July 01/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 11/25-30/:"‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’"

Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting
Acts of the Apostles 09,01-06.10-11.15-19/:"Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 01/17
'The next war will be bloody': A trip along Israel’s tense northern border/Anna Ahronheim, Seth J. Frantzman/Jerusalem Post/June 28/017
Tsar Vladimir and His 40 Daughters/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/June 30/17
UK Needs a Second ‘Glorious Revolution,’ Only Calmer/Tyler Cowen/Asharq Al Awsat/June 30/17
Abbas's Lies and Palestinian Child Victims/by Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/June 30/17

Why has Qatar lost all its credibility/Mondher Thabet/Al Arabiya/June 30/17
War between mercenary groups may get out of hand in Syria/Ghassan Imam/Al Arabiya/June 30/17
Trump administration and Qatar: What lies beneath/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/June 30/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 01/17
Child killed and soldiers injured in Lebanon refugee camp suicide attacks
Suicide Bombers Attack Lebanese Soldiers during Syrian Refugee Camp Raids
Geagea Hits Back Anew at Nasrallah, Says Only Lebanese Should Defend Lebanon
Gen. Aoun Visits Arsal, Qaa, Says Army 'on the Offensive' against Terror
Machnouk: Nasrallah’s Statements Are Out of Track
Aoun: Syrian Refugee Encampments Have Turned into Military Camps
UNIFIL Says Jreissati Visit to Its HQ Shows Lebanon 'Strong Commitment to 1701'
Hasbani Meets Franjieh, Affirms LF-Marada 'Coordination'
Parliament Speaker Meets UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon
Hizbullah Congratulates Army on Arsal Operation, Urges 'Unified Efforts'
Police Arrest Three Suspects Involved in Bank Audi Robbery
Roy Hamoush's parents receive their deceased son's diploma
Rahi hails army operation in Arsal
Riachy: LF relations with Marada heading towards normalization
Berri congratulates army chief on Arsal military operation
Ambassador Cameron hails role of Lebanese in Canada
France condemns attack on LAF in refugee camps east Lebanon: Foreign Ministry
Army Chief from al Qaa: Military fully ready to face security threats
EIB signs EUR 265 million facility in support of private sector development in Lebanon as part of its 'Economic Resilience Initiative'
MEA Operating Normally after US Travel Ban Takes Effect With Exceptions for Fiancés
'The next war will be bloody': A trip along Israel’s tense northern border

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
July 01/17
Israeli Warplane Hits Syrian Army in Latest Golan Exchange
Report: IDF strikes target in Syria in retaliation for spillover
Syrian rebels near Golan ask world for support against 'Assad’s terrorist regime'
Germany reportedly approves Israel submarine deal
Turkish, Qatari Ministers Meet amid Crisis with Arab States
IS Withdraws from Syria's Aleppo Province
Suicide Bombers Attack Army During Raids on Syrian Encampments
Trump discusses GulfQatar dispute with Erdogan White House
Qatar Escalates on Eve of Deadline
King Salman Discusses with Sisi Aspects of Bilateral Relations
OPCW Confirms Sarin Used in Khan Sheikhoun Attack
Nearly Half a Million Displaced Syrians Return Home- UN Report
Iraqi Troops in Mop-up Operations in Mosul, Victory in ‘Days’
ISIS Forced to Change Tactics as it Loses Territory
Ankara Tests Moscow, Washington by Tightening the Noose on Afrin
Morocco-Netherlands Deal Paves Way for Extradition of Ex-Lawmaker
Bahrain Arrests Members of Saraya al-Ashtar Terrorist Group
Israel Closes Al-Aqsa, Warnings of ‘Religious War’
US Travel Ban Takes Effect, with Lawyers on Hand Just in Case
Canada announces additional support for prohibition of chemical weapons in Syria

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 01/17
Child killed and soldiers injured in Lebanon refugee camp suicide attacks

MEE/June 30/17/A child was killed and seven Lebanese soldiers wounded on Friday when five militants blew themselves up and a sixth threw a grenade during raids on two refugee camps near the Syrian border, the army said. Four of the suicide bombers struck in the Al-Nur camp near the border town of Arsal, the army said. A young girl, whose parents are both refugees, was killed and three soldiers wounded, the army said. A medical source in the provincial capital Baalbek said the girl was two and a half years old. A sixth militant threw a hand grenade in al-Qariya camp, the statement said, injuring several soldiers.
Soldiers found five other explosive devices in the al-Nur camp, one of which detonated. The army made no mention of casualties from the explosion. The raids, aimed at "arresting terrorists and seizing weapons," were still ongoing, the army command said. A military source told AFP that troops made a number of arrests. "The objective of the operation was to arrest a wanted man and it was this man who was the first to blow himself up," the source said. The Lebanese army has in recent months stepped up raids in the makeshift camps built on the edge of the town, where tens of thousands of impoverished Syrian refugees who had fled violence in their country in recent years live in squalid conditions. The camps around the town have long been a haven for militants coming from Syria who have clashed with Lebanese forces conducting security raids searching for suspects hiding among the refugees. The militants briefly overran the town in 2014 in a battle that killed dozens and marked one of the more serious spillovers of the Syrian conflict in Lebanon. A number of attacks in Lebanon in recent years have been linked to the war in Syria, where Lebanese group Hezbollah is fighting in support of the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Suicide Bombers Attack Lebanese Soldiers during Syrian Refugee Camp Raids
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/Five suicide bombers blew themselves up during military raids on two refugee encampments in Lebanon’s Arsal area near the border with Syria, leaving seven soldiers injured, the army said. Four of the bombers struck in one camp housing Syrian refugees near the border town of Arsal, wounding three soldiers, said a communique issued by the army command. Media reports said that a child was also killed when one of the suicide bombers blew himself up. The army command said that one militant blew himself up in a second camp near Arsal, while another militant threw a grenade at troops wounding four of them. The raids, which are aimed at “arresting terrorists and seizing weapons,” are still ongoing, the communique added. The state-run National News Agency said that during the raids the army arrested several people suspected of contacting militants in Arsal’s outskirts. A military explosives expert also defused several bombs planted in one of the encampments, NNA added.Terrorists have staged regular incursions into Arsal from the barren hills just outside. They overran the town briefly in 2014 before withdrawing to the hills after clashes with the army. The camps around Arsal have also long been a haven for the militants coming from Syria. The Lebanese army has in recent months stepped up raids in the makeshift camps built on the edge of the town.

Geagea Hits Back Anew at Nasrallah, Says Only Lebanese Should Defend Lebanon
Naharnet/June 30/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Friday snapped back anew at Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah over his remarks on foreign fighters, stressing that only the Lebanese State and citizens should defend Lebanon against any attack.
“Over the past few days, we heard a lot statements about allowing chaos on Lebanon's borders and about opening them to all sorts of armed groups under the excuse of defending Lebanon,” Geagea said at an LF rally. “We do not want anyone to defend us or to defend Lebanon, seeing as this is an exclusive mission for the Lebanese State... and what the Lebanese army did today and what it is doing everyday along with the other security agencies is the best proof of this,” Geagea added, referring to the army's dawn operation in Arsal's outskirts that resulted in foiling terror plots. The LF leader added: “No one at all, other than the Lebanese state, has the right to take strategic decisions regarding Lebanon's defense or foreign policy.”Recalling the 1975-1990 civil war, Geagea said “the experience of the armed Palestinian groups that were brought (into Lebanon) in the 1970s under the excuse of facing Israel is still fresh in our minds.”“The result was a confrontation for the Lebanese people and an unprecedented war inside Lebanon,” Geagea lamented. “History has proven, throughout 1,500 years, that the Lebanese deserved Lebanon because they themselves defended it all the time and not because they brought groups of foreigners to defend it,” the LF leader went on to say. “Lebanon is for the Lebanese and they will sacrifice their lives for it whenever the need arises,” Geagea added. Outspoken Hizbullah MP Nawwaf al-Moussawi had on Sunday defended Nasrallah's remarks, stressing that Hizbullah has the right to invite its allies to take part in any future war with Israel. “The allies of the Zionist entity and the U.S. administration do not find any harm in going beyond their geographic and political borders and their sovereign rights to unite together in a 70-nation coalition aimed at waging aggression against Syria, while over 30 nations have come together in order to wage aggression against Yemen,” Moussawi said. “Thus it is normal for us, the resistance factions in this region, to confront the anti-resistance axis,” the Hizbullah lawmaker emphasized. Last Friday, Nasrallah had warned Israel against attacking Lebanon or Syria, saying "hundreds of thousands" of Arab and Muslim fighters would be ready to strike back. "The Israeli enemy should know that if it launches an attack on Syria or Lebanon, it's unknown whether the fighting will stay just between Lebanon and Israel, or Syria and Israel," Nasrallah said.
"I'm not saying countries would intervene directly -- but it would open the door for hundreds of thousands of fighters from all around the Arab and Islamic world to participate in this fight -- from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan," he added. Hizbullah fighters from Lebanon, and others from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are battling alongside regime forces in Syria to defend the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The powerful Lebanese, Iran-backed group and Israel have fought many battles including a devastating 34-day war in 2006 that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Gen. Aoun Visits Arsal, Qaa, Says Army 'on the Offensive' against Terror
Naharnet/June 30/17/Army Commander General Joseph Aoun on Friday inspected the Bekaa border towns of Arsal and al-Qaa, hours after the army carried out a major operation in Arsal's outskirts that resulted in the arrest of dozens of terror suspects. In Arsal, Aoun visited army units deployed in the area and met with the officers and soldiers who carried out the dawn raids, inquiring about their situations and various needs, state-run National News Agency reported. “The army commander lauded their sacrifices and wished a speedy recovery for their wounded comrades while hailing their courage in the confrontation against terrorists and their high professionalism and precision in the execution of the mission,” NNA said. "What happened today reaffirms once again the army's decisive decision to eradicate terrorist organizations, their cells and members, wherever they are on Lebanese territory and regardless of the cost and sacrifices," Aoun was quoted as saying. Seven soldiers were wounded and a Syrian girl was killed at dawn Friday when five militants blew themselves up and a sixth threw a grenade during raids on two refugee encampments in Arsal's outskirts near the Syrian border, the army said.
The raids were aimed at "arresting terrorists and seizing weapons," the Army Command said. A military source told AFP that troops made a number of arrests. "The objective of the operation was to arrest a wanted man and it was this man who was the first to blow himself up," the source said.
“The upcoming period will witness an intensification of major operations to eradicate this vicious evil which does not care for human life in disregard for all religious, humanitarian and ethical values,” Gen. Aoun said from Arsal. He also called on soldiers and officers to “show more vigilance, readiness and willingness to sacrifice themselves in defense of the country and to preserve its security and stability.”Aoun also inspected the nearby mainly Christian town of al-Qaa on a visit marking one year since five residents were killed in an Islamic State attack involving eight suicide bombers.
The army commander visited the municipality building where he met with the members of the municipal council and a number of residents, who expressed “their appreciation of the army's sacrifices and efforts to protect the residents of the border villages and towns,” NNA said.
Aoun for his part reassured residents that the army will stand by them and “will not allow terror to threaten their security and safety.”“The Lebanese army maintains full readiness to confront any threat to security, and it is on the offensive against the terrorists and will not wait for them” to attack, he added.
“The army stands by al-Qaa and its residents in the face of any threat to security and stability,” Aoun emphasized. The civil war in Syria, which has raged since March 2011, has triggered an exodus of more than 1.1 million refugees into neighboring Lebanon and has repeatedly spilled over.
There have been multiple clashes along the border between the army and jihadists of the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups. Since 2014, both the Lebanese army and Hizbullah have carried out attacks on Syria-based jihadists in the eastern border region. Hizbullah has intervened in the war in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, sending tens of thousands of fighters. Its strongholds in Lebanon have been hit by several deadly attacks claimed by jihadists.

