July 03/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
You received without payment; give without payment
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 10/08-15/:"Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for labourers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town."

Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah
Acts of the Apostles 09/19b-30/:"And after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests? ’Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah. After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 02-03/17
Fatwas and False Impressions/The Islamic Fiqh Council's Incitement to Violence/A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/July 02/17
IRGC Media Advisor Hamid Reza Moghadam Far: Iran To Publish 'Evidence' Of U.S. Support For ISIS/The Middle East Media Research Institute/July 02/17
Europe's Migrant Crisis: Views from Central Europe/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/July 02/17
The Supreme Court Is the Last Leakproof Institution/Stephen Carter/Bloomberg/July 02/17
How Iran Recruited Afghan Refugees to Fight in Syria/Ali M. Pedram/Asharq Al Awsat/July 02/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 02-03/17
Qa'a region marks the first commemoration of its fallen martyrs
Rahi: We ask State Governors to stop wars
Report: 3 Killed in Fire at Syrian Refugee Camp in Lebanon
Geagea: Our true popularity will appear in the elections
Bassil: Terror Using Displacement as Cover, State Must Take Firm Decision
Franjieh Does Not Rule Out Electoral Alliance with LF
1 Dead, 6 Hurt as Huge Fire Guts Syrian Refugee Camp in Bekaa
Qaouq Urges 'Eradication of Terror Hubs' in Arsal, Ras Baalbek Outskirts
Sarraf checks on Arsal operation wounded soldiers: Army's accomplishment spared us a huge risk, boosting preemptive operations to detect terrorist networks
Qassem says time has come for coordination with Syrian government to facilitate return of the displaced to safe areas in Syria
Lebanese Army Rejects Claims of Abusing Syrian Refugees
Hariri Hails Army, Says Lebanese 'Don't Need Any Foreign Forces, Militias'
Huge fire breaks out in Syrian refugee camp, casualties reported
Fneish says no one can offend role of Army and Resistance
Falha from Beijing: Media is part of the world and must be developed exactly as economy and politics

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
July 02-03/17
Doha Chooses ‘Rejection’ as Deadline Ends Today
Qatar Copies Rival Saudi's 'Investment Diplomacy'
Qatar Defiant as Deadline Nears to Resolve Gulf Rift
Raids On ‘De-escalation Zones’ Ahead Of ‘Astana’
18 Killed as Car Bombers Strike Damascus
Erdogan Hosts Russia Defense Chief amid Syria Border Tensions
Kuwait Increases Security Measures to Prevent ISIS Infiltration from Iraq
Bahrain Foils Narcotic Smuggling From Iran Via Sea
Kurdish Militants Kill 2 Turkish Ruling Party Officials
Erakat Discusses Resumption of Palestinian Peace Process with Greenblatt in Washington
Egypt Sentences 20 to Death over Killings of Police
Arab-Israeli ex-Lawmaker Imprisoned over Phone Smuggling
Israel Rearrests Palestinian Lawmaker
Israeli ex-PM Olmert Freed from Prison after Parole in Graft Case
Egypt to Provide Hamas with Barb Wires, Surveillance Cameras
Haftar Threatens to Resort to Army to End Libya’s Political Crisis
Trump to Speak with China, Japan Leaders on N. Korea

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 02-03/17
Qa'a region marks the first commemoration of its fallen martyrs
Sun 02 Jul 2017/NNA - The locality of Qa'a marked Sunday the 1st commemoration of its fallen martyrs in the terrorist attack in 2016, in the presence Minister Michel Pharaon representing both the President of the Republic and Prime Minister, alongside Information Minister Melhem Riachi and a crowd of political and military dignitaries and prominent figures from the region. Greek Catholic Melkite Archbishop of Baalbek-Hermel, Elias Rahhal, presided over a Mass service on the occasion. In his religious sermon, Rahhal praised the Lebanese army's role and sacrifices, noting that the army alone defends the nation and preserves its unity. He stressed that the Qa'a region will always resist and its citizens will never bend to intimidation. "We believe that every martyr who has fallen on our soil is a saint who intercedes in favor of all Lebanese," the Prelate emphasized, adding "we are ready to consent to the martyrdom of right, love and life together."

Rahi: We ask State Governors to stop wars
Sun 02 Jul 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros Rahi called on all State Governors "to put an end to wars and work on the return of refugees and displaced to their homelands." "We urge countries' rulers in the Arab and international communities to stop wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine, and to find political solutions to conflicts on the basis of justice and equity, as well as consolidating a comprehensive and lasting peace," Cardinal Rahi said during Sunday's Mass service in Bkirki. Rahi also urged the Arab and international communities "to ensure the return of all displaced persons, refugees and abductees to their countries, in order to preserve their cultures, civilizations and their rights as citizens." Moreover, the Patriarch reminded politicians of their responsibilities towards the Lebanese citizens in guaranteeing justice, stability and peace in the country. "Under this public responsibility, we ask officials to carry out their duty, which is growing and becoming more complicated by the aggravation of economic, daily living and social crises due to the presence of two million displaced persons and asylum seekers, in addition to the treasury deficit and the waste of public money through corruption and theft," Rahi concluded.

Report: 3 Killed in Fire at Syrian Refugee Camp in Lebanon
Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Three people were reportedly killed on Sunday in a fire that blazed at a Syrian refugee encampment in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley, local media said. The identities of the alleged victims have not been revealed. Flames and thick clouds of black smoke rose from the site near the town of Qab Elias, around a hour’s drive east of Beirut, and at least one explosion was seen in footage broadcast by MTV. The cause of the fire was not yet known, said a security source. Lebanon is hosting at least 1 million registered Syrian refugees, many of them living in informal tented settlements scattered around the country. The government says there are some 1.5 million Syrians in the country. A recent UN report revealed that Lebanon hosts the largest refugee community compared to its size in the world. Local authorities have struggled to cope with the burden of the displaced, repeatedly urging the international community for more funds.

Geagea: Our true popularity will appear in the elections
Sun 02 Jul 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces Party Leader, Samir Geagea, voiced Sunday his confidence in the new election law, stressing that "it would reveal the real extent of his Party's popularity in the parliamentary elections scheduled for upcoming May." In an interview to the German News Agency (DPA), Geagea said, "We are open to everyone, be it our traditional allies in the Future Movement or our new friends in the Free Patriotic Movement or others..." "We maintain friendly and respectful relations with all, as we continue to conduct our calculations at various levels in all constituencies to assess the overall situation," he added. Geagea criticized those who accused the new electoral law of maintaining current political faces on the Lebanese scene, considering them as "lacking objectivity and trenching behind narrow calculations." "The vote law ensures that new blood is injected into political life. It allows any citizen with the minimum level of popularity to run for elections, with the possibility of winning without the support or assistance of anyone," he underscored. Responding to a question about Hezbollah's accusations against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries of paving way for a peace deal with Israel, Geagea revoked said accusations, affirming that the Saudi Kingdom's positions were known and need not any political outbidding. In the same context, he reiterated his refusal of Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah's appeal to volunteers from the Arab and Islamic world to fight alongside the resistance in the event of a new Israeli attack against Lebanon. He stressed that such an appeal constitutes a violation of the Lebanese State and government's legitimacy and exclusive right to such strategic decisions. As for Iran's role in the region, the LF Party Head deemed that the Islamic Republic was advocating a project that opposed the interests and objectives of societies in the Arab region; a project consisting, he said, of expanding its sovereignty and establishing grounds for a Shiite "Wilayat al-Fakih.""We have repeatedly emphasized that this dream will not be realized and urged the Iranian authorities to focus on the affairs of the Iranian people and their living conditions," Geagea reiterated.

Bassil: Terror Using Displacement as Cover, State Must Take Firm Decision
Naharnet/July 02/17/Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil warned Sunday that “terrorism is using displacement as a cover,” several days after the Lebanese army cracked down on Syrian refugee encampments near the town of Arsal in search of terror suspects, explosives and weapons. “Terrorism is using displacement as a cover for its acts of terror, that's why we must confront the refugee crisis bravely and through a firm decision from the Lebanese state,” Bassil said during a visit to the southern Jezzine region. The refugees' “return to Syria must take place before the political solution and their return is now possible to a lot of safe areas inside Syria,” Bassil added. The Lebanese army has dismissed allegations of abuse against hundreds of Syrian detainees in a security sweep at a refugee settlement near Arsal, saying the mass detentions were necessary to combat terrorism. A military official told The Associated Press that the detention of 355 Syrians "is not a directed aggression against anyone," and that not all would be charged with terrorism. Five suicide bombers blew themselves up Friday during military raids in two refugee settlements in Arsal, near the border with Syria. One of them detonated his payload among a Syrian refugee family, killing a girl. Another wounded three soldiers, leaving two of them in critical condition, the official said. During the early Friday raid attackers also tossed explosives at the troops, wounding four. The official said the raids on the two settlements in Arsal came after tips about the presence of explosives and a plot to carry out attacks in Lebanon. Lebanon, of 4.5 million people, has over 1 million registered Syrian refugees.

Franjieh Does Not Rule Out Electoral Alliance with LF

Naharnet/July 02/17/Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh has announced that he does not rule out an alliance with the Lebanese Forces in the North district in the upcoming parliamentary elections. “All options are on the table. We do not rule out any possibility but we want to study all these possibilities before taking the appropriate decision,” Franjieh told al-Mustaqbal newspaper in remarks published Sunday when asked about a possible electoral alliance in light of the repeated LF visits to Bnashii. Under the new electoral law that is based on proportional representation, Franjieh's Zgharta stronghold was joined with the mainly Christian districts of Bsharri, Koura and Batroun where the LF has a strong presence. Franjieh had been historically at odds with the LF in connection with the 1978 Ehden massacre in which his father Tony was killed along with other family members and several other people. Marada accuses the LF of carrying out the deadly attack.

