July 12/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Jeusus sSaid To The Canaanite Woman: Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 15/21-28/:"Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly."

When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord
Acts of the Apostles 12/25.13,1-12/:"Then after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark. Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the ruler, and Saul. While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John also to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they met a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet, named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. But the magician Elymas (for that is the translation of his name) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now listen the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind for a while, unable to see the sun.’ Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he went about groping for someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 11-12/17
The Lebanese Forces/Roger Bejjani/Face Book/July 11/17
How do you solve a problem like Al Jazeera/Najah Alotaibi/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
Toward a new Russian-American order in the Middle East/Christian Chesnot/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
How Tunisia’s Marzouki defended Qatar/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
Modi’s visit to Israel, Arabs going green with envy/Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
Vision 2030 and the future of business in Saudi Arabia/Fahd Al-Rasheed/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
Trouble among America's Gulf Allies/John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/July 11/017
Comey's Leaked Memos: Who Will Guard the Guardians/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/July 11/017
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Germany: June 2017/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/July 11/17
Jihad Means More than "A Peaceful Self-Struggle"/Maher Gabra/Gatestone Institute/July 11/017

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 11-12/17
The Lebanese Forces
Nasrallah Warns Arsal Outskirts Militants, Urges Govt. to Talk to Damascus
Hariri Defends Lebanese Army against Critics of its Handling of Syrian Refugees
Aoun pledges to end smuggling at Customs
2 Militants Dead, 3 Held and Bombs Seized in Arsal Raid
147 Law Students Graduate from Program Organized by STL
Change and Reform Says Army a 'Red Line', Urges Govt. Plan for Refugee Return
Lebanese Held for Using Internet Game to Promote IS Ideology
Foreign Ministry Hails Mosul Liberation, Nasrallah to Deliver Speech
'Countdown' for Arsal Outskirts Battle Has Started
Jumblat Holds Phone Talks with Hariri after Tensions
Future bloc after weekly meeting: For bracing army in face of terrorism
Jreissati after Change and Reform meeting: Army is red line
ISF Chief meets UNTSO Head of Mission
General Ibrahim meets UNTSO Head of Mission
Army Commander meets UNTSO Head of Mission
Hariri receives Red Cross and LIFE delegations
Riachi, Aboul Gheit tackle overall Arab affairs
30th anniversary of Erasmus programme: Lebanese youth discuss opportunities and challenges of mobility
AUB builds sustainable capacities through Tech for Food

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 11-12/17
Iran Regime Has No Place in the Region
Syria Monitor Says IS Chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Dead
U.S., Qatar Sign Agreement on Fighting Terrorism
Washington, London and Kuwait express ‘deep concern’ over Qatar crisis
US, Qatar sign MOU on combating terrorism, financing
Saudi official slams Qatar’s failed funding of ‘Arab autumn in Saudi Arabia’
Tillerson heads to Qatar, hoping to help resolve Gulf dispute
Emir Tamim signed GCC agreements which Qatar failed to abide by
Documents prove Qatar failed to comply ‎with GCC agreements
Joint Statement: Documents confirm Qatar's evasion of all its commitments
Coalition forces find naval mine northwest of Yemen’s Midi Port
Bahrain identifies suspects in Diraz blast that killed a policeman
16 Dead in U.S. Military Plane Crash in Mississippi
Trump Visit to Britain to be Delayed until 2018
U.S. conducts successful missile intercept test amid N. Korea tensions

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 11-12/17
The Lebanese Forces
Roger Bejjani/Face Book/July 11/17
I was supportive of the Lebanese Forces prior to its official constitution since April 13,1975; have contributed to the resistance against the PLO and the Assad regime occupying forces until 1984; was fully supportive of the LF against the mad man in 1989 and 1990; always believed in Rafic Hariri's good intentions; have joined spontaneously the Cedar's revolution; was happy and proud to see Samir Geagea free and still consistent and trustworthy after 11 years in solitary confinement; believed in SG's common sense and strategic mind; even applied to become a member of the LF political party.....until the LF have decided to become one of the many cheese eaters in the sense of power sharing (not corruption). They compromised on everything the LF stood for with an ephemeris reward: power.
We do not hear the LF anymore when their voice should be heard:
Torturing to death suspects arrested (although the LF were victims of the same practice), journalists and citizens arrested for their opinion, Hezbollah's weapons and intervention in Syria, visit of the Army cadets to à HeZbollah museum....
I acknowledge that they were key in formulating the new electoral law. However, they should have demanded a law based on the uninominal circumscription.
They are supporting a President and shamefully allying with a political party that supports Hezbollah.
Although I still feel that the LF are probably the most serious and credible political structure in Lebanon, I also feel that the LF spirit and Bachir's as well as Samir's spirit were betrayed since January 18, 2016.
I am very disappointed.

Nasrallah Warns Arsal Outskirts Militants, Urges Govt. to Talk to Damascus
Naharnet/July 11/17/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday warned the jihadist militants in the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal that “there is not much time left for settlements,” hinting that his group might soon launch a military campaign in the area. “I laud and express my huge appreciation of the mighty efforts that the army and various Lebanese security agencies are exerting,” said Nasrallah in a televised address on the latest developments. “The Lebanese are enjoying security and stability, not because Daesh (Islamic State group), al-Qaida and al-Nusra (Front) do not want to stage bombings in Lebanon, but rather because strenuous efforts have been exerted to bust the cells and their financiers, supporters and officials, the last of which was what the Intelligence Directorate unveiled in Arsal,” he noted. “Had these cells and would-be suicide bombers been able to carry out their plots, the security, economic and tourism situations would have been very difficult. What happened in Arsal, what the army and the resistance fighters are doing have lowered the risks without fully eliminating them,” Nasrallah pointed out. And apparently referring to the abuse allegations that the army faced after the latest crackdown in Arsal’s refugee encampments, Nasrallah admitted that “mistakes might happen” but that they “should not be exploited to stab those protecting people’s security in the back.” He warned that “there is a real problem in the outskirts” of Arsal and other border towns. “Some of the suicide bombers come from there and the bombs and threats are still present there. This issue needs a solution. This might be a controversial point but let the government shoulder the responsibility and we would support it and assist it. I believe that the file has reached its final phase and this is the last time I will be talking about it,” Nasrallah said.
“It’s about time we put an end to the threat of the militant groups in Arsal’s outskirts and there’s not much time left for settlements and reconciliations,” the Hizbullah leader went on to say. Turning to the issue of returning Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their country, Nasrallah denied that his party is seeking to play a “political role” in this regard. “Some said that the Lebanese government’s communication with the Syrian regime would grant legitimacy to this regime, but this is incorrect, seeing as the Syrian government has ambassadors in most countries and some are negotiating with it secretly and publicly. The French president has acknowledged Assad’s legitimacy, so the government’s negotiation with its Syrian counterpart would not stand for giving them (Syrians) legitimacy because they don’t need it,” Nasrallah emphasized. He stressed that “no one wants to force the refugees to return to Syria.”
“We’re rather speaking of a voluntary return and about guarantees and assistance that would be granted to the refugees… If you (Lebanese government) don’t negotiate you’d be giving us a political role but we don’t want it. We believe that the refugees’ return to Syria would achieve the interests of the refugees themselves and the interest of the Lebanese people, that’s why we have called for this, based on humanitarian, social, ethical, security and economic reasons,” added Nasrallah. “We hope al-Mustaqbal Movement is not thinking of prolonging the plight of the Syrian refugees and Lebanese citizens for the sake of receiving foreign aid,” he said. And calling on the government to discuss the refugee issue with the Syrian government, Nasrallah reassured that “there are guarantees and a lot of safe and stable areas in Syria that the refugees can be returned to.”

Hariri Defends Lebanese Army against Critics of its Handling of Syrian Refugees
Beirut – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed on Monday that the army enjoys “complete” political support in wake of criticism it came under following the death of four Syrian detainees, who were arrested after military raids in the northeastern border region of Arsal in late June. “Those criticizing the army are trying to create tensions between the military forces and Syrian refugees,” declared the prime minister after holding talks with Defense Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun. Hariri also described as “very successful” the army’s Arsal raid, which saw five suicide bomber blow themselves up against the military. Several refugees were also detained in the operation.“Lebanon would have faced a major problem had the operation not been carried out,” the PM told reporters at the Grand Serail.
“Those explosives were going to be targeting Lebanon,” he stressed. “The military entered an encampment of some 10,000 people and it carried out a major operation and thankfully no civilians were injured,” Hariri stated. On the death of the four detainees, he said that the army is carrying out a “clear and transparent” investigation in the matter. “We reject any questioning of the credibility of the investigation, which will deliver its findings within two or three days,” Hariri added. The army is keen on following legal measures and “political support for the military is unconditional,” he declared.
Security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Army Command is “very much at ease” with the results of the meeting held between Hariri, Sarraf and Aoun. “The army commander received great political support to continue its mission in combating terrorism. This support has never even stopped,” it added.
“We will witness even greater efforts by the military after the Grand Serail meeting affirmed that the army is above suspicion,” they stressed. Hariri’s stance during his meeting with the defense minister and army commander have “put an end to all campaigns that have criticized the army, which is employing the best of its youth in defending the nation,” stated the security sources. “The blood of the wounded that was shed in the Arsal raid has not gone to waste and it is now time to shift attention once again towards the army’s achievement in preventing the spread of terrorism,” they said. The Army Command has meanwhile continued its investigation with the detainees that were arrested during the Arsal raid, announcing that 20 suspects have been referred to the judiciary for their terrorist links and 23 others have been released without charge. Meanwhile, and for the third consecutive day, Syrian regime jets continued to shell Lebanese border areas on the outskirts of Arsal, reported the National News Agency. The shelling targeted al-Nusra Front positions in the area. No official announcement was made on the issue, but Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali said: “What if Syrian jets violate Lebanese airspace or Lebanese jets violate Syrian  airspace. This issue is coordinated between the two countries.”“This violation is aimed at striking terrorism that is threatening Lebanon as it threatens Syria,” he explained.

Aoun pledges to end smuggling at Customs
The Daily Star/July 11/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun pledged Monday to deploy more staff and security officials at Beirut Port to end all forms of tax evasion and smuggling. “We have made lot of progress to combat corruption and I can assure [you] that the situation at Rafik Hariri International Airport is now under control,” the president told the heads of economic committees and representatives of the private sector at Baabda Palace. The representatives of the private sector asked the president about the government’s efforts to end the chaotic state at the port and airport amid reports that tax evasion and smuggling are rife at the vital facilities. Some economists estimate that the Finance Ministry is losing around $1 billion from smuggling at Beirut Port each year. Inside sources say that many imported goods are being smuggled through the port without being subject to the proper taxes. Tax evasion, these sources note, requires the collaboration of at least four or five parties: the client and his supplier, the clearance office, the Customs inspector or scout man and his supervisor, as well as other Customs agents. Bank Audi estimated the value of tax evasion in Lebanon at more than $4 billion a year in losses, but this estimation has not been substantiated by the Finance Ministry. Aoun stressed that Lebanon should be transformed from the rentier economy into a real economy based on production. He said that Lebanon welcomes those who want to invest in it. “We are working to reform the financial situation and to help small- and medium-sized enterprises,” he said. “It is important not only to produce but also to secure the markets that are primarily the responsibility of the state.”He also highlighted the achievements made by Lebanese Customs, noting that the state’s revenues from both the airport and Beirut Port have increased within 80 days thanks to efforts to curb smuggling. Aoun pointed out that Lebanon, which he said won the battle against terrorism, will seek to control internal chaos and reach a result in this context. He noted that Lebanon is currently studying cooperation with one of the world’s leading institutions to revive the Lebanese economy. “We are working, in parallel, to reform the financial situation and to help institutions, especially the small and medium ones, which constitute the vast majority of Lebanese institutions,” he said. “It is important not only to produce but to secure markets that are primarily the responsibility of the state. An important factor for the widest segment of the Lebanese people, and we welcome this work especially since the institutions represent all industrial and commercial sectors.”“It is unacceptable that we rely on international aid and the World Bank for everything,” the president said. Economy Minister Raed Khoury thanked the president on behalf of himself and the attendees at the meeting, pointing out that the Lebanese forum for small- and medium-sized enterprises is very important and reflects the aspirations and vision of the president to make the Lebanese economy productive and effective. He said that this forum will be the beginning of a workshop in the coming weeks and months aimed at supporting small- and medium-sized companies, which are the backbone of the Lebanese economy, create jobs and encourage citizens to stay in the country. He stressed the importance of collective action through this forum between the concerned ministries, economists and the Central Bank. Khoury also noted the importance of amending and implementing legislation intended to regulate competition. “I think the competition law is very important here,” he said. “Even in the United States, the world’s biggest free market, these laws exist.”