Machnouk: Nasrallah’s Statements Are Out of Track
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/Beirut – Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad al-Machnouk on Thursday said recent statements by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah were off the normal track. Machnouk was referring to the recent statement made by Nasrallah who threatened to mobilize thousands of foreign fighters from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, in addition to Lebanon and Palestine, to face any aggression by Israel against Lebanon and Syria. Following a meeting with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace, the interior minister affirmed that such a stance “does not imply a sense of national responsibility and does not reflect the government’s viewpoint”. “This statement gives the impression that we want to import the Syrian conflict to Lebanon,” Machnouk said. “Instead of mobilizing military forces, let’s mobilize the Lebanese to agree on common issues,” he added. “We don’t accept such a stance and will prevent it through the power of the law and the state,” he continued. Commenting on the electoral law, the minister said that several details were currently being discussed by the political blocs, stressing that the elections would be held on time. “There is no discussion about the timing of elections because the matter has been settled and elections will be held on time. There will certainly be a magnetic card, and we’re making sure in our discussions with the experts to be precise in the implementation process,” he stated. Briefly, after calling on citizens to report any cheer shootings when announcing the results of official exams on Thursday and stressing that there would be no political cover to protect anyone, one person was killed in Baalbek with a stray bullet during shootings to celebrate a student’s success in the Brevet exams. On a different note, the interior minister said that he had discussed the issue of Lebanese prisons with Aoun, especially the matter of overcrowding. “Prisons in Lebanon do not have the capacity to contain the huge number of violators and detainees; however, we’ve been relentlessly working on this file,” he said.

Aoun: Syrian Refugee Encampments Have Turned into Military Camps
Naharnet/June 30/17/President Michel Aoun on Friday lamented the fact that encampments for Syrian refugees in Lebanon are turning into military camps and a safe haven for militants planning terror attacks against the country's troops and citizens. “Displaced Syrian encampments have turned into military camps rather than places for displaced people,” said the President. Aoun's comments came ahead of suicide attacks on Friday at dawn in Lebanon that killed a child and wounded seven troops. Five militants blew themselves up and a sixth threw a grenade during raids on two refugee camps near the Syrian border, the army had said. Four of the suicide bombers struck in the al-Nour camp near the border town of Arsal. A young girl, whose parents are both refugees, was killed and three soldiers wounded, the army said. A medical source in the provincial capital Baalbek said the girl was two and a half years old. Troops recovered four explosive devices. During a raid on another camp near Arsal -al-Qarieh-one militant blew himself up and a second threw a grenade at troops, wounding four of them.There have been multiple clashes along the border between the Lebanese army and jihadists of the Islamic State group or al-Qaida. In August 2014, the army clashed with jihadists of IS and al-Qaida's then Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front in the Arsal region, with militants kidnapping 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen as they withdrew back along the border. After long and arduous negotiations, 16 of the kidnapped men were released in December 2015 in exchange for Islamist prisoners held in Lebanese jail. The jihadists executed four of their hostages while a fifth died of wounds he suffered in the initial Arsal clashes, leaving nine members of Lebanon's security forces still in their hands. Since 2014, both the Lebanese army and Hizbullah have carried out attacks on Syria-based jihadists in eastern Lebanon.Hizbullah has intervened in the war in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, sending tens of thousands of fighters. Its strongholds in Lebanon have been hit by several deadly attacks claimed by IS.

UNIFIL Says Jreissati Visit to Its HQ Shows Lebanon 'Strong Commitment to 1701'
Naharnet/June 30/17/Justice Minister Salim Jreissati paid a visit to the UNIFIL Headquarters and the U.N. Mission’s area of operation (AO) in south Lebanon on Friday, a UNIFIL statement said. UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary accompanied the Minister and his 12-member delegation -- comprising senior Judges and Ministry officials -- from Beirut to UNIFIL’s Sector East Headquarters in Marjeyoun and then to the Mission Headquarters in Naqoura. In his briefing to the Ministerial delegation, Beary said the situation in UNIFIL’s AO and along the Blue Line remains “calm and stable,” UNIFIL said. He also expressed his deep appreciation to the Government of Lebanon for “the excellent cooperation accorded to UNIFIL in the fulfillment of its mandate in accordance with the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.”"It is a very special honor for UNIFIL to have the Lebanese Minister of Justice here, in UNIFIL’s area of operations. This visit sends a very positive message to the Mission and reaffirms Lebanon’s strong commitment to U.N. Security Council resolution 1701,” Beary said.

Hasbani Meets Franjieh, Affirms LF-Marada 'Coordination'
Naharnet/June 30/17/Lebanese Forces Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani held talks with Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh in Bnachii on Friday stressing that relations between the two Christian parties are “open and will continue for the country's benefit.”Although relations between the Lebanese Forces and Marada have been a little marred, but "these relations continue and will stay open for the country's benefit,” the Deputy Prime Minister Hasbani told reporters after the meeting. “We are ready to cooperate with everybody to bring points of view closer wherever we can,” he added. To a question whether the two parties plan to form alliances in the upcoming parliamentary elections, Hasbani said: “It is still early to speak about the elections, what matters now is the government’s work and let us focus on the security stability.”“The Lebanese Forces believes in a powerful State of institutions that can only be built from within the institutions, regardless of contacts, alliances and political ties,” he added. "Our meeting today has proved a common belief in the need to build the State and cooperate at all levels so as to achieve a strong basis for it. We are in constant contact with the Marada Movement for the good of the country and the citizens," he said. The LF-Marada ties have been marred since the election of President Michel Aoun in 2015. The LF had supported Aoun's nomination for the election. Franjieh himself was also a presidential candidate.

Parliament Speaker Meets UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon
Naharnet/June 30/17/Speaker Nabih Berri met on Friday with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag to discuss the latest political developments in Lebanon and the region. The Special Coordinator reiterated that the Lebanese agreement on a new electoral law is an important step towards the reactivation of Lebanon’s institutions of state. She hoped Lebanon would continue to make political progress, deliver on reforms, and work towards boosting the economy as part of further stabilizing the country. Kaag noted in particular the importance of achieving the meaningful participation of women candidates in the electoral process, as also foreseen in the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015 with a view to increasing women representation in the decision-making bodies of national institutions. She expressed the hope that Lebanon’s political leaders will undertake all efforts to include women candidates on respective electoral lists. Speaker Berri and the Special Coordinator also discussed matters relevant to resolution 1701 (2006). With regards to the exclusive economic zone, the Special Coordinator reiterated that the United Nations Secretariat does not pronounce itself on the status of territories, on the delimitation of boundaries, or on issues related to entitlement to natural resources, unless it is mandated to do so by a competent United Nations organ or is otherwise requested by all the parties concerned. As also stated in relevant UN reports, the Special Coordinator reaffirmed that the United Nations Secretariat stands ready to work with all parties concerned to facilitate efforts towards a resolution of this issue, in the context of the exercise of the UN’s good offices.

Hizbullah Congratulates Army on Arsal Operation, Urges 'Unified Efforts'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 30/17/Hizbullah congratulated Friday the Lebanese army on the “successful” security operation that it carried out at dawn in the outskirts of the border town of Arsal, hailing the army's “leadership, officers and soldiers.”Describing the troops who staged the operation as “heroes,” Hizbullah expressed its solidarity with the soldiers who were injured in the operation, wishing them a quick recovery. “This new operation complements the efforts that are being exerted by the Lebanese security agencies to address the terrorist threat and eradicate the terrorist groups that are entrenched in many locations,” Hizbullah's media department said in a statement. “This operation also complements the operations of the resistance fighters on the eastern border that are aimed at preventing the terrorist militants from infiltrating Lebanese territory and ousting them from it,” the party added. It also called for “a further unification and coordination of efforts to seal all the gaps that the terrorist could infiltrate through, and to protect Lebanon and its people from the major threats that are targeting them.”A child was killed and seven Lebanese soldiers were wounded at dawn Friday when five militants blew themselves up and a sixth threw a grenade during raids on two refugee encampments in Arsal's outskirts near the Syrian border, the army said. The raids were aimed at "arresting terrorists and seizing weapons," the Army Command said. A military source told AFP that troops made a number of arrests. "The objective of the operation was to arrest a wanted man and it was this man who was the first to blow himself up," the source said. There have been multiple clashes along the border between the Lebanese army and jihadists of the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups. Since 2014, both the Lebanese army and Hizbullah have carried out attacks on Syria-based jihadists in the eastern border region. Hizbullah has intervened in the war in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, sending tens of thousands of fighters. Its strongholds in Lebanon have been hit by several deadly attacks claimed by jihadist groups.

Police Arrest Three Suspects Involved in Bank Audi Robbery
Naharnet/June 30/17/The Internal Security Forces on Friday have arrested in Mount Lebanon's town of Sofar the suspects believed to be involved in robbing Bank Audi earlier this week, the National News Agency reported. The three suspects were identified by their initials and hail from the Fayyad family. The armed gang robbed Bank Audi in the area of Mount Lebanon town of Bhamdoun on Wednesday and managed to flee. Two masked thieves executed the robbery by storming into the bank and steeling an unknown amount of money. The third assailant stayed in the vehicle and monitored the situation outside the branch. They managed to flee in a black navy blue Hyudnai i10, reports have said.

Roy Hamoush's parents receive their deceased son's diploma
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - Father Georges Hobeika, rector of the Kaslik University (USEK), celebrated a Mass on Friday for the soul of the graduate student of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Roy Hamoush, in the presence of relatives and friends. Father Hobeika handed Roy's parents a "Bachelor's and Master's degree in Architecture" which the deceased was supposed to receive with his colleagues at the graduation ceremony scheduled for July 13. The young 24-year-old student was shot dead on the night of June 6 in the Quarantina area, after a chase between the vehicle driven by Johnny Nassar (with Roy by his side) and another BMW with armed men on board. The gunmen managed to catch up with the two boys' car, drag Hamoush out of the vehicle and shoot him in the head.

Rahi hails army operation in Arsal
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi, hailed, in a statement from Beirut airport on Friday, the operation carried out by the Lebanese army and security forces in Arsal.

Riachy: LF relations with Marada heading towards normalization
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, on Friday indicated that the relations between the Lebanese Forces and Marada Movement were heading towards normalization in order to turn over a new leaf following the Lebanese civil war. "This relation with Marada does not harm our alliance with the Free Patriotic Movement; we do respect the FPM ties with its allies, who aren't ours," he explained. Interviewed on MTV channel, Riachy said that the relations between the LF and Future Movement were "excellent," confirming an electoral coalition between the two sides. On the LF relations with Hezbollah, Riachy indicated that the two parties were two Lebanese forces represented in the government. "There is communication over current affairs relevant to citizens (...) but this is not negotiation, because we cannot agree with them over their presence in Syria," he said. "We separate our relation with House Speaker Nabih Berri from that with Hezbollah. Our relation with Amal Movement is not new, despite disagreement over many issues," he added. On the election law, Riachy indicated that work was underway to make short TV episodes to educate the Lebanese on the newly-endorsed vote mode, in collaboration with Télé Liban.

Berri congratulates army chief on Arsal military operation
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, on Friday contacted by phone Lebanese Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, and congratulated him on the fresh military operation carried out in Arsal encampments. During the phone call, Berri hailed the epic sacrifices made by the Lebanese military.

Ambassador Cameron hails role of Lebanese in Canada
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - Canadian Ambassador to Lebanon, Michelle Cameron, on Friday heaped praise on the "dynamic" role played by the Lebanese in Canada, adding that they contribute to building Canada. She also indicated that her country was looking forward to establishing various ties with Lebanon, especially on the levels of economy, trade, and culture. The Ambassador made these remarks during a ceremony organized by the Lebanese-Canadian Association, at Tripoli and North Lebanon Chamber, upon the 150th foundation anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.

France condemns attack on LAF in refugee camps east Lebanon: Foreign Ministry
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - France sternly condemns the attack that targeted the Lebanese Armed Forces in the refugee camps in east the country, and that claimed the life of one girl and wounded many others, a statement by the French Foreign Ministry said on Friday. "We offer our condolences to the victim's family, and we express our solidarity with the injured," it added. "France renews its support for Lebanon's stability, security, and the institutions in charge. It shall remain fully engaged in fighting terrorism alongside the Lebanese authorities," it indicated.

Army Chief from al Qaa: Military fully ready to face security threats
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, on Friday maintained that the Lebanese military was fully ready to face any threat that would put security in jeopardy. "The army is on offense and not in a defense position. We will not wait for the terrorists," he stressed. General Aoun made these remarks during a tour in al-Qaa, in commemoration of the wave of suicide-bombings that hit the northeastern town last year. "The army stands beside al-Qaa and its sons against whatever threatens security and stability," General Aoun said before the martyrs' families and a panel of dignitaries.

