July 16/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10/01-07/:"After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, "Peace to this house!" And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house."

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all
Second Letter to the Corinthians 03/01-06/:"Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ towards God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."

Question: "What is the Eastern Orthodox Church and what are the beliefs of Orthodox Christians?"
Answer: The Eastern Orthodox Church is not a single church but rather a family of 13 self-governing bodies, denominated by the nation in which they are located (e.g., the Greek Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church). They are united in their understanding of the sacraments, doctrine, liturgy, and church government, but each administers its own affairs. The head of each Orthodox church is called a “patriarch” or “metropolitan.” The patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) is considered the ecumenical—or universal—patriarch. He is the closest thing to a counterpart to the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike the Pope, who is known as VICARIUS FILIUS DEI (the vicar of the Son of God), the bishop of Constantinople is known as PRIMUS INTER PARES (the first amongst equals). He enjoys special honor, but he has no power to interfere with the 12 other Orthodox communions.
The Orthodox Church claims to be the one true church of Christ, and seeks to trace its origin back to the original apostles through an unbroken chain of apostolic succession. Orthodox thinkers debate the spiritual status of Roman Catholics and Protestants, and a few still consider them heretics. Like Catholics and Protestants, however, Orthodox believers affirm the Trinity, the Bible as the Word of God, Jesus as God the Son, and many other biblical doctrines. However, in doctrine, they have much more in common with Roman Catholics than they do with Protestant Christians.
Sadly, the doctrine of justification by faith is virtually absent from the history and theology of the Orthodox Church. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes theosis (literally, “divinization”), the gradual process by which Christians become more and more like Christ. What many in the Orthodox tradition fail to understand is that “divinization” is the progressive result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation itself. Other Orthodox distinctives that are in conflict with the Bible include:
The equal authority of church tradition and Scripture
Discouragement of individuals interpreting the Bible apart from tradition
The perpetual virginity of Mary
Prayer for the dead
Baptism of infants without reference to individual responsibility and faith
The possibility of receiving salvation after death
The possibility of losing salvation
While the Eastern Orthodox Church has claimed some of the church's great voices, and while there are many in the Orthodox tradition that have a genuine salvation relationship with Jesus Christ, the Orthodox church itself does not speak with a clear message that can be harmonized with the biblical gospel of Christ. The call of the Reformers for “Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, and Christ alone” is missing in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and that is too precious a treasure to do without.
Recommended Resource: Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism by Gundry & Stamoolis

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 15-16/17
Lebanon’s Elections on the Rhythms of ‘Consensual Democracy’/Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 15/17/
Interview with John Hajjar/Lebanon is a bridge between east and west and should play a critical role in bringing both closer together/The Observer/July 15/17
Reminders of the July war/Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/July 15/17
Canada's Multi-Million-Dollar Pay-Out to a 'Foreign Terrorist Fighter'/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/July 15/2017
America Can Succeed Militarily in the Mideast/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/July 15/17
So Now American Zionists Want to Boycott Israel/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/July 15/2017
Inter-Arab Ties Remain Bound to Dreamy Intellect/Abdel Rahman Shalgam/Asharq Al Awsat/July 15/17
History’s Suicide and Geography’s Disintegration/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/July 15/17
ISIS Remains Dangerous in Defeat/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/July 15/17
Six months later: How different is the Trump administration?/Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/July 15/17
Have they ever read the history of the Muslim Brotherhood/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 15/17
More recollections of Eid overseas/Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi/Al Arabiya/July 15/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 15-16/17
Report: Hizbullah Dispatches Fighters to Battle Militants in Arsal
Berri Supports Dialogue with Damascus, Says Wage Scale Will be Approved
Parliamentary By-Elections Will be Staged in September
Hariri Condoles Saudi King over Brother's Death
Berri Says Armed Forces, Resistance Must 'Liberate Occupied' Land
Hariri Meets Berri over Legislative Session, Wage Scale
7,400 Civil Servants Dismissed in Turkey
Khalil says major development plan underway, Baalbek Hermel at the heart of priorities
Khatib: Our nation is rich in ecotourism, and tourism cannot thrive without a clean environment
Army Chief meets deputy officers, praises significant operations in Arsal
Security forces thwart attempt to smuggle two mobile phones into Roumieh Prison
Lebanese Order of Physicians: Reason for Farah Kassab's death is pulmonary embolism
Jumblatt condemns Hurghada terrorist attack: Targets Egypt's stability and economy
Ibrahim, Khoury discuss Syrian refugees dossier
Hajj Hassan: Industry is economy's locomotive and we will continue to develop it
Bou Assi tours Jezzine: Regions need development, job opportunities and better infrastructure
Aoun: Lebanon to Launch Comprehensive Economic Plan
Lebanon’s Elections on the Rhythms of ‘Consensual Democracy’
Interview with John Hajjar/Lebanon is a bridge between east and west and should play a critical role in bringing both closer together
Reminders of the July war

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 15-16/17
Knifeman attacks Egypt church guard, arrested: Police
Egyptian police reveals the identity of Hurghada attacker
Saudi Ambassador to Algeria: Hamas Is A Terrorist Group
UN Syria Envoy Hails Small Gains in Latest Peace Talks
UN ends Syria talks to focus on international fight against terrorism
France Aims to Be 'Facilitator' in Gulf Crisis Talks
Iranian Airport in Central Syria, Israel Alludes to Targeting it
Rival groups clash in Syria’s rebel-packed Idlib
This is the terrorist likely to succeed Baghdadi as ISIS new leader
Target Israelis, says Hamas, after Jerusalem site attack
Le Drian in Jeddah to Tackle Qatar’s Crisis
Turkey Celebrates Defeat of Anti-Erdogan Putsch
Turkey Marks 1st Coup Anniversary as More Civil Servants Dismissed
Germany ‘Dismayed’ as it Confirms 2 Nationals Killed in Egypt Attack
Fears of Escalation in Jerusalem after Death of 2 Policemen, 3 Arab-Israeli Gunmen

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 15-16/17
Report: Hizbullah Dispatches Fighters to Battle Militants in Arsal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 15/17/Talks circulating among political circles said the upcoming week may be decisive in terms of a possible military operation against terrorist groups in the outskirts of Arsal, and Hizbullah's “key role” in this battle fighting on the Lebanese side, al-Joumhouria daily reported Saturday. Senior security sources who told the daily on condition of anonymity, that “Hizbullah has completed preparations for the battle and dispatched its fighters to the area.” Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had described the battle in a speech last week as “decisive,” and that it will “eliminate the terrorists from the outskirts.”Sources following up closely on the issue, said “the border area is facing crucial moments and is ready now to engage in this mission,” pointing out that the “Syrian side has also prepared for the battle and the zero hour has been set.”
“Preparations and procedures on the border, are accompanied by security measures at home and on the borderline to prevent terrorists from infiltrating deep into the Lebanese territory during the battle. The Lebanese army has a key role in preventing the infiltration of terrorists,” said the sources. Pointing out to fears raised by the town's residents, the sources said: “The battle does target civilians, it will never do. The terrorists are taking the people as shelter. The main battle goal is to save Lebanese towns from the mercy of terrorists.” “Arsal is one of the villages that are calling for the state's authority and relief from the burden of terrorists now that the number of displaced people has become more than twice its population,” they added.

Berri Supports Dialogue with Damascus, Says Wage Scale Will be Approved
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 15/17/Speaker Nabih Berri on Saturday announced that he supports dialogue with Damascus to coordinate the return of Syrian refugees back home, pointing out that there must be a way to “contact” the Syrian government. “We did not ask any president to go to Syria (for the dialogue), but are not there any other means for contact,” said Berri. Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced earlier that he is in favor of a “speedy and safe return” by the Syrian refugees to their country, while stressing that Lebanon will only negotiate such a move with the United Nations and not with the Syrian regime. Political parties are divided over the means to facilitate the return of refugees. One team says the matter must be coordinated through the United Nations, while another team pushes for coordination with the Syrian government. On the thorny wage scale file, Berri said he believes “the salary scale does not represent a burden on the treasury, it can be funded from multiple sources including the Value Added Tax, banks, maritime property violations which could reach to around 2000 billion.” He assured that the atmospheres are “positive and the wage scale can be approved on Tuesday,” during the parliament session.

Parliamentary By-Elections Will be Staged in September

Naharnet/July 15/17/Parliamentary by-elections to fill three vacant seats in Keserwan and Tripoli will be held on the last Sunday of September, al-Akhbar daily reported on Saturday. Interior Ministry sources told the daily that by-elections in Keserwan (intended to fill the vacant Maronite seat of President Michel Aoun), and in Tripoli (to fill the Alawite seat left vacant by the death of MP Badr Wannous and another Greek Orthodox seat left vacant by the resignation of MP Robert Fadel) will be held on Sunday, September 24. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq had announced earlier that the ministry is ready to hold the said elections based on the majoritarian law.

Hariri Condoles Saudi King over Brother's Death
Naharnet/July 15/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri offered his condolences to Saudi King Salaman bin Abdulaziz over the death of his brother Abdul Rahman bin Abdulaziz, Hariri's media office said Saturday. Hariri telephoned the Saudi King and expressed sorrow over the King's loss. The former Deputy Minister of Defense and Aviation Prince Abdulrahman passed away aged 86.

Berri Says Armed Forces, Resistance Must 'Liberate Occupied' Land

Naharnet/July 15/17/Speaker Nabih Berri stressed the need to wage an assault against militants lingering in the northeastern border town of Arsal to “liberate” the area, pointing out to the role of the Resistance and Lebanese Army in that regard, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. “There are serious atmospheres about an assault that is going to take place in the outskirts. I am not worried, the Resistance and the Lebanese Army are both carrying out their duties,” Berri was quoted as telling his visitors. The Speaker emphasized that the “operation is a must particularly that the country is occupied and the criminal is in inside our home.”He added saying that as long as Lebanon is under the threat of terrorism, “it is normal for the Resistance to carry out the liberation. It is also normal that the Lebanese Army carries out this task, it must not be banned from that. This is the army's duty and the core of its mission, we must all support it.”Emphasizing the Army's role, he stated: “The army must not be locked in any measures, it needs no one's permission to wage war against terrorism.”Berri defended the army, and denounced the latest campaigns launched against it after its crackdown on militants in Arsal's outskirts. He assured that Lebanon will be positively affected by the results of the military operation against the terrorists in the outskirts, “it will have a very positive effect. The conclusion of this chapter will bring Lebanon into a new phase free of this burden and threat.”Hizbullah has issued an ultimatum for the militant groups in the outskirts of Arsal after army raids on two refugee camps that were met with a string of suicide attacks and grenades.

Hariri Meets Berri over Legislative Session, Wage Scale

Naharnet/July 15/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited Speaker Nabih Berri on Friday evening at the latter's headquarters in Beirut's Ain el-Tineh area. The meeting, which was held in the presence of Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, tackled the upcoming legislative session that will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, the thorny issue of the new wage scale and other files, according to the National News Agency. The speaker had on Wednesday announced that the wage scale will be at the top of the session's 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. The ruling class argues that hiking taxes is necessary to fund the wage hike but opponents of such a move have called on authorities to find alternative funding sources, topped by putting an end to the waste and theft of public money.

7,400 Civil Servants Dismissed in Turkey
Associated Press/Naharnet/July 15/17/Turkey has dismissed almost 7,400 civil servants for alleged links to terror groups in a government decree, the latest in a wave of dismissals since authorities quashed a coup attempt last summer. Teachers, academics, military and police officers were sacked late Friday, including former Istanbul governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu who was jailed last August for alleged links to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Turkey blames Gulen for masterminding the July 15 coup attempt but he denies the allegations.The country imposed a state of emergency following the coup, allowing the government to rule by decrees. The latest wave of dismissals brings the number of fired civil servants to more than 110,000 people. The order reinstated 313 people to their jobs. The government decree also stripped nearly 350 soldiers of their ranks and former national soccer team players Hakan Sukur and Arif Erdem of their medals.

Khalil says major development plan underway, Baalbek Hermel at the heart of priorities
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - Finance Minister, Ali Hasan Khalil, disclosed Saturday that a major development plan is currently underway, stressing that the region of Baalbek-Hermel is at the core of the government's priorities. Khalil's words came during his visit to the city of Baalbek, where he toured the various sections of the "Land Registry and Survey Secretariat" and was briefed on various real estate operations. "Today, we are very happy to meet on this occasion of strengthening the State's presence in Baalbek-Hermel through the inauguration of the Secretariat of Land Registry and Surveying Department for this province, a step that is of great importance because it paves the way for promoting real administrative decentralization that helps our people in this region to cling to their land," said Khalil. He added that this step also fosters more trust in the State and its institutions. "I have special instructions from the government and House Speaker, Nabih Berri, to accord absolute priority to everything that concerns the province of Baalbek-Hermel in terms of serving the people," Khalil went on to indicate. "We are partners together and this partnership requires that we complement each other. The State has to take responsibility and the region's dignitaries should also shoulder their responsibilities to maintain this experience and to make it as successful as possible," he underscored. "The State must be close to its citizens and we promise to be close to the people. The State should be accountable to its people, not only responsible for them, and we promise that the State will become a guardian of the people and their problems and issues. This step must be completed, which is the least we can give to this region," vowed Khalil.

