July 05/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 10/21-26/:"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. ‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known."

The Vision That Cornelius, The centurion of the Italian Cohort saw In Which the Angle asked Him to call & Bring Peter
Acts of the Apostles 10/01-10/19-23a/:"In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius.’ He stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ He answered, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter;he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.’When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa. About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.’ So Peter went down to the men and said, ‘I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?’ They answered, ‘Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.’ So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging. The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 04-05/17
Letter from Nadim Zakka, son of Nizar Zakka, to HE Hassan Mr. President Hassan/July 04/17
I am not a fan of Nohad Machnouk/Roger Bejjani/Face Book/July 04/17
Hezbollah taking Israeli war mongers seriously/Alex Fishman/Ynetnews/July 04/17
Canada rewards terrorists; Israel punishes them/Tarek Fatah/Toronto Sun/July 04/17
World's Rallying Cry: "Free Iran"/Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/July 04/17
Australia: The Madness Continues/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/July 04/17
Troubled countries and post-ISIS scenarios/Radwan al-Sayed/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17
Gulf crisis: A difficult situation for French diplomacy/Christian Chesnot/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17
What happens to Qatar if it rejects Gulf demands/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17
What happens to Qatar if it rejects Gulf demands/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17
End of ISIS control? Now is the time to liberate minds/Dina al-Shibeeb/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 04-05/17
Letter from Nadim Zakka, son of Nizar Zakka, to HE Hassan Mr. President Hassan
I am not a fan of Nohad Machnouk
Security Agencies on Alert to Confront ISIS Project to Turn Lebanon into ‘Alternate’ Front
Syrian Girl Killed in New Refugee Camp Blaze in Lebanon
Syrian Coalition Vows to Maintain Talks with Lebanese PM to Contain Arsal Tensions
Chronic Health Problems' Kill 4 Detainees Held in Arsal Raids
Mustaqbal Slams Nasrallah Anti-Saudi Remarks, Urges against 'Populism' on Refugees
Change and Reform Urges Returning Refugees to Syria in Coordination with Damascus
Ibrahim Warns of 'Security-Military Trap' for Palestinian Camps, Lebanon
Army Raids Baalbek Neighborhoods in Search of Fugitives
Lebanon's State TV Website Hacked by Syrian Group
Report: Govt. Faces Thorny Issues at Wednesday's Cabinet Meeting
Mashnouq Defends Army, Says Lebanon 'Won't Return Any Refugee without Int'l Guarantees'
Hezbollah taking Israeli war mongers seriously/Alex Fishman

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 04-05/17
Fifth Round of Kazakh Syria Talks Focuses on Safe Zones
US-Backed Forces in Syria Breach Wall of Old City of Raqa
Qatari Intelligence Chief Predicts Escalating Pressure from Arabs
Jubeir: Qatar Must Change Harmful Policies
UAE FM Urges Qatar to Stop Funding Terrorism
Jordan Foils Two Infiltration Attempts from Syria
Turkey Says Military Presence in Qatar to Remain
ISIS Cornered in West Mosul
4 Wounded in Iranian Shelling on Iraqi Border Region
Egyptian President Calls for Confronting Terrorism-Sponsoring States
Egypt Repeats Call on Interpol to Arrest Fugitives in Qatar and Turkey
Egypt: Qaradawi’s Daughter, Son-In-Law Jailed for Financing “Brotherhood”
Tunisian Authorities Arrest Dozens for Protesting Illegal Stalls, Fuel Price Hike
Experts, Intellectuals Condemn Macron’s New Stance on Syria’s Assad
Syrian Regime Ready to Protect Chemical Inspectors
Palestinians Accuse Israel of Paying Salaries for Jews Who Killed Palestinian Civilians
N.Korea Fires 'Intercontinental Ballistic Missile'

Latest Lebanese Related News published on
July 04-05/17
I am not a fan of Nohad Machnouk
Roger Bejjani/Face Book/July 04/17
For many reasons, I am not a fan of Nohad Machnouk: His pro-PLO stances in the 70', his close ties to Assad regime in the 80' and 90' and last but not least his ambiguous relation with Hezbollah (He is a sort of Qatar in Lebanon).
However, only a Prosecutor has the final word in arresting, detaining or freeing a person; certainly not the Minister of Interior. It would be scandalous if the Ministry of Interior had such power. But again, Morons are everywhere.

Letter from Nadim Zakka, son of Nizar Zakka, to HE Hassan Rouhani/رسالة للرئيس الإيراني من ابن المعتقل اللبناني في إيران، نزار زكا
Mr. President Hassan Rouhani/July 04/17
First of all I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you Mr Rouhani on your recent Presidential election.
My father Nizar Zakka, was invited by your Vice President Mrs Shahindokht Molaverdi to attend the 2nd International Conference & Exhibition on Women in Sustainable Development “ Entrepreneurship & Employment” in Teheran from the 14th to the 18 th September of 2015 (Invitation and Visa attached). He was officially invited according to Mrs Molaverdi’s own words for his “countless knowledge, valuable experiences and deep creativeness & innovations…for enriching this significant event and transferring” his “achievements and experiences to this Conference.” After the Conference, my father was kidnapped on his way to the airport and has been detained in Evin prison ever since.
Many understand and find justifications for your government's tactics and ideologies. I do not claim to be an expert in the politics of any nation. Even though many people have tried to explain to me the ongoing situation with my father; Simply put, I do not understand it. I have been told that things in Iran are different than anywhere else in the world… How is Iran different? Isn’t your Government based on Justice, Unity and Peace? In my life I have never doubted the intentions of any Government, as all Governments seek the Best interest of their people.
We might speak a different language and live in different communities, but we all laugh and we all bleed. You and my father are not so different; you are both good men that live for the people before yourselves. When my father got an official invitation to your country, he felt nothing but pride and honor. He was eager to use his experience and achievement to promote a better prosperous future for Iranian society as he would have helped any other nation in the world. Before being a Lebanese citizen, before being a father, a son, a brother, my father is a citizen of the world, having all of us weighing on his shoulders.
I do not seek your sympathy President Rouhani, I do not even seek your remorse but I am simply bewildered and wish to understand. I have been baffled for almost 2 years, I have asked nothing! I have put faith in your judicial system hoping that justice will prevail. What worries me most are some of the comments made by yourself during the recent presidential campaign criticizing the harsh sentences by the Iranian courts against some Iranian citizens. Now and after more than twenty months, I think the system has not been fair for my father and my family. In fact, for the past Eight months, my father’s case has been put “on hold” awaiting “Istiilam” or additional information by the judge. Throughout the process, my father has not been able to hire a Lebanese attorney nor see the Lebanese Ambassador freely, which are basic rights under any international law. This clearly shows that the case against my father is being fabricated and the delay in court is just a mean to prolong his suffering. What has he done to deserve such treatment? Why would you invite him to take him away from my brothers and me? I am just a young man trying to understand…
My family just spent the second month of Ramadan without my father. My father is now on an open-ended Hunger Strike and is in very poor health, and I am very worried for his life.
Please stop our suffering before it is too late…
Nadim Nizar Zakka

Security Agencies on Alert to Confront ISIS Project to Turn Lebanon into ‘Alternate’ Front
Beirut – Lebanese security forces have been on alert for months in anticipation of a possible ISIS plan to find “alternate fields” for its operations in the region after the collapse of its forces in Iraq and Syria. To that end, Lebanese authorities have been cooperating with international intelligence, especially the United States, in order to bolster the Lebanese army’s efforts to deter any terrorist infiltration across the border from Syria. It is standing in the way of terrorist attempts to flee the region from Syria to Beirut and later the Mediterranean. The military is also countering any possible efforts by the terrorists to carry out revenge attacks in Lebanon. The security forces have for a while been relying on “preemptive operations” that have proven their success in thwarting several terror plots. The latest of these achievements was the arrest of two ISIS networks about a month ago. Security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the operation, which was carried out by the army in the northeastern border area of Arsal, “created waves on the international scene.” They said that the several international powers hailed the “high professionalism of the army and its ability to thwart the impact of five suicide attacks in one operation and in one day.”
No civilian or soldier was killed in the attack that was carried out in Arsal in Friday.
Security experts said that a number of factors have led to the success of the Lebanese security forces that have already made several accomplishments in the country’s fight against terrorism. These factors have enable the security forces to surpass western ones in thwarting terrorism. Retired General Mohammed Rammal said that the Lebanese security forces’ constant state of readiness and their significant coordination among their various branches, have contributed to their success. The current unified stance of politicians against terrorism has also fortified Lebanon against external threats, he explained to Asharq Al-Awsat. Furthermore, the joint international intelligence cooperation has also played a role in Lebanon’s success, he said. Given the defeats in Iraq and Syria, it is only natural for the terrorists to consider Lebanon as an alternate location due to the high number of refugees the country is hosting, Rammal went on to say. The Palestinian refugee camps that lie outside the official authorities’ jurisdiction are another factor that attracts terrorists, he warned.“Despite the security efforts, the terrorist threat remains. The only difference is that the Lebanese forces have switched the roles from ones receiving the blows to ones dealing them,” he added. Meanwhile, the Palestinian factions inside refugee camps have met the Lebanese security forces halfway by handing over a few days ago a fugitive, who has been wanted by Lebanese authorities.Khaled Masaad, known as Khaled al-Sayyed, was handed to the authorities from the refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in the South. The suspect is accused of cooperating with the two ISIS networks that were detained in June. His arrest by the Usbat al-Ansar group was met with condemnation by extremist factions inside Ain el-Hilweh, but the local powers have been able to prevent the tensions from escalating into violence.Fatah commander Munir al-Maqdah described the situation in the volatile camp as “calm.”He told Asharq Al-Awsat that al-Sayyed was at the top of the Lebanese authorities’ wanted list and his arrest was a priority for the factions. They made sure to arrest him promptly to avoid his presence from fueling more tensions in the camp. “Intense efforts are being exerted in order to preserve the security in the camp and the Lebanese areas. We are also tackling a number of files linked to wanted suspects,” he added.Head of the General Security Abbas Ibrahim had been the main Lebanese coordinator with Palestinian factions in al-Sayyed’s file, underlining to them in mid-June, the need to apprehend him because he was the “mastermind” in a foiled major terror plot in the holy month of Ramadan. “The Ramadan operation was the first time that an explosives belt came out of Ain el-Hilweh. This is why al-Sayyed’s arrest was important in that similar operations will be thwarted in the future, especially since, to our knowledge, the detainee possessed more than one such belt,” added Ibrahim. Security agencies in Ramadan arrested a number of terrorists, who were plotting to target a number of locations in Lebanon.

