March 07/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 07/01-12/:"‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, "Let me take the speck out of your eye", while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye. ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! ‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

We know that we Can be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law
Letter to the Galatians 02/11-17/:"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’ We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!"

Question: "Christian fasting - what does the Bible say?"
Answer: Scripture does not command Christians to fast. God does not require or demand it of Christians. At the same time, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial. The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:2; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.
Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything given up temporarily in order to focus all our attention on God can be considered a fast (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). Fasting should be limited to a set time, especially when fasting from food. Extended periods of time without eating can be harmful to the body. Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect attention to God. Fasting should not be considered a “dieting method” either. The purpose of a biblical fast is not to lose weight, but rather to gain deeper fellowship with God. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example). Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to draw closer to God.
By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ. Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God. Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others. Fasting is to be done in a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude. Matthew 6:16-18 declares, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published english On March 06/17
Khamenei’s fatwa: Lebanon after Yemen/Ahmed Ayash/Al Arabiya/Monday/March 06/17
Saudi king cancels Lebanon trip after Aoun defends Hezbollah weapons/Joseph A. Kechichian/Gulf News/March 06/17

Egyptian Authorities Fail To Protect Egypt's Coptic Christians, Says Amnesty/Joseph Hartropp/Christian Today/March 06/17
Egyptian Journalist, Fathia Al-Dakhakhni: Discrimination Of Egyptian Copts The Result Of Fanaticism In Education System/MEMRI/March 06/17
Iran indicts Iranian-Canadian nuclear negotiator for espionage, six months after he was arrested: reports/Joseph Brean/National Post/March 06/17
Palestinians: Arab Idol or Arab Apartheid/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/March 06/17
Germany's Jihad on Freedom of Speech/Vijeta Uniyal/Gatestone Institute/March 06/17
Geneva farce: Regime is the opposition/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 06/17
Bahrain will not lose faith in democracy/Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/March 06/17
Adonis and the Riyadh International Book Fair/Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/March 06/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published On March 06-07.17
Khamenei’s fatwa: Lebanon after Yemen
Saudi king cancels Lebanon trip after Aoun defends Hezbollah weapons
French defence minister in Beirut, backs Lebanese army
Report: Saudi King Trip to Lebanon Set Aside over Aoun's Pro-Hizbullah Remarks
Aoun: Government started implementing oil investment program on basis of transparency
France Affirms Commitment to Backing Lebanese Army
French Defense Minister: 20 million euros earmarked for Lebanon security
Hariri receives Kahwaji, Basbous, Ibrahim, and Karaa
Hariri Holds Talks with Military and Security Chiefs
2 Injured, Several Held as Army Cracks Down in Northern Bekaa
Cabinet Approves Key Budgets, to Discuss Security Appointments Wednesday
Kataeb Slams 'Disregard for Constitution', Calls for 'Imposing Lebanese Law' on Palestinian Camps
Public School Teachers Kick Protest in Parallel with Parliamentary Committee Meeting
Report: Fatah Members Receiving Military Training in Tyre Camp
FPM Says Fair Electoral Law Inevitable, Talks with AMAL in 'Advanced' Stage
Hariri receives Le Drian and Miliband
Fire breaks out at Rawda Building, Qoraytem
Two hurt as army raids homes in Kanyseh in search for wanted

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published On March 06-07.17
Israel eyeing Iran's test of advanced Russian-made missile system
Netanyahu: Iran responsible for more than 80% of Israel’s security concerns
Iraqi Cleric Ahmad Al-Kubeisi: The Iraqi Army Will Annihilate The Jews In The Battle Of Armageddon
Syrian militia: Manbij under protection of US-led alliance
Syrian fighters cut main road linking ISIS-held areas
Syrian Warplanes Bomb Nusra Posts on Lebanese-Syrian Border
US-Backed Forces Cut Key Supply Route to IS-Held Raqa
Trump Signs New Travel Ban Targeting Six Nations, Iraq Exempted
Fillon Keeps Presidential Bid Alive as Rival Juppe Rules Himself Out
Baghdad relieved by Trump’s exclusion of Iraq from US travel ban
40,000 displaced from Mosul as Iraqi forces near old city
Pentagon plan calls for more US participation in attack against ISIS
Israeli police kill prominent Palestinian activist in shootout
Canada condemns North Korea’s missile launches
Iran: Fear of Tensions on the Eve of Elections Show
Iran: Dozens Arrested as Police Cracks Down on Private Parties
IRAN: 7 March 2017 Press Conference to Expose IRGC's Illicit Piers
Iranian Resistance Condemns Presence of Mullahs' Representatives in Bundestag
Recent Suicides and Ongoing Iranian Human Rights Abuses