Khatib: Our nation is rich in ecotourism, and tourism cannot thrive without a clean environment
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - Environment Minister Tarek Khatib Saturday deemed that Lebanon "is rich in its ecotourism capabilities," while noting that "tourism cannot prosper without a clean environment." "The connection between tourism and environment boosts the basic principles for ensuring the rise of the tourism sector, the preservation of the environment and the reduction of pollution. There is no prosperous tourism without a clean environment that attracts tourists," said Khatib, speaking during his participation in an environmental day organized in the town of Douma in Batroun. "Our nation is rich in ecotourism and has a distinct cultural heritage. The unique diversity that Lebanon possesses renders it suitable for all types of eco-friendly tourism and sports, thus enhancing the environmental culture of citizens," he asserted. "The interest in the environment is a shared responsibility by all sides, and if State departments are the official authority to draft environmental and developmental policies, the local authorities represented by the municipalities denote the basic grounds for laying the foundations for any development plan and its implementation," Khatib went on to emphasize. "All individuals and civil society organizations have an active role in supporting the Ministry of Environment in their respective areas to preserve the environment, whether in awareness and guidance or in the implementation of environmental projects," Khatib underscored.

Army Chief meets deputy officers, praises significant operations in Arsal
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - Lebanese Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, held a meeting on Saturday with deputy army officers, briefing them on the international and local situation and various military affairs while commending the "recent qualitative operations carried out by the Army's Intelligence and military units in the area of Arsal." General Aoun provided deputy officers with the necessary guidance and instructions for the next stage, namely to continue the war on terrorism, confront the Israeli enemy's threats and maintain the march of security and stability. "The security situation in the country is at its best, and the significant tourist activity witnessed in various parts of Lebanon this year is due mainly to the intensive efforts of the army and all security forces to promote safety and stability," the Army Commander said. On pursuing the battle against terrorism, Aoun pointed out that "the achievements of the army in this context are almost daily," adding "the morale of terrorists has hit bottom rock as a result of the army's preemptive operations and painful blows." Aoun stressed that what distinguishes the army in its military operations is its full commitment to the principles of the international humanitarian law, particularly its keen concern for the lives of innocent citizens and residents.The Army Chief concluded by calling on deputy officers, who represent the army's nerve and young blood, to "be more alert and ready to sacrifice, whether in confrontation of Israeli threats on the southern border or in pursuit of military operations to paralyze terrorists' capabilities and defeat them along the eastern border."

Security forces thwart attempt to smuggle two mobile phones into Roumieh Prison
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - In an issued communiqué by the Internal Security Forces General Directorate on Saturday, it indicated that the Central Inspection Unit at Roumieh Prison confiscated two cell phones during an attempt to smuggle them to one of the Prison's inmates. Investigations are underway into the incident under the concerned judiciary's supervision.

Lebanese Order of Physicians: Reason for Farah Kassab's death is pulmonary embolism
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - The Order of Physicians in Lebanon published on Saturday a report regarding the case of Farah Kassab's death during a liposuction procedure last June at Nader Saab's Clinic, breaking the allegations of a possible fatal medical error. "The death of Kassab was due to a pulmonary embolism, a medical complication that is likely to occur in 15% of cases," the report said. "Operations performed by Saab were justified, and the techniques used were medically recognized," the report added. Referring to Kassab's post-procedure status, the report indicated that the nurse in charge of Kassab's medical file registered her condition as "calm, conscious and hemodynamically stable" at 2:00 p.m. following her medical procedure, only to discover that she had stopped breathing at around 3:00 p.m. "Saab and the two anesthetists tried to revive the patient but she was already dead when she was rushed to another hospital," the report went on. In conclusion, the report stated that "Nader Saab's clinic is well-equipped and in conformity with the Ministry of Health's standards."

Jumblatt condemns Hurghada terrorist attack: Targets Egypt's stability and economy
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - Democratic Gathering Chief, MP Walid Jumblatt, denounced in a statement on Saturday "the recent terrorist act that took place in the Red Sea city of Hurghada," which "aimed at destabilizing Egypt and its economy." "In these difficult times, I express solidarity and sympathy with the people of Egypt and all those who have been targeted by this heinous terrorist act," stated Jumblatt.

Ibrahim, Khoury discuss Syrian refugees dossier
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - General Security Chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, met Saturday Lebanese-Syrian Supreme Council Secretary General, Nasri Khoury, with talks touching on the general situation and the Syrian refugees file.

Hajj Hassan: Industry is economy's locomotive and we will continue to develop it
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - Minister of Industry, Hussein Hajj Hassan, confirmed Saturday the continuation of his policy to develop the Lebanese industry, being "the locomotive of the economy." "We, at the Ministry of Industry and the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, view the industry as the engine of the Lebanese economy. It is for this reason that we will pursue our policy of developing this sector through increasing exports, protecting domestic production from foreign imports, lowering the cost of production, improving product quality, and adopting new technology-based industries to access new markets," Hajj Hassan added. The minister pointed to his expected visit to the European Union early next week, in the company of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Economy Ministers, during which talks will focus on ways of increasing Lebanese exports to EU countries. He also outlined the various adopted measures to reduce the cost of industrial production in Lebanon, including the reduction of taxes, creation of industrial zones and the adoption of new sources of energy. Hajj Hassan's words came during the inauguration of the Millennium Factory in Hsoun, Jbeil, where he represented President of the Republic, Michel Aoun.

Bou Assi tours Jezzine: Regions need development, job opportunities and better infrastructure
Sat 15 Jul 2017/NNA - Social Affairs Minister, Pierre Bou Assi, toured Saturday the region of Jezzine, where he had a closer look at its developmental and infrastructural needs and citizens' demands. "Today my tour includes the whole of Jezzine, and it is only natural as a minister to visit all areas and assess the needs of citizens, for the regions are in need of development, work opportunities and better infrastructure," said Bou Assi during his stop-over at the "Lebanese Forces" Center in Jezzine. "Several things draw me in Jezzine, first of all in being the gateway to the South. It is also the key to Mount Lebanon. It plays this role. In the most difficult circumstances, our ancestors did not relinquish their identity nor abandon Lebanon or Jezzine. And for as long we are alive, we shall never renounce our identity nor give-up our Lebanon and our Jezzine," asserted Bou Assi. The Minister referred to a political dimension to his Jezzine tour in the noble sense, namely in ensuring that citizens remain deeply-rooted in their identity and territories, while boosting their region's local economy and maintaining continuity between generations.

Aoun: Lebanon to Launch Comprehensive Economic Plan
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 15/17/Beirut – Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that Lebanon was in the process of launching a comprehensive economic plan that would seek to promote production sectors. Aoun was speaking during his meeting at the Baabda Palace on Thursday with a delegation from the World Bank, headed by the new Regional Director, Saroj Kumar Jha. The Lebanese president underlined the support provided by the World Bank to Lebanon, which he described as an evidence of confidence in the measures undertaken by the Lebanese state to promote its economy. “Providing assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is a priority nowadays, as a key step to increase economic capacities in the country,” he stated. The president thanked the World Bank for its considerable input in Lebanon’s developmental projects, noting that contribution included hydro-electric projects, dams, roads, cleaning river drains, as well as establishing prisons and educational compounds. Kumar Jha, for his part, stressed the World Bank’s commitment to its continual assistance to Lebanon and its willingness to promote excellent partnerships with the Middle-Eastern country.
“The World Bank shall continue to coordinate with the Lebanese team to this end,” he stated. He added that granting support to SMEs would be at the core of the work of the World Bank to improve and develop the conditions of such companies. The Chairman of the Finance and Budget Committee MP Ibrahim Kenaan, President’s Advisor for International Cooperation, Former Minister Elias Bou Saab, and Kumar Jha’s accompanying delegation attended the meeting.

Lebanon’s Elections on the Rhythms of ‘Consensual Democracy’
Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 15/17/
Beirut- The Lebanese are now preparing forby-elections to fill two vacant seats in Parliament. The polls will be the first under the new electoral law, which was adopted last month. It should be noted that the different political factions have agreed on the new voting system after dozens of rounds of meetings over the last five years, during which they studied several proposals and produced a law that is based on the proportional system, for the first time since the declaration of the State of Lebanon. Despite the ambiguity of the outcome of this new law, it is definitely “the fruit of consensus following a long period of discussions and deliberations” and proves that Lebanon cannot neglect the balances of democratic consensus that govern the course of its political process.While the new electoral law has been widely welcomed and described as “the best possible”, critics stressed that the voting system “reinforces current political powers” and does not allow for any fundamental changes.
Hezbollah’s opponents, for their part, fear that a similar law would allow the group’s allies to increase their share in parliament, which might lead, in future stages, to giving legitimacy to Hezbollah’s military wing, alongside the Lebanese army.
Consensus and Confessions
The adoption of a proportional law does not contradict with the principle of consensual democracy, which governs Lebanon’s constitutional process. Article 24 of the Constitution provides for the distribution of parliamentary seats among sects and regions, which is applied in both the majority and the proportional systems. The new law falls within the framework of a series of political settlements in Lebanon since October 2016, the date of the election of Michel Aoun as President of the Republic, after two and a half years of vacuum. The settlement also resulted in the appointment of Saad Hariri – Aoun’s former opponent – as prime minister.
The Electoral Law
After years of political debate, the Lebanese government approved a new law based on proportional representation instead of the majority voting system, which would pave the way for legislative elections that would be the first in nine years. The law divides Lebanon into 15 constituencies and replaces the majority law passed in 1960, known as the 1960 Law. It also grants six seats for Lebanese emigrants in the upcoming elections, provided that these seats constitute one constituency.
The 23rd Parliament
The parliament, which is to be elected on May 6, 2018, will be the 23rd since the declaration of the Lebanese State. Lebanese observers and politicians alike believe that the adoption of a proportional electoral law constitutes a practical step towards reaching a national non-sectarian law.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Constitutional Researcher Dr. Wassim Mansouri said: “The mere agreement over a proportional law is positive … It is a good experience that can be built on in the future as it helps pave the way for the adoption of an electoral law that goes beyond sectarian calculations”.
Advantages and disadvantages of the new law
The Lebanese Association for Electoral Democracy (LADE), said the advantages of the new law include the use of a unified official voting card, the adoption of the principle of proportional system rather than the majority system, the electoral campaign supervisory authority and its partial independence from the ministry of Interior and Municipalities, and the presence of a representative of civil society among the members of the supervisory authority. On the other hand, the Association recorded some shortcomings, including what it described as a “distortion of proportionality and turning it into a majority system that weakens the dynamics of change”. It added that the adoption of the small and medium constituencies and the mechanism in counting the votes, with the possibility of forming incomplete lists, are elements that would all lead to the loss of the true meaning of proportionality.

