June 24/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 01/57-66/:"Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called John.’They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him."

Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac
Letter to the Galatians 04/21/31/5/01/:"Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One woman, in fact, is Hagar, from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the other woman corresponds to the Jerusalem above; she is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, ‘Rejoice, you childless one, you who bear no children, burst into song and shout, you who endure no birth pangs; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than the children of the one who is married.’ Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac. But just as at that time the child who was born according to the flesh persecuted the child who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the scripture say? ‘Drive out the slave and her child; for the child of the slave will not share the inheritance with the child of the free woman.’So then, friends, we are children, not of the slave but of the free woman. For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 23-24/17
Massive Iranian funding for Hezbollah & Other anti-Israel terror groups revealed/Yonah Jeremy Bob/Jerusalem Post/June 23/17
List of demands on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, other Arab nations/Associated Press/June 23/17
Gulf crisis: UAE accuses Qatar of 'leaking' list of 13 demands/Middle East Eye/June 23/17
Iran is flexing its muscles/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/June 23/ 2017
The rise of Mohammed bin Salman: Alarm bells should be ringing/Jamal Elshayyal/MEE/June 23/17
Turkey Seizes Assyrian Monastery Property/ Ygar Gltekin/Assyrian International News Agency/June 23/17
Kurdish Referendum: What Mullah Mustafa Might Do/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/June 23/17/
The domestic base of terror in Tehran/Brenda Shaffer/Al Arabiya/June 23/17
Google's YouTube - Soap Box for Terrorists/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/June 23/17
Terrorism is winning in Europe/Nadav Eyal|/Ynetnews/June 23/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 23-24/17
Nasrallah: Israel Avoiding 'Costly' War, Tens of Thousands of Foreign Fighters May Join Future Conflict
Aoun meets Chinese Foreign Minister: Lebanon keen on boosting bilateral ties
Bassil, Chinese Foreign Minister tackle current developments
Geagea tackles developments with Egyptian Ambassador
IS Reportedly Executes Hizbullah Member after Killing Two
Syrian Held for Sex Trafficking in Lebanon Released on Bail
U.N. Rejects Israeli Accusations of Hizbullah Posing as Green NGO
British Minister for Security from Lebanon: ‘Your Security is our Security’
Hariri Meets Geagea over Suhoor, Stresses Necessity to Address Livelihood Issues
Man behind Car Bombs that Hit Lebanon Arrested
Army Grips Top Arms Dealers in Arsal Raid
Miqati: Outcome of Baabda Meeting for Country's Benefit
Chants Against Saudi Arabia as Iran Marks Jerusalem Day
President Aoun lauds Chinese support to Lebanon
Massive Iranian funding for Hezbollah & Other anti-Israel terror groups revealed
Lebanon: ‘Consultative Meeting’ Approves Government’s Plan Of Action

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 22-23/17
ISIS Cell Captured in Cairo, Seven Armed Men Killed in Assiut
Saudi Says Attack on Grand Mosque Foiled as 11 Hurt in Blast Nearby
N. Korea Accuses US of 'Smear Campaign' over Student's Death
Russia Warships and Sub Fire Cruise Missiles at Syria
472 Civilians Dead in Month of US-Led Syria Strikes
Qatar Ideal First Diplomatic Crisis for Oilman Tillerson
Turkey Sends First Cargo Ship with Aid for Qatar
Suicide Bomber Kills 9 in Western Iraq
Local Qaida Leader in Yemen Killed by US Air Strike
Iran Nuclear Chief Urges West to Save Historic Deal
Merkel Invites European Leaders to G20 Warm-Up Meeting

Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 23-24/17
Nasrallah: Israel Avoiding 'Costly' War, Tens of Thousands of Foreign Fighters May Join Future Conflict
Naharnet/June 23/17/Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reassured Friday that Israel does not intend to wage a war on Lebanon in the near future but warned that “tens of thousands” of foreign fighters could fight alongside the “axis of resistance” in any future conflict. “Israel is refraining from waging wars on Lebanon and Gaza because it knows very well that such a move would be costly due to the resistance's capabilities,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech marking the annual Quds Day. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor “Lieberman has said that Israel does not intend to wage a war, 'neither in fall, nor in summer, nor in winter, nor in the North and nor in the South.' The person saying this is the enemy's minister of war and he knows that wars on Gaza or Lebanon will not lead him to victories,” Nasrallah added. "The Israeli enemy should know that if it launches an attack on Syria or Lebanon, it's unknown whether the fighting will stay just between Lebanon and Israel, or Syria and Israel," Nasrallah added. "I'm not saying countries would intervene directly -- but it would open the door for hundreds of thousands of fighters from all around the Arab and Islamic world to participate in this fight -- from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan," he said. Hizbullah fighters from Lebanon, and others from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are battling alongside regime forces in Syria to defend the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The powerful Shiite Lebanese group and Israel have fought many battles including a devastating 34-day war in 2006 that killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. Turning to the Saudi-Iranian tensions, the Hizbullah chief said “the Saudi regime is too weak and impotent to be able to wage a war on Iran.” “Iran, as the main backer of resistance movements in the region, is facing political pressures and economic sanctions aimed at isolating it. The new isolation attempts started at the Riyadh summit with the aim of bringing the war to Iran through the takfiris,” Nasrallah noted. “The new Saudi crown prince had threatened to bring the war to Iran and this means using the Wahhabi, takfiri groups to target Iran,” he added, linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's remarks to the unprecedented bombings in Tehran earlier this month that were claimed by the jihadist Islamic State group. As for the situation in Syria, Nasrallah pointed out that “thanks to resilience, Syria has overcome the threat of toppling the regime, and should the military developments continue in the same manner, Syria will overcome the threat of partitioning and isolation.”

Aoun meets Chinese Foreign Minister: Lebanon keen on boosting bilateral ties
Fri 23 Jun 2017/NNA - President Michel Aoun stressed Lebanon's keenness to strengthen bilateral relations with China in all spheres, lauding China's stand beside Lebanon in regional and international podiums. "China's ranking the first exporter to the Lebanese markets gives further impetus to boost cooperation between Lebanon and China," President Aoun said in front of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who called on him at the Baabda palace on Friday. Aoun pledged that Lebanon shall play its full role in the advancement of the "One Belt One Road" initiative Project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, notably that the future of relations between countries will be set through building bridges, rather than building walls. The President also thanked China for its "support to the Lebanese army and security forces and its contribution to the development of the Lebanese economy."
Aoun briefed the Chinese Minister on Lebanon's stance vis-a-vis" the current regional developments, highlighting "the negative repercussions of the Syrian crisis on the situation in general." Aoun said he hoped that a political solution will be reached soon in Syria, underlining the substantial importance of cooperation among countries in eradicating terrorism. At the beginning of the meeting, Yi conveyed to Aoun a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping, underlining the "friendship ties between Lebanon and China and the necessity of boosting bilateral relations between the two countries." The Chinese President hailed Lebanon's typical characteristic of national coexistence among its various sons, in the framework of unity and solidarity. He reiterated China's constant support to Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese Minister also expressed his country's readiness to continue to provide aid to Lebanon to alleviate the ramifications of the massive Syrian influx into Lebanon, as a result of the Syrian crisis. Both Lebanon and China see eye to eye over the need to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, he said. On the other hand, Aoun President Aoun contacted the new Greek Catholic Patriarch, Youssef al-Abssi, congratulating him on his election and wishing him "success in his new ecclesiastical duties." On the advent of the Fitr Eid, Aoun received a congratulatory cable from Jordan's Monarch AbdullaH II Ben El-Hussein.

Bassil, Chinese Foreign Minister tackle current developments
Fri 23 Jun 2017/NNA - Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil, met on Friday at Villa Boustros with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, over most recent developments in the region, in addition to the bilateral relations. Speaking at a joint press conference, Minister Bassil thanked China for its relentless support to Lebanon, in terms of its contributions within UNIFIL in the South and maintaining stability and tranquility there and across all Lebanon. Bassil renewed Lebanon's commitment to the full implementation of UN Resolution #1701 in all its clauses. Turning to the Syrian refugee crisis, Bassil highlighted the brunt of the Syrian displacement into Lebanon, and the huge number of Syrian influx, the matter that poses a real existential threat to Lebanon's security, prosperity, stability, future and community. Bassil thus called for more international aid to assist Lebanon endure the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis, saying that the best feasible and lasting solution lies in the gradual return of the Syrian refugees to their homeland, even prior to the political solution. He also pointed out that Lebanon adopts the policy of non-interference in other countries' affairs, stressing the paramount importance of unity and resolving conflicts through dialogue. Minister Yi, for his part, stressed China's relentless support to Lebanon's efforts in maintaining its sovereignty and territorial integrity. He also lauded Lebanon as a distinguished country in the region, with its harmonious coexistence amongst its different religions and communities. Yi hoped that Lebanon's experience of peaceful coexistence amongst the various communities will serve as a model for resolving issues in the Middle East. Turning to the Syrian issue, Yi stressed the necessity of resolving the Syrian crisis through a political solution.

Geagea tackles developments with Egyptian Ambassador
Fri 23 Jun 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea, met in Meerab on Friday with Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Nazih Al-Najari, with talks between the pair featuring high on the most recent political developments at the regional and international levels.

IS Reportedly Executes Hizbullah Member after Killing Two
Naharnet/June 23/17/The jihadist Islamic State group has killed three Hizbullah members in Syria, one of whom was executed, media reports said on Friday. The three Hizbullah members were in a car that fell in an IS ambush in the Syrian desert east of Palmyra on Thursday, reports said. Pro-Hizbullah media reports said the three members of the Lebanese group were a medic and two logistical support officers and that they had lost their way before falling into the ambush.The IS group's propaganda agency had on Thursday published a video showing the bodies of two Hizbullah members as well as the captive militant who was eventually executed. A Lebanese ID that appears in the video belongs to 29-year-old Rami Bassam al-Asaad. Hizbullah has announced the death of five of its members over the past hours, identifying them as Rami Bassam al-Asaad, Rabih Afif Ollaiq, Ali Abbas Badran, Ahmed Haidar al-Asmar and Ali Dandash Dandash who was described as a commander.

