor for stability and driver for reconstruction in the region,” the U.N. official added.

Karam: Hizbullah Hampering Electoral Law for Regional Considerations
MP Fadi Karam accused Hizbullah on Monday of hampering attempts to agree on an electoral law for the upcoming parliamentary polls for what he described as “regional” reasons.“Hizbullah is obstructing endeavors to agree on a new electoral law for regional considerations,” Karam told VDL (93.3) radio station. “Contacts are ongoing and the differences are narrowing despite the fact that each party is drawing red lines of its own.” the Lebanese Forces MP added. “Deadlines to agree on a new law are still open. The only law that can be approved by all (political parties) is a hybrid law now that illusions of some to stage the polls based on the current (1960) law have been dropped,” added Karam. The country has not organized parliamentary elections since 2009 and the legislature has instead twice extended its own mandate. While al-Mustaqbal Movement has rejected that the electoral law be fully based on proportional representation, arguing that Hizbullah's arms would prevent serious competition in the party's strongholds, Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat has totally rejected proportional representation, even within a hybrid law, warning that it would “marginalize” the minority Druze community. Hizbullah, Mustaqbal, AMAL Movement, the FPM and the Lebanese Forces are meanwhile discussing several formats of a so-called hybrid law that mixes proportional representation with the winner-takes-all system. Separately, the MP touched on cabinet discussions on the state's annual budget, he refused having it “financed at the citizens' expense. We cannot give the people with one hand and take away with the other.”

Electoral Law Crisis Deepens as Mashnouq Signs Electoral Decree Based on 1960 Law
Paula Astih/Asharq Al Awsat/February 20/17/Beirut- Lebanon has practically entered an open political crisis after Interior Minister Nohad Mashnouq signed a decree on Saturday calling on voters to participate in the next parliamentary elections based on the 1960 law, which President Michel Aoun rejects. The dispute currently witnessed between political parties concerning the new electoral law comes four months before the end of the current Parliament’s term. Apparently, it looks that an agreement to hold next summer’s parliamentary elections based on a new law seems “intractable,” as each party is still attached to its own version of the law in a way to guarantee its own benefits and protect the size of its parliamentary bloc or to further expand it. As expected, Mashnouq signed the decree that calls on resident and non-resident members of the electorate to participate in the elections, in respect to Article 66 of the current electoral law that stipulates sending the decree to Cabinet 90 days ahead of the Election Day. Mashnouq sent the signed decree to President Aoun, who should also sign it if elections are to be held next May 21 based on the 1960 law. However, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aoun would not sign the decree. The president totally rejects holding elections based on the current law. MP Butros Harb told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday: “We have practically entered a crisis in light of Mashnouq’s signing of the decree and the expected rejection of Aoun to sign it.”Harb said that Aoun should assume his responsibilities in this case because the results of his decision could be dangerous if no agreement is reached on a new electoral law before the term of the current parliament ends. Amid the open discussions to find an exit for the current crisis, Speaker Nabih Berri and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt called on the creation of a senate in which all sects and confessions would be represented after the abolition of political sectarianism in the parliament’s structure. Meanwhile, the youth and students’ sector of the Kataeb Party and the National Liberal Party organized a demonstration on Saturday in front of the Beirut municipality, protesting against extending the Parliament’s mandate. The protestors demanded that a new electoral law is set and adopted in upcoming legislative elections.

French far-right chief says Assad solution to Syria crisis 20/17
BEIRUT — French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen tried to raise her international profile and press her pro-Syria, pro-Christian stance with a visit to Lebanon on Monday, holding her first campaign meeting with a head of state.
On the first day of her two-day visit, Le Pen, head of the anti-immigration National Front, called Syrian President Bashar Assad “the most reassuring solution for France” and said the best way to protect minority Christians is to “eradicate” the Islamic State group preying on them — not turn them into refugees.
Lebanon, a former French protectorate, shares a large border with Syria, and has taken in some 1.2 million Syrian refugees — the equivalent of one-fourth of its own population — including Christians targeted by IS.
The trip represents the first major foray into foreign policy for Le Pen, a leading candidate in France’s April 23 and May 7 election. She is hoping to burnish her credentials as a defender of Christians in the Middle East, looking to win votes of the thousands of French citizens in Lebanon and have an impact on the international scene.
Le Pen has worked to clean up the racist and anti-Semitic image of her party. She is running on an anti-immigration and anti-European Union platform; critics say that is a cover for anti-Islamic and anti-foreigner views.
She said she told Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri that there is “no viable and workable solution” to the Syrian civil war beyond choosing between Assad and IS.
“I clearly explained that in the political picture the least bad option is the politically realistic. It appears that Bashar al Assad is evidently today the most reassuring solution for France.”
Le Pen has made known her pro-Assad position in the past, but it took on extra weight in the context of her high-profile foreign visit. Her stance represents a major divergence from official French policy and that of Hariri, who is allied with Saudi Arabia against the Syrian leader. In the fractious politics of Lebanon, President Michel Aoun, whom Le Pen also met, supports Assad and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah working to topple him.
An official readout of the meeting suggests that Hariri took umbrage at what is widely seen as Le Pen’s stigmatization of Muslims, who her followers claim are changing the Christian face of France.
“Muslims are the first victims” of terrorism, Hariri was quoted as saying in the summary of the meeting, and moderate Muslims are “the first bulwark against extremism.”
“The worst mistake would be the amalgam between Islam and Muslims on one hand and terrorism on the other hand.”
Before meeting with the prime minister, Le Pen met with Aoun, saying they agreed during the meeting that the two countries should be “pillars” in organizing the fight against Islamic fundamentalism.
During her two-day visit, Le Pen was also to meet the Christian Maronite patriarch.
Like other French politicians, she spoke out in favor of protecting the Christian minority — but stressed this should be done by annihilating the enemy — the Islamic State group.
“The way to protect the Christian minority is to eradicate those who have a vision of destroying all the minorities.”
“For me to protect Christians is to make sure the Christians stay in their countries,” not become refugees, she said.
Le Pen said she and the prime minister, who has longstanding ties to France, agreed on “the absolute necessity” for nations wanting to fight IS to come “to the table,” an apparent reference to formal talks. She noted the threat to France of IS, which has claimed deadly attacks in Paris, Nice and elsewhere, and has lured hundreds of French youths to the war zones in Syria and Iraq.
Two top themes of Le Pen’s platform are drastically reducing immigration, and the refugee population, and fighting Islamic extremism. Her National Front party claims Muslim immigration to France boosts terror risks, costs jobs, drains the nation’s treasury and poses a threat to French civilization.
Lebanon’s Christians have long looked to France for security against the Middle East’s turmoil, and President Aoun spent years in exile in France.
While Le Pen enjoyed the limelight of her overseas trip, in France police searched party headquarters outside Paris for a second time in an investigation over allegedly fake aide jobs contracted by her and other party lawmakers at the European Parliament.
“This confirms the first search was fruitless,” a party statement said. “The only goal is to try to upset her campaign.”
Le Pen’s pay is to be docked so the EU can recover 340,000 euros it says it’s owed — which Le Pen denies. The search was part of a French investigation of the allegations.
Ganley reported from Paris.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Lebanese state and its two armies
Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/February 19/17
Beirut - Almost three months into his term, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has declared that his troops are “not powerful enough to fight Israel” and therefore it “is essential to maintain the weapons of the resistance [Hezbol­lah] to complement the army”.
Aoun’s bold and somewhat tactless statement included a justification of Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war as being a defensive measure triggered by terrorist at­tacks against Lebanon.
Being an ally of both Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, Aoun’s statements should not appear odd. However, as the head of state, elected by the overwhelming majority of parliament, half of whose members do not subscribe to his regional alliances nor the white­washing of Hezbollah’s role in Syria, these statements will prove problematic.
Aoun’s statement to Egyptian TV station CBC ahead of his mid- February visit to Egypt positions Lebanon as part and parcel of the bloc that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi belongs to. It sees in Syrian President Bashar Assad a strategic partner and a safeguard against a menacing Islamic terror­ist threat.
While it is one thing for Aoun the politician to voice his outright sup­port for Iran’s proxy, for the Lebanese president to do so carries local and international implications that neither he nor the Lebanese state could handle.
Locally, Aoun stands at losing his two main supporters: The Lebanese Forces (LF) and the Future Movement (FM), whose leader, Saad Hariri, heads the cabinet. Both factions agreed to vote for Aoun provided he honoured a few obligations, including that he distance himself and Lebanon from the conflict across the border and maintain Lebanon’s neutrality vis-à-vis the Sunni-Shia regional conflict.
These two sides have refrained from demanding the disarming of Hezbollah and its immediate withdrawal from Syria so as not to embarrass or provoke Aoun to side with his regional patrons.
Nonetheless, the president and all his men neither reciprocated nor built on this initiative to strengthen Lebanon’s position, especially by appeasing other Arab countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, that consider Lebanon to have fallen completely into the Iranian sphere of influence.
Further validating these Arab countries’ concerns is the recent speech by Hezbollah Secretary- General Hassan Nasrallah, who built on Aoun’s positive portrayal of his organisation and asserted that its role in Syria falls within interna­tional efforts to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS).
As it is customary in his speeches, Nasrallah attacked the United States but went further and called US President Donald Trump “a fool”. While Trump’s popularity and the US global standing will not be affected by Nasrallah’s slurs, the same cannot be said about Lebanon or its army.
As it stands, the Lebanese Army has been the recipient of more than $1 billion in the last eight years in equipment and training from the US government. Through US, as well as other countries’ assistance, this fairly modest force carried out crucial functions, primarily the de­fence of the eastern border from ISIS infiltration as well as to crack down on other terror networks in the country.
To dishearten the capabilities of one’s army while empowering a non-state militia, Aoun can only empower those terrorists’ factions that will want to punish Hezbollah and whoever supports it for its involvement in Syria.
This being the case, Aoun’s unwarranted statements expose Lebanon and weaken its military, an army that Aoun himself deserted when it valiantly stood up against the invading Syrian Army in 1989.
More importantly, the next time Aoun wishes to visit the White House, it will be good to remember that, if the Lebanese state and its head continue in their skewed pro-Iranian attitude, Trump would be a fool to invest in Lebanon and its army. That scenario certainly would not bode well for a country trying to keep its economy afloat amid the constant risk of US sanctions.
**Makram Rabah is a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University’s history department. He is the author of A Campus at War: Student Politics at the American University of Beirut, 1967-1975.

