July 18/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site

 News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to go to the LCCC Daily English/Arabic News Buletins Archieves Since 2016

Bible Quotations For Today
Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10/13-16/:"‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’

We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them

Acts of the Apostles 14/8-18/:"In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, ‘Stand upright on your feet.’ And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.’ Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 17-18/17
'Israel may need to take out Iranian bases in Syria/Herb Keinon/Jerusalem Post/July 17/17
Our Druse neighbors/Faydra L. Shapiro/Jerusalem Post/July 16/17
Trump Must Withdraw From Iran Nuclear Deal-Now/John Bolton/ Human Rights Voices/July 17/17
Iran’s post-ISIS blues/Mohamad Kawas/The Arab Weekly/July 17/17
Abbas: Shut Up or I will Arrest You/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/July 17/17
Turkey: Erdogan's Obsession to Take Jerusalem/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/July 17/17
Female genital mutilation practitioners are travelling to Canada, border officers warned/Stewart Bell/National Online Journalist/ July 17/17
Syria: Is It Over/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/July 17/17
Liberation of Mosul, Return of Iraq/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/July 17/17
Putin Preferred Clinton? Let’s Test Trump’s Theory/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg View/July 17/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 17-18/17
Lebanese Detained in Tehran Pleads for his Release
Aoun to audiovisual council: Army's preemptive strike always based on directives of authority
Aoun Says Army Can't be 'Lenient' in Anti-Terror Operations
Hariri, Khalil Optimistic Wage Scale to be Passed Tuesday as Gemayel Warns against Tax Hike
Geagea: Lebanese-Syrian Tensions Fueled by Economic Situation, Not Xenophobia
Police Arrest FB Page Admin Suspected of Incitement against Army
Saqr Charges Five Syrians With Terror Links
Hariri: Lebanon Will Always Stand by Saudi Arabia
Syrian Raids Strike Militants in Arsal's Outskirts
Jumblat: Syrian Intelligence Seeking Army-Refugees Clash
Hariri chairs meeting to discuss salary scale dossier
Kataeb head rejects additional taxes to fund salary scale
UCC, GLC to declare general strike if salary scale unendorsed tomorrow
Hariri receives Arslan and Economic Committees, offers congratulations at Saudi embassy
Riachy meets Press Designers Syndicate, LUCW delegation
Bassil bound for Brussels for Lebanon EU annual meeting
Army chief meets German MP, Future Movement delegation
'Israel may need to take out Iranian bases in Syria'
Our Druse neighbors

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 17-18/17
Russia Demands U.S. Return Diplomat Compounds before Talks
Diplomat: Russia-US Agreement Doesn’t Affect Iran’s Presence in Syria
SDF Says Advancing against ISIS in Raqqa where Baghdadi is Allegedly Located
Failed Attempts to Unify Opposition in Ghouta
US Sources: Qatar Avoided Signing Deal to Counter Terror Financing but Conceded after the Crisis
Macron Hosts Netanyahu in Paris without Launching New Peace Initiative
French Foreign Minister: ‘Only Gulf States Can Solve the Crisis’
Egypt Raises Security Alert following Terrorist Attacks
UAE Denies Involvement in QNA Hacking
Metal Detectors Lead to New Confrontations in Al-Aqsa
Jordanian Soldier Sentenced to Life in killing of 3 US Troops

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 17-18/17
Lebanese Detained in Tehran Pleads for his Release
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/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.

Aoun to audiovisual council: Army's preemptive strike always based on directives of authority
Mon 17 Jul 2017/NNA - Lebanese President, General Michel Aoun, stressed on Monday that the preemptive strike carried out by the Army against terrorists was always based on the directives of the political authority, headed by the President of the Republic. "It is the duty of the media to ask and investigate and obtain evidence, before disseminating charges against officials," the President told a delegation from the Union of Workers at the Audiovisual Media Council, headed by Randy Jabbour. After President Aoun renewed his call to halt economic rent practices and to focus instead on economic production, he called for more efforts to plug deficit suffered by the treasury and to ensure the mitigation of debts. He also pushed for sounding the alarm on the increasing state expenditures that are not covered with sufficient revenues."The Lebanese pound is supported by production, not by debts," Aoun explained. President Aoun also touched on the simmering displaced Syrians issue. "Lebanon bears a lot of burdens as a result of the increasing number of refugees," Aoun said, pointing out that "the international community's handling of this file, has not yet reached a stage which facilitates their return to their country. "Lebanon hopes to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis to end the sufferings of the displaced and reduce its negative repercussions on Lebanon," the President added. During his afternoon meetings, President Aoun discussed a number of political, economic and financial issues with Baabda interlocutors. President Aoun received Deputy House Speaker, Farid Makari, who explained that he had broached with the President the general situation in the country, the latest political developments, and preparations for the implementation of the new election law."I also discussed with the President the financial situation in the country, the draft budget, the salary scale, and other related topics. I saw eye-to-eye with his Excellency on the importance of giving priority to the adoption of the general budget, especially that it will be the first budget approved since 2005."
"I also discussed with President Aoun matters concerning the Orthodox community in Lebanon," he added.
Fiscal and economic issues featured high between the President and Telecoms Minister, Jamal Jarrah, who also had an audience with Aoun today."I briefed the President on the ongoing work at the Ministry of Communications and on some short-term plans by the ministry that are in the process of being carried out," Jarrah said on emerging. We also discussed projects that support SMEs (small and medium enterprises) within the telecommunications sector. Responding to whether there's a possibility that a wage hike would be endorsed, and about the nature of its connection to the salary scale, Jarrah said: "The adoption of the budget is a fundamental issue, and there are simple points involving the salary scale that still need to be discussed. A meeting will be held today to thrash out these standing issues."As for new reduction of telecoms tariffs, the Minister said: "We have started to apply the cuts, which are very large, to help citizens pay the required bills, in addition to the new internet speeds -- 4 MB for the price of LBP 90 thousand per month for open consumption." Also on Monday, President Aoun met with the Archbishop of the Maronite Diocese of Australia, Bishop Antoine Charbel Tarbieh, in presence of Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Dr. Pierre Raffoul and Australian Ambassador Glenn Miles.

Aoun Says Army Can't be 'Lenient' in Anti-Terror Operations
Naharnet/July 17/17/President Michel Aoun stressed Monday that the army cannot be “lenient” in its anti-terror operations, defending the military against recent abuse allegations. “In recent days, we have witnessed false accusations against the army, which is offering martyrs to protect Lebanon from terrorism,” Aoun said. “How can the army be lenient in the face of this, especially when it deals with those who do not hesitate to blow themselves up to inflict harm on others?” the president asked. He warned that “leniency in such a situation would double the possibility of the occurrence of terrorist crimes.” Aoun also noted that “the army's preemptive war against terrorists has always been based on the directions of the political authority that is led by the president,” urging media outlets to “ask, investigate and obtain evidence before publishing accusations against officials.”The army was accused of abusing refugees and detainees in the wake of recent security raids on two refugee settlements in the border region of Arsal. The raiding troops were met with suicide attacks and grenades, and security forces subsequently arrested dozens of people from the two encampments. Seven soldiers were wounded and a Syrian girl was killed during the raids, the army said. Days later, the army announced that four of the Syrian detainees had died of pre-existing medical conditions, sparking accusations of torture.

Hariri, Khalil Optimistic Wage Scale to be Passed Tuesday as Gemayel Warns against Tax Hike
Naharnet/July 17/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil on Monday expressed optimism that the new wage scale for civil servants and the armed forces will be approved in Tuesday's legislative session, as Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel warned against a proposed tax hike that “will harm all social classes.”“We can say that we've reached the final stages of an agreement on the wage scale and we will go to parliament tomorrow to discuss it positively and we will reach a result,” said Khalil after a ministerial-parliamentary meeting that was chaired by Hariri.“If we take into consideration the atmosphere during today's meeting and the stances of the various blocs, I'm very optimistic that the wage scale will be approved,” Khalil added. Hariri for his part said that “God willing, the new wage scale will be approved tomorrow.”Lebanese Forces deputy head MP George Adwan meanwhile announced that the “meeting's atmosphere was positive” and that “there is an inclination to pass the wage scale.”Asked about the proposed taxes, Adwan confirmed that new taxes will be slapped on banks and seaside properties as part of a plan to fund the new wage scale. Kataeb chief Gemayel meanwhile held a press conference to warn that “the taxes draft decree has returned to the agenda of tomorrow's legislative session.”“On March 15, there was a vote on a number of taxes but, together with the people, we managed to force their cancellation. And on March 16, they waged a defamation campaign against Kataeb... while on March 18 the ruling parties disavowed the taxes,” Gemayel said. “There are 15 taxes that harm all social classes on the agenda of tomorrow's legislative session,” Gemayel warned.
He noted that only basic commodities exempted from VAT would not be affected by Tuesday's proposed tax hike. “All items that we buy from supermarkets will witness an increase in price,” Gemayel cautioned. Instead of hiking taxes, authorities should “fund the wage scale from the banks' extraordinary profits which amount to $800 million,” Kataeb's chief added, while also calling for an end to the waste and theft of public money. “Putting an end to only 20% of tax evasion would secure the funds needed to finance the wage scale,” Gemayel noted. “Do not put a burden on people because they cannot withstand further strains,” he warned. Kataeb's student and youth department meanwhile called for an anti-tax demo outside parliament at 5:00 pm Tuesday. The Syndical Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, has been pushing for the approval of the new wage scale for several years now and has organized numerous street protests and strikes to this end. The members of the armed forces would also benefit from the new wage scale. The ruling class argues that hiking taxes is necessary to fund the wage hike but opponents of such a move have called on authorities to find alternative funding sources.