2 Militants Dead, 3 Held and Bombs Seized in Arsal Raid
Naharnet/July 11/17/Two terror suspects were killed and three others were arrested in an army raid Tuesday in the northeastern border town of Arsal, the military said. “In light of security information and as part of the preemptive army plan that led to raiding Arsal encampments on June 30, an Intelligence Directorate force raided a terrorist group at dawn in the town of Arsal,” an army statement said. The group was “plotting terrorist attacks,” the army added. A clash ensued when the suspects tried to resist the raiding force, which resulted in the death of “Syrian terrorists Yasser al-Ghawi and Atef al-Jaroudi and the arrest of three others,” the statement said. “Seven bombs that were ready for detonation, an explosive vest and 50 kilograms of bomb-making material were seized, in addition to a quantity of hand grenades and detonators,” the army added. It also noted that al-Ghawi was “the mastermind of the bombing that targeted Ras Baalbek on May 22.” On June 30, the army arrested scores of Syrians during raids in refugee encampments in and around Arsal. Twenty of them remain in custody on terror charges. Five suicide bombers blew themselves up and other militants hurled grenades during the raids, which resulted in the death of a Syrian child and the wounding of seven soldiers, according to the army.

147 Law Students Graduate from Program Organized by STL
Naharnet/July 11/17/One hundred and forty-seven Lebanese students successfully completed the Inter-University Program on International Criminal Law and Procedure (IUP-ICL) on Tuesday, joining the ranks of over 700 students who have completed the “unique program” since 2011, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon said. The graduation ceremony, held in the auditorium of the Maison de l’Avocat in Beirut on Tuesday afternoon, marked the end of the program’s sixth session. Organized by the U.N.-backed STL in cooperation with TMC Asser Institute in The Hague and eleven Lebanese universities, the program gives participants solid legal training in mass atrocity crimes (such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes), as well as the crimes of aggression and terrorism, from top experts. “It is unique in the Middle East-North Africa region and is the flagship program of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s outreach efforts in Beirut,” the STL said. Participating students came from eleven universities in Lebanon: the American University of Science and Technology (AUST), Beirut Arab University (BAU), Notre Dame University (NDU), Université La Sagesse (ULS), Université Libanaise (UL), Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK), Université Saint-Joseph (USJ), the American University of Beirut (AUB), the Lebanese American University (LAU), the Academic University College for Non-Violence and Human Rights (AUNHOR), and the Islamic University of Lebanon (IUL). Junior Lebanese lawyers were also permitted to audit the program this year. This year’s session ran from November 2016 to May 2017, with the final exam taking place on June 9, 2017. Alumni of the IUP-ICL now work as lawyers, academics, and in prominent positions in non-governmental organizations in Lebanon. Many have gone on to pursue advanced education. Several have succeeded in securing internships and employment at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and other international institutions. The STL was set up in 2007 to try suspects charged with the murder of former premier Rafik Hariri, who was killed with 22 others in a massive suicide truck bombing on the Beirut waterfront on February 14, 2005. The tribunal later established jurisdiction over three attacks relating to MP Marwan Hamadeh, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi and former defense minister Elias Murr, deeming them of similar nature to Hariri's assassination. Five suspected members of Hizbullah have been indicted by the court over Hariri's murder. The party has slammed the court as an American-Israeli scheme and vowed that the suspects will never be found. A trial in absentia opened in January 2014, but despite international warrants for their arrest, the Hizbullah suspects are yet to appear in court.

Change and Reform Says Army a 'Red Line', Urges Govt. Plan for Refugee Return

Naharnet/July 11/17/The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc underlined Tuesday that the Lebanese army is a “red line,” defending its latest measures in the border town of Arsal, while calling on the government to devise a plan for returning Syrian refugees to their country. “For the one thousandth time we say: the Lebanese army is a red line,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. “We are all army and security forces in the fight against terrorism and the issue does not bear questioning, equivocation or overbidding and each political group must control its rhetoric,” the bloc added. The country has witnessed controversy in recent days over an army raid on Syrian refugee encampments that resulted in the arrest of over 350 Syrians and the subsequent death of four detainees in army custody. The army was also accused of abusing detainees after pictures emerged of dozens of shirtless men lying on the ground in rows, their hands tied behind their backs. The army chief has defended the measure by saying it was necessary to determine whether any of them was wearing a suicide vest, especially after five militants blew themselves up during the raids. Turning to the issue of refugees, Change and Reform called on the Lebanese government to “devise a clear plan for the immediate and safe return of Syrian refugees” to their country. “Thousands of Syrians carrying refugee cards are crossing the border and returning to Lebanon. Those who return to their country lose the refugee status and other countries would strip them of the refugee state once they cross its borders,” the bloc noted. Lebanon is home to more than one million registered refugees fleeing the conflict in neighboring Syria, many of whom live in informal tented settlements. The Syria refugee influx into Lebanon has strained the country's infrastructure, and has also sparked accusations that refugee camps are harboring militants from the war.

Lebanese Held for Using Internet Game to Promote IS Ideology
Naharnet/July 11/17/Lebanese national S.M.F. has been arrested for belonging to the terrorist Islamic State group and promoting its ideology on the internet, General Security said on Tuesday. “During interrogation, he confessed to the charges and admitted that he had attended religious lectures outside Lebanon at the hands of a cleric belonging to the IS group,” a General Security statement said. “He then downloaded the Boom Beach warfare internet game and used its chat rooms to talk to supporters of the terrorist IS group,” the statement added. Also through Boom Beach, S.M.F. communicated with “a terrorist who was arrested by General Security on charges of plotting acts of sabotage in downtown Beirut.”“Following interrogation, he was referred to the relevant judicial authorities and efforts are underway to arrest the rest of the culprits,” General Security added.

Foreign Ministry Hails Mosul Liberation, Nasrallah to Deliver Speech
Associated Press/Naharnet/July 11/17/Lebanon's Foreign Ministry has welcomed the liberation of the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group as a "great victory" for the Iraqi people. The ministry called for intensified regional efforts to contain the spread of terrorism "from one nest to another."Lebanon's Hizbullah has backed Iraqi special forces and the Shiite-led militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces in the battle for Mosul. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to deliver a televised address on Mosul and local developments at 8:30 pm. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani in a statement last week singled out Hizbullah for praise for its alleged assistance in Mosul. Lebanon has battled pockets of the Islamic State group within its own borders. The IS, along with al-Qaida militants, briefly seized the northeastern border town of Arsal in 2014.

'Countdown' for Arsal Outskirts Battle Has Started
Naharnet/July 11/17/The outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal will witness a “decisive battle” against jihadist groups in the coming days and the “countdown” for the military campaign has started, a media report said on Tuesday. “Hizbullah has finished the necessary preparations for this battle amid Syrian indications suggesting that the battle is already underway albeit gradually, seeing as Syrian military operations are focused on terrorist posts on the Syrian side,” al-Joumhouria newspaper said. Syrian warplanes have waged several raids on Arsal's outskirts over the past three days, the last of which was at dawn Tuesday. Media reports had said that Hizbullah intends to launch a joint operation with Syrian elite forces in the area, after the collapse of negotiations with Qaida's ex-affiliate Fateh al-Sham and the Saraya Ahl al-Sham rebel group. The negotiations that were being conducted through a Syrian mediator, Abu Taha al-Assali, had resulted in the return of hundreds of displaced Syrians to the town of Assal al-Ward in Syria's Qalamoun region.Jihadists from Fateh al-Sham and the rival Islamic State group are entrenched in mountainous areas in Arsal's outskirts and in other Lebanon-Syria border areas. They overran Arsal in 2014 before being ousted after days of deadly battles with the Lebanese army.

Jumblat Holds Phone Talks with Hariri after Tensions

Naharnet/July 11/17/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.

Future bloc after weekly meeting: For bracing army in face of terrorism
Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - Future parliamentary bloc on Tuesday categorically emphasized the substantial need to brace and shield the Lebanese army in the face of terrorism and terrorists. Future Bloc's fresh words on Tuesday came in a statement in the wake of its periodic meeting at the Central House, chaired by bloc head, Fouad Siniora, to address the overall situation in the country. The bloc underlined the need to fully support the Lebanese army and its institution in the face of the enemies of Lebanon and terrorists, as well as to counter all attempts to drag the army into the internal Lebanese political debate. "The bloc holds on to the Lebanese army as the sole and exclusive tool in the hand of the Lebanese state alongside the other official security forces to protect the country from terrorism and external and internal dangers that may threaten national unity and civil peace," the bloc said. Future expresses utter confidence that the Lebanese army, which is keen on its uniting role for all the Lebanese, respects and enforces laws in effect and adheres to the Charter of Human Rights, whether for Lebanese citizens or Syrian refugees. The bloc lauded the army's observance of the right mechanisms for transparent and truthful accountability, abstaining from being influenced by populist politics or by narrow political or partisan calculations. On the other hand, the bloc urged the government to exclusively coordinate with the United Nations in the issue of the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland, to secure their sound return under international guarantees to safe areas in Syria.

Jreissati after Change and Reform meeting: Army is red line
Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - Minister of Justice, Salim Jreissati, on Tuesday underlined that the Lebanese army was a red line, calling political parties to control their supporters who are insulting the military. "In the battle against terrorism, we are all army and security forces. The issue does not stand questioning and outbidding. Every political party must control their rhetoric," Jreissati said following the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc's weekly meeting. Also, Jreissati called the Lebanese government to devise a clear plan for the return of the displaced Syrians. "Thousands of Syrians hold refugee cards and they cross the borders back and forth; he who cross the borders and returns to his country is no longer a refugee," he remarked. "We call each minister to implement the Lebanese enforced laws regarding this issue, because there is a stalking danger," he concluded.

ISF Chief meets UNTSO Head of Mission
Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - Internal Security Forces Chief, General Imad Othman, on Tuesday met with Head of Mission of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, Major General Arthur David Gawn, and the accompanying delegation. Talks reportedly touched on the means to bolster coordination between the UNTSCO and the ISF.

General Ibrahim meets UNTSO Head of Mission

Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - General Security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, on Tuesday morning met with Head of Mission of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, Major General Arthur David Gawn, with talks reportedly touching on the general security situation, especially along the southern borders.

Army Commander meets UNTSO Head of Mission
Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - Army Commander Joseph Aoun on Tuesday met with Head of Mission of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, Major General Arthur David Gawn, with talks reportedly touching on the current situation along the southern borders. Talks also touched on cooperation relations between the army and the UNTSCO, within the framework of the Truce Agreement and UN Resolution #1701.

Hariri receives Red Cross and LIFE delegations
Tue 11 Jul 2017 /NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri on Tuesday received at the Grand Serail a delegation from the Kobayat festival committee, headed by its president Cynthia Hadi Hobeich, who said after the meeting that the delegation invited Prime Minister Hariri to attend the opening of the festival on August 11. She added that it is the only festivals held in Akkar, under the sponsorship of the ministries of culture and tourism. Hariri also met with a delegation from Lebanese International Finance Executives organization (LIFE) headed by its Chairman Marc Malek and board member Adel Afiouni, who declared: "The organization represents all the Lebanese working abroad in the financial and economic sectors. We put our resources at the disposal of Premier Hariri and the government to support Lebanon on the economic and investment levels."He later received Christopher Rassi, senior executive officer at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, and the President of the Lebanese Red Cross, Antoine Zoghbi, who briefed him on the activities of the Red Cross in Lebanon. He also received MP Mohammad Hajjar with a delegation of people with special needs working in public institutions. After the meeting, MP Hajjar explained that they discussed the working rights of the disabled persons.

Riachi, Aboul Gheit tackle overall Arab affairs
Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - Information Minister, Melhem Riachi, currently on an official visit to Egypt, met with Arab League Secretary General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, at the League's headquarters. Minister Riachy is currently in Egypt to partake in the 48th session of the Arab Information Ministers' Council. Riachi and Aboul Gheit reportedly discussed an array of affairs related to the League and Arab causes. On emerging, Riachi said he had profound talks with Aboul Gheit over the current situation in the region and the status of media in specific. Riachi underlined the substantial need for the enhancement of media work in Lebanon and the Arab world, in a way to convey the truthful, authentic image of the region to the world and to shed light on our shared values. On the other hand, Riachi visited the Supreme Council for the Regulation of Media, where he met with the Council's head, Makram Mohamed Ahmed, in the presence of the head of the Egyptian National Media Body, Abdel Fattah al-Jabali, Information Ministry Director General, Hassan Falah, National News Agency (NNA) Director, Laure Sleiman, Minister's Advisor, Antoine Eid, and Minister's Secretary Awwad Tabet.In the wake of the meeting, Riachi said that they discussed issues of mutual concern between Lebanon and Egypt, with full readiness for cooperation between the two countries in the field of media. Riachi lauded the longstanding media relations between Lebanon and Egypt, pledging further efforts for the advancement of these ties. Ahmed, for his part, applauded the deeply entrenched relations between the Lebanese and Egyptian press, voicing readiness to further enhance media relations and encourage new prospects of cooperation. Later, Riachi and his accompanying delegation visited the State Information Service (SIS) and met with its Chairman, Diaa Rashwan, over an array of media affairs.

