June 18/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14/21-27/:"They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom
First Letter to the Corinthians 02/01-10/:"When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him’ these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

Question: "What does it mean that love is patient?" First Corinthians 13 is the most beloved chapter in the Bible on love. Often recited at weddings, this chapter serves as a pattern for the ideal marriage. Yet many have not reflected on the larger context and its implications for today. In verse 4 we read, “Love is patient.” Three words fraught with meaning. After making the point that love is a necessary ingredient in all ministry (verses 1-3), the apostle Paul begins to describe love. “Patient” is at the top of the list—“long” patience or “endurance,” according to some other translations. Godly love and a patient spirit go hand in hand.
Patience is noted as part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Love is also mentioned there, revealing the close connection between these two attributes. Both love and patience are products of the Spirit’s presence in one’s life. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), He is necessarily patient. “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6; see also Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8). Even in judgment, God’s patience is evident: “God’s patience waited in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:20). The Corinthians needed patience. Their sin of improperly taking the Lord’s Supper, for example, was partly the result of impatience and refusing to wait for others (chapter 11). Arguments regarding spiritual gifts (chapters 12 and 14) were likewise partly attributable to a lack of patience.
An insistence on one’s own schedule is selfish, and it is opposed to godly love. Patient endurance and long-suffering are hallmarks of a loving character. Love melts away the impatience and frustration that so often hamper one’s dealings with others. When the object of one’s love fails or disappoints in some way, what is the proper response? According to 1 Corinthians 13:4, the loving response is patience.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 17-18/17
Israel, Saudi Arabia reportedly discuss establishing economic ties/Ynetnews/June 17/17
London Fire Shows Why Britons Don’t Trust the System/Heatrher Brooke/The New York Times/June 17/17
How This Economic Recovery Ends/Conor Sen/Bloomberg/June 17/17
Female Genital Mutilation: Multiculturalism Gone Wild/Khadija Khan/Gatestone Institute/June 17/17
Has journalism failed to reflect our harrowing, blood-soaked reality/Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/June 17/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 17-18/17
Aoun demands 'urgent' publishing of vote law
Lebanon Parliament Approves New Electoral Law despite Criticism
Shorter briefs Aoun on search for missing family
Rahi Says Vote Law Agreement Saved Country from Crisis
Mashnouq Says Magnetic Vote Cards Will Create 'Confusion'
Nasrallah to Make Televised Address Friday on Latest Developments
Report: Security Forces Kill Drug 'Baron' in Beirut Southern Suburb
Synod of Maronite Church calls for economic rescue plan
Bassil represents Aoun at Zouk Electricity Plant inauguration
Harb: I will continue to fight for Lebanon
MP Antoine Saad criticizes electoral law, says it will set grounds for sectarian divisions
Khatib inspects environmental situation in Akkar
Parliament police elaborate on incidents in vicinity of Parliament

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 17-18/17
Quartet List of Grievances Against Qatar in the Making
UAE Minister from Moscow: Qatar Undermining Global Security Since 22 Years
Saudi Arabia Rejects Establishment of Turkish Military Bases on its Territories
Erdogan Disapproves Persian Expansionism
Twitter Briefly Suspends Al-Jazeera Arabic
Mauritania Suspends ‘Suspicious’ Qatari Projects
Saudi FM Jubeir: A political decision is the solution to the Qatar crisis
Exclusive: Recordings show Qatar conspiring against Gulf policy in Bahrain
Gulf states establish ‘hot lines’ to address humanitarian cases in Qatar
UAE to Russia: We have boycotted Qatar over its support of terrorism
Who is this ‘Emir’ from Qatar heard conspiring against Bahrain?
Saudi king appoints new public prosecutor, new security director
Moscow Revives Controversy over Baghdadi’s Fate
Iraqi Forces Recapture Syria Border Crossing from ISIS
Barzani Stresses ‘Referendum is for Independence’
Egypt Court Refers 31 People to Mufti over Public Prosecutor Murder
Coast Guard Intercepts more than 900 Migrants off Libya
Israeli President Calls on World to Recognize Golan Annexation
ISIS claims Jerusalem killing, replicates UK modus
5 wounded in shooting, stabbing attack in Jerusalem; border policewoman and 3 terrorists killed
Tillerson Skips OAS Meeting to Focus on Gulf Crisis
Trump Publicly Acknowledges Russia Probe Includes Him
Seven sailors missing after U.S. Navy destroyer collides with container ship in Japan
Al Jazeera says its Arabic channel Twitter account suspended

Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 17-18/17
Fathers’ Day: The Holy Gift Of Fatherhood
Elias Bejjani/June 18/17
“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!” (Lydia M. Child, U.S. Author)
Canadians observe Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. It is a day for people to show their appreciation for fathers, grandfathers, godfathers and fatherly figures. Father figures may include stepfathers, fathers-in-law, guardians, foster parent, and family friends. Hopefully, all men will have the blessed grace of being fathers. Being a father is a heavenly endowment, a great satisfaction, and a fulfilling Godly obligation as the Holy Bible teaches us: “Genesis 1:28 “God blessed them. God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.”
Almighty God has blessed both parents, fathers and mothers and recommended that they be honored, respected, cared for, and obeyed by their children. God’s fifth commandment delineates this heavenly obligation and duty: “”Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which The Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12 ).
God is our Holy Father, and we all, men and women, are His beloved children. Fathers on Earth are God’s servants who are entrusted by Him to safeguard, raise, embrace, support, provide and teach their children. Meanwhile fathers are required to carry their holy duties in raising their children in the fear of God, with the best of their knowledge, all their resource and means, full devotion and with all required sacrifices.
Fathers are the cornerstone of their families upon which children depend, learn, nurture, hold fast and shape their lives. Caring, devoted and righteous fathers are always given a hand by God and blessed for their rearing and erection of boundaries. Today we are celebrating “Fathers’ Day”, with all those who cherish fathers, appreciate their sacrifices and honor their Godly role. Best wishes to all fathers hoping they will be shown today all the due gratitude from their sons and daughters. On this very special day our deceased fathers’ and mothers’ spirits are roaming around sharing with us our joy and happiness, God bless their souls.
Attitudes of gratitude or ingratitude towards fathers on Fathers’ Day, are very sensitive issues that affect and touch the hearts and minds of many people. These two contradicting attitudes exhibit how much a person is either appreciative or ungrateful. The majority of people hold on dear to their fathers and do all that they can to always show them their great and deeply felt gratitude, while sadly there are those odd ones out who show no gratitude, abandon them and even at times endeavour to ruin their lives and inflict harm and pain on them. By doing so and negating God’s commandments that stress an utmost respect for parents, these people make themselves enemies of Christ Himself. Definitely God will be angry about such condemned conduct. This deviation from all human norms occur because of ignorance, selfishness, lack of faith and hope. These people fall into temptation, become proud of what they should be ashamed of, worship things that belong to this world and forget all about “Judgment Day”.
Colossians 3/20: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord”.
Leviticus 20/09: “For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him”
Fathers no matter what must be loved, honored, dignified and respected. God Himself is a Father and He will not bless those who deny their fathers’ heavenly right of fatherhood and respect. In this context, Billy Graham says: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” The Holy Bible in tens of its verses warns and puts on notice all those with callous hearts and numbed conscience who show no gratitude to their fathers and break their hearts.
Isaiah 46:4: “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
Even when fathers are abandoned by their children and denied their heavenly rights, they never ever hold any grudges, feelings of hatred or hostility against them. No matter what, fathers always wish their children health, prosperity and success. One of our Lebanese deeply rooted sayings portray how fathers constantly feel towards their ungrateful children: ” My heart beats for my son no matter what, while my son’s heart is callous like a rock”. Many verses in the Holy Bible overtly call on the children to treat their parents with love, endurance, affection and utmost care. At the same time the Bible instructs parents to value the Godly delegation to them to raise their children with all means of righteous, protection and provision.
Proverbs 23/22: “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old”.
Ephesians 06/01-02: “Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. Respect your father and mother is the first commandment that has a promise added: so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land”.
Many grown-up men and women do not appreciate their parents’ sacrifices unless they themselves have become parents. Back home in Lebanon where the family has always been sacred, we have a saying that shows how important it is in the eyes of the God that parents are always to be respected, honored and loved. “God will not bless or facilitate the life of those who mistreat their parents and He will reply to the parents’ wrath when they ask for punishment for their ungrateful children”. Good, loving , faithful and God-fearing fathers know no hatred, grudges or despair. They remain, always, hopeful and keep on praying to Almighty God that their children, (grateful or ungrateful ) are constantly healthy, prosperous, happy, and successful .
Philippians 04/04-07: “May you always be joyful in your union with the Lord. I say it again: rejoice! Show a gentle attitude toward everyone. The Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.”.
Happy Fathers’ Day to all Fathers.

Aoun demands 'urgent' publishing of vote law

The Daily Star/ June 17/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Saturday inked the new vote law that was approved by the Parliament and referred it to be published "urgently" in the Official Gazette. A statement issued by Aoun's press office said that the president "published Saturday afternoon [the vote] law that was endorsed by the Parliament on Friday based on article 56 of the Constitution." Article 56 states that the president can issue the laws that have been "definitely adopted and demand their publication."It says that the president "must issue laws which were declared urgent by [the Parliament] within five days and demand their publication."The statement said that the electoral law was referred to the Official Gazette for "urgent publishing."Prime Minister Saad Hariri had signed earlier the electoral law and referred it to the president. Lebanon's Parliament Friday endorsed the country's first proportional electoral law since its independence in 1943 with an overwhelming majority. The approval puts the country on the road to holding in 2018 the first legislative elections in nine years, despite sharp criticism and backlash from a number of lawmakers and civil activists. Parliament’s move immediately drew praise from the United Nations, the European Union and France. Coming two days after it had been agreed by the Cabinet, Parliament’s ratification of the vote law based on proportional representation averted a major constitutional crisis and buried once and for all the contested 1960 sectarian-based winner-take-all electoral system that divides Lebanon into small- and medium-sized constituencies used in the last polls in 2009. The ratification of the draft vote law came just days before Parliament’s term expires on June 20, thus sparing the country the dire consequences of a vacuum in the legislative body. Elections are expected to be held in May 2018.

Lebanon Parliament Approves New Electoral Law despite Criticism
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/Beirut- Lebanon’s parliament has approved the country’s first proportional vote law that would allow the elections to be held in May 2018 after the current legislature served a nine-year term following two extensions of the lawmakers’ tenures in 2013 and 2015.
The law was approved by overwhelming majority despite insistence by several lawmakers that it was not perfect. The three-hour session was chaired by Speaker Nabih Berri and attended by Prime Minister Saad Hariri and cabinet members. Berri, who hailed the “historic” deal on the law, said it was the “best possible.”“We were about to reach a fateful crisis. This law is the best possible and the compromise that led to its endorsement might have saved what can be saved,” he said. “The compromise that happened is not harmful. I am keen on the rights of sects, but not sectarianism,” Berri added. The speaker also expressed hope that the government would open an extraordinary term for the parliament to discuss pending draft-laws such as the public sector salary raise bill and to “restore the people’s confidence.”MP Boutros Harb, who abstained from voting, said: “Parliament is required today to rubber-stamp (the draft-law) and raising hands without discussion and expressing opinion. We reject this.”Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel, who on Thursday said that the law was flawed and lacked “unified standards,” reiterated his criticism during the parliamentary session. “Why did the parliament extend its term for an additional year? Is it to give the government more time to bribe the voters by offering them (public) services?” Gemayel asked. His remarks drew a sharp response from Hariri. “This is not what the government is doing,” he said. The premier also withdrew from the parliament hall and returned only after Berri asked for the removal of Gemayel’s criticism from the minutes of the session.

Shorter briefs Aoun on search for missing family
The Daily Star/June 17, 2017/BEIRUT: British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter met with President Michel Aoun Friday at Baabda Palace to brief the president on the ongoing search for a Lebanese family missing since the Grenfell Tower fire in London. Aoun asked Shorter to provide the Lebanese government with any information on the Choucair family. The family of six lived on the 22nd floor of the west London tower block. Lebanese Ambassador to the U.K. Inaam Osseiran told The Daily Star Thursday the embassy knew only that six Lebanese nationals had been missing since the fire at the 24-story tower. The rescue team has been searching for missing people since the fire broke out Wednesday morning. Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy admitted Thursday that it is possible “we may not be able to identify everybody.” At least 30 people were killed and dozens of others remain unaccounted for. “The missing could number as many as 76,” the BBC reported.

Rahi Says Vote Law Agreement Saved Country from Crisis
Naharnet/June 17/17/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi said on Saturday that the political parties' agreement on a vote law has saved the country from doomed “political crisis” that would have reflected immensely on the country's various sectors. Al-Rahi who hailed the political parties accord after long-awaited talks said: “It rescued the country from a political crisis that would have had severe repercussions on the national sectors.”The Patriarch who spoke at the conclusion of the Synod of Maronite Bishops, called on political authorities to “practice democracy” while dealing with people. “We call on political authority to preserve democracy which distinguishes Lebanon from its surrounding. Let them practice it inside the parliament, cabinet, ministries and the entire administrations,” he remarked. The parliament has ratified a new electoral law on Friday, paving the way for the first national elections since 2009. The new law preserves the seat allocations in parliament to the country's various Muslim and Christian sects, over the objections of civil campaigners. The law passed with a broad majority after weeks of intensive negotiations between the various parties. Parliamentary elections are slated to be held in May 2018. The sitting parliament has extended its own term three times since it originally expired in 2013

Mashnouq Says Magnetic Vote Cards Will Create 'Confusion'

Naharnet/June 17/17/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said the issuance of magnetic card votes is a time-consuming process that may not be completed on time due to the number of voters. “It is noteworthy that Mashnouq has voted against the adoption of a magnetic vote card for the upcoming elections, and pointed out that it will create confusion,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. “The number of registered voters is 3,682 million. How would they all be provided with the magnetic cards?” asked Mashnouq. Political parties have agreed that member's voting cards should be magnetic stripe cards that contain identification information. The interior ministry must find a mechanism to print more than 3 million cars in less than 11 months.Parliamentary elections are slated to be held in May 2018. On Friday, Lebanon's parliament has ratified a new electoral law, paving the way for the first national elections since 2009. The new law preserves the seat allocations in parliament to the country's various Muslim and Christian sects, over the objections of civil campaigners. The sitting parliament has extended its own term three times since it originally expired in 2013.

Nasrallah to Make Televised Address Friday on Latest Developments
Naharnet/June 17/17/Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah will make a televised address next Friday on the occasion of International Quds Day where he will address several developments, al-Liwaa daily reported on Saturday. Nasrallah will highlight several issues including the Israeli threats, the situation in Palestine, the regional developments in light of the battle field changes in Iraq and Syria, said the daily. He will also address the situation in Lebanon after the country approved a new electoral law to govern its polls in May, 2018.

Report: Security Forces Kill Drug 'Baron' in Beirut Southern Suburb
Naharnet/June 17/17/Drug lord and wanted criminal known as Samir Fawzi Monzer has been killed in an army operation in the southern suburb of Bourj al-Barajneh, an army statement said on Saturday. As part of the State's security plan and decision to combat drug traffickers and larceny, Army Intelligence units raided the suspect's residence in al-Raml al-Aali. The army patrol came under fire from the suspect and other gunmen triggering an exchange of fire that killed Monzer and wounded another man identified as Mahmoud Zreiq, added the statement. Monzer is one of the most prominent suspects in drug trafficking, murder and larceny in the said suburb. 23 arrest warrants on shooting and drug charges have been issued against him so far. Monzer has managed to flee several times from police ambushes.He is one of the prominent “drug barons” in Hay al-Jura neighborhood in the Palestinian refugee camp of Bourj al-Barajneh. He has succeeded in making a stronghold of his own because of his reckless gun use.

Synod of Maronite Church calls for economic rescue plan
Sat 17 Jun 2017/NNA - Upon an invitation by Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rahi, the Synod of the Maronite Church Bishops convened in Bkirki on Saturday, calling on officials to put an economic rescue plan to improve the country's situation. In an issued statement following the meeting, conferees said that the agreement on a new electoral law saved Lebanon from a political and constitutional crisis. The prelates also discussed the increased number of Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, noting that more than 1.5 million refugees threaten Lebanon's social and economic structure.
Talks also centered on the need to adopt a reform plan for public administrations, protect public funds, reactivate supervisory boards and apply the principles of competency and integrity in public services. On the other hand, conferees saluted the sacrifices of the Lebanese Army and Security Forces for their exerted efforts in preserving Lebanon's security and sovereignty.

Bassil represents Aoun at Zouk Electricity Plant inauguration
Sat 17 Jun 2017 /NNA - Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil Saturday represented President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, in inaugurating the new Zouk Electricity Plant during a ceremony hosted by Water and Energy Minister Ceasar Abi Khalil. "We gather today in a special encounter in history and essence, yielded by proper determination and planning, for whoever has the will can reach his aspired goal," said Bassil after touring the various sections of the new plant, the cornerstone of which was laid in 2013. "Today, Lebanon approves a modern electoral law and launches an advanced electricity program, as a result of its will and determination," added Bassil. He considered that those who benefit from the absence of electricity in the country are many and well-known, adding "those who want electricity have to join hands with us, for this is our headline for the next stage." In response to previous accusations of corruption at the Water and Energy Ministry, Bassil said: "Whoever can prove that the three ministers who took on responsibilities at the Ministry have committed one financial mistake, let him come forward or else declare his inability!" "This day, on behalf of the President of the Republic, the Lebanese government and its Head, I declare a new commitment to you, that we are determined in the coming months to provide electricity to the Lebanese at the lowest prices and with the most transparent and best technical tenders," promised Bassil.

Harb: I will continue to fight for Lebanon
Sat 17 Jun 2017/NNA - MP Butros Harb vowed to continue to fight for Lebanon and to pursue his efforts for the country's general interests, without ever altering his principles and beliefs. "Each of us has an important role in safeguarding Lebanon. We must express our positions and views in service of Lebanon and the future of our youthful generation. Lebanon cannot survive without its youth, and they have to know that the flame of hope and life is present in Lebanon and no one is capable of extinguishing it," said Harb. His words came during the launching of a youthful movement by the "Friends of Butros Harb," led by his son, Majd, at a dinner banquet held in Qarna'oun on Friday. Harb commended the youth movement's initiative, considering that it heralds a hopeful future for Lebanon in building an independent and free state and a nation of justice and institutions.

MP Antoine Saad criticizes electoral law, says it will set grounds for sectarian divisions
Sat 17 Jun 2017/NNA - Democratic Gathering Bloc Member, MP Antoine Saad, denounced Saturday the approved election law, considering that it has been set according to "quota sharing" concept, and would allow for sectarian divisions due to the absence of one criterion in the adoption of preferential vote. Speaking in an interview to "Voice of Lebanon" Radio Station, Saad deemed however that "despite its various defaults, the agreement reached shall reflect positively on the internal scene at different levels."
"All parties and blocs agreed on said law in order to avoid vacuum, although many of them were not convinced," he added, noting that "without the acceptance of Hezbollah and Amal Movement, this law would not have been endorsed."

Khatib inspects environmental situation in Akkar
Sat 17 Jun 2017/NNA - Minister of Environment, Tarek al-Khatib, toured on Saturday Akkar region where he inspected its natural, environmental and aesthetic features, as well as identifying its needs to resolve the existing problems, especially at the level of forests, rivers and landfills.
"Starting tomorrow, we will be working on these [environmental] issues as much as we can," he said, noting that the "Environment Ministry is at the people's disposal and [we will be working] side by side in that regard." Khatib urged municipalities to "cooperate with each other" for effective results.
The minister admitted that he fell short with Akkari citizens, whereby he should have visited Akkar earlier but the workload imposed the delay. Khatib will be meeting with a number of environmental associations, municipal unions, municipalities and NGOs to assess various environmental needs for Akkar region.

Parliament police elaborate on incidents in vicinity of Parliament

Fri 16 Jun 2017/NNA - The Parliament Police Command on Friday issued a statement elaborating on the inaccurate news and partial videos which were broadcasted by some media outlets and social media on the incidents that occurred in front of the northern entrance to the parliament's guards.
The statement said: "Some protestors hurled stones, eggs and tomatoes at a number of MPs passing convoys.""Yet, after some demonstrators attempted to break into the security barrier and assault protection guards... and after they [demonstrators] forcibly stripped one of the servicemen from his arms and shoved him on the ground, the Parliament's guards had to intervene to free their comrade from the demonstrators' grip," statement clarified.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 17-18/17
Quartet List of Grievances Against Qatar in the Making
Badr Al-Qahtani/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/London, Jeddah- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received on Friday Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the Safa Palace in Mecca. They reviewed bilateral relations between the kingdom and Turkey and discussed developments in the region, the Saudi news agency SPA reported. Meanwhile, in London, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir uncovered that the four Arab states that broke ties with Doha – including his country, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain – were drawing up a “list of grievances” against Qatar and would present them soon. Jubeir stressed the need for Doha to steer clear of policies supporting extremist or terrorist organizations, and said the country should not incite or intervene in the affairs of sisterly countries. “The matter is not difficult, but on the contrary, very easy,” Jubeir told journalists during a press conference held at the Saudi Embassy in London. The foreign minister added: “The demands to halt supporting and funding extremism and terrorism are not the requests of just Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, but are demands made by the whole world.”He said the measures taken against Qatar were a direct message to Doha that supporting terrorism and interfering in the affairs of other states were both rejected. British sources said on Friday that the foreign minsters of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain asserted to their British counterpart Boris Johnson that the measures taken following the crisis with Qatar were not directed against the Qatari people, and did not aspire for a regime change, but only aimed to guarantee the national security of the three countries by facing terrorism and the spread of extremism. The three countries affirmed that any solution to the crisis hinges on Qatar’s unequivocal undertakings, accompanied by guarantees and an implementation mechanism for those requests, particularly that Doha did not abide by pledges made earlier in this same regard in 2014, the sources added.

UAE Minister from Moscow: Qatar Undermining Global Security Since 22 Years
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/Abu Dhabi- UAE Minister of State Dr. Sultan al-Jaber said during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Friday that the decision to sever relations with Qatar is aimed at stopping its funding of terrorism. “For 22 years, Qatar has adopted policies that undermined regional and global security, through the direct or indirect finance of terrorism or by supporting media outlets that enable terrorist groups to promote their twisted extremist ideologies,” Jaber said. Jaber further said that the measures taken by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt came after exhausting all other attempts to change the course of Qatar’s double standard policy of simultaneously combating and supporting terrorism. “The decision to sever ties with Qatar was a clear message to its regime, that it is time for Doha to change the course and approach it has followed for many years, to undermine regional security and stability by providing support for extremism and terrorism,” the minister stated. He added that Qatar broke its pledges and agreements of 2013 to stop funding of terrorism, intervention in regional affairs and shaking the stability. Lavrov stressed that Russia consistently stands for overcoming existing differences through dialogue with taking into consideration national interests and concerns including joining efforts to fight terrorism. The meeting also discussed urgent topics related to continuing to develop Russia-UAE cooperation in various aspects – both parties expressed willingness to cement bilateral ties including cooperation in trade, economic, investment, and energy fields.

Saudi Arabia Rejects Establishment of Turkish Military Bases on its Territories

Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can not allow Turkey to establish military bases on its territories, an official source has said.According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the source pointed out that “the Kingdom has no need for this.”“Its armed forces and military capabilities are at the best level, and it has great participation abroad including Incirlik base in Turkey for combating terrorism and protecting security and stability in the region,” the source added.

Erdogan Disapproves Persian Expansionism

Saeed Abdelrazek/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/Ankara- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Iran was taking each of Iraq and Syria as an arena for more than a sectarian expansionism, describing its behavior as a “Persian expansionism.”In an interview with the Portuguese broadcaster RTP late Thursday, Erdogan said: “I see that denominational expansionism as Persian expansionism. I do not find this right.”The Turkish president also asked: “Is Syria a scene for the Iranian sectarian expansionism? Yes, it is. Is Iraq also a scene? Yes, it is.”Erdogan said that his country was working with each of Russia and Iran during the Astana talks and that the US and Saudi Arabia were also called to join to help bring peace in Syria. “You cannot solve issues in Syria and in Iraq without Iran,” he said, adding that keeping Tehran away from the efforts to find a solution in Syria, would not serve any party. However, Erdogan again lashed out at the US for its insistence to rely on Kurdish militias in its operation to liberate the Syrian town of Raqqa from ISIS. The president said the US continues to work with those Kurdish militias despite the Turkish warnings, which Erdogan had expressed to his US counterpart Donald Trump during his visit to Washington last May. “I understand from their joint movement that the US does not consider those (Kurdish groups) as part of its list of terrorist organizations. Today, the US is advancing towards Raqqa in cooperation with those terrorist organizations,” he said. Lately, Washington said for the first time that the US was disturbed by the growing relations between Ankara and Moscow. In a speech addressed to the Senate, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed the importance of building relations between each of the US, Europe and NATO with Turkey. Tillerson said ties between Turkey and Russia were probably due to the US weak presence in the region, adding that Ankara-Moscow relations would not last long.

Twitter Briefly Suspends Al-Jazeera Arabic
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/Social media platform Twitter briefly suspended the account of Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera Arabic early Saturday. Al-Jazeera is known to be a strong backer of extremism and terrorism through broadcasts of videos belonging to terrorist organizations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bahrain. These organizations are in contact with it and provide it with the videos, which Al-Jazeera posts on its Twitter account, in violation of the platform’s rules and regulations. Doha uses the satellite network as a tool of instigation against other countries. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have cut all diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing it of backing terrorism.

Mauritania Suspends ‘Suspicious’ Qatari Projects
Sheikh Mohamed/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/Nouakchott- Mauritania has started taking measures to suspend Qatari projects, which it described as suspicious, as the country’s Mufti called for solidarity with Saudi Arabia. Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Ould Habib al-Rahman said that Saudi Arabia is targeted by conspiracies more than any other time, calling for its support as well as rejecting to back countries that seek to damage the kingdom. The Mufti underscored in his sermon the necessity for countries of the Islamic world to stand by Saudi Arabia. He concluded his sermon by praying for rulers of Saudi Arabia to achieve victory over their enemies. Mauritanian authorities suspended on Thursday a project funded by Qatar and supervised by a Qatari charity authority thought to have links with intelligence and security parties. The suspension decision was issued by local authorities in Rosso, south Mauritania, as the city ruler notified the project supervisors that Mauritania “no more wishes to proceed with the project.”Official sources affirmed that the government has issued a circular on suspending work in all Qatari funded projects, the majority of them of social nature and linked to a specific political party that commits suspicious activities. Mauritania had on several occasions expressed reservation on activities of some Qatari charity authorities and their suspicious ties with some terrorist groups active in the Sahel, especially al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia in north Mali. Mauritania’s decision to cut ties with Qatar, following the path of other Arab and Islamic countries, has spurred a wave of solidarity by the Muslim Brotherhood in Mauritania whose followers attempted to call for popular protests that were not successful. Also, some Mauritanian figures known for their ties with terrorist groups expressed solidarity with Qatar.

Saudi FM Jubeir: A political decision is the solution to the Qatar crisis

Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishSaturday, 17 June 2017/Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya carried out by Rima Maktabi in London on Friday, discussed a potential solution to the Qatar diplomatic crisis. According to the Saudi FM, the answer would be in a political decision taken by Qatar to refrain from supporting and financing terrorism, interfering in the affairs of other countries and waging incitement campaigns. Jubeir said that this decision, if taken by Doha, would be in its best interest and that of all the countries in the region who are suffering from terrorism and extremism. He hinted that Doha did not abide by the policies that it had already committed to in 2014. The Saudi FM also pointed out that the countries that are boycotting Qatar are preparing a draft list of requirements from Doha, in order to clear things up. Jubeir stressed the need to keep on updating the terrorists’ list to include persons and organizations supported by Qatar, noting that some of them are on the list of the United Nations and others are on the US list. He revealed that world countries understand the concerns of our region regarding Qatar’s support and financing of terrorism.
Concerning the British stance on the Qatari crisis, the Saudi foreign minister denied that London is currently supporting Doha, pointing out that Britain suffers from terrorism and has already expressed its concern and frustration from Doha’s activities, several times. He highlighted the historical bonds linking Britain to the countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia. Regarding his meeting with his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Friday, Jubeir said that the meeting was constructive, given the strategic ties that bind the 2 countries. He stated that the talks with Johnson focused on the Qatari crisis, the situation in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq and the Middle East peace negotiations. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt had cut off their diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 because the latter was accused of supporting extremists, terrorist organizations and Iran. The four countries recorded Qatari persons and entities on the issued terror list.

Exclusive: Recordings show Qatar conspiring against Gulf policy in Bahrain

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 17 June 2017/Al Arabiya News Channel has released late Friday four phone call recordings between the Qatari Emir’s Special Advisor Hammad bin Khalifa Abdullah Al-Attiya and Hassan Ali Mohammed Juma’a Sultan, a Bahraini dissident, whose nationality was revoked in 2015. The recordings show how Qatar was conspiring behind the scene against the Gulf states’ unified policy in Bahrain. While the phone recordings were undated, they allude that the backchannel talks might have took place in 2011, after the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) sent their joint military forces known as Peninsula Shield Force at the request by the Bahraini government to protect the latter country’s national security. The first recording shows how Qatar was trying to balance between Doha keeping up with its pro-GCC policy in Bahrain but instead it was working behind the scene, using Al-Jazeera News Channel to broadcast opposing agendas. “[Rioters] People are now dealing with the forces as forces of occupation,” Sultan was heard telling Attiya in the first phone call conversation. “I am with what you are saying,” Attiya said. “I should not be telling you this, as you should know, we in Qatar, we have our reservations [over Peninsula Shield Force presence in Bahrain].”Attiya said that Qatar cannot be against its GCC “brethrens” and it “rejects to patriciate” in the Peninsula Shield Force.
“As you know the law for the Peninsula Shield Force requires all countries to patriciate,” he said. “We pressured ourselves not to participate as forces,” adding that there were two Qatari officers, “who are being watched.”
Attiya also said if the situation further developed, he will personally see Sultan or “Shiekh Issa.”
Sheikh Isa Qassim, an opposition leader, who had his Bahraini citizenship revoked in 2016 and is facing a “money laundering” trial.
In the second recording Attiya was inquiring over what was exactly happening in Bahrain, and in the third phone call, the Qatari advisor asked Sultan if the latter could recommend a person who can appear on Al-Jazeera to talk about the situation in Bahrain.
“We want cooperation over correct information,” Attiya asked Sultan.
In the fourth recording, Sultan recommends and gives Attiya the name of the Bahrain journalist Tahir al-Musawi to provide Al-Jazeera with all the information needed.
Below is an English translated transcript of four telephone conversations that took place during March 2011 between the Qatari Emir’s Advisor Hamad Khalifa Al-Attiya (HA) and Hassan Ali Sultan (HS) (ex-Wefaq MP/Dawa Party/current fugitive in Lebanon and travels to Iraq) conspiring during the 2011 crisis in Bahrain.
HA: Assalamu Alaikum
PA: Assalamu Alaikum
HA: Wa alaikum Alsalam, Good Afternoon Shaikh
PA: Just a minute, I shall pass the mobile to the Shaikh
HA: Go ahead
HS: Sheikh Hassan, I am with you. Assalamu Alaikum,
HA: Wa alaikum Alsalam Al-Shaikh
HS: Cordial greetings Abu Khalifa
HA: I am sorry I had called you on the other line and nobody picked up.
HS: Bu Khalifa, Please go ahead, direct me.
HA: May no enemy give you orders. I have inquired about the Peninsula Shield and there was no Qatari participation. There are only two Qatari officers in the role of observers as per the Peninsula Shield bylaws that we have to abide by. This time we took reservations to avoid participating with troops.
HS: Yes but there are two officers from Qatar.
HA: Yes there are two observer officers from Qatar as we are obliged to comply with.
HS: Sir, Abu Khalifa, right now the people are dealing with and will deal with these forces as occupying forces. I hope you take this into consideration.
HA: Shaikh, I am with what you are saying and I am not meant to say this to you but we in Qatar have our reservations due to the brotherly ties with you. You know, the Peninsula Shield bylaws stipulate that we participate. We tried not to allow the situation to develop in order for us not to send forces, troops nor send an air force.
HS: Sir, Sir, I am not fully aware of the bylaws, but today the Kuwaiti Parliament has a problem. It will be raising an inquest into the matter and will take it up with the government.
HA: I am with you Shaikh, this is reality. But tell me now. What is the message you want me to convey to the Prime Minister before he goes out. Or would you like to call me after a short while.
HS: Abu Khalifa, give me 30-45 minutes because you know this issue isn’t the easiest. The Opposition is in meetings. The inner-house is in meetings. It needs spinning. If something is spun, I shall call you Abu Khalifa.
HA: I will wait for a call from you in any minute.
HS: Thank you. Thank you.
HA: If something is formulated, tomorrow after the Prime Minster together with Saud Al-Faisal sit with the King, I will come accordingly, if need be, to visit you or see Shaikh Isa (Qassim) after I see what they reach to with the King or the government.
HS: This is an honour Abu Khalifa. Even if you are asked who you want to come visit, myself or the Prime Minister, come visit us there. Whatever works for you.
HA: Your presence is an honour to us, or His Excellency Shaikh Hamad, we are at your service. This is your country. We are your guests and this land is yours.
HS: I have no doubt. Rest assured. Pass my regards to Shaikh Isa.
HA: Assalmu Alaikum Shaikh
HS: Abu Khalifa How are you? May God grant you a long life. Of course you are following the developments.
HA: Yes of course.
HS: I am talking with you Abu Khalifa based on your request that I inform you of any new information regarding the police forces and the declaration of national emergency. We expect blood to be shed.
HA: Yes, I will immediately carry this story on Al-Jazeera. We have no problem to put this out now.
HS: Our message is that what is happening today is with the blessing of the Gulf states.
HA: I need to know, what are the villages, that are facing problems.
HS: All of them, all villages, right now, there is no protection for Shias in Bahrain. And we have taken this up with our religious leadership in Najaf, Qom and Lebanon. It’s over. There is no political protection or other for what is happening. There is an Al-Khalifa rape.
HA: Ok my question is, right now it is the afternoon, is there a spread of thugs or military personnel or police or what exactly?
HS: The thugs are the forces. They have weapons and are trolling the villages wearing civilian clothing. After the declaration, the army has been deployed. I can see this in front of me. I am standing in our headquarters and watching. The Security Forces as a third element are conducting the same role.
HA: Who is the person that I can get Al-Jazeera to get in touch with to get this information?
HS: Mmmmm..
HA: Shall I get them to call you and use an alias?
HS: No problem, I just need two minutes to prepare the topic Abu Khalifa.
HA: Get back to me in a few minutes.
HS: Immediately, I will get back to you.
HS: Salam Abu Khalifa
HA: Hello
HS: The number of the person who can speak to Al-Jazeera is the MP Khalil Almarzooq who was the First Deputy of the House of Representatives, or if you want anybody else, but preferably him. Right now he is at a meeting at the American Embassy so you won’t be able to reach him. Take his number.
HA: What is his number
HS: 36xxxxx
HA: Look, we will have a different position and we have no qualms. But we want cooperation, solid information and the details. We don’t want to appear, in front of the public, to have been hasty in our decision.
HS: No worries.
HA: We ask that everything is documented visually and dated.
HS: We are ready.
HA: I will organize it through you. I shall call you after a while.
HS: Salam Abu Khalifa
HA: Hello
HS: Take this number of the man who will provide you with details and information. Take his number for you to get details from or even for the TV Channel. He can provide them with realtime details and footage. Everything is documented. 3xxxxxxx
HA: 96 at the end? Oh this is the number without the code. That is 973 I have that already.
HS: Yes, his name is Sayed Taher.
HA: Should we call Saif? or call Khalil?
HS: Call Taher Al-Moosawi now.
HA: Saif Taher?
HS: Sayed Taher Al-Moosawi. He is a journalist. He has very accurate information and can pass it on.
HA: OK, I will give you our strategy.
HS: Thank you
HA: Bye

Gulf states establish ‘hot lines’ to address humanitarian cases in Qatar
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/ Saturday, 17 June 2017/Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain said in a joint statement on Friday that it was decided to “take many decisions” including establishing “hot lines” in their three countries to tackle humanitarian and health cases in Qatar. The three countries and Egypt have cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar. The joint statement made was in response to Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, voicing alarm on Wednesday over possible impact on the rights of the Qatari people amid Gulf tensions. “For the sake of our brotherly Qatari people, which is a natural extension of its brothers in the three States, it was decided to take many measures aimed at addressing humanitarian and health cases, establish hot lines in each country so that cases can be reported and appropriate action be taken, in a manner consistent with international obligations under international human rights law and our long humanitarian traditions,” they said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA). They also reaffirmed their “willingness” to continue protecting stability of the region including that of Qatar’s. They said they will “continue working with the concerned parties in order to achieve the desired results of this break-up, namely, to maintain security, to combat terrorism and to safeguard the stability and well-being of the people of the region, including the brotherly Qatari people in full respect for their human rights’ and international humanitarian law’s commitments.” The countries further defended their stance over their Qatar boycott by saying it is their “sovereign right.” “Decisions to cut ties with Qatar are a sovereign right of the States concerned and aim to protect their national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism,” they said. “These decisions came after exhausting all possible means as a result of Qatar’s failure to comply with the Riyadh Agreement for the Return of Ambassadors and its Supplementary Agreement of 2014, and its continued support, funding, and hosting of terrorist, extremist and sectarian organizations.”In 2014, Qatari envoys were withdrawn from the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia in protest against Doha’s support to the Muslim Brotherhood. However, tensions were later resolved following the Riyadh agreement.The three countries added: “These decisions were taken in full conformity with the fundamental principles of Public International Law.”

UAE to Russia: We have boycotted Qatar over its support of terrorism
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 17 June 2017/The UAE Minister of State, Sultan bin Ahmad al-Jaber, said during his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, on Friday that the decision to boycott Qatar is aimed at stopping its funding of terrorism that has been ongoing for several years.
According to UAE news agency WAM, Jaber pointed out that Qatar has adopted policies that jeopardized regional and global security for 22 years, through direct or indirect financing of terrorism or by supporting media outlets that enabled terrorist groups to promote their twisted ideologies that embrace violence and extremism. Jaber noted that the measures taken by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt came after several attempts to change the course of Qatar’s double standard policy based on simultaneously combatting and supporting terrorist organizations. He confirmed that the decision to cut ties with Qatar is a clear message to the Qatari regime that it is time to correct the course and change the approach Doha has followed for many years to undermine regional security and stability in the region, by supporting extremism and terrorism. He pointed out that Qatar has failed to keep the promise it made in 2013, which is to refrain from funding terrorism, interfering in the internal affairs of other countries in the region and destabilizing countries. This is what led to take such decision in order to urge Doha to back down from such practices that are negatively affecting the Qataris before other people in the region.
Boycott not siege
He also pointed out that Qatar is attempting to distort the facts by trying to label these measures as a siege targeting the Qatari people, and this is not true, given that Qatar can still use several air and sea routes. In fact, Qatar thus confirms that it is still engaged in double standards policies; it is misleading the media. Dr. Sultan al-Jaber reviewed with Lavrov, the list of terrorist organizations and individuals supported and backed by Qatar for many years now. Lavrov assured the UAE minister that Russia has always been calling to overcome existing conflicts through dialogue, “taking into consideration the legitimate national concerns,” including those related to rigorous efforts to combat terrorism. The meeting also tackled ways of developing Russian-Emirati co-operation on several levels; the two countries expressed their interest in enhancing bilateral relations, including the co-operation in commercial, economic, investment and energy fields. On the other hand, Jaber also met during his visit to Moscow with Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Russian envoy to the Middle East.

Who is this ‘Emir’ from Qatar heard conspiring against Bahrain?
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/ Saturday, 17 June 2017/A video that was released by the Bahraini authorities on Friday, revealed a voice call recorded between Hamad bin Khalifa bin Abdullah al-Attiyah, Qatar’s special adviser, and Bahraini opposition leader Hassan Ali Mohammed Jumaa Sultan.
The recording reveals the two conspiring to sow chaos in Bahrain. Who is Hamad bin Khalifa al-Attiyah? This man is considered as the mastermind and the right arm of the Qatari government, who is favored by Prince Tamim. Qataris call him the ‘Emir’ to whom no one has pledged allegiance.
Prior to being appointed as a Minister, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Attiyah was appointed as a special adviser in the rank of a minister through a decree issued by the Emir of Qatar in June 2013. This was only ostensibly a reward for his good performance in implementing the plan to force merchants to sell their shops in Souq Waqif, claiming to convert it into a heritage institute. However, Hamad al-Attiyah again leased the properties to the merchants themselves with high-priced contracts, thus reimbursing what the state treasury had paid to the traders.
Kindling Qatar-Gulf crisis
On the regional, Arab and international levels, al-Attiyah caused a major crisis between the Gulf countries and Qatar in 2013, prompting the Gulf countries to ask Doha to sign an agreement restraining Qatar from interfering in the affairs of the member-countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Financing terrorist groups in Syria  In addition, several Lebanese news reports reported the involvement of Abdul Aziz bin Khalifa al-Attiyah, the brother of adviser Hamad, in the direct financing of terrorist groups fighting in Syria under the cover of a humanitarian aid organization. This he was able to do through managing the ‘Mahd Ahl al-Sham’ campaign that collects donations from Gulf countries to arm terrorists in Syria, many of whom are members of the Nusra Front which called on Qatari citizens in August 2013 to donate and send money to fighters in Syria for procuring weapons. Qatar also intervened to release Abdel Aziz al-Khalifa and threatened Beirut with the expulsion of 30,000 Lebanese citizens living and working in Qatar unless they release Abdel Aziz bin Khalifa al-Attiyah, who is involved in financing terrorism. Beirut sentenced him in absentia to seven years in prison on charges of managing this terror financing campaign.

Saudi king appoints new public prosecutor, new security director

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Saturday, 17 June 2017 /Saudi Arabia's King Salman issued several royal orders on Saturday morning including the amendment of the name of the Investigation and Public Prosecution Commission to the Public Prosecutor's Office and to be headed by the Attorney-General.
King Salman named Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah bin Mubarak Attorney General, with a ministerial rank, reported the official Saudi Press Agency. The royal decree stated that the Public Prosecutor's Office is to function under the King’s authority directly to guarantee its independence and autonomy and to assign experts to review the system of the General Investigation and Prosecution Authority to propose any required amendments within 90 days. Observers believe that the royal order "came as a step towards reformation for the justice system in the Kingdom, where the Public Prosecutor office is directly linked to the King and thus will be completely independent of the executive authority."The royal orders included relieving Sheikh Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdulrahman al-Abdullah al-Arini, head of the investigation and prosecution agency of his duties and appointing Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah bin Mubarak as a public prosecutor. The Saudi monarch also decided to end the service of General Osman bin Nasser al-Muhraj, the director of public security, and promoted Major General Saud bin Abdulaziz Hilal as director of public security. The royal orders included the appointment of Abdulhakim bin Mohammed bin Sulaiman al-Tamimi as head of the General Authority of Civil Aviation under the rank of minister and Suhail bin Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz Abanmi as governor of the General Authority for Zakat and Income, with the rank of excellence. Faisal bin Abdul Aziz bin Labdeh was announced Advisor to the Royal Court at the rank of lieutenant general. Abdullah bin Ibrahim al-Hamed was assigned as the Director of the University of Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz, rank of excellence. Other appointees at ministerial rank include Aqla bin Ali Al-Aqla as Vice-President of the Royal Court, Dr. Fahd bin Abdullah bin Abdul Latif al-Mubarak, Advisor to the Royal Court, and Tamim bin Abdulaziz al-Salem as Assistant to the King’s Secretary.

Moscow Revives Controversy over Baghdadi’s Fate
Paula Astih and Youssef Diab/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/Beirut- Moscow revived on Friday the controversy over the fate of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by announcing that its army might have killed him during an airstrike that targeted Syria’s Raqqa last month. However, Washington said it was uncertain about al-Baghdadi’s death, while western and Iraqi experts doubted the Russian claim. On Friday, the Russian Army said that it might have killed Baghdadi during an airstrike on May 28 while the leader of ISIS was attending a meeting of the organization. The army said that Baghdadi might have been killed along with around 30 other ISIS military commanders and 300 militants. But several sources and experts ruled out Moscow’s claims and said that Baghdadi was not in Raqqa when the Russian airstrike occured. Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel-Rahman told Asharq Al-Awsat that at the time of the Russian airstrike, all first-rank ISIS officials had already fled Raqqa. “The Russians probably received inaccurate information in this regard,” he said. Also, Ahmad al-Ramadan, an activist from the Euphrates Post campaign doubted the Russian claims. “Baghdadi is present in Iraq and not in Syria,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, saying ISIS is currently run by a 12-member leadership council that practically leads the terrorist organization. Baghdadi only constitutes an image for ISIS, he added. Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces backed by coalition forces continued on Friday their military campaign in Raqqa, the stronghold of ISIS. Activists reported that the organization’s militants launched counter attacks to stop the SDF advancement and hinder their infiltration. The ISIS attacks killed Yehya Mohammed Shehadeh, a commander from the tribal forces operating with the SDF. Other reports also spoke about the killing of another leading official from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units in an explosion that targeted his convoy in the town of Ain Issa, in the countryside of northern Raqqa.

Iraqi Forces Recapture Syria Border Crossing from ISIS
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/The Iraqi military says it has retaken control of a border crossing with Syria from the ISIS terrorist group. Tribal forces and border police, supported by Iraqi and US-led coalition aircraft, took part in the operation to take the al-Waleed crossing, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement Saturday. Al-Waleed fell to ISIS group in 2015, giving the militants full control of the Iraq-Syria border, which they vowed to erase as part of their ambition to build a caliphate. In recent months the militants have been coming under increasing pressure in the country’s western deserts from government forces. Al-Waleed is close to Tanf, a strategic Syrian border crossing with Iraq on the Baghdad-Damascus highway, where US forces have assisted Syrian rebels trying to recapture territory from ISIS. US forces have been based at Tanf since last year, in effect preventing Iranian-backed forces backing head of Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad from receiving heavy weaponry from Iran by using the main highway between Iraq and Syria. The involvement of Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters in the operation to dislodge the militants from al-Waleed is another indication that Iran will not yet be able to use the highway. In Mosul, where a US-backed offensive against ISIS on Saturday entered its ninth month, the militants have been squeezed into an enclave on the western bank of the Tigris river. ISIS also controls territory along the border with Syria and urban pockets west and south of Mosul. About 100,000 civilians remain trapped in harrowing conditions behind ISIS lines in Mosul, with little food, water and medicine and limited access to hospitals, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday. ISIS snipers are shooting at families trying to flee on foot or by boat across the Tigris River, as part of a tactic to keep civilians as human shields, it said. Iraqi government forces regained eastern Mosul in January, then a month later began the offensive on the western side that includes the Old City, a dense maze of narrow alleyways where fighting is mainly done house by house. The fall of Mosul would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the “caliphate” that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared in a speech from an historic mosque in the Old City three years ago, covering parts of Iraq and Syria. About 200,000 people were estimated to be trapped behind ISIS lines in Mosul in May, but the number has declined as government forces have thrust further into the city. About 800,000 people, more than a third of the pre-war population of the northern Iraqi city, have fled, seeking refuge with friends and relatives or in camps.

Barzani Stresses ‘Referendum is for Independence’
Saeed Abdelrazek/Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/Ankara, Arbil – The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, has stressed that he informed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the independence referendum which he has called for “is a normal, legal right of our people.”“Afterwards we want (to) negotiate the results of the referendum in a peaceful way through dialogue,” Barzani told Abadi. “The referendum issue is about the destiny of a whole people. That’s why this issue is bigger than any other political framework, or any political parties, or any political problems within the party system,” Barzai told Foreign Policy magazine in an interview. “The referendum is for independence. That question will be asked to the people and the people will decide,” he stressed. He expressed confidence that the majority of the people in Kurdistan are with the referendum. “The supporters of the political parties, the majority of them are also pro-referendum,” he said. Barzani announced on June 7 that the referendum would be held in Kurdish areas of Iraq on September 25 to ask voters if they want a separate state. The vote is nonbinding. “At many stages we wanted to hold it. But because of the overall situation, the context in the area, because of other developments, we have been postponing it. But if we postpone this longer it’s not going to beneficial to our people, it will have a negative impact on the destiny of our people,” Barzani told his interviewer. Asked about the timing of the referendum, he said: “If you look at case studies of other countries (which have pursued independence), they all faced their own internal issues. They didn’t wait for solutions to all these internal issues and differences they had. We’re not going to wait for solutions to every single problem before we decide. This is bigger than those problems and bigger than those issues. We’ll do it and then we’ll solve those other issues later.”The interview came as Turkey reiterated its rejection to hold the referendum. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara will host Barzani soon to discuss the issue.The FM stressed that Iraq is facing many problems, including the fight against ISIS. So, it is inappropriate to take advantage of this situation by holding a referendum.

Egypt Court Refers 31 People to Mufti over Public Prosecutor Murder

Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/A Cairo criminal court on Saturday referred a death penalty recommendation for 31 people convicted of involvement in the 2015 assassination of Egypt’s top prosecutor to the Grand Mufti for a non-binding legally-required opinion. The court set a verdict session for July 22 after it recommended the death penalty for the accused. It is expected to reaffirm the death sentences and issue its verdict on the 36 other defendants in the case. Of the 67 defendants, 15 are at large. Public Prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed in June 2015 in a car bomb attack on his convoy in Cairo, an operation for which Egypt blamed the Muslim Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas militants, though both groups have denied it. Barakat was the highest-ranking state official killed by militants in recent years.

Coast Guard Intercepts more than 900 Migrants off Libya

Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/The Libyan coast guard intercepted 906 migrants who were on board several wooden and rubber boats off the western city of Sabratha on Friday, a spokesman said. Coast guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said that one of the rubber boats was perforated and nearly submerged, and a wooden boat had its engine missing. The migrants were African, Asian and Arab, and included 98 women and 25 children, Qassem said. Libya has been in turmoil for years and is the most common departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. More than 60,000 migrants have crossed the central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy so far this year. Smugglers pack the migrants onto ill-equipped boats that usually get picked up by European rescue vessels once they reach international waters. However, some sink or become stranded when smugglers remove the engines for reuse, and some get turned back by the Libyan coast guard. A security source told AFP on Tuesday that around 100 Libya-bound migrants, including women, have been rescued from the Sahara desert in Niger after being abandoned by their smugglers. The migrants are believed to have been hoping to travel on to Europe and were discovered by a military patrol several days ago, the source said. “The migrants were subjected to terrible torture by their smugglers, before being abandoned without food or water,” reported the online newspaper Air Info, based in the remote town of Agadez, citing a security source.

Israeli President Calls on World to Recognize Golan Annexation
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 17/17/Tel Aviv- Israeli settlers have marked the 50th anniversary of the Golan Heights occupation and its annexation at a later stage. “The nations of the world must formally recognize that the Golan is an integral part of the state of Israel, and is essential to our existence as a people,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told an event. “The internal Israeli debate about the Golan, if there was one, has ended,” he said. Taking the war in Syria as an excuse for his demand, the Israeli president said: “We will never leave the residents of the Galilee exposed to the intentions and weapons of a regime that massacres its own citizens.”“Fifty years of Jewish settlement on the Golan Heights is not just fifty (years) of Jewish history on the Golan Heights. Anyone who knows Jewish history here in the Golan knows it is a history of 2,000 years. We have here archaeological findings from biblical times. To be accurate, until the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Golan Heights were forever and always an integral part of the Galilee region,” Rivlin added. Israel seized the strategic plateau from neighboring Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel subsequently annexed the 1,200 square kilometers of territory in an action never recognized by the international community.

ISIS claims Jerusalem killing, replicates UK modus
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 17, 2017/The Islamic State claimed three “Lions of the caliphate” committed the coordinated Palestinian stabbing-cum-shooting attack Friday night, June 16, outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, in which Border Guard policewoman Hadas Malka was stabbed to death and four people were injured. This was the first coordinated ISIS attack in Israel. The jihadists warned it was not the last. The three Palestinian terrorists, aged 18-19, from the Deir Abu Meshaal village near Ramallah, were shot dead by security forces. The ISIS notice honored the young killers by naming them as Abu Al-Buraa al Miqdasi, Abu Hassan al Miqdasi and Abu Rabah al-Miqdasi. They are described as having prayed before going into action against “the Jews.” The notice went on to say “The martyrs planted fear in the hearts of the Jews and with the help of Allah this won’t be the last attack. The Jews should expect their state to be laid to ruin by the soldiers of the caliphate.” The Palestinian Hamas refrained from explicitly claiming the attack but praised the three terrorists as its members and issued a statement that the attack was “renewed proof that the intifada continues.”
DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources report that the three young Palestinians trained for some weeks in the use of a Carl Gustav submachuine gun in open ground outside their village in the region of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli security authorities are now investigating how those shooting practices went unnoticed despite the boosted surveillance in force before and during the month-long Muslim Feast of Ramadan, which tends to be a season of Islamic violence. It can also be reveled that the three terrorists left their village days earlier and were put up somewhere in Jerusalem.
Official spokesmen tried to play down these lapses by referring to the Jerusalem attack as a local incident. The three killers evidently copied the modus operandi of the Islamists who carried out three terror attacks in the British towns of Manchester and London, killing 39 people since March. The last took place in London on June 3, ieaving seven people dead. Our sources stress that the coordinated attack Friday night had to be prepared in detail; the perpetrators or their accomplices must have studied the terrain of the two linked attacks well in advance. They discovered that the ancient Cave of Zedekiah, which is heavily overgrown with weeds, formed a perfect hiding place for jumping out on the Israeli police patrol at and around the Damascus Gate leading into the Old City. However it was discovered that one of their sub-machine guns malfunctioned. Otherwise the casualty toll would have been a lot higher.

5 wounded in shooting, stabbing attack in Jerusalem; border policewoman and 3 terrorists killed

Ynetnews/Omri Efraim, Yoav Zitun & Rotem Elizera/June 16/17/Three terrorists are shot and neutralized by security forces near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem after carrying out combined shooting and stabbing attack; border policewoman Hadas Malka, 23, later succumbs to her wounds at the hospital.
Three terrorists armed with semi-automatic weapons and knives struck in two different parts of Jerusalem's Old City, Friday night, killing 23-year-old border policewoman Hadas Malka, who later succumbed to her wounds. All three terrorists, Palestinians from the West Bank, aged 18-19, were shot and killed at the scene by security forces. Malka had been evacuated in critical condition to Hadassah Mt. Scopus Hospital for emergency medical treatment after the attack. Four others were moderately and lightly wounded. According to reports from the scene, two terrorists opened fire at a police force near Sultan Suleiman St. while the third terrorist stabbed Malka near the Damascus Gate. Jerusalem district police commander Yoram Halevy described the attack, saying, "At one scene, near Sultan Suleiman St., two terrorists—one armed with a semi-automatic weapon and the other a knife—attacked police. Police responded and killed both attackers at the scene. Several meters away, at the Damascus Gate, an additional terrorist stabbed a border policewoman, critically wounding her. The terrorist was shot by other officers in the area." According to MDA, two members of security forces were wounded, with another border policeman sustaining light injuries to his eye. Additionally, a 22-year-old man and a 40-year-old man were evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in moderate condition after sustaining gunshot wounds to the torso and limbs, respectively. According to Halevy, "We are in the third part of Ramadan and as we near the end of the holiday, the more sensitive the situation becomes. We will have to make difficult decisions such as whether or not to allow people to come to Jerusalem, if we should allow them to pray in such large numbers, which can lead to terror attacks. "We will conduct a situational assessment tonight with security forces and it is possible that there may be serious consequences in regards to the issue of Ramadan, which only ends in ten days."According to sources in the security establishment, the style of attack conducted Friday evening is reminiscent of the combined attack which killed border policewoman Hadar Cohen last February.

Tillerson Skips OAS Meeting to Focus on Gulf Crisis
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 17/17/US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday cancelled his attendance at next week's Organization of American States meeting in Mexico, opting to stay in Washington to focus on the diplomatic crisis in the Middle East. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will represent the United States at the regional meeting scheduled for Monday to Wednesday in the resort city of Cancun. "The secretary of state will continue his efforts to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East region through in-person meetings and phone conversations with Gulf and regional leaders," the State Department said in a statement. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and others severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar almost two weeks ago, accusing Doha of supporting extremist groups. Qatar -- a longtime US ally -- denies the accusations. But last week, US President Donald Trump expressed support for the Saudi-led allegations, charging that Qatar had "historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level."Pentagon and State Department officials have since scrambled to reassure the emirate, which hosts the largest US airbase in the Middle East and the command headquarters for operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. On Thursday, the United States agreed to a $12 billion warplane sale to Qatar, reaffirming its support. Tillerson "has made more than a dozen phone calls and participated in several in-person meetings" in efforts to tamp down the crisis, the State Department said. "The secretary will continue these efforts."

Trump Publicly Acknowledges Russia Probe Includes Him
Associated Press/Naharnet/June 17/17/President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time Friday that he is under federal investigation as part of the expanding probe into Russia's election meddling. He lashed out at a top Justice Department official overseeing the inquiry, reflecting his mounting frustration with the unrelenting controversy that has consumed his early presidency. "I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt," the president wrote on Twitter. His morning missive apparently referred to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general whose role leading the federal investigation has become increasingly complicated. The White House has used a memo he wrote to justify Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, but that Trump action may now be part of the probe. Thursday night, Rosenstein issued an unusual statement complaining about leaks in the case. Trump advisers and confidants describe the president as increasingly angry over the investigation, yelling at television sets in the White House carrying coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy to discredit — and potentially end — his presidency. Some of his ire is aimed at Rosenstein and investigative special counsel Robert Mueller, both of whom the president believes are biased against him, associates say. Dianne Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she was "increasingly concerned" that Trump will fire both Mueller and Rosenstein.
"The message the president is sending through his tweets is that he believes the rule of law doesn't apply to him and that anyone who thinks otherwise will be fired," Feinstein said. "That's undemocratic on its face and a blatant violation of the president's oath of office."
Aides have counseled the president to stay off Twitter and focus on other aspects of his job. They have tried to highlight the positive reviews he received Wednesday when he made a statesman-like appearance in the White House to address the nation after Rep. Steve Scalise was shot during a congressional baseball practice.
Yet Trump's angry tweets on Friday underscored the near-impossible challenge his advisers and legal team have in trying to get him to avoid weighing in on an active probe. The president has denied that he has any nefarious ties to Russia and has also disputed that he's attempted to block the investigation into his campaign's possible role in Russia's election-related hacking. It was unclear whether his tweet about being under investigation was based on direct knowledge or new media reports that suggest Mueller is examining whether the president obstructed justice by firing Comey.
The tweets came shortly after Rosenstein issued his unusual statement that appeared to be warning about the accuracy of such reports. "Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations," Rosenstein said. "The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations."The department would not comment on the record on whether Trump, who has repeatedly complained about leaks on the case, requested the statement. But a department official said no one asked for the statement and Rosenstein acted on his own. The official demanded anonymity because the official was not authorized to be named discussing the deliberations.
Trump has told associates he has the legal authority to fire Mueller. What is clear is that he could order the Justice Department to ax Mueller, which may result in Rosenstein's departure and would certainly intensify the uproar over the investigation. Though some in the White House have preached caution, fearing a repeat of the firestorm over Comey's firing, many in Trump's orbit — including his son Donald Trump Jr. and adviser Newt Gingrich — have deemed Mueller biased and worthy of dismissal. Several White House officials and Trump associates insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the president's views of the unfolding investigation. Rosenstein has been overseeing the Russia probe since shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself. But Rosenstein, too, may ultimately have to hand off oversight given his role in Trump's decision to fire Comey. Earlier this month, Rosenstein told The Associated Press that "if anything that I did winds up being relevant to his investigation then, as Director Mueller and I discussed, if there's a need from me to recuse, I will." Trump's tweets came after the top lawyer for his transition team warned the organization's officials to preserve all records and other materials related to the Russia probe. An official of Trump's transition confirmed the lawyer's internal order, which was sent Thursday. The order from the general counsel for the transition team casts a wide net on documents that could shed light on ties between Trump's presidential campaign and representatives of Russia's government. The order also covers separate inquiries into several key Trump associates including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, campaign adviser Paul Manafort, foreign policy aide Carter Page and outside adviser Roger Stone. The White House has directed questions for details to outside legal counsel, which has not responded. Vice President Mike Pence has also hired a private lawyer to represent his interests in the expanding probe. Pence headed the Trump transition until Inauguration Day. Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, also has retained an attorney to represent him. Cohen has worked for Trump since the mid-2000s and was active in the campaign. He has already been subpoenaed by the House intelligence committee.

Seven sailors missing after U.S. Navy destroyer collides with container ship in Japan
Sat 17 Jun 2017/NNA - U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald sailed back to its base in Yokosuka, with seven of its sailors still missing after it collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship more than three times its size in eastern Japan early on Saturday. The Fitzgerald, an Aegis guided missile destroyer, collided with the merchant vessel at about 2:30 a.m. local time (1730 GMT), some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, the Navy said. Three aboard the destroyer had been medically evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, including the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, who was reported to be in stable condition, the Navy said. The other two were being treated for lacerations and bruises, while other injured were being assessed aboard the ship, it said. Search and rescue efforts by U.S. and Japanese aircraft and surface vessels were continuing for the seven missing sailors, the Navy said. Their names are being withheld until the families have been notified, it said. Benson took command of the Fitzgerald on May 13. He had previously commanded a minesweeper based in Sasebo in western Japan. ---Reuters

Al Jazeera says its Arabic channel Twitter account suspended

Sat 17 Jun 2017/NNA - Pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera said on Saturday the Twitter account for its main Arabic language channel had been suspended and that it was working to get it back. "The account of al Jazeera on twitter àajarabic is currently suspended due to what seems to be an organised campaign and we are doing the necessary work to get the service back," al Jazeera said on another of its Twitter accounts for its breaking news service. Al Jazeera is the flagship broadcaster for Qatar, which is in a stand-off with fellow Arab states which accuse it of ties to terrorism, in a row that is endangering stability in the region. The network said on June 8 it was combating a large-scale cyber attack but that all its entities remained in operation. The Twitter page for Al Jazeera Arabic shows that the account has been suspended. ---Reuters

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 17-18/17
Israel, Saudi Arabia reportedly discuss establishing economic tiesهارتز الإسرائيلية: تقارير عن محادثات بين السعودية وإسرائيل  لإقامة علاقات اقتصادية بينهما  

Ynetnews/June 17/17
British Times reports that if implemented, such a move would include Israeli businesses being allowed to operate in Persian Gulf; source close to Saudi leadership dismisses idea of rapprochement.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have reportedly been holding talks to establish economic ties, according to British newspaper The Times, which cited American and Arab sources in its report.
According to the report, the historic move, if implemented, could be the first step toward normalizing relations and would begin with Israeli businesses being allowed to operate in the Persian Gulf. The newspaper gave as one example the possibility of Israeli airline El Al being allowed to fly over Saudi airspace.
The British newspaper also estimated the possibility of tightening relations with Israel partly explains why Saudi Arabia and its allies have boycotted Qatar in an effort to force it to stop supporting Hamas, an effort that seems to be producing results.
However, a source close to the Saudi leadership dismissed the idea of rapprochement between the two countries, saying it only reflects the White House's wish to show fast results, after US President Donald Trump visited the region last month, beginning with Saudi Arabia and stopping next in Israel.
The British Times also noted that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and adviser, has grown very close to King Salman's son, Mohammad bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince and defense minister.
The two reportedly discussed a strategy whereby the Gulf states would improve ties with Israel as a prelude to a peace agreement with the Palestinians and full recognition of Israel by the Arab world.
This did not sit well with the Palestinians, who were furious at the thought and feared it would normalize relations with Israel and leave them with nothing more than a vague promise of a future state, according to the Times.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told reporters in London on Friday Saudi Arabia was working on a list of complaints against Qatar, which it will present as soon as possible. Al-Jubeir stressed the document is not written as a list of demands, but rather "complaints" the Qataris need to deal with.
He noted that Saudi Arabia is cooperating with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in drafting the list. Al-Jubeir added Qatar must stop supporting radical elements and terrorism, stating these were demands from the entire world, and not just from the Gulf states.
Meanwhile, Bahrain's official news agency on Monday revealed recordings of phone calls by Qatar's adviser to a senior official in one of the opposition movements in Bahrain, which is supported by Iran and defined by Bahrain as a terrorist organization. The news agency claimed the talks took place while protesters held violent protests for the opposition.,7340,L-4976952,00.html

London Fire Shows Why Britons Don’t Trust the System
Heatrher Brooke/The New York Times/June 17/17
LONDON — Helicopters are not unusual in London, but the intense buzzing from the sky at 5 a.m. roused me early. From my balcony, I could see a huge plume of smoke billowing up from behind trees. It came from a blaze at Grenfell Tower, a 24-floor residential building, not far from where I live in West London. The authorities declared it a major incident as more than 200 firefighters battled the fire, with an unknown number of people trapped inside.
As the day went on, the scale of the horror became apparent. The death toll rose from six to at least 12, with scores of people needing hospital treatment and some in critical care. There were reports of people jumping from windows to escape the smoke and flames, and of a baby caught by a bystander after being dropped from high above.
It soon emerged that residents had previously raised questions about fire safety in the building, which was home to about 120 families. The Grenfell Action Group, a community organization, had published a series of blog posts about their grievances with the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization, the company that runs the building on behalf of the local authority, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. One post from November 2016, starkly titled “KCTMO: Playing With Fire,” chillingly suggested that “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord.” The group’s complaints about fire safety go back to 2013.
Whether the borough listened to and acted on these warnings will be examined in the days to come. One thing the local government did do, reportedly, was have its in-house lawyer send a letter in 2013 to the blog’s author alleging defamation and harassment, and demanding the removal of several posts.
The regeneration of social housing using a mixture of public and private ownership began under Tony Blair’s Labour government and continues today. It is an issue fraught with strong feelings about politics and class, but in London the root of it is a city where the population is growing fast but the housing supply is not keeping pace. Added to this, the world’s superrich are choosing London real estate as a place to park their millions. Prices for private houses and apartments have skyrocketed.
While the average price of a property in Britain is £220,000 ($281,000), in Kensington and Chelsea homes go for £1.4 million (about $1.8 million) on average. The borough has the worst ranking in London for its rent-to-earnings ratio, according to a study by the New Policy Institute.
Yet local authorities still have an obligation to house vulnerable people, even though councils face caps on the amount they can borrow. This leaves local governments severely limited in their capacity to manage their housing stock. As a result, most councils have looked to the private sector for support.
Kensington and Chelsea is one of the most affluent boroughs of London, home to many museums, galleries and embassies. But walk to Ladbroke Grove, my neighborhood, and the demographics shift noticeably. Most of the borough’s poor are concentrated in North Kensington, where Grenfell Tower and a majority of social housing stand.
The company that manages Grenfell Tower is a nonprofit that is, in theory, run by and for residents of the thousands of buildings it manages in London. But only eight of the 15 board members are residents (the other seven are council appointed or independent), while repairs and maintenance are contracted out to another private company. The council, the ultimate owner of these buildings, has a close relationship with the management company, which the Grenfell Action Group sees as an unresponsive buffer. Residents’ concerns, the group says, have consistently been ignored and suppressed.
The English system of local government is hard to navigate, and opportunities for citizens to engage meaningfully with decision makers are not plentiful. A paternalistic “we know best” attitude often prevails, and even basic information is available only through freedom-of-information requests. Until 2005, when the Freedom of Information Act came into force, it was illegal to disclose fire inspection reports to the public. Even today, those reports can be obtained only by written request under the freedom-of-information law.
In another sign of this “trust authority” mind-set, official instructions to Grenfell residents were to “stay put” in the event of a fire. Fortunately, most people ignored that and fled.
These are turbulent times in Britain, and the fire at Grenfell Tower touches on many of the issues that are riling people. Over the past decade, a series of events have demolished the trust citizens once had in officialdom: the financial crash of 2008, the scandal of parliamentary expenses and the chaos in government following the Brexit referendum.
Amid this dissatisfaction with the status quo, voters in Kensington — a constituency once staunchly Conservative — elected their first ever Labour member for Parliament last week. Today, the Grenfell disaster looks like yet another of these “trust us, we’ll look after you” promises that officialdom fails to keep.
Although digital technology, through blogs and social media, has created new ways for citizens like those of the Grenfell Action Group to represent their rights and interests, the traditional way of doing politics looks more archaic and undemocratic than ever. The question is always, Who has the right to know? Truly empowered individuals don’t have to wait passively to receive what information officials choose to give them. They can ask their own questions — and get answers.
The residents of Grenfell did not have that power. And this is what must be remedied, not just in Kensington and Chelsea but in every institution that calls itself democratic. This is the end of the “stay put” citizen.

How This Economic Recovery Ends
Conor Sen/Bloomberg/June 17/17
Every boom in the US economy is different, but over the past several decades, each has ended the same way. First you get full employment. Then you get a spike in the price of oil. And then there’s a recession. The US hit full employment in August 2015. And yet the prevailing wisdom is that oil prices will hold steady around $50 per barrel, or even fall because of production gluts. What could cause a spike? It’s worth looking at both history and current events. The unemployment rate has gotten to 5 percent or lower four times since the early 1970s, and each time the economy followed this pattern with an oil spike and a recession. The first and most extreme case was the 1973 OPEC oil embargo that began in October 1973. At that time the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. Over the next five months the price of oil tripled in global markets, plunging the US into an immediate recession that eventually coincided with the resignation of President Richard Nixon. The second case was the First Gulf War. The unemployment rate touched as low at 5 percent in early 1989. Because of rising tensions in the Middle East, eventually leading into Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the American military response, the price of oil jumped from around $16 in June 1990 to $40 later that fall. Recession began in July.
The late 1990s boom in the US may be remembered more for technology stocks, but it also coincided with an oil spike. After the emerging market crises of 1998, the price of oil dropped as low as $11 a barrel. Yet by March 2000, as technology stocks were peaking, it had soared to over $33 a barrel, its highest level since the Gulf War. And in the last economic cycle, even as the housing market was collapsing, the price of oil soared, rising from $52 a barrel in January 2007 to almost $150 a barrel by the summer of 2008.

Female Genital Mutilation: Multiculturalism Gone Wild
Khadija Khan/Gatestone Institute/June 17/17
The "religious-freedom" plea unwittingly exposes the false claims made by prominent Muslims -- such as Iranian-American religion scholar/TV host Reza Aslan and Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who have insisted that female genital mutilation (FGM) is "not an Islamic practice."
According to National Health Service statistics, at least one girl each hour is subjected to this excruciating procedure in the United Kingdom alone -- and this is nearly 30 years after it was outlawed there.
FGM is no less appalling a crime than rape or slavery, yet self-described feminists in the West -- including Muslims such as Linda Sarsour and non-Muslim activists on a crusade against "Islamophobia" -- are either silent when it comes to barbaric practices or deny their connection to Islam. Does she also support slavery, another practice supported by Islam?
Attorneys for the defense of two Michigan doctors from India, and one of their wives, who were indicted by a grand jury on April 22 and charged with mutilating the genitals of two seven-year-old girls, intend to put forth a religious-freedom argument on behalf of their Muslim clients.
The defendants are members of Dawoodi Bohra, an Islamic sect based in their home country. In the federal case, the first of its kind since female genital mutilation (FGM) was banned in 1996, the defense team is claiming that the practice is a religious ritual and therefore should be protected by U.S. law.
Their plea unwittingly exposes the false claims made by prominent Muslims -- such as Iranian-American religion scholar/TV host Reza Aslan and Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who have insisted that FGM is "not an Islamic practice."
Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, is the cutting or removal of the clitoris and/or the labia, as a way of eliminating a girl's sexual desire and pleasure, to guarantee that she be a virgin before marriage and remain faithful to her husband afterwards. According to the World Health Organization:
FGM has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, and interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies. Generally speaking, risks increase with increasing severity of the procedure.
Procedures are mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and adolescence, and occasionally on adult women. More than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually.
More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.
The influx of immigrants and refugees from these parts of the world into Western countries has led to a dramatic and dangerous increase of FGM in Europe, Britain and the United States. According to National Health Service statistics, at least one girl each hour is subjected to this excruciating procedure in the United Kingdom alone -- and this is nearly 30 years after it was outlawed there.
In addition, a European Commission report revealed that around 500,000 women in Europe have undergone FGM, while many others are at risk of being forced to undergo it. In Germany, for example, a clinic was opened in 2013 to provide both physical and psychological treatment to victims of the procedure; an estimated 50,000 women in the country had been affected by it, with approximately 20,000 in Berlin. Called the Desert Flower Center, the endeavor was spearheaded and funded by Somali-born supermodel/actress Waris Dirie, a prominent anti-FGM activist.
Somali-born supermodel/actress Waris Dirie, a prominent anti-FGM activist, spearheaded and funded the Desert Flower Center, a clinic in Germany that provides physical and psychological treatment to victims of female genital mutilation. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
On May 15, in the wake of the case of the FGM doctors in Michigan, the Minnesota House of Representatives and Michigan Senate approved legislation that would extend in the those states the existing federal anti-FGM laws to the parents of the girls subjected to the ritual. After all, it is the mothers and fathers who force their daughters to undergo it -- or, as in the instance of Somali-born author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, her grandmother.
In a 2013 interview with the UK's Evening Standard, Hirsi Ali -- a former Muslim who rejected her faith and became an outspoken critic of Islam and Sharia law, particularly as it affects women -- explained why it has been hard to prosecute family members involved in FGM:
"It was done to me at the age of five, and 10 years later, even 20 years later, I would not have testified against my parents," she said. "It is a psychological issue. The people who are doing this are fathers, mothers, grandmothers, aunts. No little girl is going to send them to prison. How do you live with that guilt?"
The larger issue, however -- which must be tackled alongside legislation -- involves Western multiculturalism gone wild. Take, for instance, the decision on the part of New York Times health and science editor Celia Dugger in April to stop using the term "female genital mutilation" on the grounds that it is "culturally loaded."
"There's a gulf between the Western (and some African) advocates who campaign against the practice and the people who follow the rite, and I felt the language used widened that chasm," she wrote.
FGM is no less appalling a crime than rape or slavery, yet self-described feminists in the West -- including Muslims such as Linda Sarsour and non-Muslim activists on a crusade against "Islamophobia" -- are either silent when it comes to barbaric practices or deny their connection to Islam. Does she support slavery as well, another practice supported by Islam, and still practiced today in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Mauritania and Sudan, as well as with Islamic State and Boko Haram?
This is why anti-FGM legislation, no matter how crucial, is insufficient. The time has come to be vigilant not only against practitioners and parents, but to expose and discredit anyone who tries to protect this brutality.
*Khadija Khan is a Pakistani journalist and commentator, currently based in Germany.
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Has journalism failed to reflect our harrowing, blood-soaked reality?
Ramzy Baroud/Al Arabiya/June 17/17
Media coverage of any subject is as good as the people behind it. When those people are propagandists, sectarian and deliberately skew or drum up their own facts, then the outcome, predictably, becomes a gross mispresenting of reality.
This becomes more urgent when the media coverage pertains to the Middle East, a region that is undergoing a massive upheaval, where violence has grown dramatically in degree and dimension, and where the parties – enemies and allies – are in constant flux.
Indeed, the conflicts inspiring this unprecedented violence are compound, and at times confusing even for those who are familiar with the region and its history. Those with scant knowledge of the Middle East, its old and new wars, must therefore feel lost, despite their efforts to digest the rapidly-moving events.
Mainstream Western media is constantly linking acts of violence in Western countries to the Middle East, to Islamic groups and even to Islam itself. However, it refuses to exercise a minimum degree of integrity regarding how the story is told. Almost always absent from news contexts is the Iraq war, Western military interventions and the backing of corrupt leaders, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the massive shipments of Western weapons constantly dumped in a warring region.
Meanwhile, journalists in the Middle East are blindly following government diktats, praising friends and demonizing enemies, as instructed.
The space for free, independent thinking and bold reading of events is shrinking daily. Those wishing to follow even the minimal standards of journalistic integrity while reporting on the Middle East often find themselves outcast, demonized or marginalized.
But the stakes are too high for good journalism to fail.
Typical newsroom
To begin with, the typical newsroom set-up, where journalists chase after news headlines dictated by some centralized news gathering agency - often based in some Western capital – no longer suffices.
In the Middle East, the news narrative has been prescribed to Arab journalists and audiences for far too long. This hardly worked in the past but, in the last a few years, has become even more outdated and costly.
There are millions of victims throughout the Middle East region, numerous bereaved families, constant streams of refugees and a human toll that cannot be understood or expressed through typical media narration: a typical headline, limited quotations and a paragraph or two by way of providing context.
The price is too high for this kind of lazy journalism. Journalism needs to be fundamentally redefined by those who are experiencing war, who understand the pulse of the region, fathom the culture and speak the language of the people.
I insist, however, that journalism has not failed. We did! We are the ones still unable to appreciate the gravity of what has befallen our region and, by extension, the world at large. We are the ones still singing the praises of the elites and defending the interests of the few.
The Arab people have indeed spoken and, for years, their words were filled with anger and hope. The haunting cries of Syrians and other Arab nations will forever define the memories of this generation and the next.
But clearly, journalism today does not reflect this harrowing, blood-soaked reality.
American author and journalist, Ernest Hemingway, once wrote, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Guise of objectivity
But modern journalism - at least, the way it is communicated in the Middle East at the moment - hardly bleeds. Under the guise of objectivity, it remains detached, removed from its immediate reality and rarely expresses the seriousness of this difficult transition of our history.
I insist, however, that journalism has not failed. We did! We are the ones still unable to appreciate the gravity of what has befallen our region and, by extension, the world at large. We are the ones still singing the praises of the elites and defending the interests of the few.
As for the people, if we do not neglect them altogether, then we turn their misery into fodder in our political feuds, while paying little attention to history and assuming that our version thereof is most significant and relevant.
It is no secret that Orientalist history still defines the way that history is written in and about the Middle East. This needs to be rejected, not only as a matter of principle, but also because it is both impractical and false.
This Orientalist depiction has afflicted journalism, as well. Why do we allow others to define who we are when we are in the most urgent need of defining ourselves?
Palestine coverage
Writing on Palestine for nearly 25 years, I have experienced this strange and persistent dichotomy in both journalism and academia. Palestine is reported as a recurring, seemingly never-ending ‘conflict’. Media coverage of the ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’ always adheres to the same rules, language and stereotypes.
An urgent issue that requires immediate resolution, least because of its regional and global impact, is disregarded as a redundant, uninteresting story.
Many people tend to have short-term memories when the rights of the Palestinians are in question. This feeds quite well into the Israeli narrative, which has aimed to displace Palestinian history altogether, and replace it with something entirely different - a falsified history.
And this rewriting of history is ongoing and has tainted the present as well.
How can journalists then unearth the seemingly complex truth, without understanding history – not the version conveniently fashioned by Israel, but the history of pain, suffering and the ongoing struggle of the Palestinians?
This kind of reporting without fully fathoming the historical roots of the tragic story, is to merely be content with providing a superficial account of the conflict, one which often favors the Israeli side and demonizes the Palestinians.
Journalism is still failing to break the stronghold of the old paradigm that relegates the people and focuses, instead, on the rulers, politicians, governments and business elites.
This is the media version of what is known in academia as the ‘Great Man Theory’ - a defunct discipline that is sadly used abundantly in the Arab press.
But without the people there is no history, there is no story to be written and no change to be expected.
Indian author and commentator Arundhati Roy is quoted as saying, “There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”
The Arab people already have a voice, and an articulate one. But that voice has been deliberately muted through a massive campaign of misinformation, distortion and misrepresentation.
For example, when Israel and its allies say ‘Palestinians are not a people’, they are essentially saying that Palestinians have no identity, no legitimate demands, thus deserve no voice.
When the media silences the voice of the Arab people, they relegate their rights, demands for freedom, change and democracy.
Our answer should not be speaking on behalf of the people, but actually listening to them; empowering their voices so that they articulate their own aspirations and rightful demands, and express their own identity.
Journalism should not be a purely technical profession, a skill to be honed without compassion and a deep understanding of the past and the present.
For journalists to be relevant, they need to understand that a narrative is lacking if it does not begin and end with the people whose story should never be a soundbite, but one rooted in a complex reality, in which history should take center-stage.
When entire nations are bleeding, it then becomes necessary for journalists to heed Hemingway’s advice: “sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”