Geagea: Lebanese-Syrian Tensions Fueled by Economic Situation, Not Xenophobia

Naharnet/July 17/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea noted Monday that the growing tensions between Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees are not of a “xenophobic” nature but are rather related to the difficult economic situation. “The refugee influx has caused major repercussions, topped by the tensions that are growing day after day between Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees,” Geagea said at a Maarab seminar on terrorism. “These tensions are not xenophobic, religious, sectarian or political, but have been caused by the fact that a narrow territory, a small economy and a weak infrastructure cannot cope with 1.5 million displaced Syrians... There is a proverb that says that the lack of money leads to bickering, especially regarding the issue of job opportunities,” Geagea explained. As for the thorny issue of returning refugees to Syria, Geagea noted that the LF has prepared a paper in this regard and sent it to some parliamentary blocs. “The paper calls on the Lebanese government to take a decision to help Syrian refugees return to Syria, especially to the Syrian south where Russia and the U.S. are present, in addition to the Kurdish-majority northeastern region,” Geagea said. “Each of these two regions is bigger than Lebanon and contains major infrastructure,” the LF leader noted, urging the Lebanese government to “cooperate with the international institutions to devise a plan for the return of the refugees.” Geagea also suggested that the return of refugees should begin with those among them who “do not have a problem with the regime.”“Why don't we start with this part? Let them go to the regime's strongholds and this will alleviate the burden on Lebanon,” the LF leader added, referring to Syrians who have visited Syria several times since the eruption of the Syrian conflict. “This needs a stance from the Lebanese government,” Geagea went on to say, while rejecting “any politicization of the issue.”“Any call for reestablishing ties or expanding relations with the Syrian regime will only obstruct the return of the refugees,” he warned.

Police Arrest FB Page Admin Suspected of Incitement against Army
Naharnet/July 17/17/Police has reportedly arrested a man said to be behind a Facebook page that published provocations against the Lebanese Army, media reports said on Monday. Reports said that police detained a suspect who was identified by his initials as H.A. in the Taamir neighborhood in the southern refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh. They said the suspect is the administrator of a Facebook page, The Union of Syrian People in Lebanon, that posted incitements against the army. On Sunday, an invitation posted on the said page called “independent Syrian and Lebanese activists and civil society groups for a demo in solidarity with the Syrian refugees,” in Downtown Beirut. 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. 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.

Saqr Charges Five Syrians With Terror Links
Naharnet/July 17/17/State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged 5 Syrian suspects with belonging to the Islamic State organization and with fighting against the Lebanese army, the National News Agency reported on Monday. The suspects were charged with having planned to carry out terrorist attacks and for taking part in battles against the Lebanese army during the Arsal 2014 clashes, NNA added. The Arsal deadly gunbattles erupted after jihadists from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State extremist group overran the town. The militants took with them hostages from the army and police and later executed four of them. The rest remain in captivity on Arsal's outskirts in the Syrian region of Qalamoun.

Hariri: Lebanon Will Always Stand by Saudi Arabia
Naharnet/July 17/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed on Monday that Lebanon will always be supportive of Saudi Arabia as it has supported it before. “Lebanon will always stand by Saudi Arabia's side as it has in turn supported it,” said Hariri.The PM's remarks came in a statement he made during a visit to the Saudi Arabian embassy to extend his congratulations on the newly-appointed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. "Congratulations, this is the era of the youth, we hope it will be a blessing for Saudi Arabia and the Arab world,” said Hariri.

Syrian Raids Strike Militants in Arsal's Outskirts
Naharnet/July 17/17/Early on Monday, Syrian warplanes staged raids on positions of militants in the outskirts of Arsal on the border with Syria, the National News Agency said. Syrian warplanes regularly target militants in the border area with Lebanon.
The Lebanese army frequently clashes with the militants in their hideouts near the Syria border.

Jumblat: Syrian Intelligence Seeking Army-Refugees Clash
Naharnet/July 17/17/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Monday rejected calls for demos in support of the refugees, and pointed out that the Syrian Intelligence might be seeking to initiate clashes between the Lebanese Army and the Syrian refugees. “No to demos on the issue of refugees. No to the 1975-67 (war) past experience that has devastated and divided the country. Yes to distinction between terror and Syrian refugees,” said Jumblat in a tweet. A Facebook page called The Union of Syrian People in Lebanon had initially posted on Sunday a call for a Saturday demo before postponing the event to Tuesday. The invitation said: “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 PSP leader added: “There is the terror of the Islamic State group and the extremist organizations. Who said the Syrian Intelligence is innocent. It may be seeking an indiscriminate clash between the (Lebanese) Army and the refugees. “Let the (Lebanese) army do its job away from incitements,” he emphasized.
Some Lebanese politicians have urged the interior ministry to ban the protest. They fear the demos might trigger clashes and aggravate to develop into a crisis similar to the 1975 war. MP Wiam Wahhab said the Ministry should ban the demo of the “Syrian regime opponents” and urged “all Lebanese to rally” on the same day “in support of the Lebanese army in the face of terrorism.” The 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.

Hariri chairs meeting to discuss salary scale dossier
Mon 17 Jul 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri chaired, at the Grand Serail on Monday, a meeting devoted to discussing the salary scale issue, in addition to the state's expenditures and revenues. The meeting was attended by Minister Ali Hassan Khalil (Finance), Minister Jamal Jarrah (Telecommunications), Head of the Finance and Budget House committee MP Ibrahim Kanaan, as well as lawmakers George Adwan, Ali Fayyad, and Akram Shehayeb. "We can say that we have reached the final stages of agreeing over the salary scale," Minister Khalil told reporters following the meeting. "I am optimistic that the new salary scale will be endorsed tomorrow," he said.

Kataeb head rejects additional taxes to fund salary scale
Mon 17 Jul 2017/NNA - Kataeb Party head, MP Sami Gemayel, on Monday sternly rejected additional taxes that would be mulled at the Parliament tomorrow to fund the salary scale, highlighting the necessity to dissociate the scale from levies. "The tax decree has been rescheduled on tomorrow's legislative session's agenda," Gemayel told a news conference at Kataeb Central House in Saifi. "We were taken aback when they relisted the taxes on the agenda," he said, warning that those levies directly would target all the social categories, namely the poor, and would lead to a higher cost of life. Gemayel then urged the Parliament not to pass the taxes, as well as to control the waste of public funds and endorse the required reforms "in order to put Lebanon on the track of growth."

UCC, GLC to declare general strike if salary scale unendorsed tomorrow
Mon 17 Jul 2017/NNA - The Union Coordination Committee and the General Labor Confederation on Monday threatened to declare general strike at Lebanon's public and private sectors, if the Parliament fails to endorse the long-awaited salary scale during tomorrow's legislative session. The UCC and GLC held a joint meeting today at the headquarters of the Teachers' Union.

Hariri receives Arslan and Economic Committees, offers congratulations at Saudi embassy
Mon 17 Jul 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited today the embassy of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Beirut, and offered his congratulations on the appointment of Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz as Crown Prince, Hariri's press office indicated on Monday.
Hariri was received by Acting Charge d'Affaires Walid Al-Bukhari and the embassy staff. He wrote in the guestbook: "May God bless Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and help him confront all the challenges. In Lebanon we always had a brotherly and historic relationship with the Kingdom that we hope will always continue."Separately, Hariri received at the Grand Serail the Minister of the Displaced Talal Arslan, in the presence of a delegation from the Central Fund for the Displaced. The meeting focused on taking the necessary steps to develop the regions that witnessed a displacement in order to reinforce the return of the inhabitants to their villages.
After the meeting, Arslan said: "This meeting is a very advanced step in the sensitive file of the displaced, which is directly related to coexistence and unity between Lebanese in general and in the mountain in particular. First, I would like to thank Prime Minister Hariri for his personal interest and I consider that, of all political stages that I witnessed since 1990, he is the first prime minister who looks into the details of this file. He took the great initiative of forming a joint committee comprising the Ministry of the Displaced, the Displaced Fund and advisors, headed by Fadi Fawaz whom I thank for his technical and practical approach to solving such a thorny issue. I also thank the President of the Displaced Fund Nicolas Habr and the Director General of the Ministry, Ahmad Al Mahmoud for their hard work. We reached a draft law that differs from the previous laws that dealt only with the issue of securing funds. A part of this draft is funding and another part relates to new regulations that are laid down in clear and explicit legal texts."He added: "The file of the displaced is not an easy file; it includes the reconciliation demands from each village and city, and demands for restoration, reconstruction and infrastructure. The most important thing is that there is a new approach to close this file. The draft will be studied by the president and the Prime minister before presenting it to the cabinet and then to Parliament."
Hariri also met with a delegation of the Economic Committees, headed by former minister Adnan Kassar and discussed the economic and financial situation in the country.
The delegation presented the following text to PM Hariri:
"The Economic Committees, headed by former Minister Adnan Kassar, held an extraordinary meeting at the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. As a result of the deliberations and consultations, the following statement was issued:
First: the Economic Committees emphasize the importance of legislative work and the return of life to constitutional institutions. They also congratulate the government on the adoption of a new budget, after none was voted since 2005. Second: the Economic Committees believe that the priority today should be to stimulate the economy and not to increase taxes on an economy in crisis. Also a new budget should be voted, that is transparent and balanced, and where expenditures are not greater than revenues, with a real reform process to combat corruption that has penetrated frighteningly in all departments and institutions. The first steps of reform should be to combat tax evasion and to activate the collection of unpaid bills and fees, which would protect the national economy.
Third: The Committees consider that the government should launch an economic plan, and strengthen the incentives that will activate the economy and raise growth rates. This is the right way to revitalize the national economy, stop institutions from closing, and create new job opportunities for Lebanese.
Fourth: The Economic Committees believe that the proposed tax increases shouldn't be approved, because they will have negative repercussions on the Lebanese economic situation as a whole, because they will increase the pressure on institutions that suffer from difficult conditions and will affect a large part of the working class, which might create a crisis difficult to overcome."Later on, Hariri received a delegation from the army command, headed by Brigadier General Rifaat Ramadan and coprising Brigadier General Fatek Al Saadi and Colonel Elie Najm Mezher, who invited Prime Minister Hariri to attend the 72nd Army Day on August 1st in the Military College. On a different note, Hariri headed a meeting attended by Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Minister of Communications Jamal Al-Jarrah, Chairman of Finance parliamentary Committee Ibrahim Kanaan and MPs George Adwan, Ali Fayyad and Akram Chehayeb.
The meeting, which aims to prepare for tomorrow's parliamentary session, focused on the salaries scale, expenditures and revenues. Hariri earlier met with MP Bahia Hariri and received a delegation from the Lebanese Golf Club headed by Riad Makkawi. He also received Eric Favre who asked him to sponsor the Beirutfight Games to be held in the Lebanese capital next year.