Interview with John Hajjar/Lebanon is a bridge between east and west and should play a critical role in bringing both closer together
Written by The Observer/July 15/17
Conducted by Nader Moumneh
1) Hello John, I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. You’re the US Director of the World Council of the Cedars Revolution (WCCR) and a Co-Chair of the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy, yet very few people know about your behind-the-scenes activities. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My pleasure Nader. I am a second generation American Lebanese. No hyphen and American first! However, I’m very proud of my ancestry and have devoted a great deal of my free time promoting, lobbying and advocating for a free, sovereign, open and tolerant Lebanon that respects all of its citizens, their beliefs and diverse ethnicities. I believe that Lebanon has played and should play a significant role in upholding the values of Western Civilization especially the rule of law, free expression, equal rights for all of its citizens and freedom of religion so long as the expression thereof does not infringe on the rights of others. Lebanon is a bridge between east and west and should play a critical role in bringing both closer together.
I studied engineering then law and practiced as a lawyer for over ten years. I am now a commercial real estate developer and manager. I am married to my beautiful wife Astrid, who is of Lebanese origin also but born in Venezuela and the proud father of three children.
In my role as US Director of the WCCR, I was honored to work with a small team of very patriotic Lebanese in the Diaspora. We spent years lobbying, advocating and drafting policy papers and draft legislation that resulted in the passage of UNSCR 1559. We were pleased to see the resulting Cedar Revolution over a decade ago but remain vigilant as 1559 has yet to be fully implemented in letter and spirit. If Lebanon was truly free of armed militias and in full control of its destiny, it would be a beacon of freedom in the region.
Similarly, the AMCD seeks to affect policy in the US toward the region as the conditions of Islamism, despotism and lack of freedom are endemic throughout the region and our fellow Americans of ME descent- by virtue of their American experience- can be valuable advocates for our political leaders in crafting effective policies. This is especially true now that President Trump has been elected. We in the AMCD are a new group but we worked very hard for Mr. Trump and his message during the campaign and now as President we will continue to advocate for the support of freedom, moderation and the fight against Islamic fundamentalism.
2) You have played an instrumental role in garnering support of Arab Americans to Donald Trump. Could you please shed some light on the wide support for President Trump among Arab-Americans?
ANSWER : President Trump enjoyed wide support from Arab Americans as well as other ME Americans as I have stated above. In particular, those who have lived under oppressive regimes such as Iranians, Lebanese and, more recently, Turks heard Mr. Trump’s message and it resonated with them.
I had the honor of serving as Co-Chair of American Middle East Committee for Trump with Tom Harb and we were amazed at the level of support Mr. Trump received from our communities; Christian and Muslim, Arab, Turkish, Persian, Assyro-Chaldean and others. I will go even further that our large community support in Michigan was a key to his victory in that key battleground state.
3) What is you take on President Trump’s policy of isolation against Iran and Saudi Arabia’s proposal to form a NATO-like military alliance of Muslim nations?
ANSWER : I like it. President Obama reversed the well settled policy of isolating the Iranian regime in favor of the JCPOA which has been disastrous by funding the Mullahs, strengthening their proxies and stoking the flames of war throughout the ME and extending their influence and control to the shores of the Mediterranean and beyond. Saudi Arabia has also fanned the flames of fundamentalism by spreading Wahhabism worldwide but have been engaged by Trump in an effort to help them see the futility and self-defeating nature of their policies. Trump knows how to use leverage and is doing all he can to bolster the domestic energy industry which is now a leader in the production of oil and gas and green power. The Saudis know that oil is now only a commodity and no longer a geopolitical tool. I’m sure Mr. Trump is using this ace in his dealings with King Salman.
The NATO like alliance is a great idea first promoted by Dr. Walid Phares. It will further isolate the Mullahs and strengthen the moderates in the region by binding them together against the forces of terror and extremism and in favor of stability, economic development and modernization.
4) How do you envisage the end of Iran’s hegemony in the Middle East and could you dwell on the convergence of US-Iran national security interests in Iraq?
ANSWER : Sadly, the Mullahs end was in sight in 2009 during the Green Revolution but Obama did all he could to ignore the plight of the Iranians marching-and dying- in the streets. I believe the Mullahs are more fragile than they appear. The Iranian people have a proud history, culture and civilization that has stood against fundamentalism and extremism. When the conditions are right, they will rise again.
I am less sanguine on the near term in Iraq as the Mullahs hold great sway over the government and Shi’a militias that have liberated Mosul and other areas from IS. I think President Abadi has done a great job and hope that he will resist as much as possible the strong arm from Tehran.
5) The World Council of the Cedars Revolution (WCCR) has repeatedly underlined the importance of the full implementation of UNSCR 1559 and the extension of Lebanese government control over all Lebanese territory. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is tightening the noose on Hezbollah, in an effort to deprive the Iran-sponsored Lebanese party of its financial resources. But Hezbollah will not budge an inch. Does the WCCR have an elaborate plan for the disarmament of Lebanese militias and have you discussed the re-enforcement of UNSCR 1559 with US and UN officials?
ANSWER : The WCCR has consistently for over a decade held fast to full implementation of UNSCR 1559 in our dealings with several US administrations, the UN and the European Parliament. We will not relent until Hezbollah is fully disarmed and all Palestinian groups are as well. Hopefully, with the price of oil at a low, their sponsors in Tehran isolated and weakened we will see the beginning of the end soon.
6) The Syrian refugee crisis has seriously destabilized Lebanon. Hezbollah is constantly pressuring the Lebanese government to negotiate the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland with the Assad regime. Needless to say, this is a thinly veiled attempt to legitimize the embattled Baathist regime. Is the Trump administration taking concrete steps towards creating a safe zone in northern Syria and do you envision an end to the refugee crisis in the foreseeable future?
ANSWER : Safe zones need to be created in Syria and Iraq for refugees and for the protection of innocent minorities that have suffered disproportionately such as Christians and Yezidis. Trump campaigned on safe zones and must make them a reality but, as of now, I’m not aware of any actions in that direction. We will keep the pressure on him as he has been a man of his word.
7) Do you expect a new détente between Russia and the United States and will the Trump administration let Russia decide Syrian President Bashar Assad’s fate?
ANSWER :President Obama allowed and expansionist Putin to march into Crimea, Ukraine and Syria. The results have been disastrous. Trump has to do his best to work with our allies in the region, as he is doing, while avoiding direct confrontation with Putin. Eventually, Trump will need to formulate and implement his policy or the Mullahs will solidify their land bridge to the Mediterranean. My guess is Trump would allow a neutered Assad to survive in a rump state and Putin could keep and expand their base in Tartus. In exchange, I hope Trump can split Putin from the Mullahs.
8) The United States and Iraq declared victory over ISIS in Mosul. Is this the beginning of the end for Al-Qaeda offshoot group?
ANSWER : Let’s hope so! But we also need to be vigilant and continue to be brutal in exterminating these savages. My fear is what comes next which necessitates the need for a brutally honest discussion of the ideology that breeds these terrorists. In the West we must get beyond our politically correct mindset for the sake of survival.
9) Are conditions ripening for an independent Kurdish state in Northern Iraq and would Turkey tolerate the creation of a Kurdish-run region in Syria?
ANSWER : I believe so and we shall soon find out when the Kurds vote. Erdogan will not tolerate a Kurdish state along the border of Syria and Turkey but the Kurds stand to gain independence at long last at least in northern Iraq.
East and could
10) Is there a future for Christians in the new Middle East?
ANSWER : With Christ all things are possible. I am a Christian and, therefore, hopeful by nature. Christianity first took root in the ME and will grow there once again.
11) Any last words or comments?
ANSWER : It has been a pleasure answering these thoughtful questions. I look

Reminders of the July war
Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/July 15/17
Eleven years after Israel’s July war against Lebanon, there is talk of a new war between Israel and Hezbollah. Israel is worried about the Iraqi-Iranian axis backed by Russia. Hezbollah, despite all its threats, knows that Israel will not refrain from targeting any region in Lebanon, even if that leads to Lebanon’s destruction. So far, the Lebanese-Israeli border has been calm for the past 11 years, with only limited violations.
Hezbollah has paid the price of the Arab Spring, as its position has drastically changed since 2011. It has shifted from a party that garnered Arab compassion in the context of its conflict with Israel, to a doctrinal party that defends Iran’s regional role. Hezbollah has always been a facade for Iranian projects, but this was concealed by the Arab-Israeli conflict, through which it succeeded in presenting itself to Arab public opinion as a rare success story against Israel.
Today, Hezbollah’s status quo is lamentable. It can no longer garner the compassion of Arabs, who are now tormented by many crises; the conflict with Israel ranks last in their list of concerns. Moreover, the task entrusted to Hezbollah — to annoy Israel — was undermined after the 2006 war; no matter what was said about Hezbollah being victorious, the war ended the party’s role on the border as the southern front was covered by international resolutions.
Hezbollah has since turned its back on the southern border and embarked on its Lebanese adventures. As soon as the war ended, its supporters occupied Beirut Central District. Its militants invaded the city in May 2008, overthrowing Saad Hariri’s government, assigning the prime ministry to its new ally Najib Miqati, and carrying on its plot to control Lebanon.
Eleven years later, Hezbollah has lost much of what it considered as assets. Its leader Hassan Nasrallah no longer addresses anyone outside the sectarian mood he represents.
Regarding Syria, Hezbollah believes that any regime change there will reflect on its position in Lebanon, so it has decided to defend the Syrian regime at all costs. Eleven years after the July war, Hezbollah has lost much of what it considered as assets. Its leader Hassan Nasrallah no longer addresses anyone outside the sectarian mood he represents.
So the intimidating talk of war is merely a storm in a teacup. The balance of power in this possible confrontation does not appear to be in Hezbollah’s favor, especially as it is fighting in Syria. But the balance established by Israel on its border with Syria is more effective than that established on its border with Lebanon. It carries out raids anytime it wants, which is not the case elsewhere, and it is establishing intelligence relations with the Russians there. Moreover, in southern Syria there is a front controlled by international strings that do not allow any party, including Daesh, to make a move beyond the rules of the game.
Hezbollah is the decision-maker on various levels in Lebanon. Short of the party waging war, the consequences for Lebanon will likely be limited to economic sanctions. But this will still hurt as any economic activity can be linked to Hezbollah or its allies. When added to the fragility of the political and civil situations, the consequences of economic sanctions will not be less than those of a direct war. Hezbollah’s regional role is in Syria, not Lebanon.
• 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.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 15-16/17
Knifeman attacks Egypt church guard, arrested: Police
AFP, Cairo Saturday, 15 July 2017/An Egyptian Muslim stabbed and wounded a security guard after being prevented from entering a church in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria on Saturday, a senior police official told AFP. The man was quickly subdued by the guard and others who rushed to help and is being questioned, the official said. The incident came days after Egypt's Christian minority leaders said they were suspending some activities such as conferences and religious trips for security reasons. The man took out a knife and slashed the face of the guard, who quickly recovered to subdue his attacker with the help of others. (Supplied) ISIS extremists have killed dozens of Coptic Christians in church bombings and shooting attacks in Egypt since December, and have threatened further attacks. “We're still checking,” the official, who requested anonymity, told AFP when asked whether the suspect in Saturday's incident was an extremist. He gave no other details about the assailant, apart from his religion. CCTV footage of the incident showed a man wearing earphones and with a bag trying to enter the church when he was called back by a guard who asked to check the bag. The man took out a knife and slashed the face of the guard, who quickly recovered to subdue his attacker with the help of others. On Friday, a man stabbed two German women to death and wounded four other Western women in an attack at a Red Sea beach resort. He was arrested and is being questioned by police.

Egyptian police reveals the identity of Hurghada attacker
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 15 July 2017/Security sources revealed the identity of the man accused of Friday’s attack in Hurghada; he killed two German tourists and wounded others with a knife. The sources said the defendant was Abdul Rahman Shams Shaaban from the town of Qaleen in Kafr al-Sheikh; he is 28 years old and graduated from the Faculty of Commerce at al-Azhar University. They added that the accused entered the public beach in Hurghada and paid the entry fees. He kept on swimming until he reached the shore of a nearby village where he carried out his crime and stabbed the tourists with his knife. Egyptian media aired on Friday the first photos of the attack on female tourists in a hotel in Hurghada in the Red Sea province. The Egyptian Interior Ministry reported that a young man stabbed 6 foreign female tourists on Friday in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada, killing 2 Germans and injuring 4 others of different nationalities. Eyewitnesses told Al Arabiya that an unknown young man stabbed foreigners in a village in Hurghada in the Red Sea and jumped off the fence to reach adjacent village and stabbed others again. Injured tourist taken by the medical staff in Hurghada after stabbing attack. (Supplied) They said that the security forces of the village managed to catch the perpetrator, and he was handed over to the security services that began to investigate with him to know his motives, while ambulances dispatched the injured to hospitals.The Red Sea police arrested a person who attacked a number of tourists using a knife and the weapon was in his possession, while he was on the beach of a hotel in Hurghada on Friday afternoon. Preliminary investigations indicated that the accused had infiltrated the beach of a hotel by swimming through a nearby public beach and was able to reach the scene of the crime. The security official added that he is being interrogated to find out his motives, goals and circumstances in order to take legal action. Berlin on Saturday said two women who were killed after being stabbed in an Egyptian beach resort were German nationals, confirming earlier reports. “We can now sadly confirm that two German tourists died in the attack at Hurghada,” a foreign ministry statement said. Friday’s attack in the Red Sea resort left four others wounded. The attacker, who had swum ashore, was arrested and questioned. “We don’t know his motives yet, he could be crazy or perturbed -- it’s too early to tell,” a senior interior ministry official told AFP. In January 2016, three tourists in Hurghada were wounded in a stabbing assault by two assailants with apparent ISIS group (ISIS) sympathies. (With AFP)

Saudi Ambassador to Algeria: Hamas Is A Terrorist Group
Jerusalem Post/July 15/17/Saudi Ambassador to Algeria Sami Bin Abdullah Salih on Wednesday unequivocally said in an interview that Hamas is a terrorist organization. When an Algeria-based reporter for Al-Nahar TV asked him if Saudi Arabia considers Hamas a terrorist group, Salih said, “Of course... It certainly is, if it seeks to create and cause problems.”Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, frequently endorses and carries out violent attacks against Israeli military personnel and civilians. Israel, the United States, the European Union – among others – all consider Hamas to be a terrorist group. Salih also criticized some Hamas leader’s for living lavish lifestyles outside of Gaza. “The right to resistance is guaranteed to the PLO, not one sitting in a five-star hotel in Qatar, carrying out conspiracies from there,” Salih said. “It should be that one is with his people and trying to advance his issue.”Some Hamas leaders including former Hamas Politburo chief Khalid Meshaal reside in expensive hotels in Doha. However, many top leaders in Hamas, including its current Politburo Chairman Ismail Haniyeh, live in relatively modest conditions in Gaza. Salih’s comments mark the second time a senior Saudi official has referred to Hamas as either a terrorist or extremist group in the past two months. Days after a coalition of Arab states cut ties with Qatar on June 5, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir called on Qatar to stop funding “extremist groups” like Hamas. However, a document of demands the coalition of Arab states presented to Qatar in late June did not explicitly refer to Hamas. Hamas on Thursday issued a carefully worded critique on its official website of the Saudi ambassador to Algeria: “We, in Hamas, express our utmost disappointment and disapproval of what was said by the Saudi Ambassador to Algeria Sami Salih in terms of inciting statements against Hamas. We consider [these statements] to be at odds with the values, principles, and customs of our Arabic and Islamic nations.”Al-Nahar TV cut the Saudi ambassador’s comments on Hamas out of the online version of its interview with him.

