July 11/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 12/06-10/:"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. ‘And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."

God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline
Letter to the Hebrews 01/02,01-09L:"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children ‘My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.’Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live?

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 10-11/17
Lebanon’s summer music festivals range from chic to psytrance/Florence Massena/Al Monitor/July 10/17
Iran winning in the Syrian desert/W Phares DC/Face Book/July 10/17
France: "Jihad by Court"/Yves Mamou/Gatestone Institute/July 10/17
Help the Iranian People to Oust Their Oppressive Regime/Hassan Mahmoudi/Gatestone Institute/July 10/17
Putin Looked Trump in the Eye and Lied to Him/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/July 10/17
'Abbas, PA Officials, Reaffirm Commitment To Continue Paying Allowances To Prisoners And Martyrs' Families/MEMRI/July 10/17
Indo-Israeli Ties: New Heights/Jagdish N. Singh/Gatestone Institute/July 10/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 10-11/17
Jumblat Holds Phone Talks with Hariri after Tensions
Report: FPM Mulling Reshuffle in Its Cabinet Ministers
Army Says Only 20 of Arsal Detainees Remain in Its Custody
Aoun Vows to Bring under Control 'Syrian Chaos' in Lebanon
Hajj Hassan: Army's Security Sweep in Arsal Targeted Terrorists
Defense Minister Throws Support behind Army
Syrian Airstrikes Bomb 'Nusra Positions' in Arsal Outskirts
Riachi: Lebanon Must Negotiate with UN over Return of Syrian Refugees to Homeland
ISF apprehends 65 Syrians for illegally entering Lebanon
Falha at Arab Media Permanent Committee 89th session in Cairo: For modern media that keeps pace with communication revolution
Arslan meets Syrian Ambassador
Army Chief meets Ambassadors of U.S., Pakistan
Riachi visits Egyptian Media Production City in Cairo's October 6
Hariri meets with Sarraf and General Aoun: The army has our unconditional support and no one should doubt its transparent investigation
Kremlin Putin and Trump made no promises on cyber group
MP Gemayel questions government about release of celebratory fire shooters
Khoury at launch of Global Cigna Insurance Company operations in Lebanon: Positive developments reinforce Lebanese economy
Lebanon’s summer music festivals range from chic to psytrance

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 10-11/17
Iran winning in the Syrian desert
U.N. Envoy Dares to Hope for Foundations of Peace in Syria
Trump Hails Mosul 'Victory', Says IS Days Numbered
Trump Son Admits Meeting Russian for Dirt on Clinton
Iraqi PM Hails Victory over 'Brutality and Terrorism' in Mosul
Egypt Police Kill 6 IS Sympathizers in Shootout
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/17/
Egyptian police killed six milit
Sisi Stresses before Palestinian President Need to End Divisions, Revive the Peace Process
Kuwait Anticipates Washington’s Anti-ISIS Conference by Calling for Reintegration of Returning Militants
Deputy Secretary General of the Arab League Passes Away
Hamas Declares State of Alert in Gaza, Wages Campaign of Mass Arrests against Extremists
Mosul Heading for Tougher Days in Post-ISIS Period
Tillerson in Gulf to Discuss Qatar’s Crisis
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/.17Dammam- US Secretary
Palestinian Authority Freezes Salaries of 37 Hamas Deputies

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 10-11/17
Jumblat Holds Phone Talks with Hariri after Tensions
Naharnet/July 10/17/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Monday held phone talks with al-Mustaqbal Movement leader Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the PSP said. Talks tackled “a number of issues,” a terse PSP statement said. Ties between the historic allies had witnessed tensions in recent months in connection with the electoral law and some of Jumblat's tweets that drew a response from Hariri. In an interview with al-Hayat newspaper published Sunday, the PSP leader admitted that his relation with Hariri needs “new foundations.”“There is a new relation with Saad Hariri. In the past, after the killing of ex-PM (Rafik) Hariri, everyone behaved emotionally. The martyr premier was assassinated 12 years ago and today there is a new situation. He (Saad Hariri) has his calculations and I have mine and each of us should know his real political weight,” Jumblat said.

Report: FPM Mulling Reshuffle in Its Cabinet Ministers
Naharnet/July 10/17/The Free Patriotic Movement is weighing the possibility of replacing some of the ministers representing the movement in the government over “unsatisfactory performance and productivity”, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday. The daily quoted some well-informed sources, they said the FPM is considering “a ministerial reshuffle” of some of its ministers, but that the idea has not “matured yet.”Pointing out to the motives behind the suggestion, the sources said: “Nothing is settled as yet. The main motive to this idea is that it may be consistent with the quest to activate the productivity of the government, and if this idea pours in the benefit of activation, it will to be taken without hesitation.”The FPM has four ministers in the cabinet including Foreign Affairs Minister Jebran Bassil, Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil, Economy Minister Raed Khoury and Environment Minister Tarek al-Khatib.

Army Says Only 20 of Arsal Detainees Remain in Its Custody
The army on Monday announced that only twenty of those who were recently arrested in Arsal's Syrian refugee encampments remain in its custody due to “their involvement in acts of terror.”Around 355 Syrians were arrested during raids in two Syrian refugee settlements in and around Arsal. The raiding troops were met with a string of suicide attacks and grenades that left seven of them wounded and a Syrian girl dead. “Twenty detainees remain held for their involvement in acts of terror, 152 detainees have been referred to the General Directorate of General Security for residing in Lebanon illegally, while 23 others have been freed after it was proven that they had not committed any crimes or violations,” the army said in a statement. The army's announcement last week that four detainees had died due to "chronic health problems aggravated by weather conditions" sparked swift allegations that the four Syrian men were tortured to death, particularly after images emerged depicting dead bodies with bruises. A Syrian opposition group and international and local human rights organizations have called for a quick investigation into the deaths and Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Monday that a “transparent probe” is underway after talks with the defense minister and the army chief.

Aoun Vows to Bring under Control 'Syrian Chaos' in Lebanon

Naharnet/July 10/17/President Michel Aoun on Monday emphasized that Lebanon would seek to bring under control what he called the “Syrian chaos” in the country. “We have managed to ensure stability and security and the facts prove this,” Aoun told a delegation comprising the ministers of economy, telecom and tourism, the central bank governor, the EU ambassador, U.N. representatives, Lebanese economic officials and a group of business leaders. The meeting was held on the eve of the Lebanese Forum for Small and Medium Enterprises that will kick off at BIEL on Tuesday. “However, after we eradicated terrorism, we have unfortunately started to witness major domestic chaos, especially by some Syrians, and we are seeking to bring this under control,” Aoun added. “We will reach a result, the same as we did regarding terrorism,” the president pledged.

Hajj Hassan: Army's Security Sweep in Arsal Targeted Terrorists
Naharnet/July 10/17/Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan on Monday praised the Lebanese army and emphasized that its conduct during the security sweep on encampments of refugees in the northeastern border town of Arsal targeted terrorists. “The conduct of the Lebanese army during the military operation targeted terrorists in the outskirts of Arsal, it was not against the refugees encampments. It was of a security nature,” said Hassan during a memorial service. "Those insulting the army are achieving the goals of the terrorists," the Minister said, adding that “the Lebanese military deserves the support of all Lebanese, as well as of the political leaderships, parties, journalists, and activists.”Moreover, Hajj Hassan highlighted the necessity to conduct direct negotiations with the Syrian government to coordinate the return of the refugees. “The number of displaced Syrians (in Lebanon) has massively grown exceeding two million according to information. It is putting immense pressure on the economic situation, living, security and infrastructure,” he added. “Syrians are welcome as guests, but Lebanon is pressured. In the name of all the Lebanese we hope the displaced return home for the interest of both, Lebanon and the refugees,” Hassan concluded.

Defense Minister Throws Support behind Army
Naharnet/July 10/17/Defense Minister Yaacoub al-Sarraf emphasized on Monday that campaigns against the Lebanese army will not discourage the apparatus from carrying out its duties and cracking down on terrorists and militants. The latest “campaigns targeting the army,” after its crackdown on militants in refugees encampments of Syrians “will not discourage it from carrying out its duty against terrorism,” said the Minister in remarks to al-Joumhouria daily.He said “it is not the first time the army is subject to campaigns of questioning, nor will they be the last. But those who believe that will reduce support for the army are mistaken,” he added. “The army will continue to carry out its duties not only against terrorism, despite everything that has been said and the campaigns against it.” Sarraf's comments came before a meeting scheduled on Monday at the Grand Serail between Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun. The daily said that Hariri had invited the Army Commander for a meeting to “discuss the army's measures to preserve the country's security and stability, and its efforts in cracking down on terror organizations and militants.”Sarraf also stressed that “investigations in the death case of of four Syrian detainees are ongoing.”

Syrian Airstrikes Bomb 'Nusra Positions' in Arsal Outskirts
Naharnet/July 10/17/Syria airstrikes at dawn on Monday targeted positions of al-Nusra Front militant group in the northeastern border town of Arsal, the National News Agency reported. The raids come one day after similar strikes carried out on Sunday where Syrian fighter jets bombed the al-Kassarat area, media reports had said. Similar raids had targeted the area in recent days. The development comes amid reports that Hizbullah is preparing to launch a military campaign aimed at ousting the jihadist groups Islamic State and Fateh al-Sham Front from the area.

Riachi: Lebanon Must Negotiate with UN over Return of Syrian Refugees to Homeland
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/17/Beirut – Lebanese Information Minister Melhem Riachi voiced the Lebanese Forces’ rejection of “any negotiations” between the Lebanese government and Syrian regime over the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “As partners in this government, we will not accept negotiations between the Lebanese government and Syrian regime, because it does not represent the Syrian people.”“This has become a given,” he added. The return of the refugees should be negotiated with the United Nations, stressed the minister. As members of the Lebanese Forces, “we insist that the UN tackle the refugee file through a practical process that can achieve the desired goal,” Riachi said. “If a refugee is linked to the regime, then he can return, without negotiations between the two governments, to regime-held areas. If he is not linked to the regime, then he will not return to these areas even if negotiations are held between the two governments,” he explained. “We will not accept that the lives of people will be put in danger and that they fall prey to Syrian intelligence agencies,” he declared. In addition, the information minister denied claims that Lebanese General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim has been tasked with negotiating with the Syrian regime over the refugees. “Abbas has successful experience in negotiations, but this issue has not been brought up at cabinet,” he continued. Differences between Lebanese factions over the refugee file have not threatened the government “because the Lebanese people want to keep Lebanese people neutral from regional developments,” said Riachi. Furthermore, President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and all members of cabinet are concerned with restoring normalcy in Lebanon after two years of presidential vacuum that ended in November with Aoun’s election, stressed the Lebanese Forces official.

