June 30/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 09/36-38/:"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest."

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved

Letter to the Romans 10/12-21/:"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, ‘I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.’Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 29-30/17
Israel speaking Russian to Hezbollah/Alex Fishman/Ynetnews/June 29/17
Iranian Flags Joins Array Of Enemy Symbols Planted On Lebanon Border/Jerusalem Post/June 29/17
Qatar…Four Days Left/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/June 29/17
Iran’s missiles: Dangers and policy recommendations/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/June 29/17
American "Fear of Sharia" Is Anything but "Silly"/A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/June 29/17
The West: Too Tired to Defend Freedom/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/June 29/17
Erdogan is Capable and Willing to Destabilize the Balkans And NATO Pretends Everything Is Fine/
Daniel Pipes/ 29/2017
Iraq declares ‘end’ of caliphate after capture of historic Mosul mosque/Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli/Reuters/June 29/17
Linguistic variations in describing acts of terror/Dr. Halla Diyab/Al Arabiya/June 29/17
Qatar’s failure and bankruptcy/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/June 29/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 29-30/17
A statement from the Canadian-Lebanese Lobby
Lebanese Detainee in Iran Goes on Hunger Strike
Mashnouq: Security Agencies Fulfilling Duties, Nasrallah's Rhetoric Doesn't Represent Lebanon
Israel Says UNIFIL Presence in Lebanon 'Unnecessary'
Report: Wage Scale File Back to Spotlight, GLF Plans Sit-in Until its Approval
Tueini: Wage Scale Will be Settled at Next Parliament Meeting
Mashnouk chairs meeting for heads of departments concerned with elections
Citizen aged 85 dies of wounds sustained during celebratory shooting
Kaag after meeting Riachy: Through dialogue we can reconcile
Richard celebrates Lebanese high school students participating in Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Scholarship Program
Darian meets MP Sami Gemayel
Kabalan meets Army Chief, Sami Gemayel: Lebanese Army is Lebanon's salvation
Geagea cables congratulations to Saudi Crown Prince: to keep Lebanon within Kingdom's priorities
Berri, Riachy discuss general affairs
Israel speaking Russian to Hezbollah
Iranian Flags Joins Array Of Enemy Symbols Planted On Lebanon Border

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
June 29-30/17
Israel Forces Hit Syria Army after New Stray Fire
Dubai Ruler Takes to Verse to Urge Qatar Turnabout
Syria, Russia Accuse US of Plotting 'Provocation'
Limited Options for ISIS after its Defeat in Mosul
Iraq Military Retakes Historic Mosul Mosque
Saudi Arabia Stresses Distinguished Ties with Russia
Amid crisis with Arab states, Qatar minister to visit Turkey
ISIS has lost 60% of territory, 80% of revenue: Analysts
Assad Taking US Threats ‘Seriously’ as Moscow Vows ‘Appropriate Response’ to Washington
Threats to Oust Qatar from GCC
US Official Visits Raqqa as Turkey Launches Airstrikes on Syria’s Kurds
Egypt Accuses Qatar of Backing Terrorism in Libya
100,000 Civilians Trapped in Raqqa as Russia Jets Shell Deir al-Zour Market
SDF: Major Possibility of Clash with Turkey in Northwest Syria
Hamas Seeks to Reassure Egypt by Building Buffer Zone
Tunisian Security Forces Dismantle Cell Linked to Syria Terror Groups
Trump Travel Ban to Take Partial Effect
Berlin Tells Erdogan He Can't Give Germany Speech

Latest Lebanese Related News published on June 28-29/17
A statement from the Canadian-Lebanese Lobby
June 29/2017
The Canadian-Lebanese Lobby strongly condemns the cowardly terrorist threat to our Canadian society being made by ISIS. Canada has consistently excelled in overcoming adversity and threats of terror throughout its history, and we are confident it will not waiver in this regard.
The Canadian-Lebanese Lobby calls on the Canadian people and in particular those of Lebanese origin, to commit to full and fearless participation in celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation.
The Canadian-Lebanese Lobby also calls on the Canadian government to become more determined and active in the fight against terrorism by cracking down on those who would promote an ideology that exploits religion as a means to achieve its reprehensible goals.
Finally, the Canadian-Lebanese Lobby stands with the Canadian government, our fellow Canadians, and the Canadian Armed Forces as well as all other security forces working to eliminate terrorism in Canada and around the world. Terrorism is waging a war on the fundamental Canadian values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and the acceptance of all religions and backgrounds. We stand by these values, and recognize ourselves as a fundamental part of this nation we call home.
For the Canadian-Lebanese Lobby
William Azzi
Edmond El-Chidiac
Rose Zeidan
Isabelle El-Chidiac

Lebanese Detainee in Iran Goes on Hunger Strike
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/Beirut – A Lebanese engineer who has been detained in Iran since 2015 went on hunger strike to pressure authorities to release him, appealing to the International Committee of the Red Cross intervene to help him. Secretary General of the Arab ICT Organization (Ijma’a), Engineer Nizar Zakka was arrested in Tehran in wake of his participation in a conference that was held in September 2015. He was kidnapped while he was headed to the airport to depart the country. It was later revealed that he was detained by the Iranian authorities. In 2016, an Iranian court sentenced him to ten years in jail and fined him 4.2 million dollars on charges of conspiring against the state. His lawyer, Badawi Abou Deeb, later appealed the sentence. Abou Deeb revealed that his client had started his huger strike on Tuesday. “His open-ended strike is a protest against his arrest in what was a violation of the most basic of human rights and all international laws. He will carry on with his strike until he is freed without any conditions,” he stressed. He said that Zakka’s case is unprecedented because he was arrested by the very state that officially invited him to attend an official conference. “We call on all civil organizations that are concerned with protecting human rights, as well as the Lebanese state, headed by President Michel Aoun, to take immediate action to release Zakka before it is too late,” he demanded.

Mashnouq: Security Agencies Fulfilling Duties, Nasrallah's Rhetoric Doesn't Represent Lebanon
Naharnet/June 29/17/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said on Thursday that blaming the Internal Security Forces and Interior Ministry for the spread of personal crimes is an “exaggeration” as he assured that legal and security measures will be taken against all those who use arms irresponsibly. “It is an exaggeration to blame the ISF and interior ministry. We are carrying out our duties as state apparatuses, but the judiciary is the authority entitled to decide whether to arrest (gunfire shooters) or not,” said Mashnouq after meeting President Michel Aoun at the Presidential Palace. Mashnouq added that orders were given to arrest gunfire shooters even for celebratory reasons that coincide with the official exam results today. He urged people to report any shooting incident they encounter, stressing that there will be no political cover to protect anyone. "President Aoun has been giving all his attention to the Baalbek and Bekaa region, and I have been following up on developments in this area for some time now," the Minister added. “We have worked on diminishing the number of weapons permits. Strict measures and close follow-up are needed more to control imprudent use of arms mainly in the Bekaa valley,” he said. Touching on the electoral law and the preparations for the election, the Minister explained that there were many details that would not be concluded before a month from now. "There is no discussion about the timing of elections because the matter has been settled and elections will be held on time. There will certainly be a magnetic vote card, and we're making sure in our discussions with the experts to be precise in the implementation process," he said. Referring to Nasrallah's latest statement Mashnouq said: “Nasrallah does not represent the Lebanese state, government, and people because he is definitely off the Lebanese path.”

Israel Says UNIFIL Presence in Lebanon 'Unnecessary'

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 29/17/Israel accused the peacekeeping United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) of becoming an “excuse for Hizbullah and the Lebanese government to violate UN resolution 1701,” media reports said on Thursday. An Israeli military source was quoted by al-Monitor as saying that “UNIFIL was supposed to be the enforcement apparatus for Security Council Resolution 1701, but in fact it has become a fig leaf,” for the resolution that was issued by the International Community in 2006. The source accused the UNIFIL of “whitewashing Hizbullah's activity on the Blue Line, and serving as an excuse for Hizbullah and the Lebanese government to violate resolution 1701.”The confrontation began last week when the United Nations rejected Israeli claims that Hizbullah was establishing observation posts along the border under the cover of an environmental NGO. The Israeli military published pictures of a building near the Israeli-Lebanese border supposedly controlled by an organization called Green Without Borders. The UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL reported that Green Without Borders members have planted trees in the area, but it "has not observed any unauthorized armed persons at the locations or found any basis to report a violation of resolution 1701," said UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, had sent a letter of protest to the Security Council with images of the alleged observation posts and maps locating them. Dannon described the activities as a "dangerous provocation" and said Hizbullah was carrying out reconnaissance activities near the Blue Line border demarcation while posing as a civilian organization. Israel fought a month-long war against Hizbullah in 2006, killing more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. Resolution 1701 was adopted to end the war, calling for full respect of the Blue Line.

Report: Wage Scale File Back to Spotlight, GLF Plans Sit-in Until its Approval

Naharnet/June 29/17/The confirmation of Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday that the problematic wage scale file will be tackled at the upcoming legislative session, made many contradicting views surface again some demanding its approval and others warning of its impact on the state's treasury, media reports said Thursday. In a statement the General Labor Confederation demanded approval of the salary scale giving “state employees, military sector, contractors, retirees, public and private teachers their longtime rights.” The confederation confirmed in its statement its readiness to use all methods of pressure “including sit-ins, demonstrations and all democratic means available to reach these rights.”During his weekly Wednesday meeting with MPs, Berri reiterated the importance of law implementation in various fields, stressing the need to summarily address the daily living conditions of citizens. He told MPs that the parliament is gearing up for a broad workshop aimed at studying and approving vital and urgent project laws mainly the wage scale file. Berri also said that the public budget shall be included on the agenda of the parliament's general assembly for discussion and approval, after the finance committee concludes its discussion. Berri also disclosed that the United Nations had informed Lebanon of its readiness to patronize the demarcation of maritime borders. The GLC has been pushing for the approval of the new wage scale for several years now and has organized numerous street protests and strikes to this end. Meanwhile, the Economic Committees warn that approving the wage scale will inflict heavy losses on the private and public sectors.

Tueini: Wage Scale Will be Settled at Next Parliament Meeting

Naharnet/June 29/17/State Minister for Combating Corruption assured on Thursday that the thorny wage scale file has been discussed in depth and will be settled during the upcoming legislative meeting, stressing that “revenues to fund the scale have been secured.”“The salary scale file will be decided at parliament because it has been discussed at length. Revenues to fund it are available and will be secured through taxation on maritime property, a 1% increase in the Value Added Tax in addition to other revenues suggested earlier by the government,” Tueini told VDL (93.3) in an interview. The Minister added that the private sector shall follow in and introduce an adjustment to wages, he said: “The private sector will go for the wage scale in the next stage,” enumerating some of the pros that “can be reflected by the approval of the scale, most notably pumping new money in the market and stimulating the economy.” The parliament is set to convene mid July.

