July 17/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
None of you will be puffed up in favour of one against another. For who sees anything different in you
First Letter to the Corinthians 04/01-08/:"Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they should be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God. I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, ‘Nothing beyond what is written’, so that none of you will be puffed up in favour of one against another.
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you!"

The Proverb of the 10 bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 25/01-13/:"‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, "Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out."But the wise replied, "No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves." And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, "Lord, lord, open to us." But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I do not know you."Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 16-17/17
Lebanese Journalist And Politician Naufal Daou: Hizbullah Is Occupying Lebanon/MEMRI/July 16/17
Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon: Israel will destroy Lebanon's infrastructure in next war/The Jerusalem Post/July 16/17
Qatar: The Wolf Protecting the Sheep/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/July 16/17
Donald Jr.-Russia Revelations are a Tipping Point but not Treason/
Eli Lake/Bloomberg/July 16/17
Slaughtered Christians "A Viable Target"?/Muslim Persecution of Christians/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/July 16/17
The Modernization of Middle East is a Sight to See/Amir Taheri/Gatestone Institute/July 16/17
Bin Subaih’s courage and the scandals about Qatar/Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/July 16/17
It’s time we invest in our own startups, not just in Silicon Valley/Yara al-Wazir/Al Arabiya/July 16/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 16-17/17
Lebanese Journalist And Politician Naufal Daou: Hizbullah Is Occupying Lebanon
Lebanese Detained in Tehran Pleads for his Release
Lebanon’s Berri Suggests Approach to Negotiate Syrian Refugees’ Return
Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon: Israel will destroy Lebanon's infrastructure in next war
Aoun: Public financial control is through transparent financial accounts
Rahi to Aoun: Lebanese people implore you to rectify the course of the definite return of refugees to their homeland
Al-Rahi Says Refugees Impoverishing Lebanese, Backs Calls for Sending Them Home
Khalil says salary scale to be approved next week, calls for rallying around army in its battle against terrorism
Report: Army Won't 'Replace' Hizbullah in Arsal Battle, Party to Attack from Syria
Bazzi: It is forbidden to impose conditions on army
Clash Feared as Syrian, Lebanese Groups Call for Rival Demos
Qaouq Urges Addressing Refugee Crisis 'Away from Saudi Diktats'
Berri, Jumblatt convene in presence of Khalil, Abu Faour
Karam voices support to adopting salary scale

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 16-17/17
Russia Sees ‘Correction’ in Syrian Opposition’s Approach towards Assad
Syrian opposition: We haven’t eased conditions regarding Assad’s removal
Syrian state TV reports blast north of government-controlled Latakia
Macron urges Netanyahu to establish two states with Jerusalem as their capital
Netanyahu Meets Macron to Test French Stance on Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
King Abdullah II speaks with Netanyahu, condemns Aqsa Mosque attack
Israel Reopens Aqsa Compound after Two-Day Closure
OIC Chief Warns Israeli Authorities on Transgressions against Al Aqsa Mosque
Saudi FM: We Will Provide France with Comprehensive Dossier of Qatar’s Violations
Saudi Crown Prince Congratulates US Defense Secretary on Mosul Victory
Iraq PM Abadi Attends Military Parade Celebrating Mosul Victory
6 Boycotting Countries Demand FIFA Strip Qatar of World Cup 2022
Hurghada Attacker Told Egyptians: I Do not Target You
Egypt says 1 killed, 50 injured in clashes on Nile islands
Iran jails US dual national for 10 years for spying
Iran President's Brother Arrested on Financial Crime Charges
Israel Reopens al-Aqsa Compound but Introduces Controversial Security Measures
Venezuelans Cast Ballots in Opposition Vote
A year after failed coup in Turkey, Erdogan says 'behead traitors'

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 16-17/17
Lebanese Journalist And Politician Naufal Daou: Hizbullah Is Occupying Lebanon
MEMRI/July 16/17
Lebanese journalist Naufal Daou, a member of March 14 Alliance, called upon the Christians and other Lebanese to oppose Hizbullah. "Our problem today in Lebanon is that Hizbullah is just like any occupying force," with illegitimate weapons, he said, adding that nobody dares to open his mouth. Locking horns with the TV interviewer, Dima Sadek, who said that there was no army in Lebanon other than the Lebanese army, Daou said: "The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are here. They are called Hizbullah." He was speaking on LDC TV on June 28.
Naufal Daou: "The Christians should start to expose the illegitimacy of Hizbullah and its weapons.
"The Christians must say, plain and simple, that our source of authority is the state, which protects us, and not the Assad regime, Iran, or any foreign regional axis.
"Every time we try to reach a settlement we make things worse. The settlement that made Michel Aoun president was an historic mistake, just like the [2008] Doha Agreement. It was an historic mistake. If you ask me what needs to be done, I will tell you, plain and simple: The Christians and the other Lebanese should say to Hassan Nasrallah: This is wrong. Go take a flying leap.
"Whatever happens, we won't back you. What will he do – occupy Lebanon? He's already done so. What's he going to do? Let me tell you what the problem is. Our problem today in Lebanon is that Hizbullah is just like any occupying force. First of all... Let me finish..."
Dima Sadek: "But as an interviewer, I can't agree..."
Naufal Daou: "No, no..."
Dima Sadek: "You're talking about occupation..."
Naufal Daou: "That's my opinion."
Dima Sadek: "But this is an offense to some Lebanese..."
Naufal Daou: "No, it's not. This is an occupation. If you don't let me call it an occupation, I'll take offense. This is where the resistance to Hizbullah begins."
Dima Sadek: "But they are Lebanese."
Naufal Daou: "So what? These Lebanese are illegitimate because they occupy us by the force of the gun. Their weapons are illegitimate. It is an occupation force that has taken over our political decision-making. They seek the help of mercenaries. They threaten to bring mercenaries to Lebanon in defiance of the position of the state.
"Today, nobody dares to open his mouth. Thirty ministers in the government, and none of them dares to say to Nasrallah: 'What gives you the right to say what you say?' The president keeps his mouth shut. The army commander keeps his mouth shut. The defense and foreign ministers keep their mouths shut. Nobody even mentions U.N. Resolutions 1701 and 1559. Nobody talks about Lebanon's international obligations. Nobody says that there can be no military force in Lebanon other than the Lebanese army and the U.N. forces. If you start to..."
Dima Sadek: "I didn’t know there was any army here apart from the Lebanese army."
Naufal Daou: "You think so?"
Dima Sadek: "I know so."
Naufal Daou: "Whatever..."
Dima Sadek: "There is no other army in Lebanon."
Naufal Daou: "Well..."
Dima Sadek: "The Syrian army used to be here. But is there any foreign army here today?"
Naufal Daou: "The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are here. They are called Hizbullah. Don't tell me... Don’t try to muzzle me..."
Dima Sadek: "I'm not. I'm giving you facts. The members of these 'Revolutionary Guard Corps' are Lebanese, not Iranian."
Naufal Daou: "So what if they are Lebanese? Whose orders do they obey?"

Lebanese Detained in Tehran Pleads for his Release
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Beirut – A Lebanese detainee, who has been arrested in Iran on charges of spying for the United States, has pleaded with the concerned authorities to release him. Nizar Zakka, who has been on a hunger strike for 18 days, said: “I have reached the end. I am very tired. I am not doing well.”“Don’t let me die silently,” he was quoted as saying according to local Lebanese online platforms. Secretary General of the Arab ICT Organization (Ijma’a), Engineer Nizar Zakka was arrested in Tehran in wake of his participation in a conference that was held in September 2015. He was kidnapped while he was headed to the airport to depart the country. It was later revealed that he was detained by the Iranian authorities. In 2016, an Iranian court sentenced him to ten years in jail and fined him 4.2 million dollars on charges of conspiring against the state. His lawyer, Badawi Abou Deeb, later appealed the sentence. Zakka began a hunger strike in June in an attempt to pressure authorities to release him without any conditions. “His open-ended strike is a protest against his arrest in what was a violation of the most basic of human rights and all international laws. He will carry on with his strike until he is freed without any conditions,” said his lawyer at the time.

Lebanon’s Berri Suggests Approach to Negotiate Syrian Refugees’ Return
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Beirut – Speaker Nabih Berri suggested on Saturday a new approach that allows Beirut to coordinate with Damascus the return of Syrian refugees without making any Lebanese leader visit Syria. The announcement of Berri comes as “an exit for the crisis,” as ministers are divided over how the government should coordinate with the Syrian regime to solve the issue of the return of Syrian refugees back home. The Mustaqbal Movement and Lebanese Forces strongly oppose any direct coordination with Damascus and say Lebanon should manage the refugees’ return to Syria only with the United Nations. Berri said he understands the Mustaqbal’s position in this regard, adding: “However, this does not prevent the presence of coordination.”The speaker stressed that he completely supports coordinating with the Syrian regime over this issue, however, adding: “We ask no Lebanese official to visit Syria.”His approach stipulates that indirect coordination be launched between Lebanon and the Syrian regime, due to the presence of diplomatic relations between Beirut and Damascus. An indirect coordination therefore seems feasible in the presence of embassies, in addition to the presence of security coordination between the two sides, currently led by General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim. Lebanese government sources close to forces supporting the coordination with Syria told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that western states were currently coordinating with the authorities in Damascus and that some of them were contacting the regime, adding: “Why can’t Lebanon coordinate with the regime over this issue?” Former Minister of Social Affairs Rashid Derbas told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that 43 percent of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon come from Syrian areas, which are currently considered safe. He said the file should be removed from the sphere of internal dispute. “Lebanon should benefit from Berri’s Arab relations to establish zones suitable for the return of those refugees in Syrian areas where tension has decreased.”

Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon: Israel will destroy Lebanon's infrastructure in next war/يعالون: إسرائيل ستدمر بنى لبنان التحتية في الحرب المقبلة
The Jerusalem Post/July 16/17
"If Khamenei wants war. then Lebanon will go to war, and every Lebanese [person] will suffer from the next war."
Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon said Sunday to a Saudi news website that the decisions in Lebanon are made by the Iranian supreme leader, Ali Khameini, and not by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. In the interview on the London-based "Elaph," Ya'alon pointed to Iran as governing the actions of Hezbollah, its proxy group in Lebanon, and the possible implications for Israel."There is no nation called Lebanon, the decisions are made by Iran and not by the president or Nasrallah," Ya'alon said. "If Khamenei wants war, then Lebanon will go to war, and every Lebanese [person] will suffer from the next war because all infrastructure will be destroyed." Regarding weapons manufacturers in Lebanon that were built by Iran, the former minister said, "I am sorry that the matter arose in the media before their destruction."Israeli officials have said that since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 Hezbollah has taken deeper control of the country and that Lebanon is now more directly supporting Hezbollah’s military efforts.
Preventing Hezbollah from improving the accuracy of its amassed projectile stockpile is the “top priority” of the army, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot earlier in July. According to Israel estimates last year, Hezbollah has more than 120,000 missiles in its possession. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told the UN Security Council last July that Hezbollah has multiplied its stock of projectiles by 17 times the amount of missiles it had 10 years ago. Hezbollah vowed to “surprise Israel” during any upcoming war, upping the war of words between the Lebanese Shi’ite terror group and Israel.
In an interview with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV channel on the 11th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, the head of the group’s Executive Council Sayyed Hashem Safieddine said that Hezbollah has been changing and developing new military capabilities.At a briefing with journalists last week Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah was a redline for Israel, which will continue to act to prevent the group from getting them.
“We take everything seriously. We are certainly aware of the reports and we will do what needs to be done. This is a significant phenomenon and we cannot ignore it. Precise weapons such as these missiles are a challenge. Compared to past wars they will hit deep inside Israeli territory,” Liberman said.
Turning to the civil war in Syria where Hezbollah has sent ground forces, Ya'alon said that "Israel holds red lines." He also denied Syrian President Bashar Assad's claims that Israel supports al-Qaida splinter ground Jabat Al-Nusra and other jihadi organizations."He also spoke on the relationship between Israel and Gulf states, emphasizing that "the relationship is based on mutual interest, and the issue of uncovering this coordination is in the hands of those states." The former minister emphasized that at this stage this is no possibility for a final solution with the Palestinians, but there is for economic and security coordination, while tightened the embargo on Hamas. "Mahmoud Abbas is shying from responsibility, and is afraid to take responsibility," he said. "He has disappointed the Saudi's and the Egyptians."
**Anna Ahronheim and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this article.

Aoun: Public financial control is through transparent financial accounts
Sun 16 Jul 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, stressed Sunday on the need to preserve public funds through endorsing the budget that determines the State's revenues and expenditures. "The control of public finances is through transparent financial accounts," Aoun told deputies he met this afternoon, calling for "respecting the rights of citizens and keeping them away from electoral bidding."The President said that the phase that the country is going through is "delicate and requires a rise to the level of national responsibility in dealing with matters that preserve the State's stability and financial safety."

Rahi to Aoun: Lebanese people implore you to rectify the course of the definite return of refugees to their homeland
Sun 16 Jul 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bchara Boutros al-Rahi, Sunday called on President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, to recalibrate the course of the definite return of refugees to their homeland. "Lebanese citizens rely on Your Excellency in re-addressing the path of the definite return of the Syrian displaced to their country, away from any political differences that hinder the desired solutions," Rahi said. The Patriarch's words came as he presided over a Mass service marking Saint Charbel's Day at Annaya's Monastery, which was attended by President Aoun and First Lady, Nadia Aoun, for the first time in three years. "We know well your good intentions and huge aspirations, and what aids the people in their steadfastness and hopeful endurance is their conviction that you feel their social, economic, security and daily living sufferings and concerns for the future. These fears are increasing in the presence of two million Syrian refugees who snatch their daily bread, causing deprivation and poverty in the Lebanese society," Rahi went on. "Certain malpractices are restricting the State's ability to revive the economy and to provide social benefits to citizens," Rahi noted. The Patriarch wished President Aoun a successful and peaceful presidential mandate and all the wisdom to manage the State's affairs. He also raised prayers to the Lord on this special occasion of Saint Charbel's Day to bless this country and enable its leadership to build a true nation and State, and to preserve its mission and existence amidst its surroundings and the international community.

Al-Rahi Says Refugees Impoverishing Lebanese, Backs Calls for Sending Them Home
Naharnet/July 16/17/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday warned that Syrian refugees in the country have worsened the living conditions of the Lebanese, voicing support for recent calls for sending the refugees home. “You are sensing people's economic, social and security burdens and their fear for the future, which are growing amid the presence of two million refugees and displaced individuals who are taking away the bread of the Lebanese and pushing them into a state of poverty and deprivation while forcing our young generations to emigrate,” al-Rahi said, addressing President Michel Aoun, who attended a mass marking St. Charbel's Day in Annaya. “Despite our humanitarian solidarity with these refugees and displaced, the Lebanese call on the president to rectify the course of their certain return to their country, away from the political disputes that are obstructing the needed solutions,” the patriarch added. Hizbullah, the Free Patriotic Movement and some of their allies have recently called for returning Syrian refugees to so-called safe zones inside Syria in coordination with the Syrian regime, but other parties led by al-Mustaqbal Movement and the Lebanese Forces have insisted that any such move should only be coordinated with the U.N. and not with Damascus.Controversy over the issue has so far prevented the Lebanese government from taking a stance on the file and a ministerial panel is currently preparing a paper on the issue.

Khalil says salary scale to be approved next week, calls for rallying around army in its battle against terrorism
Sun 16 Jul 2017/NNA - Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil indicated Sunday that the salary scale issue will be endorsed this upcoming week, while stressing the need to stand in unison behind the Lebanese army in its battle against terrorism. Khalil reiterated "commitment to the choice of resistance in defending our nation and protecting our sovereignty in the face of the enemy and its plots that target our nation and power." Khalil's words came during his participation in a memorial ceremony organized in the town of Kherbet Selm, where he represented House Speaker, Nabih Berri.

Report: Army Won't 'Replace' Hizbullah in Arsal Battle, Party to Attack from Syria
Naharnet/July 16/17/The possibility that the Lebanese army carry out the anticipated Arsal operation instead of Hizbullah is “ruled out,” a military source has said. “Should the battle erupted, it will be launched from Syrian territory and Hizbullah will carry it out with support from the Syrian army,” the source told al-Hayat newspaper in remarks published Sunday. “The Lebanese army's mission would be to protect the eastern border and prevent militants from retreating towards Lebanese territory or from taking hostage the (refugee) encampment that lies in the al-Malahi area in Arsal's outskirts,” the military source added. The “countdown” for Hizbullah's campaign against the jihadists of Fateh al-Sham and Islamic State in Arsal's outskirts has started, according to media reports, in the wake of an ultimatum that has been issued by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. “Hizbullah has finished the necessary preparations for this battle,” al-Joumhouria newspaper has said. Syrian warplanes have waged intense raids on Arsal's outskirts in recent days. Jihadists from Fateh al-Sham and the rival Islamic State group are entrenched in mountainous areas in Arsal's outskirts and in other Lebanon-Syria border areas. They overran Arsal in 2014 before being ousted after days of deadly battles with the Lebanese army.

Bazzi: It is forbidden to impose conditions on army
Sun 16 Jul 2017 /NNA - "Development and Liberation" parliamentary bloc member, Deputy Ali Bazzi, Sunday refused placing constraints or limitations to the Lebanese Army when countering and defeating terrorist entities. "It is forbidden that political forces set conditions on the actions of the army in its open war against terrorism and Zionists," MP Bazzi underscored. Bazzi lashed out at politicians for criticizing the Lebanese Army in its recent operation against terrorists in Arsal, stressing that "no one is allowed to attack or question the action of the army." Bazzi's words came during a memorial ceremony held in the town of Qaaqa'yat al-Jisr.

Clash Feared as Syrian, Lebanese Groups Call for Rival Demos
Naharnet/July 16/17/Calls for rival demos at the same place and time by a number of Syrian and Lebanese groups and threats of violence from some parties have sparked concerns that the Samir Qassir Square in central Beirut could witness a Syrian-Lebanese clash on Tuesday. “We call on the interior minister to ban the protest of Syrian regime opponents on Tuesday because a lot of Lebanese will take part in the rival demo and a problem will erupt,” Arab Tawhid Party chief Wiam Wahhab, who is a staunch supporter of Damascus, warned. “We call on all Lebanese to rally on Tuesday in support of the Lebanese army in the face of terrorism,” he tweeted. Wahhab also threatened that “if the State does not ban the demo that is against the Lebanese army, many Lebanese forces will take charge of this and the protest will be prohibited.”A Facebook page called The Union of Syrian People in Lebanon had initially posted a call for a Saturday demo before postponing the event to Tuesday. “Independent Syrian and Lebanese activists and civil society groups are organizing a sit-in in solidarity with the Syrian refugees on Saturday, July 15 at Beirut's Samir Qassir Square,” the invitation text said. The page has stressed that it is calling for a “peaceful” demo and that the organizers have an authorization from the interior ministry. “They are saying that our demo is against the Lebanese army and this is untrue. The protest will be peaceful and in solidarity with the Syrians in Lebanon and their rights. The participants will be of several nationalities and will comprise supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime,” the page announced on Saturday, in the wake of Wahhab's tweets. The rival calls amid tensions sparked by the army's recent raids on two Syrian refugee encampments in and around the northeastern border town of Arsal in which more than 350 Syrians were detained. The mass arrests followed a confrontation between troops and a number of militants in the two encampments during which five men blew themselves up and others hurled grenades at the army. The army said seven soldiers were wounded and a Syrian child was killed in the incident. The military's treatment of detainees after the Arsal operation has sparked fierce controversy in Lebanon and among Syrians, particularly after images emerged of troops apparently detaining scores of refugees and an army announcement that four detainees had died due to “chronic health problems aggravated by weather conditions.”

Qaouq Urges Addressing Refugee Crisis 'Away from Saudi Diktats'
Naharnet/July 16/17/Hizbullah central council official Sheikh Nabil Qaouq on Sunday called for addressing the thorny issue of returning Syrian refugees to their country “with a patriotic approach and away from Saudi diktats.”“The Syrian refugee crisis is a major crisis that is as big as the country and it is a humanitarian crisis that cannot be ignored,” Qaouq added, lamenting that the crisis is “strangling Lebanon and putting burdens on the security, stability, economy and living conditions of the Lebanese.” “There are forces abiding by the Saudi veto that rejects any communication with the state in Syria,” the Hizbullah official decried. Turning to the issue of the presence of the jihadist groups Fateh al-Sham and Islamic State in the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal, Qaouq pointed out that “Lebanon is before a real chance to eradicate takfiri terrorism from Arsal's outskirts.”“Lebanon is capable of making a new national achievement against the takfiri threat, through cooperation and integration between the Lebanese army and the resistance,” the Hizbullah official added. He warned that Fateh al-Sham and IS' “continued occupation of Lebanese territory represents a challenge and a violation of Lebanon's entire sovereignty, freedom and dignity, and a continuous and real threat to all Lebanese.” According to media reports, the “countdown” for Hizbullah's campaign in Arsal's outskirts has started, in the wake of an ultimatum that has been issued by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. “Hizbullah has finished the necessary preparations for this battle,” al-Joumhouria newspaper has said. Syrian warplanes have waged intense raids on Arsal's outskirts in recent days. Jihadists from Fateh al-Sham and the rival Islamic State group are entrenched in mountainous areas in Arsal's outskirts and in other Lebanon-Syria border areas. They overran Arsal in 2014 before being ousted after days of deadly battles with the Lebanese army.

