July 09/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 10/16-25/:"‘See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 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!"

Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
First Letter to the Corinthians 12/12-13.27-30/:"Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body Jews or Greeks, slaves or free and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 08-09/17
What Tillerson Didn’t Say Reminds Me of Obama/Robert Ford/Asharq Al Awsat/July 08/17
Germany: Chechen Sharia Police Terrorize Berlin/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/July 08/17
Eastern Europe Chooses to Keep Western Civilization/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/July 08/17
Question: "Does the Bible prophesy a one-world government and a one-world currency in the end times/ 08/17
A Killer Goes Free in Cairo/David Schenker/The Washington Institute/July 08/17
Only Saudi Arabia can stop Iran from dominating region/Huda al Husseini/Asharq Al Awsat/July 08/17
Is it still possible to coexist with the Tehran regime/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/July 08/17
A Half-Million Syrian Returnees? A Look Behind the Numbers/Fabrice Balanche/The Washington Institute/July 08/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 08-09/17
Lebanon: Warnings on Proposal for ‘Voluntary Return’ of Syrian Refugees
Report: Aoun Hasn't Tasked 'Presidential Envoy' to Negotiate Refugees with Syria
Mustaqbal Welcomes Geagea's 'Initiative' to Return Displaced Syrians
Report: Hizbullah Sets 'Zero Hour' to Oust Arsal Militants
Khatib-Lassen Discuss Waste Management
Celebratory Gunfire Shooters Unmoved by Mashnouq's Ban
Ex-Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq: Three Sons of Ministers Fighting with Hizbullah in Syria
33 Syrians, including 12 children, detained in the town of Swairi for illegal entry into Lebanon
Franjieh for unity in face of confessional discourse
Khoury: We can only stay and live in this country by encouraging the industry
Hasbani, Radi finalize health cooperation agreement
Geagea deplores terrorist attack in Sinai
Army raids Syrian refugee camps in Brital
Sarraf highlights importance of unity facing enemy

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 08-09/17
G20: Terrorism targets the whole world, has no religion, says Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia to host G-20 summit in 2020
UK FM: Progress can be made to ease Qatar tensions but not immediately
Qatar-backed Twitter accounts called for Saudi protests, says minister
UAE’s Gargash: Qatar’s response to Arab demands is ‘shockingly naive’
New British-US Efforts to Solve Qatar’s Crisis
Moscow, Paris Agree on ‘Fighting Terrorism’ in Syria
Gulf, Islamic Countries Condemn Qatif Terror Attack
Report: Coalition Killed 603 Civilians in Iraq, Syria
Head of Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack Inquiry Appeals for Countries to Back Off

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 08-09/17
Lebanon: Warnings on Proposal for ‘Voluntary Return’ of Syrian Refugees
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 08/17/Beirut- There have been warnings on a proposal for the “voluntary return” of Syrian refugees as “Hezbollah” deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem accused the United States and the European Union of seeking to block the return of the displaced to Syria.
The Lebanese government is divided on whether to coordinate with the Syrian regime on the return of the refugees, whose numbers, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), have dropped to 200,000 since 2015. While Prime Minister Saad Hariri, backed by ministers of the Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party, have staunchly rejected any contacts with Damascus, researcher Radwan al-Sayyed warned of an alternative plan on the “voluntary return” of refugees. Al-Sayyed told Asharq Al-Awsat that General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim “visited Damascus twice this week.”Ibrahim had in the past acted as an intermediary between the Beirut government and the Syrian regime, carrying out deals that led to the release of kidnapped Lebanese pilgrims in Syria’s Azaz and the freeing of Lebanese servicemen taken hostage by militants in the northeastern border town of Arsal.Hariri insists that the return of the refugees is the responsibility of the United Nations. But Qassem stressed on Friday that “the ones preventing the return of Syrian refugees from Lebanon to Syria are America and the European Union because the return of the displaced to their country means that the regime of Bashar Assad can run a state, protect security and receive those (refugees) to live under his protection.”His statement is considered the first accusation made by “Hezbollah” to international parties on the alleged obstruction of the return of refugees. The issue of the refugees’ return heated up in the past week following an assault last Friday on Lebanese army patrols carrying out raids in two Syrian refugee encampments on the outskirts of Arsal.

Report: Aoun Hasn't Tasked 'Presidential Envoy' to Negotiate Refugees with Syria
Naharnet/July 08/17/The presidential palace has denied reports claiming that President Michel Aoun has tasked a “presidential envoy” to negotiate the return of displaced Syrians with the Syrian government, Baabda sources told al-Mustaqbal daily on Saturday. “The President did not task anyone. He is still thoroughly studying the case to determine the most appropriate solution,” the sources told the daily on condition of anonymity. Reports said lately there is an inclination to task General Security chief Maj. Gan. Abbas Ibrahim to “politically coordinate” with the Syrian government on the refugee file – “not in his security capacity but rather in his capacity as a presidential envoy.”Furthermore on Friday, Ibrahim said “he was willing to carry out any mission entrusted to him by the government.”Political parties are divided over whether to coordinate the return of the displaced through the United Nations or through talks with the Syrian government. Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement said talks with Syria are necessary to solve the crisis of refugees, while al-Mustaqbal, the Lebanese Forces and other parties see that an attempt to “refloat” relations with the Syrian regime that has dominated Lebanon for years.

Mustaqbal Welcomes Geagea's 'Initiative' to Return Displaced Syrians
Naharnet/July 08/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and al-Mustaqbal Movement Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury hae discussed the file of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the means to secure their return home. LF sources told the daily that Geagea has briefed Khoury on the details of the “party's initiative” to help the Lebanese government “take a sovereign decision in collaboration with the United Nations” about the return of the displaced. “Geagea's initiative was welcomed by al-Mustaqbal. The two parties have confronted an attempt calling for coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian governments (on the return of refugees),” added the sources on condition of anonymity. Earlier, Mustqabal Movement leader PM Saad Hariri has rejected any coordination with the Syrian government considering it an attempt to refloat relations between the two countries. Hariri had earlier called on “allies of the Syrian regime” to pressure Syria into establishing safe zones for displaced Syrians in Lebanon to return home.

Report: Hizbullah Sets 'Zero Hour' to Oust Arsal Militants
Naharnet/July 08/17/Political parties close to Hizbullah's decision-makers said the party has “set the zero hour for a joint military operation, alongside groups of special units in the Syrian army, against terrorist and extremist groups in the outskirts of Arsal,” the pan-Arab al-Hayat daily reported on Saturday. The daily quoted the sources as saying that Hizbullah has taken this decision in light of “stalled negotiations it had directly sponsored with a Syrian (mediator) Mohammed Rahmah, aka Abu Taha al-Asali, who brokered with leaders of al-Nusra Front and Saraya al-Sham, the return of hundreds of (displaced) Syrians to the town of Assal al-Wared on the Syrian side.”Hizbullah has therefore “set July 15 for the start of the military operation after Abu Taha had difficulty convincing Abu Malek al-Talli, the top official of the jihadist al-Nusra Front group in the border region between Syria and Lebanon, to leave the outskirts and head to the Syrian side.”According to information, “al-Talli has set some demands” in return for his group to leave the outskirts including “securing his transport to Syria's Idlib in addition to a list of conditions which obstructed Abu Taha's mission.”As for the Islamic State group, “it is not willing to negotiate,” its evacuation “and insists on keeping its militants in the outskirts of Arsal because it has no safe place to resort to in Syria,” the daily quoted the unnamed sources. They added that “Abu Taha did not lose hope of reaching tangible results that would accelerate the movement of more displaced people to the villages of Qalamoun. Hizbullah needs to make it succeed in order to pass a message to the international community that it is not a partner in the sectarian sorting which is still happening in a number of Syrian areas through the displacement of the Sunni population.”But, the sources added that “the suspension of negotiations until further notice has prompted Hizbullah to set the zero hour to launch its attack to clean the outskirts of terrorist and extremist groups, taking advantage of the army's latest security sweep in two refugees encampments in Arsal that resulted in foiling suicide bombings against Lebanese regions.”The sources did not rule out the possibility that through its operation in the outskirts, Hizbullah has “a goal of sending a political message to Moscow and Washington that any understanding between them must involve Iran because of its impact on thousands of fighters from outside Syria who came to defend the regime with military and material support from Tehran.”

Khatib-Lassen Discuss Waste Management
Naharnet/July 08/17/Minister of Environment Tarek al-Khatib met with Ambassador Christina Lassen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon where talks focused on the waste management strategy and the need to protect Lebanon's global resources, including the Mediterranean sea, a press release said. They also focused on waste to energy plans and upcoming initiatives to address the waste crisis. Ambassador Lassen raised concerns about operations in the two landfills of Costa Brava and Bourj Hammoud. Khatib assured her that the government is currently working intensively to address remaining problems. Ambassador Lassen said that the European Union is ready to support municipalities and operational initiatives, as well as the private sector and the civil society organizations in the preparation of long-term responses to the waste crisis. She added that addressing the solid waste crisis and channeling EU support need efficient, transparent and accountable responses at public and private sector levels. Since 2004, the EU has been financing the construction of 16 solid waste treatment facilities and the supply of equipment (e.g. containers, trucks, sterilization centers) outside Beirut and Mount Lebanon, for a total of more than EUR 77 million.