Mashnouk chairs meeting for heads of departments concerned with elections
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - Minister of Interior and Municipalities Nuhad Mashnouk chaired a meeting for heads of electoral departments and specialized experts to follow up the research on the ongoing preparations for the electoral process in accordance with the new electoral law. A number of suggestions were discussed on the proposed steps to implement the contents of the new law. In this context, the participants were asked to speed up the pace of work while adopting the latest technologies to ensure the effectiveness and credibility of the voting process. Separately, Mashnouk received the ambassador of Palestine to Lebanon, Ashraf Dabour, with whom he discussed a number of issues related to Lebanese-Palestinian relations.

Citizen aged 85 dies of wounds sustained during celebratory shooting
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - Hussein Jamaleddin (85 years old) died from wounds sustained in his lungs in front of his house in the village of Tal al-Abyad at the entrance of North Baalbek, as a result of shooting in celebration of the results of the intermediate certificate (Brevet) exams, the NNA correspondent reported. The victim was transferred in critical condition to Dar al-Hikma Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

Kaag after meeting Riachy: Through dialogue we can reconcile
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, met, at his office on Thursday, with United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag. Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Kaag said talks with the Minister were "very fruitful." "We focused on his vision to emphasize Lebanon's strength and values as a country of dialogue, tolerance, and conviviality," she said. "We discussed ways in which we can jointly as United Nations, with the ministry and the minister himself, tackle issues around social cohesion and perceptions by citizens and those on Lebanon soil, to really promote communication as a way to reach a better understanding of the situation of others and therefore, the position any citizen may find himself in," she added. "Lebanon is always at a crossroads in a region that is volatile, with many new unexpected developments (...) and with our support, hopefully, we can focus on positive attributes and invest in Lebanon as a model pillar of this very special form of dialogue," she underlined. "Through dialogue, we prevent; but we can also heal and reconcile," she concluded.

Richard celebrates Lebanese high school students participating in Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Scholarship Program
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - Ambassador Elizabeth Richard joined 56 bright, energetic young Lebanese scholarship winners and their families for an American-style barbeque. The students are all participants in the U.S. government's Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. Ambassador Richard welcomed back to Lebanon 26 YES students who recently returned from the United States and said farewell to 30 students from throughout Lebanon who will travel to the United States later this summer to be young "ambassadors" for Lebanon during their year-long program. Since the program began in 2003, more than 400 Lebanese youth have spent an academic year in the homes of American families, studying in high schools throughout the United States. Upon their return to Lebanon, YES students become part of an alumni program that gives them the chance to apply what they learned during their year in the United States. The youth will work together in service projects and extracurricular activities that will benefit their home communities. -- Press release

Darian meets MP Sami Gemayel
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdullatif Darian met, at Dar-al-Fatwa on Thursday, with Kataeb Party leader, MP Sami Gemayel. "We are available to build a community where coexistence would prevail and where we would work all together to build a state that resembles us," Gemayel told reporters following the meeting. "We confirmed to the Mufti that all the Lebanese, from all sects, share the same ambition to build the nation," he added. Darian later met with MP Kazem Kheir, heading a delegation of Zakat Fund.

Kabalan meets Army Chief, Sami Gemayel: Lebanese Army is Lebanon's salvation
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - Head of the Higher Shiite Council, Sheikh Abdul Amir Kabalan, received on Thursday the Lebanese Army commander, General Joseph Aoun, with talks touching on the general situation in Lebanon and the region. Kabalan wished General Aoun "continued success in his national duties in defending Lebanon and protecting its borders and its people." He stressed that "the Lebanese Army is the salvation of Lebanon and a guarantor to its unity and stability. The Lebanese must stand behind their army and provide it with all the needed elements of support. They must work to preserve unity and stability and unite in the battle for the defense of Lebanon, so as to preserve its image as a model for Christian-Muslim coexistence." The Sheikh later welcomed the President of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, MP Sami Gemayel, with whom he discussed an array of local affairs. Kabalan stressed that "the Lebanese must unite in the face of the enemies of Lebanon represented by Takfiri and the Zionist terrorism." "Speaker Nabih Berri is a patriotic man par excellence, and he is a guarantee for the preservation of Lebanon and its stability and the consolidation of coexistence between citizens," he went on, underlining the Speaker's clinging to the culture of dialogue to solve problems among Lebanese. In the wake of the meeting, MP Gemayel delivered a statement in which he assured that "our goal is one and our ambition is to build a nation worthy of the youth of Lebanon and a homeland to the size and ambition of the younger generation."

Geagea cables congratulations to Saudi Crown Prince: to keep Lebanon within Kingdom's priorities
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces Party leader, Samir Geagea, cabled the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, congratulating him on the occasion of his crowning. "After a rich march of achievements, you demonstrated your ability to rise up in the various tasks assigned to you. We wish you success, stability and progress for your great country, Saudi Arabia and the Arab world as a whole," the telegram said. "Given my firm conviction that the Kingdom wants good for Lebanon and the Arab world, I hope that you will keep Lebanon in the priority of your concerns for its cultural and humanitarian values, and its strategic location at the intersection between the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Arab-Iranian conflict in Syria and the region. Through my cooperation with your Highness, I seek to strengthen relations between the Kingdom and the Christians of Lebanon at the level of interfaith dialogue sponsored by the Kingdom, as well as at the political level," Geagea said.

Berri, Riachy discuss general affairs
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, received in Ain Tineh this Thursday the Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, with whom he tackled the general situation in the country, as well as overall media issues.

Israel speaking Russian to Hezbollahإسرائيل تتكلم بالروسية مع حزب الله
Alex Fishman/Ynetnews/June 29/17
Analysis: Using the Russian model, Israel is sending a clear message to the terror organization that if it fails to back down on its effort to establish strongholds in the Golan Heights, Israel may take advantage of its weakness in southern Lebanon and attack.
When Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah wakes up in the morning, the last thing on his mind is another fence being built by Israel along its border with Lebanon. As far as he’s concerned, when Israel invests billions in different fortifications on the northern border, it’s another small victory. The war he is waging against Israel is comprehensive: Sometime it’s reflected in missile attacks, but most of the time it’s psychological and economic. His goal is to make Israel waste money and live in fear. That’s how he believes he can break Israeli society.
One thing that does bother Nasrallah when he opens his eyes is where will he get money to keep maintaining the huge political, military and civilian system he has built in Lebanon in a reasonable manner. Over the past two years, Hezbollah has been in a dire financial situation. The Iranian support has been reduced by hundreds of millions of dollars; there is a drop in the extent of taxation and donations; the Americans, the Saudis and others have declared the group a terror organization, and the sanctions are leaving their mark on its day-to-day life. Having no other choice, Hezbollah has sold assets and reduced salaries.
One-third of Hezbollah’s fighting force has been in Syria for four years now. One-third of the fighters have been either killed or wounded, and the burden of payments to their families is huge. Morale is affected too. Militants are reluctant to participate in another round of fighting in Syria after only narrowly escaping the previous time. It’s no wonder that in the past two years Hezbollah has been burying 16 and 17-year-old boys who volunteered to fight among the organization’s ranks in Syria.
So why did someone in the defense establishment decide to make headlines this week by linking the commencement of work on the northern border fence to a summer war against Hezbollah? This is not the finest hour for Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. Their ability to wear out and curb an Israeli ground maneuver has been reduced, as a significant part of the best or most professional forces reinforcing the defense lines in southern Lebanon is absent. If anyone in Israel decides there is a need to destroy Hezbollah’s base in southern Lebanon, now is the time.
A Hezbollah-initiated war coming out of Lebanon is out of the question right now, as far as the organization is concerned. Its leaders believe one of the ways to circumvent the “Maginot Line” Israel is building on its northern border is the Golan Heights. There, Israel is already wrestling with Hezbollah and Iran in different ways. This brawl is reflected in the Israeli strikes against the Syrian army in recent days—following the spillover of mortar shells into Israel—as part of the battle over shaping the Golan Height’s future.
It seems ever since the Russian army arrived in Syria, Israel keeps learning how a world power works. One of the tools frequently used by the Russians is called “soft force”: Deception, misleading, psychological warfare, a conflict between different parts of the population. On Sunday, for example, after the Israel Air Force bombed Syrian army units in Quneitra, the official Russian news agency reported the IDF had attacked posts of the al-Nusra Front rebel organization. That wasn’t true, but does it matter? In the Russian code, such a statement indicates to the Syrians: We have no intention of interfering in your fights with Israel in the Quneitra area. And to Israel it says: We acknowledge your interest in this area.
Israel doesn’t really think the fence would lead to war in the summer. If a conflict erupts, it will be for other reasons. It’s just working according to the Russian model to exert psychological and diplomatic leverages of pressure. So last week, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, followed by the Military Intelligence director, presented Hezbollah observation towers and accused UNIFIL of insufficient supervision, while this week, a military source created a headline that the fence could be used as a pretext for war.
It’s no coincidence. There is a message to Hezbollah here that if it fails to back down on its effort to establish strongholds in the Golan Heights, Israel may take advantage of its weakness in southern Lebanon and attack. This message is also recreating the recognition among the residents of southern Lebanon, and Lebanon in general, that Hezbollah may turn their lives into a living hell. To the world, this headline conveys the following message: Step up the sanctions against Hezbollah, because this terror organization is endangering the region’s stability.
The problem with the Russian method is that, in democratic societies, twisted messages could turn into a double-edged sword. The Galilee is thriving. The summer vacations are about to start. Such a message could dry up the Galilee. As soon as the first image of construction work on the fence is published, people will flee.