EIB signs EUR 265 million facility in support of private sector development in Lebanon as part of its 'Economic Resilience Initiative'
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed the "Lebanon Private Sector Support" project, a line of credit in a combined amount of EUR 265million to support projects conducted by small- and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-cap companies in Lebanon.
This facility represents one of the first operations under EIB’s "Economic Resilience Initiative" (ERI), which aims to contributeto the sustainable growth of the Lebanese economy and support its resilience in the context of the refugee crisis in the wider region.
ERI helps to shock-proof the region by supporting vital infrastructure and much-needed private-sector development. SMEs make up the vast majority of firms in the region and are key drivers for growth and job-creation.
The project will be implemented by four Lebanese banks, each with a dedicated loan amount: Byblos (EUR 100 million), Fransabank (EUR 75 million), Société Générale de Banque au Liban (EUR 60million) and First National Bank (EUR 30 million).
Dario Scannapieco, EIB Vice President said: "These investments aim to improve SMEs’ and midcaps’ access to finance in Lebanon. In the context of our new Economic Resilience Initiative, they are also part of our strategy to help countries like Lebanon meet the challenge of forced displacement in the Syrian Neighbourhood. A comprehensive response to this challenge means that in addition to the much needed short-term assistance, we in Europe must provide longer-term support to build stability, resilience and prosperity beyond our borders. Small- and medium- sized businesses play an incredibly important role in innovation, growth and employment. So, supporting them in the context of offering economic opportunities and building economic resilience is one of the EIB’s top priorities."
He added: "Lebanon has a strong banking sector capable to effectively cater to the local private sector. Together with our long-standing partners on the ground, we can give aboost to SMEs and midcap companies benefitingfrom their strong track record and local market knowledge."
The EIB Vice President also said: "The ERI for the Western Balkans and Southern Neighbourhood allows the EIB to step up its engagement in a very challenging environment. The ERI is adopting a holistic approach to tackling the refugee crisis and the longer-term challenge of migration by helping to build economic resilience in these countries. Through investment in the private sector and vital infrastructure, it aims to create opportunities for employment and improve both the daily living and business environment.This operation shows that we have the existing structures in place to make this happen now andbring to the people of the region, stability and prosperity."
Ambassador Christina Lassen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, said: "The signature today again shows that EU institutions are joining efforts to support private sector development in Lebanon, and create better conditions for economic growth." She added: "This EU support to the private sector is there to make a difference. More importantly, it is there to give a push to those companies and individuals that can reinvigorate the economy in Lebanon and inject much needed dynamism."
The ERI, promoted and supported by the European Union, is part of the joint response by EU member states to the challenges posed by forced displacement and migration. It will contribute to greater economic resilience in the EU’s Southern Neighbourhood as well as the Western Balkans by boosting economic development. Investment in SMEs iscomplemented by investments to increase the provision of services like transport, energy, water, municipal services, health and education. The ERI will achieve this by providing an integrated and substantial package of loans, concessional finance and technical and administrative assistance during the 2016-2020 period. It is designed to enable financing of an additional €15 billion of investments on top of investments already foreseen.
The EIB is a longstanding partner to Lebanon. Over the years, the Bank provided a total finance of EUR 1.6 billion across many sectors: energy (EUR 112 million), transport (EUR 335 million), equity (EUR 26.5 million), water and wastewater (EUR 401 million) as well as private sector development (EUR 705 million). The Bank is working closely with the government of Lebanon to provide necessary finance for needed projects.

MEA Operating Normally after US Travel Ban Takes Effect With Exceptions for Fiancés
Associated Press/Naharnet/June 30/17/Lebanon's Middle East Airlines carrier is operating as normal and had not received any new guidelines after the latest Trump administration revived travel ban for visitors from mostly Muslim countries, reports said Friday. An official at the Beirut airport said Lebanon's Middle East Airlines carrier has not received any new guidelines yet and they're operating as normal. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to media. MEA does not operate direct flights to the United States but is used by many Syrians who travel to the U.S. via MEA with a stopover in Europe.
Moreover, the Trump administration has apparently altered its definition of a "bona fide" relationship, adding fiancés of people in the U.S. to its list of people who are exempt from its travel ban from six mainly Muslim nations. The administration had set criteria for visa applicants from the six nations and all refugees that require a "close" family or business tie to the United States. The guidelines sent to U.S. embassies and consulates on Wednesday said applicants from the six countries must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling in the U.S.
Guidance released Thursday by the State Department and the Homeland Security Department adds "fiancé" to that definition of "close familial relationship."Los Angeles International Airport has been relatively calm after a new travel ban took effect Thursday, but some visitors are still nervous. Hanadi Al-haj of Diamond Bar, California, came early to pick up her mother, 65-year-old Amal Bagoon, who was in Yemen but has a U.S. green card.There were no problems, but Al-haj says she still worried about how the ban might affect other relatives. Her father, two sisters and other relatives left war-torn Yemen but are stuck in Jordan. Last year, U.S. officials denied their requests for entry.
Al-haj says, "They want to come here to visit me but we have war in Yemen. They will not allow it." she said. "They reject (them) right away."Al-haj, a 15-year resident, says, "It makes me sad as an American."
Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin says he's concerned the Trump administration may be violating the U.S. Supreme Court's travel ban ruling. The travel ban temporarily barring some citizens of six majority-Muslim countries from coming into the United States went into effect Thursday. The new rules stop people from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Libya from getting a visa to the United States unless they have a "bona fide" relationship with a close relative, school or business in the U.S. Chin says many of the people that the federal government decided to exclude are considered "close family" in Hawaii.
A federal judge in Hawaii is expected to issue a ruling on Hawaii's motion asking for clarification that the administration can't enforce the ban against fiancés or relatives not defined by the administration guidelines.
The Trump administration's travel ban temporarily barring some citizens of six majority-Muslim countries from coming to the United States in now in place. The ban is entering into force because of a Supreme Court opinion this week. The new rules stop people from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Libya from getting a visa to the United States unless they have a "bona fide" relationship with a close relative, school or business in the U.S. The order doesn't block anyone with a valid visa from entering the country. Refugees vetted and approved to move to the U.S. through July 6 are also being allowed in. Hawaii has filed a court challenge to the Trump administration's limitations on the family relationships people from six mostly Muslim countries need to claim to avoid a travel ban.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday exempted people from the ban if they can prove a "bone fide" relationship with a U.S. citizen or entity. The Trump administration had said the exemption would apply to citizens of Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the U.S. Hawaii filed an emergency motion Thursday asking a federal judge to clarify that the administration cannot enforce the ban against fiancés or relatives not defined by the administration guidelines. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson did not immediately issue a ruling. The U.N. refugee agency says it hopes for a "generous approach" from the United States as the Trump administration adjusts U.S. refugee resettlement policies. Spokesman William Spindler of UNHCR noted the U.S. "tradition of generosity toward those fleeing war and persecution" after the administration set new criteria for visa applicants from six mostly Muslim nations and all refugees.International aid agencies like UNHCR have been seeking new details about the changes after the U.S. Supreme Court partially restored a travel ban sought by the administration.
Spindler said the U.S., like any country, can screen applicants for resettlement and set criteria for entry like language skills or family ties. He said resettlement is reserved for the most vulnerable people, like at-risk women and girls, people with acute medical conditions or torture victims. Spindler said the United States, even if it takes in 50,000 refugees this year, would remain the world leader in resettlement. Turkey has taken in the most refugees overall, at more than 3 million people — many from neighboring Syria. There have been no major problems reported at airports around the world, in the hours since the Trump administration announced new guidelines for visa applicants from six mostly Muslim nations. Travelers will be required to show they have a close family or business tie to the United States. Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked. That should help avoid the chaos that accompanied the initial travel ban, when travelers with previously-approved visas were kept off flights or denied entry on arrival in the United States.
The Supreme Court this week partially restored President Donald Trump's executive order that had been widely criticized as a ban on Muslims. The Middle East's biggest airline says its flights to the United States are operating as normal as new travel guidelines come into effect for travelers for six mainly Muslim nations. Dubai-based Emirates said in response to questions on the travel ban Thursday that it "remains guided by the US Customs and Border Protection on this matter."The carrier reminded passengers that they "must possess the appropriate travel documents, including a valid US entry visa, in order to travel."
Emirates in April announced it was reducing flights to the U.S. because of a drop in demand linked to tougher security and proposed visa measures. It flies from Dubai to 12 U.S. destinations, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. The guidelines are getting clearer on a travel ban partially restored by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Trump administration has set new criteria for visa applicants from six mainly Muslim nations and all refugees that require a "close" family or business tie to the United States. The move comes after the court partially restored President Donald Trump's executive order that was widely criticized as a ban on Muslims. Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked. But instructions issued by the State Department on Wednesday said that new applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States to be eligible. The same requirement, with some exceptions, holds for would-be refugees from all nations that are still awaiting approval for admission to the U.S.

جيرازلم بوست: الحرب المقبلة ستكون دموية/جولة على الحدود الإسرائيلية اللبنانية
'The next war will be bloody': A trip along Israel’s tense northern border

Anna Ahronheim, Seth J. Frantzman/Jerusalem Post/June 28/017
“The next war will be pretty bloody for both sides. Israel will evacuate its population and I suggest the Lebanese do the same,” Lt.-Col. (res.) Sarit Zehavi told The Jerusalem Post at a briefing in Metulla, Israel’s northernmost town at the border with Lebanon.
Zehavi heads Alma, a local organization that briefs visitors about the security situation – which has grown a bit tense of late. In the event of war with Hezbollah, Metulla is expected to be one of the communities evacuated.
But despite the ever-present risk of conflict with the Lebanese Shi’ite group, the community of 2,000 people continues to grow. As Zehavi spoke on Tuesday, Lebanese workers could be spotted in the distance, and tractors rolled down the streets of Metulla. It was a business-as-usual scene that belied the threats overshadowing the border region.
Israel has long avoided evacuating civilians during wars, but is looking to change that policy in the North. In addition to the threat posed by Hezbollah’s stockpile of more than 100,000 rockets, the IDF is now concerned about the very real possibility of ground attacks against Israeli communities.
“Hezbollah knows how to fight and how to move large forces,” Zehavi said, stressing that the group would likely not try to seize any Israeli villages.
But many are worried that Hezbollah “may try to strike fear throughout the country by massacring civilians.”
“It will be a totally new battlefield than what we saw in 2006,” she said, pointing out that the group has significantly increased its battlefield knowledge by fighting for the regime of Bashar Assad.
“Everything they learn in Syria, including from the Russians, they will put into use here.”
Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006. Since then, hostilities between the sides have been limited to occasional firing from across the border and reported Israeli air strikes against Hezbollah leaders and military equipment in Syria.
“While Israel has the dilemma of responding and deterring Hezbollah while not escalating the conflict, it’s all about deterrence and about making them understand that the cost of conflict will be very high,” Zehavi said. She discussed two scenarios that would lead to war on the Lebanese front.
“One would be Iran deciding to give the order to attack Israel, and the other would be a miscalculation by either side which would escalate into a full-blown war,” she asserted as she pointed out a large poster put up by Hezbollah on a hill overlooking houses being constructed in Metulla.
Next to the poster, which Zehavi said was put up last week to commemorate al-Quds Day, fly two Hezbollah flags and a large Palestinian one. A Hezbollah poster features a photo of the Dome of the Rock and an armed fighter. The face of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini glowers down over the dome where “We are coming” is written in Hebrew and Arabic.
Hezbollah, which is supported by the majority of the Shi’ite population in Lebanon, has not only inserted itself into every aspect of civil life, but is using civilian homes to store its weapons, an arsenal rebuilt and improved with the help of Iran.
The area near the Lebanese border has been flagged by the IDF as vulnerable to enemy infiltration and has seen two such incursions into Israel since 2009, Zehavi said. While the army hasn’t found any tunnels in the North, the terrain allows fighters to hide ahead of an attack, she said, adding, “Hezbollah knows how to dig.”The border fence was originally built in the 1980s. While sections have been upgraded several times with engineered barriers – including reinforced concrete panels several meters high and concrete walls and fortified watchtowers – it is considered by some to be in poor condition.
This has led Israel to invest significant amounts of money and effort into strengthening defenses along the border over the past several years, creating obstacles such as artificial cliffs and building high concrete barriers to help prevent ground attacks by Hezbollah.
A six-meter tall steel and barbed wire “smart fence” stretching several kilometers with information collection centers and warning systems is to be built along two stretches of the Lebanese border. According to Zehavi, one can already see the fence being built between Rosh Hanikra and Kibbutz Hanita, northeast of Nahariya.
But it is not only along those stretches that one can find construction aimed at protecting civilians. Fortified shelters that include bus stops have recently been constructed. Additional recently built barriers can be seen when driving toward the Syrian border on a short detour toward the town of Ghajar, which straddles the Israel-Lebanon border. These barriers are intended to shield civilians from the kind of fighting that broke out on June 25, when five rebel groups attacked Syrian regime positions near Quneitra within view of the Golan Heights. After two days of fighting, in which numerous projectiles hit on Israel’s side of the border and Israel responded by targeting Syrian regime military positions, the rebel attack was beaten back and quiet returned to the border area.
He recalled after the Syrian rebellion broke out in 2011 that rebels began to use the demilitarized zone along the border to move between Sunni Arab villages that formed the heart of the rebellion.
Regime forces used their artillery to strike at the rebels.
“I’m more concerned by Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.
Not as afraid of the rebels,” he said.
According to foreign reports, Israel has formed a working relationship over the years with the Syrian rebel groups across the border. This keeps Hezbollah and Iran away from the border for now, but local residents and farmers wonder when the rebels will be defeated and new flags will greet them in the morning, like the Hezbollah ones that fly in Lebanon opposite Metulla.
Effie Eitam, a former Knesset member and retired brigadier- general who lives on the Golan, said the goal must be to make our enemies understand that “Israel will not tolerate any attacks and has made it clear that it doesn’t matter if it is deliberate or as spillover from the Syrian war.”
Eitam said that means: maintaining clear redlines: no Iranian presence; freedom for the Israel Air Force to operate; not letting anti-aircraft systems near the border; and ensuring that any final resolution of the conflict in Syria leads to stability on the border.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 01/17
Israeli Warplane Hits Syrian Army in Latest Golan Exchange
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 30/17/An Israeli warplane struck a Syrian army post on Friday, hours after stray fire from Syria's civil war hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the Israeli military said. "In response to the projectile launched earlier today at Israel from Syria, an Israel Air Force aircraft targeted the Syrian army position that fired the mortar," the English-language Israeli statement said. "The errant projectile was a result of internal fighting in Syria." It was the fourth such exchange in a week as Syrian troops battle rebels, including hardline Islamists, on the other side. There have been no casualties but Israel responded to the previous three incidents by striking Syrian government positions. Rebels recently launched an offensive against government forces in Quneitra on the Syrian side of the armistice line. During a speech on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not tolerate any spillover from the fighting. "We will respond to every firing," he said. "Whoever attacks us, we will attack him. This is our policy and we will continue with it." He was speaking at the Israeli settlement of Katzrin on the Golan, when a Syrian mortar shell hit further north and Israeli warplanes retaliated. "During my speech, shells from the Syrian side landed in our territory and the Israel Defense Forces have already struck back," he said. Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community. Around 510 square kilometers of the Golan are under Syrian control.

