June 07/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth

Jesus cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 07/37-39/:"On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me,
and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, "Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water." ’Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The 3000 persons who accepted Peter's message that day were baptized and Joined the disciples
Acts of the Apostles 02/40-47/:"He testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 06-07/17
François Bainy/What is happening with Qatar can happen any moment with Lebanon/François Bainy/Face Book/June 05/17
Qatar, which Isolated Itself/Salman Al-dossary/ASharq Al Awsat/June 06/17
Saudi Arabia's Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology/A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/June 06/17
Finland: Now We Want a Mega-Mosque/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/June 06/17
Address by Minister Freeland on Canada’s foreign policy priorities/June 06/17
Germany: Surge in Stabbings and Knife Crimes/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/June 06/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 06-07/17
Report: FPM Raises New 'Complexities', Could Abolish Vote Law Hopes
Lebanese Army, Security Agencies Tightening Noose on ISIS in Lebanon
Hariri Tests His Popularity in Northern Lebanon Ahead of Elections
Aoun Meets Senior U.S. General, Hopes for Continued Military Aid
Hariri Says Country to Devise Vote Law 'Entirely Made in Lebanon'
Change and Reform: Proportional Representation 'Restraints' Necessary to Protect Equal Power-Sharing
Mashnouq Confirms IS Plot to Blow Up Dahieh Restaurant Foiled
Mustaqbal Lauds Electoral Law Agreement, Says System Must Respect Coexistence
Aoun Chairs Meeting on Israel Theft of Lebanon Water, Says Country Won't Bow to Pressures
Bassil meets US Central Command Commander over military aids
Kidianian launching Beirut International Awards Festivals (BIAF): Lebanon capable of outshining at all times
Hariri meets U.S., Canadian Ambassadors
Physicians' Order confirms Nader Saab licensed to practice plastic surgery
François Bainy/What is happening with Qatar can happen any moment with Lebanon/
Cosmetic industry in Lebanon: A video and the death of a lady/Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/June 07/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 06-07/17
Police Shoot, Injure Attacker outside Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral
Kuwaiti Emir discusses latest GCC development with King Salman in Saudi
Saudi FM: Qatar must change its policies
Qatar’s Policy of Contradictions Threatens Arab States’ Stability, Unity
Flirting with Doha, Tehran Calls to ‘Reject Tension’
Qatar Airways Licenses Revoked, Offices Shut in Saudi Arabia
Washington Worried about Qatar’s Behaviors, Wants to Redirect it to Right Track
Trump Voices Support for Isolation of Qatar, Says It’s the Beginning of the End of Terrorism
Turkey Offers Mediation to Resolve Qatar Dispute
Egypt’s Al-Azhar: Severing ties with Qatar necessary to protect the Arab world
Conflicting Stances Emerge on Combating ISIS beyond Iraqi Borders
Russian FM: De-escalation Zones are Not Precursor to Dividing Syria
U.S.-Backed Fighters Thrust into IS Bastion Raqa
Looters Target West Mosul
UNICEF: 100,000 Iraqi Children in Extreme Danger in Western Mosul
Palestinian Presidency Accuses Israel of Sabotaging Peace Efforts
Algerian, Egyptian, Tunisian Foreign Ministers Discuss Political Solution for Libyan Crisis
Houthi Rebels Refuse to Cooperate with ‘Biased’ UN Envoy
Two Afghan ISIS Suspects Arrested in Izmir for Plotting Terrorist Attack

Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 06-07/17
Report: FPM Raises New 'Complexities', Could Abolish Vote Law Hopes
Naharnet/June 06/17/The Free Patriotic Movement has raised a series of “last minute” demands that could hinder an agreement on an electoral law after reports that complexities obstructing the agreement were eased, media reports said on Tuesday. “A series of new complexities, some of which are impossible to approve, have been put forward by the FPM at the last minute,” informed sources told al-Akhbar daily on condition of anonymity. “The political blocs, including friends and allies of the FPM, no longer hide a feeling that (FPM chief) Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and President Michel Aoun's demands have intentions that go beyond the parliamentary elections to endeavors to amend the Taef accord in under pressure negotiations,” they added. “This logic has become a threat to the agreement on the election itself, because the new/old complexities require a national debate that does not end in days or months, and perhaps founds for a constituent assembly that restructures the Lebanese regime after the Taef agreement.” Al-Akhbar added that several well-informed sources summarized the “ambitions” of the FPM as follows:
The FPM has first demanded a reduction in the number of parliament seats from 128 to 108, and is currently demanding the distribution of the 20 seats --added after the Taef accord-- to expatriates, the quota of women and those who run outside the confessional regime. The request was highly rejected by Hizbullah and its allies. Another FPM request is permitting a military vote which was highly rejected by several political blocs pressing the need to keep the military institution away from political bickering and alignments. They assured that the army reflects the demographic and sectarian distribution of the Lebanese ... The military institution carries great responsibilities at the level of safeguarding the Lebanese from terror threats and the imminent Israeli danger. Moreover, the sources said that President Aoun wants a political agreement similar to the Baabda Declaration, before the full agreement on an electoral law. The “Aoun Declaration” includes the agreement on a senate, decentralization and a new constitutional amendment that proves equality in the constitution (although it is proven) and amends the articles on the abolition of political sectarianism thus closing the horizon to the possibility of forming a national civil state, in favor of consolidating the distribution of shares on sectarian basis, according to the sources.

Lebanese Army, Security Agencies Tightening Noose on ISIS in Lebanon
Nazeer Rida/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Beirut – The Lebanese authorities are beginning to tighten the noose around extremist groups and those associated with them. The Lebanese army, in cooperation with security agencies, has been pursuing suspected ISIS members active on the internal scene, cracking down on lone wolves and dismantling terror cells. The military has also started to surround the extremists along the border with Syria and they have started to “suffer” after their supply lines were severed. The army intensified its shelling against armed extremists along the border, most notably on the outskirts of Arsal and Ras Baalbek, amid reports that ISIS was seeking to “change its position in the area.”It appeared as if the organization was seeking to break through the siege that has been imposed on it by the army. A prominent security source told Asharq Al-Awsat: “That it has become impossible for these ISIS members to contact their command in Raqqa.”“They have lost their mobility and are now surrounded and subject to constant shelling,” it added. All of their supply lines have been cut, which has prompted them to take “semi-suicidal” actions in the area, it revealed. ISIS had carried out last week attacks against the al-Nusra Front on the outskirts of Arsal. Over 50 militants from both groups were killed as ISIS attempted to seize a refugee camp in Arsal. Around 10,000 civilians live in the camp. The security source explained that this camp is not located in the residential neighborhoods of the town of Arsal. Its inhabitant receive food, aid and supplies, which is why ISIS is attempting to take seize it. ISIS is now surrounded by Lebanon and Syria and it no longer has any food or supply route. It is seeking to use the civilians in the camp as human shields in order to prolong its presence in the area, warned the source. Estimates in 2016 said that there are no more than 1,000 ISIS members present along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Their numbers have been dwindling due to the Lebanese army’s constant shelling and due to fighting with al-Nusra Front. This has not prevented ISIS from carrying out attacks however. On the internal scene, the efforts of the security agencies have resulted in the arrest of numerous suspects linked to ISIS. The detainees do not form terror cells, because the majority of them have been dismantled, said the security source. The terrorist groups have therefore resorted to the lone wolf tactic after the cells have been broken up. The source assured however that the security scene inside the country is stable.

Hariri Tests His Popularity in Northern Lebanon Ahead of Elections
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Beirut – The visit of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to the North of Lebanon surpassed the cadre of inspecting the needs of this unprivileged region and rather takes a political dimension to constitute a real test for the leader’s popularity in the area, considered a popular reservoir for Hariri’s political party, the Future Movement. Hariri’s visits, which kicked off with meetings around the Iftar tables hosted by the Prime Minister, had started in the city of Tripoli and then moved to Akkar, Dinniyeh and ended up in Minieh. Those visits appeared as an attempt to prove that Hariri was still the strongest leader in the Sunni arena, at a time when other political figures try to enter the north of Lebanon and take a bite from Hariri’s popular assets, such as former Justice Minister Asharf Rifi. Hariri spoke at several Iftars held in the North and said he chose Rafic Hariri’s line, the line of moderation, which in no way constitutes a line of weakness. “If moderation had the flavor of weakness, they would not have killed Rafic Hariri,” he said during a speech delivered during an Iftar organized in the “Citadel” hall in Bebnin by the Future Movement coordinating committee in Akkar. Member of the Future Movement politburo Mustafa Alloush told Ahsarq Al-Awsat on Monday: “The number of people who attended the Iftars were more than expected. Those welcomed Prime Minister Hariri’s speeches.”However, Alloush said that it was still too early to say that Hariri’s popular asset returned to what it was years ago. Asked whether Hariri was still the strongest despite the emergence of other Sunni leaders, such as Rifi or former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Alloush said: “We cannot compare the person of Prime Minister Hariri with other politicians because the popular force of Hariri is stretched across the entire Lebanese territories.” Meanwhile, Khaldoun Sherif, a political figure close to Mikati, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hariri is now the prime minister of the entire country and counted that his presence in power would repair what he has lost during the years spent outside the country. “Hariri needs to restore his electoral force in all Lebanon and not only in the north.”On Monday, Hariri met with the families of the Islamist detainees at Al-Khair Mosque in Minieh and listened to their demands to accelerate the determination of the fate of their children. Hariri said: “We all know that there is injustice in Syria against the Syrian people, we reject it and empathize with the oppressed.” However, he said, “Everyone should be careful not to join the extremists under the pretext of supporting the Syrian brothers, or to hide behind religious slogans for irresponsible objectives.”

Aoun Meets Senior U.S. General, Hopes for Continued Military Aid
Naharnet/June 06/17/President Michel Aoun stressed Tuesday that “Lebanon is determined to carry on with its fight against terrorist groups and the pursuit of their sleeper cells,” during talks in Baabda with the head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General Joseph Votel.
“The army is continuing its airstrikes and land operations against the posts of these groups, inflicting heavy casualties on their members,” Aoun added in the meeting, which was also attended by U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard and a U.S. military delegation. “The preemptive military operations that the army is carrying out against the posts of the terrorist groups are being conducted with utmost precision and competency,” the president went on to say. Thanking Votel for “the support that the United States is offering to the Lebanese army,” Aoun hoped the military assistance will continue to “enable the army to play its role in preserving security and stability in the country.”Votel for his part relayed to Aoun the keenness of the U.S. administration on maintaining support for the Lebanese army, the National News Agency said. Votel also held talks on Tuesday with Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun. A U.S. Embassy statement had said that Votel was expected to discuss “key security issues” with Lebanese leaders.“General Votel will reaffirm the U.S. government’s commitment to the Lebanese-American partnership to counter the threat of terrorism and support the Lebanese Armed Forces in their capacity as the sole defender of Lebanon,” the statement added. Votel last visited Lebanon in February during which he held meetings with top Lebanese officials.

Hariri Says Country to Devise Vote Law 'Entirely Made in Lebanon'
Naharnet/June 06/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri hailed the Lebanese officials' efforts to devise a new electoral law, describing it as an unprecedented move since the Taef agreement. “It is the first time since the Taef agreement that we Lebanese sit together to agree on an electoral law and solve our issues by ourselves,” said Hariri during an Iftar for the economic, banking and industrial bodies on Monday at the Grand Serail. “In the past, things were imposed upon us, starting with the budget, to the electoral law and the appointments. But after the assassination of my father, everything changed,” he added. Hariri stressed that meetings are ongoing to achieve a new electoral law, which will be based on proportional representation and 15 electoral constituencies. Separately, Hariri paid tribute to the Lebanese army and its former commander Jean Qahwaji, for “maintaining security,” and to the governor of the Central Bank Riad Salameh for “maintaining financial stability during the past period.”Hariri announced that his focus during the coming phase will be on the economy, adding that the government is working on a vast economic project for the country to satisfy people's needs on the level of infrastructure and provide jobs for the youth.

Change and Reform: Proportional Representation 'Restraints' Necessary to Protect Equal Power-Sharing

Naharnet/June 06/17/The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc stressed Tuesday that the proposed proportional representation electoral law must be accompanied by several “restraints” that would preserve “the equal Christian-Muslim power-sharing that is stipulated by the Constitution.”“Even if proportional representation preserves the presence of majorities and minorities, some things must be taken into consideration in order not to undermine the equal power-sharing that is stipulated by the Constitution,” Change and Reform secretary MP Ibrahim Kanaan said after the bloc's weekly meeting in Rabieh. “Obstruction is coming from those who are not honoring agreements, especially that they have backed down from the issue of enshrining (parliamentary) equal power-sharing in the Constitution and the from the issue of creating a Senate,” Kanaan noted. Adding that the so-called preferred candidate of each voter should be picked according to the current 26 administrative districts so that minorities can “preserve the value of the their votes in the electoral process,” the lawmaker also noted that any candidate should get at least 40% of the votes of their religious community to be eligible to win a seat. “Are we practicing obstruction when we demand that the Lebanese diaspora be granted six seats? We resort to them during every national, social and economic crisis and when time comes for them to express their opinion, we deprive them of voting,” Kanaan lamented.
He also emphasized that the Change and Reform bloc supports holding the elections in October or November.