Iranian Flags Joins Array Of Enemy Symbols Planted On Lebanon Borderالإعلام الإيرانية تضاف إلى الشعارات المعادية لإسرائيل على الحدود اللبنانية-الإسرائيلية
Jerusalem Post/June 29/17
Living with the Iranian threat is not a new phenomenon, but it is an increasingly complex one because of the Syrian civil war. Iran is reaching a peak of influence and power in the region.
Lebanon seems to be having a flag sale.
Iranian flags, Hezbollah, UN, Spanish, Palestinian flags. They are all flying provocatively along the border with the northern Israeli community of Metulla.
Meters from the fence that separates the countries, not far from the site of a 1985 terrorist attack, Hezbollah has festooned the roads with signs of its presence. It’s purposely done so Israeli residents can see the flags and the billboards next to them. In Metulla there is a memorial for the 12 Israeli soldiers killed in the March 10, 1985, suicide bombing, while just across the border a huge billboard celebrates the massacre.
I spent Tuesday touring the Lebanese and Syrian borders to see the tense situation in the north of the country. The flags across the border seemed representative of the situation that prevails today. Next to the Hezbollah flags is a small post that has a UN logo. Near it the Amal Shia Lebanese movement has erected a large banner reading “To he of pure hands and a generous soul, thank you Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri.”
(Berri is also the leader of Amal.) On the banner is the Iranian flag. Here is a visible presence of Iran just a stone’s throw from Israel. It’s not the only Iranian symbol here.
On a hill overlooking houses being constructed in Metulla is another huge poster with a photo of the Dome of the Rock. The face of Ayatollah Khomeini glowers down over the dome and Hezbollah has written: “We are coming” in Hebrew and Arabic.
They’ve put a giant Palestinian flag next to the poster. The message is clear, and disconcerting.
Here is Iran glowering down on Israel from the north. As we toured the border area with Lt.-Col. (res.) Sarit Zehavi, the head of Alma, an organization that gives briefings on Israel’s security challenges on the northern border, what should be a tense situation seemed quiet. This area has known war for many years. There is a British police fort from the 1930s, when terrorists also struck at Jewish communities. Zehavi stresses that the situation along the Lebanese border has not affected tourism or housing prices, and the new construction is evidence of that.
Living with the Iranian threat is not a new phenomenon, but it is an increasingly complex one because of the Syrian civil war. Tehran is reaching a peak of influence and power in the region. Its tentacles stretch across Syria and Iraq, and Hezbollah is emboldened.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah boasts of bringing thousands of foreign fighters to help him attack Israel. He sees Shi’ites from Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen joining the assault. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted on Monday that “today the fight against Zionist regime is wajib [obligatory] and necessary for Muslims. Why do some evade this duty?” He also claimed: “Palestine is the No. 1 issue of the Islamic world.” From his 300,000 followers on his English language page, he only got several hundred likes on his statements.
So, is the relative quiet in northern Israel illusory? Are the Iranian flags just meant to intimidate and sow fear, or are they a sign of a much deeper problem to be taken seriously? The feeling one gets as a visitor is that of a kind of mirage. There is Hezbollah, a vicious, dangerous terrorist group with more than 100,000 rockets, a few hundred meters away, but familiarity breeds a bit of contempt. The first time you see the flags it’s surprising. The second time, interesting. The third time, boring.
The flags are just the visible expression of what goes on quietly in villages over the border, and of what Hezbollah’s Iranian masters sitting 1,500 kilometers away are thinking. They’d like to boast of conquering Jerusalem or show some murderous and symbolic attack against Israel. But traversing the border, in the shadow of the flags, is the Israeli army, its Humvees and other vehicles, watching for threats.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on June 29-30/17
Israel Forces Hit Syria Army after New Stray Fire
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 29/17/Israel hit a Syrian regime position on Wednesday night after stray mortar fire from the war-torn country struck the occupied Golan Heights, in the third such exchange within a week. A military spokeswoman said a mortar round had hit open ground in the Israeli-controlled zone of the plateau and "forces responded and targeted the Syrian army position that fired the mortar."She did not say if the Israeli retaliatory fire had come from ground or air forces. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been visiting the Israeli settlement of Katzrin, further south in the Golan, at the time of the exchange of fire. "During my speech, shells from the Syrian side landed in our territory and the Israel Defence Forces have already struck back," the Israeli premier said in an English-language statement. "I said that we will not tolerate spillover and that we will respond to every firing," he said. "Whoever attacks us -- we will attack him. This is our policy and we will continue with it." On Sunday Israel hit "two artillery positions and an ammunitions truck belonging to the Syrian regime," and the army ordered Israelis to keep away from open areas near the ceasefire line. The day before, Israeli aircraft hit two Syrian army tanks and what Israel said was a machinegun position, after 10 projectiles from Syrian internal conflict fell in the Israeli-held zone. Israel has conducted several air strikes in Syria since that country's civil war erupted in 2011, most of which it has said had been against arms convoys or warehouses of its Lebanese arch-foe Hezbollah, which is a key supporter of the Syrian regime. In April, Israel shot down what it identified only as "a target" over the Golan, hours after Syria accused it of hitting a military position near Damascus airport. Israel did not confirm or deny the reported Damascus attack. Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. Around 510 square kilometres of the Golan are under Syrian control. The Israeli side of the Golan has been hit sporadically by what is thought to be stray fire from fighting between forces loyal to Syria's government and rebels. Syria and Israel are still technically at war.

Dubai Ruler Takes to Verse to Urge Qatar Turnabout
The ruler of Dubai has taken to verse to urge Qatar to concede to the demands of Saudi Arabia and its allies for an end to a crippling embargo. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who is also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, is the latest in a long line of world leaders to turn to poetry to convey their message. In the poem, posted on Instagram late on Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed urged Qatar to abandon its independent foreign policy and return to the Gulf fold. "Of one origin, people, existence/one flesh and blood, one land and faith," he wrote. "Yet Qatar turns to the nearby stranger, to the weak," he added, alluding to Doha's refusal to join the Riyadh-led boycott of Tehran. "Now is the time to unite, one heart/to protect one another beyond hate."The poem garnered more than 80,000 likes overnight. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and its allies Egypt and Bahrain severed all ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of support for extremist groups -- a claim Doha denies. They closed their airspace to Qatari carriers and blocked the emirate's only land border, a vital route for its food imports. They also ordered all Qataris to leave and their own nationals to return home. Last week, Riyadh laid down a list of 13 "non-negotiable" demands for Doha, including ending its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a downgrade of diplomatic ties with Iran and the shutdown of a Turkish military base in the emirate. The UAE ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash warned in comments published by Britain's Guardian newspaper on Tuesday that Qatar could face further sanctions if it failed to meet the demands. Sheikh Mohammed is by no means the first world leader to turn to poetry. Former US president Jimmy Carter is a published poet. Barack Obama dabbled in poetry in the 1980s and his successor Donald Trump is now the unintentional author of a compilation of tweets and quotes entitled "Bard of the Deal: The poetry of Donald Trump".  Bosnian Serb psychiatrist-turned-politician Radovan Karadzic, sentenced to 40 years in jail by a UN court last year for his part in the 1995 genocide of Muslims in the town of Srebrenica, also fancied himself as a poet, releasing a collection of poetry and a novel, "Miraculous Chronicles of the Night".

Syria, Russia Accuse US of Plotting 'Provocation'
Associated Press/Naharnet/June 29/17/Syria's government and its ally Russia accused Washington on Thursday of concocting a "provocation" in Syria, which would then be blamed on President Bashar Assad's government as alleged use of chemical weapons to justify an attack. In a statement carried by the official news agency, Syria's Foreign Ministry said it rejects U.S. allegations that Syria was preparing for a chemical weapons attack, describing such accusations as "misleading" and "completely baseless."It said the objective of such allegations was to "justify a new aggression on Syria under ill-founded pretexts," similar to what happened in April when the U.S. struck a Syrian air base, which it said had been used to stage a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed nearly 90. Earlier this week, the White House has warned that Assad is preparing for another chemical attack and said that the Syrian ruler will "pay a heavy price" if he unleashes it. Also Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow has received information that Syrian rebels have already fabricated video materials to accuse Damascus of a chemical attack. She said that according to the information Russia has, Syrian towns of Saraqib and Arihah could serve as venues for the "provocation." Both towns are located in the province of Idlib in northwestern Syria and are controlled by the rebels. She claimed that such action could be aimed at derailing the next round of Syria peace talks brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran, which is set for next week in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana. The meeting is meant to determine specifics related to safety zones in Syria. Zakharova's strongly-worded statement reflect soaring tensions between Moscow and Washington even as U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin are expected to hold their first meeting at the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Germany. The U.S. in April struck the Shayrat air base in central Syria, which it said had been used to stage a chemical attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Pentagon said the preparations detected by the U.S. occurred at the same Shayrat air base which the U.S. named as the platform for launching the April attack. The Syrian government has denied it ever used banned chemicals, and it rejected Washington's latest allegations. Russia also has strongly denied that Assad's forces were to blame for the attack in April, arguing that the victims had died of exposure to toxic agents released when Syrian warplanes hit a rebels' chemical weapons depot. Moscow claimed that some of the images from the scene were fabricated and criticized the international chemical weapons watchdog of failing to send its inspectors to the site of the attack and the Syrian air base allegedly used to launch it. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed on Thusrday that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call this week told him that Washington has information about Assad allegedly preparing a chemical attack. Lavrov questioned the veracity of the U.S. information and suggested that extremists could take advantage of the U.S. warning to stage a provocation in order to blame Assad. Asked how Russia would react to a possible U.S. strike on Syria, Lavrov said that the response will be "proportionate."

Limited Options for ISIS after its Defeat in Mosul
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/London- On this day in 2014, then ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani announced the establishment of the organization. A few days later the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed from Mosul’s Grand al-Nuri Mosque a “caliphate” across territory in both Iraq and Syria. But after three years, Iraq’s military is closer to total control of Mosul. It is a matter of time before ISIS is defeated inside the city. After Mosul’s full liberation, the terrorist organization has limited options. It would probably resort to fighting in areas that remain under its control in Iraq and Syria. There are expectations for an imminent battle in Tal Afar where the group’s militants are holed up. Mosul’s loss would highly impact the morale of the militants and would turn claims on the organization’s expansion obsolete. So the main choice for ISIS would be to turn into a gang of thugs by fighting Iraqi government forces and their allies and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria. But it is not yet clear how its leader would function amid a clear absence of al-Baghdadi, who has made a public appearance only once in 2014. Recent reports have said that the ISIS leader has been killed, including a claim by Russia’s defense ministry that he died in an air strike in Syria last month. ISIS’ fall in Mosul will accompany its defeat in its de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria where the US-backed coalition has made considerable progress to oust the militants from the city.
Experts believe that ISIS supporters would then retaliate by carrying out more “lone wolf” attacks in Western countries although the organization’s ability to plot for operations abroad would weaken greatly following its loss of both Mosul and Raqqa. As a third option, ISIS could resort to its affiliates in more than one country, including Libya, Egypt, the Sahel in west Africa and Afghanistan. These affiliated “orphans” could increase attacks after the loss of their main headquarters in Mosul.

Iraq Military Retakes Historic Mosul Mosque
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/The Iraqi military on Thursday announced the recapture of the iconic Grand al-Nuri mosque in Mosul where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance. The announcement of the recapture of the mosque – which ISIS blew up last week as Iraqi forces closed in — comes three years to the day after the terrorists declared a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria. “Counter-Terrorism Service forces control the Nuri mosque and Al-Hadba (minaret),” the Joint Operations Command said in a statement. After a senior special forces commander said the mosque had not in fact been retaken, the operations command clarified that it meant Iraqi forces had isolated the area and were “advancing toward the completion of the goals.”“Their fictitious state has fallen,” an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told state TV. Baghdadi appeared at Friday prayers at the Nuri mosque in 2014, soon after ISIS seized Iraq’s second city. Three years later, Baghdadi’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown, and ISIS has lost much of the territory it overran in 2014. The jihadists blew up the mosque and minaret on June 21 as they put up increasingly desperate resistance to the advance of Iraqi forces. The destruction of the 850 year-old mosque came three days after government forces launched an assault on the Old City, the last district of Mosul still under ISIS control. About 100,000 residents are believed to still be trapped in the district by the terrorist organization, which has been using civilians as human shields to defend its last redoubt in Mosul. The area still controlled by the militants is small but its narrow streets and the presence of so many civilians has made the operation perilous. The jihadists have been offering fierce resistance in the Old City, with barrages of mortar fire and a huge number of booby traps slowing the Iraqi advance. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “issued instructions to bring the battle to its conclusion,” his office said on Wednesda

Saudi Arabia Stresses Distinguished Ties with Russia
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/An official source said some media outlets are trying to publish false and incorrect reports about the distinguished relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday. SPA quoted the source as saying that such reports aim at damaging relations between the two friendly countries. The source pointed out that the two states are permanently committed to positive and open dialogue, stressing the necessity of obtaining information on ties between the two countries from the official media, the agency added.

