June 16/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15/22-27/:"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfil the word that is written in their law, "They hated me without a cause." ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning."

Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico
Acts of the Apostles 05/12-21a/:"Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured. Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, ‘Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.’When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching. When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 15-16/17
No Oil or Gas extraction As long As Hezbollah Occupies Lebanon/François Bainy/Face Book/June 16/17
Trump lashes out at obstruction probe as Putin denies Russian meddling/Ynetnews/Reuters/|June 15/17
Why the US should be concerned over Iran's game in Syria/Michael Young/The National/June 16/17
The Trump impeachment campaign will hurt American Jewry/Michael Laitman/Jerusalem Post/June 14/2017
Iraqi Researcher Ghalib Al-Shahbandar: Our Teaching Of Islamic History Is Delusional/MEMRI/June 15/17
Palestinians' Real Tragedy: Failed Leadership/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/June 15/17
Qatar's Comeuppance/Putting Doha on the Well-Deserved Defensive/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/June 15/17
Is Radicalism Possible Today/David Brooks//Gatestone Institute/June 15/17
UK: Two Failed Gambles Within Two Years/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/June 15/17
Starving The Beast’ Starts in Qatar/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/June 15/17
The EU Won’t Help a Weakened Theresa May/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/June 15/17
For many of Iraq's Yazidis, going home is not an option/Brenda/Al Monitor/June 15/17
Former IRGC commander warns US against attacking Iran/Rohollah Faghihi/Al Monitor/June 15/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 15-16/17
Lebanese Family with Three Daughters Missing in London Tower Block Fire
Foreign Ministry: Choucair family still missing in London tower fire
No Oil or Gas extraction As long As Hezbollah Occupies Lebanon
Lebanese Government Approves Proportional Law, Extends Parliament Term by 11 Months
Berri Meets Foreign, Arab Envoys after Electoral Law Approved
Hariri, Kaag tackle current developments
Nadim Gemayel meets Armenian Ambassador
Mashnouk meets families of victims of murder: We will not back down
Hariri, Shorter tackle current developments
Khoury, interlocutors tackle cultural cooperation
Fenianos: No fear over Beirut Airport security
Fares: New election law step forward on path of establishing proportional system
Army Intelligence Directorate Dismantles Two IS Cells
Gemayel Criticizes Vote Law, Accuses Parties of Seeking Gains Through Parliament Extension
Mashnouq: Berri, Hariri Support Reactivating Death Penalty, Aoun Mulling Issue
Report: Jumblat 'Adapting' to Vote Law Out of 'Keenness for Consensus'
Geagea Credits LF-FPM Alliance for President Election, New Electoral Law
Saqr Charges Ten Suspects with Terror Links

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 15-16/17
Trump lashes out at obstruction probe as Putin denies Russian meddling
U.S. Senate Approves New Sanctions on Russia, Iran
US, Qatar Agree F-15 Fighter Sale
Russia Accuses U.S. of Deploying Missiles against Syrian Army
Turkish FM Holds Talks in Kuwait over Gulf Crisis
Qatar's Migrant Workers on Gulf Crisis Frontline
Yemen Rebels Fire on UAE Ship, Coalition Says
Morocco Urged to Free Protesters in Restive Rif Region
Saudi Policeman Shot in Flashpoint Shiite City
Two pilots found dead after Malaysian fighter jet goes missing
7 killed, 66 injured in blast at kindergarten's entrance in east China

Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 15-16/17
Lebanese Family with Three Daughters Missing in London Tower Block Fire

Naharnet/June 15/17/A five-member Lebanese family has been reported missing among the many lost people after a massive inferno tore through a London apartment block leaving at least 12 people dead on Wednesday, LBCI reported on Thursday. The reported missing Choucair family is composed of a man, his wife and three daughters who hail from the town of Nahle in Baalbek, added LBCI. They had resided in the 27th floor of the Grenfell Tower, it said. Their fate remains unknown. At least 12 people perished in the block fire on Wednesday with witnesses reporting terrified residents had leapt from the tower and dropped their children in a desperate bid for survival. The Grenfell Tower was home to between 600 and 800 people. London police anticipated an increase in the number of fatalities. Seventy-eight people were being treated in hospitals, 18 of whom are in a critical condition. More than 200 firefighters had been tackling the blaze and managed to rescue 65 people. The London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire was under investigation, but its chief Dany Cotton said she had "never seen anything on this scale" in her 29-year career.

Foreign Ministry: Choucair family still missing in London tower fire

Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - Foreign and Expatriates Ministry is in contact with the Lebanese Embassy in Britain, to follow on the conditions of the Lebanese expatriate community in London, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire that erupted on Wednesday in North Kensington. The Lebanese "Choucair" family, who resides on the 22nd floor of the building which was rattled by fire, is still reported missing. The family is comprised of Bassem Taa'an Chocair, his wife Nadia Ghassan Choucair, her Mother Sareya Asaad Chocair, and his three daughters Mirna, Fatma and Zainab, originally from Baalbeck's Nahle town. In the latest incoming update, the Lebanese Embassy in Britain reported that the concerned British authorities notified the Embassy that that it does not have so far a list of all the names of those harmed in fire, including victims or missing people.

No Oil or Gas extraction As long As Hezbollah Occupies Lebanon/لا استخراج للغاز والنفط ما دام حزب الله يحتل لبنان
François Bainy/Face Book/June 16/17
We learned from reliable sources that both international and Arabic prime anti terror Agencies, as well as many countries won’t keep a blind eye and remain idle in regards to Hezbollah’s Iranian vicious schemes focusing on controlling Lebanon’s oil and gas extraction.
These hideous schemes’ main aim is to finance Hezbollah’s terrorist activities and numerous wars from the money the Lebanese oil and gas future sources will provide, as a replicate to what ISIS did and still doing in both Syria and Iraq.
The same reliable sources, as well as numerous intelligence creditable reports published recently in reputable Arabic and Western media facilities, has greatly exposed these Iranian-Hezbollah plans that are fully adopted by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, who was appointed in his post by Iran and its Lebanese mercenaries.
In this context, it is well known to many Lebanese current ministers and MP’s that Hezbollah’s General Secretary, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah has reached a secretive oil-gas deal with President Micheal Aoun, House Speaker, Nabih Berri and PM, Saad Al Hariri, to swiftly pass in the Lebanese current Parliament all the Acts and regulations that secure the save implementation of the Hezbollah-Iran’s oil-gas schemes.
In this same realm it is strongly believed in Lebanon that the term of the current Lebanese Parliament was extended two days ago for more 11 months in a bid that all the required acts, regulations and laws governing the Extraction of oil and gas are passed.
It is worth mentioning that the term-mandate of the Lebanese Parliament has been extended three times to serve Hezbollah’s Iranian terrorist agenda.
In reality and actuality this parliament has turned to be a mere anti Lebanese and anti Arab Hezbollah tool, no more no less.
Hezbollah, the terrorist Iranian armed proxy that occupies Lebanon and controls its institution has assigned the gas-oil schemes’ implementation to Lebanon’s FM, Gobran Bassil, (President Aoun’s son-in-law), and to Pro Aouni Ministers, Cesar Abi Khalil, (Minister of Water and Electrical Resourses), Justice Minister, Salim Jraisati, as well as to the Pro Berri Finance Minster, Al Hassan Khalil.. Many other politicians, Lebanese Diaspora Millionaires and Commercial companies are also involved in this Iranian scheme.
Observers believe that President Aoun and his Son in-law are trying to hasten and facilitate the oil-gas implementation plan by all ways and means locally and regionally, and in this context came the Cyprus president’s recent official visit to Lebanon during which oil-gas extraction topped its agenda.
Meanwhile, studies carried by the Norwegian PGS Company between 2007 and 2008 that covered 21,500 km showed a very rich existence of gas and oil in the northern, central and southern Lebanese regions.
Oil-gas future save extraction needs an end to an going dispute between Lebanon and Israel over a region of 850 square kilometres. This requirement will not be a reality as long as Hezbollah remains a threat to peace and stability in the region.
Hezbollah is counting on President Aoun, and on his political party, the FPM, to be a facade for its oil-gas scheme…
In summary, Arab countries, UN, USA, many European countries, and top notch anti terror intelligence regional and international agencies are fully aware of Hezbollah’s oil-gas Lebanese schemes, as well as of Aoun’s mercenary role.
In conclusion and according to all of the above shocking facts, the gas-oil extraction will not take place in Lebanon as long as the terrorist Iranian proxy, Hezbollah remains occupying the country and using its rulers and officials as mere robots and Trojans.

Lebanese Government Approves Proportional Law, Extends Parliament Term by 11 Months
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 15/17/Beirut – The Lebanese Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new electoral law based on the proportional system, which divides the country into 15 electoral districts.
Speaker Nabih Berri said Parliament would convene on Friday, three days before the end of its constitutional term, to vote on the law.
As expected, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri announced that the cabinet has agreed to extend Parliament’s term by 11 months to allow for the preparations for the elections based on the new voting system.
This will be the third extension of the Lebanese parliament since the last elections in 2009.
Both President Michel Aoun and Hariri have described Cabinet’s endorsement of the new law as a “historic achievement”.
In comments during Cabinet’s session on Wednesday, the Lebanese president said: “The vote law is a tremendous achievement. The [electoral law] in Lebanon has been majoritarian since before the independence.”
However, the president described the new voting system as “a step forward”, even though it might not achieve fully balanced representation, as he said.
“This new law is for all those who have been marginalized by the previous electoral systems,” he added.
Hariri, for his part, praised Lebanese politicians for sitting together and endorsing a new electoral law.
He noted that only three ministers have expressed reservations over the distribution of electoral districts, including Minister for the Displaced Talal Arslan, Public Works and Transportation Minister Youssef Fenianos and State Minister Ali Qanso.
“Unfortunately, we could not adopt the women’s parliamentary quota and we have encouraged to lower the voting age to 18 but we could not reach an agreement over this issue,” the prime minister noted.
“As for emigrants, they will be able to vote in the 2022 parliamentary elections and will be represented” in Parliament, he added.
Hariri stressed that his government was working on easing sectarianism in the Lebanese political life.
The prime minister said the 11-month extension was only technical and would allow the authorities to prepare for the elections, raise awareness on the new process, issue magnetic voting cards and printed ballots, and to prepare for electronic vote tabulation.
Lebanese Forces (LF) Leader Samir Geagea urged the Lebanese to prepare for the upcoming parliamentary elections, noting: “Every vote counts and will influence the electoral process.”
He also called on the Lebanese citizens to unify stances in order to achieve the change that they were longing for. Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, for his part, said that the new law promoted political diversity and would bring an added value to the Lebanese political work.

Berri Meets Foreign, Arab Envoys after Electoral Law Approved
Naharnet/June 15/17/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri received foreign and Arab ambassadors on Thursday a day after the government approved a new electoral law after months of political wrangling. State-run National News Agency said Berri met in Ain el-Tineh with British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter and discussed with him “the current developments in Lebanon and the region.”The speaker then held talks with Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin. The talks tackled “the current situations and the conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union that will be held in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg in October.”In the afternoon, Berri met in Ain el-Tineh with Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Nazih el-Naggary, UAE Ambassador Hamad Saeed al-Shamesi and acting Saudi charge d'affaires Sultan al-Subaii. The three envoys explained to Berri the stance of their countries regarding the crisis with Qatar, NNA said. Berri had announced Wednesday that the new electoral law that has been approved by Cabinet will pave the way for a “new phase” in the country. Parliament is scheduled to vote on the law on Friday. The new law replaces the existing winner-takes-all voting system with proportional representation and reduces the number of electoral districts to 15. It comes after years of wrangling during which key political parties rejected various proposals for fear of losing parliamentary seats.

Hariri, Kaag tackle current developments
Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri on Thursday received at the Grand Serail the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, and discussed with her the latest developments. Hariri also received MP Bahia Hariri and the president of the municipality of Sidon Mohammed Al Saudi. On the other hand, Hariri sponsored the meeting of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon IDAL at the Grand Serail on the occasion of the reactivation of the Maritime Lebanese exports bridge program. He said: "I would like to thank everyone for their efforts, both IDAL and the ministers of Industry, agriculture and economy. The aim of the government is to encourage all products, whether agricultural, industrial or others, and to facilitate the export of Lebanese products. There are several factors that lead to a decline in exports, including the ongoing wars in the region and the high cost of electricity. As a government, we approved the amounts needed to help and if there is a need to increase them, we are prepared to do so. What matters to me is production and work opportunities for the Lebanese. Your demands must be addressed to the government through the concerned ministers, because we want to help reach positive results. We want the private sector to succeed and this will reflect on the economic situation. The state does not have a great potential, but is willing to financially assist any project that could fortify the national economy. The Central Bank is also taking measures and we are in regular contact".