Links From Jihad Watch Site for March 06-07.17
Vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps force US Navy ship to change course
Trump’s new executive order on immigration requires a log of honor killings
Canada: Trudeau examining ways to silence “hateful criticism” over “anti-Islamophobia” motion M-103
Canada: Asylum seekers began streaming in from US upon Trudeau election, long before Trump immigration order
Toronto anti-Islamophobia rally opposes war against the Islamic State
US-based Muslims divorce their wives in India using WhatsApp
Oklahoma lawmaker gives questionnaire to Muslims, Hamas-linked CAIR enraged
The leader of the SPLC is aware the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a Hamas organization”
PLO names children’s camp after Muslim who massacred Jews
Sweden: Muslim migrants try to lure 16-year-old girl into car, scream “whore” and “women like you should die”
Robert Spencer: It Has Been A Big Week for Fake Hate
Turkey defies US/UK coalition against the Islamic State, attacks the Yazidis instead
Swedish government report: Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating organizations and political parties, building parallel society
Jamie Glazov Moment: Thank You, President Trump, for Naming “Radical Islamic Terrorism”
Dubai: Man on trial for insulting Islam on Facebook

Links From Christian Today Site On March 06-07.17
Egyptian Authorities Fail To Protect Egypt's Coptic Christians, Says Amnesty
Trump To Sign New Travel Ban For Muslim Countries
Get Ready For 'Mail Order' Abortions, Campaign Group Warns Over Upcoming Bill
Evangelicals Must Stick With Church Despite 'False Teaching' On Gay Marriage, Says Bishop
Martyred Oscar Romero Considered For Canonisation, Church Says
U.S. Pastor Pays For Freedom Of Over 200 ISIS Sex Slaves In Partnership With Underground Rescuers In Iraq
'Save Us, Lord!': Pastor Recalls How Jesus Protected Him, Other Pastors, And His Family During Massive India Earthquake
Welcome To The Wall: Artist Banksy Opens 'Walled Off' Bethlehem Hotel
Actor Matthew Mcconaughey Forgot About God In His Rise To Fame, But Fatherhood Restores His Faith
Do Some Of The Original Supporters Of Pope Francis Now Want Him To Resign?
Northern Ireland Election Leaves 'Door Open' For Legalisation Of Same-Sex Marriage And Abortion, Christian Charity Says
Why No Justice Yet For Murdered Pakistani Christian Shahbaz Bhatti?