Syrian Held for Sex Trafficking in Lebanon Released on Bail
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/A Syrian national accused of operating one of the largest sex trafficking rings in Lebanon has been released on bail, a judicial source told the AFP news agency on Friday. "The Mount Lebanon Criminal Court, headed by Judge Faisal Haidar, decided to release Imad Rihawi on bail for 20 million Lebanese pounds," the source said. The source specified that Rihawi was released on Thursday and that the charges against him were still being upheld. For years, Rihawi had managed Chez Maurice and Silver, two of the most infamous brothels in Maameltein, a coastal town known as Lebanon's red light district. Prostitution is illegal in Lebanon, and police shuttered both locations in April 2016 in one of the most high-profile busts the country has seen. At least 75 women -- mostly Syrian -- were set free. People in Lebanon were shocked by the horrifying ordeal, as well as by accusations that police forces were complicit and that a gynecologist had carried out at least 200 abortions on the trapped women. At the time of the bust, security forces only identified Rihawi by his initials and said that he fled to Syria after his operation was broken up. But he dramatically handed himself in to Lebanese security forces on live television in May 2016.

U.N. Rejects Israeli Accusations of Hizbullah Posing as Green NGO
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/The United Nations on Friday rejected Israeli claims that Hizbullah militants were establishing observation posts along the border under the cover of an environmental NGO. The Israeli military on Thursday published pictures of a building near the Israeli-Lebanese border supposedly controlled by an organization called Green Without Borders. The U.N. peacekeeping mission UNIFIL reported that Green Without Borders members have planted trees in the area, but it "has not observed any unauthorized armed persons at the locations or found any basis to report a violation of resolution 1701," said U.N. spokeswoman Eri Kaneko. Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Danny Danon, had sent a letter of protest to the Security Council with images of the alleged observation posts and maps locating them. Dannon described the activities as a "dangerous provocation" and said Hizbullah was carrying out reconnaissance activities near the Blue Line border demarcation while posing as a civilian organization. Israel fought a month-long war against Hizbullah in 2006, killing more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. Resolution 1701 was adopted to end the war, calling for full respect of the Blue Line.

British Minister for Security from Lebanon: ‘Your Security is our Security’
Naharnet/June 23/17/Minister of State for Security the Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP has ended a two day visit to Lebanon, where he highlighted the strength of the UK’s security partnership with Lebanon, a press release said on Friday. During his two-day, the Minister met Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq; the heads of the Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces and General Security, as well as other senior security chiefs; and witnessed UK projects to support the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces. The UK has committed $100m since 2011 to supporting Lebanese security through our partnership with Lebanese security forces, it said. During his visit to Hamat Air Base, Minister Wallace learned how the LAF are effectively countering Daesh in the Qalamoun; discussed UK support to secure 100% of Lebanon’s border with Syria by 2019; and observed a live training demonstration on counter IED, as well as a new LAF training component on International Humanitarian Law, where he addressed LAF officers and spoke to them about the important of respect for humanitarian law and human rights. By 2019, the UK will have trained around 11,000 soldiers for frontline operations across Lebanon. The Security Minister discussed internal security with Director General Imad Othman, and visited the ISF Academy where the UK is supporting the establishment of a strategic planning capability and helping train officers. He also visited the UK-supported model police stations at Ras Beirut, and the sites of the next model police stations across Hamra; and discussed with the Inspector General how improved and increased inspections across ISF police stations and facilities would improve professionalism, standards, and human rights. With Minister Bassil, he discussed bilateral relations, recent tragic events in the UK, and ongoing security cooperation. At the end of his visit Minister Wallace said: “It is a privilege to visit Lebanon for the first time. More than ever, the UK is committed to working with countries in this region and around the whole world to tackle head on the threat from terrorism and violent extremism. The UK has provided $100m of security assistance to Lebanon since 2011. Lebanon is a strong and effective partner for the UK on security and counter-terrorism, and I leave Lebanon impressed by the commitment and determination of Lebanon’s security agencies. Our investments in Lebanese security are specifically designed to safeguard Lebanese stability and ensure the Lebanese state has the means to defend Lebanon 24/7. To finish, I would like to say this: the UK and Lebanon have a shared interest in security, stability and prosperity, standing side by side in the face of terrorism. We are committed to ensuring Lebanon’s sovereignty is maintained, from the border regions at Tfail to the streets of Beirut.”

Hariri Meets Geagea over Suhoor, Stresses Necessity to Address Livelihood Issues
Naharnet/June 23/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri held a meeting with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea over a Suhoor invitation at the latter's residence in Maarab, the National News Agency reported on Friday. “We have always visited Geagea to coordinate positions mainly when the electoral law was being prepared. The Lebanese Forces had a major role (in devising a new vote law) through MP (George) Adwan and in coordination with Geagea. Our (al-Mustaqbal Movement) relations with the LF are strategic,” said Hariri in a statement Hariri. Hariri who was on a visit to the Qalamoun area before heading to Maarab, arrived for Geagea's Suhoor invitation shortly after midnight, he said: “Our meeting today was agreed a while ago, but the people of Qalamoun have kept until after midnight.”The PM stressed the “need to address livelihood matters that concern the citizens and provide them with a decent life. That is why we will seek to secure electricity 24/24 and to reduce the tarrif.”For his part, Geagea said: “I welcome Hariri as a friend before I welcome him as a Prime Minister. We both agree on the general strategic issues.”

Man behind Car Bombs that Hit Lebanon Arrested
Naharnet/June 23/17/Army intelligence agents have arrested a man who played key roles in several bomb and rocket attacks that hit Lebanon in recent years, media reports said. The reports identified the man as Arsal resident Mohammed Badreddine al-Krenbi, saying he has been referred to the judiciary on charges of “booby-trapping cars, firing rockets and planting bombs in several regions.” “Krenbi has confessed that the booby-trapped cars he prepared were used in most of the suicide attacks and bombings that rocked several parts of Lebanon,” LBCI television said. Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said the suspect was arrested as he was heading from Beirut to his hometown Arsal two days ago.

Army Grips Top Arms Dealers in Arsal Raid
Naharnet/June 23/17/The Lebanese army arrested two prominent arms dealers in the northeastern border town of Arsal, media reports said on Friday. Early today, the army launched raids on the place of residence of a suspect identified as Bachir al-Hujeiri. He was arrested amid heavy gunfire. Another suspect named Hani al-Diab was also detained. Both detainees are senior arms dealer who smuggled weapons to terrorist organizations, said LBCI. VDL (93.3) quoted a security source as saying: “The Army Intelligence staged raids in Arsal and arrested al-Hujeiri and Diab both of whom are senior weapons dealers who trade it with terrorist organizations.” An official army statement said Hujeiri and Diab were also involved in "smuggling rockets to the terrorist groups."

Miqati: Outcome of Baabda Meeting for Country's Benefit

Naharnet/June 23/17/Ex-PM Najib Miqati hailed on Friday the outcome of the Baabda consultative meeting that convened a day earlier at the invitation of President Michel Aoun, the National News Agency reported on Friday. “We highly appreciate the outcome of the meeting held at the presidential palace which emphasized the implementation of the National Accord document (Taef Agreement). We continue to emphasize the need to implement the constitution in full in order to demonstrate the pros and cons and then hold a national workshop to discuss what must be amended in light of experience and practice,” said Miqati in a statement. “Some of what we heard in the past period, of sectarian views and positions during the discussion of the new election law, was a cause of concern to the overwhelming majority of Lebanese, including us," added Miqati. “But, the Baabda meeting has come to stress on the unity of the Lebanese nation, the establishment of equality and the formation of the national commission for the abolition of sectarianism which rectified things by drawing a clear road map that rejects any coup against the constitution and the constants that the Lebanese have unanimously agreed upon,” he added.
Turning to the economic part of the Baabda meeting, Miqati said: “It was good to emphasize a clear road map for the implementation of necessary projects and address the dilemmas. "The coming period must see the return to known norms in the implementation of basic projects, especially those that arrange long-term commitments to the state. The government's recent move to refer the electricity file to the tender department is a good step to rectify what we have complained about.”“The Baabda meeting sets an important road map for the coming period. The implementation of this plan remains the main challenge facing President Michel Aoun,” he concluded. Political parties represented in the government convened in a consultative meeting at the presidential palace on Thursday. A closing statement said the conferees agreed on "continuing the implementation of the Document of National Accord (Taef Accord), consolidating equality and equal (Christian-Muslim) power-sharing, preserving the country's structural foundations especially in terms of demography and geography and approve administrative decentralization.” The statement has also pinpointed a number of measures that need to be implemented to improve the country’s national economy.

Chants Against Saudi Arabia as Iran Marks Jerusalem Day
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/Chants against the Saudi royal family and the Islamic State group mingled with the traditional cries of "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" at Jerusalem Day rallies across Iran on Friday. The annual show of solidarity with the Palestinians, which sees hundreds of thousands take to the streets, was launched by Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and is now marked by its allies across the Middle East. This year's commemoration comes amid an intensifying battle for influence in the region between Shiite Iran and its Sunni arch rival Saudi Arabia who have had no diplomatic relations since January last year."Death to the House of Saud and Daesh (IS)," demonstrators chanted. "Death to America", "Death to Israel", "Death to the UK". Iran has been heavily involved in the war against IS in both Iraq and Syria, where it has trained and advised militias to fight the jihadists. On Sunday, Iran fired six 750-kilometer (470-mile) range missiles at an IS base in eastern Syria, days after the jihadist group claimed twin bombing and shooting attacks in Tehran. On Friday, Iran's Revolutionary Guards displayed some of the same Zolfaghar missiles used in the strike in Valiasr Square in the heart of the capital, alongside a 2,000-kilometer (1,250-mile) range Qadr missile. Iran's ballistic missile program has been the subject of persistent concern in Washington and the target of repeated US sanctions. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani was set to address the crowds before midday prayers. President Hassan Rouhani also joined the march through the capital.