Israel boosts missile defences against Hezbollah
Nicholas Blanford/The Arab Weekly/February 19/17
Beirut - Israel’s mid-level anti-missile system known as David’s Sling is close to becoming operational just as tensions are building once more between the United States and Iran. The system passed its final tests in January amid expectations that it could soon be deployed to defend sensitive sites in Israel against Hezbollah’s arsenal of missiles and rockets, estimated by Israel at about 140,000 of all types. David’s Sling is a mid-level anti-missile system, wedged between Iron Dome, which is designed to shoot down short-range rockets, and the Arrow system, which targets ballistic missiles outside Earth’s atmosphere, Israel’s first line of defence.
In January, the Israeli Air Force deployed its first units of the Arrow 3, the latest and most advanced weapon of the anti-missile armoury. At the end of January, Iran fired a Khorramshahr medium-range missile, the first test launch since US President Donald Trump took of­fice. Trump tweeted that Iran was “playing with fire”. Michael Flynn, then US national security adviser, said the Trump administration was putting Iran “on notice” and the US government imposed fresh sanctions on companies and individuals connected to Iran’s ballistic programme. In response, Iran conducted further test-firings on February 4th.
“The recent test was in line with our plans and we will not allow foreigners to interfere with our defence plans,” Iranian Defence Min­ister Hossein Dehghan declared on February 6th.
Iran and Hezbollah have long depended on rockets and missiles as a form of deterrence against Israel. Since the end of the 34-day war in 2006 between Hezbollah and Israel, the Lebanese group is believed to have amassed new and longer-range missiles, some fitted with guidance capabilities.
In February 2016, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned that his organisation “has the ability to cover the entirety of occupied Palestine with missiles. We must keep this capability because it acts as a deterrent for the third Lebanon war.”If David’s Sling is soon deployed alongside Iron Dome batteries, Israel will have the theoretical ability to knock out all variants of a surface-to-surface missile in Hezbollah’s arsenal.
Israel’s anti-missile network, however, cannot overcome the strategic challenge posed by Hez­bollah’s rockets, which is not related to the number of casualties caused nor the amount of damage inflicted but to shutting down the Jewish state. In February 2000, three months before Israel abandoned a border strip it had occupied in Lebanon since 1978, a surge of Israeli casualties triggered air attacks against Lebanese infrastructure targets.
Expecting Hezbollah to swiftly launch a barrage of Grad rockets into northern Israel in reprisal, the Israeli government ordered a 48- hour state of emergency in which some 300,000 residents were moved to bomb shelters. Hezbollah never fired the rockets. Instead, the mere threat was sufficient to paralyse northern Israel. About 80% of the population of Kiryat Shmona, the main town in northern Galilee, had fled the expected bombardment. Economic losses ran at $2.4 million a day.
The presence of a multitier anti-missile defence system arrayed across northern and central Israel will not change these strategic problems if another war breaks out. Israeli intelligence estimates that Hezbollah will attempt to fire up to 1,500 missiles a day in that conflict.
Hezbollah would be expected to launch its short-range weap­ons, with a reach of up to 70km, in swarms to overwhelm anti-missile batteries. Even if Iron Dome and Da­vid’s Sling achieve an 80% hit rate against the predicted onslaught, that would leave 300 projectiles striking Israeli territory daily, com­pelling civilians to seek cover.
In the past, the threatened areas in Israel were limited to the far north but given the longer range of many Hezbollah rockets today, all of Israel is under threat. In the event of another war, Israel will be effectively paralysed with airports and seaports closed and schools and businesses across the country shut for the duration of the conflict. Israel’s influential Institute for National Security Studies conclud­ed in January that Hezbollah’s vast arsenal of missiles and rockets “are turning Hezbollah into the most severe threat currently facing the (Israeli military) in particular and Israel in general”.Given the scale of the threat, some analysts say Israel must keep the conflict as short as possible by unleashing its air force to wreak unrestricted havoc across Lebanon — far in excess of the destruction wrought in 2006 — to force Hezbol­lah to stop. “The results of the third Lebanese war will be devastating,” Giora Ei­land, former head of Israel’s Nation­al Security Council, warned in 2016. “A war declared between Israel and Lebanon, where Hezbollah is part of the national political infra­structure, will cause great damage to Lebanon, which nobody’s inter­ested in — not Lebanon, not the US, not Europe, Syria or Iran.”
** Blanford is the author of Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah’s Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel (Random House 2011). He lives in Beirut.

The long to-do list of Lebanon’s minister for Human Rights
Samar Kadi/The Arab Weekly/February 19/17
Beirut - "The list of issues is long. The file is big with many ramifications involving several ministries and time is tight.” That statement by Ayman Choucair, Lebanon’s minister for Human Rights, underlines the challenges he faces in the newly created portfolio in Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government.
“The objective behind creating a Ministry for Human Rights is basically there is a need for it,” Chou­cair said. “No country can claim to be developed and modern if it does not respect human rights. It also shows that Lebanon is a pioneer in the region with regard to human rights issues.
“In Lebanon, legislations for the protection of human rights already exist but the problem is in the implementation and enforcement of the law.”
Torture in detention facilities, inequitable gender rights, long pretrial detention periods and prosecution of civilians by mili­tary courts are among issues that Lebanese and international human rights watchdogs have denounced. Choucair said his ministry’s task is humongous and placing Lebanon on the right track requires essential reforms in several min­istries, including Justice, Interior and Social Affairs.“It is a long process but, within the coming three to four months, which is the lifespan of this gov­ernment until general elections, I hope we will be able to set the ground for those who will come later to build on… The most impor­tant thing is to create the National Commission for Human Rights,” Choucair said.
A tenmember commission, a long-standing demand by human rights groups, is to be an independ­ent body attached to the office of the prime minister, comprising judges, lawyers, doctors, activists and journalists, he said. “The structure is meant to represent Lebanese society. The commission will have the task of monitoring incidents of violation of human rights and raising the alarm,” Choucair said. Torture, ill-treatment and lengthy pretrial detention periods of suspected members of Islam­ist radical groups — some lasting for several years — have caused an outcry by human rights groups and the families of prisoners in Lebanon. The country is a signa­tory to the UN Convention against Torture.
“This is definitely a blatant viola­tion of human rights and the law,” Choucair said, citing security and political reasons as being behind the lengthy incarceration of Islam­ist suspects. “The problem is that under the present regional conditions [of conflict and rampant terrorism], the line between respect of human rights and security is very thin,” Choucair said. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) welcomed the creation of the ministry and called for concrete moves to improve the hu­man rights record in Lebanon. “It is definitely a step forward, and it is encouraging to see human rights issues are being taken out at such high levels,” said Bassam Khawaja, HRW’s Lebanon researcher.
“The extent to which things will actually get done depends on whether this is a position that is funded to be able to tackle human rights violations in the country and whether it will be maintained when a new cabinet is formed after general elections.” Lebanon is expected to have an election in May to select a new parliament. Khawaja said the minister for Human Rights could take the lead on many pressing issues, including torture, which is reportedly preva­lent in military interrogations, even though it is against Lebanon’s criminal laws.
“Prolonged pretrial detention is definitely a large issue in Leba­non,” Khawaja said. “The criminal defamation laws that criminalise speaking out against officials are also a concern and seem to be used against people who speak out like journalists and lawyers. Other issues include migrant domestic workers and refugees who are left out of labour protection… There is a long list absolutely.”
While the precarious security situation in Lebanon has led to human rights abuses, HRW said there was never any justification for torture. “Torture is illegal under both international and domestic law but also it has been shown it is inef­fective and counterproductive. It actually does quite serious damage to the relation of populations with security services, and even leads to radicalisation,” Khawaja said. Choucair said ensuring respect for human rights in Lebanon’s en­vironment of heightened security risks and instability is no easy task.
“Let’s achieve what we can for now,” he said. “Treat issues that are in our capacity to treat step by step, until we can overcome this very difficult period in the region and in Lebanon.
**”Samar Kadi is the Arab Weekly society and travel section editor.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 20-21/17

Tehran Rejects Ontario Court Ruling Ordering Reimbursement for Supporting Terrorism
Asharq Al Awsat/February 20/17/London – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi dismissed the recent ruling of Superior Court of Justice in Ontario against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The ruling was based on Tehran’s support for terrorism.
Ghasemi criticized the finding, claiming that it contradicts the principles of international law regarding the immunity of States and their property, according to the Iran-based Mehr news agency. Ghasemi’s comments were made ten days following the issuing of the provision.
An Ontario court on Friday ordered the government of Iran to pay $300,000 in costs of victims of terrorist attacks they claim is sponsored by the Islamic Republic.
A Canadian court, last June, had awarded $13 million in non-diplomatic assets seized from Iran to the families of Americans who died in several attacks globally, which had allegedly been sponsored by Tehran between 1983 to 2002. The judgment by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found Tehran responsible for financing and training operatives who carried out eight bombings or hostage-takings in Buenos Aires, Israel, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia over a period spanning nearly 20 years. “The Islamic Republic of Iran has already announced its official protest on the issue through the relevant channels to the Government of Canada and recognizes its right to pursue political and legal measures over the ruling,” Ghasemi noted. Unfortunately, he said, Canadian judge has issued the ruling with no regards to international law and the principle of equality of the states, which the Iran rejects.