Latest Lebanese Related News published On March 06-07.17
Khamenei’s fatwa: Lebanon after Yemen
Ahmed Ayash/Al Arabiya/Monday/March 06/17
The war in Yemen has under the spotlight all over again following reports that American fighter jets targeted al-Qaeda posts in South Yemen. American soldiers clashed with the organization’s members in the town of Yashbum in Shabwa as part of a strategy Washington says was adopted by the previous US administration. Does this news indicate a development in how America will deal with crises in the region, in a manner similar to what is unfolding in the war against ISIS in Iraq? According to diplomatic sources, there is an American orientation toward ending the stalemate in the Yemeni war, which has been on for years. As a result, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia will be provided with an international cover to confront Iranian intervention. Progress made in this war will defeat the Iranian role and this will have repercussions for all countries in the region, particularly on Lebanon. Since the destructive war in Aleppo ended, with a sweeping victory for the axis led by Moscow, developments in Syria and then in Iraq, are being organized within the framework of a Russian-US agreementز During the past 48 hours, the Fars news agency has reported that Ahmad Karimpour, a military adviser to the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit al-Quds Force, confirmed that the Iranian Islamic Republic “is ready to decisively and destructively respond to any military aggression”. When the commander of the Islamic revolution says this, and that seven minutes is what it takes to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa, then there is no joking here. Iranian daily al-Vefagh – in an article entitled “If the war happens, new victories for the axis of resistance” – says that “for more than 10 years now, the axis of resistance could have launched more than 10,000 missiles in a minute. What’s certain is that its capabilities in this field have now increased and that this capability is no longer limited to missiles because new and unknown arms will be part of the new exercise.”
‘Divine victory’
It does not seem that Tehran wants to keep the results of the war in Yemen within its geographical reach. The Revolutionary Guards’ threats will be based on the 2006 war experience between Lebanon and Israel and which, according to the description of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, ended with a “divine victory.” Since the destructive war in Aleppo ended, with a sweeping victory for the axis led by Moscow, developments in Syria and then in Iraq, are being organized within the framework of a Russian-US agreement. According to diplomatic sources, things are moving toward finalizing the war in Iraq at the hands of the Americans and toward finalizing the war in Syria at the hands of the Russians. Iran’s share in the results of these two wars will not equal all the investments the Iranian Supreme Leader made over the course of long years as part of the Persian “crescent” project, which extends from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. A Lebanese official estimates that the summary of America’s strict policy during Donald Trump’s presidential era will be against Imam Khamenei who will once again count on Nasrallah’s missiles.
This article is also available in Arabic.

Saudi king cancels Lebanon trip after Aoun defends Hezbollah weapons
Joseph A. Kechichian/Gulf News/March 06/17
Visit was supposed to restore relations between the two countries which suffered due to Iran’s meddling.
Beirut: King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has cancelled his upcoming trip to Lebanon because of the statements made by President Michel Aoun that praised Hezbollah and backed the militia’s right to bear arms alongside the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). According to a report in Al Nahar daily, the Saudi leader planned to visit Lebanon in late March 2017 to express Riyadh’s “desire to help the Lebanese state and encourage it to fulfil its Arab and international obligations.” King Salman, who welcomed Aoun in Riyadh on January 10, 2017, was hoping to ease tense relations between the two countries.
This visit was largely touted as starting a new chapter in the bilateral relations and Saudi Arabia was set to restore its financial assistance to the Lebanese army. “The visit was supposed to give Lebanon a strong moral and political boost from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council states, and ensure the unconditional return of Arab and Gulf tourists to Beirut. It was to be accompanied by tangible economic support for the Lebanese state,” an unnamed Saudi source told Al Nahar.
Lebanese hoped the visit would restore vital economic ties and that Saudi Arabia would give Lebanon $3 billion (Dh11 billion) to purchase French weapons for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) which it had previously withheld after Jibran Bassil, the Minister of Foreign Affairs who heads the Hezbollah-allied Free Patriotic Movement, voted against the unanimous Arab League and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation resolutions that condemned the January 5, 2016 Iranian attacks on Saudi missions in Iran. Observers point out that Riyadh has taken a more realistic approach to Lebanon, accepting Hezbollah as a local player, but, at the same time, rejecting its bullying tactics in the Lebanese government. Riyadh also rejects Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war, where it has fought alongside regime troops and bolstered Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s grip on power.
In an interview to an Egyptian TV channel last month, President Aoun defended Hezbollah’s arsenal calling it “an essential component of the means to defend Lebanon”. His statement drew wide condemnation from Lebanese society and the Arab world, who believe the Iran-backed group activities contribute to the destabilisation of the region. Hezbollah’s arms and influence has also been a sticking point for Saudi Arabia, which is currently engaged in Yemen’s civil war against Iran-backed Al Houthi militants. Riyadh is also incensed over recent speeches by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah where he escalated his rhetoric against Saudi Arabia and the UAE over their involvement in the war in Yemen.