UN Syria Envoy Hails Small Gains in Latest Peace Talks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 15/17/The UN Syria envoy closed the latest round of sputtering peace talks Friday insisting "incremental progress" was made, driving hope that face-to-face negotiations between rebels and the Damascus regime may soon be possible. United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva that he planned to convene an eighth round of talks in early September and had instructed all sides, including the regime, to be ready to tackle the flashpoint issue of political transition. The main opposition High Negotiations Committee says political transition means the departure of President Bashar al-Assad. Assad's delegation, led by Syria's UN ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari, has declared the president's fate off limits. De Mistura said he has not seen any indication that the regime is willing to talk about forming a new government in Syria but voiced hope that international pressure could move the needle.
- Steps forward? -"We have made, as we were expecting and hoping, incremental progress. No breakthrough, no breakdown, no one walking out," de Mistura said after briefing the UN Security Council by video on the seventh round of talks.
Aside from the HNC, the UN envoy has been meeting with two other opposition groups -- known as the Moscow and Cairo platforms -- seen as more favourable to Assad. De Mistura wants to merge the three opposition camps before pushing for direct talks between the government and a unified opposition delegation. The opposition groups have drawn closer together, built new levels of "trust" and have scheduled to meet again later this month, de Mistura said. That may make it possible for "all sides to be able to sit in the same room and start talking about substance," he added, explaining that he would push for direct regime-opposition talks in September.
Familiar soundbites -The regime and HNC traded familiar soundbites before leaving the Swiss city on Friday. Jaafari said his side focused on "counter-terrorism" as well as "technical, legal and constitutional discussions" during this round. The HNC argues that the regime stresses the terrorism issue to distract from Assad's future, the massive hurdle in the way of any prospective deal. The Geneva talks focus on four so-called "baskets" -- a new constitution, governance, elections and fighting terrorism. The first three were set out by the Security Council, while terrorism was added at the regime's insistence. The HNC again blasted the regime for stalling the process.
"Let's speak frankly, the Syrian regime, until this moment, is refusing any engagements and discussion or negotiation," the HNC's delegation chief, Nasr al-Hariri, told reporters.
'Contact group' -De Mistura has consistently stressed that international pressure by nations with influence on the ground is vital to negotiating an end to the six-year war that has claimed more than 320,000 lives. On that front, he praised a new initiative by French President Emmanuel Macron to create a so-called "contact group", including permanent Security Council members and regional powers, like rebel-backer Turkey and regime supporter Iran. Macron outlined the proposal during his meeting Thursday in Paris with US President Donald Trump, France's UN ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters in New York. Delattre said the group would aim "to push for united views among the five Permanent Members of the Security Council and the regional players, which is needed."De Mistura supported the effort, saying he had been in touch with Macron's team and was confident the contact group could help the UN peace push, even if its format had not yet been outlined.

UN ends Syria talks to focus on international fight against terrorism
Reuters Saturday, 15 July 2017/UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura put the emphasis on the international fight against terrorism on Friday as he wrapped up a round of Syria peace talks at which there was “no breakthrough, no breakdown and no one walking out”. Speaking at a news conference after briefing the UN Security Council by video, de Mistura said he felt the UN was expected to say where it stood on the fight against terrorism, which he said was “becoming the main issue being discussed at the highest possible level elsewhere.” Discussion of terrorism has been a constant demand of the Syrian government since the series of talks began early last year, and it was added to the formal agenda earlier this year, along with talks about a new constitution, reformed governance and fresh elections. The main opposition group, the High Negotiations Committee, wants a focus on political transition, meaning an end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. De Mistura said Assad’s negotiators had not given any indication that they were willing to discuss transition. “But what I do believe is that what are going to be the next steps of the international community in wanting to see an acceleration of the end of this conflict may help the government to be ready to address the political process,” he said. Although the Syrian government has repeatedly described opposition representatives as terrorists, de Mistura said he hoped to push all sides to at least sit in the same room during the next round of talks in September. Before that can happen, the three rival opposition delegations need to narrow their differences enough to present a single position against the government negotiators. De Mistura suggested that was on track, since the three opposition leaders had built mutual trust and confidence and planned to meet again later this month. Laying out his understanding of the fight against terrorism, de Mistura said it only related to groups identified by the UN Security Council as terrorists, and it must be done in accordance with humanitarian law and human rights law. Implementation of UN resolutions on arming and financing terrorists and the movement of foreign fighters had been very slow, he said, and he expected to see increased efforts against UN-listed groups and coordinated action wherever possible. Such efforts were already being undertaken against ISIS in Raqqa and by the Syrian government and its allies in areas around the cities of Aleppo, Homs and Hama, he said. The best guarantee against terrorism was a political agreement achieved through a UN-led transitional process. “Otherwise in three months’ time, after Raqqa, there will be a new entity coming up and they will be calling themselves differently and we will be back to that.”

France Aims to Be 'Facilitator' in Gulf Crisis Talks

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 15/17/French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Doha on Saturday that Paris wants to assist Kuwait-led mediation on the crisis between Qatar and four other Arab states. "France should be a facilitator in the mediation" led by Kuwait, Le Drian told reporters following talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. Le Drian arrived in Qatar for a Gulf tour aimed at helping defuse the crisis pitting Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt. "France is very concerned by the sudden deterioration in relations between Qatar and many of its neighbours," he said."France is talking to all these countries to help in the search for a solution," he said, calling for "dialogue and calm" between the Arab states concerned. Le Drian is to travel on to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, following a four-day mediation mission by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that made little progress in defusing mounting tensions in the Gulf. Riyadh and its allies imposed sanctions on Doha on June 5, including closing its only land border, denying Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from the emirate. They accuse Doha of supporting extremism and being too close to their arch-rival Iran.

Iranian Airport in Central Syria, Israel Alludes to Targeting it
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 15/17/Tel Aviv, Beirut- Israel uncovered on Friday that Iran has lately leased from the Assad regime an airport in central Syria, hinting it would target it. Israeli military sources asserted that Tel Aviv would not allow Tehran to lease an airport in Syria, and would also confront current Syrian-Iranian negotiations to establish a land base capable of supporting Iranian-linked fighters. According to the same sources, the land base would be able to back 5,000 Iranian militiamen believed to be mercenaries from Afghanistan and Pakistan under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned against any Iranian entrenchment in Syria. “The establishment of an air and sea base and the attempt to permanently station 5,000 Shi’ite fighters on Syrian soil are not acceptable to us, and will have heavy consequences,” he said. Separately, the 7th round of the Geneva intra-Syrian talks concluded on Friday without reaching any results at the political level, similar to its previous rounds held in the Kazakh capital of Astana to establish four de-escalation zones and to agree on the mission that would provide safety and security in those areas. At the end of the Geneva 7 round of negotiations, the Syrian opposition delegation said: “The talks are not advancing in the direction that we want or desire. On the contrary, those talks were fruitless because the regime and its allies still refuse any political solution to the crisis.”Meanwhile, Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s ambassador to the UN and its delegation chief, denied there was any agreement to hold direct talks with the opposition. He said that during Friday’s negotiations, his delegation focused on the issue of fighting terrorism and the meetings of the legal and constitutional experts.

Rival groups clash in Syria’s rebel-packed Idlib
The Associated Press, Beirut Saturday, 15 July 2017/Clashes have broken out in northwestern Syria between two of the most powerful insurgent groups raising fears of widespread violence in the rebel-held province of Idlib. The ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham said in a statement Saturday that the al-Qaeda-linked Levant Liberation Committee is sending reinforcements to the town of Saraqeb and the Jabal al-Zawiya region in preparation for an attack. The Ibaa News Agency of the al-Qaeda-linked group accused Ahrar al-Sham of setting up checkpoints and detaining one of its commanders and his bodyguard, adding that the Levant Liberation Committee removed the checkpoints later by force. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the clashes late Friday were concentrated near the village of Tel Touqan. The two rival groups have clashed earlier this year before a truce was reached.

This is the terrorist likely to succeed Baghdadi as ISIS new leader
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 15 July 2017/After the reported news about the death of ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the organization is expected to shortly announce the name of its new leader, who will succeed Baghdadi, in order to maintain unity among its members, defend its survival and ensure its continuity. In a brief statement issued by ISIS a few days ago, the organization mourned its dead leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and called on its members to remain united, keep it up in the strongholds and not get dragged behind the sedition. ISIS is witnessing a critical time, especially after the recent strikes received in Iraq and the successive defeats over the past months, during which it lost most of its leaders. A few leaders were left, the most important of which is the leader of the organization in Libya Jalaluddin al-Tunisi, who is one of the most important names qualified to succeed Baghdadi. The real name of Jalaluddin al-Tunisi who is from Tunisia as his name suggests, is Mohamed Ben Salem al-Ayouni. He was born in 1982 in the Masaken region of the coastal province of Sousse. He immigrated to France since the 90s and managed to obtain the French citizenship before returning to Tunisia upon the revolution. In 2011, he went to Tunisia and then moved to Syria to participate in the war. He announced in 2014 that he joined ISIS after the killing of the commander of the “Ghoraba battalion.” He became the battalion’s leader and became one of the most important leaders in the organization and very close to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He made his first appearance on the media in a video on the borders between Syria and Iraq in 2014. After the losses of ISIS in Libya, specifically in the city of Sirte last year, Baghdadi appointed him as the Emir of the organization in Libya because he believed that he was able to win battles and maintain the presence of the organization there, as well as good relations with some of the other extremist groups in North Africa, such as Oqba ibn Nafi who is affiliated with al-Qaeda. Tunisi was able to convince some of the members there to defect and join ISIS. Since the North African region is at the top of the regions where ISIS is seeking to expand and survive and with its recent collapse in Iraq, the organization might seek to expand again in African countries starting from Libya, which is still in a state of chaos when it comes to security. Libya, especially its insecure south, provides a safe haven for insurgents and terrorists in order to operate freely, reorganize, recruit and train members. It also helps in the financing through the smuggling of goods in order to cover up as soon as possible for the recent fall of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Target Israelis, says Hamas, after Jerusalem site attack
The Associated Press, Gaza City, Gaza Strip Saturday, 15 July 2017/Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers are calling on Palestinians to attack Israeli forces in Jerusalem after a sacred site was closed following a deadly assault there. Hamas described the closure of the site - known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount - in a statement on Saturday as a “religious war” and Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called on the Palestinian “uprising” to target the Israeli army and West Bank settlers. Israel made the rare move after three Palestinian assailants opened fire there on Friday, killing two Israeli police officers before being shot dead. The Muslim-administered site is revered by both Muslims and Jews. Israel says it won’t reopen before Sunday. Hamas has staged a rally celebrating the attack.