Berri, Jumblatt convene in presence of Khalil, Abu Faour
Sun 16 Jul 2017/NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, is currently meeting at Ain el-Teeneh with Democratic Gathering Chief, MP Walid Jumblatt, in presence of Finance Minister, Ali Hasan Khalil, and MP Wael Abu Faour.

Karam voices support to adopting salary scale
Sun 16 Jul 2017/NNA - "Lebanese Forces" Member, Deputy Fadi Karam, Sunday stressed support to the endorsement of the salary scale, refusing to separate it from public budget. "Lebanese Forces supports the approval of the wage scale and refuses to separate it from the public budget, based on the principle of achieving balance between expenditures and incomes," MP Karam said during an interview to "Voice of Lebanon" Radio Station. The lawmaker considered that financing the salary scale for retirees required more deliberations, anticipating that "discussions between the representatives of parliamentary blocs and Minister of Finance tomorrow will lead to the adoption of the wage scale."Karam hailed the qualitative operation carried out by the Lebanese Army against extremists in Arsal's outskirts, saying that said operation "was covered politically.""Pre-emptive security operations remain the best way to protect Lebanon from terrorism," he went on. He also expressed confidence in the Army institution that warded off the danger of the crises surrounding Lebanon. Commenting on the displaced file, Karam wondered about the political calculations of the international community and its role in helping Lebanon, which alone bears the economic burden of this displacement. He called on the Lebanese State "to put pressure on the international community to ensure the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland."Commenting on the Lebanese Forces (LF) and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) relations, the Deputy cut firmly on allegations of differences between the two parties, saying that the relation is strong and ongoing.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 16-17/17
Russia Sees ‘Correction’ in Syrian Opposition’s Approach towards Assad
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Moscow, Beirut – Russian Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Alexei Borodavkin said on Saturday that the UN-led Syria talks have a chance to make progress because demands for the overthrow of regime leader Bashar Assad have receded. Borodavkin told reporters that the seventh round of talks, which ended in Geneva on Friday, produced positive results, especially a “correction” in the approach of the High Negotiations Committee, the main opposition delegation. “The essence of this correction is that during this round, the opposition never once demanded the immediate resignation of Assad and the legitimate Syrian regime,” the Russian envoy said. Borodavkin said that the HNC has realized that peace should be first reached and then discussions could be launched regarding political reforms. “If they again slide into… ultimatums and preconditions that are not realistic, then this will not fly. This will lead the negotiations, be it direct or indirect, into a deadlock,” he said. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime violated on Saturday the US-Russian truce in southern Syria by shelling the city of Daraa al-Balad. However, despite the violations, the truce held in the area. The regime is seeking to isolate the Damascus eastern suburbs of Jobar from eastern Ghouta. Regime warplanes launched on Saturday five airstrikes in Jobar and the town of Ain Tarma and its surroundings at the western outskirts of eastern Ghouta. Fierce battles also erupted at the frontlines of Arafa in Jobar and other frontlines in Wadi Tarma and its surrounding. Also on Saturday, there were attempts to contain a near confrontation between Ahrar Al-Sahm and Jabhat Tahrir al-Sham in Sarakib in the Idlib countryside where the two forces have called for military reinforcements. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a decrease in the frequency of violations in the three southern provinces of Souweida, Queintra and Daraa, following the southern truce, which began on July 9 following a US-Russian-Jordanian agreement.

Syrian opposition: We haven’t eased conditions regarding Assad’s removal
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Sunday, 16 July 2017/Syrian opposition leader, Riyad Hijab has expressed the opposition’s resolve on the removal of Bashar al-Assad and his followers who are responsible for crimes against the Syrian people.
In a series of tweets, Hijab stated that claims by the Russian ambassador in Geneva about concessions by the opposition regarding Assad’s future was “purely media fraud and is contrary to professionalism and credibility”. He also added that the Syrian people had already voiced their opinion regarding the regime, which the negotiating team has no right to ignore. Meanwhile Spokesman for the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) Munther Makhos said no results were achieved after the Geneva talks and, therefore, the opposition is sticking to the initial transition plan stipulated in the Geneva Declaration.

Syrian state TV reports blast north of government-controlled Latakia

Reuters, Amman Sunday, 16 July 2017/Syrian state television reported a “terrorist explosion” north of the government-held coastal city of Latakia on Sunday and cited reports of casualties.The blast took place in Ras Shamra, a town about 12 km north of the city, state television said. It gave no further details.

Macron urges Netanyahu to establish two states with Jerusalem as their capital
Ynetnews/Associated Press/July 16/17/In ceremony honoring the victims of a mass deportation of French Jews from the Vel d'Hiv stadium outside Paris to Nazi camps, French President Emmanuel Macron calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu to resume peace talks and establish two states with Jerusalem as their capital, warns settlements could prevent an outcome of two states. French President Emmanuel Macron appealed Sunday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to create two independent states. Macron warned, however, that continued Jewish settlement construction could threaten such negotiations and eventual peace prospects.  "I call for a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in the framework of the search for a solution of two states, Israel and Palestine, living in recognized, secure borders with Jerusalem as the capital," Macron told reporters. At his side, Netanyahu said, "We share the same desire for a peaceful Middle East," but didn't elaborate on eventual peace talks.Macron condemned an attack last week that killed two Israeli police officers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City. Macron's office said he is concerned about Israel's security but also worried that Netanyahu is backing away from commitment to a two-state solution. Macron said France is ready to apply diplomatic levers toward renewed negotiations but gave no specifics. He didn't indicate any eagerness for France to spearhead such negotiations, after a fruitless French diplomatic effort early this year.
The two leaders also discussed fighting extremism in Syria and elsewhere, and improving economic cooperation.  Earlier Sunday, Macron denounced his country's collaboration in the Holocaust, lashing out Sunday at those who still downplay the French role in sending tens of thousands of Jews to death. Commemorating 75 years since a mass roundup of French Jews alongside Netanyahu, Macron insisted that "it was indeed France that organized this." He said "not a single German" was directly involved, but French police collaborating with the Nazis. Macron dismissed arguments by French far right leaders that the collaborationist Vichy regime didn't represent the French state, saying that is "convenient, but it is false." Holocaust survivors recounted wrenching stories at the ceremony at the Vel d'Hiv stadium outside Paris, where French police rounded up some 13,000 people on July 16-17, 1942, before they were sent on to camps. Fewer than 100 survived. Macron also pledged to fight continued anti-Semitism and called for thorough investigation into the recent killing of a Parisian woman believed linked to anti-Jewish sentiment.
Netanyahu said that "recently we have witnessed a rise of extremist forces that seek to destroy not only the Jews, but of course the Jewish state as well, but well beyond that. ... Your struggle is our struggle. The zealots of militant Islam, who seek to destroy you, seek to destroy us as well. We must stand against them together." Pro-Palestinian and other activists protested Netanyahu's appearance, criticizing Jewish settlement policy and the blockade of Gaza.

Netanyahu Meets Macron to Test French Stance on Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Paris – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to hold talks on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, marking the first time the two officials meet. The meeting will be an opportunity for the Israeli to PM to test the role that Paris is seeking to play in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. French expert on the Palestinian cause Jean-Paul Chagnollaud said that “France’s stance is still somewhat vague on the matter.”After hosting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Elysee Palace earlier this month, Macron had voiced his support for the two-state solution. He had also condemned Israeli settlements.These stances are traditional of the French foreign policy and therefore they did not reveal whether Paris is seeking to revive the French initiative that was made by former President Francois Hollande. The proposal calls for an international effort to resolve the conflict. He had organized in January 2017 an international conference on the Middle East, which had angered Israel at the time. Chagnollaud said: “Netanyahu is a fierce politician and he wants to make sure that France will not meddle any more than that.”He remarked that Hollande and his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy sought to build good ties with the Israeli premier, “but they quickly failed.”Palestinian-Israeli negotiations had come to a halt in 2014 and they have not been resumed since.

King Abdullah II speaks with Netanyahu, condemns Aqsa Mosque attack
Sun 16 Jul 2017/NNA - King Abdullah II in a phone call on Saturday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stressed the need for de-escalation at Al-Aqsa Mosque, reiterating his condemnation of the attack in Jerusalem on Friday and the rejection of violence in all its forms, especially in holy sites and places of worship. King Abdullah urged the Israeli prime minister to reopen Al-Haram Al-Sharif to worshippers, stressing Jordan's absolute rejection of the continued closure, Jordan News Agency said. The King underlined the need to prevent any party from disrupting security and stability, which could lead to further violence and extremism. The Israeli army closed Al-Aqsa Mosque after three Palestinians and two Israeli policemen were killed, where the Israeli occupying authorities have decided to gradually reopen the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem to Muslim worshippers on Sunday. ---KUNA

Israel Reopens Aqsa Compound after Two-Day Closure
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Israeli authorities reopened the al-Aqsa Compound on Sunday, two days after it was closed following a deadly shooting. The closure had sparked fears of the eruption of clashes. Director of the Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani had warned that the prolonged closure of the mosque would be tantamount to an invitation for violence in the region. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Israel is reoccupying the mosque for the first time since 1967 through preventing the call to prayer and worshippers from praying at the site, including on Friday.” “We are closely watching the development and hold Israel completely responsible for what is taking place at al-Aqsa,” he warned. On Friday, three Arab-Israeli gunmen shot dead two Israeli policemen on the outskirts of the compound, holy to Muslims and Jews, and were then killed by security forces. It was one of the most serious attacks in the area in years. Israeli authorities then shut the compound down citing security concerns, just hours before Muslim Friday prayers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Saturday that the site, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, would be open from Sunday noon to Muslim worshippers, tourists and Jewish visitors.