Celebratory Gunfire Shooters Unmoved by Mashnouq's Ban
Naharnet/July 08/17/Heavy celebratory gunfire was heard in several Lebanese areas on Saturday after the announcement of Grade 12 official exams results, although Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq had urged people to restrain from firing and encouraged citizens to take to the streets and “revolt.” VDL (93.3) said gunfire was heard in the southern Palestinian Refugee Camp of Ain el-Hilweh in Sidon, in Baalbek, in the northern neighborhood of al-Beddawi in Tripoli, in Bebnine and Akkar. The announcement of official exams in Lebanon, wedding ceremonies and funerals are events often celebrated with gunfire. Late in June, people also celebrated the results of the Brevet official exams. A stray bullet has claimed the life of an elderly man in Baalbek. Before the Brevet results, Mashnouq banned celebratory gunfire and urged people to report any violation of the ban. Around 90 people were arrested after that, but at least 70 were released under political pressures. Early this week, Mashnouq had called on people to “revolt” if celebratory gunfire
occurs during the Grade 12 results.

Ex-Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq: Three Sons of Ministers Fighting with Hizbullah in Syria
Naharnet/July 08/17/Former Environment Mohammed al-Mashnouq revealed on Friday that three sons of Lebanese ministers in the government are fighting alongside Hizbullah's ranks in the Syrian war. Mashnouq said he had a conversation with someone whose identity was not disclosed, he said he asked him “how can Lebanon dissociate itself from the war in Syria while three sons of Lebanese ministers are fighting with Hizbullah in Syria?” Mashnouq's remarks came in a tweet. Hizbullah and others from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are battling alongside regime forces in Syria to defend the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

33 Syrians, including 12 children, detained in the town of Swairi for illegal entry into Lebanon
Sat 08 Jul 2017/NNA - "Within the framework of combating the smuggling of people from Syria into Lebanon, the Internal Security Forces detained Saturday 33 Syrians, including 12 children under five years of age, in the town of al-Swairi in the Bekaa region for entering the Lebanese territories illegally, ISF Information Department indicated.

Franjieh for unity in face of confessional discourse
Sat 08 Jul 2017/NNA - Maradah Movement Head, MP Sleiman Franjieh, recalled Saturday before a delegation of supporters from the town of al-Fouar in Zgharta that "we have always been the model of living together in the worst circumstances," highlighting the importance of unity in confronting sectarian campaigns and confessional discourse. "We have always been the first to face divisions in North Lebanon, and we have inherited patriotism despite paying dearly for it, yet the country deserves it," Franjieh added. "We wish, above all, to distance our territories from any conflicts or disputes," he asserted.
Franjieh called on his supporters never to fear "those who have constitutive positions even if their opinions differ," while warning against "those with inconsistencies who never hesitate to change speech at the people's expense."

Khoury: We can only stay and live in this country by encouraging the industry
Sat 08 Jul 2017/NNA - Economy and Industry Minister Raed Khoury deemed Saturday that living in Lebanon can only be sustained by encouraging its industry. "The time has come for the State to think about how it can encourage investors because there are many who need help," said Khoury, speaking during his Middle Bekaa tour this morning that included the areas of Ferzol and Zahle. He considered that the Lebanese government could initiate an economic plan which can prove helpful, setting the framework for State initiatives, such as as supporting investors and giving them flexible loans and tax exemptions, in addition to the opening of new markets. "It is high time that we looked to our economy which can only be improved via economic-political consensus," he added, emphasizing President Michel Aoun's determination to launch great initiatives within the economic sector. "The goal is to develop an integrated economic plan that starts from the farmers, far-reaching the industrialists who take their products from the farmers, and this is the role that should be played by the Ministry of Economy, namely to bring together all ministries concerned to work hand-in-hand," Khoury asserted.

Hasbani, Radi finalize health cooperation agreement
Sat 08 Jul 2017/NNA - Public Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani and his Egyptian Counterpart, Ahmad Imad-Eldine Radi, decided Saturday on the final cooperation agreement between their ministries in the health and medicine fields. In this context, both Ministers agreed on a series of practical steps towards implementing this cooperation, which includes a visit by the Lebanese delegation to Egypt in the near future to sign said agreement. It is to note that this bilateral agreement would allow the Lebanese pharmaceutical industry promising opportunities to enter the largest African drug market and to exchange expertise in this field, in addition to several other health sectors.

Geagea deplores terrorist attack in Sinai
Sat 08 Jul 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces Party Chief, Samir Geagea, condemened Friday's terrorist attack in Sinai, Egypt, which killed and injured a total of 26 Egyptian soldiers. In a statement issued on Saturday, Geagea offered his condolences to the Egyptian people, President Abdel-Fattah Sissi and the Egyptian army. He also praised the "swift action" carried out by the Egyptian Forces by killing 40 terrorists in wake of the attack. "We renew our call to Arab states to stand in solidarity and unity to eradicate these terrorist phenomena and the Takfiri ideology," the statement concluded.

Army raids Syrian refugee camps in Brital
Sat 08 Jul 2017/NNA - A Lebanese Army unit raided at dawn camps for Syrian refugees in Brital and arrested 50 Syrians for failing to provide legal residency documents, National News Agency (NNA) correpsondent said on Saturday. Moreover, the army unit also confiscated 20 motorbikes and vehicles during said raids, NNA reporter concluded.

Sarraf highlights importance of unity facing enemy
Fri 07 Jul 2017/NNA - Minister of National Defense, Yaacoub Sarraf, on Friday highlighted the importance of unity among citizens as well as among the military, in the face of the enemy. "When the enemy sees that we are divided parties, it will seek to drag us into war; but if we are one hand just as we are today in the army, we prevent hardships," the Minister said during a meeting organized by Labora at Balamand University in Baino, Akkar. Sarraf also called for providing support and orientation for the army, not just weapons.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
July 08-09/17
G20: Terrorism targets the whole world, has no religion, says Saudi Arabia

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 8 July 2017/The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reaffirmed before the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday that terrorism has no religion, for it is a crime that targets the entire world, according to Saudi Press Agency (SPA). Indeed, it does not differentiate between religions and ethnic groups, and Saudi Arabia condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations, in a constant and unequivocal condemnation, wherever and by whomsoever committed, as one of the most serious threats to world peace and security. The Kingdom stressed that combating terrorism and extremism and promoting the values of moderation is an international responsibility that requires effective cooperation and coordination among countries. The Kingdom stressed the need to combat and prevent all sources and means of funding terrorism, expressing the will to work with all partners to combat the use of Internet and social media for terrorist or criminal purposes, including their use in recruitment and propaganda.
Opening session
This was unfolded in the intervention of Saudi Arabia during the opening session of the G20 leaders’ summit here, in the north of the Federal Republic of Germany under the title “Towards Building a Continuing World”, which will last for two days. The Kingdom’s delegation was headed by the Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf. During the intervention, Dr. Assaf stressed the importance of working to ensure that the international financial system is not exploited by terrorists, corrupt and drug traffickers, calling for effective implementation of financial procedures to combat money laundering. He also stressed the importance of development and job creation for young people as the best way to maximize their contribution and keep them away from the ideas of extremism and terrorism. “Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia has been the target of terrorist organizations and countries that support terrorism for more than 20 years and have been threatened by direct, indirect and multiple-source terrorism. The last of these has been the death of two security officers and the injury of more than a dozen of their colleagues in the last 48 hours in the eastern region of our country, he said.
At the forefront . He stressed that the Kingdom is at the forefront of the warring countries in all its forms and manifestations and is working closely and coordinated with the international community to combat terrorism and to pursue the terrorists and their organizations to drain sources of funding and fight extremism, including military measures. The Kingdom affirms before the G20: Terrorism has no religion, a crime that targets the world as a first and foremost. Dr. Al-Assaf said that the Kingdom has adopted a comprehensive strategy to eradicate terrorism and extremism, and has enacted regulations that criminalize funding or/and incite terrorism, criminalize travel to areas of conflict and adopt strict control over operations and remittances. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as part of these efforts, participated actively in the international coalition to fight against the US-led ISIS, he pointed out, adding that it also formed the Islamic Alliance for Combating Terrorism. It participated in the joint presidency to prevent funding and imposed sanctions on individuals and organizations that finance terrorism identified by the Security Council, as well as joint lists with the US Treasury, he stated and exchanged information with states and organizations, noting that such cooperation had been highly appreciated by so many countries. “To promote the values of moderation and fight extremist ideology, the Kingdom has launched the Global Center for the Fight against Extremist Thought with the participation of US President Donald Trump and the leaders of countries participating in the Arab-American-Islamic Summit, recently held, in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia to host G-20 summit in 2020

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 8 July 2017/German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Saudi Arabia is set to host the G-20 summit in 2020, reported Al Arabiya on Saturday. The choice comes after a strong vote from the world’s leading nations who put their trust in Saudi Arabia, with its distinctive place among the world’s top 20 economies. Saudi Arabia stood out as the least of the G20 countries in terms of ratio of debt to GDP. By the end of last year, it reached 13.1 percent of Saudi GDP, followed by Russia with 17 percent and Indonesia with 27.9 percent.

UK FM: Progress can be made to ease Qatar tensions but not immediately

Reuters Saturday, 8 July 2017/British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Saturday progress could be made to heal a rift between Qatar and other Arab states, although a solution was unlikely to be found immediately. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain have cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar over accusations it was financing terrorism, claims which Doha says are “baseless”. “My impression is progress can be made and there is a way forward,” Johnson said in a televised interview released to media after meeting senior government figures in Kuwait which is attempting to mediate between the two sides. “But I’m not going to pretend to you now that it is necessarily overnight or this is going to be done in the next couple of days,” he said. Johnson, who held meetings on Friday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is due to travel to Qatar later on Saturday for meetings with its emir and prime minister.