Syrian Girl Killed in New Refugee Camp Blaze in Lebanon

Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17A Syrian girl was killed in a fire that broke out a refugee encampment in the eastern Lebanese region of the Bekaa Valley, announced a medical source on Tuesday. This is the second fire that erupts at a camp for the displaced since Sunday. Tuesday’s fire was caused by an electrical malfunction. It broke out at around 1:00 am on the Bar Elias region, said the Lebanese Red Cross in a statement on Tuesday. Immediately after, it dispatched six ambulances to the scene to assess the needs of the camp, which is comprised of 100 tents.
Around 20 of the tents were destroyed, it said. It announced that one girl was killed and 14 people were wounded in the incident. Some were treated on the scene, while seven critical cases were transported to hospitals by the Lebanese Red Cross. On Sunday, a fire destroyed a Syrian refugee camp near Qab Elias, some 7 km (5 miles) away from Bar Elias, also killing one person. Initial reports indicated that fire was caused by a cooking stove. The camp was home to around 100 families. Save the Children Lebanon, a non-governmental organization that assists refugees, said it was working to provide emergency support to the families and children affected by the latest blaze. “Save the Children calls for better shelter conditions that protect refugees from fire risks and ensure the safety of children wherever they live,” Country Director Allison Zelkowitz said in an emailed statement. Lebanon is hosting at least 1 million registered Syrian refugees, though the government says that in total there are about 1.5 million in the country. Many of them living in tented settlements around the country.

Syrian Coalition Vows to Maintain Talks with Lebanese PM to Contain Arsal Tensions

Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17Beirut – Head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition Riad Seif held talks on Monday with representatives of Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s northeastern border region of Arsal to address what it described as “the Lebanese army’s assault against refugee camps in the area.”Seif said that the Coalition will communicate with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to contain tensions there, adding that he will cooperate with Lebanese authorities to find a permanent solution to the Arsal situation. The head of the Coalition had held talks over the internet with camp representatives “in wake of the state of terror and extreme tensions” that the refugees are living in after the “violent army raid.”The Lebanese military had used grenades and heavy machinegun fire during its operation, said a Coalition statement according to information obtained from Lebanon. “A number of refugees were martyred in the attack and some 400 others were detained,” it said. Abdulrahman al-Akkari, who is responsible for following up on refugee affairs, said that the Arsal incident was a result of a culmination of tensions in the area.“The refugees were the victims of several violations” in recent months, he said. “The area is under the control of ‘Hezbollah’ that wants to kick out all of the Syrian refugees,” he stressed. The Syrian Coalition condemned the violations against the refugees, holding the Lebanese authorities responsible for the their safety. It demanded that the authorities provide the “necessary protection for the displaced in accordance to International Humanitarian Law until they can safely return to their country.”“They should cease using terror tactics to harm the unarmed civilians and halt the humiliating arbitrary arrests that do not take into consideration legal or humanitarian circumstances,” it continued. On Friday, five suicide-bombers blew themselves up on the outskirts of Arsal as the Lebanese army was searching for terrorism suspects.

'Chronic Health Problems' Kill 4 Detainees Held in Arsal Raids
Naharnet/July 04/17/Four of those detained by the army in the latest Arsal raids have died due to “chronic health problems aggravated by the weather conditions,” the military said on Tuesday. “During routine medical examinations conducted by army medics under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities, it turned out that a number of those arrested at Arsal's (Syrian refugee) encampments were suffering from chronic health problems that were aggravated by the weather conditions,” an army statement said. “They were immediately transferred to hospitals for medical examination and treatment prior to interrogation, but their health conditions deteriorated and resulted in the death of the Syrians Mustafa Abdul Karim Absa, Khaled Hussein al-Mlais, Anas Hussein al-Hussaiki and Othman Merhi al-Mlais,” the statement added. “Forensic doctors have submitted reports on the causes of death and the Army Command immediately subjected the other detainees to medical examinations to determine whether there are other cases that require hospitalization and to determine whether any of them had consumed toxic drugs that could pose a threat to their lives,” the army said. Troops had stormed two refugee encampments on Friday near the border town of Arsal, but were met with a string of suicide attacks and grenades. They carried out a wave of arrests in the wake of the explosions, which killed one girl and wounded seven soldiers. Lebanon is home to more than one million refugees fleeing the conflict in neighboring Syria, many of whom live in informal tented settlements. The army's treatment of detainees after the Arsal incident has sparked fierce controversy in Lebanon and among Syrian regime opponents, particularly after images emerged of security forces apparently detaining dozens of refugees. The men are shirtless and pictured lying on the ground in rows, their hands tied behind their backs. A military official has 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, had said in a statement Saturday that the military raid resulted in the death of a number of refugees, but it provided no details. The military official rebuffed the abuse 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 were 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 and policemen were abducted and killed.

Mustaqbal Slams Nasrallah Anti-Saudi Remarks, Urges against 'Populism' on Refugees
Naharnet/July 04/17/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday warned that the latest anti-Saudi remarks by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah could “lead to a sedition in Lebanon and the region.”“It is needed to steer Lebanon clear of the region's blaze and its tensions instead of implicating in further problems that harm all Lebanese people and Lebanon's Arab ties,” the bloc said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. Commenting on calls for returning Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their country, Mustaqbal acknowledged that “the magnitude of the Syrian refugee presence in Lebanon has started to pose unbearable national, economic, social and security burdens for Lebanon.” The bloc, however, stressed the need to deal with the refugee crisis “away from populist policies, xenophobic sentiments and electoral objectives.”“The Syrian refugees' safe return to their country is a joint national, Arab and international responsibility,” Mustaqbal added. Earlier in the day, the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc called for the return of Syrian refugees to their country and for communication with the Syrian government in this regard. It also warned that the refugee crisis has started to pose an existential threat to Lebanon. Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem has also called for returning refugees to safe zones in Syria. Lebanon, of around 4.5 million people, has over one million registered Syrian refugees.

Change and Reform Urges Returning Refugees to Syria in Coordination with Damascus
Naharnet/July 04/17/The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday called for the return of Syrian refugees to their country and for communication with the Syrian government in this regard. “The higher Lebanese interest comes before anything else and this interest necessitates that the refugees return home and it is in the interest of Syrians as well,” Justice Minister Salim Jreissati said after the bloc's weekly meeting in Rabieh. “There are no taboos or complexes (regarding communication) with the Syrian state with which we share diplomatic representation,” Jreissati added. “There are vast safe zones in Syria and there are no reasons that prevent their return,” Jreissati went on to say, warning that the refugee crisis has started to pose an existential threat to the Lebanese entity. Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq stressed that “Lebanon will not return any refugee without international guarantees,” noting that “only the U.N. can specify the safe zones that the refugees can return to according to a paper that was prepared by the previous government and on which all political forces had agreed.” Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem has also called for returning refugees to safe zones in Syria. Lebanon, of around 4.5 million people, has over one million registered Syrian refugees.

Ibrahim Warns of 'Security-Military Trap' for Palestinian Camps, Lebanon
Naharnet/July 04/17/General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has warned that “a security-military trap is being set up for the Palestinian refugee camps” in Lebanon. “It is aimed at dragging Lebanon and the Palestinian refugees and implicating them in a confrontation that they don't want... for reasons that are closely related to regional and international issues,” Ibrahim explained in comments published in the 46th issue of General Security Magazine. Referring to the Islamic State terrorist cell that was arrested by General Security last month and that was plotting for attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, the major general noted that “the objectives of these attacks carried dangerous indications.”“It was the first time that we manage to arrest a cell that had been plotting to strike several targets simultaneously. For example, it had plotted to hit in the cities of Tripoli and Nabatieh at the same time,” Ibrahim pointed out.
“Although this confirms what we had repeated several times, that terrorism does not differentiate between one group and another or one region and another, it however signals the beginning of a new phase that will be characterized with random operations aimed at destabilizing the entire country,” the major general cautioned. “This requires higher and more delicate vigilance by security agencies in order to protect Lebanon,” Ibrahim added.

Army Raids Baalbek Neighborhoods in Search of Fugitives
Naharnet/July 04/17/The Lebanese army raided several neighborhoods in the eastern Bekaa town of Baalbek in search of fugitives and arrested five suspects, the National News Agency reported on Tuesday. Several surveillance cameras, weapons and drugs were confiscated during the army's raid in al-Sharawneh neighborhood in Baalbek, NNA said.The cameras installed in the area were dismantled and confiscated in addition to a pickup truck, weapons, drugs and unlicensed motorbikes, it added. VDL (93.3) said the cameras were used by fugitives to monitor the army's mobility. Separately, in the Baalbek towns of Majdlun, Britel and Ain el-Sawda, the army arrested two Lebanese nationals and three other undocumented Syrian nationals. One of the detainees possessed a Russian pistol.

Lebanon's State TV Website Hacked by Syrian Group
Associated Press/Naharnet/July 04/17/Lebanon's state television website on Tuesday was hacked by the so-called Syrian Revolution Electronic Army protesting the latest army operation at encampments of Syrian refugees in the northeastern border town of Arsal. The hackers lashed insults and threats at the Lebanese army for its treatment of Syrian refugees following a suicide attack that left seven soldiers wounded and a young girl of the refugees dead. The hackers directed the television's website to a statement that condemned the security sweep initially launched to combat terrorism. A girl died and seven Lebanese soldiers were wounded on Friday when five militants blew themselves up and a sixth threw a grenade during army raids on two refugee camps near the Syrian border. The subsequent security sweep sparked accusations of abuse, particularly after detentions made by the army. A Lebanese 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's military dismissed allegations of abuse. The military official said on condition of anonymity that the detention of 355 Syrians "is not a directed aggression against anyone," and that not all would be charged with terrorism.