30th anniversary of Erasmus programme: Lebanese youth discuss opportunities and challenges of mobility
Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon organised on 10 July a panel discussion on the topic of "youth mobility."Erasmus began as an exchange programme that gave higher education students the opportunity of learning abroad. Over the past 30 years, it has grown bigger. Today, Erasmus+ is the EU exchange programme for education, training, youth and sport. The panel discussion was introduced by Ambassador Christina Lassen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union. It involved three students who have returned from a study period in Europe made available through Erasmus+, in addition to the Chargé d'Affaires of the British Embassy, Mr Benjamin Wastnage, and the Head of International Affairs at the office of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Mrs Karma Ekmekji. The panel discussion was moderated by former minister Dr Ziad Baroud. In her introductory word, Ambassador Lassen said: "Over the past 30 years, Erasmus has allowed more and more people to get involved. This programme is available provided that you are ready for this experience, which makes you discover a new culture and a new place. Through it you will build bridges between people and places. In short, your Erasmus experience will change your life."The panellists and the audience addressed several aspects of youth mobility, including its impact on personal and professional development, how it can serve to promote active citizenship and to create "young citizens of the world," and the effect mobility has on the perception of cultural differences. The discussion then went on to tackle the wider topic of mobility and exchange between Lebanon and Europe, and how programmes such as Erasmus give young people an opportunity to be ambassadors of their own country. Students explained how Erasmus+ experience helped them to change their perception of their own country and the world, to gain stronger communication skills and to grow in self-confidence and adaptability. They also underlined that this experience is not only beneficial for the personal and professional development of young persons, but also for the development of their communities. Following the discussion, a presentation was made to launch new initiatives for the Erasmus alumni network, including a yearly networking event and the Facebook page of the Erasmus alumni in Lebanon. Over the last 30 years, 9 million people have participated in the Erasmus programme, including Lebanese students and staff who studied, trained and gained experience abroad. Only in the last two years, 1,022 mobilities took place between Lebanon and the European Union: 773 from Lebanon going to the EU and 249 from the EU to Lebanon.

AUB builds sustainable capacities through Tech for Food
Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - The first cohort of Syrian refugees and vulnerable host communities in the Beqaa completed a digital skills training provided through a partnership between the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the World Food Programme (WFP). Teaching digital skills through vocational training programs over a period of two months, the Tech for Food project offered 70 students six weeks of intensive digital skills and two weeks of intensive English, to be followed by six weeks of advanced project-based learning and a virtual internship for returning students. The Tech for Food project aims to maximize vulnerable communities' livelihood and build sustainable capacity opportunities through tailored programs that tap into a growing global demand for lower-skilled, labor-intensive data services. The project is led by AUB through the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) with academic curriculum and supervision provided by the Department of Computer Science at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the University Preparatory Program. Daily information technology (IT) support was provided by AUB's IT Unit at the make-shift computer labs which were set up with 50 laptops that were paid for, as was the whole project, by WFP. "WFP is proud to collaborate with AUB on this innovative pilot project," said WFP Country Director Dominik Heinrich. "It is a win-win project for the students and the local economies, and one that drives forward our journey towards a Zero Hunger world not just in Lebanon but across the region." AUB and WFP piloted a digital skills training of 100 participants in 2016 at AUB's Beirut campus. In 2017, two more cohorts of 80 participants each were trained at AUB in Beirut. During May and June, the first cohort of 70 economically disadvantaged Syrian and Lebanese young adults, aged 15-30 years, were trained in AUB's AREC campus in Beqaa on basic digital literacy, internet literacy, MS Office programs, MS Excel, Photoshop, and English. Participants were recruited and coached by the Lebanese Organization of Studies and Training (LOST).
The initiative is in line with AUB's mission to serve and engage with communities. It also unlocks the potential for AREC as a facility to serve as a hub for strategic intervention for AUB's efforts to address the refugee crisis. "I am glad to see AREC is used as a hub by AUB community and local NGOs for training young Syrian refugees and underserved Lebanese youth on digital skills to face future challenges away from war and terror," Dr. Mustapha Haidar, AREC director, told us. "I am sure this skill-building program will enable them to connect to online work opportunities and build up opportunities for them by ensuring they have access to livelihood and economic opportunities." The Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service aims with its partners to have built the capacity of 1000 students through this program in the Beqaa and Beirut by the end of 2017. "For the CCECS, this is a strategic project and partnership, which demonstrates AUB's commitment to serve marginalized communities by offering participants opportunities to learn transferrable digital skills," CCECS Director Rabih Shibli told us. "In this regards, we are leveraging the expertise of AUB academics and facilities and the progressive vision of the World Food Program to open new horizons for refugees and host communities in Lebanon, with this innovative approach which may eventually extend to other countries in the region."The students received their certificates of achievement on June 29 at a ceremony in AREC and were elated to be armed with knowledge and put on the track towards independence and self-sufficiency. "I am grateful for having this opportunity to learn so much in such a short period, and through my hard work, I shall continue what this program has started," said Alaa Daoud, a young Syrian refugee. "The world opens its doors to those who want to achieve their dreams. Thanks to this program, I am one step closer to achieving mine."

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 11-12/17
Iran Regime Has No Place in the Region
NCRI Iran News/ Tuesday, 11 July 2017/At the beginning of the month, the Iranian opposition hosted its annual “Free Iran” rally in Paris. As per previous years, there were tens of thousands of Iranian people in attendance as well as hundreds of dignitaries, senators, parliamentarians and politicians from all across the world. The speakers emphasised that the Iranian regime is incapable of change. After all, it has been given many chances. Any claims that the current government is moderate are unfounded. There has been a long history of actions that are decidedly what can only be described as the opposite of moderate. For example, Iran is a backer of many sectarian militias. In terms of their brutal practices that they attempt to justify through religion, they are not much different to ISIS. Furthermore, the leaders of Iran, whether this be the President, the Supreme Leader, government officials or members of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), do very little to hide their extremism. They are brazen about their extremist policies and often provoke other nations openly and unashamedly. Iran has been seeking regional supremacy for years. Although the concept existed before the 1979 revolution, it came into its own since Supreme Leader Khomeini arrived on the scene (and continuing with Supreme Leader Khamenei). It looked likely that Iran was put back into its place after the Iran-Iraq war, but it turns out that plans were temporarily put on hold. In fact, Iran had been nurturing relationships with various groups such and Hezbollah and Shiite militias from Iraq. The Iranian regime has been involved, directly and indirectly, in sectarian cleansing and displacement in Syria since the uprising in 2011. The same can be said of Iran’s actions in Iraq. Its justification for such atrocities is that it is fighting groups such as ISIS, al-Nusra and al-Qaeda. However, questions about the relationship between Iran and these groups have been raised. Why has al-Qaeda never attacked Iran? Why does ISIS choose to attack the opponents of Assad in Syria such as the “Free Syrian Army” and not Assad’s own forces? Iran has been benefiting from, and taking advantage of, the destruction caused by ISIS (such as the destruction of several cities in Iraq and Syria). This is proof that the Iranian regime has no place in today’s world. It has no intentions of being a real regional player because it is intent on destroying its neighbours.

Syria Monitor Says IS Chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Dead
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 11/17/Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reported dead on Tuesday, a day after Iraq declared it had driven the jihadists from their one-time biggest stronghold of Mosul. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a longtime monitor of the country's conflict, said it had information from top IS leaders confirming Baghdadi's death. The report could not be independently verified and Baghdadi has been reported dead several times. But if confirmed, his death would mark another devastating blow to the jihadist group after its loss of Mosul, which Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday had been retaken from IS after a grueling months-long campaign. "Top tier commanders from IS who are present in Deir Ezzor province have confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, emir of the Islamic State group, to the Observatory," the monitoring group's director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. "We learned of it today but we do not know when he died or how." Deir Ezzor, in eastern Syria, remains largely under IS control even as the group is losing territory elsewhere in the country and in neighboring Iraq. Abdel Rahman said Baghdadi "was present in eastern parts of Deir Ezzor province" in recent months, but it was unclear if he died in the area or elsewhere. There was no official confirmation or denial of the news on social media platforms used by IS.
Persistent rumors of death
The U.S.-led coalition said it could not verify the Observatory's information.
"We cannot confirm this report, but hope it is true," said coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon. "We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed," he added, using a different acronym for IS. There have been persistent rumors of Baghdadi's death in recent months, and Russia's army said in mid-June that it was seeking to verify whether it had killed the IS chief in a May air strike in Syria. The U.S.-led coalition fighting the jihadist group in Syria and Iraq said at the time it could not confirm whether the Russian strike had killed Baghdadi. With a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, Baghdadi has kept a low profile and was rumored to move regularly throughout IS-held territory in the area straddling Iraq and Syria. The 46-year-old Iraqi-born leader of IS has not been seen in public since making his only known public appearance as "caliph" in 2014 at the Grand Mosque of al-Nouri in Mosul. IS destroyed the highly symbolic site before Iraqi forces could reach it as they pushed the jihadist group from Mosul. 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 Syria. Abadi announced in Mosul on Monday that the campaign had ended with the defeat of IS in the city, hailing "a victory over darkness, a victory over brutality and terrorism."
Devastation in Mosul
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. In Mosul's Old City, where buildings lie in ruins and burned-out cars and other debris choke the streets, security forces were still searching for remaining IS fighters. "What we are doing today is just combing the area and clearing it of sleeper cells," Staff Lieutenant General Sami al-Aridhi, a senior commander in Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), said Tuesday. "There are groups that are hiding in shelters," but they surrender or are killed, Aridhi said. Since the Mosul operation began in October, 920,000 people have fled their homes, only a fraction of whom have returned, according to the United Nations. Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition of exposing civilians to "relentless and unlawful attacks" in west Mosul. "Pro-government forces launched barrages of indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks using explosive weapons unsuitable for such a densely populated urban area," Amnesty said.

U.S., Qatar Sign Agreement on Fighting Terrorism
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 11/17/The U.S. and Qatar announced Tuesday they have signed an agreement on fighting terrorism, at a time when the emirate is facing sanctions from neighboring countries which accuse it of supporting extremism. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani made the announcement at a joint news conference in Doha. Tillerson said the agreement was built on decisions made at a Riyadh summit in May to "wipe terrorism from the face of the Earth.""As a result of President Trump's very strong call, these commitments for action, will begin immediately on a number of fronts."Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar was the first country in the region to sign a bilateral agreement with Washington on counter terror funding and called on what he called the "siege" nations to follow suit and sign their own agreements with the U.S. Tillerson's arrival in Doha was overshadowed by the publication of pre-existing confidential agreements between Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in which all sides had pledged to combat terror funding and avoid interference in other states. Publication of the accords, dated 2013 and 2014, caused both sides in the deadlocked dispute to launch a fresh round of mutual accusations over ties to Islamist extremist groups. Tillerson arrived in Kuwait on Monday and will visit regional powerhouse, and longtime U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia before leaving the Gulf Thursday. Kuwait has emerged as the main mediator in the conflict between Qatar and a group of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, over allegations Doha was too close to both Islamist extremists and Shiite Iran.
No clean hands
While the U.S. State Department has warned the crisis could last months, Tillerson on Tuesday struck a moderately optimistic tone. "I'm hopeful we can make some progress to bring this to a point of resolution," he said after meeting Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Doha. "I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions and I think very reasonable and we want to talk now... how do we take things forward, and that's my purpose in coming." The current crisis is the worst to hit the Gulf since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5 announced sanctions, effective immediately, against Qatar over accusations Doha supported Islamist extremism and was too close to Iran. The four states severed all diplomatic ties, suspended transport links with Doha and ordered all Qataris to return home within 14 days. On June 22, the Saudi-led bloc issued a list of 13 demands which, if met, would end the sanctions, including closing broadcast giant Al-Jazeera, downgrading ties to Iran and shutting a Turkish military base in Doha. Qatar refused to comply with the demands and has consistently denied accusations of ties to Islamist groups. The U.S. has said the 13-point list was not an entirely viable option to end the crisis. "Individually there are things in there that could work," said R.C. Hammond, a senior adviser to Tillerson. "This is a two-way street," he said. "There are no clean hands."
Riyadh agreements
The publication of documents dubbed the Riyadh agreements on Monday appears to have renewed hostility between Qatar and its neighbors. U.S. broadcaster CNN aired leaked papers in which Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait -- and later Bahrain and the UAE -- had signed accords forbidding support for any opposition and hostile groups in their own nations, as well as in Egypt and Yemen. A joint statement released by the Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar confirmed the documents proved "beyond any doubt Qatar's failure to meet its commitments and its full violation of its pledges." Doha, however, maintains that the boycott is in violation of the 2013 and 2014 agreements. A statement from the Government Communications Office said the current "siege" was "a clear violation" of the GCC's charter and the Riyadh agreements.
U.S. interests
Tillerson's visit is the latest in a series by officials to the region, including U.N. diplomats and the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and Oman. The United States and its Western allies have vast economic and political interests in the Gulf, which pumps one fifth of the world's oil supplies, houses one third of proven global crude reserves and sits on one fifth of the world's natural gas deposits. Tillerson is a former CEO of Exxon Mobil. Qatar is also home to the U.S. military's largest air base in the region, al-Udeid. Rival Bahrain houses the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet. Analysts say Tillerson's impact on the crisis largely depends on his ability to maneuver regional skepticism over the extent to which he in fact represents the president of the United States. President Donald Trump initially supported longtime American ally Saudi Arabia, but his stance was later contradicted when the U.S. Department of State took a more neutral position. Tillerson's team has also adopted a more neutral stance .