Qatar-backed Twitter accounts called for Saudi protests, says minister
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 8 July 2017/Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Awwad al-Awwad, said that Qatar runs 23,000 fake Twitter accounts that have attacked Saudi Arabia, including an account run by Saudi dissident Saad al-Faqih who resides in London. Awwad explained that Qatar has supported accounts calling for demonstrations in Saudi Arabia on April 21 and on June 2, during the holy month of Ramadan, “and luckily, these plots failed.”Awwad said that the Qatar-backed accounts on Twitter aimed to incite the Saudi public. “This is a national security issue that will not be tolerated,” he said. His statements, posted on a Ministry of Culture and Information official Twitter account came after a content analysis undertaken on a number of accounts that attacked Saudi Arabia. The findings were revealed by Saud al-Qahtani, Advisor of the Saudi Royal court and the General Supervisor of the Center for Studies and Information Affairs. According to the study, the sources of these accounts attacking Saudi Arabia were as follows: 32% from Qatar, 28% from Lebanon, 24% from Turkey and 12% from Iraq. The study also confirmed that 94% of the false accounts do not use a real profile picture, 4% of them use stolen images from social media sites and 2% were not verified.

UAE’s Gargash: Qatar’s response to Arab demands is ‘shockingly naive’
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 8 July 2017/UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash, said on Friday that the Qatari response to the list of demands of the four boycotting countries was “irresponsible.”The response was “shockingly naive, with weak arguments,” Gargash said in series of tweets. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain have cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, which they accuse of supporting terrorism and allying with regional foe Iran. Foreign ministers from the four Arab states leading the boycott of Qatar expressed disappointment on Wednesday with the tiny Gulf nation’s “negative” response to a list of 13 demands.The minister said that Qatar’s response “has undermined the Kuwaiti mediation before it even took off.” He added that “no diplomatic efforts will succeed if Doha does not act reasonably.”The UAE minister stressed that “hiding behind the words of sovereignty and denial will only extend the Qatar crisis.”In his first tweet, Gargash wrote: “Those who followed Qatar’s response to the demands were shocked by Qatar’s denials and how it dealt carelessly with genuine concerns over the evils that have undermined security and stability and led to a real crisis.”He added in a second tweet: “The Qatari response lacks responsibility and objectivity and undermined Kuwaiti mediation efforts before they even took off. Its lack of seriousness came in line with the leaking of the list of demands in a boastful way.”He continued: “The Qatari response to the demands did not respect the reader’s considerations and knowledge. It was shockingly naive with weak arguments. The best thing that the Cairo meeting has done, was to ignore the Qatari response.”Gargash added: “The Qatari response attempted to neglect two decades of supporting chaos, financing extremism and inciting terrorism; how can we forget conspiracy and painful facts, and believe empty words?”He said that “any diplomatic effort or mediation will need rationality, maturity and common sense from Doha; hiding behind the vocabulary of sovereignty and denial will only prolong the crisis.”

New British-US Efforts to Solve Qatar’s Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 08/17/Riyadh- A few hours after the countries calling for combating terrorism accused Qatar of thwarting Kuwait’s efforts to solve the worsening crisis between the four states and Doha, the United States and Britain began new efforts to urge all parties to support Kuwaiti mediation efforts.
Qatar reiterated its rejection on Friday to the accusations of the four countries of supporting and financing terrorism and said they are “baseless.”London and Washington have replaced phone conversations with face-to-face meetings with representatives of the four anti-terrorism countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt) and participated with them in promoting Kuwait’s endeavors. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrived Friday in Jeddah to discuss a solution to the crisis, maintaining the unity of Gulf states and facing common threats, represented in extremism and terrorism.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is heading to Kuwait on Monday following an invitation by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to discuss the issue. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have earlier accused the Qatari government of supporting and harboring terrorism and decided to cut diplomatic relations with it. The four countries later submitted 13 demands to be implemented as a condition for the return of relations, yet Doha’s response was negative. In a joint statement on Thursday, the four countries said that Doha’s refusal to accept their demands to end the diplomatic standoff was proof of its links to terrorist groups. In their statement, the four said the initial list of demands was now void and they pledged further political, economic and legal steps against the emirate. Johnson will talk with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as representatives from Qatar and Kuwait at a currently undisclosed date. “The Foreign Secretary will urge all parties to get behind Kuwait’s mediation efforts, which the UK strongly supports, and work towards deescalation and Gulf unity for the sake of regional stability,” the British foreign office said in a statement. “He will also discuss a range of security and bilateral issues with a particular focus on working together to address the common threats of extremism, radicalization and terrorism.”In a common matter, a US state department spokeswoman said Washington was growing “increasingly concerned that the dispute is at an impasse” and could drag on for months.Underscoring US concerns about a crisis involving key allies in the Middle East, the department said Tillerson plans to visit Kuwait, which is mediating in the dispute, on Monday and will meet a number of senior Kuwaiti officials to discuss current efforts to solve the crisis.

Moscow, Paris Agree on ‘Fighting Terrorism’ in Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 08/17/London, Paris- France and Russia agreed on Thursday that fighting terrorism in Syria was their common objective, but pointedly avoided airing their differences over the sensitive issue of chemical weapons. France appears to be broadly aligning its foreign policy with the US priorities of tackling terrorism while seeking better ties with Russia and avoiding a head-on clash with Moscow over Syria. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who held six hours of talks primarily on Syria with Russian officials in Moscow two weeks ago, continued his push for closer co-operation, when he met his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov again in Paris on Thursday. With the two countries previously publicly at odds over the issue of chemical weapons, Le Drian now hopes to convince Russia to enforce a 2013 Security Council resolution to prevent their use in Syria. He also wants to win concessions from Russia to improve the humanitarian situation in a country where hundreds of thousands are besieged and millions displaced after six years of civil war. Le Drian has not said what incentives Paris could offer Russia in return beyond closer security cooperation. “Terrorism is our number one enemy and to fight it we have to put everything else aside,” Lavrov, whose country supports the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, said in a joint statement. Le Drian echoed those comments saying terrorism was their common enemy. Standing alongside Lavrov, he said that France, which has backed opposition groups fighting Assad, had set a red line on the use of chemical weapons in the country. He shied away from criticising Russia. “We are both opposed to the use of chemical weapons and what’s at stake is to be able to dismantle the regime’s chemical weapons’ stocks,” Le Drian said, refusing to take questions from reporters.
Lavrov himself made no mention of chemical weapons. French intelligence agencies have accused Assad’s regime of carrying out a chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April, something that both Syrian and Russian officials have dismissed. Paris said on Friday that findings by a fact-finding mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that showed sarin or a sarin-like substance had been used proved this.

Gulf, Islamic Countries Condemn Qatif Terror Attack
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 08/17/Jeddah– Gulf States and Islamic organizations strongly condemned a terrorist attack on Thursday against a security patrol in Qatif, eastern Saudi Arabia, which led to the killing of one policeman and the injury of others. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz received a cable of condolences from Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al Sabah, who expressed his country’s strong condemnation of the terrorist attack that targeted a security patrol with an explosive projectile in Al-Musawara district in Qatif municipality. The Kuwaiti emir reiterated his support to Saudi Arabia in facing terrorist threats on its territories. King Salman also received cables of condolences from Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al Sabah, and Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Hamad Al Sabah. They both expressed their sincere condolences to the leadership and people of Saudi Arabia. Sources in the Kuwaiti interior ministry underlined the need to unify efforts to face this “dangerous phenomenon that is targeting humanity and world security”, while stressing Kuwait’s firm stance against violence and terrorism and its support to all measures taken by the Kingdom to preserve its stability.The Bahraini foreign ministry strongly condemned the attack, underlining its stance with Saudi Arabia in all actions and measures taken to maintain its security and calling for concerted international efforts at all levels to eradicate terrorism in all its forms. The UAE ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation strongly condemned the terror attack. The ministry highlighted the importance of international solidarity in confronting this phenomenon that threatens international security. The secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, strongly denounced “such repeated terrorist acts that target security personnel in their duty to preserve public security and order”. On Thursday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said that a security officer was killed in a terrorist attack in Al-Musawara. Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, security spokesman at the Ministry of Interior, said that Vice Sergeant Adel Falih al-Otaibi was part of a security patrol, which was hit by an explosive projectile at around 7 am. He added that three other security officers were injured in the attack.

Report: Coalition Killed 603 Civilians in Iraq, Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 08/17/London, Washington- At least 600 civilians have been killed in strikes in Iraq and Syria by the US-led coalition fighting ISIS since the campaign began in 2014, according to a report released by the coalition on Friday. The estimate in the monthly report, which said coalition strikes had unintentionally killed at least 603 civilians between August 2014 and May 2017, was far lower than figures provided by monitoring groups. The monitoring group Airwars says a total of at least 4,354 civilians have been killed by coalition air strikes. The latest coalition report included an incident on April 17 near the Syrian town of Abu Kamal, in which it said 25 civilians were killed and 40 were wounded during a strike against an ISIS headquarters that caused a secondary explosion in the adjacent building. Since the start of the campaign against ISIS militants, the coalition has carried out nearly 22,000 strikes and has received 727 reports of potential civilian casualties, the report said. The coalition, battling to defeat ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, says it goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Ahead of a final assault on Raqqa city in Syria, the UN human rights office raised concerns about increasing reports of civilian deaths in the area. In a May report, it said there had already been “massive civilian casualties.” In Mosul, the Iraqi military has forecast final victory this week in what used to be the de facto capital in Iraq of ISIS’ self-declared “caliphate,” after an eight-month, US-backed offensive to wrest back the city. Mosul’s pre-war population was 2 million.