1 Dead, 6 Hurt as Huge Fire Guts Syrian Refugee Camp in Bekaa
Naharnet/July 02/17/A massive fire in an encampment for Syrian refugees in the Bekaa on Sunday killed one person and wounded six others, the Red Cross said, adding that hundreds were evacuated. Lebanon is home to more than one million refugees fleeing the conflict in neighboring Syria, many of whom live in informal tented settlements in the arid Bekaa Valley. Sunday's fire broke out in a refugee camp near the village of Qab Elias. "One person died and six were wounded. About 700 refugees were evacuated from the camp," George Kettaneh of the Lebanese Red Cross told AFP. Residents said the victim was a child but the Red Cross did not confirm the report. An AFP correspondent said Red Cross volunteers and firefighters were still helping wounded refugees out of the camp to receive treatment. Residents of nearby villages could be seen using their own trucks and tractors to bring tanks of water to help extinguish the blaze. Zafer al-Nakhlawi, a Lebanese who lives in Qab Elias, said he came to the camp to help firefighters put out the blaze. "There are only three tents left standing out of the camp's 93 tents. Part of a nearby wheat field was also burned," Nakhlawi said. It was unclear what caused the fire, but Nakhlawi said he suspected that scorching temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit) and the valley's whipping winds may have been a factor. The blaze came two days after clashes in two refugee camps near the eastern border town of Arsal left a young girl dead and seven Lebanese soldiers wounded. Four suicide bombers detonated explosives as the army raided the al-Nour camp near the border town of Arsal on Friday, the armed forces said. The girl, whose parents are both refugees, was killed and three soldiers wounded. A second raid on the nearby al-Qariya camp wounded three soldiers, the army said.

Qaouq Urges 'Eradication of Terror Hubs' in Arsal, Ras Baalbek Outskirts
Naharnet/July 02/17Hizbullah central council official Sheikh Nabil Qaouq on Sunday called for “the eradication of terror hubs” in the outskirts of the Bekaa towns of Arsal and Ras Baalbek, in the wake of a major Lebanese army operation in the area. “Our eyes are awake and our hand is on the trigger to protect the land and the country in the face of the Israeli enemy and all the takfiri threats coming from al-Nusra (Front) and Daesh (Islamic State group),” Qaouq said. “Although the takfiri scheme has been defeated, its threat has not ended and it's still present amid the takfiris' continued occupation of the outskirts of Arsal and Ras Baalbek and the flow and infiltration of IS militants from Raqa and Mosul into Lebanon,” the Hizbullah official added. “Had it not been for Hizbullah's presence in the Syrian desert, Daesh would have headed to Lebanon,” Qaouq noted, referring to the ongoing collapse of IS' bastions in Iraq's Mosul and Syria's Raqa. And noting that “the resistance's sacrifices inside Syria have protected Lebanon,” the Hizbullah official said “it's about time for the eradication of the terrorist, takfiri hubs and posts of Daesh and al-Nusra, who have turned the outskirts of Arsal and Ras Baalbek into a launchpad for targeting all Lebanese and their army and resistance.” Seven Lebanese soldiers were wounded and a Syrian child was killed at dawn Friday when five militants blew themselves up and a sixth threw a grenade during security raids in 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, while dozens of terror suspects were arrested. 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.

Sarraf checks on Arsal operation wounded soldiers: Army's accomplishment spared us a huge risk, boosting preemptive operations to detect terrorist networks
Sun 02 July2017/NNA - National Defense Minister, Yaacoub al-Sarraf, visited Sunday the soldiers who were injured during the security operation in Arsal, checking on their health conditions and wishing them speedy recovery. Sarraf seized the opportunity to praise the heroic achievement of the Lebanese army and security forces in protecting Lebanon and its people. "What the army has done in the past few days has spared Lebanon a huge danger," asserted Sarraf, adding that "this triumphant success highlights the importance of preemptive, proactive operations against terrorist networks, preventing them from tampering with the nation's security."Sarraf emphasized "the importance of coordination between the army and other security institutions, whose positive results have been revealed through the detection of many networks and the arrest of terrorists and criminals."The Defense Minister concluded by reiterating the army's continuous readiness to protect the country and its stability.

Qassem says time has come for coordination with Syrian government to facilitate return of the displaced to safe areas in Syria
Sun 02 Jul 2017/NNA - Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General, Sheikh Naim Qassem, appealed Sunday to the Lebanese government to "coordinate with the Syrian government to facilitate the voluntary return of the displaced to the safe areas inside Syria," adding that "the time has come for us to have the courage to begin a solution.""A security solution alone is not enough, for it also necessitates a political and social solution as well," he added. Qassem pointed to statistics showing that Syria has ensured the safe return of 500,000 displaced people thus far, adding that this return can only be coordinated between the Lebanese and Syrian governments. His words came during a memorial ceremony organized by Hezbollah in the town of Kfarsir, South of Lebanon. Referring to the Lebanese army's recent preemptive operation against terrorists in the outskirts of Arsal, Qassem saluted the army and security forces for their "heroic achievement that has proved their worthiness and capability of purifying our land of Takfiris and those who violate the security of Lebanon."

Lebanese Army Rejects Claims of Abusing Syrian Refugees
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/The Lebanese army has dismissed allegations of abuse against hundreds of Syrian detainees in a security sweep at a refugee settlement near the eastern border town of Arsal, saying the mass detentions were necessary to combat terrorism. A military official told The Associated Press that the detention of 355 Syrians "is not a directed aggression against anyone," and that not all would be charged with terrorism. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Five suicide bombers blew themselves up Friday during military raids in two refugee settlements in Arsal, near the border with Syria. One of them detonated his payload among a Syrian refugee family, killing a girl. Another wounded three soldiers, leaving two of them in critical condition, the official said. During the early Friday raid attackers also tossed explosives at the troops. The subsequent security sweep sparked accusations of abuse, particularly after pictures surfaced of detainees flat on the ground with their hands bound as Lebanese soldiers stood over them. The official said the raids on the two settlements in Arsal came after tips about the presence of explosives and a plot to carry out attacks in Lebanon. The Syrian opposition in exile, the Syrian Coalition, said in a statement Saturday that the military raid also resulted in the death of a number of refugees, but it provided no details. It said it holds the Lebanese authorities responsible for the safety of Syrian refugees, which it added are demanding international protection in Lebanon. Lebanon, of 4.5 million people, has over 1 million registered Syrian refugees. The coalition said representatives of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon have demanded the establishment of safe areas near the Syrian-Lebanese border off limits to the Syrian government. "Refugees were humiliated and treated as hostages by the Lebanese army and the Hizbullah militias," the coalition said. Lebanon's Iran-backed Hizbullah has fighters in Syria backing the Syrian government against rebels and jihadist militants. Some Lebanese and Syrian activists also took to social media to accuse the army of abuse. The military official rebuffed the accusations. "The reaction should be to question how a refugee camp turned into a refuge for terrorists," the official said. He said no women or children were detained and that none were deprived of food or drink. He said interrogations are underway and that those not connected to the attacks would be released. Lebanese troops have clashed with militants near the Syrian border on a number of occasions in recent years. Arsal and the surrounding area was the scene of a major cross-border attack in 2014, when a number of Lebanese soldiers were abducted and killed. On Saturday, the military said it arrested one of those involved in the 2014 attack in Arsal, Syrian national Ahmed Khaled Diab, who confessed to killing Lebanese Army Colonel Noureddine al-Jamal.

Hariri Hails Army, Says Lebanese 'Don't Need Any Foreign Forces, Militias'
Naharnet/July 02/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri has hailed "the heroes of the Lebanese army” over the major security operation near the town of Arsal that resulted in foiling terror plots and the arrest of dozens of terror suspects. “We plead to God to heal the wounded and protect our people in Arsal and entire Lebanon,” Hariri added in a speech at a graduation ceremony at the Antonine University in Baabda. Seven army troops were wounded and a Syrian girl was killed when five militants blew themselves up and hurled a grenade at soldiers cracking down on two Syrian refugee encampments near Arsal on Friday. Separately, Hariri slammed Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's latest remarks about allowing foreign fighters to take part in any future war with Israel. “These days, some are threatening us with importing revolutionary guards and militias,” the premier said. “These remarks do not reflect the stance of the Lebanese State, and the Lebanese people can protect their land on their own against any Israeli aggression and they don't need any foreign forces or militias regardless of their nationalities,” Hariri underlined. Nasrallah has 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.

Huge fire breaks out in Syrian refugee camp, casualties reported
Sun 02 Jul 2017/NNA - A large fire erupted early Sunday at a camp for Syrian Refugees between the locality of Kebb Elias and Makseh in the Bekaa region, National News Agency (NNA) correspondent said. The fire left a number of casualties, NNA correpsondent concluded.

Fneish says no one can offend role of Army and Resistance

Sun 02 Jul 2017/NNA - Youth and Sports Minister Mohammad Fneish praised Sunday the "heroic, preemptive operation carried out by the Lebanese army against terrorist groups in Arsal," stressing that "no one can offend the army and resistance's role." "There are those who do not like the role of the army in dealing with said terrorists, and are trying to cover-up the matter with the displaced issue," explained Fneish. He added: "There is a difference between our brotherly and humanitarian approach towards the displaced, and our confrontation against terrorists who are exploiting the issue of refugees and displaced to threaten our security." Fneish's words came during his patronage of the opening of Martyr Imad Moghnieh's military round in the town of Tair Debba.
"Lebanon today is characterized by the strength of the resistance, alongside its national army and security forces that are efficiently performing their national duty in pursuit of Takfiri and terrorist groups, and have succeeded in doing so to a large extent," he underscored. "Hence, the security situation today in Lebanon is better than the finest and most developed countries, thanks to the resistance's achievements and the responsible role of our national army and security and military forces," asserted Fneish.