ISF apprehends 65 Syrians for illegally entering Lebanon
Mon 10 Jul 2017/NNA - After thorough monitoring and observation, the Internal Security Forces' Information Branch managed to arrest 65 Syrian nationals, including children, for attempting to enter illegally the Lebanese territories, a statement by the ISF Directorate General said on Monday. The ISF Information Branch arrested two Lebanese citizens for attempting to smuggle foreigners into Lebanese territories.
The detained persons were handed over to the concerned authorities in accordance with judicial order.

Falha at Arab Media Permanent Committee 89th session in Cairo: For modern media that keeps pace with communication revolution
Mon 10 Jul 2017/NNA - Information Ministry Director General, Hassan Falha, on Monday categorically underlined the substantial need for bolstering joint Arab media work, calling for concerted efforts to secure a modern, up-to-the minute media that keeps pace with the advancement of technology, communication revolution and the knowledge world. Falha's fresh comments came in his address at the 89th session of the Permanent Committee for Arab Media at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo. The 89th session convenes to discuss 17 items on its agenda, most notably the Palestinian cause and Al-Quds Al-Sharif, Fight against terrorism and intellectual and religious extremism, and the setting up of a committee to look into required legislations to be taken against media outlets offensive to states. The Permanent Committee also discussed issues related to the broadcast of sports games and tournaments, as well as the fight against illiteracy in the Arab world. Falha also pointed out that the current Charter of Media Honor must be reviewed in the service of public welfare, away from any attempts to restrict media liberties. He called for boosting the space of responsible freedom in our Arab media, apart from the obsolete traditional methods. On the other hand, the Director General called for according utmost priority to the holy city of Quds amidst the aggressive Israeli practices taking place in the city.

Arslan meets Syrian Ambassador
Mon 10 Jul 2017/NNA - Minister for the Displaced, Talal Arslan, on Monday met with Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, with whom he discussed most recent political developments that concern both Lebanon and Syria. Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Arslan indicated that the refugees' issue must be resolved through the diplomatic channels between Lebanon and Syria, adding that there is a political decision made by the Lebanese state to exchange diplomacy with its Syrian counterpart. "I reiterate that this issue requires a radical solution and we must shoulder our responsibility as Lebanese and as officials for the sake of Lebanon," he said. For his part, Ambassador Ali highlighted the necessity of coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian states to fight terrorism. "There is ongoing coordination which needs to be activated between the military and security apparatuses in the two countries. There are also two embassies that are more or less coordination, yet not as much as they should," he added.

Army Chief meets Ambassadors of U.S., Pakistan
Mon 10 Jul 2017/NNA - Lebanese Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, met, at his Yarze office on Monday, with MP Ziad Aswad, over the current general situation. General Aoun later met with U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, accompanied by the U.S. Defense Attaché. Talks touched on the bilateral relations between the Lebanese and U.S. armies. Also, Aoun met with Pakistani Ambassador to Lebanon, Aftab Ahmad Khokher, with whom he discussed the means to bolster bilateral ties on the military level.

Riachi visits Egyptian Media Production City in Cairo's October 6
Mon 10 Jul 2017/NNA - Information Minister, Melhem Riachi, on Monday visited the Egyptian Media Production City in Cairo's October 6, where he met with the City's senior officials on cooperation prospects between the Ministry and the City.
Minister Riachi toured the various sectors of the City, accompanied by National News Agency (NNA) Director Laure Sleiman, his Advisor Antoine Eid, and Bureau Secretary Awwad Tabet.

Hariri meets with Sarraf and General Aoun: The army has our unconditional support and no one should doubt its transparent investigation
Mon 10 Jul 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received this afternoon at the Grand Serail the Minister of Defense Yaacouf Sarraf and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun and discussed with them the security situation in the country in light of the measures implemented by the Army in the various Lebanese territories. After the meeting, Prime Minister Hariri spoke to the press: "I wanted to meet you because there is confusion about this issue in the country. First, the army carried a very successful and large operation, and if it had not, there would have been a great problem in the country because the bombs aimed to blow Lebanon.
The Lebanese army entered a camp that hosts ten thousand people and carried a big operation and thank God, there were no injuries among the civilians. The Lebanese army discovered that there was a big plan.
There is the incident of the four Syrian bodies and the army is conducting a clear and transparent investigation in this issue and no one should doubt it because the Lebanese army is keener on the security of the citizens and civilians than anyone else is.
Thus, any attempt to create tension with the army or the military command, which is working day and night to spare Lebanon any terrorist attack, is unacceptable. Also, questioning the investigation carried out by the army command is unacceptable. I will reveal an important information: on several occasions, the army command had information about terrorists and had the ability to reach them but it canceled the operation due to the presence of civilians among them. It knows that if the operation is carried out, civilians will be hurt and the army is keen to abide by the legal procedures.
For me, political support to the Lebanese army is unconditional and I emphasize that the army command is always keen on protecting the civilians. The army is above any suspicion and to those trying to fish in troubled water I say do not even try.
Some said that I summoned the army commander. In fact, I am in continuous contact with him and we consult by phone or meet more than four times per week. Today we met and it was covered by the media but we often meet without any media. Today I wanted the media to cover this meeting because there is confusion and attempts to sow discord in the country.
I am also in constant contact with the Minister of Defense whether during cabinet sessions or outside them to discuss what is related to the army and security. So let no one be skeptical about this issue or put us in a place where neither we are nor the army is. There is a transparent investigation carried out by the Army and the army has our total support."
Question: When will the army get a green light to resolve the situation in Ersal outskirts? Hariri: The army has total political support to resolve matters but we have to know that there are civilians in the camps and the problem is that the terrorists are using the civilians to protect themselves just as happened with the child who was killed because the terrorist used him as a shield. The army knows what to do. When the army is certain that carrying out any operation will not hurt civilians, the Minister of Defense and the Army Commander are aware that they have the political decision to carry out any operation at the time they deem appropriate. The important thing is that the army command is keen to protect the civilians from any harm.
Question: When will you receive the results of the investigation carried out by the Lebanese army?
Hariri: In the next couple of days. But what I want to say is that there is an attempt to draw suspicions on this issue. There is an attempt to create tension between the Syrian refugees, who are almost one million and a half, and the military forces in the country. This tension doesn't exist. When the army enters a camp that hosts ten thousand people and then the displaced return to it without any problems, this is the main gain, in addition to removing eight bombs that were targeting the Lebanese territories. Thus, the operation was successful and there is no doubt that what happened unfortunately happened and an investigation is underway in this respect.
Question: It was said that you wanted to address the Sunni street through the statement you issued?
Hariri: It is not an issue addressed to the Sunni street or any other street. The main support is to the Lebanese army and the Sunni street is the one that supports most the army and it proved it whether during the Nahr al-Bared, Sidon and Tripoli battles. If we want to look at what happened in Nahr al-Bared, Abra and all the regions that represent the Sunni street we see that there was no resistance against the army. On the contrary, the Sunni street is the biggest supporter of the army. The biggest problem is the presence of one and a half million Syrian refugees and the attempts to create tensions, and I tell everyone that the army command is responsible about security and we totally support it.
Question: We hear a lot from Hezbollah about a battle in Ersal in the coming days, did you ask the army commander about it and does the army know about it?
Hariri: We are in constant contact with all the political parties and the army command because this is the duty of the government. I do not want to discuss what the army will or will not do or when. There is information about this subject but I am not sure about. Our duty as a Lebanese government is to protect the Lebanese citizens and the refugees. Question: Are you in favor of Hezbollah launching a battle? Hariri: Certainly not. But I will say one final thing, the investigation is carried out by the army command and my meeting with the Minister of Defense and Army Commander is normal because I am the Prime Minister and they are in charge of the security, especially in light of the challenges facing the country. And to those wanting to fabricate a case or a problem in the country, I tell that there is no problem and we are one hand in the face of any attempt to destabilize the country.
On the other hand, Hariri received the head of the parliamentary budget and finance committee MP Ibrahim Kanaan who said after the meeting: "We discussed with Prime Minister Hariri the overall financial situation and I informed him about the work of the finance committee in the last two months. We hope to complete the study of the draft budget this week or at the beginning of next week if there is quorum."
Hariri then met with the chairman of Middle East Airlines, Mohammad Hout, who said after the meeting: "I informed Prime Minister Hariri about the work of MEA, in light of the stability on the security and political levels which reflected positively on the number of visitors."He added that he informed the Prime Minister about a decision ta flights to Canada for two years to facilitate the work of the Canadian airline.ken by MEA to open direct flights to Madrid, which will start effectively next April or May. He said that MEA agreed, at the request of Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and Public works minister Youssef Fenianos, to a direct line operated by the Canadian airline to Beirut and MEA accepted not to have direct

Kremlin Putin and Trump made no promises on cyber group
Mon 10 Jul 2017 /NNA - Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump made no promises to each other to form a joint group on cyber security, but they stated their readiness to work in this direction, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.The Kremlin also does not know the Russian lawyer who allegedly met Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, last year, two weeks after Trump won the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency, Peskov told a conference call with reporters. The allegation that Trump's associates met with the Kremlin-linked lawyer after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, was made in an article by the New York Times. ---Reuters

MP Gemayel questions government about release of celebratory fire shooters
Mon 10 Jul 2017/NNA - Kataeb Party Head, MP Sami Gemayel, on Monday submitted to the government a written question over the release of freshly-detained individuals for firing celebratory gunshots. In his letter, Gemayel demanded clarifications about what he deemed as "contrasting" statements by the Ministers of Interior and Justice, in terms of political pressures to free the arrestees. "Were those really released? and who are the politicians who intervened before the judiciary? will they be prosecuted? and what are the procedures the government and the Justice Minister are willing to take to secure the course of justice?" he wondered. Within this context, Gemayel welcomed, at Kataeb Central House in Saifi, a delegation of the families of uncontrolled guns' victims.

Khoury at launch of Global Cigna Insurance Company operations in Lebanon: Positive developments reinforce Lebanese economy
Mon 10 Jul 2017/NNA - Minister of Economy and Trade, Raed Khoury, on Wednesday said that the positive political developments in the country reinforce the resilience of the national economy in the face of regional challenges. "Such solidity has been and remains to be a main characteristic of the Lebanese economy," Minister Khoury said at the launch of the operations of the Global Health Insurance Company, Cigna, in the Lebanese markets, at a ceremony held by the Company at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut. The launch ceremony was attended by Minister Khoury, US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, President of Cigna International Markets, Jason Sadler, Cigna CEO for MENA Region, Global International Private Medical Insurance (GIPMI) and Global Government Segment, Howard Gough, and scores of economic and medical insurance magnates. In his address, Khoury said that the government was adamant to define Lebanon's economic role and to launch vital projects to stimulate growth and create job opportunities, saying "one of our priorities is to stimulate foreign investments in the various economic spheres, notably the financial one.""We look forward to the investment launched by Cigna as an added value to the local economy and to the insurance sector in particular," he remarked. Khoury also disclosed the presence of a promising plan for the insurance sector in Lebanon. Ambassador Richard, for her part, highlighted the longstanding partnership between the United States and Lebanon, pointing out that trade between Lebanon and America has exceeded $1 billion a year.""The United States looks forward to creating new job opportunities and sustainable development in Lebanon," Ambassador Richard said, expressing pride in the American Company, Cigna, and voicing confidence in the Lebanese business market.

Lebanon’s summer music festivals range from chic to psytrance
Florence Massena/Al Monitor/July 10/17
Summer in Lebanon brings to mind the blazing sun, beaches and music festivals that fill schedules from June to September. The festivals are everywhere, from Beirut to Tyre, as well as in Baalbek, Beiteddine, at beach camps and as part of municipality events where different types of music animate the hot nights, with thousands of people joining in the fun.
From international concerts by the sea to gatherings at a family estate, Lebanon’s festivals offer a variety for music lovers. Fete de la Musique is a French music festival that for 17 years has kick-started Lebanon’s long, hot summer of music. Beirut was the first foreign city to adopt this event, which was launched in France on June 21, 1982, by former Culture Minister Jack Lang. This music festival, organized and coordinated by the French Institute, sets up stages and concerts in the parks and squares of the city. “For the French Institute and embassy in Lebanon, this is indeed the highlight of our yearly cultural program,” Veronique Aulagnon, the director of the French Institute, told Al-Monitor. “It is one of the events where we are really on the first line. It goes way above our usual work as a support of culture in the country.”
Unlike most of the summer festivals, Fete de la Musique is free of charge. This makes it appealing to young people and large families. For many struggling musicians, Fete de la Musique provides their first audience.
“It is first a very strong symbol in a region touched by war and terrorism,” Aulagnon said. “Lebanese people have adopted it completely and the music festival is now rooted in their life. New activities and new venues join in every year. This year, some 15 cities participated and tens of thousands of people came to this event. It shows again how Lebanon is important in the region in terms of its cultural capital.”
Born out of the impulse of former President Camille Chamoun in 1956, the Baalbek International Festival, the oldest in the country, takes its name from its location, an ancient Phoenician city with a beautiful old Roman temple. The festival showcases theater, dance, music and other performances with famous artists such as Angelique Kidjo, who will perform on July 16, and Ibrahim Maalouf, who performs on July 22.
“Last year we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the festival,” Nayla de Freige, the president of the Baalbek International Festival, told Al-Monitor. “This year, we had a special show created by Lebanese artists especially for the festival,” she said, referring to "Celebrating the Lebanese Nights" on July 7.
Freige said that there was a need to promote culture in the city of Baalbek, as it still had a reputation for instability. “Baalbek is a very difficult place. We had to cancel two years in a row because of attacks in the region. Last year we moved it at the last minute. For the time being, all looks good.”
Both Baalbek and the Byblos International Festival, which has taken place in the ancient Mediterranean city of Byblos since 1998, target a middle- and upper-middle-class audience, as the entry fee is considerable, although there are reductions for the locals and groups. Byblos’ program this year has international artists who will give seaside concerts. Latifa Lakis, the president of the festival, believes the festival both creates awareness of the city’s heritage and encourages tourism through a good international and local program. Besides Lebanon’s well-known and chic festivals, there are also multitudes of lesser known, small beach or mountain camp festivals that last two or three days and cater to different tastes. These smaller festivals are very careful to omit trouble with the authorities over drugs, nudity and other vices. One of the oldest is Forestronika, which was a psytrance music festival from 2008 to 2014. It is now a two-day beach camp and will remain so until 2018, when the organizers plan to revert to the older version. “We chose to stop because several other festivals had been shut down by the authorities. Apparently, a lot of important people don’t like young Lebanese partying in nature,” Nicole Salwan, the co-founder of Forestronika, told Al-Monitor. “We wanted it to calm down before starting again, so we only held three to four musical weekends on the beach, with electronic DJs as well as live bands of world music, activities like yoga and body painting. It is full of positive vibes, with peace and love.” The next event will be held July 15-16 in Damour, a city south of Beirut. It will combine the positive vibes of peace with a circus theme.
Another electronic camp, Hexaplex, focuses on two different stages once a year: one for psychedelic music and the other for more alternative music that aims to relax. “We aim to reconnect people with nature [and help them] relax and get out of their corporate lifestyle,” Randi Stephan, the co-founder of Hexaplex, told Al-Monitor. “It is to connect with other people but also help achieve a sustainable lifestyle through workshops about renewable energy and permaculture.”Like Salwan, he also emphasized the need to thread carefully to avoid problems with the authorities. He keeps a watchful eye on drugs and nudity. “Religious authorities used to shut down rock and metal concerts. Now when you do yoga, you are a Satanist,” he said. “We also pursue a no-drug policy with Skoun, a Lebanese addiction center that helps people with addiction problems to be treated and followed back to society. They also raise awareness and try to prevent drug use in Lebanon.”He added, “After all, the only way to really open up is with meditation, not drugs, even though it is impossible to control everything that comes in [to the festival].”Some of the musical initiatives have started as gatherings of friends and have attracted a larger audience. Oakenfest’s organizer, Elsa Saade, holds the annual event at her family’s estate by the sea in Lehfed. “We were just a bunch of friends having fun and that turned to be bigger than expected, so we decided to turn our yearly gathering in an event with bands. Then we integrated writing and design workshops,” Saade told Al-Monitor. “We just want people to go out of the city and listen to music.”
These small beach camps usually host around 1,000 people, while a new kind of festival, WickerPark, has attracted 3,000-4,000 visitors each year since 2011. This festival supports local independent artists while promoting a zero-waste environment.
“To be honest, I was a young graduate who didn’t want to work in an advertising company,” Georges Junior Daou, the director and co-founder of WickerPark, told Al-Monitor. “There was a real lack of festivals for local artists. We usually bring one famous band to attract people so they can discover other bands they don’t know, playing indie, rock, punk and so on. It is a very cool festival.” The next event is planned for the weekend of Sept. 9, and the band Who Killed Bruce Lee is expected to play, but the program is yet to be determined.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 10-11/17
Iran winning in the Syrian desert
W Phares DC/Face Book/July 10/17
According to reports from the ground, Iranian backed forces, including Hezbollah, Assad and Iraq militias are seizing territory in Eastern Syria, pushing through the desert of Badiat el Sham. The grand strategy of the Iran-axis is to dominate the desert, bypass both US-backed forces in the south and Syria Democratic forces in the north, and reach the Iraqi border. If the move is successful at the end, Iran would become the winner of the War on ISIS, and US-backed forces, particularly the Arab Sunni units, would lose the contest. The pro Iranian forces are advancing by the day, hour, avoiding getting close to US assets on the ground, but taking the lion's share of central Syria. Washington's national security circles and experts have not yet addressed in public, this ongoing Iranian advance in the desert.

U.N. Envoy Dares to Hope for Foundations of Peace in Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/17/The U.N.'s Syria envoy said Monday that the stars may just be beginning to align for peace after six years of savage conflict as the latest round of talks began in Geneva. Staffan de Mistura ruled out any breakthrough at this week's negotiations to end a war that has claimed more than 320,000 lives and displaced more than half of Syria's population. But he pointed to a new ceasefire brokered with US and Russian help, covering three provinces in southern Syria, as one source of hope. He said other hopeful signs were the creation of "de-escalation zones" elsewhere and the recapture of Mosul by Iraqi forces from the Islamic State (IS) group, whose geographic spread had become a prime ingredient in Syria's combustible mix."There is a higher potential than we have seen in the past for progress," the U.N. envoy told a news conference after the first day of the talks, which he is chairing, alternating between meeting Syrian government delegates and representatives of three opposition groups. Disappointment has come all too often as various peace initiatives came to naught since a revolt first erupted against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, the Swedish-Italian diplomat conceded.
"But what I can tell you is that we are seeing several stars coinciding in a certain direction, both on the ground, regionally and internationally." Beyond the human and physical devastation wrought in Syria, the financial cost of the conflict was laid bare in a new World Bank report on Monday. Cumulative losses to gross domestic product since Syria's conflict erupted "have been estimated at $226 billion, about four times the Syrian GDP in 2010," the report said. De Mistura and delegates in Geneva were at pains to play down expectations for the seventh round of negotiations, which are set to end Friday with further rounds already scheduled for August and September. In principle, the Geneva negotiations focus on four so-called "baskets": a new constitution, governance, elections and combating terrorism. Yehya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition High Negotiations Committee, told AFP he had "modest expectations" as this round of talks opened. The opposition insists on Assad's departure from power, but that is a red line for his delegation led in Geneva by Syria's U.N. ambassador. De Mistura, however, anticipated "incremental development" this week and said the "homework" was being done for the launch of a more ambitious peace process, "maybe much sooner than we are thinking." On the ground, Syrian government forces launched an attack on rebels in one of the ceasefire provinces on Monday, but state media said the assault was against IS and de Mistura said such incidents amounted only to "teething trouble" for the truce. The ceasefire was brokered by the United States, Russia and Jordan, and announced after talks between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg.
- Geneva vs Astana -De Mistura said the endorsement of the two "superpowers" lent more hope to this initiative after previous failures, and he also denied that a separate dialogue under way in the Kazakh capital Astana could undermine the UN process.
The Astana track is being coordinated by Assad allies Russia and Iran, and rebel backer Turkey. They agreed in May to set up four de-escalation zones in Syria, although they have so far failed to agree the details necessary to implement the plan.
By attending the Geneva talks, Aridi said, the opposition hoped to preserve the U.N.-supervised track which began in 2014. "The goal is to maintain some momentum for a political solution in light of Russia's attempts to divert attention to Astana, which it wants to design and shape as it wishes," he told AFP. Washington, once a key opposition backer and peace process partner, stepped back from involvement in the diplomatic process after Trump became president in January. But its involvement in the south Syria ceasefire raises the prospect it may be re-engaging in a limited fashion.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said U.S. and Russian officials had discussed "other areas in Syria that we can continue to work together on."

Trump Hails Mosul 'Victory', Says IS Days Numbered
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/17/President Donald Trump on Monday hailed the "victory" of Iraqi forces over the Islamic State group in the northern city of Mosul. The retaking of the devastated city after nearly nine months of fighting signals the jihadist group's "days in Iraq and Syria are numbered," Trump said in a statement, praising Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Earlier Monday, Abadi declared a victory over "brutality and terrorism" in Mosul, after his forces ended the Islamic State group's rule over the country's second city. Abadi hailed the recapture of Mosul -- where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the creation of the group's self-styled "caliphate" three years ago -- as a historic moment in the battle against the extremists. The U.S.-led coalition that backed the Mosul offensive is supporting another assault on IS' Syrian bastion Raqa.

Trump Son Admits Meeting Russian for Dirt on Clinton
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/17/Donald Trump's eldest son on Monday admitted meeting a Russian lawyer to get dirt on his father's 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, thrusting the White House deep into another Russia-related scandal. Trump junior confirmed reports that he was on the trail of damaging information on the Democrat vying to become America's first woman president, when he met Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016. "Obviously I'm the first person on a campaign to ever take a meeting to hear info about an opponent," Trump's son said in a tweet, claiming that it "went nowhere" but he "had to listen."The FBI and Congress are investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential vote.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a mass effort to tilt the election in Trump's favor, including hacking and leaking embarrassing emails from Democrats. The New York Times reported that almost all of Trump's most senior campaign officials -- including Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner -- were also in the meeting last year. Veselnitskaya is not well known in Russia, but represented the son of a senior Russian official who was involved in a major fraud probe that had international repercussions. In a statement to the Times, the younger Trump said the lawyer "stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs Clinton." "It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information," he said, adding that the lawyer then began discussing the adoption of Russian children by American couples under a program Putin had suspended. The meeting took place at a pivotal point in the 2016 campaign, after Trump had shocked Republicans with a string of primary victories and Clinton had all-but secured the Democratic nomination.
U.S. officials have sought to distance the president himself from the encounter.
"The President was not aware of and did not attend the meeting," Mark Corallo, a spokesman for President Trump's private lawyer, told AFP. A spokesperson for Kushner did not respond to request for comment. The Kremlin said it "did not know who" Veselnitskaya was. "We can't be aware of all the meetings Russian lawyers have abroad," said spokesman Dmitri Peskov.
President Trump has repeatedly decried allegations of collusion as "fake news" and equivocated about whether Russia tried to interfere in the election.
During a meeting with Putin on Friday on the margins of the G20 summit in Germany, Trump raised the issue of election interference before turning to other subjects.
"I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election," Trump later said. "He vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion..."That meeting in Hamburg is raising yet more Russia-related problems for the White House.
Scrambling for concrete victories to take away from the controversial two-hour-plus sit-down, the White House hailed deals establishing a joint "cyber unit" and a ceasefire in southern Syria. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed Trump was "brilliant" during the meeting and said the cyber unit would "make sure that Russia and nobody else interferes in any democratic elections." No details of the plan were provided, however, and it appeared to quickly unravel when Trump himself questioned if it would come into effect. "The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn't mean I think it can happen. It can't -- but a ceasefire can, & did!" he tweeted. The internationally brokered ceasefire in southern Syria has brought quiet to most of the three provinces covered -- Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida.
But Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, reported a government assault on Sweida province, just 24 hours into the truce, in addition to scattered violations recorded elsewhere. Syrian state media claimed the Sweida assault was targeted against the Islamic State group.

Iraqi PM Hails Victory over 'Brutality and Terrorism' in Mosul
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/17/Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over "brutality and terrorism" in Mosul on Monday, announcing his forces had ended the Islamic State group's rule over the country's second city. Flanked by commanders, Abadi hailed the retaking of Mosul -- where IS dealt Iraqi forces a devastating defeat three years ago -- as a key moment in the war against the jihadists. "Our victory today is a victory over darkness, a victory over brutality and terrorism, and I announce to the whole world today the end and failure and collapse of the mythical terrorist Daesh state," Abadi said in a televised address from west Mosul, using an Arabic acronym for IS. "These operations were carried out by Iraqi planning and success and implementation," Abadi said, while also thanking "all the countries that stood with Iraq in its war against terrorism."Dozens of members of the security forces erupted into cheers after he spoke, dancing and waving flags and their weapons as they celebrated. The U.S.-led coalition that backed the Mosul offensive and is supporting another assault on IS' Syrian bastion Raqa hailed the victory, but warned it did not mark the end of the war against the jihadists. "This victory alone does not eliminate (IS) and there is still a tough fight ahead. But the loss of one of its twin capitals and a jewel of their so-called caliphate is a decisive blow," said Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the international anti-IS operation. U.S. President Donald Trump also praised the victory, saying it was a signal that IS' "days in Iraq and Syria are numbered". But rebuilding the shattered city and helping civilians will be a huge task, and aid groups warn that Iraq's humanitarian crisis is far from over.
Devastation in Old City
Mosul's Old City in particular has been devastated, with many buildings reduced to little more than concrete shells and rubble littering the streets. Abadi said that as well as continuing to tackle IS, Iraq had other challenges including "the mission of stabilization and the mission of building". Iraqi forces were earlier on Monday still fighting to eliminate the last pockets of IS resistance in Mosul, with jihadist fighters surrounded in a sliver of territory in Mosul's Old City. Soldiers armed with machineguns and sniper rifles fired from atop ruined structures in the Old City, and air strikes sent plumes of smoke rising over Mosul's historic center. Staff Lieutenant General Sami al-Aridhi, a senior commander in the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, said earlier that Iraqi forces were still engaged in "heavy" fighting with the remnants of jihadist forces, but that the battle was near its end.
After Abadi spoke, Aridhi said "searching and clearing" still had to be done, but that major operations were finished. Iraqi forces launched their campaign in October to retake Mosul, which was seized by the jihadists during the mid-2014 offensive that saw them take control of large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Army, police and special forces, backed by waves of U.S.-led air strikes, seized the eastern side of the city in January and launched the battle for its western part the next month. The fight grew tougher when security forces entered the densely populated Old City on the western bank of the Tigris River, which divides the city, and intense street-to-street fighting followed. The cost of victory has been enormous: much of Mosul in ruins, thousands dead and wounded and nearly half the city's population forced from their homes.The United Nations has said 920,000 people fled their homes during the Mosul operation, and while some have returned the vast majority remain displaced.
The U.N. refugee agency said it could be many months before civilians are able to return to their homes.
'Nothing to go back to'
"Many have nothing to go back to due to extensive damage caused during the conflict, while key basic services such as water, electricity and other key infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, will need to be rebuilt or repaired," said the UNHCR. Twenty-eight aid groups working in Iraq issued a joint call for international support for rebuilding efforts and urged authorities not to press civilians to return. "Remaining insecurity; lack of basic services; explosive hazards contamination; and damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure -- including schools and hospitals -- all continue to pose barriers to return," said the statement signed by groups including the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam and Save the Children.
They also raised concerns for people still in IS-held areas, including the towns of Tal Afar and Hawijah in the north, as well as territory in western Anbar province.
"For the expected offensives in Hawijah, Tal Afar and western Anbar, where approximately 150,000 civilians are thought to still be trapped, it is vital that lessons are learned from pass offensives," they said.
IS has lost most of the territory it once controlled, and the coalition is also aiming to oust the jihadists from their Syrian stronghold Raqa, which is under assault by U.S.-backed Arab and Kurdish forces.

Egypt Police Kill 6 IS Sympathizers in Shootout
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/17/Egyptian police killed six militants who allegedly adhered to the Islamic State group's beliefs when a gunfight erupted Monday during a raid on their Nile valley hideout, the government said.The militants opened fire on the police as they approached the hideout in Dairut, a town in the southern province of Assiut, the interior ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page. The police were acting on intelligence that "a group of terrorists who adhere to the beliefs of the Islamic State group were hiding in a residential apartment in uninhabited buildings," it said. When the six militants opened fire, the police shot back and killed them. The militants were using the hideout as "an organizational base and to prepare to carry out a series of terrorist operations within the southern provinces," said the ministry. The police found a bomb, five automatic weapons, ammunition, military uniforms, and "educational publications containing the concepts and slogans of the (IS) group," it added. IS has been leading a deadly insurgency that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters. While IS has been operating mainly in North Sinai, they have also carried out attacks in other parts of the country, including Cairo. The jihadists have been increasingly targeting Christians in their campaign as well. Groups other than IS have also carried out attacks in Egypt targeting policemen and judges. Gunmen on Friday shot dead a National Security Service officer as he was leaving his home north of Cairo. The militant group Hasam claimed responsibility. On Saturday, the interior ministry said police killed two senior Hasam members in a shootout near Cairo.

Sisi Stresses before Palestinian President Need to End Divisions, Revive the Peace Process
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/.17/Cairo – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi underlined the need to end disagreements among Palestinians and to agree over a unified vision to resume the peace process in the Middle East. Sisi met on Sunday in Cairo with his Palestinian counterpart, President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom he discussed latest developments in the Palestinian case and the means to revive the peace process, the Egyptian president’s spokesperson, Alaa Youssef, said in a statement. “President Sisi asserted that the Palestinian cause always comes on top of Egypt’s priorities and reaching a solution for it is a key pillar for restoring security and stability in the Middle East region,” Youssef added. During the meeting, Abbas informed Sisi of the latest efforts deployed by Palestine to rally international support for the achievement of the two-state solution in line with the related international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. He also stressed the US endeavor to revive the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis. Sisi promised to guarantee the rights of the Palestinians to build their own independent state. For his part, the Palestinian president offered his deep condolences to Sisi over the death of 23 soldiers in the recent deadly attack in North Sinai province, along the borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip. “President Abbas reiterated Palestine’s solidarity with Egypt in its war against terrorism and against those who try to undermine its security and stability,” Youssef said. The Palestinian president also met with Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry. During the meeting, Shoukry reiterated Egypt’s stance in support of the Palestinian Cause, and said that reviving negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides for a fair and comprehensive solution was a priority in Egypt’s diplomatic efforts.Abbas updated Shoukry on the results of his talks with US Envoy Jason Greenblatt as well as talks with US President Donald Trump’s advisor, Jared Kushner. The Palestinian president also met during his visit to Cairo with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit, who also stressed the need to adhere by the Arab Peace Initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the two-state solution.

Kuwait Anticipates Washington’s Anti-ISIS Conference by Calling for Reintegration of Returning Militants
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/.17Kuwait – Ahead of a major anti-ISIS summit that kicks off on Monday in Washington, Kuwait submitted a proposal to rehabilitate Arab militants returning from fighting with the terrorist organization in both Iraq and Syria. The Gulf country is facing security challenges and has declared a security alert on its borders with Iraq, on the eve of the defeat of ISIS in Mosul, to prevent the infiltration of militants belonging to the terrorist organization, who are seeking to perpetrate attacks outside Iraq.Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Development and International Cooperation, Ambassador Nasser Al-Subaih said on Sunday that his country had submitted a proposal to the Global Coalition against ISIS, which stresses the importance of rehabilitating former ISIS militants who return from conflict zones and to reintegrate them into society. “Kuwait has made a proposal in this regard with the aim of establishing mechanisms to rehabilitate and integrate those fighters in their communities after facing fair trials”, Al-Subaih said ahead of his departure to Washington.He added that participants in the meeting in Washington would discuss the latest developments in the war against ISIS and the means to maintain the continued prevention of terrorist financing and to deprive the organization from the sources of self-financing. The Kuwaiti official underlined his country’s efforts to achieve the return of the displaced to their homeland and to alleviate their sufferings by providing them with all the basic necessities. He also expressed hope that the meeting would bring about mechanisms that would support the efforts of the anti-ISIS coalition in curbing the atrocities perpetrated by the terrorist group. The Global Coalition against ISIS was established in 2015, when the terrorist organization took over large areas in Syria and Iraq. The coalition gathers more than 70 countries, in addition to 12 Arab states.

Deputy Secretary General of the Arab League Passes Away
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/.17Cairo– Ambassador Ahmed bin Helli, Deputy Secretary General of the Arab League, died on Sunday in hospital in Canada, where he was receiving treatment for a terminal illness. Arab League (AL) Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit mourned on Sunday the deputy secretary general, praising his role and offering deep condolences to the family of the deceased and his homeland Algeria. “We pray to Allah the Almighty to rest his soul in heaven and to grant solace and patience to his family,” he added. He described Ben Helli as “a person of high morals and true Arab patriotism.”“Despite our sadness that comes with losing Ambassador Bin Helli, his good nature will remain engraved in the minds of those who knew him.”Abul Gheit hailed Bin Helli’s sincere and tireless efforts to serve the purposes and principles of the Arab League.

Hamas Declares State of Alert in Gaza, Wages Campaign of Mass Arrests against Extremists
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/.17Ramallah – Hamas launched on Sunday a wide campaign in the Gaza Strip to arrest extremists, who are influenced by ISIS, in the wake of last week’s terrorist attack in Sinai, which claimed the lives of 23 Egyptian soldiers. Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Hamas-led security forces went on the highest state of alert and arrested a number of extremists, including those who were recently released by the movement. The sources added that the crackdown will target anyone who is suspected of supporting or sympathizing with ISIS, or who spreads terrorist ideas, or had any relation with those who allegedly perpetrated the Sinai attack. ISIS-supporters in the Gaza Strip claimed that three of their members had participated in the attack. Security forces however did not verify the accuracy of the information. Hamas deployed a large number of its members along the borders with Egypt and set up several inspection points in Gaza’s main streets and inside cities. Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh presided over urgent security meetings, noting that the authorities would adopt further measures along the borders to prevent any disruption of security. He stressed that Gaza would always seek to promote Arab and Egyptian national security. In this regard, Hamas-led security bodies have held extensive meetings over the past two days to discuss the current developments. Major General Tawfiq Abu Naim, head of the security affairs branch, announced that security measures were tightened with the aim to prevent any infiltration or escape of wanted persons. While Gaza residents complained of the unprecedented number of roadblocks that caused heavy traffic, Hamas’ Interior Ministry said its security services were carrying out meticulous and continuous work to improve the security situation in the Strip. Hamas wants to prove to Egypt that it is leading an uncompromising war against extremists as part of the agreement between the two parties to revive bilateral relations. The movement’s relations with Egypt saw major improvement in recent weeks, as Hamas authorities launched the building of a buffer zone on the borders with Egypt to improve security. They also received Egyptian promises to support the area with a modern monitoring system. Egypt has also provided Hamas with fuel and electricity, while talks are underway to conclude security and economic agreements aimed at easing the crises of the Gaza Strip and opening of the Rafah crossing. However, the attack in Sinai has put a lot of pressure on Hamas authorities over border control. At least 23 Egyptian soldiers were killed on Friday when suicide car bombs tore through two military checkpoints in North Sinai. ISIS claimed the responsibility for the attack, which marked one of the bloodiest assaults on security forces in years. Pro-ISIS social media accounts identified the bodies of three young men, who took part in the attack, as being from Rafah and former members of Hamas’ Qassam Brigades.

Mosul Heading for Tougher Days in Post-ISIS Period
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/.17/Erbil- Iraq’s second largest city Mosul faces an unknown fate after having been torn by regional conflict and lost tens of thousands of civilians. Other that the massive humanitarian situation, Mosul needs to overcome construction challenges after its infrastructure suffering great damage. More than eight months of warfare have displaced 900,000 residents – about half the city’s pre-war population – and killed thousands of civilians. The destruction is far greater than expected and is likely to cost billions of dollars to fix, according to the United Nations. Iraqi officials said that the upcoming period fairs as the toughest yet, despite all the fierce battles Mosul witnessed when being liberated from ISIS terrorists. Nineveh Provincial Council Vice President Noureddine Kabalan said that the next stage poses great challenges to local governing authorities and the Baghdad-based federal government. “There are many files that must be addressed properly and on a solid basis to prevent going back to ground zero,” he added. “Restoring basic services to the city, the return of those displaced, and controlling security file and addressing the negative effects of the idea, all these are significant challenges that the government will face in the coming period,” Kabalan added. Commenting on the strategy on tackling upcoming trials, Kbalan said that with “cooperation and concerted efforts obstacles standing in the way can be overcome.” He stressed that “the federal government cooperating with local administrative bodies in the next phase will have a significant impact on restoring life to the area.” The offensive to retake Mosul’s Old City from ISIS terrorists has damaged thousands of structures in and destroyed nearly 500 buildings, satellite imagery released by the United Nations on Thursday showed. Images taken a week before the offensive began on June 18 showed damage to 2,589 structures with 153 destroyed. The Iraqi military and the US-led coalition backing it pounded the city for months with air strikes and artillery before the onset of the ground offensive in October. ISIS also may have destroyed some buildings.Five days later, as bombardment intensified, another 1,451 buildings had been damaged, including 43 more destroyed homes, according to the imagery documented by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. In the first 12 days of fighting inside the Old City, in which ISIS deployed dozens of suicide bombers, a further 1,496 structures were damaged, with 294 more destroyed. More damage is expected before the fighting ends. ISIS rigged the historic Grand al-Nuri Mosque with explosives and razed it to the ground a week ago. The Old City along with 17 July district and areas around Mosul airport are the most heavily affected parts of the city, the UN has said. In some of the most damaged areas of the Old City, such as Ammu Baqqal, Bab al-Tub and the Bazaar, almost no buildings appear to have escaped damage. A statement with the maps called the analysis preliminary and said it had not been validated in the field. The dense construction of that part of the city, it said, meant the destruction might be underestimated. The cash-strapped Baghdad government is expected to appeal to international donors to help rebuild Mosul. The UN is working with local authorities on plans to rebuild health, water and energy infrastructure.

Tillerson in Gulf to Discuss Qatar’s Crisis
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/.17Dammam- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled on Monday to start a Middle East tour on the Qatari crisis. Kuwait will be the first stop in his visit to the region after media reports said it received a special envoy from the emir of Qatar. Tillerson’s tour comes after a tour by his British counterpart Boris Johnson who said that a prompt solution to the crisis is unlikely. Observers further expressed pessimism towards reaching a quick solution to the crisis amid Qatar’s intransigence in responding to the four states’ demands. Tillerson and Johnson will discuss joint efforts to contain the crisis with Qatar during a meeting ahead of the US Secretary of State’s arrival to Kuwait from Istanbul. Johnson stressed in Kuwait the importance of achieving progress in tackling the funding of terrorism in the region. Amidst this pessimism, Doha announced on Sunday that it had formed a government committee to tackle requests of compensations by some individuals and firms that were affected by the sanctions imposed on Qatar and its residents in the Gulf. Doha hinted that it would file lawsuits at French and British courts. Attorney General of Qatar Ali bin Fatis said in a news conference in Doha that the committee will work on receiving requests from firms and individuals and that cases will be studied before referring them to the Qatari justice or to courts in other states, including France and Britain. Britain’s Foreign Secretary saw at the conclusion of his tour that it is possible to achieve progress in reducing tension between Qatar and its neighbors but did not expect a prompt solution. He expressed support to the Kuwaiti role as a mediator in this crisis and stressed the importance of achieving progress in tackling the financing of terrorism in the region.

Palestinian Authority Freezes Salaries of 37 Hamas Deputies
Asharq Al Awsat/July 10/.17The Finance Ministry in Ramallah informed the 37 representatives of the Change and Reform bloc in the West Bank of the salary cut and confirmed that they will not be paid this month, Hamas official Ahmed Bahr said on Sunday. He condemned the government’s measure, deeming it “a declaration of war” against the legislative council and its democratically elected representatives. He added that this is part of the government’s policy to tighten the siege on Gaza and punish Gazzans for their support of the resistance Hamas. Bahr called upon international organizations to pressure the government to release the salaries, urging Palestinian factions to stand against President Mahmoud Abbas to end his “reckless” measures against the people. The PA’s move was declared a day after Abbas threatened to impose immediate financial sanctions on Hamas. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abbas said that Hamas should realize the government will resort to certain steps if it insists on challenging the authorities. According to Abbas, Hamas, along with Israeli occupation, have cemented division among the Palestinian people. He explained that, following meetings in the Egyptian capital Cairo, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank will impose financial sanctions against Hamas if it continues with its “the coup against the institutions of the state of Palestine in Ramallah.”Halting the salaries comes after the government took a number of moves in recent weeks to pressure Hamas to cede control of Gaza. Since April, the PA has severed funds for the Israeli-supplied electricity to Gaza, reduced salaries of employees in the coastal strip, cut back its medical budget and forced employees into early retirement. The Authority took these measures two months ago after Hamas formed an administrative committee to manage Gaza. It has also demanded that the movement dissolve this committee. Hamas MP Ayman Daraghma confirmed the PA’s move, saying that he has not been paid since June. The PA Finance Ministry refused to comment on the issue and did not provide the lawmakers with any explanation for cutting the salaries. Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Hassan Khreisheh said that he did not receive any official response from the Finance Ministry.

Avi Gabbay Elected Head of Israel's Labor Party
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 10/17/Israel's main opposition Labor party voted in former businessman Avi Gabbay as its new leader Monday, said the party as it seeks to regain waning influence and win back supporters. Gabbay, who only joined the party in December, took 52 percent of the votes in the runoff against longtime politician and former party leader Amir Peretz, Labor said in a statement. Nearly 59 percent of Labor’s 52,505 members voted in the contest for leadership of the veteran party, which was seeking a new face to boost its standings in the polls. The candidates advanced to the runoff by beating five others in last week's first round, with Peretz winning 32.7 percent and Gabbay 27.1 percent. That vote saw current Labor chairman Isaac Herzog garner only 16.7 percent for a third-place finish, a rapid fall in popularity after leading the party in the last general elections in 2015. Herzog has faced a barrage of criticism over his attempts to negotiate for his party to join Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition and over Labor’s slide in opinion polls. In a statement following the vote, Herzog -- who had endorsed Peretz ahead of the runoff -- congratulated Gabbay on his "impressive victory" and said he would stand by him "to help strengthen Labor and change the government."Israeli politics has seen a shift rightward in recent years, with Netanyahu and his Likud party in power since 2009. Centrist parties such as Yesh Atid and Kulanu -- which Gabbay was a member of until recently -- have also benefited at the expense of Labor. The country's last Labor prime minister was Ehud Barak from 1999 to 2001.
'Hope and change'
Ahead of the 2015 elections, Labor joined forces with Tzipi Livni's Hatnua to form the Zionist Union, which won 24 seats in the 120-seat parliament to become the largest opposition to Netanyahu's government. Supporters of the two candidates in the runoff had hoped their backgrounds would help to widen Labor’s support. Both are of Moroccan descent, rare for a leader of a major party in Israel, and they may be able to increase support for Labor among Mizrahi Jews of Middle Eastern or North African origin. They also both support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But beyond that they have little in common. Gabbay, 50, is seen as fresh face, having formerly headed Israeli telecommunications firm Bezeq before joining politics. He has never been a member of Israel's parliament. In 2014, he joined forces with former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon to form center-right Kulanu. Kulanu won 10 seats in the 2015 general elections and joined Netanyahu's coalition, with Gabbay appointed environment minister despite not being a parliament member.He quit in 2016 in protest at the appointment of hardliner Avigdor Lieberman to head the defense ministry, saying the move was against Israel's security interests and would deepen societal divisions. Gabbay announced in December that he was joining the Labor party. Barak, the ex-prime minister, has announced his support for Gabbay in the runoff. After polls opened on Monday, he said on his Facebook page that he would bring "hope and change" while injecting new life into the party.
'Mirror image'
Peretz, 65 and with a trademark salt-and-pepper mustache, is a veteran politician, former trade union leader and ex-defense minister. He was previously head of Labor from 2005-2007 and is the longest serving member of the Knesset, or parliament. His first stint as leader ended after he was accused of failing in his post as defense minister during the 34-day war against Lebanon's Hizbullah in 2006. Peretz later saw redemption, however, gaining praise for having pushed for the development of the Iron Dome missile defense system, now seen as an indispensable part of Israel's military infrastructure. "We will work to heal the society and the divisions caused by Netanyahu," Peretz said on his Facebook page, pledging to act "immediately to relaunch the peace process."Voters were faced with a stark choice. "Amir Peretz'‎s advantage lies in his rich political experience," Nahum Barnea wrote in Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper. "That is also a weakness: Over the course of his many years in politics, Peretz has won himself quite a few enemies. Avi Gabbay is Peretz'‎s mirror image: new, fresh and inexperienced."

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 10-11/17
France: "Jihad by Court"

Yves Mamou/Gatestone Institute/July 10/17
The goal of this trial is to create judicial precedent: to ensure that in the future, any criticism or insult against Islamism must be considered "racism".
Valentina Colombo, a professor at the European University in Rome, warned early on about jihad by court. In 2009, she wrote that, "The lawsuit that was initiated by The Union of the Islamic Organizations of France and the Great Mosque of Paris against the satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' for republishing the Danish cartoons about Muhammad is one of the most recent examples of this kind of jihad." But nobody paid attention to the warning. And when jihadists came in 2015 to murder eight journalists and cartoonists, nobody understood that "jihad by court" is only the first step.
"Legal action has become a mainstay of radical Islamist organizations seeking to intimidate and silence their critics." — Steven Emerson, Founder and President of The Investigative Project on Terrorism.
A silent jihad is under way in France. Spread by a constellation of Muslim organizations allied to powerful (non-Muslim) "anti-racist" associations, "jihad by court" is attacking freedom of press, and freedom of speech. Any journalist, politician, lawyer or intellectual who talks or writes either about Islam or some of its representatives in a critical way, is at risk of being taken to court for "racism" or "outraging a group of people because of their religion."
The so-called "jihad by court" began in an experimental way in France at the beginning of the century. In 2002, the famous French writer Michel Houellebecq was sued for "incitement to hatred" by Islamic organizations allied to the Ligue des droits de l'Homme, ("Human Rights League"), a prestigious "anti-racist" organization. Houellebecq was sued for having said in an interview with Lire magazine that, "of all existing religions, Islam is the dumbest. We read the Coran, we all collapse." Houellebecq was acquitted.
In 2007, a similar lawsuit was initiated by the Union of the Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) and the Great Mosque of Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, because it republished the Danish Muhammad cartoons. The plaintiffs accused Charlie Hebdo of "racism". Charlie Hebdo was acquitted. In 2011, unknown arsonists burned Charlie Hebdo's offices. The magazine was sued again in 2012 and in 2013. Each time, the plaintiffs were different Muslim organizations claiming different instances of "racism" or "blasphemy". January 7, 2015, two Muslim terrorists stormed into the offices of Charlie Hebdo and murdered 12 people.
Two years after that, jihad by court is everywhere.
Against Intellectuals and Journalists
Éric Zemmour, a writer and journalist, was sued in February 2011 for "racial incitement". He said on television that "most dealers are blacks and Arabs. That is a fact". He was fined €2,000. In May 2012, Zemmour was sued for defamation by Patrick Lozes, president of Council of Black Associations (CRAN). Zemmour had written in 2008: "Patrick Lozes said 'Obama is our president', which proves that for him, racial solidarity is superior in his enamored eyes than national solidarity". Zemmour was acquitted.
In 2014, Zemmour was sued again because he said, "The Normans, the Huns, Arabs, the great invasions after the fall of Rome are now replaced by gangs of Chechens, Roma, Kosovars, North Africans, Africans, who rob, abuse or strip your belongings." He was released in September 2015. The appeals court reconfirmed his release in 2016.
In December 2015, Zemmour was again fined €3,000 because he had declared to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that the "deportation" of five million French Muslim seems "unrealistic", but is comparable to "the five or six million Germans who had to leave eastern Europe after World War II". Zemmour succeeded in proving that the word "deportation" was added by Corriere della Sera, but the judge did not take that into consideration, and Zemmour's conviction was reaffirmed after an appeal in November 2016.
In June 2017, Zemmour was fined €5,000 after saying on television in September 2016, that "jihadists were considered by all Muslims, good Muslims." The plaintiff was a pro-Palestinian association, CAPJPO-EuroPa­les­tine.
Pascal Bruckner, an author and essayist, was sued in December 2015, by the Islamic, "left-wing" associations, Les Indivisibles and Les Indigenes de la République. Bruckner had said on television that the plaintiffs had "ideologically justified the murder of Charlie Hebdo's journalists". Bruckner was acquitted in 2016.
In January 2017, all "anti-racist" associations and the Islamist CCIF (Collective Against Islamophobia) sued Georges Bensoussan -- an award-winning Jewish French historian, born and raised in Morocco -- for racism. He had said on the radio that "in France, in Arab families... anti-Semitism is imbibed with one's mother's milk." He was acquitted, but the prosecutor has filed an appeal.
Against the "Fachosphère"
The fachosphère (combination of "fascist" and "sphere") is the term that the mainstream media are now calling a collection of websites -- such as the Riposte Laïque, Resistance Republicaine and many others -- that warn of the dangers of being overrun by radical Islam. Between 2012 and 2017, Riposte Laïque alone was sued "no fewer than 43 times" its editor-in-chief, Pierre Cassen, told Gatestone. This time, the plaintiffs were not only "anti-racist" associations (LDH, SOS-Racisme, le MRAP, la LICRA and Islamist CCIF) -- but also the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo; former Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, and various Islamic associations such as L'Aube du Savoir ("Sunrise of Knowledge"), journalists from the mainstream media (Libération, Le Monde), the Ligue de Défense Judiciaire des Musulmans ("Muslim Judicial Defense League"). These libel and racism suits asked for fines from €5,000 to €40,000.
Against Officials
On March 30, 2016, Laurence Rossignol, then Minister of Families, Children and Women's Rights and known to be a fierce critic of the omnipresence of the Islamic veil in public places, was interviewed by the radio station RMC. She compared veiled women to "American negroes ["nègres américains"] who supported slavery". Rossignol apologized for using "negroes", but possibly too late. The Islamist Collectif Contre L'islamophobie en France (CCIF) and the Frantz Fanon Foundation launched a class action suit for "insult of a racial nature" and announced their intention to submit a complaint to the Cour de Justice de la République, a court empowered to adjudicate lawsuits against members of the government. The plaintiffs also threatened to sue the minister appointed to the Correctional Court and the Administrative Court of Paris.
In June 2017, Véronique Corazza, Head of Elsa-Triolet secondary school of Saint-Denis (a suburb of Paris), was sued by Majid Messaoudene, an official of the municipality of Saint Denis, because she republished on her Facebook page dozens "shameful tweets" of Messaoudène in which he supported BDS against Israel and mocked the secularist imam of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi.
On June 20, 2017, the jihadi terrorist Salah Abdeslam sued Member of Parliament Thierry Solère, for "breach of privacy". Abdeslam is the only survivor of the Islamist terror cell that murdered 130 people and wounded 430 others on November 13, 2015 in Paris. Exercising his right as a member of parliament to visit prisons, Solère described to two journalists the life of the prisoner, from brushing his teeth to doing exercises in his cell.
Salah Abdeslam (left), a member of the Islamist terror cell that murdered 130 people in Paris on November 13, 2015, filed a lawsuit against Member of Parliament Thierry Solère (right), for "breach of privacy". Solère had described to journalists the life of Abdeslam in prison. (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)
On June 22, 2017, Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, head of the new anti-ISIS task-force created by president Emmanuel Macron, was sued and fined €500 euros for "defaming" Imam Mohamed Khattabi. In 2015, Bousquet de Florian said that Khattabi was a Salafist and a hate-preacher.
Against Secularist Muslims
On February 6, 2015, Soufiane Zitouni, a professor of philosophy, published an op-ed in the daily, Libération, questioning the Islamist style of Averroes Muslim College, which was employing him. He described the college as "Muslim territory under contract with the State" and criticized an incipient anti-Semitism in the school. He was sued for defamation by Amar Lasfar, president of Union des Organizations Islamiques de France (UOIF), an umbrella organization said to be "in conformity with" the Muslim Brotherhood. Zitouni was acquitted.
Between 2015 and 2017, Mohamed Louizi, author of Pourquoi j'ai quitté les Frères Musulmans ("Why I Quit the Muslim Brotherhood") was sued four times. In May and July 2015, he was sued for defamation because he published six articles on his blog about Sofiane Zitouni's case with Averroes College (see above). In these two cases, Louizi was acquitted.
Then, in 2017, Louizi again shed light on arrangements made behind closed doors between some Socialist officials heading the city of Lille and Islamists accused by Louizi to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was sued twice. Judgement is pending.
On June 6, 2017, Ahmed Meguini, secularist activist and founder of LaïcArt association, said on Twitter that Marwan Muhammad was "a son of a b**ch Salafist" and a "small sh**t". Marwan Muhammad, an Islamist and Executive Director of CCIF was not angry at all. He simply picked up his phone and called his lawyer to sue Meguini -- not for having insulting him, but for "racism". The goal of this trial, according to Causeur magazine, is to create a judicial precedent: to ensure that in the future, any criticism or insult against Islamism must be considered "racism".
These lists are not comprehensive; the trials above are just the most visible part of the iceberg.
A "Modern and Aggressive Form of Jihad "
Valentina Colombo, a professor at the European University in Rome, warned early on about "jihad by court". In 2009, in Gatestone, she wrote:
"The lawsuit that was initiated by The Union of the Islamic Organizations of France and the Great Mosque of Paris against the satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' for republishing the Danish cartoons about Muhammad is one of the most recent examples of this kind of jihad."
But nobody (in France) paid attention to the warning. And when jihadists came in 2015 to murder eight journalists and cartoonists, nobody understood that jihad by court is only the first step. When people persist in what other people regard as "Islamophobia", murderers have shown up to make sure the message sticks.
In another article, Colombo writes: "Jihad by court is another form of 'intermediate' jihad and is a modern and aggressive form of jihad through legal means."
Jihad by court is one of the favorite means of the organizations and individuals ideologically linked with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the West and sometimes is connected with the accusation of Islamophobia. The strategy is clear: any journalist, writer, intellectual, academic, activist or any newspaper, organization, association criticizing or exposing a Muslim Brotherhood individual or organization is very likely to be sued for defamation. The Legal Project of the Middle East Forum, based in the U.S., has given a very useful definition of this tactic:
Such lawsuits are often predatory, filed without a serious expectation of winning, but undertaken as a means to bankrupt, distract, intimidate, and demoralize defendants. Plaintiffs seek less to prevail in the courtroom than to wear down researchers and analysts. Even when the latter win cases, they pay heavily in time, money, and spirit. As counterterrorism specialist Steven Emerson comments, "Legal action has become a mainstay of radical Islamist organizations seeking to intimidate and silence their critics." Islamists clearly hope, Douglas Farah notes, that researchers will "get tired of the cost and the hassle [of lawsuits] and simply shut up."
French intellectuals, journalists, officials do not yet understand that they must organize, raise funds and elaborate strategies with lawyers to counter this threat. No one can compete individually against court by jihad. If an organized counter-strategy is not elaborated, the prediction of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian Islamic cleric and chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars -- "We will colonize you with your democratic laws" -- will come true.
*Yves Mamou, author and journalist, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde.
© 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.

Help the Iranian People to Oust Their Oppressive Regime

Hassan Mahmoudi/Gatestone Institute/July 10/17
"The Trump administration needs to be prepared and leaning forward and ready to do everything it can to help freedom win and dictatorship lose in the great struggle that is underway in Iran." — Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The new Trump administration in Washington is still grappling with the extent to which it is obligated to uphold the illegitimate Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- the nuclear deal that the five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany signed with each other in July 2015, and apparently never signed by Iran. While the Trump administration is saying that military action is not off the table, grassroots efforts by Iranian expatriates to help their brethren inside the Iran to topple their repressive regime have been underway.
These efforts were on full display recently on July 1 in Paris, France, where an estimated 100,000 Iranian dissidents and hundreds of politicians and other world dignitaries attended an annual "Free Iran" rally. The event, titled "Onward with the Iranian Resistance, Regime Change within Reach," expressed the feelings of courageous young people in dozens of Iranian cities, where they braved the menacing presence of members of the regime's intelligence services to show support for the rally in Paris.
Across Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shiraz, Karaj, Tabriz, Ahwaz and other areas, Iranians expressed their discontent on the walls of buildings. The Iranian people denounced Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and hailed a 10-point plan devised in 2006 by Maryam Rajavi -- co-head of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI) and president-elect of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) -- for the future of their country. They also distributed leaflets in support of the Paris gathering, and shared hundreds of photos and videos on social media. The rally itself was streamed live on the internet and watched by thousands of viewers.
Speaking at the event, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich said:
"The next time there's popular dissent, it will be across the whole country; it will be organized. The Trump administration needs to be prepared and leaning forward and ready to do everything it can to help freedom win and dictatorship lose in the great struggle that is underway in Iran."
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, addresses the "Free Iran" rally on July 1 in Paris, France. (Image source: National Council of Resistance of Iran video screenshot)
Gingrich was alluding to the last time there was an internal attempt to oust the mullah-led regime in Tehran. In the summer of 2009, after the announcement that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had defeated opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, head of the Green Movement, in the presidential election, tens of thousands of people poured into the streets and accused Ahmadinejad of stealing the election.
After going through the motions of investigating this claim, Khamenei declared that the election had been "completely free," and that Ahmadinejad was the legitimate victor.
When Iranians from various sectors took to the streets to protest, the regime's paramilitary Basij militia responded violently, beating and gunning down demonstrators. Thousands of people were arrested and sent to prison, and the regime blocked access to the internet, which had been the vehicle through which protesters shared cellphone videos of their ordeal, and enabled the world to see what was happening to them.
The Obama administration, which was already working with other world powers to negotiate the nuclear deal with Iran, responded by adopting a neutral stance. At a press conference 11 days after the election in Iran, then-U.S. President Barack Obama stated:
"I think it is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it."
Of course, the theocratic regime in Tehran did not then, and does not now. It is imperative for members of the Trump administration to heed Gingrich's words, and not repeat the behavior of their predecessor. It is not only the well-being of the Iranian people that is at stake, but the safety and security of the free world.
*Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. Twitter: @hassan_mahmou1
© 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.

Putin Looked Trump in the Eye and Lied to Him
John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/July 10/17
Before Donald Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20, media speculation approached hysterical levels. Would it be like the Reagan-Gorbachev get-together at Reykjavik in 1986, or Chamberlain meeting Hitler in Munich in 1938?
Of course, it was like neither. Instead, the encounter was primarily for the leaders to take each other's measure. This was especially important for Trump, given his opponents' charges, with no evidence to date, that his campaign colluded with Russia to rig the 2016 election.
Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, reported afterwards that Trump opened the meeting by expressing "the concerns of Americans" about Russian election interference. Tillerson emphasized that the discussion was "robust and lengthy", with Trump returning several times to Russia's meddling.
Although we do not have Trump's exact words, US critics immediately attacked him for not referring to his concerns about the intrusions. If Trump did speak broadly about Americans' worries, he struck the right note. The US is essentially unanimous that no foreign intervention in our constitutional process is acceptable.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with U.S. President Donald Trump (right in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017. (Image source:
But there was an even more important outcome: Trump got to experience Putin looking him in the eyes and lying to him, denying Russian interference in the election. It was predictable Putin would say just that, as he has before (offering the gratuitous, nearly insulting suggestion that individual hackers might have been responsible). Commentators were quick to observe that governments almost never straightforwardly acknowledge their intelligence activities.
But attempting to undermine America's constitution is far more than just a quotidian covert operation. It is in fact a casus belli, a true act of war, and one Washington will never tolerate. For Trump, it should be a highly salutary lesson about the character of Russia's leadership to watch Putin lie to him. And it should be a fire-bell-in-the-night warning about the value Moscow places on honesty, whether regarding election interference, nuclear proliferation, arms control or the Middle East: negotiate with today's Russia at your peril.
On specific issues, the meeting's outcome was also problematic. A ceasefire agreement in southwestern Syria is a clear victory for Russia, Assad's regime, Hizbollah terrorists and Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Although humanitarian in intention, this deal substantially legitimizes Russia's participation in the Syrian struggle, thereby keeping Assad's dictatorship alive.
Any ceasefire necessarily relieves pressure on Assad on one front, which he can exploit on another. Even more troubling were Tillerson's references to the regime's future, implying discussions with Russia about a post-Assad Syria. If so, this would simply be a continuation of the Obama administration's delusion that Moscow shared our interest in removing Assad. Russia would acquiesce only if another Russian stooge were to fill his shoes.
Moreover, on North Korea, Tillerson said that Washington wanted to return Pyongyang to the table to discuss rolling back its nuclear weapons program. This too is a continuation of Obama policies, which brought us to the point where the North is dangerously close to delivering nuclear weapons on targets in the US.
For both Syria and North Korea, such comments reflect the influence of America's permanent bureaucracy, which has been implementing Obama policies for eight years, and which Trump has yet to redirect.
There was undoubtedly much more to the Trump-Putin meeting. But its major consequence – what Trump learnt from observing Putin in action, lying with the benefit of the best KGB training – will be important for years to come.
*John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".
*This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the 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

'Abbas, PA Officials, Reaffirm Commitment To Continue Paying Allowances To Prisoners And Martyrs' Families

MEMRI/July 10/17
In spite of U.S. demands to halt the payment of allowances to Palestinian prisoners and families of martyrs, senior PA officials, chief of them President Mahmoud 'Abbas, reiterate their position that the allowances must continue because the recipients are not terrorists but rather soldiers who fought for their people, and because the allowances constitute social aid.[1] This report reviews recent statements by PA officials on this matter.
'Abbas: I Will Not Compromise On Prisoners' And Martyrs' Allowances
The Gazan online daily Dunya Al-Watan quoted Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen as praising 'Abbas's position on the prisoners' allowances. According to Muhaisen, 'Abbas said in response to the U.S. demand to stop the allowances: "Even if I have to resign, I will not compromise on the martyrs' and prisoners' allowances. I am president of all the Palestinian people, including the prisoners, martyrs, wounded, deportees and forced migrants."[2] This statement by 'Abbas also featured in a banner on Fatah's official Facebook page:[3]
Nabil Sha'th At Herzliya Conference: The Allowances Are Social Aid
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, 'Abbas's advisor Nabil Sha'th defended the allowances, saying that they constitute "social aid, [provided] out of [our] social duty to care for innocent people who were hurt because their loved ones were imprisoned or killed as a result of the military occupation."[4]
Head Of The Palestinian Prisoners Club: The Allowances Are A Matter Of Consensus; Our Struggle Is A Just One
Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, said in an interview with the Al-Quds daily: "The issue of the allowances for the prisoners and released prisoners is an essential and ideological one that is very dear to our hearts as [members of the] Palestinian people... Our narrative is that our struggle is just and legitimate, and can only be relinquished after we attain our rights in full, rights that are upheld by international law... The issue of the allowances is a matter of principle, and nobody in the [Palestinian] leadership or in the PLO can relinquish this principle, in any way. There is a clear consensus that [the allowances] must not be stopped, so this does not worry me at all."[5]
Columnist In PA Daily Al-Ayyam: The Incidents In Which Civilians Were Hurt Were Anomalous Mistakes
Muhannad 'Abd Al-Hamid, columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, wrote: "The war on [our] national symbols, which includes a dismantling of the national and humane value system, is the immediate danger currently threatening the Palestinian people... The campaign over the monument to the martyr Khaled Nazzal in the city of Jenin[6] was the latest expression of this kind of struggle, in which [our] national resolve overcame the arrogance of the occupation, [for] despite destroying the monument... the occupation did not manage and will never manage to expunge the love and esteem felt by the [Palestinian] youth towards the martyrs, including the martyr Khaled Nazzal whose name remains etched in their hearts. On the contrary, the occupation's attack on the monument helped new generations of Palestinians to become familiar with [Nazzal,] one of the best people who risked their lives and gave everything for the sake of their people's freedom...
"If the Israeli-American demand to punish the families of martyrs and prisoners by revoking their financial rights is met, it will mean turning the struggle for the liberation of Palestine – a struggle whose legitimacy is recognized by an absolute majority of the world's countries – into a crime; in other words, [it will mean] expunging the national and humane values whose essence is freedom... [We] must reject these demands out of hand and refuse to negotiate over them, no matter how harsh the Israeli and American reaction and how high a price [we must] pay...
"Israel exploits Palestinian mistakes and violations of international law, especially the tendency to sometimes target civilians inside or outside the lands of dispute or to target non-Israelis. I speak of [actions] that the Palestinians soon recognized to be tactical mistakes and gave up, like the plane hijackings [of the 1960s and 1980s], the [1972] Munich attack on the Israeli athletes, the attack on the Opec meeting [in Vienna in 1975], and the Hamas suicide attacks on Israeli targets that were officially condemned by the Palestinian [Authority], [which also] arrested those responsible for them. Yes, in the course of the struggle there were mistakes and Palestinian violations [of international law] that harmed the Palestinian cause. But these were exceptions, not the rule, and since they were secondary, the international support for the Palestinian people remained and even increased. Israel and the U.S., and some Western circles, [deliberately] confuse the legitimate Palestinian struggle, which is the main and sweeping approach, with illegitimate operations against civilians that violate international law. Israel wants to use these mistakes to lump the [entire] Palestinian struggle with global terrorism and [with the actions of] extremist takfiri organizations...
"The Palestinians' recognition of [their] mistakes, their desisting from [such actions], and their upholding of international law, which recognizes the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle, are the best answer to the Israeli-American extortion. They are also the starting point for a Palestinian counterattack against Israel's state terrorism and crimes, which have no expiry date. While the Palestinian mistakes are the exception, Israel's violations [of international law] and atrocities are the rule. Moreover, the [Palestinian] mistakes – which are the exception – do not turn the fighters [responsible for them] into terrorists. They remain freedom fighters, confronting the Israeli violations, which are tantamount to crimes against humanity."[7]
Al-Ayyam Columnist: Israel Seeks To Malign Our Sacred Struggle, Present It As Terror
Al-Ayyam columnist Tawfiq Abu Shumar, wrote: "We thought that Israel, like other countries, had closed the book on [the issue of] the Palestinian prisoners based on the saying 'peace is made with enemies'... The purpose of including the issue of the prisoners under the label of terrorism is to de-sanctify the Palestinian cause and erase the term 'prisoner of war' from [the discourse on] Palestinian prisoners by accusing them of terrorism. To complete the task, one has only to associate them with global terrorism, which blackens the image of the Palestinian cause...
"[By means of] a broad international campaign, sponsored by the U.S., Israel managed to convince countries that the money of American and European tax payers is winding up in the pockets of Palestinian prisoners, that is, [Palestinian] terrorists. Israel compiled a special dossier which it submitted to Donald Trump, listing the recipients of allowances, by number of years spent in jail. It circulated this dossier among its embassies and turned it, using its influence in the media, into the new urgent issue [on the agenda]. The worst consequence [of this] is that the imprisoned fighters are harmed, and come to the conclusion that their country was not worth their sacrifice. This is [precisely] what Israel aims to achieve: to deliver a blow to the innate drive of the sacred Palestinian struggle. This is [precisely] the way to dismantle the most important foundation of the Palestinian struggle, before destroying, one by one, the other main pillars of this struggle, namely Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, the Palestinian refugees' right of return, an end to the occupation, and the dismantling of the settlements."[8]
[1] The PA financial support for imprisoned and released prisoners and the families of martyrs was reviewed in detail by MEMRI president Yigal Carmon in his July 6, 2016 testimony to the U.S. Congress. See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 97, MEMRI President Yigal Carmon's Testimony To House Committee On Foreign Affairs, July 6, 2016: Palestinian Authority Support For Imprisoned, Released, And Wounded Terrorists And Families Of 'Martyrs'," July 6, 2016.
[2], July 2, 2017.
[3], July 2, 2017.
[4] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 22, 2017.
[5] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 24, 2017.
[6] Khaled Nazzal was head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and was responsible for orchestrating deadly attacks against Israelis, including the Ma'a lot massacre, in which 27 Israelis, most of them schoolchildren, were killed. On the recent Palestinian efforts to commemorate him, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6989, Palestinian Struggle To Commemorate Mastermind Of 1974 Deadly Attack On Israeli Schoolchildren, July 3, 2017.
[7] Al-Ayyam (PA), July 4, 2017.
[8] Al-Ayyam (PA), June 28, 2017.

Indo-Israeli Ties: New Heights
Jagdish N. Singh/Gatestone Institute/July 10/17
"The time has come to bring together countries to fight against the enemies of Israel.... Israel never needs to fear that they are only seven or eight million people standing against 150 million Arabs. They have 1.2 billion Indians backing them." — Subramanian Swamy, Indian parliamentarian.
Historically, relations between India and Israel, with a few exceptions, have been warm. In January 1992, then Indian Prime Minister P. V, Narsimha Rao established full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. Since then, economic, technological, military and diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Jerusalem have moved from strength to strength.
During the last few years Jerusalem has sold to New Delhi advanced military equipment.[1]
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit (July 4-6) to Israel was the first by a prime minister of India to the Jewish state. After the meeting between Modi and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, India and Israel signed seven agreements in the fields of water, agriculture, and space, including a $40 million joint fund for research and development in innovation. Netanyahu and Modi also upgraded the current bilateral relationship to a "strategic partnership," and agreed that "strong measures must be taken against terrorists, terror organisations, their networks and all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism, or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups." Netanyahu said the India-Israel relationship today could be described as "I-square T-square"—that is "Indian Talent and Israeli Technology."
Modi held a meeting with CEOs of various companies, leading to the signing of agreements worth about $4.3 billion between the participating companies. The forum intends to take current bilateral trade of about $4-5 billion to $20 billion in five years. High-tech Israeli companies produce robotic waterless cleaners for solar panels and portable desalination units, which could help India solve its water and energy crises.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend an Israel-India innovation exhibition, on July 6, 2017. (Image source: Kobi Gideon, Israel Government Press Office)
Indian and Israeli companies entered into agreements to bid jointly for defence contracts for the Indian military and locally build the systems under "Made in India." India and Israel also agreed to increase their air linkages, with Air India expected to commence flights to Tel Aviv.
Both nations face several common threats, including radical Islamist terrorism. Both nations have faced major conventional wars with their neighbours and continue to experience low‐intensity conflict. And both are confronted with weapons of mass destruction in the hands of their rivals -- real and potential.
Israel has been a time-tested ally of India in combating all kinds of threats to its security. New Delhi, too, must be sensitive to Jerusalem's security. The Jewish state's existence has been under threat from radical Islamist forces in the region. Threats by Iran, with the its growing nuclear potential, to annihilate the Jewish state cannot be overlooked.
Noted Indian parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy rightly suggests:
"The time has come to bring together countries to fight against the enemies of Israel....Israel never needs to fear that they are only seven or eight million people standing against 150 million Arabs. They have 1.2 billion Indians backing them."
New Delhi should have a military pact that would treat any attack on either by a third nation or group as an attack on both.
New Delhi also must move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. All embassies are located in a given state's capital. Jerusalem is Israel's capital. One wonders why Prime Minister Modi said in a recent media interview: "We will take a decision on that [embassy location] after both sides [Israel and the Palestinians] have come to an agreement on Jerusalem." India should have its embassy in West Jerusalem, which is not "occupied territory."
Modi's position on Jerusalem is already close to the realities on the ground today. He is for "the realization of a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel." Modi makes no reference to East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestine state. During Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's visit to India in May, New Delhi, while expressing its support for a Palestinian State, dropped any reference to Jerusalem. Modi seems to be aware that Israel's religious, historical, and archaeological claims to the eastern part of Jerusalem also deserve due attention.
Ties between New Delhi and Jerusalem can be said to have attained new heights, and look set to go even higher.
*The author is a senior journalist based in New Delhi.
[1] New Delhi also signed a contract for the purchase of two additional Phalcon/IL‐76 AWACS valued at $1 billion during the visit of Israel's President Reuven Rivlin to India in November 2016. In April 2017, India signed a contract worth about $2 billion to procure anti‐tank missiles and air defense systems from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). In May 2017, IAI secured another contract for $630 million to supply Barak‐8 missiles to the Indian Navy. Both deals involve technology transfer and production in India.
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