July 14/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
They understood that Jesaus had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 16/05-12/:"When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’They said to one another, ‘It is because we have brought no bread.’
And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!’ Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Everyone who believes is Jesus is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses
Acts of the Apostles 13/26-39/:"‘My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead; and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you." As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, "I will give you the holy promises made to David." Therefore he has also said in another psalm, "You will not let your Holy One experience corruption." For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption; but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 13-14/17
Hezbollah Threatens To Surprise Israel In Next War/Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/July 13/17
Lebanon, regrettably, falls into club of countries practicing torture/Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/July 13/17
Qatar: The Tortoise-like Policy/Salman Al-Dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/July 13/17
How Social Media Stifles Free Speech/Jeff Trag/Gatestone Institute/July 13/17
High Time for Sofian Zakkout, Pillar of the American-Muslim Community, to Be Investigated for Ties to Hamas/Joe Kaufman/Gatestone Institute/July 13/17
The Islamic View of "Feminism"/Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/July 13/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 13-14/17
Aoun, Mashnouq tackle parliamentary by elections, random celebratory shooting
Aoun in front of World Bank delegation: All inclusive economic plan in the offing
Hariri: Lebanese Army Carrying Out Transparent Probe into Death of Detainees
Berri Calls for July 18-19 Legislative Session
Berri tackles budget, salary scale updates with Kanaan
Army 'Unenthusiastic' for Arsal Battle, 'Not Coordinating' with Damascus
Two Terror Suspects Arrested in Fresh Arsal Raid
Geagea: It's About Time Refugees Returned to Syria, Govt. Must be More Active
Geagea, Makari take up hour issues
Hizbullah Gets 'Mustaqbal Approval' for Arsal Assault amid Efforts to Avoid Battle
New French Ambassador Arrives in Lebanon
Othman discuss with Choucair overall situation
Jumbaltt discuss political developments with Najjari
Tueini: Tampering with Lebanon's environment, beaches unforgivable sin
Siniora meets Spanish ambassador
Airport customs foils Captagon smuggling operation
Sawan interrogates seven detainees accused of committing terror crimes
Sawan issues seven indictments on terror crimes
Hezbollah Threatens To Surprise Israel In Next War
Lebanon, regrettably, falls into club of countries practicing torture
60 Syrian Families Leave Lebanon’s Arsal after Increased Pressure
Lawyer calls on Aoun to campaign for Zakka
Franjieh Laments State of Affairs under Aoun, Hits Out at FPM

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 13-14/17
Tillerson Leaves Gulf with No End in Sight to Qatar Crisis
Syrians in Sarin-Struck Town Mark 100 Days since Attack
Trump Says Ties with France, Macron are 'Unbreakable'
Trump Says Working with Putin on a Second Ceasefire in Syria
Trump Envoy Mediates Water Deal between Israel, Palestinians
Washington Says US Advisers Operating Inside Syria’s Raqqa
The Four States Insist on Demands, Tillerson Returns to Kuwait
Saudi Crown Prince, Turkish Defense Minister Discuss Bilateral Ties
Efforts to Form Joint Military Council between Syrian Regime, Opposition
UAE: Al-Jazeera Has Gone Beyond Incitement to Hostility, Violence
Turkey Does Not Mind Participation of Turkmen in Tal Afar Liberation

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 13-14/17
Aoun, Mashnouq tackle parliamentary by elections, random celebratory shooting
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Thursday met at the Baabda palace with Interior and Municipalities Minister, Nuhad Mashnouq, whereby they discussed the general situation in the country, notably the success of the adopted measures to reduce the percentage of random celebratory shooting on occasions, in addition to the issue of parliamentary by-elections On emerging, Minister Mashnouq lauded the measures adopted at the political, security and media levels, which significantly contributed to decreasing by 63% the arbitrary celebratory gunfire in the period between the announcement of Brevet official exams and that of Baccalaureat. "This is a major achievement," Mashnouq said, commending all those who contributed to it, notably the performance of the security forces and the strict actions by the judiciary, not to mention the noteworthy media campaign that accompanied such a process. On the issue of parliamentary by-elections in the districts of Kesrouan and Tripoli, Mashnouq said that President Aoun shall take up this matter with Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, and whether these elections will be held concurrently with municipal elections for vacant or dissolved municipalities. Mashnouq voiced the Ministry's utter readiness for these elections, saying he awaits the outcome of consultations between President Aoun and Premier Hariri on this issue. In response to a question, Mashnouq said that the forthcoming parliamentary by-elections will be held under the old Majoritarian vote law. On the other hand, Baabda palace witnessed a series of developmental and spiritual meetings, whereby Aoun met with a delegation of heads of the municipalities of Sehel Shouf, who took up with the President stringent needs related to their respective areas. Separately, the President received head of the Patriarchal Committee for the Year of Martyrdom and Martyrs in the Maronite Church, Maronite Diocese of Batroun Bishop Mounir Khairallah, who came on top of a delegation. Bishop Khairallah brought to attention that the Maronite Patriarch declared 2017 the year of martyrdom and martyrdom in the Maronite Church, in order to commemorate the Church martyrs throughout history.

Aoun in front of World Bank delegation: All inclusive economic plan in the offing
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, on Thursday said that Lebanon is in the process of launching a wide-ranging economic plan that includes an outlook for the future aimed at enhancing production sectors.
President Aoun's fresh words came during his meeting at the Baabda palace with the World Bank's Regional Director, Saroj Kumar Jha, on the occasion of his assumption of his new duties. Aoun said before his visitor that the support provided by the World Bank to Lebanon is an evidence of confidence in the measures undertaken by the Lebanese state, in the framework of the uprising operation which kick-started nine months ago.""Providing assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is a priority nowadays, as a key step to increase economic capacities in the country," Aoun corroborated. The President thanked the World Bank for its considerable input in the development projects in Lebanon, saying such contribution in hydro-electric projects, dams, roads, cleaning river drains, establishing prisons and educational compounds helps the Lebanese government secure the necessary funds to implement these projects.
Kumar Jha, for his part, stressed the World Bank's commitment to its continual assistance to Lebanon, especially after the return of dynamism to the constitutional institutions after the election of the President of the Republic, the formation of the government and the anchoring of stability and security up and down the country. Kumar Jha also expressed the World Bank's willingness to promote first-rate partnership with Lebanon, allocating a financial portfolio for assistance in accordance with the priorities set by the President of the Republic and the Lebanese government. "The World Bank's affiliated team shall continue to coordinate with the Lebanese team to this end."He pointed out that "according attention to SMEs will be at the core of the work of the World Bank to improve and develop the conditions of these companies," Kumar Jha said, disclosing that the Bank has innovative projects within the context of its priorities, in addition to the development of infrastructure. The meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee MP Ibrahim Kenaan, the President's Advisor for International Cooperation, Former Minister Elias Bou Saab, and Kumar Jha's accompanying delegation.

Hariri: Lebanese Army Carrying Out Transparent Probe into Death of Detainees
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 13/17/Beirut- Prime Minister Saad Hariri reiterated on Wednesday the importance of fully supporting the Lebanese army, which is accomplishing “its mission of fighting terrorism and preserving the security of the citizens and stability in all regions.”“A transparent investigation is being carried out by the army to clarify the circumstances of the death of some persons it had detained,” Hariri said in reference to four Syrians who died in army custody late last month. A Lebanese military prosecutor ordered forensics to examine the bodies of the four Syrians following calls for an inquiry by rights groups, a judge said over the weekend. The four, who the army said had died due to chronic illness, were among several hundred people arrested in a raid at Syrian refugee encampments in the Arsal area of northeastern Lebanon. Hariri, who chaired a cabinet session on Wednesday, also spoke about coordination between the ministries.He said: “It is necessary to focus on completing work in all ministries and speeding up the formalities of the citizens.” He added that any achievement in a ministry is an achievement for the government as a whole, pointing out that specialized ministerial meetings might be held to discuss the socio-economic situation. He also called for action to reduce the deficit “by reducing expenditures and securing new revenues, which will positively reflect on the general economic situation.” The cabinet discussed a 60-item agenda and approved most of it, particularly the item on renewable energy. But the ministers were divided on the mechanism for administrative appointments which forced a postponement on the subject. Acting Minister of Information, Minister of Social Affairs, Pierre Abou Assi, said after the session that there were differences in views and this is normal in any democracy. Each minister expressed his point of view, he told reporters. But all ministers want the appointments mechanism to work because the vacuum in state institutions has worsened “and we are keen on the work of these institutions and on filling the void in the best and promptest way,” Assi added.

