June 11/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Jesus said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 28/16-20/:"The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’"

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?
Letter to the Romans 11/25-36/:"So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, ‘Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.’ ‘And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?’‘Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Question: "What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain?"
Answer: Although many people believe taking the Lord’s name in vain refers to using the Lord’s name as a swear word, there is much more involved with a vain use of God’s name. To understand the severity of taking the Lord’s name in vain, we must first see the Lord’s name from His perspective as outlined in Scripture. The God of Israel was known by many names and titles, but the concept embodied in God’s name plays an important and unique role in the Bible. God’s nature and attributes, the totality of His being, and especially His glory are reflected in His name (Psalm 8:1). Psalm 111:9 tells us His name is “holy and awesome,” and the Lord’s prayer begins by addressing God with the phrase “hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9), an indication that a reverence for God and His name should be foremost in our prayers. Too often we barge into God’s presence with presumptuous “to-do lists” for Him, without being mindful of His holiness, His awesomeness, and the vast chasm that separates our nature from His. That we are even allowed to come before His throne is due only to His gracious, merciful love for His own (Hebrews 4:16). We must never take that grace for granted.
Because of the greatness of the name of God, any use of God’s name that brings dishonor on Him or on His character is taking His name in vain. The third of the Ten Commandments forbids taking or using the Lord’s name in an irreverent manner because that would indicate a lack of respect for God Himself. A person who misuses God’s name will not be held “guiltless” by the Lord (Exodus 20:7). In the Old Testament, bringing dishonor on God’s name was done by failing to perform an oath or vow taken in His name (Leviticus 19:12). The man who used God’s name to legitimize his oath, and then broke his promise, would indicate his lack of reverence for God as well as a lack of fear of His holy retribution. It was essentially the same as denying God’s existence. For believers, however, there is no need to use God’s name to legitimize an oath as we are not to take oaths in the first place, letting our “yes be yes” and our “no be no” (Matthew 5:33-37).
There is a larger sense in which people today take the Lord’s name in vain. Those who name the name of Christ, who pray in His name, and who take His name as part of their identity, but who deliberately and continually disobey His commands, are taking His name in vain. Jesus Christ has been given the name above all names, at which every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:9-10), and when we take the name “Christian” upon ourselves, we must do so with an understanding of all that signifies. If we profess to be Christians, but act, think, and speak in a worldly or profane manner, we take His name in vain. When we misrepresent Christ, either intentionally or through ignorance of the Christian faith as proclaimed in Scripture, we take the Lord’s name in vain. When we say we love Him, but do not do what He commands (Luke 6:46), we take His name in vain and are possibly identifying ourselves to be among those to whom Christ will say, “I never knew you. Away from me” in the day of judgment (Matthew 7:21-23).
The name of the Lord is holy, as He is holy. The name of the Lord is a representation of His glory, His majesty, and His supreme deity. We are to esteem and honor His name as we revere and glorify God Himself. To do any less is to take His name in vain.
*Recommended Resource: The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-first Century by Mark F. Rooker

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 10-11/17
The Russia Probe Through Moscow’s Lens/David Ignatius/Washington Post/June 10/17
Qatar, Misleading ‘Under Siege’ Rhetoric/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/ASharq Al Awsat/June 10/17
Europe: Choosing Suicide/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/June 10/17
Zawahiri lectures on global jihad, warns of national boundaries/Thomas Joscelyn/FDD's LONG WAR Journal/June 10/17
Netanyahu and Abbas on the same page for once/Shlomi Eldar/Translator: Sandy Bloom/Al Monitor/June 10/17
Hamas could lose Qatar's support amid GCC strife/Daoud Kuttab/Al Monitor/June 10/17
Nationalism Between Europe and The Middle East/Sam Farah/Syria Comment/June 10/17
Bernie Sanders: Knave or Fool/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/June 10/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 10-11/17
Lebanon: Rise in Crime Rate Spurs Calls for Death Penalty
Berri Adjourns Legislative Meeting to June 16
Cabinet to convene upcoming Wednesday in Baabda to discuss vote law
Berri, Hamas delegation meet in Ain Teeneh
Health Ministry Closes Clinic Run by Unlicensed Doctors
More than 50 Syrian refugee families return to Syria
Families of murder victims rally at Martyrs’ Square, call on State to assume responsibilities
Report: Electoral Law Talks Making Headway
Ibrahim: Security Forces Foiled Bid to Provoke Sedition, Sabotage
Security Forces Foil IS Terror Schemes, Bust Would-Be Suicide Bombers
Cyprus Grants 15 Million Euros to Defense Ministry
Machnouk: Activating death penalty for intentional murder requires political consensus
Rahi criticizes pervasive gun wave
UAE, Egyptian, Saudi Diplomats confirm to Bassil their countries' rejection of Qatar's policy
Pharaoun: Best solution is proportionality without voting
Raad says vote law will be out, no point in going back
Sarraf winds up Cyprus visit, 15 Million Euros donation to Defense Ministry

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 10-11/17
Trump Calls on Qatar to Stop Funding Terrorism
Saudi Arabia welcomed on Saturday statements made by US President Donald Trump in which he called on Qatar to stop funding terrorism.
Saudi Arabia and Allies Hail Trump Warning to Qatar
Terror List’ Highlights ‘Common Objective’ Among Extremists
Bahrain to Take Legal Measures Against Supporters of Qatar-Linked Groups
Russia Calls for Dialogue in Qatar Crisis
Six Terrorist Organizations Funded by Qatar, Target Manama
Released Blacklist Is Qatar’s Last Shot at Reviewing Policy
Iran on Syrian-Iraqi Border Via al-Tanf
Bahrain Welcomes Trump’s Statements on Qatar
UAE Says Qatar Must Commit to Re-examining Regional Policies
Niger Recalls Ambassador from Qatar in Solidarity with Other Arab Countries
SDF Pierces into ISIS-held Raqqa from West
Reports on Summit between Abbas, Netanyahu in US
Brazil's Temer Wins Victory in Bid to Keep Power -- for Now

Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 10-11/17
Lebanon: Rise in Crime Rate Spurs Calls for Death Penalty
Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/Beirut – A rise in cold-blooded murders in Lebanon has been met with demands for re-enacting the death penalty which has been frozen since 2004. The latest crime was the killing of a 23-year-old man by a gunman north of Beirut earlier this week. The gunman killed Roy Hamouche after their cars collided on a highway. His murder led to widespread condemnation and demands to re-enact the death penalty despite the rejection of several civil society and human rights organizations that said limiting such crimes should come through the restraint of guns.
On Friday, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq called for the implementation of the death penalty during a speech celebrating the 156th anniversary of the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon. He called for stricter punishment for criminals, saying that Lebanon should “re-enact the death penalty, especially in cases of deliberate murder.” Lebanon’s last execution took place in 2004, former Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi told Asharq Al-Awsat. Despite the significant time since the last execution, capital punishment continues to be legal in Lebanon, he said. Following a judge’s verdict, carrying out the death penalty requires a decision from the justice minister, which is later sent to the prime minister and the president to issue a special decree, Qortbawi told the newspaper. But no justice minister has done that since 2009, he said.While rejecting capital punishment, the former minister said that the real problem lies in the proliferation of arms in addition to the high rate of drug use among all communities in the country.“The solution should come by abolishing all arms licenses,” Qortbawi said. Abdel Salam Sidahmed, the Regional Representative of the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, told Asharq Al-Awsat the OHCHR encourages countries to abolish the death penalty in line with international conventions and a resolution issued by the UN calling for the abolishment of capital punishment. A criminal can be punished through other verdicts such as life in prison, he said.
The OHCHR is in continuous contact with the Lebanese authorities on human rights issues and encourages officials to hold onto the moratorium of the death penalty, he added.

Berri Adjourns Legislative Meeting to June 16

Naharnet/June 10/17/Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned until June 16 a parliament session that was scheduled to convene on Monday to address Lebanon's parliamentary electoral law. June 16 session will convene at 2:00 at noon. The country's main political parties have recently agreed that the new electoral law should be fully based on proportional representation and 15 electoral districts but they are still wrangling over the electoral system's mechanisms and technicalities, especially those related to the representation of sects. The Speaker has recurrently adjourned the meeting of the parliament, paving way for political parties to reach common ground on the law before the term of the legislature ends on June 20. Lebanon has not organized parliamentary elections since 2009 and the legislature has since extended its own term twice. The second extended term will expire on June 20.

Cabinet to convene upcoming Wednesday in Baabda to discuss vote law

Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - The Council of Ministers is expected to convene in session at 11:00 a.m. next Wednesday at Baabda Presidential Palace, with the election law topping its 47-item work agenda.

Berri, Hamas delegation meet in Ain Teeneh
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - House Speaker Nabih Berri met on Saturday with a Hamas delegation headed by Moussa Abu Marzouk, with the regional situation featuring high during their discussions. After the meeting, Abu Marzouk said that Hamas Movement was keen on ensuring stability inside the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, noting that their aim was to protect the camps until the "return to Palestine". He emphasized the necessity to continuously coordinate with the Lebanese security forces and army intelligence during any arising security incident. "Security and stability in Lebanon ranks amongst our Movement's top priority goals," Abu Marzouk concluded.

Health Ministry Closes Clinic Run by Unlicensed Doctors
Naharnet/June 10/17/Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani ordered the closure of a clinic, in the Choueifat area southeast of Beirut, run by two unlicensed non-Lebanese doctors and referred two pharmacists to the Pharmaceutical Inspection Department for supplying the doctors with expired medication, the National News Agency reported on Friday. Information provided to the health ministry said the non-Lebanese doctors were practicing medicine without a legal permit. Health Ministry inspectors, accomplished by security forces, busted the clinic and found medical equipment, expired medications and baby formulas. Two pharmacists in the same area were found to be involved in the case as they were providing the doctors with expired medicines. Hasbani ordered the closure of the clinic and referred the file to the judiciary. He referred the pharmacists to the Pharmaceutical Inspection Department.

More than 50 Syrian refugee families return to Syria
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - "More than fifty Syrian refugee families left Arsal's refugee camp at dawn, heading back to the Syrian town of Asal al-Ward along the Syrian-Lebanese border," the Lebanese Army announced in a statement on Saturday. The statement indicated that the Syrian families departed in a convoy of 30 civilian vehicles, and were accompanied by Lebanese Army units until the last military checkpoint on the outskirts of Arsal. "This departure falls within the framework of the reconciliation committee's efforts, after ensuring a safe way for refugees to return to their homeland," said Arsal's Deputy Municipality Head, Rima Karnab, adding that "the number of returnees exceeded 400 refugees."

Families of murder victims rally at Martyrs’ Square, call on State to assume responsibilities
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - Families of murder victims Saturday urged the Lebanese State to assume its responsibilities in protecting citizens and pursuing crime perpetrators to curb the spread of arms. Rallying at "Martyr's Square" in Central Beirut under the slogan "For all those who have Gone", victims' families and civil activists called on Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk to seize all arms from the hands of gangsters. Former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, who participated in the sit-in, expressed "solidarity with the victims for the future of our children."