Report: Govt. Faces Thorny Issues at Wednesday's Cabinet Meeting

Naharnet/July 04/17/Lebanon's government is set to tackle a number of pressing issues during its Wednesday meeting mainly the crisis of Syrian refugees and finding ways for their return to safe zones in Syria, Lebanon's electricity plan and the wage scale. “The cabinet is set to convene at Baabda Palace to look into a number of thorny files mainly the return of Syrian refugees and their encampments which have proved to be safe haven for terrorists after the army's operation in the outskirts of Arsal,” said al-Joumhouria daily. “The file has taken the forefront after the military operation,” which left seven soldiers wounded and a young girl dead, said the daily. Meanwhile contradicting views have emerged. Hizbullah calls for coordination between the Lebanese state and Syrian government for that end, while al-Mustaqbal Movement and some of its allies reject the idea calling for coordination with the United Nations in order not to “refloat relations between Lebanon and the with Syrian regime.”Furthermore, Lebanon's electricity plan is another pressing issue, “ministerial sources following up on the file said it is still at the Central Inspection Bureau Tenders Department for study. It will be referred to the cabinet soon,” said the daily. However, it added that the cabinet may not touch on the file on Wednesday due to the presence of concerned Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil outside Lebanon. In parallel, threats of the head of the Association of Private School Teachers, Nehme Mahfouz to escalate measures if Lebanon's wage scale file was not approved have surfaced again. “The file is likely to interact in the next few days in light of a legislative session that is set to decide its fate if is not withdrawn by the government for re-study,” it added

Mashnouq Defends Army, Says Lebanon 'Won't Return Any Refugee without Int'l Guarantees'
Naharnet/July 04/17/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq on Tuesday defended the army's latest security raids in the eastern border town of Arsal while reassuring that Lebanon will not return any refugee to Syria without “international guarantees.”“The Lebanese army's conduct during the military operation in the Arsal region was strictly security-related,” Mashnouq said in an interview with Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath television. “I'm keen on the dignity, security and presence of the refugees... but today we're talking about a military operations zone and not about normal arrests. Five of the takfiri terrorists blew themselves up during the the raids and the army's conduct at that point was purely of a security nature,” the minister added, dismissing accusations of abuse against the refugees. “What happened in that region should not be summarized by a picture showing detainees lying on the ground as we forget that five terrorists blew themselves up injuring innocents, including refugees and a number of soldiers of whom two might go blind,” Mashnouq said. “The army entered (the two Arsal refugee encampments) after obtaining information that would-be suicide bombers were preparing to carry out attacks and the relation between the Lebanese and 1.5 million Syrian refugees cannot be minimized to one picture that is being circulated,” the minister went on to say. Mashnouq explained that the mission of military and security forces is to “prevent the exit of any terrorist from the Arsal region or other regions and foiling any operation that could lead to the death of Lebanese and non-Lebanese civilians.” And commenting on calls for returning the refugees to Syria, the minister stressed that “Lebanon will not return any refugee without international guarantees,” noting that “only the U.N. can specify the safe zones that the refugees can return to according to a paper that was prepared by the previous government and on which all political forces had agreed.”The Lebanese army has dismissed allegations of abuse against hundreds of Syrian detainees in the security sweep at the Arsal refugee settlements, saying the mass detentions were necessary to combat 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.
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.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 were underway and that those not connected to the attacks would be released.

Hezbollah taking Israeli war mongers seriously
Alex Fishman/Ynetnews/July 04/17
Analysis: Even when Defense Minister Lieberman declares that Israel has no intention of launching a war in Lebanon, Nasrallah doesn’t believe him. He prefers to listen to the underground streams in the defense establishment and in the government, which are pushing for an attack as soon as possible.
In recent weeks, Hezbollah has raised its alert level on the Israel-Lebanon border and somewhat boosted its forces in the area. There is no change in interest or policy behind this move. There has been no military provocation either.
What stirred Hezbollah into action are the reports in Israel about an impending war in the summer. That’s the reason for the alertness, for the boosted forces and mainly for the intensive intelligence gathering along the fence. In light of the comments in Israel, Hezbollah believes that the IDF will take advantage of the organization’s wide deployment in Syria—which has forced it to reduce its forces in southern Lebanon—to attack.
Even when Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman declares, as he did Sunday in a press briefing with military correspondents, that Israel has no intention of launching a war—neither in Lebanon nor in Gaza—they don’t believe him. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who considers himself an expert on the state of mind in Israel, prefers to listen to the underground streams in the defense establishment and in the government, which are pushing for an attack as soon as possible rather than waiting for an agreement in Syria.
Nasrallah prefers, for example, to believe the covert feelings of an Israeli commander on the border line, who has warned that the fence Israel is building on the border will draw Hezbollah fire in the summer. That commander likely doesn’t understand that every word that comes out of his mouth is perceived by the other side as an Israeli government policy rather than as his own evaluation of the situation. The same applies to the leaks and thoughts of ministers, who wish to tease the defense minister and explain to him what should be done against the arming going on in Lebanon. The other side is taking them seriously.
For a war to break out in Lebanon in the foreseeable future, a dramatic change must take place. If Israel inflicts irreversible damage on the Iranian interest, the Iranians will instruct Hezbollah to attack. A Hezbollah armament that violates Israel’s “red lines”—chemical weapons, for example—will be seen as an invitation for war too. All other parameters, including Hezbollah’s weapon factories in Lebanon, are not a cause for a war. They can be dealt with covertly while keeping a low media profile.
The war plans, on both sides of the border, are ready and have been exercised. There is only one component which lacks a good solution, and which both sides are afraid of, and which is basically the war mongers’ main obstacle: The millions of citizens here and there. While Israel’s preparations for handling the population at a time of war are far more developed than Lebanon’s, Israeli officials understand that evacuating hundreds of thousands of people is a complicated logistic operation that will leave many citizens in the north under fire.
There are some one million residents living in southern Lebanon, who will have no escape in case of a war. Most of them live in about 270 villages and towns that serve as military bases for all intents and purposes, and are therefore seen as legitimate targets for an Israeli strike. Hezbollah members live in those villages, alongside the organization’s obstacles, antitank missiles, explosive devices, mines, rockets, intelligence bases and control headquarters. Each of these villages means dozens of hundreds of targets. Israel has doubled its arsenal of accurate weapons, mainly from the air, to prevent environmental damage, but in light of such a large number of targets and the planned intensity of the Israeli attacks, it won’t be a sterile war. Entire areas will be destroyed.
In Operation Accountability, in 1993, Israel built an “intimidation plan” aimed at scaring off the population to Beirut, in a bid to pressure the Lebanese government. Today, we’re not dealing with leverages but with a fast destruction of targets. The population won’t have time to flee. Thousands of citizens on the Lebanese side will be hurt. Not only will Israel have to answer to the international community and to itself about massive damage to the population, Hezbollah will have to answer to the population in Lebanon.
Neither side feels like starting a war, but flexing muscles is a different story. And this is where the danger lies: The loaded gun has been on the table for 10 years now. There is a very short distance between misreading the map to uncontrolled unsheathing. Nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly that than what happened in the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 04-05/17
Fifth Round of Kazakh Syria Talks Focuses on Safe Zones
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 04/17/Powerbrokers Russia, Iran and Turkey on Tuesday focused on shoring up a plan for safe zones in Syria at a fifth round of talks they are pushing in Kazakhstan to help end the six-year conflict. Moscow and Tehran, which back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and rebel supporter Ankara agreed in May to establish four "de-escalation" zones in the war-torn country in a potential breakthrough towards calming a war that has claimed an estimated 320,000 lives. But while fighting dropped off in the weeks after the deal, it has ratcheted up in some areas since, and the key international players have yet to finalize the boundaries of the zones or determine who will police them.  Russia's chief negotiator at the talks, Alexander Lavrentiev, told journalists in Kazakhstan's capital Astana that these issues were "under discussion" and that "an agreement has not yet been reached."The two days of meetings, which include representatives of the Syrian regime and rebels, is set to conclude Wednesday with a session attended by all participants. United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura was also dashing between delegations. The deal in May roughly laid out the areas where rebels and government forces should halt hostilities, including air strikes, for six months, but Russia, Turkey and Iran have failed to meet a June 4 deadline to set exact boundaries for the zones. More than 2.5 million people are believed to live in the four areas, which include rebel-held Idlib province, northern parts of Homs province, Eastern Ghouta near Damascus and areas of southern Syria.A major sticking point still seems to be deciding which countries will ensure security in which areas, with Turkey and Iran reportedly wrangling to bolster their influence.
'Cessation of hostilities'
The Astana talks received a boost Monday after the Syrian army unilaterally announced a halt to fighting until midnight on July 6 in the southern Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida provinces, which together cover one of the zones. Daraa had seen the fiercest fighting in the areas envisioned as safe zones in recent weeks. But an AFP correspondent said air strikes pummeled the key opposition-held town of Douma in a rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta just outside Damascus on Tuesday for the first time since the de-escalation zones were announced in May. A medical source told AFP a woman and a child were killed in the raid, a toll confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which also said that 10 others were badly wounded. The Observatory, a Britain-based monitor that relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, said the raids were carried out by Syrian warplanes. While Damascus has voiced its support for the de-escalation zones, rebel factions have been far more pessimistic and have slammed any Iranian involvement in the plan. Russia has argued the agreement will help focus attacks against extremist groups such as Fateh al-Sham, previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, and the Islamic State group, which are not parties to the troubled truce between the government and rebels. Syria's conflict evolved from a bloody crackdown on protests in 2011 to a devastating war that has drawn in world powers, including Russia and a U.S.-led international coalition. Moscow has pushed the talks in Astana since the start of the year as it seeks to pacify Syria after its game-changing military intervention on the side of Assad. The talks in Astana are intended to complement broader political negotiations the United Nations is backing in Geneva, which are due to restart in mid-July. The West has largely been kept on the sidelines of the Astana talks, but Stuart Jones, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, was attending as an observer.

US-Backed Forces in Syria Breach Wall of Old City of Raqa
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 04/17/US-backed forces in Syria have breached the wall surrounding the Old City of Raqa as they try to retake the city from the Islamic State group, the US Central Command said Monday night. "Coalition forces supported the SDF advance into the most heavily fortified portion of Raqa by opening two small gaps in the Rafiqah Wall that surrounds the Old City," Centcom said in a statement, referring to the Syrian Democratic Forces. US-backed fighters pierced jihadist-held Raqa from the south for the first time on Sunday, crossing the Euphrates River to enter a new part of the Syrian city, a monitor said. The Syrian Democratic Forces have spent months closing in on the IS bastion and entered the city's east and west for the first time last month. Centcom said the SDF faced heavy resistance at the wall from IS fighters who used it as a combat position and planted mines and improvised explosive devices against advancing US-backed soldiers. "Conducting targeted strikes on two small portions of the wall allowed coalition and partner forces to breach the Old City at a locations of their choosing, denied ISIS the ability to use pre-positioned mines, IED and VBIEDs, protected SDF and civilian lives, and preserved the integrity of the greatest portion of the wall," the US statement said. "The portions targeted were 25-meter sections and will help preserve the remainder of the overall 2,500-meter wall," it added. According to the coalition, an estimated 2,500 IS jihadists are defending the northern city. IS overran Raqa in 2014, transforming it into the de facto Syrian capital of its self-declared "caliphate," which it declared three years ago. The city became infamous as the scene of some of the group's worst atrocities, including public beheadings, and is thought to have been a hub for planning attacks overseas. The United Nations has expressed concern for up to 100,000 civilians it says are still trapped in the city.