Shin Bet foils ISIS-affiliated terror attack

Yoav Zitun and Gilad Morag/ynetnews/February 20/17
Indictment issued against 35-year-old Tayibe resident for contact with ISIS and swearing allegiance to organization’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; suspect planned an attack against IDF soldiers on a bus in Tel Aviv, distributed instructions on how to prepare explosive devices and toxins which can be incorporated in the devices, including Sarin gas. An Arab Israeli citizen from the central Israeli city of Tayibe was arrested at the end of last month for involvement in terror activities, including plans to carry out attacks in Israel, and having contact with the ISIS terror group, it was cleared for publication on Monday afternoon. According to a statement released by the Shin Bet, the arrest of Enas Haj-Yahia, 35, came following a joint operation by the Shin Bet, Israel Police and the civilian counter-terrorism unit on January 29. Haj-Yahia was arrested after security forces received intelligence information indicating that he was planning to perpetrate acts of terror in Israel. “During the Shin Bet investigation, it became apparent that Haj-Yahia was in contact ISIS activists, and that he distributed instructions on how to prepare explosive devices,” the statement said, as well as toxins which can be incorporated in the devices, including Sarin gas. The Shin Bet also stated that he was asked to plan a bus attack in Tel Aviv to kill and maim IDF soldiers. Moreover, the investigation revealed that Haj-Yahia intended to create an ISIS terror cell to carry out attacks in Israel, and went about recruiting people into its ranks.
According to security officials, he swore allegiance to the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and considered joining the battles in Syria. The indicted individual was a member of online terror group which was also visited by other members of ISIS. Among other groups, Haj-Yahia frequented “Terrorists of the State”, “Allah will torture them in your hand,” and “The Caliphate Foundation.”During his arrest, security forces found him in possession of dangerous substances and information for assembling explosives. Furthermore, pictures were found in his home, among other things, of military equipment and bombs, as well as “A detailed guide to the Jihad warrior,” a manual affiliated with terrorists who identify with ISIS.

US 'Not in Iraq to Seize Anybody's Oil'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 20/17/The United States is not about to plunder Iraq's petroleum reserves, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, who arrived in Baghdad Monday, said as he sought to soothe partners rattled by remarks President Donald Trump made. Trump has repeatedly said both while campaigning and since his election that America, whose troops occupied Iraq for eight years, should have grabbed Iraqi oil to help fund its war effort and to deprive the Islamic State group of a vital revenue source. But Mattis, a retired Marine general who commanded troops during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, appeared to nix the idea. "All of us in America have generally paid for gas and oil all along, and I am sure that we will continue to do so in the future," Mattis told reporters at the start of a visit to Iraq. "We are not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil," he said. While speaking at the CIA headquarters last month, Trump cited the adage, "To the victor belong the spoils," and said America "should have kept the oil" after pulling most of its troops out of the country under his predecessor Barack Obama. The president then added, without elaborating, that "maybe we'll have another chance."Mattis has emerged as a vital statesman for the Trump administration and has spent the past week in Europe and the Gulf on a mission to reassure allies that America is not about to abandon old military alliances. Trump also despatched Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence to Europe in a bid to show "unwavering" US support to NATO.
- Travel ban friction -The Pentagon chief was due to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defence Minister Irfan al-Hayali, and his visit comes as the battle to recapture west Mosul from IS gets under way. Adding to the friction from Trump's oil comments is his executive order blocking Iraqis from travelling to the United States, part of a decision to stop people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering America for at least 90 days.The move drew immediate international condemnation and prompted the Pentagon to lobby for special consideration of Iraqis who had supported US troops, such as translators and support staff. After a federal judge blocked Trump's travel ban, the White House is planning a new order this week that would tweak it to circumvent the court. Mattis said he had not seen the new executive order but was confident it would cater to the Iraqis who had served alongside US forces. "I right now am assured that we will take steps, allow those who have fought alongside us for example to be allowed into the United States," he said. "They will have been vetted obviously by their performance on the battlefield and by normal procedures and I am sure we will work our way through this quickly."

2,000 IS Fighters Defending West Mosul, Says U.S. Official

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 20/17/An estimated 2,000 IS fighters are left in west Mosul to defend their bastion against a massive offensive by the Iraqi security forces, a senior U.S. intelligence official said Monday. "There's about 2,000 remaining," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity during a trip to Iraq by the new Pentagon chief, Jim Mattis. The estimate which the U.S.-led coalition supporting Iraqi forces gave before the October 17 launch of a huge operation on Mosul was that the city was defended by 5,000 to 7,000 jihadists. The coalition has not provided figures but it has said that the four-month-old campaign on Mosul had inflicted heavy casualties on IS. Tens of thousands of Iraqi ground forces, receiving air support from the coalition as well as from its own aircraft, are involved in the operation, seen as the culmination of efforts to retake the land the government lost to the jihadist organization in 2014. Commanders and experts expect that the fighting in west Mosul could be the bloodiest yet. The neighborhoods that lie west of the Tigris River that divides the city are densely populated, have narrow streets that will be impassable for some military vehicles and are home to populations that could be more hostile that on the east bank. Mattis, a retired Marine general who commanded troops during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has been touring the region and arrived in Baghdad early Monday on a unannounced visit.

Pence Takes Charm Offensive to EU and NATO
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 20/17/US Vice President Mike Pence meets EU and NATO leaders Monday at the end of a European trip aimed at reassuring allies worried that President Donald Trump might abandon them. Upon arrival in Brussels on Sunday, Pence said he looked "very much forward" to his meetings with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Brussels follows a visit to the Munich Security Conference, where Pence told European leaders and defence experts: "The United States is and will always be your greatest ally. "President Trump and our people are truly devoted to our transatlantic union." Trump's criticism of NATO as "obsolete", his praise for Britain's decision to leave the European Union, and his apparent tilt to Russian President Vladimir Putin have unnerved US allies. And they continue to seek reassurance from Washington even though Pence, US Defence Secretary James Mattis and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hewed close to seven decades of transatlantic policy during their foray into Europe.
Pence said Washington would push Russia to honour the Minsk ceasefire accords in Ukraine and Tillerson said the US would only cooperate with Moscow if it benefits the American people. But French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was "struck" that Pence had never mentioned the EU, which raised doubts after Trump welcomed Brexit and appeared to hope other EU states will follow suit. Mogherini has said Pence's visit is "a very important political sign," though she suggested EU-US relations may become more pragmatic and less automatic than before. During her visit to Washington 10 days ago, Moghehrini warned Trump's administration not to "interfere" in European politics amid fears it supports the breakup of the 28-nation EU.  - 'Absolutely disgusting' -Addressing fears that businessman Ted Malloch might be named the next US ambassador to Brussels, Mogherini said she had been told "there is no decision taken and no specific name considered at this point." In the German and British press, Malloch reportedly said Brexit was a harbinger of the EU's eventual disintegration, and he has compared the bloc to the Soviet Union. Tusk and Juncker, who will also meet the new vice president for the first time, have also expressed concerns about Trump. Juncker said after Trump won the election that he feared the new president will implement everything he said he would during a "campaign that I found absolutely disgusting." While Pence's meetings with EU and NATO leaders are likely to be diplomatic, several groups plan to hold demonstrations against Trump policies.

Israeli Ministers Remain Optimistic on Trump

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 20/17/Israeli ministers were upbeat Monday on the prospects of working with the new U.S. administration, even after remarks by President Donald Trump that have fallen short of rightwing hopes.Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Israel now had "an opportunity to create together with the administration the conditions for serious peace negotiations by changing the basic approach of the international community.""Until today the Palestinians had every reason to believe that time was on their side," said Erdan, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, speaking in Jerusalem at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "They could refuse to negotiate, incite terror, and attack Israel in the international arena, while the world put pressure only on Israel. This approach has failed.” Members of Netanyahu's rightwing coalition had hailed Trump's election as the beginning of a new era in which they would be able to freely advance settlement construction, considered by the international community as a major impediment to a Palestinian state and peace agreement. But at his first meeting with Netanyahu last week since taking office, Trump on Wednesday asked the Israeli leader to "hold back on settlements for a little bit." And on Sunday, Netanyahu said the U.S. and Israel had agreed to create teams on West Bank settlement, "an area that we have not previously agreed on." Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the far-right Jewish Home and opposes a Palestinian state, told the conference he was "happy that President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu are willing to explore new ideas."That was a reference to Trump's comments that Washington would no longer insist on a two-state solution to the conflict. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, however, later disputed the notion that the U.S. does not support the two-state solution. According to Bennett, "it’s been 24 years of the same thing," referring to the period since the 1993 Oslo talks that were to have led to the formation of a Palestinian state. The administration of previous U.S. president Barack Obama strongly opposed the expansion of Jewish settlements, arguing they hurt the longer-term search for a two-state solution. Since Trump's January 20 inauguration, the Israeli premier has announced more than 5,000 settlement homes and the construction of the first entirely new settlement for more than 20 years.

Russia's U.N. Envoy Churkin Dies 'Unexpectedly'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 20/17/Russia's envoy to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin died suddenly on Monday, the foreign ministry said, without giving details of the cause. "On February 20, the Permanent Representative of Russia in the U.N. Vitaly Churkin unexpectedly died in New York," it said in a statement. Churkin was 64 and died one day before turning 65, the ministry said, offering condolences to his family. "The outstanding Russian diplomat passed away on his post," it said. Churkin had served in the role since 2006. Previously he worked at the foreign ministry in Moscow, served as an envoy to Canada (1998-2003), Belgium (1994-1998) and as a special representative to the talks on former Yugoslavia (1992-1994). The news of his death was met with shock at the U.N. headquarters. Diplomats holding a routine meeting on General Assembly affairs observed a moment of silence. U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq, who heard the news during the regular daily briefing, offered his condolences, adding: "We mourn Ambassador Churkin. He has been such a regular presence here that I'm actually quite stunned."