Riachy meets Press Designers Syndicate, LUCW delegation

Mon 17 Jul 2017/NNA - Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, on Monday met with a delegation of the Lebanese Press and Graphic Designers' Syndicate, headed by Patrick Nacouzi. Talks reportedly touched on the formation of a union for the orders of employees at media institutions.  Riachy later met with a delegation of the Lebanese Union for Child Welfare (LUCW), headed by Fadia al-Assaad.

Bassil bound for Brussels for Lebanon EU annual meeting

Mon 17 Jul 2017/NNA - Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil is heading to Brussels on top of an official delegation, to partake in the annual meeting between Lebanon and the European Union. The meeting will take place tomorrow (Tuesday), under the chairmanship of Minister Bassil and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. Bassil will also hold a series of talks over the ties between Lebanon and Belgium.

Army chief meets German MP, Future Movement delegation
Mon 17 Jul 2017/NNA - Lebanese Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, met, at his Yarze office on Monday, with MP Assem Qanso, over most recent developments in the country.He later welcomed German MP Gunter Krings, accompanied by German Ambassador to Lebanon, Martin Huth and Defense Attaché Colonel Dietrich Jensch. Talks reportedly featured high on the current situation in Lebanon and the broader Arab region, in addition to the cooperation between the Lebanese and German armies. General Aoun also received a delegation of Future Movement, accompanied by Marjeioun and Hasbaya Mufti Sheikh Hassan Dallah, and Head of Arqoub Municipalities' Union Mohammad Saab.

'Israel may need to take out Iranian bases in Syria'/قد يكون من الضروري لإسرائيل تدمير القواعد الإيرانية في سوريا
Herb Keinon/Jerusalem Post/July 17/17
Former NSC head says Iranian nuke deal source of problems Iran is causing in region, and deal is "worse than we imagined."
Israel may need to take military action to prevent Iran or Hezbollah from setting up permanent bases in Syria, former National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said on Monday.
Amidror’s comments come a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists in Paris that Israel was opposed to the Syrian cease-fire brokered recently by the US and Syria because it perpetuates Iran’s military presence in the the country.
If Israel's interests are not taken into account by those determining what the future arrangements will be in Syria – the Americans, Russians or others – “that might lead the IDF to intervene and destroy every attempt to build [permanent Iranian] infrastructure in Syria,” he said.
Amidror, a fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies who has remained in contact with Netanyahu, made his comments during a press conference with journalists organized by The Israel Project.
“We will not let the Iranians and Hezbollah be the forces that will win the very brutal war in Syria” and then move their focus onto Israel, he said. Up until now Israel has been very careful to say out of the war in Syria, saying it will only intervene – and indeed only has intervened – to protect the red lines Netanyahu established: that game-changing weaponry is not transferred to Hezbollah via Syria, that Hezbollah and Iranian troops are not on the border with Israel, and that the Iranians do not establish permanent bases in Syria.
Amidror said that the cease fire plan was made without taking into sufficient consideration Israel’s need to defend itself.
“At the end of the day it is our responsibility, not the responsibility of the Americans, or the Russians, to guarantee ourselves, and we will take all the measures that are needed for that,” he said.
Explaining how the Americans and Russians -- with which Israel has good ties and a dialogue -- agreed to a deal that could allow for a permanent Iranian presence in Syria, Amidror said that the Russian strategic goal in the cease-fire was to ensure that Assad's regime remains, and the the American strategic goal was to destroy Islamic State.
Israel, he said, needs to “take care of its strategic goal,” which he defined as “keeping Iran and Syria from building launching pads in Syria.”
Amidror said that that while Israel obviously wants to see the killing in Syria end, “the price can't be having Iran and Hezbollah on our borders.”
He said that Israel has both diplomatic and military options to keep this from happening, and said “both options should be used.”
Amidror attributed Iran's current success in the region to the Iranian nuclear deal signed two years ago. Iran, he said, is implementing a strategy that for the first time in modern history places them on the cusp of establishing a land corridor from Tehran, through Baghdad to Damascus and the Mediterranean.
“The ability of the Iranians to do what they are doing now in Syria and Iraq, and be involved in both Syria and Iraq, and their relations with Hezbollah, it is all built on the legitimacy they gained from this [nuclear] agreement,” he said.
Amidror said that it is very much in the Iranian interests to abide by the agreement, since in the meantime they are changing the contours of the entire Middle East. After the period of the agreement ends they can then dash to the nuclear finish line, with their strategic situation in the region considerably improved, as well as their ability to withstand any new wave of sanctions.
“The agreement is the source of all the problems ,” he said. “It is even more dangerous than we imagined when signed.”

Our Druse neighbors/جيراننا الدروز
Faydra L. Shapiro/Jerusalem Post/July 16/17
Haiel Stawi reminds us, in life and in death, that this country is a place more diverse, more complex and more beautiful than even I knew. This is all of our Israel. May his memory be a blessing.
There’s a standard picture, one of the most powerful poses there is – a father cradling his newborn to his chest. It projects that essential moment when a young man recognizes that he is now something entirely different, responsible in a new kind of way, holding in his hands at once both hope and power and complete fragility. I kept looking at that picture.
It had been a hot and difficult Friday, starting with the terrifying news of a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. Worse yet, a terrorist attack by Arab citizens of the State of Israel. Worse yet, at the holy Temple Mount itself. And worst of all, two Israeli police officers had been murdered as they tried to protect innocent lives.
Officer Haiel Stawi, 30 years old, was the young man holding his newborn son. The other officer, Kamil Shnaan, was preparing to celebrate his engagement. The cutting down of life in its prime, well, the depth of tragedy was clear to everyone.
It was a few hours to Shabbat when I realized that Stawi was in fact a neighbor, from a couple of villages over, in the mixed Druse-Christian-Muslim town of Maghar.
That’s when I walked over to my husband and explained that we needed to change our Friday afternoon take-thekids- to-the-pool plans. We had a funeral to attend. I admit, we were both a little nervous. We have Christian friends in Maghar, but no Druse friends. In fact, I suddenly realized, I didn’t know any Druse at all. But it was important to me that we show up. To remind ourselves and our children that just as important as celebrating the return of Jews to our ancestral homeland is saluting those who give their lives in its – in our – defense. To remind ourselves that the Jewish state does not mean only Jews. And to remind ourselves that all those who endanger their lives in service here do so for all our citizens.
Earlier this week, an op-ed appeared in an Israeli newspaper that included the following:
“No Israeli parent has the right to give birth to a child in this country and not teach them why they live in Israel, why they are Jewish, why we came back to this land after 2,000 years and why we need to defend it. The stakes are extremely high.”
NATURALLY, I was incensed. What about the 20% of our citizens who would have a difficult time doing so because well, they aren’t Jewish? How can we forget the other 20%? It happens so easily. Barriers of language, culture, religion, dress, schooling, villages, neighborhoods, and suddenly you forget how diverse and complex and beautiful this “Jewish state” really is.
As we turned off the highway toward the village, we saw two young men hitchhiking. They were easy to understand: huge kippot, long earlocks, big backpacks. God forgive me, but I thought to myself “these guys look like the church-burning type.” Obviously we weren’t going to pick them up. It was clear that they were on their way to the isolated Jewish community near the village, with its military yeshiva. We were headed somewhere different entirely. That wasn’t our Israel.
The funeral itself was packed, and stoic. My husband and I certainly stood out, both as “not Druse” and as religious Jews. But as the casket passed, we felt that it was a huge honor to be able to accompany this brave young man’s body a little ways toward its final resting place.
And, to be perfectly honest, I admit that I was feeling pretty good about myself for doing the right thing.
After walking with the funeral procession a short way toward the cemetery, we made our way back through the village to our car. The heat was fierce, and I turned to accept a cup of water from one of the residents. And as I turned back around I was shocked to see that there stood the two hitchhikers we hadn’t even considered picking up, with a simple question on their lips: “Where is the funeral”?
Haiel Stawi reminds us, in life and in death, that this country is a place more diverse, more complex and more beautiful than even I knew. This is all of our Israel. May his memory be a blessing.
*The writer is the director for the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and an associate fellow at the Philos Project. She can be contacted at

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 17-18/17
Russia Demands U.S. Return Diplomat Compounds before Talks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 17/17/The Kremlin on Monday said Washington must unconditionally restore its access to diplomatic compounds in the United States ahead of high-level talks on the issue. Russia is angry that Washington is still barring its diplomats from using two compounds in the states of New York and Maryland after then president Barack Obama in December ordered the ban on access in response to suspected Russian meddling in the U.S. election. "We consider it absolutely unacceptable to place conditions on the return of diplomatic property, we consider that it must be returned without any conditions and talking," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. He spoke as Thomas Shannon, the U.S. State Department's third-in-command, was set to host Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov in Washington later Monday. Diplomats quoted by Russian news agencies said the issue of the residential complexes would be on their agenda. The talks between Shannon and Ryabkov were earlier scheduled for June but Russia canceled them, citing new U.S. sanctions linked to the conflict in Ukraine. When President Vladimir Putin and U.S. counterpart Donald Trump met for the first time at the G20 summit in Hamburg this month, the Kremlin strongman raised the question "quite unambiguously," Peskov said. He added that "we still hope our American colleagues will show political wisdom and political will." Obama announced the U.S. was shutting down residential complexes in December at the same time as he expelled 35 Russian diplomats for spying. He said the measures were in response to U.S. intelligence reports of Russian hacking and an alleged influence campaign to sway the U.S. presidential election in Trump's favor, describing the compounds as used by Moscow for "intelligence-related purposes."At the time Putin held off from retaliating, saying he would wait to see how Trump reacted after he came into the White House. But hope that Trump will soon follow up on campaign pledges to boost relations have fizzled as any ties to Moscow have become toxic for the White House amid a maelstrom of U.S. investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Now Russia has decided to ratchet up threats that it could belatedly take revenge by blocking a country house and a storage facility used by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week: "If Washington decides not to solve this issue, we will have to take counter actions." Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova complained last week that the U.S. was also refusing to issue visas for Russian diplomats to replace those expelled.