Washington, London and Kuwait express ‘deep concern’ over Qatar crisis
Reuters Tuesday, 11 July 2017/The United States, United Kingdom and Kuwait urged all parties to a Gulf Arab diplomatic row over Qatar to resolve their dispute as quickly as possible through dialogue, Kuwait state news agency KUNA reported on Tuesday. The statement came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and British National Security Advisor Mark Sedwill visited Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator, in order to patch up the row among the Western-allied countries. Coming from some of the most influential powers in the dispute, the plea for a negotiated solution may aim at an earlier refusal by Qatar’s adversaries to discuss renewing ties with Doha until it first acquiesced to a list of stiff demands. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt imposed sanctions last month, accusing Doha of aiding terrorism, something it denies. The State Department said Tillerson would hold talks with leaders in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh and its allies accuse Qatar of financing extremist groups and allying with Iran. The United States worries the crisis could affect its military and counter-terrorism operations and increase the regional influence of Tehran, which has been supporting Qatar by allowing it to use air and sea links through its territory. Qatar hosts Udeid Air Base, the largest US military facility in the Middle East, from which US-led coalition aircraft stage sorties against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
US President Donald Trump has expressed support for Saudi Arabia in the dispute.

US, Qatar sign MOU on combating terrorism, financing
Reuters Tuesday, 11 July 2017/The United States and Qatar signed an agreement on combatting terrorism and its financing during a visit to Doha by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his senior adviser R.C. Hammond told reporters. “Qatar and the United States have signed a memorandum of understanding between the two counties outlining future efforts Qatar can take to fortify its fight against terrorism and actively address terrorism funding issues,” he said. “This is a hopeful step forward,” Hammond added.

Saudi official slams Qatar’s failed funding of ‘Arab autumn in Saudi Arabia’

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Tuesday, 11 July 2017/Saud Al-Qahtani, an advisor at the Royal Court and the general supervisor of the center for studies and information affairs, took to Twitter to slam Qatar’s policies and schemes to incite strife in the Gulf and Arab world. “Does Qatar think that a state the size of Saudi Arabia is not aware of Qatar’s funding of defectors and of its failed funding of an Arab autumn that they had imagined in the kingdom?” Qahtani said. “Does the Qatari authority think that a state with Egypt’s size, history and population will be patient and that we will (keep silent over Qatar’s) manipulation of its national security and shedding the blood of its sons?” he added. Qahtani also said that Qatar thought that it could use the media to manipulate Saudi national security while it stands watching, adding that things will not easily end. “Does Qatar’s authority think that revealing the coordinates of the coalition forces in Yemen and conspiring with the Houthis against our forces will go unnoticed?” he asked. “Does the Qatari authority really think that funding terrorism in Al-Awamiyah and overthrowing the regime in Bahrain will go unpunished?” Qahtani also added.

Tillerson heads to Qatar, hoping to help resolve Gulf dispute
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Tuesday, 11 July 2017/US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has departed for Qatar as he tries to mediate a dispute between the energy-rich country and a quartet of Arab nations. Tillerson left Kuwait City and was due to arrive in the Qatari capital, Doha, before noon on Tuesday. He has held talks Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, after arriving in Kuwait on Monday. Sheikh Sabah has been acting as a mediator between Qatar and four states lined up against it: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The four countries broke diplomatic relations with Qatar last month and launched a drive to boycott the gas-producing state, which they accuse of supporting terrorism and allying with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and has refused to accept a list of demands issued by the quartet to change its policies. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis discussed the importance of easing tensions in a phone call with Qatari Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah on Thursday. Qatar hosts the largest US Air Force base in the region. Saudi Arabia has been a close US ally for decades, and US President Donald Trump sealed a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom during a visit in May. (With AP)

Emir Tamim signed GCC agreements which Qatar failed to abide by
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Monday, 10 July 2017/The signature of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, appeared on the documents of a secret agreement with the GCC held between 2013 and 2014. The Qatari Emir’s signature on the documents sparked outrage at his country’s failure to comply with the 2013 and 2014 agreements. The agreement was signed with Saudi Arabia in 2013 under the mediation of Kuwait and the signature of the Emir of Qatar. The Emir of Qatar’s signature appeared on all the items demanded by the Gulf States, under the aim of establishing a new phase of relations. Sheikh Tamim also signed an article granting the Gulf States freedom to take action against Qatar in case of non-compliance. He also also signed an agreement to stop support to the Muslim Brotherhood and expel all non-citizen elements from Qatar, as well as not take in any members who are also citizens of the GCC. The agreement also stated that Qatar could not support any organization or group in Yemen that undermines internal relations or relations with surrounding countries. Among the items signed by the Emir of Qatar is adherence to the general foreign policy approach agreed upon by the Gulf States and the closure of institutions that train Gulf citizens in sabotaging their countries. He also signed on the non-interference in the internal affairs of any of the GCC States directly or indirectly, as well as not to harbor or naturalize any GCC citizen who has activity contrary to the regulations of his country - only in the case of consent of his state. The documents reveal the demands requested from Qatar, which signed them and did not consider them a "violation of sovereignty." Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad, himself signed all the clauses that allow for action in case of non-compliance. The agreement stipulates that "in the event of non-compliance by any state, it is the right of other States to take what it deems appropriate to protect its security and stability."

Documents prove Qatar failed to comply ‎with GCC agreements
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Monday, 10 July 2017/Al Arabiya News Channel has obtained and published the Riyadh Agreements of 2013 and 2014 signed by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani promising to abide by several demands made back then. The first agreement with Saudi Arabia, signed in 2013, was mediated by Kuwait and signed by Qatar’s Emir in which he promised to implement the terms of the agreement before the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The documents of the first agreement showed that Sheikh Tamim signed all the items demanded by the countries of the Gulf and the importance of establishing a new phase of fraternal relations. A second agreement headlined and dated November 16, 2014, adds the King of Bahrain, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Prime Minister of the UAE. The most prominent demand agreed by Sheikh Tamim on the 2014 agreement was to halting of Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brother and the expulsion of all its affiliates of non-citizens from Qatar.Qatar also promised not to harbor persons with harmful agendas toward the GCC and not support any organization fighting against the legitimate government in Yemen and Egypt. While the existence of the agreements has always been known, specific details were kept secret because of the sensitivity and as per GCC meetings protocols. Document shows a list of 12 Bahraini military officers who were naturalized by Qatar. Another document obtained and released by Al Arabiya also revealed the names of 12 Bahraini military officers who were naturalized by Qatar. One of the clauses signed by Qatar on the the Supplementary Riyadh Agreement 2014 was Doha's halting all employment and support – either directly or indirectly – of media professionals and outlets that have an anti-GCC agenda. Qatar also agreed to work with the GCC states in supporting Egypt and maintaining its security and stability and specifically, stopping “insults directed from Al Jazeera Media Channel and Al Jazeera’s Egypt Live (Mubasher Misr) channel”. It is worth noting that Qatar decided to disband and close down Mubasher Misr after the agreement was signed back then. The documents reveal the demands requested from Qatar, which signed them and did not consider them a "violation of sovereignty." Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad, himself signed all the clauses that allow for action in case of non-compliance.
The agreement stipulates that "in the event of non-compliance by any state, it is the right of other States to take what it deems appropriate to protect its security and stability."

Joint Statement: Documents confirm Qatar's evasion of all its commitments
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Tuesday, 11 July 2017/A joint statement from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt regarding the documents released by Al Arabiya on Monday said they proved Qatar’s failed to abide by agreements made in 2013 and 2014. The statement, which acknowledged the authenticity of the documents that were also released by CNN, said that they “included the 2013 Riyadh agreement and its implementation as well as the complete Riyadh agreement of 2014. (The documents) confirm that Qatar is avoiding implementing what it has signed on to, and its complete lack of compliance”. “The four countries stress that the 13 demands brought on to the Qatari government were to fulfil its previous commitments which were found in the agreements of 2013 and 2014, and it fully agrees with the spirit of what was agreed upon,” the joint statement read.

Coalition forces find naval mine northwest of Yemen’s Midi Port

Staff writer, Monday, 10 July 2017/Coalition forces, who are backing the internationally recognized government in Yemen, discovered on Monday a naval mine southwest of the southern Arabian Peninsula’s Midi port. The Yemeni national army dismantled the mine right away without causing any damages. The Iran-backed Houthi militias along with forces loyal to deposed former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh were said to have planted the mine. Coalition forces have called on the international community to counter arms smuggling to the militias, which are used by the latter to wreak havoc in the region especially by delaying aid arriving to Yemen via its ports. The Houthis continue to target water channels to incur damages on ships.

Bahrain identifies suspects in Diraz blast that killed a policeman
Al Arabiya English Monday, 10 July 2017/Bahraini authorities have confirmed they have identified and arrested several suspects involved in a deadly June 18 blast that resulted in the death of one policeman and injuring of two others. An interior ministry spokesperson confirmed that as part of counter-terrorism operations and in continuation of the investigation into the Diraz blast on June 18, “security authorities have arrested a dangerous terrorist involved in the case and identified the remaining suspects”. “The investigation also revealed that the terror group operated, in terms of financing, planning and execution, under the direct supervision of Hussain Ali Ahmed Dawood, 31, a fugitive in Iran whose nationality has been revoked, and Sayed Mohammed Qassim Mohammed Hassan Fadhel, 25, a fugitive sentenced to life imprisonment in a terrorist case and was involved in a bomb blast in Diraz in February 2016,” a statement from the interior ministry read. The incident in Diraz last month took place near the house of hardline cleric Issa Qasim, who currently faces from Bahrain after authorities revoked his citizenship last year for links to Iran and fomenting violence. “He used places of worships as a political arena to serve foreign interests and maintained an environment supportive of violence and extremism,” an interior ministry spokesperson told Al Arabiya English last year. In May, Bahrain arrested 286 over terrorism charges, most of whom were found hiding in Qassim’s home.

16 Dead in U.S. Military Plane Crash in Mississippi
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 11/17/A U.S. military aircraft has crashed in the southern state of Mississippi, killing 16 people, U.S. media reported. The U.S. Marine Corps confirmed that a "mishap" involving a KC-130 occurred in the evening, without providing additional details. The Clarion-Ledger newspaper and CNN cited Leflore County emergency management director Fred Randle as confirming the death toll of 16. All 16 victims were on the Marine Corps aircraft and there were no survivors, Randle told CNN. The incident took place around 4 pm (2100 GMT), the Clarion-Ledger said, noting that firefighters sprayed the aircraft with huge layers of foam to quell the fire. The plane crashed in a soybean field on the Sunflower-Leflore county line, the paper said. Photos posted on its website showed plumes of black smoke billowing from a green agricultural field. "Please join Deborah and me in praying for those hurting after this tragedy. Our men and women in uniform risk themselves every day to secure our freedom," Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said in a statement on Facebook.

Trump Visit to Britain to be Delayed until 2018
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 11/17/U.S. President Donald Trump's state visit to Britain is being planned for next year, a senior British government source said Tuesday. Prime Minister Theresa May extended the invitation when she visited Washington just days after Trump's inauguration in January, but a date has yet to be set. The source said both sides had been unable to arrange a date for 2017 and were now looking for dates in 2018. There has been speculation Trump was deferring the state visit, an occasion filled with pomp that involves a banquet with Queen Elizabeth II, amid concerns that it would draw protests over his presidency. Questions about the trip also arose after it got no mention in the Queen's annual speech to parliament in June, when it is customary for the monarch to list upcoming state visits. But Trump confirmed he would be visiting Britain at the G20 in Hamburg, where he met with May, saying he "will be going to London". Asked when, he replied: "We’ll work that out."May has been derided for seeking to curry favor with Trump and has come under fire for inviting him for a state visit so soon into his presidency. Opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, the smaller Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party have all called for the state visit to be canceled, as have some from May's own Conservative Party. The Speaker of the House of Commons previously said he was "strongly opposed" to allowing Donald Trump to address members of parliament during the U.S. president's state visit later this year. More than 160 of parliament's 650 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion opposing an address by Trump, citing the travel ban and his comments on torture and women. A speech to both Houses of Commons and Lords has been a feature of many previous state visits, including one by Barack Obama in 2011.
More than 1.8 million people have also signed an online petition saying Trump should not make the state visit as it "could cause embarrassment" to the monarch.