Saudi Arabia Seeks Death for Suspect in Germans' Shooting
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 20/17/Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia are seeking the death penalty for a suspect accused of opening fire on German diplomats, a newspaper reported on Monday. The two envoys escaped unharmed when bullets hit their car in the Shiite-dominated Awamiya area three years ago, police said at the time. Awamiya, on the Gulf Coast near Dammam, has been a center of unrest among the minority Shiite community since protests began there in 2011 and developed into a call for equality. A trial began on Sunday in Riyadh for the suspect, who was not named but could face the death penalty, Okaz newspaper reported. Almost a year after the shooting the interior ministry said it had arrested a suspect, Salem bin Abdullah bin Hussein, who was wanted for a number of violent crimes. Okaz reported that the man on trial before a court specializing in "terrorist" cases is accused of several offenses. These include attacking a diplomatic vehicle, attempting to kill police, participating in demonstrations, inciting sedition and causing sectarian strife, the newspaper said. The Germans' car was hit by fire from an automatic weapon which caused the vehicle to burn, it said. Okaz said the accused asked the court for one month to prepare his defense. German media reports after the shooting said the two Germans worked for their country's BND foreign intelligence service, something Berlin's foreign ministry declined to comment directly on at the time. Awamiya was the home of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was convicted of terrorism and executed one year ago. Nimr was a driving force behind protests by Shiite residents that began in 2011 and developed into a call for equality. Most of Saudi Arabia's Shiites live in the east and have long complained of marginalization in the Sunni-dominated kingdom.Data from activists late last year showed 25 Shiites were on death row allegedly related to incidents since 2012 in Qatif, the Shiite-dominated area that includes Awamiya.

Four Russian Servicemen Dead in Syria Blast

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 20/17/Four Russian military personnel were killed and two injured when their vehicle was targeted with explosives in central Syria last week, a defense ministry statement quoted by Russian agencies said Monday. "Four Russian servicemen died when their car exploded on a radio-controlled IED on February 16, 2017, in Syria," the statement said. "Two more were injured. Russian military medics are trying to save their lives." "The convoy of Syrian army cars, in which the vehicle with Russian military advisers was traveling, was en route from the Tiyas airfield area toward the city of Homs," it said. "After they traveled four kilometers, a radio-controlled explosive was activated under the car with Russian servicemen." The four deaths raise the number of Russian military officially reported killed in Syria to 26 since it started its campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad on September 30, 2015. Another soldier committed suicide.

Protest in Munich Against the Iranian Foreign Minister
NCRI/Monday, 20 February 2017/On Friday February 17th 2017, a protest gathering was staged against the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif in the city center of Munich. The participants protested the presence of the Iranian regime in Munich Security Conference, and stated: the Iranian regime's representative should not have a place in Munich Conference since they are themselves the source of terrorism and fundamentalism, the Godfather of ISIS and the main cause of the crisis and war in the region. The Iranians living in Munich were carrying placards and chanting slogans against the Iranian Foreign Minister affiliated with Mullahs. The protesters were shouting:"Zarif! Go Away! , The Security Conference has no place for the murderers! , Rouhani and Khamenei are terrorists."
The protesters condemned the crimes of the Iranian regime in particular against the people of Ahvaz, Khuzestan by giving symbolic theatrical performances such as public executions and resented the waves of brutal murders and repressions carried out by the Iranian regime.
Although the rally was held in cold and rainy weather, it was greatly welcomed by many German citizens, news and media representatives and the participating figures in Munich Conference.
The personalities and countries participating in the Conference named the Iranian regime as the main cause of global terrorism and instability; stressing the need to stand against the interference of the regime in the region. The American Vice President, Mike Pence and the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim held a meeting on the sidelines of Munich Security Conference; discussing the options to restrain the Iranian regime. They also stressed that the Iranian regime will not be allowed to endanger the stability of the region.
In addition to that, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated in the conference:"the Iranian regime has been behind some incidents as well as the instability in the region. The sectarian policy adopted by this regime will undermine the security of many Arab states of the Persian Gulf such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia."The Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also stressed that Iran is the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world.

Iran Regime's Fear, of the Continued Courageous Protests, in the Oil Reach City of Ahvaz
NCRI/Monday, 20 February 2017/Sunday evening February 19, after security forces declared all demonstrations illegal, and the local police issued a statement calling on people to refrain from “illegal gatherings,” warning that they would be “confronted” if they took part. The people of Ahvaz once again for the seventh consecutive day gathered in front of Khuzestan province city hall and protested. The demonstrators chanted: “Death to you" (addressed to heads of state and representatives of Ahvaz in Khuzestan Governor’s Office) and shouted: "Khuzestan people are ready to be killed but will never accept humiliation. And " "Honorable Southerners, support us." "If our problem is not resolved, Ahvaz will be the scene of resurgence."It is noteworthy that over the past week every day, protests over dust storms, power failures and government mismanagement in one of Iran’s most oil-rich cities have been continuing. Residents of Ahvaz, a city near the border with Iraq, has been protesting for Seven days in increasingly large gatherings, shown in cellphone video clips shared on social media. The region around Ahvaz is a center of oil production in Iran, and since economic sanctions were lifted, Iran’s regime has been hoping for foreign investment in the area to update refineries and power stations and fix deepening ecological problems.
It is also remarkable that, frightened of these protest rallies expanding, the Iranian regime has dispatched anti-riot and the Revolutionary Guards’ Basij militia groups from neighboring Fars Province to Ahvaz, and meaningfully lowered the internet speeds in Ahvaz to prevent the uploading of any video clips showing people’s demonstrations and protests.
On Saturday February 18, Saluting courageous people, youth and women of Khuzestan, especially distressed people of Ahvaz, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi , president elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, asked them to intensify their just protests and to insist on their urgent demands for minimum necessities of life such as clean weather, water and electricity.

Iran Regime's MP: Our Detachment From People Is a Great Risk, We Need to Be Alert
NCRI/Monday, 20 February 2017/The plenary session of Iranian regime’s parliament on Wednesday last week was filled with warnings and concerns expressed by regime’s bands over the consequences of socioeconomic crises and outburst of people’s anger due to increased poverty, deprivation and social inequality, with some of the comments listed below:
Abdollah Razian, member of regime’s Parliament Committee on Agriculture
Our detachment from people is a great risk, we need to be alert.
Country’s social inequality is increasing. Unemployment situation is close to explosion with no solution to resolve it, a worrying prospect.
institutionalized corruption and politicized behavior of us officials has unfortunately given rise to distrust among people. Our distance from people is a great risk and we need to be alert.
Naser Mousavi Larigani, vice chairman of Economic Committee
Manufacturing, industry and housing sectors are still hibernating. The silence in industrial sites and areas, closure of manufacturing units and bankruptcy of many factories point to the ongoing heavy shadow of recession over country’s production.”
He then maintained that “every day, we see the gap between rich and poor in society increase. Due to liberal economic policies, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are growing richer every day.”Havaniruz retired employees were parliament’s guests yesterday. They cried, complaining about the discriminations they’ve been put through.
Polyacryl workers (Isfahan) have not been paid for nine months. Likewise, Isfahan’s Niloo Tile workers are facing the same problem.
Ahmad Salek, member of Parliament Cultural Committee:
First of all, let me remind the President to ensure that the problems of Isfahan’s Polyacryl workers be addressed. They’ve not been paid for nine months which has given rise to problems.
Aboldreza Azizi, head of Social Committee:
We need to figure out a solution for country’s most significant cancer flowing in its economic arteries. Our monetary and banking system is suffering a malignant cancer.
We can save our country from a military war, but not from an economic, currency one while continuing the current path. The blood flowing in country’s economy is currently cancer money.

Iran TV Host Admits to Tehran's Attempts to Assassinate Regime Opponents Abroad
NCRI/Monday, 20 February 2017/The Iranian state television admitted, for the first time, that the state carried out assassinations of opponents of the regime outside the country using its agents. This came up during the talk show that was attended by Anis al-Naqqash, known for training Imad Mughniyah, the former military commander of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. Al Arabiya English reported on February 18, 2017. In the talk show, which was broadcasted last Thursday by Iranian Television, al-Naqqash indicated that he was imprisoned in France. The Iranian broadcaster Vahid Yaminpour, who belongs to the fundamentalist movement and is known for his connections with the Iranian security forces, intervened at this point and explained the reasons behind the arrest. The broadcaster asserted: “A year after the Iranian revolution, al-Naqqash went to France on a mission to assassinate Shapour Bakhtiar, the Prime Minister under the Shah. The operation did not succeed and he was arrested and imprisoned for several years." Al-Naqqash did not succeed in the assassination attempt on Iran’s former Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar. (Archives) Al-Naqqash was imprisoned for 10 years in France after the assassination attempt on former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar, and was released in 1990. Al-Naqqash was born in Beirut in 1951, and then joined the ranks of the Fatah in 1968 where he served in a number of positions. After the Iranian revolution, he became very close to the Iranian regime, and participated in the training of some of the leaders of the Lebanese Hezbollah. He played a role in the coordination between the leaders of the Palestinian groups and the Iranian regime.
Assassinations abroad
Al-Naqqash did not succeed in the assassination attempt on the former Prime Minister but on August 6, 1991, Bakhtiar was assassinated at his Paris home, along with his private secretary, by three people. One of the neighbors was also killed and a policeman was slaughtered with a knife to camouflage the events. The death of Bakhtiar was discovered only after 36 hours. Two of the killers escaped to Iran, while the third one, Ali Vakili Rad, was arrested in Switzerland and extradited to France, accompanied by Zainal Sarhada (a distant relative of then Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani). Ali Vakili Rad was tried and sentenced to life in prison in 1994. France released him in 2009, when they exchanged him for Clotilde Reiss, a French teacher who was arrested in Tehran on charges of participating in the protests that raged on the streets of Iranian cities after the country’s elections the same year.
In 2014, The Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi confessed to "assassinations against opponents of the regime of the Islamic Republic abroad" within his ministry's activities outside the country, as he emphasized in a statement published by The Iranian Judiciary new agency: “The assassinations, included the leader of Jaysh al-Nasr Baluchi, Abdul Rauf Rigi, his nephew and o

