July 29/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11/27-32/:"A woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!"

When they opposed and reviled him, in protest Paul shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent.
Acts of the Apostles 18/1-11/:"After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together by trade they were tentmakers. Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’Then he left the synagogue and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshipper of God; his house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the official of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and were baptized. One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.’ He stayed there for a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 28-29/17
Would Lebanon be Qatar Number Two/Nadim Koteich/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
Russia Woos the World With New Plan on Syria/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Asat/July 28/17
Tehran’s New Scheme For Iraq/Amir Taheri/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
Lebanon defeated in Arsal/Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/July 28/2017
Al-Jazeera Television: A Source of Influence If Not Always News/Eric Rozenman/Jewish Policy centre/July 27/ 2017
CIA and the ‘Anti-Assad’ Program/David Ignatius/Washington Post/July 28/17
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: June 2017/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/July 28/17
Aattempting to understand the phenomenon of violence/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
Why abductions, murders have returned to Baghdad/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
What will Baghdad’s role be after liberation of Mosul/Huda al-Husseini/Al Arabiya/July 28/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 28-29/17
Aoun to Kaag: Lebanon Fully Committed to 1701
Lebanese Man Held in Iran Suspends One-Month Hunger Strike
Hariri Concludes His Visit to the U.S.
Hariri Meets IMF Chief and Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Geagea: The State Can't Grow Strong in Presence of 'Illegitimate Armed Groups'
Lebanese Army Pounds IS Posts in al-Qaa, Ras Baalbek
Berri, interlocutors tackle general situation
Machnouk chairs first meeting of Prisoners' Affairs Followup Committee
Lebanon wins gold medal in drawing at Francophone Games
Zahra: Hizbullah Violated Lebanon's Sovereignty, Overstepped Army's Role
Deal between Hezbollah, Nusra Front in Arsal
Hizballah and Lebanon army open new front against IS
Would Lebanon be Qatar Number Two

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 28-29/17
One Dead, Several Wounded in German Supermarket Knife Attack
Washington Warns Syrian Opposition from Fighting Regime Forces in Desert
France Bans Hiring of Spouses by Politicians
Dahlan Participates in Hamas Public Meeting for First Time
Saudi Sentenced to Death for Targeting Security Men, Civilians in Qatif
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif resigns after Supreme Court order to disqualify him
Palestinian Ambassador to Riyadh: The Kingdom Works in Silence, Achieves Concrete Results
Palestinian Shot Dead by Israeli Army in Gaza
Jordan Says to Bar Israel Envoy until Shooting Probed
US Senate slaps new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea
Moscow orders US to reduce its diplomatic presence in Russia
US detects ballistic missile launch from North Korea

Latest Lebanese Related News published on July 28-29/17
Aoun to Kaag: Lebanon Fully Committed to 1701

Naharnet/July 28/17/President Michel Aoun on Friday told U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag that Lebanon is “fully committed” to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 and “all its stipulations.”The president noted that Lebanon “understands the possible risks that could result from the violation of this resolution,” while pointing out that “Israel is still violating Lebanese airspace, occupying Lebanese territory and carrying out hostile practices that represent a flagrant violation of the U.N. resolution.”Aoun also said that the government has decided to request another one-year extension of the term of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), emphasizing that cooperation will be boosted between the Lebanese army and UNIFIL through upping the military's capabilities and enhancing its presence in the South and in the country's territorial waters. And as he underscored the importance of support from the U.N. and the international community for the army in its fight against terrorism, the president said “important steps have been achieved and will restore security and stability on the Lebanese-Syrian border which in the previous years had witnessed terrorist attacks.” Aoun also urged the international community to increase its assistance to Lebanon to “enable it to maintain welfare for the refugees,” hoping the displaced “will soon be able to return to their country when the peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis makes progress.” Kaag for her part relayed a verbal message from U.N. chief Antonio Guterres to the president, which involved wishes for the president's “success in his national responsibilities” and a detailed briefing about the deliberations that the Security Council witnessed during the debate of the annual report on the implementation of 1701, the National News Agency said. The U.N. official highlighted the recommendations that the member states agreed on, especially on the issues of “the demarcation of land and maritime borders and the oil and gas file.” Kaag also noted that a request has been made to donor countries so that they “boost their aid to Lebanon to alleviate the heavy burden it is facing in terms of catering to the needs of the Syrian refugees.”

Lebanese Man Held in Iran Suspends One-Month Hunger Strike
Naharnet/July 28/17/A Lebanese man who has been held in Iran for nearly two years, Nizar Zakka, has announced that he is suspending a one-month hunger strike. “At the request of my sons, and due to the support I have received from the U.S. Congress, I have decided to suspend my hunger strike,” said Zakka in a statement that was distributed by his lawyer Antoine Abu Dib on Friday. “I'm innocent of all the charges that have been brought against me. I only want to return and to reunite with my family and friends,” Zakka added. The U.S. Congress had on Thursday approved a bill calling on Iran to release Zakka, who has permanent U.S. residency, immediately and unconditionally. Zakka, 50, had been rushed to a hospital on July 16, where he refused an IV, his brother Ziad has said. Zakka went missing on Sept. 18, 2015, during his fifth trip to Iran. Two weeks later, Iranian state TV reported that he was in custody and suspected of "deep links" with U.S. intelligence services. It showed what it described as an incriminating photo of Zakka and three other men in army-style uniforms, two with flags and two with rifles on their shoulders. But the photo was actually from a homecoming event at Zakka's prep school, the Riverside Military Academy in Georgia, according to the school's president and his brother. Last September, Zakka was sentenced to 10 years in prison and handed a $4.2 million fine after being convicted of espionage by a security court. Zakka's family denies the allegations. His brother said he had been invited to attend a conference at which President Hassan Rouhani spoke of sustainable development and providing more economic opportunities for women. He showed The Associated Press a letter of invitation for his brother from Iranian Vice President Shahindokht Molaverdi. "He is completely losing hope in life, and this is the most difficult period a human being might reach," Ziad Zakka said in an interview in Beirut, adding that he had urged his brother to end the hunger strike when he spoke to him by phone on July 18. The family has urged President Michel Aoun to raise Zakka's case when he visits Iran in August. Aoun is a close ally of Iran-backed Hizbullah. "We hope that President Aoun will reach a happy ending in this matter," said Majed Dimashkiyeh, a lawyer for the family who has sent an official letter to Aoun asking him to intervene with Iranian authorities. Zakka, who used to live in Washington, leads the Arab ICT Organization, or IJMA3, an industry consortium from 13 countries that advocates for information technology in the region. The AP reported in May last year that IJMA3 had received at least $730,000 in contracts and grants since 2009 from both the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID. Ziad Zakka said their mother passed away last July. He said she had sent a letter to Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Rouhani through the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, telling them that "my dream is to see Nizar."

Hariri Concludes His Visit to the U.S.
Naharnet/July 28/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday concluded his official visit to the United States by meeting with Senator James Lankford and then with Senator Jeff Merkley on Capitol Hill, his office said. Discussions focused on the draft bills pertaining to Lebanon and Hizbullah that are being studied by the Congress, the office added. Hariri also met at the Four Seasons Hotel with a delegation from the American Task Force for Lebanon headed by its president Edward Gabriel. Hariri's talks in Washington involved meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other top officials. Hariri and Trump pledged continued solidarity against terrorism as the U.S. president said Washington's approach in "supporting the humanitarian needs of displaced Syrian citizens as close to their home country as possible is the best way to help most people."Trump also praised the Lebanese army for keeping IS and other extremist groups from establishing a foothold in the country. "Ultimately you will win ... we have great confidence in you," he said. Continued U.S. support for the Lebanese military, financial assistance for Syrian refugees and U.S. plans to tighten sanctions on Hizbullah were the key items on Hariri's Washington agenda. U.S. security assistance for the Lebanese army has exceeded $1 billion in the past decade, but concern is mounting that the aid could be cut under Trump's plan to slash the State Department budget.

Hariri Meets IMF Chief and Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Naharnet/July 28/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri continued his meetings in Washington where he met at the Capitol Hill Thursday with US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations headed by Sen. Bob Corker and Senator Ben Cardin. The meeting was attended by members of the Lebanese delegation accompanying Hariri and members of the committee. Discussions touched on the situation in Lebanon and the US-Lebanese relations. Hariri also met with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Congresswoman Liz Chinni. The PM visited the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) where he met with IMF Director Christine Lagarde. The meeting was followed by an extensive meeting attended by Lebanon's Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, Charge d'Affaires of the Lebanese Embassy in America Carla Jazzar, Advisor Nadim Manla and a number of senior officials. Discussions focused on the stability and safety of Lebanon's banking sector, and the importance of keeping up with the IMF's legislation issued by the US Congress and ensuring that it will not lead to instability in the Lebanese banking sector. The repercussions of the Syrian displacement on Lebanon were also discussed. The IMF's recommended the implementation of an investment program in infrastructure as a means to stimulate growth and create new job opportunities. During the meeting, Prime Minister Hariri asked the Fund to conduct a study to determine the negative impact of Syrian displacement on the budget of the Lebanese state. Earlier on Thursday, Hariri started a long day at the American Congress by meeting House Speaker Paul Ryan at his office on Capitol Hill. Hariri said that the discussions have focused on the decisions and sanctions being prepared on Lebanon, “we are discussing ways to protect Lebanon from these sanctions and we hope to convince them,” the premier had pointed. The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, the Charge d’affaires of the Lebanese Embassy in Washington Carla Jazzar, Hariri’s Chief of Staff Nader Hariri, his adviser for U.S. affairs Ambassador Amal Mudallali and Ryan's national security adviser Jeff Dressler. Hariri also met with Republican U.S. Representative for California Darrell Issa, who is of Lebanese origins, in the presence of members of the Lebanese American friendship committee.

Geagea: The State Can't Grow Strong in Presence of 'Illegitimate Armed Groups'
Naharnet/July 28/17/Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea stressed on Friday that a strong state is “incapable of rising” as long as there are “armed groups lingering outside the framework of legitimacy.”“A capable strong state will not emerge as long as there are armed groups lingering outside the framework of legitimacy and as long as the decision of peace and war are out of the state's control,” said Geagea. Geagea's comments came after a battle waged in the outskirts of Arsal between Hizbullah and al-Nusra Front militant group. Hizbullah began the assault on fighters from al-Qaida's former Syrian affiliate, previously known as al-Nusra Front, in the border region of Arsal's outskirts last week. Lebanon's army has not officially declared its participation in the Hizbullah operation, but has shelled "terrorists" in the area. Separately, Geagea pointed out that “the Assad regime could not bear the opposition of the Lebanese Forces and has therefore bombed the church of Saydit Al Najat (Our Lady of Deliverance) and accused the LF in order to dissolve the party and bring me to prison. “Not to mention persecution of thousands of LF youth who were arrested just because they support the LF,” he concluded.