Berri Calls for July 18-19 Legislative Session
Naharnet/July 13/17/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Thursday called for a legislative session aimed at “studying and approving draft laws and proposals listed on the agenda.”The session will be held on July 18 and 19 and will involve morning and evening meetings, Berri said. The speaker had on Wednesday announced that the long-awaited new wage scale will be at the top of the agenda. The Syndical Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, has been pushing for the approval of the new wage scale for several years now and has organized numerous street protests and strikes to this end.

Berri tackles budget, salary scale updates with Kanaan
Thu 13 Jul 2017/ NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, received on Thursday in Ain Tineh, the Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Budget, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, with whom he tackled the work of the Committee with regard to the budget and the salary scale dossiers. In the wake of the meeting, Kanaan expected an imminent approval of the budget after 12 years of lack thereof. "This goal appears to be achievable," he said. "To be totally honest and transparent, I have to say that I agreed with his Excellency on the fact that the discharge procedure is up to the government, which would later refer it to the Parliament," Kanaan said.  "What I can say is that there is a common concern that we respect the Constitution and the Public Accountability Law, and that we believe in Lebanon, the Lebanese system and the state budget. Of course, this is not easy, but in the end we have to fulfill our responsibilities as a government and a parliamentary council. We must get used to the fact that there is censorship and there is a constitution that we have to respect," he assured. Pertaining to the salary scale, Kanaan said a meeting would be held at the Ministry of Finance, "in the presence of representatives of the various blocs, myself included, in my capacity as a Chairman of the Finance Committee and a representative of our [Change and Reform] bloc." "In short I say we should address the gaps that have been discussed at the General Assembly, including the subject of retirees. Ideas and solutions have been put forward, but I will not go into the details now. Those will be the substance of the meeting that will take place before the legislative session," Kanaan went on. "There is another issue related to resources. (...) We, the Speaker and many other parliamentary blocs are keen on sparing the poor additional burdens, and being fair in securing the resources required for the salary scale," he concluded. Speaker Berri also welcomed in Ain Tineh the new World Bank's Middle East director, Saroj Kumarja.

Army 'Unenthusiastic' for Arsal Battle, 'Not Coordinating' with Damascus
Naharnet/July 13/17/Damascus has not informed Lebanese authorities in advance of any of its recent airstrikes on Arsal's outskirts and the Lebanese army is not coordinating with the Syrian army in this regard, according to high-ranking security sources. “The military command in Lebanon is unenthusiastic and unwilling to launch an operation in the outskirts amid the current circumstances, although it hopes it will be able to put an end to the presence of militants and terrorists in the border region as soon as possible through its preemptive operations that were intensified recently and through the continuous artillery shelling of their gatherings,” the sources told Asharq al-Awsat daily in remarks published Thursday. As for the ultimatum that Hizbullah has issued for the militant groups in the area, the sources noted that “the Army Command will be obliged to follow up on any battle launched by Hizbullah through preventing the escape of extremists to the town of Arsal or to other areas inside Lebanon.”The army will also have to “prevent the exit of any militants from the encampments that are spread across the town,” the sources added.

Two Terror Suspects Arrested in Fresh Arsal Raid
Naharnet/July 13/17/Two terror suspects were arrested Thursday in an army raid in the northeastern border town of Arsal, the army said. The raid in Arsal's Ain al-Shaab area resulted in the arrest of Lebanese national Abdul Majid Ali Ammoun and Syrian national Mohammed Faisal al-Waw, an army statement said. Ammoun is accused of “selling arms, monitoring the movements of army units and communicating with terrorists,” the statement added. Al-Waw is meanwhile accused of “belonging to the terrorist Islamic State group and taking part in fighting against the army.” “A van and a motorcycle with no legal papers were seized in Ammoun's possession,” the military said. The detainees and the confiscated vehicles were referred to the relevant authorities for further measures. The army has arrested dozens of terror suspects in recent days in the Arsal region.

Geagea: It's About Time Refugees Returned to Syria, Govt. Must be More Active
Naharnet/July 13/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Thursday said that “it's about time refugees returned to Syria,” warning that “their crisis could lead to dire consequences.”“Military operations in Syria might stop within a few months and there are fears that the terrorist organizations, as well as the regime, could seek to recruit some of the refugees,” Geagea said in a chat with a number of reporters. “After several years of residency, some refugees have started to act as if they own the place,” the LF leader warned, while rejecting any communication with the Syrian regime over the issue of returning the refugees to their country. “The Lebanese government should demand the return of the refugees to safe zones if their villages are not safe at the moment,” Geagea added, stressing that “this is a sovereign Lebanese decision” and suggesting that the government should coordinate with the international community in this regard. Turning to the government's performance, Geagea expressed his “full satisfaction” with the conduct of the LF's ministers – Ghassan Hasbani, Pierre Bou Assi and Melhem Riachi. Asked about the ministers of the Free Patriotic Movement and al-Mustaqbal Movement, the LF leader said: “We would have preferred the government to be more active.”As for his “evaluation” of the new presidential tenure, Geagea said: “Not bad.”“I was hoping for bigger achievements but had the president not been Michel Aoun, the electoral law would not have been passed,” the LF leader went on to say.

Geagea, Makari take up hour issues
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea, on Thursday met at his Meerab residence with Deputy Speaker, Farid Makari, with whom he discussed the latest political developments on the local arena. On emerging, Makari said talks dwelt on the forthcoming parliamentary session, and the salary scale issue. On the Syrian refugee topic, Makari stressed it was due time for refugees to return to their homeland, especially that the State's treasury can no longer put up with the brunt of the influx. Makari emphasized that the Lebanese government is the sole side entitled to take a decision on the Syrian refugees' issue. On the other hand, Makari heaped praises on the bold efforts undertaken by the security forces, whether at the internal level or in protection of the country. He hailed the internal security, general security and the Lebanese army, which proved to be cabable of protecting the Lebanese borders. On the forthcoming parliamentary elections, Makari considered that it was premature to speak about electoral alliances and nominations, disclosing that he was not running for elections.

Hizbullah Gets 'Mustaqbal Approval' for Arsal Assault amid Efforts to Avoid Battle
Hizbullah has received approval from essential parties in Lebanon, especially al-Mustaqbal Movement, for carrying out a military campaign in Arsal's outskirts to oust the jihadist Islamic State and Fateh al-Sham groups from the area, a media report said on Thursday. “Contacts between Haret Hreik and the Center House are still ongoing over the various controversial issues, including the refugee file and the Arsal outskirts battle,” al-Liwaa daily quoted a prominent member of the 'Shiite duo' – Hizbullah and AMAL Movement – as saying. According to information obtained by al-Liwaa, the military operation is expected to kick off this weekend and Hizbullah has “prepared the needed fighters and weapons.”“The zero hour was delayed to allow for further negotiations aimed at convincing the terrorist groups to withdraw voluntarily from the outskirts through a safe route to any areas they want inside or outside Syria,” the newspaper added. There are efforts to “spare Lebanon any possible repercussions, albeit limited, from this battle,” the daily said. Shiite duo sources also told al-Liwaa that Mustaqbal has devised “a contingency plan to contain any uproar in the Sunni community and to try to gain its support for the Lebanese army in its anti-terror fight.”The sources expected that Mustaqbal's leader, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, “would visit Arsal and its outskirts in the wake of the expected battle and after the Lebanese army becomes in charge of the entire Lebanese-Syrian border region.”

New French Ambassador Arrives in Lebanon
Naharnet/July 13/17/Newly-appointed French Ambassador to Lebanon Bruno Foucher arrived Thursday afternoon in Beirut to assume his duties, state-run National News Agency reported. “He will submit a copy of his credentials to Lebanese officials ahead of assuming his new diplomatic mission,” NNA said. The ambassador was welcomed at the airport by Foreign Ministry representative Nadim Sourati and the members of the French diplomatic mission. Foucher replaces Emmanuel Bonne.