Mashnouq Confirms IS Plot to Blow Up Dahieh Restaurant Foiled
Naharnet/June 06/17/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq confirmed Tuesday that Lebanon's security agencies have foiled an Islamic State plot to blow up a restaurant in Beirut's southern suburbs during the holy month of Ramadan. Mashnouq made the confirmation during a meeting at the ministry with British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter during which he offered condolences over the victims of the London terrorist attacks. “A successful preemptive operation has thwarted a bombing that terrorists were preparing for Beirut's southern suburbs,” Mashnouq told the ambassador, adding that the operation involved “cooperation between General Security and the Intelligence Branch” of the Internal Security Forces. “This is a proof of the high professionalism of the Lebanese security agencies and the importance of cooperation and coordination among the various security agencies,” Mashnouq added. Al-Akhbar newspaper had reported Tuesday that General Security in coordination with the ISF Intelligence Branch had “dismantled an IS-linked cell that had been plotting to stage a suicide attack on a restaurant at iftar time.”Media reports said the cell comprised two Palestinians and a Yemeni. “One of them was arrested at al-Rabih Project in Tariq al-Jedideh on Thursday night while another suspect was arrested in Sidon,” al-Akhbar said. “A suicide vest that one of the would-be bombers had intended to use was seized” at the al-Rabih Project, the daily added. According to the detainees' confessions, one of them was supposed to blow himself up in the restaurant while the two others were involved in planning. “They were receiving their orders from a Raqa-based IS leader through a Ain el-Hilweh intermediary,” al-Akhbar said.

Mustaqbal Lauds Electoral Law Agreement, Says System Must Respect Coexistence
Naharnet/June 06/17/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday lauded the political efforts that “led to an agreement on the general format of the new electoral law,” while stressing that the final formula should not harm religious coexistence in the country. “The main issue in the process of approving and implementing the new electoral system lies in conforming to the Taef Accord and full respect for the Constitution,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. It emphasized that the new law should be based on “coexistence and unified existence, away from religious and sectarian bigotry.”
The political parties have recently agreed that the new electoral law will be based on proportional representation and 15 electoral districts but a lot of technical details and electoral rules are yet to be agreed on.

Aoun Chairs Meeting on Israel Theft of Lebanon Water, Says Country Won't Bow to Pressures
Naharnet/June 06/17/Michel Aoun chaired a meeting of a committee tasked with addressing solutions to Israel's theft of Lebanon's water resources, the National News Agency reported on Tuesday. The Baabda Palace meeting was held in the presence of Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil, NNA said. "Lebanon cannot give up its rights in its territory and water for any reason and it will not bow to the pressures that are being exerted on it," Aoun stressed during the meeting. "Lebanon will take the necessary measures to put an end to the encroachment on its water, because water security is equally important as military, economic and social security," the president added. Since its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Israel has reportedly been taking more or less water from Lebanon's Litani River. In 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon it was able to grasp control of nearly 30% of the Litani River. During the 1982 occupation of Lebanon the Israelis benefited from the Wazzani and the Litani’s waters, transferring water from them to Israel.Moreover, reports say that in 1989 Israel installed pipes withdrawing from the Hasbanai and Wazzani rivers.

Bassil meets US Central Command Commander over military aids
Tue 06 Jun 2017/NNA - Foreign and Expatriates Minister Gebran Bassil met on Tuesday with the head of US Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General Joseph Votel, on top of a military delegation, and in the presence of US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard.
Talks reportedly touched on the US aids to the Lebanese army.

Kidianian launching Beirut International Awards Festivals (BIAF): Lebanon capable of outshining at all times

Tue 06 Jun 2017/NNA - Tourism Minister, Owadis Kidanian, on Tuesday said that the launch of several festivals in Lebanon indicates that the country is recovering and moving in the right direction, notably in the field of tourism. Minister Kidanian's words came during the launching of the functions of the "Beirut International Festivals" by the Beirut International Awards Festivals (BIAF) at a press conference followed by a Suhour banquet at the Royal Hotel-Dbayeh. The Suhour banquet was attended by Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Representative, Telecom Minister Jamal al-Jarrah, MP Serge Torserkisian, and scores of concerned dignitaries. Minister Kidanian said that the Festival honors the Lebanese creativity and innovation at the artistic and cultural levels, lauding the Lebanese people's capability to pioneer in the various cultural, artistic and touristic walks of life.
"All this proves that Lebanon can overcome all difficulties and outshine at all times," Kidanian said.

Hariri meets U.S., Canadian Ambassadors

Tue 06 Jun 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri met, at the Grand Serail on Thursday, with Canadian Ambassador to Lebanon, Michelle Cameron, over the current general situation and the bilateral relations. Hariri also met with Minister of Finance, Ali Hassan Khalil, and MP Bahiya Hariri, in presence of Head of the Council for Development and Reconstruction, Nabil Jisr. Talks reportedly touched on an array of developments affairs particular to the city of Sidon. The Prime Minister also received Minister of Economy and Trade, Raed Khoury, accompanied by President Michel Aoun's advisor for Arab affairs, Fadi Osseili. In the afternoon, Hariri welcomed a delegation of the Lebanese Businessmen Associations, headed by Fouad Zmokhol. The PM later met with U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander General Joseph Votel, in presence of U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard.

Physicians' Order confirms Nader Saab licensed to practice plastic surgery
Tue 06 Jun 2017/NNA - The Order of Physicians in Beirut confirmed on Tuesday that Dr. Nader Saab was legally licensed to practice plastic surgery and that his Naccache-based hospital was certified to operate as per a Cabinet decree. "Unlike what has been said in the past days, Dr. Saab is registered at the Order with a license to practice general medicine number 4580/2000 and a license to practice plastic surgery number 8552/2004, both issued by the Ministry of Public Health," the Order clarified in a statement. "Dr. Nader Saab Hospital is also certified as per decree number 12798 issued by the Cabinet on 3/7/2004," it added. The statement also explained that the Order had decided to suspend Dr. Saab twice as a temporary measure against his advertising his work.

François Bainy/What is happening with Qatar can happen any moment with Lebanon, ما يحدث في قطر قد يستنسخ في لبنان في أي لحظة فلنتجنب دفن رؤسنا في الرمال
Thank You Qatar, Good Bye Obama, Watch out Lebanon.
By: François Bainy/Face Book/June 05/17
Less than two weeks after the end of the Arab-Islamic Summit in Ryad falls the Giant Sponsor of the Terrorism. Don't underestimate the event because it is only the beginning. Let's have a look at the impact of this incident on the Lebanese scene.
First, Those who considered this summit as a plain exhibition should review their position.
Second: Those who thought that President Trump was interested by the Saudi Money have no idea how complex is the American system when it comes to arm sale to our region.
Third: Those who spread around gossips and whispers that the US policy is the same no matter who is the President are still living in the Obama era and are so blind that it is hard for them to see and perceive that President Trump is a man of deal which means a man of word and principles
Fourth: The main points of the agenda meeting in Ryad were the terrorism, Syria and the Iranian expansion in the Middle-East
Fifth: Qatar sponsored and financed ISIS and Iran at the same time with the knowledge and the instruction of the Obama Administration.
What has Lebanon to do with all that???
First let us compare Lebanon with Qatar
Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries on the planet and Lebanon is sorry to say that) one of the most corrupt countries in the world... Being rich like Qatar does not allow you the right to threat the world order by financing terrorism. Being corrupt like Lebanon does not allow our country to support indefinitely and sponsor the Iranian terrorism at the official level. Even before the start of the Arab-Islamic Summit Lebanon was under watch and vetoing the presence of the Lebanese President Michel Aoun is a clear indication, not only from the Arab league but also from the new US Administration, that Lebanon is officially sponsoring and sheltering Hezbollah Terrorism, That same terrorists that killed 249 marines and Kidnapped and killed American Diplomats and citizens in Beirut. The Minister of Foreign affairs M.Gebrane Bassil declares that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization every time that US Secretary Tellerson delivers a note stating that Hezbollah is an Iranian backed Terrorist Organisation. Saudi Arabia is monitoring closely Prime Minister Saad Hariri and might call him to visit Saudi Arabia soon in order to give explanations about Bassil's declarations if they represent the Lebanese Government's position, and if not he should have to contain him and put every one in his right place. If not... What is happening with Qatar can happen any moment with Lebanon, Let's not hide our head in the sand.

Cosmetic industry in Lebanon: A video and the death of a lady
Diana Moukalled/ArabNews/June 07/17
The death of an Iraqi woman in a private hospital owned by a famous Lebanese cosmetic surgeon has shocked the Lebanese public. She died during a liposuction procedure. It turned out the hospital did not have a recovery room, as required by medical rules, which led to medical complications that could have been avoided had such a room been available.
An investigation has been launched into popular cosmetic surgeries in Lebanon and the whole cosmetic industry, especially since the surgeon appeared with a semi-naked young woman in a video just a few days before, explaining what women seeking to be attractive should do.
The video shocked the Lebanese public because it presented an imperfect understanding of the role of women solely as objects of beauty. This “beauty” appeared in a vulgar and banal way in the leaked video.
The surgeon, who has closed his hospital and is under investigation, is an icon of Lebanon’s cosmetic industry, which attracts people from inside the country and abroad. Lebanon is 24th in the world in terms of cosmetic surgeries per capita, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Despite successes and good reputations in Lebanon, there are many professional violations. Last year, then-Health Minister Wael Abu Faour ordered the closure of some 80 cosmetic centers due to violations of required standards and conditions.
It is true that commodification is an international problem, but in the West it occurs in parallel with laws that empower women. In Lebanon, there are attempts to convince us that modernity is equal to commodification.
Observers of those seeking beauty in Lebanon realize there is social acceptance of a plastic appearance among women. This is not the case in any other society that has given freedom and equality to women. What is happening is akin to commodification, turning women into mere objects. This approach holds a woman’s body hostage to one function: Sexual desire, as if the body has no significance without it.
In Lebanon we were occupied by the leaked video. The unfortunate story made us understand that women suffer from disregard to their bodies and lives. It is unfair to say Lebanon is the only country fond of cosmetic surgery, but there is something particular to our society we need to consider. This surgeon would not have achieved success without the public desire for a perfect body designed to satisfy desires.
It is true that commodification is an international problem, but in the West it occurs in parallel with laws that empower women. In Lebanon, and in the East in general, there are attempts to convince us that modernity is equal to commodification.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 06-07/17
Police Shoot, Injure Attacker outside Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 06/17/French police shot and injured a man who attacked an officer with a hammer outside Paris's Notre Dame cathedral Tuesday, while shouting "this is for Syria."Police sources said the officer sustained only minor neck injuries in the assault, which comes with France on high alert after jihadists killed seven people in London on Saturday. The suspect later claimed to be a "soldier of the caliphate" of the Islamic State group, according to a source close to the investigation. The policeman's colleague opened fire on the man, hitting him in the chest in panicked scenes around the Gothic cathedral that is one of France's most visited tourist attractions. The man lay bleeding on the ground as police sealed off the area and searched for possible accomplices. About an hour after the attack he was taken to hospital and police declared the situation to be under control. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the man had shouted "this is for Syria" as he lunged at the officer. He said the man had also been carrying "kitchen knives" and was found in possession of a card identifying him as an Algerian student. Anti-terrorist prosecutors were put in charge of the investigation. A witness told AFP he heard someone "shout very loudly.""Then there was a crowd surge and people panicked. I heard two shots and saw a man lying on the ground in a pool of blood," he said.
Notre Dame, which is situated on the banks of the Seine river in the heart of Paris, draws 13 million visitors a year. Over 1,000 people were inside the cathedral at the time of the attack. Authorities in Paris asked the public to stay away from the area. Pictures on social media showed people sitting in the pews with their hands in the air -- apparently at the request of police. Andre Finot, the cathedral's head of communications, described the situation as calm. "People are talking to each other, praying and continuing their visit," he said. In September, Notre Dame was already the scene of a scare after a car full of gas canisters was found parked nearby.The car was tracked to an all-female terrorist cell, allegedly acting on the orders of Syria-based Islamic State jihadists.
Renewed state of emergency
Tuesday's incident comes three days after extremists used a van and knives to crush to death and kill seven people enjoying a night out in London. One of the victims was French. France is still under the state of emergency imposed after the November 2015 attacks in Paris, when Islamic State jihadists killed 130 people in a night of carnage at venues across the city. President Emmanuel Macron's new centrist government recently announced plans to extend the emergency measures in November, drawing some criticism from rights groups. The authorities have pointed to a string of attacks since January 2015 that have claimed the lives of over 230 people as justification for boosting the powers of the police. While France has been Islamic State's main target in western Europe, the focus in recent weeks has shifted to Britain. Two weeks before the London attack, a suicide bomber killed 22 people including seven children at a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in the northwestern English city of Manchester. The last fatal attack in France dates to April 20, when a policeman was shot dead on Paris's prestigious Champs-Elysees avenue, three days before the first round of the presidential election. Previous major attacks targeted the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in January 2015 and in November that year, gunmen and suicide bombers attacked venues around Paris including the Bataclan concert hall, killing 130 people. Then in July last year, a radicalized Tunisian man drove a lorry at high speed through a Bastille Day fireworks display on the Nice waterfront, massacring 86 people. Since then there have been a series of smaller attacks, often targeting security forces.