French defence minister in Beirut, backs Lebanese army

Middle East On Line/March 06/17/Jean-Yves Le Drian pledges support for Lebanon's military, says France will maintain commitment to 'well-organised and robust armed forces.'
BEIRUT - French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian pledged support for Lebanon's military on Monday during meetings with the country's president and his Lebanese counterpart. After talks with Lebanon's Defence Minister Yaacub Sarraf, Le Drian emphasised France's committment to a "well-organised and robust Lebanese armed forces". During his meeting with President Michel Aoun, a former army chef, he said France would continue to provide assistance to the Lebanese army, according to a readout provided by Aoun's office. But there were no specifics on the reactivation of a frozen French military aid package, funded by Saudi Arabia, for the Lebanese army. In January, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was confident the $3-billion aid package would be restored after Riyadh halted it last year. Saudi Arabia said it had halted the aid to protest the power of Shiite militant group Hezbollah over the Lebanese state. But there have been hopes the aid might be restored, with Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, visiting Riyadh in January and agreeing to new talks on the issue. Aoun's office said he had thanked Le Drian on Monday for "the support provided by France to Lebanon in all fields, especially in the military field".Aoun expressed hope for "the continuation of this support to enable the army to carry out the national responsibilities on its shoulders, particularly in the areas of security and stability in the country, and the fight against terrorism". Le Drian is expected to meet Prime Minister Saad Hariri later on Monday.
His trip will also include a visit to French members of the UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL in southern Lebanon.

Report: Saudi King Trip to Lebanon Set Aside over Aoun's Pro-Hizbullah Remarks

Naharnet/March 06/17/Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has canceled a scheduled trip to Lebanon this month amid reports claiming that statements made by President Michel Aoun about Hizbullah's arms were to blame, media reports said on Monday. The King had plans to visit Lebanon in March to "interpret the Saudi leadership's desire in helping the Lebanese state and encourage it to fulfill its Arab and international obligations, and the settlement that ended the presidential vacuum,” said An Nahar daily. Saudi sources told the daily “the visit was supposed to give Lebanon a strong moral and political boost from the Kingdom and Gulf states as well, and open the doors wide for unconditional return of Arab and Gulf tourists to Beirut. It was to be accompanied by tangible economic support for the Lebanese state.” After his election as president in November, ending more that two years of presidential vacuum, Aoun visited Saudi Arabia in January on a mission to patch up ties after a tense year which saw Saudi Arabia freeze the aid deal over what it said was the dominance of Hizbullah. Analysts say Saudi Arabia was hoping for a more stable Lebanon, after concerns over the role played by Hizbullah in the Lebanese government and the threat posed by jihadists and the war in neighboring Syria. But later and during an official trip to Egypt, Aoun said in an interview on the Egyptian TV channel CBC, that "Hizbullah's arms do not contradict with the State and are an essential component of the means to defend Lebanon.”The statement raised a flurry of reactions mainly concerns that mended relations with Saudi Arabia could again witness a twist, reports said.

Aoun: Government started implementing oil investment program on basis of transparency
Mon 06 Mar 2017/NNA - Lebanese President Michel Aoun confirmed that the Lebanese government "has started implementing a work program for investing oil and gas resource wealth by adopting a strategy based on transparency and legal competition."President Aoun's stance came Monday as he received at Baabda Palace a delegation of Total Company that included Director of Total's Middle East and Africa Section, Stephan Michel.Talks focused on the situation of the oil exploration file in Lebanon as well as Total's activities in Egypt and Cyprus.