Lebanese Army Pounds IS Posts in al-Qaa, Ras Baalbek

Naharnet/July 28/17/Lebanon's army shelled the positions of the jihadist Islamic State group entrenched in the outskirts of the border town of al-Qaa and on the heights of Ras Baalbek's outskirts, the National News Agency reported Friday. NNA said the military forces have monitored suspicious movements. The army reinforced its measures on Wednesday sending elite units into the Bekaa region for a possible operation against the IS in the outskirts of al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek. The army's Airborne Regiment reinforced its posts “in anticipation of any infiltration or escape attempts by the militants into the two towns,” the National News Agency had said. The army's shelling comes one day after a ceasefire agreement between Hizbullah and al-Nusra Front militant group in the outskirts of Arsal. Hizbullah began the assault on fighters from al-Qaida's former Syrian affiliate, previously known as al-Nusra Front, in the border region of Arsal's outskirts last week. The ceasefire deal will see jihadist fighters withdraw from the Syria-Lebanon border, to the Syrian province of Idlib. On Thursday afternoon, the head of Lebanon's General Security agency Major General Ibrahim Abbas confirmed the deal. In his speech on Wednesday, Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said his fighters were willing to hand the territory they have secured to Lebanese troops. But the group's fighters told journalists in Arsal's outskirts that another phase of the battle to secure the region was still ahead.
They said Islamic State group fighters still hold parts of Arsal's outskirts and the area around two border towns, but anticipated an easy victory

Berri, interlocutors tackle general situation
Fri 28 Jul 2017/NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, on Friday afternoon met at his Ain Tineh residence with the head of the Maronite General Council, former minister, Wadih Khazen, with whom he discussed the general situation in the country. On emerging, Khazen hailed the great national victory realized by the Lebanese army and the resistance in the outskirts of Arsal, which falls in the interest of the nation. Speaker Berri then received a delegation of "Beirut and Coastline Conference" led by Kamal Shatila, where they held a tour d'horizon over the current developments.The delegation congratulated the Speaker on the great victory achieved in the outskirts of Arsal, hailing the defense complementarity between the resistance and the Lebanese army, braced up by national unity. Shatila also thanked the Speaker on his crucial role in the approval of the salary scale, deeming such a step as positive benefitting most of the Lebanese. Shatila also saluted the Lebanese army on its national day, which falls on August 1. On the other hand, Berri met with India's Cashmere Youth and Sports Minister, Amran Reza Ansari, and Treasury Minister, Hassib Darabu.

Machnouk chairs first meeting of Prisoners' Affairs Followup Committee
Fri 28 Jul 2017/NNA - Interior and Municipalities Minister, Nouhad Machnouk, on Friday chaired the first meeting of the follow-up committee of prisoner cases in Lebanese prisons, set up as per a decision taken by Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The meeting brought together the committee's work plan, as well as the proposed measures to expedite the trials of prisoners. On another level, British Minister of Transport, Chris Grayling, handed Machnouk an official letter expressing the British government's gratitude for the cooperation of the Lebanese government in terms of security measures to ban passengers boarding flights to the United Kingdom from carrying electronic devices larger than a telephone. The British official informed the Lebanese Minister of his country Prime Minister's intention to end these measures. Grayling said he was committed to continuing to work with the Lebanese Ministry of Interior to adopt the security measures taken at the airport, especially in light of the terrorist dangers that jeopardize the security of the country. In this context, Minister Machnouk, in cooperation with the relevant networks and security forces at Rafic Hariri International Airport, is working to strengthen the security of the AIB, as well as the safety of aviation and passengers, through rigid safety measures.

Lebanon wins gold medal in drawing at Francophone Games
Fri 28 Jul 2017/NNA - Abidjan - Lebanese national, Yazen Halawani, won a gold medal in the drawing competition at the 8th Francophone Games in Abidjan.

Lebanon's Chief of Staff from Eastern Border: Army in Open War against Terrorism
Naharnet/July 28/17/Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Hatem Mallak on Friday visited military units deployed on the eastern border in the al-Qaa, Ras Baalbek and Arsal areas, inspecting their measures on the ground and giving the necessary instructions to the officers and soldiers, the National News Agency said. Mallak lauded the units' “efforts and sacrifices over the past days in terms of striking terrorists sneaking towards the town of Arsal and the refugee camps, and therefore protecting residents and keeping them safe from clashes, in addition to securing the delivery of food and medical aid to these camps in coordination with the red cross,” NNA said. “The army's war against terrorism will remain open until the liberation of the last inch of the eastern border region, and the upcoming battle will be decisive and the army will inevitably emerge victorious, the same as it won all the previous confrontations against the terrorist groups,” Mallak vowed. He also called on soldiers to show “more vigilance and to remain prepared to carry out the missions that are expected in the near future.” Mallak's visit comes amid reports of preparations by the army for an offensive against the jihadist Islamic State group in the outskirts of the border towns of al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek. The area has witnessed an exchange of shelling in the past 48 hours. The chief of staff's visit also comes in the wake of a Hizbullah assault in Arsal's outskirts that managed to oust al-Nusra Front's jihadists from the area.

Zahra: Hizbullah Violated Lebanon's Sovereignty, Overstepped Army's Role
Naharnet/July 28/17/Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said Hizbullah has “violated Lebanon's sovereignty” and “overstepped the army's role” when it decided to wage a battle against militants in the outskirts of Arsal. “A battle waged by Hizbullah to liberate the outskirts of (Arsal) from al-Nusra Front militants is a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty,” said Zahra in an interview to VDL (93.3) on Friday. The MP considered that “the party has taken over a role that the Lebanese army could have taken.' “Hizbullah has secured political gains in return for evacuating terror groups from a specific part in the Eastern Mountain Rage,” said Zahra, adding that the Arsal battle is nothing but part of Hizbullah's battle inside Syria. Hizbullah began the assault on fighters from al-Qaida's former Syrian affiliate, previously known as the Al-Nusra Front, in the border town of Arsal's last week. On Thursday, a ceasefire deal has been reached that will see jihadist fighters withdraw from the Syria-Lebanon border. Some Lebanese media outlets reported that part of the deal is that Hizbullah fighters held by jihadists would be freed.

Deal between Hezbollah, Nusra Front in Arsal
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 28/17/Beirut – Several identical sources said that a deal was reached between Lebanon’s Hezbollah group and Al-Nusra Front to withdraw Nusra militants from the mountains of Arsal, in exchange for the release of five captured Hezbollah fighters.
Director General of the General Security Forces Abbas Ibrahim has confirmed on Thursday the implementation of ceasefire, adding that armed militants would head to Idlib (north-western Syria) in an organized manner and under the supervision of the Lebanese State, with the Lebanese Red Cross assuming logistical matters, pointing out that the agreement would be completed within days. While the remaining terms of the deal, which Ibrahim described as “secret”, were not revealed, local media said that the agreement provided for the release of Hezbollah fighters held by Al-Nusra. Reuters quoted well-informed sources as saying that remaining Nusra Front fighters were willing to accept safe passage to Syria’s rebel-held Idlib and talks were continuing to agree the route they would take. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Rami Abdulrahman, noted that Qatar has contributed to the deal, without disclosing any further details on this matter. For his part, the head of Arsal municipality, Bassel al-Hajiri, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the displaced people in Arsal camps had three voluntary options: the first is to “withdraw with Al-Nusra militants to the north of Syria in Idlib”; the second is to “head with Abu Taha al-Assali to the Syrian Qalamoun”, in reference to the initiative led by Abu Taha to return the displaced to their villages; and the third is to “remain in Arsal.” Meanwhile, Lebanese sources in the eastern part of the country told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Lebanese Red Cross vehicles would enter Arsal on Friday to start logistical arrangements and register lists, noting that the implementation of the agreement would be under the supervision of the Lebanese Red Cross and the Public Security. Fighting erupted in the mountains of Arsal last week, when Hezbollah launched its assault on Nusra Front militants. The area has seen one of the most serious consequences of the Syrian civil war when Nusra Front and ISIS militants briefly overran the town of Arsal, abducting dozens of Lebanese soldiers and policemen.

Hizballah and Lebanon army open new front against IS
Paul McLoughlin/The NewsArab/July 28/17
The Lebanese army and Hizballah fighters have extended their campaign into eastern Lebanon's Ras Baalbeck, with a new offensive against IS after a ceasefire with al-Qaeda-linked militants. Hizballah and the Lebanese army have extended their offensive against militant groups in the east of the country to Islamic State group-held areas of the Ras Baalbek region.Lebanese artillery pounded IS positions near al-Qaa, a Christian majority town close to the Syria border, on Friday morning.Elite troops were sent to the area in anticipation of an attempted retreat by the militants into Lebanon's interior.
Joining forces
It also prepares the Lebanese military for joining forces with Hizballah as part of the Shia militia's offensive against rebels and militants in eastern Lebanon and the other side of the border. The Lebanese military initially planned to play a defensive role in the operation guarding Arsal from infiltration. Hizballah would lead the assault on al-Qaeda-linked fighters and IS militants in the area. Hizballah announced a ceasefire with the al-Qaeda-linked faction - known as al-Nusra Front or Fatah al-Sham - which would move the campaign on to IS-held territory. Activists told The New Arab that Fatah al-Sham militants will leave Lebanon for Syria's Idlib province, which was recently taken over by an al-Qaeda-led coalition. "The agreement between Hizballah and the Fatah al-Sham organisation will see the transfer of fighters [and] civilians - who want to in the exchange - for the release of five Hizballah prisoners held by the group," said Ali Saleh, a Syrian activist living in Arsal. Despite initial fears, Syrian refugees will not be forced to leave Arsal but there are no guarantees from international parties. "The only guarantee is the Lebanese Red Cross and the [fate of the Hizballah] captives. A statistical survey of the names of those wishing to go is now recorded," he said. Lebanon's General Security agency chief Major General Ibrahim Abbas, who helped broker the agreement, confirmed the deal on Thursday afternoon. It follows a televised speech by Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah who said his fighters had paid a heavy price in the campaign so far. Nasrallah claimed the Shia group would hand over territory they have gained in the offensive to the Lebanese military. "The Lebanese army's approach foiled the ambitions of those who sought to exploit the situation in Arsal and were betting on stirring sedition. Despite the difficult battle, the town of Arsal remained safe thanks to the army," Nasrallah told supporters. "Hizbullah does not want for Arsal and its residents anything but welfare, security, safety and dignity, and when the battle ends, we're ready - if the army command asks - to hand it over all of the recaptured posts and territory."
Campaign over
He added that IS would have come to Fatah al-Sham's aid had al-Qaeda-linked fighters sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. "[IS] would have helped al-Nusra if the latter offered a pledge of allegiance to it, but this would have been very insulting for al-Nusra," Nasrallah claimed.Nasrallah admitted that the Iranian-backed militia had worked with the Syrian regime in the campaign with fighter planes bombing rebel-held Qalamoun. "There was a joint battle along with the Syrian army - we fought side by side, and we both offered martyrs and wounded until the whole area was liberated, and in the Syrian territories there are no more al-Nusra elements," Nasrallah said. "On the Lebanese side, what the Lebanese army did in Arsal and its outskirts was essential for this victory, as it targeted militants there and protected the people and refugee camps." Nasrallah assured Syrian refugees they would be unharmed, following fears of attacks on the mostly Sunni population by Hizballah fighters. This follows the deaths of at least four Syrian refugees in army detention, with images showing visible "torture marks" on their bodies, activists said.