Falha from Beijing: Media is part of the world and must be developed exactly as economy and politics
Sun 02 Jul 2017/NNA - The media ministerial workshop continued Sunday its works in the Chinese capital, Beijing, with the participation of representatives from 32 countries. Heading Lebanon's delegation to the workshop, Information Ministry's General Director, Dr. Hassan Falha, addressed workshop participants saying, "We gather here today because of what we share -- a belief in the world and power of media, and most importantly today's fast growing influence of social media networks. All through history, the media has proven to be the most powerful force in shaping the life of mankind; it is a medium of never-ending opportunities towards change. What if we manage to start a new era by developing positive media that helps further expand Lebanese-Chinese media ties?" He added: "For this purpose, I am so delighted to be given the opportunity to exchange views with China's renowned experts in the media field, and hope that this visit will give us a closer look at China's accomplishments within the broadcast industry, and will take us back home with a bundle of applicable information to further develop Lebanon's media sector -- which is in fact exerting huge efforts to catch up with this big influence worldwide."
"This meeting is a translation China's generous effort to ensure the best means of communications and to invest them in the service of people's values. The developing means of communication, including social media, give all the peoples of the world, regardless of their race, color, or beliefs, the right for information and knowledge, which are both essential and strategic factors to build human beings with bigger horizons," Falha went on. "Economics serve wealth; political sciences serve power; but the media serves as means of communication and knowledge --- that's why media development should be treated just like economic development and political development in our part of the world," he indicated. "As I mentioned earlier, communication is important in boosting contact between different societies across the world; however, we shall not allow the materialistic and financial investments in those networks to take over the importance of the other social factors," Falha underscored. He added: "The main aim of our work should be to lift these available means to a level which guarantees human rights and progress, and provide people with the required goals within the frame of diversity and difference, which are both fundamental to the richness of humanity." Falha continued to note that, "We are well aware that the media in China is more restricted in theory than in actual practice - opposite to the western world, where we find that the media has long been more restricted in practice than in theory."
"This is what makes China special with its supportive stances to the rightful causes of the Arab world in specific, and developing countries in general. We cannot but respect the fact that China, with its balanced positions, has proven to the world that it could never be a passive receiver of the Western media. This alone enriches our goal to boost direct Lebanese-Chinese media relations," he noted. Falha concluded by saying, "Last but not least, I would also like to thank the People's Republic of China for its continuous efforts to build robust global media that aims to leave a positive impact on our future generations.
Lebanon really hopes to see media relations with China grow to the level of trade relations between both of our countries. Communication and technological development in China provide it with a role strong enough to hold direct contact with developing countries, a thing which us Lebanese, are eagerly looking forward to."

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 02-03/17
Doha Chooses ‘Rejection’ as Deadline Ends Today

Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Dammam, Roma, Ankara- Qatar chose to escalate by rejecting to comply with demands presented by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on the eve of an ultimatum that expires Sunday night. The four Arab states imposed sanctions on Doha, which is accused of supporting terrorism, and has been given 10 days to comply with a list of 13 demands or face unspecified consequences. Speaking to reporters in Rome, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said: “This list of demands will be rejected. It will not be accepted. We are willing to engage in further dialogue given the proper conditions.” The Qatari foreign minister also mentioned holding meetings with UN Security Council members concerning the crisis, in a hidden sign about Doha’s efforts to internationalize the Gulf row. The four Arab states demand Qatar to cut ties with terrorist groups, close down Al Jazeera satellite channel, downgrade ties with Iran and close a Turkish air base in Qatar. Meanwhile, the four states that cut ties with Qatar alluded to uncover more evidences that prove Doha’s involvement in financing terrorism and encouraging violence in the region. In an interview with The Times UK, UAE Ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash said the Gulf States have plenty of evidence regarding Qatar’s involvement in supporting terrorism and that countries such as Britain should choose either to deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council or with Qatar. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin entered on Saturday on the line of the dispute by making two separate phone calls, one with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and the second to Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The Kremlin said Putin stressed during the two phone calls on the need for diplomacy to end the dispute between Qatar and several other Arab states. Also on Saturday, and following a three-day visit to Germany, Saudi Information Minister Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad said the decision of Saudi Arabia and other countries to cut ties with Qatar attained substantial understanding from the German officials following the presentation of information proving Qatar’s involvement in funding terrorism and extremism, support and sponsorship of its prominent figures and the use of Al-Jazeera as a media platform that promotes violence and terrorists, the Saudi News Agency reported Saturday.

Qatar Copies Rival Saudi's 'Investment Diplomacy'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/President Donald Trump may accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism, but that did not stop the wealthy emirate this week from lighting up the Empire State building in the national colors of the Middle Eastern nation. Trump -- who himself once tried to acquire the Manhattan skyscraper -- has sided with Saudi Arabia in its increasingly bitter dispute with Qatar, but Doha has adopted a tactic long used by its more powerful Saudi neighbor to get its own way, buying up substantial shares in the U.S. economy as a bulwark against shifting political sands. The iconic 102-story Empire State building was bathed in the burgundy and white of Qatar Airways, the state flag carrier of Qatar, ostensibly to celebrate 10 years of flights into the United States. Less obvious was the fact that almost a year ago, the oil and gas-rich emirate purchased a 10-percent, $622 million stake in the all-American building. Trump once tried unsuccessfully to seize control of the building during his heyday as a New York property mogul, when he still owned the land that the skyscraper stands on. Last month, Qatar stunned American Airlines with plans to acquire a 10 percent stake in the world's largest commercial air carrier. At the same time, it signed a $12 billion contract to buy 36 F-15 fighter jets from Boeing: a fraction of the $110-billion arms deal inked when Mr Trump visited Riyadh in May, but still enough to make U.S. business leaders sit up and listen. "They have tentacles everywhere, they are amazing," said Randa Slim, a scholar at the Middle East Institute.
'A listening ear'
Qatar's greatest international asset, of course, is hosting the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command on its soil, putting the country squarely at the heart of the global U.S. military footprint. Doha is also home to shiny outposts of Georgetown University and the Brookings Institution, among Washington's most prestigious think tanks, which Qatari officials said should promote the "bright image" of Qatar to the international media, "especially the American ones."Like Trump, a property tycoon turned president, Qatari investors have dived into real estate on four continents, bankrolling and buying into major developments in Washington, Chicago and London, where they bought a stake in Heathrow Airport. Slim said that U.S. concern for Qatar's al-Udeid Air Base -- which the Americans use to stage operations in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen -- guaranteed that Washington would give Qatar's position in the crisis considerable weight. While the president Tweeted about alleged Qatari backing for Syrian jihadists, his own Defense Department assured Qatar of continuing U.S. support, while the State Department rebuked the Saudi coalition for its treatment of the country, seen by other Gulf states as too close to Iran.
"Definitely, the White House does not seem to be on their side but you have other powerful agencies that are standing on their side, at least until now," Slim said. "Even if you have groups who are arguing for a balanced position in this administration, I don't see anyone siding with Qatar 100 percent," she added.
"Qatar does not have 100 percent support. Qatar has a listening ear."
Saudi's heavyweight checkbook
Whatever inroads Doha may have made, Saudi Arabia, their larger and richer adversary in the crisis, retains a formidable position. That kingdom is the second-largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the United States, a long-standing linchpin of U.S. foreign policy and a major backer of large U.S. corporations.
As Trump prepared to tour the Middle East in May, Riyadh pledged to pour $20 billion into an infrastructure fund managed by the investment firm Blackstone, whose billionaire chairman Stephen Schwarzman is a prominent Trump backer. This came on the heels of $110 billion in arms sales as well as billions more in deals for General Electric and Lockheed Martin. On the campaign trail, Trump also praised Saudi investors for buying his apartments, and he has reportedly incorporated companies in the kingdom. Meanwhile, the Qataris have few established business links with the Trump clan if any -- but not for want of effort by the real estate mogul. "By virtue of their relative size (both geographic and financial), Qatar will always be weaker," said Robert Blecher, acting director of the Middle East program at the International Crisis Group. "But not weak enough to make finances and business deals the decisive factor in this contretemps."According to James Jeffrey of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, under normal circumstances investments would not factor into geopolitical considerations. "When you have a huge strategic problem such as this, the American position is traditionally, 'We don't care who's bought shares,'" Jeffrey, a long serving U.S. diplomat in the Middle East and a former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, told AFP. But he said this particular White House may be sending the signal that business ties do count for a great deal. "This administration has given plenty of indications that that's the way it works," he said.