Kuwaiti Emir discusses latest GCC development with King Salman in Saudi
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishTuesday, 6 June 2017/Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, has arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Tuesday as Kuwait-led mediation efforts are taking shape in the crisis of severing ties with Qatar. Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa is set to travelt o Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to join his Kuwaiti counterpart in meetings with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Qatar's foreign minister said on Tuesday Doha was ready for mediation efforts after the Arab world's biggest powers severed ties with it, adding that Qatar's ruler had delayed a speech in order to give Kuwait a chance to ease regional tensions. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in a coordinated move on Monday. Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives joined later and transport links were shut down. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani spoke by telephone overnight with his counterpart in Kuwait, which has maintained diplomatic ties with Qatar, and decided to postpone a speech to the Qatari people as requested. Qatar wants to give Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah the ability to "proceed and communicate with the parties to the crisis and to try to contain the issue," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in comments to Qatar-based Al Jazeera television. Kuwait had an important role in a previous Gulf rift in 2014 and Qatar's Sheikh Tamim "regards him as a parent and respects his desire to postpone any speech or step until there is a clearer picture of the crisis," Al Jazeera quoted the foreign minister as saying.

Saudi FM: Qatar must change its policies
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishTuesday, 6 June 2017/Qatar must “change their policies” and stop supporting “extremist groups”, the Saudi foreign minister said Tuesday in Paris, a day after his nation and its allies cut off ties with the Gulf state. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said that harming Qatar was not Riyadh’s goal, but that it had to make a necessary choice. “Qatar has to stop its support of groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Jubeir said in statements on Tuesday. “We decided to make it clear that enough is enough,” Jubeir added. “We want Qatar to be an ally in finding peace and stability in the region.” His statements come as Kuwait has begun mediation efforts in Saudi Arabia to ease tensions between Qatar and several of its Gulf neighbors.

Qatar’s Policy of Contradictions Threatens Arab States’ Stability, Unity

Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Jeddah – Qatari Emir’s inflammatory statements, which were blamed by the Qatari media on an alleged “cyber hacking”, were only a mere indication of the long crisis between the Arab peninsula and its neighbors, due to its controversial policies that have threatened the region’s stability and unity.
Qatar has sought to instigate crises all over the region, beginning with the coup perpetrated by the former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, against his father in 1995.
Doha failed to absorb the lessons, even after the wave of anger against it, which has led Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to withdraw their ambassadors from the country in March 2014. Qatar was acting outside a unified Arab consensus and its reactions have caused security confusion in the stable Gulf States.
While the “Muslim Brotherhood” – one of the extremist movements in the Gulf – was its main collaborator and partner, the Arab peninsula has responded to all accusations by adopting controversial policies within the Arab and Islamic region.
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has been very patient with Qatar, even during the crisis of March 2014. The Kingdom was keen on preserving the GCC unity and respecting the values of good neighborliness. However, Qatar’s movements, especially within states bordering Saudi Arabia, have made the country lose its credibility within the GCC.
Riyadh had previously presented a file that contains clear evidence on financial support provided by a Qatari emir to extremist groups in the Kingdom, with the knowledge of the Qatari leadership. Saudi Arabia has in fact many proofs of Doha’s policies against it.
The collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood has paved the way for the emergence of quasi anti-Saudi movements, which have encouraged Qatar to penetrate into the Saudi entity, aiming to gain popular support.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Qatari Scholar Youssuf Al-Qaradawi has led a staunch attack against Gulf States, in particular the UAE, following the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in different parts of the region.
While the Qatari foreign ministry said that Qaradawi’s remarks were only his personal views and did not reflect the country’s official stance towards the Emirates, Doha was known to support outlaw groups and conspirators, who sought to topple the Emirati regime, through the Brotherhood. In fact, the latter was accused of rallying members within the UAE to hamper stability in the ambitious and prosperous Gulf state.
The Kingdom of Bahrain was the third country to pull its ambassador out of Doha. Qatari-owned Al Jazeera channel has long sought to inflame feuds that have resulted from developments over the past years.
Doha succeeded in fueling a silenced dispute when Al Jazeera English Channel aired a documentary on events and protests in Bahrain in February 2011.
The documentary showed that the protests were only aimed at achieving service needs and easing confessional tensions between the Sunni and Shi’ite communities.
Egypt, on many occasions, stood up against Qatar, especially following the success of the June 30 revolution, which has toppled the Muslim Brotherhood regime in the African state. Qatari media channels launched a harsh religious and political campaign against Cairo, accusing it of perpetrating an internal coup, as the Brotherhood was Doha’s right arm to spread its influence over Egypt.
Not only Qatar adopted a policy of enmity towards the Arab state, but also provided a safe haven to the leaders of the Brotherhood, who were accused by Egyptian courts of perpetrating terrorist acts that targeted Egypt’s safety and security.
One of the main vices perpetrated by Qatar in Syria is the division of the moderate Syrian opposition since 2012 and its support to al-Nusra Front, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda terrorist group. Qatar’s continuous sponsorship of the Brotherhood has made it end in backing extremists and terrorist-designated movements.
Qatar offered support to members of al-Qaeda terrorist group, in particular Abdul Hakim Belhaj to spread control over Libya. According to Libyan Army Commander General Khalifa Haftar, Doha has financed mercenaries and extremist groups. He noted that some of those people have received payments from Qatar, as well as from other states and from terrorist militias inside Libya.
Al Jazeera Channel
When Hamad came to power, he instated Al-Jazeera channel as a means to change the Arab media landscape. However, the channel soon began to influence Qatar’s interests and relations with its Arab neighbors. Instigating crises was something new to Gulf countries, and Saudi Arabia occupied a wide space in every political program.
Through the channel, Doha has shown failure to commit to GCC values, by broadcasting views and opinions that contradict unified stances, especially when it came to defense and security matters.
Iran and its wings
The Qatari emir conducted several visits to Iran, mainly during the Arab uprisings in 2011, when Sheikh Hamad traveled to Tehran and met with then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to discuss shared interests in the wake of regional developments.
Both Tamim and his father believe that Iran represents a strong religious and regional power. They have reiterated on several occasions that Doha was an ally to Tehran and was seeking to consolidate bilateral ties with the Persian state.
In October 2015, the two countries forged a military and security agreement under the slogan of fighting terrorism.
Doha has also offered to cooperate with Hezbollah – which some Gulf countries have designated as a terrorist organization.
In 2010, Saudi Arabia was seeking to crystallize reconciliation between Lebanon and Syria, when Qatar intervened and further complicated the crisis by presenting Hezbollah as a pressure card in the negotiations. Bashar al-Assad was tempted by Qatar’s economic deals at the expense of finding a sustainable solution to the crisis.
After Hamas gained control over Gaza Strip in 2007, Qatar began to promote its influential role in the area under the pretext of healing the humanitarian crisis there.
Doha poured money on Hamas Movement, which is known to support the Muslim Brotherhood, despite anger by Fatah Movement, who was aware that the money would be used to buy arms. This has also severed divisions among Palestinians.
9/11 Attacks
Qatar has long supported terrorism and sponsored its members. In the late 1990s, the United States received information about a senior Qatari official who provided refuge to a terrorist accused of plotting airplane attacks against the US.
When the FBI issued the report ahead of the September 11 attacks, it said that the official, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, had managed to escape from Qatar. He was the mastermind of the New York terrorist attacks.

Flirting with Doha, Tehran Calls to ‘Reject Tension’
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/London – Following Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced severing ties with Qatar, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, called on Gulf states to “renounce tension through dialogue.”Other Tehran officials tried to build bridges with Doha by attacking countries that joined the boycott. Former diplomats have warned their government of the consequences of “investing the Qatar’s card in Gulf tensions.”“The era of cutting diplomatic ties and closing borders … is not a way to resolve crisis,” Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, tweeted on Monday. Aboutalebi reiterated his country’s disdain and criticism of the Arab-Islamic-US summit held in Riyadh in May, unleashing a wave of harsh criticism towards each of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday urged Qatar and neighboring Gulf Arab countries that have severed diplomatic ties with it to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute. “Neighbors are permanent- geography can’t be changed. Coercion is never the solution. Dialogue is imperative,” Zarif tweeted. According to AFP, foreign ministry spokesman Ghasemi said in a statement that a solution to the differences between Qatar and its three Gulf neighbors “is only possible through political and peaceful methods and dialogue between the parties”. “Using sanctions in today’s integrated world is inefficient, to be condemned and unacceptable,” Ghasemi added of Qatar’s neighbors closing all land, sea and air links with it. Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, head of the office of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, attacked Saudi policy, saying severing relations with Qatar was an “Arab earthquake.” He called on Iran to abstain from interfering and that rationale prevails with what concerns Iranian involvement in intra-Gulf affairs. “Turkey, Iran and Iraq should hold a tripartite meeting to call on the OIC Council to resolve the issue of Qatar,” Mohsen Rezaee, the Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council said. He also attacked gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, over their opposition of Qatar and Iranian foreign policy. On the other hand, the former director of the Middle East Affairs in the Iranian Foreign Minister called for “carefully handling” the Arab-Arab relations issue, saying that the differences are “old.”Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood in countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen and Syria has caused tension, he said. Qatari refusal to stop this support forced the tension to go public.

Qatar Airways Licenses Revoked, Offices Shut in Saudi Arabia
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation revoked on Tuesday all operating licenses granted to Qatar Airways as part of the Kingdom’s severing of diplomatic ties with its neighbor. It also announced that all of its offices in Saudi Arabia will be closed within 48 hours, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). “We urge all passengers who purchased tickets to or from Qatar to check the airline website or contact their travel agent online for a refund,” said the General Authority of Civil Aviation in a statement. Saudi Arabia has also closed its border with Qatar, effectively blocking food imports and a segment of the country’s exports after Riyadh accused Doha of supporting extremism and terrorism. Qatari share prices closed down 7.58 percent on Monday after five Arab countries — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen — announced they were cutting diplomatic ties with the emirate. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced the suspension of all flights to and from Qatar as of Tuesday morning. The Gulf states have also ordered Qataris to leave within 14 days and banned their own citizens from traveling to Qatar. On Monday, Qatar Airways suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain until further notice. In a statement issued on its website, the carrier said the suspension of its flights will go into effect Tuesday. It is offering customers affected by the decision a refund on unused tickets. The decision comes after major Gulf carriers, including the Middle East’s largest carrier in Dubai, Emirates Airways, suspended flights to Qatar. The route between Doha, Qatar and Dubai is popular among business travelers and both are major transit hubs for travelers between Asia and Europe.

Washington Worried about Qatar’s Behaviors, Wants to Redirect it to Right Track
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/London, Washington – The White House said on Monday that US President Donald Trump is committed to working to deescalate tensions in Gulf after some countries broke ties with Qatar. The United States does not want to see a “permanent rift” among Gulf countries, a senior US administration official said, Reuters reported. The official, however, added: “There’s an acknowledgment that a lot of Qatari behavior is quite worrisome not just to our Gulf neighbors but to the US.”“We want to bring them in the right direction.”For his part, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Gulf states to stay united and work out their differences. “We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” he said while in Sydney. “If there’s any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the GCC Remain united.” Tillerson said despite the impasse, he did not expect it to have “any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally,” which was supported by US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. Mattis, speaking alongside Tillerson in Australia, also said he doesn’t believe the rift will affect the ISIS fight. “I am positive there will be no implications coming out of this dramatic situation at all, and I say that based on the commitment that each of these nations that you just referred to have made to this fight,” Mattis said. Mattis also criticized Iran because of its efforts to destabilize the region, noting the Iranian support for the Head of Syrian regime and its role in the war in Yemen. For his part, Spokesman at US Air Forces Central Command Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart told Reuters: “We’ve seen no impact to our operations and all flights continue as planned.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a phone conservation with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani on Monday, called for a resolution to differences between Qatar and other Arab countries through talks, the ministry said. It also said “a serous concern has been expressed by the appearance of a new hotbed of tension within the Arab world”.

Trump Voices Support for Isolation of Qatar, Says It’s the Beginning of the End of Terrorism
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/President Donald Trump of the United States considered isolating Qatar as the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism, pointing out that all reference was pointing to Qatar in financing radical ideology. Through his account in Twitter, the US President said: “The Gulf states would take a hard stance on funding extremism. All reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps, this will be the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism.”“So good to see the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia visit with the Saudi King and 50 leaders of the countries already paying off,” he added. “They would take a hard stance on funding terrorism; all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps, this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism,” Trump said.Saudi Arabia and several Arab allies, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, cut diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar on Monday for the country’s role in supporting activities which undermine the security of the region. The Gulf states and Egypt banned all flights to and from Qatar and ordered Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days.