France Affirms Commitment to Backing Lebanese Army
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 06/17/France stressed on Monday that it will continue to back the Lebanese army and provide it with the needed military training, the state-run National News Agency reported. The French statement came in a meeting between President Michel Aoun and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the Presidential Palace in Baabda. “France will continue to support the Lebanese army in commitment to the pledges made by the French President. France will also increase the military training courses it provides for the army,” said Le Drian. After talks with Defense Minister Yaaqoub Sarraf later in the day, Le Drian emphasized France's commitment to a "well-organized and robust Lebanese armed forces." But there were no specifics on the reactivation of a frozen French military aid package, funded by Saudi Arabia, for the Lebanese army. In January, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was confident the $3-billion aid package would be restored after Riyadh halted it last year. Saudi Arabia said it had halted the aid to protest the power of Hizbullah over the Lebanese state. But there have been hopes the aid might be restored, with Aoun, an ally of Hizbullah, visiting Riyadh in January and agreeing to new talks on the issue. Aoun's office said he had thanked Le Drian on Monday for "the support provided by France to Lebanon in all fields, especially in the military field." Aoun expressed hope for "the continuation of this support to enable the army to carry out the national responsibilities on its shoulders, particularly in the areas of security and stability in the country, and the fight against terrorism."Le Drian also met with Speaker Nabih Berri and Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji on Monday and is expected to meet Prime Minister Saad Hariri later. His trip will also include a visit to French members of the U.N. peacekeeping force UNIFIL in southern Lebanon.

French Defense Minister: 20 million euros earmarked for Lebanon security
Mon 06 Mar 2017/NNA - French Minister of Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on Monday stressed that France was working on reinforcing the Lebanese army, highlighting the necessity to cooperate with the military institution in its battle against terrorism. French Ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuel Bonne, hosted today a reception ceremony at the Embassy, in honor of Minister Le Drian, upon the occasion of his visit to Lebanon. "Today I have confidence in the capacity of the Lebanese to achieve the state budget and the legislative elections; it is important to carry on this dynamic and elect a Parliament that guarantees correct representation," Le Drian said in his word. "Lebanon is in the front row against Daesh," he added, stressing that the LAF, by defending Lebanon, also contributes to defending Europe's security. "It is natural to grant huge priority to our cooperation with the Lebanese army, through providing equipment and training, or through sending military assistance. We are doing this because we know that the Lebanese army is a reliable partner, who overcame divisions and is present across the nation providing valuable and legitimate protection for the Lebanese institutions in times of tension," he underlined. Le Drian also revealed intention to step up cooperation in the future. "I am glad to assert that the exceptional contribution announced by President Francoise Hollande in April 2016 will be realized in the coming weeks. The Lebanese army shall receive the means to combat explosive bombs, in addition to armored vehicles, training, and munitions. 20 million euros will be also earmarked for security in Lebanon this year." On France's participation in the UNIFIL, Le Drian highlighted the responsibility to cooperate with the Lebanese Army in the south. "A strong Lebanon, with strong institutions and a string army, is what France is working on within the frame of its cooperation with Lebanon, as well as through its commitment to the UN and the UNIFIL," he concluded.

Hariri receives Kahwaji, Basbous, Ibrahim, and Karaa

Mon 06 Mar 2017 /NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received this evening at the Grand Serail Army commander General Jean Kahwaji and praised his tireless efforts in the difficult and delicate phase that Lebanon faced and during which he protected the country from the crises in the region, the Prime Minister's press office said in a statement on Monday. Hariri praised the role of General Kahwaji in developing and strengthening the army and its capacity to maintain security and stability on all the Lebanese territory, prevent all attempts to sow discord and fight terrorism relentlessly.
Hariri also met with the Director General of the Internal Security Forces, Major General Ibrahim Basbous, praising the exceptional role he played in the most difficult stages to maintain the security of the citizens, and arrest criminal networks and outlaws all over Lebanon. Hariri met successively with the Director General of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim and the Director General of State Security Major General Georges Karaa, praising their role in maintaining security and stability and facilitating the affairs of citizens.

Hariri Holds Talks with Military and Security Chiefs
Naharnet/March 06/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri met Monday evening at the Grand Serail with Army chief General Jean Qahwaji and praised “his tireless efforts in the difficult and delicate phase that Lebanon faced and during which he protected the country from the crises in the region,” the PM's office said. Hariri also lauded Qahwaji's efforts in “developing and strengthening the army and its capacity to maintain security and stability across Lebanon, prevent all attempts to sow discord and fight terrorism relentlessly.” The premier met separately with the Director General of the Internal Security Forces, Major General Ibrahim Basbous, praising “the exceptional role he played in the most difficult stages to maintain the security of the citizens and arrest criminal networks and outlaws all over Lebanon.”Hariri also held separate talks the Director General of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, and the Director General of State Security, Major General George Qaraa, praising “their role in maintaining security and stability and the facilitation of citizens' affairs.”The meetings come two days before a Cabinet session that is expected to appoint successors to the heads of the army and security agencies except for Ibrahim who will reportedly keep his post.