U.S. conducts successful missile intercept test amid N. Korea tensions

Tue 11 Jul 2017/NNA - The U.S. military has conducted a successful test of a missile intercept system, officials said Tuesday, as tensions soar following North Korea's test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially reach Alaska.
The test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system saw a ballistic missile target air-launched from an Air Force C-17 over the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. "A THAAD weapon system located at (Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska) in Kodiak, Alaska, detected, tracked and intercepted the target," the US Missile Defense Agency said in a statement.
THAAD is designed to intercept and destroy short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.
THAAD maker Lockheed Martin said this was the first time the system had intercepted an intermediate-range ballistic missile.
Richard McDaniel, a Lockheed vice president, said in a statement that the system had performed "flawlessly."
Though such exercises are planned months in advance, it comes after North Korea's first-ever test-firing last week of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching parts of the United States including Alaska.
THAAD is not designed to stop an ICBM -- that job is left primarily to the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) interceptor system.
The U.S. military this year began deploying THAAD to South Korea, a move that infuriated China, which has argued the deployment would further destabilize the situation on the Korean peninsula.
This was the 14th successful intercept in 14 attempts for the THAAD weapon system, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said.
"I couldn't be more proud of the government and contractor team who executed this flight test today," MDA Director Lieutenant General Sam Greaves said in the statement.
"This test further demonstrates the capabilities of the THAAD weapon system and its ability to intercept and destroy ballistic missile threats. THAAD continues to protect our citizens, deployed forces and allies from a real and growing threat."
The U.S. also has a THAAD system installed in Guam.
THAAD uses "hit-to-kill" technology where kinetic energy from the interceptor missile destroys an incoming target.
"The successful demonstration of THAAD against an (intermediate)-range missile threat bolsters the country's defensive capability against developing missile threats in North Korea and other countries around the globe and contributes to the broader strategic deterrence architecture," the MDA said. -----AFP

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 11-12/17
How do you solve a problem like Al Jazeera?

Najah Alotaibi/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
The idea of a TV channel being forced to close by the collective weight of Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries seems abhorrent to any liberal supporter of a free media at first sight. But is there any merit in the accusations and demands of the GCC. Al Jazeera – the first apparently non-obsequious Arab news channel – has much to be praised on the surface. Most observers acknowledge the station in its Arabic and English versions is a tool of Qatar to launch itself as a powerful international player. But there a more sinister, less liberal, side to this so-called beacon of press freedom. Let’s look at some facts. The Qatari government owned TV station prides itself as being a champion and promoter of human rights in a region more known for a slavish adherence and non-questioning of human rights violations. So where, for example, does Al Jazeera stand on reporting about multiple deaths of migrant laborers working on the showpiece stadia and accommodation for the much feted – and controversial – 2022 World Cup? At last count 1,200 people have died. Coverage on Al Jazeera? Zero. Research shows that this is a story that has attracted little interest on Al Jazeera at all. There has been no criticism of the appallingly high number of deaths. And no criticism of the government handling of the issue. Surely this a violation of free speech. Such a story in any other liberal democracy would have been front-page news. When Britain decided in the 1980s to ban the broadcast of IRA spokesman at the height of the troubles – it caused national – (and international) outrage. Gerry Adams and other members of Sinn Fein were allowed to be filmed gold fishing but their voices were never heard. Al Jazeera intensively covered the activities of the terrorist groups who for decades has fueled extremist ideas in the Middle East. Such coverage brought the emerging terrorists group into the limelight, making it easy for them to expand and attract young Arab supporters
Elephant in the room
But in Qatar the elephant in the room didn’t even materialize as the squeak of a mouse when it came to being reported. And what about the claims that Al Jazeera has allowed supporters of terrorism to air their grievances and provide a platform for international militants?
Al Jazeera intensively covered the activities of the terrorist groups who for decades has fueled extremist ideas in the Middle East. Such coverage brought the emerging terrorists group into the limelight, making it easy for them to expand and attract young Arab supporters. If there hasn’t been this intensive coverage, would the number of militants rise from a few hundreds to thousands today? ISIS in Iraq serves an example. It started as a small and less known group operating in Iraq quickly expanded to form ISIS in its present form, thanks to an intensive coverage by Al Jazeera. Its coverage follows the line of what Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda once said: “More than half of this war is taking place on the battlefield of the media”.
Platform for radicals
The channel has even given a platform to the extremists who used it as an opportunity to spread their ideas among the Arab youth. Throughout the Iraq war Al Jazeera repeatedly aired videos of Osama bin Laden justifying and inciting violence against Western forces. The channel also received tapes from the (7/7) London suicide bombers. Its “Opposite Direction” program, in May 2015, declared that 80 percent of viewers polled had declared their support for ISIS’s “victories” in Iraq and Syria. Aren’t these instances of supporting terrorists and their acts responsible for radicalizing the audience? Since the start of the Gulf boycott, Qatar has played the sympathy card trying to win special consideration and prove that it is a victim of the suppressive Gulf leaders who want to silence free speech. However, things did not change and the channel continuously invited leaders of extremist groups who are considered terrorists to speak freely to millions of viewers, such as leader of Hamas Khalid Misha’al, Hassan Nasrallah the leader of Hezbollah, and Abumuhammed Al-Julani from Al-Nusrah Front group. Al Jazeera’s interview with Nusrah Front leader al-Julani was so popular that it has been called Qatar’s “infomercial” for the group. The radical spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is banned from entering multiple countries including the UK for charges of financing terrorist groups. What do you derive when he is featured on a television show on Al Jazeera called (Sharia and Life) to broadcast his sermons? During the show Qaradawi once said he wanted to address the “treacherous Jews” and said “Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people… do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah. Count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”
British militants
Al Jazeera Arabic is also beamed in Western countries, which have witnessed acts of terrorism in the past. But did the influence of Al Jazeera give birth to British militants? Such an incident came to the surface when Yossif Zaghba, one of the London Bridge attackers, was reported to be radicalized by the channel.
The Gulf States and the US President Donald Trump have pledged to root out the sources of global extremism in the recent Riyadh’s summit. Trump stressed on the fact that it is the Muslim countries, which must collaborate and take the lead in fighting extremism. The demand of the Gulf states to shut down Al Jazeera is a part of their approach to eradicate terrorism and prevent the spread of extremist ideologies. Surely Qatar needs to join the international fight against global terror networks. Taking Al Jazeera off the air may seem a draconian proposition – but a draining of the swamp – as Donald Trump would put it – is long overdue and required.

Toward a new Russian-American order in the Middle East?
Christian Chesnot/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
Are Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin drawing their respective lines of influence in the Middle East? Five years after the so-called Arab Spring, the two presidents are assessing this geopolitical earthquake. Since 2011, instability and terrorism have only flourished in the region. At the Hamburg G20, leaders of the United States and Russia seemed to see eye-to-eye and the meeting was deemed both “very constructive” and revealing “a positive alchemy”. It is probably because the two presidents – a former KGB spy and a businessman – have an acute eye for the power of relations. Both recognize the power and the weaknesses of the other. Under these conditions, it is better to agree rather than to enter into a conflict especially since the Middle East offers the appropriate framework for a shared spectrum of views. Despite their differences on dealing with the Iranian file, both Trump and Putin converge on the fight against Islamist terrorism, starting with ISIS. Keeping this in mind, both Americans and Russians can go into the details of their collaboration on a case by case basis. In Syria, it is the Russians who have the upper hand. Trump ended the policy of non-intervention adopted by his predecessor Barak Obama and understood that the key to the solution was in Moscow and not in Washington. For several months now, the Americans have left the Syrian rebels exposed in the open. They only support the alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (FDS), dominated by the Kurds, to whom they have sent weapons and Special Forces.
In today’s great maneuvers, the Iranians dream of a territorial continuity ranging from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to the Mediterranean. The objective for Washington is to avoid at all costs that Iran does not take advantage of the fall of Mosul
Fall of Raqqa
The United States is seeking to claim the victory of the fall of Raqqa, the Syrian capital of ISIS. In exchange, the Americans announced support for the de-escalation zones proposed by the Russians, as evidenced by the Russian-American agreement for a cessation of hostilities in the provinces of Deraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda announced in the margins of the G20. The moment of truth has come, pointed out the former ambassador of France in Teheran. Subsequently, American authorities will have to either allow Assad to regain control over the whole country (in this case their armies standing on the ground in Syria will have to withdraw) or conserve the support for the anti-Assad factions , the latter will act as political pawns leading to further fragmentation in Syria. On the other hand in Iraq, the United States has the cards in hand. Since their invasion of the country in 2003, they remain the sole actor impossible to circumvent and they will be all the more so as Trump has Iran in its sights. In today’s great maneuvers, the Iranians dream of a territorial continuity ranging from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to the Mediterranean. The objective for Washington is to avoid at all costs that Iran does not take advantage of the fall of Mosul as well as the last bastions of ISIS along the Euphrates to push its pawns even further on the ground. In the Gulf crisis, there is a feeling that Trump, probably influenced by Rex Tillerson, his Secretary of State, and James Mattis, his Secretary of Defense, has now adopted the logic of appeasement.
Blowing hot and cold, the first tweets and contradictory statements of the American president had given a feeling of hesitation in Washington. Behind the scenes, American diplomacy is in full motion.
Strategic zone
The Gulf is a strategic zone for the United States, and Trump understands that it should remain so. Because in the end, the rifts of the Gulf Cooperation Council will only benefit Iran. Will the crisis unfold in the White House, as Rex Tillerson initially suggested? One could predict a summit on the Gulf crisis on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next September. In this burning case of the Gulf, Putin remained very discreet and was careful not to throw oil on fire. He has another goal in mind: further to the west since Libya has now entered under Russian radars. The Kremlin does not hide its support for General Hafter, who has just reconquered Benghazi. The Russians have never really digested the 1973 resolution “to protect Libyan civilian populations” which ultimately led to the overthrow of a legal government after a NATO military operation. At the time, Russia had lost much in this affair. Today, Putin intends to assert the interests of Moscow in Libya and weigh in the political solution. While Europeans and Americans are in fact the first to be concerned by the case in Libya, it’s not one of their priorities since they are under the strain of the immigration crisis; it is in fact Poutine who will take advantage of the situation in Libya to serve the interest of Russia.

How Tunisia’s Marzouki defended Qatar
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
A complex network is currently active in the media, which is defending the Qatari propaganda and attacking its rivals. It is not just a regional or a local network but a global one and it is mainly due to what the Qatari policy has represented since 1995. The Brotherhood’s defense of this Qatari propaganda across the world was expected. The stance of leftist movements was also expected as Qatar has since 1995 presented itself as a supporter of revolution, freedoms and rebellions. Whatever is meant to happen will occur. The season of “chaos”, called the Arab Spring, from 2010 until 2014 was a unique opportunity to expose masks and show the dangerous contradictions. For example in Egypt we saw liberal Ayman Habib, Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi and leftist Khaled Ali as part of the Brotherhood revolution. Habib was, and still is, the friendliest with the Brotherhood and countries in support of them, i.e. Qatar and Turkey. The Brotherhood’s defense of this Qatari propaganda across the world was expected. The stance of leftist movements was also expected as Qatar has since 1995 presented itself as a supporter of revolution, freedoms and rebellions. In Tunisia, human rights activist and Dr Moncef Marzouki was a perfect model for the Brotherhood to join the leftist activists who raised the slogan “the revolution continues.” Marzouki became Tunisia’s president from 2011 until 2014 by allying with the Brotherhood Ennahda Movement. He’s now employing his sharp rhetoric to attack the rivals of the alleged Arab Spring. Few days ago, while defending Qatar and Turkey, Marzouki revealed in an interview the Qatari daily al-Sharq that “Qatar’s siege is the last arrow in the pocket of regimes which Doha has been trying to diminish their roles for years and to prevent them from carrying out political roles it cannot control.”
Wild accusations
Marzouki made several accusations as planned by the Brotherhood propaganda machine. He accused the UAE and Saudi Arabia of toppling people’s revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen – notice how he mentions Yemen – and said the aim of punishing Qatar and of the coup attempt in Turkey was “to dry out the sources” from which the Arab chaos flowed. He also clearly stated: “Frankly, if this operations room controls these two sources, Arab revolutions will not exist.” Marzouki who is venerable revolutionary and a stubborn ally of the Brotherhood made a frank confession about what Qatar and Turkey represent to them. He made these statements within the context of praise but he actually clearly acknowledged the destructive plans, which were schemed for Arab countries during the past years! Who defends you? How does he defend you? What does he defend you with? The answers to these questions are what help you thoroughly look at the details of the bigger picture.