هل يكون لبنان قطر الثانية؟
نديم قطيش/الشرق الأوسط/28 تموز/17
Would Lebanon be Qatar Number Two?
Nadim Koteich/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
Hezbollah militia has accomplished two fragile victories in Arsal battle. The first is a victory on armed groups in the Lebanese and Syrian barren areas that compensate an almost impossible victory in Syria.
Hezbollah intervened in Syria to “protect the resistance” and its natural geographic existence.
From this perspective, Bashar al-Assad is only a symbol of a state falling under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) axis. But today, Assad has become a symbol of a “resisting state” that no more exists while Syria is practically controlled by Israeli-US-Russian interests then Turkish-Iranian-Arab ones.
Hezbollah wont return victorious from Syria and Nasrallah won’t deliver the victory speech – that one made in Arsal is an alternative.
He managed to remain in the success circle – even if on TV only – and he has put himself on a track where his party doesn’t survive unless it moves from one victory to another. The first defeat is the last one – a thing that should not happen even if Nasrallah had to claim victories and promote them in the media.
Hezbollah, second, succeeded in embracing Lebanese patriotism with raising double flags in Arsal battle – for the first time – the Lebanese and Hezbollah flags.
Hezbollah compared itself to the Lebanese Army through raising posters of martyrs in the sites where they were slaughtered by terrorists – it also sponsored folkloric activities where people appeared as supporters for the resistance through preparing them food and alleviating the war’s burden on them, maybe to expiate sins of letting Hezbollah bear that.
Media accompanied Hezbollah in this naive patriotism beside a part of the Christians, who think that their pro-Hezbollah stance in this battle wont cost them a lot.
To them, the battle is taking place in a distant place and those killing and being killed are Sunni and Shi’ite who don’t have in mind any direct clash with Christians. Majorly, the Lebanese public is consumed with life occupations: the new anticipated taxes, costly living and poverty.
This exasperated any motive to stand against Hezbollah.
Looking in depth, the conflict between a state and militia no longer stimulate people amidst the collapse of the country’s reputation, institutions and the fake and real corruption news.
Two Successes, Two Fragilities
The first fragile point is that the great televisional “victory” wont last long infront of the political and field aspects that disclose its falseness. The US has four airports in the “resisting Syria” and dozens of military bases while Nasrallah focuses on fighting Abu Malek al-Talli and counting hills liberated by his soldiers as if he is Hannibal who walked with an army of elephants through Pyrenees and Alps.
Fragility also appeared through the fact that the resistance axis – Popular Mobilization – is carrying out the battle with the back-up of US warplanes.
The second fragile point is the abrupt patriotic wave that was invested by Hezbollah to infiltrate adverse environments. Hezbollah has always bragged that it doesn’t need national consensus, but it exaggerated in shedding light on this “national patriotism” because it is aware that this wont last long.
The real and scary victory of Hezbollah is on Lebanon. We used to say that there are two Lebanon(s): one controlled by Hezbollah and the second resisting it. This was protecting us from any consequences that might affect a country sheltering a militia as Hezbollah. We used to convince the world that reinforcing the state forces reduces Hezbollah’s weight. Is this equation still active?
It is hard to say yes. It’s true that we have a government – Hezbollah is part of it – that is supposed to adopt the same equation but practically speaking there is a huge gap in the balance of power and political decision in favor of Hezbollah.
The real victory of Hezbollah over Lebanon is launching Arsal battle with disrespecting the government, presidency and Lebanese Army – this weakened the equation even more. Lebanon has, instead, become an armor to Hezbollah, that is making use of this to avoid sanctions, decisions or procedures under the pretext of protecting the country. I don’t know who accepts this logic in Lebanon. I see Lebanon as a second Qatar, except for the potentials of Qatar, an isolated state. No one intends to support the side of the state not in the upcoming elections nor other matters. Instead, there is a wish to see the country controlled by Hezbollah – as it is now.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on July 28-29/17
One Dead, Several Wounded in German Supermarket Knife Attack
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 28/17/A man killed one person and wounded several others in a knife attack at a supermarket in the northern German city of Hamburg Friday before being detained by police. “There is no valid information yet on the motive or the number of people injured” by the man, who “entered a supermarket and suddenly began attacking customers”, said police, adding that one victim died from their severe wounds. German daily Bild published a picture of the attacker in the back of a police car with a white, blood-soaked bag over his head. The suspect, who has not yet been identified, fled the supermarket after the attack but witnesses gave chase and alerted the police. Security forces detained him near the site. “It was definitely a sole attacker. The first reports about a possible motive of a robbery have not been confirmed,” Hamburg police tweeted. Police have been on high alert in Germany since a spate of attacks on civilians last year, including a December attack on a Berlin Christmas market, when a hijacked truck ploughed into the crowds, killing 12 and injuring many more.

Washington Warns Syrian Opposition from Fighting Regime Forces in Desert
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 28/17/London, Washington- The US-led coalition fighting ISIS warned on Thursday Syria’s opposition from fighting regime forces in the desert, and said they need to focus on combating ISIS in eastern Syria. Coalition spokesman US Army Col. Ryan Dillon said: “The coalition supports only those forces committed to fighting ISIS.” Meanwhile, CNN channel quoted sources as saying that one US-backed group which calls itself “the Shohada Al Quartyan” and is trained by Western experts at al-Tanf military camp, has balked at the restriction, choosing to leave the base and carry out independent operations against Syrian regime troops. “The coalition is making it clear to Shohada Al Quartyan leadership that if they choose to pursue other objectives, the coalition will no longer support their operations,” Dillon said, adding that the coalition has cut ties with the group. Separately, US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk said in a letter sent by the US Department of State to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the “accelerated military campaign to liberate Raqqa means that we need to double our efforts for determining, coordinating and financing plans to achieve stability.”McGurk said the UN needs additional $140 million for humanitarian aid to answer those needs in Raqqa, the stronghold of ISIS in eastern Syria. The US envoy said that the Coalition was currently stressing the need to block all channels used for financing ISIS and its foreign militants. Meanwhile, several US media sources said on Thursday that US President Donald Trump’s top advisers on the National Security Council, Col. Derek Harvey resigned from his post. The administration said it is working to identify positions in which his background and expertise can be best utilized. The sources said Harvey’s decision came after Trump decided to freeze a CIA secret program launched to train the moderate Syrian opposition fighting ISIS.

France Bans Hiring of Spouses by Politicians

Asharq Al-Awsat/July 28/17/Paris, London- French politicians will no longer be allowed to employ their spouses or children as parliamentary assistants under rules adopted in response to a scandal involving former prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife. The law, one of the first to be approved since President Emmanuel Macron’s election in May, will apply to ministers and members of parliament, bringing France into line with countries like Germany and ending what is a widespread family business, Reuters reported. The essential clauses of the legislation were voted through by members of the National Assembly. Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, won the presidential contest promising he would end practices blamed for widespread voter distrust of politicians. Fillon was one of Macron’s hottest competitors whose campaign was destroyed by a scandal involving payments to his British spouse. Roughly one in six members of parliament has a family member drawing a salary as an assistant.

Dahlan Participates in Hamas Public Meeting for First Time
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 28/17/Gaza- Exiled Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan took part on Thursday in a public meeting with Hamas members of parliament for the first time in a decade. Hamas called for a public meeting to discuss the condition in al-Aqsa Mosque – Seven exiled Fatah members in addition to Dahlan attended the session while MPs loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other parliamentary blocks absented themselves. The attendance of Dahlan – also a member of the parliament – hinted on his new alliance with Hamas after being enemies during the internal clashes in 2006-2007. He met leaders of Hamas in Egypt, within a new alliance that included cooperating for the sake of Gaza. Dahlan in his speech said that Jerusalem and holy sites are a time bomb that shouldn’t be messed with.“I see in Jerusalem people a deviating strength that enjoys factors of communication and continuity in the purpose of ending the occupation through an escalating comprehensive resistance,” he added. This requires that division be ended and unity underpinned to back the people of Jerusalem, he continued, urging for overcoming Palestinian disputes to mobilize Arab powers for the purpose of liberating Jerusalem. “We exerted joint efforts with Hamas and we succeeded in restoring hope to the heroic people of Gaza. We found that Hamas has the readiness, understanding and positivity like us, and this cooperation would pay off but we are still in the beginning,” he added. Fatah or the authority didn’t comment over Dahlan attendance to the meeting, but some officials in the movement described the alliance as suspicious, accusing Dahlan and Hamas of working to detach Gaza from the West Bank – a matter denied by the two parties.

Saudi Sentenced to Death for Targeting Security Men, Civilians in Qatif

Asharq Al-Awsat/July 28/17/Riyadh- The Supreme Judicial Council issued on Thursday an initial death sentence in the case of a Saudi who has targeted security men and civilians in Qatif, east of the kingdom, through shooting them while performing their duties. He also targeted a diplomatic vehicle through setting street fires, raided a school and shot one of the teachers for offending terrorists. The convicted was also involved in intensive and random shooting at security patrols during a raid of one the of the wanted men in Qatif – in another raid, he also interfered while others were accompanying him and providing him with ammunition. The Saudi man – along with others – monitored the movement of security patrols in Awamiya for the sake of targeting them. He communicated with his accomplices through one of the push to talk applications (Zello). He got involved in various armed robberies of stores and stealing vehicles under the threat of a weapon. The convicted was arrested in Qudaih, possessing an unlicensed weapon and carrying out processes of buying and selling weapons. Given the crimes of the convicted, the court has issued a death sentence in his case and has decided to confiscate his weapon, ammunition and phone devices. Saudi security bodies were victim to several terrorist attacks in Qatif, during performing their tasks, leading to the death of a number of security men and damage to their vehicles. In the past weeks, security men carried out a raid that thwarted 23 members of the terrorist list announced by the Ministry of Interior.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif resigns after Supreme Court order to disqualify him

Al Arabiya/Friday, 28 July 2017
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday resigned from his post, his office said, hours after the country's Supreme Court disqualified him over corruption claims against his family. The Supreme Court said Sharif is not fit to hold office and ordered a criminal investigation into him and his family. The court also disqualified Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The Prime Minister’s office said in a statement that Sharif has “stepped down” despite having “serious reservations” about the judicial process. Earlier, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over long-running corruption allegations, a highly anticipated decision that forces him out of office. “He is disqualified as a member of the parliament so he has ceased to be holding the office of Prime Minister,” Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan told the packed courtroom. The court also asked the national anti-corruption bureau to launch a further probe into the allegations against Sharif, which stem from the Panama Papers leak last year linking the premier’s family to lucrative offshore businesses.
No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term. Most have seen their tenures cut short by the powerful military or interference from the Supreme Court. Others have been ousted by their own party, forced to resign -- or been assassinated.
According to Al Arabiya sources on the ground, Sharif was mainly disqualified on the basis of hiding his UAE residency from the masses and concerned quarters. In the wake of SC decision Nawaz Sharif can not lead his faction of Muslim League because if some body is declared disqualified as member of national assembly [lower house] he can not head any political party. As per the judgment, Nawaz Sharif is barred from taking part in politics for whole life. Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has also been disqualified from being a member of Parliament. He was one time advisor to UAE government. He is also close relative of Nawaz Sharif. Dar son is married to Nawaz Sharif daugther Asma Nawaz.
According to sources, in the wake of the decision, Nawaz Sharif cannot lead his faction of Muslim League because if some body is declared disqualified as member of national assembly [lower house] he can not head any political party.
Second time in history
It is the second time in Pakistan’s 70-year history that the Supreme Court has disqualified a sitting prime minister. In 2012 then-prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified over contempt of court charges for refusing to reopen a corruption case against the sitting president Asif Ali Zardari.
The Supreme Court’s unceremonious end to Sharif’s tenure represents a record third time he has been ousted as leader before completing his term.In 1993 he was sacked by the then-president over graft allegations, while in 1999 he was ousted in a military coup. The court had in April declared there was “insufficient evidence” to oust Sharif over the graft allegations engulfing his family, and ordered an investigation team to probe the matter. The team of civilian and military investigators found there was a “significant disparity” between the Sharif family’s income and lifestyle in its report submitted to the court earlier this month. The Sharifs and their allies have consistently and noisily rejected the claims, with his ruling PML-N party this month dismissing the investigation team’s report as “trash”. Meanwhile, a member of Sharif party, Marriyum Aurangzeb, said that the verdict doesn’t prove any corruption allegations against the PM. “Today’s Supreme Court verdict doesn’t prove corruption allegations against Nawaz Sharif,” she told reporters on Friday. “History bears witness that whenever Nawaz Sharif was removed from political scenario, the nation brought him back in Parliament with even more votes,” Marriyum said.
Divided analysts
Analysts were divided on what the court might do, though Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington noted there was a “pretty strong precedent of the Pakistani judiciary being very active and essentially sending elected officials packing”.
However, he added, the case has been “more about his family” than Sharif himself. “You have to acknowledge the fact that Nawaz Sharif himself is not really being accused of anything that is against the law.”
The controversy erupted last year with the publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documenting the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.
Three of Sharif’s four children -- Maryam, his presumptive political heir, and his sons Hasan and Hussein -- were implicated in the papers. At the heart of the case is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies.
Legal wealth
The PML-N insists the wealth was acquired legally, through Sharif family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf. The push against Sharif has been spearheaded by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, who said Sharif has lost “moral authority”.
Bribery and other forms of graft are endemic in Pakistan, with the country coming in 116th place out of 176 countries ranked according to corruption by Transparency International in 2017. Sharif has been ousted by graft allegations once before, during the first of his three terms as prime minister in 1993. He has not yet completed a term as prime minister, having been toppled in his second term by a military coup in 1999. The allegations are a blow to his credibility ahead of general elections due to be held by next year, and as the civilian government appears to have reached an uneasy detente with the military, which has ruled Pakistan for half of its existence.His party currently has no clear successor in place. Daughter Maryam does not hold public office, while his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the current chief minister of Punjab province, holds only a provincial seat.

Palestinian Ambassador to Riyadh: The Kingdom Works in Silence, Achieves Concrete Results
Asharq Al-Awsat/July 28/17/Riyadh– Palestinian Ambassador to Riyadh Bassem Al-Agha said on Thursday that Saudi Arabia has worked silently and away from the media, to resolve Al-Aqsa crisis, noting that the Kingdom was not looking to stir media propaganda, but to achieve positive results on the ground. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Al-Agha noted that efforts deployed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, along with the sacrifices of the Palestinian people have aborted the Zionist plan and would lead to further victories in the future. The Palestinian ambassador stressed that Saudi Arabia was committed to supporting the Palestinian cause at all times and has never been late in meeting its obligations. “About a month ago, the Kingdom has transferred around $30 million to UNRWA to help the refugees,” he stated. He went on to say that efforts exerted by King Salman, which resulted in the removal of all Israeli measures around the Al-Aqsa, “reflect the pulse and feelings of every Saudi, Arab and Muslim citizen.”The ambassador also noted that the Israeli plan was aimed at extending control over the holy mosque and imposing “spatial and temporal divisions” to determine the areas for Muslims and others for the Jews. Meanwhile, a statement by the Saudi Royal Court issued on Thursday said: “The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, has held contacts with many world leaders over the past few days,” in order to prevent Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City from being closed to Muslims and to defuse political and religious tensions. King Salman contacted the US government and called for an end to restrictions on entry to the mosque, the statement said, saying that developments showed this push had been successful.
The king “stressed the need for the return of calm,” and called for respect for the sanctity of the compound, it added.

Palestinian Shot Dead by Israeli Army in Gaza
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 28/17/Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager and wounded seven others Friday during clashes near the border fence in Gaza, said the health ministry of the Hamas movement that rules the enclave. Abdulrahman Abu Hmeisa, 16, was killed in the clashes east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. He said seven others were also wounded by Israeli gunfire by the border fence. An army spokeswoman, contacted by AFP, said soldiers opened fire at demonstrators trying to damage the security fence that separates the Jewish state from the Palestinian territory, without being able to confirm the casualties. Warning shot were initially fired as protesters set fire to tires and hurled stones, she said. The clashes erupted after hundreds of youths reached the border area in response to a call by Hamas for protests to take place in solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem. Israeli-Palestinian tensions have been high over the past few weeks due to a dispute over controversial security measures at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Jordan Says to Bar Israel Envoy until Shooting Probed
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/July 28/17/Jordan will not allow the return of Israel's ambassador until the shooting of two Jordanians by an embassy security guard has been properly investigated, a government official said on Friday. "Jordan will not allow ambassador Einat Shlein or the rest of the embassy staff to return until a thorough investigation has been opened" into Sunday's shooting, the official said, adding Jordan informed Israel of its decision. Israel's foreign ministry late Friday said it had launched a "verification procedure" into the shooting. Israel's attorney general "gave instructions to implicated (Israeli) bodies to provide all elements in their possession concerning the incident," a ministry spokesman said in a statement. "Israel will inform Jordan of developments and information gathered during this procedure," the spokesman said, without providing further details. Hundreds of Jordanians held a protest earlier Friday near the Israeli embassy in Amman, calling on the government to shut it down, expel the ambassador and cancel the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. Emerging from a mosque hundreds of meters (yards) away from the embassy, the protesters chanted "Death to Israel" and "No Zionist embassy on Jordanian soil", an AFP correspondent said. On Thursday, King Abdullah II called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try the guard, who traveled home on Monday night with other embassy officials after being briefly questioned by Jordanian investigators. The guard was welcomed home and greeted as a hero by Netanyahu, who embraced him and said: "You acted well, calmly and we also had an obligation to get you out."Israel maintained the guard had diplomatic immunity. The Israeli foreign ministry said the security guard shot dead a Jordanian worker who had come to an apartment to install furniture and had stabbed him in the back with a screwdriver. A second Jordanian, the landlord of the apartment, was also killed -- apparently by accident. He was buried on Thursday in Madaba, southwest of the capital. A Jordanian police report released Monday said an argument had broken out with the Israeli complaining the Jordanians were late in delivering the furniture. The Jordanian worker then attacked the Israeli who opened fire, "hitting him and the landlord who was standing next to him", it added. Jordan's public prosecutor Akram Musaid charged on Thursday that the guard was responsible for the killings and possession of a firearm without a license. Tensions in the region have been high over the past two weeks after Israel introduced new security measures at the highly sensitive al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, following an attack that killed two policemen.The last of them were removed on Thursday. Jordan is the official custodian of Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab governments that have signed a peace treaty with Israel and established full diplomatic relations.

US Senate slaps new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea
Reuters, Washington Friday, 28 July 2017/The US Senate voted nearly unanimously on Thursday to slap new sanctions on Russia despite President Donald Trump’s objections to the legislation, which has angered Russian President Vladimir Putin who threatened to retaliate.
The Senate backed the measure, which also imposes sanctions on Iran and North Korea, by a margin of 98-2 with strong support from Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. The bill will now be sent to the White House for Trump to sign into law or veto. The bill is the first major foreign policy legislation approved by Congress under Trump, who has struggled to advance his domestic agenda despite Republicans controlling the Senate and House of Representatives. If Trump chooses to veto it, the bill is expected to garner enough support in both chambers to override his veto and pass it into law.
The bill threatens to further derail US-Russian relations, which deteriorated under former President Barack Obama. Trump had hoped to improve ties but his administration has been clouded by investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election to help Trump. The president denies any collusion between his campaign and Moscow. The sanctions measure has already passed the House of Representatives by a 419-3.
Republicans and Democrats have pushed for more sanctions partly as a response to conclusions by US intelligence agencies that the Kremlin interfered in the election. Speaking just before the Senate passed the bill, Republican Senator John McCain, a leading congressional voice calling for a firm line against Russia said: “The United States of America needs to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin and any other aggressor that we will not tolerate attacks on our democracy.”Putin, who has repeatedly denied meddling in the campaign said Moscow would only decide on how to retaliate once it had seen the final text of the proposed law. The bill would affect a range of Russian industries and might further hurt the Russian economy, already weakened by 2014 sanctions imposed after the Ukraine crisis. Besides angering Moscow, the proposed legislation has upset the European Union, which has said the new sanctions might affect its energy security and prompt it to act, too. Earlier on Thursday, a senior White House aide said Trump could veto the pending legislation in order to push for a tougher deal, an idea that drew skepticism in Congress because his administration had spent weeks lobbying for a weaker bill.
Trump’s concerns include a provision letting Congress stop any effort to ease existing sanctions on Russia. But White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci suggested Trump in fact wanted stronger sanctions. “He may sign the sanctions exactly the way they are or he may veto the sanctions and negotiate an even tougher deal against the Russians,” Scaramucci told CNN. Earlier on Thursday, Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters:
“I would guess that he (Trump) will sign it.”

Moscow orders US to reduce its diplomatic presence in Russia
AFP Friday, 28 July 2017/Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday announced counter measures in response to tough new sanctions proposed by the United States, ordering Washington to reduce its diplomatic staff. Moscow ordered the US to reduce its diplomatic presence in Russia to 455 diplomats and staff and also barred it from using a Moscow summer house and storage facility. The ministry said that this was in response to the passing of a new bill on sanctions by the Senate late Thursday. US President Donald Trump will now have to decide whether to accept or veto the measures. President Vladimir Putin on Thursday slammed what he called “anti-Russian hysteria” in Washington and said that Russia could not “endlessly tolerate this kind of insolence.”Moscow complained that the “new sanctions bill showed with all clarity that relations with Russia have fallen hostage to the domestic political struggle in the US.”
It warned that it “reserves the right to carry out other measures that could affect the interests of the US” while acting in a reciprocal fashion. The move comes after Russia has repeatedly expressed anger at Washington barring its diplomats access to two compounds in the US in December last year, under Barack Obama, in response to suspected Russian meddling in the US election. Obama at the same time expelled 35 Russian diplomats for spying. President Vladimir Putin initially held off from retaliating, saying he would wait to see how Trump reacted after he came into the White House.
Trump and Putin discussed this diplomatic spat at their first meeting at the G20 in Hamburg this month. Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had said after subsequent talks in Washington that the matter was “almost” resolved. The Russian foreign ministry on Friday slammed what it called “extreme aggressiveness of the US in international affairs” and said Washington was using the “absolutely far-fetched pretext of Russia’s interference in its internal affairs” to carry out “flagrantly anti-Russian actions.”The ministry said “We propose to the US side to bring the number of diplomatic and technical staff” working in Russia “in exact accordance” with the number of Russian diplomats and support staff in the United States by September 1. It said that this would reduce the number of US diplomats and staff to 455. The ministry also said it would bar access to a summer house and storage facilities in Moscow used by the US embassy from August 1.

US detects ballistic missile launch from North Korea
AFP Friday, 28 July 2017/North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Friday, the Pentagon said, just weeks after Pyongyang tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile. “I can confirm that we detected a launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said. “We are assessing and will have more information soon.”Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday that North Korea had fired a missile that may have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). He added that a meeting of the National Security Council would be convened and that Japan would take every necessary step to ensure the safety of its citizens.(With Reuters)

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on July 28-29/17
Russia Woos the World With New Plan on Syria
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Asat/July 28/17
Caught between the hope of securing a lasting foothold in the Middle East and the fear of inheriting an impossible situation, Russia is trying to re-gauge its Syrian policy with possible support from the Trump administration in Washington.
The key feature of Russia’s evolving new strategy is an attempt at changing the narrative on Syria from one depicting a civil war to one presented as a humanitarian emergency that deserves massive international aid.
Western analysts say the new narrative has the merit of pushing aside thorny issues such as the future of President Bashar al-Assad and power-sharing in a future government. Russia’s other aim is to divert international attention from the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity that might concern not only Assad but also Moscow’s own military in Syria.
A glimpse of the new Russian narrative was offered by Moscow’s senior diplomat Evgeniy Zagayanov earlier this year in a paper presented to the United Nations’ Security Council proposing a project to clear minefields created by ISIS in and around the desert location of Palmyra. The council put the demand on the backburner after members argued that tackling the humanitarian problem in a serious way would require the removal of hurdles set by President Assad’s government.
“The issue of humanitarian assistance to Syria cannot be reduced to the issue of blockages and hard-to-reach regions,” Vladimir Safronkov, a senior Russian diplomat, told the council a few weeks later. Since then, Moscow experts have been working on what is labelled “master plan for relief and rebuilding in Syria.” The plan envisages separate projects to re-start and re-vitalise such a key industries as oil and gas production, the extraction of phosphate, and the reopening of regional trade routes. Russia has already presented a plan, estimated to cost over $300 million, for demining 40 per cent of the Syrian territory within 22 months. According to David Butter, a Syrian expert with Chatham House in London, the Kremlin has already enlisted a number of Russian firms to pick up putative contracts in all those fields. The next plank of Russia’s new strategy consists of extending the so-called “de-escalation zones”, currently limited to five or six localities in the south, to other parts of Syria with Idlib province regarded as the next priority. “Russia is trying to freeze the political situation and the reality of control; on the ground,” says Ahmad Ansari, an Iranian researcher. “Once a de-escalation zone is set up it would matter little who is in nominal control. And, in time, people will come to focus on possible reconstruction projects than the nature of power in Damascus.”However, the proposed “frozen situation” would require at least two things: a minimum of municipal administration and a police presence to impose a minimum of security.
Moscow is trying to deal with the first problem with a plan for installing provisional municipal councils in “de-escalation zones.”A team of administrative experts from Moscow are expected to visit Syria next month to help with the planning needed. That would put Russia as a “firewall” between the Assad regime, kept in distance in Damascus with nominal control, and the opposition forces in actual control on the ground. To solve the second problem Russia is already training special police units for deployment in Syria. According to Moscow sources the first batch of 80 policemen are expected to arrive in Syria in September after a special course including training in Arabic language. According to Moscow sources, President Vladimir Putin evoked the outline of the proposed “master plan for relief and rebuilding in Syria” during his meeting in Hamburg with US President Donald Trump. Russians believe that Trump, with his background in construction and real estate, would be more likely to appreciate the “master plan” than classical politicians. Russia also hopes that the marginalization of Iran in Syria, implicit in the new Moscow strategy, may be an added an incentive for Trump who seems determined to clip Iran’s wings through all means short of military intervention.
Western experts put the cost of a comprehensive reconstruction programme in Syria at over $1.2 trillion, something that Russia, with its economy in dire straits as a result of sanctions and the fall in energy prices, is in no position to offer. In fact, earlier this month Tatyana Gulikova, head of the Russian Pubic Accounts Office, reported that the number of Russians living below poverty line rose by a whipping two million to a total of 22 million in 2016 compared to the year before.
According to Oleg Buklemishev, a Professor at Moscow State University, even if Russian economy returns to growth in 2017, Moscow would still be in no position to maintain social commitments while spending vast sums on foreign policy projects such as involvement in Syria. Dangling the “master plan” for rebuilding Syria may also whet the appetite of the European Union at a time it is desperate to seek stimulants for its stagnant economy. According to French sources, Putin raised the issue with French President Emmanuel macron in their meeting in Versailles last May. The “master plan” also appeals to Turkey whose major construction firms have sustained heavy losses, especially after being forced to leave Libya after Muammar Kaddafi’s demise. The same firms also face a more hostile environment in other Arab states as well as the European Union.
Both Jordan and Lebanon are also keen to see an injection of new financial resources into the region’s economy through the Syrian “masterplan”.In His meeting with President Trump in Washington, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri even expressed the hope that his country would be seen as the launching pad for the rebuilding of Syria. On domestic front, the new “ relief and reconstruction” narrative may appeal to Russian Muslim, some 20 per cent of the population, who are concerned about their county’s involvement in massacring Syrians. It is too early to obtain a full picture of the new Russian strategy in Syria. It seems to be a collage of disparate political, security and economic concepts that may prove to be contradictory rather than complimentary. The Russian strategy would reduce the remnants of the Assad regime to a mere ghost of a government. That may please Assad’s opponents but would leave the fundamental issue of who should govern Syria unresolved. Russia may be able to secure the small percentage of Syrian territory it needs to protect its baes on the Mediterranean built will not be able to provide the financial and human resources needed to provide a credible measure of stability to other parts of the country. With both Iran and Turkey busy carving their own enclaves in Syrian territory, the country’s fragmentation may become a fait accompli. On a smaller scale France tried a similar policy in the Central Africa Republic and Congo Brazzaville during their respective civil wars. The result in both cases was a signal failure. Even if the Russian plan garners the support it needs it will solve nothing in the medium and long-term; the key problem is who should govern Syria on whose behalf.

Tehran’s New Scheme For Iraq
Amir Taheri/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
In his visit to Moscow this week, Iraqi Vice President Nuri Al-Maliki peddled what he presented as his big idea: inviting Russia to build “a significant presence’ in Iraq to counter-balance that of the United States.
Since Maliki is reputed to be Tehran’s candidate as the next Iraqi prime Minister his “invitation” to Russia cannot be dismissed as a mere personal whim.
With ISIS driven out of Mosul and, hopefully, soon to be driven other pockets of territory it still controls in Iraq, the decks are being cleared for the forthcoming general election that would decide the shape of the next government in Baghdad. Fancying itself as the “big winner” in Iraq, the Tehran leadership is working on a strategy to make that fancy a reality.
That strategy has three key elements.
The first is to create a new, supposedly “liberal” and “non-sectarian” Shi’ite coalition to dominate the next parliament and, through that, the next government in Baghdad. That requires a reshuffling of political cards and the discarding of some old outfits.
In an editorial last Tuesday the Islamic Republic official news agency IRNA, argued that “old formations” that had come into being during the struggle against Saddam Hussein and the subsequent post-liberation crisis were no longer capable of dealing with “new realities in Iraq.”
It was on the basis of that analysis that Ammar al-Hakim, a leading politician-cum cleric announced his separation from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the formation of a new party named “National Wisdom Movement “(Tayar al-Hikmah al-Watani).
Hakim who hails from an old and respected dynasty of clerics originally from Shiraz argues that time has come to “break barriers of sects and ethnicities” in favor of the concept of “citizenship”. Tus he comes close to advocating the concept of “uruqah” (Iraqi-ness) that has long been a theme of such Iraqi Shiite politicians as Ayyad Allawi and Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
Tehran sources expect the “new model” to be adopted by other Shiite parties and groups. Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi is reportedly studying the creating of a new “secular” formation away from his original political home in the Ad-Da’awah (The Call) Party which has always been a clearly sectarian formation.
Talks are already under way for the merger of Abadi’s support base with the Sadrist Movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, scion of another distinguished clerical dynast originally from Mahallat, southwest of Tehran. According to unconfirmed reports the new Abadi-Sadr coalition will be called “Freedom and Reconstruction”, a clearly non-sectarian identity.
Tehran’s hope is that Maliki will transform his wing of the Ad-Dawah into yet another “non-sectarian” outfit to support his bid for premiership, presumably with support from Hakim.
The apparent de-sectarianization of pro-Iran Shiite parties will make it difficult for Allawi and other genuinely non-sectarian Shiite politicians, who are hostile to Iranian influence in Baghdad, to appeal to the Shiite majority on the basis of citizenship and “uruqah”.
The new “de-sectarianization” gambit will also put pressure on Kurdish parties at a time some of them are campaigning for an “independence” referendum. It would be more difficult to sell the idea of an “independent” mini-state of Kurdistan to the international public opinion at a time that Iraq is seen to be moving towards a non-religious democratic and pluralist political system.
The gambit will also make it more difficult for Arab Sunni sectarians to garner support in the name of resisting a Shiite sectarian takeover of government in Baghdad. Salim al-Juburi, a leading Arab Sunni politician and Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, is reportedly moving towards the creation of a non-sectarian party of his own.
The second element of the Iranian strategy is to almost oblige the clerical authority in Najaf (Marja’iyah) to endorse, even reluctantly, a Shiite political leadership clearly committed to Iran. Tehran knows that no government in Baghdad would have a chance of success without at least tacit blessing from Grand Ayatollah Ai-Muhammad Sistani.
Sistani has consistently refused to play the sectarian card and has advised politicians of all shades to think in terms of national rather than religious considerations. Thus, Tehran’s decision to “de-sectarianize” the Iraqi parties it supports will be a concession to Sistani.
Tehran is offering yet another concession to Sistani by abandoning its campaign to influence the Grand Ayatollah’s succession. The initial Iranian candidate for succession, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahrudi, a former senior official of the Islamic Republic, has been quietly cast aside and is reported to be in declining health.
Without formally saying so, Iran now admits that the issue of Sistani’s succession must be sorted out by the “howzah” (seminary) in Najaf possibly with some input from Qom and certainly not through diktat from Tehran.
The third element of the strategy is to draw Russia into Iraq as a façade for Iranian influence.
Tehran leaders know that the vast majority of Iraqis resent the emergence of Iran as arbiter of their destiny. Russia, however, is seen as remote enough not to pose a direct threat to the internal balance of power in Iraq. Yet, because Russia has no local support base in Iraq, it would have to rely on Iranian guidance and goodwill to play a leading role there.
A new Baghdad government composed of “non-sectarian” Shiite leaders promising a better deal for Arab Sunnis and Kurds, and backed by Russia, will be a better cover for the spread and consolidation of Iranian influence in Iraq.
There is, of course, no guarantee that the new Tehran strategy will work. Many Iraqis, including some among those reputedly close to Iran, believe that Iraq itself can and must aspire after becoming a major player in the Middle East rather than playing Sancho Panza to the “Supreme Guide” in Tehran.
Iraqi leaders also see no logic in turning the United States and Arab states into enemies just to suit Tehran’s doomed empire-building project, especially at a time that the Islamic Republic seems to be heading for the choppy waters of Khamenei’s succession.

Lebanon defeated in Arsal/لبنان انكسر في عرسال
Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/July 28/2017
Hezbollah’s huge propaganda machine is working at full capacity in Lebanon to portray what happened in Juroud Arsal as a victory for the party. For the last fortnight, the Lebanese public has witnessed a huge political marketing campaign, which concluded that the battle ended with the defeat of Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (JFS) militants and huge victory for Hezbollah. Media machines have exaggerated the situation in Juroud Arsal by comparing it to what Hezbollah did in the July 2006 war against Israel. All those who question this “victory” in Juroud Arsal are traitors and foreign agents who should be killed, according to the head of a Lebanese pro-Hezbollah newspaper that has been relentlessly threatening all those who disagree with the party.
Hezbollah is weakening the Lebanese army and state. The army was forced to step aside in a battle that it alone was supposed to lead. How can anyone defend the idea of the state and its sovereignty, under the sole security of the army, in a country where people are either praising what Hezbollah is doing or are helplessly silent? Any Lebanese who dare ask what has been happening in Juroud Arsal for the past six years, why Hezbollah is fighting there alongside the criminal Syrian regime, how JFS militants came to Lebanon, and what this battle means for Iranian influence in Syria and Lebanon, will face threats. Those who threaten are usually those who are defeated and have no other convincing means.
Any Lebanese who dare ask what has been happening in Juroud Arsal for the past six years, why Hezbollah is fighting there alongside the criminal Syrian regime and what this battle means for Iranian influence in Syria and Lebanon, will face threats. Today, there are those who are rushing to turn Lebanon into a security regime like neighboring countries. Some are actively working to restore Beirut-Damascus ties to what they were in the 1990s. Those allied to regimes, such as Syria’s and Iran’s, cannot be counted among parties that want to rescue Lebanon from JFS, Daesh and other terrorists threatening the security of Lebanon, Syria and other countries.Their logic is that to defeat those terrorists, we should support regimes that bombard their own people, and kill and torture thousands of opposition members in prisons. The “victor” in Juroud Arsal is even more dangerous and frightening than the defeated.
• Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. She can be reached on Twitter @dianamoukalled.

Al-Jazeera Television: A Source of Influence If Not Always News
Eric Rozenman/Jewish Policy centre/July 27/ 2017
Update: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused al-Jazeera of fomenting violence and will attempt to shut its office in Israel.
The diplomatic and economic impasse between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has squeezed the United States. All five Arab countries play important roles in the U.S.-led fight against Islamist terrorism. But the four pressuring Qatar also oppose Iranian expansionism, as does Washington. Qatar, to the contrary, has moved closer to Iran’s Islamic Republic.
Al-Udeid Air Base—a key component in coalition campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan—and U.S. Central Command Forward Headquarters are both in Qatar. But Saudi Arabia is Washington’s leading Arab partner countering Iran. Egypt is the Arab world’s most populous nation and, like the other three countries aligned against Qatar, maintains close military ties to America.
Early in June, Riyadh, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Manama imposed a blockade on Doha. They issued 13 demands, among which were ending financial support for Islamic extremists and closing Al-Jazeera, the Arab world’s most popular satellite television network.
In late July, noting Qataris’ “generous” support for the U.S. counter-terror campaign and contemporaneous backing of anti-Western movements, Gen. James Conway (USMC, Ret.) former Marine Corps Commandant, put it this way:
“For too long, Qatar has tried to get away with having its flag planted in two camps. … Qatar simultaneously supports radicals within Islam who have vowed a hundred-year fight against the infidels. For years, the United States and others largely turned a blind eye to the billions of dollars sent from wealthy Qataris—in league with their supportive government—to support Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and militants in Syria. Known terrorist leaders and financiers find safe harbor on Qatari soil, which also hosts some of the most radical media outlets in the Arab world [emphasis added].” Conway’s reference to radical Arab communications media did not specify Al-Jazeera. To some Westerners, the network has not appeared radical at all but rather something they assumed they recognized, “an Arabic C.N.N.” But that picture always has been a little out of focus.
Conway hoped the five Arab partners of the United States resolve their conflict, with American mediation that would be flexible in technique but firm on the result—no Qatari money for terrorists. But what about Al-Jazeera?
Qatar, population 2.3 million, is a Persian Gulf peninsula about twice as large as Delaware. It’s ruled by the al-Thani family dynasty and rich in national gas and petroleum. Al-Jazeera means “the peninsula” and the satellite cable operations reaches well beyond the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain—total population 130 million, altogether roughly one-third the size of the United States—view Qatar as a financial backer and diplomatic shield not only of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian offshoot Hamas but also Lebanon’s Iranian-founded and backed Hezbollah and even the Islamic State. Al-Jazeera, some Arab and Western analysts have argued, has helped Qatar “punch above its weight” in promoting the royal family’s foreign policy and countering heavyweight Saudi Arabia next door.
In 1996, Saudi Arabia “kicked the B.B.C.’s irritatingly truthful Arabic-language channel off a Saudi satellite, causing it to shut down. Suddenly dozens of journalists were looking for work. Al-Jazeera hired them,” The Economist has explained. Al-Jazeera broke through to American audiences immediately after al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001 destruction of New York City’s World Trade Center and attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., which killed nearly 3,000 people. It was al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s outlet of choice for releasing video communiques. As Western networks rebroadcast the Al-Jazeera exclusives, more than a few people, including in the U.S. military, came to view the satellite broadcaster as a terrorist propaganda arm.
But others—among them some American journalists—noted its news channel format and frequent use of Western sources. They saw it as an alternative to state-run or government-dominated media elsewhere in Arab countries.
Walid Phares, then a professor at Florida Atlantic University, later a counter-terrorism and national security advisor to the 2012 Mitt Romney and 2016 Donald Trump Republican presidential campaigns, offered a different perspective. Al-Jazeera Arabic, Phares said in a 2003 talk in Washington, D.C., served as a sort of decentralized nervous system for jihadist. It did not carry explicit plans or orders for terrorist attacks. Instead, it set a general tone, conditioning the environment.
Panelists might argue about when and where it was permissible in holy war to attack Westerners, for example. But none would object to all such strikes. Phares, now a national security analyst for FOX News, said then that such televised conversations could be understood by jihadists as implicit authorization.
Among Al-Jazeera Arabic’s most popular programs have been those hosted by Egyptian-born, Qatari-based Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Tens of millions of Muslims in the Middle East and elsewhere have watched al-Qaradawi’s shows, in which he reportedly has advanced a “moderate” or modernist interpretation of Islam in a conversational, folksy manner. Be that as it may, the sheik—banned from entry into the United States, United Kingdom and France—also has justified terrorist attacks against Israelis, urged a second, Muslim-led genocide of the Jews and called for conquest by Islam of Europe not through war but conversion.
Few U.S. cable companies carried Al-Jazeera English, partly due to the image of the mother channel—al Jazeera Arabic—as bin Laden’s megaphone. So in 2013, the Qatari government paid $500 million to former Vice President Al Gore Jr. and other owners of a struggling, politically left-leaning cable channel called Current TV.
This was seven times what Gore and the others, including several major Democratic Party fund-raisers, spent to acquire the channel nine years earlier. It was also shortly after Gore and other Current TV owners and Democratic Party supporters had refused a proposal to sell to right-wing radio and television talk show host Glenn Beck.
The purchase gave Qatar much greater U.S. cable TV market penetration for its new channel, Al-Jazeera America. Separate from Al-Jazeera English—though Al-Jazeera America would carry some of the former’s content—the new channel would feature, according to generally upbeat previews in American newspapers, objective, in-depth broadcast journalism typically in short supply on U.S. television screens. The al-Thani dynasty’s deep pockets meant, it was said, that Al-Jazeera American would feel fewer commercial constraints than other networks and enjoy more lavish funding than the Public Broadcasting Service.
But why would the al-Thani dynasty, which kept a close grip on public speech, let alone debate, at home, subsidize American’s free press options? Referring to Al-Jazeera Arabic, Aktham Suliman, a correspondent who quit in 2012, said, according to The Economist, “the station takes positions ‘not based on journalistic priorities, but rather on the interests of the foreign ministry of Qatar.’’
In 2014, covering the war between Israel and Hamas, Al-Jazeera America reported, with video, about Hamas firing a rocket at Israel from a residential area in the Gaza Strip. The report was evidence of two war crimes, indiscriminate firing and basing offensive weapons among civilians. Nine days later the picture was deleted from the Al-Jazeera America Web site.
When Al-Jazeera English launched in 2006—aimed at English-speakers outside the Anglo-American sphere—its best-known American personality was anchorman Dave Marash, formerly of ABC-TV News. Marash quit two years later, “saying … his exit was due in part to an anti-American bias at a network that is little seen in this country. Marash said he felt that attitude more from British administrators than Arabs at the Qatar-based network,” CBS News reported.
Qatar, and by extension Al-Jazeera, has its Western defenders. Daniel J. Hannan, a journalist, British Conservative Party member and representative to the European Parliament, said Western intelligence agencies encouraged Qatar to permit radical groups to open offices in Doha, the better to keep an eye on them. As for Al-Jazeera, Hannan said the Saudis, Egyptians, Emiratis and Bahrainis want the channel closed because they “resent” its independence—not of Qatar but of their own interests.
Whatever the resolution of the conflict, Western viewers of Al-Jazeera should not mistake it for an independent news outlet. Not until it covers Qatar like it tries to cover Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

CIA and the ‘Anti-Assad’ Program
David Ignatius/Washington Post/July 28/17
What did the CIA’s covert assistance program for Syrian rebels accomplish? Bizarrely, the biggest consequence may be that it helped trigger the Russian military intervention in 2015 that rescued President Bashar al-Assad — achieving the opposite of what the program intended.
Syria adds another chapter to the star-crossed history of CIA paramilitary action. These efforts begin with the worthy objective of giving presidents policy options short of all-out war. But they often end with an untidy mess, in which rebels feel they have been “seduced and abandoned” by the promise of US support that disappears when the political winds change.
One Syrian opposition leader highlighted for me the danger for his rebel comrades now: “The groups that decided to work with the US already have a target on their back from the extremists, but now will not be able to defend themselves.”
The demise of the Syria program was disclosed by The Post this week, but it’s been unraveling since President Trump took office. Trump wanted to work more closely with Russia to stabilize Syria, and a program that targeted Russia’s allies didn’t fit. The White House’s own Syria policy remains a hodgepodge of half-baked assumptions and conflicting goals.
The rise and fall of the Syria covert action program conveys some useful lessons about this most delicate weapon in the United States’ arsenal. To summarize, the program was too late, too limited. It was potent enough to threaten Assad and draw Russian intervention, but not strong enough to prevail. Perhaps worst, the CIA-backed fighters were so divided politically, and so interwoven with extremist opposition groups, that the rebels could never offer a viable political future.
That’s not to say that the CIA effort was bootless. Run from secret operations centers in Turkey and Jordan, the program pumped many hundreds of millions of dollars to many dozens of militia groups. One knowledgeable official estimates that the CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years. By the summer of 2015, the rebels were at the gates of Latakia on the northern coast, threatening Assad’s ancestral homeland and Russian bases there. Rebel fighters were also pushing toward Damascus.
CIA analysts began to speak that summer about a “catastrophic success” — in which the rebels would topple Assad without creating a strong, moderate government. In a June 2015 column, I quoted a US intelligence official saying, “Based on current trend lines, it is time to start thinking about a post-Assad Syria.” Russian President Vladimir Putin was warily observing the same trend, especially after an urgent visit to Moscow in July that year by Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Quds Force and Assad’s regional patron.
Putin got the message: He intervened militarily in September 2015, decisively changing the balance of the Syrian war. What Trump did in ending the CIA program was arguably just recognizing that ground truth.
What could the United States have done to provide a different outcome? Here are some thoughts gathered from US and Syrian officials who have followed the CIA program closely.
●CIA support could have started earlier, in 2012, when extremists weren’t so powerful and there was still hope of building a moderate force. By 2013, when the program got rolling, the military opposition was dominated by warlords.
●The United States could have given the rebels antiaircraft weapons, allowing them to protect rebel-held areas from Assad’s brutal bombing. The rebels trained with such weapons but could never use them on the battlefield.
●The United States didn’t have a political strategy to match the CIA’s covert campaign. “There was no ‘there’ there, in terms of a clearly articulated national security objective and an accompanying strategy,” said Fred Hof, a former State Department official who has followed the Syria story closely.
The American effort unintentionally “created massive divisions and rivalries instead of being used as a tool to unite disparate factions,” another former official said.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: June 2017
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/July 28/17
Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor and one of the most prominent Muslim lawyers in Britain, warned that an "industry" of Islamist groups in the country is undermining the fight against terrorism. He singled out the Islamist-dominated Muslim Council of Britain and also condemned "self-appointed" community leaders whose sole agenda was to present Muslims "as victims and not as those who are potentially becoming radicals."
Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, charged London Mayor Sadiq Khan with "appeasing jihadists" for authorizing the Al-Quds Day march.
More than 40 foreign jihadists have used human rights laws to remain in Britain, according to an unpublished report delayed by the Home Office.
June 3. Khuram Shazad Butt, a 27-year-old Pakistani-born British citizen, Rachid Redouane, a 30-year-old who claimed to be Libyan and Moroccan and Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Moroccan-Italian, murdered eight people and injured 50 others in a jihadist attack on and around the London Bridge. The three assailants were shot dead by police. It was the third jihadist attack in Britain in as many months.
Floral tributes at London Bridge on June 6, 2017, following the 3 June 2017 terrorist attack. (Image source: Matt Brown/Wikimedia Commons)
June 3. Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor and one of the most prominent Muslim lawyers in Britain, warned that an "industry" of Islamist groups in the country is undermining the fight against terrorism by peddling "myths" about the Prevent strategy, the government's key anti-radicalization policy. He singled out the Islamist-dominated Muslim Council of Britain, and said he was shocked that in the agenda for its annual meeting there was "nothing about radicalisation and nothing about the threat of people going to Syria." Afzal, who prosecuted the Rochdale sex-grooming gang, also condemned "self-appointed" community leaders whose sole agenda was to present Muslims "as victims and not as those who are potentially becoming radicals."
June 3. Khalid Al-Mathkour, chairman of Kuwait's sharia council, and Essam Al-Fulaij, a Kuwaiti government figure known for his anti-Semitic diatribes, are listed as trustees of a UK-registered charity that is building a mosque in Sheffield, according to the Telegraph. They have helped channel almost £500,000 ($650,000) into the project from Kuwait. Another £400,000 ($525,000) has been donated to the charity, the Emaan Trust, by a Qatari organization. The stated aim of the new mosque, which will have a capacity for 500 worshippers, is to "promote and teach Islamic morals and values to new Muslim generations."
June 4. Prime Minister Theresa May said there was "far too much tolerance of extremism" in Britain and promised to step up the fight against Islamic terrorism after the London Bridge attack. "Enough is enough," she said. May also claimed the jihadists held to an ideology that was a perversion of true Islam: "It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam."
June 5. Conservative election candidate Gordon Henderson said that Muslims are duty bound to report extremists in their midst:
"The only people who can defeat the Islamic terrorists are the British Muslims in whose midst they find sanctuary. It is time for peace-loving Muslims to start providing information to the police about those within their community that they suspect of plotting attacks. The only other option is to put all suspected terrorists in internment camps, and that is not a route I would like to go down. We tried it with the IRA and all it did was make the prisoners into martyrs."
June 6. Khuram Butt, one of the London Bridge attackers, was known to British authorities, according to the Telegraph. He had appeared in a Channel 4 documentary about British extremists called "The Jihadis Next Door." Butt was also filmed at events attended by questionable Islamic preachers, and had tried to go to Syria to become a jihadist there.
June 7. Three "Asian girls" shouting "Allah will get you" slashed a woman near a nursery in Hermon Hill, London. The victim, named as Katie, was walking along the street when she was ambushed from behind. Police said they were not treating the attack as a terrorist incident.
June 10. Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in a British cabinet, said that Britain's relationship with its Muslim community needs to be reset from scratch:
"When things go wrong with an iPhone or a coffee machine, pressing the restart button is usually a good, safe place to start. Right now, Britain's relationship with her Muslims is within that frozen, overloaded, splurging episode — we need to press the button....
"Just because you don't speak English does not mean you're going to be a terrorist — the majority of terrorists speak good English. Secondly, there's always a fraction of religious groups that choose to live separate lives and that is not an issue of integration. We have to keep the issue of terrorism and integration separate."
June 10. Police increased patrols at local mosques in Cambridge after strips of bacon were left on four cars parked at the Omar Faruque Mosque. A 19-year-old man was arrested and charged with religiously aggravated criminal damage.
June 11. Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Cressida Dick said that jihadists do not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims in their attacks:
"An attack in London is an attack on all of us. I understand Muslim communities are feeling shattered and there are concerns within the community that it may find itself as a target of hate crimes.
"What I will say to the Muslim communities is that we must all stand up in the face of terrorists. The London Metropolitan Police are here to work with Muslims, to protect them and to work with them to stop crimes. If you are a target, we will work hard to protect you."
June 13. Mak Chishty, who recently retired as the most senior Muslim police officer in Britain, said it was time for Muslims to stop "skirting around the issues" and have some "very difficult conversations." He issued a "call to action" to all British Muslims, urging them to launch a social media blitz to let the rest of the country know how strongly they feel about extremism:
"I would like to issue a call for action today for every single Muslim, from a young person all the way through to my mother-in-law who is well in her mid-60s but has got a WhatsApp or a Facebook, to get on there and start to denounce extremism as not theirs.
"All of a sudden, maybe you will find that these extremist voices start to shrink... remove their dominance, starve them of oxygen. Make sure they have got a powerful lobby against them. We can do that now, we can do that today."
Chishty also said that terrorism and extremism is "hurting" Islam:
"It is the Islamic duty of every Muslim to be loyal to the country in which they live and we are now asking questions to understand how extremism and hatred has taken hold within some elements of our own communities. Muslims must do more to stop such attacks from happening again and we want to know how we can play a greater role in the future."
June 13. Lugman Aslam, 26, was sentenced to five years in prison for plowing his van into five men in Leicester after an argument during Ramadan. Aslam admitted to dangerous driving and attempting to inflict intentional grievous bodily harm. Recorder Justin Wigoder said:
"You quite deliberately drove your van at that group who were walking along the pavement. I've seen it on CCTV and you deliberately mounted the pavement and drove straight at them and right through the middle of them at speed.... I accept it was completely out of character. You're of very positive good previous character and I've received a considerable number of references setting out all the good that is in you. You're a good family man with a young daughter and I take that very much into account."
June 14. Shamim Ahmed, a 24-year-old Bangladeshi from Tower Hamlets, East London, was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to join the Islamic State in Syria. During his trial, Ahmed pointed his finger at Judge John Bevan QC and warned him he, Ahmed, would continue to "wage jihad": "Give me 20 years, I will come out the enemy."
June 15. New statistics showed that in the year to March 2017, police arrested 304 people for terrorism-related offenses — a 20% increase compared to the previous 12 months. Combined with those held since March, the total arrests in 2017 may top the previous record of 315, set in 2015.
June 18. Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters carrying Hezbollah flags marched through the streets of London to mark Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), an annual event initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, ostensibly to support the Palestinians, but undoubtedly to promote hatred of Jews. At a rally outside the U.S. Embassy after the march, one speaker blamed the fire at London's Grenfell Tower public housing project on so-called Zionists. "Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists," the speaker ranted. "They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party." Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, charged London Mayor Sadiq Khan with "appeasing jihadists" for authorizing the march.
June 19. Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old unemployed father of four, drove a van into a group of worshippers close to the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London. One person was killed and eight others were injured in the attack, which police said was premeditated. Osborne was "self-radicalized into his extremist hatred of Muslims," according to the Guardian.
June 20. Armed police were deployed to the Neolithic Stonehenge to protect thousands of pagans celebrating the summer solstice from jihadist attacks. David Spofforth of the Pagan Federation said it was "very sad" that armed police were necessary: "I am not saying I am welcoming this, I sadly accept it. But you just have to look at the events such as at Finsbury Park, a peaceful religious gathering where people suffered so much by the actions of one hate-filled individual."
June 22. A Muslim woman sued her former employers after allegedly being ordered to remove her black headscarf because the garment had "terrorist affiliations." The estate agent had been working for Harvey Dean in Bury for almost a year when she says managers took issue with her hijab. A complaint filed at the Manchester Employment Tribunal said the woman was told that moving from a back office into public view meant "that it would be in the best interest of the business for her to change the color of her hijab, due to the supposed terrorist affiliation with the color black." The woman said she felt "singled out" as the only Muslim woman in the office and claimed the company discriminated against her on the basis of both religion and gender.
June 23. Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, the schools regulator, vowed to crack down on Islamic extremism in British schools. She said that school children must be equipped with the "knowledge and resilience" required to combat the violent rhetoric "peddled" by hate preachers who "put hatred in their hearts and poison in their minds." She added:
"One area where there is room to improve is the active promotion of fundamental British values in our schools. Recent attacks in Westminster, London Bridge, Manchester and Finsbury Park have brought into stark relief the threats that we face."
June 24. More than 40 foreign jihadists have used human rights laws to remain in Britain, according to an unpublished report delayed by the Home Office. The study, a copy of which was leaked to the Telegraph, describes how lawyers, funded by legal aid, have successfully prevented foreign-born terror suspects from being sent back to their home countries.
June 25. Michael Adebolajo, who together with Michael Adebowale murdered British soldier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks in south-east London in May 2013, is now regarded as the most dangerous prisoner in the British penal system, according to prison sources. A prison officer described him as "violent, unpredictable and a major danger to other prisoners." He has also radicalized dozens of inmates, including non-Muslim prisoners who are said to have converted to Islam and sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. One prison official said:
"Adebolajo spends most of his waking hours preaching his distorted form of Islam to anyone who will listen. He sees every inmate as a potential Islamic State soldier whether they are Muslims or not. He has a big personality and is very charismatic and some of the more vulnerable prisoners will fall under his spell. He is a very dangerous individual."
June 27. Muslims launched an online petition to oppose a new veil policy at John Thursby Community College, in Burnley, Lancashire. The school announced plans for a universal-length headscarf that some Muslims said is too short and not sufficiently modest. Previously girls were free to choose any length they pleased. Some feel that the move is aimed at deterring girls from wearing headscarves at all. Local councilor Shah Hussain said: "The whole point is that it is supposed to protect the wearer's modesty, and that does not happen." The school's head teacher David Burton said he may reconsider the policy. "We are sorry there have been suggestions that the school is against headscarves. This is not true. We fully respect the wishes of girls to wear a headscarf."
June 28. The trial began in London of four jihadists — Naweed Ali, 29, Tahir Aziz, 38, Khobaib Hussain, 25, and Mohibur Rahman, 32 — for allegedly plotting a knife rampage on British soil. The men, who called themselves "The Musketeers," were accused of sharing "the same radical belief in violent jihad." Prosecutors said the terror plot involved a samurai sword and a meat cleaver with the word "Kafir" (unbeliever) scratched onto the blade. The four men were arrested after a stash of weapons, ammunition, and a pipe bomb were found in Ali's car during a counter-terrorism operation in Birmingham.
June 29. Three men were arrested in the Armagh and Coalisland areas of Northern Ireland for displaying anti-Muslim posters and stickers. Police said the material — which included the slogan "Rapefugees Not Welcome" — was likely to stir up "racial hatred."
June 30. Tarik Chadlioui, a 43-year-old Moroccan cleric living in Birmingham with his wife and eight children, was accused of recruiting jihadists for the Islamic State. Chadlioui, a Salafist, is wanted in several European countries and is believed to be the spiritual leader of an Islamic State cell in Spain. Chadlioui, also known as Tarik Ibn Ali, is said to have formed links with jihadist groups which aim to impose Sharia law in Europe.
*Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
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Aattempting to understand the phenomenon of violence
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
There are several discussions about climate threats and the scarcity of food and dozens of prophecies about the dry land and the decrease of water. However the worst threat is violence with all its forms, the terrorist, the criminal and the political.
A society’s luxury is first measured by its security and then all other standards follow. Although the world has witnessed major violence in East Asia, mass massacres in Africa, civil wars in the Middle East and massacres in Europe – of which most of them were racial or political – the bloody terrorism of radical movements since the late 20th century is the worst considering how insidious it is and how it operates and renews its plans.
Terrorism is not criminal violence that can be limited and curbed but it is ideological violence that does not have a specific worldly and materialistic aim. Killing becomes a target and suicide becomes a mean even if slogans of an Islamic state are raised or if imagined models of a caliphate or a pious society that rules by sharia are established.
The issue is not about ordinary analysis of violence or social, psychological and political justifications but it’s about the relation between violence and the idea of violence and between the terrorist and what he finds sacred based on the origin of sacrifice.
This is what distinguished the work of René Girard in his book Violence and the Sacred which is an anthropological research that explores the origins of violence and sacrifice by looking into relations between the sacrifice, the sacred and violence.
The issue is not about ordinary analysis of violence or social, psychological and political justifications but it’s about the relation between violence and the idea of violence
‘Sacred violence’
Tunisian researcher Manoubi Ghabbech has an important work about “sacred violence” in which he considered “the sacrifice, the bloody offering, as the basic model of sacred violence.” He wrote: “The old anthropological phenomenon that’s linked to simple collective awareness (old pagans, bioethics and totemism) later transformed into a sociopolitical phenomenon in complicated and developed societies which did not lose the phenomenon of sanctification.”
He cited French Philosopher Roger Caillois’ book Man and the Sacred and quoted the statement which stipulates that “sacred violence is the violence which is legitimized based on a religious, legendary or ideological references. Sacred violence does not only take its forms from founding texts but it’s also embodied in the most brutal scenes in wars and during torture that’s practiced against the followers of another religion or doctrine or sect.”
The thesis, which thoroughly discusses the relations between violence, society and terrorism, is by Philosophy instructor Paul Dumouchel. The book’s title is “The Barren Sacrifice an Essay on Political Violence” and he dedicated it to Girard. The influence of his teacher was seen in the book in which he analyzed the meaning of violence for cannibals. He also touches on Alain Corbin’s book The Village of the Cannibals in which he analyzes an incident of collective violence that happened in Dordogne during the 1870 war.
He then addressed an important concept developed by Hannah Arendt and which is the “banality of evil” which he said “expresses surprise before what we can call (not sanctifying the executioner) as the gravity and ugliness of the crime do not grant the perpetrator any greatness and do not surround him with a sacred aura or grant him an unordinary evil feature that suits his actions in the face of the denial which his approaches reveal.
Banality of evil
The banality of evil brings the executioner closer to the level of the unknown victims who have no faces as they are just countless unknown people whom nothing indicated the horrible fate they will meet.”
Dumouchel shifted major concepts about violence since the days of Arendt and up until Girard’s but he magnificently and uniquely defined violence as: “Violence can quickly integrate with disputes and competitions that move individuals. This is why it repels as much as it attracts and worries as much as it charms. However, it approaches active individuals who have no commitment to get involved in it.”
All these concepts are theories that attempt to understand the roots of violence through anthropological analysis of cultures. Violence is part of humanity and it’s a basic in the latter’s major transformations and historical turns. Therefore, terrorism, as the most prominent manifestation of the phenomenon of violence, puts the future of relations between states, cultures and people at stake.
Even affairs related to communication, tourism and education will confront unprecedented challenges. Travelling in the near future may be difficult. This enhances the hypothesis of conflicts instead of communications and agreements. The phase after terrorism will not be like the time before it.
States may succeed in targeting and eliminating terrorist entities but eradicating violent tendencies requires civilized formulas and ideological transformations that most countries, except certain western ones, are incapable of. It is countries’ duties to monopolize violence and prevent individuals from evaluating how good violence is. Only the state has the right to describe it.
All violent tendencies emerge due to a defect in the social contract and due to not organizing differences among people in favor of the less fortunate in society as John Rawls puts it. All this may postpone the eruption of major conflicts and limit the flames of terrorism’s raging fire.