2 Injured, Several Held as Army Cracks Down in Northern Bekaa
Naharnet/March 06/17/A Lebanese man from the Zoaiter family and a Syrian from the al-Ahmed family were wounded on Monday as the army raided the houses of a number of fugitives in the northern Bekaa town of Kneisseh, state-run National News Agency reported. Earlier in the day, the army made several arrests in the northern Bekaa town of Brital and the Baalbek neighborhood of al-Sharawneh. “An army force raided the places of a number of fugitives in the Brital region today, arresting the fugitives Ali Qassem Mazloum, Mosbah Abed Hassan Ismail and Saleh Ali Mazloum,” an army statement said. Troops seized “a number of light-caliber bullets, various military equipment, a walkie-talkie, a quantity of narcotics and two drug manufacturing machines,” the statement added. Earlier in the day, an army unit raided Baalbek's al-Sharawneh neighborhood where it arrested 23-year-old M. S. who is wanted on multiple arrest warrants and F. A. J., 21, NNA said.

Cabinet Approves Key Budgets, to Discuss Security Appointments Wednesday
Naharnet/March 06/17/The Cabinet on Monday finalized significant parts of the draft state budget the first article was approved entirely, Culture Minister and acting information minister Ghattas Khoury said. “The discussion then focused on articles related to the budgets of the ministries and we approved some of them,” he added. “We accomplished a significant part of the draft and the budget would be ready soon,” Khoury said. Answering reporters’ questions, Khoury said: “The budget is being discussed item by item, and this needs some time because some ministers want to increase the budgets of their ministries. The atmosphere is very positive and I see no obstacles to ending this discussion as quickly as required.”
He added: “Today we completed budgets for key ministries, including the presidency of the republic, the Premiership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Interior Ministry, which are key Ministries. We can achieve the budget, but I cannot specify the number of sessions we need.” Asked if a political decision to approve the budget has been taken, he said: “The decision is to approve budget, which is not linked to anything else.”He added that “the budget is not related to the electoral law, because the electoral law is another debate. When we agree on an electoral law we will approve it.”Khoury also confirmed that the Cabinet would meet in Baabda on Wednesday to discuss its agenda that includes security appointments.

Kataeb Slams 'Disregard for Constitution', Calls for 'Imposing Lebanese Law' on Palestinian Camps

Naharnet/March 06/17/The Kataeb Party on Monday slammed the ruling political class over what it called “the disregard for constitution and deadlines,” warning that authorities' perceived negligence has started to pose an “existential threat.” “The political authority with its executive and legislative branches is still refraining from approving an electoral law under flimsy alibis and excuses reflecting a blatant desire to prevent the Lebanese people from deciding their fate through free elections and an electoral law that achieves correct representation,” the party's political bureau said in a statement issued after its weekly meeting.
Commenting on the latest clashes at the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, Kataeb held Lebanese authorities “fully responsible” for controlling security situations across Lebanon, including at the Ain el-Hilweh camp.
“The Palestinian camps are an inseparable part of Lebanese territory and sovereignty over them must be exclusively limited to the legitimate forces,” the party added. “The Lebanese law must be imposed on the camps and only the legitimate security and military forces should have the right to possess and use weapons,” Kataeb went on to say.