Report: IDF strikes target in Syria in retaliation for spillover
Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/June 30/17/The Israeli Air Force struck an Syrian regime position in the Golan Heights on Friday in retaliation for a projectile that landed earlier In Israeli territory. The projectile which landed in open territory in the northern Ramat HaGolan caused no damage or injuries. It is believed to be spillover from the fighting between the Assad regime and rebel groups fighting near the town of New Quneitra close to the Israeli border. According to the IDF, the Air Force struck the source of the projectile and was “acting proportionally to prevent any deterioration.”A number of projectiles have landed in Israeli territory due to the fighting which has intensified the Syrian side of Quneitra as the Assad regime fights against the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other rebels groups who recently launched an offensive to take control of the city of al-Baath (New Quneitra) which is one of the few towns in the province that has remained under control of Syrian government forces.

Syrian rebels near Golan ask world for support against 'Assad’s terrorist regime'
Seth J. Frantzman/Jerusalem Post/June 30/17/Syrian rebel source says civilians need aid and rebel factions should receive military support from the West against regime which has Iranian and Hezbollah allies. Syrian rebels who have been fighting against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad near Quneitra on the Golan claim to have killed 108 Syrian army soldiers in recent clashes, including high ranking officers. In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, the spokesman Abo Omar Algolany said Syrian rebel factions were still trying to liberate Quneitra province. Over the weekend of June 24th fighting between Syrian rebels and Assad’s forces led to projectiles falling on the Israeli side of the border and Israel struck Syrian regime tanks in response. According to Algolany a number of “revolutionary factions” that are active near the Golan border formed a unified “operations room” under the name “Operations of the Army of Muhammed” and launched an attack dubbed “there is no God but you, O God” to push Assad’s forces out of the Quneitra area. “The regime forces shell civilian homes, villages and towns adjacent to the Golan heights,” said Algolany. His statements correspond with other information online that says five different rebel groups cooperated in the attacks last week against an area called “Ba’ath city” which is around one kilometer from the Israeli border and near the ruins of the old town of Quneitra. This area can be easily seen from the Israeli side. The Syrian rebels are facing reinforcements from Hezbollah as well as “Iranian Shi’ite militias” that prop-up Assad’s forces in the area, according to the source. “The rebels managed to control the first defensive lines of the Assad militia in Ba’ath City and eastern Samadaniyah, which is located near the city. They killed 108 members of the Assad regime, including high ranking officers. They destroyed three tanks.” Video posted on twitter claims to show the successes of the battle.

Germany reportedly approves Israel submarine deal
Ynetnews/Reuters/June 30/17/German newspaper Der Spiegel reports Germany approved submarine deal with Israel, despite accusations of wrongdoing in deal leveled against PM's personal laywer; Germany reportedly inserts clause into contract, giving it the right to tear it up if corruption allegations are proven. Germany's national security council has approved a deal to sell three further nuclear-capable submarines to Israel, magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday, the latest act in a defence deal that has been overshadowed by corruption allegations. The $1.5 billion transaction came to public attention when it emerged that shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems' Israeli intermediary had retained Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal lawyer David Shimron to act on his behalf. The deal is now being scrutinised by authorities in both countries. The paper said Germany had inserted a clause into the contract giving it the right to tear it up if corruption allegations were proven. Der Spiegel gave no source for its information. Ministry officials were unable to comment immediately. Israel already has five submarines of the Dolphin Class, which can be equipped with nuclear warheads. A sixth is being built. Germany has agreed to finance a third of the costs of the contract. Last February, it was reported that Israel Police would be turning "Case 3000," which deals in corruption allegations regarding the purchase of IDF submarines from German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp into a full, criminal investigation. Once the case becomes a full-fledged criminal investigation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal lawyer, David Shimron, businessman Miki Ganor (another client of Shimron's) and former commander of the Israeli Navy Vice Admiral Eliezer "Chiney" Marom (who headed the Navy between 2007 – 2011) are all also due to be questioned by the police. .Israel's Justice Ministry, while not naming any suspects in the investigation, said there was no evidence that Netanyahu was involved. This comes in direct opposition to reports that former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon had told police of Netanyahu's direct involvement in the purchasing of the submarines and the tender bias in favor of German conglomerate. Ya'alon reportedly provided investigators with detailed information on the talks Netanyahu had with German government officials both for the purchase of three new submarines and for the purchase of anti-submarine warships for the Israeli Navy—without consulting the defense establishment. Israel's submarine deal with Germany includes two main parts: The acquisition of three submarines and the signing of a contract for long-term maintenance work with the German shipyard that is represented by Israeli businessman Miki Ganor. It is the latter contract that would be more profitable to Ganor, according to defense officials.

Turkish, Qatari Ministers Meet amid Crisis with Arab States
Associated Press/Naharnet/June 30/17/Turkey's state-run news agency says Qatar's defense minister has arrived in Turkey for talks amid his nation's feud with four major Arab states. The four, among other demands, are pressing Doha to shut down a Turkish military base in the tiny country. Turkey is adamant to keep its base and has sided with Qatar in the dispute, which saw the four Arab countries cut ties to Doha earlier this month, accusing it of supporting terror groups — a charge Qatar denies. Qatar's Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and his Turkish counterpart, Fikri Isik, are to hold talks on Friday afternoon. Turkey shipped supplies to Doha to help ease its isolation and swiftly ratified military agreements with Qatar allowing the deployment of troops to its base there.

IS Withdraws from Syria's Aleppo Province
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 30/17/The Islamic State group no longer has a presence in Syria's Aleppo province after withdrawing from a series of villages where regime forces were advancing, a monitor said on Friday. "IS withdrew from 17 towns and villages and is now effectively outside of Aleppo province after having a presence there for four years," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Regime forces had been advancing on a sliver of southeastern Aleppo province around a key highway linking Hama province to the southwest and Raqa province further east. Abdel Rahman said regime forces seized control of the road late Thursday night, prompting the remaining IS fighters to flee. A Syrian military source in rural Aleppo confirmed the withdrawal. "The military operation is ongoing and Daesh withdrew from the Aleppan countryside towards rural territory in Hama and Raqa," the source told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for IS. "The Syrian army is clearing out the last few meters," the source added. A second military source, quoted by Syrian state news agency SANA, also confirmed that IS had pulled out of territory along the Ithraya-Rasafa highway. Since early 2015, multi-front offensives against IS have eaten away at territory the group held in Aleppo province. U.S.-backed Kurdish and allied Arab fighters ousted the jihadists from Kobane on the Turkish border in 2015 and from the key city of Manbij last year.  Rebels backed by Turkey seized the town of al-Bab in February, and Syrian government troops have steadily chipped away at IS towns in the south of the province. In neighboring Raqa province, a U.S.-backed offensive is bearing down on the provincial capital of the same name, which has served as the jihadists' de facto Syrian capital. Abdel Rahman described Friday's withdrawal as "a new loss for IS that decreases its influence and demonstrates that we are watching its collapse as an organization that can manage geographical territory." Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad, before turning into a complex, bloody war. World powers including Russia, Turkey, and a U.S.-led global coalition have all been drawn into the war, which has left more than 320,000 people dead. Talks aimed at reaching a lasting ceasefire will resume in the Kazakh capital Astana next week, before another round of U.N.-backed peace negotiations in Geneva in mid-July.

Suicide Bombers Attack Army During Raids on Syrian Encampments
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 30/17/Seven soldiers were wounded at dawn when suicide bombers blew themselves up while the army was staging raids on two encampments of Syrian refugees in al-Nour and al-Qarieh in the northeastern border town of Arsal, the Army Command-Orientation Directorate said in a statement released on Friday. “At dawn, the Lebanese army was on a mission to inspect the Syrian refugee encampment of al-Nour in Arsal when a suicide bomber blew himself up close to the army patrol. The attacker was killed and three soldiers were seriously wounded,” said the statement. “Another three suicide bombers blew themselves up later on, without causing injuries to the troops. The terrorists have also detonated a bomb explosive,” it added. The army seized four improvised explosive bombs which were immediately detonated by a military expert. Separately, “an army patrol was on a similar mission in an encampment for displaced Syrians in al-Qarieh, when a suicide bomber blew himself up without inflicting harm on the troops. Another militant threw a hand grenade at the army patrol which left four soldiers slightly injured,” said the statement.
The raids, which are aimed at "arresting terrorists and seizing weapons," are still ongoing, the army command said. It later said that one of the suicide bombers blew himself up among members of a displaced family killing a two-year-old girl. A security source told VDL (93.3) that “investigation has shown that most of the detainees were IS militants among which are prominent IS leaders.”Lebanon is host to more than one million Syrian refugees, roughly a quarter of the small Mediterranean country's population. About 70,000 Syrian refugees live in encampments in and around Arsal. The Lebanese army has stepped up its crackdown on fighters connected to the Islamic State militant group in the remote area close to the Syria border. A military source said that troops made a number of arrests. "The objective of the operation was to arrest a wanted man and it was this man who was the first to blow himself up," the source said. Militants from IS and Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front, are entrenched in rugged areas along the undemarcated Lebanese-Syrian border and the army regularly shells their posts while Hizbullah and the Syrian army have engaged in clashes with them on the Syrian side of the border. The two groups briefly overran the town of Arsal in August 2014 before being ousted by the army after days of deadly battles. The retreating militants abducted more than 30 troops and policemen of whom four have been executed and nine remain in the captivity of the IS group.