Head of Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack Inquiry Appeals for Countries to Back Off

Asharq Al-Awsat/July 08/17/London- An international inquiry aims to report by October on who was to blame for a deadly sarin gas attack in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun in April, the head of the probe has said, as he appealed for countries to back off and stop telling investigators how to do their work. While Edmond Mulet, head of the joint United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry, did not name any countries, diplomats said Russia regularly pressured the investigators.“We do receive, unfortunately, direct and indirect messages all the time, from many sides, telling us how to do our work,” Mulet told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on Thursday. “Some of those messages are very clearly saying if we don’t do our work according to them … they will not accept the conclusions,” he said. “I appeal to all … let us perform our work in an impartial, independent and professional manner,” he said, adding the results would be presented in October. Syrian-ally Russia has publicly questioned the work of the inquiry, which was created by the Security Council in 2015, and said the findings cannot be used to take UN action and that the Syrian regime should investigate the accusations.  The inquiry has so far blamed Syrian regime forces for three chlorine gas attacks in 2014 and 2015 and ISIS militants used mustard gas in 2015. In response to those findings Western powers tried to impose UN sanctions on Syria in February but this effort was blocked by Russia and China.The Syrian regime has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons. Investigators are currently looking at two cases – the exposure of two Syrian women to sulfur mustard in an apparent attack in Um Hosh, Aleppo last September and a deadly April 4 sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun that prompted the United States to launch missile strikes on a Syrian air base. In both cases an OPCW fact finding mission has already determined that chemical weapons were used. Western governments have blamed the Syrian regime for the Khan Sheikhoun attack, which killed dozens of people. Syria has denied any involvement. Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 08-09/17
What Tillerson Didn’t Say Reminds Me of Obama
Robert Ford/Asharq Al Awsat/July 08/17
The July 5 statement from American Secretary of State Tillerson about Syria was the most detailed statement of the Trump administration’s goals in Syria. The Trump administration is often hard to understand, but this July 5 statement follows a cabinet-level meeting at the White House about Syria on June 30 so it should reflect consensus between the State Department, the National Security Council and the Defense Department. Tillerson mentioned ISIS nine times and emphasized that the American effort in Syria is against ISIS. The implicit meaning is clear: Tillerson called the Syrian government a “regime” but Washington is fighting neither Assad nor Iran in Syria. Indeed, Tillerson urged the Syrian opposition to focus efforts against ISIS, not against Assad. Here Tillerson’s policy reminds me of the Obama administration which insisted in 2014 that the American military would train and equip only Syrian opposition fighters against ISIS who pledged not to use their training and weapons against Assad. Few Syrian fighters accepted the American demand, and the 2014 effort ended in a major embarrassment. In 2017, however, the Free Syrian Army is exhausted by attrition and endless, useless internal battles. More Syrian opposition fighters in the end may accept the American demand to fight ISIS only. Indeed, some now are joining the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to fight ISIS.
The American viewpoint is that two elements are vital to destroying ISIS. First, ISIS’ remaining territories must be captured. Second, there must be stability in Syria; without stability ISIS could, he warned, rise again. After six years of fighting in Syria it is hard to imagine stability, so what is Tillerson thinking about?
We can see some specific points that Washington sees as key to stability. First, Tillerson’s statement mentioned Russia eight times and emphasized that Russia has special responsibilities in Syria. Tillerson said Russia must prevent any Syrian faction from “illegitimately” recapturing territory liberated from ISIS or other terrorist groups’ control. This is the most peculiar part of the Tillerson statement. He apparently is demanding Russia preventing more attacks by Syrian government forces against the American-supported SDF, dominated by the Syrian Kurdish PYD party and its YPG militia, that are attacking Raqqah now and may even try to take parts of Deir az-Zour province in far eastern Syria.
The Americans shot down on June 18 a Syrian air force fighter that was attacking the SDF near Raqqah; three times the Americans have bombed Syrian and Iranian-backed militias approaching Syrian Arab opposition forces in southeastern Syria. However, the Syrian government, even if it is repugnant, is acknowledged by the United Nations to be the legitimate government in Syria and so its retaking any territory inside Syria would be legitimate in terms of international law.
Tillerson listed other elements of stability. Washington, he said, would discuss with Russia establishing no-fly zones, de-confliction areas, deployment of ceasefire observers and faster delivery of humanitarian aid. This will please Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Russians after the last round of Astana talks had announced four “de-escalation” zones, and so the American vision of stability in Syria is clearer: in the short term, Syria is de facto partitioned into at least four zones: first, a Syrian government zone that includes the major cities in western Syria; second, a zone in northeastern Syria dominated by the Syrian Kurdish PYD that includes Raqqah; third, Idlib in northwestern Syria where perhaps Russian and Turkish soldiers will deploy, and finally, a small zone in southwestern Syria near the Golan Heights and the Jordanian border.
Tillerson didn’t mention Syria’s reconstruction. Instead, he said that Russia had a responsibility to ensure that the “special needs of the Syria people are met.” Tillerson’s implicit message is simple: don’t ask the Americans to help with reconstruction. This message will not please Lavrov, but it fits closely with candidate Donald Trump’s insistence during the presidential campaign last year that the United States should stop trying to fix foreign countries.
Tillerson only briefly mentioned Syria in the long term. He said there should be a political process to achieve a settlement to design Syria’s future. He didn’t say Assad must step aside. He didn’t say foreign militias must depart Syria. He didn’t even mention the word Geneva. Instead, he said Russia – not America – has a special responsibility to help with the political process, whatever it will be.
There are two big issues Tillerson left out of his statement. First, he avoided the word “Iran”, as if Iran has no forces there and will not influence stability. It is possible the June 30 meeting at the White House didn’t reach a final conclusion about what to say about Iran in Syria. Second, Tillerson listed many things for Russia to do but he avoided giving a list of what the United States would do except for fighting ISIS and beginning discussions with Russia about de-escalation, humanitarian aid and no-fly zones. Am I being too cynical to say that also reminds me of the Obama administration?
*Robert Ford is the former US Ambassador to Syria