Le Drian in Jeddah to Tackle Qatar’s Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 15/17/Jeddah- Amid speculations about additional escalations and a long estrangement in the Qatari crisis, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives in Jeddah on Saturday as part of his Gulf tour that follows similar trips made by his US, British and German counterparts in the past weeks. Le Drian’s two-day visit to the region includes Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and aims for “a rapid de-escalation” of the crisis. According to a French official statement, Le Drian’s tour seeks to bring the viewpoints closer between Qatar and the Anti-Terror Quartet, which broke off last month diplomatic relations with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs. The statement issued by the French Embassy in Riyadh said that the Foreign Minister would meet on Saturday with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, deputy premier and minister of defense, as well as his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir. The two men will then hold a joint press conference on Saturday night. During his Gulf tour, Le Drian also hopes that France could contribute in the Kuwaiti-led mediation that is fully supported by Paris. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had wrapped up on Thursday his Gulf tour that aimed to reach a progress in breaking the deadlock between Qatar and the Anti-Terror Quartet. However, Tillerson left without making any statement or holding any press conference. For his part, UAE’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Friday that the Qatari crisis is not going to end anytime soon, adding the Arab quartet and Doha were “heading into a long estrangement.”Commenting on his Twitter account, Gargash said the four countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain have every right to protect their sovereignties, adding that the boycott will be strengthened. “We are headed for a long estrangement … we are very far from a political solution involving a change in Qatar’s course, and in light of that nothing will change and we have to look for a different format of relations,” he said.

Turkey Celebrates Defeat of Anti-Erdogan Putsch
Turkey on Saturday holds an intense series of events to celebrate the first anniversary of the defeat of last year's attempted coup, showcasing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's grip on power on the heels of a new purge of state employees. The authorities have declared July 15 an annual national holiday of "democracy and unity", billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy. Two hundred and forty nine people, not including the plotters, were killed when a disgruntled faction in the army sent tanks into the streets and war planes into the sky in a violent bid to overthrow Erdogan after one-and-a-half decades in power. But they were thwarted within hours as the authorities regrouped and people poured into the streets in support of Erdogan, who blamed followers of his ally turned nemesis, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. The authorities embarked on the biggest purge in Turkey's history, arresting 50,000 people and sacking over 100,000 more. Erdogan also shored up his position by winning an April 16 referendum on enhancing his powers.In the latest dismissals ordered just hours before the commemorations were due to begin, another 7,563 police, soldiers and other state employees were fired under the state of emergency that has been in place since July 20 last year. A decree said those targeted were "linked to terror organisations, or groups determined to have been acting against the state's national security".Earlier this month, Turkey also detained the country director of Amnesty International and over half a dozen rights defenders on charges of belonging to a terror group.Gulen has always denied involvement in the coup bid and in a new statement Friday said the accusations were "baseless, politically motivated slanders" and slammed a "witch hunt" of Erdogan's critics.
- 'Epic of July 15' -The scale of Saturday's nationwide commemorations is aimed at etching July 15, 2016 into the minds of Turks as a key date in the history of the modern state founded in 1923 out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.
"From now on, nothing will be as it was before July 15," Erdogan said in a speech on Thursday, describing the date as a "turning point" in Turkish history.
He compared the defeat of the coup to the World War 1 1915 Battle of Gallipoli where Ottoman troops famously withstood an onslaught by invading Allied soldiers in what became one of the founding narratives of the modern state. Giant posters designed by the presidency have sprung up across billboards in Istanbul showing gaudy paintings that portray the key events of the coup night, including the surrender of the putschist soldiers. "The epic of July 15," says the slogan. However some have criticised the posters for belittling the Turkish army.
'Justice' march -Turkey's opposition put political disputes aside on the night of the attempted coup. But this has frayed since the April 16 referendum, with critics accusing Erdogan of pursuing one man rule and cracking down on anyone who expresses dissent. The commemorations will for Erdogan be a helpful riposte to a giant opposition rally -- the largest in years -- held last Sunday by the head of the Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu at the end of a nearly one month foot march pushing for "justice" in Turkey. Public transport is free in Istanbul over the weekend while mobile operator Turkcell has sent text messages to clients promising them a free extra gigabyte of data from July 15.Meanwhile, illuminated anti-coup slogans have been hung between the minarets of some of Istanbul's greatest Ottoman mosques. - 'Bridge of Martyrs' -After a special session of parliament starting at 1000 GMT, most of the celebrations will be taking place deep into the night. Erdogan, at the centre of the events, will to take part in a people's march on the Istanbul bridge across the Bosphorus that saw bloody fighting a year ago. The bridge has since been renamed Bridge of the Martyrs of July 15. At midnight local time (2100 GMT) people across Turkey will take part in "democracy watches", rallies commemorating how people poured out into the streets.Erdogan will return to Ankara and at 2300 GMT give a speech in parliament to mark the time it was bombed. A monument to those killed will then be unveiled outside his palace in the capital as the dawn call to prayer rings out.

Turkey Marks 1st Coup Anniversary as More Civil Servants Dismissed
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 15/17/Turkey on Saturday holds an intense series of events to celebrate the first anniversary of the failed attempted coup, showcasing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grip on power on the heels of a new purge of civil servants. The authorities have declared July 15 an annual national holiday of “democracy and unity”, billing the foiling of the putsch as a historic victory of Turkish democracy. Following the failed coup last summer, the authorities embarked on the biggest purge in Turkey’s history, arresting 50,000 people and sacking over 100,000 more. Erdogan also shored up his position by winning an April 16 referendum that granted him sweeping new powers. In the latest dismissals ordered just hours before the commemorations were due to begin on Saturday, another 7,563 police, soldiers and other state employees were fired under the state of emergency that has been in place since July 20 last year. A decree said those targeted were “linked to terror organizations, or groups determined to have been acting against the state’s national security”. Two hundred and forty nine people, not including the plotters, were killed when a disgruntled faction in the army sent tanks into the streets and war planes into the sky in a violent bid to overthrow Erdogan after one-and-a-half decades in power. But they were thwarted within hours as the authorities regrouped and people poured into the streets in support of Erdogan, who blamed followers of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen. Gulen has always denied masterminding the coup bid and in a new statement Friday said the accusations were “baseless, politically motivated slanders” and slammed a “witch hunt” of Erdogan’s critics.

Germany ‘Dismayed’ as it Confirms 2 Nationals Killed in Egypt Attack
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 15/17/Berlin on Saturday confirmed reports that two women who were killed after being stabbed in an Egyptian beach resort were German nationals. “We can now sadly confirm that two German tourists died in the attack at Hurghada,” a foreign ministry statement said. “According to what we know, the act was a deliberate attack on foreign tourists – a particularly devious and criminal act that leaves us sad, dismayed and furious,” a foreign ministry spokeswoman added. Friday’s attack in the Red Sea resort left four others wounded. The attacker, who had swum ashore, was arrested and questioned. “We don’t know his motives yet, he could be crazy or perturbed — it’s too early to tell,” a senior interior ministry official told AFP. In January 2016, three tourists in Hurghada were wounded in a stabbing assault by two assailants with apparent ISIS sympathies. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday’s stabbing. Hurghada is one of Egypt’s most popular beach resorts, especially with Ukrainians and European tourists.

Fears of Escalation in Jerusalem after Death of 2 Policemen, 3 Arab-Israeli Gunmen
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 15/17/Cairo, Tel Aviv- Three Arab gunmen shot dead two Israeli policemen and were then killed by security forces in Jerusalem’s Old City. The five victims are Arab-Israelis. The two dead policemen are: Hail Stawi, 30, and Kaamil Snaan, 22. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the police to handle the issue and ordered the Al-Aqsa mosque closed to Friday prayers, forcing Palestinians to perform their prayers in the streets. At 7 am, the three gunmen arrived at the Lions’ Gate where there was an Israeli patrol and started shooting. Instantly, the soldiers fired back, killing the three gunmen while six policemen were injured. Two of them later succumbed to their wounds. In a phone conversation with Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “expressed his strong rejection and condemnation of the incident that took place in Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as his rejection of any violent incidents from any side, especially in places of worship.”Abbas called on Israel to cancel the measures of closing the mosque to worshipers, warning of the “repercussions of these measures” or any attempts “to change the religious and historical status of the holy places.”
The Palestinian authority carried out phone calls with Jordan to push towards canceling the Israeli measures and the Jordanian officials affirmed that they are following the matter with Israel. A Palestinian official saw that this operation undermines Palestinian and international attempts to end the occupation of Jerusalem and other Palestinian territories. “This operation gives excuse to the occupation to increase its intransigence and escape its responsibility in ending the conflict,” he added. Hamas stated that the operation expresses the insistence of youths to protect Al-Aqsa from the occupation violations while Fatah described the closure as a dangerous escalation. Further, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the attack in Jerusalem could ignite more violence and said all sides must avoid escalation.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 15-16/17
Canada's Multi-Million-Dollar Pay-Out to a 'Foreign Terrorist Fighter'

Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/July 15/2017
"Has any soldier who fought FOR Canada ever received as generous a reward as this soldier who fought against us?" — Canadian Senator Linda Frum.
In 2003, Khadr confessed to throwing the grenade that killed U.S. Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer and caused Sgt. 1st Class Layne Morris to lose an eye. Years later, he retracted his confession, claiming it had been extracted under duress. In fact, it was part of a plea deal that enabled him to be extradited to Canada to serve the rest of his sentence there.
"There was a Canadian flag flying along with the American flag at our base there, so it's quite a thing that now Canada is giving millions to a guy who would attack a compound where Canadians were serving. I don't see this as anything but treason. As far as I am concerned, Prime Minister Trudeau should be charged." — Sgt. 1st Class Layne Morris, who lost an eye from the grenade thrown by Omar Khadr.
The government of Canada recently issued an official apology -- and acknowledged awarding an "undisclosed" sum of money -- to Toronto-born Islamist terrorist Omar Khadr for his "ordeal" at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and "any resulting harm" he was caused by the "torture" (specifically, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and threats) that led to his confession.
On July 7, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale released a statement announcing the "hope that this expression, and the negotiated settlement reached with the Government, will assist him in his efforts to begin a new and hopeful chapter in his life with his fellow Canadians."
The civil settlement was reached with Khadr, 30, who was 10 when his family returned to the Middle East, and 15 when he was arrested fighting in Afghanistan with al Qaeda and the Taliban, the terrorist organizations to which his father was affiliated -- on the basis of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In 2003, Khadr confessed to throwing the grenade that killed U.S. Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer and caused Sgt. 1st Class Layne Morris to lose an eye. Years later, he retracted his confession, claiming it had been extracted under duress. In fact, it was part of a plea deal that enabled him to be extradited to Canada to serve the rest of his sentence there.
With news of the large settlement he received -- 10,500,000 Canadian dollars (approximately USD $8,000,000) -- he gave an extensive interview to CBC's Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton, in which he said he thinks that the apology from the Canadian government "restores a little bit my reputation here in Canada, and I think that's the biggest thing for me." He declined to comment on having just received multi-millions in tax-free dollars.
He also had the effrontery to say that he just wants "to be a normal person" and finish his nursing degree to help under-served communities. "I have a lot of experience with... and appreciation of pain," he explained, expressing only sorrow that the Speer and Morris families consider him responsible for their own pain.
Amid harsh criticism against the Liberal government by opposition Conservatives and members of the public outraged that their tax dollars are going to a convicted terrorist, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to reporters' questions on the matter during a press conference marking the July 8 close of G20 summit in Hamburg.
Trudeau said that the settlement had nothing to do with Khadr's 2002 actions on the battlefield in Afghanistan, but rather with the fact that his rights had been violated. This is precisely what the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in 2008 and 2010, after Khadr's lawyers sued for damages.
Trudeau added that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects all Canadians, "even when it is uncomfortable. When the government violates any Canadian's Charter rights, we all end up paying for it."
Meanwhile, Goodale tried to evade responsibility, by casting aspersions on the previous government, headed by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in power when Khadr was returned to Canada in 2012 to serve the remainder of his prison sentence for five counts of war crimes. Goodale accused Harper of having "refused to repatriate Mr. Khadr or otherwise resolve the matter."
In spite of the fact that Khadr was arrested and detained when Liberal governments were in power in Canada, Goodale was referring to appeals during Harper's tenure -- which began in 2006 -- by Canadian Liberal and human rights lawyers to "bring Omar Khadr home."
In 2008, former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler wrote: "I join other scholars and associations of jurists in calling for Omar Khadr to be transferred into the custody of Canadian law enforcement officials, to be afforded due process under Canadian law, with prospects for appropriate rehabilitation and integration."
Cotler also stated,
"Admittedly, the Khadr family has emerged, as some have put it, as synonymous with terrorism. But, the test of the rule of law is not its application in the easy cases, but its retention in the unpopular ones... Omar Khadr, a child victim, should now be afforded the justice denied him all these years, however unpopular and unpalatable his case may appear to be."
In response to Goodale's implication that had it not been for the previous government, the current one would not have been forced to apologize to and pay Khadr, Harper immediately took to social media, writing:
The government today attempted to lay blame elsewhere for their decision to conclude a secret deal with Omar Khadr. The decision to enter into this deal is theirs, and theirs alone, and it is simply wrong. Canadians deserve better than this. Today my thoughts are with Tabitha Speer and the families of all Canadian and allied soldiers who paid the ultimate price fighting to protect us.
Canadian Senator Linda Frum railed against the settlement, tweeting: "Has any soldier who fought FOR Canada ever received as generous a reward as this soldier who fought against us?"
Given Khadr's family history, Frum's fury is justified.
As the New York Post reported, Khadr is the son of a Palestinian mother and an Egyptian father (Ahmed Khadr), who had strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and became one of Osama bin Laden's loyal lieutenants. After 9/11, Ahmed Khadr was placed on the FBI's most-wanted list in relations to the attacks. He was arrested in Pakistan in 1995 on suspicion of financing the suicide bombing at the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, in which 16 people were killed. Protesting his innocence, he went on a hunger strike, and the Canadian government, then headed by Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, rallied behind him.
While on a trade mission to Pakistan, Chrétien appealed to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and a few months later, Ahmed was released from prison and sent back with his family to Toronto. However, according to the New York Post, the Khadr clan soon returned to Pakistan, where Ahmed Khadr resumed his connections with al Qaeda and the Taliban. Young Omar Khadr not only met with the leaders of these terrorist groups, but lived with his parents and siblings in the bin Laden family compound, attending al Qaeda training camps, which his father -- who was killed in 2003 -- partly funded.
The report continued:
"A month before he joined an al Qaeda cell in 2002, Omar was sent by his father for private instruction in explosives and combat... [where he] learned to launch rocket-propelled grenades and became skilled at planting improvised explosive devices that were used to blow up US armored vehicles in Afghanistan."
In his interrogation about the incident that led to his arrest and subsequent incarceration at Guantanamo, Omar Khadr said he had been on a suicide mission "to kill as many Americans as possible."
In this still image taken from a video found in the rubble of the compound where Omar Khadr was captured on July 27, 2002, a 15-year-old Khadr constructs an improvised explosive device. (Courtesy U.S. Defense Operations/Wikimedia Commons)
This did not prevent the U.S. military from flying an ophthalmologist to the Bagram Air Base -- where was being treated for wounds he sustained while fighting American and Canadian soldiers -- to save his eyes and keep him from going blind.
Nor did it cause Omar to experience gratitude on the one hand, or remorse on the other. On the contrary, as military court documents revealed, when he was informed that Speer had died, he said he "felt happy" for having murdered an American. He also said that whenever he remembered killing Speer, it would make him "feel good."
According to a report in the Globe and Mail, the Toronto lawyer representing Morris and Tabitha Speer -- who won a default judgment in 2015 in the U.S. against Omar for $134 million – began proceedings to contest the Canadian government's settlement and prevent it from going forward.
It is clearly too late for that; the money has already been transferred to Omar. Furthermore, the transaction was done swiftly and "quietly," to make legal action by taxpayers in Canada or the Morris and Speer families in America virtually impossible.
Morris is understandably angry and hurt. "The fact is Chris Speer and myself were fighting with Canadians in Afghanistan," he said.
"We were alongside the PPCLI (Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry). There was a Canadian flag flying along with the American flag at our base there, so it's quite a thing that now Canada is giving millions to a guy who would attack a compound where Canadians were serving. I don't see this as anything but treason... As far as I am concerned, Prime Minister Trudeau should be charged."
Thus far, the administration in Washington has remained silent on Khadr pay-out, which came to light during the weekend of the G20 summit in Germany, where U.S. President Donald Trump heaped praise on his Canadian counterpart.
Trump even opened his speech at a World Bank event to promote and finance women entrepreneurs in developing countries by declaring: "We have a great neighbor in Canada and Justin [Trudeau] is doing a spectacular job... Everybody loves him, and they love him for a reason..."
This assertion, given the information that has since emerged about Khadr case, was unfortunate. Far more ironic under the circumstances, however, was the "Statement on Countering Terrorism," signed by the leaders of the G20.
Its 21 clauses include a commitment to "address the evolving threat of returning foreign terrorist fighters ... from conflict zones such as Iraq and Syria and remain committed to preventing [them] from establishing a foothold in other countries and regions around the world," and to "facilitate swift and targeted exchanges of information between intelligence and law enforcement and judicial authorities... [to] ensure that terrorists are brought to justice."
Such words are empty without actions to back them up. Omar Khadr is a classic example of a "foreign terrorist fighter." Yet the Canadian legal system categorized him -- in Cotler's words -- as a "child victim, [who] should... be afforded the justice denied him all these years."
It is bad enough to describe a teenager who set out to "kill as many Americans as possible" in this way. It is far worse that he is a free -- and still very young -- man, paid not only respect by the government whose values he was raised to abhor, but millions of dollars, to boot. If anything serves to encourage other terrorists to leave North America and Europe to fight in the Middle East, it is stories such as this one.
The Trump administration must call Trudeau to task for this perversion, and offer an immediate and very public apology to Khadr's American victims, who did not receive a penny for their patriotic sacrifice.
**Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"
© 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.

America Can Succeed Militarily in the Mideast
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/July 15/17
What lessons can we take from ISIS’ defeat in Mosul and its coming eviction from Raqqa? The collapse of the so-called “caliphate” tells us that the United States can succeed militarily in the Middle East if — and probably only if — it works with local forces who are prepared to do the fighting and dying.
Where the massive US ground campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade and a half became expensive exercises in frustration, the war against ISIS has been far less costly in money and American lives — and also more successful. Amazingly, over the past three years, just five Americans have been killed in action in Syria and Iraq, according to the US military.
The overall human toll has been horrific, even if Americans haven’t been paying the price. A triumphal Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in Mosul on Monday, but pictures of the city showed a devastated wasteland of pulverized buildings. We may never know how many thousands of civilians lie under the rubble.
Because the US footprint and casualty levels have been so modest, to Americans this war has mostly been out of sight, out of mind. But it’s worth examining how the strategy has worked militarily — and to recognize the lack of any corresponding political strategy, which may well cause problems down the road.
The American campaign has been built around Special Operations forces. The SOF slogan has been that the battle must be waged “by, with and through” local partners. That has meant training, equipping and advising Iraqi and Syrian soldiers — then providing them with air support that has relentlessly pounded the enemy.
The most brutally efficient part of the campaign has been the secret “capture or kill” strikes by the United States and some of its partners. In simple terms, when the United States has had actionable intelligence about a terrorist operative, it has tried to take that person off the battlefield.
The marriage of local ground forces with US drones, warplanes and intelligence has been potent. Linda Robinson, a Rand Corp. analyst who spent weeks observing the fight this spring in Iraq and Syria, wrote in a recent blog post that the United States has found a “new way of warfighting.”
Credit for this innovative campaign goes to the US military, which became increasingly confident after a slow start; to President Barack Obama, who sent thousands of US troops to Iraq and Syria despite public wariness; and to President Trump, who delegated decisions to the military in ways that accelerated the campaign.
In Iraq, the United States has relied on two battle-hardened forces: the Iraqi army’s Counter Terrorism Service and the Kurdish peshmerga. The two cooperate on the battlefield (even as their political leaders continue to bicker).
In Syria, America’s decisive ally has been the Kurdish militia known as the YPG. This partnership began almost by accident back in 2014, when the marauding ISIS was on the verge of capturing Kobani in northern Syria. Iraqi Kurds from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan militia touted the Syrian YPG to their American advisers, and an improvised system of spotting, targeting and air assault evolved. The Americans were astonished by the determination of the Kurds, and a warriors’ kinship developed.
The Syrian Kurds were an awkward ally politically, because Turkey regards them (probably rightly) as an offshoot of the terrorist PKK. But as US Central Command commander Gen. Joseph Votel told me at a training base inside Syria a year ago, “We have to go with what we’ve got” in Syria, which meant the Kurdish-led force.
This sort of improvised approach has characterized the US effort since 2014. Rather than build the ideal force on a US model, commanders adapted. Political problems — bitter Turkish opposition, Iraqi Kurdish ambitions for independence, incoherent political strategy for Syria — were put on the shelf for later. The military strategy has been built on political quicksand, but it’s still standing.
In 2012, the CIA conducted a study that argued that American support for such local forces had rarely worked. But sources say that agency analysts had an important caveat: In the US interventions that were successful, the United States had operated closely with its partners on the battlefield. This finding seems to have been reinforced in Syria and Iraq.

So Now American Zionists Want to Boycott Israel
Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/July 15/2017
"We shall . . . prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood. We shall keep our priests [by which is meant Rabbis] within the confines of their temples." – Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat
Tough love may be an appropriate response in family matters, but boycotting a troubled nation which has become a pariah among the hard-left is not the appropriate response to the Israeli government's recent decisions regarding religion. The answer is not disengagement, but rather greater engagement....
To do otherwise is to engage in a form of BDS – the tactic currently employed by Israel's enemies to delegitimate the Nation state of the Jewish people. Supporters of BDS will point to these benign boycotts as a way of justifying their malignant ones.... The role of American Jews is limited to persuasion, not coercion.
Several prominent American Zionists – including long-time supporters of Israel – are so outraged at the Israeli government's recent decision regarding the Western Wall and non-orthodox conversion, that they are urging American Jews to reduce or even eliminate their support for Israel. According to an article by Elliott Abrams in Mosaic, Ike Fisher a prominent member of the AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] board, threatened to "suspend" all further financial support for Israel. Daniel Gordis, a leading voice for Conservative Judaism, urged American Jews to cancel their El Al tickets and fly Delta or United. He also proposed "withholding donations to Israeli hospitals, so that 'They start running out of money' and 'begin to falter.'" This sort of emotional response is reminiscent of the temper tantrum outgoing President Barak Obama engaged in when he refused to veto the UN's recent anti-Israel resolution.
I strongly disagree both with the Israeli government's capitulation to the minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who wield far too much influence in Israeli politics, and with the proposals to cut back on support for Israel by some of my fellow critics of the Israeli government's recent decisions with regard to religion.
I strongly support greater separation between religion and state in Israel, as Theodor Herzl outlined in his plan for the nation-state of the Jewish People in Der Judenstaat 120 years ago: "We shall . . . prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood. We shall keep our priests [by which is meant Rabbis] within the confines of their temples." It was David Ben Gurion, Israel's founding Prime Minister, who made the deal with the Orthodox Rabbinate that violated Herzl's mandate and knocked down the wall of separation between religion and state. He allocated to the Chief Rabbinate authority over many secular matters, such as marriage, divorce and child custody. He also laid the groundwork for the creation of religious parties that have been a necessary part of most Israeli coalitions for many years.
So, do not blame Israel's current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for the recent capitulation. His government's survival depends on his unholy alliance with allegedly holy parties that threaten to leave the coalition and bring down his government unless he capitulated. The alternative to a Netanyahu government might well be far to the right of the current government, both on religious matters and on prospects for peace. Reasonable people may disagree as to whether Netanyahu did the right thing, but I believe that given the choice between the current government and what may well replace it, PM Netanyahu acted on acceptable priorities.
This is not to say that I am happy with the end result. As a post-denominational Jew, I want to see a part of the Western Wall opened to conservative and reform prayer. I also want to see conservative and reform and modern orthodox rabbis deemed fully competent to perform rituals including marriage and divorce. I will continue to fight for these outcomes, and I think we will ultimately be successful. But in the meantime, I will also continue to fly El Al, contribute to Israeli hospitals, attend APAC events, and encourage Americans to support Israel, both politically and financially. To do otherwise is to engage in a form of BDS – the tactic currently employed by Israel's enemies to delegitimate the Nation state of the Jewish people. Supporters of BDS will point to these benign boycotts as a way of justifying their malignant ones. If BDS is an immoral tactic, as it surely is, so too is punishing the people of Israel for the failure of its government to be fully inclusive of Jews who do not align themselves with the ultra-Orthodox.
Tough love may be an appropriate response in family matters, but boycotting a troubled nation which has become a pariah among the hard-left is not the appropriate response to the Israeli government's recent decisions regarding religion. The answer is not disengagement, but rather greater engagement with Israel on matters that involve world Jewry. I, too, am furious about the arrogant and destructive threats of the ultra-Orthodox parties in the current government. I, too, would prefer to see a coalition that excluded the ultra-Orthodox parties. I, too, would like to see a high wall of separation that kept the Rabbis out of politics. But I do not live in Israel, and Israel is a democracy. Ultimately it is up to the citizens of Israel to change the current system. The role of American Jews is limited to persuasion, not coercion. In the end, we will be successful in persuading the Israeli people to take the power of religious, coercion out of the hands of the ultra-Orthodox minority because that would not only be good for secular Israelis – who are a majority – but also for religious Israelis. History has proven that separation of state from religion is better not only for the state, but also for religion.
*-*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.
© 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.