Diplomat: Russia-US Agreement Doesn’t Affect Iran’s Presence in Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/London- Iranian senior diplomat Houssein Jaberi Ansari has said that the presence of Iranian troops in Syria will not be limited by any Russian-US deal. The Foreign Ministry’s Deputy for Arab-African Affairs stressed that his countries’ troops in Syria remain unaffected by stances of regional or international role-players. The diplomat was speaking after a meeting with Russian President’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev who had earlier in the day held talks with Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani in Tehran. “Even if others sign agreements [on areas] covering Iran’s presence [in Syria], these pacts would have no real impact,” IRNA quoted Ansari as telling reporters on Saturday. The two diplomats led the Iranian and Russian delegations in Astana peace talks on Syria, whose fifth round was held on July 4-5. Ansari said they discussed in detail the latest Syrian developments and reviewed ways of resolving differences among players in the conflict blocking a political settlement. Today, we tried to find innovative solutions to problems. We will have similar discussions with Turkish officials too, and in two weeks, we will convene an expert-level meeting in Tehran. We hope these meetings will help us gradually overcome obstacles,” he said. Recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity regarding the crisis in Syria and frequent meetings between Iranian and Russian officials. The two countries, backers of the Syrian regime, and Turkey, a supporter of Syrian rebels, tried in the latest round of Astana talks to finalize an agreement on creating four de-escalation zones in Syria but failed. They agreed to resume their discussions on creating the safe zones in Syria in the next round scheduled for late August. The next conference will be preceded by the expert-level meeting set for August 1-2 in Tehran. The latest round of UN-brokered Geneva talks on political settlement of the conflict started last Monday and ended on Saturday. United Nations Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said following the conclusion of the talks that little progress was made. “Today, we tried to find innovative solutions to problems. We will have similar discussions with Turkish officials too, and in two weeks, we will convene an expert-level meeting in Tehran. We hope these meetings will help us gradually overcome obstacles,” said Ansari.

SDF Says Advancing against ISIS in Raqqa where Baghdadi is Allegedly Located
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/The Syrian Democratic Forces said Monday they had seized a new neighborhood from ISIS in the militant stronghold of Raqqa where the terrorist group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is allegedly located. The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by the US, have been pressing an operation to capture northern Syria’s Raqqa since last year, and entered the city in June. “The Al-Yarmuk district was liberated yesterday,” the SDF’s spokeswoman for the Raqqa operation Jihan Sheikh Ahmed told Agence France Presse.Al-Yarmuk is a large neighbourhood on the southwestern outskirts of the city. “The operation is continuing but there are many fierce clashes,” Ahmed said, speaking in the town of Ain Issa, some 50 kilometers north of Raqqa. “We are taking steady and sound steps. What is important to us is not speed, but liberating civilians and eliminating ISIS,” she added. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the SDF had advanced in Al-Yarmuk but did not yet fully control the district. The monitor said the militia held the western portion of the district but that heavy fighting was continuing. It also reported that hundreds of civilians had fled ISIS-held parts of the city towards areas now controlled by the SDF in the last 48 hours. The monitor estimates the US-backed force currently holds around 35 percent of the city. The SDF began an operation to capture Raqqa in November 2016 and spent months taking territory around the city before finally entering it in June. It has been backed by heavy US-led coalition air strikes, including on Monday, which killed at least three civilians, according to the Observatory. Following reports that Baghdadi had been killed, top Kurdish counter-terrorism official Lahur Talabany told Reuters in Iraq that he was 99 percent sure that the ISIS leader was alive and located south of Raqqa. “Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany said. “Don’t forget his roots go back to al-Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing.”

Failed Attempts to Unify Opposition in Ghouta
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/Beirut- Jaish al-Islam’s announcement on Saturday that it agrees to dissolve itself and integrate into the Damascus Military Council could not succeed to end division between its militants and Faylaq al-Rahman and to form a unified opposition national army, therefore, putting an end to an initiative that aims to unify factions in Damascus’ eastern Ghouta. This failure came after Failaq al-Rahman officials doubted the intentions of Jaish al-Islam, at a time when regime forces escalated their military attacks in the area, with an aim to narrow the presence of opposition forces. Last Saturday, Jaish al-Islam rebel group has announced its agreement to dissolve itself and to integrate into the Syrian opposition national army. A source from Jaish al-Islam said the initiative “ends a long division in Ghouta, and helps to unify the fronts and prevent regime forces from benefiting from the situation and fight each faction as an isolated force.” However, this announcement failed to end division between the two groups to form a unified opposition national army and prevent regime forces from terminating their presence in the Ghouta area, sources from the city said. In a linked development, Bashar Assad’s regime withdrew on Sunday the security privileges given to all militias and security apparatuses, operating under the auspices of the Interior Ministry. An informed source from Damascus told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Ali Mamlouk, the head of Syria’s National Security Bureau intelligence service, sent a cable to head of the military police and asked him to order his militants to withdraw any security missions issued by whichever party except the National Security Bureau.” The source said that this decision is effective as of July 3, 2017. The cable also said that the Russian forces, Hezbollah militants and members of the Revolutionary Guards were not involved in the decision.

US Sources: Qatar Avoided Signing Deal to Counter Terror Financing but Conceded after the Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/Washington– Forty days following the decision by the anti-terrorism quartet to boycott Qatar, Doha has aborted all initiatives and mediations to end the crisis. Although it has finally signed an agreement to counter terrorism with the United States, statements issued by Qatari officials contradict the deal’s spirit. Senior US sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Qatar has conceded to US demands to sign the memorandum of accord, in the wake of the escalation of the crisis with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. The agreement, which was signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers last week, was proposed to Doha long ago, but the Gulf state was turning a blind eye to it, according to the sources. The sources noted that the agreement was presented to Doha a year ago, and two weeks or more before the crisis began with the four countries, “but officials in Qatar treated it lightly and did not take the outputs of the Islamic-American summit in Riyadh seriously.”“The authorities in Doha considered that the signing of this deal may be a satisfactory solution after the outbreak of the crisis with the neighboring countries,” the sources added, noting that Washington’s position on this agreement is to stop all means of terrorism financing, to support the Kuwaiti mediation, and to see change in Doha’s behavior. The sources pointed out that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has sought, during his recent trips to the Gulf, to end the crisis between Qatar and its four sisterly countries, stressing that the US official was in constant contact with President Donald Trump to achieve this purpose. The US position on the Gulf crisis has seen a major development, when Trump has hinted at the possibility of seeking alternatives to the US military presence at Al Udeid airbase in Qatar. “If we ever had to leave, we would have 10 countries willing to build us another one, believe me, and they will pay for it,” the US president told CBN conservative channel. Tillerson and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, signed the memorandum to counter terrorism financing in Doha on Tuesday. “The agreement which we both have signed on behalf of our governments represents weeks of intensive discussions between experts and reinvigorates the spirit of the Riyadh summit,” the US state secretary said at a joint news conference with Sheikh Mohammed.

Macron Hosts Netanyahu in Paris without Launching New Peace Initiative
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/Paris – For three days, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted in Paris Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he took part in a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the deportation of thousands of French Jews to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Sunday marked the day of official talks between the two leaders, which saw them hold a meeting that lasted more than two hours at the Elysee Palace. The discussions focused on the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations that have been halted for three years. The media speculated whether Macron would adopt the initiative of the previous French government, but the president, when addressing reporters, was brief in calling all sides to resume negotiations in order to reach a solution that is based on two states that can live side by side. “This is the approach that represents the firm French diplomatic line that I commit to,” Macron added. With this, he has altered Paris’ role that had previously leaned towards taking the lead in launching initiatives, to simply saying that it backs “all diplomatic efforts as specified by international agreements on peace.” The French president also eased the harsh tone that was previously directed by France against Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, sufficing by saying that “it is important to make sure that the necessary conditions to resume the negotiations and reach peace are not thwarted by the facts on the ground.” He then “reminded” Netanyahu of his and France’s stance on settlements. The truth of the matter is that Macron avoided focusing on contentious issues in his statements to the public. He knows, on the one hand, that the Israeli PM has fought against past French initiatives. On the other, he is aware that any wrong step would put him at odds with the right-wing members of his government who advocate increasing settlement building. French diplomatic sources said that one should not confuse what is said in the open and what is said behind closed doors. For his part, Netanyahu did not address the settlement issue or the negotiations in his statements. Playing on Macron’s words, the Israeli official said that opposing Zionism is a form of anti-semitism, to conclude that terrorism against Israel is due to the Palestinian refusal to recognize it as a Jewish state. The French sources said that Macron is not seeking to take initiatives in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but he wants Paris to play the role of “facilitator” to help resume negotiations. In addition, should it make a peace proposal, it will only do so after the US vision on the issue is revealed. Addressing regional developments, Macron said that he “shares” Netanyahu’s concerns over “Hezbollah’s” armament in southern Lebanon. He stressed that France will contribute to supporting “stability in Lebanon by respecting all of its sects and by relying on diplomatic initiatives.”Macron and Netanyahu also tackled the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which the French leader said that Paris is “diligent” to whether Tehran will accurately implement it.