Trump discusses GulfQatar dispute with Erdogan White House
Fri 30 Jun 2017/NNA - U.S. president Donald Trump spoke with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday to discuss the dispute between Qatar and Gulf and Arab powers who severed diplomatic and travel links with Qatar. Trump and Erdogan discussed ways to resolve the dispute "while ensuring that all countries work together to stop terrorist funding and to combat extremist ideology", the White House said in a statement. Turkey has backed Doha in its rift with four Arab states, which are boycotting the country over alleged support for terrorism, in what has become the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years. Doha denies the charges. ---Reuters

Qatar Escalates on Eve of Deadline
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/Washington, Ankara- Qatar escalated its moves on Thursday as an ultimatum issued by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain is expected to expire on July 3. The four Arab states imposed sanctions on Doha, which has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences. However, Qatar on Thursday decided to escalate by insisting to transfer its crisis with the four states to the meeting of the World Trade Organization on Friday, Reuters reported. “Qatar said it wanted to discuss trade restrictive measures by certain members,” in a sign to the dispute with the four states, who have accused Doha of supporting terrorism. Meanwhile, the director of Qatar’s World Trade Organization office, Ali Alwaleed al-Thani told Reuters that Qatar was considering a complaint at the WTO against a “blockade” by the Arab states. “We are exploring all possible legal avenues, including, but not limited to, the (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body,” Ali Alwaleed said. Other sources said that Doha wants to hire a Swiss law firm to request compensations for citizens affected by the Gulf decision to cut ties with Qatar. After Qatar’s Al Jazeera channel announced the arrival of additional Turkish troops to Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar’s defense minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Atiyyah will make an official visit to Turkey on Friday for talks on the latest developments related to the Gulf crisis. Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the Qatari minister would also tackle specific aspects of the Turkish military base in Qatar. In Washington, Qatar’s Foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Thursday that his country was working with the United States and Kuwait to respond to a list of demands presented by the four Arab states. “We have to set the conditions first in order to pursue these negotiations,” Sheikh Mohammed said. On Wednesday, demonstrators gathered outside the embassy of Qatar in Washington and asked US President Donald Trump to take clear positions in exerting pressures on Qatar, who is accused of supporting terrorism.

King Salman Discusses with Sisi Aspects of Bilateral Relations

Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/Jeddah- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz has discussed with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi during a phone conversation aspects of bilateral relations and means to promote them in all fields. King Salman has also sent a cable of congratulations to the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, on the Independence Day of his country. In his own name and on behalf of the people and the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques wished the president permanent good health and to his friendly people steady advancement and prosperity. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, has also sent a cable of congratulations to Kabila.

OPCW Confirms Sarin Used in Khan Sheikhoun Attack
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/A fact-finding mission by the UN’s chemical watchdog, the OPCW, has confirmed that sarin nerve gas was used as a chemical weapon in the April 4 attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun. “Based on its work, the FFM (fact-finding mission) is able to conclude that a large number of people, some of whom died, were exposed to sarin or a sarin-like substance,” said the confidential report, parts of which were obtained by several news agencies. “The release that caused this exposure was most likely initiated at the site where there is now a crater in the road,” it added. “It is the conclusion of the FFM that such a release can only be determined as the use of sarin, as a chemical weapon.”The findings by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will now be taken up by a joint UN-OPCW panel to determine whether Syrian regime forces were behind the attack.
At least 87 people including many children were killed in the attack that the United States, France and Britain have said was carried out by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The US made a retaliatory cruise missile strike days later against a Syrian airbase from where it said the chemical weapons attack was launched. “I strongly condemn this atrocity, which wholly contradicts the norms enshrined in the Chemical Weapons Convention,” OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement on the Khan Sheikhoun attack. “The perpetrators of this horrific attack must be held accountable for their crimes.”
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urged the international community to work together to bring to justice those responsible for the Khan Kheikhoun attack. OPCW’s confirmation that sarin was used as a weapon “cannot be ignored,” Johnson said. Although the report did not apportion blame, Johnson said that “the UK’s own assessment is that the Assad regime almost certainly carried out this abominable attack.”“I urge our international partners to unite behind the need to hold those responsible for this atrocity to account,” he added. US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement that she had the “highest confidence in the OPCW report.” “Now that we know the undeniable truth, we look forward to an independent investigation to confirm exactly who was responsible for these brutal attacks so we can find justice for the victims,” she added. The OPCW-UN joint investigative mechanism (JIM) has already determined that Syrian regime forces were responsible for chlorine attacks on three villages in 2014 and 2015, and that ISIS used mustard gas in 2015. Russia, Syria’s ally, has dismissed the findings as not credible. In February, Moscow vetoed a UN resolution that would have imposed sanctions on Syria over chemical weapons use in the six-year war.

Nearly Half a Million Displaced Syrians Return Home- UN Report
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/The UN refugee agency said Friday that nearly a half-million people who were displaced within Syria due to its civil war have returned to their homes since the beginning of the year. The agency pointed out to “a notable trend of spontaneous returns to and within Syria in 2017.”UNHCR says aid agencies estimate that more than 440,000 internally displaced people, or IDPs, had returned to their homes, mainly in Aleppo, Hama, Homs, and Damascus, Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the agency, known as the UNHCR, told reporters in Geneva. In addition, around 31,000 refugees in neighboring countries had also returned, he said, bringing to 260,000 the number of refugees who have returned to the country since 2015. “This is a significant trend, and a significant number,” Mahecic said. However, he cautioned on Friday that this was “only a fraction” of an estimated 5 million Syrian refugees abroad. He said the main factors prompting the displaced to return home were “seeking out family members, checking on property, and, in some cases, a real or perceived improvement in security conditions in parts of the country.”He said it was too early to say if the returns might be directly linked to a palpable drop in violence since Turkey agreed at talks in Astana in May with Russia and Iran, allies of head of regime Bashar al-Assad, to establish four safe zones across Syria to ban flights and ensure aid drops. But this week, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told the Security Council that since the May 4 deal, “violence is clearly down. Hundreds of Syrian lives continue to be spared every week, and many towns have returned to some degree of normalcy.”Mahecic nonetheless cautioned that “while there is overall increased hope linked to the recent Astana and Geneva peace talks, UNHCR believes conditions for refugees to return in safety and dignity are not yet in place in Syria.”“The sustainability of security improvements in many return areas is uncertain, and there remain significant risks of protection thresholds for voluntary, safe and dignified returns not being met in parts of the country,” he said. “Access to displaced population inside Syria remains a key challenge,” he added. But “given the returns witnessed so far this year and in light of a progressively increased number of returns”, the agency had begun scaling up its operations inside Syria to better be able address the needs of the returnees, he said. Syria’s war has killed more than 320,000 people and forced millions from their homes since it began in March 2011.

Iraqi Troops in Mop-up Operations in Mosul, Victory in ‘Days’
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17Iraqi troops were clearing up a key neighborhood in Mosul on Friday as a senior commander said the country will declare victory over ISIS in the northern city during the “next few days.”Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi and Lieutenant Colonel Salam Hussein told The Associated Press their forces were continuing to clear territory in the Old City after retaking the hugely symbolic al-Nuri Mosque on Thursday.. Al-Saadi said his forces were also continuing to push forward from the Old City and on Friday reached within 700 meters of the Tigris River, which roughly divides Mosul into an eastern and western half. The mosque and its famed 12th century minaret were blown up by ISIS last week — an indication, the Iraqi government said, of the militants’ imminent loss of Mosul. “In the next few days, we will announce the final victory over ISIS,” Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a senior commander in the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told Agence France Presse in Mosul. Iraqi forces launched the grueling battle for Mosul on October 17, advancing to the city and retaking its eastern side before setting their sights on the smaller but more densely populated west.
The terrorists are now confined to a small area of the Old City, but its narrow streets and the presence of civilians has made the operation to retake it perilous. Assadi estimated that there are between 200 and 300 ISIS militants left in the city, most of them foreigners. Also Friday, the United Nations called on the Iraqi government to intervene to halt “imminent” forced evictions of many people suspected of having ties to the terrorist organization from Mosul. Hundreds of families have received threatening letters laying down a deadline for leaving, mainly under tribal agreements, which amount to “acts of vengeance”, UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville he told a Geneva news briefing. “We urge the Iraqi government to take action to halt such imminent evictions or any type of collective punishment, and to reinforce the formal justice system to bring perpetrators to justice,” he said.

ISIS Forced to Change Tactics as it Loses Territory
London- It is now only a matter of time until ISIS loses its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, analysts, military and government officials repeatedly say. US-backed Syrian rebel forces are advancing to retake ISIS’ self-declared capital of Raqqa and only a few kilometers remain to liberate Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. Yet, the optimism of wresting key territory from ISIS’ grandiose “caliphate” also carries a warning: This will not mark the end of the group that has reshaped the Middle East since 2014. “ISIS is now drawing its last breath. But they have sleeper cells in Baghdad and other areas in Iraq, so caution remains necessary,” former Iraqi army officer, Brigadier Safaa al-Obeidi, tells German News Agency dpa. While Iraqi forces are currently “in an excellent position” to defeat the group in Mosul and other strongholds in Iraq, Obeidi expects the militants to seek more “media successes through attacks targeting civilian communities.” Losing the stranglehold it has had in Iraq and Syria will only reshape the group, which has worked on expanding its presence outside the two countries. “It is the end of the group in its current form, but it will not disappear,” says Abeer Saady, a researcher in radical jihadi groups and media at Dortmund University in Germany. “I doubt that they will try to take over new land. Instead, losing the ground is pushing them to change the form of their existence,” Saady says. Seizing territory was the principle on which ISIS was established. It had a cabinet, governors and councils. But to keep functioning, it is expected to untie itself from this doctrine. A shift in the group’s strategy means two things: Expansion outside Syria and Iraq as well as embracing the concept of being a stateless state.It has long been working on the first goal. ISIS’ Khorasan branch, the offshoot covering Pakistan and Afghanistan, was established in January 2015 in war-torn Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.
In the Philippines, pro-ISIS militants have launched several attacks in recent months. Previously, it established its presence in several Middle Eastern countries, most prominently Egypt and Libya. The second goal is to abandon the idea of controlling more ground and instead launch “revenge attacks.”“To do this, they have intensified their calls on social media to target followers, especially for lone wolves,” Saady says. Evidence from some attacks since last year showed that the perpetrators were working alone. They were inspired, but not necessarily directed, by ISIS militants.
Saady says the group’s messages via social media and online networks to loyalists and sympathizers encourage incidents such as stabbings and attacks with vehicles that have been increasingly carried out in European countries. Last week, the group blew up Mosul’s Great Mosque, also known as al-Nuri, a move that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described as “a formal declaration of their defeat.”The 12th-century mosque was where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only appearance in July 2014, days after the “caliphate” was declared in an audio message. His sermon from the mosque’s pulpit has been seen as the official declaration of the “caliphate.”“What I would say is Baghdadi, alive or otherwise, is increasingly a remote figure. A great many of his loyal lieutenants have been killed,” said Major General Rupert Jones, deputy commander of strategy and support with the US-led coalition, commenting on Russian claims of having killed Baghdadi. Jones believe that Baghdadi’s followers right now do not feel they “are being particularly led,” but rather feel “deserted, isolated.” Saady disagrees. She expects more radical movements to rise from within the group and take over its leadership, while maintaining a similar communication strategy: Address the youth. “These movements will actually blame the defeat of the group on its leadership’s attachment with ground,” says Saady, and adds that “then they will work on ‘correcting the path’ of the group but carry on trying to recruit young people everywhere.”

Ankara Tests Moscow, Washington by Tightening the Noose on Afrin
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/Ankara, Beirut- Ankara announced on Thursday it would launch a military operation to tighten the noose on the city of Afrin in the Syrian Aleppo province and “cleanse” it from terrorists.The announcement is a sign that Turkey would attack the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The Turkish statement is also considered a test of the strength of Turkey’s agreements with Russia, which owns a military station near Afrin and a test to Washington, which supports the Kurds in their battle against ISIS in Raqqa, which is the terrorist group’s stronghold in Syria. Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ankara was not satisfied regarding the US position to support the YPG and the deployment of US forces along the border of Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria. “A large operation launched by the Turkish army in Afrin will constitute a mortal blow to the Turkish-US cooperation and will negatively affect the relations of both countries,” the sources said. They added that Washington was currently trying to maintain a balance in its ties with each of Ankara and Syria’s Kurds. Earlier, Turkish deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak uncovered contacts made between the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the National Intelligence Organization with concerned parties concerning the possibility of launching an operation in Afrin. “The Afrin region needs to be cleared of terror elements and terrorists in order to protect the safety of Aazaz, Mareh, Al-Bab and even Idlib,” he said. For his part, Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the coalition against ISIS, said: “We continue to consult with the Turks concerning a possible escalation in the countryside of Aleppo. It is certain that we wouldn’t want anything to disrupt the Raqqa campaign.”He spoke to channel Al Aan TV while he was in Syria to visit Raqqa. McGurk’s statement came when YPG forces and Arab fighters were closing down the last road leading to Raqqa. Meanwhile, battles continued in the city of al-Baath, in the province of Quneitra, south of the country.