Modi’s visit to Israel, Arabs going green with envy
Ghassan Charbel/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
Arabs find themselves envious when they encounter the developed world. A friend of mine sought a better life in London after having had enough with reign of oppression back home. He purchased a house in his wait for the war to end. One day he was disturbed by a tree in his small garden. He made the decision to take it down. He then asked his native neighbor if he knew a worker who could do the job. The neighbor laughed and explained that he has no right to cut down trees even if they are rooted within private property. “You must first apply to the local council and convince him of the reasons,” the neighbor told my friend. “The law here protects trees– it is necessary to get the council’s approval– and then comes the chopping,” he went on saying. My friend was short to stunned, he had come from a world in which a city could be leveled or have its people uprooted without a flicker on an eye. A citizen can be taken away without the right for families, friends or relatives to demand for an explanation. In the United Kingdom the law protects trees, while the memory of my friend’s cousin lingers of him returning with plied nails, bloodied gums and fallen teeth after being summoned to a mysterious interrogation. A tree in London enjoys more rights than a citizen in countries where torture and suffering has become the status quo. Nevertheless, jealousy is not a virtue and rather only fosters feelings of hatred and bitterness. But when reading in-between the lines and closely reviewing the Middle East, Arabs discovered that in recent years, Israel had achieved a series of victories without firing a bullet
Constant concern
But for Arabs to feel envious is not inexplicable or odd. Envy can also become a constant concern. When an Arab visits a museum in a developed country a thought occurs to him as he wonders what fate did legacies and historical artifacts in Iraq, Syria and other Arab countries face. As Vienna nourishes and preserves its trees, bulldozers raze whole natural landscapes in Lebanon. While Oslo continues to pay attention to perfecting its healthcare plans and sustaining a sanitary environment, sewage in Arab countries flow without accountability. Arabs sometimes try to mitigate the disappointment, seek justifications for this wide gap separating them from the developed world. We now stand at a very decisive and unique time in history. Developed countries now reap the fruits of struggles and major events that were witnessed by The Old Continent– the French Revolution, the industrial revolution, the Renaissance, the separation of church and state, German philosophy, and the ever-changing revolution of women’s rights all of which are factors who helped shape the developed world today. Europeans have experienced all sorts of wars that destroyed the continent and the world along with it. Nevertheless they finally arrived at a constructive conclusion. Despite the horrendous account that Adolf Hitler left behind, Germany now thrives under Angela Merkel’s chairmanship and the institutions. Fallen empires have become nothing more than shelves at museums and written lines in history books. Border became bridges, not walls.
Communities eventually recognized the right to difference, and minorities are no longer viewed as a threat to be neutralized. The constitution protects variety and prevents the majority from erasing it. These countries no longer search for leaders who speak in the language of bloodshed. Instead, they are looking for governments that are concerned with fighting unemployment, developing the economy, encouraging investment, taking care of the environment and tackling climate change. All of which leaves the visiting Arab is envious.
The Modi visit
Setting aside trees and museums aside, there is something worse. Arabs took close note to Benjamin Netanyahu freeing up his day to attend his visiting guest, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That was the first time a sitting Indian prime minister visits Israel. What is even more remarkable is that the Modi did not feel the need to visit the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. A move that saw to Israel’s liking. It is worth remembering that India was a pioneer in understanding the aspirations of the people of Palestinian and did not hesitate to take their side in international arenas. Arabs kept a close eye to each step of the visit, especially after the warm welcome Modi received in Israel and which exceeded in hospitality that which was afforded United States President Donald Trump. Modi then said that true cooperation between Israel and India would change the face of the world. Netanyahu also said that Israel welcomed Modi in a manner befitting a president of leading the world’s largest democracy, and the only democratic state in the Middle East. What turned around heads is that Modi viewed Israel as a prevalent beacon in technology and him clearly speaking of his country’s tremendous need to benefit from Israel’s capabilities in this field.
Israel’s signature weapons
The visit resulted in the signing of an agreement between Netanyahu and Modi, under which India will secure its very own Israel’s signature Iron Dome Weapon System worth two billion dollars. Memorandums of understanding were also signed on establishing an Indian-Israeli fund for innovation in research and development in the domain of technology. Other agreements included water and agricultural development in India, as well as a partnership in economic projects in Africa and third world countries.Saying that Modi belongs to a hard-line Hindu nationalist movement or that the influence of rising “jihadist” terrorism is not enough to elaborate on Modi being swayed into a stronger relationship with Israel. What is more dangerous is that a country the size of Israel can offer the Indian army such a large-scale weapons deal, which goes beyond its previous role in developing ex-Soviet and Russian weapons owned by India. Ever more threatening is that Israel now has managed to develop an advanced strategic, military, security and economic relationship with a country the size of and with geopolitical significance of India. Arabs were disturbed by the arrogance which characterized Netanyahu’s speeches during Modi’s visit. But when reading in-between the lines and closely reviewing the Middle East, Arabs discovered that in recent years, Israel had achieved a series of victories without firing a bullet. States, armies and economies around the occupying state have eroded to its benefit. Waves of extremism in the Arab world have caused untold calamities, creating a long bullet-list of issues and conflicts in which the Palestinian cause is a mere one of many. This time Arabs did not feel envy alone, but sensed utter defeat for those who for failing to catch up with the developing world.

Vision 2030 and the future of business in Saudi Arabia
Fahd Al-Rasheed/Al Arabiya/July 11/17
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is a bold statement of purpose that lays out how our young, ambitious nation can best address the many socioeconomic, structural and geopolitical challenges that it faces. The Vision defines the times we live in and the future that we will pass on to our children. We have become accustomed to the Government leading from the top. But government acting alone cannot achieve this gargantuan undertaking. It requires the involvement and commitment of all – government, non-profits, civil society and, of course, the private sector. Yet the response from many corners of the private sector has not been one of commitment. It has been closer to despair. This is, to a degree, understandable. Many sectors of the economy have felt the immediate impact of cuts in government capital spending and benefits. Yet the private sector has to realize that these are not short-term measures. They are existential challenges for many businesses and business needs to take a more proactive approach to addressing them. This is the new normal. The private sector must recognize the imperative to restructure and retool to meet the multitude of new growth opportunities that the Vision creates. This is not a time to look back at the way things were in the past. It is a time to embrace the astonishing potential of the Kingdom. What does this mean in practical terms? There is no simple answer to that question, as so much depends on the dynamics of the specific sector. But by examining the main arcs of Vision 2030 it is clear to see where the main sectors of contraction and expansion are. This is the new normal. The private sector must recognize the imperative to restructure and retool to meet the multitude of new growth opportunities that the Vision creates
Economic impact
The economic impact of Vision 2030 is best understood in terms of three distinct arcs: fiscal reform, portfolio management, and economic expansion. The government is undertaking fiscal reform to ensure economic sustainability. Increased government fees, subsidy reform and VAT implantation diversify and expand government revenues. Privatization and rationalizing capital investments reduce costs. The government is also proactively building a diversified investment portfolio that will generate higher investment returns, protecting the Kingdom’s finances against future volatility in oil prices. The signature initiatives in this are, of course, the Aramco IPO and the restructuring of the Public Investment Fund. The government is also raising debt, leveraging the country’s high credit rating and low debt-to-GDP ratio. These two arcs do little directly to create growth in the economy. Indeed, in some sectors they create new pressures. The construction sector can no longer depend on heavy government spending. Industrial manufacturing faces increased labor costs and decreased subsidies, driving down cost-competitiveness. And the retail sector and low-value SMEs will be heavily hit by subsidy reform, VAT, and the subsequent decline in disposable incomes.
So where does growth come from? Growth will come from four key areas, all of which should have strong, positive implications for the private sector. Cutting red tape and retooling government processes will make the economy more business-friendly and more competitive. This should have a particular impact on SMEs and entrepreneurs, who will benefit from a regulatory environment that is more supportive of their needs. Completing and operating the many large infrastructure projects that the Kingdom initiated in the boom years such as the new King Abdulaziz International Airport, the Haramain high speed railway, the King Abdullah Port, and the Riyadh metro will provide important economic multipliers, creating opportunities in construction and operation as well as enhancing efficiency and effectiveness. Enhanced infrastructure also creates growth in other sectors of the economy such as building materials, logistics, telecommunications and travel services while increasing efficiency of trade.
The PPP model
Privatization and public-private partnerships offer particular opportunities, especially for well-established companies. Privatization has long been proven to increase productivity, enhance long-term growth and generate higher revenues. And public-private partnerships draw on the strengths of both government and the private sector: government establishes regulations, provides permits and guarantees financial resources; private enterprise deploys the most skilled personnel, manages projects and promotes efficiency. The most significant opportunity for business, however, will depend on the willingness and ability of the private sector to pivot their activities toward new, high-growth sectors of the economy. Sectors such as minerals, infrastructure, logistics and transportation, residential construction, healthcare, insurance and leisure and tourism offer significant potential for growth by capturing latent demand in the domestic economy. They create jobs and open up opportunities for small businesses and new enterprises as well as established companies. Many people doubt that Vision 2030 can happen. There are voices within the country and outside it who say that it is too ambitious: that Saudi Arabia lacks the resources to make it happen. But there are good reasons to accept the viability of the plan. Indeed, King Abdullah Economic City is a strong proof of concept. As a private enterprise, KAEC is not reliant on government contracts or oil revenues. We have therefore focused over the last decade exclusively on non-oil related industries such as logistics, pharmaceuticals and food manufacturing, which are inherently aligned with Vision 2030. In light of the Vision we are now emphasizing new target growth sectors such as leisure and healthcare. It is a testament to the potential of the non-oil economy in Saudi Arabia that, despite the many challenges, the city has thrived. We have overcome the regulatory and logistical hurdles of commercially starting a mega project on this scale. We have managed through two economic slumps. And, in only ten years, we have created a world-class port, as well as a regional manufacturing and logistics hub, attracting major global and regional companies in industries that were either nascent or non-existent in the Kingdom. Our mission is not complete; indeed the story of KAEC is just beginning. But our example is compelling evidence of the potential of Saudi Arabia as a non-oil economy and of the ability of the private sector to be instrumental in the implementation of Vision 2030. The future is never certain and there remain many questions that businesses must consider in the short term. What will be the response of the shale industry to the recent OPEC oil deals? How will that affect government income and spending? How will the introduction of VAT and the increase in utility costs affect consumer sentiment and spending? What do they mean for business costs and productivity? This the new normal – challenging, uncertain and brimming with opportunity. The companies that are ready to embrace it will help shape not only their own future but the future of the nation as a whole.

Trouble among America's Gulf Allies/مشاكل بين حلفاء أميركا في الخليج العربي
John R. Bolton/Gatestone Institute/July 11/017
The State Department should declare both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), thus triggering the penalties and sanctions required by law when such a declaration is made.
Those "affiliates" of the Muslim Brotherhood that, in whole or part, meet the statutory FTO definition should be designated; those that do not can be spared, at least in the absence of new information.
Qatar can legitimately complain that it is being unfairly singled out. The proper response is not to let Qatar off the hook but to put every other country whose governments or citizens are financing terrorism on the hook.
In recent weeks, governments on the Arabian Peninsula have been having a diplomatic brawl. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain (together with Egypt and other Muslim countries) have put considerable economic and political pressure on Qatar, suspending diplomatic relations and embargoing trade with their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member. Kuwait and Oman, also GCC members, have been mediating the dispute or remaining publicly silent.
The Saudis and their supporters are demanding sweeping changes in Qatari policies, including suspending all financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups; joining the other GCC members in taking a much harder line against the nuclear and terrorist threat from Shia Iran and its proxies; and closing Al Jazeera, the irritating, radical-supporting television and media empire funded by Qatar's royal family.
The United States' response so far has been confused. President Trump has vocally supported the Saudi campaign, but the State Department has publicly taken a different view, urging that GCC members resolve their differences quietly.
As with so many Middle East disputes, the issues are complex, and there is considerable underlying history. Of course, if they were easy, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would not be nearly at daggers drawn seemingly overnight.
Washington has palpable interests at stake in this dispute and can make several critical moves to help restore unity among the Arabian governments, even though the issues may seem as exotic to the average American as the Saudi sword dance Trump joined during his recent Middle East trip.
Twin issues to confront
Confronting the twin issues of radical Islamic terrorism and the ayatollahs' malign regime in Iraq are central not only to the Arab disputants but to the United States as well. In addition to providing our good offices to the GCC members, the Trump administration should take two critical steps to restore unity and stability among these key allies.
First, the State Department should declare both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), thus triggering the penalties and sanctions required by law when such a declaration is made. Both groups meet the statutory definition because of their violence and continuing threats against Americans. The Obama administration's failure to make the FTO designation has weakened our global anti-terrorist efforts.
The Muslim Brotherhood's defenders argue that it is far from monolithic; that many of its "affiliates" are in fact entirely harmless; and that a blanket declaration would actually harm our anti-jihadi efforts. Even taking these objections as true for the sake of argument, they counsel a careful delineation among elements of the Brotherhood. Those that, in whole or part, meet the statutory FTO definition should be designated; those that do not can be spared, at least in the absence of new information. The Brotherhood's alleged complexity is an argument for being precise in the FTO designations, not for avoiding any designations whatever.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab governments already target the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization but Qatar does not. That may sound suspicious, but as of now, of course, the United States hasn't found the resolve to do it either. Once Washington acts, however, it will be much harder for Qatar or anyone else to argue that the Brotherhood is just a collection of charitable souls performing humanitarian missions.
A direct terrorist threat
Similarly, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps is a direct terrorist threat that has been killing Americans ever since the IRGC-directed attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in October 1983. The only real argument against naming the IRGC is that so doing would endanger Obama's 2015 nuclear agreement, given Tehran's expected response to an FTO determination.
Second, Trump should follow up his successful Riyadh summit by insisting on rapid and comprehensive implementation of the summit's principal outcome, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI). This center can provide governments across the Muslim world a face-saving mechanism to do what should have been done long ago, namely taking individual and collective steps to dry up terrorist financing.
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, May 21, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
One could write books on the intricate financing that supports international terrorism, and finger-pointing at those responsible could take years. But whether terrorists are financed by governments, directly or indirectly, or by individuals or groups, with or without government knowledge or encouragement, it must all stop. Qatar can legitimately complain that it is being unfairly singled out. The proper response is not to let Qatar off the hook but to put every other country whose governments or citizens are financing terrorism on the hook.
Although superficially the ongoing crisis among the oil-producing monarchies may seem a setback to American efforts in the war again terrorism and the struggle to eliminate the Iranian threat, in fact it provides a rare opportunity to make considerable progress on two of our top priorities. The Trump administration should not miss its chance.
*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 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 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.