Iran's (IRGC) Should Be Punished and the Europeans Need to Limit Their Rush to Trade With Iran
NCRI/Monday, 20 February 2017/As the General Michael Flynn’s political star sets amidst continued controversy, the Trump administration is facing its first foreign policy tests less than a month after the inauguration. Unsurprisingly, the two actors who are actively testing President Trump’s resolve come straight from George W. Bush’s “axis of evil”: Iran and North Korea, two of America’s most implacable adversaries. Ariel Cohen wrote in THE HILL on February 19, the following are excerpts of this article. What is more intriguing is whether the two are coordinating their ballistic missile tests – and how much support they are receiving from their “sugar daddies” in Moscow and Beijing.
Clearly, the Trump administration will have to take steps to punish the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), an elite military-cum secret police organization, and the ruthless rulers of North Korea. Future sanctions may involve not just the two terror-supporting states, but companies in Russia and China that are working to boost the missile efforts in both countries. Beyond that, the administration may consider broader deployment of missile defenses in the Middle East, South Korea, and Japan, and potentially, U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in vicinity of the two aggressors. Sources in the Arab Gulf suggest that Tehran may be involved in testing its nuclear weapons and developing its ICBMs in North Korea. Since Trump’s election, the Islamic Republic has tested two medium range ballistic missiles, violating the spirit of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which codified the Obama administration-initiated Iran nuclear program compromise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Being derivatives of the Soviet SCUD-B missile and the North Korean No Dong, these weapons can become nuclear-capable. It is also significant that the patrons of the two aggressor states were also tested: Russia by Iran, and China by North Korea. Both came to the aid of the provocateurs. Moscow announced that Iran did not violate the UN Security Council resolution. Beijing took matters one step further. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused the U.S. and South Korea of responsibility for the missile tests.
As a reaction to the provocation from Teheran, Gen. Flynn put Iran “on notice”, while the Treasury Department imposed rather mild sanctions on 25 Iranian individuals and companies.
So, what can the Trump administration do? As it is being tested by bullies, the administration needs to show the perpetrators the limits of their disruptive behavior, and the U.S. allies need to be called to help. This means it is Washington’s turn, too, to test its allies. It also needs to reach out to Moscow and Beijing.
The Trump administration and U.S. allies also need to broaden their focus from Iran’s nuclear program to take in Teheran’s aggressive and disruptive behavior in the Middle East. Today, four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a, are effectively being controlled by Teheran. Moreover, Iran is a strategic ally of Russia in the Middle East, and it allows Russian bombers to use its air space for air strikes in Syria. The Europeans need to limit their rush to trade with Iran by conditioning investment in the Iranian economy on cessation of the missile program and expanding JCPOA to permanently stop uranium enrichment. The IRGC, which runs the missile testing and production, as well as the nuclear program, need all their numerous businesses sanctioned – inside and outside Iran. This should include IRGC leaders, their family members, and their businesses.
Any companies that do business with Iran’s military proxies, such as Lebanese and Iraqi Hezbollah, and the Houthi rebels, which threaten navigation off the coasts of Yemen and at the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb straits, should also be sanctioned.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 20-21/17
The Lebanese state and its two armies
Makram Rabah/The Arab Weekly/February 19/17
MEMRI//February 20/17
Former Jordanian Minister, Salah Al-Qallab: ISIS Was Created By Iran, Israel, Assad Regime To Crush Sunni Arabs In Middle East
In his regular column in the Jordanian government daily Al-Rai, former Jordanian information minister Salah Al-Qallab wrote that the Islamic State (ISIS) was created by Iran, Israel and the Assad regime in order to cause the Arabs to fight this organization instead of its creators, and also with the aim of providing Iran with an excuse to do as it pleases in the region and to crush the Sunni Arabs.
The following are excerpts:[1]
"When [Israeli Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu addresses Italian President Sergio Mattarella and speaks of a 'dramatic change' that has occurred in the Arab world, [namely] that many Arab countries have begun regarding Israel as an essential ally in the fight against ISIS and Iran, he is effectively confirming that this terror organization is ultimately a creation of Iran in cooperation with the Assad regime and a creation of Israel. This is because [all three elements] have the same goals and interests. The intention is to cause the Arabs to prioritize the fight against the so-called 'Islamic State,' and to provide Iran with the excuses it needs in order to do what it is currently doing in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
"The only ones who benefited from the emergence of ISIS at the historical juncture at which it emerged were: Iran, which initiated all this barbaric violence against the Sunni Arabs in Iraq and Syria under the heading of fighting and opposing [ISIS]; the Bashar Al-Assad regime, whose allies, the Russians, have declared that toppling ISIS, rather than toppling [Assad], is their top priority; and Israel, which continued to work to create another threat in this region in addition to itself and another enemy in addition to itself that would be the first target for struggle, as indeed happened. That is why Binyamin Netanyahu hurried to say what he said and to assess that peace with the Palestinians would be achieved 'by the reverse path,' namely by rapprochement with the Arab countries first!
"Naturally, one assumes that the Italian president, who has demonstrated greater understanding than most of the Palestinian issue and the nature of the most dangerous conflict in the region, knows the facts and realizes that Iran and the Bashar Al-Assad regime are on the same side as Israel – not only based on the [principle that] 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend,' but also because the [Iranian] regime of the Rule of the Jurisprudent believes that there is no choice but to drape its sectarian mantle over this part of the Middle East and to tear it to shreds [by fragmenting it] along sectarian lines, which would result in uprooting the concept of nationalism from the hearts of the Arabs. This is [also] what the Israelis have been consistently striving to achieve ever since establishing [their] alien entity on Palestinian soil... Eliezer Tzafrir, the former head of the Mossad branch in Lebanon, confirms in documents that were exposed recently that a former commander of the Lebanese Phalanges, Elie Hobeika, who was responsible for the notorious massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps and who following this massacre joined the Hafez Al-Assad regime in Damascus, had relayed to him a message from the [Syrian] regime proposing to establish such a coalition – that is, a coalition of regional minorities under the leadership of the 'Zionist enemy'... [The goal], of course, was to confront the Sunni Arab majority in the Middle East.
"Binyamin Netanyahu also says: 'It's [...] wrong when people said that the core of the conflict [...] in the Great Middle East was the Palestinian issue. It wasn't, never was – not in Tunisia, not in Libya, not in Yemen, not in Iraq, not in Syria. There is a battle going between modernity and medievalism. We stand firmly on the side of modernity!!' Then the Israeli prime minister came to his main point, saying: 'The good news, the incredible news, one that fills me with great hope, is that [...] many of the Arab countries see Israel no longer as their enemy, but as their ally, even their vital ally, in fighting against Islamist terrorism, militant Islam, either led by Iran or led by Da'esh!!' [2]
"Those interested in refreshing the priorities of the regional conflict have probably begun to realize the truth and to recognize that this terrorist organization, ISIS, was cultivated and supported [by these elements]. [They] also coordinated with it and presented it as far mightier than it really is, and this in order to destroy what is genuinely the main Arab force in the Middle East, the Sunni Arabs. Even people suffering from mental blindness have probably begun to understand this entire affair, in light of what has happened and is still happening in Iraq and Syria and in light of the actions of the satanic Russian-Iranian-Syrian coalition..."
[1] Al-Rai (Jordan), November 7, 2016.
[2] The statements were uttered at the start of Netanyahu's November 2, 2016 meeting with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella. See, November 2, 2016.