Morocco-Netherlands Deal Paves Way for Extradition of Ex-Lawmaker
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/Rabat, Casablanca- Dutch authorities have arrested former Moroccan regional lawmaker Said Chaaou over an international arrest warrant issued by the judiciary in Morocco in 2010 following accusations that he had formed an armed gang and had been involved in international drug trafficking and attempted murder. The Moroccan foreign ministry said that it would now seek the extradition of Chaaou, who holds the Dutch nationality, from the Netherlands. “Today’s (Thursday’s) arrest of Said Chaaou, by Dutch authorities, constitutes an important development in the treatment of this affair tied with organized crime,” it said. Chaaou is also the subject of another arrest warrant linked to tampering with the country’s stability by establishing a movement calling for the Rif region’s independence from Morocco. He is also accused of providing “financial and logistical support” in the protests that the region witnessed in the past months. His arrest came following intense talks held lately between Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and the Dutch ambassador to Rabat. The meetings culminated in a deal reached at dawn Thursday to extradite Chaaou in order to appear in court. But if convicted, the former lawmaker would serve his sentence in the Netherlands because he is a Dutch national. Chaaou, 50, was born in Morocco but moved to the Netherlands in the 1980s. In a related development, the government convened on Thursday in Rabat under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani to discuss the situation in the Rif region in general. Othmani urged cabinet ministers to exert efforts in implementing development projects in the region and improve coordination and information-sharing to speed up their implementation in line with the instructions made by Mohammed VI of Morocco. The prime minister had expressed regret at the events taking place in the city of Al-Hoceima, urging residents for calm and an end to protests by promising them a “solution to all problems.”During a press conference he held late Wednesday, Othmani said he had given instructions to the interior minister to respect the law while dealing with demonstrators. Nobody wants to inflict any harm to citizens, he added.

Bahrain Arrests Members of Saraya al-Ashtar Terrorist Group

Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/Manama– Bahrain has arrested on Thursday members of a terrorist network known as “Saraya al-Ashtar”, within a security plan aimed at fighting terrorism. The country’s security authorities carried out a proactive security operation to capture members of the terrorist organization. Several terrorists were detained and explosive devices were caught and neutralized in an intelligence-led raid on a suspected storage site in the village of Al-Dair. The raid was conducted on the basis of a preliminary investigation, which revealed that members of the terrorist group had sent videos they took of bomb-making experiments to known terrorism leaders in Iran, with the aim to improve manufacturing operations. The Public Prosecutor was notified of the operations and all appropriate security and legal procedures were undertaken. On Thursday, counter-terrorism and anti-explosive teams were deployed to the site and secured the area in the village of Al-Dair. Security forces arrested members of one cell, which includes, Sayed Ahmed Mahdi Kadhem, who had frequently traveled to Iran and was previously detained by the Bahraini authorities for attacking the police; Isa Hassan Isa Ali, who is involved in terrorist cases and had frequently traveled to Syria; Ali Dawood Ahmed Dawood Al Aradi, who was trained by the Iraqi Hezbollah branch; Hassan Shakir Hassan Ali, who was also trained in Iraq; and Maitham Ali Hassan Ali Hassan, who is also involved in terrorist activities. Security forces also arrested, in a parallel operation, Abdullah Abdulmahdi Hassan Al Aradi and Loay Hani Saood Hussain Al Muamen, who both belong to another terrorist cell. The investigation revealed that the two cells were linked to a known convicted terrorist and fugitive Hussein Ali Ahmed Dawood, 31, who is based in Iran. The security forces also seized 52 KG of high-grade TNT explosives, including C4, urea nitrate, ammonium nitrate and raw materials. Explosives experts estimated that the equipment had a potential to impact a 600-meter radius, posing a significant threat to the surrounding residential area.

Israel Closes Al-Aqsa, Warnings of ‘Religious War’
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 30/17/Ramallah- Israel closed on Thursday Al-Aqsa Mosque to worshipers, an escalatory move that upset the Palestinian Authority, which warned from a spatiotemporal divisional plan that could lead to a religious war.
On Thursday, while Israel was completely closing Al-Aqsa to Muslim worshippers, chief of the occupying Police Yuram Levi broke into the mosque with a group of Jewish extremists marking the anniversary for the killing of a Jewish settler. The intruders commemorated the death of Hallel Ariel, a girl killed last year by a Palestinian in Al-Khalil, in Hebron. Israel’s Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel later suggested naming Al-Mughrabi Gate after Hallel. It is worth noting that Israel usually takes measures to prevent worshipers under a certain age from entering the mosque. However, this time, they closed the mosque to all worshipers, a similar move that was taken in 2014. “Israeli police closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque to all Muslims,” said Azzam al-Khatib, director-general of Al-Aqsa Affairs. Later, the Palestinian government condemned the Israeli decision. PA spokesman Tareq Rashmawi said that such move “contradicts all human values and morals and is considered a serious abuse of all international laws.”In a statement, Rashmawi called on the international community to take quick and binding decisions to stop the occupying authorities from committing additional crimes against the Palestinian people and their Muslim and Christian holy sites. For his part, Mahmoud al-Habash, the supreme sharia judge in the Palestinian Authority said: “In taking such moves, Israel allows the drums of a religious war by inciting religious sentiments of one and a half billion Muslims around the world.”Al-Habash also called on all Arabs to visit the mosque in an attempt to prevent the Israelis from producing a demographic and religious change in the Palestinian Holy capital, Jerusalem.

US Travel Ban Takes Effect, with Lawyers on Hand Just in Case
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 30/17/Lawyers and rights activists took up positions at major US airports as a weakened version of President Donald Trump's travel ban took effect late Thursday. But there were no signs of the chaos that erupted when the first version of the restriction, derided as discriminatory against Muslims, was abruptly imposed back in January. Attorneys working pro-bono set up makeshift, just-in-case legal aid stations -- some with signs in Arabic -- at airports serving New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington and other cities, news reports said. Protesters angry over Trump's immigration policies also turned out, with some in Los Angeles holding black-and-white placards denouncing Trump as a fascist.But the first hours of the new version of the ban, as allowed by the Supreme Court, appeared to unfold calmly. Gone were the dramatic scenes of some people arriving from seven mainly Muslim countries being detained and questioned for hours, with some even deported on short order to where they came from."We're not really expecting any issues at the airport. But we're here just in case, to monitor, to tell people what's going on, and to report back what we're seeing," Camille Mackler, director of legal initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, told The Daily Beast. She was among volunteers at JFK Airport in New York awaiting flights from London, Istanbul, Doha and Abu Dhabi. "We think we're going to see it abroad, because it's really for people applying for visas," Mackler added.The Trump administration says the temporary ban is necessary to keep terrorists out of the country, but immigrant advocates charge that it illegally singles out Muslims. Under a Supreme Court ruling this week that allowed part of the ban to take effect -- and ended, for now, five months of skirmishes in lower courts -- the 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and a 120-day ban on refugees, will allow exceptions for people with "close family relationships" in the United States.
Activists said the government has defined that too narrowly, excluding relationships with grandparents and grandchildren, aunts and uncles and others.
The Department of Homeland Security, which was heavily criticized for mishandling many arrivals when the ban was first attempted in January, promised a smooth rollout this time. The new ban took effect at 8:00 pm Thursday Eastern time (0000 GMT Friday). The department said that anyone with a valid visa issued before the ban began would still be admitted, and that all authorized refugees booked for travel before July 6 would also be allowed. "We expect business as usual at the ports of entry starting at 8 pm tonight," a DHS official said. "Our people are well prepared for this." Trump claims victory -But the ban's implementation, even with exceptions, was claimed as a political victory by Trump, after federal appeals courts twice blocked his order, saying it violated constitutional protections of religion and overshot his presidential powers. Immigrant rights groups and Democrats in Congress continued to label Trump's order illegal and said the exemptions provided in a Supreme Court ruling on Monday remained unfair. According to guidelines issued by the State Department, people with "close family relationships" would be exempt from the ban. It defined that to include parents, spouses, children, sons- and daughters-in-law, siblings and step- and half-siblings. But "close family" does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-laws and sisters-in-law, fiances and any other "extended" family members, the guidelines say. People with formal relationships with a US entity -- who have for instance been offered a job or been accepted to study or lecture at a university -- will also qualify for visas during the ban. But a hotel reservation, even if already paid for, does not qualify. Even as travel officials across the US made final preparations for putting the ban into place, opponents were preparing new legal challenges. Late Thursday, Hawaii asked federal district Judge Derrick Watson to clarify the scope of the travel and refugee bans in the Pacific island state -- and to define who, specifically, the ban refers to when stating that only an immigrant's close family members can travel to the US. "In Hawaii, 'close family' includes many of the people that the federal government decided on its own to exclude from that definition. Unfortunately, this severely limited definition may be in violation of the Supreme Court ruling," the Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin said in a statement. Rama Issa, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said the government was redefining what a family is. "I was raised by my grandparents, so the idea of grandparents not being part of a family is very foreign to me," Issa said at JFK, preparing to help new arrivals. "I'm engaged to get married. I have family who lives in Syria today -- not only my father, but my aunts and uncles who I would love to be at this wedding, and unfortunately are not going to be able to be here."

Canada announces additional support for prohibition of chemical weapons in Syria

June 29, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
Canada is committed to supporting the Syrian people and has repeatedly condemned the egregious war crimes that have been committed by the Assad regime in Syria, including the use of chemical weapons on its own people.
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced an additional Canadian contribution of $2.5 million to strengthen the capacity of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
This announcement comes on the same day the OPCW released a report of its investigation, which confirms the use of the nerve agent sarin in the April 4, 2017, attack in Khan Shaykhun, in southern Idlib province, Syria. Approximately 100 people were killed and hundreds of civilians injured in this brutal attack.
Through this contribution, the OPCW will continue its essential work to investigate chemical weapons incidents, collect evidence in support of accountability and verify that Syria’s chemical weapons program has been completely eliminated. This funding from Canada’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat Reduction Program reinforces Canada’s position as one of the largest national contributors to global efforts to end the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
“Today’s announcement reflects Canada’s unwavering support to the Syrian people. The courageous and dedicated work of the OPCW is central to establishing the facts around chemical weapons attacks in Syria and ridding the world of these inhumane weapons.
“Canada vigorously condemns the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons against women, men and children in the April 4 attack. The use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Continued impunity is unacceptable, and the perpetrators must be held accountable.”
- Hon. Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs
Quick facts
To date, the OPCW has verified the elimination of 95 % of the world’s declared chemical weapons. The organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2013 for its achievements.
The OPCW is the only multilateral institution charged with eradicating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. The organization inspects selected industrial sites and research facilities around the world to ensure they are not used for clandestine production of chemical weapons.
The OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) for Attributing Responsibility for Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria has concluded in the past that the Government of Syria has used chemical weapons against its own people.
Canada and the United States are the largest national contributors to the JIM, each having provided US$2 million to support the efforts of the OPCW-UN body to identify those individuals, entities, groups or governments who were perpetrators, organizers, sponsors or otherwise involved in the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Canada’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat Reduction Program is managed by Global Affairs Canada. It was established in 2002 as Canada’s contribution to the G7-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. The Global Partnership aims to reduce the threat posed by the proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons; materials; and expertise.
Canada has been a leading voice at the OPCW since 1997 and is the largest voluntary cash contributor to the organization, having provided nearly $25 million since 2012 to help destroy chemical weapons in Libya and Syria and to support special missions and contingency operations related to chemical weapons use, investigation, verification and monitoring in Syria.
Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 01/17
Tsar Vladimir and His 40 Daughters

Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/June 30/17
Will they? Won’t they? These are the questions that are making the rounds in international political circles these days.
The “they” in question are the new US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who may or may not hold a tete-a-tete on the margins of the G-20 summit to be hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hamburg next week.
Despite conflicting analysis of the state of world there is consensus that a Trump-Putin meeting might help reduce international tension and pave the way for the solution of some burning issues.
The reason is that, despite its internal problems, the US remains the indispensable player in most theatres of global politics while Russia, having re-cast itself as the challenger, plays the nay-sayer in chief.
The last US-Russia summit happened in September 2016 in the sunset phase of Barack Obama’s presidency, at time Putin had decided to wait for the outcome of the US presidential election. Thus the Obama-Putin summit, held in Hangzhou, China, was little more than a duet of boasting and grand-standing.
Obama tried to appear tough at the 11th hour while Putin did all he could to humiliate him. Rather than contributing to a reduction of tension, the meeting ended up heightening it by several degrees with Obama accusing Putin of trying to affect the outcome of the US presidential election in Trump’s favor.
The G20 started in 1999 by finance ministers and central bank governors of the nations concerned as a forum for global economic cooperation but, with its first summit in 2008, morphed into an informal star-chamber discussing all questions of international governance.
Because almost all nations that count are represented, the forum could claim a wider moral authority than the older G8, now downsized to G7. Thus if the US and Russia manage to reach common ground, they could count on a broader international support base for whatever they might have to propose.
When, and if, a US-Russia summit is held, three key issues are likely to dominate the agenda.
The first is as exact a definition as possible of Russia’s ambitions especially with regard to Europe.
The current Russian policy appears to be aimed at driving a wedge between the US and the European Union while doing all it can to undermine NATO and the European Union. The Kremlin’s financial and propaganda support for populist parties of both right and left with anti-American and anti-EU agendas is no mystery.
Putin may claim that his anti-EU stance is in self-defense and a response to sanctions imposed because of Ukraine. The Europeans, however, would argue that sanctions were imposed in response to Russian aggression, the annexation of Crimea and thinly disguised military intervention in Donetsk.
At this stage, Putin would want two things.
First, he wants the Western powers to swallow the loss of Crimea by Ukraine as a fait-accompli. This does not mean a de jure acknowledgement by NATO of the annexation; an implicit de facto acceptance would suffice.
This is what happened in the case of the Baltic States that Stalin annexed after World War II. Western democracies continued to regard the three states as occupied territory but in practice did nothing to force the Russians out until the fall of the Soviet Empire.
Thus, it is possible to adopt a similar posture on Crimea until the disintegration of the Russian federation itself which some American strategists believe more than possible. (The late Zbigniew Brzezinski believed Russia would break up into three states: one west of the Urals, in time becoming fully “European”, another east of the Urals and west of Siberia and dominated by Muslim Tatars and Bashkirs, and a third in Siberia with a mix of Chinese, Korean and native Siberian populations.)
The second thing Putin wants is a stop to further enlargement by NATO, especially in Europe and Transcaucasia.
The next key issue on the agenda would be Syria in the context of Russia’s renewed ambitions in the Middle East.
Putin is hastily trying to concoct a package based on “consultations” with Turkey and Iran, to present at the G20 in the hope of consolidating Russia’s position as the key foreign influence in Syria while persuading the Western powers to share the burden of an impossible situation.
Putin wants to keep the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power for a brief period during which Russian position in Syria strikes roots that no future Syrian regime would be able to ignore. To sell his package to the West, Putin will dangle the prospect of easing the Iranian mullahs out of Syria while helping Turkey, a NATO member, establish “monitoring rights” (droit de regard) inside Syrian territory along its border.
Here, too, Putin needs quick results while the West and regional allies could let him have as much Syrian rope as he covets.
The third issue on the agenda would be cyberwarfare which must be added to land, naval, submarine, and air war as a fifth form of war.
In this new form of warfare, so far, Russia has had the advantage by taking risks that Western democracies find difficult to take because of domestic opposition. In the mid and-long run, however, Russia would never be a match for Western powers’ immense scientific and technological resources. As was the case with the space-race in the 1950s and ’60, Russia may have stolen a march on the West for a while. In the end, however, it is bound to fall behind before hitting the finishing line.
The Kremlin-dominated media hail Putin’s “victories”. But these are sure to prove hollow. This reminds one of Pushkin’s ribald poems “Tsar Nikita and His Forty Daughters” in which the jubilant tsar fathers 40 daughters unsurpassed in beauty, intelligence and charm.
The only problem is that they all lack the one thing that makes a female; they have everything but the essential.
Poor Tsar Nikita has to beg friend and foe, especially foe, to help him correct the lack.
Whichever way you look at it, Tsar Vladimir needs the West more than the West needs him.

UK Needs a Second ‘Glorious Revolution,’ Only Calmer
Tyler Cowen/Asharq Al Awsat/June 30/17
Imagine that a European leader invaded England and deposed the legitimate head of state, leaving a Dutchman in charge of the country. If you didn’t know any better, you might think this is an overwrought caricature of what the European Union was supposed to bring to British affairs, at least pre-Brexit; that story sounds far worse than the regulations, taxes or other depredations imposed by Brussels to date. Yet the opening scenario refers to the 1680s, when William of Orange, who was born in The Hague and spoke Dutch, crossed the sea with a Dutch army and banished the native-born but Catholic king, James II.
No matter which side you take in this historic dispute, it is a founding event in British history. After all, they call it the Glorious Revolution, and it helped set England and Scotland further down a path of empire-building with public credit, a strong navy, Protestantism, and eventually the Industrial Revolution and consumer society. One lesson, neglected by Brexiteers, is that European interference is part of what has made Britain. (Don’t forget the German-speaking Hanover rulers of the 18th century or the Norman invasion.) In other words, the short perspective doesn’t always reveal what is the truly English, British or nationalistic thing to do. A second and deeper point helps explain why the attachment to Brexit remains so strong. More than a year after the referendum, the options look very weak. The government is in disarray, with the Conservatives striking a deal Monday with the Democratic Unionist Party to form a very slight majority government. The negotiating position of the EU seems to be a credible take-it-or-leave-it stance. The British public is now rejecting the hard Brexit option — making a clean break — but the country will have to work very hard to receive the same status as Norway or Switzerland, still bound by most EU regulations and paying money to Brussels, but without a seat at the table when it comes to setting the rules. Who should fight or vote for that?
That leaving is so difficult, however, may in part explain the desire to leave. In the most sophisticated cases for Brexit, there is no acceptable resolution to the negotiating dilemmas. Rather many Brexiteers think their nation’s culture and legal system need to take their own courses. For better or worse, they think England in particular simply can’t become that much more “continental.” What appeared to be a wonderful deal — free trade but no euro — actually was viewed as a Trojan horse for the disappearance of British uniqueness. Over time the encroachments of EU law and governance will clash more and more with the underlying institutions and culture of the UK, and something will have to give. Law and culture eventually must prove congruent, but EU legal and bureaucratic powers will inevitably grow, ultimately clashing with the notion of Britain as an idiosyncratic and independent nation. Culture and law cannot remain so separate forever. I have myself been strongly pro-Remain, but I don’t dismiss the Leavers as a bunch of ill-informed voters or hapless victims of globalization. Counterintuitively, it is the supposedly undereducated Leavers who have the more theoretical and historical perspective. It doesn’t help that they initially were promised a much weaker set of ties with the EU, and so mistrust makes all of the complaints more potent.

Why has Qatar lost all its credibility?
Mondher Thabet/Al Arabiya/June 30/17
Qatar has completely lost credibility just like Al Jazeera channel and other media platforms that had mastered the art of misleading and spreading lies. It seemed it adopted the principle of “divide and rule” and was influenced by Nazi minister Joseph Goebbels’ law of propaganda: “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”The world has been living through a moral crisis since the beginning of the 1990s. Qatar exploited it to serve its suspicious agenda by paying huge sums of money to buy politicians, intelligence and media figures, intellectuals and research and studies centers. It gathered them to forge facts and to help it reach decision makers in some influential countries to serve its project to sabotage Arab and Islamic countries through terrorist and extremist groups. At some point, Qatar went as far as deceiving international intelligence apparatuses through reports submitted by hired agents. Their data was supported by media reports, which Qatar paid for to justify its destructive agenda in Arab countries like Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen. Qatar’s decision to throw itself in Turkey’s arms falls within the context of a project that unites it with the Brotherhood and that extends to political Islamist movements including the Supreme Leader’s rule in Iran
Supporting terror outfits
Qatar supported the Houthis against Saudi Arabia and supported terrorist groups in Bahrain. Systematic terrorism against the Egyptian state is what led Libya to its current deteriorating situation as Qatar supported foreign militias that violated the law just like it supported terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.
In 2011, Qatari officials thought Doha was capable of bringing down Arab regimes from “ocean to Gulf” and replace them with extremist regimes in which the terrorist Brotherhood movement and al-Qaeda organization ally. However, people woke up from their slumber and realized that Qatar’s agenda was planned in dark rooms to put the entire Arab world under the control of foreign powers in order to control the nation’s capabilities and riches. The 2013 June 30 revolution, which the Egyptian people led against the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, destroyed the biggest part of Qatar’s conspiracy against the region. This conspiracy had targeted all Arab countries. The current Gulf and Arab position is meant to destroy whatever is left of this Qatari destructive agenda.
I think Qatar’s decision to throw itself in Turkey’s arms falls within the context of a project that unites it with the Brotherhood and that extends to political Islamist movements including the Supreme Leader’s rule in Iran. The presence of a Turkish military base and Turkish soldiers in Doha aims to protect Emir Tamim bin Hamad himself from any action that aims to rectify the situation in the Qatar and does not aim to protect Qatar. Because Qatari policies began to eat everything away, it is time to purge the Arab and Gulf region and the world in general from its harm.

War between mercenary groups may get out of hand in Syria
Ghassan Imam/Al Arabiya/June 30/17
Wars have been a form of knighthood throughout the history we’re familiar with. They were about bravery, sacrifice and respect. All these characteristics require direct contact between humans. Weapons such as swords, spears and shields imposed decreasing distance between fighters.
These wars did not resort to mercenaries or proxy wars. They were an industry that native citizens of a country mastered. They were an imposed duty or requirement from a certain feared category that was widely respected and appreciated as it’s always ready to defend its homeland to confront the threats of foreign invasions or to go beyond its borders to secure its territories and gain strategic depth within its deployed armies. Fighters underwent brutal training during wars in the past. They were taught how to move quickly and mastered attack and withdrawal tactics. They were also taught disciplined coordination with their battalion. Fighters also mastered the use of non-firearm type weapons. A state or empire whose army possessed more of these traits, characteristics and weapons has been more capable to confront others and maneuver.
Balance of terror
The state’s or empire’s readiness has been enough to prevent wars from erupting as enemies knew how to estimate the power they have to fight. This is how the “balance of terror” principle emerged. This principle is taken into consideration when preventing wars in our modern history. When this principle is disrupted, Sparta “the city of sports” would be capable of invading and subjugating Athena “the intellectual city” which is more beneficial to culture and civilization. Despite that, ancient history witnessed some form of mercenarism as the strongest “hired” the weakest. Arab Lakhmids who were stationed around the Iraqi desert accepted the Persian state’s protection in exchange of protecting its desert borders. Arab Ghassanids accepted the Roman Empire’s protection in exchange of warning it of any possible threats in the Arabian Desert. There is an international and regional war in the Syrian Desert. America, Europe, Turkey and Gulf countries are participating in this war via armies made of mercenaries that consist of Kurds, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Chechens, Afghans and citizens from Gulf countries. In all cases, the Lakhmids and Ghassanids did not view themselves as mercenaries. The Ghassanids who were supported by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire fought with their Arab Muslim brothers who liberated Sham from the Romans. The Lakhmids eventually integrated in Arabism and Islam and left Khosrow fighting battles in the Gulf Sea which did not drown Arabs who conquered Iraq and Iran.
Destroying a noble Arab legacy
The Arab state which refused to act as a mercenary was the Nabataean kingdom of Palmyra. It reached the peak of its prosperity and strength during the era of its queen, or rather regent, Zenobia. Roman Emperor Aurelian defeated her in a fierce war. He destroyed the capital and its impressive ruins serve as evidence to its culture.
The tyrannical ISIS organization has most recently destroyed parts of this noble Arab legacy. When “politics” in the modern era turned into “a war fought via other tools,” superpowers and regional countries began to recruit and hire mercenaries to fight on their behalf. This phenomenon became a pillar of peace and war in the current century. Africa in particular has been an arena for deadly wars where millions in Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eretria died. These wars were fought from afar by major European countries. Cuban leader Fidel Castro sent an army to Africa to help leftist countries end colonization. Israel was used twice as a mercenary state to set up Arabs. During the Suez crisis in 1956, Israel was part of the tripartite conspiracy along with France and Britain. Their aim was to harm Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime and seize control of the Suez Canal.
Eisenhower to the rescue
America, which at the time was led by Dwight Eisenhower, saved him by forcing the three countries to retreat. Later on, America led by Lyndon Johnson used Israel in the Six-Day War to defeat Abdel Nasser and the Arab nationalist project. The role which the Syrian sectarian regime may have played in involving Abdel Nasser in a war he was not ready for remains unclear until today. What’s stranger and funnier is that America under George W. Bush’s rule seemed like it was hired to serve Iraqi sectarian groups to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime. Yes, Saddam was a heavy burden on Arabs and on the international community and it was a must to replace him. However, America handed Iraq to Iran’s aides during the presidential terms of Bush and Barack Obama. This was a grave strategic mistake that led to the increase of ISIS’ terrorism that sought vengeance against the Shiites and the US. Arabs lost Iraq and it was no longer an eastern wall that protected the Arab nation. Iran was thus enabled to dominate Syria and Lebanon and it controlled Hamas and infiltrated Yemen. There is a predator system in Iran that recruited multinational organizations and militias as mercenaries to fight on its behalf so it can avoid accusations that it’s directly involved in wars that destabilize the Arab region.
Mercenaries under Soleimani
Few weeks ago, I said there is a real Iranian army made of mercenaries fighting in a Syrian desert where temperatures approach 50 degrees. It’s fighting under the command of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Al-Quds Brigades, but not to reach Quds (Jerusalem) but to reach Raqqa and Deir al-Zour and prevent the US and its Kurdish mercenaries from replacing ISIS in East Syria. There is an international and regional war in the Syrian Desert. America, Europe, Turkey and Gulf countries are participating in this war via armies made of mercenaries that consist of Kurds, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Chechens, Afghans and citizens from Gulf countries. Soleimani brought with him to the desert the “Fatimid” militia that consists of Kazkh Ismaili mercenaries in North Afghanistan. Iran made two million Shiite Afghans who reside in Iran choose between returning to Afghanistan or fighting as mercenaries in Syria and settling in it. The Iranian missiles did not kill ISIS members in Raqqa as Iran claimed but it hit Kurdish mercenaries who were fighting on behalf of America in the stricken city. In order to protect them, America downed two Syrian regime jets. The regime only has its air force to fight as it lost around 400,000 army recruits as they were either killed or wounded or they escaped. The mercenaries’ armies will reach Raqqa and Deir al-Zour. A new war of mercenaries will erupt there and it may go as far as reaching a confrontation between Russia which Iran hired and America which the separatist Kurds hired to resume establishing their state on Syria’s ruins.