Qatari Intelligence Chief Predicts Escalating Pressure from Arabs
Sawsan Abu-Husain/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Cairo- Founder of Qatari Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Mansour, an Egyptian national, predicted that Arab pressure on Doha would escalate if it continued to reject the demands of the four boycotting countries – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt – over supporting terrorism. In statements for Asharq Al-Awsat, Mansour said that political escalation measures could be taken next, including shifting the case to the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court. Mansour expected that the Quartet ministerial meeting between the countries that boycotted Qatar, which will be held on Wednesday in Cairo, will discuss the “appropriate steps and timings” to respond to Qatar’s refusal to implement the 13 demands submitted by the four countries to the Kuwaiti mediator, who is expected to join the meeting. In light of Doha’s continued rejection of the demands, Mansour predicted the launch of successive decisions by Arab countries, with gradual intervals, evidence on charges against terrorist elements in Qatar. He said that these pieces of evidence might be submitted to the Security Council in preparation for a decision to consider the whole matter before the ICC. With the end of the first deadline given by the four countries to Qatar, diplomatic sources and political experts said that “the second phase of the political escalation of the boycotted countries will begin if Doha confirms its non-response to the 13 demands.” “Arab countries that boycotted Qatar have pondered all consequences of their decision, and they have implemented the first phase by sending specific requests to Doha, yet it has shown rejection after Turkey and Iran’s superficial sympathetic, abusive stances with it,” Mansour added.

Jubeir: Qatar Must Change Harmful Policies
Sa'ed Al-Abyadh/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Jeddah- Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that boycotting Gulf and Arab countries hope that Qatar’s response to the demands “will be positive.”“The aim of the measures taken against Qatar is to change its policies that harm it, the countries of the region and other nations of the world,” Jubeir told a press conference alongside his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Jeddah. “We look forward to receiving this response, reviewing it carefully and then taking the appropriate measures towards it,” Jubeir added. The Saudi Foreign Minister said that he agreed with his German counterpart on the importance of stopping the support and finance of terrorist groups across the world, as well as stopping Qatar’s incitement of extremism through its media channels and Doha’s interference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries.Asked by a reporter whether Jubeir found a difference in Germany’s stance since the beginning of the crisis with Qatar, the foreign minister said: “Actually from the beginning of the crisis we found no change in Germany’s stance. They stand with us on the same principles that supporting terrorism must stop.”Jubeir confirmed that most of what was demanded from Qatar was already included in the list of requests agreed in the 2013 and 2014 Riyadh agreements signed by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani, adding that it was agreed to extend the deadline granted to Qatar at the request of the Kuwaiti mediators. For his part, Gabriel said the stand-off between Qatar and its Arab neighbors would best be resolved by an agreement across the region to prevent the financing of terrorism. “An agreement on ending any kind of support for terrorist or extremist organizations would be the best solution to the crisis. We all know that this support is not organized by states, but often by private persons, but we must somehow succeed in ending support in the region for extremist and terrorist organizations.”He vowed support to Kuwait’s mediation efforts to restore the good relations between the Gulf neighbors so as to maintain the region’s stability.

UAE FM Urges Qatar to Stop Funding Terrorism
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan reiterated on Tuesday accusations against Qatar that it is financing terrorism and harboring terrorists. He demanded Doha to therefore stop “supporting” and “inciting” terror. He made his remarks during a joint press conference in the UAE with visiting German FM Sigmar Gabriel. The crisis with Qatar is not limited to confronting terrorism, continued Sheikh Abdullah, “but hate speech should also be addressed, as well as the funding and harboring of terrorists.” He added that it was too soon to speak of future measures against Doha given its response on Monday to the list of demands issued by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt. On June 3, the four countries had severed their ties with Doha over its support of terrorism. They made their list of demands as a condition to Qatar to end its backing of terror. The deadline for replying to the list ended on Sunday, but it was given 48 hours, at Kuwait’s behest, to once again take a stance. “Any future future steps taken by these four countries will adhere to international law,” stressed Sheikh Abdullah. “These measures will be taken after consulting with our allies,” he added. For his part, Gabriel voiced his support of Abu Dhabi’s stance, underlining the need to end the harboring and support of terrorists. “The entire Gulf region has an opportunity to bolster its war on terror financing,” he noted.

Jordan Foils Two Infiltration Attempts from Syria
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Amman – Jordanian Coast Guard foiled on Sunday an infiltration attempt by four persons into the Kingdom from Syria, Jordanian Armed Forces said Monday. A military source at the General Headquarters explained that the army personnel applied the rule of engagement taken in such cases, forcing the infiltrators to retreated to the Syrian front. The source stated that after searching the area, soldiers seized 549,000 Captagon pills, 122 palm-sized sheets of hashish, and 8,550 Tramadol bars. The Border Guards patrols also foiled another infiltration attempt by three people, who tried to cross the frontier from Syria, arrested the infiltrators and referred them to the competent authorities, the source added.He stated that Jordan hosts over 600 thousand refugees since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in March 2011, and had intensified its border control and arrests dozens of extremists trying to infiltrate into the Syrian territories to join the combat.

Turkey Says Military Presence in Qatar to Remain
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Ankara- Turkey has reiterated that its military presence in Qatar will remain, considering any linkage between that and the crisis with Doha an error and stressing that its military base in Qatar serves the region’s security and not only Qatar’s. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said after the cabinet meeting on Monday that “Turkey’s military base in Qatar is not just for Qatar’s security, but for the security of the whole area. The Turkish military presence will remain.” “Linking the crisis with the Turkish base is wrong,” he added. Last week, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the military base in Qatar is a sovereign matter related to the two countries and demanding its closure along with other demands from the Arab countries is a violation of international laws. In the same context, spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Ibrahim Kalin considered during a news conference on Monday that the Turkish base in Qatar poses no threat to any country in the region but its purpose is to contribute to the security and stability of the Gulf and the region.Further, Saudi Ambassador to Ankara Walid Bin Abdul Karim El Khereiji said on Sunday that it is surprising how Turkey rushed to establish a military base in Qatar with the beginning of the crisis with Qatar. He stressed that the Saudi armed forces and military capabilities are at their best level and the kingdom would never allow Turkey to establish military bases in the country.

ISIS Cornered in West Mosul
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Erbil – Iraqi Forces liberated new areas of the Old City in Mosul and are close to regaining control over Tigris bank, ISIS’ final stronghold. ISIS is now cornered within few streets west of the city, while Peshmerga forces thwarted a wide-ranged attack on al-Zarka area, southeast Kirkuk. Clashes continued between Iraqi Forces and ISIS within a very small area estimated to be 500 meters long and 200 meters wide, according to security commanders. Head of Federal Police Raed Shaker Jawdat confirmed that the troops had liberated the whole Saray Door area and several other areas towards Khalid Ibn Walid street and al-Nujaifi area as part of the southern axis of the Old City. Federal Police is advancing towards al-Medan, al-Kawazeen and then Qouleiat, whereas Counter-Terrorism Service head towards Bab al-Shatt and al-Shahwan on the other bank to liberate alleys from ISIS militants. As clashes continue, security forces are working on securing corridors for besieged civilians, some of which are still strapped under destroyed buildings. Officer of Counter-Terrorism Services Jassim al-Najafi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that hundreds of civilians, mainly children and women, escape the Old City daily. He added that the citizens leaving the area suffer from malnutrition and severe medical conditions and had been transferred to camps where they received medical care. On Monday morning in Mosul’s Old City neighborhood, a female suicide bomber hiding among a group of fleeing civilians claimed she was injured, and when civilians gathered to help her, she detonated herself killing two and wounding nine others. Concurring with Mosul battles, another ISIS attack took place southeast of Kirkuk. Head of the fifth platoon in Defense and Emergency forces of Kurdistan Lieutenant Said Ali Mohammed told Asharq al-Awsat that they had already been informed that ISIS militants will intensify their battles in Tuz Khurmatu and al-Zarka axis. He added that Peshmerga advanced about 30-40 kilometers during the clashes with the terrorist organization. Mohammed added that according to intelligence information, the troops managed to kill over 10 militants and injure over 15 while others fled the area leaving behind their weapons and supplies.

4 Wounded in Iranian Shelling on Iraqi Border Region
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Erbil- The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps heavy artillery and rockets targeted on Monday wide regions of Iraqi Kurdistan, injuring four and displacing hundreds, as well as damaging agricultural lands. Farzang Ahmad, the local administrator of the Haji Omaran, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “Iranian artillery continued on targeting a village in Haji Omaran until the evening, leading to the injury of a woman, who was among the region’s residents and working in the agriculture.”He added that the attack caused material losses in farms, but no accurate data was yet available because of the continuous shelling. “The continuous Iranian shelling causes damage to the agricultural sector and economy in Kurdistan. It also displaces hundreds of civilians,” he stated. Ahmad stressed: “Since the beginning of the shelling, we sought through the border guards in Kurdistan to contact the Iranian border guards to resolve this problem and cease the attack to avoid a high number of victims and losses. Our efforts were vain however because Iran did not respond to us.”Iran claims that it is shelling Iraqi Kurdistan because the Iranian Kurdish opposition is based there.Kurdish parties have repeatedly said that they are not using Iraqi Kurdistan land to target neighboring Iran. They instead confirmed that they are using land from within the border and the mountain regions in Iranian Kurdistan to carry out operations against Tehran.

Egyptian President Calls for Confronting Terrorism-Sponsoring States
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Cairo – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stated that Egypt is exerting all efforts to provide for refugees in the country, stressing the need to put an end to conflicts that are displacing millions in the region, especially in Libya and Syria. Sisi, who arrived in the Hungarian capital Budapest on Monday to attend a summit by the Visegrad Group, said during a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban that Cairo’s ongoing fight against terrorism guarantees Europe’s security and stability. He stated the importance of confronting terrorism-sponsoring states to stop their support. The two leaders held a press conference following their meeting during which Orban expressed his country’s respect and appreciation for Egypt’s war on terrorism. He said Europe should help preserve the political and economic stability of Egypt in return for its counter terrorism efforts. Sisi meanwhile stressed that Egypt does not discriminate based on religion and that maintaining the safety of all citizens is one of the key duties of the state. The president reiterated the importance of reaching a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which should play a pivotal role in resolving crises in the region.
The Visegrad Group summit is a cultural and political alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. It was formed in 2011 with the goal of increasing cooperation between those countries. Earlier, a court in Egypt sentenced 80 people to life in prison and 34 to 15 years in jail. One minor was sentenced to 10 years and 21 people were acquitted. The defendants are accused of the “Kerdasa incident” which saw gunmen fire rocket-propelled grenades at a police station on August 14, 2013, and slit a policeman’s throat before burning the building down. The incident occurred hours after security forces forcibly dispersed a supporters of ousted President Mohemmed Morsi in Cairo and Giza, killing hundreds of protesters and security forces.Egypt’s highest criminal and civil court, ordered a retrial of the 156 who are in custody. Egypt’s legal system allows the defendants a second and final appeal following Sunday’s verdict.