Germany: Chechen Sharia Police Terrorize Berlin
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/July 08/17
Threats of violence against "errant" women are viewed as "acts of patriotism."
"They have come to Germany because they wanted to live in Germany, but they keep trying to turn it into Chechnya with its medieval ways." — Social worker interviewed by Meduza.
"Everyone's attention is fixed on the Syrians, but the Chechens are the most dangerous group. We are not paying sufficient attention to this." — Police in Frankfurt (Oder).
A hundred Islamists are now openly enforcing Sharia law on the streets of Berlin, according to local police who are investigating a recent string of violent assaults in the German capital.
The self-appointed morality police involve Salafists from Chechnya, a predominantly Sunni Muslim region in Russia. The vigilantes are using threats of violence to discourage Chechen migrants from integrating into German society; they are also promoting the establishment of a parallel Islamic legal system in Germany. German authorities appear unable to stop them.
The Sharia patrol came to public light in May 2017, when Chechen Salafists released a video warning other Chechens in Germany that those who fail to comply with Islamic law and adat, a traditional Chechen code of behavior, will be killed. The video's existence was reported by Meduza, a Russian-language independent media organization based in Latvia. The video, which circulated through WhatsApp, an online messaging service, showed a hooded man aiming a pistol at the camera. Speaking in Chechen, he declared:
Muslim brothers and sisters. Here, in Europe, certain Chechen women and men who look like women do unspeakable things. You know it; I know it; everybody knows it. This is why we hereby declare: For now, there are about 80 of us. More people are willing to join. Those who have lost their national identity, who flirt with men of other ethnic groups and marry them, Chechen women who have chosen the wrong path and those creatures who call themselves Chechen men — given half a chance, we will set all of them straight. Having sworn on the Koran, we go out onto the streets. This is our declaration of intent; do not say that you were not warned; do not say that you did not know. May Allah grant us peace and set our feet on the path towards justice."
According to Meduza, the declaration was read by a representative of a Berlin-based gang of about one hundred members, headed by former henchmen of Dzhokhar Dudayev, the late Chechen separatist leader. All Berliners of Chechen origin who were interviewed by Meduza said they were aware of the gang's existence.
The video surfaced after nude images of a 20-year-old Chechen woman who lives in Berlin were sent en masse from her stolen cellphone to every person on her contact list. Within an hour, the woman's uncle demanded to speak with her parents. According to Meduza, they agreed to "resolve the issue" within the family by sending the woman back to Chechnya, where she would be killed to restore the family's honor. German police intervened just hours before the woman was to board a plane bound for Russia.
After the woman was placed in protective police custody, her circumstance went from being a family issue to a communal one. According to Meduza, it is now the duty of any Chechen man, regardless of his ties to her or her family, to find and punish her. "It is none of their business, but it is an unwritten code of conduct," said the woman, who has since cut her hair and now wears colored contact lenses in an effort to hide her identity. She said that she intends to change her name and undergo plastic surgery. "If you don't change your name and your face, they will hunt you down and kill you," she said. Although the woman graduated from a German high school, she hardly ever leaves her apartment because it is too dangerous. "I don't want to be Chechen anymore," she said.
According to Meduza, at least half of the population of single Chechen girls in Germany have enough compromising information on their cellphones to be considered guilty of violating adat:
"Associating with men of other nationalities, smoking, drinking alcohol, visiting hookah lounges, discotheques or even public swimming pools can cause communal wrath. A single photograph in a public WhatsApp chat can outcast an entire family and the rest of the community would be obliged to cease all communication with them. With everyone under suspicion and everyone responsible for one another, Chechen girls say they are sometimes approached by strangers in the street who chastise them for their appearance, including for wearing bright lipstick. The theft of a cellphone and the subsequent posting of compromising material is a hard blow; the dishonored person has no one to turn to and the one who posted the victim's photos does not risk anything."
Chechens interviewed by Meduza said that expectations for behavior are more rigid and strict in among Chechen emigrants in Germany than in Chechnya itself. This situation has been described as "a competition in righteousness" between Chechens living abroad and those in Chechnya who are loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov: each party is seeking to prove that they are the better Chechens, and threats of violence against "errant" women are viewed as "acts of patriotism."
Chechens have said in interviews that expectations for behavior are more rigid and strict in among Chechen emigrants in Germany than in Chechnya itself -- "a competition in righteousness." Threats of violence against "errant" women are viewed as "acts of patriotism."
In one instance, a young Chechen woman was recorded on video while walking down a street in Berlin and conversing with a non-Chechen man. That same evening, a few dozen unknown Chechen men drove to her house in northern Berlin. The man she had been seen with was brutally beaten; almost all of his teeth were knocked out. The young woman managed to hide.
On July 4, the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel reported that several other women and men have been assaulted by the Sharia gang in recent weeks, and that the Berlin Criminal Police Office has now launched an investigation. A police spokesperson said that the investigation is being hampered by the fact that so far no victim has publicly dared to bring formal accusations against the gang. The victims are all, apparently, afraid of retribution.
According to Tagesspiegel, some members of the gang, which has grown to around a hundred members, are armed and many have combat experience from the Chechen wars with Russia. The gang members, who also come from Dagestan and Ingushetia, have attacked Muslims as well as non-Muslims, including Christian asylum seekers at migrant shelters in Berlin.
The gang is linked to several Salafist mosques in the German capital, including Fussilet 33, which once served as the headquarters of the so-called Berlin Caliphate. The mosque was shuttered by German authorities in February 2017, after they learned that Anis Amri, the Tunisian jihadist who carried out the suicide attack on a Berlin Christmas market, had sheltered there.
Around 60,000 Chechens live in Germany, according to official statistics, although the actual number is believed to be much higher. Nearly 40,000 Chechens have applied for asylum in Germany during just the past five years; many have crossed the border illegally from Poland.
An internal paper produced by the Federal Audit Office (Bundesrechnungshofes) revealed that "the majority of the unauthorized persons in Germany are Russian citizens of Chechen ethnicity, some of whom have been linked to the Islamic terrorist environment."
The Chechen community in Germany is primarily based in Brandenburg and Berlin, where they are firmly entrenched in a parallel society. A social worker interviewed by Meduza said that the main obstacle to Chechen integration is their ultra-conservative moral code, the adat:
"They have come to Germany because they wanted to live in Germany, but they keep trying to turn it into Chechnya with its medieval ways. This inability and reluctance to integrate is extremely frustrating and typical of all migrants, not just Chechens. The only difference is that most other migrants come from the 20th century, not the times of feudalism."
In an interview with Radio Berlin-Brandenburg, Maciej Falkowski, a Polish political scientist specializing in the Caucuses, said that many younger members of the Chechen diaspora are embracing radical Islam:
"The Chechen people are a very self-contained, homogenous nation. They resolve all problems among themselves. You will hardly find a Chechen, for example, who will seek remedy from a German court. Religion, of course, also plays an important role in the younger generation. Moreover, the Chechens have not had their own country for hundreds of years and therefore are not acquainted with the legal state (Rechtsstaat) in our sense of the concept.
"We are increasingly seeing a generational conflict among the Chechens. The elderly are rather skeptical of Salafism and radical Islam, while the younger ones are embracing it. They believe Salafism offers answers with regard to their identity. Here they find community and charismatic leaders. Salafism is now their dominant current."
Heiko Homburg, an official at Ministry of the Interior of Brandenburg, the German federal state that encircles Berlin, said that most of the known Islamic extremists there are from Chechnya:
"Our problem in Brandenburg is that the Caucasian Emirate [a militant jihadist organization active in southwestern Russia], to which many Chechens feel committed, has submitted to the Islamic State. So, whether we want it or not, we have de facto Islamic State structures here in Brandenburg."
German security officials estimate that 1,500 to 2,000 Chechens are currently fighting in Iraq and Syria. As the Islamic State nears its end, it is feared that many of those fighters will travel to Europe, through Ukraine and Poland with the help of pan-European, Chechen clan relations.
In Frankfurt (Oder), a German city on the border with Poland, police are warning that Chechen migration is a ticking time bomb:
"We have a serious and ever-growing problem with radical Chechens who are constantly traveling back and forth across the German-Polish border. Their families are building Europe-wide structures which they are using to finance the Islamic State with the proceeds of organized crime. Everyone's attention is fixed on the Syrians, but the Chechens are the most dangerous group. We are not paying sufficient attention to this."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 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.

Eastern Europe Chooses to Keep Western Civilization
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/July 08/17
"The greatest difference is that in Europe, politics and religion have been separated from one another, but in the case of Islam it is religion that determines politics" — Zoltan Balog, Hungary's Minister for Human Resources.
It is no coincidence that President Donald Trump chose Poland, a country that fought both Nazism and Communism, to call on the West to show a little willingness in its existential fight against the new totalitarianism: radical Islam.
"Possessing weapons is one thing, and possessing the will to use them is another thing altogether". — Professor William Kilpatrick, Boston College.
In a historic speech to an enthusiastic Polish crowd before the meeting of the G20 Summit leaders, US President Donald Trump described the West's battle against "radical Islamic terrorism" as the way to protect "our civilization and our way of life". Trump asked if the West had the will to survive:
"Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?"
Trump's question might find an answer in Eastern Europe, where he chose to deliver his powerful speech.
President Donald Trump gives a speech in Warsaw, Poland, in front of the monument commemorating the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Germans, on July 6, 2017. (Image source: The White House)
After an Islamist suicide-bomber murdered 22 concert-goers in Manchester, including two Poles, Poland's prime minister, Beata Szydło, said that Poland would not be "blackmailed" into accepting thousands of refugees under the European Union's quota system. She urged Polish lawmakers to safeguard the country and Europe from the scourges of Islamist terrorism and cultural suicide:
"Where are you headed, Europe? Rise from your knees and from your lethargy, or you will be crying over your children every day".
A few days later, the European Union announced that it would begin proceedings to punish Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for their refusal to accept migrants as the European Commission had decided under a 2015 scheme it created.
After Szydło's speech, Zoltan Balog, Hungary's Minister for Human Resources, declared:
"Islam is a major culture and religion, which we must respect, but Europe has a different identity, and it is clear that these two cultures are incapable of coexisting without conflict... The greatest difference is that in Europe, politics and religion have been separated from one another, but in the case of Islam it is religion that determines politics".
That is why Viktor Orban has been labelled as "Europe's enemy within" -- because he spelled out what the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will never do: "Keeping Europe Christian".
These speeches from Visegrad officials -- the European group made up of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia -- are just two examples of deep ideological divisions between Western European countries and those in Central- and Eastern Europe.
There has been a growing tendency of Visegrad leaders to depict Islam as a civilizational threat to Christian Europe. If, in Western Europe, Christianity has been dramatically cast aside by public opinion and severely restricted by EU official rules, in Eastern Europe new polls reveal that Christianity is as robust and patriotic as ever. That is why Trump called Poland "the faithful nation". That is why US Catholic magazines are openly asking if there is a "Christian reawakening" in Eastern Europe. Slovakia approved a law to prevent Islam from becoming an official state religion.
These Central- and Eastern European countries know that Western Europe's multiculturalism has been a recipe for terror attacks, for a start. As Ed West of The Spectator noted:
"Not all of Europe, of course. Central Europe, chiefly Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, remain largely safe from the terror threat, despite the former in particular being a Nato player in the Middle East. It is precisely because the reasons for this are so obvious that they cannot be mentioned. Poland is 0.1 percent Muslim, most of whom are from a long-settled Tartar community, Britain is 5 percent, France 9 percent and Brussels 25 percent, and those numbers are growing".
What is presumably "obvious" here is that Poland and Hungary are not hit by Islamic terror attacks because they have very few Muslims, while Belgium and UK it is the reverse. Europe would probably have been safer if it had followed Eastern Europe's example.
Eastern Europe not only shows a greater understanding of Western culture than Western Europe does; these Eastern countries have also been far more generous to NATO, the bulwark of their independence and security. Culture and security go hand-in-hand: if you take your own culture and civilization seriously, you will be ready to defend them.
A brief look at the NATO's members' military spending as a percentage of GDP shows that Poland meets the 2% target, unlike all the Western European countries. Only five of NATO's 28 members -- the U.S., Greece, Poland, Estonia and the U.K. -- meet the 2% target. Where is France? And Belgium? And Germany? And The Netherlands?
"Unlike most of its NATO and European peers," Agnia Grigas, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, explained, "Poland has for the past two decades consistently viewed defense as a priority issue, and as a result, has been slowly but steadily emerging as the bedrock of European security". Poland -- unlike Belgium, Italy and other European countries -- is not a "free rider" but a trustworthy partner to its US ally. Poland showed loyal support to the United States both in Afghanistan and Iraq, where its troops fought the Taliban and helped to topple Saddam Hussein.
It is no coincidence that President Trump selected Poland, a country that fought both Nazism and Communism, to call on the West to show a little willingness in its existential fight against the new totalitarianism: radical Islam.
"The West will continue to have the military edge for a good time to come, but possessing weapons is one thing, and possessing the will to use them is another thing altogether", wrote William Kilpatrick, a professor at Boston College. "The West is strong militarily, but weak ideologically. It lacks civilizational confidence".
That is why it is critical that Eastern Europe continues to be a strong voice of dissent in the EU project. It might provide just the cultural confidence that European bureaucrats dramatically lack -- at the peril of Europe itself.
*Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Question: "Does the Bible prophesy a one-world government and a one-world currency in the end times?"
Answer: The Bible does not use the phrase “one-world government” or “one-world currency” in referring to the end times. It does, however, provide ample evidence to enable us to draw the conclusion that both will exist under the rule of the Antichrist in the last days.
In his apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John sees the “beast,” also called the Antichrist, rising out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1). Combining this vision with Daniel’s similar one (Daniel 7:16-24), we can conclude that some sort of world system will be inaugurated by the beast, the most powerful “horn,” who will defeat the other nine and will begin to wage war against Christians. The ten-nation confederacy is also seen in Daniel’s image of the statue in Daniel 2:41-42, where he pictures the final world government consisting of ten entities represented by the ten toes of the statue. Whoever the ten are and however they come to power, Scripture is clear that the beast will either destroy them or reduce their power to nothing more than figureheads. In the end, they will do his bidding.
John goes on to describe the ruler of this vast empire as having power and great authority, given to him by Satan himself (Revelation 13:2), being followed by and receiving worship from “all the world” (13:3-4), and having authority over “every tribe, people, language and nation” (13:7). From this description, it is logical to assume that this person is the leader of a one-world government which is recognized as sovereign over all other governments. It’s hard to imagine how such diverse systems of government as are in power today would willingly subjugate themselves to a single ruler, and there are many theories on the subject. A logical conclusion is that the disasters and plagues described in Revelation as the seal and trumpet judgments (chapters 6-11) will be so devastating and create such a monumental global crisis that people will embrace anything and anyone who promises to give them relief.
Once entrenched in power, the beast (Antichrist) and the power behind him (Satan) will move to establish absolute control over all peoples of the earth to accomplish their true end, the worship Satan has been seeking ever since being thrown out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14). One way they will accomplish this is by controlling all commerce, and this is where the idea of a one-world currency comes in. Revelation 13:16-17 describes some sort of satanic mark which will be required in order to buy and sell. This means anyone who refuses the mark will be unable to buy food, clothing or other necessities of life. No doubt the vast majority of people in the world will succumb to the mark simply to survive. Again, verse 16 makes it clear that this will be a universal system of control where everyone, rich and poor, great and small, will bear the mark on their hand or forehead. There is a great deal of speculation as to how exactly this mark will be affixed, but the technologies that are available right now could accomplish it very easily.
Those who are left behind after the Rapture of the Church will be faced with an excruciating choice—accept the mark of the beast in order to survive or face starvation and horrific persecution by the Antichrist and his followers. But those who come to Christ during this time, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 13:8), will choose to endure, even to martyrdom.
**Recommended Resource: End Times Prophecy by Paul Benware