Amid crisis with Arab states, Qatar minister to visit Turkey
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - Turkey's state television says Qatar's defense minister will arrive in Turkey for talks amid the Gulf Arab states' feud with their tiny neighbor. TRT television says that the Qatari minister will meet with his Turkish counterpart on Friday. The defense ministry confirmed Thursday's report but didn't provide further information. Turkey has sided with Qatar after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties to Doha this month, accusing it of backing terror groups. Ankara also ratified legislation allowing Turkish troop deployment to Doha. The four Arab states have issued a list of demands to Qatar that includes ending Turkish troop presence, shuttering Al-Jazeera television and curbing diplomatic ties to Iran. Qatar denies supporting extremism and considers the demands an attempt to undermine its sovereignty. -- AP

ISIS has lost 60% of territory, 80% of revenue: Analysts
Thu 29 Jun 2017/NNA - The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has lost more than 60 per cent of its territory and 80 per cent of its revenue, an analysis firm said Thursday, as the jihadist "caliphate" turns three. The group declared its self-styled "caliphate" across swathes of Iraq and Syria on June 29, 2014, prompting the formation of a US-led coalition in a bid to halt its advance. In January 2015, IS jihadists controlled about 90,800 square kilometres, but by June 2017, that number dropped to 36,200, said IHS Markit. -- AFP

Assad Taking US Threats ‘Seriously’ as Moscow Vows ‘Appropriate Response’ to Washington
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/Moscow, London – Russian Foreign Sergei Lavrov announced on Wednesday that his country will respond with “dignity and in proportion” if the United States took preemptive measures against the Syrian regime forces should they launch a new chemical attack.
He hoped during a press conference with his German counterpart that Washington would not use its intelligence assessments about the regime’s intentions as a pretext to mount a “provocation” in Syria. Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis stated that regime head Bashar Assad appeared so far to have heeded a warning this week from Washington not to carry out a chemical weapons attack. The White House said on Monday it appeared the Syrian regime was preparing to conduct a such an attack and said that Assad and his forces would “pay a heavy price” if it did so. The warning was based on intelligence that indicated preparations for such a strike were under way at Syria’s Shayrat airfield, US officials said. The intelligence consisted of a Syrian warplane being observed moving into a hangar at the Shayrat airbase, where US and allied intelligence agencies suspect the Assad regime is hiding chemical weapons, said a second US official. “It appears that they took the warning seriously,” Mattis said. “They didn’t do it,” he told reporters flying with him to Brussels for a meeting of NATO defense ministers. “I think that Assad’s chemical program goes far beyond one airfield,” he said. The Syrian regime meanwhile said the US warning was baseless, deeming it a ploy to justify a new attack on the country, state television said. It quoted a foreign ministry source as saying Washington’s allegations about an intended attack were not only misleading but also “devoid of any truth and not based on any facts.” The Russian Foreign Ministry had said the US statements on Syria’s chemical arsenal are an “invitation” for terrorist and extremist groups and the armed opposition to carry out “new provocative chemical attacks” to prompt Washington to retaliate against the regime. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is expected to issue within days the final report on the April Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack that was committed by the Syrian regime and left 74 people dead. The incident prompted the US to strike the Shayrat airbase in response. Moscow has been insistent that a joint committee be formed to investigate the chemical attack. The Foreign Ministry said that this committee should not only look into the Khan Sheikhoun incident, but other chemical attacks in Syria and Iraq.

Threats to Oust Qatar from GCC
London, Washington, Dammam – Qatar could face more sanctions, including its ouster from the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to Gulf diplomatic sources. Gulf states are currently looking to impose a list of trade sanctions that would target states and companies dealing with Qatar, in order to escalate pressure on Doha and force it to implement the list of 13 demands submitted by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. In parallel, diplomatic sources revealed that the US was joining efforts to set up a mechanism to supervise and monitor financial transfers from Doha and to hand over to the Qatari government all the information and data on groups or persons who are accused of terrorism. Meanwhile, Kuwait, which has recently dispatched a high-ranking official to Washington to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is trying to work with the American side on finding the best solutions to guarantee Doha’s compliance with the list of Gulf demands. Washington has become an arena for active diplomatic efforts, with the presence of Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir, his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Kuwaiti State Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Acting Information Minister Sheikh Abdullah al-Mubarak Al Sabah.
Tillerson met with the three officials earlier this week at the State Department. Few days following the assertion that Doha would not negotiate over the list of demands, the Qatari foreign minister retracted his stance, telling reporters after his meeting with Tillerson: “We have agreed that the State of Qatar should engage in constructive dialogue with the concerned parties if it wanted to reach a solution and overcome the crisis.” He added: “We have heard that these demands are non-negotiable, but this violates the principles of international relations”. For his part, Jubeir said that the four countries were not ready to any compromise over the crisis with Qatar. Addressing reporters in Washington, the Saudi foreign minister said that there would not be any negotiations with Doha over the list of demands, and that it was up to Qatar to stop supporting terrorism and extremism. On Wednesday, Gulf countries hinted at “isolating” Qatar from the GCC. UAE Ambassador to Moscow Omar Ghobash said that Gulf Arab states were considering new sanctions against Qatar and could ask their trading partners to choose between working with them or Doha. In an interview with The Guardian, Ghobash said: “There are certain economic sanctions that we can take which are being considered right now.” He added that the expulsion of Qatar from the GCC was “not the only sanction available”. UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on his Twitter account: ​“We have long suffered [Qatar’s] conspiracy against our stability and witnessed its support for ideologies that aim to sow chaos in the Arab world. Enough. Return to reason”. Commenting on the meeting between Tillerson and the Kuwaiti minister, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement that the two leaders “reaffirmed the need for all parties to exercise restraint to allow for productive diplomatic discussions.”“The Secretary urged the parties to remain open to negotiation as the best way to resolve the dispute. The leaders agreed that stopping terrorism and confronting extremism should be our shared and primary focus,” the statement added.

US Official Visits Raqqa as Turkey Launches Airstrikes on Syria’s Kurds
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/Ankara, Beirut- The US chief envoy to the anti-ISIS group coalition has visited Syria, where he met the local council set to take over the rule of Raqqa once the terrorist force is defeated. Brett McGurk told members of Raqqa Civil Council that it has Washington’s full support once the municipality takes over operations in the city. Kurdish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the two sides have discussed the means to promote stability in the region, the future of Raqqa after its liberation, as well as the region’s humanitarian needs. Meanwhile, the Kurdish army launched on Wednesday airstrikes against the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit in northern Syria, in response to the latter’s firing at factions from the Free Syrian Army, which is mainly backed by Ankara. Ara News quoted military sources as saying that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and allied factions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have brought military reinforcements to the northern countryside of Aleppo province to impede the Turkish progress towards Afrin district.
While Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group, Washington is arming and training the Kurdish faction to become more efficient in fighting ISIS. Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Wednesday that the regime of Bashar al-Assad appeared so far to have observed a warning this week from Washington not to carry out a chemical weapons attack. The White House said on Monday it appeared the Syrian military was preparing to conduct a chemical weapons attack, warning that Assad and his forces would “pay a heavy price” if it did so.
“It appears that they took the warning seriously,” Mattis told reporters flying with him to Brussels for a meeting of NATO defense ministers. On a different note, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey could launch a new cross-border operation in northern Syria. In an interview with the Russian daily Izvestiya, Erdogan said: “Some negative processes are currently underway in Syria.”“If this sparks a threat to our borders, we will react as we did with Operation Euphrates Shield,” he added. Meanwhile, Mattis met with his Turkish counterpart Fikri Isik in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss developments in Syria, in particular the US cooperation with Kurdish militias, and guarantees submitted by Washington of disarming the YPG following the liberation of Raqqa.

Egypt Accuses Qatar of Backing Terrorism in Libya
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/Cairo – Egypt accused on Tuesday Qatar of supporting terrorist organizations in Libya. During a UN session on “The Challenges of Combating Terrorism in Libya”, an Egyptian delegation presented details on how Qatar and another unnamed country in the region have supported terrorism in the north African country. Submitting a statement to the Security Council on Qatar, the delegation called for sanctions on Doha, saying that terrorism is the main obstacle to achieving stability in Libya and that its negative effects have extended to its neighbors and the entire region. Egypt’s UN Ambassador Omar Abu al-Atta said that terrorism is increasing in Libya, since ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had urged foreign fighters to head there instead of Syria and Iraq.
Egypt’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab Affairs Tarek al-Quni stated that Qatar provides support to militants in Libya, which poses a threat to Egyptian national security, particularly along its borders with its neighbor. “Terrorist groups and organizations in Libya receive support particularly from Qatar and other states in the region,” said Quni while reading Egypt’s statement before the gatherers.
“Libya has become a safe haven for terrorists,” he added, stressing the need for reaching a political settlement in Libya and urging the UN to intensify efforts to ensure the implementation of a political agreement in the country. “Egypt was targeted by terror attacks originating from Libya,” Quni noted.
Quni recalled the terror acts on Egypt’s Coptic Christians in May, and also mentioned the attempt of 12 vehicles loaded with weapons and explosives to cross the Egyptian border from Libya earlier this week. He demanded that several measures be implemented in Libya, including: reaching a political reconciliation, intensifying the effort of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) in monitoring and carrying out the political agreement, strengthening cooperation and coordination between the Libyan sanctions committee and ISIS and al-Qaeda sanctions committee and lifting the arms embargo imposed on the Libyan National Army. Qatari Deputy UN Ambassador Abdul Rahman Yacoub al-Hamadi rejected the Egyptian accusations towards Doha, saying that “the record of the State of Qatar in the fight against terrorism and the commitment to Security Council resolutions and cooperation with the UN is known.”He also cited reports that denied his country’s involvement in backing terrorist groups in Libya. He claimed that the experts’ multiple reports do not indicate Doha’s involvement in any violation of the Security Council resolutions or any activities that threaten Libya’s stability. Hamadi added during the meeting that these charges come in accordance with the aggressive campaign against Qatar. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry refuted his claims, saying Egypt’s delegation circulated a list of Qatari violations in Libya, according to reports from UN expert teams, stressing that Qatar is the main financier of terrorism in Libya. The Libyan delegation stressed in its statement that instability in Libya provides a suitable environment for terrorist groups and that the international community must undertake a number of measures, including providing weapons, that enable authorities to combat terrorism.
The delegation also requested the following measures to be taken by the international community: provide Libya with equipment to monitor borders and control the flow of foreign fighters, implement Security Council resolution 2178, increase the coordination between Libya and other countries to track the arms and prepare reports that provide detailed information about each weapon entering Libya. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry meanwhile said on Wednesday that Doha has no other option but to clearly respond to Arab demands. It has to choose between preserving the Arab national security or undermining it in favor of foreign powers. Speaking to Middle East News Agency, Shoukry said: “Egypt’s demands are known and clear and whoever continues to conspire against it and its people will be the first to suffer.”