Egypt Repeats Call on Interpol to Arrest Fugitives in Qatar and Turkey
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Cairo – Egypt will once again send the Interpol a list of Muslim Brotherhood fugitive members currently residing in Qatar and Turkey calling for their arrest, according to a security source at the Egyptian Ministry of Interior. Speaking to Middle East News Agency (MENA), the security source said that the list of fugitives includes several persons wanted in Egypt for criminal investigations or convicted in criminal cases. The list includes Youssef el-Qaradawi, Wagdi Ghoneim, former investment minister Yehia Hamed, former prime minister Hesham Qandil, leading Gamaa Al-Islamiya figure Tarek el-Zomor, Qatari al-Jazeera presenter Ahmed Mansour and Brotherhood youth figure Ahmed el-Moghier. The list also includes a number of political analysts and journalists: Mohamed el-Gawadi and Mohamed el-Qudoussi, Wael Kandil, Alaa Sadeq, Ramy Jan and Selim Azouz. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE presented Qatar with a 13-point list of demands, including that Doha hand over wanted individuals being harbored in Qatar. The list of demands also includes cutting ties with Iran, severing all alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups, shutting down al-Jazeera TV channel, closing a Turkish military base and scaling down ties with Iran as well as providing detailed information to the four countries on opposition figures from each of the countries who have received support from Qatar.

Egypt: Qaradawi’s Daughter, Son-In-Law Jailed for Financing “Brotherhood”
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Cairo- Egyptian authorities accused on Monday Ola el-Qaradawi, daughter of the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and her husband Hossam Khalaf, a leading member of the Islamist Wasat Party, of providing the Brotherhood with resources from foreign parties, in a reference to Qatar, to finance terrorist operations in Egypt. Egyptian police detained Ola and her husband for 15 days on Sunday pending investigations on charges of planning terrorist attacks that target security forces. The Muslim Brotherhood was designated by Egypt as a terrorist group in 2013. On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE cut ties with Qatar and accused it of supporting terrorism. The four countries also said 59 individuals and 12 entities linked to Qatar have been added to their updated respective lists of designated terrorist organizations and individuals. The list included Yusuf Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, who lives in exile in Qatar and is accused by Egypt for his role in instigating people against some Arab and Gulf countries. Egyptian judicial sources said on Monday that Qaradawi’s daughter holds the Qatari nationality, in addition to the Egyptian passport. She also works at the Qatari embassy in Cairo since several years. Qaradawi has four daughters and three sons. Ola studied at the University of Texas in the city of Austin in the US. According to the judicial sources, Ola and her husband are accused of being “members of an illegal organization,” in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Egypt and for “planning terrorist acts against the security of public institutions.”The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt considers the Army as the main obstacle facing its chances to return to power and control the country, which explains the continuous attacks launched by members of the Brotherhood against Egypt’s military institutions.

Tunisian Authorities Arrest Dozens for Protesting Illegal Stalls, Fuel Price Hike
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Tunisia – Two police officers were injured and 47 people were arrested during clashes between hundreds of street vendors and security forces in the center of the capital, Tunisian Interior Ministry said Monday. These incidents occurred during a gathering of about 300 people who came to demonstrate in front of the headquarters of the Tunisian General Labor Union against the local authorities’ crackdown against illegal stalls. According to the ministry, the security forces intervened to evacuate the premises. The situation eventually turned violent when the protesters threw stones at the police, who retaliated by firing tear gas. The governorate of Tunis was alerted on June 19 of the uncontrolled exploitation of public places, prompting it to set an ultimatum of five days for illegal street vendors to vacate the area. The protests were also instigated by the Tunisia’s government’s decision on Sunday to cut fuel subsidies, raising petrol prices by 6.7 percent in an effort to trim its budget deficit. Authorities lifted the price of unleaded petrol from 1.650 dinars per liter to 1.750. The last increase in fuel prices was in 2014. The Energy Ministry said in a statement that it has decided to increase the prices of unleaded fuel and diesel by 100 milims and 90 milims respectively, while keeping the prices of other petroleum products unchanged.The price review comes in the wake of protests over unemployment and development that have erupted near oil production sites over the past three months. The rallies led to a weeks-long halt in production in Tataouine and Kebili in the south.

Experts, Intellectuals Condemn Macron’s New Stance on Syria’s Assad
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/London – Around a hundred intellectuals and experts addressed an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron over his recent stance on Syrian regime chief Bashar Assad, describing it as a “grave analytical mistake.” In the letter published in France’s Liberation daily, the researchers analyzed the French leader’s position in which he said that “does not see a legitimate successor to Assad.”In remarks to France’s Le Figaro daily on June 22, Macron stated that the Syrian regime leader “is not an enemy to France, but to the Syrian people.”This marked a shift in French policy as Paris had long called for Assad’s ouster. “Macron’s stance is a grave analytical mistake that will not only weaken France on the international scene, but it will not in any way, shape, or form eliminate terrorism,” said the intellectuals in their open letter on Monday. Addressing Macron, they said: “By recognizing Assad’s legitimacy despite his documented crimes, you are placing France in the ranks of complicit countries.” Furthermore, they criticized him for bringing Paris’ policy closer to that of the US and Russia through giving a “blank check” to the Syrian regime under the pretense of combating terrorism. They believed instead that “Assad is not an enemy of terrorism, but its propagator.” The signatories accused Marcon of “undermining an entire people, because you do not believe that it is capable of electing a legitimate successor to Assad.”The signatories included Syria’s Farouk Mardam-Bey, novelist Sama Yazbek, Yassin Saleh and Lebanese researcher Ziad Majed, as well as France’s Vincent Geisser, Leila Seurat and journalists Edith Bouvier and Garance Le Caisne.

Syrian Regime Ready to Protect Chemical Inspectors
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/London – Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad accused the US and Israel of ordering terrorists to forge all evidence in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib countryside, and fill up the hole created after bombing the area. He accused Western governments of “create favorable conditions for their terrorist groups to use chemical weapons.”Speaking at a press conference in Damascus on Monday, Meqdad reiterated that Syria destroyed all its chemical arsenal and stressed that his country will discuss counter-terrorism efforts during the coming Astana talks. Although Syria has destroyed all its chemical arsenal, we still see attempts to attack the achievements made by the Syrian Arab Republic” Meqdad noted, before adding that “the enemies of Syria” have no other means to justify their intervention in Syria, “except this kind of cheap propaganda and cheap use of chemical weapons.” Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued a report confirming that Sarin gas was used in April in Khan Sheikhun killing dozens, while western countries stated that the regime is responsible for the attack and asked for international inspectors to be sent to the town. The Syrian government is prepared to protect international inspectors and provide all necessary conditions for the OPCW visit, indicated the deputy minister. Meqdad underlined that the Syrian government had already destroyed all of its chemical weapons overseen by a joint mission led by the United Nations and OPCW.Regarding the Astana peace talks, Meqdad stated that consultations are going on among all involved parties. The deputy foreign minister emphasized that representatives from the Damascus government were talking with delegates from armed opposition groups only because Syrian government authorities were seeking to establish peace and stability in the country. He added that the talks have their own agenda and the Syrian government deals with all efforts aiming at countering terrorism, whereas the UN is calling for negotiations to discuss Resolution 2254.

Palestinians Accuse Israel of Paying Salaries for Jews Who Killed Palestinian Civilians
Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17/Palestinian Authority official Issa Qaraqe gives a press conference in Ramallah on the large number of Palestinians staging hunger strikes in Israeli jails on April 19, 2017
Palestinian Authority official Issa Qaraqe gives a press conference in Ramallah on the large number of Palestinians staging hunger strikes in Israeli jails on April 19, 2017. (AFP/Abbas Momani) Ramallah- The Palestinian Authority lashed out on Monday at Israel and blamed Tel Aviv for paying a monthly salary for Jewish prisoners, who are accused of killing Palestinians. Issa Qaraqe, head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said the Israeli occupation government was paying a high monthly salary, sometimes reaching $3000, for prisoners and Israeli criminals who had committed massacres and murders against Palestinian civilians. He also accused the Palestinian authorities of providing those criminals and their families with social care, legal follow-up and any other requirements. As an example, Qaraqe said a monthly salary has been allowed to the Israeli criminal Ami Popper, who is a mass murderer convicted for the killing of seven Palestinian workers in Rishon Lezion near Tel Aviv on May 20, 1990, while they were waiting at a bus stop for their Israeli employers to arrive. “He (Popper) was wearing the military uniform when he opened fire and executed them,” Qaraqe said. He added that Popper was first condemned to life imprisonment, but later received a reduced sentence and will be released next month. According to Qaraqe, Popper receives a salary of 11,000 shekel, he was allowed to marry, had children while inside the prison and was even permitted to visit his family on several occasions. “This Israeli government is supporting Jewish terrorists and their extremist organizations at the financial, social and legal levels,” he said. Qaraqe’s statements came as a response to the US-Israeli attack on the Palestinian Authority for paying salaries for Palestinian hostages. The Israeli government had launched a wide-range campaign accusing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of “financing terrorism” in an act that contradicts his comments about peace. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had also criticized Abbas on several occasions and said the Palestinian President was working on the principle of: “The more you kill, the more you get.”

N.Korea Fires 'Intercontinental Ballistic Missile'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 04/17/North Korea proclaimed Tuesday that it had successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile -- a watershed moment in its push to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States. US experts said the device could reach Alaska, and the launch, which came as the United States prepared to mark its Independence Day, triggered a Twitter outburst from US President Donald Trump who urged China to "end this nonsense once and for all". The North has long sought to build a rocket capable of delivering an atomic warhead to the continental United States -- something that Trump has vowed "won't happen".Its possession of a working ICBM will force a recalculation of the strategic threat it poses. The "landmark" test of a Hwasong-14 missile was overseen by leader Kim Jong-Un, an emotional female announcer said on state Korean Central Television.
It reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometres and flew 933 kilometres, she added. The North was "a strong nuclear power state" and had "a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world" she said. There are still doubts whether the North can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile nose cone, or whether it has mastered the technology needed for it to survive the difficult re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. But the isolated, impoverished country has made great progress in its missile capabilities since the ascension to power of Kim, who has overseen three nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches. In response to the launch but before the announcement, Trump asked on Twitter: "Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?"The United Nations has imposed multiple sets of sanctions on Pyongyang over its weapons programmes, which retorts that it needs nuclear arms to defend itself against the threat of invasion.
'All of Alaska' -The "unidentified ballistic missile" was fired from a site in North Phyongan province, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, and came down in the East Sea, the Korean name for the Sea of Japan. US Pacific Command confirmed the test and said it was a land-based, intermediate range missile that flew for 37 minutes, adding the launch did not pose a threat to North America.
It was estimated to have reached an altitude that "greatly exceeded" 2,500 kilometres, Japan said, prompting arms control specialist Jeffrey Lewis to respond on Twitter: "That's it. It's an ICBM. An ICBM that can hit Anchorage not San Francisco, but still." David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote on the organisation's allthingsnuclear blog that the available figures implied the missile "could reach a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km on a standard trajectory". "That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska."
- Growing threat -The device came down in the Sea of Japan within the country's exclusive economic zone, Tokyo's defence ministry said in a statement, waters extending 200 nautical miles from its coast. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters: "This launch clearly shows that the threat has grown." The US, Japan and South Korea will hold a summit on the sidelines of this week's G20 meeting on the issue, he added. "Also I will encourage President Xi Jinping and President Putin to take more constructive measures." South Korea's President Moon Jae-In, who backs both engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table and sanctions, and met Trump for a summit in Washington at the weekend, strongly condemned what he called an "irresponsible provocation".- 'Not wise' -Washington, South Korea's security guarantor, has more than 28,000 troops in the country to defend it from its communist neighbour, and fears of conflict reached a peak earlier this year as the Trump administration suggested military action was an option under consideration. There has also been anger in the United States over the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student detained in North Korea for around 18 months before he was returned home in a coma in June. Trump has been pinning his hopes on China -- North Korea's main diplomatic ally -- to bring pressure to bear on Pyongyang. Last week he declared that Beijing's efforts had failed, but returned to the idea on Twitter following the launch: "Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!"But a former foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton warned that his comments risked undermining the credibility of both the US deterrent, and its assurances to its allies in Seoul and Tokyo. She added: "Picking a twitter fight with a nuclear-armed dictator is not wise – this is not reality TV anymore."