French Foreign Minister: ‘Only Gulf States Can Solve the Crisis’
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/Kuwait- French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has concluded his tour to four Gulf states by asserting from the UAE on Sunday that the solution lies in the hands of GCC countries themselves and noting the pivotal role played by Saudi Arabia to combat terrorism. Le Drian concluded his Gulf tour in Abu Dhabi where he met UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and discussed means of boosting bilateral cooperation in addition to other regional and international issues besides the Qatari crisis. The French FM arrived in Abu Dhabi from Kuwait, which is mediating the crisis, where he held talks with Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah and his Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah. Le Drian met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and FM Adel al-Jubeir in Jeddah on Saturday. “We salute Saudi Arabia for its role in the fight against terrorism and extremist ideology, and Saudi Arabia has shown its leadership in the fight against terrorism,” Le Drian said. He started his tour from Doha, where he met his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Saturday. He told reporters after the meeting that “France should be a facilitator in the mediation that is led by Kuwait.” German FM Sigmar Gabriel, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited the Gulf in recent weeks to try and resolve the dispute. However, their efforts to resolve the crisis with Qatar did not succeed as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt accuse it of leading a policy that encourages extremism, nurtures terrorism and systematic intervention in the internal affairs of the states to create chaos, tension, and hatred. In this context, Le Drian’s visit to Jeddah resulted in a Saudi-French agreement on the necessity to fight all terrorist parties and commit to halt funding and supporting them. Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would give Le Drian “comprehensive dossiers of the negative acts committed by Qatar over the years”, adding that a similar file was given to Tillerson. “There are basic principles that must be committed to by all countries, including Qatar,” he said. “The first is not supporting terrorism and the financing of terrorism. The second is to refrain from supporting extremism and from inciting and spreading hatred.”Jubeir said Riyadh hoped the crisis could still be solved “within the Gulf house.”Le Drian agreed that “solving this crisis should be done by the Gulf countries themselves”, reiterating Paris’ support for the Kuwaiti mediation. “We look for everyone’s determined commitment against terrorism, its support and financing. In this perspective, it is important that GCC countries be united, to remain a rampart against instability,” he said.

Egypt Raises Security Alert following Terrorist Attacks

Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/Cairo – Egyptian security forces increased its security measures during the last few hours in an attempt to end the series of terrorist attacks inflicting the country over the past couple of weeks. Egyptian army killed on Sunday nine militants which it described as “extremely dangerous” in central Sinai and destroyed a number of ammunition storehouses belonging to them. In response, Minister of Interior Magdy Abdul Ghaffar ordered his aides to increase their security measures especially around churches and public facilities and areas. Dozens of soldiers, police officers and foreigners were killed and injured during the past few days during terrorist attacks at resorts in the north of Sinai, al-Giza and al-Ghardaqah. The attacks occurred as Egypt has a declared state of emergency since last April. A highly informed security commander told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the increase in terrorist attacks in the country recently is due to Egypt’s boycott of relations with Qatar. He added that terrorist groups increased their attacks after Qatar and its relations with these groups have been exposed. Recent investigations with terrorists apprehended revealed they have contact with Doha. Earlier last month, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain cut their ties with Doha for supporting and financing extremists organizations in the region, primarily the “banned” Muslim Brotherhood. Dozens of people had been enrolled on the list of terrorists for their relations with Qatar. Armed Forces Spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said that the forces killed three militants and arrested another, in addition to destroying a vehicle and five depots containing ammunition and explosives, in central Sinai.
He added that the troops of field army forces managed to destroy a vehicle loaded with large amounts of explosives and killed six armed extremists at a mountainous area in central Sinai. On Egypt’s western border with Libya, warplanes attacked and destroyed 15 four-wheel-drive vehicles carrying weapons, ammunition, and contraband. The Egyptian air forces destroyed on Sunday the 15 vehicles before they infiltrated into Egypt, raising the number of such destroyed vehicles since May to 42. The air strikes took place following intelligence revealed that criminal subjects were gathering to sneak into Egypt. Cairo Security Chief Khaled Abdel Aal made on Sunday surprise inspection visits to several churches in the Egyptian capital, included the tour of Cathedral in Abassia, ordering maximum security to prevent possible terror attacks. Aal inspected the security measures taken to protect the churches and deployed security forces around Cairo. Aal mandated bomb disposal experts to continuously comb the areas around churches across Cairo to achieve the highest level of security. He also ordered the Rapid Deployment Forces to go on patrols around the capital, and mandated the criminal investigation services to increase surveillance by using the cameras in churches. In related news, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Lt-Gen Mahmoud Hijazi emphasized Sunday the importance of boosting coordination between his country and the US to support security and stability in the Middle East, and counter terrorism. Egypt’s Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy made the remarks during a meeting with the Commanding General of US Army Central Michael Garrett, in which they discussed further military cooperation between the two countries. Garett expressed his aspirations towards boosting joint work with Egypt at all levels to better serve the mutual interests of both nations. Both sides also tackled cooperation including joint exercises, exchanging expertise and enhancing combat and technical capabilities of the armed forces.

UAE Denies Involvement in QNA Hacking
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/The United Arab Emirates was not responsible for an alleged hack of Qatari websites which helped spark a month-long diplomatic rift with Doha, the UAE’s foreign minister said on Monday. “The Washington Post story today that we actually hacked the Qataris is also not true,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE state minister for foreign affairs told the London-based think-tank Chatham House. Asked about a Washington Post report citing US intelligence officials saying the UAE may have been behind the hack, Gargash said it was “purely not true”. “This is our message: You cannot be part of a regional organization dedicated to strengthening mutual security and furthering mutual interest and at the same time undermine that security,” he said. “You cannot be both our friend and a friend of al-Qaeda.”Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed sanctions on Doha on June 5, including closing its only land border, denying Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from the emirate. “We’ve sent a message to Qatar. We’ve said we are not there to escalate. We are not after regime change. We are after a change of behavior,” Gargash said. “We need to do that and when we do that, come back to the fold and we can work together,” he added. Regarding the possibility of Qatar being excluded from the GCC, Gargash said: “The GCC is in crisis and I don’t think it serves our purposes to say let’s take Qatar out.”“What we really do want is we either reach an agreement and Qatar’s behavior changes, or Qatar makes it own bed and they can move on and we can move with a new relationship. But we cannot have a member who is undermining us and supporting extremism,” he said. The Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement neighboring countries have shown readiness to participate in the investigation of the alleged hacking of the Qatari state-owned Qatar News Agency (QNA) website, stressing that Qatar will take all means, measures and legal procedures necessary to prosecute perpetrators, Russia’s Sputnik reported. Doha has continued to push with allegations on QNA hacking, but the publication of statements by the Emir of Qatar on more than one QNA-linked platform on social communication raises much doubt on the website’s security being compromised. Many signs confirm the “Al Jazeera” justification story on QNA hacking is potentially false news.

Metal Detectors Lead to New Confrontations in Al-Aqsa
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/Ramallah- Israel on Sunday partly reopened Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque gates but placed strict security measures at the entrances of the compound, including metal detectors to search worshipers. The new step led to bigger disputes and a war on “the sovereignty of the mosque,” leading to further confrontations near one of the gates, and leaving several Palestinians injured. The confrontations started when dozens of worshipers refused to enter and gathered to pray at the entrances of the compound to object the new Israeli security measures. Youssef Ideiss, Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs, said the Authority would not allow any party to damage the sovereignty of the Mosque. Al-Aqsa mosque was closed for two days following a Friday attack, which saw three Arab Israelis open fire at Israeli police near the site, killing two of them, before fleeing into the compound, where they were shot dead by security forces. Separately, Palestinian sources said that the Hamas Movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, was currently looking to gain a foothold in Algeria, with an aim to gather the party’s leaders after the majority of them left the Qatari capital, Doha, and resided in other countries. The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Algeria received an official request from the Movement to open a representative bureau in the capital where it will be capable to host a number of Hamas leaders. However, the sources said that Algeria has not yet responded to the Movement’s request. The sources explained that the Hamas authorities do not wish to limit the presence of its leaders, who are in Gaza, Lebanon, Malaysia and Qatar, in one particular country.

Jordanian Soldier Sentenced to Life in killing of 3 US Troops
Asharq Al-Awsat English/July 17/17/A Jordanian soldier on Monday received a life sentence in the shooting deaths of three US military trainers at the gate of an air base in southern Jordan last November.A military court in Jordan sentenced the defendant, 1st Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayha, to life in prison with hard labor. He had pleaded “not guilty,” saying he opened fire because he feared the base was coming under attack. Tuwayha has said he believed he was complying with rules of engagement. He has said he had “no intention of killing anyone” and felt no resentment toward Americans. The three US Army Green Berets were killed Nov. 4, as their convoy waited at the base gate. The victims were 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen of Kirksville, Missouri; 30-year-old Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe of Tucson, Arizona; and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty of Kerrville, Texas.
Jordan initially said the Americans triggered the shooting by disobeying entry rules, a claim that was later withdrawn. Relatives of the slain troops were in court on Monday.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 17-18/17
Trump Must Withdraw From Iran Nuclear Deal-Now
John Bolton/ Human Rights Voices/July 17/17
"For the second time during the Trump administration, the State Department has reportedly decided to certify that Iran is complying with its 2015 nuclear deal with the Security Council's five permanent members and Germany, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ('JCPOA').
If true, it will be the administration's second unforced error regarding the JCPOA. Over the past two years, considerable information detailing Tehran's violations of the deal have become public, including: exceeding limits on uranium enrichment and production of heavy water; illicit efforts at international procurement of dual-use nuclear and missile technology; and obstructing international inspection efforts (which were insufficient to begin with).
Since international verification is fatally inadequate, and our own intelligence far from perfect, these violations undoubtedly only scratch the surface of the ayatollahs' inexhaustible mendaciousness.
Certification is an unforced error because the applicable statute (the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, or 'INARA') requires neither certifying Iranian compliance nor certifying Iranian noncompliance...Certifying compliance is far from neutral. Indeed, it risks damaging American credibility should a decision subsequently be made to abrogate the deal. Beyond the procedural question, however, is the importance of swiftly resolving the underlying policy gridlock. President Trump has repeatedly made clear his view that the Iran deal was a diplomatic debacle. It is not renegotiable, as some argue, because there is no chance that Iran, designated by Ronald Reagan as a state sponsor of terrorism in January 1984, will agree to any serious changes. Why should it? President Obama gave them unimaginably favorable terms, and there is no reason to think China and Russia will do us any favors revising them.
Accordingly, withdrawing from the JCPOA as soon as possible should be the highest priority. The administration should stop reviewing and start deciding... The Trump transition team should have identified abrogating the deal as one of the incoming administration's highest policy priorities..."