Qatar Defiant as Deadline Nears to Resolve Gulf Rift
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/A deadline was approaching Sunday for Qatar to accept a series of demands made by several Arab states to lift a de facto blockade, with no indications Doha was ready to comply. Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Saturday that the 13 demands from Saudi Arabia and several of its allies were designed to be spurned. "The list of demands is made to be rejected," Sheikh Mohammed said. "Everyone is aware that these demands are meant to infringe the sovereignty of the state of Qatar," he said at a news conference in Rome after meeting his Italian counterpart. "The state of Qatar... is rejecting it as a principle," he said, adding: "We are willing to engage in providing the proper conditions for further dialogue."Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced on June 5 they were severing ties with their Gulf neighbor, sparking the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the region in decades. They accused Doha of supporting extremism and of being too close to regional arch-rival Iran, which Qatar has strongly denied. The crisis has raised concerns of growing instability in the region, home to some of the world's largest energy producers and several key Western allies hosting U.S. military facilities. On June 22 the Arab states presented a list of demands and gave Doha 10 days to comply. The ultimatum is expected to expire at the end of the day on Sunday, though the deadline has not been officially confirmed. Riyadh and its supporters have already severed air, sea and ground links with Qatar, cutting off vital routes for imports including food.
Threat of further sanctions
Qatari citizens were ordered to leave the countries and various steps were taken against Qatari companies and financial institutions. It is unclear what further measures will be taken if Qatar fails to meet the demands, but the UAE ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash warned last week that further sanctions could be imposed. As well as expelling Doha from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab states could tell their economic partners they need to make a choice between doing business with them or with Qatar, he told Britain's Guardian newspaper. Riyadh's demands include ending Doha's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a downgrade of diplomatic ties with Iran and the shutdown of a Turkish military base in the emirate. Qatar has long pursued a more independent foreign policy than many of its neighbors, who tend to follow the lead of regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.
Doha has said it is ready for talks to end the crisis and Kuwait, which unlike most of its GCC neighbors has not cut ties, has taken the lead in mediation efforts. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also called for compromise and hosted senior Gulf officials, but his efforts have been undermined by remarks from President Donald Trump apparently supporting Riyadh's position. Newspapers in the UAE rounded on Qatar on Sunday, with prominent daily The National saying in an editorial: "Qatar's wrong-headed behavior is depressingly predictable.""A conclusion to the crisis... can only arrive when Doha mends its ways and seeks to answer the Gulf's concerns. We doubt that day will come soon, even though Qatar must be aware that its actions will deliver profound consequences," it wrote. The Qatar Stock Exchange closed down 2.31 percent Sunday following Sheikh Mohammed's remarks.

Raids On ‘De-escalation Zones’ Ahead Of ‘Astana’
Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Beirut, London- Syrian regime forces escalated their assaults on Saturday by launching missiles on the majority of “de-escalation zones” including the border crossing with Jordan, only three days ahead of the “Astana meeting” expected next Tuesday and Wednesday in the Kazakh capital. The Jordanian Army announced on Saturday that three missiles fell inside its territories during Syrian government airstrikes against Syrian armed factions near a border center close to the Syrian border, causing a small fire but not leaving any injuries. “At approximately 14:20 on Saturday, when the Syrian air force was targeting the armed opposition factions within Syrian territory near the Jordanian border, two projectiles fell in the vicinity of Jaber Customs Centre, close to the civil defense building, while a third landed near the Jaber-Ramtha road in an open area,” Jordan’s news agency Petra said quoting a military source form the Jordanian army. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the shelling and said warplanes targeted the Nassib border crossing with Jordan, accompanied by regime forces pounding the same area. The Britain-based monitor added that warplanes shelled areas in Al-Muzayrib town in the countryside of Daraa, leaving material damages. Also, regime forces escalated their military operations against the Jobar neighborhood in Damascus, while their warplanes pounded Eastern Ghouta, a district on the outskirts of Damascus, also reaching the countryside of northern Aleppo. The escalatory measures came few days before the “Astana” meeting expected between Russia, Turkey and Iran and representatives from both the Syrian regime and the opposition in the Kazakh capital, where parties should discuss a “de-escalation” agreement that involves Idlib, Deraa, Damascus’ Ghouta and the countryside of Homs. On Saturday, reports said that Ankara advised the Free Syrian factions in southern Syria to participate in the Astana meetings, after those forces had announced boycotting the new round of talks for several reasons, including the incapacity of the guarantor states to stop the bombing. The opposition also says that according to leaked information, the meeting in the Kazakh capital aims to “divide Syria.”

18 Killed as Car Bombers Strike Damascus
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/A suicide car bomber pursued by security forces blew himself up in eastern Damascus on Sunday, with a monitor reporting 18 killed in the deadliest attack to hit the Syrian capital in months. Syrian state media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said security forces intercepted three car bombers on their way into the city early on Sunday morning. State television said two of the vehicles were blown up on the outskirts of the city. A third managed to reach the eastern Tahrir Square district, where he was surrounded but able to detonate a bomb. The Observatory, a Britain-based monitor, said 18 people were killed in the bombing, including at least seven members of pro-regime security forces and two civilians. It had not identified the remaining victims. Syrian state news agency SANA quoted an interior ministry statement as saying two of the vehicles had been "destroyed" at a roundabout on the road to the city's airport. The driver of the third blew himself up while being pursued, it said, "killing a number of civilians, injuring others, and causing material damage to public and private properties."
Extensive damage
An AFP correspondent at Tahrir Square saw extensive damage to nearby buildings. Two bombed-out cars were visible to one side of the square, which was strewn with debris. A woman was crying in an apartment near the site of the attack. Her balcony had collapsed and the living room was a mess of broken glass and shattered masonry, with pictures and curtains strewn across the floor. The woman said her daughter had been taken to hospital after being injured by flying glass. Tahrir Square resident Mohammad Tinawi told AFP that he had heard "gunfire at around 6:00 am (0300 GMT), then an explosion which smashed the glass of houses in the neighborhood." He said he had seen Red Crescent volunteers treating two wounded soldiers. A shopkeeper confirmed that the explosion had gone off at around 6:00 am. Damascus has been spared the large-scale battles that have devastated other major Syrian cities during the country's six-year civil war. But dozens of people have been killed in bombings, particularly on the outskirts of the capital.
In mid-March, bomb attacks on a courthouse and restaurant in central Damascus killed 32 people. That rare assault in the heart of the city, which remains under government control, was claimed by the Islamic State group. That came days after two explosions that left 74 dead in the capital's Old City and were claimed by the Tahrir al-Sham coalition led by the jihadist Fateh al-Sham Front. Battlefronts around Damascus have calmed since a May deal that saw opposition fighters withdraw from several neighborhoods, along with a separate agreement on "de-escalation" zones -- including one in a rebel stronghold just outside the capital. Syria's conflict broke out with anti-government protests in 2011, but has since evolved into a multi-front war that has killed more than 320,000 people.

Erdogan Hosts Russia Defense Chief amid Syria Border Tensions
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday held talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Istanbul as tension soared on the Syrian border between Turkish troops and a Kurdish militia. Turkey and Russia were long at loggerheads over the Syrian conflict, with Ankara seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad and Moscow remaining his chief international ally. But cooperation had tightened markedly since last year, with the two countries jointly sponsoring peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana. Sunday's meeting took place at Istanbul's Tarabya Palace by the Bosphorus, the presidency said, with images showing Turkey's top general Hulusi Akar and spy chief Hakan Fidan were also in attendance. Last August, Turkey launched its Euphrates Shield cross-border operation aimed at clearing the border zone in northern Syria of both Kurdish militia fighters and jihadists. The operation was wound up in March but Erdogan has not excluded a new cross-border offensive should the need arise. Turkish troops and Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) have repeatedly exchanged cross-border fire in recent days and there is speculation Ankara may be planning an assault on the group in Afrin. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group and the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. But Washington is arming the YPG and the group is heavily involved in the U.S.-backed operation to oust Islamic State (IS) jihadists from their stronghold of Raqa. The Sabah daily said Sunday that pro-Ankara Syrian rebels were on standby for an operation against the YPG and Russia could ensure security in the air. Asked about the possibility of an operation around Afrin, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Saturday: "We take all measures to protect our borders and national security." He said the Turkey would "instantly" hit back against any threat from Syria, be it from IS, the PKK or the YPG.

Kuwait Increases Security Measures to Prevent ISIS Infiltration from Iraq
Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Kuwait, Mosul– Kuwaiti authorities had increased their security measures in wake of possible ISIS terrorists infiltrating into their territories, following their defeat in Iraq. The Ministry of Interior sent a telegram to all its security leaders on the borders, airports, and intelligence asking them to take all measures necessary to face this danger. The ministry also cancelled all vacations. Several sources reported that Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior Lieutenant-General Mahmoud al-Dossari ordered all members of the ministry’s forces back on duty in a step to increase security, especially that Kuwait had previously encountered several ISIS-related incidents. Reports say that Kuwait authorities received information from security forces that ISIS terrorists might infiltrate though Iraqi-Kuwaiti border after their defeat in Mosul. Kuwait might have increased surveillance over several ISIS-sympathizing personnel, according to sources.In July last year, Kuwait announced the dismantle of several terrorist cells, one planned to bomb a mosque in Hawli and another was preparing for a terrorist attack that wasn’t disclosed. Meanwhile, Iraqi Army continued its liberation of the remaining parts of Mosul. A military Kurdish source reported about 500 ISIS militants escaping towards Diyala. Head of Security committee of Kirkuk Council Azad Jibari told Rudaw that about 500 ISIS militants had escaped from south al-Azeem region controlled by Iraqi Army towards Diyala. He added that according to their sources, ISIS militants are trying to reach Kirkuk city and will probably begin planning terrorist attacks. Commander of “We are Coming Nineveh” operations Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, said that Iraqi forces liberated new areas in the right coast of Mosul, 400 Km north Baghdad. In a press release, Yarallah said that the Federal Police and Rapid Response Forces are liberating the northern part of the Shifaa neighborhood and are in control of Ibn Sinaa Hospital, Blood Bank, and several other facilities in the right coast of Mosul. Colonel Jamal Hashim told DPA that a joint force of Iraqi Army and members of tribes executed a military operation to clear areas surrounding al-Nakhib area on the border with Saudi Arabia. He explained that the liberation extended from Mdaisis Airport till White Valley, an area estimated to be 117 Km west of Anbar. Hashim added that the force succeeded in killing 12 ISIS terrorist and confiscated their weapons of terrorists who fled the area. Nakhib area is the only crossing point with Saudi Arabia taken by pilgrims during Hajj and Umra. Iraqi military forces, along with coast guards, are in charge of maintaiing the security of the area to ensure its safety.