Report: Electoral Law Talks Making Headway
Naharnet/June 10/17/Another “four-party” meeting was held in the evening on Friday at the Foreign Ministry where discussions about the electoral law resumed and focused on the “new ideas” that were suggested during Wednesday's gathering between the same parties, al-Akhbar daily reported on Saturday. The four-party meeting gathered Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil, Speaker Nabih Berri's aide Ali Hassan Khalil, Hizbullah secretary-general's assistant Hussein al-Khalil and Prime Minister Saad Hariri's adviser Nader Hariri. “Discussions about the law have made progress leaving some details that need to be studied before the final agreement that will be possibly reached next week,” said the daily. It also said that the conferees have managed to cross beyond what the Free Patriotic Movement labels as “political guarantees” of creating a senate and issues related to the vote counting mechanisms, in order to agree on an electoral law. Bassil told al-Akhbar in a telephone conversation that “Lebanon is about to make an electoral accomplishment for Lebanese expats,” pointing out that the representation of expats was one of the “FPM's and the Foreign Ministry's reformist demands.”For his part, FPM MP Alain Aoun stressed that Bassil's demand that any candidate for the parliamentary elections should get at least 40% of votes from their own sect to become eligible to win a seat “will not obstruct an agreement on a new law.”“Several ideas were suggested. Political forces have taken their time to discuss them. There is a tendency to approve the law in the next few days,” he added. The country's main political parties have recently agreed that the new electoral law should be fully based on proportional representation and 15 electoral districts but they are still wrangling over the electoral system's mechanisms and technicalities, especially those related to the representation of sects. Lebanon has not organized parliamentary elections since 2009 and the legislature has since extended its own term twice. The second extended term will expire on June 20.

Ibrahim: Security Forces Foiled Bid to Provoke Sedition, Sabotage
Naharnet/June 10/17/General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said on Saturday that the new factor in the latest “qualitative” security forces' operation that resulted in foiling terror schemes, was the presence of four Yemenis in the terrorist group, pointing out that it was the “first time that Yemenis were arrested.”“The targets planned by the terrorist group, including Tripoli and Nabatieh, showed that there was an intention to create strife and mobilize people against each other,” said Ibrahim in an interview to Ad-Diyar daily. He pointed out saying that the uncovered scheme foils a “mistaken” theory which claims that terror attacks usually target a specific sect in Lebanon. He said the attacks had plans to target different facilities of various sects, the culprits “intend to disrupt security and sabotage the country,” he said. On Friday, the General Security and Internal Security Forces agents busted a terror cell comprised of Palestinian, Syrian and Yemeni suspects, who had plans to carry out terror operations in several areas in the country including in the northern city of Tripoli and the southern town of Nabatieh.

Security Forces Foil IS Terror Schemes, Bust Would-Be Suicide Bombers
Naharnet/June 10/17/The General Security and Internal Security Forces agents managed to bust a terror cell comprised of Palestinian, Syrian and Yemeni suspects, who had plans to carry out terror operations in the country including in the northern city of Tripoli and the southern town of Nabatieh, media reports said. “A group of elite intelligence forces in the General Security and Internal Security Forces tracked down suspects and deterred detainees and other fugitives from carrying out criminal schemes on Lebanon's territory. Four terrorists were detained and an explosive belt was defused,” the National News Agency reported. NNA said the detainees were "Yemenis, Palestinians and Syrians who had formed a terror cell linked to the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Africa."Members of the network communicated with their operators from Lebanese locations mainly from the Palestinian refugees camps of Ain el-Hilweh in Sidon, Bourj al-Barajneh and Shatila refugee camps in southern Beirut. The suspects had confessed that they had orders to carry out suicide attacks in public facilities, and assassinations against military officials from the Lebanese army, security forces and partisans in the vicinity of the Shatila and Bourj al-Barajneh camps. Another scheme on their list was to provide explosive detonators from Ain el-Hilweh to Beirut's Cola region for use in explosive bombs. Four other explosive bombs were prepared to blowup in areas in Tripoli, Nabatieh, and al-Rihab area in Beirut's southern suburbs, said NNA. They had plans to form a cell of supporters of the terrorist IS organization residing in Beirut, with the aim of carrying out security operations and bombing inside Lebanese territory. One of the suicide attackers was also planned to set off an explosive belt in front of the entrance of a building inhabited by a cleric in south Lebanon with the aim of killing him while he was leaving his house. The cell had also planned to carry out an attack that would target a restaurant, social institution or crowd in Beirut's southern suburbs to be synchronized with the time of the Iftar. The suspects were referred to the military prosecution and were identified by their initials as Yemeni A.S.Aa.S., aka Abou Saleh, Palestinian Aa.H.Aa.R., aka Abou Khaled and Abou Sajed, Palestinian M.M.G.Kh. Aka Abou Bakr al-Maqdisi, Syrian Aa.Q.Aa.H. Aka Abou Youssef, Palestinian Aa.M.M.M. Aka Abou al-Mathna and Abou Mohammed, Palestinian M.H.F. Aka Abou al-Hassan and Abou Khattab, Palestinian A.A.G. Aka Abou Asaad.

Cyprus Grants 15 Million Euros to Defense Ministry
Naharnet/June 10/17/Defense Minister Yaacoub al-Sarraf concluded an official trip to Cyprus where he met with senior officials, and was informed about a Cypriot grant to the Defense Ministry worth 15 million Euros, the National News Agency reported on Saturday. During his visit, the Defense Minister held talks that focused on the situation in the region, the bilateral relations between the two countries and the military cooperation agreement signed between the two nations in 2016, NNA said. The Cypriot part has agreed to provide a grant worth 15 million euros to Lebanon's defense ministry . The annual activities program was signed in implementation of the military cooperation agreement signed between the two countries in 2016.

Machnouk: Activating death penalty for intentional murder requires political consensus
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - Interior and Municipalities Minister Nuhad el-Machnouk Saturday deemed that "activating the death penalty for intentional murder necessitates political consensus." Machnouk, who visited the family of victim Roy Hamouche in Mansourieh, assured them of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's determination to pursue the issue with President Michel Aoun and House Speaker Nabih Berri, in order to deter criminals and prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy. He expressed his sympathy and solidarity with the family during their time of pain, while stressing that "the execution of Roy Hamouche's murderer is up to the judiciary to decide." The Minister conveyed the sincere condolences of both President Aoun and PM Hariri to the victim's family.

Rahi criticizes pervasive gun wave
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bshara Butros al-Rahi Saturday deplored the chaotic spread of gun weapons in the hands of people in the country. "Is this how sacred human life is shed cold-bloodedly in Lebanon?" questioned the Patriarch, in wake of the recent shooting of an innocent young man in the area of Mansourieh a few days ago. Speaking during a Mass service at the end of the Maronite bishops' annual spiritual meeting in Bkirki, al-Rahi highlighted the dire need for Christ's peace to touch the troubled hearts, keeping them steadfast with faith. He urged political authorities to be aware that any complacency in justice and law helps to encourage criminals to commit more crimes. "If the situation persists and perpetrators are left to roam freely, Lebanon would then be ruled by the law of the jungle, and hence would lose all its culture and civilization," warned al-Rahi.

UAE, Egyptian, Saudi Diplomats confirm to Bassil their countries' rejection of Qatar's policy
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - During their meeting with Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Gebran Bassil yesterday, United Arab Emirates and Egyptian Ambassadors and Saudi Charge d'Affaires emphasized their countries' position in rejecting Qatar's policy, which has attempted for years to destabilize the region, supporting extremism and interference in the internal affairs of Arab States. They also highlighted the need for cooperation by Arab countries and the international community "to put an end to such a destructive policy that can no longer be tolerated by the region."

Pharaoun: Best solution is proportionality without voting
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - Minister of State for Planning, Michel Pharaon, on Saturday considered that the best solution is to agree on a proportional electoral law without a voting recourse. Pharaoun signaled his refusal that the upcoming parliamentary elections be held under the 1960 majoritarian law if no agreement was reached on a new voting system. Speaking in an interview to "Voice of Lebanon" Radio Station, the Minister rejected vacuum in parliament, hoping that the upcoming days would bring about the desired settlement similar to what happened in the Doha Conference.

Raad says vote law will be out, no point in going back
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - "Loyalty to the Resistance" Parliamentary Bloc Head, MP Mohammad Raad, Saturday reassured all those seeking a new election law that it is bound to see the light, noting that "there is no point in going back." "All are entailed to implement a voting law whose broad lines they have approved," said Raad, adding that "agreement over its details is now required, so that elections can take place in accordance with this new law." Raad's words came during a week's memorial ceremony held in the town of Arab-Salim.

Sarraf winds up Cyprus visit, 15 Million Euros donation to Defense Ministry
Sat 10 Jun 2017/NNA - Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf concluded Saturday an official visit to Cyprus, where he met with high-ranking officials who confirmed their State's approval to donate a total amount of 15 Million Euros to the Lebanese Defense Ministry. Talks dwelt on recent developments in the region and means to bolster bilateral ties, especially the military cooperation agreement signed between Lebanon and Cyprus. During his meeting with Cypriot Agriculture Minister, Sarraf tackled various ways to combat forest fires, since both countries suffered from this problem. Sarraf also discussed with Kikos Monastery Head the situation of Christians in the Orient and the refugee crisis in Lebanon.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 10-11/17
Trump Calls on Qatar to Stop Funding Terrorism
Heba El Koudsy/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/
Washington- US President Donald Trump demanded Qatar on Friday to stop funding terrorism and extremist groups, saying Doha “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”In remarks in a joint press conference with President Klaus Iohannis of Romania, Trump said his administration will work on solving this problem, adding: “No civilized nation can tolerate this violence, or allow this wicked ideology to spread on its shores.” He thanked Saudi Arabia and King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and all the countries that participated in the historic Islamic summit in Riyadh last month. “It was truly historic. There has never been anything like it before…Hopefully, it will be the beginning of the end of funding terrorism … No more funding.” “I addressed a summit of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders — a unique meeting in the history of nations — where key players in the region agreed to stop supporting terrorism, whether it be financial, military or even moral support,” he said. “The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level, and in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior,” Trump added. The president told reporters in the White House Rose Garden that he decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and generals at the Pentagon that the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding and its extremist ideology in terms of funding. Less than two hours earlier, Tillerson urged Qatar to be “responsive to the concerns of its neighbors” and immediately crack down on extremist funding. Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorists from the country, but it “must do more” and “must do it more quickly,” he said at a press conference in the State Department. “The situation in the Arabian Gulf over the last few days is troubling to the United States, the region, and to many people who are directly affected,” Tillerson said, reaffirming Washington’s commitment to the spirit of the Arab Islamic American Summit. He also announced support to the mediation efforts of Kuwait’s emir, calling for calm and no further escalation. “We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar. There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade. We are seeing shortages of food, families are being forcibly separated, and children pulled out of school. We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this Holy Month of Ramadan,” Tillerson added.