Iran’s post-ISIS blues
Mohamad Kawas/The Arab Weekly/July 17/17
These days, the American agenda in the region does not go well with Iran’s mood.
Iran reaped major benefits by cooperating with the United States and the international coalition in the post-Sep­tember 11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The purely American agenda in the region eliminated in one blow two strategic enemies to Iran: The Taliban in power to the east and Saddam Hussein’s regime to the west.
These days, however, the American agenda in the region does not go well with Iran’s mood. Something has changed in Washington and it is irking the regime in Tehran. It was very happy when Kabul and Baghdad fell to American hands in 2001 and 2003, respectively, but it certainly was not comforted by American military presence on its eastern and western borders.
The Taliban and Saddam re­gimes represented regional threats to Iran but with the US presence in the region, it is the very existence of the revolution regime that is at stake.
Tehran and Moscow had cov­ertly agreed to aid the Taliban resistance against the American invasion. The United States knew that the level of armament and of intelligence in the hands of the Afghan jihadist movement was far superior to the movement’s limited resources.
While the Russians remained discrete about their role in Af­ghanistan, the Iranian regime did not try hard enough to hide its own role in the affair. In recent years, Iranian officials publicly met in Tehran with leaders in the Afghan movement and the Iranian media regularly reported the movement’s news.
Iraq was a different story. Iran was clearly opposed to the US presence in Iraq. Its position was visible in the actions of the Iraqi national opposition and in the anti-coalition stance of Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement. Let’s not even talk about Iran’s role in the rein­carnation of al-Qaeda under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zar­qawi and its different subsequent versions that led to the appearance of the Islamic State (ISIS) headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
All these anti-American pres­ence workshops can be traced to two major geographical sources: Tehran and Damascus.
In Syria, the Iranian regime had enough clout to influence security decisions. This is how the Syr­ian security apparatus followed strictly the Iranian agenda in the area by facilitating the crossing of jihadists to Iraq. It also closely collaborated with Iranian agents to maintain communication chan­nels with all the jihadist move­ments, including the Sunni ones, in the area.
Former al-Qaeda members revealed that its chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had instructed al- Qaeda-related movements not to target Iranian interests in recogni­tion of Tehran’s support and aid. These ties between a Shia regime and anti-Shia organisations might seem deeply paradoxical but, in fact, are in keeping with the Iranian regime’s Machiavel­lian approach to its security and interests.
We have in the “Irangate” scandal of 1985 a perfect illustra­tion of this stance. At that time, the Iranian regime used American agents to purchase 3,000 TOW missiles from Israel to be used in the Iran-Iraq war. For its survival, ideological principles are of no use to the Iranian regime.
The mystery behind the appear­ance of ISIS must be found within the framework of the traditional collusion between Iranian and Syrian intelligence services and, in the case of ISIS, the Iraqi intelli­gence services as well.
Logically, this collusion is made possible only because of Iran’s dominance of the political regimes in Iraq and Syria. During the US occupation of Iraq, the Iranian and Syrian regimes actively collaborat­ed to nurture and sustain armed resistance groups opposed to the US presence.
In a surrealistic repeat of circumstances, Baghdad and Da­mascus simultaneously released imprisoned jihadist leaders who quite naturally regrouped in al- Qaeda and ISIS. The two organisa­tions have not always seen eye to eye. ISIS, under the leadership of Baghdadi, ended up founding the “Islamic State” in what was essentially Iraq, while the Nusra pseudo-state was created in Syria under Abu Muhammad al-Jolani.
It might be unfair to blame the Iranian regime for the entire ter­rorist phenomenon in the region. What is, however, fair to say is that this regime has collaborated with just about all of the terrorist organisations in the region and has benefited from their activities. The political Islamist movements seemingly had access to Iranian political, media, military and financial support, some of it covert and some overt.
Therefore, the unprecedented international determination to fight terrorism must not stop at the technical and tactical aspects but must reach all the way to the behind-the-scene sources that continue to finance it or facilitate it.
The Iranian regime is perfectly aware of this shift in international strategy and knows that the elimi­nation of ISIS spells bad news for it. This time, the Americans are no longer unwittingly doing the Irani­an regime a favour. By eliminating ISIS, the Americans are depriving Tehran of its network inside the region and preparing to isolate it internationally.
The international mood has shifted. With US President Donald Trump insisting since the Riyadh summit on the necessity of put­ting an end to the financing of terrorist organisations, Iran will no longer be able to get away with the claim that has long served its interest, namely that terrorism is a legitimate political tool. For the first time since the Islamic revolu­tion, Iran is experiencing the revolution’s decline.

Abbas: Shut Up or I will Arrest You!
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/July 17/17
Critics say the Palestinian Authority's (PA) Cyber Crime Law, which permits the imprisonment of Palestinians for "liking" or sharing published material on the internet, paves the way for the emergence of a "police state" in PA-controlled territories in the West Bank. They also argue that the law aims to silence criticism of Abbas and the PA leadership.
"What is laughable is that this law carries penalties that are tougher than those imposed on thieves and sex offenders... the law, in its present form, is designed to limit the freedom of the media and punish people for simple matters." — Journalist in Ramallah.
This latest dictatorial move in the PA-controlled territories might also serve to remind the international community about the current readiness of the Palestinian leadership for statehood, and what such statehood would look like. In its current incarnation, that state would fit in just fine with its brutal Arab neighbors.
A new Palestinian law combating information technology (IT) crimes has sparked a wave of protests from Palestinian journalists and human rights organizations.
The controversial Cyber Crime Law, signed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on July 11, permits the imprisonment of Palestinians for "liking" or sharing published material on the internet.
Critics say the law paves the way for the emergence of a "police state" in PA-controlled territories in the West Bank. They also argue that the law aims to silence criticism of Abbas and the PA leadership.
The new law comes on the heels of the PA's recent decision to block more than 20 Palestinian websites accused of publishing comments and articles critical of the PA leadership.
The law was approved by Abbas himself, without review by the Palestinian parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The PLC has been paralyzed for the past decade, as a result of the power struggle between Abbas's PA and Hamas -- the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip.
In the absence of parliamentary life, Abbas and his senior officials and advisors have felt free to pass their own laws to serve their interests and promote their personal and political agendas.
In the view of Palestinian journalists and human rights advocates, the new Cyber Crime Law will further restrict freedom of expression, especially on social media, which will now be closely monitored by the PA security forces. They say that the law makes a mockery of the PA leadership's motto that the "sky is the limit when it comes to freedom of expression."
The absence of a free and independent media in the PA-controlled territories has prompted many Palestinian journalists, bloggers and political activists to resort to Facebook and Twitter. There, they express their opinions, air their grievances, and discuss taboo issues -- such as financial and administrative corruption among the top brass of the Palestinian Authority leadership.
The new law legalizes what has long been happening in the PA-controlled territories, however. PA security forces have long targeted Palestinians who post critical and controversial comments on social media.
Hardly a week passes without two or three Palestinians arrested or summoned for interrogation by the PA security forces regarding a Facebook or Twitter posting or comment. Many Palestinians have been taken into custody for "liking" or sharing a post, article or photo that was deemed offensive to Abbas or a senior PA official.
Yet, the Cyber Crime Law is indeed a watershed in repression: prior to it, no law existed that prohibited Palestinians from expressing their views on social media platforms.
Now, anyone who commits the offense of establishing a website with the intent of disseminating news that could "undermine the safety of the state or its internal or external security" is liable to a prison sentence and fine. The law also aims to punish anyone who promotes such news by "liking" or sharing it.
Palestinian journalists identify themselves as the real targets of the Cyber Crime Law. One journalist in Ramallah remarked:
"What is laughable is that this law carries penalties that are tougher than those imposed on thieves and sex offenders. This is a law with a purely political goal, although it has some positive aspects such as preventing extortion, fraud and impersonation on social media. But the law, in its present form, is designed to limit the freedom of the media and punish people for simple matters."
Jihad Barakat, a Palestinian journalist who was recently arrested by the Palestinian Authority security forces for filming the motorcade of PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah while it was passing through an Israeli military checkpoint, expressed outrage over the new law. He too said that the law was aimed at curbing freedom of expression and intimidating critics of the PA.
"This is a dangerous law," Barakat complained. "The law should conform with public freedoms and not be used to curb them." Barakat later was charged with "begging and loitering in a public place in suspicious circumstances." He was arrested because his filming of the PA prime minister at the checkpoint was considered embarrassing and offensive.
Palestinian journalists and human rights activists point out that the law contains ambiguous references, such as the "undermining or endangering of the safety of the state."
Journalist Shatha Hammad said that she and her colleagues were not sure what this phrase actually means.
"As journalists, we are confused," she said. "We don't know what type of news or postings which are considered -- according to this law -- a threat to the security of the state." She also pointed out that the new law comes amid a continued crackdown by the PA on Palestinian journalists and activists over their Facebook postings.
Alarmed by the new law, several Palestinian journalists and writers said it paves the way for the emergence of a repressive regime whose goal is to suppress public freedoms and violate the privacy of people.
"This law is aimed at providing the Palestinian Authority with a legal cover to suppress the voices of its opponents," explained Palestinian writer Ahmed Al-Najjar.
"In this way, the PA can arrest any journalist or ordinary citizen for publishing an article or posting something on social media that is deemed harmful to the security of the state. This is a bleak scenario that makes it clear that we are facing a repressive police system. This dangerous law drives the final nail in the coffin of public freedoms."
The Ramallah-based Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq joined the chorus of critics of the new law restricting freedom of expression. "The law was issued by President Abbas without being presented to the public," the organization said. "It was issued in a very secretive manner."
Al-Haq also noted that the PA leadership turned down requests and appeals by Palestinian groups and individuals to receive copies of the new law before it was passed. The organization went on to denounce the law as a "Sword of Damocles" over the head of Palestinian journalists.
The Cyber Crime Law showcases the fact that the Palestinian Authority regime is being run as a one-man show.
This latest dictatorial move in the PA-controlled territories might also serve to remind the international community about the current readiness of the Palestinian leadership for statehood, and what such statehood would look like. In its current incarnation, that state would fit in just fine with its brutal Arab neighbors.
*-*Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist and television producer, is based in Jerusalem.
© 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.