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 04-05/17
Canada rewards terrorists; Israel punishes them
Tarek Fatah/Toronto Sun/July 04/17
Two news stories concerning terrorism should make Canadians realize that not only are we being governed under the doctrine of ‘sock and awe’, but that our values have turned upside down in a bizarro world, one of our own making.
First to Israel where on Monday, the government revealed it has filed a precedent-setting lawsuit against the family of a terrorist who drove a truck into a group of military personnel killing four Israeli soldiers.
Attacker Fadi al-Qunbar was shot dead shot and killed in January, and the matter would have rested there. But this time Israel has made the landmark decision to sue against any inheritance the terrorist left to his family. The lawsuit, which is expected to be the first of many similar cases, demands a total of more than $2.3 million.
Israel’s Minister of the Interior Arye Dery told the Haaretz newspaper, “From now on, anyone who plots, plans or considers carrying out a terrorist attack will know that his family will pay a heavy price for his deed.”
Not so in Canada.
On the same day as the terrorist Fadi al-Qumbar was being penalized by Israel, in Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced that convicted terrorist Omar Khadr who in October 2010 had pleaded guilty to “murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, spying, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism,” was to receive a $10M ‘compensation’ for his troubles and an official apology from the Government of Canada.
Mr. Khadr, now 30, was 15 in July 2002 when he lived in an Afghan compound with a group of bomb-building Islamic jihadis planting roadside explosives. Afterwards, U.S. troops stormed the house and this is where a grenade thrown by Khadr killed Sergeant Christopher Speer, a medic who was helmetless and dressed in Afghan clothing.
It is true that at the time Omar Khadr committed his act of terror and murder, he was only 15 years old, but in the context of the war against civilization by Islamic terrorists, be they from the Taliban, ISIS, Al-Shabab or Boko Haram, the vast number of volunteers who have taken up arms and carried out war crimes are in their teens.
For bleeding-heart liberals whose guilt-ridden frame of mind cannot comprehend beyond the storybook picture of the child soldiers hired by African war lords, this may be a shock, but the ultimate hero of Muslims in the part of the world Omar Khadr was photographed making IEDs, is the 8th century 17-year old Arab invader of India called Muhammad Bin Qasim, and from Kabul to Karachi every child jihadi wishes to emulate the rape and plunder of this Arab jihadi. We are not dealing with the God’s Army in Uganda or the Liberian child soldiers of the 1990s.
The Muslim boys who go to fight jihad do so not under any pressure, but for the lure of entering Paradise and meeting the opposite gender for the first time. This may sound bizarre to the non-Muslim, but trust me, this is not fiction nor propaganda.
But there may still be some poetic justice in the end.
Tabitha Speer, the widow of Sargent Speer who, moved to finalize a default civil-suit judgment against Omar Khadr. The court granted the plaintiffs a total of US$134.1 million in damages
It would be sweet revenge if the $10M ‘compensation’ went straight from Omar Khadr’s pockets to Sgt. Speer’s widow.

World's Rallying Cry: "Free Iran"
Majid Rafizadeh/Gatestone Institute/July 04/17
"[W]e have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran... he completely opposes the Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor." — Ambassador John R. Bolton.
"The fact is that the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East. There's no fundamental difference between the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani -- they're two sides of the same coin. I remember when Rouhani was the regime's chief nuclear negotiator -- you couldn't trust him then; you can't trust him today. And it's clear that the regime's behavior is only getting worse... the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs' regime in Tehran." — Ambassador John R. Bolton.
Any fundamental change in Iran's theocratic establishment will reverberate across the region. Many terrorist groups will lose their major financial and weapons support. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will lose his hold on power, which he has wielded for far too long. Iran's major player, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which constantly damages the US and its allies' national interests and incites anti-Semitism, will disappear; Hezbollah will lose its funding; "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" will fade away.
Tens of thousands of people came together in Paris on July 1 from all different corners of the world, to unite against the unspeakable atrocities committed by the Islamist state of Iran. It was the largest gathering of Iranians abroad of its kind.
The conference, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was spurred by the desire to speak up for human rights, peace, women's rights, freedom, democracy, and to demand victory over terrorism. Its focus was to generate awareness of the plight of Iran's innocent and vulnerable citizens, against whom the Iranian government has been wreaking havoc -- with no consequences -- for decades.
Leaders, journalists, prominent figures from around the world, and scholars joined the rallying cry of "Free Iran". The array of speakers included several prominent Americans, including former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and Congressmen Ted Poe, Robert Pittenger and Tom Garret.
During the eight years of Obama's appeasement policies towards the Islamist regime of Iran, the mullahs became significantly empowered and emboldened. Iran's opposition hopes that the appeasement of the theocratic regime in Tehran has come to an end. Ambassador Bolton pointed out:
"[W]e come at a time of really extraordinary events in the United States that the distinguish today from the circumstances one year ago. Contrary to what virtually every political commentator said, contrary to what almost every public opinion poll said, contrary to what many people said around the world, Barack Obama's first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States.
"So for the first time in at least eight years that I've been coming to this event, I can say that we have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran... he completely opposes the Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor."
The Iranian regime is still the world leading funder of international terrorism, including the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, the bombings of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983, attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
It does not matter who the regime's president is; the core imperialist foreign policy of the Iranian regime is the same as it has been for almost four decades. With the passage of time, particularly since the nuclear agreement gave them an even stronger sense of power, Iran's regime has become more daring and destructive, leaving multitudes of human rights violations in its wake. As Bolton stated:
"The fact is that the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East. There's no fundamental difference between the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani -- they're two sides of the same coin. I remember when Rouhani was the regime's chief nuclear negotiator -- you couldn't trust him then; you can't trust him today. And it's clear that the regime's behavior is only getting worse: Their continued violations of the agreement, their work with North Korea on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, only continues to grow.
"And let's be clear: Even if somebody were to say to you that the regime is in full compliance with the nuclear deal, it doesn't make any difference. North Korea is already perilously close to the point where they can miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and hit targets in the United States. And the day after North Korea has that capability, the regime in Tehran will have it as well, simply by signing a check.... that's why Donald Trump's views on North Korea are so similar to his views on the regime in Tehran."
Since 1979, the mullahs and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have significantly expanded their terrorist network to Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Iran's main objective is to impose its Islamist laws and radical ideology on other nations, dominate them, and create an Islamic Caliphate. If the Iranian regime is allowed to continue, especially when it completes its nuclear weapons capability and delivery systems with North Korea's help, its activities do not look as they will benefit global "health."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich praised the Iranian opposition as a just and pure movement for standing against the Iranian regime: "I am very impressed by the dedication of your movement". He added, "I come today to bring a very simple message: Iran must be free". He also praised the leadership of Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI): "She is persistent in difficult times. She is a great leader. I thank each of you on her behalf to help her make her a truly historic figure."
It is time for the powers of the world and the Iranian opposition to join hands to counter the Iranian regime. As Ambassador Bolton made clear:
"...we must avoid allowing the regime in Tehran to achieve its long-sought objective of an arc of control from Iran, through the Baghdad government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon -- an arc of control, which if it's allowed to form, will simply be the foundation for the next grave conflict in the Middle East.
"The regime in Tehran is not merely a nuclear-weapons threat; it's not merely a terrorist threat; it is a conventional threat to everybody in the region who simply seeks to live in peace and security.
"The regime has failed internationally. It has failed domestically, in economics and politics -- indeed its time of weakening is only accelerating, and that's why the changed circumstances in the United States, I think, throughout Europe and here today, are so important.
"There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today."
Maryam Rajavi struck a hopeful note for democratic change by saying, as the crowd cheered:
"The ruling regime is in disarray and paralyzed as never before. Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided.... Our people want a constitution based on freedom, democracy, and equality.... The sun of change is shining on Iran."
Rajavi added that the international community must
"recognize the resistance of the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs' religious dictatorship and designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization and evict it from the entire region."
Any fundamental change in Iran's theocratic establishment will reverberate across the region. Many terrorist groups will lose their major financial and weapons support. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad will lose his hold on power, which he has wielded for far too long. The major player, Iran's IRGC, which constantly damages the US and its allies' national interests and incites anti-Semitism, will disappear; Hezbollah will lose its funding. "Death to America" and Death to Israel" will fade away. The list goes on, and leads to the eventual improvement of all human life, as these atrocities have bled their way into every country.
A united coalition can be a robust force against the ruling mullahs. But it can only be as strong as its members, and their dedication finally to achieve peace in a region that has seen far too much torture and bloodshed. It is the time for the international community and world leaders to join the Iranian opposition, more effectively to counter the Iranian regime.
As Bolton stated: "The outcome of the president's policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday.... the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs' regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself."
With combined, global pressure, this long overdue change can finally become a reality.
**Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is a Harvard-educated and world-renowned Iranian-American political scientist, business advisor, and author of "Peaceful Reformation in Iran's Islam". He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu.
© 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.