A Killer Goes Free in Cairo
David Schenker/The Washington Institute/July 08/17
In the Egyptian capital, the Sisi government frees a billionaire imprisoned for a sensational murder, for reasons only known to itself.
On June 23, Egypt's President Sisi granted clemency to some 500 convicted criminals, a common practice of Arab leaders on the eve of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the month-long Islamic fast of Ramadan. Among those discharged was Hisham Talaat Mustafa, a billionaire real-estate magnate and politico with close ties to the Mubarak regime. In 2009, Mustafa was convicted of contracting to have his girlfriend, the Lebanese diva Suzanne Tamim, murdered in Dubai. Eight years and multiple political upheavals later, the release of Mustafa highlights how little Egypt has actually changed.
The story of Suzanne Tamim's murder is a sensational tale. Tamim, a Lebanese singer who won Arab Star Search in 1990, became Mustafa's paramour while he was serving as a parliamentarian member of the policy secretariat of then-President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). He was also a close associate of Mubarak's son and heir apparent Gamal. Mustafa, who was already married, reportedly wanted Tamim to be his second wife, but she refused and subsequently took up with Iraqi kickboxing world champion Riyad al-Azzawi.
Jilted and furious, Mustafa paid a former Egyptian security official $2 million to kill his erstwhile lover. In July 2008, retired police officer Moshen al-Sukkary flew from Cairo to the United Arab Emirates, where he executed Tamim in her apartment -- nearly severing her head with a large knife. Alas, Sukkary left a trail of bloody footprints while fleeing the scene, and Emirati police eventually traced the sneakers that made them to a Dubai mall, where Sukkary had purchased them just days earlier. Sukkary was subsequently identified and extradited to Egypt, where he implicated Mustafa in the conspiracy.
In the spring of 2009, the trial mesmerized Egyptians. It appeared to be a slam-dunk case. Not only had Sukkary confessed to the crime and fingered Mustafa, the evidence included recorded phone conversations between Mustafa and the hitman. The question was whether Mustafa -- notwithstanding his wealth and connections -- would receive a fair trial in a judicial system notoriously manipulated by an authoritarian regime.
The Mubarak regime initially placed a gag order on the trial, but after two local newspapers released details about the killing, the government instead decided to use the trial to showcase the state's "independent" judiciary. The media affairs secretary of Mubarak's ruling NDP, Ali Din Hilal, pointed to the indictment of Mustafa as proof that "the ruling party knows no cronyism and that nobody in Egypt is above the law." Most Egyptians knew better, and were genuinely shocked when Mustafa and his trigger man were found guilty and sentenced to death in May 2009.
While the judgment against Sukkary stuck -- though his sentence was subsequently commuted to life in prison -- the state's highest court soon threw out the guilty verdict for Mustafa due to alleged procedural errors. The 2010 retrial again found Mustafa guilty, but sentenced him to just 15 years. When he was released just before the Eid, Mustafa had served less than half of his term. At the time, many concluded that he was receiving special treatment due to his social status. But the fact that he was sentenced at all was nonetheless noteworthy given his connections with Egypt's seemingly entrenched autocracy.
Since his incarceration, there have been two uprisings and four regime changes, but media interest in Mustafa's story has nonetheless persisted. On several occasions, Mustafa reportedly appealed for his release based on alleged medical conditions, but those appeals were denied. Meanwhile, his company, the Talat Mustafa Group (TMG), was sued for various indiscretions regarding its $3 billion Madinady ("My City") project. TMG reportedly purchased land from the state for a gated community and golf course along Cairo's ring road for nearly $1 billion under market value, a sweetheart deal for a regime associate. The legal proceedings caused shares in TMG stock to plummet by nearly 10 percent.
After his release, however, the value of TMG stock surged by nearly 15 percent. Was this business-friendly signal what Sisi had in mind when he released Mustafa? Perhaps. Egypt's business community, which strongly supported the July 2013 overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi and backed Sisi's presidential bid a year later, remains an important constituency for the Egyptian government. Or was the pardon a signal to the Egyptian judiciary, which has at times been at odds with Sisi? Or maybe it was simply a holiday goodwill gesture to a figure who, if the reports are accurate, has suffered medically in prison.
Nobody knows, which is par for the course in Egypt. Indeed, one of the most persistent features of Egyptian decision-making through all the turmoil of recent years has been opacity. Seven years after the revolution, Mustafa's release represents business as usual in Cairo.
**David Schenker is the Aufzien Fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute.