100,000 Civilians Trapped in Raqqa as Russia Jets Shell Deir al-Zour Market
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/Beirut – The United Nations announced on Wednesday that at least 173 civilians were killed in Syria’s Raqqa in June in air and ground operations against the ISIS terrorist group. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged all parties taking part in the battle for the city to take the appropriate precautions to protect the lives of no less than 100,000 civilians still trapped in Raqqa. “Civilians must not be sacrificed for the sake of rapid military victories,” Zeid said in a statement issued in Geneva. On the ground, Raqqa is still witnessing fierce battles between ISIS and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that are backed by Washington-led International Coalition. The forces of the Euphrates Rage operation made small advances in the western part of the city, while dozens of civilians were killed in airstrikes in the Deir al-Zour province.
Opposition figures said that Russian jets had committed the massacre against a market in a village in the province when it shelled it with cluster bombs. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 30 people were killed and dozens injured in the shelling that targeted the area of al-Dablan and its surroundings that are about 20 kilometers away from the city of al-Mayadeen in Deir al-Zour. Founder of the First Post website, Ahmed Ramadan, said that at least 50 people were killed in the strike, while several people were still trapped under the rubble. He confirmed that Russia jets were behind the massacre. “This not the first time that Russia has committed such a massacre. Over the past two weeks, it committed similar atrocities in the regions of al-Mohaimed and Khsham in Deir al-Zour,” he added. Meanwhile, US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, and British Deputy Commander-Strategy and Support for Combined Joint Task Force, Major General Rupert Timothy Jones, held talks with the Raqqa civilian council.
A Kurdish official told Asharq Al-Awsat that he two sides discussed the future of the city after its liberation from ISIS and ways to bolster stability in the region. The gatherers focused on helping the areas that have hosted refugees from the embattled zones, he added. The US envoy renewed his country’s commitment to back the SDF, describing them as a strong partner on the war on terror.

SDF: Major Possibility of Clash with Turkey in Northwest Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warned on Thursday that there was a “major risk” of a possible “open and fierce clashes” with Turkish forces in northwest Syria. Nasser Haj Mansour, an adviser to the SDF, made his remarks to Reuters in wake of an exchange of fire that took place there on Wednesday. He added that the SDF had taken a decision to confront Turkish forces “if they try to go beyond the known lines” in the areas near Aleppo where the shooting took place. Turkey has recently deployed reinforcements into the area, according to Turkey-backed rebel groups. Mansour said an attack on SDF-controlled areas would “do great harm” to the US-backed Raqqa assault by drawing some SDF fighters away from front lines. The assault is aimed at driving ISIS out of the Syrian city. On Thursday, Turkey’s deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said it would retaliate against any cross-border gunfire from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and not remain silent in the face of anti-Turkey activities by terrorist groups abroad. Kurtulmus also reiterated Ankara’s opposition to the US arming of YPG combatants and said that US officials would understand that this was the “wrong path”. The Turkish military said on Wednesday it had fired artillery at YPG positions south of the town of Azaz in what it said was a response to the YPG’s targeting of Turkey-backed rebels.

Hamas Seeks to Reassure Egypt by Building Buffer Zone

Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/Ramallah– Heavy vehicles and bulldozers that belong to the Hamas-led interior ministry have began dredging works along the borders with Egypt, within a plan to build a buffer zone, among other security measures requested by the Egyptian government. Hamas announced on Wednesday it would establish a buffer zone along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. In a statement on Wednesday, the interior ministry said the move was part of measures aimed at “regulating the southern border with Egypt”. The ministry’s undersecretary Tawfiq Abu Naem said in the statement that the first phase would include paving the 12-kilometer borderline and setting up surveillance cameras, control towers and a light system. “The measures come in the context of the outcomes and understandings reached during the recent visit of a security delegation to Egypt,” he added. He noted that the buffer zone would be of a 100-meter depth and would be a closed military zone. “We reassure the Egyptian side that Egypt’s national security is Palestine’s national security,” he stated. “We would not tolerate any threat to the stable security situation on the southern border,” the Hamas official added. Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that an agreement was reached to deploy Hamas-led security forces along the borders. They added that during previous bilateral meetings, Egypt has repeatedly accused Hamas officials of failing to monitor the borders, and has urged them to prevent the infiltration of extremists into the Egyptian territories. The sources added that Hamas has denied all accusations and has pledged to take the appropriate measures to improve the security, including the construction of a buffer zone.

Tunisian Security Forces Dismantle Cell Linked to Syria Terror Groups
Asharq Al-Awsat/June 29/17/Tunisian security forces arrested on Thursday 13 members of a network that works on financing terrorists in Syria. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the cell transferred the funds to Syria through Tunisia, Libya and Turkey. The members of the network hail from various countries and include two women. The operatives transferred vast sums of money to Turkey, where a Turkish member of the network, sent them to Syria. Eleven members of the network were arrested in the city of Ben Guerdan in southern Tunisia. Most of them “launder money earned in trafficking foreign currencies by buying gold and real estate and funding their trade activities,” the Interior Ministry explained according to Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP). During a raid on the suspects’ location, authorities seized 3 million dinars (1.2 million dollars), gold and foreign currencies, as well as shotguns and two cars that were used in their operations. The detainees face charges of money laundering and collecting funds for individuals, organizations and operations linked to terrorist crimes.

Trump Travel Ban to Take Partial Effect
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 29/17/US President Donald Trump's order to block arrivals from six mainly Muslim countries takes partial effect Thursday after he won a Supreme Court victory over rights groups. But implementation of the order after five months of legal challenges could be chaotic, in part due to the meaning of a key term used in the court's ruling Monday: "bona fide." The court said that Trump could only ban travelers from the targeted countries "who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."With a 72-hour preparation period set before implementing the ban, the ruling has sent lawyers diving into legal texts to define that. They need to set standards for US immigration officials and diplomats in Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and also at US arrival points, who will decide who from those countries can still enter the United States. Lawyers and advocates both for and against the travel ban say the result could be a flood of legal challenges by travelers, immigrants and their supporters -- further slowing arrivals from the six countries. Immigrant advocates were preparing for the onset of the ban, saying they would be at airports to aid any arriving travelers that immigration officers seeks to send back. The New York Immigration Coalition said Thursday it plans to be at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, "monitoring the effects of Trump's revised Muslim and refugee ban."Waiting for a definition -The ruling Monday capped five months of heavily politicized legal scrapping. The highest US court partially reversed lower courts' freezes of Trump's 90 day ban on travelers from the six countries, which he said was necessary to screen out potential terror threats. It also allowed Trump to implement a 120 day ban on all refugees.
The court said it will review the overall case in October, meaning both bans will largely have run their course by then, though they could be extended if immigrant vetting processes are still judged to be too weak. The refugee ban could be moot much sooner: the Trump administration has cut the number of refugees it will accept annually to 50,000. The State Department said Tuesday that that threshold will be reached within the coming two weeks. But many hopeful non-refugee travelers from the six countries could be affected. The court said only those with a significant or genuine -- bona fide -- relationship with an American person or group can be admitted during the period of the ban. That will include, in the court's example, those with close relatives, those admitted to universities, or accepted to a job, to gain entry. But does it extend to someone with distant family, or who has only applied to a university or a job but has not yet received and answer? Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who wanted the ban implemented for anyone for the six countries, wrote Monday that he fears the court decision "will prove unworkable." It "will invite a flood of litigation until this case is finally resolved on the merits, as parties and courts struggle to determine what exactly constitutes a 'bona fide relationship'." Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the State Department, said they were waiting for Justice Department lawyers to provide guidance on "bona fide". "We don't have a definition here at the State Department for that yet," she said.
"Everybody wants to get this right. They want to see this implemented in an orderly fashion." Homeland Security Department spokesman David Lapan said all three departments were conferring. "Guidance will be provided in time for implementation tomorrow," he said this week. Even with the ban being blocked for five months, arrivals from the six countries have plunged due to more rigorous vetting. Arrivals were down by about half in March and April, just 6,372, compared to 12,100 for the two months in 2016.

Berlin Tells Erdogan He Can't Give Germany Speech
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/June 29/17/Germany said Thursday it had rejected a request by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to address ethnic Turks in Germany next week on the sidelines of a G20 summit. Berlin-Ankara relations have badly deteriorated amid disputes over Turkey's mass arrests of alleged state enemies since a failed coup last year and a host of other rights issues.German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Berlin had received a request for Erdogan to be able to address members of the three-million-strong Turkish diaspora in the EU country.
"I explained weeks ago to my Turkish colleagues that we don't think that would be a good idea," Gabriel said during a Russia visit, pointing at stretched police resources around the July 7-8 summit G20 in Hamburg. "I also said quite frankly that such an appearance would not be appropriate given the current adversarial situation with Turkey," he added, stressing that Erdogan would however be "received with honours" at the summit. Gabriel said he could "understand" his Social Democratic Party's chancellor-candidate Martin Schulz, who had said "foreign politicians who abuse our values must not be allowed to give inflammatory speeches in Germany". "I don't want Mr Erdogan, who is jailing members of the opposition and journalists in Turkey, to hold large-scale events in Germany," Schulz told the Bild newspaper. Erdogan last addressed Turkish-Germans in May 2015, in the city of Karlsruhe. The large Turkish diaspora is a legacy of Germany's massive post-war "guest worker" programme of the 1960s and 1970s. But ties have been especially strained since the July failed coup in Turkey, and tensions have worsened over multiple issues including a referendum campaign to expand Erdogan's powers. Turkey imprisoned Deniz Yucel, a German-Turkish journalist with Die Welt daily, on terror charges earlier this year. And this month Germany decided to withdraw its troops who support the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria from NATO partner Turkey's Incirlik base and move them to Jordan after German lawmakers were refused the right to visit the base.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on June 29-30/17
Qatar…Four Days Left

Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/June 29/17
Whether there are 4 or 40 days left of the term granted by the four countries to Qatar, Doha doesn’t seem determined to find a solution for the most dangerous crisis of its modern history. Qatar is mostly trying to maneuver around the 13 demands of the countries boycotting it- Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. It even said the conditions are impossible to meet. Doha is overlooking the fact that these demands aim to put an end to terrorism support and interference in internal affairs of other countries. It is the Qatari behavior that led it to this point. Describing the requests as impossible exposes Doha’s failure to comply with demands it had previously pledged to and surely didn’t execute. Qatar is fully aware that meeting the demands will lead to overcoming this crisis, and simultaneously, it realizes that this time the commitments will be drastically different. There is no chance of manipulating the deals like it used to do.
In responding to the boycotting countries’ accusations of funding terrorism, Doha tries to portray itself as a little lamb.
Did the four countries overreact?
Facts show that Saudi Arabia and the other countries had previously presented Qatar with a list of wanted persons involved in terrorist activities targeting the security and stability of the kingdom and its citizens. Despite its promises, Qatar received more, allowed them to conspire against their native nations and even granted some the Qatari nationality. It protected members and leaders of terrorist and extremist groups and granted them its full support inside and outside the country. In a March 2014, US Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said Qatar “has become such a permissive terrorist financing environment, that several major Qatar-based fundraisers act as local representatives for larger terrorist fundraising networks that are based in Kuwait.”Cohen added that Qatari government is supporting extremist groups operating in Syria. “To say the least,” he concluded, “this threatens to aggravate an already volatile situation in a particularly dangerous and unwelcome manner.”
Is that all? No.
A 2014 State Department country report on terrorism reported Qatar shutting down Saad al-Kaabi’s online fundraising platform, yet a year later, a subsequent Treasury sanctions designation noted Kaabi was still actively involved in financing al-Qaeda in Syria. Another case involves Abd al-Malik Abd al-Salam, known as Umar al-Qatari, Jordanian with Qatari residency, who provided “broad support” to al-Qaeda in Syria, according to the Treasury. In 2011 and 2012 Umar al-Qatari worked with associates in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar, and Iran to raise and move funds, weapons, and facilitate fighter travel. The authorities did nothing to clear their name, not to forget harboring one of the most dangerous terrorist, the mastermind behind September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and then releasing him. There are many cases during which Qatari authorities supported terrorism on its territories and under the protection of governmental institutions. Did Qatar surprise us by not responding to the demands? Surely not. Can it return to the Gulf union? The answer is yes, but wishing alone is not enough to solve rooted political problems. Four days are left and Qatar is continuing its revolutionary policy preferring to hit a brick wall rather than dealing with the straining issue wisely. Up till now, Doha is in shock and anger and when it wakes, no one can know when that will happen, and accepts a serious solution for the crisis, it will then be too late and it would have suffered a loss too great for compensation. The billions of dollars in its sovereign fund will be of no use and “money can buy you anything” principle will not save it. A serious damage inflicted the system itself and the only way to restore it is through a dangerous surgery.
The worse is yet to come, Qatar.

Iran’s missiles: Dangers and policy recommendations
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/ArabNews/June 29/17
In a press conference in Washington, the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed that on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s orders, Tehran has accelerated its missile activities and tests since the nuclear deal. Based on detailed intelligence obtained from Iran’s Defense Ministry and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Khamenei has tasked the latter’s Aerospace Force with executing this mandate. The NCRI has been one of the main sources of exposing secret aspects of Iran’s nuclear activities and its weapons-of-mass-destruction (WMD) program.
The latest revelation coincides with rising sensitivity and concern about Tehran’s missile program. The US Senate imposed wide-ranging new sanctions on Iran, partly for continuing and expanding its ballistic-missile program last week. The NCRI verified the locations of 42 centers involved in producing, testing and launching missiles. A dozen of them were revealed for the first time. Of the 42 sites, 15 are part of Tehran’s missile-manufacturing network. These 15 centers include several factories related to a missile industry group, and together form a web of dozens of missile-production facilities. The NCRI identified four of Iran’s most important missile centers in Semnan, Lar, Khorramabad and near Karaj. Two of these centers are among the facilities that Tehran describes as missile cities.
The missile center in Semnan has been actively collaborating with the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), which is tasked with building a nuclear bomb. Some of the tests related to the organization are conducted at this site. The SPND is the engineering unit of Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program. Its existence was first revealed in July 2011 in Washington, and it was put on the sanctions list in 2014. The IRGC’s missile sites were created based on North Korean models and blueprints. North Korean experts helped build the sites. The country’s ballistic-missile program underscores the need for effective, broad sanctions against the program and all related entities and individuals. According to the NCRI, the regime remains in power via internal repression and exporting Islamist fundamentalism and terrorism. Its illicit nuclear-weapons program and continued expansion of ballistic missiles serve this export, which increases in importance as the regime becomes more isolated domestically and its grip on society weakens, the NCRI said.
Khamenei said on May 10: “There is no difference between change of behavior and change of regime.” As such, Iranian leaders are united in investing in the ballistic-missile program because they realize the survival of their regime and political establishment are at stake.
On May 23, President Hassan Rouhani said missile activities will continue unabated. The NCRI said the Iranian people deeply oppose Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs and its regional interference. It referred to a major gathering of Iranians and their supporters in Paris on July 1, where they will declare their opposition to Tehran’s export of Islamist terrorism and fundamentalism, its regional interventions and its nuclear and missile programs. Iran’s ballistic-missile program underscores the need for effective, broad sanctions against the program and all related entities and individuals; designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization; and expelling the IRGC and its affiliated militias and proxies from the region, particularly from Syria and Iraq. • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated, Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. He can be reached on Twitter @Dr_Rafizadeh.

جدية خوف الأميركيين من اقرار الشريعة الإسلامية في بلدهم
American "Fear of Sharia" Is Anything but "Silly"

A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/June 29/17
To allay fears inspired in Americans by what he called a "right-wing caricature" of Islamic jurisprudence, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf claimed, falsely, that it "does not presume to replace American law. It agrees with its underlying values and promotes them." In fact, both founders of political Islam, Sayyed Qutb and Hassan al-Banna, openly explained that Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments.
A new problem seems to have sprung up: some disembodied entity at Google apparently decided, with a few swipes of a bear-paw, to censor all the contents from these historically accurate think-tank postings. What is Google trying to keep you from knowing? Material that would be more dangerous for you to know or more dangerous for you not to know? How considerate of Google to have made this decision for you!
American fear of sharia is anything but "silly." It comes not a minute too soon.
In a recent op-ed in the New York Daily News, Kuwaiti American Sufi cleric and activist Feisal Abdul Rauf -- who served more than 25 years as the imam of the Masjid al-Farah Mosque in New York City -- argued that nobody in the United States should be worried about the incorporation of Islamic law, sharia, into the legal system or should be protesting it. To allay fears inspired in Americans by what he called a "right-wing caricature" of Islamic jurisprudence, Rauf claimed, falsely, that sharia "does not presume to replace American law. It agrees with its underlying values and promotes them." In fact, both founders of political Islam, Sayyed Qutb[1] and Hassan al-Banna, openly explained that Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments.
Both founders of political Islam, Sayyed Qutb (right) and Hassan al-Banna (left), openly explained that Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments. (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)
Hmm, a new problem seems to have sprung up: some disembodied entity at Google apparently decided, with a few swipes of a bear-paw, to censor all the contents from these historically accurate think-tank postings. What is Google trying to keep you from knowing? Material that would be more dangerous for you to know or more dangerous for you not to know? How considerate of Google to have made this decision for you!
Anyhow, Rauf then goes on to say that sharia courts would never be sanctioned in the U.S. "The First Amendment, which prevents government establishment of religion, forbids it," he writes, incorrectly.
The First Amendment, in its entirety, reads as follows:
Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Rauf then proceeds to defend sharia against its detractors.
"Sharia is not about amputations and stoning," he assured readers, again incorrectly.
Rauf continues: "...Within the history of Islam, they have rarely occurred." A short search in google belies that.
"What Islamic law does prescribe," he goes on, in a breathtaking example of taqiyya [obfuscation] and kitman [dissimulation] -- which are both permitted[2] in Islam under certain circumstances, such as to defend Islam -- "are the same do's [sic] and don'ts of the Ten Commandments — the social imperatives most of us recognize whatever our religion."
Ironically, the Reuters photo selected by the Daily News op-ed editor to accompany the piece -- a snapshot of a Muslim bride at her "sharia" wedding – provided inadvertent evidence of Rauf's deceit. Sharia forbids taking, printing or disseminating photos except when required (such as to obtain a passport) or otherwise necessary. In addition, according to sharia, a female Muslim must cover her entire body, her hair and preferably her face -- so as not to arouse sexual desire in men other than her husband. As it is written in the Quran (33:59):
"O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the believing women that they should draw over themselves their jilbab (outer garments) (when in public); this will be more conducive to their being recognized (as decent women) and not harassed."
One frequently quoted hadith (the actions and saying of the Prophet Muhammad) goes farther, branding women who are "dressed but appear to be naked" as "inviting to evil and will be inclined to it. They will not enter Jannah (paradise) and they will not even smell its fragrance."
The bride in the photo illustrating Rauf's article is wearing a very revealing dress, which exposes not only her face and hair, but her entire upper body and a view of cleavage. Although it is likely that the picture was taken while she was with a group of women, it is now on public display, enabling men other than her husband to see it.
As someone who has shared the article on social media, Rauf would be considered by sharia to be among those responsible for "inviting to evil" through its dissemination, as would the bride herself, the groom and her other male guardians, such as her father and brothers.
In any country governed by sharia, such as Iran, these transgressors could expect not only divine retribution, but punishment ("ta'zir"), meted out by a qadi (judge), Muslim ruler, religious police or other disciplinary forces. This punishment is often imprisonment or brutal lashing.
In Saudi Arabia, for example, a woman was arrested last December for tweeting a picture of herself without a hijab or abaya.
Such instances are completely absent from Rauf's article.
Rather than whitewashing the Islamic legal system, and trying to assuage what the headline of the piece calls the "silly American fear" of sharia, Rauf -- and the family and imam of the Muslim bride in the photo -- should be grateful for living in the United States, where they are not subjected to such cruel and senseless punishments. American fear of sharia is anything but "silly." It comes not a minute too soon.
**A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.
[1] "any system, in which the final decisions are referred to human beings, and in which the source of all authority are human [is doomed to failure because it] deifies human beings by designating others than God as lords over men. This declaration means that the usurped authority of God be returned to Him and the usurpers be thrown out -- those who by themselves devise laws for other to follow, thus elevating themselves to the status of lords and reducing others to the status of slaves." [p.58]
[2] Sami Mukaram, Al Taqiyya Fi Al Islam (London: Mu'assisat al-Turath al-Druzi, 2004), p. 32.
© 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.