OIC Chief Warns Israeli Authorities on Transgressions against Al Aqsa Mosque
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Saturday strongly condemned Israel’s closure of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the banning of Friday prayers for the first time since 1969, describing it as a crime, a serious precedent, a blatant transgression against a holy site and an attack on the rights and freedom of Palestinians to practice their religious rites. Israeli authorities shut the area, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews, after a shooting attack. OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen warned of the Israeli occupation’s attempts to impose new facts inside Al Aqsa mosque, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). He called on the international community to act immediately to deter repeated Israeli attacks against Islamic and Christian holy sites in occupied Al Quds and to stop Israel’s racist violations and crimes against the Palestinian people and their holy sites.

Saudi FM: We Will Provide France with Comprehensive Dossier of Qatar’s Violations
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Jeddah – Any resolution of the Gulf crisis should come from within the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, stressed Saudi Arabia and France, adding that everyone should be fully committed against terrorism, those who support and fund it, and spread extremist ideologies. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir stressed that Riyadh has basic principles for relations that must be committed to by all countries, including Qatar. “The first is not supporting or financing terrorism. The second is to refrain from supporting extremism, inciting and spreading hatred through the media in any form. Also, countries must abstain from hosting terrorist people, those involved in terrorist financing or those wanted by their countries. And finally, refrain from interfering in the affairs of regional countries,” stated the FM. Speaking during a joint press conference in Jeddah with French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would present Paris with a comprehensive dossier of the negative acts committed by Qatar over the years, adding that a similar file was given to US State of Secretary Rex Tillerson. Le Drian arrived at Saudi Arabia as part of his Gulf tour aimed at helping defuse the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. Jubeir expressed the Kingdom’s appreciation for the French position throughout history regarding region’s issues, whether the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Yemen crisis, cooperation regarding Syria and Iraq and other issues. The two officials also tackled the current situation in the region, developments in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the situation in Syria and Iraq. Jubeir praised the efforts exerted by Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to purge the city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists. “We expressed our support for these efforts and our hope that Iraq can eliminate the entire ISIS terrorist organization from Iraq,” he stated. On the Qatar crisis, he said that Riyadh hopes it could still be resolved “within the Gulf house”. Le Drian echoed this stance, reiterating Paris’s support for the Kuwaiti mediation. He expressed his country’s concern by the sudden deterioration in relations between Qatar and many of its neighbors. “France does not want to substitute the mediator… It wants to be a facilitator by joining efforts of other countries,” he stressed, adding that Tillerson’s initiative is also “suitable”. Furthermore, Le Drian hailed Saudi Arabia’s role in halting terrorism and extremist ideology, hoping that the kingdom will implement Vision 2030. The French FM met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and decided to re-launch cooperation through the joint French-Saudi Cooperation Committee. He added that “in this regard, we decided before the end of 2017 to hold a meeting of the Joint Bilateral Committee,” pointing out that this committee was previously formed but not active. Le Drian said that the two countries want to review within this committee the various programs and the outcome of the findings of the topics, including fields of defense, energy, culture, infrastructure and education. Annual meetings will also be held once in Paris and once in Riyadh. Earlier on Saturday, Le Drian arrived at Qatar where he met with Qatari Emir Tamim Al Thani and stated that Paris wants to assist the 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 after talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani. He added that France is talking to all of these countries to help search for a solution, calling for “dialogue and calm” between the Arab states concerned. After Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Le Drian will to Kuwait and the UAE.

Saudi Crown Prince Congratulates US Defense Secretary on Mosul Victory
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, congratulated US Defense Secretary James Mattis on the victory of Iraqi forces in defeating the ISIS terrorist group in the city of Mosul, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).The two officials held a telephone call during which the Saudi royal praised Washington’s role in leading the international coalition aimed at combating ISIS and defeating it. He stressed that the war on terror and all who support and finance it must continue and “with complete determination.”The Crown Prince and Mattis discussed ways to develop means of coordination between Riyadh and Washington to fight terrorism and extremism. They also tackled military and defense coordination between their respective countries, reported SPA.

Iraq PM Abadi Attends Military Parade Celebrating Mosul Victory
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Baghdad – Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi on Saturday attended a massive military parade in Baghdad celebrating the victory announced against the terror group ISIS in Mosul. National army, police and other security troops along with Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) partook in the parade. Baghdad and other provinces nationwide are currently witnessing Iraqis celebrating ISIS terrorists being driven out of their former bastion Mosul. On Monday, three years after the militants seized the city and made it the stronghold of a so-called “caliphate”, Abadi formally declared victory of the country’s forces over the terrorist group a day after the military and PMF took full control of the northern city. “I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism which the terrorist ISIS announced from Mosul,” Abadi said in a speech shown on state television. “We have another mission ahead of us, to create stability, to build and clear ISIS cells, and that requires an intelligence and security effort, and the unity which enabled us to fight ISIS,” he said before raising an Iraqi flag.Iraq declared a week-long holiday to mark the victory. People celebrated in the streets of the capital Baghdad and southern cities. For its part, the US-led coalition said in a statement that Iraqi forces were in “firm control” of Mosul, but some areas still needed to be cleared of explosive devices and possible ISIS terrorists in hiding. The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19. An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle to retake the city began eight months ago. A total of 195,000 civilians have also returned, mainly to the liberated areas in the east.

6 Boycotting Countries Demand FIFA Strip Qatar of World Cup 2022
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Stockholm – Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt had collectively written to the football governing body, FIFA, asking it to remove Qatar as host of the 2022 World Cup, a Swiss website, The Local, reported on Saturday. The six countries referred to Article 85 of the FIFA Code, which allows for such action in the case of emergency. According to the statement which Reuters cited, the six Arab countries, who last month cut ties with Qatar, are reported to have written to FIFA to demand that Doha be stripped of hosting the 2022 World Cup because they consider the Gulf state to be a “base of terrorism”. In the report, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said that the sports federations of the six countries referred to “Qatar’s black record in support of terrorism,” calling on FIFA to cancel Qatar’s bid to host FIFA World Cup 2022 in accordance to Article 85. Reuters has not seen a copy of the letter and FIFA said that Infantino had not received any such document. “The FIFA president has never received such a letter and subsequently has not done any comment on that,” said a FIFA spokesman. “As already said, FIFA is in regular contact with the Qatar 2022 Local Organizing Committee and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy handling matters relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” he added. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran. Doha denies the charges. An official source from the Egyptian Football Federation confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that his country was among those that submitted the letter to FIFA. When asked whether FIFA would take action, Infantino indicated that the request could be accepted, saying “the mechanisms and regulations (FIFA) are very clear, and in this case we have to look at what will happen at the upcoming meeting.”This is a case similar to when FIFA chose to move the 13th World Cup in 1986 to Mexico, after having previously selected Colombia, said Infantino. The six countries have drawn attention to threats to the security and safety of fans and players in a country that is a base for terrorism, he added. Qatar, a country with a negligible football background or infrastructure, was a controversial winner of the right to host the 2022 World Cup, which will be held in November and December to minimize the impact of the desert state’s hot climate.

Hurghada Attacker Told Egyptians: I Do not Target You
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 16/17/Cairo – Eyewitnesses in the city of Hurghada said that the knifeman, who killed two German tourists on Friday, told Egyptians who were present at the scene before he committed his crime that he was not targeting them. “I do not target you… I am here to perform a specific mission,” the eyewitnesses quoted him as saying. The witnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Egyptian authorities lifted on Saturday security measures at the entrances of hotels and beaches in the famous touristic city. On Friday, an Egyptian man stabbed to death two German tourists and wounded four others at two separate beach resorts in the city of Hurghada near the Red Sea. The knifeman stabbed to death the two tourists at the beach, then swam to a nearby beach resort and stabbed two others, injuring an Armenian women and a Czech national. No party claimed responsibility for the attack, but security sources confirmed that the attacker belongs to the terrorist ISIS organization. They said the knifeman is a student identified as Abdel-Rahman Shaaban Abu Qura, 28, as shown on his identity card. Abu Qura communicated with ISIS in Iraq and Syria via the internet, and he was given the task to carry out the attack against foreign tourists in Hurghada. However, the High State Security Prosecution, which is investigating the incident, said the motive for the attack was still unclear. “It has not been proven to the prosecution if it was an isolated attack or a criminal or terrorist incident,” the Security Prosecution said in a statement. Separately, two terrorist members involved in the terrorist attack that targeted on Friday morning a police vehicle in the village of Abusir in Badrashin, were killed. Later on Saturday, an Egyptian man broke into a church in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, forcing a security guard to prevent him from going any further. The man then stabbed and wounded the guard using a razor blade. Egyptian authorities later announced they have arrested the attacker.

Egypt says 1 killed, 50 injured in clashes on Nile islands
The Associated Press Sunday, 16 July 2017/Egyptian police on Sunday fired tear gas to disperse a rock-pelting crowd of residents on a River Nile island in Cairo, clashes that left one person dead and 50 others injured, according to authorities. The Health Ministry said a resident was killed and said 19 others were wounded in the clashes on al-Waraq island on the northern fringes of the Egyptian capital. It did not say how the man was killed. An Interior Ministry statement said a total of 31 - policemen as well as contractors who arrived with them on the island - were injured in the clashes. The injured policemen included two generals, it said.Ten residents were arrested, it added.Video clips posted on social media networks showed hundreds of angry islanders, mostly young men, at the man's funeral, marching through farm fields while chanting "We will sacrifice the martyr with our soul and blood."The violence broke out when police attempted to evict residents staying or utilizing state land without permission, part of an ongoing, nationwide campaign launched by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to retake state property illegally controlled or run for profit by individuals or commercial enterprises. The local media has for weeks been showing images of police and army troops demolishing buildings or commercial facilities illegally built or operating without a license. In its statement, the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, said the residents attacked the police force with firearms, birdshot guns and rocks and that they responded with tear gas. It said up to 700 building and land violations were recorded on the island. It acknowledged the death of one islander and that 19 others were injured. Illegal use of state land is widely common in Egypt, as well as building on agrarian land in violation of the law.