Comey's Leaked Memos: Who Will Guard the Guardians?
Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/July 11/017
President Trump has accused former FBI director James Comey of illegality in leaking memos that may have contained classified information. If it is true that the leaked Comey memos – laundered through a law professor in an effort to pressure Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein into appointing a special counsel – contained classified information, who will investigate Comey? Surely the Special Counsel, Comey's friend who he helped get appointed, could not conduct a credible investigation. Nor could Rod Rosenstein, who made the appointment. Will yet another special counsel have to be appointed to conduct an investigation of Comey's leaking?
On the basis of what we now know, it does not appear that Comey committed a crime. What he did, if the allegation turns out to be true, is remarkably similar to what he investigated with regard to Hillary Clinton's improper use of a private email server. Both Clinton and Comey were sloppy in their handling of classified material and both deserve to be criticized for their negligence. But neither crossed the line into willful criminality. Of course, Hillary's enemies argue that she did cross the line. And Comey's enemies will argue the same as to his conduct. But judged by a uniform standard, neither should be prosecuted for what appear to be honest mistakes.
We don't know at this point whether the Comey memos actually contained information that is classified, and even if so, was it so designated before or after Comey disclosed it? We also don't know the level of classification, if any. What we do know is that Comey's claim that he was entitled to leak the memos because he was a "private citizen" is bogus. The memos contained information he obtained as a government employees and the memos were the property of the government. If they contained classified information, he was not entitled to leak them without prior approval.
President Trump was quick to Tweet that Comey's actions were "so illegal." That is, of course, what Trump's critics are saying about his actions, and those of his family, his campaign aids and his transition team members. Both sides are rushing to judgment when it comes to criminalizing the political acts of their opponents. Both sides seem to believe that if something done by their opponents is wrong, it should be criminal. But that's not how our system of justice works. For something to be criminal, it must be explicitly prohibited by an existing criminal statute. There must be a criminal act, accompanied by a criminal intent. Moreover, the law must be clear and unambiguous. These salutary rules are designed to protect Democrats and Republicans alike. But they are being abused by Republicans and Democrats alike in the short term interest of partisan advantage.
Perhaps the most extreme example of stretching the law to target an individual for a political sin is the recent statement by Richard Painter directed against Donald Trump's son, who attended a meeting with a Russian lawyer who suggested that she might provide him with negative information about Hillary Clinton. This is what Painter said: "This was an effort to get opposition research on an opponent in an American political campaign from the Russians, who were known to be engaged in spying inside the United States." He suggested that Trump's son might be guilty of treason and should be in custody. But the Constitution specifically defines treason, providing that its definition is exclusive and limited. Here is what it says: "Treason against the United States shall consist only levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." (Emphasis added) This definition clearly does not cover "an effort to get opposition research" from the Russians. But the Constitution doesn't seem to matter to those who are convinced that any wrongful action must also be criminal.
Back to the Comey leaks. It is unlikely that there will be any investigation, except perhaps an internal one by the Justice Department. Comey should be rebuked by the Justice Department for violating their rules, but there is not enough evidence at the moment to warrant the appointment of another special counsel. Nor is there enough to conclude, as President Trump hastily did, that Comey's misconduct was "so illegal."
**Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law" and "Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for the Unaroused Voter."
*This article was first published by Fox News.
© 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.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Germany: June 2017
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/July 11/17
A 10-year-old girl from a former republic of the Soviet Union was raped by an asylum seeker from Ghana, but police and the local government allegedly suppressed information about the crime for more than two weeks.
A student sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl and punched another boy in the face, breaking his glasses. At least six other students have been beaten bloody. The school's leadership has refused to discipline the child, apparently because of his migrant background, and instead has lashed out at the parents for demanding a safe environment for their children.
Police in Lübeck suspect that refugees are taking over illegal drug trade in the city.
June 1. A Syrian migrant was stabbed to death in Oldenburg by another Syrian because he was eating ice cream during Ramadan. The murder, which occurred in broad daylight in a busy pedestrian shopping area, was just the latest example of Islamic law, Sharia, being enforced on German streets.
June 2. Around one million non-Europeans living in Germany are now on welfare, an increase of 124% in just one year, according to new statistics from the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). The top welfare beneficiaries are from: Syria (509,696); Turkey (276,399); Iraq (110,529) and Afghanistan (65,443).
June 2. Police temporarily halted the annual Rock am Ring music festival in Nürburg because of a possible jihadist threat. Authorities asked the 90,000 visitors to leave the concert grounds in a "controlled and calm" manner. The move was based on "concrete leads which do not allow us to eliminate a possible terror threat," the police said.
June 3. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann called on Germany's BfV domestic intelligence agency to begin surveilling minors suspected of being involved with Islamist groups:
"I would strongly urge for the age limit for surveillance to be lowered throughout Germany. Minors have already committed serious acts of violence. Normally, the domestic intelligence agency in Bavaria would not place children under surveillance. But if there is concrete evidence that a 12-year-old is with an Islamist group, we have to be able to monitor them, too."
June 4. Mostafa J., a 41-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan, stabbed to death a five-year-old Russian at a refugee shelter in Arnschwang. The Afghan, who had been arguing with the boy's 47-year-old mother, was shot to death by police after a standoff. It later emerged that the man had a criminal history in Germany and should have been deported but was not. In October 2009, for example, a court in Munich sentenced Mostafa J. to six years in prison for arson. In July 2011, he received a deportation order, but in 2014 he fooled a judge into believing that he had converted to Christianity and would be killed if he were deported to Afghanistan.
June 5. A study conducted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, a think tank affiliated with Bavaria's Christian Social Union, found that half the asylum seekers in Bavaria subscribe to classic anti-Semitic views about Jewish power. Around 60% of Afghans, 53% of Iraqis and 52% of Syrians said Jews wield too much influence.
June 7. A 27-year-old migrant from Syria stabbed and killed a Red Cross mental health counselor in Saarbrücken. The attacker and the psychologist allegedly got into an argument during a therapy session at a counselling center for traumatized refugees.
June 9. A court in Cottbus sentenced a 32-year-old Chechen migrant named Rashid D. to 13 years in prison for slitting his wife's throat and throwing her out of the second-floor window of their apartment. The couple's five children now live in Chechnya with their grandparents. The man was charged with manslaughter rather than murder because, according to the court, the "honor killing" was done in the heat of passion: the man thought that his wife had been unfaithful.
June 12. A 44-year-old migrant from Syria named Sultan K. was arrested at his home in Bullenhausen on charges of being a member of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group. Police said that the man's three brothers, Ahmed K. (51), Mustafa K. (41) and Abdullah K. (39), were also suspected of being members of al-Nusra. The arrest confirmed fears that jihadists posing as refugees have gained access to Germany.
June 12. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann called on three German states — Berlin, Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia — to introduce random police spot checks. Local laws against "racial profiling" prohibit police in the three states from stopping and identifying individuals. Hermann called it a "blatant security gap that urgently needs to be closed." He also said he wanted to see random checks extended in border areas, around airports, railway stations and rest-stops, as well as on highways that lead in and out of the country. At the moment, such checks are only allowed within 30 kilometers (20 miles) of German borders. Parliamentary spokesman Stephan Mayer said:
"The demand of Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann to finally introduce so-called spot-checks in the states of Berlin, Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia is completely and utterly justified. Given the basically open borders in Europe, random checks are a necessary instrument for preventing terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants from entering the country."
June 13. The newspaper, Bild, posted on its website a film — "Chosen and Excluded: Jew Hatred in Europe" — that was censored by the Franco-German television outlet ARTE because it showed Islamic-animated anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred in all walks of European life. Julian Reichelt, Bild's online editor-in-chief, said:
"The TV documentary proves the rampant, in part socially acceptable Jew-hatred, for which there are only two words: disgusting and shameful. It is suspected that the documentary is not being shown on television because it is politically unsuitable and because the film shows an anti-Semitic worldview in wide parts of society that is disturbing. Our historical responsibility requires us to decisively counter the unspeakable truth that this film establishes."
June 14. A 33-year-old migrant from Syria stabbed and seriously injured his ex-wife at a supermarket in Cologne. He also stabbed his 13-year-old son after the boy intervened to protect his mother.
June 15. A 21-year-old migrant from Nigeria went on a rampage after the manager of a public swimming pool in Rosenheim repeatedly told him that hygiene regulations prohibited him from swimming in his underwear. After police arrived, the Nigerian attacked an officer. He was arrested for refusing to obey a police officer.
June 16. Germany's first "liberal mosque" opened in Berlin. The Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque, which holds its services inside the St. Johannis Church in the Moabit district, was founded by Seyran Ates, a women's rights activist who has been hailed by some as the "champion of modern Islam." The mosque allows men and women to pray together and the Koran to be interpreted "historically and critically." The mosque, which is open to everyone, including Alawite and Sufi Muslims, as well as homosexuals, has caused outrage in the Muslim world. Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, generally considered the leading authority on Sunni Islam, issued a fatwa warning against "religious innovation that is not approved by Islamic Sharia." Turkey's religious affairs agency, Diyanet, said that the mosque's practices "do not align with Islam's fundamental resources, principles of worship, methodology or experience of more than 14 centuries, and are experiments aimed at nothing more than depraving and ruining religion." Ates, the mosque's female imam, is now under 24-hour police protection.
June 17. In Cologne, a peace march organized by German Muslim groups to condemn terrorism and violence in the name of Islam had an extremely low turnout. Organizers had expected at least 10,000 participants, but actual turnout was estimated at between several hundred to about 3,500. Germany's largest Islamic association, the Turkish-Islamic Union (DITIB) refused to take part in the march because it would "send the wrong signal to suggest that Muslims were mainly responsible for international terrorism."
June 18. The parents of student at the Kronwerk Gymnasium, a school in Rendsburg, have been ordered to appear in court because they refused to allow their child to visit a nearby mosque as part of a geography class. The parents, who are not religious, said they did not want their child to be exposed to "religious indoctrination." No one could be compelled to enter a sacred building against his or her own free will, they argued. The school insisted that the visit to the mosque was compulsory: "The school is designed to promote the openness of young people to cultural and religious diversity, the desire for international understanding and peace." Each parent was fined €150 ($175), which they refused to pay. They are now being sued. The mosque in question belongs to the Milli-Görüs movement (IGMG), one of Europe's largest Islamist organizations. According to Germany's BfV domestic intelligence agency, the movement is extremist and virulently anti-Semitic.
June 18. Local authorities in Hereford reportedly covered up information about the rape of a ten-year-old girl at a refugee shelter in the city. The girl, who is from a former republic of the Soviet Union, was raped by an asylum seeker from Ghana, but police and the local government allegedly suppressed information about the crime for more than two weeks.
June 18. Muslims in Freiburg launched an online petition demanding that the city prohibit male supervisors from working at a female-only swimming pool in the city. The petition says that Muslim women who want a "break from everyday gazes" are unable to use the pool. The petition adds that the "presence and supervision of male staff is deeply reactionary and sexist" and calls for the "creation of a dialogue to promote mutual understanding and acceptance." Facility managers at the Lorettobad said that it hired male supervisors because of a shortage of female personnel. The pool has been rocked by disputes between Muslims and managers who have been trying to enforce hygiene regulations at the facility: Muslim women have been angered after being told that they are not allowed to wear jeans and other street clothing while swimming, and also that they cannot consume food while in the pool. Some Muslim women have also been told that they have "too little control over their offspring" and that their children are "too wild" and are disturbing other guests. Muslims have reacted with such aggression that police repeatedly have been called to restore order at the pool.
June 19. Jakob Augstein, a German newspaper editor well known for his anti-Israel tirades, wrote an essay for Der Spiegel in which he expressed glee that so few Muslims attended an anti-terrorism rally in Cologne. He said that those Muslims who did attend were "Uncle Toms" and excessively subservient to their German "overseers." He wrote:
"Terror is not a question of civil society, but one of politics. What is more important, however, is that the demonstration call was addressed to the Muslims in Germany. This is an impertinence. What does the average German Muslim have to do with terrorism? Nothing.
"Just because terrorists justify their crimes with Islam, there is still no special obligation for people of the Muslim faith to distance themselves from these crimes. On the contrary, the terrorists would be given an honor that is not theirs: they are taken seriously as representatives of Islam. But they are not.... Terrorism is a political and social phenomenon, not a religious one. There are more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Should all of them demonstrate? If I were a Muslim, I would refuse such requests."
June 20. Police in 14 German states raided the homes of three dozen people accused of posting hateful comments on social media. Most of the raids were said to have involved "right-wing incitement" while two of the raids involved "left-wing agitators." The head of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) Holger Münch said: "Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threats or criminal violence to be found either on the street or on the internet." Critics say the crackdown is part of an effort to suppress criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open door migration policy ahead of federal elections set for September 24, 2017.