The West: Too Tired to Defend Freedom?
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/June 29/17
"We are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society" — UK Liberal Democrats party leader Tim Farron, who resigned after giving "politically incorrect" answers on homosexual sex and abortion.
Wherever he went, Jeremy Corbyn seemed as if he were a voluntary collaborator with an Iranian regime that executes gays. But Corbyn was never questioned about this affiliation the way the media obsessively questioned Farron.
Muslim supremacists murder gays in Orlando? Instead of being proud of an open society, defending it from Islamic jihadists, and accepting the freedom to be homosexual as a positive difference between the West and Islam, our liberals make it a case for more "inclusion".
After the recent terror attacks in Britain, The Spectator wrote: "After five centuries, religious war has returned to England". The reference is to 1535, when Thomas More was executed for his Catholic beliefs. Tim Farron, a British MP and party leader of the Liberal Democrats who, after refusing for several days to state whether he considers homosexual sex a sin, and gave ambiguous answers on abortion, was not brought to the Tower of London for a public execution. However, almost 500 years after More, Farron saw his political career sacrificed on an almost identical ideological altar as More.
Farron resigned his position as party leader with a dramatic speech. The Daily Mail condemned the "liberal fascism" of the "moral pygmies". The progressive New Statesman headlined its story on Farron's resignation as the "decline of liberalism". Farron said: "We are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society".
It does not matter that Farron had, on gay rights, a 90.4% "positive score", according to the Public Whip. Or that he repeatedly defended the right to abortion. What was intolerable was that Farron could have nourished, in his Christian conscience, even a minimal doubt.
Liberal Democrats party leader Tim Farron saw his political career sacrificed because the British media found it unacceptable that, in his Christian conscience, he could have considered homosexual sex a sin. (Image source: Liberal Democrats/Flickr)
Western liberalism seems to have eliminated the so-called "corridor" that had guaranteed a right to existence to those ideas that did not conform to relativism. It is bizarre that this demonization has been consumed in the Liberal Democrats, the party that has borne the torch of classic liberalism.
Perhaps Farron thought that his progressive ideas on climate change, the protection of minorities and the European Union would protect him from such vicious attacks. He was wrong. His inquisitors in the media wanted to talk about his personal social ideas, not Brexit.
The Wall Street Journal told the whole story. After taking over the leadership of the party in 2015, Farron was asked whether, as a Christian, thought that homosexuality is a sin. "We are all sinners", he said. That was not enough. During a television interview on April 18, 2017, Farron was pressed four times to respond again and four times he refused. Silence was not enough. The next day, at the House of Commons, Farron said that homosexuality is not a sin. That, too, was not enough. The media had to be sure that Farron believed it in his heart as well. So a BBC interviewer asked him again a few days later. It was a campaign to smear Farron, an easy scapegoat for a phony concept of liberalism.
Journalist Nick Cohen, writing in The Guardian noted a further paradox. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn worked for state-owned Iranian television and spoke at the Khomeinist rally in London. Wherever he went, Corbyn seemed as if he were a voluntary collaborator with a regime that executes gays. But Corbyn was never questioned about this affiliation the way the media obsessively questioned Farron.
At a time when Islamic supremacists attack the symbols of Western liberalism, liberalism shows a dangerous emptiness. Liberalism has been turned into a caricature made of mandatory gender ideology, blind multiculturalism, defeatist pacifism, anti-Zionism, feminism and critical studies. "An orgy of liberal sex and liberal guilt".
The result is what Douglas Murray called a "tiredness" of the civilization, a cultural chaos which turned into an apathy. In one month, Western Europe has been hit by four major terror attacks: Manchester, London, Paris and Brussels. Sholton Byrnes wrote in an article published by The National:
"...the definition of the West consists of far more than the security alliance that underpins it. Does it not also mean Shakespeare and Schopenhauer, liberal democracy, a progressive interpretation of human rights, all springing from the soil of centuries of Roman-Judaeo-Christian tradition? The West was once the inheritor of Christendom. Today, it is not entirely sure what it is, with many voices violently clashing over their views of what it should be. It lacks the certainty in its own civilisation that Russia and China, for instance, possess. If it is too tired or unwilling to defend itself, the US will survive for sure; but the concept of 'the West' will have dissolved through the apathy of societies who will have shown they have no courage – and not many convictions either".
That is why, if we, the West, do not take our culture more seriously, Islamic terrorists will easily be able to destroy it. Every time Western symbols come under attack, the Western relativists rapidly accommodate the attackers.
Salman Rushdie is threatened with death and a $6 million Islamic bounty on his head, or Muslims supremacists attack because of cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed? Instead of defending freedom of expression, our liberals submit to Islamic blasphemy laws. Two years and a half after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, not a single European newspaper has again drawn Mohammed.
Muslim supremacists slaughter French Jews? Instead of defending them as a post-Holocaust treasure, our liberals scapegoat Israel's security policies, as did the European Union's former foreign minister, Catherine Ashton.
Muslims supremacists submit their own women to burqas and niqabs and home-confinement? Instead of protecting equality, our liberals defend the veils as symbols of "cultural diversity".
Muslim supremacists murder gays in Orlando? Instead of being proud of an open society, defending it from Islamic jihadists, and accepting the freedom to be homosexual as a positive difference between the West and Islam, our liberals make it a case for "Love wins" and "Hate will not divide us". A year after the massacre at the Pulse gay nightclub, the mainstream media constructed a new narrative, as if murdering 49 gay people were not the product of ISIS, but of "hate". That is why the question is repeatedly asked: "Why did this happen?"
Contemporary liberalism is exhausted and irritated by the very idea of a common civilization to be defended. In a weak conception of "liberalism", the supreme goal for liberals seems to be "peace", whatever it costs -- in other words, surrender. This is how Western liberalism has become fragile, like a tree corroded by a lethal fungus.
Fifty years ago, James Burnham understood that liberalism had become "an ideology of suicide" of Westerners "who hate their own civilization, readily excuse or even praise blows struck against it, and themselves lend a willing hand, frequently enough, to pulling it down".
Civilization is not a gift; it is a breakable achievement that needs to be defended from inside and out from the many who would destroy it. Let us take the freedoms we value more seriously; they are being taken from us as we speak.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Erdogan is Capable and Willing to Destabilize the Balkans And NATO Pretends Everything Is Fine
Daniel Pipes/ 29/2017
"I expect Ankara to pour substantial resources into gaining religious and political influence in Southeast Europe," one of America's top experts on the Middle East told
Daniel Pipes is an American historian, writer and commentator; he earned a doctorate at Harvard. In recent years, he established himself as one of the most prominent researchers and analysts of radical Islam. He is president of the Middle East Forum think tank and publisher of its specialized journal. His work focuses on U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East.
Pipes is the author of sixteen books. He visited Bulgaria at the invitation of Bulgaria Analytica. Turkey has now openly sided with Qatar in its quarrel with Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc. How dangerous is this in terms of isolating Ankara from the Sunnis in the Sunni-Shia conflict?
Daniel Pipes: As I see it, the danger lies elsewhere: in Ankara and Tehran joining together to support Qatar. That potentially could precipitate a war between them and the Saudi-led alliance, and that in turn could jeopardize the Persian Gulf's oil and gas exports, possibly leading to a global economic crisis. Turkey supports the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Nusra Front and other organizations which many Arab states have declared terrorist organizations; might those same Arabs designate Ankara a terror-supporting state?
DP: Egypt's government has already called for Turkey to be treated like Qatar, though no one else echoed this appeal. I would be surprised if this happened. Governments like the Saudi one would rather win Ankara over. Moscow and Ankara maintain an uneasy alliance of sorts, but had incompatible interests with respect to Bashar Assad, Crimea etc. How do you see this relationship progressing?
DP: Bullies like Putin and Erdoğan can form tactical but not strategic alliances. They constantly look at the other with suspicion and, inevitably, issues will arise that will cause major friction between them. So, expect rocky relations.
Despite appearances, Putin (L) is the bigger bully. Will Doha ultimately succumb to Saudi pressure or is it likely to become even more bonded to Tehran?
DP: That is the question of the hour. I hope for the former but expect the latter. Concerning Erdoğan's neo-Ottoman ambitions in the Balkans: Are these likely to be pursued further and how successful will they ultimately be?
DP: The Balkan region has a special place in the Turkish imagination for it alone is the region to which the Ottomans brought Islam. The deep Turkish influence on the region is symbolized by the word Balkan, which means "mountain" in Turkish. Further, the countries are small and more easily influenced than other neighbors of Turkey. For all these reasons, I expect Ankara to pour substantial resources into gaining religious and political influence in Southeast Europe. Is Erdoğan capable or willing to destabilize the Balkans?
DP: He is both capable and willing. Islam offers one main tool – building mosques, sponsoring imams, inviting students to Turkey, and so on. Elections offer the other main tool. That Turkey's labor and social policy minister, Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, explicitly came out for DOST, the party of Bulgaria's ethnic Turks ("We must support the DOST party") points to Turkish intentions.
Ottoman Sultan Murad I was killed in Kosovo in 1389. In 2005, the Turkish government paid to refurbish his tomb. (Picture by the author.) What can the Western powers do to prevent this destabilization?
DP: Stand up to Erdoğan. Unfortunately, that does not seem imminent. It's much easier to pretend that all's (almost) well in NATO. Will the European Union eventually stand up to Erdoğan's blackmail and what is Ankara likely to do then?
DP: The West, and NATO especially, have been achingly slow in their response to the massive shifts in Turkey over the past fifteen years. I am pessimistic about a truly robust stand, though incremental improvements continue to take place. Perhaps, eventually, a crisis will teach Westerners what the problem is.
At that point, depending on who is in charge in Ankara and what the circumstances are, the response could be very aggressive, including the seizure of Greek islands, the dispatch of illegal migrants, joining forces with Russia or Iran, and other hostile steps. What will happen when Erdoğan's clients in Syria suffer military defeat?
DP: Tehran will control a territory from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean Sea. It will be a crisis for every state that resists Iranian influence, from Afghanistan to Israel. How is Erdoğan responding to a referendum for Kurdish independence in Erbil?
DP: He hates the prospect. The Kurdistan Regional Government is one of the few polities to sustain good relations with Ankara; these will not likely survive a Kurdish declaration of independence. Erdoğan worries about the effect of this move on Turkey's Kurds. It will rile up his allies, the Turkish nationalists. It will disrupt dreams of Turkish return to what is now northern Iraq. It threatens the breakup of Iraq and unpredictable regional instability. What options does he have in response to the KRG declaring independence?
DP: He can apply economic and possibly military pressure on the KRG. He can reconcile with the Iraqi central government in Baghdad to pressure it, as well as with Tehran. I expect he will be unforgiving. Is serious regime-threatening opposition to Erdoğan possible in Turkey?
DP: At this point, no. Erdoğan controls every lever of power – the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, the armed forces, intelligence services, police, banks, media, educational institutions, and so on. But if economic problems or foreign adventures become too much for the Turkish populace, they could certainly rise up against the regime. At that point, his many enemies will find each other and coordinate.