Iran jails US dual national for 10 years for spying
Reuters, Dubai Sunday, 16 July 2017/An Iranian court has sentenced a US dual national to 10 years in jail on spying charges, Iran’s judiciary spokesman said on Sunday, the latest case involving dual nationals held on security charges in the country. The spokesman did not name the person or give details about when the sentence was passed but said the person was a citizen of the United States and an unnamed country other than Iran. “This person, who was gathering information and was directly guided by America, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but the sentence can be appealed,” spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said on state television. Mizan, the Iranian judiciary’s official news site, later identified the American as Xiyue Wang, whom it said is a 37-year-old Beijing-born historian at Princeton University who was “spying under the cover of research”. Xiyue was also active at the university’s Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, which Mizan said has links to Western intelligence agencies and Israel. “The American spy arrested in Iran was also at the center and his mission was to collect confidential information and documents,” Mizan said adding that he had copied 4,500 documents.Xiyue was arrested in July 2016 as he was trying to leave Iran “after he became nervous about his situation”, Mizan said. Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers lifted most international sanctions and promised Iran’s reintegration into the global community in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The potential detente with the West has alarmed Iranian hardliners, who have seen a flood of European trade and investment delegations arrive in Tehran to discuss possible deals, according to Iran experts. Security officials have arrested dozens of artists, journalists and businessmen, including Iranians holding joint American, European or Canadian citizenship, as part of a crackdown on “Western infiltration.”The arrests have undermined Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s goals of reviving business and political ties with the West, as well as pushing for more political and social reforms at home, Iran experts and observers said. Several Iranian dual nationals from the United States, Britain, Austria, Canada and France have been detained in the past year and are being kept behind bars on charges including espionage and collaborating with hostile governments.

Iran President's Brother Arrested on Financial Crime Charges
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 16/17/Iran's judiciary on Sunday announced the arrest of President Hassan Rouhani's brother Hossein Fereydoun on financial crime charges, in a long-running feud between two of the country's centers of power. "Multiple investigations have been conducted regarding this person, also other people have been investigated, some of whom are in jail," deputy judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie said in a televised press conference. "Yesterday, bail was issued for him but because he failed to secure it he was referred to prison," Ejeie said. "If he secures bail, he will be released. But the case will take its course." The conservative-dominated judiciary has clashed with Rouhani, who has sought to ease social restrictions and release political prisoners. News of the arrest comes a year after the head of the General Inspection Organization, Naser Seraj, first accused Fereydoun, who acts as a key adviser and gatekeeper to Rouhani, of financial violations. The brothers do not share the same name because Rouhani changed his when he was younger to a word meaning "cleric." Conservatives have demanded that Fereydoun be put on trial, accusing him of receiving zero-interest loans and influencing the appointment of two bank directors. One of the bank directors was later accused of involvement in a "large corruption scandal" by the intelligence services of the Revolutionary Guards, and the other was fired as part of a widespread scandal into exorbitant salaries at public institutions. The attacks on Fereydoun began around the same time as the pay scandal last summer -- both milked by conservatives to smear Rouhani in the build-up to the presidential election in May. Voters still convincingly backed Rouhani's policies of rebuilding ties with the West, though there were signs that the corruption allegations had eaten away at his support. A report by the Audit Court found in October that executives at state-owned banks had earned as much as 622 million rials ($20,000) a month -- compared with average public sector salaries of $400 -- leading to hundreds of prosecutions and a new government salary cap.
Power struggle
There have been barbed exchanges between the presidency and the judiciary for months. Rouhani has lashed out against perceived arbitrary arrests, telling a conference that was also attended by judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani: "We cannot summon or arrest people first and then look for proof."Larijani has repeatedly blasted Rouhani's nuclear deal with world powers, which took effect in January 2016, as having brought too few economic benefits. Ahead of the presidential election, Rouhani targeted the judiciary in a series of public speeches, arguing that an increased mandate would give him greater leverage to work for the release of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who have been held under house arrest for their part in 2009 protests. But Larijani made clear after Rouhani's victory that nothing would change, saying: "Who are you to end the house arrest?"
"Some people are trying to provoke a populist movement to question the legal decisions of the country's bodies," he said.

Israel Reopens al-Aqsa Compound but Introduces Controversial Security Measures
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 16/17/Israel reopened an ultra-sensitive holy site Sunday closed after an attack that killed two policemen, but Muslim worshipers were refusing to enter due to new security measures including metal detectors and cameras. Crowds chanted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) as a number of initial visitors entered Jerusalem's Haram al-Sharif compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. The flashpoint holy site includes the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock. A call to prayer rang out from al-Aqsa, but Muslim worshipers held midday prayers outside the site in protest at the new security measures. Dozens of worshippers gathered to pray at an entrance to the compound next to the Lions' Gate entry to the Old City. "We reject the changes imposed by the Israeli government," Sheikh Omar Kiswani, al-Aqsa director, told reporters outside. "We will not enter through these metal detectors." Some women wailed and cried while telling people not to enter. Three Arab Israeli assailants opened fire on Israeli police Friday in Jerusalem's Old City before fleeing to the compound, where they were shot dead by security forces. Israeli authorities said the gunmen had come from the flashpoint holy site to carry out the attack. Israel took the highly unusual decision of closing the al-Aqsa mosque compound for Friday prayers, triggering anger from Muslims and Jordan, the holy site's custodian. The site remained closed on Saturday, while parts of Jerusalem's Old City were also under lockdown. Israeli authorities said the closure was necessary to carry out security checks and announced they would reopen the compound Sunday. Police said Sunday that so far two gates leading to the holy site had been opened, equipped with metal detectors, adding that more than 200 people had entered.
'Avoid any escalation'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the security measures late Saturday before departing for a trip to Paris. "This evening I held a discussion with the top security leadership and I instructed that metal detectors be placed at the entrance gates to the Temple Mount," he said. "We will also install security cameras on poles outside the Temple Mount but which give almost complete control over what goes on there." Netanyahu spoke by phone with Jordan's King Abdullah II on Saturday night, a statement from Amman said. Abdullah condemned the attack, but also called on Netanyahu to reopen the al-Aqsa compound and stressed the need to "avoid any escalation at the site." Proposals to change security measures at the compound have sparked controversy in the past. A plan developed in 2015 between Israel and Jordan to install cameras at the site itself fell apart amid disagreement over how they would be operated. The Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians fearing Israel may one day seek to assert further control over it. It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognized by the international community. It is considered the third holiest site in Islam and the most sacred for Jews. Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions.

Venezuelans Cast Ballots in Opposition Vote
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 16/17/Venezuelans go to the polls Sunday in a vote organized by the opposition aimed at gauging public support for Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution, against a backdrop of worsening political violence. With authorities refusing to greenlight a vote presented as an act of civil disobedience and supporters of President Nicolas Maduro boycotting it, voters seemed set to reject the president's controversial scheme. The symbolic "plebiscite" comes two weeks ahead of a Maduro-backed vote to elect a citizens' body that would revise the constitution. The opposition has told its supporters to stay away. The cross-purpose initiatives have given rise to international worries -- voiced by the Catholic Church and the head of the U.N., Antonio Guterres -- that the chances of bringing both sides together for dialogue has become more remote. That, in turn, is stoking fears of more protests and running street battles with police, which have been persistent for the past three and a half months. Nearly 100 people have died in the unrest since the beginning of April. While Maduro is deeply unpopular -- with 80 percent of Venezuelans criticizing his rule, according to the Datanalisis survey firm -- he enjoys backing from some, mostly poor, parts of the population and, most importantly, from the military. Many Venezuelans, though, are less focused on the political powerplay than they are on getting by day by day under their country's crushing economic crisis, which has meant shortages of food and medicine.
All 'ready' for vote
The opposition, which accuses Maduro of trying to gather dictatorial powers with the constitutional rewrite and other steps, said all was prepared for Sunday's vote. "Everything is ready," one opposition figure, Maria Corina Machado, told AFP. She predicted the vote would "not only reject the Constituent Assembly" -- the body Maduro is seeking to have elected to come up with a new constitution -- "but will give a mandate for a change of the regime, the end of the dictatorship and the start of a transition with a government of national unity."But Maduro, giving a national radio and TV broadcast, portrayed the vote as merely an "internal consultation by the opposition parties" with no electoral legitimacy. "I call on all Venezuelans to participate peacefully in political events tomorrow, with respect for others' ideas, with no incidents. Peace is what I ask," he said.He directed his followers instead towards a rival poll exercise that, unlike that of the opposition, has been approved by electoral authorities: a dry-run simulation of the election to take place on July 30. He also repeated claims the opposition was tied to foreign powers -- implied to be the "imperialist" United States -- with the aim of toppling his government. The international media, he railed, was covering the opposition vote in a way to justify foreign intervention.
Foreign observers
According to Datanalisis, 70 percent of Venezuelans reject Maduro's plan for a Constituent Assembly. Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said he expected 62 percent turnout Sunday, or about 11 million people out of the country's population of 30 million. Five former Latin American presidents -- from Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and two from Costa Rica -- were in Venezuela at the opposition's invitation to act as observers of the vote, alongside electoral experts from various countries. Former Mexican leader Vicente Fox said on arriving in Caracas that the vote could be the "beginning of the end" of Maduro's government. The head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, called on Venezuelans to take part in Sunday's vote "to prevent the definitive collapse" of the country's institutions. On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Guterres said talks were "urgently" needed between the opposition and government to stem the violence and find a "constitutional path" to peace. Sunday's vote is being held in 2,000 polling stations across the country, and in 80 countries for Venezuelans abroad.

A year after failed coup in Turkey, Erdogan says 'behead traitors'
Sun 16 Jul 2017/NNA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- delivering feisty and stirring messages on the one-year anniversary of a failed coup aimed at unseating him -- lauded the popular resistance that helped stop the coup, and promised to decapitate "traitors," a sign that his harsh crackdown against his foes over the last 12 months will continue. Speaking to hundreds of thousands of people at a massive ceremony on Saturday in Istanbul, Erdogan urged vigilance against lurking enemies and declared that last summer's bloody ordeal emboldened the nation. "This experience has unified us, made us stronger," the President said. "This wasn't the first attack against our nation and it's not going to be the last attack either.""We know who is behind these terrorists. However, there's also the fact that if you do not combat and fight against these pieces we cannot fight and overcome those who are manipulating them. Therefore, we are going to behead these traitors.""If parliament passes a bill on resuming executions in Turkey., he said, "I will sign it." If Turkey does so it would likely scuttle its longtime effort to join the European Union, whose member countries have abolished the death penalty. The country has remained in a state of emergency while allowing Erdogan to tighten his grip on power and oversee a massive purge of those who he says rose up against him. Over the past year, Erdogan and his government have clamped down on civil liberties across Turkey, gutted public institutions and universities, heavily restricted the media and ordered mass arrests of activists, journalists and the political opposition. Since the coup attempt, more than 169,000 people have faced "judicial action" ranging from travel restrictions and detentions to arrest warrants,, the justice ministry said, according to Anadolu. The clampdown stoked widespread unease in the country. ---CNN

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 16-17/17
Qatar: The Wolf Protecting the Sheep

Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/July 16/17
Hallowed be Allah! (Subhan Allah)
After it spent months attacking and warning against Donald Trump becoming a president. After spending six months in cautioning against his administration and disastrous policies, and after attacking its neighbors for strengthening their relations with the American ally, the Qatari policy towards the US made a 180-degree turn. The US has become the ally that Qatar can’t do without. All of this happened following the crisis that erupted when four Arab countries severed their ties with Qatar. Doha’s strategy changed in a blink of an eye. Principles were lost without any prior warning and all of its criticism against Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for their partnership with the strategic ally was forgotten. Qatar is now doing more than what it used to criticize its neighboring countries of doing.
It has gone beyond voicing its reservations to the Arab-Islamic-US Summit that was held in Riyadh and is now throwing itself in the American lap, which has become its safe haven. The US president in his first official statement on the fate of the Al Udeid US base, said there are a great number of countries ready to embrace the US troops should they be transferred from Qatar.
Of course, every country has the right to look for its best interests. At the same time, it is not strange that Doha changed its principles in a blink of an eye because it knew full well that it is in a weak position following its latest isolation. It has realized that the pressure against it has grown too much and the US “eye” is now monitoring its every move and game. The US administration’s days of tolerance of the Muslim Brotherhood during former President Barack Obama’s presidency are long gone now, especially after Qatar had banked on Washington to continue on looking the other way to its funding and empowering of terrorist groups. This primarily includes the Muslim Brotherhood which Doha used to and is still financing and supporting.
Yet, amending relations with Washington during Trump’s presidency won’t be as easy as Qatar thinks, unless it changes it creed that developed immensely during his predecessor’s tenure. Washington believes that Qatar should be a target in any counterterrorism effort. After Trump’s inauguration and for the first time since the September 2001 attacks, the US now has a greater chance in ending terrorism and its sources more effectively in the Middle East. The Washington Post says US efforts to combat terrorism will force Washington to reconsider its foreign policies and alliances, especially with countries that are believed to be supporting terrorism and even if they host US military bases, such as Qatar. Washington must now remember who its primary allies in the region are, such as Saudi Arabia, the world’s main oil market leader and one of the biggest investors in US Treasuries.
It was significant that the Washington Post, while commenting on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Qatar, which was aimed at reaching a joint agreement on ending terrorism financing, something which Doha has been slow in committing to, sarcastically described it as “entrusting the wolf to protect the sheep.”One might say that after some 40 days of the four countries’ boycott that they have reached the halfway mark with Qatar and halted its disruptive project in the region, while keeping in mind that all of this happened and Doha has still not committed to the demands made to it.
Yet, the international attention and focus on all of its declared and hidden policies has prompted Qatar to think a thousand times before taking any step that would confirm that it is guilty of what the world had previously turned a blind eye to. For instance, now, Qatar cannot pay half a billion dollars to extremist militias in Iraq as it did in the past to release its 26 captives. It will not be able to strike a deal with al-Nusra Front and displace residents of four Syrian towns. It cannot make a deal with an internationally classified terrorist group to release the nuns. There are so many things that Qatar will not be able to do anymore. Clearly, the current crisis with Qatar is heading towards temporary separation. The four countries calling for combating terrorism are not in a hurry to get rid of a destructive Qatari creed that has been operating for 21 years. The ball is in Qatar’s court now. It should either rehabilitate its political creed and become a reasonable state like any other or it has to endure this long political and economic isolation, which only it can end. Contrary to what it believes, Qatar’s turn to Washington and its attempt to return to an alliance with it, similar to what the Gulf states and Egypt did before it, will pave the way for rehabilitating its regime and not bypass what the four countries are demanding.

Donald Jr.-Russia Revelations are a Tipping Point but not Treason
Eli Lake/Bloomberg/July 16/17
It’s fashionable among President Donald Trump’s defenders to dismiss the reports of his eldest son meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton as yet another “nothing burger.” You’ve heard the counterpoints. The Democrats are obsessed with the Kremlin. Nothing came of the Russian attempt to dish dirt. Donald Jr. made all his emails about it public. And, hey, whatever happened, it’s probably not even illegal. And while all of that is likely true, it misses a broader point. The emails the younger Trump received from music promoter Rob Goldstone, who promised official Russian “documents and information that would incriminate Hillary,” may have just been an opportunist trying to curry favor with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. But Goldstone’s successful effort to set up a meeting between members of the campaign’s inner circle and a lawyer with Kremlin connections puts the lie to Team Trump’s longtime defense in the brewing scandal: no contact, no collusion.
As someone who has written columns pointing out that many claims against Trump and his advisers have been speculative and unsubstantiated, I see this supposed nothing burger as a tipping point. From now on, it strains credulity to give the president and his aides any benefit of the doubt when it comes to Russia. After all, a little more than a month after his June 9, 2016, meeting with Kremlin insider Natalia Veselnitskaya, the president’s son was on CNN saying the entire Russia allegation was fake news. That line is no longer operative. The best course now for the president would be full disclosure. He needs to tell us about any and all meetings his campaign and organization has had with Russians. If there was an offer of a heads-up on hacked emails — or, as McClatchy is reporting, a plan to coordinate with Russian fake news bots to target voters through data operations — he needs to acknowledge and apologize.
That said, Democrats should be careful. One element of the Russian influence operation that is often overlooked is that it was intended to sow discord inside the US body politic and discredit our democratic elections. Recall that the initial probing of Democratic National Committee computers by Russian hackers began in 2015, when no one believed Trump would even be the nominee.
As former FBI director James Comey testified in March, the hackers were unusually sloppy, leaving many clues for investigators to trace the hacks back to Russia. They “wanted us to see what they were doing,” Comey said. In this respect, the partisan temptation to overstate the case against the president should be resisted. Unfortunately, many Democrats have gone the opposite route. Senator Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate, said this week that the Trump Jr. email exchange may be evidence of treason. Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts went further saying if the emails are not treasonous, “I’m not sure what is.”Kaine and Moulton should consult the Constitution on this question. Treason is defined narrowly and applies only to aiding and abetting an enemy at a time of war. At this point, considering that all people in the meeting have said the promised information on Hillary Clinton was never offered, it’s not even clear if this is collusion.
This kind of hyperventilation is the analog of Trump’s campaign against the “fake news media.” It energizes loyalists at the expense of national unity, which is especially worrisome now, in an America so divided and at each other’s throats. It reminds me of one of the most toxic episodes of Trump’s presidential campaign. In the final debate, he would not say whether or not he would accept the results of the election. “I will keep you in suspense.”It turned out that it was the Trump resistance that never really accepted him as a legitimate president. Armed with suspicion, leaks, open questions and an opposition research dossier, Democrats beat the drum for months that Trump was the Siberian candidate. Now it turns out the president’s son was eager and willing to accept information that was promised as part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s campaign. This doesn’t prove the Democratic narrative about Trump. But it does discredit the evasions, denials, obfuscations and dissembling from the president and his supporters. We have reached the point where Trump must come clean. If he doesn’t, he will be abetting a Russian plot to discredit the election they tried to help him win.