Nadim Gemayel meets Armenian Ambassador
Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - Member of Parliament Nadim Gemayel met on Thursday at his Ashrafieh office with Armenian Ambassador to Lebanon, Samuel Makritichian, with talks reportedly touching on the fraternal ties between Lebanon and Armenia. On emerging and in reply to a question about the new vote law, MP Gemayel deemed the process in which the election law was approved within the cabinet as completely shallow. "What happened at the electoral level demonstrates that the political and democratic life in Lebanon is not healthy," he said.

Mashnouk meets families of victims of murder: We will not back down

Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Nuhad Mashnouk, called on the families of the victims of deliberate murder, while receiving a large delegation including more than 20 people at the Ministry of Interior, to "raise the voice as a Lebanese society to (...) stand in the face of external and international pressures aimed at preventing the activation of the death penalty."Mashnouk expressed sympathy with these families, and said that to the delegation "my heart and mind are with you, and I will closely follow up on your file. We will not back down."He pointed out that "his move towards the activation of the death penalty stems from the concern to protect the remaining youth.""The murder of young man Roy Hamoush opened the file of deliberate killing, and crated a wave of sympathy and solidarity throughout Lebanon. This is evidence that the Lebanese society is still responsive and humane," he said. The Minister noted that "there was a study on the ratio of murders that have proved that, after the executions done in the era of President Elias Hrawi, Martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and Justice Minister Bahij Tabbara, cases of deliberate murder have vanished for several months after the execution." "Both Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri are in favor of activating the death penalty law. President Michel Aoun has promised to study the issue," Mashnouk said.

Hariri, Shorter tackle current developments
Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, on Thursday met at the Grand Serail with British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter, with talks reportedly touching on the general situation and current developments, in addition to the bilateral ties between the two countries. Premier Hariri then received the President of Uganda's Western Province, Sidrak Nazairi, who extended to him an official invitation to visit Uganda to meet with the Ugandan president on means of bolstering bilateral relations, notably at the trade level.

Khoury, interlocutors tackle cultural cooperation
Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - Culture Minister, Dr. Ghattas Khoury, on Thursday received at his ministerial office Tunisian Ambassador Mohammad Karim Boudali, accompanied by the Director of the Heritage Protection Program of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), Dr. Hayat Qatat Al-Qurmazi. Talks reportedly touched on prospects of cooperation and cultural exchanges between Lebanon and the League in the various sectors, especially at the cultural level. Al-Qurmazi disclosed her intention to run for the post of ALECSO Secretary General, soliciting Lebanon's support for her candidacy. On the other hand, Minister Khoury met with the Chairman of the Arab African Council for Integration and Development, Ambassador Imad Tarek Al-Janabi, on top of a delegation, who briefed him on the educational, cultural project between the Arab and African countries aimed at maintaining communication amongst peoples, developing intellectual capabilities, acquiring expertise and delivering further cultural and educational innovations and achievements. Khoury voiced support to this project, in accordance with available capabilities.

Fenianos: No fear over Beirut Airport security
Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Youssef Fenianos, said that the Lebanese airlines company, Middle East Airlines, has launched a plan to expand the capacity of Beirut International Airport. He noted that the government has allocated $28 million to order new equipment to comply with security standards, and to accommodate more passengers, to be up to the level of the best airports in the world. Minister Fenianos pointed out that only Al Hamra Group has made an offer for the first part of the tender for the installation of security machines outside the airport.
"The contracts were signed and transferred to the Court of Auditors, and we count on the speed in tackling this dossier because the installation of these machines is urgent," he added.
Finianos also announced the upcoming installation of surveillance cameras, as well as tools for detection of explosive devices and others for passengers' luggage. "This equipment is intended for scanners that check luggage. Vehicles and portable machines equipped with explosives or flammable materials detection will also be ordered," he said. Minister Fenianos finally applauded the conscience of the Lebanese and the preventive operations of the Lebanese army in collaboration with the security services, saying that there are no fears over the security of Beirut Rafic Hariri Airport.

Fares: New election law step forward on path of establishing proportional system

Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - MP Marwan Fares said in a statement on Thursday that the issuance of the new electoral law constitutes an important step towards the adoption of the principle of relativity, which is a principle that expresses the validity of representation and justice. "But the proportionality that we want and the Lebanese want is that which is based on Lebanon as a single constituency," he went on, stressing the need to vote outside the circle of sectarian restrictions. The MP also said that the new law should have taken into account the right of women in the parliamentary quota. "This law should have been based on the age of 18, for youth to participate in creating a new future for Lebanon," he also commented.

Army Intelligence Directorate Dismantles Two IS Cells
Naharnet/June 15/17/The army's Intelligence Directorate has arrested two “security cells” belonging to the terrorist Islamic State group, media reports said on Thursday. The reports put the total number of detainees at nine. LBCI television said "most of those arrested are Lebanese." The arrested suspects are still being interrogated by the Intelligence Directorate, the reports added. It was not immediately clear where and how the nine suspects were arrested. The General Directorate of General Security had recently announced the dismantling an IS cell that had been planning attacks in the country during the holy month of Ramadan.

Gemayel Criticizes Vote Law, Accuses Parties of Seeking Gains Through Parliament Extension
Naharnet/June 15/17/Kataeb Party leader MP Sami Gemayel lashed out at the new electoral law and the extension of the parliament' term as he accused parties of aiming to secure additional financial gains out of the move. “Extending the parliament's term is aimed at giving time for parties to garner additional financial gains,” said Gemayel in a press conference on Thursday from al-Saifi. “Proportional representation in principle is a good vote law if applied well but it has been tarnished in the new vote law,” he said. “The vote law is not based on one unified criterion as electoral districts were manipulated for political partitioning,” added the MP. Referring to a cancelled item on allocating a quota for woman in parliament, Gemayel stressed that women should have a role and influence in the parliament. He asked: “Why was not the quota adopted in the new law? There is no excuse for canceling the item and Lebanon may not be the last State to have women in the parliament.”Accusing parties of striking deals for personal gains, he said: “Demanding an electronic card to be able for voters to cast their ballots is a predicament for the extension of the parliament's term and to strike a deal with a specific company.”However the Kataeb chief assured that he will run in the elections regardless of what he described as “flawed” voting system.

Mashnouq: Berri, Hariri Support Reactivating Death Penalty, Aoun Mulling Issue
Naharnet/June 15/17/Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri support the reactivation of the death penalty law and President Michel Aoun has promised to mull the issue, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq announced on Thursday. The minister voiced his remarks during a meeting at the ministry with families of victims of “intentional homicide.”Mashnouq called on the families to “raise their voice high to mobilize the Lebanese society to press for fulfilling justice and stand in the face of external and international pressures aimed at preventing the reactivation of the capital punishment law.”And expressing his sympathy with the relatives, the minister promised them that he will follow up on the issue until the end. “My efforts towards the reactivation of the death penalty law stem from my keenness on protecting the rest of the youths” from murders, Mashnouq noted, citing the recent killing of 24-year-old man Roy Hamoush that has shocked the Lebanese society. The minister also pointed out that there is a study that revealed that “intentional homicides stopped completely for several months after executions were carried out during the tenure of president Elias Hrawi, martyr premier Rafik Hariri and justice minister Bahij Tabbara.” Human Rights Watch had on Monday urged Lebanon to respect its moratorium on the death penalty after the latest calls for its reinstatement. Capital punishment is legal in Lebanon, but there has been an effective moratorium in place since 2004, without any executions carried out despite judgments to that effect. "Ending its moratorium on executions would only serve to tarnish Lebanon's human rights record," HRW said in a statement. Roy Hamoush's recent murder was the latest in a growing number of people killed on the street or in broad daylight in Lebanon, often for minor reasons. "Once again, political pressure is growing for Lebanon to resume executions," said Human Rights Watch. "A resumption of executions would constitute a troubling setback for Lebanon, without making the country safer or deterring crime," the London-based watchdog said. Instead of resuming executions, "parliament should solidify Lebanon's position as a leader on this issue in the Middle East, and abolish the death penalty outright," HRW urged.

Report: Jumblat 'Adapting' to Vote Law Out of 'Keenness for Consensus'
Naharnet/June 15/17/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat was nonchalant about the government’s approval of a new electoral law saying he agreed on it out of “keenness for consensus”, Ad Diyar daily reported on Thursday. “It is a settlement of the status quo. We have agreed on it out of keenness for consensus despite our remarks,” Jumblat told the daily. “Proportionality and sectarianism do not fit and do not meet, but what can we do? They have invented this law format and introduced us into a whirlpool related to the preference vote and other details that have puzzled the law makers before anyone else,” added the MP. However, the MP continued saying that since “the law has become a reality, we must prepare for the elections that may produce a change in the political class.” On Wednesday, Lebanon's government announced a new election law after a cabinet session ending months of tense discussions and paving the way for the first parliamentary elections in nine years.Under the agreement, the current parliament's term will be extended once again, but this time for just 11 months to prepare for elections under the new rules in May 2018. Parliament is scheduled to vote on the law on Friday. The new law replaces the existing plurality voting system with proportional representation and reduces the number of electoral districts.

Geagea Credits LF-FPM Alliance for President Election, New Electoral Law
Naharnet/June 15/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Wednesday credited the rising alliance between the LF and the Free Patriotic Movement for the election of the FPM founder as the country's president and the new electoral law that has been approved by the government.
“The first result of the (LF-FPM) reconciliation was the presidency and the second result was the electoral law and more good things are yet to come,” Geagea tweeted a few hours after the new electoral law was approved in Cabinet after marathon negotiations spearheaded by LF deputy head MP George Adwan. Geagea's nomination of FPM founder Michel Aoun for the presidency in January 2016 had played a key role in boosting the latter's chances to become the country's president. The two parties had signed a so-called declaration of intent agreement in June 2015, ending around 30 years of rivalry between the biggest two Christian parties in Lebanon. Both the LF and the FPM have said that the new electoral law will raise the ability of Christians to elect their representatives with their own votes.

Saqr Charges Ten Suspects with Terror Links
Naharnet/June 15/17/State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged ten suspects of Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian and Yemeni nationalities with belonging to a terrorist organization, the National News Agency reported on Thursday. NNA reported that the suspects, five of whom are already in detention, were charged with carrying out terrorist attacks, forming terror cells to carry out suicide bomb attacks in Beirut's southern suburbs and the airport road, assassinations and the possession of weapons and explosives. The file and suspects were referred to the First Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghaida.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 15-16/17
Trump lashes out at obstruction probe as Putin denies Russian meddling
Ynetnews/Reuters/|June 15/17
President Trump dismisses possible obstruction of justice probe as a 'phony story' and a 'witch hunt'; former FBI Director Robert Mueller to head probe; Putin dismisses meddling claim, saying Comey and US officials have offered no proof. US President Donald Trump attacked what he called a "phony story" on Thursday after a report that he is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice by the special counsel probing alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. "They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice," Trump wrote on Twitter, later repeating his accusation that the probe is a "witch hunt." The Washington Post, citing unidentified officials, reported on Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the Republican president for possible obstruction of justice. Mueller is leading the Russia probe after being appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the Department of Justice, which oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Last week, former FBI Director James Comey told Congress he believed he was fired by Trump to undermine the agency's Russia investigation.
A source familiar with the Mueller investigation confirmed the Post report, saying an examination of possible obstruction of justice charges was "unavoidable" given Comey's testimony, although the issue may not become the main focus of the probe.  Examining such possible charges will allow investigators to interview key people within the administration including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein and possibly Trump, the source told Reuters.The obstruction of justice investigation into Trump began days after Comey was fired on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter, the Washington Post said.
After Comey's firing, the administration gave differing reasons for his dismissal. Trump later contradicted his own staff, saying on May 11 he had the Russia issue in mind when he fired Comey. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8 he believed Trump had directed him in February to drop an FBI probe into former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, that was part of the broader Russia investigation. He declined to say whether he thought Trump sought to obstruct justice, saying that would be up to Mueller to sort out. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, and Richard Ledgett, the former deputy director at the NSA, had agreed to be interviewed by Mueller's investigators as early as this week, the Post said. It cited five people briefed on the requests by Mueller's team who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump's legal team, denounced the Post report, saying on Wednesday: "The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal." It was not clear why he attributed the report to an FBI leak. The Post report did not name the FBI as its source.
A spokesman for Mueller's team declined to comment on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Moscow has denied US intelligence agencies' conclusion that it interfered in last year's election campaign to try to tilt the vote in Trump's favor. Former FBI director James Comey has presented no evidence to prove that Moscow meddled in the US presidential election, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, adding that Washington had tried to influence Russian elections for years. Putin was referring to Comey's testimony to the US Senate's Intelligence Committee.
"I am not familiar in detail with the testimony given by former FBI director Comey," Putin said during a question and answer session with citizens. "Again, he gave no evidence of this (Russian meddling)."
"And what about constant US propaganda, constant US support of America-oriented non-government organizations by giving them money directly? Isn't it an impact on our minds? Isn't it an attempt to influence how we should behave during election campaigns? This continues year after year," he said.
Putin, in a combative mood, said many heads of state around the world had told him of similar US meddling in their internal affairs. But they would not voice their concerns openly, fearing to "spoil relations" with Washington, he said. As for Russia, "we have an opinion of our own, we express it openly. But this is not any sort of underground subversive activity", Putin said. Putin also said that it was "very strange" for a former FBI chief to leak details of his conversations with the US president to the media through a friend of his. "What is the difference then between the FBI director and Mr. Snowden?" Putin said, in a reference to former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who was granted asylum in Russia in 2013 after leaking classified information about US spy operations. "In this case, he (Comey) is not the head of a special service but a human rights activist who defends a certain
position," Putin said. "By the way, if he (Comey) is subject to any sort of persecution in connection with this, we will be ready to give him political asylum in Russia. And he should know about this."