June 20. In an essay published by Süddeutsche Zeitung, Benjamin Idriz, an imam in Bavaria, called on the German government to provide language training for imams so that they can become the "driving force behind integration and dialogue" in Germany:
"The demand for imams from around 2,700 municipalities in Germany is usually supplied by imams from abroad. Many of them are thus directly connected with foreign religious authorities and under foreign influence. Imams from abroad also hardly have sufficient language and cultural competence. They are therefore not conducive to the integration of the Muslims, nor do they meet the needs of the Muslim communities, especially among the younger generation. The demand for imams is enormous, and too much time has already been lost. We must begin before we lose the next generation."
June 21. The parents of more than 20 fifth-graders at the Herder-Gymnasium, a school in Charlottenburg district of Berlin, initiated a boycott of the school over accusations that the school was not dealing with discipline and violence in class. The problem revolves around one male student who has been bullying his classmates since he arrived at the school last fall. The student has sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl and punched another boy in the face, breaking his glasses. At least six other students have been beaten bloody. "Our concern is that our children be protected," a father said. The school's leadership has refused to discipline the child, apparently because of his migrant background, and instead has lashed out at the parents for demanding a safe environment for their children: "We deeply regret the fact that because of a single populist exception among the parents such serious damage has been done to the reputation of our school."
June 22. Aydan Özoğuz, Germany's commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration, admitted that "there has been a shift in perceptions" and that only a quarter to a third of the so-called refugees in Germany will enter the labor market over the next five years, and "for many others we will need up to ten." In an interview with the Financial Times, she said that many of the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Germany were doctors and engineers, but they were succeeded by "many, many more who lacked skills." The Times, citing statistics from the Federal Employment Agency, revealed that only 6,500 refugees of the more than two million who have been allowed into Germany during the past two years are enrolled in work training programs. "We don't take in refugees according to their skills set," Özoğuz said. "The only criteria should be to help people fleeing war and political persecution."
June 22. Police in Lübeck suspect that refugees are taking over illegal drug trade in Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state in Germany. Since May there have been more than a dozen mass brawls involving Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians and North Africans armed with knives and batons. Some of those involved are known drug traffickers. "The middle level of drug trafficking is targeting migrants in the refugee shelters, promoting them as street vendors or couriers," said Christian Braunwarth, spokesman for the Lübeck public prosecutor's office. "Unfortunately, the economically weaker parts of society are vulnerable to such offers."
June 23. A 37-year-old migrant from Syria sexually assaulted a ten-year-old girl in Tübingen. The girl was riding her bicycle when the man ambushed her from behind. Passersby who heard the girl scream rushed to her aid. Police said the man was a "prior offender" and was known to them. A "southern-looking" (südländisches Erscheinungsbild) sexually assaulted a 23-year-old woman in broad daylight in Voerde. A 17-year-old German-Turk raped a 17-year-old woman in Stuttgart.
June 24. An 18-year-old Syrian asylum seeker shouting Allahu Akbar injured four people with a metal chain at the central bus station in Lünen. The initial police report described the perpetrator only as "an 18-year-old" and failed to mention that he had dedicated his attack to Allah. Dortmund police provided more details only after being pressed by a local newspaper.
June 25. A police officer in Duisburg asked a man to move his car, which was illegally parked. The man refused and began shouting at the officer. Within minutes, more than 250 people appeared at the scene and began harassing the police officer, who called for backup. More than 50 policemen and 18 police vehicles were required to resolve what began as a routine traffic procedure.
June 25. Four Iraqi men sexually assaulted three girls, aged 13, 15 and 16, at a public swimming pool in Kassel. A 35-year-old migrant from Romania sexually assaulted two girls, aged 12 and 13, at a public swimming pool in Stuttgart. The man was questioned and released.
June 26. The Berlin Labor Court ordered the city-state of Berlin to pay €6,900 ($7,900) — the equivalent of two months' pay — to a Muslim teacher whose job application at a grammar school was rejected because she wears a headscarf. Berlin's Neutrality Law (Neutralitätsgesetz) prohibits teachers from wearing conspicuous religious symbols at state schools, but the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has ruled that a general prohibition of Muslim headscarves is unconstitutional unless there is a concrete threat to security. In February, the National Labor Court of Berlin-Brandenburg awarded a Muslim woman compensation of almost €8,600 ($9,800) after her job application was rejected because she wore a headscarf. The judges ruled that it was a violation of the Equal Treatment Act (Gleichbehandlungsgesetz).
June 27. A "southern-looking" (südländisch aussehenden) man raped a woman at a park in downtown Cologne. Two "dark-skinned" men (dunkelhäutigen Männer) sexually assaulted a 52-year-old woman in Hüfingen.
June 28. A 23-year-old migrant from Iraq was arrested in Immenstaad on Lake Constance on charges of being a war criminal. After the man — who arrived in Germany as a refugee at the height of the migrant crisis in late 2015 — reportedly threatened to kill a roommate at a migrant shelter in Böblingen, police found three mobile phones in his room. One of the phones contained a picture of him posing alongside the decapitated heads of six jihadists from the Islamic State. The photo was created sometime between December 2013 and September 2015 when the man was an Iraqi soldier. The Attorney General's office in Stuttgart said the man was guilty of "mocking the slain combatants and degrading them in their death" which "should be seen as a war crime...according to the criminal code (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch and Strafgesetzbuch)."
June 29. Mohammad Hussain Rashwani, a 38-year-old migrant from Syria tried to behead 64-year-old Ilona Fugmann at a beauty salon in Herzberg. Less than a year earlier, Fugmann had offered Rashwani a job as a hair stylist at her salon and German media praised him as an exemplar of successful integration. Fugmann and her husband Michael were said to have bestowed "infinite goodness and magnanimity" toward Rashwani. In the weeks leading up to the attack, however, Mohammad reportedly had found it difficult to subordinate himself to his female boss. "I am still convinced that it is 100% correct to help other people, but we have to admit that in this case our attempts at integration have failed," Michael concluded.
June 30. The German Parliament approved a controversial law to fine social media networks up to €50 million euros ($57 million) if they fail to remove so-called hate speech. The Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, NetzDG), commonly referred to as the "Facebook law," gives social media networks 24 hours to delete or block "obviously criminal offenses" (offenkundig strafbare Inhalte) and seven days to deal with less clear-cut cases. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the measure to "end the internet law of the jungle." Critics say the law will restrict free speech because social media networks, fearing high penalties, will delete posts without checking whether they are within the legal limits and should actually remain online. Others say the real purpose of the law is to silence criticism of the government's open door migration policy, as well as multiculturalism and the rise of Islam in Germany, ahead of the federal elections on September 24, 2017.
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Jihad Means More than "A Peaceful Self-Struggle"!
Maher Gabra/Gatestone Institute/July 11/017
What Linda Sarsour said is technically correct, but simply not accurate. It is just half of the truth. What Sarsour did not, and probably will not, say is that the concept of jihad in Islam, as it is widely taught and understood in Islamic jurisprudence, is not only self-struggle or peaceful opposition, but also using force and violence to defend Islam, as well as to spread and impose it on non-Muslims.
In one of the Al-Azhar high school's books -- Persuasion: On Decoding Abu Shuga's Terms/Expressions -- it teaches that fighting infidels, even if they have not attacked Muslims, is a religious obligation for every able and free Muslim man.
Failure to convert to Islam is therefore often viewed as an attack -- against which Islam must be defended.
Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist, has called for jihad against U.S. President Donald J. Trump. In her speech addressing the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) on July 6, 2017, she said: "when a man asked prophet Muhammad about the best form of jihad, he replied it is a word of truth in front of tyrant ruler." And then she said:
"I hope that ... when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad, that we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or on the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House."
One may disagree with her views on President Trump, but Sarsour has every right to express her opinion. However, calling for "jihad" against our president is an extremely serious red flag that we should not ignore.
What Sarsour said is technically correct, but simply not accurate. It is just half of the truth. What she did not, and probably will not, say is that the concept of jihad in Islam, as it is widely taught and understood in Islamic jurisprudence, is not only self-struggle or peaceful opposition, but also using force and violence to defend Islam, as well as to spread and impose it on non-Muslims.
The prominent Saudi Sheik Muhammed Salah Al Monjed explains the different forms of jihad on his famous Arabic website, Islam Q&A. He says there are four types of jihad, taking this classification from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, the famous Islamic theologian (1292-1350): jihad against oneself, against Satan, against infidels, and against Muslim hypocrites (i.e.: fake Muslims).
The jihad against oneself and Satan is the struggle to be a good Muslim and follow Allah. However, jihad against infidels and hypocrites is more than a self-struggle. It is an effort to change the situation on the ground. Such jihad could be executed through four different means: by oneself (fighting in the way of Allah), by money (funding those who fight), by one's words (speaking up against oppressors or infidels), or by one's heart (that is, by hating the evil and feeling that it is wrong).
To help his audience understand how important jihad is, he mentions one of the prophet Muhammad's hadiths that says, "Whoever dies without having gone out for jihaad or having thought of doing so, dies on a branch of hypocrisy.'" (Saheeh Muslim, 3533). "Gone out" refers to going to the military field. In Arabic, the hadith used the word yaghzoo -- "invades." The hadith means Muslims who die without invading, or at least thinking of it, are hypocrites (fake Muslims).
To be perfectly clear, and to avoid misquoting Sarsour, she did refer to "the speaking up" part, which is peaceful. However, it is only one phase in a multi-phased process, jihad, which includes using violence.
Islam Behery, an Egyptian Islamic researcher and reformer, explained the jihad against non-Muslims on one of his TV shows. He said the four main schools of jurisprudence in Sunni theology (the Shafi'i, Hanbali, Maliki, and Hanafi schools) agreed that jihad against infidels consists of two types. The first is "to defend" (جهاد الدفع) and the second is "to seek" (جهاد الطلب). The first is to defend the lands of Muslims if they get attacked; the second is to attack the land of other peoples to spread Islam. The four schools agreed that both types are religious obligations (fard).
Behery argued that this jurisprudence needs to be reformed. It was because of the resistance to reform by Muslim religious leaders, including Al-Azhar Univeristy in Cairo, that ISIS and other terror groups easily managed to recruit tens of thousands of Muslims, including some Westerners, to fight for them. Behery used to challenge the extremist views of Al-Azhar; as a result Al-Azhar sued him and had him thrown in prison for one year, after convicting him of blasphemy.
Al-Azhar, the most respected Sunni religious institution in the Islamic world, still teaches its students the same concept. In one of the Al-Azhar high school's books -- Persuasion: On Decoding Abu Shuga's Terms/Expressions -- it teaches that fighting infidels, even if they have not attacked Muslims, is a religious obligation for every able and free Muslim man. The rationale is that, as infidels do not convert to Islam even though Islam is a well-known religion, then Muslims should attack and kill them whenever possible. Failure to convert to Islam is therefore often viewed as an attack -- against which Islam must be defended.
Islam Web, one of the most important websites that teach Islamic theology in Arabic and that is run by credible Islamic scholars, defines jihad as a military action to spread Islam in the countries where Islam is not the dominant religion. The scholars there wrote:
"The purpose of jihad in Islam is not to cause loss of souls, destruction of property, and women's widowhood, but the goal is to spread the religion of Allah on earth and to remove obstacles that prevent people from reaching God."
They said that Muslims got humiliated only when they abandoned jihad. They encouraged young Muslims to go back to jihad, and cited a verse from Surah Al-Tawbah from the Qur'an:
"Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties in exchange for Paradise. They fight in Allah's way, and they kill and get killed." (09:111) [Emphasis added.]
Talking about jihad as a fight in the way of Allah takes us to the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood: "God is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way, Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Jihad is defined by the sentence that says, "Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." In my native country Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood called for jihad against the government, and innocent blood was spilled on a regular basis, especially from the armed forces and police. That is what usually follows a call for jihad.
Growing up in Cairo, we studied, for a whole academic year, the story of Uqba ibn Nafi, the Islamic military leader who came out of the Arabian Peninsula and invaded several North African countries to spread Islam. The Islamic military conquests that he led were, and today still are, taught in Egyptian schools as an example of "glorious jihad" for young teens to follow.
The examples above are but a few. If Sarsour wants to reclaim the "peaceful" concept of jihad from extremists, as she claims, first of all she needs to admit that it is not only extremists who relate jihad to violence, but also mainstream Islamic jurisprudence, which urgently needs to be reformed. Secondly, she needs to challenge those who still preach a seventh-century version of Islam in the 21st century; instead, she calls everyone who quotes what these faith leaders say a bigot, racist and Islamophobe. Sadly, Sarsour seems to be trying to whitewash dangerous ideas, perhaps to make them more appealing to the unsuspecting people of the West. This effort has nothing to do with real reform, which needs to start by acknowledging the problems that exist.
Sarsour may not like President Trump; however, calling for "Islamic jihad" against the President of the United States -- even if she meant the peaceful type of it -- while the concept of jihad is widely taught as a struggle that involves using violence to spread one's beliefs, is something immensely dangerous. It should not taken lightly by anyone.
*Maher Gabra is an Arab Egyptian specializing in the Middle East and the ideology of political Islam.
© 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.