June 22/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 16/20-24/:"Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labour, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete."

The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions
Acts of the Apostles 07/09-16/:"‘The patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and enabled him to win favour and to show wisdom when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. Now there came a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan, and great suffering, and our ancestors could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there on their first visit. On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five in all; so Jacob went down to Egypt. He himself died there as well as our ancestors, and their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 21-22/17
Former deputy defense minister Ehpraim Sneh: If Hezbollah Fires Rockets On Israel, The Israeli Army Should Hit Iran's Infrastructure/Jerusalem Post/June 21/17
Israel's New Settlement Policy: Evaluated and Explained/Malcolm Lowe/Gatestone Institute/June 21/17
ISIS Losing the Battle but Winning the War/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/June 21/17
"Corrupt Motive" as the Criterion for Prosecuting a President/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/June 21/17
Supreme Court Doesn’t Care What You Say on the Internet/Noah Feldman/Bloomberg/June 21/17
The Economy of 2016 Weighs on Elections in 2018 and 2020/Barry Ritholtz/Bloomberg/June 21/17
Macron Won’t Be Shy About Using French Power/Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry/Bloomberg/June 21/17
Qatar running out of cards to play with/Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/June 21/17
Qatar’s tainted past/Hussein Shobokshi/Al Arabiya/June 21/17
When are we going to take Islamophobia seriously/Imran Awan/Al Arabiya/June 21/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 21-22/17
Israel Boasts of 'Unimaginable' Power in Future Lebanon War
STL President Meets with UN Secretary-General in New York
Govt. Refers Controversial Electricity File to Bidding Administration
Sami Gemayel Says Ruling Authority Rejects Opposition, Leans Towards 'Dictatorship'
Hariri Congratulates New Saudi Crown Prince
HRW Urges Accountability over Beating of Protesters near Parliament
Bishop Joseph Absi Elected Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch
Lebanon's Salameh to Be New UN Libya Envoy
Othman, British Official tackle security issues
Ain Helweh joint force hands over wanted man to army intelligence in Sidon
Berri deems election law best attainable
Ambassador of Egypt: keen to facilitate entry of Lebanese tourists to Sharm El Sheikh, various tourist destinations in Egypt
One wounded in Ain Helweh camp gunfight
Army Commander, British Official tackle security cooperation
Ibrahim, interlocutors tackle security situation, refugee affairs
Former deputy defense minister Ehpraim Sneh: If Hezbollah Fires Rockets On Israel, The Israeli Army Should Hit Iran's Infrastructure

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 21-22/17
Trump congratulates Saudi new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Arab rulers congratulate newly-appointed Saudi crown prince
Saudi King Upends Royal Succession, Names Son as 1st Heir
Al-Saud: The Ruling Dynasty that Gave Its Name to Saudi Arabia
Three Things to Watch as Saudi Names New Heir to Throne
King Salman Presides over Saudi Reform Effort
Saudis, Allies Have List of Demands for Qatar, Says U.S.
Despite evidence, Doha official denies charges of terror
UAE's Mohamed bin Zayed holds talks with French President
Aid Workers Readying for Mosul Exodus, Says UNHCR
Iran Demands Saudi Arabia Release Detained 'Fishermen'
PA Steps Up Actions against Hamas, Israel Continues to Reduce Electricity Capacity
Canada Urges Qatar to Fight Terror Financing
IS Blows Up Mosul Mosque where Baghdadi Announced 'Caliphate'
Egypt Delivers Fuel to Ease Gaza Electricity Crisis
Egyptian Authorities Heavily Strike Terrorist Groups in Sinai, Alexandria
Israel Arrests Mother of Palestinian Attacker over Remarks
Macron Reshuffles Cabinet after Key Allies Resign
Philippines says school hostage drama over, 31 captives freed
Russian defense minister's plane buzzed over Baltic by NATO jet: TASS

Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 21-22/17
Israel Boasts of 'Unimaginable' Power in Future Lebanon War
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/The head of Israel's air force said Wednesday that in any future conflict involving Lebanon his country will have "unimaginable" military power at its disposal. Major General Amir Eshel told a security conference that Israel's armed forces now have far more punch than they did in the 2006 war against Lebanon's Hizbullah. "What the air force was able to do quantitatively in the... Lebanon war over the course of 34 days we can do today in 48-60 hours," he told the conference at Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. "This is potential power unimaginable in its scope, much different to what we have seen in the past and far greater than people estimate." Israel launched massive airstrikes and its troops crossed into Lebanon after Hizbullah seized two soldiers in a deadly cross-border raid on July 12, 2006 in a war that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. Hizbullah fired thousands of rockets from Lebanon during the conflict. Since then Israel has built up a sophisticated defense system, including the Iron Dome short-range interceptor which has successfully brought down rockets fired from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt's lawless Sinai region and the Gaza Strip. It also has the medium-range David's Sling and the Arrow missile defense system, designed to counter more distant threats. The Israeli army said that an Arrow was deployed in March to destroy a Syrian rocket which posed a "ballistic threat" during Israeli air strikes which drew retaliatory missile fire. The Israeli air force has also started taking delivery of 50 advanced F-35 warplanes from the United States. Eshel did not draw a scenario for a future war with Lebanon or Syria, saying only that Israel must strike hard and fast in case of conflict. "If war breaks out in the north, we have to open with all our strength from the start," he said. "Threats to Israel air force aircraft in the Lebanese arena will not stop the air force. They may disrupt operations here and there but that will not stop us."He went on to warn Lebanese civilians of dangers to them posed by alleged Hizbullah military installations in residential areas. "There is a very potential for collateral damage, for harming people who are not involved, people who we have no wish to harm," he said. "If before the eruption of hostilities, or right when they begin, Lebanese residents were to leave those places they will not be hit."

STL President Meets with UN Secretary-General in New York
Naharnet/June 21/17/During a visit to the United Nations in New York this week, Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) President Judge Ivana Hrdličková met with United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. They discussed the Tribunal’s achievements and challenges, as well as its efforts to fulfill its mandate to hold fair, transparent and expeditious proceedings, an STL press release said on Wednesday. “I would like to reaffirm that impunity will not be tolerated,” said the UN Secretary General. “The United Nations is committed to support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, with the continued support and cooperation of the Government of Lebanon.”President Hrdličková expressed her gratitude to the Secretary-General for the UN’s strong and steadfast support for the Tribunal and its work. “This was an excellent opportunity to update Secretary-General Guterres on the Tribunal’s judicial activities and affirm our shared objectives of efficiency, transparency and accountability. We welcome the United Nations invaluable support in helping us fulfill our mandate and pursue justice for victims in Lebanon,” President Hrdličková said.

Govt. Refers Controversial Electricity File to Bidding Administration
Naharnet/June 21/17/The Council of Ministers decided during a session in Baabda on Wednesday to refer the thorny file of renting power generation ships to the public bidding administration. “I'm committed to providing electricity to the Lebanese and the State with the lowest cost possible, and should we get an unsatisfactory bidding outcome in this regard, we will not submit it to Cabinet,” Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said during the session. According to reports, Abi Khalil had sent a memo to Cabinet, detailing what has been accomplished so far in the call for tenders and suggesting that the Council of Ministers choose one of two options: putting the file in the hands of a ministerial panel or referring it to the bidding administration for it to unseal the financial offers. “Should the ships get no approval later, yes, there will be an electricity crisis this summer,” Abi Khalil warned in remarks to MTV after the session.Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos of Marada Movement and Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan of Hizbullah had engaged in an indirect debate over the file prior to the session. “We are against the electricity plan and yet we are coming here to hear a lecture in transparency. I will support any stance Hizbullah takes and we will see how much it will continue to appease (Abi Khalil's Free Patrotic Movement) against its own stances,” Fenianos said. Hajj Hassan hit back saying, “We take our stances objectively and according to our beliefs and principles.”President Michel Aoun warned at the beginning of the session that “time is running out regarding the electricity file and we must mull the short-term and long-term solutions. “What is important is to find solutions that are in the interest of citizens,” Aoun stressed.
Report published before the Cabinet Session
Report: Heated Debate Expected at Cabinet over Electricity File
A cabinet meeting scheduled on Wednesday to tackle 67 items on its agenda including the controversial file of Lebanon's electricity, is expected to witness heated debate over leasing power generating vessels to supply for the shortage and end power cuts in the country, al-Akhbar daily reported on Wednesday. The Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement are “expected to engage in a dispute in light of the LF's insistence to abort the electricity plan initially suggested by FPM Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil,” it added. Unnamed Lebanese Forces sources asserted to al-Joumhouria newspaper that they insist on their position. The LF has reservations as for the bidding process in the electricity file. The party says the bidding violates the legal norms and comes contrary to a government decision. “Our position is still the same,” LF sources told the daily, they added “the LF do not target anyone. Our approach is legal and not political, and we are cooperating with everyone for the benefit of the (presidential) term and the government. Our basic demand is absolute transparency and the elimination of any confusion in public opinion. “Hence, the demand to open the book of conditions in order to expand the choices, and return it back to the government or the Tender Department at the Central Inspection Bureau conditionally their remarks are taken into account,” they said. The LF has recently proposed that private companies build and operate power plants in a partnership with the state in the electricity sector, describing it as a necessary reform that should be included in the state budget. According to the LF, such a step would provide a 24/24 power supply across the country and would spare the treasury around $2 billion in yearly losses.

Sami Gemayel Says Ruling Authority Rejects Opposition, Leans Towards 'Dictatorship'
Naharnet/June 21/17/Gemayel accused the political authority of starting to rule the country in a "dictatorial approach" by suppressing the opposition. Gemayel warned against “serious danger of transforming Lebanon into a state governed by a cartel ready to use force and authority to suppress the opposition,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday. “The political authority wants to rule the country in closed-door rooms while state institutions become a secondary option to resort to,” he added. Criticizing the Baabda meeting scheduled on Thursday, he said: “Tomorrow's meeting in Baabda is a clear derailment of state institutions. We have tried to analyze and understand, we have asked the authority about the meeting but have not received an answer yet.” President Michel Aoun invited political parties in the government for a “consultative” meeting in Baabda aimed at “discussing means to reactivate the work of the state institution.”His move was criticized by the opposition including Gemayel who believe the President has distanced major political components from the meeting. “The opposition should have been invited to the meeting if it had been aimed at discussing major national issues,” remarked Gemayel.

Hariri Congratulates New Saudi Crown Prince
Naharnet/June 21/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Wednesday congratulated Saudi Defense Minister Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his appointment as crown prince. Hariri telephoned the crown prince and wished him well, Hariri's press office said. On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's King Salman appointed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, placing him firmly as first-in-line to the throne. In a series of royal decrees carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the monarch stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who had been positioned to inherit the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his powerful position as the country's interior minister overseeing security. The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman already oversees a vast portfolio as defense minister and head of an economic council tasked with overhauling the country's economy. He had previously been the second-in-line to the throne as deputy crown prince, though royal watchers had long suspected his rise to power under his father's reign might also accelerate his ascension to the throne.

HRW Urges Accountability over Beating of Protesters near Parliament
Naharnet/June 21/17/International rights group Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged Lebanese authorities to hold accountable “Lebanese military personnel who beat and kicked protesters demonstrating against a third extension of parliament’s term on June 16, 2017.” “The military should make the results of their investigation public,” the New York-based HRW said. Protesters said the beatings occurred after some of them threw eggs and tomatoes at cars they believed to be carrying members of parliament. Human Rights Watch spoke with six protesters, including five who said that army personnel hit them with batons, punched them in the face, and kicked them, next to the Beirut municipality building near parliament. Several videos taken at the protest appeared to corroborate their accounts. The military confirmed to Human Rights Watch that it has opened an investigation.
“Military authorities have an opportunity to show they are willing to hold their personnel accountable for the unlawful use of force,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The military prosecutor should make public the results of its investigation and hold anyone responsible for unlawful force accountable, and security services should make serious changes to the way their personnel respond to protests,” she added.
The small protest in downtown Beirut was to protest the new electoral law, which activists say was tailored to fit the interests of the ruling class, as well as the 11-month extension of parliament's term which the parties in power have blamed on technical difficulties. The protesters interviewed said that prior to the attack, an officer wearing an army uniform with three stars, positioned behind a security barrier blocking one of the roads near parliament, told them to leave the area, claiming that it was a military zone. They said that more than ten soldiers then attacked the protesters. A video of the incident shows an army officer raising the security barrier after an argument with protesters and army personnel moving forward and severely beating protesters. A second video shows a group of soldiers repeatedly kicking and hitting two protesters with batons as they lay on the ground. In another video, army personnel can be seen kicking a different protester as he lay on the ground. Human Rights Watch said it spoke with the protesters in these videos and also reviewed a medical report documenting heavy bruising on one of the protesters. State-run National News Agency reported a June 16 statement by Parliament Police that said, “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.”
Protesters asserted to HRW that they did not “physically confront” any security force members and that they were all unarmed. Human Rights Watch said it has not seen any credible reports that security or army personnel were injured. Protesters interviewed by HRW denied that they had tried to cross the barrier or used violence against security forces. “No videos published from the protest corroborated the Parliament Police statement,” HRW noted. Protesters also told Human Rights Watch that in an earlier incident the same day in nearby Riad al-Solh, private security guards beat them when they attempted to stop a convoy they suspected was carrying a member of parliament from passing.
Protesters expressed outrage at the level of violence used against them. “You could sense how much they wanted to do us harm,” one protester told Human Rights Watch. “This is the most horrible part of what happened.”“They are teaching us not to protest and call for our rights,” another protester said.
In a media interview, Defense Minister Yaaqoub al-Sarraf said the security forces who appeared in the videos were army personnel assigned to protect parliament, and that any guilty party would be held responsible. In response to an inquiry from Human Rights Watch, the army wrote that: “These members follow the command of the Parliament Police and their relation to the army is only administrative. His Excellency the Minister of National Defense Mr. Yaaqoub al-Sarraf has mandated Judge Saqr Saqr, the Government Commissioner to the Military Court, to investigate the issue. Judge Saqr has referred the case to the Military Police to conduct necessary investigations and take appropriate measures against whomever the investigation reveals as responsible for what has happened.” Judge Saqr, the military prosecutor, told Human Rights Watch that his office had opened an investigation.
On June 17, the Beirut Bar Association announced that it had formed a committee of volunteer lawyers to seek accountability for the violence. You Stink, the group that organized the protest, held a news conference on June 17 condemning the attacks and calling for the release of security footage of the incident. “The Lebanese Constitution and international law protect freedom of assembly. However, Human Rights Watch and local human rights organizations have long documented the unlawful use of force by security agencies against protesters in Lebanon,” HRW said.“On August 22 and 23, 2015, Lebanese security personnel used rubber bullets, teargas canisters, water cannons, rifle butts, and batons at a protest in downtown Beirut over a waste management crisis and corruption,” it added. HRW lamented that “impunity for violence by security forces is a recurring problem in Lebanon.”“Even when officials have initiated investigations into previous incidents of excessive, and in some cases, lethal violence against protesters, the investigations have often not been concluded or made public,” the group added. It pointed out that “all publicly available information indicates that Lebanon has previously failed to adequately investigate incidents in which security forces, including the army, used force against protesters, such as the violent dispersal of Palestinian protesters in Northern Lebanon on June 29, 2007, which left two Palestinians dead and at least 28 injured; and the violent dispersal of protesters in Hay al-Sellom, a poor neighborhood in (the southern suburbs of) Beirut, on May 27, 2004, which killed five protesters and wounded dozens.” “This is unfortunately only the latest incident in which protests in Lebanon have been met with violence,” Fakih said. “If protestors threw eggs or tomatoes, security services could have detained them peacefully, but beating people as they lie helplessly on the ground is clearly unacceptable,” she noted.

Bishop Joseph Absi Elected Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch
Naharnet/June 21/17/ Bishop Joseph Absi was elected on Wednesday the new Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the National News Agency reported. Absi was elected one month after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch Gregory III Lahham, 82 years. The Melkite Greek Catholic Synod has been convening since Monday at the Patriarchate's summer seat in Aley. Absi was born on June 20, 1946 in Damascus, Syria. He obtained the Lebanese nationality. In 1973, he was ordained priest and became Chaplain of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul. On 22 June 2001, he was appointed Titular Archbishop of Tarsus of Greek Melkites and Curial Bishop and Auxiliary Bishop in the Melkite Patriarchate. Melkite Patriarchate of Antioch Gregory III Laham, BS, was his consecrator and the co-consecrators were Archbishop Jean Mansour, SMSP, titular archbishop of Apamea in Syria dei Greco-Melkiti and Archbishop Joseph Kallas, SMSP, Archeparch of Beirut and Jbeil, on September 2, 2001.
Since 2007, he has served as Patriarchal Vicar in the Archdiocese of Damascus.

Lebanon's Salameh to Be New UN Libya Envoy
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/The UN Security Council on Tuesday backed the appointment of Lebanese academic and former culture minister Ghassan Salameh to be the UN's new envoy in Libya. The appointment capped a four-month search for a new head of the UN political mission in Libya who will lead negotiations on opening up a UN-backed deal to form a unity government. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had presented Salameh as his choice for the post after a series of other candidates raised objections from council members.The United States in February blocked the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, with the administration of Donald Trump saying it was acting in the interest of its ally Israel. That decision however would have been coupled by the appointment of former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni to a post as UN envoy, a plan that never materialized after the US rejection of Fayyad, UN officials said. Since then, more than a dozen names have been floated for the post before council powers agreed on Salameh. Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenty, who holds this month's council presidency, told reporters that he had signed a letter endorsing the appointment.
The 66-year-old Lebanese national is dean of the Paris School of International Affairs and professor of international relations at France's prestigious Sciences Po in Paris. In Lebanon, Salameh served as culture minister from 2000 to 2003 and later worked as an advisor to former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and to the UN mission in Iraq. Salameh will replace Martin Kobler of Germany, who has been the UN envoy in Libya since November 2015. Political rivalry and fighting between militias has hampered Libya's efforts to recover from the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Othman, British Official tackle security issues
Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - Internal Security Forces chief Imad Othman on Wednesday afternoon met at his Barracks office with British Minister of State for Security, Ben Wallace, on top of a delegation, in the presence of British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter. Talks reportedly touched on security issues of mutual concern. Major General Othman also met respectively with MPs Kamel Rifai and Mohammed Hajjar, with talks touching on an array of national matters.

Ain Helweh joint force hands over wanted man to army intelligence in Sidon

Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - The joint force in Ain al-Helweh camp handed over the Palestinian wanted man, Ahmed Jihad al-Saleh, known as "Abu Ashour", to the Lebanese army intelligence at the Hesba checkpoint in Sidon, NNA field reporter said on Wednesday.

Berri deems election law best attainable
Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - House Speaker Nabih Berri urged all politicians to "invest on the positives in the upcoming phase", reiterating the importance of re-activating the work of state institutions after the adoption of the long-awaited election law. "Such a law is the best attainable.. It is the product of consensus reached after a long period of discussions and deliberations," Speaker Berri told MPs who visited him within the framework of "Wednesday" parliamentary gathering at Ain Tineh. Berri underlined the importance of addressing the socio-economic dossiers and daily living conditions of citizens, in order to push the country forward. On the other hand, Berri met this morning with US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, with talks between the pair reportedly touching on the current developments. The Speaker also met with UN Under-Secretary General, ESCWA Executive Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim and his Deputy, Dr. Khawla Matar.

Ambassador of Egypt: keen to facilitate entry of Lebanese tourists to Sharm El Sheikh, various tourist destinations in Egypt
Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - Egypt's Ambassador Nazih Al-Najari said in a statement on Wednesday that he "contacted today the ministers of tourism of the two countries, Avedis Gudanian and Yahya Rashid, to work on boosting tourism between the two countries during the current tourist season."He stressed the embassy's keenness to "provide all necessary facilities for the entry of Lebanese tourists to Sharm El-Sheikh and various tourist destinations in Egypt, and to create the best conditions for them during their stay in Egypt.""This year is witnessing a 20% increase in the number of Lebanese tourists heading to Egypt and Visas granted by the embassy, compared with the same period last year, which was evident in the high demand for Sharm El Sheikh during the Easter season," he said, expecting "a Lebanese turnout on tourism in Egypt, during the Eid al-Fitr and the upcoming summer holidays."

One wounded in Ain Helweh camp gunfight
Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - One person got wounded in a personal brawl that escalated into gunfire near the old "UNRWA" clinic in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain Helweh, NNA reporter said on Wednesday. The injured was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Army Commander, British Official tackle security cooperation
Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - Army Commander, Joseph Aoun, on Wednesday received at his Yarze office British Minister of State for Security, Ben Wallace, on top of a delegation, in the presence of British Ambassador Hugo Shorter and Embassy Military Attaché Chris Ganning. Talks reportedly touched on means of bolstering security cooperation between the armies of both countries, and the British Aid Program for the Lebanese army.

Ibrahim, interlocutors tackle security situation, refugee affairs
Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim on Wednesday morning received Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali, with talks reportedly touching on Syrian refugee affairs. Ambassador Ali lauded the General Security General Directorate's efforts in following up on the situation of Syrian refugees, notably at the security level. At noon, General Abbas met with British State Minister for Security Affairs, Ben Wallace, accompanied by British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter. Discussions reportedly touched on the security situation in Lebanon and the broad region, in addition to most recent developments in Europe. Minister Wallace applauded the efforts of the General Directorate in the fight against terrorism. Discussions also dwelt on means of coordination and cooperation between Britain and the Directorate General.

Former deputy defense minister Ehpraim Sneh: If Hezbollah Fires Rockets On Israel, The Israeli Army Should Hit Iran's Infrastructure
Jerusalem Post/June 21/17
Former deputy defense minister Ehpraim Sneh warned that Israel should be prepared to react to unforeseen aggression from Lebanon by hitting it where it hurts the most. “If Hezbollah fires on Israel” the IDF “should strike Iran’s infrastructure” in response, former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh said on Wednesday, urging that Israel should target the Shi'ite terror organization's sponsor and great supporter Iran. Explaining the logic of this strategy as part of a panel on Iran at the annual Herzliya Conference, Sneh said that Iran uses Hezbollah to attack Israel without any deterrent threat that it cares about. He also explained that the current Israeli strategy is to hit Lebanese infrastructure if Hezbollah attacks Israel with rockets, but that he didn't believe this was an efficient approach.
“Iran does not give a damn if Lebanon’s infrastructure is destroyed” as Israeli retaliation for Hezbollah rockets, said the former defense official. Regarding the nuclear threat posed by Iran, former deputy Israel Atomic Energy chief Ariel Levite said that Israel lacked a true strategy.
“There is no Israeli policy to deal with the missiles and arms trade aspects” of the Iran nuclear deal, he said. Levite explained that even though Iran is complying with International Atomic Energy Agency inspections, “the ambiguities built into the deal are huge,” causing the deal to function on the ground very differently than it was meant to. As an example, Levite asked: “Is the IAEA responsible for monitoring and limiting Iran weapons tests?” saying that Russia and Iran both claim it is not. “If the IAEA is not responsible, then who is? This is a big gap,” he added. Further, Levite argued that Israel, the US and others must find a way to bind Iran from actions which could move it across the nuclear weapons threshold once the Iran deal ends. Just last week the US seemed to have taken a significant step in that direction when the Senate passed almost unanimously a decision to sanction Tehran for its ballistic missile work, its funding of militant organizations worldwide and its human rights record. The new bill is expected to impose mandatory ballistic missile sanctions, target Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and implement a new arms embargo.
**Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 21-22/17
Trump congratulates Saudi new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Wednesday, 21 June 2017/US President Donald Trump called on Wednesday the newly appointed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to congratulate him, Al Arabiya News Channel reported. “The President and the Crown Prince committed to close cooperation to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond,” the White House said in a statement. It added: “The two leaders discussed the priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists, as well as how to resolve the ongoing dispute with Qatar.”The two also discussed efforts to achieve a “lasting peace” between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Deepening “deepen economic cooperation” between the United States and Saudi Arabia was also discussed. Saudi Arabia has declared Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom's crown prince while Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has been relieved from his position after a royal decree was issued by King Salman bin Abdulaziz early on Wednesday morning. The Saudi Press Agency confirmed that 31 out of 34 members of Saudi Arabia's Allegiance Council chose Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom's crown prince. The UK also congratulated Saudi Arabia for its new Crown Prince. An allegiance ceremony is expected to take place in Riyadh Wednesday’s evening.

Arab rulers congratulate newly-appointed Saudi crown prince
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 21 June 2017 /UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid are among the first to congratulate Mohammed bin Salman for his appointment as Saudi crown prince on Wednesday. Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa sent his congratulations to the newly-appointed Saudi crown prince. Egyptian President Abd El-Fattah al-Sisi called Mohammed Bin Salman to pass on his congratulations for his official appointment as crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Qaboos bin Said Al Said, Sultan of Oman congratulated Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his appointment as successor to the Saudi crown. Palestine, Yemen presidents and Kuwait’s ruler congratulated Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for choosing Mohammed bin Salman as his new crown prince as well. Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, king of Jordan also congratulated Mohammed bin Salman for his appointment as Saudi crown prince. Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi, President of Tunisia congratulated as well newly-appointed Saudi crown prince. Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah prayed for the Saudi king and said he was “looking forward to development and prosperity under the wise leadership” in the neighboring country. Saudi Arabia has declared Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom's crown prince while Prince Mohammed bin Nayef has been relieved from his position after a royal decree was issued by King Salman bin Abdulaziz early on Wednesday morning. The Saudi Press Agency confirmed that 31 out of 34 members of Saudi Arabia's Allegiance Council chose Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom's crown prince.King Salman has called for a public pledging of allegiance to the Crown Prince in Mecca on Wednesday. Mohammed bin Salman was also named deputy prime minister, and maintains his post as minister of defense. (With Reuters)

Saudi King Upends Royal Succession, Names Son as 1st Heir
Associated Press/Naharnet/June 21/17/ Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Wednesday appointed his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, placing him firmly as first-in-line to the throne and removing the country's counterterrorism czar and a figure well-known to Washington from the royal line of succession. In a series of royal decrees carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the monarch stripped Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who had been positioned to inherit the throne, from his title as crown prince and from his powerful position as the country's interior minister overseeing security. The newly announced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman already oversees a vast portfolio as defense minister and head of an economic council tasked with overhauling the country's economy. He had previously been the second-in-line to the throne as deputy crown prince, though royal watchers had long suspected his rise to power under his father's reign might also accelerate his ascension to the throne. The young prince was little known to Saudis and outsiders before Salman became king in January 2015. He had previously been in charge of his father's royal court when Salman was the crown prince. The Saudi monarch, who holds near absolute powers, quickly awarded his son expansive powers to the surprise of many within the royal family who are more senior and more experienced than Mohammed bin Salman, also known by his initials MBS. The royal decree issued Wednesday stated that "a majority" of senior royal members from the so-called Allegiance Council supported the recasting of the line of succession. Saudi Arabia's state TV said 31 out of 34 of the council's members voted in favor of the changes. The Allegiance Council is a body made up of the sons and prominent grandsons of the founder of the Saudi state, the late King Abdul-Aziz, who vote to pick the king and crown prince from among themselves.Over the weekend, the king had issued a decree restructuring Saudi Arabia's system for prosecutions that stripped Mohammed bin Nayef of longstanding powers overseeing criminal investigations, and instead ordered that a newly-named Office of Public Prosecution and prosecutor report directly to the monarch. Mohammed bin Nayef was not believed to have played a significant role in Saudi and Emirati-led efforts to isolate Qatar for its support of Islamist groups and ties with Iran.
The prince had appeared to be slipping from public eye as his nephew, Mohammed bin Salman, embarked on major overseas visits, including a trip to the White House to meet President Donald Trump in March. That visit to Washington helped lay the foundation for Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia in May, which marked the president's first overseas visit and which was promoted heavily by the kingdom as proof of its weight in the region and wider Muslim world. Saudi-U.S. relations had cooled under the Obama administration after Washington pursued a nuclear accord with Shiite-ruled Iran that the Sunni-ruled kingdom strongly opposed. The warm ties forged between Riyadh and Washington under the Trump administration may have helped accelerate Mohammed bin Salman's ascension as crown prince. Despite his ambitions, which include overhauling the kingdom's economy away from its reliance on oil, the prince has faced failures and strong criticism for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which he oversees as defense minister. The war, launched more than two years ago, has failed to dislodge Iranian-allied rebels known as Houthis from the capital, Sanaa, and has had devastating effects on the impoverished country. Rights groups say Saudi forces have killed scores of civilians and have called on the U.S., as well as the UK and France, to halt the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the Yemen war. The U.S. already is helping the Saudis with intelligence and logistical support for the bombing campaign in Yemen, and the Trump administration has signaled it could assist with greater intelligence support to counter Iranian influence there. The newly-minted crown prince also raised eyebrows when he ruled out any chance of dialogue with Iran. In remarks aired on Saudi TV in May, Mohammed bin Salman framed the tensions with Iran in sectarian terms, and said it is Iran's goal "to control the Islamic world" and to spread its Shiite doctrine. He also vowed to take "the battle" to Iran. Iran and Saudi Arabia's rivalry has played out in proxy wars across the region. They back opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen and they support political rivals in Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq. The conflicts have deepened Sunni-Shiite enmity between hard-liners on both sides.

Al-Saud: The Ruling Dynasty that Gave Its Name to Saudi Arabia
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/The Al-Saud dynasty gave its family name to the Gulf Arab monarchy of Saudi Arabia ruled by the sons of founder Abdul Aziz bin Saud. The Al-Sauds trace their origins to the 1700s, when Saud bin Mohammad reigned as a local sheikh in the central Arabian peninsula, the birthplace two centuries later of the only country in the world named after a family. His son Mohammad allied himself in 1744 with a fiery cleric, Mohammad bin Abdul Wahhab, who advocated a return to purist Islam, spreading the doctrine through the might of the sword.
Mohammad's descendants lost control to Ottoman forces in 1818, but six years later the Saud family retook the desert seat of Riyadh only to squabble over the succession. By 1902, Abdul Aziz bin Saud expelled the rival Rashidi clan from Riyadh, at the heart of the peninsula, and set about consolidating his power. Abdul Aziz unified the territories in a series of tribal wars.
He took control of the Gulf coast in 1913, expelled Hussein, the Hashemite sharif of Islam's holy city of Mecca, by 1925, and in 1932 declared himself king of Saudi Arabia. To strengthen his authority, the new king took in marriage the daughters of tribal chiefs. Today, the ruling family totals up to an estimated 25,000 members, including some 200 influential princes. Oil was struck in 1938 in the strictly conservative Wahhabi kingdom, transforming it into one of the world's richest countries. Abdul Aziz had 45 recorded sons. King Saud succeeded the kingdom's founder on his death on November 9, 1953. Faisal took over on November 2, 1964 after his half-brother was deposed on charges of corruption and incompetence. Saud died in exile in 1969. The architect of Saudi Arabia's modernization, Faisal was assassinated by a nephew in March 1975. The assassin was said to be mentally disturbed. Khaled, another half-brother, took over and ruled until his death in 1982, when Fahd became king, appointing Abdullah, two years his junior, as crown prince. Abdullah ran the day-to-day affairs of state after Fahd suffered a stroke in November 1995. The popular prince acceded to the throne automatically following the death of his half-brother, despite a 1992 law passed by Fahd which opened the succession to Abdul Aziz's grandsons and not just his sons. Salman rose to the throne in January 2015, becoming the last of the bloc of brothers known as the Sudairi Seven, after their mother Hassa bint Ahmed al-Sudairi, to rule.

Three Things to Watch as Saudi Names New Heir to Throne

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/Mohammed bin Salman, named Saudi crown prince on Wednesday, becomes first in line to the throne as the historically conservative nation faces challenges at home and turmoil abroad. Here are three key areas to watch. Yemen Prince Mohammed, 31, retains his position as defense minister, a post he held when Riyadh joined the war in neighboring Yemen in 2015. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia heads a regional military alliance fighting Shiite Huthi rebels, accused of ties to Iran, for control of the impoverished country. In May 2017, faced with international criticism over the Saudi-led alliance's role in Yemen's humanitarian crisis, the prince said his country had "no choice" but to intervene in the war to support the Saudi-allied, U.N.-recognized government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. "These militias posed a threat to international shipping" in the Red Sea, Mohammed said in a televised interview. "If we had waited, the threats would grown more complicated, and there would have been a threat to Saudi Arabia". Mohammed defended Saudi Arabia's decision to fight a long war in Yemen as the sole means to protect civilians in the fight against the Huthis and their allies, former troops loyal to ex-Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. "We could eliminate the Huthis and Saleh in a few days ... but as a result thousands of our troops and Yemeni civilians would be the victims," he said. International rights groups have criticized both sides in the war for human rights violations, accusing the Saudi-led alliance of attacking civilian targets including hospitals and schools. Human Rights Watch in January said some of those attacks may amount to war crimes. Amnesty International in March said Saudi arms purchases from the U.S. and Britain were "used to commit gross violations and helped to precipitate a humanitarian catastrophe."
Saudi economy
Prince Mohammed is the chief architect of an ambitious plan to transform the Saudi economy by 2030 to reduce its dependence on oil and develop the private sector. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest exporter of oil, was dealt a serious blow when oil prices plummeted in 2014. Under the "Vision 2030" plan, unveiled in April 2016, Saudi Arabia will sell nearly five percent of state-owned Aramco -- the world's largest oil company reportedly worth between $2 trillion and $2.5 trillion. The sale would mark the first move towards Aramco's privatization. The plan aims to create a sovereign wealth fund worth $2 trillion, which would make it the largest state-owned investment fund in the world. It targets an increase in non-oil government revenue sixfold from $43.5 billion to $267 billion. It aims to raise non-oil exports and boost the contribution of the private sector to gross domestic product (GDP) from 40 percent to 65 percent. The economic plans are also aimed at bringing about tentative societal change by expanding local industry and slashing unemployment.Women, who face some of the world's harshest restrictions in Saudi Arabia, are expected to constitute 30 percent of the workforce by 2030, up from 22 percent now.
Qatar crisis
Prince Mohammed is one of the prime movers behind Saudi Arabia's decision earlier this month to isolate Qatar, accusing the gas-rich emirate of ties to Shiite rival Iran and of facilitating the financing, and function, of extremist groups. As crown prince, and deputy prime minister, he will oversee the aftermath of what Qatar has called a "blockade" by Saudi Arabia and its allies the UAE and Bahrain. Saudi Arabia has sealed off Qatar's only land border to the outside world and the three Gulf states have banned all flights to and from Doha. Qatar has demanded the lifting of the "economic blockade" before agreeing to dialogue with its neighbors, but Saudi Arabia has remained unresponsive.

King Salman Presides over Saudi Reform Effort
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/Saudi King Salman, who ascended the throne in January 2015 and the last of the "Sudairi Seven" to rule, has presided over wideranging efforts to transform his oil-dependent, conservative Islamic realm. The agent of change has been the 81-year-old Salman's son Mohammed bin Salman, whom the king named Wednesday as crown prince and heir to the throne. Prince Mohammed, 31, is the architect of plans to diversify the economy and employ more Saudis. The appointment also assures a transition to a new generation of leadership, leaving King Salman as the last son of the desert kingdom's founder, Abdulaziz bin Saud, to rule. Born on December 31, 1935, Salman is the 25th son of Abdulaziz bin Saud and the sixth son to sit on the throne.He belongs to the formidable bloc of brothers known as the Sudairi Seven, after their mother Hassa bint Ahmed al-Sudairi. Salman was appointed governor of Riyadh province at the age of only 20, in line with a tradition of putting royal family members in charge of key provinces. He is considered the architect of the development of Riyadh from a desert backwater to a modern metropolis, balancing the historic power of the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
Powerful sons The governorship "allowed him to serve as a generally very well respected arbiter of Al-Saud family affairs, as well as overseeing the city's emergence," said Eleanor Gillespie of the London-based Gulf States Newsletter. "Salman has a reputation for probity and for being 'clean' when it comes to money," she said.He was also said to be a hard worker who arrives in the office daily at 7:00 am. Salman took on his first ministerial post -- as defense minister -- in 2011 following the death of his brother Prince Sultan. The following year he was officially named crown prince after the death of the previous heir apparent, his brother Nayef. Salman acceded to the throne upon the death of his half-brother Abdullah. "He is a man of dialogue who always preferred to solve problems amicably," said Anwar Eshki, director of the Jeddah-based Middle East Institute for Strategic Studies.Despite his age, Salman remains active. He walks with a cane, but stood for many minutes in January to present a procession of air force graduates with awards. In February and March, he undertook a weeks-long official visit to Asia. Married three times, Prince Salman has 10 sons, two of whom have died, and a daughter. In addition to Mohammed bin Salman, the king has three other sons in high-level government posts. He named Khaled bin Salman, a former fighter pilot believed to be in his late 20s, as ambassador to Washington in April. At the same time he promoted Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman to the post of state minister for energy affairs. Until the rise of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king's most famous son was Prince Sultan, who became the first Saudi to go into space when he joined a 1985 mission on the U.S. space shuttle Discovery.He is currently head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

Saudis, Allies Have List of Demands for Qatar, Says U.S.
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/Saudi Arabia and its allies have drawn up a list of demands to be presented to Qatar, the United States said Wednesday, as President Donald Trump discussed the regional crisis with new Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest moves came as Washington stepped up its efforts to resolve the thorny row between Qatar -- home to the biggest U.S. air base in the Middle East -- and its neighbors, led by Riyadh. "We hope the list of demands will soon be presented to Qatar and will be reasonable and actionable," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, in a statement. Later, addressing reporters after a meeting with senior Chinese officials, Tillerson said Washington had been pushing for a clear list of grievances. "Our role has been to encourage the parties to get their issues on the table, clearly articulated, so that those issues can be addressed and some resolution process can get underway to bring this to a conclusion," he said. "Our desire is for unity within the Gulf and unity within the GCC and that we direct all of our efforts onto the war against terror," he said, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a fractious regional alliance. Two weeks ago, Riyadh and several of its allies including Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, cut ties with Qatar over accusations that Doha supports extremist groups, including some linked to Saudi foe Iran -- a claim Qatar denies. In addition to diplomatic isolation, other measures taken included closing Qatar's only land border, banning its planes from using their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from transiting through their airports. Trump's administration has sent contradictory signals on the crisis. While the U.S. president has made statements siding with Saudi Arabia, Washington has shown mounting frustration over the kingdom's role in the crisis. Tillerson's spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday that the U.S. was "mystified" that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have failed to present details justifying their embargo on Qatar. "The more that time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE," Nauert said. On Wednesday, Trump discussed the Qatar row with Saudi Arabia's newly-appointed crown prince, on a call during which he also offered his congratulations to the new heir to the throne. "The president and the crown prince committed to close cooperation to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond," the White House said in a statement. "The two leaders discussed the priority of cutting off all support for terrorists and extremists, as well as how to resolve the ongoing dispute with Qatar," the statement added. On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's King Salman ousted his nephew as crown prince and installed Mohammed, his son, as heir to the throne. Trump, 71, and Mohammed, 31, have met twice -- once in Riyadh during the U.S. leader's recent trip to Saudi Arabia and once in mid-March at the White House.

Despite evidence, Doha official denies charges of terror
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 21 June 2017/Despite evidences, Qatari Attorney General Hamad Bin Al-Futtais al-Marri tried to absolve Qatar of supporting terrorism and extremism in various countries on Wednesday. Al-Marri denied Doha’s connection with the blacklist issued by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.The list included the following individuals and entities:
Sheikh Eid al-Thani Charity Foundation
Sheikh Eid al-Thani Charity Foundation is one of the Qatari entities listed. The foundation funded several projects in Yemen belonging to Abdulwahab al-Humaikani, who was classified by the US Department of the Treasury as a supporter of al-Qaeda in December 2013.
Hamad Abdullah Al-Futtais al-Marri
General of Qatar’s Special Forces Hamad Abdullah Al-Futtais al-Marri who is a relative of Hamad Bin Al-Futtais al-Marri, fought with the former Libyan Islamist commander, Abdel Hakim Belhadj.
Hamad Abdullah Al-Futtais al-Marri has been accused by the Spanish security of being involved in the bombings of Madrid in 2004.Wagdy Abdelhamid Ghoneim, an Egyptian who supported specific terrorist organization. (Al Arabiya)
Wagdy Abdelhamid Ghoneim
In 2004, the US government ordered the detention of Wagdy Abdelhamid Ghoneim, an Egyptian who supported specific terrorist organization.
In 2009, the British government listed Ghoneim as one of the 16 individuals banned from entering the UK.
Mahdi Harati has been listed for legal action by the United Nations and the US government.
Mohamed Ahmed Shawky Islambouli
On October 2005, Mohamed Ahmed Shawky Islambouli was sentenced by the US government for supporting al-Qaeda.

UAE's Mohamed bin Zayed holds talks with French President
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 21 June 2017 /Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Wednesday met with President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, to discuss bilateral relations and the latest regional and international developments. Sheikh Mohamed is on a two-day visit to the French capital, Paris. Sheikh Mohamed conveyed the greetings of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to the President Macron, reiterating his congratulations to the President and the people of France on the successful election. Mohamed said that the UAE attaches special importance to relations with France, and continually works to develop these ties across all fields, as they represent a distinctive example of friendly cooperation between states based on understanding, mutual respect and common interests.
Closer cooperation 
The French President welcomed Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to Paris, and hoped that this visit will contribute to closer cooperation between the two countries, and continuing discussions on regional and international issues of mutual concern. The meeting was also attended by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The two sides also discussed ways to benefit from investment opportunities between the two countries.

Aid Workers Readying for Mosul Exodus, Says UNHCR
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/Aid workers are preparing for a potentially massive outflow of civilians from Mosul's Old City, the U.N. refugee agency's representative in Iraq said, raising fears for civilians being held as human shields. Speaking to AFP in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, UNHCR representative Bruno Geddo said aid groups needed to be flexible as Iraqi forces battle to retake the last district of Mosul held by the Islamic State group. "There is a number of civilians still trapped in the Old City, they are basically used as human shields. Nobody is sure how many they are but it could be anything around 100,000, maybe more," he said late on Tuesday. "We expect that eventually the cork may pop somewhere and we will have a large-scale outflow from the Old City." Iraqi forces launched the operation on Sunday to retake the Old City, after a months-long offensive to drive the jihadists from Mosul, Iraq's second city. Commanders say the jihadists are putting up fierce resistance and there are fears for civilians trapped in the maze of narrow streets. "I believe that this is a case of the largest urban warfare since World War II... so we have to be fast, to be flexible, to be ready to deal with the unpredictable," Geddo said.

Iran Demands Saudi Arabia Release Detained 'Fishermen'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/Iran on Wednesday demanded the release of three fishermen detained last week by Saudi Arabia, which claims the men were Iranian Revolutionary Guard members planning an attack. The interior ministry called in a statement for "the release as quickly as possible of the three fishermen" detained in the Gulf by the Saudi coastguard. Iran has denied the men are members of the Revolutionary Guard and accused the coastguard of killing another fisherman when two Iranian boats strayed into Saudi waters on Saturday. The ministry called for the "punishment" of those responsible for the killing. Riyadh said Monday it had captured three Revolutionary Guards members aboard an explosives-laden boat heading to an oil platform in the Gulf and planning to carry out "a terrorist act". The incident has increased tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, arch-rivals opposed in a wide range of conflicts throughout the Middle East.

PA Steps Up Actions against Hamas, Israel Continues to Reduce Electricity Capacity
Kifah Ziboun/Asharq Al Awsat/June 21/17
Ramallah- For the second time in two days, Israel has reduced the amount of electricity it is providing to the Gaza Strip by additional 12 MW, in compliance with a request from the Palestinian Authority to reach 20 MW less. This move would exacerbate the crisis of which Israel is part of in addition to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Israel’s national electric company confirmed the Israeli government instructed it to reduce supply to Gaza at the request of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government in the West Bank. Director of Public Relations at Gaza Electricity Company Mohammed Thabet said the enclave’s roughly two million residents could expect to receive even less power.
“The Israeli occupation authorities on Monday morning have reduced 8 megawatts of the electricity capacity feeding Gaza from Israeli lines: an initial step to implement the recently announced decisions to gradually reduce power provided to Gaza.”
Thabet said Gaza was receiving 112 megawatts of power a day, down from the previous level of 120 megawatts daily Gaza needs about 400 megawatts to meet its daily needs. Clean water supplies in the Gaza Strip have begun to dwindle.
In a statement, the electric company confirmed it had begun to reduce supplies on Monday and said shipments would be scaled back gradually, “so that the electricity supply will match the financial commitment.”“The internal deliveries of electricity to consumers inside the Gaza Strip is not the responsibility of the electric company and is done by internal Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip,” it said.
With Gaza’s small power plant out of commission, and Israel providing a fraction of what the territory needs, residents have been scraping by with about four hours of electricity a day.
Israel accuses Hamas of diverting Gaza’s limited electricity for military use and worsening the hardship on its people. Abbas has grown increasingly frustrated with repeated failures in reconciliation talks with Hamas and the group’s refusal to cede control of Gaza. In recent months, he has stepped up financial pressure on Hamas. In April, he reinstated taxes on fuel bound for Gaza’s only power plant, making Hamas unable to afford it. As a result, the small station has stopped working. Gaza now receives its only electricity from Israel, and a small quantity from Egypt. Abbas has also cut the salaries of tens of thousands of former employees in Gaza, hurting the territory’s already poor economy.

Canada Urges Qatar to Fight Terror Financing
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed "concern about the funding of terrorism" to the emir of Qatar on Wednesday, calling for dialogue to end Doha's row with Arab states. In a telephone call with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, "the prime minister raised Canada's concern with the funding of terrorism and extremism, wherever it takes place," according to a statement.Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt moved earlier this month to isolate Qatar, accusing the rich Gulf state of assisting extremist groups. Trudeau "emphasized the value of maintaining an open dialogue amongst disputing parties," his office said. "The leaders further discussed the need to de-escalate current tensions, limit the impact on affected families in the region, and continue to address the root causes of terrorism."

IS Blows Up Mosul Mosque where Baghdadi Announced 'Caliphate'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/The Islamic State jihadist group on Wednesday blew up Mosul's iconic leaning minaret and the adjacent mosque where their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance in 2014, a top Iraqi commander said. "Our forces were advancing toward their targets deep in the Old City and when they got to within 50 meters of the Nouri mosque, Daesh (IS) committed another historical crime by blowing up the Nouri mosque and the Hadba" mosque, Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah, the overall commander of the Mosul offensive, said in a statement.

Egypt Delivers Fuel to Ease Gaza Electricity Crisis
Egypt began on Wednesday to deliver a million litres of fuel to Gaza, a Palestinian official said, in an attempt to ease the Palestinian enclave's desperate electricity crisis. The fuel, trucked in through the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza, will be routed to the territory's only power station -- closed since April due to fuel shortages. The deliveries come two days after Israel began reducing its electricity supplies to Gaza, following Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's decision to stop paying for them. Wael Abu Omar, the Rafah crossing spokesman, told AFP that eight shipments had entered, with a further 14 expected later in the day. "A million litres (220,000 gallons) of fuel for the power plant will enter today," he said. That is enough to enable the power station to operate for two to three days, Samir Moutair, director general of the Gaza electricity company, told AFP. Residents of impoverished Gaza -- where two million people live fenced in between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean -- were already receiving only a few hours of mains power before this week. Israel had been supplying 120 megawatts of electricity to Gaza a month, making up around a quarter of the territory's needs, with the Abbas-run Palestinian Authority paying the 11.3 million euros ($12.65 million) monthly bill. But after Abbas announced he would no longer pay, the Israel Electric Corporation said power supply would "effectively be reduced on two lines out of 10 every day, until the reduction applies to all 10 lines".The move threatened to leave Gazans with as little as two hours of power a day, prompting a UN warning that basic services in the enclave faced "total collapse". The Egyptian response temporarily eases the crisis and Abu Omar said further deliveries were expected before Saturday, ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Abbas's decision to cut funding came amid a persistent rift with rival Palestinian movement Hamas, which runs Gaza. The Islamists seized control of Gaza from Abbas's Fatah movement in a near civil war in 2007 and multiple attempts at reconciliation have failed.
However, the Palestinian Authority had continued to pay Israel for some electricity delivered to Gaza until this month. Israeli human rights group Gisha said in a statement on Monday that by reducing supplies "Israel is knowingly aggravating an already dangerous situation in which the strip is teetering on the verge of a humanitarian crisis." Hamas, which swept Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 but remains blacklisted as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

Egyptian Authorities Heavily Strike Terrorist Groups in Sinai, Alexandria
Mohamed Abdu Hassanein/Asharq Al Awsat/June 21/17
Cairo- The Egyptian Air Forces launched on Monday an air strike that targeted a gathering of leading figures from the ISIS-affiliated group ‘Sinai Province’ in North Sinai. Egypt’s security forces killed 15 militants, 12 of them in airstrikes in the restive Sinai peninsula and three in the coastal city of Alexandria, according to two separate statements by the Interior Ministry and the armed forces on Tuesday. According to a statement issued from the Egyptian Armed Forces official spokesperson Tamer El Refaay, the strike was launched following the army leadership’s receiving information from intelligence apparatuses on the gathering place of Sinai Province’s leading figures. “The Egyptian Air Forces executed an air strike on a gathering place of a number of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (currently known as ‘Sinai Province’) leading figures; it targeted their gathering place, and it killed 12 militants from the group and destroyed four vehicles” the army’s statement read. The ‘Sinai Province’ group said it believes that all army and police forces are apostates who should be killed; therefore, the group’s militants have launched several suicide and ground attacks that have led to the death of many army and police personnel.
In a separate development, Egypt’s Interior Ministry stated that that three other militants belonging to a shadowy group calling itself the Hasm Movement were killed in an apartment raid in Alexandria.The ministry added that they were killed in an exchange of fire. The militant group, which is suspected of links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, claimed responsibility for a deadly roadside bombing earlier this week, in the Egyptian capital’s upscale suburb of Maadi, killing one police officer and wounding four others. The group has previously claimed several smaller attacks, mainly targeting policemen. Insurgent attacks have dramatically increased in Egypt since the military ouster of elected President Mohammed Morsi, ending the Islamist leader’s divisive, one-year rule. The violence has been concentrated in the northern Sinai Peninsula, where ISIS-linked militants are battling the army.

Israel Arrests Mother of Palestinian Attacker over Remarks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/Israeli forces arrested the mother of a slain Palestinian assailant early on Wednesday after she praised her son's deadly east Jerusalem attack, the army and police said. Two youths from the village of Deir Abu Mashal in the occupied West Bank had on Friday opened fire on a group of officers near the Old City, while a third fatally stabbed a border policewoman a short distance away. All three assailants were shot dead by forces at the scene. The Israeli army subsequently sealed off the village, near Ramallah, confiscating vehicles and making a number of arrests. Early on Wednesday, troops and police arrested the mother of one of the assailants "due to her recent calls over the weekend to commit additional attacks against Jews and due to her violent hate speech," a military spokeswoman told AFP. The woman, Zaynab Ankush, had on Sunday given a television interview to Israeli public broadcaster Kan. "He chose to die a martyr but I didn't know about it," she said. "I'm proud and wish that he would have killed 20, 50, 100 of them."Police said she was arrested on suspicion of supporting a terror organisation and conspiring to commit a crime. Security forces also arrested a Palestinian from the Issawiya neighbourhood of annexed east Jerusalem on suspicion of "transporting the terrorists to the site of the attack" and knowing their intent while not acting to prevent the attack, police said. A wave of unrest that broke out in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 273 Palestinians, 42 Israelis, two Americans, two Jordanians, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Macron Reshuffles Cabinet after Key Allies Resign
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 21/17/French President Emmanuel Macron appointed little-known railway executive Florence Parly as his defense minister Wednesday as he reshuffled his cabinet just five weeks into office. The overhaul, which also saw constitutional lawyer Nicole Belloubet appointed justice minister, came after three ministers from the centrist MoDem party that helped bring Macron to power quit over a funding scandal. Veteran Socialists Jean-Yves Le Drian and Gerard Collomb remain in post as foreign and interior minister respectively, as does conservative Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, as centrist Macron seeks to enter a new era of left-right consensus politics. The changes came just hours after MoDem leader Francois Bayrou, who lent crucial support to Macron during the presidential campaign, said he was stepping down to fight allegations that his small party misused European Parliament funds. The claims, which first emerged in the Canard Enchaine investigative newspaper and are now the subject of a preliminary investigation, quickly became toxic given Macron's vow to rid French politics of sleaze. The two other MoDem cabinet members appointed barely a month ago -- defence minister Sylvie Goulard and European affairs minister Marielle de Sarnez -- also quit over the accusations that MoDem misused European Parliament cash to pay assistants who are actually based in France. De Sarnez has been replaced by Nathalie Loiseau, director of the prestigious ENA school of government where many of France's political elite have studied, including Macron.
'Smear campaign'
A veteran centrist figure who ran three times for president himself, 66-year-old Bayrou was a key backer of Macron's 14-month-old Republic on the Move (REM) movement and his support was crucial in lending legitimacy to the inexperienced candidate. MoDem entered an alliance with REM for both the presidential and legislative elections, and in exchange Macron rewarded the party for its support by giving them key jobs in his first cabinet. The legislative elections on Sunday handed REM a 308-seat majority in the 577-seat National Assembly at the weekend, meaning Macron's party does not need MoDem's support to push legislation through parliament. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front who lost to Macron in last month's presidential vote, suggested ahead of the ministerial announcements that Bayrou had been discarded because he had served his purpose.
"I think Macron used Bayrou during the presidential campaign and now that he has a majority without MoDem, he has tossed him away like an old rag," Le Pen said as she took up her seat in parliament. Her own party has been investigated over similar accusations of misusing European Parliament funds to pay for staff in France. Explaining his decision to step down at a press conference Wednesday, Bayrou flatly denied allegations of wrongdoing and claimed he had been the target of a smear campaign. "Even if I was never cited in the investigation, I have no doubt that I was the true target, with the goal of discrediting the work of the ministry," he said. He insisted that he would continue to back the president, saying: "I will be by Macron's side."
Series of scandals
Bayrou's personal approval ratings had slid to around 20 percent by Wednesday, and observers noted the allegations did not chime well with Macron's pledge to usher in a new era of cleaner politics after a series of scandals involving ministers under his Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande. Richard Ferrand, a junior minister from Macron's party, has also left the government, this time at the president's request after he became embroiled in a conflict-of-interest scandal involving his wife. The presidential election saw Macron's conservative rival Francois Fillon engulfed in a separate scandal over accusations that he paid his wife and children hundreds of thousands of euros as his parliamentary assistants with little evidence that they did any such work

Philippines says school hostage drama over, 31 captives freed
Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - Islamist militants who stormed a primary school in a southern Philippines town on Wednesday have fled, leaving behind 31 hostages unharmed, including 12 children, a spokesman for the military said. "The enemy made a hasty withdrawal, leaving behind 31 hostages, among them 12 youngsters," Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told Reuters. Padilla said troops have cordoned off the school because the militants had planted improvised explosive devices around the area. He said troops were pursuing the militants, who are members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. -- REUTERS

Russian defense minister's plane buzzed over Baltic by NATO jet: TASS
Wed 21 Jun 2017/NNA - A plane carrying Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was buzzed by a NATO F-16 fighter jet as it flew over the Baltic Sea, but was seen off by a Russian Sukhoi-27 military jet, Russian news agencies reported on Wednesday. The F-16 had tried to approach the aircraft carrying the defense minister even though it was flying over neutral waters, agencies said. Shoigu was reported to be en route to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad for a meeting to discuss how well Russia's western flank was defended. One of the Russian fighter jets escorting Shoigu's plane had inserted itself between the defense minister's plane and the NATO fighter and tilted its wings from side to side to show the weapons it was carrying, Russian agencies said. After that, agencies said the F-16 left the area.--Reuters

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 21-22/17
Israel's New Settlement Policy: Evaluated and Explained

Malcolm Lowe/Gatestone Institute/June 21/17
A definite gain of Israel's new settlement policy is that it seems to have taken the settlement issue off the boil not just with the Trump administration but also with other friendly foreign governments. Among the losses, thanks to the Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law, is UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016, which vehemently denounced all Israeli settlement activity.
During March 2017, a delegation appointed by Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held lengthy discussions in Washington with the Trump administration over construction in the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria (aka the "West Bank"). No summary of those discussions was published, but on March 30 the security cabinet of the Israeli government informed the media that it had drawn up guidelines limiting further construction. Now, however, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman -- who has direct responsibility for approving all such construction plans -- has confirmed that "Israel is coordinating its settlement construction with the White House."
He specified that "while coordination is not happening on the level of every '10 [houses],' there is general understanding between Jerusalem and Washington about acceptable levels of construction in the West Bank." This would explain why, whereas under the Obama administration any Israeli announcement about even a small number of housing units would provoke ritual squeaks of protest from U.S. officials, the recent announcements of larger numbers have escaped loud censure.
It should be noted that such announcements commonly give an exaggerated impression of the scale of construction. This is because Israeli urban planning involves a series of stages of approval before actual construction goes ahead. Thus the most recent announcement, billed as "building at the highest level since 1992," aggregates plans at various stages of approval, some of which were included in earlier announcements. To add together all such figures over a long period would therefore be mistaken because of multiple counting of the same individual housing units.
The new settlement policy was released to various media, such as here, where it is stated:
"Israel, according to the security cabinet decision, will -- as much as possible -- only permit building within the existing construction lines of the settlements... In areas where this is not possible because there is no more available land inside the settlements, construction will take place close to the existing construction line. Where this too is impossible because of issues of land ownership, or security or topographic considerations, Israel will build as close to the existing settlement as possible... Israel also committed itself not to permit the establishment of new wildcat outposts."
Several comments are in order. First, this is more or less what all Israeli governments did after the signing of the "Oslo Accords" of 1993 and 1995 and up to the middle of 2016. Second, the details are spelled out far more minutely than in any previous Israeli official statement. Third, the decision applies equally to all settlements whatsoever, whereas previous discussions might distinguish between settlements within or beyond Israel's security barrier or between the main "settlement blocks" and "outlying settlements." (Even the two major opposition parties in the Israeli parliament -- the Labor Party and Yesh Atid -- agree with the government that the settlement blocks should be kept by Israel in any final agreement with the Palestinians.)
On the other hand, two recent exceptions to that policy will be retained. One is the proposed construction of Amihai. This is an entirely new settlement, the first since 1992; it is to be inhabited by the 40 families expelled on February 1-2, 2017 from Amona, the wildcat outpost that they had set up back in 1995 without government permission and on land privately owned by Palestinians. (The expulsion was long delayed for various reasons, most recently because the settlers produced documents of purchase of the land, which were proven false in 2014.) The construction of Amihai was ratified by the security cabinet at the same meeting on March 30, but because Netanyahu had promised the settlers a new settlement at the time of their evacuation it was treated as a matter that preceded the discussions with the Trump administration. (The name "Amihai" itself was coined by the settlers only in May 2017.)
The other exception is the so-called "Judea and Samaria Settlement Regulation Law," passed by the Israeli parliament on February 4, 2017 after long discussions that started in mid-2016 and that were provoked precisely by the case of Amona. The law addresses land occupied by settlers either within or outside officially created settlements, but which was subsequently found to be privately owned by Palestinians. As far back as 1979, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that settlements could not be built on such land. The law seeks to permit compulsory acquisition of the land while compensating the owners (either financially or with state land elsewhere) if occupation of the land occurred "in good faith" (i.e., without prior knowledge of Palestinian ownership) or if the Israeli state had de facto assisted the occupation (e.g., by connecting buildings to the water or electricity grid). It is widely expected that the law itself will be struck down by the Supreme Court.
The new settlement policy can be accurately evaluated by reference to an earlier Gatestone article on the legitimacy of Israeli settlements in international law. That article determined:
"All the settlements created by Israel before the Oslo accords are legitimate, including the new Israeli housing estates created in the extended boundaries of Jerusalem. As long as the 'interim period' envisaged in those accords remains in force, Israel is allowed to build within the originally defined pre-Oslo boundaries of the settlements, but is not allowed to change their pre-Oslo status."
Let us see how it applies to the new policy. The main line of the new policy is obviously very close to that conclusion; one just has to delete all the minutely defined deviations. The construction of Amihai and any "regulation" of wildcat outposts are, also obviously, not legitimate. Indeed, another Gatestone article -- devoted specifically to the Regulation Law -- showed that the law is riddled with undesirable consequences, including ones that may prove most inconvenient for the current ruling coalition in Israel.
The two articles contain detailed reasoning for drawing that conclusion about the legitimacy of Israeli settlements, so it will suffice here to recall the main line of argument. (Anyone not interested even in that can proceed to the next section of the present article.)
International opposition to the Israeli settlement enterprise is based on a sentence in Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Israel has rejected the applicability of Article 49 to the West Bank (and to the Gaza Strip) because the article was motivated by Nazi Germany's deportation of its Jewish citizens to concentration camps in Poland and because the Convention applies to the occupation of land belonging to a state, whereas the West Bank and Gaza were not part of a state in 1967. (No country apart from Pakistan and the United Kingdom -- and in particular no other Arab country -- had recognized the annexation of the West Bank by the Kingdom of Jordan.)
The Israeli claim is inaccurate, but the applicability of Article 49 is nevertheless to be denied. This is because there is another article, Article 3, that precisely refers to "armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties." The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is eminently such an "armed conflict," since it began as a civil war between them in the territory of the British Mandate for Palestine, in which both parties claimed the whole territory, and it has continued as such up to the present day, despite Israeli offers of a permanent compromise and Palestinian offers of a temporary compromise.
Article 3 continues: "each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions..." The numerous provisions are all concerned with preventing physical harm to individuals in the territory, be they prisoners, wounded or simply non-combatants. After all that, the article concludes with two significant general statements. "The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention." That includes Article 49, of course. "The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict." That is, since the "provisions" refer only to human individuals, the political claims of the Israelis and Palestinians are unaffected.
The essential point, then, is that until a meeting of the Palestine National Council in 1988 all the Palestinian organizations refused to envisage not merely "special agreements" with Israel but any kind of contacts and negotiations with Israel. In that they were backed by all the Arab states except Egypt (but also by Egypt up to Sadat's visit to Israel in 1977). Thus the 1949 armistice agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors, which had invaded in support of Arab claims, all expressly stated that the ceasefire lines had an exclusively military, and no political, character. They were not, that is, to be seen as recognized borders, since the Arabs refused to recognize Israel in any borders. Likewise, after the Six Day War, the Arab states and Palestinian representatives issued a declaration in Khartoum that reasserted "the main principles by which the Arab states abide, namely, no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence of the rights of the Palestinian people within their own country."
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) resulted in four "special agreements" in the senses of Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: Oslo I (1993, together with its follow-up, the Gaza-Jericho Agreement of 1994), Oslo II (1995), the Hebron Protocol (1997) and the Wye River Memorandum (1998). Since all existing official Israeli settlements in the West Bank were created before 1993, all of them are legitimate because only Article 3 (and specifically not Article 49) applied then. And as these four "special agreements" expressly exclude "the Settlements and Jerusalem" from their provisions, continued building within those areas, as they existed then, is also legitimate.
In recent years, the Palestinian Authority (created by Oslo II) has taken to calling itself the "State of Palestine." If taken seriously, however, this would damage Palestinian claims all the more. A party can legitimately proclaim a state only on territory that it controls. The PA controls only the Areas A and B of the West Bank established by Oslo II; it lost control of Gaza in 2007. Thus Area C, which contains all the Israeli settlements and which Oslo II assigned to exclusive Israeli control, is no part of a "State of Palestine."
Why does the Israeli government in 2017 permit itself a few deviations from legitimacy, rather than continuing the state of complete legitimacy that existed previously? The same annual number of new housing units could be initiated either way, just not quite in the same places.
The answer lies in internal Israeli politics. The Israeli Left was deeply discredited by the failure of the "peace process" that it initiated in the 1990s because of the vast number of victims of Palestinian terrorism that has ensued. As a result, a majority of Israeli Jews -- despite readiness for territorial compromise with the Palestinians -- no longer believes that this will lead to a genuine peace with any foreseeable Palestinian leadership.
There is an Israeli website, Knesset Jeremy, which specializes in collecting the results of opinion polls. It divides the Israeli political parties into five groups: Right, Religious, Center, Left and Arab. Given any poll of voting intentions, the website also aggregates the first two groups versus the last three. For a number of years, the aggregates have hovered around 66 versus 54. Moreover, the Center-Left-Arab aggregate could not form a government, as the Arab parties identify totally with the aims of the Palestinian Authority. The only way in which the Center-Left could form a government, as Rabin did in 1993, is by detaching part of the Religious from the Right. This is currently impossible because the only current Center party, Yesh Atid, is anathema to the Religious and vice versa. Likud-led governments have therefore become the norm. Even the occasional entry of Labor or Yesh Atid into the governing coalition have taken place under Netanyahu as Prime Minister.
Consequently, the only significant changes occur within the aggregates. In successive polls, voter intentions switch back and forth between Labor and Yesh Atid. Among the four Right parties, the relationship is even closer. Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett, the founders and leaders of Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), are former chiefs of staff of Netanyahu himself. Moshe Kahlon, the founder and leader of Kulanu (All of Us), is also a former Likud member.
In the current coalition of 67 Knesset members, Likud, Kulanu, Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beitenu have respectively 30, 10, 8 and 6 members. The most recent poll (by Midgam on May 26, 2017) gives them 30, 7, 9 and 7. Thus Netanyahu would not have a majority now, nor one plausibly in new elections, without Bennett's Bayit Yehudi -- the settler party par excellence.
The issue of Amona and other cases of settlers on land privately owned by Palestinians came to a head in mid-2016 because Israel's Supreme Court had set December 2016 as the final date for evacuating Amona. While it was specifically Bennett's party that promoted the Regulation Law as a general solution, the issue resonated strongly also with many Likud members and voters. So although both Netanyahu and Lieberman expressed aversion to the law, they had to fear a widespread shift within the Right in favor of Bennett.
For the last year, the tactic of Netanyahu and Lieberman has been to hang on to their grassroots support by acquiescing in the passage of the law while expecting (and probably hoping) that the law will indeed be struck down by the Supreme Court, so it was not worth fighting against in the Knesset. The Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblitt, has said all along that he will not defend the law whenever it comes to the Supreme Court. This is a rather messy way for an Israeli Prime Minister to achieve his aims, but the nature of Israeli parliamentary politics left Netanyahu no other path of survival.
As for the creation of Amihai, the other glaring exception to legitimacy, it may run into an obstacle that lurks like a hidden iceberg. Oslo II contains an Annex III of which Article 3 states that income accruing to Israelis "in Area C outside the Settlements and military locations" must be taxed by Israel at Palestinian rates and that Israel must then pass the taxes on to the PA. By "the Settlements," as we saw, is meant such official Israeli settlements as existed at the time of Oslo II; both wildcat outposts and new settlements are excluded. As Palestinians (when they pay taxes at all) pay income tax at a maximum rate of 15%, which is much lower than Israeli rates, some Israelis might prefer to pay to the PA instead, but the prospective inhabitants of Amihai are likely to be appalled. Moreover, the PA would then wake up to the fact that Israel owes the PA back taxes (up to 2004 at the higher maximum rate of 20%, thereafter at 15%) for all Israelis living in wildcat outposts.
Note that these are not tax debts of individuals to a state, which may be limited to some maximum of past years, but debts of the State of Israel under a signed agreement with the PA. The State of Israel has already collected more than enough tax to pay its debt; it just needs to pass on what is due to the PA and refund the difference to the Israeli citizens in wildcat settlements.
Gains and Losses
A definite gain of Israel's new settlement policy is that it seems to have taken the settlement issue off the boil not just with the Trump administration but also with other friendly foreign governments. The latter have not been reacting with their habitual frenzy to recent announcements about settlement housing.
Among the losses, thanks to the Regulation Law, is UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016, which vehemently denounced all Israeli settlement activity. Unlike a previous version of the resolution, proposed in February 2011, the United States abstained instead of vetoing it. In a speech by Samantha Power following the vote, she picked out the looming Regulation Law as a prime reason for why the Obama administration had decided not to repeat its veto of 2011. Thus the premature glee of Bennett and Bayit Yehudi over the election of President Trump and their willful championing of the Regulation Law, despite its prospective annulment by the Supreme Court, have dealt a serious blow to the settlement project in the longer term.
More generally, for as long as there was an argument for the 100% legitimacy of Israel's official settlement activity, it was possible for Israel's foreign diplomacy and Israel's friends to conduct vigorous public relations in justification of that activity. One cannot conduct public relations on the basis of "our policy is almost sort-of not-quite legitimate."
**Malcolm Lowe is a Welsh scholar specialized in Greek Philosophy, the New Testament and Christian-Jewish Relations. He has been familiar with Israeli reality since 1970.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

ISIS Losing the Battle but Winning the War
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/June 21/17
If ISIS is retreating in Mosul, it is rapidly advancing in Manchester. The Caliphate is winning its war in Europe. Six months ago in Britain, the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, the ultra-pacifist Labour party leader who blamed the "war on terror" for the recent attacks in Manchester and London, would have been unthinkable.
As the Caliphate razed to the ground everything in its path, Europe reacted as if that were just the result of regrettable manners that should not concern her. The Islamists, however, had other plans.
"Why, in August 2015, did ISIS need to blow up and destroy that temple of Baalshamin? Because it was a temple where pagans before Islam came to adore mendacious idols? No, it was because that monument was venerated by contemporary Westerners, whose culture includes an educated love for 'historical monuments' and a great curiosity for the beliefs of other people and other times. And Islamists want to show that Muslims have a culture that is different from ours, a culture that is unique to them". — Paul Veyne, archeologist.
The Islamic State is crumbling -- if too slowly. More than two years have passed since French President François Hollande promised, "We will bomb Raqqa". Sooner or later, ISIS will probably be reduced to a small enclave with no territorial continuity, and its chief, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, will be eliminated. It would, nevertheless, be most dangerous to dismiss these three years as a short parenthesis: Nazism did not last as long: "just" 12 years in power and five at war with the rest of Europe. The physical and cultural consequences of the Nazi tyranny are, unfortunately, still visible in Europe. The same will be said of the Islamic State. Three years of terror and conquests are not bad in for a war between the Caliphate vs. everyone else.
ISIS will leave behind an unprecedented terrorist infrastructure (277 Europeans killed on European soil in two years). If ISIS is retreating in Mosul, it is rapidly advancing in Manchester. The Caliphate is winning its war in Europe. Six months ago in the Britain, the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, the ultra-pacifist Labour party leader who blamed the "war on terror" for the recent attacks in Manchester and London, would have been unthinkable. His success is clearly linked to the recent bloodshed in British streets.
In the West, ISIS has assailed parliaments in Ottawa, cafés in Copenhagen, beaches in Nice, social centers in San Bernardino, metros and airports in Brussels, music festivals in Manchester, theaters, sports stadiums, restaurants and kosher markets in Paris, churches in Rouen, Christmas markets in Berlin, malls in Stockholm. Not bad for a "JV team", as Barack Obama called the Caliphate.
ISIS has been an unparalleled attraction for the umma, the world community of the Islamic faithful: about 30,000 Muslims around the world -- 6,000 from Europe -- have left their homes to fight under the deadly black flag of the Caliph. ISIS was able to build a global network of terror. Jihadist groups such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in Egypt, Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Caucasus Emirate in Russia, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, along with others, have all pledged allegiance to ISIS. The Caliphate has also become the wealthiest terror group in history. Sebastian Gorka, a White House advisor on radical Islam, said: "The attacks of September 11, 2001, cost barely $500,000. ISIS makes that in six hours! Do you feel safe?"
ISIS has made evil viral. The world was stunned when ISIS submerged the Western imagination in the public executions of journalists, the massacres of captured troops, markets for sexual slavery, executions of gays, and public drownings, burning people alive and crucifixions. "Never before in history have terrorists had such easy access to the minds and eyeballs of millions", wrote Brendan Koerner, noting that "ISIS is winning the social media war". Often, evil works. A few weeks ago, in Paris, a Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi was killed by a Muslim shouting "Allahu Akbar". The case was barely covered by the mainstream press. Then several French intellectuals demand the authorities to denounce it as a case of anti-Semitism. ISIS's threats are now so intense that even academic experts of Islam, such as Gilles Kepel, are under police protection.
In a few months, the Islamic State cleared the historic colonial border of Sykes-Picot, conquered half of Syria, destroyed entire cities of prices antiquities such as Palmyra, reached the periphery of Baghdad, and kicked out the Iraqi army, in which the United States had invested 25 billion dollars. That is why many counter-terrorism analysts are intelligently asking if "ISIS is winning".
ISIS's main legacy, however, is devastation -- both cultural and human. ISIS has been successful in making a blank slate, a sort of Islamic "year zero," in which, after an apocalypse, history will start again -- supposedly virgin and pure. The Caliphate will leave behind a Middle East more and more Islamic, not only in the landscape, but also in demography. ISIS swept away entire non-Muslim communities that will never return. Many Christian and Yazidi towns within its orbit will remain permanently empty due to the slaughter, the exile and the disappearance of survivors. The Islamic State has been able to destroy the ancient Christian community of Mosul.
A new study published in the weekly magazine Plos Medicine concluded that around 10,000 members of the ethnic and religious Yazidi minority were killed. The researchers estimated that 6,800 other Yazidis were kidnapped, with more than one third still missing.
"Christianity in Iraq is over", said Canon Andrew White, the great Anglican vicar of Baghdad. ISIS succeeded, for the first time in 2000 years, in cancelling Christian communion in Nineveh. Professor Amal Marogy, a native of Iraq, said, at a conference at the Hudson Institute, that while infrastructure such as the Mosul Dam can be saved from ISIS, the eradication of the Christian presence in Iraq means "the end of a peaceful civilization". There are commentators who are now noting that "ISIS wins when Christians leave the Middle East".
The jihadist recently vandalized ancient Roman statues and artifacts at the Syrian archaeological site of al-Salhiye, known as Dura Europos. ISIS devastated the most famous capitals of ancient Mesopotamia, from Nimrud to Hatra. "This destruction is unprecedented in recent history", according to Marina Gabriel, coordinator of the American Schools of Oriental Research Cultural Heritage Initiatives, an institute that tracks the destruction of Islamic State.
The Nimrud ziggurat, built almost 2900 years ago -- the most spectacular sacred structure known in ancient Mesopotamia -- does not exist anymore. ISIS terrorists devastated the Mosul Public Library, where 10,000 manuscripts were burned or stolen. ISIS also managed to erase of the entire Jewish history of Mosul, including the tombs of Jonah, Seth and Daniel. The Caliphate destroyed the first Assyrian city, Khorsabad. The greatest devastation, however, took place in Palmyra, the most important archaeological jewel of the Middle East. Palmyra delenda est. The Islamic State also eliminated thousands of years of Syrian and Iraqi history, pulverizing exquisite ancient treasures such as the temple of Bal.
As the Caliphate razed to the ground everything in its path, Europe reacted as if that were just the result of regrettable manners that should not concern her. The Islamists, however, had other plans. Professor Paul Veyne writes in his book on Palmyra:
"Why, in August 2015, did ISIS need to blow up and destroy that temple of Baalshamin? Because it was a temple where pagans before Islam came to adore mendacious idols? No, it was because that monument was venerated by contemporary Westerners, whose culture includes an educated love for 'historical monuments' and a great curiosity for the beliefs of other people and other times. And Islamists want to show that Muslims have a culture that is different from ours, a culture that is unique to them. They blew up that temple in Palmyra and have pillaged several archaeological sites in the Near East to show that they are different from us and that they don't respect what Western culture admires".
That is why, after Palmyra, the Islamic State attacked music halls and other Western symbols in Europe. The "JV team" might be losing ground, but so far it is winning the war of civilizations. Will the West be able not only to free Raqqa and Mosul, but also to reverse this cultural avalanche trying to crush it?
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

"Corrupt Motive" as the Criterion for Prosecuting a President
Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/June 21/17
"Corrupt motive" is an extraordinarily vague and open-ended term that can be expanded or contracted at the whim of zealous or politically motivated prosecutors. It is bad enough when this accordion-like term is used in the context of economic corruption, but it is far worse – and more dangerous to liberty – when used in the context of political disagreements.
In political cases – especially those not involving money – the act itself is constitutionally protected, and the motive, which is often mixed, is placed on trial. It becomes the sole criteria for turning a constitutionally authorized political act into a felony.
Corrupt motive is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder's eyes are often more open to charges of corrupt motives on the part of their political enemies than their political allies.
My academic and political colleagues who insist that President Trump has obstructed justice point to his allegedly "corrupt motive" in firing former FBI Director James Comey after telling him that he "hoped" he would end his investigation of General Michael Flynn. They concede – as Comey himself did – that the President has the constitutional authority to fire the director and to order him to end (or start) any investigation, just as he has the authority to pardon anyone being investigated. But they argue that these constitutionally authorized innocent acts become criminal if the President was "corruptly motivated."
This is a dangerous argument that no civil libertarian should be pressing. Nor would they be pressing it if the shoe were on the other foot. If Hillary Clinton had been elected and Republicans were investigating her for asking the Attorney General to describe the investigation of her as a "matter" rather than a "case," my colleagues would be arguing against an expansive view of existing criminal statutes, as they did when Republicans were demanding that she be locked up for espionage. The same would be true if Bill Clinton or former Attorney General Loretta Lynch were being investigated for his visit to her when she was investigating his wife's misuse of email servers.
"Corrupt motive" is an extraordinarily vague and open-ended term that can be expanded or contracted at the whim of zealous or politically motivated prosecutors. It is bad enough when this accordion-like term is used in the context of economic corruption, but it is far worse – and more dangerous to liberty – when used in the context of political disagreements. In commercial cases where corrupt intent may be an element, the act itself is generally not constitutionally protected. It often involves a grey area financial transaction. But in political cases – especially those not involving money – the act itself is constitutionally protected, and the motive, which is often mixed, is placed on trial. It becomes the sole criteria for turning a constitutionally authorized political act into a felony.
What constitutes a corrupt motive will often depend on the political bias of the accuser. For some Democrats, the motives of all Republicans are suspect. The same is true for some Republicans. Corrupt motive is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder's eyes are often more open to charges of corrupt motives on the part of their political enemies than their political allies.
I know because I am currently being accused of being corruptly motivated in making my argument against charging President Trump with obstruction of justice. My emails are filled with such charges. The following email is typical:
"I want to know how much the Trump administration is funnelling to you under the table, of course, to keep your support of him off the record? And if it's not money, what sort pay off is it? Favors, promises, bribes...what?? Why all the secrecy when indirectly advising his legal team via cable networks' panel discussions? I think your games, shenanigans and defense of this very disturbing man give the legal profession a black eye. Shame on you! Why not come out and openly defend Trump which you are obviously doing through innuendo?"
My motives have also been questioned by some of my academic and political colleagues. Am I being paid? Am I auditioning to be Trump's lawyer? Do I want to be appointed to a judgeship? Am I really a secret Republican? Did I really vote for Clinton? Do I expect favors in return for my arguments?
The point is that many of those who disagree with my arguments refuse to believe that I am making them out of principle. They assume a corrupt motive.
The same is true in the larger political context. Each side believes the other is corrupt to the core. They question each other's motives. That is why using the concept of "corrupt motive" to criminalize constitutionally authorized political actions is a dangerous double-edged sword that can be used against both Democrats and Republicans by politically motivated prosecutors.
Before the recent efforts to expand the obstruction statute to cover President Trump, many civil libertarians, political liberals, defense attorneys and even judges were rightly critical of the expansive use of "corrupt motive" both in the context of commercial and political cases. But now that they see an opportunity to use this overbroad concept to "get" President Trump, many of these same people have become enthusiastic supporters of expanding the open-ended law even further in a short-sighted effort to criminalize the constitutionally protected actions of a president they dislike.
Anglo-American law is based on precedent. What happens today can be used tomorrow. So beware of creating precedents that lie around like loaded weapons in the hands of over-zealous or politically motivated prosecutors.
**Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law" and "Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for the Unaroused Voter."
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Supreme Court Doesn’t Care What You Say on the Internet

Noah Feldman/Bloomberg/June 21/17
It was a big day for free speech at the US Supreme Court. In two consequential decisions, the justices set the terms for the First Amendment in the era of Donald Trump and the internet. In one, the court struck a blow against political correctness, saying the Patent and Trademark Office could not refuse to register an offensive trademark. In the other, the court declared social media to be the vast public forum for nearly all expressions.
The cases display the free speech absolutism that has become judicial orthodoxy in recent years. In tandem, they frame the future of speech on social media. The government isn’t going to do the regulating itself, and the rule of civility, if any, is going to have to come from the private media companies.
The trademark case, Matal v. Tam, got more coverage before the decision, partly because it implicates the refusal of trademark registration to the Washington Redskins. In an opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, the court held that it was unlawful viewpoint discrimination for the government to issue all registrations except those that disparage “persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”
In a part of the opinion that got only four votes, Alito expressed what was certainly the crucial line in the opinion for him: “Giving offense is a viewpoint.” What Alito meant was that the government couldn’t legitimately claim that the denial of a trademark registration for the band named “The Slants” was neutral with respect to viewpoints because it targets offense against anyone at all.
On a deeper level, Alito was speaking out in favor of a right to offend. That is a contentious position in the broader culture over what discourse should be allowed in public. But, it correctly states Supreme Court doctrine.
To be sure, workplaces and university campuses may be governed by different legal standards. The debate about what offensive speech should be permitted there will continue, and Alito was certainly staking out his position and that of the other conservatives. But the public square is different.
The social media case, Packingham v. North Carolina, may turn out to be more important in the long run. At issue was a state law that barred registered sex offenders from using any social media that children are permitted to use.
The Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the law violated the free-speech rights of sex offenders. In a majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy offered a paean to the worries of the internet in general and social media in particular. He listed various social networks and a range of human activities that could be pursued on them. And he commented that Facebook has three times more than users than there are people in North America.
Not content to rest there, Kennedy opined that the information revolution was still very much underway, and he described the internet as “protean.” His goal was to say that the internet’s potential has not been realized.
Constitutionally, this assessment supports the idea that blocking sex offenders from social media was akin to blocking them from full range of free speech option available in public spaces like parks and street corners. Alito concurred separately, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas to say that although he agreed the law was unconstitutional, Kennedy had gone too far in making social media content free from government regulation. In particular, Alito wanted to leave open the possibility of more focused laws that might, for example, keep sex offenders off teenage dating sites.
But, as Alito sensed, such regulations would have a very hard time surviving Supreme Court scrutiny after the Packingham decision. Kennedy and his liberal colleagues clearly see the future of free speech as a occurring to a large extent online.
What is most striking about the two opinions taken together is what they mean for the regulation of offensive speech on social media: The government is not going to get involved. In practice, what that means is that the corporations that own and control social media are going to be squarely in charge of shaping the norms of speech. Indeed, the First Amendment will be interpreted to protect Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media universe in imposing the private rules they choose.
Things may turn out differently in Europe, where governments are increasingly pushing internet giants to follow domestic speech regulations. In the U.S., however, the combination of the First Amendment and private ownership of social media is creating a brave new world of free speech.

The Economy of 2016 Weighs on Elections in 2018 and 2020
Barry Ritholtz/Bloomberg/June 21/17
One of the conundrums of the recovery from the financial crisis is how varied it is and the diverse perceptions of it by different people in different parts of the US.
All of this reminds me of John Godfrey Saxe’s wonderful poem, “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” In it, six blind men each touch and describe a different part of the animal. Their incomplete perspective makes it impossible to grasp the whole.
The elephant analogy applies to a US economy, where regional components are very different from, and often bear little resemblance to, one another. Attempts to draw broad conclusions from a single locale or region will inevitably lead one astray.
Regular readers will recall that I have looked at these various differences before, usually in my effort to describe why for so many Americans it feels like the recession never ended. Much of the commentary has been about politics driving sentiment about the economy.
But I’m curious about the opposite causal relationship: How does your local economy affect national politics and state-level voting? It is through this lens that I am trying to understand the red-blue divide that is becoming so stark in America, turning the country into rival camps that neither recognize nor understand one another.
Before we consider that, let’s review some prior discussions: We have noted how strikingly uneven the recovery has been across several different facets of the economy. Housing, for example, has recovered strongly in some areas while it remains in the doldrums in others. Regional differences are stark, with rural areas that once depended on manufacturing in decline while those urban areas with information-services industries are thriving. The same is true by economic strata, based on whether you are in the top 1 percent or the top 0.1 percent. The top percentiles have garnered an inordinate share of all income gains since the recession ended in 2009.
No doubt, the slow recovery from the credit crisis deserves some blame. When we look at the numbers since 2009, we see a steady but gradual improvement. Unemployment, which peaked at 10 percent, has been more than halved, and now is well below 5 percent. In the eight years before the November election, some 12 million new jobs were added. Employers are now complaining of a shortage of workers in some industries. Job openings, especially for skilled workers, can go unfilled for long periods of time. Wages, which stagnated or fell in real terms for half a decade, only now are rising faster than inflation.
But it isn’t all rosy, as several important economic data points reveal: Gross domestic product growth is barely above 2 percent, hardly enough to generate sustained and broad optimism among consumers. Most forms of credit remain tight, especially for mortgages. Imagine the frustration of a potential homebuyer who can’t take advantage of the lowest rates in modern history. Although overall inflation is modest, important items such as health care, housing and education have skyrocketed. And while job growth has been steady, many of those are in low-paying service industries. The gig economy, touted for its growth potential, leaves lots of people underemployed. This comes on top of three decades of little-changed inflation-adjusted income for most households.
How happy you are is likely dependent upon how some of the factors affect you.
I was discussing this question with statistician Salil Mehta, who teaches at the Columbia School of Professional Studies’ Applied Analytics program, and was the director of analytics in the federal government’s $700 billion bank bailout plan, the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Mehta looked at the voting patterns across the country, to try to find data that explained the surprising election outcome. It may have been a shocker to many people, but not to Mehta 1 — he noted that many pollsters were underestimating Donald Trump’s chances of victory, based on some of the data below.
The economic data points with potential electoral consequences fall into a few broad types. The first are those red states that voted for Trump where growth and GDP were below the national rate. Mehta explains: “Republican states had a collective GDP per capita (chained to 2009 dollars) of $45,000, which is fine relative to some other nations; but for Democratic states it was nearly 25 percent higher at $57,000.” Those doing better economically tended to vote status quo/incumbent, while those doing worse tended to vote for the change/challenger candidate. Along the same lines, Mehta noted that “Republican states saw only a 2.7 percentage point improvement in unemployment, since the last election, while Democrat states saw a 3.6 percentage point improvement.”
Where things get even more interesting is Mehta’s analysis of what he called the forgotten states. These states have certain things in common: 1) below-average GDP per capita; 2) below-average unemployment improvement; and 3) they previously voted for Obama. There are six states that meet these qualifications — Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa. All went for Trump last year.
Many people are still coming to grips with the election of 2016. But, in retrospect, the signs were there for all to see. I bring this up because it’s something for incumbents and challengers to keep in mind when looking ahead to 2018 and 2020. The U.S. is not one economy, but many, and like politics, it’s intensely local. How the different regions, industries and demographic group are faring will play critical roles in future electoral outcomes.

Macron Won’t Be Shy About Using French Power
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry/Bloomberg/June 21/17
French President Emmanuel Macron’s astonishingly fast rise to the top means it’s still hard to know how he will govern on many issues. With a background in finance and economics, many assume his focus will be on domestic policy; after all, the new French president has essentially no record on national security issues. Early indications are, however, the opposite — that Macron will be more than engaged on the foreign policy front. Despite all the talk of multilateralism during his campaign, Macron looks to be a hawk, willing to use France’s military power and political clout on the world stage.
Macron has signaled that he will leave most of the early steps of his domestic reform to his cabinet, led by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. Meanwhile, he has shown great interest in the presidency’s foreign policy mandate, particularly with regard to the military and the fight against terrorism.
With its historic links to the Middle East, ISIS attacks on its homeland, and the large numbers of French militants in ISIS, France is perhaps second only to the United States in countries vested in the fight against terrorism. More broadly, France remains an important player on the geopolitical stage, one of very few countries with a blue-water navy, a nuclear deterrent and a military presence on every continent.
During the campaign, the pro-EU Macron struck a multilateralist note, calling for joint European defense. “We must bring forth a strategic autonomy at the European level,” he said at the time. Many of his campaign promises, such as reaching NATO’s 2 percent of gross domestic product threshold on defense spending, or creating a new cyber command, were either consensus views or policies that were already in the planning stage. But in his actions since, it’s clear that Macron wants France in a leadership position.
It’s also clear he relishes his role as commander-in-chief. His inauguration ceremony struck military tones unusual even for France. He returned the French ministry of defense to its Charles de Gaulle-era name — Ministere des Armees (“Ministry of the Armies”) — a move weighted with symbolism. He has gone on multiple visits to wounded veterans and French military bases overseas. He surely remembers from his time working at the Elysee under François Hollande how the latter’s hawkish military moves were the only aspect of his Presidency that was enduringly popular with the French public. With uniformed and armed military daily patrolling the streets of France in a show of force against terrorism, security issues are foremost on the minds of many French voters.
Macron is smart enough to realize that EU-level defense policy has always been a chimera, and that military action requires unilateral action, or ad hoc partnerships rather than transnational alliances, as has been the case for France’s actions in the Sahel region in Africa, where the French military is spearheading the fight against Al Qaeda-affiliated insurgents in countries like Chad and Mali. What’s more, the erratic policy under Donald Trump means that “Europeans must learn to live with the fact that, in the long term, Washington will be less inclined to care about the security of our continent,” as Macron put it on the campaign trail.
In office, therefore, Macron has given many more signals that he intends to be a hawkish commander-in-chief, and one that will act first and seek alliances later. Alongside trade, the first item on the agenda of his first bilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was strengthened defense and nuclear cooperation, a move that reflects France’s strategic ambitions in the Pacific (where it has a significant presence through its overseas territories) rather than its NATO or EU commitments.
But the most telling sign came in a little-noticed moment during his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin after their first meeting. Asked about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Macron responded, “there is a very clear red line on our side,” a blatant dig at Barack Obama’s refusal to enforce that red line. What’s more, he added, “any use of chemical weapons will be met with reprisals and a counterstrike, at least from the French.”
The message wasn’t just intended for Moscow and Damascus, but for Washington, Brussels and Berlin as well: France will act when it must, alone if it must.

Qatar running out of cards to play with
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/June 21/17
The founder of Saudi Arabia King Abdulaziz said: “My principle (in conflict) has always been not to initiate but to wait, for when there is no place for patience I strike and the blow is final”.
If Emir Tamim and his father acknowledged this statement by King Abdulaziz, they would have not only been able to understand King Salman but all the sons and grandsons of Abdulaziz and not be surprised by the Kingdom's decisive stand against Qatar and their continuous contention.
For the Kingdom may appear patient to the provocative actions of others, especially the ones closer to it, but when enraged it responds as you would only see and not hear. I have no doubt that Tamim and his father as well as advisor Azmi Bushara were shocked when the kingdom has taken this last stand against them that put them in a penultimate standoff, rather quandary, that the history of Qatar or the al-Thani family have ever faced. Saudis who know King Abdulaziz and his sons and grandsons are not surprised because his philosophy is the main reference for governance in the kingdom and as he said: “For when there is no place for patience I strike and the blow is final.”Hamad bin Khalifa’s problem and by association Tamim is that they are irresponsible, lack the skill to read the facts as they present themselves. They also lack judgement in dealing with the future with a comprehensive vision.
Reading the Qatari situation you will find that are no cards to play except the “media card”. Their calls that they are being victimized by a blockade are just efforts to throw sand in the public eyes to take the focus away from the reasons behind the standoff
In their own trap
Normally people with such endemic tendencies end up falling in to their own traps and the best example is the current issue they are dealing with and not knowing how to get out of it.
Reading the Qatari situation you will find that are no cards to play except the “media card”. Their calls that they are being victimized by a blockade are just efforts to throw sand in the public eyes to take the focus away from the reasons behind the standoff. The support for terrorism.
The three countries that have severed ties with Qatar have sufficient evidence that has proven Qatari support for terrorism as well as interference in the affairs of its neighbors.
Tamim and his father are mistaken to continuously deny, dismiss and persevere in their fabrications despite evidence being laid out, even by Qataris themselves, who have been put in an unenviable position by their government and leadership. Believe you me government of Qatar that today is unlike yesterday. Qatar during the Obama administration is not Qatar under the Trump administration so therefore objectivity and prudence requires you to refrain from your problematic actions and engagements. Politics is and has always been an art and there is no running away from the reality that you face. God has mercy on he who knows himself.

Qatar’s tainted past

Hussein Shobokshi/Al Arabiya/June 21/17
Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm, is known as the mysterious advisory office owned by the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. This office employs many influential former government officials and thus has, over time, earned a very good share of the influential weight in the corridors of decision-making in the United States of America. Not long ago, this office was contracted by two states from the Arab world to “reform” their image and to present to the US administration that they would be strategic tools for them. The first was the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, which suffered a very violent shake-up after the terrorist organization al-Qaeda in Yemen managed to carry out a major terrorist attack against the US destroyer Cole which caused many causalities.
Ali Abdullah Saleh thought that he must move to contact the influential Jewish community of Yemeni origins in Israel to open a channel of communication with the advisory office and presented himself to be a reliable partner to combat terrorism. The proposed idea was accepted by the Clinton administration under the pretext of combating terrorism. The second state that hired the services of Kissinger Associates, Inc., was Qatar. After the coup of Hamad Bin Khalifa against his father, Hamad realized that he must protect himself from all opponents of the treacherous coup and began to promote himself as “ready” to be the new tool of creative chaos and to be protected with the US base in Qatar.
The revolutionary left-wing public offering became one of the slogans of the satellite station Al Jazeera that he launched, and this great symbolic name which describes the dubious coup ambitions that cross the border of his small and geographically modest country.
Qatar has drowned in the swamp of scandal and it will not be saved unless by the vigilance of its own people, who are ashamed at what is happening now but do not dare to speak out of fear of imprisonment or being stripped of their nationality, as happened to thousands before
Platform for dissenting voices
However, the satellite station was used as a platform to address all dissenting voice of the various Arab countries. At the same time, the “Sharia and Life” was broadcast, a program that is ostensibly religious, but in fact it promoted the political Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood and made the controversial advocate of the terrorist fatwas Yusuf Qaradawi a star, the legitimacy that he was looking for and yearning for quite long. It was also the satanic mix that generated the mass movement and launched terrorism as a resistance in the countries of Libya, Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia.
Qatar is well-versed with the approach, which served exactly what is happening in the region and in line with the agenda of the Obama & Clinton administration. Till the movement of rebellion in Egypt and millions taking to streets to overthrow the regime of Mohamed Morsi through the support of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain which was extended to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The change in situation in Egypt infuriated the coup regime in Qatar. However, Hamad was forced to hand over the formal authority to his son after the evidence of his conviction in support of terrorism came to the fore. His son, the current ruler, continued with the same support of terrorism and has been exposed in the eyes of the millions by recent events and his malicious agenda.
Qatar has drowned in the swamp of scandal and it will not be saved unless by the vigilance of its own people, who are ashamed of their honor of what is happening now but do not dare to speak out of fear of imprisonment or being stripped of their nationality, as happened to thousands before.
Qatar has sunk into disrepair and will end in history with great shame.

When are we going to take Islamophobia seriously?
Imran Awan/Al Arabiya/June 21/17
The terrorist attack outside a north London mosque in the early hours of Monday has again raised questions about how we deal with the threat posed from far-right extremists.
Eyewitnesses claimed the perpetrator (Darren Osborne) had shouted: “I’m going to kill all Muslims,” while gesturing and laughing at the same time. The attack comes after new evidence that shows the number of suspected far-right extremists who have been referred to the government’s anti-terrorism program has soared by 30 percent in the past year.
The government’s controversial Prevent scheme has disproportionately focused on Islamist terrorism. And yet the figures seem to show something different. Official statistics show a record number of white people were arrested last year on suspicion of terrorism offences. For example, white suspects now make up 35 percent (1 in 3) of all terror related arrests in 2016 alone.
David Anderson QC, the former reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, also warned that far-right extremism is: “as murderous as its Islamist equivalent”. Yet, why have we not learnt any lessons? The death of Jo Cox MP and also Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham should have been the catalyst for helping policy makers better understand and address the threat posed by home-grown far-right extremists.
Let’s not also forget the case of Anders Breivik, the Norway bomber who described himself as a Christian fundamentalist. In his interview with Norwegian police he openly expressed his deep anti-Islamist views as a cause for his actions.
In the days after the Manchester arena terror attack on May 22 two new videos surfaced on Facebook. In one video, a man is seen brandishing a machete while wearing a fake grenade and making racist comments in which he threatened to blow up mosques.
He was eventually charged for his anti-Muslim video rant. In the second video, a man in an Everton shirt is making comments about recent terrorist attacks and threatening “to take every Muslim out...” The footage of both videos was widely shared on social media platforms but now appear to have been deleted. In 2016, I was invited to present evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee where among a number of issues, I raised my concerns about how far-right groups are using social media to galvanise tensions and sow hatred. Monday’s terror attack has shown that Islamophobic hate crimes are real. These attacks are often provoked by antecedent events that incite a desire for retribution in the targeted group, toward the group that share similar characteristics to the perpetrators
Islamophobic hate crimes
My research into Islamophobia after the murder of Lee Rigby found some problematic links between individuals associated with the far-right, and those who had made both provocative and threatening comments. For example, some of the comments from figures linked to the far-right included: “Blow up every mosque” and “Horrible dirty Pakis! Kill them all!!! murdering scum don’t deserve to be in this country.”Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Tunisia in 2015, and in Woolwich, southeast London where British Army soldier Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered in 2013, we have seen a continued sharp rise in anti-Muslim attacks. From Muslim women have had their hijab (headscarf) or niqab (face veil) pulled off, to racist graffiti being scrawled against Muslim mosques, graves and properties. A recent analysis of Tell MAMA’s (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) (a third party reporting mechanism) data found 548 verified incidents (of 729) reported to them concerning anti-Muslim abuse. My research into Islamophobic hate crimes, have shown that victims who have a ‘visible’ Muslim identity, are more vulnerable to anti-Muslim hostility, intimidation, abuse and threats of violence and the perpetrators are overwhelmingly white male.
Monday’s terror attack has shown that Islamophobic hate crimes are real. These attacks are often provoked by antecedent events that incite a desire for retribution in the targeted group, towards the group that share similar characteristics to the perpetrators. From this perspective, Islamophobic hate crimes increase following “trigger” events as they operate to galvanise tensions and sentiments against Muslims. Muslims in Britain, are now living in fear, because of the possibility of another attack occurring. The risk also is that the constant threat of Islamophobic hatred will force people to adopt a siege mentality and keep a low profile in order to reduce the potential for future attacks. This cannot be good for any society. We must start to recognize the threat posed by far-right extremists and have an honest and open conversation with the British public about Islamophobia.