Iraq declares ‘end’ of caliphate after capture of historic Mosul mosque
Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli/Reuters, Mosul/Erbil Thursday, 29 June 2017
The recapture of the Mosul mosque where ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only known public appearance marks the “end” of the militants’ state, Iraq’s prime minister said Thursday.
“We are seeing the end of the fake Daesh state,” Haider al-Abadi said in an English statement on his Twitter account, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque in Mosul from where ISIS proclaimed its self-styled caliphate three years ago, the Iraqi military said.
Iraqi authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in the coming days as the remaining ISIS fighters are now bottled up in just a handful of neighborhoods of the Old City.
The seizure of the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque is a huge symbolic victory for the Iraqi forces fighting to recapture Mosul, which had served as Islamic State's de facto capital in Iraq.
“Their fictitious state has fallen,” an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told state TV. The insurgents blew up the medieval mosque and its famed leaning minaret a week ago as US-backed Iraqi forces started a push in its direction. Their black flag had been flying from al-Hadba (The Hunchback) minaret since June 2014. Abadi “issued instructions to bring the battle to its conclusion,” his office said.
The fall of Mosul would in effect mark the end of the Iraqi half of the ISIS caliphate even though the hardline group would still control territory west and south of the city. Its capital in Syria, Raqqa, is also besieged by a US-backed Kurdish-led coalition. The cost of the battle has been enormous, however. In addition to military casualties, thousands of civilians are estimated to have been killed.
About 900,000 people, nearly half the pre-war population of the northern city, have fled the battle, mostly taking refuge in camps or with relatives and friends, according to aid groups.
Those trapped in the city suffered hunger and deprivation as well as death or injury, and many buildings have been ruined.
Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) troops captured the al-Nuri Mosque’s ground in a “lightning operation” on Thursday, a commander of the US-trained elite units told state TV.
Civilians living nearby were evacuated in the past days through corridors, he added.
CTS units are now in control of the mosque area and the al-Hadba and Sirjkhana neighborhoods and they are still advancing, a military statement said. Other government units, from the army and police, were closing in from other directions.
An elite Interior Ministry unit said it freed about 20 children believed to belong to Yazidi and other minorities persecuted by the insurgents in a quarter north of the Old City. A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the Iraqi forces fighting through the Old City’s maze of narrow alleyways. But the advance remains an arduous task as the insurgents are dug in the middle of civilians, using mortar fire, snipers, booby traps and suicide bombers to defend their last redoubt.
The military estimated up to 350 militants were still in the Old City last week but many have been killed since. They are besieged in one sq km (0.4 square mile) making up less than 40 percent of the Old City and less than one percent of the total area of Mosul, the largest urban center over which they held sway in both Iraq and Syria.
Those residents who have escaped the Old City say many of the civilians trapped behind ISIS lines -- put last week at 50,000 by the Iraqi military -- are in a desperate situation with little food, water or medicines. “Boys and girls who have managed to escape show signs of moderate malnutrition and carry psychosocial scars,” the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF said in a statement.
Thousands of children remain at risk in Mosul, it said.
Baghdadi proclaimed himself “caliph,” or ruler of all Muslims, from the Grand al-Nuri Mosque’s pulpit on July 4, 2014, after the insurgents overran vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. His speech from the mosque was the first time he revealed himself to the world and the footage broadcast then is to this day the only video recording of him as “caliph”. He has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria, according to US and Iraqi military sources.
ISIS last week broadcast a video showing much of the mosque and brickwork minaret reduced to rubble. Only the stump of the Hunchback remained, and a dome of the mosque supported by a few pillars which resisted the blast. The mosque was named after Nuruddin al-Zanki, a noble who fought the early Crusaders from a fiefdom that covered territory in modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. It was built in 1172-73, shortly before his death, and housed an Islamic school.
The Old City’s stone buildings date mostly from the medieval period. They include market stalls, a few mosques and churches, and small houses built and rebuilt on top of each other over the ages.
The Iraqi state’s failure to prevent Islamic State from overtaking as much as a third of the country in 2014 is fueling arguments in favor of greater self-determination of Christian and other minorities it failed to protect.
A group of Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac Christians published a document on Thursday after a conference in Brussels this week calling for the self-governance of Christians in the Nineveh Plains east and north of Mosul, where they have a strong presence.

Linguistic variations in describing acts of terror
Dr. Halla Diyab/Al Arabiya/June 29/17
In response to the Newcastle Eid incident – where a car ploughed into Muslim worshippers gathering for Eid prayers near Newcastle mosque leaving two children in intensive care, a sense of fear has engulfed Muslim communities in the UK that they might be again subject to Islamophobic and hate attacks after that of the Finsbury Park.
Reading more into the details of the attack, the press emphasized the linguistic pretext that it was not believed to be a terrorist incident, over contextualizing the circumstances of the attack or the destiny of the victims, questions whether we are witnessing a growing rise of terror-themed phrases and imagery related to the rhetoric of the aftermath of street terrorism.
The fear is fed by the current modified linguistic terms used to define scenes of terror, especially those related to Islamophobic attacks. The image of a car ploughing above the pavement targeting the crowd is associated today with what a terror attack looks like.
This image is certainly evoked by attacks like the Nice Bastille Day killing, the Westminster attack, and Finsbury Park, to name a few. It gradually grows to be a visual archetype of the global popular culture of terror; a very steep visual framework but the twist lies in the language used in the way it is reported to the general public; terror or not terror.
Between the paradox of imagery and linguistics lies a steep feeling of public fear and anxiety, which are hardened to intractability, and nowhere is this more evident than in the current incident in Newcastle
Human error
Between the paradox of imagery and linguistics lies a steep feeling of public fear and anxiety, which are hardened to intractability, and nowhere is this more evident than in the current incident in Newcastle, where a human error of losing control of a vehicle was immediately assumed to be a terror attack.
The restaging of an image, which is intensively associated with terror attacks, provokes an element of a utilitarian and collective fear culture with the hallmark of violence. The shrewd classification of what terrorism is and what terrorism is not, is uniquely weaving linguistic caution and implicit oratory to how a violent act against a collective crowd is and should be reported.
The public perception of the Newcastle incident varied and this variation derives from tagging the event from an “incident” to an “accident” to a “collision”, and the word “ploughed” which is recently associated with terror, is quickly replaced with “struck”, all to avoid the possibility for it to be seen as an “act of terror” or an “attack”.
This linguistic variation is witnessed among the Muslim community itself where some tag the catastrophe as an “incident”, and where some Muslims suspect the female driver did it intentionally.
The public fever over what terminology should be used to describe an event shrouds the general rhetoric from the heads of states, to the general public, underlining how the use of language in reporting is used to avoid the spiral of community division, unspeakable civil-religious divide in the UK, and fear of faith groups to practice their religion in public.
The power of language
So instead of the act of terror shaping and defining the language and terminology, on the contrary, today’s power of language and terminology defines, shapes, and even manipulates the very definition of the act itself, so the words decide what is terror and what is not. So the terminology used to describe the Newcastle incident defined the very violent act by denouncing that it was “terrorism”.
Today’s rising restlessness, which is propelled by the use of terminology, suggests that there is a multi-facet to the language. It can have an extended impact and power on uniting and, arguably, dividing faith groups in Britain.
By heralding a linguistic twist to define any violent act targeting the public, terminology should be carefully selected with an aim to promote vigilance rather than Islamophobia.
This emphasizes the need to look deeper beyond the language used by the media, in order to gain a real understanding of how words, imagery and the actual act operates in defining “terrorism”.

Qatar’s failure and bankruptcy
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/June 29/17
The crisis with Qatar exposed several networks and relations and solved many mysteries. For two decades, cells worked day and night as part of a Qatari project that revealed its magnitude when the four countries, i.e. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, announced boycotting the small turbulent emirate.
One of these cells was tasked with monitoring Saudi media to harm its credibility among Saudis. They monitored television channels, dailies, magazines, podiums and institutions, and the entire war was managed without harming Qatari and Turkish media.
They pushed for unjustified criticism against Saudi figures, statesmen, intellectuals, authors and journalists continued as they aimed to cast out honest Saudis from the sphere of Saudi interests so Qatar can solely steer the wheel and direct the public opinion.
Despite all this fuss, they could not achieve the aims of countries that sponsor the Brotherhood in the region as Saudis’ and Gulf citizens’ awareness thus thwarted their attempts.
Unfounded criticism
Accusing others of Zionism has been a major part of Qatar’s direct project. Criticizing anything related to the path of its regional expansion has been enough to accuse others of Zionism. The same applied to criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood and viewing it as a terrorist group whose ideas are the basis of concepts which nurtured Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and criticizing Hamas as a group that carries out suicide terrorist operations against civilians thus sabotaging the Palestinian cause and violating agreements between the different parties.
No matter how the Qatari crisis ends, it must lead to taking extremists to trial and subjugating them to Royal Order A/44 which criminalized terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood
All this is celebrated by Qatar’s institutions and it’s fully sponsored by the regime. Perhaps days will reveal more and expose writers who wanted to harm Saudi media and symbols in order to exonerate the media of countries which sponsor the Brotherhood.
These cheap accusations of Zionism no longer served the Brotherhood’s goal to intimidate as they’ve been overly consumed. Not only that but all those who were accused of it are actually supporters of civil projects and they are purely loyal to their countries and against radical movements in all their forms. Those using arms outside the context of the state are committing a terrorist act regardless of the legitimacy and fairness of their cause.
The recent developments with Qatar came as a surprise and they will target all those who served the Qatari project and worked against their country’s media and institutions that looked after their people’s interests. It’s strange that someone spent one third of his life attacking one media outlet without criticizing any Qatari institution ever! Can this be a coincidence? Time will answer to it and official institutions will clarify this and get to the bottom of it.
The current Gulf developments exposed horrible decline of morals. Many figures have been involved in this hostile Qatari project for the past two decades. They were aware that the main goal was to worry Saudi Arabia, provoke it and distract it from developing. They rode the wave against Saudi Arabia and hatefully spoke out against it. However, the dream quickly shattered and Qatar has now been boycotted and it’s defending itself while drowning because of its evil acts. The story here is not about Qatar’s hostility and grudges as the crisis must pave the way for internal accountability.
Ending the crisis
No matter how the Qatari crisis ends, it must lead to taking extremists to trial and subjugating them to Royal Order A/44 which criminalized terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. This is an occasion to hold accountable the figures who’ve been involved in Qatar’s project to stir problems and incite strife as such acts are tantamount to high treason. They must be punished especially that the Saudi government has all the data and documents which clarify the accusations against those working for the hostile Qatari project.
The Qatari media and its affiliates have failed. They’ve been exposed as we now know that all these online campaigns were launched from Doha to cast out and discredit the media that defends Saudi Arabia’s interests. It’s time for accountability. There is a great difference between those who defended their country and protected it and those who worked against it and betrayed it.