Only Saudi Arabia can stop Iran from dominating region
Huda al Husseini/Asharq Al Awsat/July 08/17
A country that does not take into consideration emotions but rather believes in the death penalty, chooses to play on emotions. A country that pays some of its people to shout “Death to America” on a daily basis, has now its foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, objecting on the decision to ban Iranian from travelling to the US and saying that this ban is aimed against Iranian grandmothers.
In this same country, if a grandchild decides to visit his grandmother in Iran, he will be put in prison for trying to overthrow the regime because he has an American citizenship. This country, which wants grandmothers to be able to travel to the US, arrested last week, 110 young men and women for participating in a mixed ceremony.
The Iranian leadership does not hesitate to exploit everything for its own benefit. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi that “the Americans are against the Shiite Popular Mobilization because they want Iraq to lose its core power.”
Then, President Hassan Rouhani tells Abadi that “the liberation of Mosul is a victory for Iran, Iraq and Syria,” (Iran was listed first!).
Iran wants everything that relates to Arab matters. It created the Quds Day to reveal its expanding influence. On that day, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech on expanding the “axis of resistance” in the Levant. Nasrallah, who directly gets his orders from the Supreme Leader, threatened that the war between Israel, Lebanon and Syria would attract thousands of fighters from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, although Lebanon can no longer put up with more foreigners.
What is interesting is that all the Iranian media affiliated to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have completely deleted this section because they do not want more Iranians to participate in another war, especially after the Iranian military deployment in Syria sparked an internal controversy.
Justifying regional interference
The Iranian regime and Hezbollah are trying to justify their regional interference claiming that it is for supporting Palestinians against Israel, although at the beginning of the Iranian revolution, during the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini, they did not hesitate to get weapons from Israel to fight Iraq.
Iran did not talk about the ‘Takfiris’ during the US invasion of Iraq, the hub of al-Qaeda that created the ISIS, because it used to say that it is ready to fund all those fighting the Americans in Iraq. Thus, ever since the war in Syria, Iran has been focusing on foreign fighters who have joined al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Iran, which does not want to be seen as fighting the war in order to protect Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has supported and encouraged to put the Takfiris under the public eye, aiming to include anyone opposed to the Assad regime. On the other hand, little coverage is given to Shiite volunteers who formed militias to support the Assad regime in his battle against the Takfiris, and his most ferocious battle against the Syrian people who just sought change in Syria.
Iran has supported, created and encouraged these “volunteer” militias. It is estimated that nearly 3,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards are participating in the battles inside Syria, and their role is not limited to training and structuring. According to an IRGC officer, Iran has recruited and trained hundreds of battalions to defend the Assad regime.
While the world is sorry about Yemen for the bombing by the coalition, the IRGC and Hezbollah disregarded the Houthis there. In his most recent speech, Nasrallah said: “Yemen is a very strategic and important region, and its importance lies in the Bab al-Mandab Strait.”
The focus is now on Syria, and what was initially a major battle against ISIS, has become a major global focus; Iran, Russia and Turkey are racing against time there.
Legitimacy disintegrating
It is important to note that the international legitimacy enjoyed by the mullahs since the nuclear agreement in 2015 has begun to disintegrate. The US Senate voted last month on imposing new sanctions on Iran for violating the terms of the nuclear agreement, such as using ballistic missiles and supporting terrorist groups. These political moves have always had a major economic impact. That is why Western banks continue to warn companies that may be tempted to invest in Iran. This does not bother the IRGC, and despite the attempts of the US media to convince itself and convince us that reformists are currently ruling Iran, headed by Rouhani and Zarif, the IRGC is the one determining policies and influence in Iran.
Now, after the defeat of ISIS, the Iranian parliament is considering a proposal to spend nearly $500 million to strengthen the security and expand the missile program, which will raise the IRGC budget to $8 billion dollars, in addition to the already approved five-year development plan, which will ask the government to allocate at least 5% of the budget for defense, mainly the development of the multi-dimensional missile systems.
The Arab region had almost become under the control of Iranian, Turkish and Israeli forces. Now, the main obstacle that Iran will face is not the US, but Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It is crucial for Arabs to affirm that they are the owners of the land and it is necessary for Saudi Arabia to carry on what it is already doing. With all due respect for all Arab countries, Saudi Arabia is the only country that can frighten Iran!
An Iranian military expert living outside Iran said “the extra money could probably be spent on the long-awaited missile (Ya Ali), delayed till now due to the lack of funds”. “The parliament’s rush to draft the project to speed the missile program reflects the level of insecurity felt by Tehran from its southern neighbors, with whom the administration of President Donald Trump is cooperating,” he added.
The United States considers the increased activity onthe Iranian missile program s a threat to regional stability.
The chairman of French oil company Total, Patrick Pouyanné, admitted last April that Iran’s unresolved banking challenges were an obstacle to Total’s investment. The reluctance of international banks to provide financing, or facilitate the repeated transactions that are necessary for the daily operations in the country, will push Total to make a special effort and find a “solution on its own.” Pouyanné revealed that Total is testing a new banking mechanism to transfer money from and into Iran in an appropriate way.
According to bankers, this means that a medium-sized French bank may have set up a channel for Total to transfer funds to Iran, without involving US personnel or US dollars, and thus avoided the so-called “United States Association” dealing with banks .
This also means that Total is ready to work with the IRGC, which controls many sectors, most notably the oil sector. It is worth noting that Total decided to move forward because the company will not start receiving revenues before 2021 and it has committed itself to the first gas that will be distributed in the large domestic market in Iran. The first reaction from the radical Kayhan newspaper was that it was the government’s reward for French betrayal.
Rouhani has said recently: “At the time of Ahmadinejad, large portions of the economy were placed under the control of the military and security apparatuses under the pretext of privatization”; he was pointing at the IRGC and describing these entities as an “armed government,” admitting that the private sector could not compete with it. “We have handed over part of the economy controlled by the unarmed government to an armed government,” he said.
The Supreme leader’s followers had launched an attack against Rouhani saying: “We have the right now to consider that when the president says that military institutions should not have anything to do with politics and economy, he is coordinating with the enemy to impose sanctions on the IRGC.”
Domestic political differences
Political differences in Iran are increasing; Rouhani will face marginalization. The Revolutionary Guards are letting Rouhani drown since he has no power. The IRGC is controlling Iran’s economy and politics and is looking to build a 2000-mile corridor to the Mediterranean. The Iranian leadership aspires to restore the Persian Empire, but this corridor has many obstacles as it is surrounded by many Sunni Arabs who are opposed to Iran.
After striking Iraq and Syria, Iran felt that there is an opportunity. Hence, it waged a revolution against Saudi Arabia. The Arab region had almost become under the control of Iranian, Turkish and Israeli forces. Now, the main obstacle that Iran will face is not the US, but Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It is crucial for Arabs to affirm that they are the owners of the land and it is necessary for Saudi Arabia to carry on what it is already doing. With all due respect for all Arab countries, Saudi Arabia is the only country that can frighten Iran!

Is it still possible to coexist with the Tehran regime?

Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/July 08/17
Over the weekend, the French capital Paris played host to a massive rally organized by the Iranian opposition and attended by many international political figures. The timing of this rally was particularly significant, given the historical and exceptional current state of affairs in the Middle East and the unprecedented tense relations between its countries.
As expected on an occasion like this, the main stress in most positions expressed by Iranian, Middle Eastern and Western speakers was that it was impossible for a regime with a “chemistry” like that of the Tehran regime to change, and that all attempts to make it moderate its stances are doomed to failure.
Indeed, gambling on the “rationality” of the Iranian leaders, and regarding them as “not suicidal” – to quote former President Barack Obama in his marketing pitch for the JCPOA – are proving meaningless every day. And despite the atrocities committed by ISIS and its systematic destruction wherever it moves “achieved” by the tacit cooperation of players benefiting from it, there are two clear realities:
First is that Iran’s sectarian militias, as well as those supported by Tehran through its “Revolutionary Guards” (IRGC) do not differ much from ISIS in terms of brutal exterminatory practices justified by alleged religious legitimacy.
Today, now that the Iranian leadership has exploited and benefited from ISIS’ destruction of several (Sunni) Syrian and Iraqi cities, one needs to ask a serious question: Is it possible to coexist with the Tehran regime?
Second is that there is not much difference either between diplomatically-clad extremism, as reflected in Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the brazenly-militaristic and sectarian extremism, as expressed in the gung-ho speeches of IRGC leaders like Mohammad Ali Jaafari and Qasem Soleimani as well as their militia henchmen in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria. In fact, all traces of “difference” disappear when positions being explained pertain to the Gulf region, the Fertile Crescent and Yemen.
Islamic revolution
Sure enough, Iran’s ambition of achieving regional supremacy did not start with Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution of 1979 when it launched its campaign of “Exporting the Islamic Revolution,” followed soon by it diligent outbidding on the path of “Liberating Palestine.” As many remember under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran was in 1955 a founder member of the Baghdad Pact – along with the UK, Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq under the auspices of the US, before Iraq withdrew resulting in re-naming CENTO (Central Treaty Organization). Later, the Shah made no secret of his ambition that Iran become “The Policeman of the Gulf” since it was the most populous country sharing its coast.
However, there is a big difference between the ambition of a regional leader to enhance the influence of his nation based on his belief in its civilization and capabilities, and the aggressive insistence of a theocratic regime on “exporting” its political and religious “legitimacy” to its neighboring countries by force and conspiring to overthrow their governments throw intrigue and sectarian incitement.
Since 1979, “exporting” the revolution, along with the notion of “Vali e Faqih” has been one of the two cornerstones of the Khomeini regime, and now still followed by his successor Ali Khamenei. This “project” suffered a setback during the Iran – Iraq War, which was ended by the international community. Checking Iran’s ambitions at that time was temporary, and they were never really eradicated because Tehran continued to build subservient sectarian military organizations throughout the Middle East. The first has been Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” – initially, under the cloak of “Islamic Amal.” It was soon to be followed by Iraqi Shi’ite militias that had fought with the Iranian armed forces against the Iraqi army during the Iran – Iraq War. Many leaders of the latter today are the de facto leaders of Iraq.
Extending ties
Noteworthy here is the fact that the Hafez Al-Assad regime in Syria also sided with Iran during that war against Iraq. Actually, then Iranian ambassador to Damascus Ali Akbar Mohtashamipur (who later became Interior Minister in Iran) was the authority entrusted with founding “Hezbollah” in Lebanon. In fact, Tehran’s efforts were not limited to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, but were later expanded to include Yemen through the Houthis, and Bahrain through “mullahs”, who had no qualms about Iranian historical claims over their country.
On the other hand, Iran did not concentrate its efforts solely on Shi’ite organizations, but achieved a breakthrough with the Sunnis, namely in the Palestinian occupied territories. This far-sighted strategy had two aims: The first, was that backing Sunni organization in Palestine would give credibility to its slogans about “liberating Palestine”. The second, it would allow to freely found, arm and support Shi’ite militias without being accused of practicing sectarian discrimination. Indeed, this is exactly what has happened and under the banners of “Islamic Unity,” Tehran has been bankrolling Shi’ite – Sunni groups that are acting as effective vehicles to its propaganda and defenders of its policies and adventures.
Last week Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of “Hezbollah”, said in a televised speech that “a war Israel launches against Lebanon and Syria will never be limited to these two arenas, but will open the door before thousands of fighters (Shi’ite of course) from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in the world to join Syria (i.e., Bashar al-Assad regime) and the Resistance (i.e.. ‘Hezbollah’)…”
What these words mean could not be clearer. The man is prepared to invite – if an invitation is ever needed – Iran’s IRGC to fight on Lebanese soil, without even bothering to consult with a government in which his pro-Tehran party is represented. Nasrallah’s declaration came after the “reassurances” made by Iranian Defense Minister Hussein Dehghan that “Iraq is now a part of Iran!”, and the infamous proclamation by Iran’s ex-Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi that “Iran now controls four Arab capital cities (Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a)…”
Sectarian cleansing
In the meantime, Iran has been busy, both, directly or through its militia henchmen, in justifying its war of sectarian “cleansing” and displacement that it has been fighting in Syria since the 2011 uprising, as well as in Iraq. Tehran and its henchmen’s justifications have been fighting against “Takfir” and “Takfiris”, including al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front and ISIS.
However, the fact that there were old understandings and dealings between Iran and al-Qaeda is well known, which is why the terrorist group never attacked Iranian targets. More recently, ISIS rarely fought against Assad’s forces, choosing instead to attack its opponents, namely the “Free Syrian Army”. Moreover, Assad regime’s smuggling of extremist terrorists across the Iraqi border in order to hassle and harass American troops in Iraq is well documented by Iraqi authorities, as is the extremist fighters’ “escape” from Iraqi prisons to join ISIS in Syria.
Today, now that the Iranian leadership has exploited and benefited from ISIS’ destruction of several (Sunni) Syrian and Iraqi cities, one needs to ask a serious question: Is it possible to coexist with the Tehran regime?
In Paris, thousands of Iranians exiled by the regime answered the question loud and clear, and so did millions of Iranians before at home: No. No coexistence with this regime.
If this is what Iranians themselves believe, how can we the Arabs disagree?