Why abductions, murders have returned to Baghdad
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
Abductions and murder returned to Baghdad and other major cities in Iraq and some small towns when the operation to liberate Mosul was launched. They increased as the battles escalated and are now out of control after Mosul was liberated. Is this a coincidence?
Abductions and murder have become a daily phenomenon like the situation was years ago. This time, the identity of those kidnapped and killed are various. This means these are not ordinary crimes as it seems the aim is to shake security and obstruct the restoration of stability required for political, economic and social development in the post-ISIS phase. These crimes would not have happened if the state and its law-enforcement institutions hadn’t been lenient in imposing the law, beginning with the traffic law, drug law and others. This would not have happened if it hadn’t been for indifference in terms of prohibiting arms, establishing non-state armed groups and imposing power over the armed groups which are said to be under the state’s control.
None of this would have happened if administrative and financial corruption had been fought and if corrupt men empowered by state institutions and security forces had been pursued. Most corrupt men have not been touched and it’s actually prohibited to address the dangerous corruption they are involved in
The most corrupt men
We will appreciate it if no one repeats the number of cases which the integrity courts have ruled into as all these cases put together are nothing compared to the cases which no one has looked into. The most corrupt men have not been touched and it’s actually prohibited to come near them or to address the dangerous corruption they’re involved in. Violating the law, defying the state and escaping punishment are happening when there are around 1 million personnel in the institutions, i.e. police, operations’ command and national security and intelligence apparatuses, that are tasked with maintaining security and order. What are they doing if they cannot put an end to these abductions and murder or at least gradually limit them? More importantly, why are these apparatuses present if they do not carry out the least of their duties? Do we need all these apparatuses which cost a lot of money when security and order are not maintained? The phenomenon of kidnappings and murder has crossed the red line. The prime minister and the relevant security institutions are urgently requested to seriously look into this and rectify it and they must restructure these apparatuses and change their commanders. Maintaining internal security is as important as fighting terrorism. Terrorism will be strengthened if internal security collapses.

What will Baghdad’s role be after liberation of Mosul?
Huda al-Husseini/Al Arabiya/July 28/17
Mosul’s battle may be the worst of this century. Mosul did not look like a liberated city as it was severely destroyed and more than 1 million people have been displaced. ISIS’ defeat is certain but the repercussions of the fighting are not over yet. So what will happen after all this destruction which was followed with “liberation celebrations?” Challenges are still on as first there is the new role of Shiite militias and Sunni Iraqis do not trust one another or Baghdad and are incapable of restoring basic services. The massive destruction of the city during ISIS’ brutal occupation since 2014 and the military attacks which the alliance and Iraqi forces launched for months mean that restoring basic services and infrastructure will not happen quickly.
The Iraqi government said its plan in this phase is to rebuild Mosul and other “liberated” areas over the course of 10 years with $100 billion worth of funding that will come from different sources.
An independent American agency that was established to rebuild Iraq during the American invasion monitored $119.52 billion between April 2003 and March 2008. The US provided $46 billion, Iraq provided $50.33 billion while $15.89 billion came from international support. Despite these huge sums of money, most of it evaporated.
Corruption and theft
Projects were launched but they were either not completed or sabotaged due to corruption and theft. According to several reports, some ministries in Baghdad are now more corrupt than they were during the past years. Many projects were halted and not completed because they were not necessary and because locals did not participate in designing them or constructing them.
More importantly, no serious efforts were made to create harmony between the different local sectarian groups or between tribes, who are mostly Sunnis who felt they were more distant from the central government led by the Shiites in Baghdad.
Unfortunately, nothing shows that the new reconstruction efforts will be any different. The current situation is more challenging as the government will have less money to use. The low oil prices and the increased bureaucracy left the central government in Baghdad with scarce resources. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund did not provide enough to help. Last year, the IMF gave an urgent loan worth $5.3 billion. At the time it was a huge contribution but it does not do much today.
People in Mosul must not wait for help from Baghdad because it may never come. Perhaps what’s best is to take matters into their own hands and pave way for reconciliation
Violence and instability
Violence and instability will not come to an end soon without reconciliation between the different sectarian groups that are fighting against each other in Mosul – which fought together even when ISIS ruled – and between Sunnis. Many Iraqi Sunnis and Kurds do not believe there is any future while Baghdad’s government is in place.
Unless there is radical change, the areas which were liberated from ISIS will be used to recruit extremist organizations or groups in the future. If this is not resolved, it will simply keep happening. A Sunni official in Fallujah which expelled ISIS last summer said “ISIS did not come from the moon and did not grow out of earth. A part of our people joined ISIS because of corruption, injustice and the culture of hatred.”
What happened in Anbar, where Fallujah is, provides a glimpse of some of the problems which Mosul may confront. Ramadi, the governorate’s capital, is destroyed and it needs $10 billion but the central government has not provided any help to rebuild it. This is also the case of Sinjar, north of Iraq, as it needs $70 million to fix what ISIS destroyed but the Iraqi government only provided $45,000 to remove rubble from roads.
Cultural and ethnic diversity
Mosul was an ethnically mixed city with cultural diversity. Now, however, the Sunni majority must deal with the problem of those sympathizing with ISIS from among it. The government has not proposed a decisive plan to prevent new massacres that Sunnis may commit or to address Shiite militias who aim to achieve their own aims that oppose the Sunnis. There’s another worrying matter which a report by the New York Times revealed on July 15 about Iran’s domination over Iraq. The report detailed Iran’s increased influence especially on the strategic level and said that Iran’s major aim is to prevent Iraq from threatening it in the future like what happened when it confronted it during the Iraqi-Iranian war in the 1980’s, adding that Iran is also looking forward to use Iraqi territories to establish a Shiite route from Iran and that passes through Iraq and Syria and all the way to Lebanon.
It also said that the general impression is that Iran succeeded in turning Iraq into a “statelet” that revolves around its orbit at the expense of the US. Nouri al-Maliki who aspired to become prime minister again – perhaps to complete the strife he incited – said in Moscow on Monday that he’s interested in Russian presence in Iraq so it balances with other foreign powers. Of course Maliki was not referring to Iran which is Russia’s ally. Anyway, the report brought up critical points such as the discontent of the Arab state of Iraq from the Persian state of Iran. The report also addressed the Iranian religious system’s weak prospects of solidifying in Iraq although militiamen affiliated with Iran tried to persuade students in universities to embrace the Iranian doctrine.
It also noted that the current Iraqi command strongly desires to achieve a more efficient balance between Washington and Tehran to achieve the sovereign independence of Iraq. We can conclude from the report that America’s concern and participation are vital to contain Iran’s ambitions in Iraq – that is if it’s not too late.
Favoring independence
There are also the Kurds and their stance from the central government in Baghdad as they’re getting ready to hold a referendum to become independent in the end of September. It’s expected for the majority to vote in favor of independence. The divisions of Kurdish policies these days and the voters’ pragmatism may make it difficult to achieve any separation quickly. Moreover, countries neighboring Iraq’s Kurdistan will still have an influential voice in how things develop.
There’s the disputed Kirkuk which is ethnically mixed and which is rich in oil. Kirkuk is also reviewing its political options especially that some communities do not want to be part of the Kurdish region while others seek to separate from the Iraqi state.
Some Sunni-majority governorates are attempting to manage their affairs on their own. Although it’s not clear what will happen in Mosul in the Nineveh governorate, the Anbar governorate which suffered under al-Qaeda and ISIS is not waiting for Baghdad or non-governmental international organizations to reopen schools and reform infrastructure. People there are doing so themselves. It seems that being locally enabled and supervising peace and security were the results of the past years of conflicts and of the government’s weakness in Sunni areas. Sunni leaders have not come up with a formula for political unity.
Therefore, locally enabling people, decentralization, providing services and slowness while establishing trust among Sunni elites are all part of Iraq’s bigger picture. The future partially depends on whether the Sunnis can become a decisive or a destabilizing factor. People in Mosul must not wait for help from Baghdad because it may never come. Perhaps what’s best is to take matters into their own hands and pave way for reconciliation because murder and counter murder will only resume destroying Mosul, and this is something that neighboring countries hope for.