Inter-Arab Ties Remain Bound to Dreamy Intellect
Abdel Rahman Shalgam/Asharq Al Awsat/July 15/17
Two speeches of late Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba have left a mark in the Arab world. The first was in Jericho, West Bank, in 1965, when he called on Arabs to implement United Nations Resolution 181 issued on Nov. 27 1947.
The second speech was delivered at le Palmarium in the presence of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in 1972. He responded to Gaddafi’s proposal to unite the two countries by saying each of them should first unite their own states.
After the first speech, Bourguiba came under attack and Arab media described him as an agent who abandoned Palestine and betrayed the Arab nation. As for the second speech, Gaddafi and Bourguiba disregarded it and signed the Djerba Declaration on the unity of Tunisia and Libya.
In his speech in Jericho, Bourguiba was expressing the doctrine of his school, which he established and was among its first students and instructors – its main methodology was “Take and demand”. As for the second speech, it was based on the thought: “Be realistic and ask for the impossible”.
International developments have been huge and comprehensive in the past two decades. The Soviet Union collapsed as well as its Eastern Bloc, the communist military Warsaw Pact opposing NATO also disintegrated, the age of ideology vanished and the giant political and economic European Union emerged.
Military, fascist totalitarian regimes have also collapsed in Latin America and tiger economies emerged, leading to a renaissance in the global south. A new, national, democratic, powerful enlightenment movement began and the Revolutionary Left Wing relapsed. China appeared as an economic force invading the world with its cheap products, urging its citizens to head towards continents for investment and providing enormous aid to poor countries in Africa and Asia without having political ambitions.
Away from the illusion of Maoism, Deng Xiaoping’s philosophy was enough to wipe out the philosophy of Mao Zedong with one sentence: “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice”.
This was accompanied by the rise of what was known as the Asian Tigers that have occupied a significant position in the global economy. Comprehensive developments and economic and political blocs represented an alternative for the post-World War II maps and the end of the Cold War.
A new world was formed by the enormous technical revolution and the development of production. Years passed and changed everything: politics, economy, culture, education, technology and telecommunications. Some philosophies and methodologies showed up and altered the humanitarian mindset.
Economic coalitions were formed and military actions were remarkably abandoned amid the pursuit to achieve national ambitions and goals.
What have we achieved?
We haven’t well perceived what has happened, neither did we assess its influence. We didn’t import what would enrich us with this new formation or invent a new intellect that would pave the way to the new world. We didn’t reject any of our old thoughts nor did we plant seeds of new thoughts.
I believe that the Arab identity’s walls crumbled centuries ago although we seek cover under this slogan.
Humans grow like other creatures – the accumulation of experience, education and learning creates new entities and creatures – this is the secret behind the continuity of life.
If you had told a US citizen in 1970 that his country will be led by an African-American with a Muslim father, he would have been sarcastic. And if you had told another that a woman will run for the presidential elections and have good chances in winning, then he would have slapped you. The same thing would have happened if you had told a British citizen that a Muslim man will be the mayor of London.
Inter-Arab ties remained bound to dreamy intellect not realistic new standards. Slogans of unity were raised before the war was waged. The Arab League is one of the oldest regional entities but nothing in it has changed since its establishment in 1945 because the mind that established it has never developed.
If we start with the implementation of the good neighborliness policies and then move to developing trade exchange, then a new phase of bilateral thinking would emerge, leading to tangible results.
The mentality of remains is what made the distance between Gaza and the West Bank longer than that between them and Tel Aviv.

History’s Suicide and Geography’s Disintegration
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/July 15/17
The last hours were significant, highly revealing and had long-term effects.
From Hamburg we heard, for the first time, of US-Russian “common understanding” on Syria. From Baghdad came the good news about the “liberation” of Mosul, and from Lebanon we heard how eager those infatuated with Lebanon’s “sovereignty” were to rid their country of Syrian refugees by returning them back to the arms of the regime that had displaced them … although those arms have kept the Lebanese “warm” for more than three decades!
The “understanding” between Washington and Moscow regarding what remains of old Syria, firstly, stems from their own interests, and secondly from those of some regional players. However, if observers seek to know the details without delusions, they need to stop and assess some issues.
Currently, Moscow’s top priority in Syria is to maintain its presence in the eastern Mediterranean after losing big in Iraq, north Africa and south of the Arabian Peninsula (namely, former South Yemen); and for this reason the Kremlin has gone as far as direct involvement in fighting, establishing military bases, and even suggesting a blueprint for a new constitution. The second priority has been to fully exploit Iranian presence while twisting Washington’s arms in the hope of ensuring maximum American concessions, whether in the Middle East, Eastern Europe or elsewhere. These two priorities have been translated on the ground by Moscow in Syria after benefitting from Barack Obama’s belief in Iran as a regional partner against ‘Political Sunnism’. Indeed, the Russian leadership is currently striving to cement that belief under the present Republican administration, which Moscow hoped would reach the White House, if not facilitated it.
On the other hand, in Washington, and despite the entrenchment of ‘deep state’, we have witnessed a marked change in its handling of the Iranian file. It may be true that Donald Trump’s administration is not planning a war on Iran, as it could need it sometime in the future within the context of wider geo-political interests; But contrary to Obama’s eager positive approach, Trump’s Washington wants Tehran as a small partner that obeys when ordered, and not a big partner that decides and even enforces. This is also how Israel, Washington’s influential strategic ally in the Middle East, wishes to see the future role of Iran.
Like Moscow and Tehran, Washington too has far greater interests and objectives than the fate and interests of the people of Syria, let alone who would lead it and under what title; in has become a de facto partitioned ‘failed state’ whose cities and villages have been deserted by half of its population!
For a start, before the 2011 uprising, all political posts in the Syrian government, with the exception of the presidency, were meaningless given that the real power rested in the hands of the president and his security apparatus. However, today the real power lies in the hands of those who control military bases, order air strikes, organize mass displacement, and provide it with international legal cover. Thus, even the presidency has become redundant and meaningless, and the issue of who fills the post is now a minute detail in a much larger picture.
This is what has been taking place in Syria. As for Iraq, we have been hearing one question: What will happen after the liberation of Mosul? No doubt the answer or answers to this question would clear a lot of the region’s ambiguity!
Actually, ISIS – like Al Qaeda before it – has carried out the ‘task’ expected from it; destroying the political and demographic presence of the Sunni Arabs who played a pivotal role in founding modern Iraq in 1920. Today, between the effective Iranian dominance achieved through Tehran’s henchmen like Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, Hadi Al-Amiri and Qais Khazali on one side, and the countdown of Iraqi-Kurdistan secession on the other, Iraq’s situation does not look much better than Syria’s.
Furthermore, if Washington’s declared strategy towards Syria and Iraq is underpinned on the premise of planting a wedge between Tehran and Moscow, it should be said that Iran’s hegemony over Iraq is religiously, politically, and of course geographically, much stronger than its temporary effect in Syria. In fact, despite intensive campaigns of naturalization, Iranian presence in Syria remains practically a strategic ‘bridge’ to Lebanon and the Mediterranean.
In Syria, Russia may be willing to sacrifice its ‘special relationship’ with Iran if a regional agreement is in place taking into account Turkish, Kurdish and Israeli demands. Getting Iran out of Iraq, however, looks a far more difficult mission at this stage, more so without a serious American commitment, that does not seem to be there anyway.
Well, what about Lebanon? Here Hezbollah, which is Iran’s virtual occupation force, is attempting to finish off the phenomenon of Syrian refugees for which it was responsible in the first place. After uprooting and expelling the population of most Syrian border areas with Lebanon under the watchful eyes of the international community, from Tal Kalakh and Al-Qusayr in the north, and Al-Zabadani and Barada valley towns and village, via the area of Qalamoun, Hezbollah is now hell-bent on uprooting and displacing the population of Lebanese border towns which it feels are hindering its direct support to the Assad regime and Iran’s presence in Syria.
This means targeting the Sunni border town of Arsal which has played host to tens of thousands of displaced Syrians , and expelling its population under the pretext of eradicating “Takfiris”. This, incidentally, is the same justification used throughout the last few years in the demographic changes taking place through the Assad regime’s notorious ‘green buses’ and ‘liberation’ skills of the ‘Mobilization Forces’ in Syria and Iraq respectively.
I believe if there was an international decision taken at the highest level regarding the future of Syria, based on the recent US- Russia ‘understanding’, it would be pretty difficult to stop it. Several regional players that once claimed to be opposed either to the Americans or the Russians or both, seem to be now working with the two superpowers.
Moreover, regardless of whether Washington is willing or capable of getting Iran out of Iraq, the situation in both Syria and Lebanon looks quite different. The future of northern Syria is now linked to Turkish and Kurdish calculations, while what happens in southern Syria bordering Jordan, southeast Lebanon and Israel’s occupied Golan Heights will surely depend on Arab and Israeli moves.
In conclusion, if the US- Russia ‘understanding’ manages to rid Syria of Iranian presence and redefines its political and demographic affairs, the thorny issue of what to do with the Syrian president would lose its importance as real power is now somewhere else. However, if Iran maintains its foothold in Syria as a result of a tacit ‘deal’, then we should expect more suffering … and ‘green buses’!

ISIS Remains Dangerous in Defeat
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/July 15/17
With Mosul recaptured from ISIS, part of its old town already in the hands of US-backed groups, probably weeks from being taken, ISIS is likely soon to be wiped off war zone maps. Like Lord Voldemort in the early Harry Potter books, it won’t have a physical presence — but it will live on in other forms: the minds of the foreign fighters returning to their homelands, the online presence it has built and the souls of the disaffected Sunni populations in the areas that the terrorist group has held for years.
It’s important to assess all three dangers and start dealing with them even before the looming military defeat of ISIS.
The foreign fighters, reportedly, have been abandoning the failed caliphate in droves — the ones, that is, who haven’t been killed, a number that’s hard to estimate. But thousands of them are still in Syria and Iraq, and many will try to go home.
In 2013, Thomas Hegghammer, an authority on foreign fighters at the University of Oslo, calculated that of 401 terrorists who took part in attacks in the West between 1990 and 2010, 107 had traveled to foreign countries to fight with extremists. Hegghammer has estimated that at most, one in nine foreign fighters return to strike in the West, but, in a 2016 paper, Daniel Byman of Georgetown University argued that one in 20 would be more accurate. That could still mean a lot of attacks considering how big a magnet for foreigners ISIS has been.
According to Byman, the returnee threat is overrated, though. The former foreign fighters take a number of “off-ramps” on the road to terror, even if they outlive the conflicts in which they went to fight. Some go off to other Middle Eastern wars, and ISIS fighters now have the opportunity to move to Afghanistan and other places where the organization has active cells.
Others are intercepted by the intelligence services and put under such intensive surveillance that they can’t be effective as terrorists. Yet others find it hard, and perhaps demeaning, to apply the skills they gained fighting in a civil war to the clandestine planning to attacks on civilians.
But, in the case of ISIS returnees, the reasons why most won’t continue their violence will be psychological. Byman wrote:
At the start, simply defending the Syrian people against the regime’s brutality was the primary motivation of many foreign fighters, not defending them against a Western or other “foreign” enemy. Most joined the fight to gain bragging rights among their friends or to seek “excitement and adventure.” In their eyes, Syria seemed an admirable and an honorable way for them to do so.
Taking the fight to one’s peaceful neighbors is far more iffy in terms of bragging rights.
Besides, many will come back disappointed. ISIS propaganda promoted the caliphate’s territory as a paradise, based on their goals. But in reality, many of the foreigners couldn’t blend in with the locals, were given menial tasks, and were appalled by the brutality of the Middle Eastern civil conflict. Especially after a military defeat. It’s up to Western societies to make contact with them and seek their help in countering further terrorist propaganda. Denmark’s experience in foreign fighter rehabilitation could come in handy.
The ISIS propaganda network will still be in place after its military defeat, though the group’s dwindling financial resources have already hit its media operations hard. Ultimately, running recruitment campaigns on the social networks is cheap, and taking down the terrorists’ propaganda product is nothing but a game of whack-a-mole. But the propagandists will have trouble with the message.
The dream of an actual state was an effective propaganda tool for a while, and so was the buzz of early victories. That’s all in the past now, and propaganda channels have to push the tired idea of vengeance. It doesn’t measure up to the enormity of a looming apocalyptic battle against crusaders near the Syrian town of Dabiq, a mainstay of ISIS propaganda in previous years — until the town was captured from ISIS by the Syrian rebels last October, without much fanfare.
y attention of potential recruits. Defeat is hard to sell, as al-Qaeda has found out in the long years while its leaders were killed off and its bases destroyed one by one. The rise of ISIS would have been impossible without the erosion of that major terrorist “brand.”
The plight of the Sunni Arabs in the areas of Iraq and Syria that are being liberated today is more difficult to cope with than the returnees or the remaining ISIS propaganda operation. ISIS couldn’t have held on to these lands for as long as it did without local support.
But Mosul was ruined by the time it was liberated, and Raqqa will follow in its path. Rebuilding either — and other areas formerly held by ISIS — seems like a longshot given the resources of the Iraqi government and Syrian rebels. Reaching a political settlement is more realistic, but will also take time. The areas ISIS occupied are likely to be worse off once the terror group is gone.