Trump administration and Qatar: What lies beneath?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/June 30/17
The political aspirations of Qatar, the Brotherhood and their eventual allies, are counting on the fragmentation of the American position in favor of Doha. The news from Qatar’s direct and indirect platforms suggests that Washington is not pleased with the Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini and Egyptian stances against Qatar’s harmful policies. In fact, those who heard the statements of the head of the US administration, Donald Trump, will find that they are identical to those of the Arab countries that boycotted Qatar due to the latter’s support and funding for the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups.
However, they might find that the statements of the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are ambiguous, and to a lesser extent those of the Pentagon. A few days ago, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikky Halley spoke to the US Congress and said that the Brotherhood was a source of problems in the Middle East. She even added to that when talking about the Qatari crisis; she said that “Washington has a military base in Doha, but Trump is focused solely on eradicating ISIS and terrorism.”Which statements really express Trump’s management, and is there a problem? Denis Ross highlighted these problems, in the article he wrote on June 23rd where he said: “The time has come to tell the Qataris that we will be giving up the military base and the implicit security guarantee to Qatar, unless it stops supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The words of some Westerners, such as the Germans, are somewhat biased toward the Qatari-Brotherhood stance, under the pretext that it is the right time now to unify the efforts to fight terrorism and ISIS
Confusing messages
He addressed the Trump administration saying that “the confusing messages sent by the US administration should end; from one side, President Trump is said to be the first supporter of the Saudi campaign putting pressure on Qatar, stating that (Qatar must stop funding terrorism) and (its extremist ideology related to the financial support). From the other side, the Pentagon praised Qatar’s contributions to the US military efforts and Tillerson called to end the Saudi-led boycott.”
He concluded with the following strategic advice: “In a confusing scene, the administration should not let any doubt in its objectives and priorities.” This point highlighted by Dennis Ross, as the real starting point. The words of some Westerners, such as the Germans, are somewhat biased to the Qatari-Brotherhood stance, under the pretext that it is the right time now to unify the efforts to fight terrorism and ISIS.
Well, did Riyadh, Manama, Abu Dhabi and Cairo boycott the Qatari state, because of a dispute over customs tariffs or fruit prices? The anger erupted precisely because Doha contributed, in various ways, to chaos, terrorists and networks of Islamized terrorists.
On the one hand, the West blame us – except Trump – on our sluggishness in the fight against terrorism as they claim, and when we are active to fight terrorism, they blames us again! Dennis Ross said it clearly... Being ambiguous during these times is dangerous, pointing at Minister Tillerson.

Abbas's Lies and Palestinian Child Victims
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/June 30/17
Hamas and human rights groups hold Abbas personally responsible for the deaths of the children and the possible deaths of other patients in need of urgent medical treatment not available in Gaza Strip hospitals. One human rights group went so far as to call for the International Criminal Court in The Hague to launch an investigation against Abbas.
In a move of mind-bending irony, we are witnessing a Palestinian president waging war not only against Hamas, but also against the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip -- while Israel continues to provide the Palestinians living under Hamas with humanitarian aid.
That is the standard operating procedure of the man who lied straight to the face of President Donald Trump, by claiming that he had stopped incitement against Israel and was promoting a "culture of peace" among his people. Will the last sick Palestinian child please stand up?
Palestinian children are the latest victims of the power struggle between the two rival Palestinian factions, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has declared war on the Gaza Strip as part of his effort to prompt Palestinians living there to revolt against the ruling Hamas administration. It appears that Abbas and Hamas are determined to fight to the last ill Palestinian child.
Abbas is hoping that a series of punitive measures he has taken, which include reducing electricity and medical supplies and cutting off salaries to many Palestinians, will lead to the collapse of Hamas, paving the way for the return of his PA to the Gaza Strip. Abbas has had a grudge against Hamas ever since the Islamist movement expelled his PA and loyalists from the Gaza Strip ten years ago.
Abbas's war on the Hamas may seem justified. Nonetheless, it smacks of hypocrisy and is accompanied by a smear campaign against Israel.
Instead of accepting responsibility for their punitive actions against Hamas and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Abbas and his PA are falsely trying to put the blame on Israel. They are telling their people and the rest of the world that Israel bears the full and sole responsibility for the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. This, of course, is a wide-eyed lie as well as another blood libel against Israel.
The attempt to put the blame on Israel should be seen in the context of Abbas's ongoing incitement against Israel. Moreover, Abbas is trying to drag Israel into his continuing conflict with Hamas, which is a purely internal Palestinian affair. Israel had nothing to do with Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. Two years earlier, Israel had totally withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, leaving Abbas's PA fully in control of the area. Within two years, Hamas had overthrown the PA and seized control of the Gaza Strip, including Abbas's house.
Abbas's loyalists in Gaza hardly resisted Hamas. Most of them simply surrendered to Hamas or fled to Israel and Egypt. It was thanks to Israel that many of Abbas's senior officials were able to run from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. Were it not for Israel, they would have been dragged through the streets of the Gaza Strip and publicly lynched. Many PA operatives were thrown from the top floors of buildings.
What, then, is spurring this switch? Why has Abbas suddenly decided to take a series of drastic measures against Hamas and his people in the Gaza Strip, ten years after the Islamist expulsion?
According to his aides, Abbas is fuming over Hamas's recent decision to establish an "administrative body" to run the affairs of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Abbas seems to view the move as driving a nail into the coffin of any PA-Hamas reconciliation.
He is also apparently deeply worried that his political rival, Mohamed Dahlan, and Hamas are close to forming an alliance against him. In recent days there have been reports that Hamas may allow Dahlan to return to the Gaza Strip to head a new Palestinian government that would be funded and backed by some Gulf countries and Egypt, all of which are disillusioned with Abbas.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is apparently deeply worried that his political rival, Mohamed Dahlan, and Hamas are close to forming an alliance against him. Pictured above: Abbas (left) and Dahlan (right) in Jericho on June 20, 2003. (Photo by Awad Awad-Pool/Getty)
Furthermore, Abbas reads the move as a sign of Hamas's effort to turn the Gaza Strip into an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, leaving him as the president of a mini-state in parts of the West Bank only. Such a move would seriously undermine his claim that he is the president of all Palestinians, including the two million residents of the Gaza Strip. He can hardly tell the world that he wants a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines when he cannot even return to his private home in Gaza.
At an emergency meeting of the Palestinian Authority government on June 28, Abbas repeated his demand that Hamas dismantle the "administrative body" it established in the Gaza Strip. He accused Hamas of sabotaging efforts to end the dispute with his PA and warned that the Islamist movement's measures in the Gaza Strip "jeopardize the Palestinian national project."
The meeting in Ramallah came in the wake of an outcry over Abbas's punitive measures against the Gaza Strip and charges that he and his PA have aggravated the humanitarian crisis and deepened the suffering of Palestinians living there.
According to sources in the Gaza Strip, Abbas has instructed the PA to stop issuing medical referrals from the Gaza Strip to Palestinian patients who need urgent medical treatment in Israeli and West Bank Palestinian hospitals.
As a result, the sources say, at least four critically ill Palestinian children have died in Gaza Strip hospitals in the past week because they were not given permits from the PA Ministry of Health in the West Bank to receive treatment outside the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and human rights groups hold Abbas personally responsible for the deaths of the children and the possible deaths of other patients who are in need of urgent medical treatment not available in Gaza Strip hospitals. One human rights group went so far as to call for the International Criminal Court in The Hague to launch an investigation against Abbas.
Hamas, for its part, has condemned Abbas's measures as a "crime against humanity" and an attempt to strangle the entire Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri warned that between 3,000 to 4,000 patients in the Gaza Strip are seriously ill and need urgent medical treatment outside Gaza.
"Mahmoud Abbas deserves the title of baby killer," remarked Ra'fat Murra, a top Hamas representative in the Gaza Strip. He pointed out that the four children died because of lack of medicine supplies (which were halted by the PA in the West Bank) and the refusal of the PA to issue permits for them to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment in hospitals in Israel and the West Bank. "Abbas wants the Gaza Strip to explode in the face of Hamas or Israel," Murra charged. "Abbas has a project for killing Palestinians and destroying our cause and society. His measures are intended to serve his private agenda."
Last month, Abbas told Israel that his PA government would no longer pay for the electricity Israel supplies to the Gaza Strip. This measure, which has left most of the residents of the Gaza Strip without electricity for the greater part of each day, also should be taken in the context of Abbas's war on Hamas. In addition, he has decided further to reduce medical supplies to the Gaza Strip, intensifying the humanitarian crisis there even more.
In a move of mind-bending irony, we are witnessing a Palestinian president waging war not only against Hamas, but also against the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip -- while Israel continues to provide the Palestinians living under Hamas with humanitarian aid.
Israeli steps fly in the face of Abbas's ruthless measures. Just this week, about 300 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were issued permits by Israel to leave Gaza while thousands of tons of equipment and goods were allowed into Gaza.
What does Israel get for this most recent aid to the Palestinians?
Take for example, this statement issued by Abbas's Ministry of Health in response to the deaths of the ill children in the Gaza Strip. The statement seeks to implicate Israel by claiming that "ongoing Israeli restrictions are the main reason behind the harm caused to patients in the Gaza Strip."
It also falsely claims that the Israeli Ministry of Health has stopped issuing permits to patients from the Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment in Israeli and West Bank hospitals. The statement goes on to accuse the Israeli media of waging a smear campaign of lies and fake news about the PA's responsibility for the misery of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
In making these false claims, Abbas is doing double "duty": punishing his people in the Gaza Strip while further blackening the name of Israel. These false accusations, however, accomplish even more: they encourage Palestinians to step up their murder sprees against Israelis and feed the campaign in the international arena to delegitimize and demonize Israel and Jews.
This is an old tactic of Abbas and other Palestinian leaders, who have never assumed responsibility for the suffering of their people. Abbas seeks to fight Hamas at the expense of his people, beginning with sick Palestinian children, but at the expense of Israel.
Like Hamas, Abbas sacrifices these sick children in Gaza and slanders the name of Israel, to divert attention from his responsibility for the tragedies that have befallen the residents of the Gaza Strip.
That is the standard operating procedure of the man who lied straight to the face of President Donald Trump, by claiming that he had stopped incitement against Israel and was promoting a "culture of peace" among his people. Will the last sick Palestinian child please stand up?
**Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.
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