Slaughtered Christians "A Viable Target"?/Muslim Persecution of Christians

Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/July 16/17
According to a report in the Christian Post, Christians displaced by Islamic attacks at the hands of Boko Haram terrorists are being denied food and vital assistance at camps run by local Muslim organizations. As many as 1.8 million people in Nigeria are currently facing starvation. "They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians." — Bishop William Naga, who fled his home in the Borno state, Nigeria.
A Pakistani government want-ad for street sweepers states that applicants must be Hindu, Christian or Shia -- anyone but the dominant Sunni Muslim population – illustrates the way in which minorities are prevented from earning a living wage.
A sophomore at Rollins College in Florida was suspended for challenging a Muslim professor's assertion that the crucifixion of Jesus never took place, and that his disciples never believed he was God. After the incident, during a Middle East Humanities class, the straight-A student was graded an "F" on a major essay.
The uptick in often lethal persecution of Christians in Muslim regions has caused many Christian leaders to appeal for aid. Canon Andrew White, the prominent minister known as the "Vicar of Baghdad" told Fox News in March, "If there is anything I can tell Americans it is that your fellow brothers and sisters are suffering, they are desperate for help," he said. "And it is not just a matter of praying for peace. They need a lot – food, resources, clothes, everything. They need everything."
White also went as far as to say that Christianity in Iraq, where it has been since the times of the apostles, is finished.
As Fox News reported:
"Thirty years ago, there were approximately 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. The number dwindled to around 1 million after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and a year ago it was estimated that there were less than 250,000 left. Numbers have continued to decline as families flee, and today even approximate figures are difficult to obtain."
According to a Vatican Radio report, Nigerian Catholic Bishop Joseph Bagobiri responded to "the recent atrocities of Fulani [Muslim] Cattle herdsmen..., which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Christians and the destruction of property worth millions of Naira," by calling on all Christian denominations to implement counter measures against the "systematic elimination of Christianity in the northern part of Nigeria."
One source said that in one of these assaults, two of the victims "had their eyes plucked out." A survivor of another said, "The sad thing is that these Fulanis have been attacking our communities, and no one is doing anything about it."
Commenting on the "horrific attacks" on Coptic Christians in Egypt between December 2016 and March 2017 -- during which 40 "innocent children, women and men had their lives brutally and tragically ended for no other reason except that they are Christians" -- Coptic Bishop Anba Angaelos of the United Kingdom said the slaughter has "gone largely unnoticed by the international community." He continued:
"In our fast moving world that is filled with so much news of tragedy, war and death, it is all too easy for atrocities to become 'incidents,' and for individuals suffering them to become mere statistics, very quickly pushed aside by the next item of news. In the eyes of the perpetrators they are a viable target, and in the eyes of the world they become a regrettable phenomenon; yet what is actually left behind is traumatized individuals, families and communities that have lost loved ones, living the reality of themselves being targeted."
A report released in early 2017 by Open Doors -- a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians in over 60 countries -- reveals:
"Islamic extremism" remains the dominant force responsible for the persecution of Christians in 40 of the 50 worst nations;
Nine out of the 10 worst nations for Christians have a Muslim majority (with North Korea being the only non-Islamic exception);
In the 21 (18 of which are Muslim-majority) worst nations for Christians, "100 percent of Christians experience persecution";
1,329 churches have been attacked, damaged, or destroyed, mostly in Muslim-majority nations;
Muslim Somalia is now the second worst nation for Christians, who are executed instantly if their faith is discovered, or even rumored;
In Nigeria -- where more Christians have been slaughtered by Muslims than possibly in any other nation -- the killing of Christians went up by 62 percent;
The nation where the most violent and sexual attacks on Christians take place – Muslim-majority Pakistan -- rose to the number four spot on the list of the worst countries for Christians.
Accounts of widespread Muslim persecution of Christians to surface in the month of March include, but are not limited to, the following:
Muslim Slaughter of Christians
Nigeria: A Christian mother and her three children -- aged four, five and nine -- were "hacked to death by unknown assailants within a church premises" in Muslim-majority Lagos State. The incident occurred around 3 a.m., "when the woman and her children had gone to the 'Holy Land' part of a Cherubim and Seraphim church. Their bodies were seen "in a pool of blood by some worshipers," who arrived at the church later in the morning. The three children died inside the church. Their mother died an hour after making it to the hospital. Police said they were still seeking a motive.
Somalia: Assassins dispatched by the militant Islamic group Al Shabaab -- "The Youth" -- invaded the home of a clandestine Christian family during the night, and murdered the 35-year-old wife and mother, along with her 11-year-old son, as they slept. The 38-year-old husband and father was shot in the chest and survived. His three other young children escaped through the back door of the house and also survived. According to the account of the man of the house, the four gunmen shouted "Allahu Akbar" ["God is great"] and said they "cannot allow the defiling of our religion with a foreign, Western religion."
Somalia is widely considered the second worst nation for Christians. There, the mere suspicion or accusation that someone is secretly living as a Christian can lead to a public execution.
Pakistan: After refusing to work on Sunday, as his Muslim employer demanded he do, a 20-year-old Christian sanitation worker was killed in a drive-by shooting by two assailants on motorcycles. The victim's family attorney said that the employer had warned the worker that he would face "dire consequences" if he did not comply, and threatened to "cut off his legs and riddle his body with bullets" for defying his order. "Many Muslims find it hard to accept refusal by a 'lowly' Christian," a Christian rights activist said. "This is not the first time a Christian sanitary worker has been killed or subjected to violence for refusing to comply with unjust demands of persons from the Muslim majority."
Muslim Attacks on Christian Missionaries and "Apostates"
Philippines: A 70 year-old Irish nun living on the island of Mindanao -- notorious for its separatist, extremist Muslim population -- was attacked by a masked assailant who beat her so badly that she required surgery. Sister Kathleen Melia, who has spent more than 30 years serving the Philippines, was locking up her convent on March 1, when a masked man covered her mouth with his hand, and began to punch her.
Uganda: A Muslim who discovered that his 21-year-old daughter had converted to Christianity beat her up and threw her out of the house. When she fled to her pastor for sanctuary, her father contacted the police and accused the church leader -- a married father-of-six -- of having abducted her and turning her into a "human sacrifice." Police immediately arrested the pastor, a former Muslim and well-known sheikh, who embraced Christianity in 2003. Since then, he has lost his job; his first wife left him; his extended family beat and disowned him; an aunt tried to poison him with insecticide; and one of several Islamic attacks on his home left one of his daughters dead. During his interrogation, the pastor explained that the girl he allegedly "sacrificed" was not only still alive, but taking a tailoring course. When located by police, the young woman confirmed her pastor's version of events, saying that her father had vowed to "fight hard until we destroy everything [the pastor was] doing."
Iran: Two Christian converts, a mother and son, were arrested in their home and taken to an unknown location. During the raid, bibles and other books on Christian theology were confiscated.
Another convert to Christianity, imprisoned since 2013 for working in a house church and orphanage, has been denied urgent health care a heart defect, "drastic" weight loss, weakness and depression.
A five-year prison sentence issued to a Christian convert -- for allegedly "forming a group in order to disrupt national security" -- was confirmed by the Revolutionary Court. Human rights activists involved in his case say, however, that the convict "is in prison only for his [Christian] beliefs."
Malaysia: A pastor accused of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity -- a crime in Malaysia -- was abducted in what was seen on closed-circuit TV to be a professional job, and is feared dead, due to no ransom having been demanded, and despite the family's offer of reward money to anyone with information on the case.
Muslim Attacks on Churches
Central African Republic: Muslim converts to Christianity were attacked by a Muslim mob while worshiping at a Central Africa church. Brandishing swords and iron bars, the mob shouted "Allahu Akbar" ["Allah is the greatest"], while destroying the church and ripping off its roof. They then stabbed the pastor and beat up members of the congregation. This was one of at least three Muslim attacks on churches in the Central African Republic between January and March of 2017.
Indonesia: The government shut down three churches, two Protestant and one Catholic, on the grounds that it "cannot guarantee their safety" after intimidation by a radical Muslim group. "We are struggling for our right to worship," a church leader lamented. Possibly emboldened by the government's action, hundreds of Muslims demonstrated in front of the Santa Clara Church in Bekasi, and called on the mayor to revoke the church's permits. After the mayor said he would not do so, "even if I am shot," protesters hurled rocks and bottles at the police, and tried to force their way into the church. Police used tear gas to disperse the mob. This violence is part of a reportedly growing trend of intolerance, particularly against Christians, in Indonesia.
Iraq: A church in Mosul was turned into a religious police base by ISIS, which desecrated it with Islamic graffiti and damaged the stone cross above its front door. According to a report by NDTV:
"Not a single crucifix, or statue of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary has survived in the building's nave, from which all mark of Christianity has been methodically removed... Terrorists have scribbled their noms de guerre on the church's walls, and a large chandelier has been dumped in the yard."
Most Christian churches in and around Mosul, Iraq were desecrated or destroyed by ISIS. Pictured: The heavily damaged bell tower of Saint John's Church (Mar Yohanna) in the town town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, on April 16, 2017. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Muslim Discrimination against and Hostility towards Christians
Egypt: A Muslim man sexually harassed and attempted to slit the throat of a Christian woman on a busy street, in broad daylight. Passersby intervened, holding the perpetrator until authorities arrived. The woman was rushed to a hospital and survived.
In addition, the brother of an 18-year-old Christian girl who was abducted earlier this year learned that his sister had been given a new Muslim identity and was being held by security services. When the family approached the national security headquarters and demanded that she be set free, authorities denied knowledge of her whereabouts. As family and friends proceeded to protest, singing Christian hymns, the police responded with violence, wounding several participants.
Nigeria: According to a report in the Christian Post, Christians displaced by Islamic attacks at the hands of Boko Haram terrorists are being denied food and vital assistance at camps run by local Muslim organizations. As many as 1.8 million people in Nigeria are currently facing starvation. Bishop William Naga, who fled his home in the Borno state, said, "They will give food to the refugees, but if you are a Christian they will not give you food. They will openly tell you that the relief is not for Christians." A human rights activist elaborated:
"Christians often get pushed to the back of the line. Because Muslims are the majority there, even non-extremist Muslims, some of their neighbors are typically going to get preferential treatment by those providing food and assistance because of their Muslim faith."
Pakistan: A Muslim family falsely accused their 15-year-old Christian maid and her father of stealing, after the girl fell ill with appendicitis and could not work until she recuperated. The father and daughter were arrested and are now engaged in a legal battle to prove their innocence.
A Pakistani government want-ad for street sweepers states that applicants must be Hindu, Christian or Shia -- anyone but the dominant Sunni Muslim population – illustrates the way in which minorities are prevented from earning a living wage. When minority groups protested, officials responded by saying the word "Shia" was added by mistake, as they are still considered Muslims.
A Pakistani prosecutor reportedly has been blackmailing Christians facing trial -- over the lynching of two men suspected of bombing two churches – to convert to Islam in exchange for their acquittal. One lawyer said that the prosecutor's office has used this tactic before, but that it was "simply ignored."
United States: A sophomore at Rollins College in Florida was suspended for challenging a Muslim professor's assertion that the crucifixion of Jesus never took place, and that his disciples never believed he was God. After the incident, during a Middle East Humanities class, the straight-A student was graded an "F" on a major essay. When he confronted the professor about this, she filed a complaint with the school, claiming he made her feel "unsafe."
The student recounted that one day, the professor led a discussion about the application of Sharia Law, and a Muslim in the class said gays and adulterers should be beheaded. No action was taken against that person, however.
A week after the student contacted a lawyer, his suspension was lifted.
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by Muslims is growing. The report posits that such Muslim persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location.
*Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (published by Regnery with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Modernization of Middle East is a Sight to See
Amir Taheri/Gatestone Institute/July 16/17
In our neck of the woods, that is to say the Middle East, the machinery of state had modernized itself by enhancing its powers and developing new modes of control, manipulation and repression.
The late Ayatollah Khomeini's discourse owed more to Lenin and Stalin than to the great Muslim philosophers and theologians of ages. Iran became modernized when Khomeini organized the execution of at least 4,000 people in a weekend, something even the bloodthirsty Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar never imagined doing. Syria became modern when Hafez Al-Assad killed 20,000 people in Hama, something no Umayyad Caliph would imagine doing.
All we have kept from our traditions is that of denying our own responsibility, blaming it all on others.
In every age intellectuals shape and cling to one concept as the organizing principle for an understanding of the present and speculation about the future. From the end of the 1940s, as the colonial era drew to a close, the fashionable concept was "modernization" and its variants such as "development" and "progress"
But what constituted modernization wasn't quite clear. Nor after what model should nations aspire in their quest for progress and development.
In the 1970s, the Iranian capital Tehran was a favorite destination for intellectuals from all over the world who wished to test those ideas in a country which had the rare distinction of having never been either a colony or a colonizer, and yet, its leaders had adopted the gospel of modernization with some enthusiasm. For a journalist, the arrival of so many prominent intellectuals, among them people like Gunnar Myrdal, W.W. Rostow, G.K Galbraith, Raymond Aron, Henri Lefebvre, Carlo Schmidt, Talcot Parsons and David Apter, made Tehran the equivalent of a candy store for a child. I had the rare privilege of spending quality time with almost all the visitors both for formal interviews and informal conversations.
Their message was: Hurry up! Modernize!
The theme of modernization was taken up in a series of television debates in Tehran in which the best ways for the Middle East to "enter the modern world" were hotly discussed by intellectuals then fashionable in Iran.
What we didn't know at the time was the extent to which our "oriental" societies had already become modern by adopting some of the most controversial aspects of the Western model.
Traditions that had provided a moral compass for centuries were now dismissed as cumbersome if not a sure sign of backwardness. Old institutions such as tribes, guilds, Sufi orders, clerical hierarchies, and family networks that had counter-balanced the power of the state were dissolved or weakened, leaving power concentrated in a few hands at the center of government.
The aim was to "Westernize" as fast as possible even if that meant he destruction of the indigenous culture which now appeared atrophied or degenerate. For those who wanted the better of the two worlds, the ideal model was Japan -- a nation that was supposed to have "Westernized" while maintaining its traditional values and institutions.
What those admirers of Japan ignored was the way that the Japanese had "entered the modern world." They forgot that the modern, Westernized Japan they admired had been born in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and cradled by an American occupation force that was still nursing its baby decades later.
Thus, they ignored that modernization a la Japonais required a baptism of fire that few would desire after a moment of cool reasoning.
Another thing they ignored was that in our neck of the woods, that is to say the Middle East, the machinery of state had modernized itself by enhancing its powers and developing new modes of control, manipulation and repression. That, in turn, had led to the Westernization of part of traditional society that now used an essentially Western narrative in its struggle against the established order.
For example, the late Ayatollah Khomeini's discourse owed more to Lenin and Stalin than to the great Muslim philosophers and theologians of ages.
The seizure of power by mullahs in 1979 highlighted Iran's jump to "Westernization". The revolt was dubbed a "revolution", a Western concept for which we have no word in the Persian language. (They had to use the climatological term "enqelab," which means disturbance. The Arabs use it to mean a coup d'état.)
The mullahs organized a referendum, wrote a constitution, devised a Western-style flag, raised a Trotsky-style militia, and built a cult of personality around Khomeini modeled on that of Stalin in his time. The only traditional methods they used consisted of seizing hostages, stoning women to death and the mass killing of real or imagined opponents. The system they created owes more to George Orwell's "1984" than to Farabi's "Virtuous City" (Al- Madinat al-Fadilah). Four decades later, they run a racket that looks more like the Cosa Nostra than any traditional Islamic government, even the worst like that of the Sarbedaran in the medieval times.
However, it seems that "modernization" is spreading, winning our region.
That thought came to me the other night as I watched some two hours of several video footages from Syria and Iraq in a special showing in a London TV studio.
I saw a "modernized" Middle East with armies marching across scorched plains, soldiers and mercenaries cursing in a dozen different languages, the choir of cannons and the choreography of armored cars and tanks. I saw refugees and displaced-person camps, barbed wires, watch-towers, loudspeakers spreading the latest version of truth. There were minefields and grieving mothers, naked children, and victims of gas attacks and chemical weapons. The skies were dotted with warplanes dropping more bombs on Syria and Iraq than on Germany during the Second World War.
Yes, and there was a frame which showed the shattered body of a child alongside his teddy-bear toy, a Western-style image of tragedy. Meanwhile, we in exile light candles and observe a minute of silence in the public squares of Paris, London or New York. Even our grief has been Westernized.
A landscape of ruins, reminding one of Berlin, Warsaw or Leningrad in 1945 -- in other words very modern, very Western. This looked like Europe in 1918 or 1945, only magnified many times over thanks to the superior power of destruction we now have.
The footage from Syria and Iraq reminded me of documentaries made by Billy Wilder and Raoul Walsh in Western Europe in the wake of the Second World War and Pathé newsreels from Japan in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The footage from Syria and Iraq reminds of newsreels from Japan in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Pictured above: Nagasaki, Japan on September 24, 1945, six weeks after the city was destroyed by an atomic bomb.
We became modernized and Westernized long ago, often without realizing it. Iran became modernized when Khomeini organized the execution of at least 4,000 people in a weekend, something even the bloodthirsty Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar never imagined doing. Syria became modern when Hafez Al-Assad killed 20,000 people in Hama, something no Umayyad Caliph would imagine doing. And was it not a sign of Iraq's modernization when Saddam Hussein gassed 5,000 of his own citizen to death, a nightmare that would never cross Haroun al-Rashid's mind?
The results of generations of dreams of modernization and Westernization are in front of our eyes and, thanks to modern technology, immediately observable even in the remotest parts of the region. We, all of us, including rulers and ruled, intellectuals and common folk, rich and poor, have modernized our societies by creating Everest-high rubble and swarms of terrorized refugees. All we have kept from our traditions is that of denying our own responsibility, blaming it all on others.
*Amir Taheri, formerly editor of Iran's premier newspaper, Kayhan, before the Iranian revolution of 1979, is a prominent author based on Europe. He is the Chairman of Gatestone Europe.
*This article first appeared in Asharq Al Awsat and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Bin Subaih’s courage and the scandals about Qatar
Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/July 16/17
The UAE did not face intrigues from any country as much as what it faced from its neighbor Qatar. Every day we discover something new and a suspicious behavior that is not appropriate for the stranger, so what if it is a neighbor, a relative and a sister country ?! Yesterday, we were surprised at the extent of Qatar’s involvement in supporting the secret organization in the UAE and its relationship with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the UAE. This has disturbed every citizen and resident in the UAE. Qatar knows the UAE’s position on the Brotherhood and is aware of the great efforts exerted by UAE over the years to uproot the organization’s ideology from the state, The government and people of the UAE are fully convinced that the Brotherhood is a threat to the country after it has been proven that they have been involved in violence, extremism and the funding terrorism. That is why the decision was taken to eliminate them.
Hosting fugitives
If Qatar did not agree with UAE in this vision, it is its decision and we would not interfere. But what is not its business, is to host fugitives and the ones wanted by justice, and support them in Qatar financially, logistically and through media, and even help them secure travel documents! This Qatari behavior is strange. It is against all traditions between countries, not the least with regard to sister countries and neighboring ones. What is strange is that instead of handing over the wanted ones, Qatar receives more of those who go there and generously support them in a suspicious and underhand way. This was a part of what the courageous Emirati citizen Abdulrahman bin Subaih Khalifa Al Suwaidi, the Muslim Brotherhood dissident in the UAE, said during his bold television interview broadcast yesterday on state channels.
Role of Al Jazeera
Another picture of Qatari intervention in the internal affairs of the UAE is what Bin Subaih mentioned that journalists and trainers from Al Jazeera were sent to present TV training programs for the members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UAE, teaching and encouraging them to fabricate crises and stir up unrest in the country through the use of social media. This effort by Qatar extended to assist the fleeing UAE brothers to the extent of contacting the fugitives in Turkey. Through Al Jazeera channel these fugitives are contacted and identified by international media, while at the same time training them to appear in media to attack the UAE. Another picture of Qatari intervention in the internal affairs of the UAE is what Bin Subaih mentioned that journalists and trainers from Al Jazeera were sent to present TV training programs for the members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UAE, teaching and encouraging them to fabricate crises and stir up unrest in the country through the use of social media.One the exciting things mentioned by Bin Subaih is his relationship with Mahmoud al-Jaidah the Qatari national, who was arrested and tried, and then was pardoned by the UAE. Bin Subaih revealed the role of this Qatari person in regrouping and arranging the affairs of the UAE secret organization, as well as sending money from the organization abroad. What is the reason for the Qatari government to do all this? And after all these scandals are out in the open, turn around and ask with all naivety and claim that it does not know why it was boycotted! We remind Qatar that the GCC Basic Law affirms the principle of good neighborliness and non-abuse of other countries, which was confirmed by the Riyadh Agreement 2013 and the supplementary one in 2014.And before all this, we wonder where is the guiding principle of Arab and Islamic ethics that rejects the harm of the neighbor and to conspire against him.