Turkey Offers Mediation to Resolve Qatar Dispute
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Ankara – Turkey said on Monday that it was “saddened” by the Arab and Islamic countries’ decision to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar, saying it was ready to mediate with them to “reach a solution to the crisis.”The Turkish Foreign Ministry hoped in a statement that members of the Gulf Cooperation Council would be able to reach a solution to the crisis through dialogue and bridging the divide over differences. It called on all sides “not to forget the challenges the region is experiencing, starting with combating terrorism, which requires everyone to work together.” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a new conference after meeting his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel on Monday: “We see the stability in the Gulf region as our own unity and solidarity.”“Countries may of course have some issues, but dialogue must continue under every circumstance for problems to be resolved peacefully. We are saddened by the current picture and will give any support for its normalization,” he added. Cavusoglu later discussed the developments with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif during a telephone call. He revealed that they shared the same position on the need to resolve the dispute with Qatar through dialogue, said diplomatic sources.The dispute was also tackled at a Turkish cabinet session chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar: Severing ties with Qatar necessary to protect the Arab world
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishTuesday, 6 June 2017/Egypt’s Al-Azhar praised the position taken by several Arab leaders to suspend ties with the Qatari government to ensure the unity and stability of the Arab nations, it said in a statement on Tuesday. Al-Azhar said that it is closely following regional developments during the past several days and reiterates its support for the joint Arab position in its decision to cut ties with Qatar who have supported and harbored extremist groups and who have intervened openly in the internal affairs of neighboring countries. The Egyptian institution also expressed hopes that efforts from Arab nations will redouble to stop attempts “exerted by the oppressive regimes, which constitutes a threat to the security and stability of the Arab region, hoping they will wake up from their negligence and return to their senses”. As a response to Qatar’s continued aggressive policies in the region, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain all severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in a coordinated move on Monday. Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives joined later and transport links were shut down.

Conflicting Stances Emerge on Combating ISIS beyond Iraqi Borders
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Baghdad – As the battle for the city of Mosul draws to its end with the expulsion of ISIS, conflicting views have started to emerge on whether the militants should be pursued beyond Iraq’s borders, specifically inside Syria. Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, Sunni political forces and Moqtada al-Sadr’s movement oppose chasing ISIS outside of Iraq. The premier has repeatedly expressed this stance even though he announced last week a plan, devised with the People’s Mobilization Forces (PMF), to protect the Iraqi-Syrian border. This plan seeks to isolate the ISIS militants in Iraq from their colleagues in Syria. Abadi later told a gathering of Sunni and Shi’ite clerics: “We do not want our forces and sons to take part in fighting beyond the borders. We do not want to destabilize the security of countries as our constitution prohibits this.”The prime minister’s position stands in contrast to that of the PMF commanders. Deputy head of the PMF Abou Mehdi al-Mohandis said over the weekend: “We will pursue terrorism, even if it was outside of Iraq, if it threatens Iraqi territories and national security.”Some observers have spoken of the difficulty that Abadi may face in reining in fighters who want to keep on combating the terrorists even after they are eliminated from Iraq. Security analyst Hisham al-Hashemi said that the PM has no choice but to deal with such individuals from a legal angle. He can bar the air force from backing them and warn them that they may be targeted by US strikes. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There is a segment within the PMF that is allied with Iran and that wants to chase ISIS in Syria. It is seeking to create a passage from Baghdad to al-Tanf and leading to Damascus in order to provide the Syrian regime with supplies.” He confirmed that some members of the PMF have already headed to Syria but without the government’s knowledge. They instead earn their salaries from Iran. Another PMF leader, Laith al-Athari believed that all members of the forces, even if they want to fight ISIS abroad, should adhere to the orders of the commander of the armed forces. He stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that any PMF involvement in the battle against ISIS in Syria should be coordinated with the Iraqi government and Damascus regime. “Terrorism will be a threat as long as it remains on our border. We will head to Syria if we are asked. We have a common enemy and goal to destroy it, but liberating our land is a priority,” he stated.

Russian FM: De-escalation Zones are Not Precursor to Dividing Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Moscow – The establishment of de-escalation zones in Syria is not a precursor to the partition of the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday, adding that these areas will lead to a full ceasefire throughout Syria. He denied all claims that initiators of de-escalation zones will bring about Syria’s division noting that these “provocative statements” are similar to those used in relation to the situation in Aleppo. Speaking on the sidelines of an economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his concerns over dividing Syria. Lavrov pointed out that Putin has repeatedly stressed that the de-escalation zones are not aimed at creating preconditions for Syria’s breakup. “Seeing as it is extremely difficult to impose a ceasefire in the entire country in one session, a decision was made to begin with these zones,” he told a press conference. The work on a final agreement related to details of monitoring the ceasefire and of implementing crossing points to and from the safe zones was underway, he stressed. “These zones have been agreed on and now efforts are underway to hammer out specific details linked to ensuring the monitoring of ceasefire commitments and on setting up checkpoints for civilians and humanitarian assistance, he said. In an article published on Monday, Asharq Al-Awsat said that the Astana statement included the formation of a committee of members of the guarantor countries to discuss all details concerning the de-escalation zones. It should have been completed by June 4. Based on Lavrov’s statement, it seems the committee has not accomplished that yet, and many sources indicated that the experts are facing setbacks, especially concerning the choice of countries that will send troops to monitor the operations. Russia announced that Astana 5 will be held on June 12 and 13. Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov told reporters on Monday that the agenda of the meetings is still unclear, adding that the participants will most likely focus on discussing the details and implementation of the memo of de-escalation zones. “Now the countries-guarantors – the Russian Federation, the Turkish Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran – are holding active and intense consultations between each other to finally set the dates of the next round of the Astana process meeting on the Syrian settlement,” Abdrakhmanov said.

U.S.-Backed Fighters Thrust into IS Bastion Raqa
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 06/17U.S.-backed fighters broke into the city of Raqa on Tuesday as they launched a final assault to drive the Islamic State group from its de facto Syrian capital. The attack on the northern city at the heart of IS' Syrian territory has been seven months in the making and is backed by air support, military advisers and weapons deliveries from the U.S.-led coalition. Seized by the jihadists in early 2014, Raqa became notorious as a hub for IS' operations in Syria, Iraq and beyond. The city has been the scene of some of the group's worst atrocities, including gruesome executions, public displays of bodies and the trafficking of women. It was one of the twin pivots of IS' so-called "caliphate," with Mosul in neighboring Iraq -- where U.S.-backed forces are also bearing down on the jihadists.  After months sealing off access routes to the city from the east, north and west, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Tuesday entered the city limits for the first time. "Our forces entered the city of Raqa from the eastern district of al-Meshleb," SDF commander Rojda Felat told AFP, adding that clashes were also raging on the city's northern outskirts. "They are fighting street battles inside Raqa now, and we have experience in urban warfare," she said.
'Decisive blow
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes in al-Meshleb had forced IS members to withdraw from more than half of the district. The SDF was also trying to push into Raqa's northwestern district of al-Andalus, the monitor said, as fighting continued to the north, east and west of the city. The advance in al-Meshleb was backed by heavy air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition, the Observatory said. The coalition began its air campaign against IS in Iraq in August 2014, expanding its operations to Syria the following month. The coalition appears keen to expel IS from its last major urban bastions before the "caliphate" turns three years old later this month. Defeating IS in Raqa would "deliver a decisive blow to the idea of ISIS as a physical caliphate," coalition commander Lieutenant General Steve Townsend said. Warning the fight would be "long and difficult," Townsend framed the offensive as part of a greater struggle against IS, which has claimed attacks in many countries including last month's deadly bombing in Manchester. "We all saw the heinous attack in Manchester," he said. "ISIS threatens all our nations, not just Iraq and Syria, but in our homelands as well."The SDF launched its operation to take Raqa -- dubbed "Wrath of the Euphrates" -- in November. It then scored a series of victories in the wider province, including capturing the strategic town of Tabqa and its adjacent dam in May. On Tuesday, SDF spokesman Talal Sello made the long-awaited announcement that the battle for Raqa itself had begun. "We declare today the start of the great battle to liberate the city of Raqa, the so-called capital of terrorism and terrorists," Sello told reporters in the village of Hazima, north of the city. "With the international coalition's warplanes and the state-of-the-art weapons they provided to us, we will seize Raqa from Daesh," Sello told AFP, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
Concerns for civilians
Sello urged civilians inside the city to keep away from IS positions and from the front lines. The United Nations said it was concerned for the safety of more than 400,000 men, women and children in Raqa province who may be caught up in the violence. As the SDF has drawn closer to the city, reports of civilian casualties in coalition air strikes have swelled. On Monday, the Observatory said a coalition bombing raid killed 21 civilians as they tried to escape Raqa by dinghy on the Euphrates River. The same route leading out of the city's southern districts has been used by IS fighters, it said.An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under IS rule in Raqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of Syria.Thousands have fled in recent months to other parts of the province or to makeshift camps in territory newly captured by the SDF. On Tuesday, the International Rescue Committee said it was "deeply concerned for the safety of civilians in Raqa" after a drop in numbers fleeing the city in the past week. This "may indicate ISIS intends to use the 200,000 people still trapped in the city as human shields," the aid group said, using another acronym for IS. It also urged the "utmost care" to prevent civilian casualties after "a worrying number of civilians killed from coalition airstrikes across Raqa in recent months."There are also risks for civilians who try to escape the last cities under jihadist rule. On Tuesday, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein accused IS of murdering 163 people to prevent them from fleeing Mosul last week. More than 320,000 people have been killed since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011 with anti-government protests.

Looters Target West Mosul
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Mosul – Men, women and children walk down a main road in west Mosul with arms full and carts loaded, but they are not among the people fleeing fighting in the city. The operation to retake Mosul from ISIS has pushed hundreds of thousands of residents to flee their homes – leaving behind belongings they could not carry and that are vulnerable to theft. “It was ISIS’s! Shouldn’t we take revenge on them?” one of two young men – each carrying a ceiling fan on one shoulder and a bundle on the other – said, after being stopped by soldiers. “My house has been looted, we have nothing!” “You want revenge? If you’re brave, take a gun, the front is right there,” a soldier replied, pointing in the direction of the sound of gunfire and explosions. “You stole it from the houses of other people,” the soldier said, ordering them to “return it the place where you took it.” “It was ISIS’s, I swear to God! People took chairs, tables. We just took clothes – we don’t have clothes anymore,” the young man said. “Are you not ashamed? Are you not Muslims? Go! Bring it back to where you took it,” the soldier said. There was no violence between people in the al-Rifai area, which was recaptured by Iraqi forces a few days earlier. They simply came and went peacefully with some arriving with empty hands and leaving with full bags or carts loaded with a refrigerator or sofa. “All these people are not from here,” a man with a bicycle indignantly told a policeman. With fighting raging a few hundred meters away, security forces controlled the comings and goings as best they can. But, according to AFP, it was difficult to systematically check if people owned what they were carrying. In some cases, people had items that were obviously not high on the list of essentials for someone fleeing a war: the young men with the fans, a teenager with a couch protruding from his wagon, a boy pushing a table with wheels.Some were turned back by security forces, but others slipped through. Most justified their actions by saying they were taking items that belonged to members of ISIS, which itself confiscated property including homes and vehicles during its nearly three-year rule of Mosul. “It’s a lie. ISIS can’t access buildings,” said Abbas Ali, a policeman. “They come from other neighborhoods to steal from the houses.” Others honestly said their houses have been looted and that they came to find items to refurnish them. “They say they have nothing but it doesn’t justify stealing the belongings of others. These are the houses of people who fled,” Ali said. “They are stopped and told to bring the belongings back where they found them. What more can we do?”A boy passed by dragging a plastic container stuffed with a curtain that, when lifted up by police, revealed hidden metal cables. Ali confronted the boy: “Are these not electrical cables? When the people come back, will they not want electricity?” “I found them already cut, by God,” the boy said, intimidated. “Return them to their place,” the policeman ordered. “It’s your city that you’re looting!”

UNICEF: 100,000 Iraqi Children in Extreme Danger in Western Mosul
Erbil – Civilians living under siege in the remaining ISIS-held neighborhoods of Iraq’s Mosul are under extreme danger, warned the United Nations children’s agency on Monday. About 100,000 children are trapped in extremely dangerous conditions, warned the UN Children Fund as fierce battles between Iraqi forces and ISIS militants raged on in an attempt to liberate the eastern city. Children were being used as human shields by the insurgents or were caught in the crossfire of the battle, UNICEF said in a statement. Some had been forced to take part in the fighting. Hospitals and clinics had come under attack, it said. “We are receiving alarming reports of civilians including several children being killed in west Mosul,” UNICEF said. “Some were reportedly killed as they desperately tried to flee the fighting which is intensifying by the hour,”A Reuters TV crew on Saturday saw the bodies of dozens of civilians, including children, lying in a frontline street, apparently killed while fleeing the enclave. Iraqi government forces retook eastern Mosul in January and began a new push on May 27 to capture the remaining ISIS-held enclave in the city’s western side. The Mosul offensive started in October with air and ground support from a US-led international coalition. It has taken much longer than expected as the militants are dug in the middle of civilians. About 700,000 people, about a third of the pre-war population of Mosul, have already fled, seeking refuge either with friends and relatives or in camps. “Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure including hospitals, clinics, schools, homes and water systems should stop immediately,” UNICEF said. Human rights committee official in Nineveh Ghazwan Hamed said that upon their arrival in refugee camps, children are enrolled in psychological programs that are run by the government and international organizations. “The country is passing through extraordinary circumstances. Given the situation, the government cannot offer everything, especially since the area the children are now living in are military zones,” he explained.