Australia: The Madness Continues
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/July 04/17
"While terrorism's origins have many factors, Islamic terrorists, as heinous as their acts are, they are often merely doing what the scriptures are telling them." — Tanveer Ahmed, Muslim psychiatrist.
In Australia, according to judges, women and children must accept sexual assaults because it is part of the "Islamic culture" of their attackers. It would seem that in parts of Australia, this "Islamic culture" has replaced the rule of law. None of the above, however, seems to be enough to appease Muslim sentiments. In March, Anne Aly, Australia's first female Muslim MP, said that racial-discrimination laws should be expanded to cover insults based on religion as well.
In March, a teacher at Punchbowl Primary School quit her job after she and her family received death threats from the children in the school, with some of them saying they would behead her. The teacher's complaints to the New South Wales Department of Education were dismissed.
During the month of Ramadan alone, the world witnessed 160 Islamic attacks in 29 countries, in which 1627 people were murdered and 1824 injured. Nevertheless, the dual efforts to deny any links between Islamic terrorism and Islam on the one hand, and the efforts to accommodate Islam to the greatest extent possible on the other, seem to continue unaffected by the realities of Islamic terrorism -- in Australia, as well, which is experiencing its own share of sharia and jihad.
At the end of May, the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) called on the Australian Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to:
"...include a recommendation in its report that disavows the notion that there is any inherent link between Islam and terrorism... The Committee should condemn any politician who refers divisively (expressly or implied) to any religious or ethnic group for the purpose of political gain."
PHAA Chief Executive Michael Moore said that there is no inherent link between any religion and acts of terror:
"When you look at terrorism and the IRA, I don't think many people blamed Christianity for terrorism when clearly there was an overlay. In fact there's nothing ­inherent in Christianity that links to terrorism".
Since when are public health officials qualified to make authoritative statements on the theology of Islam or its linkage to Islamic terrorism?
Muslim psychiatrist Tanveer Ahmed, would disagree. Speaking in June about the Australian media's disproportionate focus on "Islamophobia" he said:
"While terrorism's origins have many factors, Islamic terrorists, as heinous as their acts are, they are often merely doing what the scriptures are telling them."
While Australian officials rush to declare that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, revealingly they have referred to Islam or Islamic culture to exonerate Muslims on several occasions. In April, despite pleading guilty to sexually assaulting eight women and girls on a beach in Queensland, a young Afghan man was acquitted. The reason for the acquittal: "Cultural differences". According to the judge, "seeing girls in bikinis is different to the environment in which he grew up". The teen received two years' probation without being convicted of anything.
Similarly, in 2014 , a registered sex-offender and pedophile, Ali Jaffari, was accused of attempted child-abduction. However, Australian police dropped all charges against him, after a magistrate told prosecutors that he would have difficulties finding Jaffari guilty. According to news reports:
Magistrate Ron Saines said if he was hearing the matter, he would have reasonable doubt, citing "cultural differences" as one factor, which would result in the charges being dismissed.
In Australia, according to judges, women and children must accept sexual assaults because it is part of the "Islamic culture" of their attackers. It would seem that in parts of Australia, this "Islamic culture" has replaced the rule of law.
A recent taxpayer-funded study about domestic violence is an example of the trend, in certain parts of Australia, towards replacing Australian values with Islamic ones. According to the study, while refugees are grateful for, "peace, freedom, healthcare and education", the "major point of contention" is the issue of women's and children's rights:
The three-year study, funded by the Australian Research Council, concludes: "Many refugees see some human rights, in particular those relating to women and children's rights, as detrimental to their successful settlement in Australia."
It says some refugees argue "women's and child's rights contravene the cultural values, norms and mores" of their ethnic groups.
The study called for "cultural sensitivity and understanding of the impact on male refugees and... feelings of alienation and disappointment".
Domestic violence in Muslim households is already a hot topic in Australia. Keysar Trad, a former President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, told Sky News in February that an angry husband can beat his wife as "a last resort". In April, the women's branch of Islamic group Hizb Ut-Tahrir posted a video from an all-women's event in Sydney to Facebook, in which two women demonstrated wife beating and called it "a beautiful blessing".
Accommodating Islam in Australia takes other forms as well. For Ramadan this year, Muslim inmates of two maximum-security prisons in the State of Victoria were given taxpayer-funded microwave ovens in their cells for the month, so they could heat their food up after sunset, when they can break their fast. The issue apparently caused unrest among the non-Muslims in the jails.
In Auburn, female Muslim swimming pool users were given a separate curtained pool, so that they could swim without male pool users seeing them. Belgravia Leisure, which operates the facility, said, "the curtain was installed to overcome cultural barriers and encourage Muslim women to use the pool". The company's general manager, Anthony McIntosh, said it was "a move to make the pool accessible for all cultural groups".
None of the above, however, seems to be enough to appease Muslim sentiments. In March, Anne Aly, Australia's first female Muslim Member of Parliament, said that racial-discrimination laws should be expanded to cover insults based on religion as well. The Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, has voiced similar opinions.
In June, the Islamic Council of Victoria made a submission to a Parliamentary inquiry, requesting from the government:
"To create safe spaces urgently needed by Muslim youth to meet and talk about a range of issues in emotional terms, where they can be frank and even use words, which in a public space would sound inflammatory".
In other words, Muslims should have a taxpayer-funded "safe space" where they can incite unhindered against Australians?
Some Muslims have decided to create a "safe space" on their own, segregated from the rest of Australian society. In Brisbane, the Australian International Islamic College is planning an exclusively Muslim enclave, including a mosque covering 1,970 square meters; a three-storey elder-care and residential building, 3,000 square meters of retail space and 120 residential apartments, in addition to new classrooms and a childcare center for 2,000 students. The existing site is already home to the college, which caters to students from kindergarten to 12th grade. So much for "multiculturalism".
Clearly, the appeasement is not working. It never has. Appeasement, in fact, usually seems to have the opposite effect. Here are a few recent examples of how Australian policies have been working out lately:
In April, a Christian man in Sydney wearing a cross was attacked by a Muslim gang of youths, who, while screaming "Allah', and "f**k Jesus", threw his cross to the ground and violently assaulting him. According to Baptist Pastor George Capsis, this was the fourth such attack on a Christian in Sydney in the past six months.
In Sydney's Punchbowl Boys High School -- one of 19 schools in New South Wales identified as at risk of radicalizing Muslim students -- students were "pressured to attend daily prayer meetings, lectures on the Koran and even cut their hair by peers badgering them to conform to Islam".
The 19 at-risk schools all participate in an anti-radicalization program, but the principal of Punchbowl Boys High School, Chris Griffiths, a convert to Islam who has since been fired, had refused to participate in it; he said that he was "not comfortable with prayer groups being monitored or the school being 'stigmatised'".
Griffiths need not have worried. Those de-radicalization programs apparently do not work very well. In March, a Sydney teenager who was in a de-radicalization program pleaded guilty to planning a terrorist attack on Anzac Day in 2016. The teenager was accused of trying to obtain a gun for his intended April 25 attack; then, when that failed, a bomb manual.
In March, a teacher at Punchbowl Primary School quit her job after she and her family received death threats from the children in the primary school, with some of them saying they would behead her:
She said she was abused by students when she stopped them from hanging a Syrian flag in the classroom.
Many of the students also reportedly spoke of family members fighting in the war in Syria and pupils would walk out mid-way through a lesson to go and pray.
According to news reports, the teacher's complaints to the New South Wales Department of Education were dismissed.
Jihad also came to Australia during the recent Ramadan. After ISIS had told its supporters to attack the infidels "in their homes", Yacqub Khayre, an Australian Muslim, took that literally. On June 5, in a serviced-apartment block in an affluent Melbourne suburb, he took a woman hostage, killed another man, then, during the attack, called a television station and told them that his attack was for ISIS and al-Qaeda. But the Australian police are not easily fooled: they said at the time that terrorism was just "one line of inquiry". Khayre, a Somali immigrant, was, it turned out, well-known by the authorities. He had, in fact, been acquitted of plotting a terror attack at a Sydney army base in 2010; had served sentences for arson and violent crimes, and had been paroled in November 2016.
**Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 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.

Troubled countries and post-ISIS scenarios
Radwan al-Sayed/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17
President Barack Obama used to think that problems related to ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq will last for 30 years and more. This was a serious misjudgment by a superpower, which possesses highly developed and accurate tools. America’s superior apparatuses have not been able to secure presidential elections against Russian hacking and they could not stop WikiLeaks and other similar leaks. Before both these incidents happened, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq failed in terms of providing security and re-establishing the state. Taliban is now communicating with Iran and Russia to increase its chances of controlling the country again. In Iraq, “the Sunni rebellion” – as the US coined it – that began in 2004 is still escalating amid the three challenges posed by the Americans, the Iranians and the Shiites ruling Iraq. In all cases, American failure does not console us at all because our countries are the arenas of America’s success or failure. ISIS will be eliminated in Iraq and Syria before the year 2017 ends and not after 30 years. Some terrorist operations will still happen; however, the legend of the “state” is over or about to be over.
Even if we say that the US has played a major part in eliminating ISIS and al-Qaeda, we must note that these group’s accomplices on ground were never the people who suffered due to them but they were the Russians, the Iranians, the Turks and the Israelis. Arabs as states and communities were never these groups’ accomplices especially that many Arabs were displaced and their communities destroyed by Iranian militias, Iranian revolutionary guards and sectarian governments in Iraq and Syria.So what’s happening now to think about the future post-ISIS and al-Qaeda? What’s funny is that when it comes to Syria, there is nothing worth mentioning. The Syrian constitution is even being discussed in Astana while it was supposed to be discussed during the political negotiations in Geneva as the Astana talks were meant to discuss military and security matters and gradual ceasefire. Even if there are plans to hold elections in Syria in 2019, half of the Syrian people will not be in Syria to vote as they have no rights, and this is similar to Israel’s case with the Palestinians
Post-war scenarios
How will the country be managed after the war ends this year? In Iraq, they say they have a constitution, a parliament, an independent judiciary and a recognized government. However one third of the country is destroyed and there are 5 million displaced people. So who will vote in Iraq in 2018?
Before we even discuss this, what will happen after the Kurdish referendum? ISIS and Iran made gains in favor of neutralizing the nationalistic role of Sunni Arabs. It seems the balance of terror between Turkey, Iran and American protection encourages the Kurds to separate and have their independent state.
In this case, the Kurdish state and the tension on borders with Turkey will make a “national solution” weak or impossible. Nouri al-Maliki is about to make a statement similar to Benjamin Netanyahu’s on Palestine: “We do not have a partner we can negotiate with!”
The situation in Syria is more difficult as more parties are involved. Despite the latter’s diversity, there is no strong party that represents a wide category of Sunni Arabs who are the majority of the Syrian people. In Iraq, there’s a weak and fragmented party but it’s represented in the parliament, government and institutions. Meanwhile in Syria it’s like they’re completely eliminated. The Russians are heading in the direction of withdrawing recognition of the High Negotiations Committee, which represents the Syrian political opposition. The vision of the Syrian regime, Iran and Russia is to restore the situation to how it was in 2010 and to keep Assad as president. Proof to that is that Russia and Iranian militias are in control of the situation on the ground.
Elections in 2019?
Even if there are plans to hold elections in Syria in 2019, half of the Syrian people will not be in Syria to vote as they have no rights, and this is similar to Israel’s case with the Palestinians. The situation in Libya is better because there are two legitimate bodies, and they are an international body as represented by the presidential council and another in the East as represented by the elected parliament. It is thus possible to think of a solution if Arabs who support both legitimate bodies or who support only one cooperate to reach a consensus. Perhaps assigning Ghassan Salame, who is well-known for his experience in crises and negotiations, as the UN envoy to Libya will pave the way towards a solution. The situation in Yemen may be even better than the situation in Libya as there is a stable map for a solution and restoring legitimacy. Those behind the coup is running out of luck and if supplies through the Hodeidah Port is closed, it will weaken due to drop in aid. However, the fear is from southern separatists who do not want to wait until the militias are toppled. What they are doing is tantamount to fragmentation amid famine, cholera, and destruction of the state. Difficulties in troubled countries are many and they may lead to frustration. However, those who survived the wars of Iran, Turkey, Russia and the US can help the brotherly countries that are suffering. They should think with them about the phase after this unrest ends.