It’s time we invest in our own startups, not just in Silicon Valley
Yara al-Wazir/Al Arabiya/July 16/17
Qataris have committed to investing £5 billion ($7.5 billion) into various sectors in the United Kingdom, including technology. Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars into technology companies based in Silicon Valley, most recently its $3.5 billion investment in Uber. The Kuwait Investment Authority’s funding of technology companies based in Silicon Valley trails behind that of Saudi Arabia’s, but is still substantial and in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. The investments made by these countries are made through their respective investment authorities, and it seems that the brains that work at these investment authorities recognize the tech boom is happening and are choosing to invest in it appropriately. Fundamentally however, there is nothing more lucrative than investing in a government’s own population. According to Dubai SME, investments into SME’s in the UAE create an average of 12 jobs per deal, compared to an average of 4 jobs per investment deal made in the USA, or 6 jobs per deal made in Europe. This data suggests that the job growth return on investment is substantial for the region. The Middle East and North Africa has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world – with an average of 12 jobs created per investment, startups are providing a whole new industry for job creation, and are potentially the key to getting out of this unemployment rut.
Invest locally
In 2016, the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) lead a $165 million investment round into Jawbone, a company that (at the time) made wearable technology. Just over a year later, the company is now liquidating its assets. This is not a case of taking one failed investment and vilifying it; investments are risky in the base case, and investment authorities must accept risks in order to succeed – I am not expecting this to change. However, I cannot help but think what could have happened if the $165 million invested in Jawbone was diluted and shared among startups in Kuwait – what are the chances that all of them would have failed within a year?
The Long-term strategy
While government entities have a large role to play in providing opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs, there is also a great deal of responsibility to be held by private investors, known as ‘angels’ in the startup scene. Those who also see value in investing in individuals and startups are slowly replacing the age of investors who see value investing in bricks and buildings. The UAE has recognized the significance that start-ups can play in the region’s economy, and has helped provide working spaces and support for start-ups through ‘Dubai Start-up hub’, supported by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The startup hub works hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and investors. According to Dubai Startup Hub, there are 508 startups based in Dubai, eleven incubators, and fourteen active investors, of which three are registered internationally. This is a prime example of the private and public sector working hand-in-hand for overall positive economic growth. There are key issues with the legal and institutional framework within the GCC countries that are causing hold-up times and concerns by both investors and entrepreneurs. The multiple regulatory entities that exist across the region create ambiguity and concern. Taking Dubai as an example, there are three regulatory entities (DIFC, DED and free zones).
Investment options
The lack of understanding of the different methods in which these entities work mean that there are numerous investors who prefer investing in companies that are registered abroad. In countries like Kuwait and Qatar, it is not possible for an expat to legally register 100 percent ownership of a company to his/herself, without a local investor making up 51 percent of the equity for a commercial company – exceptions apply for other industries such as consultancy and manufacturing. This complicates the process of startups expanding to reach out to the wider GCC market. The GCC has come a long way over the past decade in recognizing the significance of startups. This has in-turn created a new industry for job creation, and has also garnered international attention by companies who are trying to break into the region. Although the region is somewhat obsessed with international brands and franchising what has been established abroad, there is an incredible amount of value in investing locally. The sooner the public sector recognizes this and strengthens its policies to work hand-in-hand with the private sector, the sooner the region will begin to reap rewards.