France's Muslim Demographic Future
Yves Mamou/Gatestone Institute/February 20/17
France's Muslim population could quickly grow to close to 15-17 million, but no one can know precisely unless the law prohibiting the official collection of ethnic data is changed.
These figures do not take into consideration the Muslim population that immigrated to France from North Africa in the 1960s and early 1970s. There are a few million of them -- nobody knows how many exactly. For demographers, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are not regarded as immigrants anymore. These Muslims are, rather, integrated into statistics as French citizens born of French parents. They are Muslim, but under the statistics radar.
From time to time, France's National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) offers a glimpse of the ethnic composition of French society. The study, "Being born in France to an immigrant parent" (Être né en France d'un parent immigré), published in February 2017, is one of them.
Like few other glimpses, the Insee study offers a partial view of the ethnic composition of the French population. A statistical breakdown -- with the answer to the perennial question: how many Muslims in France? -- would be perceived as discriminatory and outrageous. Given France's "integration model," nobody should dare identify people by their origins, religion, color of skin and so on. A Frenchman is a Frenchman, whatever the color of his skin or his religion, and any measurement of the sub-Saharan population -- for example, their level of education, that of their children, the type of jobs their parents are doing, how many times they go to mosque or if they have spent time in prison -- is illegal, discriminatory and racist. Sub-Saharan populations must disappear in aggregate data about French people.
The study, however, provides some telling information. In 2015, 7.3 million people born in France had at least one immigrant parent (11% of the population). Of these 7.3 million people, 45% are of European origin, most of whom are children of immigrants who arrived in France from Spain (8%) or Italy (12%) as early as the 1930s, or from Portugal in the 1970s onwards. One can assume, although it is not written in the study, that these people are of Christian origin.
Another group is composed of Africans. 42% of the 7.3 million children born in France to an immigrant parent are of African background, mainly North Africa. They came from Algeria (15%), Morocco (11%), Tunisia (5%) and sub-Saharan Africa (11%). Although it is also not specified in the study, it would seem that the great majority are Muslim.
Another group, children from Turkish migrant families, represent 4% of the 7.3 million. These people are classified as Asian; they are not included in the African and Muslim group. Most of these Turks are also presumably Muslim.
A conclusion therefore would assume that 46% of the descendants of immigrants are Muslim and 45% are Christian. The remaining 9% are from East Asia or the Americas.
A new study from France's National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, "Being born in France to an immigrant parent," provides some telling information on the ethnic composition of French society.
Criticizing the limited data of this study, Michèle Tribalat, a French demographer, published some personal conclusions in Atlántico, a news website. First, Tribalat expressed her regrets "not to have the population figures of persons of foreign origin for two generations". But, she said, it is not so difficult to compile it one's self.
"If we add the two generations (immigrants and children of immigrants), this gives a total of 13.5 million, or 20.4% of the population. Thus, we have slightly more than one inhabitant out of five of foreign origin, across two generations, in 2015".
Asked by Gatestone how she came to the 13.5 million figure, she replied:
"Very simple. I added the 2015 migrant population (6.2 million) to the Insee's 7.3 million children of immigrants, and it came to 13.5 million."
In her Atlántico article, Tribalat maintains that more important than the 2015 data picture, is the growth-rate that led to the 2015 figure. Tribalat calculated her own estimates of this growth, with starting points in the years 1986, 1999 and 2011, coming up with figures of a stunningly fast growth for the number of migrants over two generations: the 13.2 million migrants of 2015 (20.5%; 300,000 that are "missing" are from French overseas territories), were 12.1 million four years earlier and 9.8 million in 1999. In other words, 19.2% in 2011 and 16.8% in 1999. The population of French persons of foreign origin would therefore have increased, when looking at two generations, by 9% between 2011 and 2015 alone.
For the same period, French children born in France to parents born in France increased by only 2.6%, writes Tribalat.
Consequently, France's population is increasing significantly only because of immigration. But which immigration? Christian or Muslim? Tribalat continues:
"I showed that the annual average rate of increase of immigrants was almost zero between 1975 and 1999. But it is not the same story from 1999-2015. ... The population of sub-Saharan origin is the one that grows more quickly. In four years (2011-2015), looking at two-generations (immigrants and children of immigrants), the sub-Saharan population seems to have increased by 43%. This population is extremely young. In 2015, 80% of the children of sub-Saharan immigrants are under 25 years of age". (Author's emphasis)
These conclusions are confirmed by another Insee study, "Demography of the descendants of immigrants" (Démographie des descendants d'immigrés), published in 2014.
"The Turkish and sub-Saharan African population is growing at an extremely rapid rate (which could lead to a doubling in less than 10 years if this continues).... The total fertility rate of women born in Turkey is approximately 3, as it is for women born in sub-Saharan Africa. It is closer to 3.5 for women born in North Africa, while it is only 2 for women born in Europe, especially in France."
In other words, if the Muslim population of France can be estimated at around 6 million today, it could grow to 12 million by 2020-2025.
This figure does even not take into consideration the Muslim population that immigrated to France from North Africa in the 1960s and early 1970s. There are a few million of them -- nobody knows how many exactly. They became French very early, and for demographers, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are not regarded as immigrants anymore. These Muslims are, rather, integrated into statistics as French citizens born of French parents. They are Muslim, but under the statistics radar.
France's Muslim population could quickly grow to close to 15-17 million, but no one can know precisely unless the law prohibiting the official collection of ethnic data is changed.
These questions are not spoken about openly in the fierce pre-election presidential debate raging in France. The question is not politically correct. But in these times of expanding Islamism, they weigh silently in favor of Marine Le Pen.
*Yves Mamou is a journalist and author based in France. He worked for two decades for the daily, Le Monde, before his retirement.
© 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.