Gulf crisis: A difficult situation for French diplomacy
Christian Chesnot/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17
As soon as he arrived at the Elysée, President Emmanuel Macron faced a crisis as serious as the Middle East issue. The tension between Qatar and other Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain) and Egypt has proved to be a challenge for him.
Why? Because France cannot openly take sides with one side or the other. For a long time, Paris has maintained relations of friendship and cooperation with all the main protagonists. The dilemma is therefore great for French diplomacy.
France has signed defense agreements with Doha that bought 24 Rafale fighter planes, whose pilots are currently being trained in France. Over the past decade, Qatar has increased investment in France, notably by taking minority interests in large companies such as Total, Vivendi, Veolia Environment, Vinci, Lagardère and LVMH. The cherry on the top of the Qatari presence in France: Sheikh Tamim is the owner of the Paris St Germain football club.
As French military-economic interests are high, in addition to a defense agreement, France has a permanent naval base in Abu Dhabi. The UAE is among the first investors, among Gulf countries, in France. As for Saudi Arabia, it was promoted to the rank of “strategic partner” of Paris, which echoes the diplomatic convergences with Riyadh.
Beyond the appeals of maintaining calm, what can France do to help resolve this acute crisis in the Gulf, the most serious one since the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in August 1990?
Actually, not much. In the early days of the crisis, President Emmanuel Macron called on the main protagonists, to dissolve the situation. But it is hard for the Elysee to do more.
The French president, who made realism and pragmatism the alpha and omega of his diplomacy, will not be able to distance himself for very long from this major crisis in the Gulf
Diplomatic interest
Basically, the new French president is less “attached” to the region than his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy, especially with Qatar, and François Hollande with Saudi Arabia.
His diplomatic interest is more oriented toward Africa and the Maghreb, as evidenced by his first trips abroad to Mali and Morocco. During the election campaign, candidate Macron promised to build a more “transparent and frank” relationship with the Gulf.
As for Doha, Emmanuel Macron wants to challenge the tax exemption granted to Qatari investors by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2009. However, the French president, who made realism and pragmatism the alpha and omega of his diplomacy, will not be able to distance himself for very long from this major crisis in the Gulf. “It is a strategic region for France and we have very long rooted strategic partnerships with several countries,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated recently that he can only call on the protagonists of the crisis to “decrease the tension” since “division does not serve them.”Clearly, Paris cannot afford to cut its ties with one or the other. Moreover, in his desire to talk to everyone, Emmanuel Macron sent an invitation to the Emir of Qatar to meet him at the Elysée Palace on July 6th.
The invitation is no longer on the table as Paris announced yesterday that Sheikh Tamim was indeed invited to visit France and that the visit will take place by the end of the summer.
He knows fully well that the key to the solution is not in Paris but in Washington. And most importantly, he probably considers it is better for him not to leave his country because the crisis is still in its incandescent phase.

What happens to Qatar if it rejects Gulf demands?
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17
As the deadline for Qatar to meet Gulf demands nears, the country puts itself in fierce conflict which does not end with the demands made by the four Arab countries. This dispute extends to other countries that support moderation, tolerance and combat terrorism.
In recent days, Qatar only viewed these demands via a narrow perspective. It did not look at them as serious demands by countries that suffered from terrorism and witnessed bloodshed. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt are countries targeted by terrorists.
All the busted cells were nurtured by media platforms in Qatar, and they received direct support from them, like the case is in Syria, or indirect support such as the hefty ransom, which Qatar unhesitatingly paid. Qatar is not convinced it is embroiled in this global terrorist situation and this poses a problem for Doha as it will worsen the regime’s crises and put it thrust it into an unprecedented phase.
Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani was hesitant the entire time as he made contradictory statements. His statements were not suited to a major diplomatic crisis which struck the country. In his recent statements, he even admitted Qatar’s support of terrorism.
He literally said: “Qatar is not the only country confronting this accusation and it’s rather at the bottom of the list of countries involved in such crimes.” He acknowledges Qatar is on the list of countries supporting terrorism and when he realizes what he said he adds that Doha is at the bottom of the list.
Qatar can learn lessons from the exceptional cooperation that exists between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain as these countries operate as a unit and almost completely agree on all thorny issues
Diplomatic efficiency
He also lessens the burden of responsibility. If Qatar demonstrated diplomatic efficiency during this crisis, it would have managed to delay the negative repercussions, contain the crisis and adopt a proper approach by responding to demands and discussing what is impossible or difficult to meet. However, it chose to remain stubborn as it viewed the crisis as “insulting” as former foreign minister Hamad bin Jassem put it.
No one objected to the mediation efforts, which sought to contain the crisis and bring Qatar back to the Gulf fold. As colleague Mohammad Romaihi said on Twitter the crisis with its repercussions may extend to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which has been the most successful Arab entity. However, Qatar’s unjustified stubbornness may push the countries toward other options and alliances.
This is going to be the most dangerous consequence if Qatar chooses to reject the demands. Doha’s rejection may destroy the successes achieved by the GCC, which it hasn’t been harmonious to since the mid-1990s. It did not adhere to its principles and goals of the GCC, especially in areas such as resisting Iranian expansion in the Gulf and working to curb it.
Qatar can learn lessons from the exceptional cooperation that exists between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain as these countries operate as a complete unit and almost completely agree on all thorny issues, such as their recent decision to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. What these countries have in common is Qatar’s intense campaigns against them.
Gulf unity
When the UAE exercised its sovereign right to stamp out terrorists and Muslim Brotherhood’s criminal activities, Qatari media platforms claimed that the UAE was being suppressive. When Bahrain fought against terrorism, it was dubbed as an act of aggression against people seeking peace. When Saudi Arabia curbed expansion of terrorist activities in Qatif and Al-Awamiyah, Qatari media outlets sided with Hezbollah’s media.
And now, after rejecting the demands, Qatar will create a wedge in Gulf unity. This would mean the situation will become even more complicated and will last longer. It is no secret that the crisis has been difficult for Qatar as the reasons behind it are clear after decades of conspiracies. This is backed by records – some of which broadcast – and by documents that reveal the extent of Qatar’s rogue behavior in and outside the GCC.
The ball is now in the Qatar’s court and time is not on its side. The boycotting countries are the winning party as it is necessary for them to address Qatar after it went too far. The least they can do is protect the security of their countries from those who conspired against them during the past two decades.
Rejecting the demands means refusing to acknowledge the new international reality. The repercussions will not be easy on the small country, which is arrogantly stubborn for no good reason.

End of ISIS control? Now is the time to liberate minds
Dina al-Shibeeb/Asharq Al Awsat/July 04/17
Karrar Noshi, an aspiring young actor and a visual arts student, was recently stabbed to death in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, apparently because his style was very flamboyant and he wore “tight clothes.” This kind of violence – perpetrated to suppress a human being’s choice of wardrobe – is not new. They have happened way before the rise of the malicious and immoral ISIS and its so-called Caliphate in 2014. Way back in March 2012, I remember reporting about the stoning to death of dozens of Iraqi teenagers with “emo appearance.” They were reportedly killed by some form of moral police in a violent crackdown soon after the Iraqi interior ministry at the time declared them as “devil worshippers.”
And even before the brutal killing of those “emo” teenagers in Iraq, the Iraqi Ministry of Education in 2010 tried to ban theater and music classes in Baghdad’s Fine Arts Institute, and ordered the removal of statues showcased at the entrance of the institute.
However, this didn’t materialize due to Baghdad’s somehow vibrant civil society movement, which had people protesting: “We are not Qandahar,” in reference to Baghdad’s more progressive culture.
Rise of extremism
Several reasons could be attributed to the rise of extremism in Iraq – be it Shiite or Sunni – following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. It began with the intention to localize the global “war on terror” in Iraq.
Iraq’s borders were kept porous with no protection against the region’s radical and frustrated people who entered a country plagued by virtual absence of institutions such as the Iraqi Army. Special mention should be made about Paul Bremer, the head of Coalition Provisional Authority, who dismantled the army amid simmering anger against occupation.
This region definitely has some conservative hues but the constant instability it has experienced has heightened these tendencies. Iraq is a prime example of this phenomenon despite the efforts made by the US to bring democracy to the country.
In a region so complex in sectarian, religious, ethnic and tribal identities transcending borders and governments, there is a dire need to strengthen trust and egalitarianism
Picking up the pieces
Stifled by the regular occurrence of deadly bombing incidents, Iraqis have tried hard to pick up whatever pieces they could find to make their country feel normal again.
They held beauty pageants to celebrate life. They launched an “I am Iraqi, I read” campaign to further enrich themselves or took to the streets to rejoice the Iraqi National Football team winning a match.
Most importantly, they continued their protests against electricity cuts and corruption in a country that saw its budget deficit worsen despite oil sales ballooning post-2003. However, the country has always tried to hit back collectively.
There were some MPs who hold conservative views and try to re-introduce an already rejected bill, to reduce marriage age for girls from 18 to 9. As the Iraqi government is getting ready to announce officially the liberation of the country’s second largest city of Mosul from ISIS control, the plague of this group’s ideology lurk in the background.
In a recent interview with the Turkish-owned TRT World, actual imam of the Great Al-Nuri Mosque – where ISIS Chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced his Caliphate in 2014 – said he was initially “optimistic” when ISIS took over as he was looking forward for an Islamic rule. But Imam Hamoud Omar soon felt disillusioned when he saw the bloodshed. However, during the interview the imam reiterated his support for Shariah rulings such as cutting fingers of thieves and stoning of adulterers.
Killing innocents
Is it possible that following this war against ISIS, and the imminent liberation of Mosul, we witness killings of an innocent person such as Noshi and find an imam still romanticizing about a “Caliphate”?
Iraqi parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri is right when he said last week that “liberating minds from extremist ideology” is far more important than just freeing territories seized by ISIS.We can always liberate a place but liberating minds isn’t as simple. There needs to be a full economic vision to employ the youth and put a plan in place to prevent ideology of extremism from taking roots.
In a region so complex in sectarian, religious, ethnic and tribal identities transcending borders and governments, there is a dire need to strengthen trust and egalitarianism.
Let those who love beauty and art like Noshi live.