Palestinian Presidency Accuses Israel of Sabotaging Peace Efforts
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/The Palestinian presidency accused on Tuesday Israel of sabotaging US efforts aimed at resuming the peace process. Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaina rejected in a statement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent remarks that Israel will maintain is security control even after a peace deal is reached. “Israel is working on complicating matters,” he added. These statements do not help efforts aimed at finding a solution that will achieve security and stability in the region and the world, he continued. Netanyahu’s statements are a message to the US administration and entire international community that Israel is not prepared to achieve peace based on the principles of justice and international law, stressed Abu Rudaina. Furthermore, he declared that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ meeting with US President Donald Trump last month were “serious and clear and they paved the way for creating a rare chance to achieve peace.”Israel is attempting to waste this chance through making such statements that reject the bases of the political process, he noted. He warned that obstructing Arab and international efforts, especially American ones, to launch a serious peace process “will inflame the conflict in the region and lead it towards more fragmentation in light of the regional and international division.” Netanyahu had announced during Israeli celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war: “Whether we reach a political settlement or not, we will continue to impose our security control over the land west of the Jordan River.”He also demanded that Palestinians recognize that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, saying that this is central demand in reaching peace.

Algerian, Egyptian, Tunisian Foreign Ministers Discuss Political Solution for Libyan Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Algeria – The foreign ministers of Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt have held a tripartite meeting on Monday in Algeria, to discuss the situation in Libya and find a political solution for the crisis in order to tackle later security issues, especially combating ISIS.
The meeting, which will end today, will be followed by a communique that presents the results of the three neighboring countries’ efforts to resolve the Libyan crisis. According to Spokesperson for Algeria’s foreign Ministry Abdelaziz Benali Cherif, the tripartite ministerial meeting of Abdelkader Messahel, Khemaies Jhinaoui and Sameh Shoukry is “part of continuous consultations between Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt over the crisis hitting Libya since 2011, as foreign ministers of these three nations are due to assess the political and security developments there.” “The meeting aims to reinforce the political process in Libya……on the path towards sustainable peace and national reconciliation,” the spokesperson said. “It will also be an opportunity to examine all the factors that can contribute to promote a coordinated approach to accompany the Libyan people in their quest for a political solution to the crisis facing that brother and neighbor.” The tripartite meeting follows those held in Algeria on May 8 and in Tunisia on February 19-20. Confronting the threats of terrorism in Libya has overshadowed discussions between the three ministers, a diplomatic source told Asharq Al-Awsat. The source said that Shoukry defended the Egyptian military action in eastern Libya and justified the protection of Egyptian national security from the threats imposed by terrorists. The Tunisian Foreign Ministry said that the meeting in Algeria lies in the framework of following up the implementation of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi’s initiative for the comprehensive political settlement in Libya, during which the efforts of the three countries will be reviewed to bring together the Libyan parties, the regional and international efforts to launch an inter-Libyan dialogue on the basis of the political agreement and the Tunis Ministerial Declaration signed on February 20, 2017.

Houthi Rebels Refuse to Cooperate with ‘Biased’ UN Envoy
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Houthi rebels in the Yemeni capital Sanaa have demanded the replacement of UN envoy, Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmad, saying that he was no longer welcome in the areas it controls in the city. The head of the rebel-installed Supreme Political Council, Saleh al-Samad, accused the envoy of bias and said he would no longer be allowed entry to rebel-held areas. “We say unanimously that the envoy is no longer welcome here,” Samad said in a televised speech late Monday. “There will be no more contact with Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmad and he is not welcome here.” The UN envoy has conducted months of shuttle diplomacy with the Saudi-backed government. Samad said the decision was taken jointly by the Houthi rebels and their allies in former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s camp. The Houthis later issued a statement supporting Samad’s position. The announcement comes after an abortive visit by the envoy to Sanaa last month in which he was mobbed by protesters and failed to secure any meetings with rebel representatives. He had been trying to broker a ceasefire for the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan which began on May 27.Last Tuesday, Sheikh Ahmad told the UN Security Council that serious negotiations on the first steps to a cessation of hostilities in Yemen had been slow and the key parties were reluctant to even discuss the concessions needed for peace. “I will not hide from this council that we are not close to a comprehensive agreement,” he said, adding that Houthi officials refused to meet with him. Sheikh Ahmad also expressed deep concern over the attack against his convoy. He urged an investigation of the attack and said “despite its gravity, it has increased my determination to continue with my efforts to find a negotiated political settlement that best serves the interests of the Yemeni people.”The Security Council reiterated its backing for the UN envoy after the briefing.

Two Afghan ISIS Suspects Arrested in Izmir for Plotting Terrorist Attack
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 06/17/Ankara – A court in the western Turkish city of Izmir on Monday sentenced two Afghans for being pro-ISIS and for carrying out reconnaissance in favor of the terrorist organization, preparing for a terrorist attack. Security sources said the anti-terrorist and intelligence forces of the Izmir Security Directorate arrested the two Afghan militants at the main bus station in the city after suspicion and seized from them documents related to ISIS. Sources pointed out that investigations have revealed that the detainees belong to the terrorist organization and have links to the areas of clashes in Syria and Iraq and that they came to Izmir to carry out reconnaissance in preparation for the implementation of a terrorist attack in the city. Following the investigation, the two suspects were transferred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which in turn referred them to the court that sentenced them to jail.
Turkish security forces continue its intensified campaigns throughout the country, targeting terrorist organizations, mainly ISIS, in which 4,000 ISIS suspects and militants have been arrested since the beginning of 2017. Due to these operations, ISIS has failed to commit any terrorist attack in Turkey following the attack that was carried out by the Uzbek ISIS militant, Abdulkadir Masharipov, who operated under the cover name Abu Mohammed Horasani, on Reina nightclub, killing 39 people and injuring 69 others of different nationalities. Izmir has witnessed a series of security campaigns that resulted in the arrest of about 100 ISIS sleeper cells, most of them from Uzbekistan and Central Asian countries, in connection with Masharipov, who was arrested on January 16 in Istanbul. In this context, the Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that a total of 48 outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists have been neutralized in 548 operations across Turkey over the past week; a number of ISIS militants were also detained in the same period.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 06-07/17
Qatar, which Isolated Itself
Salman Al-dossary/ASharq Al Awsat/June 06/17
No country in the world was as patient with Qatar’s political transgressions as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and UAE have been for the past two decades.
For 21 years, Qatar disregarded all concepts of Gulf unity and neighborly behavior. Twenty-one years and the repercussions of Qatar’s policies are worsening year after year.
The Gulf’s 21 years of patience was understood by Qatar as weakness, not wisdom of not wanting to lose a brotherly country.
The three countries repeatedly exerted political and diplomatic efforts without any true response from the other party.
In 2014, the Emir of Qatar pledged and agreed to the Riyadh agreement to end his country’s harmful policies. Yet, and as usual, it didn’t commit to any of its pledges and ambassadors were withdrawn during that time.
Interference in internal affairs and creating chaos and instability became intolerable. Six countries therefore decided to cut all diplomatic relations with Qatar in an attempt to end Doha’s disastrous methods and unprecedented isolation.
The surprise did not lie in severing diplomatic relations, seen as a harsh and unavoidable solution, but in Gulf countries’ tolerance of the damage of Qatar’s foreign policy for two decades.
Qatar had exploited Saudi Arabia’s will not to lose the younger brother.
The small gulf country manipulated and fooled everyone until it cut all political and brotherhood ties.
In the statement following the decision to cut ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken this decisive decision as a result of grave violations committed by the authorities in Doha over the years, in secret and in public. These violations were aimed at dividing Saudi ranks, creating incitement against the state and infringing on its sovereignty, as well as harboring terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region.”
How terrible what Qatar has done! How patient Saudi Arabia has been!
Had Iran done that, no one would have justified this aggression, yet it was Qatar who did that.
Even though it easily can, Saudi Arabia never intervened in the internal affairs of Qatar. So, how can Doha defy logic and do that?
The question is whether Qatar will be able to return to the Gulf fold or not.
This time, Qatar only has one way to go, while all other roads are blocked. The real and honest return hinges not only on a change in policies, which is possible but temporary, but actual and necessary change should take place in the main policy that Doha has adopted. It believes that it should be the most important state in world, tossing aside geopolitical basics.
This strategy made Qatar embrace terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al-Qaeda. It promoted their schemes and rhetoric, allowing it to commit grave violations against the sovereignty of fraternal countries.
Sooner or later, this strategy will end and Qatar will not be able to defy logic and reason for long. The decisions to sever all ties and close borders and cancel aviation licenses will be enough because Qatar knows it can’t exist without its surrounding. It is quite aware of the very high tax it can’t pay if it chooses to manipulate history and geography.
Hopefully, the brotherly country Qatar will learn the lesson this time as money doesn’t buy geography or history. Ambitions are accessed through doors, not tiny holes. Countries can manipulate a little and contradict a lot, but they cannot hold out against the facts and reality. A country can’t be isolated from its neighbors and surrounding.
It is true that the severing of relations this time has been the most damaging to Doha in history, but it is a chance for it to wake up, return to its senses and change its political strategy.
If Doha did that tomorrow, then it will be welcomed with open arms before open borders.