Othman discuss with Choucair overall situation
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - Internal Security Forces chief Imad Othman on Thursday met at his Barracks office with the Minister of State for Human Rights, Ayman Choucair, with talks reportedly touching on the general situation in the country.
The overall situation on the domestic arena also topped discussions between Major General Othman and former Minister, MP Wael Abu Faour.

Jumbaltt discuss political developments with Najjari
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - "Democratic Gathering" head MP Walid Jumblatt on Thursday evening met at his Clemenceau residence with Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Nazih al-Najjari, with talks between the pair reportedly touching on most recent political developments in Lebanon and the broader region.

Tueini: Tampering with Lebanon's environment, beaches unforgivable sin
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - Minister of State for Combating Corruption, Nicolas Tueini, tackled in a statement on Thursday the issue of marine and coastal property in Lebanon. "What we have done in the past of tampering with Lebanon's environment and beaches is an unforgivable sin. Beaches are public property, and they are a natural right to a healthy life. They sold the beaches and distorted the nature and the sea. (...) Concrete took over, coupled with piracy of public properties which were supposed to be a right for the State and the people. There still is one sandy beach in the port of Beirut," the minister said. He accordingly called upon the municipal council to save that last public spot for Beirutis. Give back to the capital and its inhabitants their rightful properties. End this distortion and restore the splendor of Beirut, the capital of beauty," he urged.

Siniora meets Spanish ambassador
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - Future bloc chairman, MP Fouad Siniora, received on Thursday the Spanish ambassador to Lebanon, Jose Maria Ferre de la Pena, with talks touching on bilateral relations and the latest updates.

Airport customs foils Captagon smuggling operation
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - According to preliminary information, the airport's customs department foiled the smuggling of a quantity of Captagon drug pills, which were loaded into Vitas, a cargo container, for smuggling into Dubai. Investigations are underway to reveal all the details of this operation.

Sawan interrogates seven detainees accused of committing terror crimes
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - Military investigating Judge, Fadi Sawan, questioned on Thursday seven detainees accused of belonging to a terrorist organization and preparing for terror acts.

Sawan issues seven indictments on terror crimes
Thu 13 Jul 2017/NNA - Military Investigation Judge, Fadi Sawan, on Thursday issued seven indictments on terrorism crimes, mainly fighting against the Army, killing and trying to kill soldiers. The defendants were referred to the permanent military court for trial.

Hezbollah Threatens To Surprise Israel In Next War/حزب الله يهدد بأنه سيفاجئ إسرائيل في أي حرب مقبلة
Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/July 13/17
French report releases new and alarming details on underground weapons facilities the Shi'ite terror group operates in Lebanon.
Hezbollah has vowed to “surprise Israel” during any upcoming conflict, upping the war of words between the Lebanese Shi'ite terror group and Israel.
The most recent threat came directly from the head of Hezbollah's Executive Council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine in an interview yesterday with the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar television channel. Safieddine said that the group has been changing and developing new military capabilities as both Israel and Lebanon mark 11 years since the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War.
Safieddine, who oversees Hezbollah’s social and economic activities and was added to the United States counter-terrorism blacklist in March, said that Israeli reports on Hezbollah weaponry are “inaccurate as the enemy intelligence agencies can never reach veracious data in this context.”
Israel fought against Hezbollah in war that lasted 34 days in 2006. Since then, hostilities between the two countries have been limited to occasional cross-border fire and reported airstrikes by Israel against Hezbollah leaders and military equipment in Syria, where the group is fighting in support of President Bashar Assad.
Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said that the IDF has used the time since the Second Lebanon War to dramatically improve its abilities and now has better intelligence and operational capabilities than ever before.
According to Eisenkot, Hezbollah’s rockets are not particularly accurate at the moment and Israelis “should put things in perspective and not panic” regarding reports that Iran has helped Hezbollah to operate and manage underground weapons factories.
Speaking to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, Eisenkot said that “decreasing Iranian influence in the areas near Israel’s borders is no less important than defeating Islamic State, and for Israel perhaps even more.”
Hezbollah says future Israel war could draw more fighters than in 2006
Last March, the Kuwaiti Al Jarida newspaper cited an unnamed deputy head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as saying that Hezbollah has operated and managed underground weapons factories set up by the IRGC in response to alleged Israeli strikes against weapons convoys in Syria.
According to the report, the factories can produce missiles with a range of over 500 kilometers as well as surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles able to carry explosives.
A recent report by the French Intelligence Online magazine identified the locations of two of the factories as well as the type of munitions they produce. The report said that one underground facility located near Hermel in northeastern Lebanon produces the Fateh 110 rocket which can carry half-ton warheads and are relatively accurate with a range of 300 kilometers, covering the majority of Israel.
The second facility, located near the Mediterranean coast between the cities of Tyre and Sidon in southern Lebanon, manufactures smaller munitions.
At a briefing with journalists last week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah was a red-line for Israel, who will continue to act to prevent the group from obtaining them.
“We take everything seriously. We are certainly aware of the reports and we will do what needs to be done. This is a significant phenomenon and we cannot ignore it. Precise weapons such as these missiles are a challenge. Compared to past wars they will hit deep inside Israeli territory,” Liberman said.

Lebanon, regrettably, falls into club of countries practicing torture/
من المحزن أن لبنان قد انضم إلى الدول التي تمارس التعذيب

Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/July 13/17
What is happening in Lebanon? As the country falls deeper into chaos, there is a political and media clampdown on public debate over sensitive issues. Raids carried out by the Lebanese army in Syrian refugee camps in Arsal almost two weeks ago have had shocking consequences — including the deaths of four Syrian prisoners, attributed, in an army statement, to weather conditions. That explanation convinced no one. Leaked photos of the detainees clearly showed they had been beaten and tortured.
Has Lebanon, then, entered that group of countries where prisons are strongly associated with torture? In Lebanon, we have always believed that we stand apart from the autocratic environment that surrounds us, that despite the obvious deterioration and the all-too-vivid memory of war and atrocities, we could still rely on a minimum of discipline from our security forces.
Yes, there have been violations and breaches of that discipline documented in the past, but this latest incident, in Arsal — with pressure put on lawyers for the burial of dead prisoners, and to hand over body samples before they could be properly analyzed and recorded — has made it clear that certain factions in politics and the media no longer see such offenses as serious, or worth covering. In Lebanon today, there is a rabid fervor among those who claim they are the “new nationalists,” demanding that we ignore these violations and join together to “support the troops.”
These campaigns to defend the army play into the idea that torture and violence can be justified in such cases. The logic runs something like this: Some terrorists are refugees, so all refugees are potentially terrorists; therefore, we need to torture and expel all refugees. Of course, no one is suggesting that we should not oppose terrorism and murder, but we should certainly oppose these generalizations and recognize that brutality can only bring more violence and actually increase the threat of terrorism.
Politicians led by the Aounist movement have spread their message publicly, and Hezbollah has seconded it more subtly. Finally, a weak and malicious media has propagated this twisted idea that there is a link between terrorism and refugees, an idea that is now firmly embedded in the minds of large portions of the Lebanese population.
A sick form of nationalism is used to justify the torture and killing of refugees under the pretext of ‘security.’
There are some pertinent facts that should be raised at this point. For example, the vast majority of those involved in violence and suicide bombings in Lebanon are Lebanese. The facts suggest that the sectarian violence that we Lebanese consistently practice deeply affects the way we view each other, and that this easy willingness to see our neighbors as enemies also applies to Syrian refugees. The facts also suggest that the Lebanese army is used as a political tool — one that violates the rights of Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees alike — as documented by international human rights reports. And the facts say that politicians, media, and Lebanese citizens lie about the number of Syrian refugees and their impact.
Yes, there are security risks surrounding Lebanon.
Yes, the large number of refugees entering Lebanon has caused a serious problem.
But those who are pushing the refugees as the cause of all our ills do not want to acknowledge that Bashar Assad bears the initial responsibility for forcing his people to escape from certain death. Nor do they want to face the responsibility borne by Hezbollah for the destruction of Syrian towns and the displacement of Syrian people.
Lebanese nationalism, today, is clearly very sick. This is how we justify the torture and killing of civilians under the pretext of “security.” This sick nationalism is how we can justify the burning of refugees’ tents, and how we can justify “coordinating” with a regime as sick as Syria’s to “repatriate” those whom it has expelled.
This sick nationalism is an insult to the homeland — which turns it into a slaughterhouse — and an insult to the minds and the dignity of the Lebanese people. Lebanon must not be allowed to fall victim to it.
• Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. She can be reached on Twitter @dianamoukalled.