Six months later: How different is the Trump administration?
Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/July 15/17
It has been nearly six months since Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States. The lavish inauguration at the Capitol Building in Washington DC stood at odds with the country’s struggling economy, growing poverty and financial uncertainty for millions of Americans.
Since then, Republicans and Democrats have been locked in one of the ugliest political fights in the history of their nation.
While Democrats are exposing every perceived failure by the Trump administration, chastising every decision and scrutinizing every word, Republicans are caught in a dichotomy. While they are aware of Trump’s unpredictability, and still suspicious of his unconvincing Republican credentials, they are still eager to use his term in office to implement their long-dormant agenda, including the repelling of The Obama health care plan, known as the Obamacare.
Media coverage of Trump’s performance has followed a predictable pattern, with the so-called ‘liberal’ media - the likes of CNN, New York Times and the Huffington Post - regularly condemning, belittling and criticizing the White House performance.
On the other hand, rightwing, populist media, like Fox News defend Trump’s actions, blocking any attempt at espousing a healthy and democratic debate. They constantly parade and exploit every opportunity at levying counter accusations at their enemies in Congress or media.
The country is thus split at the seams, leading to unprecedented political uncertainty.
However, since Trump’s inauguration, the dominant debate has largely focused on Trump himself – his misguided policies and personality. It has veered from any wholesome examination of the state of US economy or the miserable state of foreign policy and unwinnable wars that have preceded Trump.
Unipolar world
Since 1945, the United States has vied for total global leadership. The 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent disintegration of the Eastern Bloc, accorded it global hegemony. As a result, the US became the force that stabilized and destabilized any region in the world, at whim - as always, serving the interests of itself and its allies.
Political opinions and ideological strands in the US, and globally, were formulated around this reality. Often unwittingly, we are all pushed into one of two categories: pro- or anti-American.
For decades, many critical voices warned of an uncontested unipolar world. Conformists fought against the “un-American”, and ‘unpatriotic’ few, who dared break rank. In the late 1980s, Francis Fukuyama declared “the end of history”, now that the US and its Western allies managed to defeat Communism. He prophesied the end of ‘sociocultural evolution’, where a new form of a single human government can be formed. It appeared, however fleetingly, that all the obstacles before the American vision of total domination have been subdued.
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times imagined such a world in his bestselling book, ‘The World is Flat’. He wrote, with the wisdom of a sage and the triumph of a victorious war general, “Communism was a great system for making people equally poor – in fact, there was no better system in the world for that than communism. Capitalism made people unequally rich.”
But history never ended. It simply went through a new cycle of conflicts, problems and alliances. Unchecked consumerism was hardly a triumph for the neoliberal order, but a defeat of a delicately balanced planet, where global warming emerged as the world’s greatest enemy. American military power could hardly wait to re-arrange the Arab world, as once promised, by former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
As this progressed, the so-called “New Middle East”, has become a horrifying nightmare that haunts many countries and has destabilized the entire region. Worse still, the US economy has crashed, taking with it the global economy and reducing some of the smallest, most vulnerable countries to abject poverty.
Omitting the Past
When President Barack Obama came into power in 2008, his administration promised to be the ‘most transparent in history.’ At the end of second term in office eight years later, the discussion focused mainly on whether the Obama administration was, in fact, the ‘least transparent in history.’
By the end of his terms, Obama spoke of his success in stabilizing the economy and creating more jobs in a process of swift recovery. Yet, a US Federal Reserve survey last year concluded that nearly half of all Americans “did not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.”
Trump represents an amalgamation of American military power, business monopoly and media savvy. He seems smart enough to understand that his country requires a change of course, but lacks the will, wisdom and skills to guide it adequately.
The truth is, Americans did not elect Trump simply because they are ‘racist’, as some have self-righteously presumed, but because they are desperate. He knew how to exploit the many woes of his people with his ‘Making America Great Again’ mantras.
Expectedly, the greatest backlash to Trump’s chaotic politics emanates from the liberal and neoliberal forces in politics and economy that had assiduously defined and defended the failing American order for many years.
They continue to rebrand the failures of the past as either astounding successes, or well-intentioned but unsuccessful endeavors to make the world a better place. Read this confused language in the Brookings Institute to understand the complete lack of introspection:
“No American president since 1945, whether Republican or Democrat, has broken so decisively with the American stewardship of the postwar liberal global order,” wrote Constanze Stelzenmüller recently, with reference to Trump’s policies towards Europe and the rest of the world.
She opines: “In the service of the higher good of world peace, even the victorious superpower was willing to be bound to universal rules—a concession that admitted the existence of a worldwide community of humanity based on shared values rather than the principle of ‘might makes right.’“
Yet, immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US ‘might makes right’ phrase became the new doctrine that was championed by every US administration. In fact, Iraq was bombed by all US presidents since George H. Bush in 1991.
It has to be acknowledged that Trump is an outcome of the same American political system that gave birth to the Bush and Obama presidencies, not an alien life-force that is completely inconsistent with the past.
Trump represents an amalgamation of American military power, business monopoly and media savvy. He seems smart enough to understand that his country requires a change of course, but lacks the will, wisdom and skills to guide it adequately.
After six months in the Oval Office, Trump is presiding over the same old power struggle between the neo-conservative-type ideologues, seeking more interventions in order to re-arrange the world as they see fit, and the military brass who want the US military to reign supreme, but on a steady and predicable course.
While Trump himself rejected the idea of regime change during his campaign for office, Politico reported on June 25 that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, “appeared to endorse subverting the Iranian regime,” and the “philosophy of regime change.”
Meanwhile, the ideologues vs. the military brass battle, which had defined both terms of the George W. Bush administration, has returned. Foreign Policy detailed that ongoing fight in a revealing report on June 16. Indeed, contradictions in US foreign policy have become the norm, not the exception.
While chaos and contradictions abound, Trump’s allies are simply unable to sum up the ‘Trump doctrine.’ A top administration official tried, but failed. He told the Time that it is a “combination of very good personal skills - one-on-one … defeating ISIS and … commitment to people that there are certain things that the United States isn’t going to put up with.”

Have they ever read the history of the Muslim Brotherhood?
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/July 15/17
One of the most noticeable and strange observations when you have a conversation with someone defending the Muslim Brotherhood is that they are terribly ignorant regarding the history, the people and actions of the organization.
Those who rush to defend any group, party, sect or any side, need to be aware of the facts they are defending.
In this context, I recall that I met with one of the advocates defending the Muslim Brotherhood. He categorically denied that the (clean) MB had any criminal or terrorist history, and these are mere false accusations spread by their opponents.
I said to him: What about the killing of Judge Ahmad al-Khazandar, Prime Minister Ahmed Maher, Mahmoud al-Nukrashi as well as Cairo police Chief Salim Zaki.
The violent history
What about the bombing of movie theaters, Cinema Metro and others. What about the burning of Groppi and Chicorel shops, etc, all of which occurred in the royal era before the military rule in June 1952.
He denied knowing about these incidents. He said that all of these facts where new to him, and I won’t mention the stories of the “special regime” specialized in the assassinations and the manufacturing of bombs, add to which, they were innovators in inventing explosive belts, which was one of the plots put forward in the killing of President Abdel Nasser in the famous Manshiyya operation in 1954.
We have a complete library, most of which is written by the Muslim Brotherhood themselves. This library reveals their coup ideas and tells the details of the clandestine activities, murders and espionage
What about Sayed Qutb’s supervision of the most dangerous military terrorist organization as he aimed to control the government. This is not just the problem, but rather the way they used to get there by bombing the power stations and targeting the charity water dams, which control the flow of the Nile water in the overpopulated delta of Egypt; a mass killing of Egyptian people.
Confessions and memoirs
This is confirmed by members of this organization known as Organization 65. Ali Ashmawi, one of the leaders of Organization 65, has a book detailing the story of this organization. I am sure that my enthusiastic friend has not read this book. Maybe he was persuaded by the Brotherhood’s propaganda that Ali Ashmawi’s book was pure defamation.
We have a complete library, most of which is written by the Muslim Brotherhood themselves. This library reveals their coup ideas and tells the details of the clandestine activities, murders and espionage. It includes the memoirs of one of the leaders of the regime, Salah Shadi, and many others.
Among the books in this library, there are those written by officers who faced the Brotherhood over the decades from the 1950s to the 1980s. In this regard, I recall the book of former deputy head of the State Security Service, Major General Fouad Allam, and by the way he was the one who transferred Qutb from a prison to another, where death sentences were executed.
Fouad Allam’s book was not published again unfortunately. It is entitled: “The Muslim brotherhood and I... from Manshiyya to the podium.” He means by Manshiyya, the assassination attempt of Nasser in 1954, and the podium is where the assassination of President Sadat, at the military parade podium in Cairo in 1981. Those who do not read, will be doomed to ignorance.

More recollections of Eid overseas
Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi/Al Arabiya/July 15/17
In a previous article, I recalled some of my memories about the celebration of the Eid festival while I was working as a diplomat in a number of countries. These included one of the most unforgettable Eid feasts that coincided with the G-77 conference held in the northern Colombian city of Cartagena in South America. I was part of the Saudi delegation attending the conference.
Eid Al-Adha was a working day, coinciding with the first day of the conference during which two sessions were held. The first session was from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. while the second session was from 4 p.m. until 7 pm As a Muslim, I felt that it was our right to celebrate the Eid festival.
I contacted some members of the delegations from Muslim countries and suggested requesting that the conference presidency declare that Eid Al-Adha a holiday without any meetings so that we could celebrate the day. Most of the delegates I spoke to welcomed the idea and agreed to approach the presidency with the request.
We finally received approval from the presidency after arduous negotiations. The first thing that we thought about was offering the Eid prayer. Then, our thoughts revolved around who would lead the prayer and where the prayer would be performed.
The group of Muslim diplomats would have dispersed without having an opportunity to perform Eid prayers if I had not come forward to exert efforts with delegations from other Islamic countries
Fortunately, a translator volunteered to be the imam and khateeb. One of the officials of the hotel in which the conference was being held was a Pakistani. He expressed the hotel’s readiness to provide a place for performing Eid prayer. He also expressed the hotel’s readiness to hold a tea party for the worshipers after the prayers.
On the morning of Eid, we gathered in the hall allotted by the hotel to perform Eid prayer, but the man who promised to lead the prayer did not appear. We could not find an alternative. So I expressed my readiness to carry out the task, but I could not recall how Eid prayer was performed, especially how many takbeers one has to make in every rakaah.
I said that if there was anyone who could provide me with the information, I was ready to lead the prayer. After intensive discussions and consultations, we got the correct information on how Eid prayer is performed, and I carried out my role as imam.
Return to the topic
What prompted me to return to this topic once again was comments made by a reader of my article. He said: “It was shocking that a Saudi diplomat does not remember the number of takbeers in the Eid prayer.” I was really surprised when I read this comment. Firstly, a diplomat like other people might forget something.
Secondly, Eid prayer is not like the five daily obligatory prayers or Friday prayers of every week that believers are accustomed to do regularly. Thirdly, a diplomat is not required to lead people in Eid or Friday prayers or even in congregation prayers unless there is a dire need for him to do so. Because of our presence in a non-Islamic country, I agreed to take the role of imam in the absence of a more qualified person, as it was an unavoidable responsibility.
I agree with the reader with regard to the Saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him), reported by Abu Masud Al-Ansari. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “The person who is well versed in the recitation of the Book of Allah, should lead the prayer; but if all those present are equally versed in it, then the one who has most knowledge of the Sunnah should lead it...”
But in our case, there was no one who had any competency in leading the prayer. If there had been anyone who was willing to perform this mission, there would not have been any reluctance on my part to let him do so.
Leading prayers
As I pointed out, the person who had expressed his desire to lead the prayer was absent. No one from among the attendees came forward, expressing his willingness to lead the worshipers. It was only then that I agree to do so.
But I shared with the worshipers the problem that handicapped me in carrying out the mission properly by admitting that I did not remember the number of takbeers to be pronounced in each rakaah. I asked the attendees if any of them knew the exact number of takbeers in each rakaah. As it turned out one of them did and, therefore, I was able to lead the prayer.
All of the worshipers were delegates attending the G77 conference and most of the delegates were diplomats accredited to Latin American countries or part of the permanent missions of various countries at the United Nations headquarters in New York. For example, the delegation of Saudi Arabia was comprised of four people, headed by the permanent representative at the UN.
The group of Muslim diplomats would have dispersed without having an opportunity to perform Eid prayers if I had not come forward to exert efforts with delegations from other Islamic countries as well as with the presidency of the conference to make the Eid day a holiday.