Public School Teachers Kick Protest in Parallel with Parliamentary Committee Meeting
Naharnet/March 06/17/The Public Schools Teachers Association staged a sit-in in Riad al-Solh in Downtown Beirut on Monday in parallel with a parliamentary joint committee meeting in Nejmeh Square dedicated to studying the thorny wage scale file. The protesters want to press the government into approving the long-stalled scale. After the meeting, Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan stressed that efforts are serious as for approving the scale as soon as possible, “the endeavors are focusing on doing justice for all,” he said. On claims that the scale would increase the burden on Lebanon's economy, the MP said: “The wage scale does not constitute a hurdle for Lebanon's economy but the fruitless expenditures, corruption and squandering of public funds do.” For his part, Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel criticized referring the wage scale file to the parliamentary committee, stating that the sources of funding decision is in the hands of the government, he said: “The wage scale will face the hurdle of funding in the government even if the committee approved it.”The committee's meeting was adjourned until tomorrow. Ahead of the meeting, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil announced that “the wage scale discussions will resume today and that MPs will finish discussing the state budget's plan on Wednesday.”For his part, MP Serge Tersarkisian pushed for the endorsement of the salary scale, expressing his will to “delve a battle to attain this righteous demand.”“The salary scale is every employees' right; it is not even in a position to be negotiated,” the MP told VDL (93.3). “There are vast sources from which we can fund the salary scale starting with maritime property,” he added. In February, the Syndicate Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees held a sit-in as the cabinet convened to discuss whether or not the new wage scale will be added to the draft state budget. The SCC 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. In a recent stance, the SCC has rejected the possible separation of the wage scale from the state budget, threatening to suspend the school year should the government return the wage scale to parliament.

Report: Fatah Members Receiving Military Training in Tyre Camp
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 06/17/Hundreds of Fatah Movement fighters are receiving military teachings and combat lessons in the Palestinian refugee camp of al-Rashidieh in the southern town of Tyre, An Nahar daily reported on Monday. “The activity which has been going on for a year now, is carried out with the cognition of the Lebanese Security Forces. The matter was thoroughly discussed during the recent visit of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Beirut in February, through Palestinian Authority security chief Majid Faraj who spoke at length in that regard with General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and senior army intelligence officers,” added the daily. “The development in the Lebanese-Palestinian relations are much welcomed by Fatah,” said the daily. “According to Palestinian leaders, it would support the Palestinians' position mainly in the fragile Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp and maintain safe security situation --that was highly emphasized by Abbas during his meetings with Lebanese officials.”According to Palestinian sources, “some parties are still trying to perturb the latest visit of Abbas in a bid to prevent Fatah Movement from showing a leading position in the Palestinian file. But its opponents do not expect the Fatah “project” to succeed over internal differences between a large number of its leaders and a series of contradictions despite the attention it receives from Lebanese authorities,” according to the daily. Late in February, heavy clashes rocked Ain el-Hilweh for six consecutive days leaving one civilian killed and four wounded. The fighting near Lebanon's southern port city of Sidon has pitted members of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement against hardline Islamist groups. Intermittent fighting first broke out after Fatah pulled out of a joint committee that maintained security in Ain el-Hilweh, but the violence later intensified. Palestinian factions meeting at their embassy in Beirut later announced that they had agreed on a ceasefire to end the fighting. By long-standing convention, Lebanon's army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps, where security is managed by joint committees of Palestinian factions. In recent years, tensions have risen between Fatah and the Jund al-Sham Islamist group in the camp.

FPM Says Fair Electoral Law Inevitable, Talks with AMAL in 'Advanced' Stage
Naharnet/March 06/17/The Free Patriotic Movement on Monday stressed that it is inevitable to reach a “fair electoral law” while revealing that talks with the AMAL Movement to sign a rapprochement agreement have reached an “advanced stage.”“As for the electoral law... the FPM has not spared any effort or initiative and we have not despaired yet,” the FPM's political council said in a statement issued after its monthly meeting, noting that “contacts and consultations are still ongoing with everyone.”“We have no choice but to reach a just and fair electoral law based on proportional representation, which can take several forms,” it added. Turning to the issue of the FPM's dialogue with AMAL Movement, the council said talks have reached an “advanced stage.”“There is a serious dialogue aimed at reaching what resembles an agreement, a memorandum of understanding or a declaration, and we hope that will happen soon,” the council added. “We made agreements in the past with Hizbullah, the Lebanese Forces and the Lebanese Communist Party, and today with the AMAL Movement, but this does not mean that they are bilateral agreements targeted against other parties,” the political council explained, noting that the agreements are aimed at “pacifying the general situation.”