Israel's Public Relations: The Problem and the Solution
Bernhard Lazarus/Gatestone Institute/February 20/17
It is worth noting that the Jewish State was effectively created through the efforts of the countries of the world in San Remo and Geneva years prior to the Holocaust.
Jerusalem, except for fewer than 200 years in the 11th and 12th Centuries, when it was the capital of a short-lived Crusader State, has only been a capital city under Jewish rule. At other times since the Roman conquest it was not even considered by Muslims, or anyone else, a provincial city of consequence.
In the War of 1948-49, Jordan illegally seized Jerusalem, ethnically cleansed its Jewish inhabitants, destroyed all the synagogues and on top of the ancient sacred Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, after taking ancient Jewish headstones to use as the floor of latrines, Jordan built a hotel.
The aggression by Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June 1967 was overturned by Israel. Israel liberated Jerusalem, took control of the Golan Heights, from which Syrians had been shooting down at Israeli farmers, and entered the West Bank, which was under illegal Jordanian occupation.
Anti-Apartheid movements in South Africa wanted equal political and other democratic rights for all -- irrespective of race -- but never advocated the destruction of South Africa.
Israel currently has no Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the post of Minister of Information does not exist. This creates the message, as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir put it, of being the "prime minister of six million prime ministers".
An even more urgent condition is that Israeli authorities refuse to deal with the considerable number of renegade Israeli academics (and others) harming Israel on the international scene, presumably for their personal reasons.
"War is the continuation of politics by other means," said by General Carl von Clausewitz nearly 200 years ago, has now morphed into: "Politics is war by other means".
Enemies who are inferior militarily have understood this; hence, from the height of admiration after the Six Day War, Israel has hit bottom, sharing the position with the likes of North Korea.
How and why is this?
A knowledge of history is essential; therefore it is the first thing one's enemies try to destroy. If one can falsely claim that biblical places such as Rachel's Tomb, the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Temple Mount or even Jerusalem are Islamic, even though Islam did not, historically, exist until hundreds of years later, one can consequently claim that there never was a Jewish connection to the land – so then why should the Jews have it?
If you do not know where you come from, you cannot know who you are or what values are worth defending. Shulamit Aloni, as Israel's Education Minister in 1992-1993, probably to accommodate the peace Israelis hoped wild come after the Oslo accords, purged Israel's history textbooks of anything that might be deemed "politically incorrect". Although she undoubtedly meant well, she did the Israelis a major a disservice. The result was as if the U.S. government were to erase George Washington, the Federalist Papers and Abraham Lincoln from its textbooks and the ability to know one's past.
It is therefore essential that those who challenge Israel's right to exist and try to destroy Israel economically are met by historical reality. It is only through presenting facts rather than "narratives" that we can succeed in the media war. Israel should bring the old textbooks back -- immediately.
Successive Israeli governments, in a combination of indolence, over-confidence and general neglect, have ignored this reality. Rectifying this overwhelming problem has often been left to underfunded and only partially-informed, if well-meaning, private individuals and NGOs.
Not so, however, in the Muslim world. Since the "oil crisis" and the start of Palestinian terrorism in the 1970s, the Muslim world, in concert with many European leaders, led by those in France, has fully occupied the media battlefield. They have using whatever fabricated, inaccurate arguments they and their public relations firms dream up. Meanwhile, despite much howling and crying foul, the Israelis have not met this information deficit with perceptible positive action.
Israel — the Jewish State
Israel, one of the world's smallest states, roughly the size of New Jersey, has, since its inception, been under constant attack, physically, academically and in the media -- most destructively from its own citizens. They claim the right of "free speech" and often even seem to enjoy watching the fatal results, as if needing to confirm a need for malignant power.
The establishment of the Jewish State was Theodore Herzl's answer of turning the messianic dream of millennia into a political reality. After World War I, the victors dismembered the Ottoman Empire and created a number of new Arab states as well as Mandates, one of which was Britain's Mandate for Palestine. Palestine at that time was a geographic term only, invented by the ancient Romans in a still earlier attempt, by renaming Judea, to strip the land of its Jewish roots.
Britain's Mandate to create "a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine" was confirmed, in 1922, by all 52 member states of the League of Nations. Its heir, the United Nations, in 1947, by two-thirds majority, confirmed the establishment of a much-reduced Jewish State, as the bulk of the territory originally mandated to the Jews had been handed over to the independent kingdom of Transjordan.
It is worth noting that the Jewish State was effectively created through the efforts of the countries of the world in San Remo and Geneva years prior to the Holocaust.
In 1882, an Ottoman census showed 141,000 Muslims in the country; in 1906, of the 60,000 inhabitants of Jerusalem, 40,000 were Jews. Jerusalem, except for fewer than 200 years in the 11th and 12th Centuries, when it was the capital of a short-lived Crusader State, has only been a capital city under Jewish rule. At other times since the Roman conquest it was not even considered by Muslims or anyone else, a provincial city of consequence.
In the War of 1948-49, Jordan illegally seized Jerusalem, ethnically cleansed its Jewish inhabitants, destroyed all the synagogues and on top of the ancient sacred Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, after taking ancient Jewish headstones to use as the floor of latrines, Jordan built a hotel, overlooking dead Jews.
During the British Mandate, which lasted until May 14, 1948, while the 1936 British White Paper restricted Jewish immigration into Palestine to 75,000 over a five-year period, Arabs from all the neighboring territories were allowed to flood, unrestricted, into the country.
The aggression by Egypt, Syria and Jordan, in June 1967, was overturned by Israel. Israel liberated Jerusalem, took control of the Golan Heights, from which Syrians had been shooting down at Israeli farmers, and entered the West Bank, which was under Jordanian occupation. Jordan's King Hussein, promised by Israel that his country would be left if peace if it did not attack, instead, presumably worried that he might miss out on the spoils, entered the war. If one initiates aggression, one should be prepared to lose. Never in history has the victorious victim in a defensive war been requested to return territory to the aggressor. Germany, as the aggressor, lost thousands of square miles to Poland, as would be expected.
In 1979, Israel returned all Egypt's land, held since1967, in exchange for peace. In 1994, a peace agreement was also signed between Israel and Jordan.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, the Arabs demanded their own independent state – a demand not made when occupied by Jordan.
As to charges that there are Palestinian refugees and that Israel is an "Apartheid State," the sad fact is that Palestinian refugees were caused by Israel's neighbors themselves through starting a war against the new state in 1948. Arabs were told by their Arab brethren to leave the area to make it easier to defeat the Jews -- after which, the Arabs were promised, they could return to their homes. Arabs fled to neighboring territories, where to this day they are basically incarcerated for Arab political reasons.
As Israel has absorbed 600,000 Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries, surely Arab countries, with their vast wealth and territory, can absorb what was originally 600,000 refugees -- who chose to leave Israel of their own free will. The Arabs who remain are full-fledged citizens of Israel with full equal rights, all job opportunities, their own political parties, judgeships on Israel's Supreme Court, and full membership in Israel's parliament, and make up about 20% of the population.
As Germany absorbed millions of refugees after World War II, and more than 14 million people are estimated to have been transferred during the difficult birth of India and Pakistan, there should be no problem unless one wants there to be one.
Anti-Apartheid movements in South Africa wanted equal political and other democratic rights for all -- irrespective of race -- but never advocated the destruction of South Africa. The promoters of the current so-called "anti-Apartheid" movement against Israel are, in fact, openly striving for its destruction.
Peace with Israel's neighbors
Most Muslim countries, in direct contravention of U.N resolution 181, do not recognize the State of Israel. To this day, their outspoken aim is the destruction of the county; hence a two-state solution and peace are impossible as long as the following reality exists:
Palestinian National Charter: Extract Article 19: "The Partition of Palestine in 1947 and establishment of the State of Israel are entirely illegal regardless of the passage of time".
Fatah Constitution: Extract Article 12: "Complete liberation of Palestine and the eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence."
Hamas Charter: Extract Article 13: "Initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions --- are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement...There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad".
It is obvious that one cannot negotiate until Israel's neighbors rescind their destructive resolutions and show a genuine willingness for peace, in particular by educating their publics for peace instead of murder, and when everything can be put on the table for discussion.
It is also important to note that the UN Security Council Resolution 242, after 1967 war rejecting the word "the" before "territories" to be returned. Resolution 242 anticipated that Israel cannot be expected to go back to the 1949 armistice lines. Lord Caradon, one of the architects of the resolution, in a letter to The Times of London, explained:
"It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its position of June 4, 1967, because these positions were undesirable and artificial and just happen to be the places on the day the fighting stopped in 1948".
The French, however, in their translation of the text of 242, inserted the "the"; since then, the English version has incorrectly inserted it as well, creating the totally false impression -- "fake news" -- that all territories are to be returned.
In Conclusion
Two other major problems in Israel have developed, which need most urgent attention.
Israel currently has no Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the post of Minister of Information does not exist. Presumably the former is handled by the Prime Minister when he has the time, whilst the latter falls between the cracks of other ministries. This creates the message, as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir put it, of being the "prime minister of six million prime ministers".
Israel has a diplomatic budget of approximately 0.15% of GDP -- the lowest of all developed countries, although its needs are greater than any other. Canada, for instance, spends 0.25%; Germany 0.4% and the UK spends 0.75%.
An even more urgent condition, needing immediate attention, is that Israeli authorities refuse to deal with the considerable number of renegade Israeli academics (and others) harming Israel on the international scene, presumably for their personal reasons. It is incomprehensible how Israel's government and universities allow the claim of "abuse of 'academic freedom'" to justify those who support the openly anti-democratic forces advocating the destruction of the only democratic state in the Middle East. Never have the words of Abraham Lincoln in 1859 been more appropriate: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves".
As Benjamin Netanyahu summed it up in a 2006 Knesset speech, "if the Arabs lay down their arms there will be no more war, but if Israel lays down its weapons there would be no more Israel."
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Canada: Protesters outside mosque where imam prayed for killing of unbelievers could face hate crime charges
Christine Williams/Jihad Watch/February 20/17
A group of Canadian protesters with placards stating “Say No to Islam” outside of Masjid Toronto could face hate crime charges. Toronto Mayor John Tory “criticized the protest, calling it ‘Islamophobia’ in a Tweet.” Yet authorities appear to have little to no concern about the actions of that mosque, which clearly played a role in eliciting the protests. This is where the imam prayed: “O Allah! Give us victory over the disbelieving people…slay them one by one and spare not one of them.”
The downtown Masjid Toronto is affiliated with the Muslim Association of Canada — a self-described offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. As reported by CIJ News:
In 2016, imams…at the mosque recited supplications to Allah in support of the “mujahideen (those of engage in jihad) everywhere”, the total destruction of the enemies of Islam and the purification of Al-Aqsa Mosque from the “filth of the Jews.”
Islamic schools and mosques across Canada are “filled with extremist literature,” according to an exhaustive study, and the jihad doctrine is being preached there. So while Canadian authorities should be investigating this mosque, they are instead targeting those who are protesting.
Meanwhile, a Toronto-area schoolteacher who called a jihadist who crushed the skull of a four-year-old Israeli girl a hero and martyr is back in the classroom, after receiving a mere rap on the knuckles for her abhorrently violent Facebook postings. A spokesperson for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School said that Nadia Shoufani returned to work at St. Catherine of Siena Separate School before Christmas. She was not charged with a hate crime, according to the announcement, and she is being entrusted with the well-being of children. Why should any Canadian child have to sit in a classroom led by a murder-minded, hate-filled teacher? The school administration should be prioritizing the well-being of the children.
Canada has been battered by an Islamic supremacist infiltration, which includes an attack on free speech disguised as an anti-racism initiative. Since October, two “anti-Islamophobia” motions were presented in Parliament. The first unanimously passed without contest, because few Canadians knew anything about it. The second, however – Motion M-103 – was met with unexpected resistance from Conservative MP’s and a substantial number of concerned Canadian citizens. This resistance led to an indefinite adjournment of the Parliamentary motion.
The two “anti-Islamophobia” motions were a culmination of prior efforts to bring the “Islamophobia” agenda into Canada. This is an outright Sharia scheme aimed at the curbing of free speech, as part of the larger initiative propelled by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Last summer, community leaders from six major “Canadian cities (Vancouver, Calgary, London, Windsor, Toronto, and Montreal) endorsed an Islamophobia charter.” As previously reported here at Jihad Watch:
The National Council of Canadian Muslims, formerly CAIR-CAN, drafted the charter. CAIR was deemed an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in the history of the United States — the Holy Land Foundation trial — during which the carefully calculated Muslim Brotherhood plan for North America was unveiled, with full partnership from so-called mainstream Muslim groups.
Islamic supremacists have been working overtime in Western nations to execute this plan. A similar strategic plan was uncovered by Swiss authorities in a document called “the Project” in 2001. Anti-terrorism consultant Patrick Poole writes:
What makes The Project so different from the standard “Death of America! Death to Israel!” and “Establish the global caliphate!” Islamist rhetoric is that it represents a flexible, multi-phased, long-term approach to the “cultural invasion” of the West. Calling for the utilization of various tactics, ranging from immigration, infiltration, surveillance, propaganda, protest, deception, political legitimacy and terrorism
Naïve Westerners continue to be used as pawns in clearly sketched-out plans to defeat the House of War (non-Muslim countries) and incorporate them into with the House of Islam. The method of conquest is an aggressive, but strategic and insidious assault using existing institutions; yet still, political correctness persists; many people are hesitant to speak about what is happening for fear of coming across as a conspiracy theorist, despite the clear documentation of this initiative.
In the case of the Masjid Toronto, authorities need to be investigating the activities inside that mosque. Canadians and other peace-loving citizens are not protesting outside Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish temples. They are concerned about a tangible danger posed by an organized network of Islamic supremacists (aka stealth jihadists).
“Canadian Anti-Muslim Protesters Could Face Hate Crime Charges”, David Krayden, Daily Caller, February 19, 2017:
Police in Toronto, Ontario might charge a group of anti-Muslim protesters for violating hate crime laws. A group with placards stating “Say No to Islam” was standing outside of Toronto’s Masjid mosque [sic] on Friday, and police say they received multiple complaints about the demonstration from some in the mosque and others who weren’t present. Toronto Mayor John Tory, a former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, criticized the protest, calling it “Islamophobia” in a Tweet: Constable Allyson Douglas-Cook told CBC News Saturday that the incident is being examined by police as a potential hate crime. The police constable claimed that there is a “fine line” between free speech and breaching hate crime laws but refused to specify what constitutes that distinction, adding, “That’s a conversation we’ve been having all day.”
The investigators plan to speak to witnesses, take statements and collect evidence if necessary. Mosque spokesman Abdul-Basit Khan claimed the protest was the worst he has seen since the mosque was built 15 years ago. “You’re used to seeing this kind of vitriol in the comments sections of newspapers or online. You don’t necessarily see it in person. So that’s what was surprising about yesterday,” he said. “Especially in light of Quebec City…” The event came just days after a Toronto-area Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) officially tabled a motion in the Canadian House of Commons that could potentially make “Islamophobia” another hate crime. Debate on Iqra Khalid’s motion began last Wednesday, with only the opposition Conservatives refusing to endorse the potential legislation because they say the definition of “Islamophobia” is too flexible and not even spelled-out in the motion. Critics are wondering why an Islamophobia motion is necessary if people could be charged with a hate crime for a simple protest under existing law.
Conservative Party leadership candidate and Quebec MP Maxime Bernier told The Daily Caller that the motion represents a gross violation of free speech and said that he will fight it.
“I was one of the first in the Canadian leadership to oppose that motion. It is not good for freedom of speech and freedom of opinion in this country — the most important right that we have…..