Bahrain Foils Narcotic Smuggling From Iran Via Sea
Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Manama- Bahrain’s Coast Guard patrols said on Saturday they foiled the trafficking of a large quantity of narcotics coming from Iran into Bahrain and worth more than $662.6 thousands after arresting the drug trafficker, who is an Iranian. The Bahraini Interior Ministry said that the Maritime Operations Centre suspected a boat in the north of Bahrain that was sailing despite a maritime ban. According to the Bahraini news agency, the patrol chased the boat and managed to stop it. The Coast Guard then found through the radar system, narcotics hidden in rubber tires in the seabed, tied with a rope. The seized narcotics are 33KG of hashish and less than 1KG of methamphetamine. The concerned authorities arrested Ahmed Riyadh Ali Ahmed Al Qazaz, 25, with drug-related criminal records. Tools for narcotic use were confiscated from his car. Another suspect, Sayed Hassan Majid Ashoor, who owns the boat, was also arrested. Investigation in cooperation with the Anti-narcotics Directorate revealed that the two were involved in drug trafficking cases. The investigation also revealed that the seized narcotics were sent to the first arrestee from an Iranian drug trafficker via the sea. The news agency said legal proceedings were taken and the case was referred to the Public Prosecution. Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Assistant Undersecretary for Legal Affairs said the court verdict to close down the National Democratic Action Society (Waad) was a primary sentence and what police did on May 31 wasn’t related to the closing down of its headquarters but was meant to stop illegal assembly associated with the inciting calls that could disturb general security and civil peace, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The Assistant Undersecretary said that police were committed to dealing with illegal violations in all situations and locations. He said the security of Bahrain and safety of its people were the government’s top priority, while citizenship involved both rights and responsibilities to which everyone should remain committed.

Kurdish Militants Kill 2 Turkish Ruling Party Officials
Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Kurdish militants shot and killed two officials from the ruling AK Party in southeast Turkey over the weekend, as the Turkish military killed more than a dozen militants in air strikes, state authorities said on Sunday. Orhan Mercan, the AKP’s deputy head in the Lice district of Diyarbakir province, was shot in front of his home on Friday night and died of his wounds in hospital, the provincial governor’s office said. Militants killed Aydin Ahi, deputy head of the AKP in the Ozalp district of Van province on Saturday night, the governor’s office said. Security sources said the gunmen seized Ahi from his home at gunpoint and killed him nearby. Energy Minister Berat Albayrak wrote on Twitter that Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants had killed both men. AK Party officials decried the slayings with Minister Omer Celik tweeting ond Sunday that “terror is attacking our nation’s “political” institution.”There was no immediate comment on the attacks from the PKK, but the group has targeted officials from the party in the past. Violence flared across the region on Saturday. In an air strike in the southeastern province of Mardin, the Turkish military killed five PKK militants preparing an attack on an army base, a general staff statement said. In separate air strikes on Saturday, the army also killed five PKK fighters in southeast Turkey’s Bingol province and another four militants in the Metina region of northern Iraq, the army said. It said another three PKK militants were killed in clashes on Saturday in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakir, Hakkari and Sirnak. The PKK launched a separatist insurgency against the state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union. A ceasefire between the Turkish state and the militants broke down in July 2015 and the southeast region of the country, where the PKK is strongest, subsequently saw some of the worst violence since the insurgency began.

Erakat Discusses Resumption of Palestinian Peace Process with Greenblatt in Washington
Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Ramallah – Secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Saeb Erakat held talks in Washington on Saturday with US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt. The discussions focused on efforts to resume the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as part of the Palestinian official’s meetings he held to that end in the US capital. Palestinian sources said that he reiterated to Greenblatt the Palestinian commitment to the two-state solution based on the 1967 border. He also demanded the need to resolve all pending files and agree on them within a negotiations framework and time deadline. The two officials agreed to hold US-Palestinian meetings in the future to address the Palestinian stance on “final issues,” revealed the sources. Washington has been studying the possibility of proposing a statement of principles, but the gap between the US and Palestinians seems wide due to differences on issues the Israelis have brought up, such as incitement and the payment of salaries. The Palestinians have also been demanding that the 2002 Arab peace initiative, international resolutions and the two-state solution be the foundations of the peace process. The Americans have however not committed to the two-state solution and are instead seeking regional peace first. Palestinian Ambassador to Jordan Atallah al-Khairy said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is leading political and diplomatic efforts aimed at preparing the conditions to breathe life into the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations based on the Arab peace initiative and two-state solution. Abbas’ efforts are being “completely coordinated with Arab brothers, especially Jordan that is currently chairing the Arab League.”Khairy revealed that the Palestinian leader will embark on Sunday on an African-Arab-European tour. He will take part in African summits held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and meet with several leaders from the continent. From Ethiopia, he will head to France where he will meet with President Emmanuel Macron to congratulate him on his election as president and discuss the developments in the Middle East.
He will then travel to Tunisia to meet with its president and several senior officials.

Egypt Sentences 20 to Death over Killings of Police
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/An Egyptian court on Sunday sentenced 20 people to death over the killing of 13 policemen following the army's 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, judicial officials said. The court also handed 114 people sentences ranging from 15 years to life (25 years) and ordered a juvenile jailed for 10 years, they said. A further 21 defendants were acquitted. On August 14, 2013, a month after the army overthrew Morsi, security forces forcibly dispersed two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo in an operation that killed more than 700 people. Hours later, a furious crowd attacked a police station in the Cairo suburb of Kerdassa, where 13 policemen were killed. All the defendants were present in court during the ruling, which can still be appealed. The death sentences have already been approved by the mufti, Egypt's official interpreter of Islamic law, whose opinion is legally required but not binding. This is the second trial over the same case. The court of cassation called for a retrial after a lower court sentenced to death 183 Islamists over the killings. Egyptian courts have issued hundreds of death sentences against Morsi supporters since his overthrow, but many have appealed and won new trials. Morsi and other top Muslim Brotherhood figures have also faced trial.

Arab-Israeli ex-Lawmaker Imprisoned over Phone Smuggling
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/An Arab-Israeli former lawmaker entered prison Sunday to begin a two-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian detainees, a prisons spokeswoman said. Basel Ghattas of the Arab-dominated Joint List resigned his seat in the Israeli parliament as part of a plea bargain reached in March. The 61-year-old admitted handing phones and SIM cards to Palestinian inmates. Prosecutors dropped charges of terrorism and endangering state security, for which he could have faced up to 10 years in prison. "I enter prison with my head held high and I will continue my battle for prisoners' rights," Ghattas said before entering Gilboa prison in northern Israel, in comments broadcast on army radio.
Israeli media have reported that 12 mobile phones were found on two prisoners in searches after Ghattas visited the high security Ketziot prison in December, using his parliamentary immunity to avoid being searched. One of the prisoners is serving time for kidnapping and murdering an Israeli soldier in 1984, the Ynet news website said. Ghattas has said his actions were motivated by "humanitarian and moral positions towards prisoners."Lawmakers of the Joint List, the third largest bloc in parliament with 13 seats, frequently clash with Israeli authorities. Ghattas' party, Balad, is especially critical of Israeli policies. Its three lawmakers triggered outrage among Jewish Israelis last year by meeting relatives of Palestinians authorities say were killed while carrying out attacks. Arab Israelis make up some 17.5 percent of the country's population and are descended from Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948. They hold Israeli citizenship but most see themselves as Palestinians.

Israel Rearrests Palestinian Lawmaker
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/Israeli authorities have re-arrested a prominent Palestinian lawmaker in an overnight raid over her leadership in a movement Israel considers a terrorist organization, officials said Sunday. Khalida Jarrar was arrested in the raid in the Ramallah area in the occupied West Bank, Israel's army said. The 54-year-old was released in June 2016 after 14 months in an Israeli jail for allegedly encouraging attacks against Israelis. Jarrar is a senior figure in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist party considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union. Many of its leaders are in custody and Jarrar has been jailed multiple times. Israel's army alleged that "after her release she returned to the activity in the PFLP terror organization," calling her one of its senior leaders in the West Bank. "She was apprehended for her involvement in the PFLP and not because of her membership in the (Palestinian parliament)," an army spokeswoman said. Israeli authorities said they had also arrested Khatim Khativ, whom they said was a senior PFLP leader as well. Jarrar is a member of the Palestinian parliament, which has not met since 2007 after elections a year earlier were won by the Islamist movement Hamas. A number of Palestinian lawmakers are currently detained by Israel. Addameer, a prisoners' support and rights group, said a total of 11 people had been arrested in the raid, including Jarrar and Khitam Saafin, who it identified as chairwoman of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees. "The arrest of Khalida Jarrar constitutes an attack against Palestinian political leaders and Palestinian civil society as a whole," it said in a statement. "It also constitutes one arrest in the context of continuous arrest campaigns against Palestinians."