60 Syrian Families Leave Lebanon’s Arsal after Increased Pressure
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 13/17/Beirut- The number of Syrian refugees who have left the Lebanese border town of Arsal for Syria in the past month has risen to 700, after around 300 displaced Syrians headed to their villages in the Qalamoun region on Wednesday. This was the second group to return under an agreement which “Hezbollah” arranged in indirect talks with the Syrian rebel group Saraya Ahl al-Sham. The Lebanese army escorted around 300 people out of Arsal as the buses carried 60 families to their hometowns. The latest security developments in Arsal, including suicide bombings that targeted the Lebanese army in encampments on the town’s outskirts, sped up a decision by the refugees to leave, although they are aware that their humanitarian conditions would not be better. An announcement made by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that time was running out for Syrian militants along the border near Arsal also contributed to the decision for the refugees to return to their hometowns. “It’s high time to end the threat of militant groups in Arsal and little time is left to reach certain reconciliation deals,” Nasrallah warned on Tuesday. Although the United Nations neither sponsored nor coordinated the return of the displaced, a delegation from the UNHCR was on hand by holding meetings with the returning refugees to make sure that they were willingly heading back home, the agency’s spokeswoman Lisa Abou Khaled said. “What happened is that there was a deal between armed groups. The UN has nothing to do with it,” she told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. “We documented the return of around 60 families. We made sure that they are aware of the conditions that they are returning to,” Abou Khaled said. Arsal municipal chief Bassel al-Hujairi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the municipality was not a partner in the negotiations.

Lawyer calls on Aoun to campaign for Zakka
The Daily Star/July 13/17/BEIRUT: The attorney representing the family of the detained Lebanese national Nizar Zakka, Majd Dimashki, pleaded for President Aoun to contact Iranian authorities and campaign for Zakka’s immediate release.
Zakka began a hunger strike on June 27, which recently raised the stakes of the family’s negotiations. “The son of Brig. Gen. Ahmed Zakka, who is the son of the institution of the Lebanese Army, is beginning to face death. [Mr. president,] don’t allow [Nizar] to die,” the lawyer said in a statement. The letter detailed the formal processes through which Zakka obtained a visa and arrived in Iran for a state sponsored women’s conference. At the time of his arrest in 2015, Zakka served as the secretary-general of IJMA3, the Arab Information and Communications Technology Organization. Although it remains unclear what prompted the detention, Iranian state television suggests he was arrested for spying on behalf of the U.S. After a closed-door trial in September 2016, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine.

Franjieh Laments State of Affairs under Aoun, Hits Out at FPM
Naharnet/July 13/17/Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh on Wednesday noted that President Michel Aoun is a “good person” while lamenting that “nothing has changed during his tenure.”“I was hoping the situations would be better during this 'Christian tenure', but until the moment, what differentiates this tenure from the previous one?” Franjieh asked during a meeting with a delegation from the Syndicate of Press Editors. “We are represented in the government and present in it, but I don't believe that the situations are at the level of the aspirations of the Lebanese,” the northern leader added.
He lamented that a lot of files “lack transparency,” citing the latest call for tenders for leasing power generation ships and the mechanism that was followed. “In everything that is happening, I only exclude President Aoun, who has nothing to do with anything lacking transparency, but I do not exclude anyone else,” Franjieh added. “President Aoun should have made a bold economic move to change the old mentality,” the Marada chief went on to say. He also lashed out at Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, saying “the FPM's deeds contradict with its slogans.” “A modest rhetoric is always needed,” Franjieh added. Ties between Aoun and Franjieh were especially strained after Prime Minister Saad Hariri nominated Franjieh for the presidency before eventually switching his endorsement to Aoun.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 13-14/17
Tillerson Leaves Gulf with No End in Sight to Qatar Crisis
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 13/17/U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday wrapped up a four-day mission to the Gulf with little sign of progress in resolving the diplomatic crisis pitting Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar. Tillerson met Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for the second time in 48 hours, together with a Kuwaiti mediator, on the final leg of his trip, before heading back to Washington. Despite an intense round of shuttle diplomacy that also took him to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, tensions remained high between Qatar and four Arab states that accuse Doha of supporting extremism and being too close to their arch-rival Iran. The diplomatic slack now appears likely to be picked up again by the Europeans, with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian heading to the region at the weekend. A French diplomatic source in Paris said that Le Drian would try "to recreate confidence, create an interest of all parties to engage in de-escalation.""We must find a way out."Le Drian's visit will follow similar trips made by his counterparts from Germany and Britain in recent weeks.
'Impossible situation'
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed a boycott on Qatar since June 5. They have imposed sanctions on Doha, including closing its only land border, refusing Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from Qatar. They also presented the emirate with a list of 13 demands with which to comply to end the worst political crisis in the region for years. Qatar denies the charges of extremism and called the demands "unrealistic." It also claims the boycott has led to human rights violations, and on Thursday one group said abuses were one consequence of the crisis. "Hundreds of Saudis, Bahrainis, and Emiratis have been forced into the impossible situation of either disregarding their countries' orders or leaving behind their families and job," said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.
Crisis, yet opportunity?
Tillerson arrived back in Doha after meeting Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 24 hours earlier. On his previous visit on Tuesday, the U.S. and Qatar signed an agreement to combat terror funding, subsequently dismissed as "insufficient" by the Saudi-led states. The United States, a longtime ally of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, has given mixed signals about its policy on the Gulf crisis. While President Donald Trump welcomed the Arab states' decision to sever air and land links to their gas-rich neighbor, the State Department has taken a more neutral position and Tillerson has sought to broker a diplomatic solution. The crisis has presented Tillerson, well known in the Gulf from his former role as chief of energy giant ExxonMobil, with his first big challenge as Washington's top diplomat. Speaking after meeting with Prince Mohammed -- the Saudi king's son and a highly influential figure in regional politics -- Tillerson stressed the two countries shared a "strong partnership."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. While Saudi Arabia is a key U.S. ally, Qatar is home to the U.S. military's largest air base in the region, al-Udeid. Rival Bahrain houses the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet. On Tuesday, speaking in Doha, Tillerson described Qatar as being "reasonable" in its dispute with the four states. But an ongoing crisis may not looked upon as such a bad thing in the west, at least according to one analyst. "For public consumption at least, the U.S. State Department is trying to send out a signal that it has worked hard with its three allies -- Saudi, UAE, Qatar -- to try to find a mutually agreeable solution," Christopher Davidson, an expert on Middle East politics at Britain's Durham University, told AFP. "Britain, and now France, are also trying to do much the same. "Underneath the surface however... the U.S. -- including Tillerson -- likely sees significant strategic and lucrative benefits to any long-running stand-off between these states."

Syrians in Sarin-Struck Town Mark 100 Days since Attack
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 13/17/One hundred days after deadly sarin hit their Syrian hometown, residents of Khan Sheikhun shuttered their shops and solemnly payed their respects to the victims at their modest cemetery. The April 4 attack on the opposition-held northwestern town killed at least 87 people, including children, and prompted the first U.S. strike on Syrian government troops. On Wednesday, relatives of the victims gathered in a semi-circle at the reported site of the attack, holding up pictures of their loved ones -- many of them toddlers. "The pain of separation has not left me for a single second -- not me, nor any of those who lost a relative or loved one," said Abdulhamid Youssef, 28. His twin toddlers, his wife and 19 other relatives died on April 4.  A heartbreaking picture of Youssef, shellshocked and holding the lifeless bodies of his children on the day of the attack, sparked worldwide outrage. "All I hope for is that my children are the last ones who will be killed. Pain is hard. Separation is hard. I hope that this is the conclusion of Syria's sorrows," he told AFP. He visited his children's graves as dusk fell, pulling out weeds from around their simple markers. Nearby, an elderly man crouched on the ground, and rocked back and forth in silence while staring at a tombstone. The United Nations' chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, concluded last month that sarin was used as a chemical weapon in Khan Sheikhun. The report did not assign blame for the attack, but many -- from Western powers to the town's own residents -- put the blame squarely with the government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. "I had hoped that the pain would disappear with the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and an end to the violence in Syria," Youssef told AFP, but today an end to the conflict is still nowhere in sight. Locals called for a general strike in the town, and shopkeepers closed their businesses to stand in solidarity with victims' families. Residents were "trying to draw the international community's attention to the fact that the regime that committed this crime and most crimes in Syria remains free," said Mohammad Ahmad Maarati, who heads the local administrative council. An joint OPCW-U.N. team will now be responsible for determining who carried out the attack on Khan Sheikhun. The team has already concluded that Syrian government forces were responsible for chlorine attacks on three villages in 2014 and 2015, and that the Islamic State used mustard gas in 2015.