The Death of Father of Terrorism
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/February 20/17/
While mourning Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who died in prison cell in U.S. – some try to portray him as an innocent victim and an unjustly treated hero. He is everything but that!
Abdul Rahman invented the modern day terrorism and preceded Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, al-Qaeda leaders, in inciting terrorism and calling for Daawa.
He might be the only one who grew up, lived his life and died believing in violence. He has lived as a conspirator and instigator since the days of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar al-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. He is the only one whom they agreed to make accusations against and imprison him.
Blindness is not lack of sight but lack of insight. Many believed that a blind sheikh can’t be an evil member in terrorist organizations, but all security forces that had dealt with him had unanimously agreed that he could be one of the most dangerous men they’ve ever met.
He has been an extremist since 1963 when he was a student at Al-Azhar as he was influenced by Sayyed Qutb and his extremist ideology. The sheikh was then suspended from teaching in Al-Azhar and arrested during Abdul Nasser presidency for instigation.
Later, President Sadat released him among thousands of Islamists and allowed him to resume teaching. Yet, the sheikh betrayed Sadat and issued a Fatwa that allowed Gamaa Islamiyya to kill the president.
He was imprisoned after the assassination of Sadat, and pardoned by President Mubarak.
Abdul Rahman then left Egypt to Sudan, a passage for major terrorists, after which he joined bin Laden and Zawahiri in Afghanistan. He played a role in their religious authority and inspired young fighters.
U.S. repeated the mistake of Sadat by trusting him and then granting him a visa. He toured three mosques in New York instigating hatred against the U.S. government. When the Department of State requested the cancellation of his visa, Immigration Department said it had already granted him a permanent visa. After that, his “Green Card”, which allowed him to work inside the U.S. was revoked. He then attained a political asylum ruling from the court.
Only a year later, in 1993, the first attack on World Trade Center happened when a number of terrorists bombed the foundations. The building didn’t collapse but thousands were injured in the explosion and six others died.
The four men arrested for conspiring were students of the blind sheikh. He was put in jail with them for conspiring for multiple operations including plotting to attack the U.N. headquarters.
Many didn’t believe the list of targets to be realistic and thought the prosecution may have exaggerated in framing the sheikh, even when the world trade center was attacked again in 2011 and it was evident that Abdul Rahman sent a letter from jail to his friends in Qaeda, Afghanistan calling for attack on the World Trade Center.
He spent 25 years in prison after an unmatched long history of terrorism.
This is Omar Abdul Rahman who was mourned by extremists who always justify terrorism and terrorists.

Hop on That Train! Or You Shall Age in Darkness
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/February 20/17/
You’d better not go into your ancestors’ attic if you get suddenly sick. The medicine you would find there expired long time ago. Diseases are as much complicated as their treatment.
Let your ancestors rest peacefully. Don’t live under the illusion that you have to visit them every day to show your gratitude and loyalty, and to prove that you are a true copy of them. Don’t live under the illusion that they speak through you and that you carry their wings.
I don’t mean that you have to repudiate them, renounce your roots or regard them as a burden. In your present time and place, you can prove your utmost loyalty to your ancestors by being truthful to your children and grandchildren.
Don’t surrender to the echoes of caverns of past centuries. Echoes of frightened souls and sounds of daggers… echoes of ethnic, confessional and sectarian wars…
Don’t be fascinated by victories based on marginalization, elimination and forced displacement…
Tame that monster crouching in your heart. Don’t engage in wars that bring only destruction, funerals and poverty. Don’t waste your life crying over the beautiful old days.
Bemoaning Beirut, as a pioneer city and a model of coexistence, is worthless.
Tears you shed on the Umayyad Caliphate will not feed the Syrians facing starvation and displacement on the edge of a humanitarian abyss.
Mourning the capital of the Abbasids will not restore hope for Iraqis, who are looking aghast upon their nation, while it sways from a chasm to another, from the scourges of a despot to the ravages of young oppressors.
Don’t waste your time libeling the ‘colonel’ and his era. The past is already gone.
Loyalty to your ancestors can be best fulfilled when you are truthful to your grandsons.
The story is simple, yet decisive. The modern era is calling. Don’t run away, you have to answer the call. Don’t shut the door to the future.
Don’t age in darkness.
The new era is calling you. Take a look at the phone in your pocket. Here you can find all the news about our global village: successive revolutions, politicians’ views and experts’ contact details, photos of explosions and budget figures, poems by Al-Mutanabbi and achievements in the robotics industry…
Don’t live under the illusion that all of these revolutions do not concern you. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that you can enjoy the harvests of this progress without changing your approach, your thoughts and your choices… Lingering in the world of failures if a suicidal behavior par excellence.

We don’t exaggerate when we say that drowning in the world of failures is even viler than “ISIS” and worse than all epidemics. It is in this world that such phenomena and diseases are developed and justified.
Failure to build a modern school… to establish a forward-thinking university… failure to build strong institutions… to keep apace with technological revolutions… and to get out of the dungeons of trepidation… Fearing that the wind of change will sweep away your identity and peace of mind.
The new era is calling you… new wars are being waged… wars against poverty and ignorance. To engage in these wars, you must change, learn and adapt. If you fail to contribute to building this new era, it might turn against you; you might become its victim.
The train will certainly pass. You shall be ready. You must identify the new leaders: the leaders of progress and innovation. You are in fact a citizen of the global village, a citizen of the “Facebook” continent, which is home to nearly two billion members.
You’d better skim through the famous quotes of “Facebook leader” and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, about the network’s major goals.
“Our greatest opportunities are now global — spreading prosperity and freedom, promoting peace and understanding, lifting people out of poverty, and accelerating science,” he said.
The train will pass, no matter how long it takes. To hop on it, you must pay for the ticket.
I understand the charm of the old language, the fear to review inherited convictions, feelings of disruption that might haunt you.
But you’d better hop on that train before it’s too late. Your country should do the same.
Past and present wars should not prevent you from engaging in the battles of the future.
These are fresh wars led by new leaders. Wars, which are fought with numbers and not with illusions…
You have no choice but to hop on the train.
Just like you, I am fascinated by the silkiness of past memories, by the land of my ancestors, by the poems of Al-Mutanabbi and the magical stories of Baghdad.
But hopping on the train is our only choice.
*Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

How Trump Can Make the Americas Great Again
Mac Margolis/Bloomberg/February 20/17/
Latin Americans are understandably edgy these days. The region’s economy is struggling, corruption scandals have spread like mosquito-borne disease, and Washington’s new management seems all too caught up in overheated talk of bad hombres and big beautiful walls.
But Latin America doesn’t have to be another zone of contention on the Trump administration’s fraught wall map. Indeed, a few judicious U.S. policy gestures and some patented tough talk directed at some of Latin America’s few remaining rogues could improve the U.S. brand and foster reciprocal good will in a region that, when it’s not being stepped on, has often felt invisible.
There’s already a flicker of good sense. The U.S. has toned down some of the most exalted anti-Mexico talk, committing to renegotiate rather than outright scuttle the North American Free Trade Act, and hedging its vows to make Mexico pay for a border wall. More than a slight to a loyal ally, the Mexico-bashing resurrected the choleric, anti-gringo nationalism that both countries had mostly overcome. Dialing back could save the U.S. from stirring up stale feuds and help Trump with nervous members of the Republican establishment.
Last week, the U.S. also gave much-needed comfort to the opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro by placing his just-minted Vice President Tareck El Aissami on its sanctions list for his alleged ties to the international drug trade.
But the best opportunity for patching up U.S. relations with the Americas may be in Colombia, where a controversial plan to end the western hemisphere’s oldest guerrilla insurgency hangs in the balance. The obstacles to demobilizing as many as 14,000 ex-guerrillas, shepherding them through special tribunals, assuring that their victims receive reparations, and then converting yesterday’s combatants into tomorrow’s law-abiding citizens are daunting enough. Winning over the Colombians, who narrowly rejected an earlier version of the peace deal last year, and remain sorely divided over the effort, will be much harder.
Washington’s backing — or indifference — could be critical. For the last 16 years, Colombia has counted on Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington in its pursuit of peace. The partnership began with Plan Colombia, a costly military campaign to defeat the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The battlefield wins slashed the FARC’s ranks and pushed the remnant insurgents back to the jungles, setting up peace talks in Havana, where U.S. diplomats played a key role.
Now comes the toughest part, as President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the Nobel peace prize for the deal he brokered, works to advance its intricate implementation, appease chary Colombians and fight the blowback from fierce political adversaries ahead of next year’s presidential election.
So when word got out last weekend that Presidents Santos and Trump had spoken by telephone, the Colombian commentariat went shrill. Doubters seized on the conversation’s odd protocol — the Feb. 11 call was unannounced and it took the White House two days to release the readout — to claim on social media that the phone call was a fabrication.
The 11-line precis of the conversation, with its anodyne nod to the “importance of continuing the long history of cooperation with Colombia,” hardly helped. Would the U.S. stand behind Colombia and send the $450 million Barack Obama had pledged to Plan Colombia last year? Or would Washington put the whole matter under review, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested in his confirmation hearings last month, a prospect tailored to delight Santos’s bilious archrival, the Trump-like Alvaro Uribe?
The peace plan is still on track, but behind schedule and facing risks. Drug gangs are taking over villages once controlled by the FARC and recruiting former guerrillas, Bloomberg News reported. Cocaine production has spiked again. If the peace plan fares well, Santos (who is not a candidate) could see an ally elected next year. If the plan falters and Santos’s rivals return to office, the peace itself could be in jeopardy.
In over half a century of almost constant conflict, Colombia has seen its homicide rate plunge twice: From 2002 to 2010, when the government waged all-out war against the FARC, and again after 2012, when the weakened guerrillas agreed to sit at the peace table. The U.S., crucially, stood by Colombia through both those periods. Scrapping that pact now would also be the U.S.’s loss. Sad!