Turkey: Erdogan's Obsession to Take Jerusalem
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/July 17/17
Simply put, Jerusalem's Judaic history dates back to thousands of years before the birth of Islam, only in the seventh century CE.
As an American friend delicately asked: "Isn't Turkey supposed to be investing millions to help rebuild Gaza?"
Not, it seems, when Islamist ideology is involved.
Less than a year ago, Turkey and Israel agreed to end their six-year-long diplomatic stand-off and officially "normalized" their relations. They appointed ambassadors Kemal Okem to Israel and Eitan Na'eh to Turkey, two prominent career diplomats, who, since then, have been struggling actually to normalize formally normalized ties. As some observers, including your humble correspondent, cautioned in 2016:
"Erdogan had pragmatically agreed to shake hands with Israel, but his ideological hostility to the Jewish state and his ideological love affair with Hamas have not disappeared; so the Turkish-Israeli 'peace' would not be easy to sustain".
Only half a year into the "normalized charter" Erdogan in May pledged that his government would work with the Palestinian people to guard against the "Judiazation of Jerusalem." This may be vintage Erdogan. The Turkish president's promise was not too different from a call for a struggle to guard against the "Catholicization of the Vatican."
It is elementary history that Jerusalem's pre-Islamic period of 3300-1000 BCE appeared in the book of Genesis -- the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- when Erdogan's ancestors were probably hunters in the steppes of Central Asia. The years 1000-732 BCE marked the period of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Simply put, Jerusalem's Judaic history dates back to thousands of years before the birth of Islam.
Nevertheless, according to Erdogan, there is a necessity "to protect-against the Judaization of Jerusalem." Erdogan, in his May speech, also repeated an earlier call for Muslims from around the world to "visit al-Aqsa" mosque, located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. "As a Muslim community, we need to visit al-Aqsa Mosque often," he said. "Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us."
In 2016, a total of 26,000 Turks visited al-Aqsa Mosque (out of a population of 80 million). Erdogan also said he wants "hundreds of thousands of Muslims" at the Muslim holy site in his campaign to "flood Jerusalem [with Muslims] and drive out the occupiers".
During the reconciliation with Israel, Ankara pledged to end its support for Hamas; Turkey even expelled Saleh al-Arouri, the most senior Hamas official then residing in the country. But ultimately, there were reports that Erdogan was not really willing to live up to his end of the bargain. The journalist Yoav Zitun wrote in Ynet News:
Hamas' presence in Turkey continues despite the departure of Saleh al-Arouri, who headed Hamas in Turkey before leaving the country following Israeli demands during the reconciliation negotiations.
His successors are recruiting Palestinian students to study in Muslim countries in general and Turkey in particular. The students are then sent for military training in Lebanon or Syria, and from there, return to the West Bank to carry out attacks against Israel.
Zitun details some intriguing cases:
For example, two months ago, the IDF and Shin Bet detained, a Palestinian who had been living in Turkish Cyprus for several years. In August 2015, Qazmar was recruited in Jordan by Hamas, given military training and explosives expertise. During a meeting with Hamas operatives in Istanbul last January, he was instructed to recruit terrorists in the West Bank using encrypted memory cards.
Another highly publicized case concerns Muhammad Murtaja, who has head of a humanitarian aid organization of the Turkish government in Gaza. According to the Shin Bet following his arrest, Murtaja was accused of transferring millions of dollars to Hamas operatives that was donated by Ankara.
Turkish money flowing into the hands of men who are committed to the annihilation of Israel is part of ideology, not humanitarian aid.
Trying to brand itself as the international savior of the Islamist cause, Turkey has, since 2004, invested millions of dollars into 63 different projects designed to "defend and strengthen the Muslim heritage and character of Jerusalem." The money is often channeled through a government agency, the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA).
In these efforts to "defend and strengthen Jerusalem's Muslim heritage and character" Turkey also partnered with Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and with Sheikh Akram Sabri, a former mufti of Jerusalem. Both men oppose to Israel's right to exist.
As an American friend delicately asked: "Isn't Turkey supposed to be investing millions to help rebuild Gaza?"
Not, it seems, when Islamist ideology is involved.
*Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was just fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 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.

Female genital mutilation practitioners are travelling to Canada, border officers warned
By Stewart Bell/National Online Journalist/ July 17/17
"It is almost certain" that female genital mutilation is happening in Canada, according to intelligence reports obtained by Global News.
While it has long been suspected that Canadian girls and women have been going abroad to undergo female genital mutilations, the reports show federal officials believe the practice is now occurring in Canada.
Practitioners of female genital mutilation are believed to be entering Canada to perform the illegal procedure on girls, according to intelligence reports distributed to frontline border officers.
The reports obtained by Global News show the Canada Border Services Agency has been on the alert for the arrival of travelling “PFGMs,” or practitioners of female genital mutilation, for more than a year.
Photos of the cutting tools, belts and “special herbs” practitioners might be carrying in their baggage when they arrive in the country have been circulated to border officers.
Once in Canada, the practitioners are typically called into homes to perform the procedures, the CBSA Intelligence Operations and Analysis Division wrote in a report titled, “Female Genital Mutilation Practitioners Entering Canada.”
A second Intelligence Advisory told officers to “be aware of girls and women travelling to or returning from regions where they may be subjected to the practice.” An accompanying map highlighted countries in Africa and the Middle East.
While it has long been suspected that Canadian girls were being taken abroad to undergo female genital mutilations, the reports show that federal officials believe the practice is now occurring in Canada.
Female genital mutilation refers to “cutting of female genitalia and permanently mutilating the sexual organs of young females for non-medical reasons,” according to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Although it can cause chronic health problems and trauma, the procedure is used “to control female sexuality, ensure chastity until marriage and to render young women more desirable for marriage purposes,” the rights commission said on its website.
The practice has been illegal in Canada since 1997. There has never been a successful prosecution in this country but in the U.S., six people have been arrested since April for allegedly performing genital mutilations at a Detroit clinic.
In Australia last year, a former midwife, Kubra Magennis, 72, was convicted of performing genital mutilations on two girls, ages 6 and 11. Their mother was also found guilty as well as a religious cleric.
“Practitioners of Female Genital Mutilation are almost certainly entering Canada to engage in Female Genital Mutilation on both girls and women of primarily African and South-East Asian descent,” the CBSA wrote in one of the reports.
Disclosed under the Access to Information Act, the reports show that Canadian border officials have been told to treat those “committing, aiding and abetting” female genital mutilations as possible criminals. The reports were labelled as a “human trafficking” priority.
“PFGMs enter Canada with the purpose of committing a crime (aggravated assault) but may not have the awareness or belief that they are doing so. Those aiding the PFGM may also be charged in accordance with the Criminal Code,” said one of the reports.
Tens of thousands of girls and women in U.S., United Kingdom and Australia have undergone the procedure or are at risk, the reports said. Officials don’t yet know how widespread the problem is in Canada but one intelligence report said identifying practitioners at points of entry was “an important first step.”
“According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian health care providers, it is almost certain that FGM is also happening in Canada, despite the legislation against the practice in 1997,” it said.
“Canada has sizeable diaspora populations from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Nigeria, all countries where a high percentage of the female population is estimated to have experienced FGM.”
The report said PFGMs use razor blades, shards of glass, strips for binding legs as well as ash, oil and herbal mixtures. “These items may be present in the practitioner’s baggage,” it said. The “patient” undergoing the procedure and family members may greet them at the airport, it added.
“In Canada, a PFGM is most likely to be called to the home of a woman to be re-infibulated post-partum (re-sewn) or of a girl to perform the initial FGM,” the report said.
Preventing female genital mutilations is difficult because the parents “may believe it is a good thing” for daughters and it is “not culturally acceptable” for girls to talk openly about it, another CBSA report said.
A report by the Canadian Women’s Health Network said female genital mutilation was considered a form of child abuse and those at risk could be removed from their homes to prevent it from happening.

Syria: Is It Over?
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/July 17/17
Russian air strikes and cruise missiles, foreign militias and Assad armed forces continue to use coercive force as towns and land stretches from eastern Aleppo to southern Raqqa are brought back under regime control.
Syrian rebels, or what is left of them, fight with great valor, no aid, and under impossible circumstances against Iranian proxies and pro-regime militias. Ever since the shutdown of Turkish and Jordanian passageways, support for the Syrian opposition has received a considerable blow.
In short, things in Syria are at their worst yet. Internationally speaking, the impressive and decisive stance the US put up against Moscow in Syria did not last long, France’s newly elected President Emmanuel Macron portrayed the country’s worst Syria standing so far, and UN Special Envoy Staffan Di Mistura is known for viewing the Syrian people and opposition representatives with negativity.
Capitalizing on blunders of Syrian revolution allies, such as Qatar, Iranians and Russians have succeeded with rebranding the Syrian people’s cause to a fight against terrorism. Like always, Qatar’s actions were largely built on miscalculations.
Most of Syrian rebels fighting to remove the oppressive regime headed by Bashar al-Assad are by no means linked to terror groups or extremist ideology.
It was enough for extremist groups to be present on Syrian grounds and for media outlets to run spotlight publicity, so that terrorist groups become a worldwide ogre feeding off on the Syrian revolution.
Despite the overbearing difficulty faced by the opposition, pro-regime forces and Iranian multi-national proxy militias remain unable to guarantee safe-zones in areas it took control over.
At the moment, Iran considers securing strategic privilege a priority over reinstating regime control in Syria, which explains why it has focused fighting to oil-rich areas in southern Raqqa.
Tehran resorted to Iraqi and Lebanese militias to secure Syrian land passages with governorates in West Iraq to secure control over Iraq and ensure a long path from Iran’s borders in south of Iraq to Lebanon.
Under presumptions of a US-Syrian opposition initiative to move towards Damascus, and eventually force Assad to step down, Iranian proxies targeted the district bordering Jordan, Daraa.
Daraa was a major and surprising win that shook the Damascus tripartite, Russia, Iran and the Syrian regime. It is worth mentioning that Iran-aligned militias had suffered sizable losses in the southern city.
Nevertheless, recent political compromises have auctioned off those victories as the US stance rolled back in the face of Russian demands. US support ranked top for the past six years had it not been for politicians in the latest rounds of discussions failing those taking arms.
Amid a new American retreat, a negative French stance, Gulf disputes and Turkish-Moscow rapprochement, the Syrian opposition stands before a uniquely alarming situation.
The final wager made by rebels is placed on the Syrian regime’s failure to manage the areas it seizes control.
Given its lacking capacities, the Syrian regime continues to seek help from Iran militias, Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Russia. Such deficiency and resorting to foreign interference will strengthen national public opposition.