Israeli ex-PM Olmert Freed from Prison after Parole in Graft Case
Israeli ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert was freed from prison on Sunday after being granted parole from a 27-month sentence for corruption scandals that brought down his promising political career. Olmert, the country's first former premier to serve jail time, did not speak to reporters when leaving the Maasiyahu prison in central Israel. Wearing a dark-colored T-shirt, he was seen exiting the jail shortly after dawn on Sunday before being driven away to his home in Tel Aviv, accompanied by Israeli security agents. The 71-year-old, premier between 2006 and 2009, was convicted of graft and entered prison in February 2016. He was granted early release by a parole board on Thursday, reducing his sentence by around a third. Prosecutors decided not to appeal the decision. The conditions of his parole were not made public, but Israeli media reported that they include reporting to police twice a month and a ban on leaving the country. He must also volunteer at associations that help the poor, Haaretz newspaper reported. He can request a pardon from President Reuven Rivlin that would lift the restrictions. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told army radio she would favor such a request. In March, Rivlin rejected a request for clemency by Olmert, but said he could consider pardoning him if he were granted parole.
'Paid a heavy price'
Olmert, of the center-right Kadima party when prime minister, resigned in September 2008 after police recommended he be indicted for graft. He however remained in office until March 2009, when right-wing Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in to the post, which he has held ever since. Olmert won international acclaim for relaunching peace efforts with the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference in the United States in 2007, but they failed to bear fruit and the corruption charges against him have come to define his legacy. The parole board said last week that while Olmert's crimes were "severe," he was "punished for his deeds and paid a heavy price." "The inmate underwent a significant rehabilitation process in prison and displays motivation to continue it," it said. The decision came after Olmert was recently rushed to hospital after experiencing chest pains in prison. The former premier underwent examinations which determined he was healthy and he returned to prison after a number of days. A picture of a gaunt Olmert in hospital robes eating from plastic utensils found its way to social media, evoking a wave of sympathy from the public as well as politicians calling for his early release.
'Secretive' content?
Olmert could still face new criminal charges, though some Israeli media reported that the probe is expected to be dropped. Last month, the state attorney's office instructed police to investigate suspicions Olmert had smuggled a chapter of a book he was writing out of prison, an act that would constitute a felony due to the "secretive" content, the justice ministry said. Olmert's lawyer Yehiel Gutman said the book would especially focus on his legal troubles. "His book contains 1,200 pages and deals with very long periods of time in his public life as well in his personal life," he told army radio. "The most interesting things that he wrote are actually about the judicial system and about the era of his trials."Olmert's original 27-month prison term was comprised of 18 months for taking bribes in the early 2000s in connection with the construction of Jerusalem's massive Holyland residential complex; eight months for a separate case of fraud and corruption; and another month for obstructing justice. The main convictions against him dated to before his time as prime minister, to the years when he served as mayor of Jerusalem and economy minister, among other positions. In a video message released just before he began his sentence, Olmert, a debonair man reputed to have a taste for fine cigars, maintained his innocence. "You can imagine how painful and strange this change is to me, my family, loved ones and supporters," said Olmert, looking haggard and downcast. "I totally deny all the bribe charges attributed to me." He added that "over the course of my extensive career I also made mistakes, though none of them were criminal by nature in my opinion. I'm paying a dear price for some of them today, perhaps too dear. "With a very heavy heart, I'm accepting my sentence today. Nobody is above the law."

Egypt to Provide Hamas with Barb Wires, Surveillance Cameras
Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Ramallah– A technical committee from Gaza strip will head to Egypt to execute the agreement reached with the Egyptian government during Hamas’ visit to Cairo few weeks ago, according to Deputy Interior Minister of Hamas Lieutenant Toufik Abu Naim. Abu Naim said that Egypt expressed its willingness to provide barb wires, surveillance cameras and other equipment to enhance the security measures on the border between Egypt and Gaza. He said Hamas is asking Egypt for materials to complete the project including “barbed wires, cameras, lighting, and heavy equipment to demolish the tunnels.”Hamas began building a new buffer zone along the southern border with Egypt as some inside the Palestinian movement seek improved ties with Cairo and seek to assure the Egyptian authorities that it’s serious about preventing the cross-border flow of weapons and militants. “It will be a closed military area and therefore it will be easier to oversee the border and prevent smuggling of drugs and infiltrators,” said Abu Naim. Bulldozers were expected to demolish a series of homes and structures along the border. The buffer zone, according to Abu Naim, is part of the ministry’s plan to control and enhance the security status on the southern border of the strip. The 100m-wide “safe area”, stretching 12 km along the border between the Palestinian enclave and Egypt, is to be equipped with surveillance cameras and military posts. Earlier in June, Egypt invited a high-ranking Hamas delegation, including Abu Naim, for negotiations in Cairo. Phase two of the process is supposed to include the deployment of a large number of Hamas security forces all over the border which will remain there permanently. Sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that an agreement with Egypt had been reached to equip the area and better control the region around the clock. Egyptian authorities had repeatedly asked Hamas to control the border preventing extremist members from infiltrating from and into Sinai. It also requested halting any operations to dig new tunnels or smuggle weapons. Hamas in turn had increased its security measures, stationed troops on the border, and built watchtowers there in recent months but Egypt was not satisfied. Abu Naim’s statements indicate that the relations are improving, especially after Hamas dissociated itself from Muslim Brotherhood and ended all ties with it. Hamas officials expect Egypt to open Rafah crossing before Adha Eid.

Haftar Threatens to Resort to Army to End Libya’s Political Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsa/July 02/17/Cairo – Commander of the Libyan National Army Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter granted various political factions a deadline of six months to reach a solution to the country’s crisis that has been raging since the overthrow of Moammar al-Gadhafi in 2011. He threatened to resort to the army to end the deadlock if the factions do not reach a settlement by the end of the deadline, which also coincides with the end of the term of the national agreement government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Official spokesman for the national army Ahmed al-Mismary said that the military command could no longer tolerate more tragedies that are plaguing the Libyan people. He stressed during a press conference in Benghazi that those concerned should reach a clear agenda to save the nation and civilians within six months “otherwise the army will have its say.” Haftar had voiced his concern over the Libyan people during a meeting with tribal leaders. Mismary quoted Haftar as saying that the situation has become “very dangerous and the army will not allow more insults to be hurled at the people.” ose concerned have until January 1, 2018 to resolve the situation, he stressed. This six-month period will be the “final warning,” continued al-Mismary. He did not elaborate however on how the National Libyan Army would intervene to resolve the six-year crisis. In addition, Mismary announced that Haftar welcomed the appointment of Ghassan Salameh as the new UN envoy to Libya, replacing Martin Kobler, whose term ended. He hoped that Salameh would succeed in his mission during the six-month deadline. “Whoever wants to resolve the problem should distinguish between the people and terrorism. The problem does not lie with the Libyans, their tribes or cities, but with terrorism, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and ISIS,” he said.

Trump to Speak with China, Japan Leaders on N. Korea
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 02/17/U.S. President Donald Trump will speak by telephone with the leaders of China and Japan on Sunday, in talks likely to be dominated by North Korea's nuclear drive and the threats posed by its belligerent leadership. The Trump administration has been growing increasingly exasperated with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's regime, which has staged a barrage of missile tests in recent months. Trump had been pinning his hopes on China -- North Korea's main diplomatic ally -- to bring pressure to bear on Pyongyang, but declared last week that their efforts had failed. He has presented sanctions as the best way to proceed with the hermit state, opting for that approach over dialogue with the regime. On Sunday, Trump will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping at 8:45 pm (0045 GMT Monday) and with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at 8:00 pm. During talks with South Korean leader Moon Jae-In -- who has pushed for a policy of engagement with Pyongyang -- on Friday, Trump called for a "determined response" to the North. But the pair failed to map out a joint strategy on how to respond to North Korean threats. "The era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed, many years it has failed. Frankly, that patience is over," Trump said. There was also deep anger in the United States after Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea on a tourist trip around 18 months ago, was returned home in a coma earlier this month. He died several days later.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 02-03/17
Fatwas and False Impressions/The Islamic Fiqh Council's Incitement to Violence