Trump Says Ties with France, Macron are 'Unbreakable'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 13/17/U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that ties between the United States and France were "unbreakable" after a warm meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. "The friendship between our two nations and ourselves is unbreakable," Trump said after talks focused on joint U.S.-French efforts to fight terrorism in the Middle East and Africa.

Trump Says Working with Putin on a Second Ceasefire in Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 13/17/U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that a ceasefire in southern Syria showed that his talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin last weekend had produced results. "By having dialogue we were able to have a ceasefire. It's going to go on for a while and frankly we're working on a second ceasefire in a very rough part of Syria," Trump said. "And if we get that and a few more, all of a sudden you're going to have no bullets being fired in Syria. And that would be a wonderful thing," he added.

Trump Envoy Mediates Water Deal between Israel, Palestinians
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 13/17/U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East peace envoy said Thursday Israel would supply the Palestinians with millions of cubic meters of water annually, as Washington seeks to build confidence for fresh negotiations. Jason Greenblatt hailed an "important step forward" in a wider regional water deal, as Israel announced it would provide more than 32 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinians annually. "Water is a precious commodity in the Middle East. The United States welcomes the agreement reached by the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel which will allow for the sale of up to 33 million cubic meters of water from Israel to the PA," Greenblatt said at a signing ceremony in Jerusalem.Israel's Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Mazin Ghunaim, head of the Palestinian Water Authority, also attended. Palestinians suffer from water shortages and say the unequal distribution of water resources favors Israel. The deal announced Thursday is part of a wider water project involving the Red and Dead Seas to be developed over the next five years, but the Palestinians are likely to begin receiving water from it before then, Hanegbi said. It came after Greenblatt helped broker an agreement between the two sides on the price and quantities of water, as well as where the connection points will be. The deal is supposed to ease water scarcity in the Palestinian territories, including in the Gaza Strip, where more than 95 percent of water is undrinkable. Ghunaim said 22 million cubic meters would go to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, while a further 10 million would go to Gaza. "This will reduce the suffering of the Palestinian people which has been worsened by the beginning of summer and the crises that they are living through," he said.
The deal is part of a pre-existing plan to link the Dead Sea and the Red Sea by pipes in Jordan.The plan would also seek to reverse the disappearing of the Dead Sea, which sinks by about a meter a year according to Israeli officials. The primary cause is overuse of water upstream. In 2013, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians signed a memorandum of understanding on the water project that included plans to build a desalination plant at the Red Sea. Hanegbi said the wider agreement was the "most ambitious" in the history of the region. "It will supply (a) significant amount of water to Jordan, to Israel and to the Palestinians."Greenblatt is seeking to restart peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, stalled since talks collapsed in 2014, with Trump saying he wants to reach the "ultimate deal."There is however heavy skepticism over whether meaningful talks can be held now, with 82-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas unpopular and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heading what is seen as the most right-wing government in his country's history.

Washington Says US Advisers Operating Inside Syria’s Raqqa
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 13/17/London, Washington- United States military advisers are operating inside the city of Raqqa, ISIS’ last major bastion in Syria, a US military spokesman said Wednesday. The troops, many of them special operations forces, are working in an “advise, assist and accompany” role to support local fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces as they battle ISIS, said Colonel Ryan Dillon. The troops are not in a direct combat role but are calling in air strikes and are working closer to the fight than did US forces supporting the Iraqi military in Mosul. “They are much more exposed to enemy contact than those in Iraq,” Agence France Presse quoted Dillon as saying. He said the numbers of US forces in Raqqa were “not hundreds” and that they had been working closely with SDF fighters since operations to encircle Raqqa began. After months of capturing villages and surrounding terrain, operations to liberate Raqqa started in November and on June 6 the SDF entered the city. With help from the US-led coalition, the SDF this month breached an ancient wall by Raqqa’s Old City, where diehard militants are making a last stand. The SDF is a Kurdish-Arab alliance that is being trained by coalition experts and armed by the United States. Dillon said the coalition had seen ISIS increasingly using commercial drones that have been rigged with explosives. The jihadists employed a similar tactic in Mosul. “Over the course of the last week or two, it has increased as we’ve continued to push in closer inside of Raqqa city center,” he said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday that the Raqqa city battle, which is taking place for the 37th consecutive day, has allowed the SDF to impose its control over 50 percent of the area of the Old City.About 730 civilians and fighters were killed in Raqqa city and about third of them are Syrian civilians, it added.

The Four States Insist on Demands, Tillerson Returns to Kuwait
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 13/17/Jeddah, Dammam- The states confronting terrorism renewed on Wednesday their insistence on the demands as a condition to restore ties with Qatar, in the conclusion of the quintet meeting in Jeddah that included foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in addition to the US secretary of state. The meeting was held to discuss the aggravating crisis since the four states’ announcement of cutting diplomatic ties with Doha on June 5 and accusation of funding terrorist groups. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended on Wednesday talks in Jeddah with his four counterparts before heading to Kuwait that is playing the mediator role in the crisis – then he will travel to Doha within his Gulf tour. Diplomats affirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the four states insisted on the 13 demands and stressed the importance of Doha abiding by its previous pledges – an Emirati official told Reuters that any solution to the crisis should tackle all concerns of the four states. Tillerson attained a breakthrough in this crisis but a limited one during his visit to Doha by which the latter agreed to sign an agreement that puts international monitoring on funding operations to limit financing terrorism. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Abu Zaid stated that the meeting tackled various dimensions of the Qatari crisis and showcased pertinent updates. While the region bids the US secretary of state goodbye, it hosts next Saturday and Sunday France Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian who is to hold a Gulf tour to call for a quick truce for the unprecedented crisis between Qatar and its neighbors. The French minister will presume efforts made by the US state of secretary and foreign ministers of Germany and Britain.

Saudi Crown Prince, Turkish Defense Minister Discuss Bilateral Ties
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 13/17/Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, has received a telephone call from Turkey’s Minister of Defense Fikri Isik, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday. During the telephone conversation, the Crown Prince and the Turkish minister discussed bilateral relations, SPA said.

Efforts to Form Joint Military Council between Syrian Regime, Opposition
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 13/17/Moscow, Beirut – US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that his country and Russia could work together on Syria and several other issues, as sources in Moscow revealed that US-Russian efforts were underway to form a military council that would gather representatives from the Syrian regime and the opposition. The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the expected council would assume several responsibilities in the transitional phase, including countering terrorism. “Radical transformation in the Syrian file settlement and the achievement of breakthroughs in the Geneva process are largely related to cooperation between Moscow and Washington,” the sources noted. Meanwhile, well-informed sources in the Kazakh capital told Asharq Al-Awsat that everyone “is waiting for the outcome of the US-Russian cooperation in Syria, which would bring about radical changes on the scene and reflect on the Geneva negotiations.”“Some changes may take place during or after the next round of Astana talks expected in August, where a final agreement on de-escalation zones is likely to be announced, which means creating a new reality on the ground,” the sources said. Meanwhile, the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva on Wednesday did not see any new developments, except for continuous efforts to unify the opposition factions’ stance on the transitional period. Yet, the fate of the regime’s head, Bashar al-Assad, is so far disrupting efforts to unify the opposition. The “Moscow Platform”, headed by Kadri Jamil, asked for more time to submit its final position on the transition, Brigadier-General Fattah Hassoun from the Free Syrian Army told Asharq Al-Awsat. He pointed out that an agreement was reached between all the platforms on the Constitution and the elections, and the only pending issue was the transition of power. In a news conference on Wednesday, the head of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Nasr al-Hariri urged the United Nations to meet its commitments with regards to the implementation of international resolutions pertaining to the political transition in Syria. Speaking following an extensive meeting with UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, Hariri said: “We have opened the door with the Moscow/Cairo platforms. This is out of our own will, not under pressure.”“These discussions are ongoing. We have found some common ground. These discussions are important and serious and are happening for the first time,” he added.