U.S. Senate Approves New Sanctions on Russia, Iran
Naharnet /Agence France Presse/June 15/17/The U.S. Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed tough sanctions on Iran and Russia, sending the House of Representatives a bill that would prevent President Donald Trump from unilaterally easing penalties against Moscow.
The measure, which passed with broad bipartisan support, seeks to make Tehran pay a price for what was described as its "continued support of terrorism."It also notably aims to punish Russia's Vladimir Putin for meddling in last year's U.S. election, and to make it tougher for the White House to roll back sanctions."Any idea of the president's that he can lift sanctions on his own for whatever reason are dashed by this legislation," top Democrat Chuck Schumer told fellow senators shortly before the vote.

US, Qatar Agree F-15 Fighter Sale
Naharnet /Agence France Presse/June 15/17/ US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and his Qatari counterpart Khalid al-Attiyah signed a letter of agreement Wednesday for a $12-billion sale of US-manufactured F-15 fighters, the Pentagon said.
The sale comes amid a simmering crisis in the Gulf after Qatar's neighbors accused it of supporting terrorism and cut diplomatic ties. US President Donald Trump has signalled his support for the Saudi-led move but other US officials have been more cautious and called for dialogue to end the crisis.
"The $12-billion sale will give Qatar a state-of-the-art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Qatar," the Pentagon said in a statement. Mattis and al-Attiyah also discussed mutual security concerns, including the Islamic State group and "the importance of de-escalating tensions so all partners in the Gulf region can focus on next steps in meeting common goals."The Pentagon did not provide additional details on the sale but Bloomberg reported it could include as many as 36 warplanes. The State Department last year said it had authorized the sale of 72 F-15 Strike Eagle jets to Qatar. That deal was worth an estimated value of $21 billion.

Russia Accuses U.S. of Deploying Missiles against Syrian Army
Naharnet /Agence France Presse/June 15/17/Russia on Thursday accused the U.S.-led coalition of deploying missiles against Syrian troops at a garrison in the east of the country, where rebels battling the Islamic State group are being trained. In a statement, the defense ministry said the "United States has moved two HIMARS multiple rocket launchers from Jordan to the al-Tanaf U.S. special forces base."That suggested that the equipment would be used for strikes against Syrian government forces, the statement added. "Deploying any type of foreign weapons on Syrian territory... must be approved by the government of the sovereign country," it said. "Forces of the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition have repeatedly issued strikes on Syrian government forces fighting IS near the Jordanian border. "It's not hard to guess that similar strikes will be continued against contingents of the Syrian army in the future using HIMARS," it said. In Washington, a U.S. Defense Department confirmed the deployment of the HIMARS system to the base, but did not say how many. Russia has conducted a bombing campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015, and last week branded a coalition strike on pro-regime fighters an "act of aggression."Last week the Pentagon credited Russia with helping to calm tensions in southern Syria after a U.S. jet shot down a pro-regime combat drone that had fired at coalition forces. In the first incident of its type, the pro-regime drone on fired what turned out to be a dud bomb at U.S.-led coalition forces close to the coalition's At-Tanaf garrison near the Jordanian border. Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said then that any escalation in hostilities between the coalition and the pro-regime forces had been avoided thanks mainly to Russia's influence. The HIMARS system, mounted on a lorry, fires GPS-guided rockets with a range of 70 kilometers (43 miles). Another version of the system fires small GPS-guided missiles with a range of 300 kilometers, but it is not know which type has been deployed.

Turkish FM Holds Talks in Kuwait over Gulf Crisis
Naharnet /Agence France Presse/June 15/17/Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday held talks in Kuwait to push mediation efforts aimed at resolving a standoff between a Saudi-led alliance and Qatar. Cavusoglu discussed with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah "regional and international developments," the official KUNA news agency said. Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed Al-Sabah has launched a mediation effort after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism. The Turkish chief diplomat held talks with Qatar's emir and foreign minister on Wednesday and plans to visit Saudi Arabia. Ahead of the talks in Kuwait, Cavusoglu told a press conference that he will travel to the holy city of Mecca on Friday for talks with King Salman.
"Although the kingdom is a party in this crisis, we know that King Salman is a party in resolving it," the Turkish minister said. "We want to hear the views of Saudi Arabia regarding possible solutions and will share with them our views in a transparent way ... We pay a great attention to our relations with them," he said. Cavusoglu said Qatari officials believe they are not the cause of the current crisis and want to know the claims of the four countries. "We are trying hard to prevent any escalation and find a quick solution to the crisis ... Resolving the crisis is not through taking (boycott) decisions but through dialogue," Cavusoglu said. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting "terrorism."U.S. President Donald Trump expressed support for the allegations against Doha, which categorically denied them. The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf but is also keen to maintain its improving relations with the key regional power Saudi Arabia. Turkey is also eager to maintain workable relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia's foe with whom Doha's critics say Qatar maintained excessively close ties.

Qatar's Migrant Workers on Gulf Crisis Frontline
Naharnet /Agence France Presse/June 15/17/Ajit, an Indian electrician, is just seven months into his new job but right now he is a worried man, like many other members of the huge migrant workforce in Qatar. He frets not only about his job, his future in the country but also the price of food. "If this continues, there will be problems for people like us, the workers. The price of food will go up and there will be no jobs," he told AFP. He was referring to the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf that has seen Qatar isolated after regional giant Saudi Arabia and several allied countries cut all ties to Doha. Ajit earns 1,000 riyals a month ($275, 240 euros), of which he sends 600 home to his family. He worries he won't be able to do that for much longer. "In some supermarkets, the price of rice, tomatoes and onions has increased," he said. "Where I was spending one riyal on each item, now it is double that."Ajit has come up with a solution to cope with the rising food prices in Doha -- cut down to just one meal a day. - 'Maybe send us home' -The 31-year-old is typical of the nervous migrant workforce. As the crisis imploded, discussion has largely focused on the political and security aspects of the row between some of the globe's richest countries in one of the world's most volatile regions. But outside the corridors of power, it is Qatar's foreign workforce - totalling more than two million, mostly from south Asia -- who are on the frontline when it comes to the immediate impact of the crisis. While Qatar's Western expats are likely to ride out the economic impact, there is no such luxury for Ajit and his colleagues. The rising price of staple foods is just one of their fears. Concerns are also growing about job security and the lack of much-needed overtime as economic uncertainty grows, due to what Doha has labelled the "blockade" imposed by neighbouring countries.
"I have heard people saying there will be no more jobs in Qatar," added Ajit. A short distance away stood Anil, a 32-year-old scaffolder from Bangladesh, in blue overalls and a purple face-cover to shield from the fierce summer sun. He was resting after a morning of labour in heat of 48 degrees Celsius (118 Fahrenheit) in the rundown Doha suburb of Mshereib that is being transformed into a gleaming cafe, hotel and business area ready for the 2022 football World Cup. "Everybody is talking about this problem (the crisis)," said Anil, 32. "Some people are saying they may send us home." In just one week since Qatar was cut off, Anil said the price of the apples he buys has more than doubled, from seven to 18 riyals per kilo (two pounds). - Bad timing -"I've heard Qatar is supporting terrorists and that's why they've been blockaded," said Abdulbariq, 38, an electrician. The Bangladeshi uses the money he earns -- 820 riyals a month -- to send his two daughters to school in India."This will affect them," he fears.The Gulf crisis could not have hit the workforce at a worse time. Because of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, working hours have already been reduced and there is no chance to make up any shortfall through overtime. That though is only a temporary measure. Although Qatari officials have, so far, confidently shrugged off the economic impact of isolation, that view is not shared on the country's many construction sites. "I have a father, brother, mother and sisters to look after, I send home 1,500 riyals a month," said Noor-ul-Islam, a 26-year-old mason from Bangladesh. "Definitely there will be problems for my family if this crisis continues."

Yemen Rebels Fire on UAE Ship, Coalition Says
Naharnet /Agence France Presse/June 15/17/Yemeni rebels have fired a missile at an Emirati ship near the Bab al-Mandab strait, injuring a crewman, the Saudi-led coalition said Thursday, marking the latest incident in the strategic waters. The coalition, which intervened against Yemen's Huthi rebels and their allies more than two years ago, did not name the vessel or say whether it was civilian or military.
It was leaving the port of Mokha, in Yemen's southwest, when the attack occurred but the ship itself was not damaged, the coalition said. The rebels control northern Yemen and seized the capital Sanaa in September 2014, supported by members of the security forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. In a statement on their press agency the rebels claimed the attack against the "warship" and said it took place on Tuesday evening. Coalition-backed forces supporting the internationally recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi took back Mokha from the rebels in February. The historic port is just north of the Bab al-Mandab which links the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean and is vital to global trade. An international naval coalition, the Combined Maritime Forces, on Monday warned that "there are still risks" to ships transiting Bab al-Mandab. Yemeni rebels in late January attacked a Saudi warship in the Red Sea, killing two sailors. Anti-government forces are also believed to have fired missiles toward US warships in the area. Late last year the rebels attacked a UAE vessel, the high-speed catamaran HSV-2 Swift, in the Bab al-Mandab. The UAE said the ship was "civilian" and lacked "any military capability," but a United Nations panel of experts disagreed. It reported in January that the vessel "was operating directly to support the military efforts" of the UAE when it was hit by a missile.

Morocco Urged to Free Protesters in Restive Rif Region
Naharnet /Agence France Presse/June 15/17/Human rights defenders issued a joint call Thursday for Morocco to release protesters in al-Hoceima, a northern city shaken by seven months of demonstrations against the marginalization of their region. The statement comes a day after a court sentenced 25 demonstrators and suspected members of the grassroots protest movement to 18 months in jail each, according to their defense attorney. On Thursday the Civil Initiative for the Rif, which includes Moroccan human rights organizations and intellectuals, issued a report after conducting a tour of the restive northern region. It called for the release of the protesters so that a dialogue can be started, warning that "otherwise the inhabitants of al-Hoceima will continue to demonstrate.""Apart from this prerequisite, the government must take initiatives to satisfy social demands," they added. The protests were "spontaneous", had nothing to do with politics or trade unions, and there was no separatist motive, the group said, referring to accusations from politicians and state media. The 25 protesters sentenced to jail on Wednesday were among 32 people arrested more than two weeks ago after clashes erupted when police tried to detain the head of the movement, Nasser Zefzafi. They were handed prison terms of 18 months each while the other seven were given suspended sentences and fined, said defense lawyer Mohamed Ziane. "This verdict is a patent rejection of any kind of dialogue with the protesters," Ziane said at the time.
"This sad decision can fuel more protests, and is not the right one at all to find an end to this situation."
The al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or "Popular Movement", has been holding protests for weeks in the neglected region, demanding jobs and an end to corruption. Its leader, Zefzafi, was arrested on May 29 and is in custody in Casablanca awaiting trial, along with other leaders of the movement. Al-Hoceima has been rocked by social unrest since the gruesome death in October of a fishmonger, who was crushed in a rubbish truck as he protested against the seizure and destruction of swordfish caught out of season.
Demands for justice snowballed into the wider grassroots movement.

Saudi Policeman Shot in Flashpoint Shiite City
Naharnet /Agence France Presse/June 15/17/A Saudi policeman has been shot and wounded in a flashpoint Shiite-dominated city, the interior ministry said on Thursday. It was the latest incident in the Qatif area, where violence has flared over the past month. The policeman was shot "from an unknown source" late on Tuesday while on duty in the Gulf coast city of Qatif, the interior ministry said in a statement. "His condition is stable" in hospital, it said. On June 1 in Qatif a car exploded in the street, killing the two occupants who the ministry later identified as wanted suspects. One of them, Fadel al-Hamada, was sought along with others for involvement in the killing of 10 security forces members over the past two years in the Dammam and Qatif areas, the ministry said.The second man, Mohammed al-Suwaimil, was linked to two of those murders, it said. Their vehicle was found to contain weapons and explosive material which blew up after police took "necessary action", the ministry said. A rights group, the Berlin-based European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR), accused authorities of killing the men with explosives but gave no detail. In the Qatif district town of Awamiya, violence has intensified over the past few weeks. The interior ministry has blamed criminals engaged in the drug and arms trade for the unrest which has killed two policemen and at least two civilians, according to an official toll. Residents give a higher toll, and accuse police of firing on them.

Two pilots found dead after Malaysian fighter jet goes missing
Thu 15 Jun 2017NNA - Two Malaysian pilots were found dead after their military plane went missing, triggering a search-and-rescue mission Thursday, an air force spokesperson told AFP. The Hawk 108 fighter jet took off at 11am and contact was lost at 11.30am when the plane was believed to be near the border of the Malaysian states of Pahang and Terengganu. The two airmen's bodies were found in a swampy area in Chukai, a town in Terengganu, the spokesperson who did not want to be named, said.
"The plane has not been found yet and we are investigating," the spokesperson said without providing more details. State news agency Bernama, citing air force chief Affendi Buang, reported that the bodies had parachutes attached to them. There have been other recent cases of military plane incidents in Malaysia. In December, a military Beechcraft B200T turboprop crashed in the town of Butterworth in northern Malaysia.--AFP

7 killed, 66 injured in blast at kindergarten's entrance in east China
Thu 15 Jun 2017/NNA - An explosion rocked a kindergarten in eastern China on Thursday, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens, authorities said, as state media published images showing bloodied and unconscious victims. The blast occurred near the kindergarten and victims were taken to hospital, according to the Fengxian county government in Jiangsu province. Images circulating online showed that the force of the blast tore people's clothes off and one woman was seen clutching her child, who is in tears. Xinhua news agency, citing the emergency office of Xuzhou city, said the explosion happened at the gate just as children were leaving the school in the afternoon. An official at the police station in Fengxian county told AFP that the cause of the blast was under investigation. At least seven people were killed and 66 injured, including nine seriously, according to Xuzhou city government. Two died at the site of the explosion and five while being treated. Pictures of the scene showed more than a dozen people outside a building, many lying on the concrete and some appearing to be unconscious, including a small child. Another video posted by the People's Daily shows emergency workers arriving at the scene with gurneys. Another shows people lying in a hospital. Online media reports cite a business owner near the kindergarten as saying that around 5:00 pm (0900 GMT) he heard a "bang", and found that there had been an explosion at the kindergarten entrance only 100 metres away. It is the latest tragedy to strike a kindergarten in China in recent weeks.--AFP

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 15-16/17
Why the US should be concerned over Iran's game in Syria

Michael Young/The National/June 16/17
Events in Syria have moved quickly in recent weeks, as both regional and international powers manoeuvre to improve their leverage. More than before, the conflict has become an open competition among outside powers to define Syria’s future while preventing others from doing so.
Recently, the United States and Russia have been engaged in a dialogue in Jordan to establish a de-confliction zone in south-west Syria. Such a zone would cover Deraa governorate, which borders Jordan, and Quneitra, which abuts the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. This could neutralise efforts by Iran and the Syrian government to extend their power to these areas, so both have sought ways of undermining any US-Russian deal, even if Russia’s role remains equivocal.
Last Friday, the Syrian regime and Iranian-backed Shiite forces opened a passage between Syria and Iraq. The impact of the move was nebulous because the ability of those forces to hold their positions is uncertain. Yet it was above all an Iranian riposte to efforts by the United States to prevent pro-Iran groups in Syria from establishing a land link with Iraq, and beyond that with Iran.
The Trump administration regards the opening of such a land passage as facilitating Iran’s ability to send troops and weapons to areas alongside territory controlled by Israel, but also near Jordan, a key US ally. The struggle over eastern Syria and over Deraa and Quneitra in the south is part of a larger battle for regional sway and who will get to define the endgame in Syria, and especially the country’s long-term alignments.
That is why the prospect of a de-confliction zone in southern Syria is so disturbing for Tehran. Any US-Russian deal to impose such a zone would happen outside the Astana negotiating process, which the Russians have sponsored and which includes Iran. But how far is Moscow willing to go to block Iranian efforts in southern Syria?
Not surprisingly, the Russians have sent mixed signals, as they have many times before in Syria. Even as they talk to the Americans, they appear to be supporting a Syrian regime offensive in Deraa, backed by Iran, a move widely interpreted as an effort to undermine the plan for a de-confliction zone.
Two weeks ago, a military column flying Russian flags entered Deraa, though it was not determined whether Russian personnel were present. However, it was difficult not to read the move as Russian endorsement of the Syrian regime’s military actions in the city. Less ambiguously, the Russians never stopped assisting regime and pro-Iran forces involved in opening the road to Iraq.
The Russians seem to be applying the rule that if you succeed once, try again. They have repeatedly appeared to fool the Americans into believing that there are real differences between them and Iran, only to invariably come down on the Iranian side and that of the Syrian regime. This seems to be true in southern Syria. Perhaps Moscow feels that it simply does not have the means to oppose Tehran and would only lose out politically if it tried.
The only thing that would change this is for the Trump administration to impose red lines that it would be willing to defend militarily. The US has done so to a limited extent around Tanf, a border crossing near the Syrian-Iraqi border where US special forces are located. However, until now it has not sought to dislodge the pro-Iran forces that circumvented Tanf to open a road to Iraq. That move effectively blocked any US effort to use the Syrians it is training to spearhead an offensive against Albukamal, Mayadin, and Deir Ez Zor, all controlled by ISIL.
The Iranians fear that such an offensive would allow the Americans to control the border area with Iraq, denying them the latitude to arm and reinforce their own allies in Syria and Lebanon.
Dislodging Iran and its followers from the border would represent a major escalation of the US role in Syria, which president Donald Trump has shown no indication of wanting to do. The administration has spoken of its desire to contain Iran in the Middle East, but has failed to say how far it would be prepared to go. If Mr Trump’s actions after the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack last April are any indication, the president is unwilling to go far.
Some newspapers have suggested, more conspiratorially, that if the pro-Iran militants were able to go around the US position at Tanf without hindrance and reach the Iraqi border, then this must have been the result of a deal between Washington and Moscow. Amid the duplicity in Syria everything is possible, though the evidence for it is thin.
However, one thing is true: Syria means much more to Iran than it does to Russia or the United States. This reality will continue to define the dynamics in the country for some time to come. It does not hold promise for the eventual stability of Syria, even once the war there ends.
**Michael Young is a writer and editor in Beirut

حملة الدعاوى والإتهامات ضد الرئيس ترامب سوف تؤذي اليهود الأميركيين
The Trump impeachment campaign will hurt American Jewry

Michael Laitman/Jerusalem Post/June 14/2017
In broad daylight or behind the scenes, self-hating Jews have always been the worst detractors of the Jews, and their most injurious and treacherous enemies.
Donald Trump Israel
It is one thing for citizens of a democratic country to disagree with their president over policy. It is another thing altogether to cultivate, finance, and lead a perpetual campaign to impeach him. And if you are Jewish, no one will forgive you for doing so.
Whoever loses in the battle between President Trump and his detractors from the Left (and some from the Right) will blame the Jews for the defeat and will take vengeance on them. By their own hands, American liberal Jewry is preparing the ground for the demise of Judaism in the US. And by demise, I mean its physical extermination.
Lessons from History
Since the onset of our nation, our worst enemies have come from within. When we had no enemies from without, our own coreligionists summoned them, often putting words in their mouths and fanning the hatred.
When Abraham started to circulate the notions that would later become the heart and core of Judaism, his own father, Terah, brought him to Nimrod, the Babylonian king, to be judged. Terah watched as Abraham was sentenced to death by burning and did not once protest the verdict.
Joseph, who was destined for greatness by uniting his brothers around him (the name Yosef [Joseph] comes from the Hebrew word osef [gathering/assembling]), was also nearly killed by his own kin and was eventually sold to slavery. In exile, he secured the prosperity of the Jews by keeping them together.
“When Joseph died,” writes the Midrash Shemot Rabbah, the Jews said, “Let us be as the Egyptians,” meaning they wanted to assimilate and disperse. “Because they did so,” the Midrash continues, “the Lord turned the love that the Egyptians held for them to hatred, as it was said (Ps 105), ‘He turned their heart to hate His people, to abuse His servants.’”
Moses, who reunited the Jews and facilitated their exile from slavery, suffered much criticism from his own people, both before and after the Exodus. His worst critics prior to the Exodus were from his own brethren. Midrash Tanhuma asks in the portion Beshalach (Chapter 8), where did Pharaoh find “600 select chariots” to chase Moses and his people back into Egypt?
The Midrash answers that they were from among the Jews, those who fear the Lord but serve Pharaoh. “Thus, we learn,” concludes the Midrash, “that those who feared the Lord [but served Pharaoh] were a snag to Israel.”
The First Temple was no exception. Rav Yehuda Ashlag, author of the Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar, wrote in his essay “Exile and Redemption” that because the Jews turned from unity and instead “wished to include their narrow selfishness,” the First Temple was ruined.
In the Babylonian exile, when Haman wanted to “destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews” (Esther, 3:13), only unity saved them. The book Likutey Halachot (Assorted Rules) writes in the chapter “Rules of the Tzitzit”: “This is why Esther said specifically, ‘Go gather all the Jews’ (Est, 4). Afterwards, it also mentions gathering and assembling, as it is written (Est 8), ‘to assemble and to defend their lives.’ …It is so because the miracle of Purim, which is the defeat of Haman, is primarily by gathering and assembling. This is what inverted his evil thought. …Therefore, when Haman wanted to overcome Israel he said (Est 4), ‘There is a certain nation, dispersed and separated among the nations.’ Specifically when Israel are dispersed and separated, and cannot be assembled, by this he wanted to prevail over Israel, for Haman’s downfall is by the assembling of the Jews. This is why Esther said, ‘Go gather all the Jews,’ specifically ‘gather.’”
After their return to the Land of Israel, the Jews once again faced Jew-hatred from within. The Hellenists were Jews who hated their brethren so fiercely that they fought them to the death instead of the Greeks.
Self-hatred during the time of the Second Temple brought on its ruin and an exile that lasted two millennia. Worse yet, Tiberius Julius Alexander, commander of the Roman armies that conquered Jerusalem, ruined the Temple, and exiled its people, was an Alexandrian Jew whose own father had donated the gold and silver for the Temple gates. In fact, before Tiberius Alexander stormed Jerusalem, he had obliterated his native community of Alexandria, causing “the whole district [to be] deluged with blood as 50,000 corpses were heaped up,” according to Jewish-Roman historian Titus Flavius Josephus.
Since the ruin of the Temple and the onset of the exile, countless Jews have turned against their people, often inflicting untold harm upon their coreligionists. In many cases, Jews-turned-antisemites were the only source of information that fueled the hatred against Jews. In his book Anti-Semitism, Its History and Causes, French Journalist Bernard Lazare describes the fierce hatred of the converts (Spanish Jews who converted to Christianity before the 1492 expulsion) toward their brethren. “The Talmud was the great antagonist of the converts. They constantly denounced it before the inquisitors, the king, the emperor, the pope. The Catholic theologians followed the example of the converts; most frequently they had about the Talmud no other notions beyond those given them by the converts.”
In the 15th century, the converted Jews Peter Schwartz and Hans Bayol incited the residents of Ratisbon, Germany, to ransack the Jewish ghetto. Around the same period in Spain, Pedro (Samuel) de la Caballeria wrote Wrath of Christ Against the Jews, Johannes Pfefferkorn wrote Enemy of the Jews, and Jerome of Santa Fe (Yehosúa ben Yosef) wrote Hebreomastyx (roughly: Jewish Reptiles).
Some years prior, Spanish Archbishop Paul de Santa-Maria, Chancellor of Castile, who was known prior to his conversion as Rabbi Solomon Levi of Burgo, demonized the Jews in the eyes of King Henry III of Castile. Under his incitement, synagogues were raided and ransacked with ferocious hatred.
But above all the antisemitic converts of the late Middle Ages stands the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, Tomás de Torquemada. In his book The Jews in the Medieval World: A Source Book, 315-1791, historian Jacob Rader Marcus describes an extraordinary event that almost changed the course of history in favor of the Jews, had it not been for Torquemada. According to Marcus, “The agreement permitting the Jews to remain in Spain on the payment of a large sum of money was almost completed when it was frustrated by the interference of the Prior of Santa Cruz [Torquemada]. The story relates that Torquemada thundered, with crucifix aloft, to the King and Queen: ‘Judas Iscariot sold his master for thirty pieces of silver. Your Highness would sell him anew for thirty thousand. Here he is, take him, and barter him away.’ Then the Queen gave an answer to the representatives of the Jews, similar to the saying of King Solomon [Proverbs 21:1]: ‘The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turns it whithersoever He will.’ She said furthermore: ‘Do you believe that this comes upon you from us? The Lord has put this thing into the heart of the king.’”
In broad daylight or behind the scenes, self-hating Jews have always been the worst detractors of the Jews, and their most injurious and treacherous enemies.
Prior to World War II, many Jewish leaders and scholars viewed Nazism favorably. Donald L. Niewyk writes in The Jews in Weimar Germany: “Jewish banker Max Warburg could see in Nazism ‘a necessary reaction’ against Germany’s foreign enemies and could rejoice ‘that the German nation, after years of suffering, has brought together so much strength in this [the Nazi] movement.’” According to Niewyk, “The vast majority of Jews was passionately committed to the well-being of its sole Fatherland, Germany.”
Worse yet, Jewish organizations actively supported and promoted the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party to power. The Association of German National Jews called for the elimination of Jewish ethnic identity and supported Hitler. Similarly, the German Vanguard, often referred to as “Nazi Jews,” was another group of German-Jewish followers of Hitler.
Even during the war, while their brethren were being exterminated like lice in the death camps of the Holocaust, some Jews were busy helping Hitler. Baron von Rolland was not born by that name. He was born as Isaac Ezratty and became a spy in the service of the Third Reich. Likewise, Werner Goldberg, of half-Jewish ancestry, was a soldier in the German Army and later attended the Reich Board of Labour Studies School where he became a lecturer. His image appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt as “The Ideal German Soldier.”
Jewish Self-Hatred Persists
Nothing has changed since Abraham’s first encounter with the furnace. Today, Jews are still their own worst enemies. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is rife with Jews and Israelis who hate Israel more than anything on Earth. Jewish politicians and political advisors are feeding hatred into the media and the entire world just as their predecessors have done throughout our history.
Today, there is an even more pernicious form of Jewish self-hatred: anti-Zionism. Liberals such as Bernie Sanders present themselves as humanists when they lash out at Israel for its attitude toward Palestinians. But have you ever heard them lashing out at Syria for gassing to death its own people, or at countries like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan for sentencing people to death because of Facebook posts they deem offending? Will Sanders lash out at Hamas when they launch rockets at Israel from the tunnels they are building under their own children’s schools, or will he condemn Israel for returning fire?
We may denounce the vile bigotry against Israel that Sidney Blumenthal relentlessly whispered into Hillary Clinton’s ears, but the campaign of Jewish liberals against President Trump poses an even graver danger. During the election campaign, these liberals portrayed Trump as an antisemite. When they realized he was not antisemitic, they argued that his rhetoric is promoting antisemitism. Now that Donald Trump is the president, they are doing all they can to impeach him.
The attitude of liberal Jews against President Trump goes hand in hand with their resistance to the State of Israel, as reflected by their support for Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, and Barack Obama.
Among the older generation, many American Jews still support the State of Israel. But among Jewish millennials, the sentiment is very clear. The majority of them wants nothing to do with Judaism and actively opposes anything related to support for Israel. They actively partake in and lead organizations such as BDS, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other anti-Israel entities. All of them meet all three criteria that define antisemitism: double standard, demonization, and delegitimization. In other words, these Jews are antisemites.
American Jews who present themselves as progressives will not let out a peep when LGBT people are murdered in Muslim countries. But when an Israeli soldier kills a terrorist, they raise a cry as though the most outrageous crime has just occurred. When American Jews regard the blood of Israeli Jews as dispensable, it is a very bad sign.
Turning the Tide
I have elaborated on countless occasions that the essence of Judaism is connection among people. Old Hillel defined the essence of Judaism very succinctly: “That which you hate, do not do unto your neighbor; this is the whole of the Torah” (Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Shabbat, 31a). Rabbi Akiva aimed even higher when explaining the essence of Judaism: “Love your neighbor as yourself is the great rule of the Torah” (Jerusalem Talmud, Nedarim, Chapter 9, p 30b).
Like it or not, Jews bear the responsibility to install this connection among them and pass it on to the rest of the world. In his essay “Mutual Guarantee,” Rav Yehuda Ashlag wrote, “It is upon the Israeli nation to qualify itself and all the people of the world to develop until they take upon themselves that sublime work of the love of others, which is the ladder to the purpose of Creation.” In the essay, Ashlag describes the Israeli nation as “a sort of gateway by which the sparks of love of others would shine upon the whole of the human race the world over.”
The ADMOR of Gur writes in the book Sefat Emet (Miketz): “No vessel holds blessings but peace. Therefore, the persistence of the good is through unity.” Later in the book he adds, “The most important is the connection among Israel—to install love, brotherhood, and friendship among them. This brings great salvations and removes all the slanderers.”
Likewise, notice the importance that Rabbi Kalman Epstein ascribes to unity: “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them. …When there is bonding among them, and no separation of hearts, they have peace and quiet … and all the curses and suffering are thereby removed” (Maor Vashemesh, Nitzavim).
Our sages spoke a great deal about internal unity as the key to our success. Regrettably, we have yet to listen. Instead, we are repeating the mistakes of our ancestors. At the very least, we should know this: When we are disunited, we bring upon ourselves what our unfounded hatred brought upon us at the time of the ruin of the Second Temple: destruction, dispersion, and death.
However, the current circumstances are far from hopeless. We can still be what we were meant to be, “a light unto nations,” showing an example of unity rather than one of separation. But for this to happen, we must make a conscious choice. It is my hope that this column will help us see that unity is the key to our success, to our acceptance among the nations, and to our fulfillment of the purpose of our being in this world.
**Michael Laitman has a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah and an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. He and was the prime disciple of Kabbalist Rav Baruch Shalom Ashlag (the RABASH). Laitman has written over 40 books, which have been translated into dozens of languages.

Iraqi Researcher Ghalib Al-Shahbandar: Our Teaching Of Islamic History Is Delusional
MEMRI/June 15/17
Iraqi researcher Ghalib Al-Shahbandar said that "if there is a crime in the curricula of the primary and junior high schools, it lies in the teaching of Islamic history." According to Al-Shahbandar, the history curricula are "delusional and exaggerated." "We should present the massacres and the injustice alongside the victories and the good deeds," he said, in an interview with the Iraqi Dijlah TV channel, which was posted on YouTube on May 6.
Ghalib Al-Shahbandar: "If there is a crime in the curricula of the primary and junior high schools, it lies in the teaching of Islamic history. Do you know why? Because Islamic history is presented as if it is a piece of the heavens.
"It is all about stories of bravery, victories, and compassion, as if there has never been any blood, any killing, any Muslim oppressor...
"The history curricula in our eastern Arab schools are delusional and exaggerated.
"They present the history of Islam as a ray of light. They should present the good as well as the bad. We should present the massacres and the injustice alongside the victories and the good deeds. We should be credited for the [development] of Europe. If not for Andalusia and Averroes, Europe would not be Europe."
Interviewer: "Sir, sir..."
Ghalib Al-Shahbandar: "But there were also massacres. This history has been eliminated from the school [curricula]."

Palestinians' Real Tragedy: Failed Leadership
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/June 15/17
Under the regimes of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas, Palestinians are free to criticize Israel and incite against it. But when it comes to criticizing the leaders of the PA and Hamas, the rules of the game are different. Such criticism is considered a "crime" and those responsible often find themselves behind bars or subjected to other forms of punishment.
This, of course, is not what the majority of Palestinians were expecting from their leaders. After the signing of the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the PA more than 20 years ago, Palestinians were hoping to see democracy and freedom of speech. However, the PA has proven to be not much different than most of the Arab dictatorships, where democracy and freedom of expression and the media are non-existent.
Given the current state of the Palestinians, it is hard to see how they could ever make any progress towards establishing a successful state with law and order and respect for public freedoms and democracy.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip may be at war with each other, but the two rival parties seem to be in agreement over one issue: silencing and intimidating their critics. Of course, this does not come as a surprise to those who are familiar with the undemocratic nature of the PA and Hamas.
Under the regimes of the PA and Hamas, Palestinians are free to criticize Israel and incite against it. But when it comes to criticizing the leaders of the PA and Hamas, the rules of the game are different. Such criticism is considered a "crime" and those responsible often find themselves behind bars or subjected to other forms of punishment.
This, of course, is not what the majority of Palestinians were expecting from their leaders. After the signing of the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the PA more than 20 years ago, Palestinians were hoping to see democracy and freedom of speech. However, the PA, first under Yasser Arafat and later under Mahmoud Abbas, has proven to be not much different than most of the Arab dictatorships, where democracy and freedom of expression and the media are non-existent.
The Palestinian Authority, first under Yasser Arafat and later under Mahmoud Abbas, has proven to be not much different than most of the Arab dictatorships, where democracy and freedom of expression and the media are non-existent. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)
If Palestinians had in the past to deal with only one regime (the PA) that does not honor freedom of expression, in the last 10 years they have fallen victim to another repressive government (Hamas) that rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist and suppresses any form of freedom of expression and targets anyone who dares to speak out.
The Palestinians in PA's West Bank-controlled territories and Hamas's Gaza Strip can only look at their neighbors in Israel and envy them for the democracy, free media and rule of law. Hardly a day passes without the Palestinians being reminded by both the PA and Hamas that they are still far from achieving their dream of enjoying democracy and freedom of expression. A free media is something that Palestinians can only continue to dream about.
The Palestinian media in the West Bank serves as a mouthpiece for the PA and its leaders. Even privately-owned television and radio stations in the West Bank have long learned that they must toe the line or face punitive measures and feel the heavy hand of the PA security forces. This is why Palestinian media outlets and journalists in the West Bank refrain from reporting about any story that may reflect negatively on Abbas or any of his cronies. In the world of the media, it is called self-censorship.
In the Gaza Strip, the situation is not any better. In fact, it is hard to talk about the existence of a media under Hamas. Hamas and its security forces maintain a tight grip on local media outlets and journalists are subjected to tight restrictions. Criticism of Hamas is almost unheard of and could land those responsible in prison.
In the absence of a free and independent media in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, some writers, journalists and political activists have resorted to social media to air their views and share their grievances with their fellow Palestinians and the outside world. But the PA and Hamas have discovered the power of Facebook and Twitter, and have taken the battle against their critics to these two platforms.
Posting critical or controversial postings on social media is considered a serious offense under the PA and Hamas. The leaders of the PA and Hamas accuse those who dare to criticize them on Facebook of "extending their tongues" and "insulting" representatives of the Palestinians.
In the past few years, dozens of Palestinian journalists, bloggers, academics and political activists have been imprisoned or summoned for interrogation by the PA and Hamas over their Facebook postings. International human rights organizations and advocates of free speech and media around the world prefer to look the other way in the face of these human rights violations by the PA and Hamas. Moreover, "pro-Palestinian" groups and individuals in the West do not seem to care about the sad state of affairs of the Palestinians under the PA and Hamas. The only "wrongdoing" and "evil" they see is on the Israeli side. By ignoring the plight of the suppressed Palestinians, these "pro-Palestinian" activists and groups are actually aiding the PA and Hamas in their efforts to silence the voices of dissent and criticism.
The absence of international criticism allows the PA and Hamas to continue their policy of silencing and intimidating Palestinians who dare to speak out against the lack of freedom of expression and democracy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Recently, for example, Hamas arrested two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who posted critical remarks on Facebook: Abdallah Abu Sharekh and Shukri Abu Oun.
Abu Sharekh, a prominent writer, was arrested shortly after he posted a comment on Facebook criticizing senior Hamas official Salah Bardaweel. "You are ruling the Gaza Strip with an iron fist and fire," Abu Sharekh wrote. "The state of oppression (in the Gaza Strip) is intolerable. You (Hamas) have taken the Gaza Strip back to the Middle Ages."
Abu Sharekh's criticism came in response to the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of families in the Gaza Strip spend most of the day without electricity as a result of the power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Last month, the PA announced that it would stop paying Israel for the fuel supplied to the power plants in the Gaza Strip. The PA's move is designed to punish Hamas. But Abu Sharekh and other Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hold Hamas responsible for the crisis. They argue that Hamas' corruption, specifically the embezzlement of Qatari funds intended to purchase fuel for the power plants, is the main reason behind the crisis. Abu Sharekh, in his Facebook comment, pointed out that Hamas leaders have installed private generators that supply their homes with electricity even during the power outages.
In an unprecedented and bold move, Abu Sharekh's clan issued a statement condemning Hamas for arresting their son for expressing his opinion:
"We hold Hamas fully responsible for the safety and health of our son and call for an end to the persecution of him and his likes... We reject and condemn any action that constitutes an assault on the right of our sons to express their political views, notwithstanding the excuses."
Abu Oun was arrested for posting similar criticism of Hamas on Facebook. Earlier, Hamas also arrested journalists Nasr Abu Foul, Ahmed Qdeih and Hazem Madi on charges of publishing "fake news" and "spreading rumors." Their real crime: posting critical comments about Hamas on social media. Later, Hamas also arrested political activists Mohammed al-Tuli and Amer Balousheh for the same reason.
Another Palestinian journalist from the Gaza Strip who has fallen victim to Hamas's crackdown on freedom of expression is Fuad Jaradeh, a correspondent with Palestine TV. Hamas security officers arrested Jaradeh after raiding his home in the Tel al-Hawa suburb of Gaza City and confiscating his laptop and mobile phone. His family says he was arrested only because of his critical postings on Facebook against Hamas.
What is funny and sad is that the Palestinian Authority, which has been criticizing Hamas's crackdown on freedom of expression in the Gaza Strip, has long been resorting to similar measures against its critics in the West Bank.
The latest victim of the PA's suppression of public freedoms is Nassar Jaradat, a 23-year-old political activist who was arrested earlier this week for criticizing senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub. PA security forces arrested Jaradat after he posted a comment on Facebook in which he criticized Rajoub for acknowledging Jews' right to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. A PA court has since ordered Jaradat, an engineering student, remanded into custody for 15 days on charges of "insulting" a top Palestinian official.
Last year, the PA demonstrated that it does not hesitate to arrest even one of its own if he dares to criticize Palestinian leaders. Osama Mansour, a senior PA security official, was arrested and later fired because he criticized Mahmoud Abbas for attending the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Such arrests have become commonplace under the PA in the West Bank. Almost every week, Palestinians hear of another journalist or blogger or activist who has been arrested or summoned for interrogation by the PA security forces for nothing more than posting remarks critical of the government on social media.
Palestinians were hoping to achieve an independent state of their own. In the end, however, they got two separate states -- one in the West Bank and the second in the Gaza Strip -- as a result of the power struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. But the real tragedy for the Palestinians is that neither the PA nor Hamas values human rights or public freedoms. The real tragedy of the Palestinians over the past few decades has been failed leadership -- whether it is the secular PLO or the Islamist Hamas.
Given the current state of the Palestinians, it is hard to see how they could ever make any progress towards establishing a successful state with law and order and respect for public freedoms and democracy.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Qatar's Comeuppance/Putting Doha on the Well-Deserved Defensive
Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/June 15/17
Qatar's extensive ties to terrorism and abetting of financiers to bolster it are well-documented.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain issued a statement designating 59 individuals and 12 organizations as having terror ties to Qatar. According to the statement, Doha "announces fighting terrorism on one hand and finances and supports and hosts different terrorist organizations on the other hand," and harbors "terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilize the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh [ISIS] and Al Qaeda."
Ironically, pressure from this new anti-Iran Muslim bloc in the Middle East has done more to call the world's attention to Qatar's key role in the spread of Islamist terrorism than years of cajoling on the part of previous administrations in Washington to get Doha to live up to its signed commitments.
A mere two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his first major foreign policy speech in Riyadh to delegates from dozens Muslim/Arab countries, Bahrain announced on June 5 that it was halting all flights to Qatar for being a sponsor of radical Islamist terrorists. Immediately, Saudi Arabia joined the boycott, as did the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Yemen, all of which also shut off access to Al Jazeera, the anti-American, anti-Semitic Qatari television network established in 1996 and operating since then to foment unrest across the Middle East and bolster the terrorist organization the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot, Hamas.
The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and other officials in Doha fiercely denied the charge that their government has been backing terrorism, blaming a "fake news" report on the website of the state-controlled Qatar News Agency for the eruption of the Gulf crisis.
The report, which the FBI and other U.S. security agencies believe was the result of a Russian hacking attack, quoted Al Thani calling Iran an "Islamic power," referring to Hamas as "the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" and saying Qatar's relations with Israel were "good."
Although the report did turn out to be a hoax, Qatar's extensive ties to terrorism and abetting of financiers to bolster it are well-documented. A Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) study, titled "Qatar and Terror Finance: Private Funders of al-Qaeda in Syria," shows that while Doha has pretended for more than a decade to be partnering with the United States to defeat Al Qaeda, the monarchy, in fact, has taken no action whatsoever against the Qatari financiers of the terrorist organization's Syrian branch, the Nusra Front, which continues to plot attacks against the West. One of the reasons that this group eluded U.S. strikes operating in Syria was that it, like America, has been fighting ISIS. Another was that it changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS or the Front for the Conquest of Syria), in an effort to distance itself from Al Qaeda. This effort was led by Qatar.
According to the FDD study, the second of a three-part document written by David Andrew Weinberg:
"...[I]ntelligence officials from Qatar and other Gulf states met several times with Nusra's leader [in 2015] to suggest that his group could receive money, arms, and supplies after stepping away from al-Qaeda."
While the first part of the study, released in 2014, revealed "Doha's dismal record" during the reign of Emir Hamad Al Thani (the current monarch's father), this one
"evaluates the publicly available evidence on Qatar's record since then, focusing primarily on individuals sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2014 and 2015. All of these sanctions were imposed after Qatar agreed in September 2014, as part of a U.S.-led initiative called the Jeddah Communiqué, to bring terror financiers to justice."
Weinberg concluded that Qatar has done little or nothing to comply. On the contrary, he wrote, "The funders of certain terrorist groups still enjoy legal impunity there. Nusra/JFS appears to be foremost among them."
It is just as unlikely that a single news item was responsible for the banding together of several Arab states to impose a blockade on Qatar as it is implausible that these states, particularly Saudi Arabia -- which itself has backed and spread radical Islamist ideology -- are holding Qatar accountable for its ties to global jihad. Equally simplistic is the view, expressed by Trump on Twitter, that the embargo indicated the seriousness with which the above states took his call to "drive out the terrorists and extremists" from their midst.
"During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar -- look!" Trump tweeted on June 7.
"So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!"
This prompted pundits on both sides of the political spectrum to question whether Trump was simply being reckless in his response, or actually announcing a shift in decades of U.S. policy regarding Qatar, home of the Al Udeid Air Base southwest of Doha. Al Udeid is not only America's largest military base in the Middle East -- with some 10,000 troops, but since 2003, it has served as forward headquarters for CENTCOM (the U.S. Central Command), and has been crucial in America's operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
The following day, Trump was accused of backtracking, when he phoned Al Thani and offered to "help the parties resolve their differences, including through a meeting at the White House if necessary."
Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick pointed out that this was not a case of Trump reversing his position, but rather of proposing the most reasonable course of action available:
"With the Pentagon dependent on the Qatari base, and with no clear path for unseating the emir through war or coup without risking a much larger and more dangerous conflict, the only clear option is a negotiated resolution.
"Under the circumstances, the best option for the US to openly work towards is to diminish Qatar's regional profile and financial support for Iran and its terrorist allies and proxies."
Nevertheless, mixed messages appeared to be emerging from the Trump administration. On June 9, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the blockade was hindering U.S. operations against ISIS. On the same day, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis asserted that the isolation of Qatar so far has had no negative impact on U.S. operations in and out of Al Udeid. "All of our supplies are getting in just fine," he told reporters. "The Defense Logistics Agency is certainly always looking at contingency plans if they're needed, but for right now they're OK."
On the day that these conflicting claims began to circulate, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain issued a statement designating 59 individuals and 12 organizations as having terror ties to Qatar. According to the statement, Doha "announces fighting terrorism on one hand and finances and supports and hosts different terrorist organizations on the other hand," and harbors "terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilize the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh [ISIS] and Al Qaeda."
Bygone days of unity. The leaders of the Gulf states pose with British PM Theresa May at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, on December 7, 2016 in Manama, Bahrain.
On June 7 -- the day of Trump's phone call and two days before the release of the Saudi statement -- Qatar hired of the law firm of John Ashcroft, former attorney general under President George W. Bush, to help counter terror accusations. This clearly was a calculated move, as Ashcroft had been instrumental in pushing through the post-9/11 "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001," more commonly known as the Patriot Act.
According to the "Scope of Engagement" of the Ashcroft retainer, its "broad purpose," for a "flat fee" of $250,000, is to:
"provid[e] the Client with comprehensive strategic advice, legal counsel, support, and representation related to confirming, educating, assessing and reporting the Client's efforts to combat global terrorism and its support of and compliance with international financial regulations, including compliance with United States Treasury rules and regulations.
"The firm understands the urgency of this matter and need to communicate accurate information to both a broad constituency and certain domestic agencies and leaders...will advance, advocate, represent, and protect the Client's interests as necessary, including but not limited to the development of comprehensive legal and government affairs strategy, coordination as necessary and in the interest of the Client, assessment of the pending news and certain nations' claims that adversely impact the Client's reputation and pose serious risk and consequences."
Hiring Ashcroft is not the only indication that Qatar is running scared. Another is its leaders' simultaneous attempt to assuage fears among its populace – reported to have begun "panic-shopping" at supermarkets -- and threaten fellow Gulf Cooperation Council countries that they will suffer severe financial consequences as a result of their boycott.
"If we're going to lose a dollar, they will lose a dollar also," warned Qatari Finance minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi. Emadi added, "Our reserves and investment funds are more than 250 percent of gross domestic product, so I don't think there is any reason that people need to be concerned about what's happening or any speculation on the Qatari riyal."
In spite of Emadi's posturing and Doha's assertion that it is not in cahoots with Iran, Tehran announced that it has begun sending hundreds of tons of food products to Qatar. Oman, too, is transferring goods to Doha. Turkey went a step further, authorizing the dispatch of 3,000-5,000 troops to its military base in Qatar, to assist Al Thani's regime, should it be jeopardized by the Saudi-led initiative and internal power struggles.
This unfolding of events is creating what Middle East expert Jonathan Speyer called a "clear drawing" of the "lines of confrontation between the two central power blocs in the region..."
As Speyer wrote on June 10:
"The shunting aside of little Qatar... is ultimately only a detail in the larger picture. What is more significant is the re-emergence of an overt alliance of Sunni Arab states under US leadership, following the development of military capabilities in relevant areas, and with the stated intention of challenging the Iranian regional advance and Sunni political Islam."
Ironically, pressure from this new anti-Iran Muslim bloc in the Middle East has done more to call the world's attention to Qatar's key role in the spread of Islamist terrorism than years of cajoling on the part of previous administrations in Washington to get Doha to live up to its signed commitments.
** Ruthie Blum is a journalist and author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama and the 'Arab Spring.'"
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Is Radicalism Possible Today?
David Brooks//Gatestone Institute/June 15/17
Are you feeling radical? Do you think that the status quo is fundamentally broken and we have to start thinking about radical change? If so, I’d like to go back a century so that we might learn how radicalism is done.
The years around 1917 were a great period of radical ferment. Folks at The New Republic magazine were championing progressivism, which would transform how the economy is regulated and how democracy works. At The Masses, left-wing activists were fomenting a global socialist revolution. Outside the White House radical suffragists were protesting for the right to vote and creating modern feminism.
People in those days had one thing we have in abundance: an urge to rebel against the current reality — in their case against the brutalities of industrialization, the rigidities of Victorianism, the stale formulas of academic thinking.
But they also had a whole series of mechanisms they thought they could use to implement change. If you were searching for a new consciousness, there was a neighborhood to go to: Greenwich Village. If you were searching for a dissident lifestyle, there was one — Bohemianism, with its artistic rejection of commercial life.
People had faith in small magazines as the best lever to change the culture and the world. People had faith in the state, in central planning as an effective tool to reorganize the economy and liberate the oppressed. Radicals had faith in the working class, to ally with the intellectuals and form a common movement against concentrated wealth.
There were many people then who had a genius for creating ideals, and for betting their whole lives on an effort to live out these ideals. I’ve just been reading Jeremy McCarter’s inspiring and entertaining new book “Young Radicals,” which is a group portrait of five of those radicals: Walter Lippmann, Randolph Bourne, Max Eastman, Alice Paul and John Reed.
All of them had a youthful and exuberant faith that transformational change was imminently possible. Reed was the romantic adventurer — the one who left Harvard and ventured to be at the center of wherever the action might be — union strikes, the Russian Revolution. Paul was the dogged one — the diminutive activist who gave up sleep, gave up leisure, braved rancid prisons to serve the suffragist movement.
But the two true geniuses were Lippmann and Bourne, who offer lessons on different styles of radicalism. With his magisterial, organized mind, Lippmann threw his lot in with social science, with rule by experts. He believed in centralizing and nationalizing, and letting the best minds weigh the evidence and run the country. He lived his creed, going from socialist journalism to the halls of Woodrow Wilson’s administration.
Bourne was more visionary and vulnerable. He’d grown up in a stiflingly dull WASP town. It was only when he met the cosmopolitan stew of different ethnicities in New York that he got the chance to “breathe a larger air.” At a time of surging immigration, and fierce debate over it, Bourne celebrated that “America is coming to be, not a nationality but a trans-nationality, a weaving back and forth, with the other lands, of many threads of all sizes and colors.”
Bourne believed in decentralized change — personal, spiritual, a revolution in consciousness. The “Beloved Community” he imagined was a bottom-up, Whitmanesque “spiritual welding,” a graceful coming together of unlike ethnicities.
The crucial decision point came as the United States approached entry into World War I. Lippmann supported the war, believing that it would demand more federal planning and therefore would accelerate social change. Bourne was appalled by such instrumentalist thinking, by the acceptance of war’s savagery. As McCarter puts it, “As Bourne has been arguing, no choice that supports a war will realize any ideal worth the name.”
The radicals split between pragmatists willing to work within the system and visionaries who raised larger possibilities from outside. Spreading their ideals, they pushed America forward. Living out their ideals, most were disillusioned. Reed lost faith in the Soviet Union. Lippmann lost faith in Wilson after Versailles. Bourne died marginalized and bitter during the flu epidemic of 1918.
Bourne was the least important radical a century ago, but with his fervent embrace of a decentralized, globalist, cosmopolitan world, he is the most relevant today. He is the best rebuttal to both Trumpian populism and the multicultural separatist movements on the left, who believe in separate graduation ceremonies by race, or that the normal exchange of ideas among people represents cultural appropriation.
Most of the 20th-century radicals were wrong to put their faith in a revolutionary vanguard, a small group who could see farther and know better. Bourne was right to understand that the best change is dialogical, the gradual, grinding conversation, pitting interest against interest, one group’s imperfections against another’s, but bound by common nationhood and humanity.
Are we really going to hand revolutionary power to the state, the intellectuals, the social scientists, the working class or any other class? No. This is not 1917. But can we recommit ourselves to the low but steady process of politics, bartering and exchanging, which is incremental about means but radical about ends? That’s a safer bet.

UK: Two Failed Gambles Within Two Years
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/June 15/17
Sooner or later stubborn denial will fall when facing reality. Thus, when the British Conservatives lose their parliamentary majority in the snap early general elections they called, even lose safe seats like that of affluent Kensington in central London, they need to acknowledge the hard facts.
The most important of these facts is that twice within two years a Conservative British prime minister gambled on the mood of the electorate, only for the gamble to backfire and throw the country in a government crisis.
Last year, British voters opted to leave the European Union in an unnecessary referendum. Panic-stricken by the rising popularity of the anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), and hoping to silence once and forever anti-EU wing within his party, former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron promised to conduct a referendum on leaving or ‘exiting’ Europe.. a.k.a. Brexit!
However, Cameron’s gamble spectacularly, and unexpectedly failed, as a majority voted to leave, made up of Leftist ‘protectionists’ and ‘neo fascists’ and Rightist ‘isolationists’ and ‘old fascists’.
In the light of this result, Cameron resigned, and was succeeded as prime minister by then Home Secretary Theresa May. But no sooner had May taken office and announced her readiness to start the Brexit negotiations, the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) – who had just narrowly lost a referendum on Independent Scotland – rose against May, and declared that they had every right to have a second referendum on Independence, since the majority in Scotland voted in favour of remaining in the EU.
In the meantime, almost all major British political parties were going through a period of upheavals, and attempting to redefine their priorities and highlight their distinguishing stances.
The Conservatives were becoming more clearly divided between the skeptics and the hard-core ‘Brexiteers’; and while there was a broad in with the hope of papering over party divisions, many truly believed the internal dispute over Europe within the Party would never end with a referendum.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the scene inside Labour, the main opposition party, was looking even more exciting. The hawkish Left was now imposing its hegemony at the expense of moderates ever doubtful of the ability of the Leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn to lead Labour back to power. Like the Conservatives, Labour has been deeply divided over Europe too; and further divisions have been emerging between youth and pensioners, educated groups and blue-collar workers, traditional working class strongholds in northern England and the Welsh valleys … and the new Labour urban strongholds in southern England.
The scene within the centrist Liberal Democrats may be less dramatic than its two larger competitors, but still LibDem activists were hopeful that their new leader Tim Farron would turn the page of their disastrous 2015 electoral defeat, and benefit from Labour slide further to the left by attracting moderate and ‘liberal’ Labour supporters.
Last but not least, across the English-Scottish borders, the SNP was busy putting pressure to bear for a second Independence referendum under the leadership of the young dynamic Nicola Sturgeon, who took over from her former boss Alex Salmond, who had resigned the SNP leadership after losing the first Independence referendum.
Outside the UK, the overall political scene last year was no less exciting.
USA witnessed two astonishing phenomena during the presidential campaign: the rise of right-wing and left-wing anti-globalization political populism, and weakness of the political ‘establishment’ which led to its failure in confronting the rise of populism.
Indeed, Donald Trump not only managed to secure the nomination of the Republican Party against the ‘establishment’ candidates, but later won the presidency upon defeating the Democratic Party’s candidate Hillary Clinton, a former Secretary of State.
The Democratic Party, in turn, witnessed how Senator Bernie Sanders, a Leftist Jewish politician in his 70s who was not even a party member, succeeded in gaining around %40 of the votes during the Party’s primaries, thanks to Leftist populist slogans that energized the younger generations and secured their backing.
A similar scenario was repeated in France, where the presidential candidate of the two ‘establishment’ parties of the Right (the Republicans / Gaulists) and Left (the Socialists) failed to reach the final election round, decisively won by a youthful Emmanuel Macron (39 years old), who had just left government of the Socialist President Francois Holland, his mentor.
Macron has built his election machine through his “On the March” movement, and is through the momentum of his movement currently redefining French politics.
All the above-mentioned developments seem to have been missed by Theresa May when she gambled on snap elections only one year into her first term in office. Her aim was to have a fresh personal mandate that would strengthen her hand nationally and in the Brexit negotiations, as well as enhance her own leadership of the Conservative Party. However, on Thursday June 8th her gamble failed miserably, ushering a most probable political demise.
The Conservatives have lost their absolute majority, and are now seeking the support of the Democratic Unionist Party, the ultra-Right Protestant party in Northern Ireland, for her temporary ‘minority government’ until the dust settle and a new Conservative leader takes over.
As for Labour, although it lost it did manage to widen its appeal and add to its parliamentary seat, doing very well in Southern England and Wales; which has enhanced Corbyn reputation and his Leftist calls that attracted the youth, mobilized them, and brought them in droves to the ballots.
On the other hand, as the Liberal Democrats improved their performance compared to 2015, the biggest losers – next to the Conservatives – were the SNP and UKIP.
The SNP lost more than one third of its seats (dropping from 56 to 35 seats) including that of its former leader Alex Salmond, and had its hope of a second Independence referendum dashed after its popular percentage of votes plummeted to less than % 36.9.
While UKIP, originally a single issue party, paid a heavy price for the fulfillment of its objective of leaving Europe. It failed to win a single seat, as a result of former voters returning to their original parties, mainly, the Conservatives; and almost immediately its leader Paul Nuttall resigned before any political postmortem.
One last thought.
The UK is really changing. It is changing at a faster pace even that its politicians think; which may go a long way to explain why their failed gambles and adventures.

Starving The Beast’ Starts in Qatar
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/June 15/17
In the recent row rocking the Middle East, Qatar’s counter approach is far from impulsive or mimicking that of shock. Facing a boycott led by a bloc of three key GCC countries, joined by Egypt and others, Doha opted for escalation rather than allowing for reason to prevail.
This is not new to Qatar’s regime which resembles leftist and revolutionary systems in their stubbornness and intransigence— the peninsula nonstop exploited Gulf wisdom leaving it overworked.
Astonishingly, Doha’s indifference continues towards crackdown measures heading its way as the United States plans on imposing stringent sanctions in an effort to halt the funding of terrorism.
US President Donald Trump clearly gave priority to blocking terror funding in the new administration’s foreign policy agenda.
Consequentially, Trump understands that the way Qatar is tackled will paint for an enduring strategy that could be carried across the world.
Vowing to take the fight against terrorism to the very end, Trump said “we are going to starve the beast,” in reference to turning off the tap on funding. In that lies the hope of Qatar reading well and wise into these signs and reshaping its harmful policy.
All decisive measures being adopted by Washington are the first steps in a long list of upcoming procedures in the Trump way of “starving the beast.”
Defunding terrorism is conditioned by drying up all its sources, with Doha being one of them. However, Qatar’s reaction to the issue at hand remains indifferent, downsizing the crisis and branding it as another fleeting tiff.
Paradoxically, as Qatar reassures its people that they are well-protected by a strong contingency plan, it pushes forward with its standoff with the international community—Doha also has not been modest in its effort to advertise the current situation as a ‘Gaza-like’ blockade.
It does not seem like Qatar’s decision-makers follow that the new Trump administration strategy holds fallout of catastrophic measures to its people.
Clearly, Qatar is not serious about working on a solution that could end the boycott and mitigate its costs. Instead, the gas-rich country is bent on buying time as a tactic.
But reality dictates that Qatar will need to address the situation at hand and suture the wound before it worsens. If left unattended, the situation will have a massive domino effect that eventually would weaken Qatar’s position.
Options laid out on the table today might not be here tomorrow.
Washington will continue to weigh in so long that Doha has little to show on good intentions for true change.
Living in denial has followed the initial response stage, anger, but it will not be long before the march against funding extremism grows with larger crowds joining the parade.
With the US holding the banner, more countries are likely to join, with the biggest loser left in sight being Doha. It is simply a matter of time.
As to when Qatar would accept the new status quo, it does not seem soon– by the time it can potentially realize that, the train would have long left the station.
Rallying low key support from unknown NGOs and African political parties, and buying time through investing in Tehran, Ankara, Moscow, and Berlin only prolong the inevitable.
Having already lost a lot, Qatar understands well that the only way to settling the diplomatic crisis is to reconcile with Riyadh—any other approach would be short to a fool’s errand that reckless shot in the dark against the stability of its own people.

The EU Won’t Help a Weakened Theresa May
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/June 15/17
The only decent argument in favor of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision not to step down as prime minister after a disastrous election is that the first round of Brexit talks is scheduled for June 19.
The clock has been ticking on the two-year process since March 29, when May triggered Article 50; and May has just wasted two months on a failed election campaign. More delays would almost certainly carry a cost, and there’s something to May’s stated desire to “get on with the job” — but there’s also an edge of desperation to it. European leaders won’t do much to take off that edge; it’s up to May to save herself.
“Get on with the job of government” is the new mantra replacing “strong and stable,” which didn’t play too well in the election: May’s Conservatives lost their majority and are now forced to make a deal with the right-wing Democratic Union Party in Northern Ireland to be able to govern. But on Brexit, May still promises to deliver “stability and certainty,” something sorely lacking from UK politics.
There is, however, no concealing that May really has no clear mandate on how to negotiate anymore. “No deal is better than a bad deal” — something May repeated in her speeches and enshrined in her party’s manifesto — no longer applies because the other parties, and principally Labour, which has improved its representation in the election, are for a softer version of Brexit.
Even Nigel Farage, the former leader of UKIP and one of the architects of the Brexit vote, is now talking of “backsliding” to a Norway-style deal that keeps the UK in the European Union’s common market — and, by implication, allows free movement of labor with the EU. A Turkey-style deal which would keep the UK in the EU’s customs union and outside the common market is also back in play.
As it stands, the “no deal” formula wouldn’t struggle to get through the U.K. parliament. Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, an independent-minded figure within May’s party who actually achieved a measure of success in the election, beating back the anti-Brexit Scottish Nationalists, isn’t likely to lend her 13-strong parliamentary group’s support to the hardliners: They are unpopular in Scotland. Davidson has called for “an open Brexit, not a closed one.”
The DUP, May’s last-ditch coalition partner, is pro-Brexit — but its manifesto stressed its support for the soft border with the Republic of Ireland. Since Northern Ireland, which voted against Brexit last year, is a net recipient of EU subsidies, the DUP would like the “ability to opt-into EU funds where proven to be cost-effective and add value.” None of this is possible with a hard Brexit.
May appears to understand she’ll have to be more accommodating in negotiations now. Though she has reappointed most of her old cabinet and brought back arch-Brexiteer Michael Gove in the relatively unimportant role of environment minister, she has also made Damian Green, an old ally and a vocal “remainer,” her second in command as first secretary of state.
Meanwhile, there is no reason for EU leaders to make May’s life easier. So far, the Brexit-related chaos has helped pro-EU politicians beat nationalist populists in major Western European nations. French President Emmanuel Macron, whose brand-new party has almost secured a historic victory in the French parliamentary election, and Merkel, who is riding high in the polls and is likely to be re-elected in September, have the strong mandates necessary for a pitched battle. If it goes on, it will probably strengthen the chances of Italy’s ruling centrists beating the anti-EU Five Star Movement in the next general election as they did in Sunday’s local polls.
So the initial strategy — playing for time and letting the U.K. punish itself — looks better than ever after the U.K. election. It doesn’t really matter to EU negotiators whom they face across the table — May or her suddenly strengthened rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or someone else.
It’s up to May to start actually pushing a softer version of Brexit. If she does, the optics for EU leaders of rejecting her approach will be terrible. The EU leaders — both the Brussels bureaucrats led by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker — will avoid looking as though they’re kicking May when she’s down. Searching for compromise is, after all, what Europe does by default and what it does best. The reaction in her own party is an entirely different matter.
The worst mistake May can make is to continue pretending she has a strong hand to play. That would cause the EU to lose interest and disengage, letting her fail and expecting the U.K. political process pick them a new negotiating partner with even less time to complete the talks. The strong presence of Brexiters in May’s cabinet makes such a scenario likely — but it’s not too late for May to try to stave it off and put some compromise, Norway-style or Turkey-style proposals on the table.

For many of Iraq's Yazidis, going home is not an option
Brenda/Al Monitor/June 15/17
DAHUK, Iraqi Kurdistan — When Nadine refused to marry the 25-year-old Islamic State fighter from Yemen, he took her daughter Ronia instead. Right in front of Nadine’s eyes, he tore the clothes from her daughter’s body. Then he raped the 10-year-old girl.
Although Sinjar has mostly been liberated from the Islamic State, the traumatized Yazidi community remains largely displaced and reluctant to return home to where the suffering began.
“Mommy, help me, my little girl cried. Ronia was so young that she didn’t even know what sex was," said Nadine, who belongs to the ethno-religious Yazidi minority, sitting in a tent she built herself in the countryside of Dahuk.
It is just one of the countless cruel memories the 32-year-old mother recalls from two years in IS captivity. After Nadine and her four children were kidnapped by IS in August 2014, they stayed with the Yemeni fighter for seven months. He "married" Nadine and her daughter and repeatedly raped both of them. Finally, he sold Nadine, but sadly he decided to keep Ronia.
Nadine and her three other children were repeatedly sold to other IS fighters until they were smuggled out of IS-held territory eight months ago. Now they live in tents in an unofficial camp for the internally displaced near the village of Khanke, 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Dahuk, as the official camps nearby in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq were all overcrowded.
All of her neighbors are female survivors of the IS genocide who were recently rescued after years of enslavement. Their husbands are still missing, most likely kidnapped or killed by IS militants. Most of the Yazidi women here are taking anti-depressants or sleeping pills to cope with their trauma, Al-Monitor learned. They hardly get financial help, let alone psychological counseling.
“It is impossible coming back from IS to live in tents and just continue your life like nothing happened," Nadine said. "How can we ever forget what IS has done to us? If it weren’t for my kids, I would have killed myself a long time ago. My life is over.”
Tears rolled down her cheeks. “First I want to get my daughter back. Then I am planning to leave the country.”
The lack of financial and psychological support is one of the reasons many survivors want to leave the country, Nadine said. Many have already left. Before IS attacked the Yazidi community in 2014, around 550,000 Yazidis lived in Iraq. Since then, approximately 90,000 Yazidis have left and moved to countries like the United States, Canada and Germany, said Khairi Bozani, the head of the Yazidi Affairs Office of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
According to Pari Ibrahim, the founder of the Free Yezidi Foundation, large numbers of Yazidis are planning to move abroad because they don’t see a future in Kurdistan. “They are now living in IDP camps for almost three years, and they know it will probably stay like that for a long time. That’s why they want to start a new life and have a better future for their children,” she told Al-Monitor.
In the tent next to Nadine’s, Khazal, 24, told Al-Monitor that she just applied for a resettlement program with the Canadian government. Khazal and her two sons, ages 4 and 5, were kidnapped and held by IS for over two years. During these years she was repeatedly sold to fighters inside homes in Syria.
“They took the youngest and beautiful girls. They forced us to wear certain clothes, while their wives did our makeup. After that, they took our pictures, and IS fighters or leaders came to buy us,’’ Khazal said, adding that the women and girls were continuously humiliated, beaten and raped.
Last winter, Khazal and her children were brought back by a smuggler, whom they now owe $24,000. As a single mother living in a tent, Khazal cannot pay. She sometimes works in the center of Dahuk making 12,000 Iraqi dinars ($10) a day. Since her escape, she suffers from stomach pain and headaches and she cannot eat a proper meal without vomiting.
“I felt so happy when I escaped from [IS], but then I came here and found out that all the men in my family were killed or missing and that there is no support for women like me. We all came back alive, but our hearts and bodies were broken. There is nothing here for us anymore,’’ she said softly.
It has been almost three years since IS attacked the Yazidi community. Although the Sinjar area is almost completely liberated from the terrorist group, 75% of the community is still displaced. One of the reasons Yazidis do not return to their villages is the political and military conflicts between the forces of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the disputed Ninevah areas. At the heart of this conflict are different visions for the region: The area is claimed by both the central Iraqi government and the KRG.
However, it was the PKK that initially came to rescue thousands of Yazidis in 2014 and has not left since. Its presence has drawn in Turkey, which supports the KRG and wants to prevent the PKK from creating a "second Qandil." To make matters worse, the village of Kocho, the hometown of UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad, was recently captured by Shiite paramilitary forces. Many Yazidis are unwilling to return to their towns and villages out of fear of being drawn into a new conflict.
But for some, returning to Sinjar will never be an option. Traumatized by the genocide and facing an uncertain future, many Yazidi women don’t want to live in a country that reminds them daily of the horrors they experienced. They point out that their community has suffered as many as 74 massacres in a region where extremism and intolerance of minorities is still on the rise. They are also afraid security forces will fail them again in the future.
“In Iraq, we are surrounded by enemies,” some women told Al-Monitor, adding that they simply want to live in a country where Yazidis feel accepted.
Although Trkew and her three children were recently rescued after being were enslaved by IS militants for two years, she is already making plans to migrate. From the prayers in the nearby mosque to men with long beards, everything religious reminds her of IS. “How they sold us, how they took our children, how they humiliated us — it’s impossible to forget what has been done to us,’’ said Trkew, who was forced to marry a Tunisian fighter who later committed a suicide attack.
Asked why she hasn't applied for the resettlement program, Trkew said she is now pregnant with her fourth child. She was reunited with her husband after she escaped from IS. Their plan is to leave Iraq as soon as she has delivered her baby, Trkew said while gently rubbing her belly.
"My children still suffer every day from what they have experienced under IS. I cannot turn back time, but I can make sure that this child will never have to experience what we have been through,” she concluded.

Former IRGC commander warns US against attacking Iran
Rohollah Faghihi/Al Monitor/June 15/17
Following US President Donald Trump’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia, which featured the signing of a $110 billion arms deal with Riyadh, Iranian officials and prominent figures alike have interpreted the new approach by the White House as an effort to forge an axis or coalition against Iran.
A senior Iranian military official has warned the United States against contemplating an attack on Iran.
Describing the US arms agreement with Saudi Arabia as “unprecedented,” Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned the Arab states not to forget the fate of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and former Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was toppled in 1979.
Safavi said June 14, “The volume of weapons purchased by the Arab countries — and especially Saudi Arabia — is unusual, and the signing of a $110 billion arms package between the United States and Saudi Arabia and the arms sale will not contribute to the security of southwest Asia, and it will also be used to make the region unsafe and create tension in an area that is the heart of the world's [source of] energy.”
Safavi, who served as commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps between 1997 and 2007, warned, “Before the [Islamic] Revolution [in 1979], the Iranian dictator, the shah, purchased billions of dollars of weapons and equipment form his ally, which was the United States, and [former Iraqi dictator] Saddam [Hussein] attacked Iran [in 1980] with the United States supporting him militarily [and giving him] weapons. The destiny of these two dictators must set an example for some [regional states]. Certainly, history will be repeated at different times and locations.”
He added, “I hope that the weapons that were sold to these Arab countries will fall into the hands of the Arab nations of the region, like the weapons that were sold to Iran under the shah, and will be used against the Americans and the Zionist regime [Israel]." Safavi further warned the Trump administration, “If America wants to start a war against Iran, all of its military bases in the region will be put in [danger of] insecurity.”
Mentioning the June 7 terrorist attacks in Tehran by the Islamic State (IS), Safavi said, “In terms of thinking and ideologically, Daesh [IS] is a Salafi and Wahhabist takfiri group that views Shiites as infidels and [believes that] Shiite women must be taken as slaves.”
Meanwhile, after weeks of controversy, Iran has decided to withdraw from the UN-devised global education agenda, known as Education 2030.
Following Khamenei’s voicing of opposition to the “2030 Plan,” the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, which is chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, opted not to implement the initiative.
Noting his opposition to the UNESCO 2030 agenda, the supreme leader said June 7, “I say that the country’s educational framework should not be written outside of this country.”
Khamenei had also said May 7, “Why should a so-called international community, which is definitely infiltrated by the corrupt powers, have the right to make decisions for the various cultures among nations? … The UNESCO 2030 education agenda and the like are not agendas that the Islamic Republic of Iran should have to surrender and submit to.”