A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/July 02/17
The Islamic Fiqh Council (IFC) aims, in part, to: "Prov[e] the supremacy of Islamic Fiqh over man-made laws," and "tak[e] measures to counter suspicions raised against Islam, as well as problems and observations designed to either spread skepticism about the rulings of Islamic Shari[a] or degrade their importance."
The judge also seems not to be familiar with the Quran or Islamic history, such as its conquest of Persia, Turkey (the Christian Byzantine Empire), all of North Africa and the Middle East, Greece, Eastern Europe and southern Spain.
Judge Browning is not alone in his lack of familiarity with the background of Islam and this stunning "disconnect" in the West. It is high time for Americans to cease ignoring the words and deeds of Islamists -- whether in the U.S., Canada, South America, Australia, North Africa or Europe.
A recent conference in Saudi Arabia served to underscore the misguided stance of many officials in the United States who deny the connection between Islam and violence, particularly when it comes to terrorist acts committed on American soil.
The conference, "Ideological Trends between Freedom of Expression and the Rulings of the Sharia," was held in Mecca, March 19-21; organized by the Islamic Fiqh Council (an affiliate of the Muslim World League), and sponsored by Saudi King Salman ibn Abdul Aziz. The event illustrated the impossibility expecting Islamic governments to protect genuine human rights.
One of its participants, Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, Secretary General of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that the gathering served as an important contribution to his group's efforts "to promote the true image and lofty teachings of Islam, which call for affection, beneficence, tolerance, coexistence and harmony." Both the content of the conference and the background of its initiators, however, indicate the opposite.
"Humans are free to have their blood, money and honor preserved and remain free except from worshipping God Almighty" said Prince Khalid Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Mecca Region Governor and adviser to Saudi Arabia's King Salman, referring to the Quran at the opening ceremony. The operative word is "except." What that means is that all people must submit to the will of Allah and that Islam is the only true religion.
This assertion is mild in comparison to the workings of the Islamic Fiqh Council itself, however. It has not only been characterized since its inception by hatred, intolerance and extremism, but is behind the 1990 assassination of an imam in Tucson, Arizona, which Mideast expert Daniel Pipes called "One of the first killings on U.S. soil connected to the Islamic religion..."
Founded in 1978 and made up of a select group of Muslim jurists and scholars, the IFC aims, in part, to:
"Prov[e] the supremacy of Islamic Fiqh over man-made laws," and "tak[e] measures to counter suspicions raised against Islam, as well as problems and observations designed to either spread skepticism about the rulings of Islamic Shari[a] or degrade their importance."
In its 11th session (in Mecca on 19-26 February, 1989) -- famous for issuing a scathing legal decree against author Salman Rushdie for allegedly insulting Islam in his 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses -- the IFC set the stage for the murder of Rashad Khalifa, an Egyptian-born American computer scientist and imam in Arizona, by declaring him a "criminal" for denying some of the verses of the Quran, thereby "undermin[ing] the religion of Islam from within."
In the Islamic Fiqh Council's 11th session, in 1989 -- famous for issuing a scathing legal decree against author Salman Rushdie (pictured above) for allegedly insulting Islam in his novel, The Satanic Verses -- the IFC set the stage for the murder of Rashad Khalifa, an Egyptian-born American computer scientist and imam in Arizona. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Khalifa gained international attention when he released a computer analysis of the Quran and claimed that two of its verses were written by Satan, not God.
"Khalifa's pretensions mean that he is no longer a Believer and has committed apostasy," the IFC wrote in a resolution. "Hence, Muslims must be alert and cautious of his false views, and they must not cooperate with him. A prayer behind such a person is unlawful."
Less than a year later, on January 31, 1990 -- after receiving numerous threats on his life, Dr. Khalifa was found dead at the mosque where he worked, the Masjid of Tucson, "stabbed 29 times, beaten and doused with a flammable solvent."
It would take nearly two decades for Khalifa's killer to be apprehended. On 28 January 2013, Glen Francis was convicted in Arizona of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison by Pima County Superior Court Judge Christopher Browning.
In his ruling, Judge Browning said he found it ironic that Francis apparently killed Khalifa in the name of Islam -- a religion that "values peace and wholeness and denounces aggression" -- and told the defendant that in the United States, everyone's constitutional right to believe or not to believe is celebrated along with the right to speak and teach "in peace."
Clearly, Judge Browning had not been paying attention to the Muslim plot uncovered in Colorado to kill Khalifa over his controversial interpretation of Islamic scripture. Nor did the judge seem to be aware of the fatwa on Khalifa that had been issued by the Islamic Fiqh Council, an organization that has an active branch in North America. The judge also seems not to be familiar with the Quran or Islamic history, such as its conquest of Persia, Turkey (the Christian Byzantine Empire), all of North Africa and the Middle East, Greece, Eastern Europe and southern Spain.
Judge Browning is not alone in his lack of familiarity with the background of Islam and this stunning "disconnect" in the West. It is high time for Americans to cease ignoring the words and deeds of Islamists -- whether in the U.S., Canada, South America, Australia, North Africa or Europe.
**A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

IRGC Media Advisor Hamid Reza Moghadam Far: Iran To Publish 'Evidence' Of U.S. Support For ISIS
The Middle East Media Research Institute/July 02/17
Media advisor to IRGC Hamid Reza Moghadam Far recently said that "there are plans to release documents revealing U.S. support for ISIS," which "show evidence of arms, logistical, and medical assistance." In a June 22 interview with Russia Today, held in Farsi and provided with English voice-over, Moghadam Far further said that the announcement that Iran had successfully fired missiles at ISIS positions in Syria had been intended to demonstrate its weapons capabilities and that America's declining role in the region meant that "it now has to partner with countries like Saudi Arabia."
Hamid Reza Moghadam Far: "In the past, whenever the Americans wanted to ramp up pressure on Iran, impose new sanctions, or pursue their agenda in the region, they would accuse Iran of backing terrorism. But, I think that today world public opinion no longer accepts this.
"The world has come to realize that the U.S., despite leading a coalition against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, does not actually fight terrorism in practice, and is in fact supporting it.
"There are plans to release documents revealing U.S. support for ISIS. However, they are not documents like formal contracts or written texts, but they cover activities in the field, including locations where they provided help to ISIS. They show evidence of arms, logistical, and medical assistance, which are all clues to American support for ISIS.
"The primary goal behind the recent announcement that Iran fired missiles into Syria, both accurately detecting and hitting ISIS positions, was to show our weapons capabilities. In the past, when these missiles were test-fired in Iran, the U.S. and certain Western countries said that Iran was lying when it claimed successful launches.
"U.S. policies negatively affect regional security. The U.S. is not as influential a player as it used to be, and it can no longer manipulate regional politics. It now has to partner with countries like Saudi Arabia, whose dictatorship and role in supporting terrorism is known to everyone in the region. Now all the U.S. can manage to do is to pick up their check and leave."