Saudi Arabia's Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology
An Exercise in Futility?
A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/June 06/17
The GCCEI needs to examine, among other things, the way in which its patron, Saudi Arabia, has participated in, if not spearheaded, the very extremism that it is claiming now to combat: the connection between Wahhabism and terrorism; the hostility of its regime to democracy; the abuse of human rights; and the suppression of moderate interpretations of Islam.
When Trump stated that fighting extremism and terrorism "transcends every other consideration," he was, in effect, giving them unwritten permission to continue repressing their citizens and whatever else they wished.
The GCCEI will be managed by a board of 12 directors appointed every five years, and the number of directors from each member state will be based on that country's financial contribution to the center. In other words, the center will be ruled by -- and further the interests of -- wealthy absolute monarchies.
During his trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe in May, U.S. President Donald Trump inaugurated the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI) in Riyadh -- an endeavor that its appointed secretary-general, Nasir Al-Biqami of Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, described as the "fruit of collaboration between Muslim countries that believe in the importance of combating terrorism."
However admirable a goal from the point of view of the West, this initiative has little chance of success, given the repressive regimes involved and the extremist worldview of the individuals who will be funded to promote it.
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, May 21, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
As Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and top adviser to former U.S. President George W. Bush, wrote:
"Partnerships with repressive regimes may in some cases exacerbate rather than solve the problem for us. Gradual reform is exactly the right approach, but will we see President Trump pushing President Sisi of Egypt (with whom he is friendly), or Erdogan of Turkey, or the Bahrainis, for gradual reform?"
Pointing to the weakness of Trump's praise of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia for "working to undermine... radicalism," Abrams stated:
"This is quite wrong. The Sunni royal family's oppression of the country's Shia majority is in fact creating a breeding ground for radicalism and opening a door for Iranian subversion. ... Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Islam is at least a gateway drug for extremism. All around the world, Saudi money is being used to suppress indigenous forms of Islam. Saudi preachers, mosques, and schools teach that local and moderate versions of Islam are impure and must be replaced by the only true version: the Saudi Wahhabi version. But that version of Islam treats unbelievers with contempt and often hatred, oppresses women, and opposes democracy."
Steven A. Cook, Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the CFR, highlighted a different problem with the U.S. administration's approach and establishment of the GCCEI, writing:
"The new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology seems to be the logical extension of Obama's efforts in the same area. In February 2015, the United States hosted a summit on combating violent extremism, which produced follow-up regional meetings to tackle various aspects of this phenomenon. It may have amounted to little more than extended speechifying..."
Cook referred to Trump's efforts as "picking up where Obama left off." He continued:
"Even on Iran, which Trump identified as the source of extremism and instability in the Middle East, the White House issued waivers on May 17 regarding Iranian sanctions, in keeping with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (know more commonly as the Iran nuclear deal)."
The only way, therefore, that the GCCEI can become more than simply another heavily-funded, failed organization -- and contribute credibly to the war on global extremism and terror -- is for its member states to engage in genuine introspection and undertake serious study of the roots of radicalism.
The GCCEI needs to examine, among other things, the way in which its patron, Saudi Arabia, has participated in, if not spearheaded, the very extremism that it is claiming now to combat: the connection between Wahhabism and terrorism; the hostility of its regime to democracy; the abuse of human rights; and the suppression of moderate interpretations of Islam.
The other Muslim/Arab states taking part in the initiative, too, must address the possible correlation between their regimes' repression, humiliation and torture of their people and the adoption of violence on the part of individuals. Only after acknowledging and scrutinizing these questions can internal reform take place.
Is the GCCEI interested, willing or able to undertake such measures, or will it serve as an arena for Saudi propaganda and short-sighted state-security work? The latter is more likely, for a number of reasons.
First, Muslim/Arab leaders have come to learn, from past experience, that much of the White House's approach to the Middle East begins and ends with lip service. Second, when Trump stated that fighting extremism and terrorism "transcends every other consideration," he was, in effect, giving them unwritten permission to continue cracking down on their citizens.
Third, according to its website, the GCCEI -- called Etidal ("moderation") in Arabic -- will be managed by a board of 12 directors appointed every five years, and the number of directors from each member state will be based on that country's financial contribution to the center. In other words, the center will be ruled by -- and further the interests of -- wealthy absolute monarchies.
Finally, GCCEI research on how terrorist groups function, coupled with innovative monitoring techniques that the center develops, will provide additional fodder to the arsenals employed by member states not only to tackle terrorism committed by groups they oppose, but to enhance the political stronghold of their regimes.
**A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Finland: Now We Want a Mega-Mosque
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/June 06/17
The mosque boasts that it has been "able to organize many activities". One of these, it says, "is to spread Islam to the non-Muslims in Finland".
Now Muslims in Finland want a mega-mosque. The idea that mega-mosques "prevent radicalization" is clearly popular among proponents of Finnish mega mosques, but on what evidence is this view based? Can they name one country where this was actually the case?
Finland would be wise to look at what the establishment of Saudi and Gulf state-funded mosques in the rest of Europe has already done to the continent in terms of Islamization and radicalization.
In recent years, Muslims in Finland have been complaining about not having an official mosque. This is not entirely true; the Finnish Tartars have an official mosque with a minaret -- in Träskända -- which other Muslims are free to use. There are also around 80 small mosques in Finland, around 30 of them in converted buildings or private flats in Helsinki, although many of them are referred to as "prayer rooms". One such mosque is the Masjid Iman mosque, located in Helsinki on the Munkkiniemen street. According to its website, the 214-square-meter mosque, which calls itself "The Islamic Multicultural Dawah Center", was established in 1999 and is "one of the well-known mosques in the Helsinki area". As is increasingly taking place, the mosque, according to the website, was formerly a church. The mosque boasts that it has been "able to organize many activities". One of these, it says, "is to spread Islam to the non-Muslims in Finland".
Now Muslims in Finland want a mega-mosque. Two years ago, a Finnish convert, Pia Jardi, spokesperson for the mega-mosque project, known as "Oasis", said, "There is a need for a grand mosque because so far we do not have one in Helsinki. A mosque would signal to the Muslims that they are a part of society". Another board member of the Oasis project, Imam and then chair of the Islamic Society of Finland, Anas Hajjar, was less modest. In October 2015, he told Yle, a Finnish news outlet, "...the need for mosques in the capital region keeps growing... We need three mosques in Helsinki, and one in Esbo and one in Vanda". According to Hajjar, the planned mega-mosque will be 20,000 square meters, but besides the actual mosque, there will also be sports and youth facilities. The actual prayer room will accommodate 1,500 people. Hajjar told Yle that mega-mosques, "prevent radicalization, as they make young Muslims feel like part of society".
Anas Hajjar has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2014, after the United Arab Emirates designated the Muslim Brotherhood and its local affiliates a terrorist organization, Anas Hajjar's organization, The Islamic Society of Finland, was included on the list. The Helsinki Times reported the surprise of The Islamic Society of Finland at its inclusion on the terror watch list: "We're very surprised by such a decision, and we have no idea why we're on the list. We condemn such, outright arbitrary, decisions," said the society's director of public relations, Abdihakim Yasin.
"The need for mosques in Finland is urgent," Susanne Dahlgren, a lecturer in Islam at Tammerfors university, told Yle in October 2015. "Mosques do not contribute to radicalization. On the contrary, they send a welcoming message."[1]
The chair of the Helsinki Finns Party, Seppo Kanerva, also said in July 2015 that he supports establishing a grand mosque in the capital, so long as it does not have a minaret with "someone wailing at five in the morning". The proposed mosque was "welcome" he said; it would promote peace between different religions:
"If we build churches, then why not mosques, so long as it's built using its own money? It's a question of civil peace. If a suitable location can be found, and the funding comes from elsewhere, then let it go ahead."
The idea that mega-mosques "prevent radicalization" is clearly popular among proponents of Finnish mega-mosques, but on what evidence is this view based? Nearly every European country today has one or several mega-mosques, which were, according to Hajjar and Sardi, supposed to make the Muslims of that country less radical by making them feel "part of society". Can they name one country where this was actually the case?
In December 2016, the Oasis foundation for the establishment of the grand mosque of Helsinki was officially established. Muslim Brotherhood-linked Anas Hajjar is one of the board members. According to the Oasis foundation, the royal family of Bahrain is going to fund the project with more than 100 million euros. The Finnish news outlet Kirkkojakaupunki reported: "the Foundation is also ready to receive funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates if they agree to the same conditions as Bahrain".
According to Pia Jardi, the "conditions" include:
"no radical teachings or ways of operation... The plan is clear that the activities of the mosque will be managed by Finnish Muslims and that activities will also be organised in Finnish. The Friday sermons, for example, must be organised in both Arabic and Finnish."
Why would Finns believe that those rules will be upheld once Bahrain -- and possibly Saudi Arabia and Qatar -- have bought and paid for the mosque? Why would these nations, which spread Islamic extremism across the planet, act any differently in Finland, than they have done in any other country where they have sponsored building mosques and "cultural centers"?
"I personally believe that the large mosque envisaged at Kalasatama is a Muslim Brotherhood-driven project", a Finnish researcher, Alan Salehzadeh, wrote in March 2017. "The political Islamic agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood is led by the governments of Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood", he explained.
"In Finland, dozens of mosques are already working today whose establishment has been supported by influential countries such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. ... Erdogan has called for the resistance of the Turkish diaspora and to be faithful only to Turkey".
Finnish politicians are also wary of agreeing to the project. Tarja Mankkinen, the interior minister responsible for Finland's anti-radicalization policy, said the ministry found many "positive aspects" in the mosque project, but that
"the challenge is that the mosque is planned to be funded by Bahrain and possibly by other Gulf countries.
"The role of the actors who fund the mosque and its activities might consist a [security] risk if it decreases the feeling of belonging to the Finnish society among the Muslim population."
Jan Vapaavuori, the newly elected (April 2017) mayor of Helsinki, opposes the mosque. "I do not think that such a mosque is needed in Helsinki. I will certainly work towards making sure the mosque will not be built in Helsinki," he said.
Radicalization is unfortunately becoming a real issue in the country. According to the International Centre for Counter Terrorism in the Hague, in an April 2016 research paper about "The Foreign fighter Phenomenon in the European Union" (p. 44):
"By August 2015, at least 70 individuals from Finland had travelled to Syria/Iraq, with approximately one dozen having died abroad and around 35 believed to still be in the conflict zone... The majority... are 'home-grown', and they are either born in Finland or have lived there since childhood".
Seventy ISIS fighters from such a relatively small Muslim population is a relatively high number; the solution to that radicalization is most definitely not a Bahraini and Gulf state-funded mega-mosque in the Finnish capital. Finland would be wise to look at what the establishment of Saudi and Gulf state-funded mosques in the rest of Europe has already done to the continent in terms of Islamization and radicalization.
**Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
[1] There are approximately 65,000 Muslims out of a population of 5.5 million people in Finland. The majority of Finland's Muslims are immigrants who came to Finland since the 1990s. In 2015, during the migrant crisis propelled by Angela Merkel's opening of Europe's borders, Finland received 32,000 asylum seekers. In 2013, there had been just 3,200 of them.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Address by Minister Freeland on Canada’s foreign policy priorities
June 6, 2017 – Ottawa, Canada
Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.
Mr. Speaker,
Here is a question: Is Canada an essential country, at this time in the life of our planet?
Most of us here would agree that it is. But if we assert this, we are called to explain why. And we are called to consider the specifics of what we must do as a consequence.
International relationships that had seemed immutable for 70 years are being called into question. From Europe, to Asia, to our own North American home, long-standing pacts that have formed the bedrock of our security and prosperity for generations are being tested.
And new shared human imperatives—the fight against climate change first among them—call for renewed, uncommon resolve.
Turning aside from our responsibilities is not an option. Instead we must think carefully and deeply about what is happening, and find a way forward.
By definition, the path we choose must be one that serves the interests of all Canadians and upholds our broadly held national values; that preserves and nurtures Canadian prosperity and security; and that contributes to our collective goal of a better, safer, more just, more prosperous, and sustainable world. One we can pass onto our children and grandchildren, with a sense of having done the right thing.
This is no small order, Mr. Speaker. It is what I would like to spend few minutes talking about today.
Since before the end of the Second World War, beginning with the international conference at Bretton Woods in 1944, Canada has been deeply engaged in, and greatly enjoyed the benefits of, a global order based on rules.
These were principles and standards that were applied, perhaps not perfectly at all times by all states, but certainly by the vast majority of democratic states, most of the time.
The system had at its heart the core notions of territorial integrity, human rights, democracy, respect for the rule of law, and an aspiration to free and friendly trade.
The common volition toward this order arose from a fervent determination not to repeat the immediate past.
Humankind had learned through the direct experience of horror and hardship, Mr. Speaker, that the narrow pursuit of national self-interest, the law of the jungle, led to nothing but carnage and poverty.
Two global conflicts and the Great Depression, all in the span of less than half a century, taught our parents and grandparents that national borders must be inviolate; that international trading relationships created not only prosperity but also peace; and that a true world community, one based on shared aspirations and standards, was not only desirable but essential to our very survival.
That deep yearning toward lasting peace led to the creation of international institutions that endure to this day—with the nations of Western Europe, together with their transatlantic allies, the United States and Canada, at their foundation
In each of these evolutions in how we humans organize ourselves, Canadians played pivotal roles.
There was Bretton Woods itself, where the Canadian delegation was instrumental in drafting provisions of the fledgling International Monetary Fund and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
A few years later in 1947, a Canadian, Dana Wilgress, played a leading role at the meetings in Geneva that led to the development of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, precursor to the WTO.
It is a Canadian, John Humphrey, who is generally credited as the principal author of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. That was the first of what became a series of declarations to set international standards in this vital area.
And let us not neglect the great Canadian perhaps best known for advancing the cause of humanitarian internationalism—Lester B. Pearson. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership during the Suez crisis in 1956, for the creation of modern peacekeeping.
These institutions may seem commonplace now, Mr. Speaker. We may take them for granted. We should not. Seventy years ago they were revolutionary. And they set the stage for the longest period of peace and prosperity in our history.
It was the same appreciation of the common interests of the human family, in caring for our common home, that led us to the acid rain treaty of the Mulroney era. It is what led us to the Montreal Protocol of 1987 to phase out CFCs and preserve the ozone layer. It is what led us to Paris, Mr. Speaker, with 194 signatories at our side. That is global co-operation.
And it is important to note that when sacrifice was required to support and strengthen the global order—military power, in defence of our principles and our alliances—Canada was there. In the Suez, in Korea, in the Congo, in Cyprus, in the First Gulf War, in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, up to and including today in Iraq, among many other places, Canada has been there.
As the Prime Minister has often said, that is what Canadians do. We step up.
Today it is worth reminding ourselves why we step up—why we devote time and resources to foreign policy, defence and development, why we have sent Canadian soldiers, sailors, aviators, diplomats, aid workers, intelligence officers, doctors, nurses, medics and engineers into situations of danger, disaster, and chaos overseas, even at times when Canadian territory was not directly at risk.