Saudi Arabia welcomed on Saturday statements made by US President Donald Trump in which he called on Qatar to stop funding terrorism.
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), an official source said that “fighting terrorism and extremism is no longer a choice, but it is rather a commitment that calls for decisive and swift action to cut off all funding sources for terrorism regardless of the funding entities, in line with the outcomes of the historic Arab Islamic American Summit.”

Saudi Arabia and Allies Hail Trump Warning to Qatar
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 10/17/US President Donald Trump has accused Qatar's leadership of bankrolling extremists and demanded a halt to that funding, drawing praise Saturday from Saudi Arabia and its allies. Their approval came as Washington joined intensifying international efforts to heal the rift between the key Western Gulf allies, which has escalated into the region's worst diplomatic crisis in years. Russia on Saturday urged dialogue between the parties, as Qatar's foreign minister arrived in Moscow seeking support from abroad in the dispute. Trump's warning overshadowed an earlier declaration from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- who encouraged Saudi Arabia and its allies to ease their land and sea "blockade" of Qatar. Tillerson said the blockade was hindering the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group and having humanitarian consequences for ordinary people. But US officials insisted both men were sending the same message that the countries of the region should not allow their differences to hinder the fight against extremism. Qatar is home to the largest US airbase in the Middle East, making it a key ally in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
But it has fallen out with its Arab neighbors, who accuse it of sponsoring extremist groups, some of them allegedly linked to arch Saudi foe Iran, fomenting trouble across the region. The neighbors also resent Qatar's ties to the Muslim Brotherhood movement and its sponsorship of the pan-Arab satellite television network Al-Jazeera, which has given opposition figures a platform. Qatar has denounced the allegations of terror funding as baseless and has received the support of its close ally Turkey, which has approved the deployment of troops to defend the emirate. "We appeal to the US administration to rely on their own sources and not on countries with political agendas," Qatar's ambassador to the US, Meshal Hamad Al Thani, wrote in Twitter. But its neighbours seized Saturday on Trump's remarks as vindication of their position and of the crippling sanctions they imposed on Monday. However, they ignored a US call for them to ease their economic blockade against Qatar. The United Arab Emirates welcomed "President Trump's leadership in challenging Qatar's troubling support for extremism".
- 'Blockade hindering military' -Saudi Arabia said an immediate change of policy by Qatar was essential. "Fighting terrorism and extremism is no longer a choice, rather... a commitment requiring decisive and swift action to cut off all funding sources for terrorism regardless of its financier," the Saudi Press Agency cited an official source as saying. Bahrain also said Qatar needed to "correct its policies" and fight terrorism. But the three governments made no mention of Tillerson's appeal for them to end their land and sea blockade of Qatar. The US president's rhetoric on Friday did not appear likely to calm spirits in Doha. "The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level," Trump told reporters in the White House Rose Garden, as Tillerson looked on. Less than two hours earlier, Tillerson had approached the crisis from a different direction -- warning that the stand-off between the former Gulf allies was undermining the anti-terror fight. He did urge Qatar to be "responsive to the concerns of its neighbors" and immediately crack down on extremist funding. But he also warned that the response -- Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties on Monday and are trying to blockade Qatar by air and sea -- could be counterproductive. "The blockade is hindering US military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS," Tillerson warned. Although US officers had previously denied the blockade was a problem, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the "evolving situation is hindering our ability to plan for longer-term military operations."
- 'Fighting terrorism' -Tillerson said he had spoken to many leaders in the Gulf region in recent days and supported efforts by the emir of Kuwait to resolve the stand-off. The tough US line was a rebuff for Qatar's efforts to reach out for support from abroad. Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani landed in Moscow Saturday to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. "We cannot be happy in a situation when the relations between our partners are worsening. We are in favour of resolving any disagreements through... dialogue," Lavrov said. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain released a joint statement listing 59 entities and individuals, including members of Qatar's royal family, as involved in "terrorist" activities. Also named were Doha-based Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Qatari-funded charities. A statement said the list shows that Qatar "announces fighting terrorism on one hand and finances and supports and hosts different terrorist organizations on the other hand." The crisis is drawing in more countries. Turkey's parliament has approved deploying troops to a base in Qatar and Iran has offered to send food. The moves taken against Doha include banning Qatar Airways from airspace and closing Qatar's only land border with Saudi Arabia. The Arab states have also ordered Qataris out within 14 days.

Terror List’ Highlights ‘Common Objective’ Among Extremists

Abdul Sattar Hatita/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/Cairo – Experts in extremist groups’ affairs considered that the names mentioned in the list of terrorist individuals and entities, announced by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain on Thursday, and which accused Qatar of supporting it, reveals the “unity of objective among extremist groups,” especially in Egypt and Libya where more than half of the terrorists in the list come from. Out of 59 individuals mentioned in the terror list, 27 are Egyptians and five are Libyans, in addition to “Saraya Defend Benghazi,” which is among the 12 entities included.
Researcher on extremist groups Ahmed Ban told Asharq Al-Awsat that the list largely shows the “similarity of the goals of these groups” such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Islamic Group, the Libyan Fighting Group and others. “Leaderships of Muslim Brotherhood, in Libya and Egypt, allied themselves with extremist movements to take revenge after they lost power in both countries,” Ban added. It seems that the common denominator between Egyptian and Libyan parties, which Qatar is accused of supporting, is their attempts to stand against the popular movement that rejects the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist movements in the two countries over the past four years. Shortly after the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011, the Egyptian-Qatari Preacher Yousef al-Qaradawi, 91, came from Doha to perform the Thanks prayer in Tahrir square, which the Brotherhood group occupied by force. Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV channel also expressed its support to the Muslim Brotherhood by opening the Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr channel. Qatar also kept supporting the group even after millions of Egyptians carried out protests, rejecting its rule, in June 30, 2013. After that, Qaradawi made semi-Takfiri statements inciting splits. In Libya, Ali Salabi, 54, backed the group that managed to mobilize extremist and armed movements, including the Libyan Fighting Group, to dominate the first parliament to be elected after Muammar Gaddafi’s rule. The Brotherhood group in Libya issued a law on political isolation and forced MPs to vote at gunpoint. Muslim Brotherhood in Libya sought support of the Libyan Fighting Group, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda group whose most prominent leader is Abdulhakim Belhadj, 51, who is among those mentioned in the terror list.
So did the Brotherhood in Egypt through opening a wide door and seeking support of extremist leaders in the Islamic Movement, especially the branch that refused to renounce violence in the famous reviews conducted by the leaders of the group in prisons in the nineties of the last century.
The most prominent of those leaders, whose name was also mentioned in the list, is Assem Abdulmaged, 59, who has been residing in Qatar since ousting former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Ban expected that the issuance of the Saudi-UAE-Egyptian list would “contribute to the besieging of the Muslim Brotherhood and its international supporters, and weakening the international organization to a large extent and making the Muslim Brotherhood organization different from what it was in the past periods. Thus, according to Ban, the group will witness further decline. The new list also confirms that terrorism doesn’t change, whether its title is Brotherhood or any other extremist movement, because the list included this whole spectrum.

Bahrain to Take Legal Measures Against Supporters of Qatar-Linked Groups
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/Bahrain’s minister of justice threatened legal measures against any political organization found communicating or expressing support for the people named in a new Qatar-associated list of banned terrorist individuals and entities. The “ministry will hold accountable whoever uses religion in favor of any organizational links or loyalty to a foreign state or entity targeting the sovereignty, unity and stability of countries, whether through political societies or through raising money for religious purposes or religious discourse, “Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa said in a statement carried by state news agency BNA. Shaikh Khalid underscored the continuous cooperation with the Ministry of Interior on combating funds or donations related to those individuals or entities. The minister stressed rejection of all forms of connection that use external organizations as a means to interfere in domestic affairs. “Allegiance to religion and to the homeland is through safeguarding the sovereignty and security of the country and protecting its gains, progress, and values of citizenship and coexistence,” he said. The minister affirmed the importance of confronting any course of action that conflicts with the fundamentals and top interests of the Kingdom, which, he said, reflects the strong faith, commitment, and responsibility towards countering all forms of extremism, terrorism, and violence, regardless of their sources. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Friday designated as terrorists dozens of people and groups with alleged links to Qatar, after severing diplomatic relations with Qatar on Monday. The four states accuse Qatar of supporting Islamist militants and arch-foe Iran.

Russia Calls for Dialogue in Qatar Crisis
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 10/17/Moscow called on Saturday for dialogue between Qatar and its neighbors in the Gulf, promising help in mediating the crisis, as Russia's foreign minister met his Qatari counterpart. "We have observed with concern the news of this escalation," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in opening remarks of his meeting with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Moscow. "We cannot be happy in a situation when the relations between our partners are worsening. We are in favour of resolving any disagreements through... dialogue."Qatar is reaching out for support abroad as it has fallen out with its Arab neighbours, who accuse it of sponsoring extremist groups and resent its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood movement and sponsorship of Al-Jazeera network. Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties Monday and are trying to blockade Qatar by air and sea. Lavrov said that Russia is "ready to try to do everything in its power" to help resolve the crisis and said unity is needed to fight terrorism. "For us, unity is clearly necessary for maximum effect on this front (against terrorism)," he said. Qatar has denounced the allegations against it and Al-Thani during his meeting with Lavrov called the measures against the country "illegal". Some reports alleged that Russian hackers helped spark the crisis but Moscow has dismissed this as a "stale claim" with "zero evidence."

Six Terrorist Organizations Funded by Qatar, Target Manama
Obaid Al-Suhaymi/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/A police officer orders riot police not to take action as anti-government protesters demonstrate outside Bahrain's leading opposition party Al Wefaq's headquarters in Manama. Reuters. Manama – Bahrain has reaffirmed its suffering from the dangerous terrorist organizations that receive funding and support from abroad in which Qatar’s role in supporting and funding them has emerged recently. According to the Quartet statement, which listed 59 individuals on the terror list, there are two Bahraini nationals, one is on the US list of terrorism, Murtadha al-Sindi, and the other is Ahmad al-Hassan al-Daski. Organizations funded by Qatar target Bahrain’s security and receive support and training from Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and terrorist organizations in Iraq, such as Iraqi Hezbollah. Sindi, according to Bahrain’s News Agency (BNA), is Iran’s top agent, the mastermind of its terrorist operations, official spokesman of Wafaa terrorist movement, which is considered a radical movement headed by Abdulwahab Hussein, and is publicly loyal to “Wali al-Faqih”.Wafaa Movement, Haq Movement, headed by convicted Hassan Mushaima, and London-based Ahrar Bahrain Movement, headed by convicted Saeed al-Shehabi, are allied to change the regime by force and turn Bahrain into an Iranian model. Sindi also directed terrorist cells, trained in Iranian camps, to target a number of Bahraini security men. Notably, the terror list, which was announced by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain in the framework of combating terrorism that is supported by Qatar, included six Bahraini organizations of the 12 entities listed. The list included Saraya al-Ashtar, February 14 Coalition, the Resistance Brigades, Hezbollah Bahrain, Saraya al-Mukhtar and Ahrar Bahrain Movement all which are armed and funded by Iran and its allies in the region. They all have carried out a series of terrorist acts in Bahrain during the past few years, aiming at destabilizing Bahrain to serve Iran, said Bahraini sources. The Bahraini government considered Qatar’s involvement in supporting such organizations as a confirmation that it is a country that supports terrorism. It said that Qatar should be punished internationally, not only in the Gulf or Arab countries, and its position is considered biased against the enemies of the nation. A long statement issued by BNA pointed out that the Qatari regime is explicitly playing the sectarian game, which puts its behavior in a conspiratorial context, reveals the evil contradictions in its policy and makes attempts to resolve the crisis complicated.

Released Blacklist Is Qatar’s Last Shot at Reviewing Policy
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/Ankara, Cairo, Dubai – Amid unfolding developments on the diplomatic crisis with Qatar, seeing three Gulf Cooperation Council states boycotting the peninsula, the Muslim World League announced the termination of the membership of Qatar-based Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi on Friday. Arab nations that have isolated Qatar are not trying to escalate the crisis by their latest move – putting dozens of Qatar-linked people on terrorism blacklists, a senior UAE official said on Friday. “I personally don’t see that we are in a policy that is aimed at escalation. The aim, as I see it, is to straighten an evil that has targeted the region,” Anwar Gargash, United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted. The top UAE diplomat said on Friday that the list issued on Thursday of 59 individuals and 12 organizations linked to terrorism gives Qatar a chance to change its policy.
The list is an opportunity for Qatar “to change direction away from petulance and escalation,” after the list of Qatar-linked “terrorists and terror groups” was issued by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, Gargash tweeted. “The publishing of the ‘terrorism list’ is a chance for the brother (Qatar) to review its policy … it is a chance to change direction away from stubbornness and escalation.” A solution can only be achieved “through diplomacy, not resort to ‘ally’ Turkish and Iranian, and the starting point addresses concerns of siblings about their security and stability targeted policy,” he added. “Despite the difficulty of the crisis on the Gulf and its people, but in clear relief, it is difficult to deal with a partner in his duplicity to undermine world partners,” Gargash noted.For his part, the foreign minister of Bahrain, one of the Arab countries to cut ties with Qatar, will visit Turkey on Saturday to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which on Monday severed diplomatic relations with Doha, on Friday designated Qatar-affiliated people as terrorists.Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa will be meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, as well as Erdogan to discuss the “latest developments in the region”, the ministry said in a statement.
A senior Turkish official said the Bahraini minister will spend four days in Istanbul.

Iran on Syrian-Iraqi Border Via al-Tanf
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/Beirut- Syrian forces and their allied militias reached the Iraqi border on Friday, achieving Tehran’s strategic objective in linking the Syrian border with Iran via Iraq and guaranteeing a meeting point for Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces and groups backed by Tehran in Syria.
Syrian regime and “Hezbollah” media outlets said on Friday “army units in cooperation with allies managed to arrive at the border… with Iraq” and “set up positions in an area northeast of al-Tanf”. The latest developments raised concern among opposition ranks. But an informed opposition source told Asharq Al-Awsat that it would be difficult for the forces that reached the area to consolidate their positions there unless they bring in more reinforcements. He held the US responsible for the ability of Syrian forces to reach the Iraqi border. “It has either neglected the issue or stirred clear of deescalation. But the US administration’s announcement that its primary objective is to stop Iranian expansion is not achieved this way.” The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said dozens of pro-regime forces from non-Syrian nationalities had arrived at the point on the Syria-Iraq border around 70 kilometers north of al-Tanf. Tensions around the al-Tanf garrison have surged as pro-regime troops look to expand their influence. The US has in recent weeks conducted three strikes against pro-regime forces it deemed to be threatening al-Tanf. Forces from the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq are using the garrison to stage attacks against the militants and train Syrian rebels to fight them. On Thursday a US jet shot down a pro-regime combat drone that fired what turned out to be a dud bomb at US-led coalition forces close to the garrison near the Jordanian border.

Bahrain Welcomes Trump’s Statements on Qatar
Asharq Al-Awsat English/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/Bahrain welcomed on Saturday a statement made by US President Donald Trump “on confronting Qatar’s support for extremism and the immediate need to stop its funding and support for terrorism.”A statement published on the Bahrain News Agency said Trump’s “stance is part of the relentless US efforts to continue combating all forms of terrorism and ensuring international solidarity on this dangerous phenomenon.”The Kingdom of Bahrain stressed it was important for Qatar to commit into rectifying its policies and “to engage in a transparent manner in counter-terrorism efforts, therefore allowing the countries of the region to confront all terrorist entities and eliminate all those who support them and try to destabilize the states and peoples of the region.”
Trump said on Friday that Qatar “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”
“They have to end that funding and its extremist ideology in terms of funding,” he added.

UAE Says Qatar Must Commit to Re-examining Regional Policies
Asharq Al-Awsat English/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Washington has said that Qatar must acknowledge concerns about its “troubling support for extremism” and “re-examine its regional policies.” “The UAE welcomes President (Donald) Trump’s leadership in challenging Qatar’s troubling support for extremism. The next step is for Qatar to acknowledge these concerns and commit to reexamine its regional policies,” Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said.
“This will provide the necessary basis for any discussions,” Otaiba added. His statement was published by the official WAM news agency. It came after accusations by Trump that Qatar was bankrolling extremism. Qatar “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” Trump said, calling on Doha to stop funding terrorism and extremist groups.

Niger Recalls Ambassador from Qatar in Solidarity with Other Arab Countries
/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/Niger's incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou votes at a polling station during the country's presidential and legislative elections in Niamey, Niger, February 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Penney
Niger said on Saturday it had recalled its ambassador to Qatar in solidarity with Arab countries that have cut ties with Doha over allegations it sponsors Islamist militants and Iran.
Some African countries have cautiously come out in support of attempts to isolate Qatar.
Mauritania, an Arab League member, cut ties on Tuesday and central African oil producer Gabon condemned Qatar for failing “on counter-terrorism.”Senegal has said it would recall its ambassador in Qatar and expressed its “active solidarity”. The Arab world’s biggest powers cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of support for extremist militants and Iran, and reopening a festering wound two weeks after US President Donald Trump’s demand for states to fight terrorism.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in a coordinated move. Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives joined later. Closing all transport links with Qatar, the three Gulf states gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave, and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt banned Qatari planes from landing and forbade them from crossing their air space.

SDF Pierces into ISIS-held Raqqa from West
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces broke into the western part of ISIS’ so-called Syrian capital of Raqqa on Saturday, the SDF and a monitor said, opening up a second front inside the Syrian city after it had seized an important district in its far east.
The SDF has spent months tightening the noose on Raqqa and entered the city for the first time earlier this week from the east. SDF said it had seized al-Mishlab district in the far east of Raqqa on Friday and al-Sabahia district in the west. The war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the SDF had taken Mishlab and more than half of Sabahia. “The SDF captured the western half of the Sabahia neighborhood and are reinforcing their positions there,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
“They then advanced north to the adjacent district of Al-Romania and are fighting ISIS there,” he told Agence France Presse. A statement from the SDF’s Operation Wrath of the Euphrates said its fighters stormed Romania on Saturday and were locked “in fierce fighting inside the district”.
Held by ISIS since 2014, Raqqa emerged as a key hub for the jihadists’ operations in Syria, neighboring Iraq, and beyond. The US-led coalition estimates that the city is defended by 3,000-4,000 jihadists. The SDF — an Arab-Kurdish alliance formed in 2015 — launched its campaign to capture Raqqa in November and chipped away at ISIS territory around the city’s north, west, and east. But the force has struggled to advance from the city’s north, where ISIS holds a military complex known as Division 17. “ISIS has reinforced the northern approach to Raqqa much more, thinking that’s how the SDF would try to advance on the city,” Abdel Rahman said. “The western and eastern entrances to the city were much less fortified,” he said.  The offensive has been backed by the US-led coalition with air strikes, special forces advisers, weapons, and equipment.

Reports on Summit between Abbas, Netanyahu in US
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 10/17/Tel Aviv- There has been conflicting reports in Tel Aviv on huge progress in the efforts exerted by US President Donald Trump to settle the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. Some reports said that a date has been set for the resumption of negotiations at a summit that brings together Trump, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli sources said that Trump decided for the summit to take place within four to six weeks, adding Abbas reacted positively to US pressure to carry out the negotiations without any preconditions. Defense Minister Lieberman said Israel and the Palestinians are “closer than ever” to a peace deal. In an interview with Channel 2 News, Lieberman claimed the conditions for successful negotiations have never been better, adding that Netanyahu was making “big efforts” to promote it. When asked whether certain factions within Netanyahu’s coalition might thwart an agreement, Lieberman said: “If a deal is put together that includes an arrangement with moderate Arab countries, embassies, trade deals, direct flights, I assume it will receive an overwhelming majority both in the Knesset and among the Israeli people.” But Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz had a contradictory opinion, saying “I personally haven’t reached a conclusion that the other side is ready, capable and willing to reach an agreement.”“I have all the information that Lieberman has and I find his statements baseless,” he said. On the Palestinian side, Bloomberg quoted Abbas’ senior economic adviser and former deputy prime minister as saying that the Palestinian leader will temporarily shelve his long-standing demand for Israel to freeze West Bank settlement construction in order to revive peace talks under the Trump administration. “We think it’s better for all of us right now to focus on giving this new administration a chance to deliver,” Mohammad Mustafa said. However, he later denied making such statements.

Brazil's Temer Wins Victory in Bid to Keep Power -- for Now
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 10/17/Brazilian President Michel Temer defied predictions of his imminent political demise when a court acquitted him on charges of having won election thanks to dirty money. And after Friday's vote in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) he promptly went on the offensive in his battle to survive additional corruption accusations. Despite being branded by opponents a political "zombie" and likened to characters from "The Walking Dead" television series, the scandal-plagued president's acquittal in the TSE showed he still has plenty of political life. The TSE judges voted 4-3 against stripping Temer of his mandate on the grounds that the 2014 presidential election was contaminated by undeclared campaign donations and bribes. That clears him to serve out the rest of his term to the end of 2018. Dissenting judges painted a grim picture of the way Brazilian corporations seek to buy politicians in Latin America's biggest country. But with the panel drawn at 3-3, the TSE's president Gilmar Mendes cast the deciding vote, urging cool heads at a time of national turmoil. "You don't switch the president of the republic every hour," he said. "There are serious proven facts but not enough to annul the mandate." That spared recession-ravaged Brazil being plunged into its second leadership crisis in 14 months, following the impeachment of leftist president Dilma Rousseff last year and her replacement by her then-vice president Temer. It also backed up Temer's strategy of arguing that corruption accusations against him are a dangerous distraction when he is needed to put Brazil back on the economic rails. Eurasia Group consultants said Temer's chances of being toppled before the end of his term have now dropped from 60 to 30 percent. "We underappreciated the ability of the presidential palace to weave a narrative that Temer’s permanence in office represented the best bet for institutional and economic stability until the 2018 elections," Eurasia Group said. - Trouble to come -Temer was clearly invigorated, greeting the TSE victory as "a sign that the national institutions continue to guarantee the smooth functioning of Brazilian democracy," his spokesman said. However, the decision dismayed those pushing for Brazil to face up to its massive corruption problems. "No democracy can come out unharmed from the institutional free-for-all that Brazil is going through," said Rio State University political scientist Mauricio Santoro, slamming "the degradation of the rules and of public life. Opponents will now get another chance to bring down Temer. Prosecutor General Rodrigo Janot alleges that Temer agreed to payments of hush money to former lower house of Congress speaker Eduardo Cunha, who is in prison for corruption. But again, Temer is fighting back and the TSE verdict gave him new momentum. On Friday he rejected a deadline given by Janot to answer 82 questions in a written deposition. Instead, his lawyers called for the investigation to be shut down, calling it a "comedy," an "inquisition" and "arrogant."
Analysts say Janot's next salvo may be a request for formal charges. Under the constitution, the lower house would have to approve the charges by a two-thirds majority before a trial could start in the Supreme Court. That approval process in Congress could be lengthy and Temer is working daily to maintain enough support among legislators to defeat any eventual charges. If he goes, the speaker of the lower house would take over for 30 days during which legislators would choose a new interim president to serve through 2018. The lack of a clear consensus figure is thought to be the major reason why allies have not yet deserted Temer. The main partner to his PMDB party in the ruling center-right coalition, the PSDB social democrats, has shown signs of jitters and was due to meet next week on its stand.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 10-11/17
The Russia Probe Through Moscow’s Lens
David Ignatius/Washington Post/June 10/17
At a cafe a few blocks from the old KGB headquarters at Lubyanka Square, investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov tries to explain the murky world of Russian intelligence that’s now the focus of a US criminal investigation into the hacking of the 2016 campaign.
Big events in today’s Russia often aren’t the product of broad strategy, argues Soldatov, but rather are “tactical moves” that reflect the personal interests of President Vladimir Putin and his all-powerful “presidential administration.”
Soldatov thinks the Putin factor is crucial in understanding issues in the hacking investigation. Putin has a personal dislike for Hillary Clinton, and Russian intelligence had been gathering information about her since late summer 2015. But what may have pushed the Russian operation into a higher gear was the April 2016 publication of the famous “Panama Papers,” which revealed secret bank accounts of some of Putin’s close friends and associates.
“It was a personal attack,” says Soldatov. “You cannot write about Putin’s family or personal friends.” He speculates that the Russian leader “wanted to do something about it, to teach a lesson.”
Putin denounced the Panama Papers as a deliberate effort by America to embarrass him. “Officials and state agencies in the United States are behind all this,” he charged in April 2016. “They are used to holding a monopoly on the international stage, and do not want to have to make way for anyone else. … Attempts are made to weaken us from within, make us more acquiescent and make us toe their line.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner denied at the time that the U.S. was “in any way involved in the actual leak of these documents.” But he confirmed that the U.S. Agency for International Development had supported the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, one of the media organizations involved in researching the Panama files. To the Russians, that was proof enough.
For Putin, the ex-KGB officer, nothing in the information arena is accidental. In a combative session last week at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, he rebuffed NBC’s Megyn Kelly: “As for independent sources, there is nothing independent in this world.” When she pressed about Russian “digital fingerprints” in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, he exploded: “What fingerprints? Hoof prints? Horn prints?”
The day before, Putin had said that “patriotically minded” Russian private hackers might have been involved in the operation. But by June 2, he was in full denial mode, suggesting that the CIA could have manufactured the whole thing: “IP addresses can be simply made up. … There are such IT specialists in the world today, and they can arrange anything and then blame it on whoever.”
Soldatov argues that Russian intelligence taps the network of private hackers, much as the CIA and National Security Agency use private contractors to develop offensive cyberweapons and “zero-day exploits” for malware. “Although the [Russian] security and intelligence services have cyberwar capabilities, most of the actual strikes come through other channels,” he wrote in a post last year on his website, He cited the example of a Russian technology company that allegedly was asked to help organize “sensitive” denial-of-service attacks.
The truth of what happened in the 2016 campaign will take many months to unravel, and there’s a cloud of misinformation, fueled by Putin, Donald Trump and insatiable media coverage. Soldatov notes, for instance, that the famous dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele included “unverifiable” details and some “confusion” about facts.
But Soldatov wrote in January for The Guardian that it’s also “a good reflection of how things are run in the Kremlin — the mess at the level of decision-making and increasingly the outsourcing of operations.”
To Russian eyes, all information is potential disinformation, and secrets are hidden from the public. As Putin scolded Kelly last week: “A non-classified version means no version.” The Russians regard American media claims of independence as bogus, and they see their own propaganda outlets competing on equal terms with global media companies.
“Sputnik,” for example, had its own booth at the St. Petersburg forum. The Director of National Intelligence described Sputnik in a Jan. 6 report as part of “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine,” but its brochures describe a media group publishing 2,000 news items a day in Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and English.
As the investigation of Russian hacking rolls forward, we shouldn’t lose perspective: Russia isn’t a demonic, all-powerful presence. It’s a sophisticated, increasingly modern country. But it’s also the rare nation run by a former intelligence officer who sees the world through a very particular lens.

Qatar, Misleading ‘Under Siege’ Rhetoric
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/ASharq Al Awsat/June 10/17
Victim to the detrimental foreign policy adopted by Doha, the Qatari citizen perhaps is the most forgotten amidst the diplomatic row engulfing the region.
For years, Qatar’s government invested in harboring and supporting extremist groups, and was well-occupied with harming its neighbors. Subsequently, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt chose to cut off ties with Doha, closing its only open-land border.
Comfortable in the leverage provided by a Gulf Cooperation Council membership and a US military airbase, Qatar systematically targeted regional countries. But rules to the game have changed, especially now that strategic and powerful regional players have come together for a boycott.
Borrowing from Saddam Hussein and Hamas rhetoric, Qatar authorities felt the painful sting of exploiting its citizens in order to explain sanctions that have befallen the country. Doha repeatedly fell back on saying that sanctions targeted Qataris.
Sensing the danger in its hostile policy for the first time, Qatar now understands the stakes. Relentlessly, Doha worked on dismantling Arab societies through promoting and supporting extremist ideology and funding armed factions.
With ‘support’ speaking for itself, internationally-wanted groups and terrorists have rushed to defend Qatar today—al-Qaeda’s Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini, Kuwait’s ultra-hardline Salafist and Qaeda fundraiser Hamid bin Abdallah al-Ali and dozens alike have sided with Qatar over social media platforms.
A majority of extremist figures recently blacklisted by Arab and US countries are either currently based in Qatar, or one way or another are supported by its government. Four Arab countries had named in a statement 59 people, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities Qatar Charity and Eid Charity.
In a region ravaged by chaos and instability, Qatar has somehow managed to enjoy relative tranquility, save for an assassination and a bombing tacking place in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
Chechen rebel leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was killed when a bomb ripped through his SUV in the Qatari capital, Doha. Authorities then arrested Russian officials believed to be involved in the assassination, sentencing them to life in prison. But after Russian threats weighed in, Doha released the perpetrators with them having spent only a few days behind bars. They were later given a heartfelt red-carpet welcoming in Moscow.
In 2005, a suicide-bombing had targeted a British school in Doha which killed at least 13 people.
In the case of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Qatari policy was unbearably destructive. Qaeda offshoots that Saudi Arabia fought against for years on were given a voice in Doha, as its state-funded media blatantly allowed them a platform whereon they can call for attacks against the kingdom.
Riyadh, Cairo, Tunisia are among the capitals that suffered the spilling of innocent blood, to which they responded with protests on a diplomatic level only.
Faced by legal punitive measures, Qatar will capitulate. But it will most likely use cunning politics and ploys to weasel its way out of commitments, as it always does.
Sounding more like a joke, and less than a serious cry for help, Qatar labels the multi-lateral initiative taken to reverse its destabilizing regional policies as an “oppressive siege”.
Qatar, by no means, is under a ruthless blockade! Doha’s airspace and water corridors remain open, save for those intercepting the territory of countries joining the boycott. It remains to be said that Qatar enjoys massive resources and is able to import its needs from Europe and Australia’s most luxurious markets, and having them delivered to Doha by its giant air fleet.
With little land to go around, Qatar has an easily affordable low population, with most of its residents being in one place.
Trying to reproduce the underprivileged scenario found in Gaza in hopes of manufacturing sympathy across the Arab and world public opinion is not befitting to Qatar’s prosperous image and reputation.
Doha’s authorities are being boycotted and not besieged. All that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have done was preventing Qatar from using their land, air and sea corridors, which is an act of sovereignty and is backed by international law.
The ban is civilized compared to Doha’s employment of rogue policy to destabilize neighboring states.
A price must be paid for disrupting relations with neighboring states—Qatari carriers will pay that price by traveling longer hours after losing access to Saudi, Bahraini and UAE airspace.
Qatar Airways lost a monthly 1,200 flights–somewhere around a quarter of a million passengers– with Saudi Arabia alone, while Saudi Arabian airliners lost only a 120 flights per month.
This is the high price of authorities in Doha have to pay over the dispute– it may not care much for its financial losses as much as it is bothered by its top air carrier losing its international reputation.
Although that the boycott affects Doha financially, morally and politically, it is not a blockade so long its ships and aircrafts are able to travel and trade with the world.
The siege should cut all the corridors- a measure tested with Iraq before- and therefore have to search for convincing excuses, or think of reconciliation, before the pressure increases and more countries join the ban.

Europe: Choosing Suicide/أوروبا تختار الإنتحار
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/June 10/17

"We need urgent, wholesale reform of human rights laws in this country to make sure they cannot be twisted to serve the interests of those who would harm our society." — UK Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, January 2015.
Swedish intelligence deemed him too dangerous to stay in Sweden, so the immigration authorities sought to have him deported to Syria. They did not succeed: the law does not permit his deportation to Syria, as he risks being arrested or executed there. Instead, he was released and is freely walking around in Malmö.
"It would simply never in a million years have occurred to the authors of the original Convention on Human Rights that it would one day end up in some form being used as a justification to stay here by individuals who are a danger to our country and our way of life..." — UK Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, January 2015.
After the Manchester terrorist attack, it was revealed that there are not "just" 3,000 jihadists on the loose in the UK, as the public had previously been informed, but rather a dismaying 23,000 jihadists. According to The Times:
"About 3,000 people from the total group are judged to pose a threat and are under investigation or active monitoring in 500 operations being run by police and intelligence services. The 20,000 others have featured in previous inquiries and are categorised as posing a 'residual risk"'.
Why was the public informed of this only now?
Notably, among those who apparently posed only "a residual risk" and were therefore no longer under surveillance, were Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber, and Khalid Masood, the Westminster killer.
It appears that the understaffed UK police agencies and intelligence services are no match for 23,000 jihadists. Already in June 2013, Dame Stella Rimington, former head of the MI5, estimated that it would take around 50,000 full-time MI5 agents to monitor 2,000 extremists or potential terrorists 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That amounts to more than 10 times the number of people employed by MI5. In October 2015, Andrew Parker, director general of the Security Service, said that the "scale and tempo" of the danger to the UK was at a level he had not seen in his 32-year career.
British politicians appear to have consistently ignored these warnings and allowed the untenable situation in the country to fester until the "new normal" became jihadists murdering children for Allah at pop concerts.
Given the prohibitive costs of monitoring 23,000 jihadists, the only realistic solution to this enormous security issue appears to be deporting jihadists, at least the foreign nationals among the 3,000 monitored, because they pose a threat. British nationals represent a separate problem, as they cannot be deported. Nevertheless, deportation has been an underused tool in the fight against Islamic terrorism: politicians worry too much about international conventions of human rights -- meaning the human rights of jihadists and convicted terrorists, rather than the human rights of their own populace.
According to findings by the Henry Jackson Society in 2015 -- as, unbelievably, the Home Office said it did not keep figures on the numbers of terror suspects allowed to remain in the UK by the courts -- from 2005-2015, 28 convicted or suspected terrorists were allowed to stay in the UK and resist deportation by using the Human Rights Act. According to both the European Convention on Human Rights and the British Human Rights Act, individuals are protected against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. As these 28 terrorists are all from countries with poor human rights records, they get to stay in the UK by claiming they would face torture if deported to their country of origin.
Robin Simcox, research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, said:
"Being unable to deport foreign national security threats is an issue that has plagued successive governments. The coalition government has not shown itself able to resolve problems with the legislation that makes this the case any more than its predecessors. This must change – and quickly."
There is no mysterious force preventing a change in legislation; all that is needed is the political will to leave the international conventions that currently prohibit or make impossible such deportations. Already in 2015, then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
"It would simply never in a million years have occurred to the authors of the original Convention on Human Rights that it would one day end up in some form being used as a justification to stay here by individuals who are a danger to our country and our way of life.
"I do not believe that we should be in a position where we are hamstrung in a way that makes it more difficult to protect our citizens. We need urgent, wholesale reform of human rights laws in this country to make sure they cannot be twisted to serve the interests of those who would harm our society."
As UK Justice Secretary in 2015, Chris Grayling said: "We need urgent, wholesale reform of human rights laws in this country to make sure they cannot be twisted to serve the interests of those who would harm our society."
Many politicians pretend that those international conventions are eternal, virtually divine, instruments of law to which they are bound forever. This kind of false pretense is not only reckless, but criminal in an age where these conventions have become tools used against the most basic freedoms -- physical security, the right to life -- of the citizens that they were meant to protect. None of the authors presumably intended these conventions to be abused as convenient tools in "lawfare" to protect terrorists and their supporters.
An example of such abuse is the treatment of a convicted al-Qaeda terror fundraiser, Baghdad Meziane. He had links to the Paris attacks; was jailed for 11 years in 2003 for running a terror support network, and is still residing in the UK after using the Human Rights Act to prevent deportation to his native Algeria. After serving his sentence, he is free to continue his terrorist business in the UK.
A small part of the failure of the UK police forces to deal effectively with the thousands of jihadists lies in flawed priorities, at least going by the latest reports. According to Cambridge News, a police helicopter and 10 officers were sent to a home in Cherry Hinton after a complaint from members of the public that the music was too loud. Initially, one officer was sent to the scene, but more arrived and the helicopter was deployed after the officer apparently "took offence" at a song mocking dead terrorist Osama Bin Laden being played, pressed her "panic button" and called in reinforcements. The people at the small drinking party are, according to the Cambridgeshire police spokesman, now being investigated for committing "an alleged incident of incitement of racial hatred." What, after all, could be more urgent than investigating a drinking party where a Bin Laden parody song was played, with only 23,000 jihadists out and about on the streets of Britain?
The problem of jihadists on the loose is of course not limited to the UK. Recently, a Syrian who arrived in Sweden as a "refugee" in 2015 was acquitted in court of attacking Shia Muslims with firebombs in Sweden. However, having said in monitored conversations that he sees himself as a jihadist who wants to become a martyr and considering that he has been in touch with ISIS, Swedish intelligence deemed him too dangerous to stay in Sweden, so the immigration authorities sought to have him deported to Syria. They did not succeed: the law does not permit his deportation to Syria, as he risks being arrested or executed there. Instead, he was released and is freely walking around in Malmö. Because in Sweden the human rights of an aspiring terrorist foreigner are evidently more important than the human rights of the citizens he wishes to murder.
In short, the policy of doing nothing about the issue of deportation and its clash with outdated human rights conventions, appears to be a deliberate policy in several European countries. The question arises, is Europe actively choosing to commit suicide?
*Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
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Zawahiri lectures on global jihad, warns of national boundaries
Thomas Joscelyn/FDD's LONG WAR Journal/June 10/17
Sometime in the last few years, al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri got an editor. Known for his long-winded lectures, Zawahiri has increasingly recorded shorter messages with more focused arguments. The latest of these came yesterday, when As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, released the seventh episode in Zawahiri’s “Brief Messages to a Victorious Nation” series. The message is titled, “One Ummah, One War on Multiple Fronts.”
Zawahiri emphasizes a core part of his organization’s ideology: jihad is an obligation for Muslims around the globe, especially when non-believers infringe of Muslim lands. Of course, many Muslim authorities are deemed illegitimate in this view of the world, as they do not adhere to the same version of Islam espoused by the jihadists.
The message opens with images of: Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; Izz Ad-Deen Al-Qassam, a Syrian Islamic thinker who preached jihad; Abdullah Azzam, co-founder of the predecessor to al Qaeda and godfather of modern jihadism; al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Suri, an ideologue whose teachings are influential; Abu Muhammad al-Turkistani, a co-founder of the al Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic party; and Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar.
Zawahiri and As Sahab portray these men as part of the same jihadist tradition, stretching back into the early 20th Century.
“Our Ummah today is up against a global war in which Western and Eastern (Orthodox) Crusaders, Chinese, Hindus, Safavi Rawafidh [meaning the Iranians and allied Shiites] and secular nationalists are partners in crime,” Zawahiri says. “From the coasts of al-Maghreb (Western North Africa) to Eastern Turkistan, you will find a Muslim world confronted by aggression, occupation, repression, bombardment, and international alliances working hand[s] in gloves with client regimes, which are outside the pale of Islam and work for the interests of the leading international criminals.”
Al Qaeda has repeatedly argued that Muslims are confronted by this supposedly grand alliance. It is an enlargement of the alleged “Zionist-Crusader” conspiracy that Osama bin Laden first made the cornerstone of his thinking in the 1990s.
Zawahiri is forced to explain how so many parties, which are often at odds with one another, are really part of the same unified effort.
“In terms of peculiarities, one region may differ slightly from another, but there are obvious common denominators, namely fighting Islam in the name of the ‘Fight against Terrorism’ and subservience to an ‘International System,’ cleverly crafted by the victors of World War II for the mutual division and theft of the natural resources of the world – specifically the Muslim world,” Zawahiri says.
The al Qaeda leader argues that the US is still the main enemy. “You will find that the major role in this criminal alliance belongs to the Americans, and then the roles gradually differ as per the power wielded by each partner and its stakes in the system,” he claims.
Zawahiri preaches unity in the face of these overwhelming odds. He quotes an Islamic verse — “And hold on strongly to the rope of Allah and be not divided amongst yourselves” — that al Qaeda routinely peppers throughout its productions.
And he says the “jurists” long ago “ruled that the lands of the Muslims have the status of a single domain.”
Zawahiri continues: “There is a consensus amongst the jurists that if the disbelieving enemy occupies a Muslim land, it becomes obligatory on its residents to defend that land, and if they find themselves unable to do so, this obligation expands in a circular fashion to those nearest to them, and so on until it encompasses Muslims all over the globe.”
Muslims “have always risen up to defend their lands regardless of nationality or race,” he continues. And this was the “prevailing norm until the demise of the Ottoman state, which had defended the lands of Islam for five centuries.”
“After the fall of the Ottomans,” Zawahiri says, “the concept of nation-states with boundaries demarcated by the infidel occupiers started holding sway, and among Muslims arose some proponents of this notion. This is why the callers of the Islamic revival actively fought against this concept.” (Supporters of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State were quick to point out online that Zawahiri wanted to keep the jihad in Iraq separate from the war in Syria, which they say contradicts his stance.)
The al Qaeda emir then lists the men he counts as key revivalists, pointing out that they waged jihad far outside of their native lands.
Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian, organized “battalions for the liberation of Palestine.” Izz ad-Deen al-Qassam, a Syrian, waged “jihad in Palestine.” Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian, awakened “the ummah to defend Afghanistan” and declared “most unequivocally that jihad has been a Fardh Ayn (a compulsory individual obligation) since the fall of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain).”
“Then emerged the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban’s state], and we saw Afghans and emigrants alike pledging allegiance to it,” Zawahiri says. “Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Suri – both Arabs – and Abu Muhammad al-Turkistani” pledged “allegiance to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Afghani (may Allah have mercy on each one of them).”
“So may Allah reward these pioneers, who revived the spirit of one united ummah confronting a disbelieving enemy,” Zawahiri says toward the end of his talk.
He then warns that some seek to divide the jihad according to national boundaries, which is unacceptable. It is an argument he has made in other recent productions. While it is a general point that al Qaeda has made often in the past, it is likely something that Zawahiri wants to emphasize, once again, as jihadi ideologues are currently debating the appropriate course in Syria.
“But today, there are some who want to push us back behind the lines of division drawn by disbelieving occupiers…Pakistan for Pakistanis, Syria for Syrians, Palestine for Palestinians…in the interest of whom, may we ask?” Zawahiri concludes: “May Allah help us gather our strength, bring our hearts closer, unite our ranks, and not deprive us of victory because of our sins.”
Zawahiri’s message was released with an English transcript. As Sahab and al Qaeda’s regional branches have increasingly released English-language content over the previous year. It is an indication that their media efforts have been substantially improved after facing multiple disruptions in 2014 and in the years thereafter.
[For context on the debate regarding the jihadist project in Syria, see FDD’s Long War Journal reports: Pro-Al Qaeda ideologue criticizes joint bombings by Russia and Turkey in Syria; Hay’at Tahrir al Sham leader calls for ‘unity’ in Syrian insurgency; and Ayman al Zawahiri warns against ‘nationalist’ agenda in Syria.]
**Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

Netanyahu and Abbas on the same page for once
Shlomi Eldar/Translator: Sandy Bloom/Al Monitor/June 10/17
Mohammed Mustafa, chairman of the Palestinian Investment Fund and senior economic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the Bloomberg news agency that Abbas is willing to withdraw his demand for a settlement construction freeze by Israel on the West Bank as a stipulation for renewing negotiations with Israel. Mustafa also revealed the reason: Various countries and international donors have drastically decreased their financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Thus, the only way to avert the PA's economic collapse is to enter into negotiations with Israel.
Palestinians and Israelis are mulling over a partial settlement construction freeze, a move that would benefit the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government.
These words expose not only motive on the Palestinian side, but also the way the Israeli-Palestinian game is playing out behind the scenes. After Donald Trump was elected US president in November, the Palestinians adopted a cautious approach. In this way, they hope to score diplomatic successes based on a detailed timetable.
In the short term, they want to prove to the US administration that they, the Palestinians, do not erect barriers or set obstacles in the way of diplomatic negotiations. They want to prove that they are even willing to assist Trump in achieving the historic peace agreement that has eluded every US president who has tried to reach one.
In the medium term, Abbas hopes to save the PA and his regime from collapse. A positive atmosphere between Ramallah and Washington may well lead to a renewal of US economic aid that the PA so desperately needs. More so, if other countries that donate funds to the PA but recently halted them to a large degree see light at the end of the tunnel, they might decide to revive aid as well.
As for the long term, the Palestinians feel that no comprehensive diplomatic arrangement can be reached during the right-wing era of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The PA has an “Israel Department,” headed by Mohammed al-Madani, a close colleague of Abbas who also heads the Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society. The department estimates that the composition of Netanyahu’s government will not allow him to move an inch toward any diplomatic arrangement that would inevitably require the return of West Bank territory. Clearly, the Palestinians know how to read Israel’s political map. Of note, Netanyahu barely managed to push through his Cabinet some small economic gestures toward the Palestinians last month ahead of Trump’s visit. As Al-Monitor reported, the Palestinians viewed the gestures as pathetic.
The PA’s top brass are convinced that withdrawal of the Palestinians' ultimatum regarding building in the West Bank settlements is the only way to show Trump that they are going out of their way to help him reach the “ultimate deal.” Even if no deal is reached, however, at least Netanyahu's real face — someone who will try any trick in the book to sabotage the US initiative for a diplomatic arrangement — will be revealed for all to see.
Abbas’ decision to waive his precondition on construction freeze must also be viewed in a broader context. The US initiative, led by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s emissary to the Middle East, also includes recruiting the Arab states to join a regional process and is the diplomatic prize being offered to Israel. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 15 that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states had offered to take steps toward normalization with Israel if Israel is prepared to partially freeze construction in the territories.
It was in the spirit of this background that a charged meeting was held June 7 between Netanyahu and the heads of the local councils of West Bank settlements. There the prime minister said that the “diplomatic sensitivity” of construction in the territories must be addressed. Netanyahu, of course, did not overtly say that the Americans were pressuring him to agree to a limited construction freeze and that it was all about semantics. The Palestinians view the American pressure on Israel as a “measured [i.e., partial] freeze,” while Netanyahu views it as “wise, responsible building.”
A highly placed Palestinian source told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity that Abbas had received an express promise from the United States that it would make sure that Israel does not “go overboard” — that is, will not build as much as it wants and without supervision in the West Bank. In other words, the Americans promised the Palestinians a kind of limited or controlled construction freeze.
In this way, both the Israelis and the Palestinians can relay to their respective publics a cup-half-full version of events. Abbas can claim that by agreeing to “reach an understanding” with the Americans, he succeeded in extracting a promise that they would rein in the “wild behavior of Netanyahu and his right-wing government,” according to the Palestinians, thus achieving a partial settlement freeze. Netanyahu can say that he had succeeded in safeguarding the settlement enterprise and did not agree to a freeze, despite all the pressure on him.
Mohammed Shtayyeh, a Fatah Central Committee member and close friend of Abbas, told Bloomberg that what made it easier for Abbas to score points with Palestinian public opinion was Trump’s June 1 decision to sign a waiver postponing the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. The move won the US president the good graces of the Palestinians. That being said, when it comes to the PA, what is on the line is not the measure of trust between Abbas and Trump, but how Abbas is viewed by the Palestinian rank and file. Abbas will try to convince the Palestinians that wise, cautious and sagacious diplomacy on his part had stopped Trump from taking extreme, irreversible measures they oppose. Netanyahu will take the same approach with the settlers, telling them that wise diplomatic finesse will help him safeguard construction in the settlements.

Hamas could lose Qatar's support amid GCC strife
Daoud Kuttab/Al Monitor/June 10/17
The director of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, Oraib al-Rantawi, is one of the most followed daily columnists in the Arab world, especially when it comes to Palestinian affairs. Rantawi, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, devoted two successive columns on June 8-9 to the effects of the ongoing Gulf drama to the demise of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas. Palestinians are concerned that as a result of the Qatar crisis, the Gulf nation might be forced to reduce its financial commitments to Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip.
Rantawi made a direct connection in his June 8 column between the escalation against Qatar and the May 20 Arab summit with US President Donald Trump in Riyadh. “Trump lumped Hamas with the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and Hezbollah in his terrorism list, while attending Arab Islamic leaders were quiet.”The well-read analyst said that what is strange is that the four Arab countries that decided to boycott Qatar — namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt — have not listed Hamas on their terror blacklist. “Egypt welcomed on the same day a delegation headed by Yahya Sinwar, the hawkish Gaza Hamas leader, and Saudi Arabia had in 2015 welcomed Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, while the UAE’s favorite exiled Palestinian leader, Mohammed Dahlan, openly proclaims his good relationship with Hamas.”
Regardless of their positions toward Hamas, there is no doubt that in the post-Trump visit to Saudi Arabia, a new order has been established.
Omar Kullab, a Jordanian political analyst of Gaza origin, told Al-Monitor that the visit to Egypt by the Hamas delegation was not a pleasant one. “Sinwar and his group were summoned to Cairo and were told point-blank that they have to quickly end their rule and hand over the reins of power in the Gaza Strip to the Ramallah-based authority.”
Rantawi warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Ramallah-based leadership, however, not to get too excited about the developments between Hamas and the Arab world. “I worry that Fatah in Ramallah would welcome these changes and feel good about them. It might be Hamas today, but it could be Abbas tomorrow,” he warned.
Rantawi’s concerns are apparently correct. A PLO source in Ramallah told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the Palestinian leadership is very happy with the latest developments. “They are enjoying seeing Hamas go down, especially because of what Hamas did to them,” he said in reference to Hamas taking over Gaza by force from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. The source insists that without Qatar, Hamas would have “collapsed” a long time ago.
Jihad Abu Fallah, a senior producer with the UK-based, pro-Hamas Hiwar TV, also believes that the Qatar crisis will have a negative effect on Hamas. Speaking to Al-Monitor, Abu Fallah said, “Many of Hamas’ leaders have already left Doha, and the newly elected head of the political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, has retracted his decision to move from Gaza to Doha.”
Abu Fallah believes that the PLO will also suffer as a result of this crisis. “Funding to Palestine will be reduced, and in the frenzy to cozy up to the United States the Gulf countries are going to race to normalize relations with Israel on the account of the Palestinian cause.”
In his June 9 column, Rantawi called on Hamas to learn from the Palestinian exile experience in the past decades and reminded them that when the PLO was based in Tunis in the 1980s, they were forced to give in to international pressures in order to stay relevant and ensure that the world did not negotiate directly with the leadership in the occupied territories. The analyst was referring to pressure placed on the PLO to moderate its position after it took residency in Tunis.
Rantawi believes that there are very few choices left for Hamas, which will not be able to find a safe haven even in Sudan. “If Hamas wants to get out of the bottleneck that is squeezing it, then it must find a way to return to the political umbrella of the PLO and give up its unilateral rule in the Gaza Strip.”
The extreme pressure that has been piled on the Gulf state of Qatar is destined to be resolved sooner or later. But the big question will be at what price. How long will the small state of Qatar hold out its claims of sovereignty and independent foreign policy, and what are the compromises and groups that will be sacrificed in order to bring this crisis to an end? Qatar has been heavily involved not only in supporting Hamas, but also in providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians, especially in the reconstruction effort after the Israeli wars on Gaza. Palestinians are worried that as a result of this crisis, there will be an end to this vital lifeline. Qatar might be forced to end or reduce its financial commitments to the Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip.
While the Ramallah-based leadership is not currently under any pressure to take any steps against Qatar — such as ending diplomatic relationships — it will no doubt be watching closely what is happening in the hope to keep its head low as Palestinians and Arabs await the end of this storm with the least costs.

Nationalism Between Europe and The Middle East
By Sam Farah/Syria Comment/June 10/17
Steven Bannon, the man behind the nationalist policy in the Trump administration, is quoted as saying, “I think strong countries and strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbors. And that is really the building blocks that built Western Europe and the United States, and I think it’s what can see us forward”.It is true that Nationalism was born in Europe, and is the foundation of the new modern state. However, what Bannon’s remarks miss is the fact that strong nationalist movements in Europe helped lead to the outbreak of World War I and World War II. It has also contributed to a great deal of strife and death in the Middle East.
Before the late 18th century there were no real nation states. Neither passports nor borders as we know them existed. People had ethnic and cultural identities, but these did not really define the political entities in which they lived. In 1800, almost nobody in France thought of themselves as French. At the time of the French Revolution in 1789, half its residents did not speak French.
Nationalism did not develop among the general population, it was a construct first developed among the intellectual elites of Europe. Johann Gottfried Herder, a German philosopher who believed that language determined national thought and culture, first coined the term “nationalism”. Nationalists expected patriots to then learn their nation’s language and raise their children speaking that language as part of a general program to establish a unique national identity. Poets and philosophers created folk epics and fairy tales, these epic legends and constructed narratives created imagined communities that gave rise to a sense of delusional, inflated self-worth. English Nationalists argued that England is the kingdom that, of all the kingdoms in the world, is the most like the kingdom of Jesus Christ. And the French believed that France had a special mission as representative of the most advanced form of western culture.
The idea that the boundaries of a nation should, as much as possible, coincide with only one culture, and the belief that a people who share a common language, history, and culture should constitute an independent nation set the stage for decades of war and border disputes on the European continent. The history of Alsace Lorraine is a microcosm of the turbulent years of nationalism in Europe and the rivalry between French and German nationalism. The area was a watershed for invading French and German armies and mutual annexation. The Germans pursued a Germanification policy in the Alsace that prohibited its residents from speaking French in public. A person could be fined even for something as innocent as saying, “bonjour”. Street signs, once displayed in French, were replaced with German signage. When the French annexed the Alsace, up to 100,000 Germans were expelled and German language Alsatian newspapers were suppressed.
The zeal of nationalism in Europe and the need to define an identity for these nations states culminated with the Nuremberg law. It added a racial element to the concept of nationalism, and ultimately contributed to the rise of Nazi Germany and the outbreak of World War II.
By the end of the 19th century, as the sun was setting on the Ottoman Empire, Zionists, who were primarily European Jews, worked to create a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. Young Turks, eager to modernize their state, and young Arabs intellectuals primarily from the Levant who also wanted to emulate the modernity of Europe embarked on a nation building quest of their own, all with irreconcilable claims and overlapping aspirational maps. This was the framework that set the stage for the endless conflicts in the Middle East that continue to plague the region. Today Kurdish nationalists are trying to establish their own nation state from parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Their ambitions have added another layer of complexity to an already intractable situation.
The trauma of the great depression, the threat of communist revolution, the rise of fascism and the ravage of World War II, made Europe search for an alternative to nationalism.
The search for a new framework for Europe was led by Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman. They worked to enmesh the economies and societies of Western Europe with one another. These new transnational ties were expected to create a permanent peace between France and Germany. The road to building this new post nationalist space that culminated in the creation of the European Union, was arduous. Many European politicians resisted the notion of ceding sovereignty to a supra nationalist entity. The project, however, achieved is intended objective, and Europe has enjoyed the longest period of peace in its modern history. In the mid 1970s, just 22% of Germans thought they had more in common with other Germans of different social class then with Frenchmen of the same class (Haas 1997). And Alsace is now a multi-lingual region, its inhabitants shop and work in both France and Germany. In the words of Angela Merkel, “The Europe that suffered from German hubris was transformed into a ring of friends organized around NATO and the E.U.”
The European post-nationalist experiment was not without its flaws. It seeded too many controls to Brussels. Like most hierarchical systems it became top-heavy, and incapable of responding to change. In addition, there were structural flaws in the way the Euro was established adding layers of popular resentment against the European project.
While Europe is grappling with reforms of its current framework and fending off rising nationalism, the Middle East is still in the thrall of its failed nationalist experiment, increasingly chaotic, with rising religious extremism and terrorism.
Moving Forward
How should the people of Europe and the Middle East organize themselves to achieve peace, stability and economic growth? Today, questions of identity, complexity and polity are the subject of research and a new field of study by complexity theorists, social scientists and historians. They believe that to have a peaceful world it may not be necessary to abolish the nation state as it remains the most effective body to write and enforce the rules, just to deemphasize it. What we need, they argue, are multicultural states with overlapping authorities, divided sovereignty, fuzzy borders, and the distribution of power to local communities.

Bernie Sanders: Knave or Fool?
Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/June 10/17
Bernie Sanders should be ashamed of himself for supporting Jeremy Corbyn in the British elections.
It is clear that if Corbyn were anti-black, anti-women, anti-Muslim or anti-gay, Sanders would not have campaigned for him.... Yet he is comfortable campaigning for Jeremy Corbyn who has made a career out of condemning Zionists by which he means Jews.
Those who consider themselves "progressives" – but who are actually repressives – tolerate anti-Semitism as long as it comes from those who espouse other views they approve of. This form of "identity politics" has forced artificial coalitions between causes that have nothing to do with each other except a hatred for those who are "privileged" because they are white, heterosexual, male and especially Jewish.
Sanders then had the "chutzpah" to condemn political groups on the right for being "intolerant" and "authoritarian," without condemning the equally intolerant, authoritarian and often anti-Semitic, tendencies of the hard Left.
Shame on Bernie Sanders. He campaigned for the British anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn, who received millions of votes from British citizens who care more about their pocketbooks than about combatting anti-Semitism. As exit polls trickled in, Sanders tweeted: "I am delighted to see Labour do so well. I congratulate @jeremycorbyn for running a very effective campaign." There is no doubt that Corbyn and his Labour Party are at the very least tolerant of anti-Semitic rhetoric, if not peddlers of it. (See my recent op-ed on the British Labour Party and Corbyn's association with some of the most rancid anti-Semites.)
Sanders's support for this anti-Jewish bigot reminds me of the Jews who supported Stalin despite his overt anti-Semitism because they supported his communist agenda. Those who tolerate anti-Semitism argue that it is a question of priorities but even so, history proves that Sanders has his priorities wrong. No decent person should ever, under any circumstances, campaign for an anti-Semite.
There are two reasons why Sanders would campaign for an anti-Semite: 1) he has allowed Corbyn's socialism to blind him to his anti-Semitism; 2) he doesn't care about Corbyn's anti-Semitism because it is not important enough to him. This means that he is either a fool or a knave.
It is clear that if Corbyn were anti-black, anti-women, anti-Muslim or anti-gay, Sanders would not have campaigned for him. Does this make him a self-hating Jew? Or does he just not care about anti-Semitism? The answer to that question requires us to look broadly to trends among the hard left of which Sanders is a leader.
Increasingly, the "progressive wing" of the Democratic Party and other self-identifying "progressives," subscribe to the pseudo-academic theory of intersectionality, which holds that all forms of social oppression are inexorably linked. This type of "ideological packaging" has become code for anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bigotry. Indeed, those who consider themselves "progressives" – but who are actually repressives – tolerate anti-Semitism as long as it comes from those who espouse other views they approve of. This form of "identity politics" has forced artificial coalitions between causes that have nothing to do with each other except a hatred for those who are "privileged" because they are white, heterosexual, male and especially Jewish.
It is against this backdrop that Sanders's cozying up to bigots such as Corbyn can be understood. Throughout the presidential campaign and in its aftermath, Sanders has given a free pass to those who are anti-Israel – which is often a euphemism for anti-Jewish. Consider, for example Sanders's appointments to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Platform Committee last summer. Seeking to satisfy his radical "Bernie or Bust" support base, Sanders appointed James Zogby and Cornell West – both of whom have peddled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories throughout their careers. Professor Cornell West – who was a Sanders surrogate on the campaign trail – has said that the crimes of the genocidal terrorist group Hamas "pale in the face of the US-supported Israeli slaughters of innocent civilians," and is a strong advocate of trying to eradicate Israel through the vehicle a campaign of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions.
He has also repeatedly accused Israel of killing Palestinian babies – an allegation that echoes historic attacks on Jews for "blood libel."
Mr. James Zogby of the Arab American Institute once described the motivations behind Israel's interventions in Gaza as "putting the natives back in their place," and has compared the "plight of Palestinians" to the experience of Jews during the Holocaust.
Moreover, Sanders's endorsement for DNC Chair of Keith Ellison -- who himself has a sordid history with anti-Semitism, stemming from his association with Louis Farrakhan, who publicly boasted about his own Jew-hatred – is yet another reflection of Sanders's complicity in, and encouragement of, the oldest form of bigotry.
Finally, consider Sanders's ardent support for Black Lives Matter, an organization that, while worthily "working for the validity of Black life" also, unfortunately, that has promoted anti-Semitism by singling out one country for condemnation in its "platform": calling the Nation State of the Jewish People an "apartheid" and "genocidal" regime.
It is clear that Bernie Sanders does not care about anti-Semitism. Whatever his motivation may be – political, ideological or otherwise – it is never acceptable to support or campaign for an anti-Semite.
Sanders has also shown himself to be an ignoramus when it comes to understanding the Middle East, and has displayed his strong bias against Israel. This may be because he has surrounded himself with foreign policy "experts" who often (incorrectly) describe Israel as an apartheid state, and have (also incorrectly) repeatedly accused the IDF of committing war crimes. Sanders has clearly absorbed some of this rhetoric, as demonstrated in a series of infamous interviews during the campaign, in which he grossly overstated the number of Palestinian civilian deaths in Operation Protective Edge, and (again, incorrectly) accused Israel of using "disproportionate" force in response to Hamas' rocket attacks.
Meanwhile, in a recent video marking the anniversary of the Six-Day War, Sanders said: "We are now in the 50th year of Israel's occupation, an occupation which denies basic Palestinian rights while failing to deliver Israel real security."
He then went on to decry the rise of worldwide political movements, which he described as "racist, intolerant and authoritarian in nature." The irony is staggering. Sanders wandered into the morass of Mideast politics only to satisfy his hard-left supporters who think in absurdly counterfactual packages. He then had the "chutzpah" to condemn political groups on the right for being "intolerant" and "authoritarian," without condemning the equally intolerant, authoritarian and often anti-Semitic, tendencies of the hard left. Sanders's hypocrisy in this instance reflects a dangerous trend in our politics: a willingness to tolerate anti-Semitism and bigotry when it comes from one's preferred side of the political spectrum.
This type of radical "intersectional" thinking was on full display in a bizarre column written by Roger Cohen for the New York Times:
"Elections take place in the real world; they often involve unpleasant choices. I dislike Corbyn's anti-Americanism, his long flirtation with Hamas, his coterie's clueless leftover Marxism and anti-Zionism, his NATO bashing, his unworkable tax-and-spend promises. He's of that awful Cold War left that actually believed Soviet Moscow was probably not as bad as Washington.
Still, Corbyn would not do May's shameful Trump-love thing. He would not succumb to the jingoistic anti-immigration talk of the Tories. After the terrorist attacks, he said 'difficult conversations' were needed with Saudi Arabia: Hallelujah! He would tackle rising inequality. He would seek a soft departure from the European Union keeping Britain as close to Europe as possible. His victory — still improbable — would constitute punishment of the Tories for the disaster of Brexit. Seldom would a political comeuppance be so merited.
That's enough for me, just."
Clearly this reasoning of "that's enough for me" resonates with Bernie Sanders as well. Sanders was willing to campaign in the UK for the ostensibly unelectable Corbyn – who has called Hamas and Hezbollah "my friends" and has associated with Holocaust deniers and peddlers of blood libels against Jews – because he shares Corbyn's socialist agenda.
Addressing Corbyn supporters at a campaign event, Sanders drew on parallels between their similar political agendas:
"What has impressed me – and there is a real similarity between what he has done and what I have done – he has taken on the establishment of the Labour party and gone to the grassroots. And he has tried to transform that party and take on a lot of establishment opposition. That is exactly what's taking place in the United States and what I'm trying to do with the Democratic Party.
"So I applaud Corbyn for raising those issues, which I think are important for my country, for the UK and for every major country on earth."
Like Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders positions himself as the socialist, anti-establishment warrior. It is difficult to imagine Bernie Sanders, however, campaigning for a socialist who did not like black people or who was against gay marriage. Yet he is comfortable campaigning for Jeremy Corbyn who has made a career out of condemning Zionists by which he means Jews.
Let's be clear: Sanders's attempt to downplay, ignore or deny that many of his supporters or associates are really anti-Semites should be disqualifying. Going forward, he will have to explain why a Jew is helping to elect a bigot with the views Corbyn holds about the Jewish people and their nation state. It can be assumed that either Sanders shares some of these views, or is indifferent to them. Shame on Bernie Sanders!
*Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law" and "Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for the Unaroused Voter."
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