President Aoun lauds Chinese support to Lebanon
Daily Star/June 23/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Friday commended Chinese support to Lebanon on regional and international issues, and hoped for enhanced bilateral relations between the two countries. "Lebanon is keen on boosting bilateral ties with China in all fields," Aoun said while receiving Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, a statement by Aoun's media office said. Aoun also said Lebanon will fulfill its role in One Belt One Road initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The initiative is an economic and diplomatic program with prospects of transforming worldwide trade, experts say. Thanking China's support to the Lebanese Army and security forces, he also lauded Chinese contributions to "the development of the Lebanese economy." Speaker Nabih Berri also met the visiting minister and discussed current affairs in Lebanon and the region, in addition to means of developing relations between the Asian giant and Lebanon. The Chinese foreign minister later held talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail. The Chinese foreign minister praised Lebanon for ending its political vacuum by electing Aoun and the swift formation of Cabinet. Both expressed mutual interest in boosting bilateral relations between China and Lebanon, with Hariri calling on China to play an effective role in peace and stability in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and his Chinese counterpart hoped to boost bilateral relations.“China has become the first exporter to Lebanon," Bassil said in a joint press conference with the Chinese minister. “I have looked into boosting economic collaboration with my Chinese counterpart,” Bassil added. Bassil also sounded the alarm on the refugee crisis and called for more international aid to Lebanon. The Lebanese government estimates that around 1.5 million Syrian refugees live in unofficial camps around the country since the Syrian crisis started in 2011. They suffer from deteriorating economic conditions – which Lebanon was already suffering prior to the refugee crisis. “Reducing international aid means that Lebanon is on the verge of exploding as regards the refugee crisis,” Bassil said. “We ask China to understand Lebanon’s need for help amid this [refugee] crisis as Lebanon is on the verge of explosion.” “The Syrian refugees cannot stay for long [in Lebanon],” Bassil said. Bassil stressed Lebanon’s keenness on neutrality in regional crises, except for the war on terror. “Lebanon is facing terrorism first-hand on its border with its army,” Bassil said, urging dialogue among rival parties in the crisis-ridden Middle East countries. Extremist groups maintain an armed presence on the east Lebanon border with Syria. Hundreds of militants belonging to Daesh (ISIS) and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham - previously known as the Nusra Front - are holed up on Arsal’s outskirts. Lebanese troops frequently launch strikes against the militant groups to keep them at bay.

Massive Iranian funding for Hezbollah & Other anti-Israel terror groups revealed/ تمويل مالي كبير جداً لحزب الله وعدد من منظماتالإرهاب
Yonah Jeremy Bob/Jerusalem Post/June 23/17
Iran’s massive funding of terrorist groups that endanger Israel was exposed in shocking detail by IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.- Gen. Hertzi Halevi on Wednesday.
Speaking at the IDC Herzliya Conference, Halevi revealed that Iran is funding Hezbollah to the tune of $75 million a year, while paying $50m. of Hamas’s budget and approximately $70m. to Islamic Jihad.
Connecting Hamas’s alliance with Iran to recent criticism of Israel for the humanitarian situation in the Gaza strip, Halevi placed the blame for a lack of construction supplies and the electricity problem squarely on Hamas.
Israel has let into the Strip “four times the volume of building materials” required to build one of the world’s largest buildings, but “Hamas is using the materials for war, not rebuilding,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that “the dispute about electricity in Gaza is an internal Palestinian issue” between Hamas and Fatah (which controls the Palestinian Authority). At the same time, he said Israel needed to “make Hamas choose its priorities” regarding whether it wanted to rebuild its society, or instead use money meant to pay for civilians’ electricity to arm itself.
Returning to the Iranian funding and support of terrorism, Halevi noted that Tehran is regularly “acting to get exact and advanced weapons into Lebanon and Yemen.”
Hinting at Israeli air strikes in Syria on these transfers of advanced weapons, he said, “Israel cannot ignore this development and we have not.”
Halevi also surveyed Iran’s other activities, asking, “Why did Iran fire” a long-range missile at ISIS in Syria at the start of the week, instead of “using its nearby forces” already stationed in Syria.
He said the answer could be that Iran’s missile strike might not have been a real show of strength, “and maybe was not so successful, but it was still worrisome.”
The conference also featured a range of other top national security officials discussing key issues.
Former Shin Bet director Yoram Cohen gave a detailed overview of the Israeli, Palestinian and US diplomatic proposals in 2013- 2014, arguing that the gaps between the sides were too great to overcome.
He said Israel could not count on the US’s suggested technological solutions and multinational forces to provide Israel security and that Israel must continue to have sole responsibility for its own security.
Former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit looked into the future when ISIS’s remaining strongholds fall, predicting that its ideology will continue as a threat even after it loses its physical control over much of Iraq and Syria.
IDC Institute for Counter Terrorism Dean Boaz Ganor suggested that, even with ISIS on the run, to properly eliminate the threat, US President Donald Trump should “put sandals on the ground” if he did not want to “put boots on the ground.”
Ganor meant that using special forces in conjunction with air power would make beating ISIS faster and more complete.
Former IDF Military Intelligence chief Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash predicted that “Shi’ite extremism will continue to be part of our problems in the Middle East” beyond all of the ongoing short-term trends in the region.
Next, in a panel discussion on national decision-making processes on war and peace, participants agreed that Israel’s process needs fixing, but disagreed about how bad the situation was and what the fix should be.
Former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said, “There are inherent problems in Israeli government methodology. In a democracy elected politicians make decisions, not appointed specialists. Democracy is the least problematic [system] of all. We shouldn’t spoil it.”
He added, “We need to force ministers to at least study the data. Looking at decision-making processes here, we are not last in the world... we sat with British experts and they admired us. Ultimately, even with all of our problems, cabinet decision-making is not bad.”
Former national security council adviser Uzi Arad thought the situation was far worse.
He said that during cease-fire negotiations during the 2014 Gaza war (Operation Protective Edge), “There were instances where the foreign minister [then Avigdor Liberman] didn’t know about negotiations. The problem is an informative issue.”
Arad said when he was National Security Council chief, he boycotted meetings where key ministers were kept in the dark.
In contrast, conference chairman and retired Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilead said that the current cabinet system is broken and cannot be fixed, because there are too many people in the security cabinet and they are too political.
He suggested experts or fewer minister should make decisions.

Lebanon: ‘Consultative Meeting’ Approves Government’s Plan Of Action
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 23/17/Beirut – A consultative meeting chaired by Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Thursday at the presidential palace in Baabda gathered heads of the political parties participating in the current government and was capable to adopt the plan of action for the cabinet’s economic and reformist items. Most importantly, in the statement prepared earlier by Aoun and later approved at the meeting, is the item which stressed that “Lebanon requires us to agree on the National Charter document and maintain our pluralistic system for a full transition to the comprehensive civil state, in what it includes of parity (…), up to the formation of a national commission for the abolition of sectarianism.”Participants in the meeting also stressed the need for administrative decentralization, and announced the rejection or resettlement and naturalization of any group, according to the statement. However, head of the Lebanese Forces party Samir Geagea noted his reservation on the first item related to the establishment of a national commission for the abolition of sectarianism. “During his remarks at the meeting, Geagea said the timing for suggesting such a commission was not suitable. There is a need to protect Lebanon’s current unique and diverse structure and spare the country the woes of wars that surround us,” sources from his party told the Markzia news agency. The sources said a dispute emerged between Geagea and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Kanso when the latter suggested that Lebanon and Syria’s government should work together on the issue of Syrian refugees and their return home. Geagea stressed there will be “no cooperation between the two governments.”At the economic level, the consultative meeting said that “Lebanon, which is economically sound, needs to implement a comprehensive economic plan, which will generate the State budget, secure economic growth, create jobs and promote balanced development.” It also called for the revival of the Economic and Social Council as soon as possible. Conferees also urged the government to “implement the economic plan to invest in the offshore petroleum wealth and complete its legal frameworks, speed up the provision of fast communications at the lowest prices and adopt transparency as the first criterion of work in our institutions.”

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 23-24/17
ISIS Cell Captured in Cairo, Seven Armed Men Killed in Assiut
Waleed Abdul Rahman/Asharq Al Awsat/June 23/17/Cairo- Egypt will extend a national state of emergency for three months after the government approved President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s proposal to do so. While the Egyptian authorities captured a terrorist cell that adopts the ISIS intellect and arrested its members who possessed explosives inside an apartment in Agouza, the Ministry of Interior announced the death of seven terrorists involved in targeting the Coptic Christians in Assiut. Following the blasts that targeted two churches in Tanta and Alexandria, killing 45 people and wounding 128, the Egyptian cabinet approved Sisi’s decision to declare the state of emergency in Egypt for three months on April 10. According to the Egyptian constitution, declaring the state of emergency is often for a period that doesn’t exceed three months and can’t be extended for more than three other months, following the approval of two thirds of the parliament’s members. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior arrested four ISIS members, including cell leader. Giza Security Directorate national security sector revealed that four individuals who adopt the extremist intellect were captured, possessing explosives, wires, sim cards and some tools used in making belts and explosive charges. The public prosecution investigations revealed that the suspects formed a terrorist cell and were planning to target vital, public and religious institutions in Giza. The ministry also announced the death of seven terrorists in desert training camps in the center of the country – in its statement, the ministry said that this is part of its efforts related to tracking down fugitive terrorist members who are involved in the violence that the country witnessed during the past period.

Saudi Says Attack on Grand Mosque Foiled as 11 Hurt in Blast Nearby
Naharnet/June 23/17/Security forces in Saudi Arabia foiled a terror plot on Friday targeting the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the security spokesperson of the Saudi Interior Ministry, Mansour al-Turki, said. Security forces said the operation was planned by three terrorist groups, two based in Mecca and the third in Jeddah. The foiled attack was targeted at worshipers at the mosque, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television quoted security forces as saying. The first operation was foiled in Mecca's Assila district, while the second was thwarted in Ajyad al-Masafi neighborhood. A suicide bomber, who was hiding in a house in the Ajyad neighborhood, opened fire on security forces and refused to comply with calls to turn himself in. He later blew himself up after being encircled, wounding six foreign residents and five members of the security forces, the security spokesperson said. Security forces arrested five suspects, including a woman, who are currently being interrogated.

N. Korea Accuses US of 'Smear Campaign' over Student's Death
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/North Korea on Friday accused the United States of waging a "smear campaign" over the death of an American student who was detained for more than a year and sent back home in a coma. US President Donald Trump has slammed the incarceration and eventual death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier as "a total disgrace". "The smear campaign against (North Korea) staged in the US compels us to make firm determination that humanitarianism and benevolence for the enemy are a taboo and we should further sharpen the blade of law", the foreign ministry spokesman said in state media. The North had earlier Friday denied torturing or mistreating Warmbier, in the first official reaction to his death. "Our relevant agencies treat all criminals... thoroughly in accordance with domestic laws and international standards and Warmbier was not an exception," a spokesman for the National Reconciliation Council said. "Those who have absolutely no idea about how well we treated Warmbier under humanitarian conditions dare to utter 'mistreatment' and 'torture'," he said according to the official KCNA news agency. Warmbier was buried Thursday in Ohio, less than a week after he was sent back home in a mysterious coma. He had been incarcerated for more than a year in North Korea after allegedly stealing a political slogan while on a trip to the capital Pyongyang as a tourist.

Russia Warships and Sub Fire Cruise Missiles at Syria
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/Two Russian warships and a submarine in the Mediterranean have fired missiles at Islamic State group targets in Syria, the defense ministry said Friday. It said that Turkish and Israeli military "were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through communication channels," but it did not mention the United States. Russia suspended its communication channel with the US about military operations in Syria from Monday after a US jet shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday, with Moscow accusing Washington of failing to issue a warning. The defense ministry said in a statement that Russia's Admiral Essen and Admiral Grigorovich warships and the Krasnodar submarine in the eastern Mediterranean fired six Kalibr missiles at command centers and weapons stores in Syria's Hama region. "As a result of the surprise mass missile strike, command points were destroyed and also large stores of weapons and ammunition of the IS terrorists in the area of Aqirbat in the Hama province," it said. The ministry added that Russian planes then carried out aerial strikes that "destroyed the remainder of the IS fighters and their facilities." The most recent such strikes were announced by the ministry on May 31, aimed at targets around Palmyra. The defense ministry on Friday said that IS this week has been moving forces into Hama province under cover of night and using large buildings there as command points and weapons stores. It said this was part of attempts to move out from Raqa towards Palmyra

472 Civilians Dead in Month of US-Led Syria Strikes
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/US-led coalition air strikes on two Syrian provinces targeting jihadists have killed 472 civilians over the past month, a monitor said Friday, more than double a previous 30-day toll. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the period between May 23 and June 23 saw the highest civilian death toll in coalition raids for a single month since they began on September 23, 2014. Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said 222 civilians, including 84 children, were killed in the largely Islamic State group-held province of Deir Ezzor. Another 250 civilians, including 53 children, were killed in Raqa province, where US-backed forces are trying to oust IS jihadists from their bastion Raqa city. He told AFP that the new deaths brought the overall civilian toll from the coalition's campaign to 1,953, including 456 children and 333 women. The previous deadliest 30-day period was between April 23 and May 23 this year that cost 225 civilian lives. The coalition insists it takes every measure to avoid hitting civilians, including by aborting missile strikes at the last moment if a civilian unexpectedly wanders into the target zone. A total of more than 320,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict erupted in 2011 with anti-government protests, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

Qatar Ideal First Diplomatic Crisis for Oilman Tillerson
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/The Qatar crisis presents Rex Tillerson with his first challenge as Washington's top diplomat and an opportunity for the former oilman to use his vast network of contacts. But while his former life as chief of energy giant ExxonMobil prepared Tillerson well, he does have one potential handicap -- his new boss, President Donald Trump. While Trump has claimed credit for Saudi Arabia's air and land blockade of its gas-rich neighbor, Tillerson has urged an end to the embargo and restored alliances. That differing approach could make the secretary of state's task difficult at best, but his friends in Washington say his regional experience makes him just the man for the job. "If anyone can do it, it's him," says James Jeffrey of the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, a former senior diplomat who advised Tillerson at Exxon.On the face of it, the diplomatic standoff in the oil and gas-rich Gulf has all the makings of a US foreign policy disaster coming at the worst possible time. Late last month, Trump made what appeared at the time a triumphal visit to Riyadh to unite U.S. friends in the region against Iranian meddling and Islamist extremism. But just weeks later, on June 5, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates broke ties with Qatar, accusing its royal government of backing terrorist groups. The resulting stand-off left the countries that host the bulk of U.S. forces in the region -- Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq -- at odds with Washington's other key allies.
Fighter jets
And it could only strengthen the hand of Iran, which is confronting U.S. and Saudi interests through covert operations and proxies in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. Trump initially appeared to revel in the situation, praising Riyadh for standing up to fight terror financing and accusing Qatar of supporting extremism at a "high level." But Tillerson -- who has been asked by the White House to help defuse the situation -- took a different tack, and this week appeared to be making some progress. On Tuesday, after the secretary of state had cancelled a planned visit to Mexico and spent two frustrating days on the telephone, he issued a strong statement. His target was not Qatar -- although he has been clear that all countries should do more to eradicate terror funding -- but Riyadh and its Emirati ally. Tillerson's spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, told reporters that Washington was "mystified" that the Saudis and Emiratis had not released details of their allegations against Qatar. "The more that time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE," she said, before turning the knife. Were Riyadh's actions really about "Qatar's alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long simmering grievances between and among the GCC countries?" she asked. The statement was a clear signal that, despite Trump's rhetoric, official Washington blames the Saudis for escalating an unnecessary dispute. It was not the first such signal from Trump's top national security team -- whose actions often struggle to speak louder than the president's words.
Terror funds
A week earlier, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis signed a $12 billion deal to sell Qatar -- supposedly a terror sponsor -- .U.S.-made F-15 fighter jets. In case that wasn't a strong enough sign, Tillerson also made what for him was a rare appearance before reporters to urge the Saudis to "ease" their embargo.
Will Saudi Arabia and the Emirates listen to the State Department and the Pentagon, and seek a face-saving agreement with Qatar that reunites the allies? Or will they listen to Trump, who during a Wednesday campaign speech praised the Saudi king "for fighting with other countries that have been funding terrorism"? The key to re-balancing the relationship will lie with Tillerson. "I think he's doing a good job, and he knows everybody. He knows the Saudis and the Qataris very well," said Jeffrey, a White House advisor under former president George W. Bush. For Jeffrey, the mistake was to let Riyadh think Trump had given them a green light. "It isn't that you have two separate policies. Trump is supporting Mattis and Tillerson," Jeffrey argues. "It's just that Trump can't help himself -- he communicates in a different sphere through tweets and with his supporters. "It's not Trump the commander-in-chief or the president, it's Trump the leader of a movement with its own worldview," he said. "It's going to take a while for the Saudis and the Emiratis to understand this and not to take it to the bank, which is what they did." On Wednesday, a day after the strong "mystified" statement, Tillerson announced that Riyadh had now indeed drawn up a list of demands.

Turkey Sends First Cargo Ship with Aid for Qatar
Turkey on Thursday sent a first ship loaded with aid for its embattled regional ally Qatar, which has been hit by sanctions from Gulf powers led by Saudi Arabia, state media said.
Almost two dozen Turkish troops also arrived in Qatar as Ankara ramps up military support for Doha, even as it tries not to irritate Riyadh. Turkey has already sent over 100 planes with food and other aid for Qatar, but this is the first time a cargo ship has embarked on the voyage to Doha. The ship left the Aegean port of Aliaga in Izmir province with around 4,000 tonnes of fruit, vegetables and other foodstuffs on board, the Anadolu news agency said. It should arrive in 10 days. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting "terrorism" and leaving Doha economically and politically isolated. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan immediately vowed to support Qatar and vehemently rejected the accusations -- already strongly denied by Doha -- that Qatar supports terrorism. Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said Wednesday that Turkey had already sent 105 cargo flights to Qatar loaded with aid to help the country through the crisis. A bill was also fast-tracked through the Turkish parliament this month allowing Ankara to send up to several thousand troops to a base in Qatar. A contingent of 23 soldiers and five armored vehicles arrived in Qatar on Thursday, the Turkish army said in a statement. The Hurriyet daily said that there were now 113 Turkish soldiers in Qatar, while adding that the armored vehicles did not include tanks. The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf, but is also keen to maintain its improving relations with the key regional power Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made a tour of Gulf capitals last week, including Riyadh and Doha, in the hope of finding a solution but his visit appeared not to bear any fruit. Ankara has stopped short of directly criticizing Saudi Arabia's actions, merely calling on Riyadh to take a lead role in solving the crisis. In a sign of the importance of the relations with Riyadh, Erdogan held phone talks late Wednesday with Saudi King Salman after the sudden appointment of his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince in place of Mohammed bin Nayef. Erdogan also spoke with Mohammed bin Salman himself and offered his congratulations over the move, Anadolu said. Both sides expressed a commitment to further strengthening relations between Ankara and Riyadh and to "step up efforts" to end the tensions concerning Qatar, it added. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey had been damaged by Riyadh's role in the 2013 ousting of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, a close ally of Ankara. But ties thawed considerably after the accession of Salman to the throne in 2015, with the king warmly welcomed on visits to Turkey.

Suicide Bomber Kills 9 in Western Iraq
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/A suicide bomber blew himself up in a town in western Iraq on Friday, killing at least eight civilians and a soldier, officers said. He was one of a group of four suicide bombers who infiltrated a neighbourhood of Al-Baghdadi, a town on the Euphrates River in the restive western province of Anbar. "Army forces were able to kill three suicide bombers after trapping them in a house in the Martyrs neighbourhood by detonating their belts with gunfire," a senior police officer said. "The fourth managed to hide and later blow himself up in the midst of a group of civilians and soldiers," the officer said. The police officer and Sharhabil al-Obeidi, a local district official, said eight civilians and a soldier were killed in the blast, while another 11 people were wounded. Anbar is a sprawling desert province traversed by the Euphrates River and bordering Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It has long been an insurgent stronghold, and IS already controlled parts of it before it swept through Iraq in 2014 to take over around a third of the country. Pro-government forces have since retaken most towns and cities in Anbar, but the jihadists still control areas near the Syrian border and have desert hideouts from which they harass federal forces.

Local Qaida Leader in Yemen Killed by US Air Strike

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/A US air strike has killed a regional al-Qaida leader and two associates in Yemen's Shabwa province, a jihadist stronghold in the south, the Pentagon said Thursday. Abu Khattab al-Awlaqi was emir for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Shabwa, responsible for planning and conducting attacks against civilians, the US military's Central Command said in a statement. Washington considers al-Qaida's Yemen-based branch to be its most dangerous and has conducted a long-running drone war against its leaders. The aim of the June 16 strike was to "disrupt terrorist compounds, and attack networks in Yemen," the statement read. The day after the strike, a Yemeni security official said it was conducted by drone, and had hit a vehicle in Saeed district, killing the driver and both passengers. President Donald Trump has given commanders greater leeway to conduct raids and strikes in Yemen, and the war-torn country has seen a quickening tempo of operations against al-Qaida. For more than two years, Yemen has been locked in a devastating civil war between the Saudi-backed government and Shiite rebels who control the capital. Al-Qaeda has taken advantage of the conflict to expand its presence in several areas of southern and eastern Yemen under the nominal control of the government and its allies in a Saudi-led military coalition.

Iran Nuclear Chief Urges West to Save Historic Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi is urging the West to change course in the Middle East in order to save the historic atomic deal, saying "the moment of truth has arrived."The accord, reached between Tehran and world powers in Vienna in July 2015, saw Iran drastically curb its nuclear activities. In return, nuclear-related Western and U.N. sanctions were lifted. But writing in Friday's Guardian newspaper, Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said negotiating agreements with Western powers had been a "mixed experience" for Tehran. "Often, following some hard-won engagement, some Western nations, whether distracted by shortsighted political motivations or the lucrative inducements of other regional actors, walk away and allow the whole situation to return to the status quo ante," he said. Salehi was writing against the background of increasing U.S.-Iran tensions since President Donald Trump came to power. He said the nuclear deal could be saved but it would take concerted action and a clarification of Western security policy in the Middle East. "For example, U.S. arms sales to some traditional regional clients in the Middle East, and ostentatious, lavish arms purchases by the same regional actors just because of the abundance of oil wealth, are provocative," he said. "This is especially the case if the national defense efforts of Iran -- which are partly induced by this process -- are simultaneously opposed and undermined. It would be unrealistic to expect Iran to remain indifferent to the destabilizing impact of such conduct." Trump has vowed to "dismantle" the "disastrous" nuclear deal and has ratcheted up U.S. sanctions, calling for Iran to be isolated and throwing his weight behind Tehran's arch rival Saudi Arabia. Last month, on his first foreign trip, Trump visited Saudi Arabia and promised its leaders access to $110 billion in weapons and training. Salehi called for engagement from all parties. "We have, so far, taken a number of solid steps towards a constructive engagement aiming at common goals and objectives. Those steps could be strengthened further by genuine reciprocal gestures and actions. "The moment of truth has arrived."

Merkel Invites European Leaders to G20 Warm-Up Meeting
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 23/17/German Chancellor Angela Merkel will next Thursday host European leaders taking part in July's G20 summit, where tensions with U.S. President Donald Trump's administration are expected to come to the fore. Merkel's deputy spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters Friday that the Berlin meeting would bring together British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron as well as the leaders of Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Norway. European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and EU president Donald Tusk will also attend. "The chancellor wishes to personally inform her European partners on how the summit will be organized and discuss the main points with them," Demmer said. The same day as the gathering, Merkel will speak to parliament to set out her goals for the G20 summit in the northern port city of Hamburg on July 7-8. Diplomats briefed on the Berlin meeting said it would cover points of friction likely to arise with Trump including transatlantic differences on trade and climate protection -- already sources of tension at last month's G7 summit in Italy. Merkel's government also hopes to bolster European unity in the face of potential conflicts with Russia and Turkey, sources said.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 23-24/17
List of demands on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, other Arab nationsمطالب الدول الخليجية ومصر من دولة قطر
Associated Press/June 23/17
Acting as a mediator, Kuwait has presented Qatar a long-awaited list of demands from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, four Arab nations that cut ties with Qatar in early June. A copy of the list was obtained by The Associated Press and translated from Arabic.
A look at the demands:
— Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from Qatar and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with U.S. and international sanctions will be permitted.
— Sever all ties to “terrorist organizations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State group, al-Qaida, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.
— Shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
— Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
— Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.
— Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States and other countries.
— Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
— End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
— Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
— Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other, financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
— Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
— Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid. The document doesn’t specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.
— Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

Gulf crisis: UAE accuses Qatar of 'leaking' list of 13 demands
Middle East Eye/June 23/17
Foreign minister says Qatar must take its list of demands seriously or the diplomatic crisis will turn into a 'divorce'
The UAE's foreign minister on Friday accused Qatar of "leaking" a list of 13 demands it says must be met for the Emirates and its allies to end a blockade on Doha.
Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates state minister for foreign affairs, said Qatar had to take seriously its list of demands or the diplomatic emergency would turn into a "divorce".
But Gargash, who has in recent days claimed Al Jazeera was a "mouthpiece" for extremists, accused Qatar of leaking the document presented by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
The demands have not been officially unveiled but Doha-based Al Jazeera news channel said overnight on Thursday they were handed to Qatar by Kuwait, which is mediating in the crisis.
According to the document posted on social media, the Saudi-led coalition demands that Qatar closes down Al-Jazeera, downgrades diplomatic ties with Iran and shuts a Turkish military base in the emirate.
"The leak (of the demands by Qatar) is an attempt to abort the mediation in a childish act that we have grown accustomed to from our brother," Gargash wrote on Twitter.
"It would be wiser that (Qatar) deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours or a divorce will take place," he said.
On 5 June, Saudi Arabia and the UAE led a severing of all links with Qatar for allegedly supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, "that aim to destabilise the region".
Egypt, Bahrain and other allies followed.
Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Iran, its regional rival, of interference throughout the Middle East.
As well as cutting diplomatic ties, Qatar's neighbours closed their air space to Qatari carriers and blocked the small but gas-rich emirate's only land border, vital for its food imports.
"The brother (Qatar) must realise that the solution for its crisis lies not in Tehran or Beirut or Ankara or Western capitals or in media outlets, but in regaining the trust of its neighbours," Gargash said.
"It is not possible to accept that the brother continues as the Trojan horse" in the Gulf or as a funder and "platform for an extremist agenda," he added.
Turkey has already rejected the demands. "Strengthening the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf's security," said Turkey's defence minister, Fikri Isik. "Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda."
According to the demands, Qatar must sever ties with "terrorist", ideological and sectarian organisations including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Islamic State.
The list also commands Qatar to stop funding publications including Middle East Eye. Middle East Eye denied that it was funded by Qatar or any other state or group. David Hearst, its editor said in a statement:
"Middle East Eye is independent of any government or movement and is not funded by Qatar," he said.
"Maybe the fate of Al Jazeera will depend on talks between the government of Qatar and its neighbours. But Middle East Eye is here to stay."
Qatari officials have yet to reply to the demands. But on Monday, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that Qatar would not negotiate with the four states until they lifted their blockade against Doha.
The countries give Doha 10 days to comply, failing which the list becomes "void", an official told Reuters without elaborating.

Iran is flexing its muscles/ايران تستعرض قوتها
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/June 23/ 2017
Iran’s military adventurism and destabilizing behavior have reached an unprecedented level that could turn regional tensions into a conflagration. Tehran’s stepped-up interference in Yemen is a direct threat to the Bab Al-Mandab strait and the security of neighboring countries. US officials say Iran is now providing cruise missiles to Yemen’s Houthis.
In Iraq, Tehran is obstructing efforts by state and non-state actors to bridge Sunni-Shiite gaps. It seeks to control Iraq, and has started a widespread campaign to influence decision-making and secure a victory for Shiite groups in parliamentary elections.
“Iran has been interfering even in the decision of the Iraqi people,” said Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi. “We don’t want an election based on sectarianism. We want an inclusive political process... We hope that the Iraqis would choose themselves without any involvement by any foreign power.”
In other Arab nations, Iran is trying to increase its influence by inciting instability and conflict. For example, the Saudi navy recently captured a boat with three members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) near the Kingdom’s offshore Marjan oilfield.
“This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped,” said the Saudi Information Ministry. The captured IRGC members “are now being questioned by Saudi authorities.”
Regarding Syria, in an unprecedented move, Iran fired its first ballistic missile abroad in nearly two decades. This violates Syrian sovereignty and UN Resolution 2231, which “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles.” Despite Tehran violating the resolution 11 times, the UN Security Council has not punished it.
The US and the international community should hold Iranian leaders accountable. This can be accomplished by a combination of political pressure, economic sanctions and force.
Iran’s missile attack on Syria is a highly significant and perilous development, as it has repeatedly boasted that its ballistic missiles can reach any country in the region. They are also capable of carrying nuclear warheads; it is believed that this is Iran’s intention.
It has been so emboldened that it is openly boasting about the missile attack, and Iranian generals have admitted on state television that it was a warning to enemies. “The Saudis and Americans are especially receivers of this message,” said Gen. Ramazan Sharif of the IRGC.
Iran is beginning a new stage in its interventions in Arab countries via its ballistic missile capabilities. This will intensify sectarianism, radicalization and militarization of regional conflicts. If this is met with silence, Tehran will be further empowered and emboldened because it interprets silence as weakness.
The US and the international community should hold Iranian leaders accountable. This can be accomplished by a combination of political pressure, economic sanctions and force. The US should seek assistance from European allies and a united front with several Middle Eastern powers; this would be a powerful bulwark against Tehran. Sanctions from Muslim countries would be a significant blow to Tehran’s self-portrayal as a leader of the Muslim world.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated, Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. He can be reached on Twitter @Dr_Rafizadeh.

The rise of Mohammed bin Salman: Alarm bells should be ringing
Jamal Elshayyal/MEE/June 23/17
Several months ago, I attended a gathering of influential figures being hosted by a senior personality in the intelligence community of one of the Gulf countries. It was past midnight, and the discussion had gone on for some time, the topic being the political developments in the region, specifically unfolding events in Saudi Arabia.
MBS’s obsession with becoming king, coupled with the UAE’s relentless interference in the internal politics of other countries, could very well throw the Gulf into turmoil
There were stories coming from Riyadh about a shift in fault lines, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef’s wings were being clipped and his powers reduced, while his deputy Mohammed bin Salman was becoming more and more influential by the day.
Meanwhile, the kingdom’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, had been in Washington for over two weeks without making any public appearances, and no one knew for certain what exactly it was he was doing there.
Among those present was the former prime minister of a non-Arab country. Our host asked him his views about the rumblings coming out of Riyadh, and what he thought al-Jubeir was doing in the US.
The former statesman’s answer had many in the room shocked, even doubtful.
But so far everything he said has turned out to be true.
A former PM's predictions
He spoke of a young prince hell-bent on becoming king, and outlined some of the conditions that would make the plot succeed. A scheme that was hatched by the rulers of the United Arab Emirates who were desperate to regain their foothold in the Saudi Royal Court after they had so swiftly lost it following the death of King Abdullah in 2014.
'This guy is willing to betray his own father for the crown,' responded the former prime minister
A key element to the plot was gaining the blessings of US intelligence and security institutions, but to do that, the Emiratis and their ambitious young ally would have to convince the Americans to ditch Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a man nicknamed as “Washington’s favourite Saudi”.
“For the Americans to abandon Mohammed bin Nayef and choose this young prince, he has to offer them something no one has managed or even dared to offer before,” said the former prime minister.
Not being the cryptic type, he then proceeded to spell it out: “He has to recognise Israel. If he does that then the Americans will support him, they’ll even crown him themselves."
“There’s no way he’d be willing to do that, plus Saudi society wouldn’t accept it, they’d view it as betrayal,” I said.
“This guy is willing to betray his own father for the crown,” responded the former prime minister.
The Qatari connection
Fast-forward to today and you now have reports of economic ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv and tweets by senior Israeli officials praising their Arab friends are being posted almost on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, Saudi and the UAE, who have been blockading Qatar for more than two weeks now, have attempted to justify their siege by accusing Doha of supporting Palestinian resistance group Hamas.
More significantly though was the news that broke early on Wednesday morning – a royal decree, relieving Mohammed bin Nayef of his duties as crown prince, and naming the ambitious young prince, Mohammed bin Salman – or MBS as he’s fast becoming known – as heir to the Saudi throne.
Last week, I wrote an article explaining that a large part of the GCC crisis is to do with the struggle for the Saudi throne. My assessment and the predictions made by the former prime minister at that gathering late last year appear to be accurate.
More importantly, they should be cause for alarm because it seems that MBS’s obsession with becoming king, coupled with the UAE’s relentless interference in the internal politics of other countries, could very well throw the Gulf into turmoil.
Ring the alarm bells
Political change in Saudi Arabia has always been gradual. It's one of the reasons why the kingdom has remained stable and, in turn, a source of steadiness in the region.
This aggressive push to force change could very well upset the balance of power in the kingdom, which is why alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear in Washington and London.
MBS has already demonstrated his erratic nature through his ill-conceived war in Yemen, which has killed thousands of people, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars the conflict has cost the Saudi economy.
The sheikhs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have also made it clear that they value their own personal interests above freedom, peace and stability in the Middle East. From the coup in Egypt to the ongoing civil war in Libya, Emirati foreign policy has done little more than sow discord and conflict in the region; and if it continues to go unchecked, the consequences could be a great deal worse.
MBS is now next in line to the throne. The US and Britain, Saudi’s closest allies, would do well to try and curb the prince’s enthusiasm before he becomes king, otherwise they could be faced with a monarch who wages war on a whim and understands little in the way of international diplomacy.
The question is, will there be enough time to reason with MBS and rescue the Gulf region from potential chaos? Or will we be hearing news of “the sudden passing” of King Salman in the coming weeks?
**Jamal Elshayyal is an international award-winning senior correspondent for Al Jazeera English. He joined the channel in 2006 as part of its launch team and served as its first Middle East editor. He covered the 2011 uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen. He has interviewed several world leaders and has extensive access to major power players in the GCC and the MENA region.

Turkey Seizes Assyrian Monastery Property/ تركيا تصادر دير مار جبرايل الأشوري التاريخي
By Ygar Gltekin/Assyrian International News Agency/June 23/17
The St. Gabriel Assyrian Monastery, in Mardin Turkey, was founded in 397 A.D.After Mardin became a Metropolitan Municipality, its villages were officially turned into neighbourhoods as per the law and attached to the provincial administration. Following the legislative amendment introduced in late 2012, the Governorate of Mardin established a liquidation committee. The Liquidation Committee started to redistribute in the city, the property of institutions whose legal entity had expired. The transfer and liquidation procedures are still ongoing.
In 2016, the Transfer, Liquidation and Redistribution Committee of Mardin Governorate transferred to primarily the Treasury as well as other relevant public institutions numerous churches, monasteries, cemeteries and other assets of the Syriac community in the districts of Mardin. The Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation appealed to the decision yet the liquidation committee rejected their appeal last May. The churches, monasteries and cemeteries whose ownerships were given to the Treasury were then transferred to the Diyanet.
Inquiries of the Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation revealed that dozens of churches and monasteries had been transferred to the Treasury first and then allocated to the Diyanet. And the cemeteries have been transferred to the Metropolitan Municipality of Mardin. The maintenance of some of the churches and monasteries are currently being provided by the Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation and they are opened to worship on certain days. Similarly, the cemeteries are still actively used by the Syriac community who visits them and performs burial procedures. The Syriacs have appealed to the Court for the cancellation of the decision.
Cancellation cases
"We started to file lawsuits and in the meantime our enquiries continued" said Kuryakos Erg�n, the Chairman of Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation. Erg�n said they would appeal to the court for the cancellation of nearly 30 title deed registries.
Speaking to Agos, Erg�n made the following remarks:
"For years, minority foundations could not acquire property in Turkey. Then legislative amendments were introduced in 2002 upon which we engaged in a number of initiatives. We were able to have some of the title deeds registered in the name of our foundation. And for others, the legal process was ongoing. It was not possible for us to follow-up all the title deeds. In the meantime cadastral works were carried out as well. At the cadastral offices, they did not show any sensitivity about the legislative amendment enabling the acquisition of property by minority foundations. In the face of the situation, we are filing lawsuits to the extent possible. In places where we couldn't follow up the situation, some monasteries and other property were given to the legal entity of the Village.
"After Mardin became a Metropolitan municipality the governorate established a liquidation committee. The liquidation procedures began and many places were redistributed. We were expecting them to be transferred to the municipality however they transferred the assets to the Treasury instead. The Metropolitan Municipality of Mardin took the decision to Court. However we assume that the cases were dropped after a trustee was appointed.
We have also filed appeals to the Commission numerous times and taken witnesses however they told us that legally it was not possible to give it to us and that it's transfer procedures to the Treasury had been completed. On the other hand the Treasury gave the church monastery and the cemetery to the use of Diyanet. Here we are talking about around 50 churches and monasteries. We are still working on identifying the properties transferred. We will file an application to the directorate General of Foundations and will also file a court case. So far we have filed court cases for around 20 title deeds and we will do the same for around 30 more."
Problem of registration
Foundation of Mor Gabriel Monastery, filed a court case at the Civil Court of First Instance in Mardin against the registration of title deed records in the name of Treasury. In the petition filed to the court it has been noted that the properties subject to the court case had been, since ancient times, under the possession and ownership of the Foundation and the significance of Mor Gabriel Monastery has been underlined; "Its history dates back to the 4th century BC. The Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the world which is still active and is one of the most ancient religious centers of Syriacs and the entire world with its history of more than 1600 years. Midyat Syriac Deyrulumur Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation had been established on the basis of the imperial order of Sultan Abd�lmecid Han during the Ottoman Empire in "1267 Islamic calendar (1851/1852 Gregorian calendar) and its status was redefined, became a legal entity, on the basis of the Foundations Law of 13.06.1935 with no 2762 . The Foundation had been recognised as "a religious community foundation" on the basis of a Regulation issued in 2002 by the Directorate General of Foundation and was included in the List of Religious Community Foundations drafted same year. Foundations that I'm not included in this list are in not recognised as religious community foundations."
It has been underlined in the petition that the properties which have been registered in the name of the Treasury, have so far been protected and maintained by the Foundation.
Violation of Lausanne
The petition has made a reference to the Lausanne Treaty underlining that the registration in the name of the Treasury has constituted a violation of the Treaty;
"According to Article 42/3 of the Lausanne Treaty the Turkish Government undertakes to grant full protection to the churches, synagogues, cemeteries, and other religious establishments of the above-mentioned minorities (non-Muslims). All facilities and authorisation will be granted to the pious foundations, and to the religious and charitable institutions of the said minorities at present existing in Turkey, and the Turkish Government will not refuse, for the formation of new religious and charitable institutions, any of the necessary facilities which are granted to other private institutions of that nature. By the same token according to Article 37 of the Lausanne Treaty, Turkey undertakes that the stipulation's contained in Article 38 to 44 shall be recognised as fundamental laws, and that no law, no regulation, nor official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulation's, nor shall any law, regulation, nor official action prevail over them. Evidently this erroneous ownership status is in explicit violation of the Lausanne Treaty which is the founding Treaty of the Republic of Turkey."
The petition has also made reference to the precedents of the Civil Chamber of the Court of Cassation as well as the European Court of Human Rights and its additional protocols.
© 2017, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved.

Kurdish Referendum: What Mullah Mustafa Might Do
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/June 23/17/
What would a list of the problems that need urgent attention in Iraq today look like?
No matter how you look at it the campaign to liberate Mosul and wipe out ISIS, regarded by many as an enemy of humanity, would top the list. Next to it might be the formation of a new national government cutting across sectarian barriers and offering Iraqis a hope for the future. The list could also include the need to stop corruption from developing into a way of life rather than an affliction in certain segments of the government. Equally important is to achieve national consensus to gradually rid the country of nefarious foreign intervention. Against such a background the decision by the Kurdish leadership in the autonomous region to hold an “independence referendum”, announced for 25 September, might sound out of place. One could ask which of the urgent problems such an exercise might address, let alone solve? Isn’t the proposed referendum a solution to a non-existent problem or, worse still, a ploy to create a new problem? For at least 100 years, the idea of an independent state has been in the filigrane of aspiration for Kurdish elites not only in Iraq but also in Turkey, Syria and Iran that are home to substantial Kurdish communities.
The Kurds have as much right to self-determination as any other segment of humanity. However, the question of timing, or if you like sequencing, cannot be ignored. The concept of sequencing (awlawiya in Arabic) was an important element in the thinking of some of the most important recent Kurdish leaders. For Qazi Muhammad, who set up the short-lived Mahabad republic in Iranian Kurdistan in 1946, the sequences went this way:
1-Autonomy for the Iranian Kurds within the Iranian state.
2-The use of Kurdish as the medium of education and administration.
3-The election of a provincial council to supervise state and social matters.
The late Mullah Mustafa Barzani, arguably the most significant Kurdish political leader of the last 100 years, had his own sequencing. In conversations in the 1970s, when he was fighting against Ba’athist repression, he dwelt on his triple principle of: justice, freedom and independence.
His first priority was justice for Iraqi Kurds who, though accounting for 20 percent of the population, did not have a commensurate share in the government and the enjoyment of Iraq’s wealth. His hope was that justice would be followed by freedom for the whole of Iraq and that, in turn, would set the stage for Kurdish independence. Saddam propaganda tried to portray Barzani as a secessionist backed by Iraq’s foreign enemies, including Iran. However, Barzani’s sequencing convinced other Iraqi opposition groups that the Kurdish leader was sincerely committed to justice and freedom for all Iraqis, Arab or Kurd, before the issue of independence could be raised in the context of based political system based on the rule of law.
Barzani’s strategy was a source of inspiration for some other Kurdish leaders, among them Abdul-Rahman Qassemlou who brought the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran out of decades of death-like trorpor and turned it into a major player in post-revolution politics, albeit briefly.
In several conversations, Qassemlou, who was subsequently assassinated in Vienna by the Islamic Republic’s agents, put “democracy for Iran” as the first objective in his version of sequencing.
That would be followed by “autonomy for Kurdistan” and, because Qassemlou was a Social Democrat, ultimately, a “progressive” system of government. Qazi Muhammad, Barzani and Qassemlou did not fall into the populist trap because they were genuine products of a Kurdish culture in which courage and prudence were Siamese twins. They steered clear of cheap slogans of the kind that became fashionable among some other Kurdish leaders who turned independence, a great ideal, into a petty partisan power ploy.
In a different register, even Abdullah Ocalan, the “father” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), had his own version of sequencing in which the overthrow of the “Turkish capitalist state” was ahead of Kurdish independence in a list of objectives. Exercising the right of self-determination is different from pursuing a secessionist strategy. There is not a single example of secessionism having led to independence for any ethnic group. This was tried in many parts of Africa, most notably in Katanga, Kivu and Biafra, not to mention the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by the White minority leaders in Rhodesia, and failed. Elsewhere, for example in South Sudan, it triggered decades of war and ultimately gave birth to a failed state drowned in blood.
Divorce is always difficult and painful, even at the level of ordinary couples, let alone nations. This is why it has to be handled with extra care and, as far as possible, in a calm atmosphere and a spirit of benevolence. We have only two examples of relatively amicable divorce at the level of nations.
The first was the splitting of Czechoslovakia into two states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It worked without violence because it followed the sequencing as imagined by Mullah Mustafa: first came justice, then freedom and ultimately independence. The second example is East Timor which won independence, after suffering genocide, when Indonesia, which had annexed it, liberated itself from the Suharto dictatorship. Freedom for Indonesia preceded independence for East Timor.
Independence is too important an issue to be decided with a yes-or-no referendum.
Those who organize ‘win it’ face questions regarding the voter turnout and the margin of majority. If you win with the 99.99 percent margin current in the “Third Word” few people will take the results seriously. If you win with a West-European style 51-49 per cent, you have merely divided your people. Independence for Iraqi Kurdistan involves many complex issues. There are more Kurds in Iraq outside the autonomous region than inside it. What will be their status? How will Iraq’s national debt and assets be divided between Baghdad and a putative state in the Kurdish provinces? What might be the attitude of neighbors towards the emergence of an independent landlocked mini-state?
This is not meant as a project fear. The decision has been taken and canceling the referendum now would mean loss of face by Kurdish leaders. But it is still possible to walk the cat back at least half the way. Let’s imagine what Mullah Mustafa might have done in such a situation?
I can imagine him wearing his fatherly smile while carving a pipe out of a piece of wood (he was an artist with his hands) and pondering the question. I think he would have advised greater attention to the question in the referendum. For example, the question could be: Will you authorize the autonomous government to open talks with the Iraqi government about independence? If the answer is yes, independence for Kurds will become an all-Iraqi project that could unite Iraqis in building a new future even as two separate states. But, am I dreaming too much?

The domestic base of terror in Tehran
Brenda Shaffer/Al Arabiya/June 23/17
Since the June 7 terrorist attacks in Tehran, the Iranian government has made dozens of arrests and highlighted the fact that ISIS claimed responsibility. The country’s leaders have driven the narrative that Iran is yet another victim of this global terrorist network – even going so far as to launch missiles targeting ISIS operations in Syria. But it is increasingly apparent that, while outside terrorists may have played a role, the government’s focus on their involvement hides a more complex truth, with significant implications for US policy.
Through recent news reports we’ve learned that those rounded-up as part of the attacks are all members of the Kurdish and Baluch ethnic minorities. The conflict with Iran’s Kurdish and Baluch minorities is not new: Tehran has been battling for close to a decade a much larger insurgency with both groups, without any evidence of direct links to ISIS. Most recently, on the eve of the Tehran attacks, a Kurdish nationalist group – with no global terrorist connections – killed two Iranian border guards near the city of Urmiya.
Despite this, the US and other western countries appear to be taking Iran at its word that the attacks in Tehran were exclusively the work of ISIS and part of the group’s global campaign. But in doing so, they risk adopting a skewed view of Iran’s foreign relations and domestic stability.
While Iran is commonly referred to as Persia, it actually has a multi-ethnic population. Close to half its citizens are non-Persian minorities, including Azerbaijanis, Turkmen, Arabs, Baluch and Kurds – the latter make up about 10 percent of the population.
These ethnic minorities are located primarily in the country’s border regions and share ties with co-ethnics in neighboring states: Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. This geographic proximity has significant bearing on Tehran’s regional foreign policy and individual relations with most of its neighbors.
Tehran’s focus on ISIS as the driving force behind recent terror attacks is right out of the country’s playbook for dealing with ethnic conflict. Even if the Kurdish attackers cooperated with ISIS, their motivations and goals are very different than other affiliates
Domestic stability
Iran’s multi-ethnic composition also affects domestic stability. For close to a decade, Iranian security forces have been engaged in domestic armed conflict with Kurdish and Baluch groups. A disproportionate number of Iranian Kurds, including minors, are executed each year. While the offenders are often charged with drug and smuggling crimes, many observers believe the high number of executions is the result of ethnic politics rather than community crime.
This was even more evident in spring 2016, when a large number of Iranian Kurds were executed for charges of “enmity to God” for membership in Kurdish political organizations. While most of Iran’s Kurds and Baluch are Sunni, the basis of their dissent seems mostly ethno-nationalist and not sectarian.
Iranian government representatives rarely acknowledge dissent or grievances among the country’s ethnic minorities. But when the conflicts spill into the political realm or the public eye, we get a better understanding of the concern they cause. For example, during the recent presidential campaign the leading candidates, Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi, both appealed to Iran’s ethnic minorities and promised to allow greater use of minority languages in attempt to gain their votes. In addition, Leader Khamenei also warned foreigners against stirring up ethnic minorities in efforts to interfere in Iran’s election process.
And the impact of internal dissent goes well beyond political rhetoric – in February, when members of Iran’s Arab community held massive demonstrations, they successfully paralyzed the city of Ahvaz for days, which is the center of Iran’s oil production.
Domestic grievances
Despite political promises, Iran’s leaders rarely take steps to address domestic grievances. Instead, they typically blame outsiders for the activities of the ethnic minorities, often depicting them as tools of foreign governments, primarily Saudi Arabia, the US, Britain or Israel. And while Iran claims to be an Islamic Republic that does not differentiate between Muslims on ethnic basis, its leaders refuse to allow use of non-Persian languages in the official sphere and the Iranian media tends to belittle non-Persian groups. Tehran’s focus on ISIS as the driving force behind recent terror attacks is right out of the country’s playbook for dealing with ethnic conflict. Even if the Kurdish attackers cooperated with ISIS, their motivations and goals are very different than other affiliates. And even while dozens of Kurds and Baluch have now been jailed, this conflict is not going away anytime soon. Kurdish, Baluch and other domestic ethnic groups in Iran have extensive grievances and there continues to be fallout from the regular executions of activists from these communities. Tehran’s official statements and ISIS finger-pointing would have us dismiss domestic ethnic tensions as insignificant. But Iran’s modern history makes it clear that, during periods of greater political turbulence, these tensions impact the country and its wider political developments , such as during the Islamic Revolution. As Western leaders assess developments in Iran, it’s essential that they account for its multi-ethnic composition and domestic base of terrorism, and the major role these play in the country’s stability and foreign policy.

Google's YouTube - Soap Box for Terrorists
Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/June 23/17
If anyone still doubted at that point the connection between terrorism and Google's video platform, the Daily Telegraph revealed that British counterterrorism police had been monitoring a cell of ISIS "wannabes" since March, and recorded its members discussing how to use YouTube to plot a vehicular ramming and stabbing attack in London. Terrorists have learned that YouTube can be as deadly a weapon as knives and cars.
YouTube and Google, by posting such videos, are effectively being accessories to murder. They are also inviting class-action lawsuits from families and individuals victimized by terrorism. They need to be held criminally liable for aiding and abetting mass murder.
In Arabic with French subtitles, the clip lauds terrorists "martyred for Allah." User comments include: "beautiful... may Allah give us all the knowledge and power to accelerate our imams." In other words, the pictures of smiling terrorists and their dead bodies serve as an inspiration to young Muslims seeking Paradise through martyrdom. This is not theoretical. According to the website Wired UK, as of June 5, there were 535 terrorist attacks around the world -- with 3,635 fatalities -- since the beginning of 2017 alone.
In mid-March this year, major companies began withdrawing or reducing advertising from Google Inc., the owner of YouTube, for allowing their brand names to pop up alongside videos promoting jihad, a new report released on June 15 by the Middle East Research Media Institute (MEMRI) reveals.
According to the report -- which documents the failure of Google to remove jihadi content that MEMRI volunteered to assist in flagging -- thus far, AT&T, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Enterprise Holdings and GSK are among the companies pulling their ads from the platform. Google responded by promising to be more aggressive in ensuring brand safety of ad placements.
Then came the Westminster attack. On March 22, 2017, Khalid Masood rammed his car into pedestrians -- killing four people and wounding dozens of others – then stabbed an unarmed police officer to death.
Exactly two months later, on May 22, Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated a shrapnel-laden homemade bomb at the Manchester Arena, after a concert by American singer Ariana Grande. The blast killed 22 people and wounded more than 100 others.
On June 3, ahead of Britain's general election five days later, Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba murdered eight people and wounded 48 others in a combined van-ramming and stabbing attack on London Bridge.
On June 6, Britain's three main political parties pulled their campaign advertisements from YouTube, after realizing that they were placed in or alongside jihadi videos.
If anyone still doubted at that point the connection between terrorism and Google's video platform, the Daily Telegraph revealed that British counterterrorism police had been monitoring a cell of ISIS "wannabes" since March, and recorded its members discussing how to use YouTube to plot a vehicular ramming and stabbing attack in London.
Appallingly, the surveillance did nothing to prevent the carnage. It did provide further evidence, however, that jihadis purposely use the major online platform to spread their message and recruit soldiers in their war against the West and any Muslims deemed "infidels." Terrorists have learned that YouTube can be as deadly a weapon as cars and knives.
Nor could Google claim that it is unaware of the increasing pernicious use of its platform, or that it lacks the algorithmic tools to monitor YouTube's massive traffic – involving 1.3 billion users and 300 hours of video uploaded every minute.
In the first place, complaints about jihadi content have been lodged by individuals and organizations for years. Secondly, Google vowed to tackle the problem through a flagging feature that alerts YouTube to material that "promotes terrorism." Furthermore, YouTube itself claims: "Our staff reviews flagged videos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to determine whether they violate our Community Guidelines."
In 2010, five years after YouTube's inception, MEMRI Executive Director Steven Stalinsky met with Google and YouTube free-speech attorneys and other company officials to discuss this issue in detail and offer assistance in monitoring jihadi online activity. Nevertheless, despite YouTube's assurances, it has continued to serve as a virtual soap box for radical imams and recruiters of "martyrs" for missions against both general and specific targets.
During that period seven years ago, MEMRI also presented findings to members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, resulting in written appeals from both Democrats and Republicans to YouTube CEO Chad Hurley to take the matter seriously and do something about it.
In spite of Tube's earlier promises, MEMRI found that most of the videos it had flagged, beginning in 2010, remained online two and three years later.
The breakdown was as follows:
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and 9/11 attack glorification videos – 100 were flagged, 58 remained online.
Yemeni-American Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki videos – 127 were flagged, 111 remained online.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri videos – 125 were flagged, 57 remained online.
More recently, of the 115 videos that MEMRI flagged on YouTube in 2015, 69 remained active as of February 27, 2017. Many are still online to this day. Some are so gruesome that the MEMRI report includes a warning to readers about "graphic images."
One example is a clip titled: "A Martyr From the Taliban Laughs and Utters the Two Declarations [Of Faith] Before He is Martyred." Posted on July 5, 2011 -- and viewed by nearly three million people -- it shows a terrorist welcoming death with a smile on his face. The comments beneath the video are all in Arabic.
Another, titled "Shuhada (Martyrs) Of Islam, Look They Are Smiling In Death," was posted on September 22, 2009, with the YouTube disclaimer, "This video may be inappropriate for some users," and the user option: "I understand and wish to proceed." In Arabic with French subtitles, the clip lauds terrorists "martyred for Allah." User comments include: "beautiful... may Allah give us all the knowledge and power to accelerate our imams." In other words, the pictures of smiling terrorists and their dead bodies serve as an inspiration to young Muslims seeking Paradise through martyrdom.
A screenshot from one of the terror-supporting jihadi videos on YouTube that was flagged by MEMRI. The video remains on YouTube to this day.
This is not theoretical. According to the website Wired UK, as of June 5, there were 535 terrorist attacks around the world -- with 3,635 fatalities -- since the beginning of 2017 alone. It is only because the bulk of these attacks took place in countries such as Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia and Bangladesh -- and involved Muslims killing other Muslims -- that they were barely reported, and even less noticed, in the West.
Whenever a Western country is targeted successfully, however, the issue of global jihad hits the headlines – and now threatens to hurt the coffers of social media giants that have been acting as enablers. According to analyst firm Nomura Instinet, YouTube could lose $750 million in advertising revenue this year, as a result of its "funding" of terrorism and, in effect, enabling of wide-scale murder. Although this figure would not put Google in the red, it represents a protest on the part of users increasingly concerned about international security.
In what was clearly a move to counteract the latest outcry about jihadi videos on YouTube, Google announced on June 18 that it was introducing a "four-step plan" to "fight terrorism online," referring specifically to ISIS propaganda.
In an op-ed in the Financial Times and a subsequent post on "Google in Europe," Google General Counsel Kent Walker wrote:
"Terrorism is an attack on open societies, and addressing the threat posed by violence and hate is a critical challenge for us all. Google and YouTube are committed to being part of the solution. We are working with government, law enforcement and civil society groups to tackle the problem of violent extremism online. There should be no place for terrorist content on our services.
While we and others have worked for years to identify and remove content that violates our policies, the uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more needs to be done. Now."
The steps Walker listed were: increasing the use of technology to identify terrorism-related videos; increasing the number of independent experts in YouTube's "Trusted Flagger" program; making it harder for videos that do not strictly violate YouTube's "community standards," but which contain extremist content, to be located on the site; and implementing a "Redirect Method," to send viewers in search of radical content to videos that debunk jihadi recruitment messages.
Robert Spencer, of Jihad Watch, responded wryly to these ostensibly new measures, including those that MEMRI found have not been implemented over the years in any case:
"Google says it will put 'warnings on those videos and make them harder to find.' Ten to one these warnings will end up going not on jihad videos, but on anti-jihad videos."
Monetary pressure and public outcries are the methods used in democratic countries to force Google to remove content that endangers lives. (Totalitarian regimes, such as that of North Korea and Iran, simply ban YouTube.)
There is a greater problem, however, which cannot be solved by monetary or technological means. The cultural (or multicultural) climate that has swept the West is clouding the definitions of "incitement," "terrorism" and "extremism" in relation to radical Islam.
It is this willful vagueness that has provided Google and YouTube with a cloak against accusations that they are contributing to the spread of global jihad.
YouTube claims to be engaging in the "delicate balancing act" of supporting free expression while countering
"content that promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity, or whose primary purpose is inciting hatred on the basis of these core characteristics... if the primary purpose is to attack a protected group, the content crosses the line."
The message of jihad itself, which is being conveyed via video to potential Islamist terrorists the world over, clearly and concretely meets each of these criteria. However, since Muslims are treated in the West as a "protected group," it has become safer to rail against and attempt to combat "Islamophobia" than Islamists.
This is exactly what has been happening since the June 19 attack on worshipers exiting the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London. The perpetrator, Darren Osborne -- a Briton who hates Muslims and set out to kill as many as possible -- is being denounced as an "Islamophobe" who was influenced by anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.K.
As Andrew C. McCarthy argued after the attack, however:
"'Islamophobia' is a smear label dreamed up by the Muslim Brotherhood, designed to demagogue any legitimate concern about Islamic doctrine as irrational fear and, of course, as racism. The man who carried out the mosque attack is ... is a vile specimen of anti-Muslim hatred, [but] his hatred does not render Islamophobia real. It does not convert into hysteria our worries that a sizable percentage of Muslims — for reasons that are easily knowable if one simply reads scripture and listens to renowned sharia jurists — construes Islam to endorse violence against non-Muslims and to command the imposition of oppressive sharia."
It is this atmosphere, in which liberals adopt concepts created by Islamist radicals to invert terrorism and its victims, which has allowed Google and YouTube to get away with promoting jihad for a profit, while disingenuously hiding behind the banner of free speech.
Their lip service is no longer acceptable. From now on, if they do not keep their word about combating terrorism, they must be held criminally liable for aiding and abetting mass murder.
**Ruthie Blum is a journalist and author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Terrorism is winning in Europe/ الإرهاب يربح في أوروبا
Nadav Eyal|/Ynetnews/June 23/17
Op-ed: Victory on Western-based violent Islamism will only be achieved when Muslim communities reject any manifestation of religious-political fanaticism in a firm and uncompromising manner.
Muslim Germans took to the streets of Cologne several weeks ago to protest terrorism. The march was held under the banner “Not with Us,” and its goal was to condemn terrorism and the terror cells that have developed in the Muslim communities in Europe in the past two years.
The newspapers were pretty excited about the event. They may not have said it explicitly, but mass public activity by Muslim Europeans against Islamic radicalization is a rare thing. The headlines stated that “tens of thousands of protestors are expected.” That’s quite a modest number considering the fact that, in the past two years alone, Germany has taken in some 900,000 refugees from the Middle East. But when the day of the protest arrived, and a bitter truth was revealed: Only several hundred people arrived. “Maybe 1,000,” one of the organizers said dryly.
Where were the rest? They likely obeyed orders issued by one of the most important Muslim organizations in Germany, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), which decided to boycott the event. DITIB is a highly significant organization, which is responsible for some 900 Muslim German communities. It was followed by the Islamic Council, another Cologne-based umbrella group, which stated that it would be “unreasonable” to expect Muslims to march “in a heat of 25 degrees Celsius” while fasting in honor of the month of Ramadan.
The religious Turkish group offered a more essential argument: Such a protest, they said, establishes the claim that international terrorism is an exclusive problem of the Muslim community and helps create stigmas against the community. These are staggering arguments, as they deeply illustrate the huge discrepancy between the radicalizing political discourse in the continent and its Muslim communities that keep dozing off while radicals come out of them.
One after the other, terror attacks are striking the continent, and their characteristics are more dangerous than usual. They are no longer carried out by rare, sophisticated cells that work on the execution of an attack over a long period time, exposing themselves to early detection and arrest. The current European wave of terror is increasingly looking like an outburst of acts of murder by individuals, cells of two-three people at the most. The European security services are searching in vain for organized hierarchies in the tradition of al-Qaeda. What they are noticing, though, is incitement and opportunity attacks, in the tradition of the Middle East. Incidents of this kind are hard to predict, and even harder to thwart, whether they take place at Nablus Gate or on London Bridge. Their influence on the public perception, however, is immense.
People say that terror can’t defeat the routine of life, but that’s a really old cliché. The truth can be seen in the incident that took place at Piazza San Carlo in Turin about a day after the terror attack in London. Thousands of Juventus fans gathered at the square, when a firecracker suddenly exploded and someone shouted, “There’s a bomb.” It immediately created a hysterical stampede, which led to the injury of more than 1,000 people, some sustaining serious injuries. One woman even died of her wounds several days later. Terrorism won there, it won big time, and it wins when European politics changes because of it.
It also wins when Europe's Muslim communities focus on providing excuses to their internal radicalization trends: The Western attitude towards the Middle East, pushing the minorities to the suburbs, the basic inequality in European societies, and so on. These are social explanations that make sense, but when they are joined by the communities’ limited activity against Islamist radicalism—it means that these are just excuses. Plans against radicalization in Britain and in other countries are subject to profound criticism from the Muslim communities, which fear the stigma more than they fear radicalization itself.
The victory on Western-based violent Islamism will only be achieved when the communities themselves reject any manifestation of religious-political fanaticism in a firm and uncompromising manner. In certain places, it’s already happening. Friends of the Manchester terrorist reported him to the British security authorities before he carried out the attack. In most leading mosques, the community heads report young people engaged in incitement and violence, but they do it secretly, almost with a sense of shame. But still, when a public protest is being held, the leaders of important organizations turn their noses up at it.
Rejecting terror is both a human and a religious duty, but if these arguments are not enough, then community leaders must understand the political significance of it; If European Islamist terrorism turns into lone-wolf terrorism, the communities will suffer deeply and Europe will experience a new wave of xenophobia, the kind of which it has not seen in a long time.
**Nadav Eyal is Channel 10's chief international correspondent.