UAE: Al-Jazeera Has Gone Beyond Incitement to Hostility, Violence
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 13/17
Abu Dhabi- UAE has accused al-Jazeera TV station of spreading sectarianism and promoting violence and anti-Semitism in response to UN’s refusal to call on the Arab countries that have boycotted Doha to shut the channel. UAE Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, addressing his country’s concerns that the Doha-based network promotes extremist ideologies. The letter highlighted how al-Jazeera has promoted anti-Semitic violence by broadcasting sermons by spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf al-Qaradawi in which he praised Hitler, described the Holocaust as “divine punishment” and called on Allah to “take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people and kill them, down to the very last one.”“While the protection of the right of freedom of expression is of fundamental importance, this protection is not absolute, and restrictions on the right are permitted under the international law to protect national security and public order,” said Gargash in his letter sent. “Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives,” the letter notes. The minister recalled UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005), a historic resolution that focused on messages that often precede acts of terrorism and called on states to prohibit and prevent incitement to commit terrorist acts. The letter referred to the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Countering Violent Extremism adopted by the special rapporteur and several regional and human rights bodies. It recognized that states may restrict reporting that is intended to incite imminent violence, and there is a direct and immediate connection between the reporting and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence. In this regard, the letter makes clear that al-Jazeera’s reporting has repeatedly crossed the threshold of incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination, and lists several examples of such content.
For instance, on February 18, 2008, following the re-publication of a blasphemous cartoon, al-Jazeera TV broadcast a speech by the spokesman of the Salah al-Din brigades in Gaza that called on Muslims to “burn down the offices of the newspapers that affronted our Prophet, and bomb them so that body parts go flying.” Also included in the letter are numerous examples of the ongoing editorial support for terrorist groups and on-air promotion of sectarianism by the Qatari channel’s journalists. The letter mentioned that, over the years, “the Qatari-owned and controlled al-Jazeera Arabic has provided a platform to Osama bin Laden (al-Qaeda), Abu Mohammed al-Jolani (al-Nusra), Khaled Mashal (Hamas), Mohammed Deif (Hamas), Anwar al-Awlaki (al-Qaeda), Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah), Ramadan Shallah (Palestinian Islamic Jihad), and Abdel Hakim Belhadj (Libyan ISIS Group), among others.
The letter explained that these interviews gave terrorist groups opportunities to threaten, recruit and incite, without challenge or restraint. The minister reiterated that the UAE’s strong objections to al-Jazeera are not a matter of disagreement on its editorial standpoints but are a direct and necessary response to its persistent and dangerous incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination. In light of the alarming examples quoted in the letter, these objections are legitimate, well founded and reasonable. The letter concluded with an invitation to the High Commissioner to discuss additional cases of al-Jazeera’s promotion of extremist ideologies and ways to protect the right of freedom of expression in the face of such egregious abuses.

Turkey Does Not Mind Participation of Turkmen in Tal Afar Liberation
Asharq Al Awsat/July 13/17/Baghdad- As leaders from the Popular Mobilization Forces call on the Iraqi government to counter what it calls “conspiracies to keep PMF out of the liberation of Tal Afar,” Sheikh Mohammed Taqi al-Mawla, a Turkman Shi’ite deputy from Tal Afar said their claims were baseless. “If they meant Turkey, the United States or Britain, then there is no base for their claims,” Mawla told Asharq Al-Awsat. He considered that there is no coordination among PMF leaders as each one gives statements independently. Mawla, who is a member of the National Coalition and a former head of the senior body of Hajj and Umrah, revealed details on his meeting with Turkish ambassador to Baghdad. The latter told him that “Turkey supports liberating Tal Afar and has no problem in the entry of the Turkmen forces to the city.”He said that the ambassador conveyed his country’s readiness to participate in reconstructing Tal Afar after expelling ISIS militants and the consent of the Iraqi government. “Turkmen forces consist of Turkmen, Sunni, Shi’ite, Yazidis and Christian fighters. There is high coordination among us, and I will visit Erbil in the coming days to coordinate with the Sunni Turkmen brothers on the liberation of Tal Afar.”He refused to set the date for the launching operation to liberate Tal Afar, saying that it is to be “decided by the General Command of the Armed Forces and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.”Commander in the PMF Moueen al-Kathemi has pointed out in earlier statements that there is persistent conspiracy against national victories and an attempted theft of these victories from “our security forces and the popular mobilization by international and local bodies in addition to the Turkish interventions to hinder the liberation of Tal Afar.”Observers in Baghdad pointed out that the PMF wants to participate in the liberation of Tal Afar, in an effort to “draw the attention and culminate its participation in the fight against ISIS after being deprived of the lights shed on the forces that liberated Mosul”.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 13-14/17
Qatar: The Tortoise-like Policy

Salman Al-Dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/July 13/17
Qatar is dealing with its vicinity similarly to the tortoise when it senses danger. After 39 days of the boycott, Doha has only made one step out of hundred due others – it signed a memorandum of understanding with the US on fighting terrorism funding.
Qatar procrastinated long before taking this small step, which ensured that it still has a long way to go. Doha was disclosed by revealing Riyadh Declaration details – it wanted to tell the world through its US ally that it is advancing in the fight against terrorism. Theoretically this might be true, but how much time does Doha still have to move forward in its pending crisis?
Honestly, if Qatar sticks to its attitude and its tortoise-like and acting-smart policy in anticipation of upcoming surprises, then there won’t be any light at the end of the tunnel. If Doha wishes to extend the crisis then let it be. It is Qatar that is suffering from the boycott. It is Qatar whose land borders are closed and is experiencing economic, political, security and social agony. It is Qatar that is complaining.
Nothing of what has been mentioned affects the four states that have enough patience to achieve their vision and adjust Doha’s attitude. Procedures taken against Doha – as revealed by the four states’ statements on Wednesday – were the result of Qatari authorities continuous activities that back terrorism, fund it, embrace extremists, spread hatred and extremism, and interfere in internal affairs of other states.
These activities should be completely brought to an end in execution of the legit and just demands. Let Doha endure a boycott that might last for months or years as long as it continues with these activities and shows no willingness to stop them or abide by its obligations.
Let’s recall that several regimes chose the policy of intransigence over maturity – a quick glance over them gives us an assumption of where Qatar is heading.
As for Doha’s reliance on a western pressure – especially from the US or UK – these are no more than mistaken political considerations. These states are playing their role to contain the political crisis since they are allies but at the end of the day their diplomacy will have a limit.
It is true that foreign ministers perform their diplomatic roles but it is incorrect to wait for a pressure from these states for one simple reason: the four states didn’t violate the international law or any state’s sovereignty until now in their procedures.
All what these states did was that they hurdled interests of another state on their land.
Therefore, no state – no matter how strong – can oblige these states to change their stance.
Also, despite the western countries diplomatic efforts but they are aware that the solution must be a Gulf one or as the White House previously stated that it is a “family issue”.
It is a family issue. Even the British foreign minister reduced expectations from his visit when he stated in Kuwait that it is unlikely to reach a prompt solution and that the crisis will last long. While the State Department spokesman stated that it is early to expect reaching an outcome, adding that there are months away from a true solution.
The US minister efforts are appreciated by the four states. What counts is Washington’s ability to contribute in a solution based on the six declared principles of Cairo meeting that represent highlights that Qatar is expected to abide by.
The Qatari camouflage step in signing a MoU disclosed Doha claims of previously fighting terrorism, else why didn’t it sign this memorandum years ago but waited until the quadrille-boycott? The agreement is the same.
Doha is in a quest to promote this stance and to cash in on it from Washington. Qatar seems unaware that it will seek US help then return eventually to Riyadh for resolving its crisis.