Europe's Migrant Crisis: Views from Central Europe
"We are not going to take part in the madness of the Brussels elite."
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/July 02/17
Many so-called asylum seekers have refused to relocate to Central and Eastern Europe because the financial benefits there are not as generous as in France, Germany or Scandinavia. In addition, hundreds of migrants who have been relocated to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which rank among the poorest EU countries, have since fled to Germany and other wealthier countries in the bloc.
"It needs to be said clearly and directly: This is an attack on Europe, on our culture, on our traditions." — Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydło.
"I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. That is a historical experience for us." — Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, referring to Hungary's occupation by the Ottoman Empire from 1541 to 1699.
The European Union has initiated legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to comply with a controversial order to take in thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The so-called infringement procedure, which authorizes the European Commission, the powerful executive arm of the European Union, to sue member states that are considered to be in breach of their obligations under EU law, could lead to massive financial penalties.
The dispute dates back to September 2015, when, at the height of Europe's migration crisis, EU member states narrowly voted to relocate 120,000 "refugees" from Italy and Greece to other parts of the bloc. This number was in addition to a July 2015 plan to redistribute 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece.
Of the 160,000 migrants to be "shared," nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe were ordered to take in around 15,000 migrants. Although the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the agreement, they were still required to comply.
Since then, several Central European EU member states have vehemently refused to accept their assigned quotas of migrants. Poland, for example, has a quota of 6,182 migrants, not one of whom has been admitted. The Czech Republic has a quota of 2,691 migrants, of whom only 12 have been taken. Hungary has a quota of 1,294, none of whom have been admitted.
In the EU as a whole, so far only around 20,000 migrants have been relocated (6,896 from Italy and 13,973 from Greece), according to the EU's latest relocation and resettlement report, published on June 13, 2017. Of the 28 EU member states, only Malta has taken in its full quota — 131 migrants.
Many so-called asylum seekers have refused to relocate to Central and Eastern Europe because the financial benefits there are not as generous as in France, Germany or Scandinavia. In addition, hundreds of migrants who have been relocated to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which rank among the poorest countries in the EU, have since fled to Germany and other wealthier countries in the bloc.
Meanwhile, the enforcers of European "unity" have sought to shame the Central European holdouts into compliance by appealing to nebulous concepts such as European "values" and "solidarity." French President Emmanuel Macron, for example, recently warned:
"European countries that do not respect the rules should pay the full political consequences. There is a double betrayal. They decide to abandon EU principles, turn their back on Europe and have a cynical approach to the union which gives them money, without respecting its values."
Leaders in Central and Eastern Europe have held their ground. In Poland, Prime Minister Beata Szydło said her country would not be blackmailed by European Union officials. In a speech to Parliament on May 24, two days after the jihadist attack in Manchester, England, in which a Polish couple was killed, she said:
"We are not going to take part in the madness of the Brussels elite.... Rise from your knees and from your lethargy or you will be crying over your children every day.
"If you cannot see this — if you cannot see that terrorism currently has the potential to hurt every country in Europe, and you think that Poland should not defend itself — you are going hand in hand with those who point this weapon against Europe, against all of us.
"It needs to be said clearly and directly: This is an attack on Europe, on our culture, on our traditions. Do we want strong politicians who can see the danger and can fight against it efficiently?"
In a May 24 speech, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło said her country would not be blackmailed by European Union officials: "We are not going to take part in the madness of the Brussels elite... This is an attack on Europe, on our culture, on our traditions." (Illustrative image source: European Parliament/Flickr)
Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said that agreeing to European Union quotas would "certainly be worse" than any punishment meted out by Brussels:
"We must not forget the terror attacks that have taken place in Western Europe, and how — in the bigger EU countries — these are unfortunately now a fact of life. Remember, that the now very numerous Muslim communities in Western Europe started out as relatively small numbers....
"I tell my counterparts in Western Europe that the relocation strategy only intensifies illegal migration because traffickers get even more customers when would-be migrants hear that people delivered to Europe are being given refuge in EU nations other than Italy and Greece."
Henryk Kowalczyk, a Polish member of parliament, said:
"Poland makes a contribution to the EU.... We are doing what the bloc says, what the treaties say. If the French president was thinking of refugees, well that issue is not mentioned in the treaties and when we joined the European Union we were not taking on that commitment."
Poland's European Affairs Minister Konrad Szymański added: "There is no conflict on values between the Commission and Poland — it is about how to interpret these values."
In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that "given the deteriorating security situation in Europe and the non-functioning of the quota system, the Czech government will not participate in it." He added: "We are ready to defend our position in the EU and the relevant judicial institutions."
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek said that EU should focus on "economic and social convergence among EU countries, rather than attempts to distribute migrants with forced quotas." He pointed out that in some Eastern European countries, "the most vulnerable inhabitants are often poorer than the incoming migrants themselves."
Zaorálek added that "people who are coming have no real interest in being integrated" and want to live with their "partners from similar cultural, ethnic, religious backgrounds." He said that people in Central and Eastern Europe do not want to "repeat the mistake of the Western countries" which have "neighborhoods full of thousands and thousands of people living in imperfect living conditions" and which are "very risky, not only during the night but also during the day." He pointed out that "there are no suicide bombers among Ukrainians or Vietnamese," two long-established communities in the Czech Republic.
In Slovakia, Prime Minister Robert Fico said that mass migration and forced multiculturalism would change the essence of his country:
"I think it is the duty of politicians to talk about these things very clearly and openly. I do not want to see a Muslim community in Slovakia. I do not want there to be several tens of thousands of Muslims who gradually begin to promote their ideology. We do not want to change the traditions of this country, which are built on the Christian tradition. It has been like this for centuries. Sovereignty and national pride must be part of our ruling coalition."
Fico added that 95% of so-called refugees were actually economic migrants:
"We will not assist in this folly with arms opened wide with the notion that we will accept them all regardless of whether they are economic migrants or not. We must start telling the truth about migration."
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has warned of the "explosive consequences" of a culture clash between Europe and migrants from the Muslim world:
"To understand what we must do, we need to grasp the true nature of the situation we are facing. Europe is not in the grip of a 'refugee problem' or a 'refugee situation,' but the European continent is threatened by an ever mounting wave of modern-era migration. Movement of people is taking place on an immense scale, and from a European perspective the number of potential future immigrants seems limitless.
"With each passing day we see that hundreds of thousands have been turning up and clamoring at our borders, and there are millions more intending to set out for Europe, driven by economic motives....
"We must acknowledge that the European Union's misguided immigration policy is responsible for this situation. Irresponsibility is the mark of every European politician who holds out the promise of a better life to immigrants and encourages them to leave everything behind and risk their lives in setting out for Europe. If Europe does not return to the path of common sense, it will find itself laid low in a battle for its fate....
"Let us not forget that those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? If we lose sight of this, the idea of Europe could become a minority interest in its own continent."
Referring to Hungary's occupation by the Ottoman Empire from 1541 to 1699, Orbán said:
"I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large Muslim community that we see in other countries and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see. That is a historical experience for us."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Supreme Court Is the Last Leakproof Institution
Stephen Carter/Bloomberg/July 02/17
With another term of the US Supreme Court behind us, full of decisions both predictable and surprising, perhaps we should take a moment to consider a question very much of the moment: Why doesn’t the court leak? The rest of Washington has reached the point where confidentiality is a joke. So why not the Supreme Court too?
I’m not saying that no secrets ever trickle down from our sacred legal mountain. Back in 2012, CBS News ran a story that Chief Justice John Roberts had changed his vote in the decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. Court-watchers were suitably shocked. Experts speculated on who the leaker might have been.
Yet in and of itself, the leak wasn’t interesting. Justices change their votes all the time; in a deliberative, reflective body, one would even hope that this is true. Although disclosing the internal processes three days after a decision is handed down was treated justifiably as a big scoop, what’s proved harder for reporters is to discover the outcome of a pending case. 1 What made the Roberts story news was not its content but the fact that the court seems all but leak-proof.
The last time a decision was leaked in advance seems to have been 1986, when Tim O’Brien of ABC News reported not only the outcome but also the actual votes in Bowsher v. Synar, the decision striking down the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings balanced budget act. That’s more than three decades in which we have become accustomed to a flood of reports about the secrets of the executive branch, particularly those concerned with intelligence and national security. And during all that time, despite all the interest in its decisions, the court has sat in its marble temple, distant and sphinx-like, an all but impenetrable oracle.
Why the difference? One common response is that it would be very hard for the leaker to avoid being caught. The staff of the Supreme Court is very small, and the circle of knowledge of pending opinions is even smaller. In particular, a law clerk who talked to a reporter might find a once high-flying legal career ruined. And of course fewer people in the know means fewer potential leakers.
A second argument stems from the fact that cultivation of a source usually takes a considerable investment of a reporter’s time and energy. The effort might make sense when the potential source will have access to government secrets for years to come. But the most likely source of leaks at the Supreme Court — again, the clerks — turns over every year. There is little point in investing months trying to convert a clerk into a source if the clerk will shortly disappear into private practice or the academy.
This leads to a third point: The Supreme Court actually tends to be undercovered by news media. As the political scientist Tyler Johnson has pointed out, what’s fascinating is not how much news coverage the court receives but how little. By most estimates, only a dozen or so reporters are assigned to the institution as a full-time beat. In comparison, the Washington Post alone has eight journalists on its White House team. For nearly all journalists, covering the court means reporting its decisions and the responses those decisions evoke. That’s a pretty small investment of resources in an entity whose future is discussed in presidential campaigns in terms suggesting that the sky will fall if the bad guys win.
No doubt each of these factors plays a role in the ability of the court to keep its secrets. Yet even taken together, these explanations seem insufficient, particularly in an age when so much of life is lived so openly. Both social media and casual evening conversation are chockablock with information of the sort that earlier generations would have considered private. Why hasn’t this logorrhea afflicted the court?
Let me offer a suggestion based on my own admittedly ancient experience. During my year as a Supreme Court law clerk, I recall only two instances of reporters asking me for information, once via a phone call to my office, once at a party. Of course I didn’t tell them anything. But that’s not the point of the story. What’s interesting as I think back is my emotional response. I was angry and offended.
I suspect that even today, most of those who work at the courthouse would have the same response. With its small staff treading its broad but hushed hallways, the Supreme Court is able to instill in those who work there a sense of common purpose and esprit de corps that cannot possibly be created in a huge bureaucracy. Not only the law clerks who pass through each year but everyone who works in the building seems to share this almost sacred commitment to the tight-knit family. An outsider’s inquiry about a pending case is an insult to the common faith; to give information to the outsider would be a blasphemy.
That’s why I responded with offense: For the reporter to think that I would break faith with my fellows was to strike at the core of the belief. To the insider, privacy is essential to the court’s work. One might even say that the veil of secrecy is as much as the written opinion the court’s principal product.
Of course many a government agency will make a similar claim. But the claim will almost always be false. As an agency grows larger, as branches become more distant from one another, it is that much harder to tend the lamp. Everyone in the Supreme Court building knows everyone in the Supreme Court building. The atmosphere is intimate. The circle of knowledge is always tiny. The law clerks work directly for their powerful bosses, with no buffers in between, a relationship that typically engenders not only respect but also affection. No faraway contractor can download secret information. No bitter lifer sits alone and ignored in a distant cubicle. The Supreme Court doesn’t leak because it learned long ago how to maintain the mystical walls separating its internal deliberations from the rest of the world: It stayed small.

How Iran Recruited Afghan Refugees to Fight in Syria
Ali M. Pedram/Asharq Al Awsat/July 02/17
BAMIAN, Afghanistan — War and poverty have scattered Afghans across the globe like pieces of shrapnel. Millions of Afghans came of age in refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran or as workers in the Persian Gulf nations. The migration continues. The past few years have added a new lethal geography to the Afghan diaspora: the battlefields of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
Two years ago, Abdol Amin, 19, left his home in the Foladi Valley in Bamian, one of Afghanistan’s poorest provinces, to find work in Iran. Two million undocumented Afghans and a million Afghans with refugee status already lived in Iran. His sister and brother-in-law lived in Isfahan. He hoped to improve on his life of subsistence farming in impoverished Bamian.
Two-thirds of the population in Bamian Province lives on less than $25 a month. The intense poverty and the absence of opportunity forces thousands of young Afghans from Bamian to travel illegally to Iran in search of work. Many, like Amin, end up fighting other’s people’s wars.
Amin managed to earn a meager wage, about $200 a month, as a bricklayer in Isfahan. Last year, he used his modest savings and went to Iraq with a group of fellow Afghan refugees. He returned to Iran but couldn’t find any work for three months. As often happens with Afghan refugees in Iran, Amin was humiliated and discriminated against. He lived with the constant fear of being deported. “Iran isn’t our country.Either you suffer and try to make some money or you die.”
Last winter Iranian authorities presented Amin with a proposition. He could gain legal status in Iran and be free of the fear of deportation. The Iranians offered him a 10-year residency permit and $800 a month if he would go to Syria to “fight to protect” the shrine of Sayyida Zainab.
Around 2013, when Assad’s regime was losing ground to the rebels, Iran poured billions of dollars into Syria, brought in Hezbollah and began raising Shi’ite militias from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places with significant Shiite populations.
The relationship between Iran and Syria goes back to the Syrian support for Iran during the Iran-Iraq war.
Syria is the essential axis of transit between Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Most of the weapons in the Hezbollah inventory are sent by Iran through Syria. Assad’s control over Syria allows Tehran to resupply Hezbollah and work toward building a connection to the Mediterranean Sea.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah trained Amin and the Afghan recruits of the Fatemiyoun Division in using weapons and tactical movement for a month. Some were trained as snipers; some were trained in tank warfare. After the training they were flown to Syria and sent to the front lines in Damascus and Aleppo.