Liberation of Mosul, Return of Iraq
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/July 17/17
The state of ISIS was not expected to live long. Neither Iraq can bear a cancerous tumor of this kind, nor the Kurdistan region can accept such a dangerous neighbor.
The countries of the region cannot be lenient towards it. The world cannot tolerate it. Al-Baghdadi’s state raised everyone’s concerns. It had to be eradicated, and this is what happened.
From the very beginning, experts said that the terrorist state’s fall would be inevitable. Terrorism makes a fatal mistake when it has a well-known location that can be prayed. Terrorism is powerful when it is concealed and unpredicted, and when it does not have a specific “billing” address to hold it accountable for its doings. Iraqi authorities have the right to celebrate the victory. ISIS’ control over Mosul was a serious threat to the country’s stability and existence. It was a project of an open massacre and a permanent sedition.
One does not exaggerate when saying that the achieved victory has erased a painful memory three years ago, when entire divisions of the Iraqi Army surrendered to ISIS and enabled the terrorist group to seize a full arsenal of modern American weapons.
The Iraqi Army made great sacrifices to wipe out that image and save the city and the country. The Peshmerga forces, in turn, paid a heavy price to thwart ISIS’ dream of consolidating its presence in the region and across the borders with Iran, Turkey and Syria.
Haider al-Abadi had the right to salute the forces celebrating victory. He is the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. His tenure and his experience were certainly dangled on the outcome of the Mosul battle. Today, he can say that the army was defeated under his predecessor, but won under his reign. Mosul fell in the era of Maliki and was restored in the era of Abadi.
The victory of Mosul has uplifted his legitimacy within his own party and at the national level. This is not a small matter for anyone who knows the story of the thorny relationship between the current prime minister and his predecessor, who remained dominant in political life despite leaving the office in the wake of the Mosul disaster. When talking about defeating ISIS, it is necessary to pay attention to developments that preceded the invasion of Mosul. The truth is that the terrorist group was practically the result of a number of mistakes, factional politics and regional intervention that have accompanied the rift in the Iraqi structure and the relations between the country’s components.
ISIS was born on a scene that has witnessed wrong decisions and provocative policies. One must not forget the decision of Paul Bremer to dissolve the Iraqi army followed by a decision to uproot the Baath party, which has led the soldiers of Saddam Hussein’s army into the wings of the resistance, then into the hands of “jihadist” organizations, and to Baghdadi’s terrorist group.
ISIS also emerged because the winning team, which was Shi’ite, did not rush to place its victory at the disposal of a state-for-all project. Part of that team has dealt with victory as a means to settle a historical account, which paved the way for the establishment of a new injustice based on the revenge of a previous discrimination. Neither the winning team has well managed its victory nor the defeated team has used the best policy to reduce its losses.
There is a striking fact in this context. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein, a delegation of Sunni Arab activists visited Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani to discuss the future of Iraq. During the meeting, Barzani advised the members of the delegation to form a body to speak in their name and express their concerns and fears to other components.
Barzani stressed before the delegation that it was important to spare Iraq a bloody clash between its constituents. He said Sunni Arabs should consider their position in the new Iraq because returning to the past was impossible.
He noted that the Iraqi Constitution provides for the right to establish regions that keep Iraq unified but reduce the causes of rift and collision between the country’s factions. He also said that the Arab Sunnis should think about their future because they would have to pay the price for any divisions among them.
Arab Sunni leaders failed to agree. Some of them were drifted by the new situation and were tempted by the gains, while others were attached to the dream of turning the clock back.
As the Sunni presence in the military and security institutions and decision-making circles has dropped, and as Iran bolstered its role in managing Iraq, part of the Sunni public opinion was attracted to suicide options and ISIS found a window to infiltrate into the country.
This is not meant to underestimate the victory that has sparked an Arab, Islamic and international relief. What is meant to say is that the defeat of ISIS militants does not imply the end of the terrorist group, which might become more dangerous when it loses its known address. The victory over an ISIS militant may be easier than the victory of the idea of ISIS itself. The permanent triumph over the conditions that facilitated the birth of ISIS necessitates reforms, reevaluation of policies and the building of a state of institutions in Iraq. This means the adoption of the principle of citizenship and national partnership and respect for the Constitution, as well as reinstating the state authority and its ability to make decisions in Baghdad.
In order to prevent the reemergence of “ISIS” and to deter the birth of a similar or more dangerous group, Abadi must turn the Mosul victory into an opportunity to build an Iraqi state on the basis of reconciliation and partnership – a basis that transcends sectarian and confessional considerations.
Haider al-Abadi should pay attention to his watch. Difficulties are colossal and the pressure is great. But turning the Mosul battle into an imminent return of Iraq deserves this journey: the return of Iraq as a normal state after the restoration of relations between all of its components.
If this spirit prevails in Baghdad, it will certainly be possible to find a formula to keep the Kurdistan region part of Iraq, even if the Kurdish component said its word in the referendum.
The return of Iraq is an urgent Iraqi necessity and an Arab and regional requisite. The rift in the Iraqi society has unleashed the appetite of non-Arab countries in the region. Moreover, conflicts within the Arab Sunni community have led to disintegration and fragmentation and transformed the country into an arena for local and foreign militias.
Latest statements by the authorities over the necessity to treat all Iraqis equally before the law should encourage Abadi to go further in this attempt.
Mosul’s liberation is not enough. Iraq must return to its unity and institutions, freedom of decision and respect for its borders. Iraq is not a peripheral country, neither in geography nor in history. It is only through the vigilance of the Iraqi spirit, away from feelings of intolerance and narrowness that the Iraqi entity is preserved and the return of ISIS is prevented.

Putin Preferred Clinton? Let’s Test Trump’s Theory
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg View/July 17/17
In two recent interviews, President Donald Trump made the argument that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have preferred Hillary Clinton in the White House.
Trump’s argument is that he “campaigned on strong military, strong borders, and low oil prices” and these goals don’t benefit Putin:
Look what I’ve done – oil prices have been driven down. We’re sending LNG to Poland, massive shipments to Poland. That’s not what Putin wants. And for the military, we’ve got $56 billion more of equipment than anybody ever thought of, in the last budget. Putin doesn’t want that – so why would Putin want me?”Under Clinton, Trump said, the US military would be “decimated” and oil prices would be higher:
We’re going to be exporting energy – he doesn’t want that. He would like Hillary where she wants to have windmills. He would much rather have that because energy prices would go up and Russia as you know relies very much on energy.
Putin doesn’t care whether the US standing army exceeds half a million or not, or whether the US Navy has more ships. Even during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was a much bigger country than today’s Russia, it couldn’t outspend the US on defense. Today, the US military vastly outnumbers the Russian one, and once other North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries are added in, Russia is dwarfed, frankly. That, however, doesn’t matter because both countries’ vast nuclear arsenals deter them from ever having an all-out war, and for possible local and proxy clashes, numerical strength isn’t important.
Russia and the US back different sides in the Syrian war. There, Trump is doing roughly what Clinton intended to do to defeat ISIS. He intensified the US air campaign and stepped up support for rebels opposing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. He has also launched isolated attacks on Assad’s forces, ostensibly to restrain them from using chemical weapons or striking US allies, but perhaps also to make sure the US-backed forces don’t have to compete for areas they’re clearing of ISIS militants. President Barack Obama refrained from such aggressive actions, but Clinton, who established herself as a Syria hawk, likely would have acted along the same lines. Many feared she would have been more insistent on removing Assad — she has called it a “number one priority” — but if she did, that would hardly have made her Putin’s preferred candidate, since he continues to stand by Assad as an ally.
On energy, too, President Clinton would have been an equal or greater nuisance to Putin.
Democratic members of Congress currently support a bill broadening Russia sanctions to include energy pipeline projects, another indication that Clinton probably would have pushed through similar measures to retaliate for what she, in the summer of 2016, came to see as a major Russian effort to defeat her.
Whether or not Putin would have preferred Clinton as president hinges on more esoteric considerations than whether or not she would have followed traditional US military and energy policies, which have always clashed with Russian interests and to which the Kremlin has long adapted.
Clearly, given the role the Russian propaganda machine took on during the 2016 campaign, Putin was interested in short-term destabilization and in mocking US democracy. But he has given no indication that he wants instability in the US over the long term. It’s not clear how it can benefit the Kremlin except by diverting attention from its quieter exploits, such as the long-term, slow movement of the Russian border into Georgian territory occupied by Russia’s puppet state of South Ossetia.
If Putin is learning anything from the chain of events following Trump’s election, it’s probably a deepening conviction that he can’t get any traction with the US because its institutions are inherently hostile toward someone like him.