How Social Media Stifles Free Speech
Jeff Trag/Gatestone Institute/July 13/17
Even more problematic is that those platforms are free to delete the pages and posts of users they deem to have violated whatever they decide are "community standards." This includes judging content supportive of, for example, restricting migration in Europe. Facebook, for example, also often permits real hate speech while banning websites that expose this hate speech. Ultimately, the only way to keep the United States safe is by protecting its citizens' ability to discuss ideas that without fear. If we lose our freedom of expression on the internet, we lose our democracy. One of the greatest contemporary battles for individual liberty and freedom of the press is being conducted in cyber space. Today, political, journalistic and corporate elites are in the process of trying to control, and even rewrite, "story lines" of history and current events with which they might disagree, and that they see slipping through their fingers.
It is a form of censorship akin to banning the printing press or preventing open debate in the literal and proverbial public square.
Facebook, for example, also often permits real hate speech while banning websites that expose this hate speech. There are, however, constitutional and legal measures that can and should be taken to protect Americans from having their right to express themselves as they wish – without causing harm to public safety or engaging in illegal activity -- violated every time they log in to their social media accounts. New laws need to be codified to prevent what have become virtual utilities such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube from steering debate in a particular ideological direction. One argument against holding these social media giants accountable is that they are private companies, and that consumers can simply stop using them.
This claim is disingenuous, however: these companies have an effective monopoly on expression in the international public sphere. Although people are ostensibly free not to use Facebook or Twitter, there are no other comparable alternative platforms at their disposal. Even more problematic is that those platforms are free to delete the pages and posts of users they deem to have violated whatever they decide are "community standards." This includes judging content supportive of, for example, restricting migration in Europe. No one should own the public square, least of all social media, which is merely the vehicle for transporting members of that public to that square. Any attempt by social media companies to curtail the people's right to access lawful information should be penalized. Congress, therefore, might pass legislation specifically adapted to this new arena.
Ultimately, the only way to keep the United States safe is by protecting its citizens' ability to discuss ideas without fear. If we lose our freedom of expression on the internet, we lose our democracy.
As U.S. founding father Thomas Jefferson said of the First Amendment: "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."
**Jeff Trag is based in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico.
© 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.

High Time for Sofian Zakkout, Pillar of the American-Muslim Community, to Be Investigated for Ties to Hamas
Joe Kaufman/Gatestone Institute/July 13/17
The question is, then, whether Sofian Zakkout's attachment to Hamas is "merely" emotional, or whether he is an official member of the terrorist organization. All evidence points to the latter.
It is time for the FBI to investigate Zakkout and his activities, and for all the groups that provide him an ill-deserved virtuous reputation to recognize him for the threat he poses to the coexistence and "understanding" he purports to be promoting.
There is good reason to suspect that a pillar of the Muslim community in South Florida, who sits on the boards of many civil rights groups and charities, is actually a member of Hamas, the terrorist organization ruling the Gaza Strip. Sofian Zakkout, the founding president of the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), was born and partly raised in Gaza, which he has referred proudly to as "my nation, my hometown."
His fondness for his birthplace, however, is not what is worrisome about Zakkout. It is, rather, that he has spent decades cloaking himself in a veil of respectability, while actively promoting violent Hamas propaganda, including virulently anti-Semitic speech.
To grasp how dubious a character Zakkout is, one need only compare AMANA's self-described mission – and Zakkout's positions, for example, in the Florida State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the Florida Regional Interfaith/Interagency Emergency Network in Disaster, the Miami Dade County Citizen Corps and even the Jewish-Arab Dialogue -- with his activism on behalf of Hamas.
On Amana's Facebook page, the group, established in 1992, states:
"Our mission at AMANA is to make our communities stronger, safer, and best prepared to respond to the danger of Islamophobia and the threats of terrorism, hate crimes, public health issues and disasters of all kinds (may Allah forbid). Our mission is to provide a better understanding of Islam to Muslims and information on Islam and Muslims to non Muslims. Our mission is to build more understanding, more knowledge and respect between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
"It is important to work with other community leaders with no exception of race, color, religion and origin hand by hand so that our country the United States of America will be a safer and more secure place to live in."
its goal is: "to make our communities stronger, safer, and best prepared to respond to the danger of Islamophobia and the threats of terrorism, hate crimes, public health issues and disasters of all kinds (may Allah forbid)..., to provide a better understanding of Islam to Muslims and information on Islam and Muslims to non-Muslims..., [and] to build more understanding, more knowledge and respect between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities."
In addition, according to a Harvard University Pluralism Project overview, "AMANA does not think Muslims have any problem with other religious groups, such as Jews or Christians, but rather appreciates and supports each other."
Yet Zakkout's social media feeds are rife with hate-filled posts against non-Muslims, particularly Jews. His Facebook page, for instance, is littered with Hamas logos and photos of its operatives and leaders, including arch-terrorist founders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, and deceased bomb-maker Yehiya Ayyash.
"It is an obligation to kill those who left our religion. It is an obligation to kill those who fight our religion and to intimidate our enemies and the enemies of the religion."
A few months earlier, in August 2014, Zakkout declared on Facebook, "Hamas is in my heart and on my head," adding that "America has been contaminated by some Jews."
A year before that, in July 2014, Zakkout organized a pro-Hamas rally outside the Israeli Consulate in Miami. A video of the event shows an elated Zakkout smiling as protesters repeatedly scream, "We are Hamas!" Zakkout then posted photos of the demonstration on Facebook, with the caption: "Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!"
More recently, in April 2017, Zakkout posted a graphic of all the Palestinian terrorist factions interlocking arms, around an image of Israel draped in a Palestinian flag -- an image he has also shared several times in the past.
Two months later, in June 2017, he attacked the Saudi foreign minister -- and his "Zionist government" -- for accusing Qatar of supporting Palestinian jihad, waged by Hamas. "This sucker doesn't know we defend the remaining Palestinian lands," he wrote. That same month, he posted: "It is no shame for your enemy [the Jews] to enter your homeland by force... The shame is to let them leave alive."
Statements such as these, which incite to violence not only against Jews, but all "infidels," including Muslims who denounce terrorism, run counter to Zakkout's self-professed peaceful and philanthropic aims "to build more understanding... between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities."
No matter how abhorrent hypocrisy and love of Hamas may be, however -- especially when exhibited by a respected American community leader -- neither is criminal. Even the definition of incitement on social media is a matter of controversy. It is, nevertheless, illegal in the U.S. to be an active member of Hamas, which was declared a terrorist organization in 1995 by then-President Bill Clinton, and designated as such by the State Department in 1997.
The question is, then, whether Sofian Zakkout's attachment to Hamas is "merely" emotional, or whether he is an official member of the terrorist organization. All evidence points to the latter.
The question is whether Sofian Zakkout's attachment to Hamas is "merely" emotional, or whether he is an official member of the terrorist organization. Pictured above: Unidentified Hamas gunmen in Gaza City, in 2006.
It is time for the FBI to investigate Zakkout and his activities, and for all the groups that provide him an ill-deserved virtuous reputation to recognize him for the threat he poses to the coexistence and "understanding" he purports to be promoting.
If it emerges that Zakkout is a member of Hamas, he should not be permitted to continue his pernicious activities in America, while prospering in the process.
**Joe Kaufman was the 2016 Republican nominee for United States House of Representatives in Florida's 23rd Congressional District. He is an expert in the fields of counter-terrorism, foreign affairs and energy independence for America. Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Islamic View of "Feminism"
Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/July 13/17
What the West needs to know is that in the Muslim world, jihad is considered more important than women, family happiness and life itself. If we are told, as Linda Sarsour said, that Islam stands for peace and justice, what we are not told is that "peace" in Islam will come only after the whole world has converted to Islam, and that "justice" means law under Sharia: whatever is inside Sharia is "justice;" whatever is not in Sharia is not "justice."
Rebelling against Sharia is, sadly, for the Muslim woman, unthinkable. How can a healthy and normal feminist movement develop under an Islamic legal system that can flog, stone and behead women? That is why Sarsour's jihadist kind of feminism is no heroic kind of feminism but the only feminism a Muslim woman can practice that will give her a degree of respect, acceptance, and even preferential treatment over other women. In Islam, that is the only kind of feminism allowed to develop.
Muslim activist and Women's March organizer, Linda Sarsour, has helpfully exposed a side of Islam that is pro-Sharia and pro-jihad:
"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."
Although Sarsour later protested that the word jihad literally means "struggle" or that "our beloved prophet ... said... 'A word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader, that is the best form of jihad,'" that is not what the word jihad means in general parlance to anyone you might ask in the Middle East. The people there know only too well that if they even tried to speak a "word of truth" to someone in power, that could possibly be the last word they would ever utter.
The word jihad is not a matter of left or right or liberal or conservative, except when it being manipulated to repackage and sell as something warm, fuzzy and non-threatening to trusting people in the West.
In Sarsour's world, women who do this are called feminists, but, in reality, they are as dangerous to women's rights, the peace of a nation and stability of its government as male jihadists.
At a recent Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention, Sarsour urged fellow Muslims, in an openly racist speech, to wage jihad against the "fascist" and "white supremacist" White House, be perpetually outraged, and not to assimilate. She mentioned 9/11 not as a terrorist event waged by Muslims against Americans, but as a day that triggered victimization and Islamophobia against Muslims by America.
Americans got upset just because they were murdered? As the saying goes: "It all started when he hit me back."
Even though Sarsour later claimed her use of the word "jihad" meant non-violent dissent, that is not what the word is taken to mean in any Muslim country. There, it means only one thing: war in the service of Islam. In addition, her speech did not sound peaceful. It clearly sounded more like a call for an Islamic uprising against the White House.
Linda Sarsour's recent speech calling to wage jihad against the "fascist" and "white supremacist" White House did not sound peaceful. It clearly sounded more like a call for an Islamic uprising. Pictured: Sarsour at the Women's March on Washington, on January 21, 2017. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
Sarsour apparently identifies as a feminist. Sarsour's kind of feminism, however, embraces the most oppressive legal system, especially for women: Islamic religious law, Sharia. Sarsour's feminism is supposedly for empowering women, but it twists logic in a way similar to how Muslim preachers do when they claim that beating one's wife is a husband's way of honoring her.
Pro-Sharia feminism is a perverted kind of feminism that could not care less about the well-being of oppressed Muslim women. Sarsour's logic concerning women does not differ much from that of Suad Saleh, an Egyptian female Islamic cleric, who recently justified on Egyptian TV the doctrine of intentional humiliation and rape of captured women in Islam. Saleh said, "One of the purposes of raping captured enemy women and young girls was to humiliate and disgrace them and that is permissible under Islamic law." There was not even a peep in Egypt's civil society about such a statement.
Here is an Australian Muslim woman calling beatings by husbands a "blessing from Allah".
Muslim feminists seem to think that they must defend Sharia and "Allah" before any other consideration -- including women. Musdah Mulia, a Muslim professor, who also claims to be a feminist, maintains that Islam is a religion of equality. She has said, "blame Muslims, not Islam, for gender inequity." Muslim anthropologist Ziba Mir-Mosseini has argued "The problem [for women in Islam] has never been with the text (the Koran), but with the context." That means, presumably, that the problem is everyone's fault except for the sources themselves: Islam, the Koran and Sharia.
The reason Islamic feminism has been perverted is because over centuries it had to conform to Islamic law, Sharia, which regulates to a fare-thee-well all behavior of women, men and children. Many Muslims, however, seem to be in denial that the main goal of Sharia is to promote life under the bondage of Sharia as good and healthy. Sharia therefore becomes a convoluted way of coercing people to adapt to tyranny.
In London, for instance, devout Muslim women, while wearing a full black niqab, are seen carrying signs protesting British law, supporting Sharia and threatening Europe with another Holocaust and another 9/11. Here in America, the angry mother of the Tsarnaev brothers, responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, instead of apologizing for what her sons did in a country that welcomed them, warned that "America will pay." These are the kind of women that Arab TV places on pedestals. The message to Muslim women is that this is the only kind of feminism Islamic society will tolerate.
"Muslim feminism" is essentially the feminine form of jihad: women defend Sharia, promote jihad, and even emulate the Islamic "virtue and vice police" against other women.
Strong and assertive women do exist in Islam, but to stay strong and respected they have to sell women who want to escape the tyranny of Sharia. Because of the tremendous pressure from life under Sharia, Muslim women have developed a warped form of feminism: a kind of coping mechanism like a "Stockholm Syndrome," where the captive believes that if he is nice to his captors they might treat him better. Like kidnap victims trying to merge with the thinking of their kidnappers in order to survive, women in the Islamic world have learned to defend Sharia and be protective of Islam's reputation as priority number one. That is what Linda Sarsour is advocating today as "feminism."
If such Muslim feminists truly cared about women, why are they not dedicating their work and effort against the rape and oppression of Yazidi, Christian and women of other sects who are being abused and tortured by Muslim men not only in the Middle East but also in Europe? The only women who are coming to the rescue of women being raped in the Middle East are Western women -- unfortunately not Muslim "feminists."
Most hijab-wearing Muslim women tell Western audiences that they are not oppressed and are proud of their "protection" under the hijab or the niqab.
What the West needs to know is that in the Muslim world, jihad is considered more important than women, family happiness and life itself. If we are told, as Sarsour said, that Islam stands for peace and justice, what we are not told is that "peace" in Islam will come only after the whole world has converted to Islam, and that "justice" means law under Sharia: whatever is inside Sharia is "justice;" whatever is not in Sharia is not "justice."
The cruelty of life under Sharia produces two kinds of women: the aggressive and proud, and the doormats. The aggressive Muslim "feminists" often turn their aggression not on the cruel system, but on weak women who are victims of Sharia -- because it is so much easier to turn on the weak than to take on a system that has the power to harm, jail or kill you; and they hope to be praised and rewarded for supporting the system that abuses them.
The system, at its origins, was designed to please men -- promising them anything and everything if they sacrificed their life on earth and their earthly wife and family for jihad. In such a system women, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness had to be sacrificed:
"But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not." (Surah Al-Baqarah [2:216] - Quran)
What Islam wants is for men to kill the enemies of Allah and get killed to expand Islam and then presumably go to paradise. Women's welfare has therefore become an inconvenience to Sharia to say the least.
Strong Muslim women know what they should do if they are to enjoy a certain level of power and respect in Islamic society. They must never defy Sharia, but embrace it. The rewards for compliant Muslim women may explain why most of the Muslim college professors sent by Saudi Arabia to teach Americans never criticize Sharia but claim it to be harmless and even liberating.
An Islamic "Sarsour style" of feminism has to be Sharia-compliant in the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mode. Such women have a high degree of tolerance for domestic violence and oppression of other women whom they can regard as "dissolute" or "bad." After being indoctrinated under such a cruel legal system, Muslim feminists end up taking pride in conforming to Sharia while condemning the supposedly "bad" women who do not conform. Whatever unpleasant acts might happen to these other women, according to many Muslim "feminists," those women brought it on themselves by not accepting Sharia.
Centuries of sacrificing family happiness for jihad have taught Muslim women that they are an inconvenience to men who supposedly would prefer to be doing jihad. Thus the "wise" Muslim woman molds herself and others to fit into Islam's priorities. Islam calls any woman who rebels "nashiz" ("rebellious"), a derogatory term. Under Sharia, a husband could lock up his nashiz wife at home for life and get three other wives and enjoy his life while she is locked up.
Rebelling against Sharia is, sadly, for the Muslim woman, unthinkable. That is why during the "Arab Spring," not one Muslim woman carried a sign against the oppression of Sharia in Egypt's Tahrir Square. How can a healthy and normal feminist movement develop under an Islamic legal system that can flog, stone and behead women?
That is why Linda Sarsour's jihadist kind of feminism is no heroic kind of feminism, but the only feminism a Muslim woman can practice that will give her a degree of respect, acceptance, and even preferential treatment over other women. In Islam, that is the only kind of feminism allowed to develop.
This Islamic oppressive view of women is now creeping into Western cultural views of feminism. Recently, USA Today celebrated the hijab as symbol of feminism.
It is important that this brand of "pride in bondage" kind of feminism that people such as Linda Sarsour are trying to "sell" not be "bought" by the good-hearted, but insufficiently informed people in the West.
**Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is the author of "Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values"
© 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.