Why do we spend billions on defence, if we are not immediately threatened?
For some countries—Israel, Latvia come to mind—the answer is self-evident. Countries that face a clear and immediate existential challenge know they need to spend on military and foreign policy. And they know why.
For a few lucky countries—like Canada and the United States—that feel protected by geography and are good neighbours, the answer is less obvious. Indeed, you could easily imagine a Canadian view that says, we are safe on our continent, and we have things to do at home, so let's turn inward. Let’s say Canada first.
Here’s why that would be wrong.
First, though no foreign adversary is poised to invade us, we do face clear challenges. Climate change is by definition a shared menace, affecting every single person on this planet. Civil war, poverty, drought and natural disasters anywhere in the world threaten us as well—not least because these catastrophes spawn globally destabilizing mass migrations. The dictatorship in North Korea, crimes against humanity in Syria, the monstrous extremists of Daesh, and Russian military adventurism and expansionism also all pose clear strategic threats to the liberal democratic world, including Canada.
Our ability to act against such threats alone is limited. It requires cooperation with like-minded countries.
On the military front, Canada’s geography has meant that we have always been able to count on American self-interest to provide a protective umbrella beneath which we have found indirect shelter.
Some think, some even say, we should therefore free ride on U.S. military power. Why invest billions to maintain a capable, professional, well-funded and well-equipped Canadian military?
The answer is obvious: To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state. And although we have an incredibly good relationship with our American friends and neighbours, such a dependence would not be in Canada’s interest.
That is why doing our fair share is clearly necessary. It is why our commitment to NORAD, and to our strategic relationship with the United States, is so critical. It is by pulling our weight in this partnership, and in all our international partnerships, that we, in fact, have weight.
To put it plainly: Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes require the backing of hard power. Force is of course always a last resort. But the principled use of force, together with our allies and governed by international law, is part of our history and must be part of our future.
To have that capacity requires a substantial investment, which this government is committed to making. The Minister of Defence will elaborate fully on that tomorrow. I know he will make Canadians justly proud.
Whatever their politics, Canadians understand that, as a middle power living next to the world’s only super power, Canada has a huge interest in an international order based on rules. One in which might is not always right. One in which more powerful countries are constrained in their treatment of smaller ones by standards that are internationally respected, enforced and upheld.
The single most important pillar of this, which emerged following the carnage of the First and Second World Wars, is the sanctity of borders. And that principle, today, is under siege.
This is why the democratic world has united behind Ukraine. The illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory by Russia is the first time since the end of the Second World War that a European power has annexed by force the territory of another European country. This is not something we can accept or ignore.
The atrocities of Daesh directly challenge both the sanctity of borders and the liberal international order itself. They create chaos, not only because of the carnage they perpetrate on their innocent victims, but because of the humanitarian crises and migratory explosions that follow. This is why the world has united against this scourge; violent extremism challenges our way of life. We will always oppose it.
Another key benefit for Canada from an international system based on rules, is of course free trade. In this sphere as well, beggar-thy-neighbour policies hit middle powers soonest and hardest. That is the implacable lesson of the 1930s, and the Great Depression. Rising trade barriers hurt the people they are intended to help. They curb growth, stifle innovation and kill employment. This is a lesson we should learn from history. We should not need to teach it to ourselves again through painful experience.
The international order an earlier generation built faces two big challenges, both unprecedented.
The first is the rapid emergence of the global South and Asia—most prominently, China—and the need to integrate these countries into the world’s economic and political system in a way that is additive, that preserves the best of the old order that preceded their rise, and that addresses the existential threat of climate change. This is a problem that simply cannot be solved by nations working alone. We must work together.
I have focused these remarks on the development of the postwar international order—a process that was led primarily by the Atlantic powers of North America and Western Europe.
But we recognize that the global balance of power has changed greatly since then—and will continue to evolve as more nations prosper.
The G20, in whose creation Canada was instrumental, was an early acknowledgement of this emerging reality. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia are on the ascendant, delivering ever-increasing living standards to fast-growing populations bursting with innovation, creativity and enterprise.
This is not a trend anyone should fear: it is one we should embrace. Let us recognize that the peace and prosperity we in the West have enjoyed these past 70 years are desired by all, and increasingly within reach of all. And, as Canadians, let us be agents of that change.
Let us seize the great opportunity we now have to help the people of the world’s fastest-growing countries join the global middle class and the multilateral system that supports it. Peace and prosperity are every person’s birthright. The second great challenge is an exhaustion in the West of the belief among working people, the middle class, that the globalized system can help them better their lives. This is an enormous crisis of confidence. It has the potential, if we let it, to undermine global prosperity itself.
At the root of this anxiety around the world is a pervasive sense that too many people have been left behind, betrayed by a system they were promised would make them better off, but hasn’t.
Here’s the key: it’s true that the system is flawed. But international trade is the wrong target, Mr. Speaker. The real culprit is domestic policy that fails to appreciate that continued growth, and political stability, depend on domestic measures that share the wealth.
Admittedly, this is a complicated problem. If there were easy solutions everybody would be applying them.
But let’s be clear on this point: it is wrong to view the woes of our middle class as the result of fiendish behaviour by foreigners.
The truth is that the nature of work has changed because of profound, and generally benign, global economic innovation. This transformation, driven primarily by automation and the digital revolution, is broadly positive.
Managed fairly, it has the potential to increase prosperity for all—not just the global one percent. That means supporting families, supporting pensioners, and supporting education and retraining—as the Minister of Finance did in his recent budget.
By better supporting the middle class, and those working hard to join it, Canada is defining an approach to globalization that can be a model. At the same time, we strongly support the global 2030 Goals for Sustainable Development, Mr. Speaker. The world abroad and the world at home are not two solitudes. They are connected.
Likewise, by embracing multiculturalism and diversity, Canadians are embodying a way of life that works. We can say this in all humility, but also without any false self-effacement: Canadians know about living side-by side with people of diverse origins and beliefs, whose ancestors hail from the far corners of the globe, in harmony and peace. We’re good at it. Watch how we do it.
We say this in the full knowledge that we also have problems of our own to overcome—most egregiously the injustices suffered by Indigenous people in Canada. We must never flinch from acknowledging this great failure, even as we do the hard work of seeking restoration and reconciliation.
Now, it is clearly not our role to impose our values around the world, Mr. Speaker. No one appointed us the world's policeman. But it is our role to clearly stand for these rights both in Canada and abroad.
It is our role to provide refuge to the persecuted and downtrodden, to the extent we are able, as we are so proud to have done for more than 40,000 Syrian refugees.
It is our role to set a standard for how states should treat women, gays and lesbians, transgendered people, racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious minorities, and Indigenous people.
We can and must play an active role in the preservation and strengthening of the global order from which we have benefited so greatly. Doing so is in our interest, because our own open society is most secure in a world of open societies‎. And it is under threat in a world where open societies are under threat.
In short, Canadian liberalism is a precious idea. It would not long survive in a world dominated by the clash of great powers and their vassals, struggling for supremacy or, at best, an uneasy détente.
Canada can work for better, Mr. Speaker. We must work for better.
Let me pause here and address the United States, directly. As the Prime Minister said last week: Canada is deeply disappointed by the decision by the U.S. federal government to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate.
That said, we will continue to seek opportunities for constructive progress on the environment, wherever we can find them, with our counterparts in Washington and across the great United States, at all levels of government and with partners in business, labour and civil society.
As I have said, we Canadians can rightly be proud of the role we played in building the postwar order, and the unprecedented peace and prosperity that followed.
Yet even as we celebrate our own part in that project, it’s only fair for us to acknowledge the larger contribution of the United States. For in blood, in treasure, in strategic vision, in leadership, America has paid the lion's share.
The United States has truly been the indispensable nation, Mr. Speaker. For their unique, seven-decades-long contribution to our shared peace ‎and prosperity, and on behalf of all Canadians, I would like to profoundly thank our American friends.
As I have argued, Canada believes strongly that this stable, predictable international order has been deeply in our national interest. And we believe it has helped foster peace and prosperity for our ‎southern neighbours, too.
Yet it would be naive or hypocritical to claim before this House that all Americans today agree. Indeed, many of the voters in last year's presidential election cast their ballots, animated in part by a desire to shrug off the burden of world leadership. To say this is not controversial: it is simply a fact.
Canada is grateful, and will always be grateful, to our neighbour for the outsized role it has played in the world. And we seek and will continue to seek to persuade our friends that their continued international leadership is very much in their national interest—as well as that of the rest of the free world.
Yet we also recognize that this is ultimately not our decision to make. It is a choice Americans must make for themselves.
The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership, puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course. For Canada that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order.
We will follow this path, with open hands and open hearts extended to our American friends, seeking to make common cause as we have so often in the past. And indeed, as we continue to do now on multiple fronts—from border security, to the defence of North America through NORAD, to the fight against Daesh, to our efforts within NATO, to nurturing and improving our trading relationship, which is the strongest in the world.
And, at the same time, we will work with other like-minded people and countries who share our aims.
Mr. Speaker, to put this in sharper focus, those aims are as follows:
First, we will robustly support the rules-based international order, and all its institutions, and seek ways to strengthen and improve them.
We will strongly support the multilateral forums where such discussions are held—including the G7, the G20, the OAS, APEC, the WTO, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie, the Arctic Council, and of course NATO and the UN.
A cornerstone of our multilateral agenda is our steadfast commitment to the Transatlantic Alliance. Our bond is manifest in CETA, our historic trade agreement with the European Union—which we believe in and warmly support—and in our military deployment this summer to Latvia.
There can be no clearer sign that NATO and Article 5 are at the heart of Canada’s national security policy.
We will strive for leadership in all these multilateral forums. We are honoured to be hosting the G7 next year, and we are energetically pursuing a two-year term on the UN Security Council. We seek this UN seat because we wish to be heard. For we are safer and more prosperous, Mr. Speaker, when more of the world shares Canadian values.
Those values include feminism, and the promotion of the rights of women and girls.
It is important, and historic, that we have a prime minister and a government proud to proclaim ourselves feminists. Women’s rights are human rights. That includes sexual reproductive rights and the right to safe and accessible abortions. These rights are at the core of our foreign policy.
To that end, in the coming days, my colleague the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie will unveil Canada’s first feminist international assistance policy, which will target women’s rights and gender equality. We will put Canada at the forefront of this global effort.
This is a matter of basic justice and also basic economics. We know that empowering women, overseas and here at home, makes families and countries more prosperous. Canada’s values are informed by our historical duality of French and English; by our cooperative brand of federalism; by our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic citizenry; and by our geography—bridging Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic. Our values are informed by the traditions and aspirations of the Indigenous people in Canada. And our values include an unshakeable commitment to pluralism, human rights and the rule of law.
Second: We will make the necessary investments in our military, to not only redress years of neglect and underfunding, but also to place the Canadian Armed Forces on a new footing—with the equipment, training, resources and consistent, predictable financing they need to do their difficult, dangerous and important work.
We owe this to our women and men in uniform. We will not let them down, Mr. Speaker.
Canada’s broader interest in investing in a capable, professional and robust military is very clear: If middle powers do not implicate themselves in the furtherance of peace and stability around the world, that will be left to the Great Powers to settle among themselves. This would not be in Canada’s interest.
Third, we are a trading nation. Far from seeing trade as a zero-sum game, we believe in trading relationships that benefit all parties. We look forward to working with our continental partners to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, and to making a great trading partnership even better. We will also intensify our efforts to diversify Canadian trade worldwide. We will actively seek new trade agreements that further Canadian economic interests and that reflect our values—with the Canada-EU Trade Agreement as our template.
We are proud of the role Canada has played in creating a rules-based international trading order. We believe in the WTO and will continue our work to make it stronger, and more responsive to the needs of ordinary people in Canada and around the world.
We believe in progressive trade that works for working people. That is why we are very proud that this month, Canada will ratify the last of the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization.
In summary, we will be tireless in pursing our national interest, tireless in upholding progressive Canadian values, tireless in working to create a rules-based international order for the 21st century. Seventy years ago Canada played a pivotal role in forming the postwar international order. We are now called—by virtue of our unique experience, expertise, geography, diversity and values—to do this again, for a new century.
Mr. Speaker, these are ambitious objectives. There is no guarantee of success.
We set them, not in the assumption that success will come easily, but in the certain knowledge that it will not. We will venture, in noble and good causes. We will risk. We will enjoy victories—and we will suffer defeats. But we will keep working toward a better world, Mr. Speaker, because that is what Canadians do.
Let me conclude on a personal note.
A popular criticism today of the argument I am making here, is that all such ideas are abstract, perhaps of interest to the so-called Laurentian elite, or the media, or the Ottawa bubble, but not at all relevant to “real” Canadians.
That line of reasoning is the ultimate, elite condescension; it is nonsense. And in reply, I offer the example of my grandfather, John Wilbur Freeland.
He was born in Peace River, Alberta—the son of a pioneer family. Wilbur was 24 in 1940, and making a bit of a living as a cowboy and boxer. His nickname was “Pretty Boy” Freeland.
My grandpa was the opposite of an Upper Canada elite. But in the darkest days of the Second World War, Wilbur enlisted to serve. Two of his brothers, Carleton and Warren, joined up too. Wilbur and Carleton came home. Warren did not.
My grandfather told me‎ they signed up partly for the excitement—Europe, even at war, was an exotic destination for the youths of the Peace Country.
But there was more to it than a young man’s thirst for adventure. My grandfather was one of a generation of Canadians who intuitively understood the connection between their lives, and those of people they’d never met, whose speech they couldn’t comprehend, who lived on a continent so far away as to constitute, back then, another world.
That generation of Canadians—the Greatest Generation, we call them, with good reason—had survived the Great Depression. They were born in the aftermath of the First World War. They appreciated viscerally that a world without fixed borders or rules for the global economy, was a world of strife and poverty. They sought to prevent that from ever happening again.
That is why they risked and gave their lives to fight in a European war. That is why, when they came home, they cheerfully contributed to the great project of rebuilding Europe and creating a postwar world order. That is why they counted themselves lucky to be able to do so.
They were our parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents. The challenge we face today is significant, to be sure. But it pales next to the task they faced, and met.
Our job today is to preserve their achievement, and to build on it; to use the multilateral structures they created as the foundation for planetary accords and institutions fit for the new realities of this century.
They rose to their generation’s great challenge. And so can we.
Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada

Germany: Surge in Stabbings and Knife Crimes
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/June 06/17
Not only are knife-related crimes surging, but the perpetrators and victims of such crimes are increasingly younger and increasingly female.
Germany's knife-crime problem is being exacerbated by its lenient judicial system, in which offenders receive relatively light sentences, even for serious crimes. In many instances, individuals who are arrested for knife-related crimes are released after questioning from police. This practice allows criminal suspects to continue committing crimes with virtual impunity.
More than 1,600 knife-related crimes were reported in Germany during just the first five months of 2017 — an average of 300 such crimes each month, or ten a day.
A Syrian migrant was stabbed to death in northern Germany by another Syrian because he was eating ice cream during Ramadan. The murder — which occurred in broad daylight in a busy pedestrian shopping area in Oldenburg and caused great consternation among local citizens — is not just the latest example of Sharia law being enforced on German streets. The crime also highlighted the growing epidemic of knife violence in Germany.
Knives, axes and machetes have become weapons of choice for criminals in Germany, which has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. Knives are not only being used to carry out jihadist attacks, but increasingly to commit homicides, robberies, home invasions, sexual assaults, honor killings and many other kinds of violent crime.
Reliable statistics on knife violence in Germany do not exist. A search of German police blotters, however, shows that during the past ten years the number of knife-related crimes in Germany has increased by more than 1,200%. Around 4,000 such crimes were reported to police in 2016, up from just 300 in 2007.
It is also impossible to determine how many of these knife crimes involved migrants. Increased censorship by the police and the media, aimed at stemming anti-immigration sentiments, makes the public incapable of knowing the names and national origins of many perpetrators or victims.
The surge in knife-related violence in Germany does, however, coincide with Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow in some two million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The number of reported knife crimes in Germany jumped by 600% during the past four years — from about 550 in 2013 to nearly 4,000 in 2016.
Police reports show that both migrants and non-migrants are responsible for the increase in knife crimes in Germany. Merkel's open-door migration policies appear to have set in motion a self-reinforcing cycle of violence in which more and more people are carrying knives in public — including for self-defense. Her policies appear to be leading to more and more stabbings, especially when alcohol is involved.
Not only are knife-related crimes surging, but the perpetrators and victims of such crimes are increasingly younger and increasingly female:
In Bochum, a 19-year-old woman stabbed two boys, aged 12 and 13 years. Police said the three had been arguing when the woman pulled out a knife. The boys ran away and tried to hide in a parking garage, but the woman pursued and attacked them.
In Soest, a 16-year-old boy stabbed a 17-year-old classmate seven times in the chest in a dispute over a girl. The victim was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries to his heart. The assailant was released after a psychiatrist persuaded prosecutors that he could not be held responsible for his actions because he acted in the "heat of passion" (im Affekt).
In Essen, two boys, aged 11 and 13, pulled a knife on a 20-year-old woman in an effort to rob her of her cellphone. She resisted and called police, who detained the attackers.
In Wuppertal, a "southern looking man" (südländisches Erscheinungsbild) stabbed a 13-year-old boy after he looked at his attacker supposedly "the wrong way."
In Kirchdorf, a "southerner" (südländische Erscheinung) pulled a knife on a 12-year-old girl.
In Nachrodt-Wiblingwerde, a group of teenagers drew a knife on a 17-year-old girl after she "provoked" them.
In Berlin-Neukölln, a 16-year-old boy was stabbed during an altercation with a 32-year-old man.
In Neumünster, a 15-year-old stabbed a 19-year-old after two groups of teenagers got into an altercation.
In Gevelsberg, a "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutig) stabbed a 14-year-old girl near the central train station as she was walking home.
Some knife attacks appear to have political or religious motives:
In Hanover, a 16-year-old German-Moroccan girl stabbed a police officer in the neck with a kitchen knife. Police said the incident, which occurred at the central train station, was the first jihadist attack in Germany inspired by the Islamic State. "The perpetrator did not display any emotion," a police spokesperson said. "Her only concern was for her headscarf. She was concerned that her headscarf be put back on properly after she was arrested. Whether the police officer survived, she did not care."
In Prien am Chiemsee, an Afghan man stabbed to death an Afghan woman who had converted to Christianity. The attacker ambushed the woman as she was exiting a grocery store with her two children.
In Munich, a man shouting "Allahu Akbar" and "infidels must die" stabbed one person to death and slashed three others in an attack at a train station.
In Würzburg, on a train, an Afghan asylum seeker shouting "Allahu Akbar" attacked five people with an axe.
In Oberhausen, a man shouting "Allahu Akhbar" stabbed a 66-year-old woman and a 57-year-old man who were picnicking.
Knife attacks are also common during brawls involving feuding ethnic groups:
In Gelsenkirchen, gangs of Syrian and Lebanese youths got into a mass knife fight in the city center. Police said that the level of violence was "brutal."
In Mülheim, around 80 members of two rival Lebanese clans got into a knife fight in the center of the city. It took hundreds of police, armed with machine guns, dogs and helicopters, more than three hours to restore order.
In Hanover, members of two rival Kurdish clans got into a knife fight in front of the central train station.
In Mainz-Gonsenheim, several people were stabbed during a mass brawl between Syrians and Iranians.
In Dortmund, an immense brawl ensued after a member of one ethnic group pulled a knife on someone from another ethnic group.
In Neumünster, a 15-year-old stabbed a 19-year-old after two groups of teenagers from feuding ethnic groups got into an altercation.
In Gütersloh, two men were stabbed and seriously wounded during a fight between two feuding ethnic groups.
In Leipzig, an Iraqi man was stabbed and seriously injured during a massive brawl in front of a Kebab restaurant. When police tried to intervene, the mob attacked them with bottles and stones
In Hamm-Herringen, two men were stabbed and seriously wounded during a fight between two feuding ethnic groups.
Other knife attacks are seemingly random:
In Hamburg, a 16-year-old boy and his 15-year-old girlfriend were walking along the banks of the Alster, a lake in the heart of the city, when a stranger ambushed them from behind and plunged a knife into his back. The attacker then pushed the girl into the water and walked away. The girl survived but the boy died. The suspect, a "southern-looking" (südländischer Erscheinung) man in his early twenties, remains at large. Police say the victims were not robbed and there is no evident motive for the crime: they said that the suspect appears to have randomly stabbed the boy just because he felt like it.
In Bremen, a 29-year-old man was randomly stabbed and seriously wounded at the Waterfront shopping center. The entire facility was closed after the attack.
In Dessau-Roßlau, two Syrian asylum seekers randomly stabbed two German female passersby in a pedestrian zone in broad daylight.
In Düsseldorf, a man brandishing a machete randomly stabbed an 80-year-old man in the Kalkum district. He remains at large.
In Wrohm, an Eritrean migrant randomly stabbed a 51-year-old woman.
Knife-related incidents are also becoming increasingly common on public transport hubs:
In Hamburg-Billstedt, two brothers were stabbed during a robbery at the Legienstraße subway station.
In Frankfurt, two "presumably East Europeans" (mutmaßlich Osteuropäer) wielding knives attacked commuters at the "Bonames Mitte" subway station.
In Dortmund-Bochum, two feuding ethnic groups got into a knife fight on the S-1 line.
In Dresden, a man carrying a 20-centimer (8-inch) knife was arrested at the central train station.
In Schönefeld, a man randomly pulled a knife on a traveler at the airport. It remains unclear how the perpetrator passed the knife through airport security.
In Baden-Baden, a man wielding a knife threatened passengers on a train.
Knives appear to be the weapon of choice in so-called honor killings:
In Kiel, a German-Turkish man stabbed to death his estranged Turkish wife in front of a daycare center.
In Bocholt, a Lebanese man stabbed to death his Moroccan wife, the mother of his three children, because he thought she wanted to divorce him.
In Scheeßel, an Iraqi man stabbed to death his wife. Police described the murder as an honor killing.
In Ahaus, a Nigerian asylum seeker stabbed to death a Hindu woman after she seemingly offended his honor by rejecting his romantic advances. The woman was employed at the asylum shelter where her attacker lived.
In Hanover-Mühlenberg, a Serbian man stabbed his ex-girlfriend after she ended their relationship and had begun seeing someone else.
In Berlin, a 32-year-old Bosnian man stabbed to death his former girlfriend after she ended their abusive relationship.
In Hanau, a Syrian refugee stabbed to death his 30-year-old sister, who was 23 weeks pregnant and was accused of having brought shame to her family. Her unborn child also died in the attack.
In Freiburg, a Syrian asylum seeker stabbed his wife, a Kurdish Christian who had moved out of the couple's apartment, but had returned to collect some personal belongings.
In Köln-Buchheim, an Iraqi man stabbed to death his 19-year-old daughter because he did not approve of her boyfriend. The man may never face justice; he is believed to have fled to Iraq.
In Bonn, a Palestinian brandishing a "Rambo knife" and shouting "Allahu Akbar" tried to behead a doctor. The attacker's 19-year-old son had complained about the doctor's treatment for a fractured leg. The man, holding the doctor down on the floor, said: "Apologize to my son. Go down on your knees and kiss his hand."
Germany's knife-crime problem is being exacerbated by its lenient judicial system, in which offenders receive relatively light sentences, even for serious crimes. In many instances, individuals who are arrested for knife-related crimes are released after questioning from police. This practice allows criminal suspects to continue committing crimes with virtual impunity.
In Berlin, for example, a migrant who stabbed and seriously injured another migrant after he refused to give him alcohol and drugs was released and financially compensated because no witnesses to the crime could be found.
Also in the German capital, investigators discovered that Anis Amri, the 24-year-old suspect in the December 2016 Berlin terrorist attack in which 12 people died, had been involved in a knife-fight in the city's Neukölln district in July 2016, but police failed to arrest him. Had Amri been deported, as he should have been, the Berlin attack possibly could have been prevented.
According to Arnold Plickert, the deputy national chairman of the GdP police union, much of the knife-violence in Germany can be attributed to certain segments of society that live according to their own rules, not those of the German state. In an interview with, a German forum for knife enthusiasts, he said:
"We are monitoring a specific target group, which mainly consists of young males who are armed in everyday life and basically are dedicated to armed confrontation. We see this particularly in large Arab families, Lebanese clans, for whom knives are standard gear. Knives are also basic equipment for career criminals and members of youth gangs."
Plickert also noted changes in German society, including a growing disrespect for police and rescue workers: "From my point of view, I can say that the inhibition threshold to the use of violence has significantly decreased."
Meanwhile, more than 1,600 knife-related crimes were reported in Germany during just the first five months of 2017 — an average of 300 such crimes each month, or ten a day. Notable knife-related incidents during the month of May include:
In Freiburg, a Turkish man stabbed another Turk sitting in the passenger seat of a car stopped at a traffic light. In Karlsruhe, a Somali asylum seeker stabbed another Somali asylum seeker. Police said the attack was an act of revenge: the stabbing victim had recently stabbed the stabber. In Aachen, a North African man pulled a knife on a security guard at a grocery store after he was caught shoplifting.
In Schwerin, a Syrian man pulled a knife on another Syrian man in a dispute over a 15-year-old girl who is not Syrian. In Gelsenkirchen, a 20-year-old pulled a knife on a 46-year-old man during a traffic incident. In Bad Oldesloe, four teenagers pulled a knife and robbed a 61-year-old man. In Wiesbaden, a "southern-looking" man pulled a knife and tried to rob a man at a sports complex. In Hofheim, a man with an "Eastern European accent" pulled a knife and tried to rob a store.
In Peine, an asylum seeker from Sudan stabbed and seriously wounded an asylum seeker from the Ivory Coast. In Kassel, a Syrian migrant stabbed a Turkish man during a dispute over money. In Bad Reichenhall, a man stabbed another man in the neck during an altercation at a bar. In Bühl, a man stabbed several people at a public swimming pool. In Wiesbaden, a man was stabbed and seriously wounded during an altercation at a city park.
In Augsburg, two men were stabbed by a random attacker at a grill fest. In Hamburg, an unknown assailant stabbed a migrant from Guinea-Bissau. In Rheine, two men speaking German with a French accent pulled a knife on a woman and robbed her.
In Berlin, a man stabbed and seriously wounded his former girlfriend and her new partner during an altercation at a restaurant in Waidmannslust. In Duisburg, a man pulled a knife on a cashier at a supermarket. In Salzgitter, a man stabbed another man in a restaurant. In Freiburg, an Eastern European-looking man (osteuropäisch) stabbed a 15-year-old boy during an altercation at a restaurant. In Danndorf, three men were stabbed during an altercation over drugs.
In Mölln, a man stabbed a co-worker in the back. In Michelstadt, a man stabbed another man during an altercation. In Essen, a man pulled a knife on his wife at the central train station. In Karlsruhe, a man was stabbed by his girlfriend's former boyfriend. In Cologne-Ostheim, a 16-year-old student pulled a knife on his classmates and teacher.
In Neuenburg, two men were stabbed during an altercation at a restaurant. In Kassel, a man was stabbed in the neck during an altercation at a café. In Dortmund, a man was robbed at knifepoint at the central bus station.
In Cottbus, members of Syrian gang stabbed five Germans. In Lich, a man was stabbed during an altercation. In Kassel, a man was randomly stabbed by a man with a "southern appearance" (südländisches Äußeres). In Preetz, a man pulled a knife on shoppers at a supermarket. In Dortmund, two men were stabbed during an altercation in the city center. In Frankfurt-Schwanheim, a man wielding a knife robbed a local post office.
In Pforzheim, a 53-year-old Tajik man stabbed to death his 50-year-old wife at her place of employment, a Christian daycare center. It remains unclear if the woman was a convert to Christianity. In Wardenburg, an Iraqi man stabbed to death his wife, the mother of his five children, while she was asleep in her bed.
In Tübingen, a man was stabbed and seriously injured at the central train station during an altercation. In Hamburg-St. Georg, two men were stabbed and seriously injured near the train station. In Berlin-Wedding, two brothers were stabbed during an altercation with another man at a Kebab restaurant. In Kreuztal, a 53-year-old man was stabbed and seriously wounded during an altercation at his home.
In Lübeck, a 21-year-old man was stabbed and seriously injured during an altercation between two groups near the central bus station. In Diez, a woman stabbed a man in the back. In Ründeroth, a 17-year-old was stabbed and seriously wounded at a local festival. In Neuendettelsau, an Ethiopian asylum seeker stabbed his girlfriend in the stomach at a restaurant after she allegedly "provoked" him. The woman, five months pregnant, survived but the unborn baby died.
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.
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