A Half-Million Syrian Returnees? A Look Behind the Numbers
Fabrice Balanche/The Washington Institute/July 08/17
Closer examination reveals that far more refugees are leaving Syria than coming home and that security and corruption represent major obstacles to their return.
On June 30, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that nearly one-half million Syrians had returned to their homes between January and May 2017. The report expresses optimism that millions could return if "peace and stability in Syria increases." A research mission by this author to Lebanon focusing on Syrian refugees, however, prompts much circumspection about whether or not Syrians should be returning at all, even if the pipe dream of peace becomes a reality.
The Data Problem
The first point to emphasize in analyzing the recent UNHCR figure is that 443,000 returnees are actually internally displaced persons (still living in Syria), out of a total 6.3 million IDPs registered. Just 31,000 were refugees (living outside Syria), who had fled to neighboring countries (Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan). Moreover, even as a small number of refugees return to Syria, the number of exiting refugees continues to rise at a greater rate, a reality caused largely by persistent instability throughout the country. Between January and May 2017, the number of registered Syrian refugees increased from 4.9 million to 5.1 million, according to the UNHCR. While the IDP figure has been declining steadily from 7.5 million since the fall of 2015, anyone assessing such trajectories must be extremely careful to account for manipulation of data for political purposes.
The concept of IDPs is much broader than that of refugees, entailing anyone who has left home -- and who, in turn, might have traveled very short or longer distances. Indeed, shorter distances create a greater likelihood of return. Among the returnees recorded by the UNHCR, several hundred IDPs living in West Aleppo came back to East Aleppo, and suburban Damascus IDPs returned to al-Qabun or Qudsaya when these areas were reoccupied by the Syrian army in fall 2016. A similar phenomenon may play out after Raqqa is reclaimed from the Islamic State. By contrast, for the rebel-oriented families of Daraya, the al-Waar district of Homs, or Zabadani -- who were sent to Idlib following an agreement with the regime -- little chance exists for an imminent return to their homes.
A complicating factor in this discussion is that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the entity responsible IDPs, does not conduct the census itself. Instead, Syrian government administrators and rebels alike overestimate their IDPs to obtain maximum food aid and prove that each respective camp controls the majority of the population. Such manipulations led OCHA to reassess its statistics in fall of 2015, with the result being a substantial drop in the estimate from 7.5 to 6.5 million IDPs. According to UN sources, the IDP data suggests rebels inflated their numbers more than government officials did. Such variance may seem logical given that many residents fled to regime-controlled areas for security, unless they were involved in the insurrection. The government areas offered greater security because they were not subjected to frequent aerial bombardment or embargoes and because public services were maintained.
As compared to Syria, refugee data from UNHCR and the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) -- the Turkish organization in charge of the refugees -- is more reliable. Both organizations take seriously registration of applications, and neither skews its data. Potentially driving down figures is the reality that many refugees do not want to be registered. In Lebanon, a study conducted by Beirut's Saint Joseph University showed an underestimation of refugees by 23 percent in 2016. Among this proportion, many are no longer registered because single refugees or those without small children, for instance, are usually ineligible for humanitarian aid. Moreover, most Syrian refugees who came to Lebanon after 2015 are ineligible for humanitarian assistance and therefore have less incentive to stay in their adopted country. Nor do refugee cards exempt them from residence permit taxes -- $200 per year for those older than fourteen. Many Syrians thus obtain fake employment contracts, even though the bosses providing such fraudulent paperwork are often simply smugglers. This helps explain why the actual number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon seems not to decrease, with the situation in Syria still discouraging their repatriation.
Factors Complicating a Return to Syria
The main obstacle to return remains lack of security. This perception varies according to geographic origin, socioeconomic level, and, of course, potential involvement in resistance to the Syrian regime. However, a common thread links all Syrian men ages fifteen to forty-five: fear of being conscripted into the Syrian army or rebel groups or the larger Syrian Democratic Forces, depending on their place of residence. Many families still therefore prefer to leave Syria preemptively when their sons approach their eighteenth birthday, the age of conscription. As long as the fighting keeps up, refugees will continue to flow out of the country -- and the return of significant numbers will be limited. Once the fighting is over, only amnesty could reassure the hundreds of thousands of "deserters."
Corruption from Syrian officials is the second reason for staying in Lebanon. For their part, men do not dare return to Syria for fear of being arrested arbitrarily and having to pay a large sum to be released. One interviewee in Lebanon related that he'd had to pay $3,000 to be set free from prison while he was in good standing with the Syrian authorities. His uncle, who works in Kuwait, paid the Mukhabarat (secret police) $15,000 to release his seventeen-year-old son, who was jailed arbitrarily in Damascus. Furthermore, since the beginning of the civil war, a tremendous number of kidnappings have occurred in Syria, with the principal targets being men of military age, sons of wealthy families, and those with families abroad.
The Syrians who return to their former homes often do so with horror stories. The testimony of a refugee from Aleppo who visited his house in April 2017 carried a particular eloquence, while appearing to represent a broader reality: "I went back to our apartment in Ashrafiya [a neighborhood in northeast Aleppo]. From the Lebanese border to Aleppo, I had to pay a $100 bribe [two months' salary for a civil servant]. I had packed a food bag for my sister: tea, coffee, powdered milk, and so on. But once I arrived at Aleppo, my suitcase was empty because at every checkpoint on the road they took something. Our apartment could be rehabilitated with some work, but it is too expensive and there is almost no electricity. Our shop was destroyed and looted. We prefer to stay in Lebanon and wait for a visa to leave for Europe or Canada."
Lebanese Living Conditions Bad but Acceptable
The family just mentioned is relatively well established in Lebanon: all are supported by the UNHCR (with $27 of food per person per month and healthcare coverage), the husband has a permanent job, and all four children are enrolled in school. Back in Syria, the economic situation, corruption, and rampant insecurity all deter a return, especially since doing so would forfeit their status as refugees and consequently the possibility of emigrating elsewhere. Even if only a few hundred visas are distributed a year by the European Union, Canada, Australia, and the United States, such slim opportunities still nourish dreams for a future departure. Further arousing desires for emigration are the millions of new Syrian refugees since 2012 living in northern countries (mostly Germany, Sweden, and Canada) who share their experience with their relatives. Moreover, the EU border is not protected by a wall, people are sometimes rescued at sea, and the right to family reunification has not been removed from the European Treaty of Accession 2003.
In Lebanon, the UNHCR's humanitarian aid and support from numerous NGOs allow Syrian refugees to extend their stay. Food and healthcare are largely covered, as noted in the example before, with the main expense being rent. The Syrians agree to work for a lower net wage than that of the Lebanese and, unlike the Lebanese, they do not report their earnings to social security. In northern and eastern Lebanon, where the refugees are concentrated, the World Bank is financing the construction of rural roads in order to create jobs for the refugees while also investing in the host community. The situation for Syrian refugees is far from pleasant, but for most it exceeds the alternative in Syria. For the international community, the dilemma remains wherein provision of aid alleviates suffering but, in doing so, potentially sends misleading signals to the refugees regarding their future.
A Preferable Life Abroad -- Unless Conditions Deteriorate
The latest UNHCR poll shows that only 6 percent of Syrian refugees want to return to Syria in the near future and 8 percent say they will never return. Some three-quarters are officially hesitant.
The way in which these sentiments develop will, no doubt, depend on security conditions and the speed of reconstruction in Syria. However -- as a general rule -- the more time refugees spend abroad, the less likely they are to return to their countries of origin. Yet should conditions deteriorate dramatically in their host country -- Lebanon, in this example -- Syrian refugees would be persuaded to return home regardless of any improvement in the security and economic situation. The deterioration of living and security conditions in Lebanon could also lead to the radicalization of people who cannot return to Syria and who, somewhere along the way, succumb to desperation.
**Fabrice Balanche, an associate professor and research director at the University of Lyon 2, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute.