June 26/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
The faith of the Samaritan that was put in action when he helped the injured man on Jericho's road

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 10/25-37/:"Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, "Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend."Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead
Letter of James 02/14-23/:"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren?Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God.

Question: "How does God distribute spiritual gifts?"
* Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians chapter 12 make it clear that each Christian is given spiritual gifts according to the Lord’s choice. Spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7, 14:12). The exact timing of the giving of these gifts is not specifically mentioned. Most assume that spiritual gifts are given at the time of spiritual birth (the moment of salvation). However, there are some verses that may indicate God gives spiritual gifts later as well. Both 1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 refer to a gift that Timothy had received at the time of his ordination “by prophecy.” This likely indicates that one of the elders at Timothy’s ordination spoke about a spiritual gift that Timothy would have to enable his future ministry.
We are also told in 1 Corinthians 12:28-31 and in 1 Corinthians 14:12-13 that it is God (not us) who chooses the gifts. These passages also indicate that not everyone will have a particular gift. Paul tells the Corinthian believers that if they are going to covet or long after spiritual gifts, they should strive after the more edifying gifts, such as prophesying (speaking forth the word of God for the building up of others). Now, why would Paul tell them to strongly desire the “greater” gifts if they already had been given all they would be given, and there was no further opportunity of gaining these greater gifts? It may lead one to believe that even as Solomon sought wisdom from God in order to be a good ruler over God’s people, so God will grant to us those gifts we need in order to be of greater benefit to His church.
Having said this, it still remains that these gifts are distributed according to God’s choosing, not our own. If every Corinthian strongly desired a particular gift, such as prophesying, God would not give everyone that gift simply because they strongly desired it. If He did, then who would serve in all of the other functions of the body of Christ?
There is one thing that is abundantly clear—God’s command is God’s enablement. If God commands us to do something (such as witness, love the unlovely, disciple the nations, etc.), He will enable us to do it. Some may not be as gifted at evangelism as others, but God commands all Christians to witness and disciple (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). We are all called to evangelize whether or not we have the spiritual gift of evangelism. A determined Christian who strives to learn the Word and develop his teaching ability may become a better teacher than one who may have the spiritual gift of teaching, but who neglects the gift.
Are spiritual gifts given to us when we receive Christ, or are they cultivated through our walk with God? The answer is both. Normally, spiritual gifts are given at salvation, but also need to be cultivated through spiritual growth. Can a desire in your heart be pursued and developed into your spiritual gift? Can you seek after certain spiritual gifts? First Corinthians 12:31 seems to indicate that this is possible: “earnestly desire the best gifts.” You can seek a spiritual gift from God and be zealous after it by seeking to develop that area. At the same time, if it is not God’s will, you will not receive a certain spiritual gift no matter how strongly you seek after it. God is infinitely wise, and He knows through which gifts you will be most productive for His kingdom.
No matter how much we have been gifted with one gift or another, we are all called upon to develop a number of areas mentioned in the lists of spiritual gifts: to be hospitable, to show acts of mercy, to serve one another, to evangelize, etc. As we seek to serve God out of love for the purpose of building up others for His glory, He will bring glory to His name, grow His church, and reward us (1 Corinthians 3:5-8, 12:31–14:1). God promises that as we make Him our delight, He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4-5). This would surely include preparing us to serve Him in a way that will bring us purpose and satisfaction.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 25-26/17
Will the situation on the Golan suck Israel into the Syrian Civil War/Ben Lynfield/Jerusalem Post/June 25/17
What Sharia Prescribes: Same as the Ten Commandments/Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/June 25/17
Most Want Person Terror List/Hakim Haider/Gatestone Institute/June 25/17
Egyptian TV Host Youssef Al-Husseini Following London Mosque Attack: The Muslims Have Contributed Nothing But Terror, So Why Do You Expect Them to Love You/MEMRI TV/June 25/17
Central Europe’s Tough Choice: Macron or Orban/Ivan Krastev/The New York Times/June 25/17
Remember the Population Bomb? It’s Still Ticking/Eugene Linden/The New York Times/June 25/17
Al-Jazeera and the Muslim Brotherhood/Eli Lake/Bloomberg/June 25/17
The political and administrative Prince Mohammed bin Salman/Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/June 25/17
In hate crimes against Muslims, focus less on media, more on prosecution/Yara al-Wazir/Al Arabiya/June 25/17
Gulf Crisis with Qatar Challenges the United States/Simon Henderson/The Washington Institute/June 25/17
Preparing to Counter ISIS 2.0: European CT Efforts Since Charlie Hebdo/Gilles de Kerchove/The Washington Institute/June 25/17
Defusing the Electricity Crisis in Gaza -- For Now/Katherine Bauer and Ghaith al-Omari//The Washington Institute/June 25/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 25-26/17
Aoun Hopes Eid Brings Peace to Levant, Prosperity to Lebanese
President Michel Aoun extends Eid al-Fitr greetings to Lebanese
Hariri Meets Saudi Crown Prince, Performs Eid Prayer with King
Rai from Portugal: Lebanon is characterized by its system of openness to pluralism
Derian receives Eid wellwishers, including LF delegation headed by Adwan at Dar El Fatwa
Daryan in Eid Sermon: Muslims in Lebanon are with KSA under All Circumstances
Khalil says period entails that all engage in workshop to protect homeland
Geagea extends Eid well wishes to Lebanese and Muslims all over the world
Lebanese Forces Leader: Opening Lebanese Border Is not Anyone’s Choice
Moussawi: Resistance, Like Israel, Has Right to Rally Its Allies
Riachi Distances Govt. from Nasrallah Remarks, Hamadeh Laments Rhetoric
Jumblatt Restores Relations With Russia

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 25-26/17
Israel Hits Syria Army after Errant Fire Lands in Golan for 2nd Day
Assad leads Eid prayers in rare appearance outside Damascus
Car Hits Muslims Celebrating Eid in UK, 6 Hurt
Car Bomb in Syria’s Idlib Province Kills 10
Trump Administration Considering Arab-US Summit to Solve Qatar Crisis
Turkey’s Erdogan backs Qatar’s response to list of Arab demands
Turkey’s Erdogan says fine after feeling unwell in prayers
UAE President in First Appearance since 2014 Stroke
Bahrain officially publishes list of demands conveyed to Qatar
Saudi Crown Prince to al-Azhar Sheikh: We Count on Religious Institutions in Countering Extremism
Iraqi Forces Evacuate Hundreds of Civilians amid Clashes in Mosul’s Old City
Iran mocks reports its Syria missile strikes fell short
Egypt’s Sisi Ratifies Maritime Border Deal with Saudi Arabia
Russia, Kazakhstan Stress Need to Continue Geneva, Astana Paths
Syrian Opposition Attacks Quneitra with Advanced Weapons
Netanyahu warns Iran over Syria involvement after Golan exchange
UAE’s Gargash: Diplomacy Is Priority in Dealing with Qatar Crisis, Alternative is ‘Parting of Ways’

Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 25-26/17
Aoun Hopes Eid Brings Peace to Levant, Prosperity to Lebanese
Naharnet/June 25/17/President Michel Aoun on Sunday extended Eid al-Fitr greetings to the Lebanese, hoping that they will be able to “achieve their aspirations.”In a tweet on his personal account, Aoun also hoped Eid will “restore the safety and peace of our Levant.”The president had sent cables of greetings to the leaders of the Arab and Muslim countries, wishing them prosperity, peace and progress. He has also received greeting cables from a number of Arab and Muslim leaders.

President Michel Aoun extends Eid al-Fitr greetings to Lebanese
The Daily Star/June 25, 2017/ "Every eid has joy, and joy carries hope," Aoun said in a post on Twitter. "We ask God for a Eid al-Ftir that will give the Lebanese their hope..."The president also wished for security and peace. A statement from Aoun's press office added that he extended his greetings to leaders across Arab and Muslim countries. Meanwhile on Friday, a statement from the Parliament's media office said that Speaker Nabih Berri will not be accepting Eid al-Fitr greetings this year in view of the crises engulfing Arab countries. June 25 marks the first day of Eid al-Fitr. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian will lead Eid al-Fitr prayers and deliver a speech at 6:15 a.m. at the Mohammad al-Amine Mosque in Downtown Beirut. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian will lead Eid al-Fitr prayers and deliver a speech at 6:15 a.m. at the Mohammad al-Amine Mosque in Downtown Beirut.

Hariri Meets Saudi Crown Prince, Performs Eid Prayer with King
Naharnet/June 25/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks Sunday in Jeddah with newly-appointed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Hariri congratulated the young crown prince on his new post and they discussed the Lebanese-Saudi relations and the situation in the region in general, Hariri's press office said. The premier had earlier performed the Eid al-Fitr prayer in the morning alongside Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz in Mecca, in the presence of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, former Maldives president Mohammed Wahid and a large number of Saudi princes and officials as well as a large crowd of worshipers. After the prayer, King Salman received Hariri for breakfast at the Safa Palace in Mecca, alongside Hadi, Wahid and a number of Saudi princes, scholars, ministers and senior officials. In a video message marking Eid, Hariri extended greetings to Lebanese expats around the world and said the political parties have “approved a new electoral law and agreed to activate the government's work” so that “expats can return to Lebanon” and so that “the Lebanese can live in dignity in their country.”

Rai from Portugal: Lebanon is characterized by its system of openness to pluralism
Sun 25 Jun 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bshara Butros al-Rai deemed that Lebanon's significance lies in its open system of cultural and religious pluralism within a framework of cooperation, integration and mutual enrichment, away from exclusivity in power or obliteratiion of the identity of any of its social and national components. Speaking during Sunday Mass at "Our Lady of Fatima" in Portugal this afternoon, al-Rai hoped for stability in Lebanon "so that it can preserve its mission, message and role model of coexistence between religions and cultures." The Patriarch also prayed that the Middle East would witness stability and cessation of wars, peaceful resolutions to all disputes, the establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace and the return of all displaced and refugees to their homes and countries.

Derian receives Eid wellwishers, including LF delegation headed by Adwan at Dar El Fatwa
Sun 25 Jun 2017/NNA - The Mufti of the Republic, Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, received Sunday a delegation from the "Lebanese Forces" Party, chaired by MP George Adwan, who visited him at Dar el-Fatwa marking the Fitr Feast. "We have come, on behalf of the LF, to congratulate the Mufti, the Lebanese and our Muslim partners on the occasion of Eid el-Fitr," Adwan said on emerging from the meeting. "We share the celebrations, the joys and the problems. We are united and determined to work together for the country's rise and wellbeing," he added. Adwan lauded the Mufti's role in demonstrating the culture of tolerance and peace since he took office, describing him as "a man of moderation and patriotism." "The LF seeks to broaden the culture of moderation and coexistence in our country," he added, noting that "through our unity, we can avoid the repercussions of the difficult stage witnessed in the surrounding region, leading our nation's boat to safety harbor." Among the Mufti's well-wishers on the Eid occasion was also MP Ammar Houri representing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Deputies Atef Majdalani, Mohammad Kabbani and Imad el-Hout, in addition to a number of cabinet ministers and Arab ambassadors.

Daryan in Eid Sermon: Muslims in Lebanon are with KSA under All Circumstances
Naharnet/June 25/17/Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan stressed Sunday that Lebanon's Muslims will support Saudi Arabia under all circumstances, as he strongly condemned what Riyadh has dubbed a foiled terrorist attempt to attack Mecca's Grand Mosque – Islam's holiest site.
“The security of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca and the security of the Prophet's Mosque in the holy city of Medina are a red line and we do not tolerate any attempt to undermine their security and stability,” said Daryan in his Eid al-Fitr sermon in Beirut. “The attempt to target the Grand Mosque is not a normal crime and it is rather the mother of all crimes,” the mufti added. “Muslims in Lebanon are with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through thick and thin and they are keen on its security the same as they are keen on their own security,” Daryan went on to say. “We pray to God to protect KSA and its king, government, people and army,” he said. Six foreign pilgrims and five security personnel were hurt Friday near Mecca's Grand Mosque when a suicide bomber blew himself up during a security raid. The incident happened around the Grand Mosque, where hundreds of thousands of worshipers gathered for early afternoon prayers on the last Friday of this year's Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. Turning to Lebanon, Daryan said “any political system cannot have credibility without free and regular elections.”And noting that “Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government is working seriously and honestly” for the sake of the country, the mufti called on authorities to address the proliferation of arms and to curb violent crime. The State should “strike with an iron fist,” he said, urging it to “extend its authority across Lebanon.”

Khalil says period entails that all engage in workshop to protect homeland
Sun 25 Jun 2017/NNA - Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil Sunday deemed that the current phase imposes on everyone to engage in a workshop for preserving the nation, and catering to the dire needs of Lebanese citizens in boosting their security and stability at the economic, social and political levels. Speaking during the week's memorial ceremony for the late Allamah Sheikh Mohamad Sbeity in the Southern town of Kfarsir, Khalil reiterated adherence to the choice of resistance in defending Lebanon's liberty and protecting it from surrounding challenges. "After endorsing the election law, we moved from one political stage to another in which Lebanon has overcome many dangers, especially at this phase in which the region is experiencing rapid changes and challenges," added Khalil. He considered that the adoption of the new electoral law would not have been possible without the cooperation of all sides and their awareness of their national responsibilities. Khalil called on the government to "complete all procedures and requirements for the parliamentary elections, in accordance with the dates set forth in the law."

Geagea extends Eid well wishes to Lebanese and Muslims all over the world
Sun 25 Jun 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces Party Leader, Samir Geagea, Sunday congratulated via Twitter all the Lebanese and Muslims across the world on the Fitr Feast, hoping that it would bring by better conditions of stability, safety and tranquility. "Despite the tragedies witnessed in our region, we renew our hope and determination in this holy Eid to overcome all trials and tribulations to achieve the desired peace," he added.

Lebanese Forces Leader: Opening Lebanese Border Is not Anyone’s Choice

Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17Beirut – Secretary-General of Lebanese Hezbollah Hasan Nasrallah made recent statements hinting towards opening borders for foreign fighters in case of new war with Israel. These statements were a blatant defiance for the Lebanese government risking transforming Lebanon into a war zone similar to the case of Syria. Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea condemned Nasrallah’s remarks reiterating that opening the Lebanese border is not up to anyone. “It is not up to anybody to open Lebanese borders, even the Lebanese Cabinet,” he said. Geagea questioned “if we want to defend our country in case of an Israeli aggression, do we open the border and recruit thousands of strangers as fighters, from unknown whereabouts, for them to occupy the country? “In case of an Israeli aggression against Lebanon, it is clearly logical for the Lebanese Army to face it aided with the other Lebanese armed forces and backed by the Lebanese people,” Geagea stated. On Friday on the occasion of al-Quds Day, Nasrallah warned Israel against attacking Lebanon or Syria, saying “hundreds of thousands” of Arab and Muslim fighters would be ready to strike back. “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,” Nasrallah said.
Director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs (LISA) Sami Nader said that Iran is trying to expand its presence in response to the US-Russian agreement spoken about in Syria. He stated that since the Syrian crisis, Iran is trying to infiltrate into Golan Heights and enforce Israel into clashes.
Nader stressed that violating UN Resolution 1701 will cost Lebanon highly, and that is why Hezbollah is trying to enforce a new plan against Israel over the Syrian border. The director believes that Iran is ready to go into war until the last Arab citizen, especially that it managed to reach to Syrian-Iraqi border through the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
He added that engaging in a war with Israel in the Golan will grant Tehran leverage in the regional game.Director of Umam Center for Documentation and Research Luqman Salim ruled out the possibility of a war between Iran and Hezbollah against Israel. He pointed out that both parties are just “flexing their deterrent muscles”, but a war now is not within the best interest of either of them. Regarding Nasrallah’s threats, Salim stated that this is a dangerous issue which indicates that according to Nasrallah, Lebanon is just a battlefield for wars in the name of Iran. He believes that the most dangerous thing is that Hezbollah’s leader doesn’t believe he has partners in Lebanon. “What Nasrallah said is a slap on the face of all of those who convened in Baadba Palace,” Salim said.

Moussawi: Resistance, Like Israel, Has Right to Rally Its Allies
Naharnet/June 25/17/Outspoken Hizbullah MP Nawwaf al-Moussawi on Sunday defended the latest anti-Israel remarks by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, stressing that Hizbullah has the right to invite its allies to take part in any future war with Israel.
“The allies of the Zionist entity and the U.S. administration do not find any harm in going beyond their geographic and political borders and their sovereign rights to unite together in a 70-nation coalition aimed at waging aggression against Syria, while over 30 nations have come together in order to wage aggression against Yemen,” Moussawi said. “Thus it is normal for us, the resistance factions in this region, to confront the anti-resistance axis,” the Hizbullah lawmaker emphasized. “How can some parties raise their voice and ask about the resistance's right to rally its allies in a confrontation that our enemy has rallied all its allies in it. In Iraq, there is an alliance targeting its sovereignty and in Syria there is an alliance that has targeted this resisting nation, so it is normal for us to respond to these alliances that comprise the U.S., Europe, the Zionist entity and the Saudi regime,” Moussawi added. “The same as we fought in Syria together alongside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, the popular Syrian forces and every Arab struggle fighter, we will fight together in Lebanon as a unified front and alliance should the enemy wage an aggression against Lebanon,” the MP warned.
He reminded the Lebanese that in the year 2006, they “did not only face the Israeli enemy,” noting that Israel “was backed by the United States, Europe and Arab regimes topped by Saudi Arabia.”
“The Britons opened their civilian airports for the transfer of the missiles and bombs that were fired on us, because Israel had consumed its arsenal of missiles on the tenth day of the war. Therefore, from day 10 to day 33 we were being bombed with ammunition and bombs coming directly from the U.S. arsenal and other paces,” Moussawi charged.
“We tell those who want to speak of Lebanon's sovereign rights that we are the people who are most eligible to speak of sovereign rights, especially that the American bases are violating the entire region and the Israeli warplanes are bombing in Yemen,” the MP added.
“We are not alone anymore. Should the Israelis begin the battle, we will clearly face it alongside all of our allies. Those who have any questions regarding sovereignty and its requirements must tell us why the U.S. military aircraft are landing in Lebanon on their way to the U.S. bases. Therefore, gone is the time when some can lecture us with slogans that they themselves had violated when they sought the enemy's help to alter the situation in Lebanon in 1982,” Moussawi went on to say, in an apparent jab at Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
“We were the ones resisting the enemy,” the MP added.
On Friday, Nasrallah had warned Israel against attacking Lebanon or Syria, saying "hundreds of thousands" of Arab and Muslim fighters would be ready to strike back.
"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 said.
"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 added.
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 Lebanese, Iran-backed 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. Border skirmishes have broken out occasionally since then, and Nasrallah on Friday said any future confrontation would be "very costly for Israel." Tensions were rising this week along the frontier, with Israel accusing Hizbullah of expanding observation posts to conduct reconnaissance missions across the border. Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, denounced the "dangerous provocation" and sent a letter of protest to the Security Council. And the head of Israel's air force said it would have "unimaginable" military power at hand in any future conflict with Hizbullah.
"What the air force was able to do quantitatively in the... Lebanon war over the course of 34 days we can do today in 48-60 hours," Major General Amir Eshel said on Wednesday.

Riachi Distances Govt. from Nasrallah Remarks, Hamadeh Laments Rhetoric
Naharnet/June 25/17/Information Minister Melhem Riachi of the Lebanese Forces has stressed that the latest anti-Saudi remarks by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah do not reflect the official stance of the Lebanese government. “This is not the government's stance and certainly not the LF's stance. We do not accept any dispute with the Saudi brothers and we do not want to interfere in the affairs of the Arab countries, the same as we don't accept the interference of others in our affairs,” Riachi said in remarks published by the Saudi-owned newspaper al-Hayat. Lebanon should “dissociate itself from conflicts,” he emphasized. Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh of MP Walid Jumblat's Democratic Gathering meanwhile noted that Nasrallah's rhetoric “does not contribute to pacifying the political atmosphere or boosting the economic atmosphere in the relations with the Arab Gulf countries.”“It is like we are shooting ourselves in the foot,” he added.

Jumblatt Restores Relations With Russia
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/Beirut- Leader of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) deputy Walid Jumblatt was received warmly in Moscow on Friday, reflecting a great improvement in the relations between the two parties following Jumblatt’s harsh positions against the Syrian regime and its president Bashar al-Assad. The visit also revealed that Jumblatt was capable of restoring relations with Moscow, through the same Syria crisis door, as he reiterated his support for a political solution in Syria in which Moscow plays a role. Jumblatt’s trip to Russia coincided with the Russian efforts to revive the Syrian peace talks in Geneva and Moscow’s attempts to fortify a ceasefire deal and demarcate the borders of the deescalation zones that would involve Deraa, a Syrian province located near Suwayda, which includes a majority of Druze. The PSP leader arrived Friday to Moscow where he separately met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. His meeting with Lavrov was rather political, while Jumblatt said his meeting with Bogdanov was of a “cordial nature.”The Druze leader had last met with the Russian foreign minister about two years ago, which explains that Jumblatt’s visit to Moscow this week has opened a new horizon of the relations between the two sides. PSP spokesperson Rami al-Rayess told Asharq Al-Awsat that the relation between Jumblatt and Russia is historic and was established since the days of the Soviet Union, even if it has witnessed some differences in the points of view. Rayess said that those differences were mainly related to the Syrian crisis. “The vision concerning Syria might not be similar. But, this doesn’t mean that Jumblatt fails to appreciate Moscow’s support for a political solution in Syria,” a position he repeatedly expressed during his stay in Russia. Rayess added that Jumblatt insists that a political solution achieved through the Geneva talks is essential to end the bloody conflict in the war-torn country.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 25-26/17
Israel Hits Syria Army after Errant Fire Lands in Golan for 2nd Day
Naharnet/Associated Press/June 25/17/Israel launched airstrikes on Syrian army posts in Quneitra after several projectiles fired from Syria landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights for a second consecutive day. The Israeli army said the projectiles landed in an open area and there were no injuries. It said they were the result of "errant" fire. The Israeli army had on Saturday carried out a series of airstrikes in Syria in response to similar fire. Israel has largely stayed out of the fighting during the six-year civil war in neighboring Syria. But it has carried out a number of strikes in response to errant fire spilling over into the Israeli side of the Golan. It also is believed to have carried out airstrikes on suspected weapons shipments to its archenemy Hizbullah, whose fighters are backing Syrian forces.

Assad leads Eid prayers in rare appearance outside Damascus
Sun 25 Jun 2017/NNA - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad led Eid-ul-Fitr prayers in the central city of Hama on Sunday, appearing in public outside the capital for the first time in a year. Assad’s office published images of him praying inside the brightly-lit Al-Nuri mosque at dawn on Sunday before greeting worshippers outside. He was flanked by Islamic Endowments Minister Mohammad Abdel-Sattar Sayyed and Syria’s top Muslim cleric Ahmad Badredine Hassoun. Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. Ahead of the holiday, Syria’s government released more than 670 detainees — including some children born to prisoners — from jails around Damascus on Saturday. Assad’s last public appearance outside Damascus was during Eid al-Fitr in July 2016, which he spent in third city Homs. Presidential trips outside the capital have become rare since Syria’s conflict broke out more than six years ago. Hama city is the capital of the governorate by the same name, where Syrian government troops are battling jihadists and their rebel allies. ---AFP

Car Hits Muslims Celebrating Eid in UK, 6 Hurt
Associated Press/Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 25/17/British police on Sunday said they arrested a woman after a car collided with pedestrians outside a Newcastle sports center where Muslims were celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday.Six people were injured and police said the incident is not believed to be terror-related. Northumbria Police said officers are trying to determine what happened outside Westgate Sports Center in the northern English city of Newcastle on Sunday morning. The ambulance service said three children and three adults were being treated at a local hospital for injuries sustained in the crash. The police force said emergency services were at the scene and a 42-year-old woman has been arrested and is in police custody. One man was killed last week when a van drove into a group of worshipers outside a mosque in north London. A North East Ambulance Service spokesman said that they were contacted at 9.15am (0815 GMT) to say that a car had mounted the kerb outside Westgate Sports Center and hit a group of worshipers who had just attended Eid prayers. Eyewitnesses said that one boy, aged around eight, "was really badly injured," according to the BBC.

Car Bomb in Syria’s Idlib Province Kills 10
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/A car bomb killed 10 people in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, reported on Sunday. The UK-based Observatory said the bombing targeted a market in the town of al-Dana, on the outskirts of Idlib. There has been no claim of responsibility so far. However, a local opposition source told DPA that “sleeper cells” linked to the ISIS group were behind the bombing. Three people under 18 were among the dead and the blast also injured at least 30 other people, it said. Another bombing in the town after midnight on Friday killed two people, it added. Idlib province is a major stronghold of rebels in Syria and is situated along the border with Turkey. The United Nations and aid agencies have voiced concern about the humanitarian situation in Idlib, where large numbers of people live in poor conditions and face aerial bombardment. Syria’s civil war has lasted over six years, killed hundreds of thousands of people, driven millions more from their homes in a global refugee crisis and dragged in regional and world powers.

Trump Administration Considering Arab-US Summit to Solve Qatar Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/Washington – US President Donald Trump is considering several scenarios to solve the Qatar crisis following three weeks of severed diplomatic and economic relations with several Arab countries who accused Doha of funding terrorism and fomenting unrest. Trump might call for a Camp David-style summit to address growing tensions similar to the summit held between former President Barack Obama and Gulf leaders, according to several sources. Fox News reported that Trump is studying several options for the summit to defuse tensions among long-established US allies in the Gulf and renew his call for those nations to confront the “crisis of Islamic extremism. “It’s a Camp David moment. We’ve seen nothing like this in 40 years, and now the president wants to follow through,” a senior White House official told Fox News. A White House official told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the US administration wants to solve this diplomatic issue and work with the countries on combating terrorism and extremism in the region. He reiterated the importance of defeating ISIS for establishing stability. The official said that the US administration is working on establishing what was achieved during Trump’s visit to Riyadh last month. He added that several options are being considered including an Arab summit, and currently the officials are studying the form and timing of this summit. Regarding the 13 demands presented by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain, the official said that the White House will include them in the discussions, reiterating that they will be the starting point for talks between the parties. AFP reported another White House official saying President Trump is keen on combating terrorist organizations in the region and cutting their funding in general and not just those relating to Qatar.There is a need to alienate and denounce such groups like Muslim Brotherhood for the stability of the Middle East, said the official. UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba to US told the press on Friday that the measures against Qatar “are there to stay until there is a long-term solution to the issue.”He suggested the actions to pressure Qatar will remain economic and diplomatic. Otaiba says “there is no military element to this whatsoever.”The US has offered to help mediate, but Otaiba said Kuwait will take the lead, adding that this is an “Arab issue that requires an Arab solution.”While the US administration is considering several solutions, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and other Arab nations is a “family issue” that the nations should work out among themselves. Spicer didn’t comment on the specific demands that Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations have placed on Qatar, but announced that Washington is willing to play a “facilitating role” in the discussion. In related news, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he is following the situation with Qatar “with deep concern” and hopes the countries involved resolve the situation through dialogue.
UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said Friday that the UN is ready to assist in mediating if requested. She said, “any resolution or basis for discussion should be consistent with international law including human rights and international humanitarian law as well as the UN Charter as all countries concerned are UN member states.”

Turkey’s Erdogan backs Qatar’s response to list of Arab demands
Al Arabiya English, Reuters Sunday, 25 June 2017/Turkish President Tayyip Ergodan said on Sunday he backed Qatar's response to a list of demands issued by Arab states boycotting the Gulf state. Qatar has described the boycott by its larger neighbors as an "blockade" aimed at curbing its sovereignty, and said that the ultimatum by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain was unreasonable. Erdogan said Turkey appreciated and endorsed Qatar's response to the 13 demands, which include closing the Al Jazeera satellite television network, curbing relations with Iran and shutting a Turkish base in Qatar.
'Briefly unwell'
Speaking outside a mosque in Istanbul after prayers marking the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, Erdogan said he would continue his planned program despite feeling briefly unwell. The Hurriyet daily said Erdogan received medical attention after "briefly feeling unwell" during morning prayers at the Mimar Sinan mosque in Istanbul. Some Turkish media reports said he had briefly fainted inside the mosque, although this was not immediately confirmed. Erdogan said he had suffered from a blood pressure issue due to a sugar imbalance in the body. "Thanks to God I recovered quickly. Now I am feeling good and we will continue with our program," he said, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkey’s Erdogan says fine after feeling unwell in prayers
Sun 25 Jun 2017/NNA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said he was in good health after briefly feeling unwell during morning prayers in Istanbul. The Hurriyet daily said Erdogan received medical attention after “briefly feeling unwell” during morning prayers at the Mimar Sinan mosque in Istanbul. Some Turkish media reports said he had briefly fainted inside the mosque, although this was not immediately confirmed. Erdogan said he had suffered from a blood pressure issue due to a sugar imbalance in the body. “Thanks to God I recovered quickly. Now I am feeling good and we will continue with our programme,” he said, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency. Erdogan said that in the afternoon he would be attending a ceremony in Istanbul of his ruling party to mark the festival celebrating the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Muslims for the past month have been required to abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset. Erdogan is a pious believer but has continued to follow a full political programme during the fasting month, giving speeches nearly every evening over Ramadan at fast-breaking iftar meals. The Turkish president, a former semi-professional footballer, projects an image of a strong and vigorous leader who is in good health. Erdogan, 63, has been in power since 2003, first as prime minister and since 2014 as Turkey’s first directly elected president. ---AFP

UAE President in First Appearance since 2014 Stroke
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 25/17/United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan made his first public appearance Sunday since suffering a stroke more than three years ago, to mark the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday. The official WAM news agency published pictures showing Sheikh Khalifa meeting a number of prominent officials and rulers of the other six emirates that with Abu Dhabi form the UAE. The guests came to his Abu Dhabi palace on the first day of the Eid, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and Sheikh Khalifa appeared to be in good spirits, according to the pictures and a short video posted on WAM's Twitter account. Sheikh Khalifa, 69, had not made a public appearance since the UAE announced that he underwent an operation following a stroke in January 2014. The president is also the ruler of the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest of the seven emirates that form the UAE as it sits on the bulk of the nation's oil wealth. After his illness, Sheikh Khalifa's half-brother Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed took over as de facto ruler, though Sheikh Khalifa continued to issue decrees and deal with protocol issues. In addition to Abu Dhabi, the UAE comprises the emirates of Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain.

US: Qatar reviewing list of demands from boycotting countries
Al Arabiya/June 25/17/The US Department of State has announced that Qatar has begun reviewing the list of demands submitted by several Arab and Gulf countries boycotting Doha. Washington said there were “important areas that lay the groundwork for a dialogue to resolve the crisis” and urged on Sunday on all nations to “continue dialogue and tone down rhetoric to help ease tensions.”. “A productive next step would be for each of the countries to sit together and continue this conversation,” “We believe our allies and partners are stronger when they are working together towards one goal which we all agree is stopping terrorism and countering extremism.” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have sent a 13-point list of demands aimed at dismantling Qatar’s aggressive interventionist foreign policy which has it support and incite extremist groups over the years. Meanwhile, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Saturday that instead of discussing a list of demands set by the Gulf countries and Egypt, Qatar decided to leak them to the media. Gargash described the media leak as “reckless” and there has been “no respect” towards the mediation attempts by Kuwait from Qatar’s side.

Bahrain officially publishes list of demands conveyed to Qatar
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Sunday, 25 June 2017/The Bahraini news agency published the list of demands which Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt handed over to Qatar via Kuwait. According to BNA, Qatar was requested to decrease diplomatic representation with Iran and curb ties with it, expel revolutionary guards from Qatar, limit relations with Iran to commercial trade without violating the sanctions imposed on Iran and without violating the security of Gulf Cooperation Council countries and sever any military or intelligence cooperation with Tehran. The demands also called on Qatar to immediately shut down the Turkish military base which is being built in Qatar and to suspend any military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar. They also include severing all relations with terrorist, sectarian and ideological organizations, primarily those which threaten Bahrain, and other organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as Al-Nusra Front, and the Lebanese Hezbollah Party and listing them as terrorist entities and including them as terrorist organizations in any future lists. Qatar was also demanded to suspend all forms of funding to terrorist or extremist individuals, entities or organizations and to all those included in the Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini and Egyptian terror lists and in the American and international lists and to surrender all figures designated as terrorist by these lists while holding their property until they’re handed over. They also demanded Qatar not to host any of these designated terrorists in the future and to commit to providing information about them, such as information on their activity, residence and finances. This is in addition to demands to shut down Al-Jazeera television channels and all channels affiliated with it. Qatar was also ordered to stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and foreign interests and refrain from granting the Qatari nationality to any Saudi, Bahraini, Egyptian and Emirati citizenship and extradite all those who had been granted a Qatari nationality via procedure which does not comply with these four countries’ regulations.They also demanded Qatar to submit a list of those who have been granted a citizenship from these four countries and to submit all previous information about cooperation between Qatar and those naturalized. The demands also include submitting all data about the opposition figures that Qatar supported and shutting down all media outlets which Qatar directly or indirectly supports. The four countries called on Qatar to be in harmony with its Arab and Gulf surrounding on the military, political, economic, social and security levels in order to guarantee security and to activate the Riyadh 2013 agreement and the Riyadh 2014 agreement. According to BNA, these demands are somehow similar to the Riyadh agreement which Qatar signed in 2014. Its report concluded that Doha thus has no justifications to reject these demands.

Saudi Crown Prince to al-Azhar Sheikh: We Count on Religious Institutions in Countering Extremism
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/Mecca – Sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb praised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense for the efforts he is exerting on enhancing the Arabic and Islamic cooperation. Prince Mohammed received a telephone call from Sheikh Tayeb in which he congratulated him on his new selection and appointment, wishing him all success in serving his religion, homeland, Arab and Islamic nations under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Tayeb expressed al-Azhar’s condemnation of the failed terrorist attack that targeted the Grand Holy Mosque in Makkah on Friday, stressing al-Azhar’s stand with the Kingdom in combating terrorism and confronting it until it is eradicated and uprooted. For his part, the Crown Prince expressed Saudi Arabia’s appreciation to al-Azhar and its important role in clarifying the truths of Islam and the dissemination of religion, especially in this delicate stage being experienced by our Arab and Islamic nation.The Crown Prince pointed out that the Islamic nation is counting greatly on the role of religious institutions in the coming stage, praising the efforts led by Sheikh al-Azhar in confronting the extremist ideology and terrorist groups. The Crown Prince congratulated Sheikh of al-Azhar on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, praying to Allah Almighty for its returns to Arab and Islamic nations with welfare, prosperity and blessings. In related news, Prince Mohammed continued to receive telephone calls from leaders and top officials congratulating him on his selection as Crown Prince, appointment as Deputy Premier, and continuing as Minister of Defense. The Crown Prince expressed his appreciation and thanks for their noble feelings and wished their people prosperity. Prince Mohammed received calls from Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Pakistani Minister of Defense Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Egyptian Minister of Defense and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Egypt Sedki Sobhy, Malaysian Minister of Defense Hishammuddin Hussein, and Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea.

Iraqi Forces Evacuate Hundreds of Civilians amid Clashes in Mosul’s Old City
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/Erbil- Iraqi forces on Saturday secured several exits for hundreds of civilians to escape Mosul’s Old City amid clashes pushing against ISIS ultra-hardliners. ISIS militants have been fighting a fierce battle in the hopes of salvaging their last key stronghold in Iraq.US-trained urban warfare units were channeling their onslaught along two perpendicular streets that converge in the heart of the Old City, aiming to isolate the ISIS terrorists in four pockets. The United Nations voiced alarm on Saturday at the rising death toll among civilians in the fighting, saying as many as 12 were killed and hundreds injured on Friday. “Fighting is very intense in the Old City and civilians are at extreme, almost unimaginable risk. There are reports that thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, of people are being held as human shields (by ISIS),” Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said in a statement. “Hundreds of civilians, including children, are being shot.” Iraqi authorities are hoping to declare victory in the northern Iraqi city in the Muslim Eid holiday, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, during the next few days. A Reuters correspondent saw a young girl with facial injuries walking dazed and shocked across the frontline out of heavily-populated district with a group of neighbors. Helicopter gunships were assisting the ground thrust, firing at insurgent emplacements in the Old City, a Reuters correspondent reported from a location near the frontlines. The government advance was carving out escape corridors for civilians marooned behind ISIS lines. More than 100,000 civilians, of whom half are believed to be children, remain trapped in the crumbling old houses of the Old City, with little food, water or medical treatment. The urban-warfare forces were leading the campaign to clear the ISIS militiamen from the maze of Old City alleyways, moving on foot house-to-house in locations too cramped for the use of armored combat vehicles.Aid organizations and Iraqi authorities say ISIS was trying to prevent civilians from leaving so as to use them as human shields. Hundreds of civilians fleeing the Old City have been killed in the past three weeks. A US-led international coalition is providing ground and air support in the eight-month-old campaign to seize Mosul, the largest city the militants came to control in a shock offensive in Iraq and neighboring Syria three years ago. US-supported Iraqi government offensives have wrested back several important urban centers in the country’s west and north from ISIS over the past 18 months.

Iran mocks reports its Syria missile strikes fell short
Ynetnews/Associated Press|/June 25/17/TEHRAN, Iran—Iran said Sunday the two-stage missiles it fired at ISIS targets in Syria broke apart over the Iraqi desert as planned, mocking reports that some of the projectiles fell short.State TV's website quoted the airspace division chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh as saying "we had coordinated the fall of the engines in the desert in Iraq" in advance. "The missiles we used were two-stage, it means that the engine separates from the warhead," said Hajizadeh.Hajizadeh said US drones hovered over the targets after shortly the Iranian missiles hit them. He said the US may have been informed beforehand about the attack, as they had informed the Russian military, which may have relayed the information to the Americans. The Guard said it fired six such missiles on Sunday at ISIS targets in the city of Deir el-Zour, more than 600 kilometers away. He mocked media reports citing Israeli sources who said some of the missiles fell short of their targets, suggesting that the Israelis were unable to identify two-stage missiles, which are designed to split apart mid-flight. "Pity those who call themselves experts and do not understand that these were the first-stage engines (that fell), while the warheads hit targets."Iranian reports said the guard launched six Zolfasghar and Qiam missiles. The latter have detachable warheads. Iran says it is continuously developing its missile program; a key reason US President Donald Trump's administration has put Iran "on notice". Iran said the strikes were in retaliation for the attack by five militants linked to the ISIS group that stormed Iran's parliament and a shrine to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini this month, killing at least 18 people and wounding more than 50. Iran has long supported Syrian President Bashar Assad in his fight against ISIS and other extremists groups.

Egypt’s Sisi Ratifies Maritime Border Deal with Saudi Arabia
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/Cairo – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi ratified a maritime demarcation agreement that sees his country relinquish sovereignty over two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, the government said in a statement on Saturday. Member of Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs Ayman Salamah stated that the agreement will be put into effect as soon as the ratification documents have been exchanged between the two countries. He explained that the procedure is more likely to be done during an official ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, since it was initially signed last year between the two countries in Cairo. Salamah told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that in case the ceremony didn’t take place, the ratification documents could be exchanged via diplomatic channels. On June 14, Egypt’s parliament approved the border demarcation agreement. Parliament Speaker Ali Abdelaal announced the parliament’s approval of the agreement after the vote. When implemented, the deal would effectively transfer sovereignty over the two uninhabited Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, at the southern entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.
The government declared that both islands were only under Egyptian protection since 1950 following the request of late King Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Russia, Kazakhstan Stress Need to Continue Geneva, Astana Paths
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/Moscow- Russia and Kazakhstan said it is important that the international community supports a deal in Syria, as Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov expressed his belief that meetings held in Astana to discuss the Syrian file could be the culmination of the Geneva talks, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed the need that external players support a ceasefire in the war-torn country. In a statement delivered at the Eurasian Media Forum, the Kazakh foreign minister was keen to assert that the Astana talks were not a replacement of the Syrian talks held in Geneva. “The Astana process, which discusses practical measures for resolving the Syrian crisis, is the culmination of the Geneva talks,” said the foreign minister. Abdrakhmanov said there are currently 3 baskets in the Geneva talks, including the elections and the constitutional and government reforms. But, he also spoke about a fourth basket, which is the need to confront terrorism. Meanwhile, Lavrov said that external players should support the Syrian ceasefire to focus on the fight against terrorism. During a meeting with leader of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt, Lavrov said that the efforts being made to resolve the Syrian crisis received an additional impetus as a result of the initiatives put forward by Russia, Turkey and Iran, which he said, aim at introducing the ceasefire and setting up deescalation zones. Lavrov said that the implementation of these initiatives “is planned to be discussed in Astana.”Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev said on Saturday he was surprised to hear reports that his country could send peacekeeping troops to Syria. During his visit to Moscow on Saturday, Atambayev told reports: “This question was not raised at all during my talks (in Russia).” Atambayev said that such a move requires a UN resolution among other approvals. Last Thursday, Vladimir Shamanov, head of the Russian Duma’s defense committee said his country was currently negotiating with Kyrgyz and Kazakh representatives the possibility of sending soldiers from both countries to Syria.

Syrian Opposition Attacks Quneitra with Advanced Weapons
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/London, Beirut- Syrian armed opposition factions pounded Saturday the city of al-Baath in the province of Quneitra, southern Syria with advanced weapons, killing and injuring tens of regime forces.
The opposition’s attack coincided with their destruction of seven regime tanks in the nearby town of Deraa. “The opposition factions launched one of their fiercest attacks on the city of al-Baath using four fronts: Oufaya, al-Hurriya, Hamidiyah and western Samdaniya,” a source said, adding that those factions were fighting with very advanced weapons. Also, unidentified warplanes pounded on Saturday positions of regime forces and Iranian militias northwest the town of Kafr Nasij, in the north of Deraa, in the area known as the “triangle of death” located between the countryside of Deraa and Quneitra and the countryside of west Damascus. Pro-Hezbollah media announced that the “Syrian (regime) army confronted a fierce attack launched by al-Nusra Front and other allied factions at the outskirts of the city of al-Baath in the countryside of Quneitra.” The Hezbollah media said regime forces killed and injured several members of those opposition factions and destroyed one of their tanks. Meanwhile, an Israeli aircraft attacked two Syrian regime tanks in the northern part of the Golan Heights in response to over 10 projectiles launched from Syria, and IDF spokesperson said on Saturday. The spokesperson said no injuries were reported following the attacks. Opposition factions had earlier announced destroying another regime tank in Deraa, to increase to seven the number of regime forces tanks destroyed by the opposition during the past three days of the Quneitra battles. Also, a source told Asharq Al-Awsat that factions from the Free Army had presented to Moscow a list of demands including the need that all Iranian and Hezbollah militias leave the city of Deraa and the southern frontline, and to stay 50 kilometers away from the Jordanian border.

Netanyahu warns Iran over Syria involvement after Golan exchange
Herb Keinon/Jerusalem Post/June 25/2017 /Day after spillover from Syria prompts retaliatory IDF strike, PM stresses that Israel will not allow the Islamic Republic to establish a permanent presences on the Golan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran on Sunday that Israel “views gravely” its attempts to set up a military presence in Syria and to arm Hezbollah with advanced weaponry via Syria and Lebanon. His comments at the weekly cabinet meeting came a day after the IDF responded to mortar fire from Syria by attacking Syrian army targets across the border. “Our policy is clear,” he said. “We will not accept any kind of 'drizzle, not of mortars, rockets, or spillover fire [from the Syrian Civil War]. We respond with force to every attack on our territory and against our citizens.”Netanyahu has said repeatedly that Israel will act to prevent game-changing weapons from reaching Hezbollah through Syria, to prevent the establishment of a permanent Iranian military presence on its border, and to keep rockets from being fired from Syria into Israel. Turning to diplomatic issues, he said that in advance of the visit next week of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the cabinet will approve a number of measures aimed at enhancing the relationship between the two countries. “This is a historic visit,” he said. “For 70 years no Indian prime minister has visited the country, and this is another expression of the military, economic and diplomatic strength of Israel,” he said, calling Modi’s visit “a very significant step towards strengthening the ties between the two countries.”Netanyahu said that relations with India, a country of 1.25 billion people and one of the world's largest economies, is on a steady increase. The cabinet decisions regarding ties with India that will pass include increasing exports, deepening cooperation in the fields of water and agriculture, establishing a joint fund for research and innovation, and increasing Indian tourism to Israel The steadily growing ties with India, he said, “is another expression of Israel's international position which has gotten stronger over the last number of years, as we have strengthened Israel.”The prime minister also mentioned the ongoing crisis at in the pediatric hemato-oncology department at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, saying it has gone on for “too long.”Before the issue goes to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, Netanyahu called on the sides of the dispute to return the situation to what it was in March before six physicians who are experts in blood cancer resigned to protest the management of the Hadassah Medical Organization by its director-general, Prof. Zeev Rotstein. Netanyahu said the sides should then take the next six to 12 months to resolve the issue.

UAE’s Gargash: Diplomacy Is Priority in Dealing with Qatar Crisis, Alternative is ‘Parting of Ways’
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 25/17/Dubai- UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Saturday that if Qatar did not accept the conditions by fellow Arab states which imposed a boycott this month on the gas-rich peninsula, there would be a “parting of ways”. “The alternative is not escalation, the alternative is parting of ways, because it is very difficult for us to maintain a collective grouping,” Gargash told reporters. He said diplomacy with Qatar remained a priority, but added that mediation efforts to resolve the dispute had been undermined by the public disclosure of the demands.
“The mediators’ ability to shuttle between the parties and try and reach a common ground has been compromised by this leak,” he said. “Their success is very dependent on their ability to move but not in the public space.”A 13-point list of demands has been presented by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE. It includes closing the Al Jazeera satellite television network, curbing relations with Iran, shutting a Turkish base in Doha and paying reparations. Gargash said that if Qatar fails to comply within the 10-day timeline set out in the ultimatum, it will be isolated. Gargash said the Turkish deployment of troops to Qatar was a “meaningless escalation” and he hoped Ankara would act in a “reasonable way”. “We hope that Turkey prioritizes the interest of the Turkish state and not partisan ideology,” Gargash said. For its part, Kuwait is helping mediate the dispute as is the United States, for which it has posed a challenging test since Qatar hosts a base housing the headquarters of US air power in the Middle East as well as 11,000 troops. The bloc of Arab states that imposed the sanctions on Qatar accuse it of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and drawing too close to terror state sponsors, like Iran. The sanctions have disrupted Qatar’s main import routes by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from big container ships docked in the United Arab Emirates.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 25-26/17
هل الوضع في الجولان سيدخل إسرائيل في الحرب السورية
Will the situation on the Golan suck Israel into the Syrian Civil War?

Ben Lynfield/Jerusalem Post/June 25/17
There should be no illusions that the trouble on the Golan border will recede any time soon.
What is now a nuisance in the Golan Heights threatens to become a big burden, increasingly sucking Israel into the vortex of the six-year-old Syrian Civil War.
More stray shells from fighting in Syria landed in the Israeli-annexed part of the Golan Heights Sunday, a day after the IAF struck two Syrian army tanks and a heavy machine gun in response to earlier spillover of projectiles from inner-Syrian fighting.
There were no casualties but the IDF issued instructions to farmers and civilians to avoid open fields nearby and backpackers and hikers were also evacuated. Leaders made tough statements that Israel will hold the Syrian regime responsible for any fire at Israeli-held territory.
But there should be no illusions that the trouble on the Golan border will recede any time soon.
It is the Assad regime and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies that have the overall momentum now in the war. The regime is determined to press ahead in the Golan and retake positions that were captured by the rebels.
"In the overall map Bashar, the Iranians and the Russians are more successful but where things will head it is difficult to know," says Tel Aviv University Syria specialist Eyal Zisser. He says that while it was rebels who launched an attack Saturday on a Syrian army position in the Golan "it doesn't change the strategic picture. The concern is that the regime will return [to control of the Golan]. It has the upper hand in all of Syria so there is concern that it will also return next to the Golan."
That would mean Iranian and Hezbollah troops along the Israeli-annexed part of the Golan, an intolerable situation in the view of decision-makers and analysts. "Hezbollah and the Iranians are deadly enemies of Israel,they don't recognize Israel's right to exist,"says former Mossad director Ephraim Halevy. "Therefore they don't adhere to any international, bilateral relations and agreements to which Israel is involved."
"The [Golan] separation line was created in 1974 with Israeli and Syrian agreement and it was for many years the most quiet border Israel had. Now, if on the other side of the divide you don't have an entity that respects agreement on the separation line because its policy is to not agree with Israel on anything, that Israel doesn't exist, than this is something Israel need not and should not tolerate," Halevy stressed.
Israel signaled this in January 2015 when an airstrike against two cars on the Syrian side of the Golan killed six Hezbollah fighters and a general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Mohammed Ali Allahdadi.
To stop the regime from making gains in the Golan, Israel has for years supplied Syrian rebels near its border with food, fuel, medical supplies and cash, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. The report said that a special Israeli army unit has been set up to supervise the transfer of this aid, which reportedly helps rebel groups pay salaries and buy weapons.
There is even Israeli cooperation in the Golan with Fath al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, the local affiliate of al-Qaeda, according to Moshe Maoz, a Syria specialist and emeritus professor at the Hebrew University. "Israel supports them logistically and by admitting wounded warriors into Israeli hospitals and maybe also with the supply of arms," he said.
An IDF spokeswoman responded by referring to a written statement that said "the IDF is not a side to and is not involved in the internal Syrian fighting but at the same time views with gravity every attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and its residents and views the Syrian regime as responsible for what is done in its territory."
Asked whether Israel should support Fath al-Sham, Halevy, the former Mossad chief, responded: "Israel should do everything that is necessary to further its policy that Iranian and Iranian supported forces should not be deployed along the Golan Heights."
Given the priority of preventing that, it seems axiomatic that if Syrian regime forces and their allies make significant gains Israel will have to escalate its involvement.
At the least this will mean closer coordination with the rebel groups and more airstrikes not just to deter fire into Israeli-annexed territory but to support their operations.
Establishing a security zone with ground troops entering the Syrian side of the Golan is not a preferred option, Maoz said. "It may be more convenient to help proxies and intervene only occasionally because a security zone is dangerous," he continued. "We know what happened in Lebanon so Israel is careful not to do it again."

What Sharia Prescribes: Same as the Ten Commandments?
Nonie Darwish/Gatestone Institute/June 25/17
Islam was created 600 years after Christianity not to affirm the Bible, but to discredit it; not to co-exist with "the people of the book" -- Jews and Christians -- but to replace them.
It is hard to read Islamic law books without concluding that Islamic values are essentially "a rebellion against the Ten Commandments".
Islam violates the commandment "Thou shalt not murder" when Allah commanded Muslims to kill Allah's enemies, and in the process, kill and be killed in jihad if they are to be guaranteed heaven.
Accepting a parallel legal system would effectively nullify actual freedom for many of the people possibly forced to use it, and the ability to receive equal justice under law. Sharia is the reason there is a death warrant out on this author, on Salman Rushdie and others, for apostasy.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, of the "Ground Zero mosque", once again wrote a deeply inaccurate article reprimanding Americans for their supposedly "right-wing caricature" of Islamic law, sharia, which he insists is not a threat to American law. In his recent article "The silly American fear of sharia law", he denied that sharia is incompatible with US laws and the constitution. Oh, really?
Imam Rauf tries to blame sharia's amputation and stoning on Biblical Law:
"Sharia is not about amputations and stoning. These extreme punishments carry over from earlier, biblical law" and "Within the history of Islam, they have rarely occurred. What Islamic law does prescribe are the same do's [sic] and don'ts of the Ten Commandments."
Imam Rauf's article is, to say the least, misleading -- especially regarding the Ten Commandments. Sharia is not only incompatible with Western legal system but is the direct opposite of Western values; it has violated all ten of the Ten Commandments.
Islam was created 600 years after Christianity not to affirm the Bible, but to discredit it; not to co-exist with "the people of the book" -- Jews and Christians -- but to replace them. It is hard to read Islamic law books without concluding that Islamic values are essentially "a rebellion against the Ten Commandments."
Islam has little respect for human life -- of either Muslims or non-Muslims. To begin with, Islam violates the commandment "Thou shalt not murder." Sharia punishes sins against Allah, such as blasphemy and apostasy, with execution. This is while it prohibits prosecuting Muslims who kill apostates, and also parents and grandparents who kill their offspring. Allah commands Muslims to kill Allah's enemies, and in the process, kill and be killed in jihad if they are to be guaranteed heaven.
"Surely Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their belongings and in return has promised that they shall have Paradise.106 They fight in the Way of Allah, and slay and are slain. Such is the promise He has made incumbent upon Himself in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Qur'an.107 Who is more faithful to his promise than Allah? Rejoice, then, in the bargain you have made with Him. That indeed is the mighty triumph." (9:111)
The concept of adultery and loyalty in marriage is totally different. Loyalty is expected from the woman under penalty of death, but men have a lot of room in that regard, the result of the rights of polygamy and temporary marriage for Muslim men. Thus, in Islam, the concept of marriage as a covenant of loyalty between one man and one woman does not exist.
In regards to stealing, let us not be fooled by Islam's barbaric punishment for stealing with amputation of limbs. Islam is serious about stealing only when a Muslim steals from other Muslims. Killing and stealing are even connected in Islam: after killing non-Muslims in jihad, Muslims are rewarded with their property, their homes, businesses, women, and children, all of which are regarded legitimate booty, or spoils of war. Some people claim this does not exist today, but just try telling that to Middle Eastern Christians and Jews who have been robbed of their property and their land, and whose homes have been taken by Muslims. A leading imam and professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, Yasir Qadhi has said, "Muslims have the right to take the property of filthy Christians and Jews." Qadhi has been described by the New York Times Magazine as "one of the most influential conservative clerics in American Islam."
Qadhi justifies stealing from Jews and Christians as "a means to establish monotheism on the land." He quotes Muhammad saying "I have been commanded to fight the people until they" convert and explains that "if they don't, their life and property are halal [free for the taking] to the Muslims."
In regard to truthfulness in sharia, again, as with stealing, Islam has many loopholes, and sharia clearly states that lying is an obligation under certain conditions, such as if it is for the benefit of Islam.
As to contentment and coveting thy neighbor's house and wife, Islam again uses coveting to lure Muslims to perform jihad.
The whole concept of jihad is a brazen violation of the Tenth Commandment: it means conquest over non-Muslims and taking what they have.
Islamic books tell us that Muhammad did not just covet the possessions of his non-Muslim enemies. When he desired the wife of his adopted son Ali, he had a revelation making it legitimate and holy for Ali to divorce his wife and Muhammad to marry her.
The Tenth Commandment -- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's -- is utterly alien to Islamic values; Islamic books are full of examples of stripping Allah's enemies of their possessions, homes, property, trading caravan goods, women, and children.
The American people are not at all silly for opposing sharia. Even the supposedly benign laws of sharia regarding marriage and divorce that Imam Rauf claims are a religious right, totally destroy a woman's right to divorce and retain custody of her children.
Accepting sharia in the US would totally change the Western concept of marriage by allowing polygamy, wife-beating, female genital mutilation, rape and marrying children.
Any legal system that governs a nation and that is being exported needs be scrutinized. Accepting a parallel legal system would effectively nullify actual freedom for many of the people possibly forced to use it, and be gross negligence against American citizens, their freedom, and above all the ability to receive equal justice under law.
Sharia is the reason there is a death warrant out on this author, and well as for Salman Rushdie and others, for free speech and apostasy, and why I am unable to visit my country of origin, Egypt, or any country where Muslims are in a majority.
No, Imam Rauf, fear of sharia is not "silly"; it is probably the most clear-eyed, desperately urgent fear that anyone who cares about freedom can have.
*Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is the author of "Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values over Islamic Values"
© 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.

Most Want Person Terror List
Hakim Haider/Gatestone Institute/June 25/17
One of these World Banned Terrorist Organization Head was just elected Member for Parliament.
If world add my name Thousand Time on Most Want Person Terror List, than am not for care: the Love that You are gives me are Bigger! This list are nothing infront of me, it equal to the piece of Paper.
Editors' note: To those of you who have enquired, the author is a real man living in the Middle East who sent us these pieces because he is unable to share them with anyone where he lives. At first we tried to tidy up the English, but that seemed to knock much of the soul out of his work. So we made the editorial choice to present his work basically as he sent it; what you are seeing is the result of that choice. It is the way he sees the world from his point of view, unobstructed by editors. Perhaps think of it more as a different kind of article, more as folk art but in words. It is not meant to offend anyone or any religion. It always seemed, living among people from different nations, as if wrongnesses in English were often "righter" than rightnesses. The painter Paul Gauguin reportedly said: "If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue." We apologize to anyone who may not like these postings. "Those who understand, understand."
A lot of World Banned Terrorist Organization start for work openly in my Country. One of these World Banned Terrorist Organization Head was just elected Member for Parliament. Other day, a Ambulance come by with mark of Famous World Banned Terrorist Organization that say they collecting fund for Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. There are two persons one are driving the Ambulance and other one announce in a speaker for Donation. He say, We buy Food and cloth for our Men and we also use this Donation for Fight Against The Enemy Jihad.
He also say that, Tomorrow we arrange a Really, and our organization Main Leaders participates in this and all of you participates in this Good-Deed also.
Next day in Play Ground where in evening few Boys plays cricket, at morning under the dusty sun we listen the Voice of Quranic Verse and Songs of Anthem that force a person to fight. There are a Stage with Dice and Mice -- the Dice with sitting arrangement and Mice to loud the voice -- and also many chairs infront . There are Black and green Flags every place and on these Flags the First Kalimah–e-Tayyaba are print or write: No God there are but Allah and Muhammad PBUH are the messenger.
Every where are arranger wearing turban on the head. Some wear white, some wear the yellow or Brown. Behind the stage is giant banner where Kalima-e-Tayyaba are write again, this time with all the Well-Known World Banned Terrorist Organization name on one side and on Other, many pictures of them: Osama Bin Laden, Mulla Umar, al-Zawahiri and other Well-Known Most-Want Persons. At the end there are a Statement in a Big Letters: "THESE ARE THE TRUE LIONS OF ISLAM AND MUSLIM WORLD"
Soon One person in Black Turban and Long Hairs on face announce, Now we begins the mass meeting with the name of Allah and recites the Holy Quran.
Then a person recite the few Quranic Verses and after this, deliver the short speech on the personality of Prophet P.B.U.H. After that, the Stage Host invite some One for deliver speech for Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. He also tell that he is Honour for serve the Osama, Zawahiri and Mulla Umar. He tell his speech with these word:
Muslims you know Osama, Umar and Zawahiri, they are bear a lot of hardship for you. Am have also cleans the blood and sees the scratch on their body for you against The Enemies of Islam!
After this, one more person are invites to Dice and Mice for deliver speech for tell every One go right a Way for prepare himself in The Fight Against The Enemy. One of these say, We now are change the way for Fight. We now discover New Way. Our Enemy are ancient Clever. We now make The Strong Alliance on all the Other Organization and help each Other with Hidden Shake Hand. We now prepare for educate young Boys, Girls and any interest person to take part in This Holy Fight. We needs your donation for Wins this Fight!
After speech, the Host say, Now am invite on Dice such type of person who are not wearing dress like us, who do not have turban and long Hairs on face, but he are a person who are working in a World Strongest Intelligence Network more than 30 year and get a permotion until in Army he are a General! Still, after his retirement, his soul nor care not take a rest. Now He give us ideas and ways to fight because he Well-Known in this. He take part in four war and know how how for Defeat The Enemy.
So he invite him. General stand from chair and raise the hand and all the crowd start hooting in the favour of this person. He start his speech to saying,
Am serve the one of strongest Army more than 37 year, and more than 30 year am done my service in a Intelligence Network that is the World Best Intelligence Network and am see and observe closely every Thing. Am also work in world Most Dangerous Countries and it are my exercise when and how are Capture the Enemy. Am also know on every Weapon how for use them. It are a great, great loss for Muslim Worlds that al-Qaida are not in her best position that was before when it have work for the Osama. Mulla Umar were Good Person also. Am meet with him so many Time. But when this point come into my mind, that now al-Qaida soo weak, it fill tears in my eyes, but it are a great gift for us that One more Organization that are more strong than Qaida and that are working in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Am not have any link with that but am advice all the leaders who is sitting here to make the collision and help them with every way Donation - Weapon, the Human Resource, Food, Shelter, every Thing, and when Ever you need my help I will with you! Am know how collects the weapons and how for use them! Now This Time if you want for Fight Against The Enemy, this Fight Need Blood. Blood of Youngster! Am remember acutely well when have been soldier, there are so many aged soldier with us, but we are young, so we say on him, Just gives us support from back and we lead to the fight infront. So many my brothers soldier becomes Shaheed (martyr). Am also touch and feel the Hot Blood on my Young Soldier, but when we have try to save them they say on us for, Carry on with Fight do not have Care for us. So we leaves them there and when comes back, most are been Shaheed. Their Blood were Hot. Soo this Time if you want for build the strong wall like al-Qaida, then Shake the Hand and help the Mujahideens, then one day we too gets success and takes them to the next location. My message for you are plain: You takes interest and builds this new group. Before, Enemy feel fear from al-Qaida, but now with Your Contribution and Your Help, Enemy again feel More Fear from this new group of Mujahideen. If we need for do the robbery and collect a weapons for them, then we are not feel hasitation for do this. One day, we are takeover World, one day we are takeover Every Place!
After this, the host the invite Chief Guest, who are also on the World Most Want Terrorist List. Chief Guest say,
Not have more words. My brothers who address you before me tells you every Thing and the General who address you before me, am deeply thanks full to him that he join us and am say this openly. It are our first success from Allah! As already you know, that Enemy feel fear from me and he add my name on Most Wan Person Terror List. This is happen because am Fight Against The Enemy. My Team and my Welfare Organizations works for people who are Needy in the World. If Enemy think that this are wrong, Enemy are wrong. Am do this terrorist till Last Breath, till Grave, till the Death. Not for bury me in grave till some One inform me that Enemy are no more on this Earth. It are my promise to you, am Destroy every Enemy. If world add my name Thousand Time on Most Want Person Teror List, than am not for care: the Love that You are gives me are Bigger! This list are nothing infront of me, it equal to the piece of Paper. Am also advice to my family, My Sons, that if I becomes die, then carry my Mission forward. Now no one able to damage me because now we have person who know every Thing about War and War Game. And it are my Honour that am standing on that place where he are before me. He donate his Life for War or Fight. So the Organization who are running in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria etc., we carry one day Your Flag, and Your Flag raise one day over World, those are our Wish! One day we destroy the Infidel, until he accomplish last day on Earth!
He carry on for nearly dark with out for use a single word for peace. But when Ever he use War, Blood, Guns, Infidel, words like this, the public rise up the voice. The men in Turban invites and announce new and young persons for comes and shake the hand with us and the person will go and serves in defance forces. They then go wander in different city and arrange mass meeting and no one tell them now stops.
*Hakim Haider is based in the Middle East.
© 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.

Egyptian TV Host Youssef Al-Husseini Following London Mosque Attack: The Muslims Have Contributed Nothing But Terror, So Why Do You Expect Them to Love You?

MEMRI TV/June 25/17
Youssef Al-Husseini is an Egyptian journalist and TV host, who has worked for several Egyptian TV channels. Since 2011, he has been working for ON TV. He also writes columns for leading Egyptian newspapers, including Roz Al-Yusuf, Al-Yawm Al-Sab'i, and others. Following the vehicular attack outside a London mosque on June 19, Al-Husseini said: "Why do they hate us?! If they didn't, there would be something mentally wrong with them." Claiming that the Muslims have contributed nothing to the West except slaughter, massacres, and terror attacks, Al-Husseini said: "And you still expect them to love us?!" His address aired on ON TV on the day of the attack.
Youssef Al-Husseini: "The terror attack that unfortunately took place [in London] was a vehicular attack. This time, it was near a mosque, if you follow the news. How can anyone decide to carry out a terror attack near a place of worship - near a mosque, a church, or any temple where God is worshipped? In all the previous vehicular attacks, at least in 2016 and 2017, the "heroes" were, unfortunately, Muslims. And then people wonder why they hate us.
"Why do they hate us?! If they didn't, there would be something mentally wrong with them.
"[We] use weapons all the time, slaughter people all the time, flay people all the time, burn people alive all the time, run people over all the time, and plant explosive devices and car bombs all the time.
"Why do you still expect them to love you?"
"Tell me what the Muslims have contributed to the world throughout the 20th century? Nothing. What have the Turkish Muslims of the Ottoman state contributed to the West? Slaughter, massacres, the impaling of Europeans on spears... It's true. That's what the Turks did in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. What did the Muslim Turks do to their Arab neighbors, most of whom are Muslims? They enslaved them, tortured them, imposed inflated taxes upon them. They made their lives unbearable. What did the Muslims contribute to the West in the 19th and 20th centuries, except for the theories of Maududi, Sayyid Qutb, Abu Bakr Naji, and Osama Bin Laden? What did the Muslims contribute to the West? Don't say to me: "The literature of Naguib Mahfouz and the science of Ahmed Zewail." The [achievements] of these people cannot be attributed to their being Muslims.
"What have the Muslims shown [the West] other than the bombing of their capital cities? What have the Muslims shown them other than vehicular attacks? What have the Muslims shown them other than shooting at them? What have the Muslims shown them other than burning them alive in cages? They burn other Muslims alive as well. They all claim to have a monopoly over Islam.
"What have the Muslims shown [the Westerners] to make them love them, and welcome them in their countries?
"After all this, you still ask me why they hate us?! And then people invent new terms, like "a global conspiracy against Islam." Man, a global conspiracy against Islam would mean that the Muslims are being massacred around the world. The opposite is true. It is the non-Muslims who are being massacred. Am I right, or what? Then you say to me: Have you considered the Muslim minorities in India or Mali? To tell you the truth, what I see is Muslims perpetrating massacres against Christians and other majorities across the globe.
"The Muslims are constantly whining, lamenting, and wailing: The West is conspiring against us. Fine, let's assume that the West is conspiring against you and only sees your negative image. Where is your positive image? The Muslims of the Abbasid state presented a positive image. They exported scientific research through the so-called "Muslim" scholars, most of whom, by the way, were not from the Arabian Peninsula. None of them were from the Arabian Peninsula. They were all from North Africa, and from what are now called the former Soviet Islamic republics of central Asia.
"What have the Arab countries contributed to the world? Nothing. What have the Islamic countries contributed to the world? Nothing. What have they contributed in the field of scientific research? Two, three, four, or ten scientists in the course of 1,435 years? C'mon, man! Let's forget about 435 years and keep just one millennium. Ten important scientists in 1,000 years?! Who invented the airplane? The missile? The space shuttle? Centrifuges? Quantum mechanics? The Theory of Relativity? Who? Where did the most important philosophers come from? Not from here. And you still expect them to love us?! And then you say: "Terror-sponsoring countries like Britain deserve..." Nonsense! People do not deserve to be killed, slaughtered, or run over by a car."

Central Europe’s Tough Choice: Macron or Orban?
Ivan Krastev/The New York Times/June 25/17
SOFIA, Bulgaria — At the end of 2016, devastated by Brexit and unsettled by Donald Trump’s victory in the American presidential election, many Europeans fell into deep despair. They had become resigned to the notion that the European Union’s moment in history was over. Six months later, nothing is different, yet everything has changed. Polls show that a growing number of Europeans are betting on the European Union. Improved economies across the Continent, the miserable performance of populists in the Netherlands, and the humiliation suffered by the “hard Brexiteer” Theresa May in this month’s general election in Britain have made many Europeans hopeful that the European Union has received a second chance, and that it is going to make the most of it.
Emmanuel Macron’s decisive victories in France — first in the presidential election in May and then again in parliamentary elections last week — on a proudly pro-European platform have led many Europeans to believe that rather than disintegration, further integration may now be possible. The hope among the ever-closer-unionists is that Mr. Macron’s labor reforms in France will persuade Germany to invest more in eurozone economies. Meanwhile, plans for further investment in European defense are afoot.
But while infectious optimism is visible everywhere in Western Europe, the East has remained conspicuously unenthusiastic. The prospect of Eastern Europeans exiting the union — as the former Czech president Vaclav Klaus recently implored them to do — is still about as likely as President Vladimir Putin of Russia losing next year’s elections, but many in Eastern Europe are squeamish about German-French efforts to reorder Europe. Why?
The answer is quite straightforward. The governments in Poland and Hungary fear that further political integration will endanger the illiberal regimes they have put in place, while many Eastern Europeans fear that any Macron-Merkel initiative could result in a two-tiered Europe where they are second-class citizens.
Most of Central Europe is not in the eurozone — Bulgaria and Romania are not even in the Schengen free-travel area — and many countries in the region have built their economic competitiveness on low wages and low taxes. So the fear shared by Central European politicians but also some Western European investors is that the policies Mr. Macron promoted during his campaign, like harmonizing tax regimes across the union and penalizing countries for exporting cheap labor, could destroy Central Europe’s business model.
But while a majority of the Eastern European elite is suspicious of Mr. Macron’s policies, some argue that the politics of low wages is the major reason for the huge outflow of people from their region. In some countries, more than 10 percent of the population has left to work abroad. The International Monetary Fund calculates that if the outflow continues at current rates, Central, Eastern and southeastern Europe will lose around 9 percent of their expected gross domestic product from 2015 to 2030.
But while the Merkel-Macron strategy presents a challenge to Central Europe’s economy, the reality of a two-class Europe presents a strategic risk.
Few things have encapsulated the Eastern European anxiety about becoming second-class citizens as explicitly as the recent scandal around “double standards” for food. Eastern European consumers have discovered that some products, like Nutella, for example, taste different in Austria than in Hungary. Why? Tests have shown that multinational brands sometimes use cheaper ingredients in foods sold on the east side of Europe’s erstwhile Iron Curtain. The companies claim that they change ingredients to match local tastes, but the Czech agriculture minister spoke for many when he said that the East is tired of being “Europe’s garbage can.”
Central European resistance to the new Berlin-Paris axis may usher in a different taste of Europe altogether. These countries now face a choice between deeper integration on terms set by Germany and France or political marginalization — and the fears of a two-tiered European Union could become self-fulfilling prophecies. Unfortunately, the illiberal turn in Hungary and Poland — marked by attempts to control the courts, tame independent news media, and interfere in civil society (not to mention politicians’ base nationalistic rhetoric) — has forced many Western Europeans to close their ears to what may be in some instances legitimate Central European grievances.
The refugee crisis is a case in point. For Western Europeans, the Polish, Czech and Hungarian refusal to accept resettlement quotas adopted by Brussels in 2015 demonstrates that the Eastern European countries lack the solidarity necessary for the European Union. Eastern Europeans, on the other hand, rightly insist that the solidarity imperative must not trump a democratic mandate, and who belongs to a community is an existential question to be decided solely by democratically elected governments. The problem is that Hungary’s hysterical anti-refugee language has made it easy for other Europeans to dismiss Central Europe’s legitimate fears as objectionable nationalism. But if the countries of Central Europe face the same challenges, they don’t face them together. The dream of a united Central Europe, embodied by the 1991 formation of the Visegrad Group, no longer exists. Two of the group’s members, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, are trying to distance themselves from the other two, Hungary and Poland, which are bashing the European Union. Meanwhile, even as Poland and Hungary share a hostility to Brussels, they are divided when it comes to the relations with Russia.
The governments in the region faced with Merkel-Macron initiative to reorder the union will soon be forced to choose between a future of deeper integration with Western Europe, or a future where Central Europe is increasingly marginalized. It’s a choice between Emmanuel Macron and Viktor Orban, Hungary’s hard-line nationalist prime minister. The jury is out on which choice governments will make. But Central Europe’s 20th-century experience may be summarized by the adage, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.”

Remember the Population Bomb? It’s Still Ticking
Eugene Linden/The New York Times/June 25/17
In tiny Lesotho, a landlocked kingdom in southern Africa, about one-third of its estimated two million people spent much of the past two years in danger of starving because of the lingering effects of a drought. That is just the latest woe afflicting this cursed nation, and just one example of how fragile the future seems for Africa, large parts of which face the prospect of new famine and, in consequence, further catastrophic displacement within and among their growing populations. More than 40 years ago, I made Lesotho the centerpiece of a book, “The Alms Race,” that explored why so many development projects kept failing. I chose it because in 1974 it received more development aid per capita than any other nation. It could also have been voted most likely to vindicate Thomas Malthus’s warning in 1798 that human numbers would inevitably outrun the resources on which our lives depend. Today, Lesotho’s experience since the 1970s is an even stronger case study of what happens when development plans ignore the reality that such efforts can be a recipe for exploding human numbers. The kingdom’s sad history also offers an urgent, cautionary tale of how rapid population growth can nullify development efforts that might otherwise let an emerging nation endure periods of abnormal weather.
Now, as Lesotho’s story is being retold in many of the 17 other African nations suffering drought, the Trump administration in particular should pay heed to what Lesotho can teach us. Instead, it has announced that the United States will cut its annual contribution to the United Nations Population Fund, which promotes family planning. That reckless move — followed by the even more reckless withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement — could only increase the growing number of desperate migrants who for decades have been fleeing famine and war in too many corners of the globe.
Even with only 1.2 million inhabitants in 1974, Lesotho’s leaders saw the country was overpopulated. A 1966 British Colonial Office study estimated that the land could support 400,000 people at best — a number Lesotho had reached by 1911. The country had few resources, and erosion was carrying away vast amounts of topsoil while an annual population increase of about 2 percent created more mouths to feed. Lesotho desperately needed access to contraception, but aid organizations avoided getting involved because many Africans then saw birth control as a conspiracy of the rich to keep population numbers in check.
What’s happened since? On the surface, Lesotho could seem to be a demographic success story. True, its population has doubled, but its growth rate has fallen and now is flat. This is not the typical “demographic transition” traceable to improved incomes. It is traceable to AIDS. The average life span of about 50 years, the second lowest anywhere, is roughly the same as it was 45 years ago. The rate of H.I.V. infection remains among the world’s highest, with nearly 23 percent of adults on antiretroviral medicines in 2014. That last statistic points to the reason the kingdom has not completely collapsed. Foreign donors have provided many of the medicines and medical facilities that keep H.I.V. from doing its worst. Back in 1974, Lesotho was a ward of the international community, dependent on development agencies and NGOs for many essentials. With the amount of aid having waxed and waned, that remains true today. Even in 1974, many development experts knew their programs might worsen Lesotho’s population pressures, but hoped in vain that economic growth would outweigh the burden. With only 7 percent of reproductive-age women having access to contraception in the 1970s, Lesotho got its population explosion. By the 1990s, the annual growth rate had soared to 2.75 percent. Belatedly, the government acknowledged the need for family planning, but other barriers impeded it. During much of Lesotho’s history, huge numbers of working-age men (40 percent in 1974) migrated to toil in South African mines. Many refused to let their wives use contraception for fear that the women would cheat on them during their absences. Moreover, the men’s itinerant lives gave the families incentive to have more boys, to help with the livestock and fields at home.
Over the years, dwindling mine jobs, urbanization, more aggressive outreach and fear of H.I.V. slowly increased use of contraception to 16 percent in 1998, and close to 60 percent in 2015.

Al-Jazeera and the Muslim Brotherhood
Eli Lake/Bloomberg/June 25/17
In 2014, Mohamed Fahmy, the former Cairo bureau chief for the Qatar-funded television network began a 438-day sentence in an Egyptian prison on terrorism charges and practicing unlicensed journalism. Today Fahmy is preparing a lawsuit against his former employers. And while he is still highly critical of the regime that imprisoned him, he also says the Egyptian government is correct when it says al-Jazeera is really a propaganda channel for Islamists and an arm of Qatari foreign policy. “The more the network coordinates and takes directions from the government, the more it becomes a mouthpiece for Qatari intelligence,” he told me in an interview Thursday. “There are many channels who are biased, but this is past bias. Now al-Jazeera is a voice for terrorists.”Fahmy’s testimony is particularly important now. Al-Jazeera is at the center of a crisis ripping apart the Arab Gulf states. Earlier this month Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a political and diplomatic blockade on Qatar. As part of that blockade, al-Jazeera has been kicked out of those countries. Al-Jazeera’s Arabic broadcasts have not met professional standards in recent years. To start, the network still airs a weekly talk show from Muslim Brotherhood theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He has used his platform to argue that Islamic law justifies terrorist attacks against Israelis and US soldiers. US military leaders, such as retired Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded forces in the initial campaign to stabilize Iraq, have said publicly that al-Jazeera reporters appeared to have advance knowledge of terrorist attacks. Fahmy told me that in his research he has learned that instructions were given to journalists not to refer to al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra, as a terrorist organization.
He said Qatar’s neighbors were justified in banning al-Jazeera. “Al-Jazeera has breached the true meaning of press freedom that I advocate and respect by sponsoring these voices of terror like Yusuf al Qaradawi,” he said. “If al-Jazeera continues to do that, they are directly responsible for many of these lone wolves, many of these youth that are brain washed.”
Fahmy didn’t always have this opinion of his former employer. He began to change his views while serving time. It started in the “scorpion block” of Egypt’s notorious Tora prison. During his stay, he came to know some of Egypt’s most notorious Islamists.
“When I started meeting and interviewing members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathizers, they specifically told me they had been filming protests and selling it to al-Jazeera and dealing fluidly with the network and production companies in Egypt associated with the network,” he said.
One example of al-Jazeera’s coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood revolves around Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in the summer of 2013, following the military coup that unseated Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president. As part of Fahmy’s case against al-Jazeera, he took testimony from a former security guard for the network and the head of the board of trustees for Egyptian state television. Both testified that members of the Muslim Brotherhood seized the broadcast truck al-Jazeera used to air the sit-ins that summer. In other words, al-Jazeera allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast its own protests.

The political and administrative Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/June 25/17
The recent pledge of allegiance ceremony to Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been landmark. Many in Saudi society believe that Prince Mohammed resembles his founder father Abdulaziz as he is determined and decisive. He learnt management since his early days thanks to his upbringing in the library belonging to his father, King Salman, which is described as one of the most important libraries in the world. King Salman had obliged all his sons to read one book a week.
When Prince Mohammed became a young man, he learnt management skills during his work in Riyadh. The king wanted him to learn the real skills of management to apply what he learnt in university after he attained a bachelor degree in law. The king realized his son’s knowledgeable and ambitious characteristics, and saw him as having a real plan. He then believed in his son’s talents and realized he could become a distinguished political and administrative figure. He then paved the way for him to work in the rough path of politics, and Prince Mohammed has mastered it.
Prince Mohammed attracted attention from all during his years of work. He did not know defeats, and he strongly and resolutely overcame challenges. The Saudis have now pledged allegiance to him as new crown prince for this promising country with its persistent youth.

In hate crimes against Muslims, focus less on media, more on prosecution
Yara al-Wazir/Al Arabiya/June 25/17
Hate crimes against Muslims are higher today than they have ever been since 9/11. According to the FBI, 16.7 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes are committed against Muslims in the United States. The UK shares a similarly bleak vision- over the past five years, the UK has seen a 125 percent rise in hate crimes against Muslims, and in 2016 alone, there was a 78 percent rise in hate crimes against Muslims.
While Western media tends to avoid the topic of crimes against Muslim completely, it occasionally treads, with extreme caution absolute sensitivity to the feelings of the assailant, often replacing the words “terrorist” with “mentally ill”.
The vast difference in terminology used by Western media in describing attacks against Muslims, compared to attacks committed by Muslims, pushes some buttons and immediately turns into a conversation that starts with “if this was committed by a Muslim, the story would have been told differently”. It is time to realize that the “us versus them” mentality does not achieve anything but further division.
In the case of the attack on a mosque in Finsbury Park, London, earlier this week, the Daily Mail editors decided to focus on the fact that the attacker was “clean shaven”, and did not call it a terrorist offence in the early prints of the story coverage.
Combatting double standards with facts
Yes, Western-media outlets clearly exhibit double standards in their coverage of attacks by Muslims when compared to hate crimes against Muslims. What does repeatedly highlighting this fact achieve other than further perpetuating the divide within the Muslim and Western communities?
In a world that is becoming increasingly divided by labels – labels of faith, of sect, of gender, of belief, Western-media for opts for divisive ‘click-bait’ headlines. In order to force media outlets to print stories of truth rather than attractive headlines, the public must build bridges with the industry rather than point fingers. Sharing relatable human stories of those who lose their lives, such as their children, their volunteer work, and their passions – that is ultimately what builds the strongest bridges. Fundamentally, Muslims want to feel safe in their communities, both at home and abroad. The way to achieve this harmony is to humanize the situation.
Hate crimes against Muslims will not stop if the media uses strong language to instantly condemn the attackers, or when the media calls on ‘clean shaven white men’ to apologies on behalf of ‘their people’. What will make hate crimes against Muslims stop is when the criminals and attackers are prosecuted to the extent of the law and given tough sentences. Only then will the media be forced to use strong language to describe the attackers for what they are: criminal terrorists motivated by hate.
Rather than taking to social media to rant about the coverage, the angry public must take to their local elected officials and write to them to ensure that criminals are fully prosecuted. In the case of Finsbury Park Mosque and in the case of Nabra Hassanen, the Muslim teen who was raped and killed in Virginia earlier this week, the men who committed the crimes were arrested. When they are charged with a crime, and a conviction is carried out, the media will have no choice but to report the stories and use the correct legal terminology – there is no sugarcoating murder once there is a conviction.
Division is being used as a gruesome weapon to commit atrocities and make people suffer. In a world that is increasingly divided and polarized, there is no better time to build bridges and commonalities through empathy. The “us versus them” mentality, conversations, and tweets of how crimes committed by Muslims are portrayed versus crimes committed by a standard white male do not achieve anywhere near as much as love. Hate cannot be driven out by hate.
In the unfortunate future that will inevitably see yet another crime committed against Muslims, focus on the stories of the victims more, and on the portrayal of the media less. Only then will public sentiment begin to understand that before anything else, Muslims and Westerns share the same fundamental core values: love, passion, family, and faith in a better world.

Gulf Crisis with Qatar Challenges the United States
Simon Henderson/The Washington Institute/June 25/17
Extremely tough conditions set by Saudi Arabia and the UAE for resolving the diplomatic rift with Qatar could force Washington to choose sides in the crisis.
The list of thirteen demands to which Qatar must respond within ten days appears to reflect longstanding desires -- although not publicly stated until very recently -- by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, of which Doha has been dismissive. Yet it is hard to see how this list was formulated with the intention of achieving a resolution rather than a complete undermining of diplomacy. There appears little way Doha can save any face. Perhaps the list reflects an opening maximalist salvo designed to prompt negotiation, but the prerequisite for agreement on all points suggests otherwise.
Qatar has to:
Curb diplomatic ties with Iran. Only trade and commerce that complies with U.S. and international sanctions will be permitted.
Declare the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and Lebanese Hezbollah to be terrorist organizations and sever all ties.
Shut down Al Jazeera and other Qatar-linked news outlets.
Terminate the Turkish military presence in the country and end joint military cooperation.
Stop all means of funding for those designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States, and other countries.
Hand over terrorists and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain to their countries of origin and freeze their assets.
End interference in sovereign countries' internal affairs.
Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain.
Pay reparations and compensation accounting for the consequences of Qatar's policies in recent years.
Align itself with Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, and economically.
Agree to all demands in ten days or the list becomes invalid.
Consent to monthly audits for the first year and then regularly over a total of twelve years.
The list does not amount in so many words to a call for regime change in Qatar, but rather to one for altered policies. Nevertheless, Doha is likely to view it as pressure to remove Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and his father, Hamad bin Khalifa, known as the "father-emir" and still regarded, especially by the UAE, as the power behind the throne since his abdication in 2013.
The prominent role in the confrontation of four countries -- Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain -- is easily explained. Saudi Arabia has long been irritated by Qatar, the huge gas reserves of which give it financial independence from the kingdom. The UAE has resented the support Qatar has given to the Muslim Brotherhood, members of which have plotted against the ruling family in Abu Dhabi, the leading emirate of the confederation. President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood regime, which survived in power for two years largely because it was propped up financially by Qatar. Bahrain has had a history of land disputes with Qatar -- and while these were resolved in 1994, ill will persists, encouraged by Riyadh.
Perhaps inconveniently for Washington, the demands make a point of associating the United States with the crisis, a position that, exacerbated by mixed messages from the White House, and the Defense and State Departments, may only complicate its resolution. The wording does not give Washington an obvious role in any diplomacy, and U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson had earlier said the demands should be "reasonable and actionable."
Also worrying is the apparent lead being taken by the newly promoted Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman and his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan, until now perceived as a restraining influence on MbS's impetuousness, exhibited by the military intervention in Yemen -- a side consequence of which is the creation of al-Qaeda safe havens.
Whether Riyadh and Abu Dhabi lose support in international public opinion over the nature of the demands will be interesting to see. While Al Jazeera has a well-established reputation for troublemaking and poor journalism, some countries may be thinking that -- however unhelpful the Qatari media might be -- the ending of Saudi support for madrasas across the world could be a useful addition to any diplomacy.
For its part, the United States may well find itself under renewed pressure from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to give up its use of the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which has played a key role in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Washington may need to do some tough talking with all its Gulf allies, and quickly, to secure itself a role in the diplomacy, ameliorating the crisis and stopping its escalation.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute, and coauthor of its 2017 Transition Paper Rebuilding Alliances and Countering Threats in the Gulf.

Preparing to Counter ISIS 2.0: European CT Efforts Since Charlie Hebdo
Gilles de Kerchove/The Washington Institute/June 25/17
Watch the European Union's counterterrorism coordinator discuss plans to combat the Islamic State after the caliphate falls.
On June 23, 2017, Gilles de Kerchove addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. A senior Belgian official and the EU counterterrorism coordinator, Kerchove previously served as director of justice and home affairs in the Council Secretariat of the European Union from 1995 to 2007. Following are his prepared remarks.
Daesh (aka the Islamic State) is being pushed out of vast swathes of the territory it once controlled and, despite propaganda proclaiming otherwise, the group's military defeat in Iraq and Syria is inevitable. But defeat in traditional military terms will not spell the end of the threat we face on both sides of the Atlantic.
Our enemies are adapting to their new reality and, as the physical caliphate collapses, the virtual caliphate is rising from the flames. ISIS 2.0 will not be beaten by military might alone. The European Union and its member states are working hard to tackle this increasingly hidden, often crude, and unpredictable threat.
In January 2015, the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris marked a step change in European counterterrorism cooperation. Just one month after the attack, European heads of state and government met in Brussels and committed to an ambitious blueprint for enhanced cooperation across three broad policy areas: (1) ensuring the security of citizens; (2) preventing radicalization and safeguarding values; and (3) cooperating with our international partners. Impressive progress has been made by the EU and its member states across all three portfolios.
Further still, recognizing the political importance of the issue, the president of the European Commission has appointed a Commissioner for the Security Union, Sir Julian King, in order to bring greater political focus to the commission's efforts.
Our enemies should be under no doubt that our collective capability and our collective resolve to defeat them and their heinous ideology are infinitely stronger than theirs. Last night (June 22), the heads of state and government of the EU met again in Brussels and committed to yet further cooperation and even greater ambition in this regard.
Ensuring the Security of Citizens
We have seen an unprecedented leap forward in information exchange, interoperability, and in police and intelligence cooperation and capability. This has taken place both through EU agencies such as Europol and its new European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) and through structures outside of the EU such as the Counter Terrorism Group (CTG).
The creation of new capabilities through legislation such as the Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive is making powerful new tools available across the Union. PNR, for example, allows member states to process data provided by airlines in order to identify high-risk travelers. PNR is no silver bullet, but it can disrupt our adversaries from traveling freely across Europe by helping to identify both known and unknown terrorist fighters traveling to or returning from conflict zones.
Other tools such as the Schengen Information System II (SIS II) have been enhanced and hold the details of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters. This provides further opportunities to identify, disrupt, or monitor terrorists moving throughout the EU. It allows for richer intelligence pictures to be generated and a framework for efficient cooperation at the border. For example, one case saw a foreign terrorist fighter trying to return to the Netherlands through Turkey and Germany. The individual was identified through SIS II, and Dutch authorities were able to stop him immediately for questioning upon arrival at Schiphol Airport.
The legislative response to the threat has been measured and effective. Laws have been tightened across the EU to criminalize travel for terrorist purposes, to tackle terrorist finance, and to make it far more difficult for terrorists to acquire firearms and explosive precursors and detonators.
Borders have been made more secure, and mandatory checks -- at the external border -- of all persons, including EU citizens, have been introduced, subject to closely monitored transition periods.
These collective efforts, among numerous others, have clearly had a positive effect on the security of our citizens. The trend toward cruder methods of attack remains a challenge, but it does indicate that firearms and explosives have indeed become harder to access. The change in the numbers of Europeans traveling to the conflict zone can also, in part, be attributed to the steps the EU has taken. The numbers are stark: Those Europeans traveling to join Daesh reached almost 4,800 by the end of 2015. In 2016, fewer than 100 EU residents were able to reach Syria and Iraq, and little more than a few dozen have been successful in 2017.
Preventing Radicalization and Safeguarding Values
The EU has been leading efforts in the virtual space since July 2015 through the creation of Europol's Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU). This unique multilingual capability has been working to reduce terrorist and extremist online propaganda on global platforms and to provide operational support to high-profile investigations. During its first dedicated two-day operation, the team analyzed and actioned over 1,800 pieces of Daesh- and al-Qaeda-affiliated content in nine different languages hosted by thirty-five different platforms.
The creation of the Internet Forum, which sees EU interior ministers and Internet companies working together to tackle the online threat, presents a significant opportunity to tackle ISIS 2.0. We have built strong foundations and ambition is high, but a step change is indeed necessary to meet the scale of the challenge. The Internet companies, led by Facebook, are already working on technical innovations to achieve this, including methods of detecting terrorist content automatically. The path to achieving this will not be easy, but it must be achieved if we are to protect our citizens and, crucially, our children.
The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) connects over 2,400 frontline practitioners across the EU working to counter radicalization across all sectors. These deep subject matter experts (including on the education, health, and prison sectors) bring their experience and knowledge together to learn from each other and to develop actionable recommendations for policymakers. The network has been strengthened with €25 million additional funding over four years and established as a Centre of Excellence for the EU.
Work to support member states in tackling prison radicalization is under way with funding made available for rehabilitation and deradicalization programs, risk-assessment tools, and training.
With an eye to the future, work to improve education and youth-employment prospects is also an essential pillar of our work in this area. Programs such as Erasmus+ have been strengthened to foster inclusion and promotion of fundamental values. Significant funding has been made available for new policies and projects and for grassroots initiatives.
International Cooperation
Political and security cooperation with our partners in the region is at an all-time high and is more important than ever. We have deployed counterterrorism experts to EU delegations in high-priority partner countries and are developing comprehensive CT-assistance programs with countries such as Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan. Our EU agencies, including Eurojust, Europol, Frontex, and the European Police College (CEPOL), have been reinforced in order to support these programs.
And of course, it goes without saying that the United States is a crucial partner in all of our activity. We have concluded a PNR agreement with the United States and maintain highly effective access to the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) through requests made by Europol. The TFTP has proven a very valuable tool in the investigations into the recent terrorist attacks in Europe. There has been a considerable rise in requests, which resulted in a high number of intelligence leads -- more than 35,000 since the EU-U.S. TFTP Agreement in 2010 (more than 80 percent of those leads were provided in 2015 and 2016 in reaction to the terrorist attacks). Almost half of these relate to foreign fighters. More broadly, the level of information exchange through Europol and Eurojust and, of course, bilaterally with the member states is essential to our tackling the threat both in the United States and Europe and around the world.
While some attacks have penetrated our collective defenses with tragic consequences, we can be certain that our collective actions have contributed to numerous plots being disrupted, and vulnerable citizens have been prevented from being radicalized or traveling for jihad in the battlefields of Syria or Iraq.
Crucially, if we are to face down the threat of ISIS 2.0, we will need to scale up our efforts to tackle the virtual caliphate. The EU is well positioned, but we will need our international partners and, most important, the online industry to step up to the mark. As the British prime minister said just this month, enough is indeed enough. The Internet giants, who are such a central part of our societies, must bring their full capabilities to the table and help us safeguard our children and vulnerable citizens from false religious narratives and from violent extremism.
We have achieved a significant amount in a very short period of time, but there remains much to do. We must act strategically and we must act together to share the burden. Our priorities for tackling ISIS 2.0 must now include defeating its agents in the virtual caliphate and ensuring the safety of our citizens in the face of the increasingly unpredictable and hidden acts of terrorism that the virtual caliphate inspires. We must also develop new methods of analyzing big data and using artificial intelligence to assist us. Finally, we would be foolish to simply focus on the short to medium term. True success against ISIS 2.0 will require the defeat of its delusional ideology and the victory of our shared values. The European Union will remain in support of our member states and our international partners for the long haul. Together, we have seen graver challenges than this before and triumphed in the face of them.

Defusing the Electricity Crisis in Gaza -- For Now
Katherine Bauer and Ghaith al-Omari//The Washington Institute/June 25/17
The recent deal to restore electricity to the territory will ease short-term concerns, but given the turbulent Palestinian and regional political scene, a more sustainable solution will require setting up independent mechanisms for utility provision.
On June 22, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) came back online, following a shipment of diesel fuel from Egypt earlier in the week, offering a temporary reprieve from the crisis that had left Gaza residents with as little as three hours of electricity per day. The news came just as Israel completed an incremental reduction in electricity provision from its own grid to Gaza, at the request of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Renewed electricity generation from the GPP should offset the reduction from Israel.
The power plant -- one of Gaza's three electricity sources, which also include imported electricity from Israel and Egypt -- has been off-line since Qatari and Turkish donations ran out in April. For at least a number of weeks, the line from Egypt has also been down for technical reasons.
Notably, payment for the Egyptian fuel has reportedly come from Hamas, rather than the United Arab Emirates, as some had speculated, and likely at least in part from electricity payments collected by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Electricity Distribution Company. Indeed, one source of the current crisis has been Hamas's refusal to transfer electricity payments to Ramallah to cover PA costs. Previously, Hamas had regularly transferred funds to Ramallah to cover fuel purchases for the plant but stopped in January when the PA said it would no longer pass on associated tax refunds. Taxes double the costs of the fuel, and reports indicate Hamas could not cover the full amount.
Regarding the Egyptian delivery, funds are suspected to have come from electricity payments to the utility when the cost was being covered by Qatar and Turkey. The PA, for its part, had until late April been fully paying for Israeli electricity exports to Gaza, estimated at 40 million Israeli shekels (about $11 million) per month -- as well as those to the West Bank -- from PA customs revenues collected by Israel on imports into both territories.
Political Context
These developments are taking place in a wider context. Beginning June 4, Gaza's new Hamas leader, Yahya al-Sinwar, led a delegation in meetings with Egypt's General Intelligence branch. The delegation also met with Mohammad Dahlan -- an Abu Dhabi-based former Fatah Central Committee member who was expelled from the movement by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas but continues to wield considerable influence among its Gaza members -- along with some of his aides. The meetings reportedly resulted in understandings between Hamas and Dahlan, under Egyptian auspices, whereby Dahlan will have a large role in managing Gaza's external relations and in resolving its humanitarian situation. The fuel shipment is seen as an outcome of these understandings.
On one level, this unlikely cooperation has a certain logic. Hamas, squeezed by Abbas's recent steps to reduce support for Gaza and deprived of Qatari backing, needs the relief that can only come through Egypt. Dahlan, who has been steadily marginalized by Abbas since last year's Fatah General Conference, would strengthen his standing among Gazans and once again become an indispensable figure on the Palestinian national scene. Both sides also want to weaken Abbas's standing. Egypt, which has no interest in dealing with another round of Israel-Hamas hostilities, will benefit from the de-escalation that would result from mitigating the electricity crisis and will welcome a stronger role in Gaza for its ally Dahlan and a reduced role for Qatar. Egypt has also reportedly reached its own understandings with Hamas regarding securing the Gaza-Egypt borders.
This cooperation, however, is unlikely to be sustainable. While Hamas's and Dahlan's interests may occasionally intersect, as they did here, a number of factors could hinder the conversion of these kinds of cooperative steps into a full-fledged partnership. Principally, the ultimate objectives of the two parties are in conflict, with each desiring primacy in Gaza and ultimately at the national Palestinian level. Moreover, any deeper cooperation will have to overcome their mutual distrust resulting from decades of often-bloody conflict. In the wider regional context, while both Egypt and the UAE -- Dahlan's main regional supporter -- would welcome developments supplanting Qatar's role in Gaza, both are vigorously anti-Islamist and unlikely to accept any long-term arrangements that would leave Hamas in charge of Gaza. Any fundamental shift would require that the main protagonists, and their regional backers, make key concessions, none of which seems to be likely at the moment.
Moreover, Abbas, whose authority would be severely challenged by such an alliance, is unlikely to sit idly by. He has proven skilled in the past at maintaining his relevance in the face of internal and external pressures, and is feeling energized and empowered by the Trump administration's robust interest in reviving the peace process.
The recent developments regarding electricity in Gaza reflect a convergence of interests between Hamas and Dahlan under terms also beneficial to Egypt. But this confluence must contend with deeper Palestinian and regional dynamics that are unlikely to be overcome any time soon, if ever. Furthermore, even if all three sources of power to Gaza return online and the status quo ante is restored, the Strip will continue to suffer from frequent outages. Current demand is estimated to be twice that of supply. For a number of years, Gazans have enjoyed eight hours of electricity a day, at best.
A more sustainable resolution of Gaza's electricity problems would require setting up independent structures and mechanisms for utility provision, perhaps drawing on lessons from World Bank efforts to establish the area's Coastal Municipalities Water Utility as well as considering more efficient sources of electricity, such as increased imports from Israel. Although the recent developments seem to have resolved the immediate Gaza electricity crisis and significantly lowered the chances of a new Gaza war this summer -- to the benefit of all -- they constitute a band-aid likely at some point to fall off.
**Katherine Bauer is the Blumenstein-Katz Family Fellow at The Washington Institute. Ghaith al-Omari is an Institute senior fellow and author of its recent report Governance as a Path to Palestinian Political Rejuvenation.