Hariri receives Le Drian and Miliband
Mon 06 Mar 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received this afternoon at the Grand Serail the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, in the presence of the French Ambassador to Lebanon Emmanuel Bonne. They discussed the developments in Lebanon and the region, the Prime Minister's office indicated in a statement on Monday. Prime Minister Hariri highlighted during the meeting the need for a continued French support to the Lebanese army, in training and equipment, to enable it to pursue its task of maintaining calm and security. He also renewed his thanks to France and to President Francois Hollande for the assistance provided to Lebanon in the past year, which amounted to 15 million Euros. He praised the important role played by French troops operating in the framework of UNIFIL in the south. Hariri explained to the French Minister Lebanon's need for the assistance of the international community to deal with the refugees' crisis on the various humanitarian and infrastructure levels. Hariri then met with David Miliband, former British foreign secretary, and president of the International Rescue Committee, which is an organization that assists refugees around the world.

Fire breaks out at Rawda Building, Qoraytem
Mon 06 Mar 2017/NNA - Fire erupted inside Rawda Building in the Beirut region of Qoraytem, and firefighters are currently working on extinguishing the flames, National News Agency correspondent reported on Monday.

Two hurt as army raids homes in Kanyseh in search for wanted
Mon 06 Mar 2017/NNA - One member of Zeaiter family and another Syrian were injured in raids operations the army effectuated in the Bekaa town of Knayseh in search for wanted, National News Agency correspondent reported on Monday.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published On March 06-07.17
Israel eyeing Iran's test of advanced Russian-made missile system
Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/March 6, 2017/
Jerusalem had tried to block sale of the advanced Russian-made missile defense system to Tehran. A day after Iran test its S-300 advanced missile defense system, Israel is cautiously monitoring the situation.After years of delay, the advanced Russian-made S-300 missile-defense system successfully completed a series of tests and has become operational, Iranians state media reported on Saturday. Abraham Assael, CEO of the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzliya and a former brigadier- general, said Israel cannot afford to ignore the S-300. “The S-300 advanced missile defense system is a system that wasn’t there before and which is very dangerous,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. While the S-300 is an older system with radar unable to detect stealth technology such as that possessed by F-35 fighters, “it’s very good against third or fourth generation combat aircraft,” which make up the vast majority of Israel’s air force. The missile-defense system was delivered by Russia last year in a $800 million deal that had been halted in 2010 due to United Nations Security Council sanctions that barred the sales of advanced weapons to Tehran. The restrictions were lifted last year after the Islamic Republic and six world powers signed the nuclear deal in July 2015. In October 2016, Moscow announced it had completed the delivery of the systems to Iran.
Israel had long sought to block the sale, as it believes Iran will violate the international accord aimed at preventing it from developing nuclear weapons. Jerusalem is also concerned that the S-300 might hurt Israel’s air superiority in the region. The Israel Air Force’s first two F-35s arrived in the country on December 12. Israel is set to receive two full squadrons of F-35s by 2022; with extremely low radar signatures, they can operate undetected deep inside enemy territory and evade advanced missile defense systems like S-300s. According to senior Israeli officials, the aircraft will ensure Israel complete air superiority in the region for the next 40 years. The drill, called “Damavand,” saw the Iranians test the Russian-made system against a variety of aerial targets, including a ballistic missile which, according to Brig.-Gen. Farzad Esmaili, the commander of the Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base, was “smashed” by the S-300. The Iranian military also tested the system’s electronic warfare measure that lock onto targets in difficult conditions, the Tasnim News Agency reported. “The S-300 is a system that is deadly for our enemies and which makes our skies more secure,” Esmaili is quoted as saying.
Iranian state television aired footage of the missiles launching, saying that the drill took place in the county’s central desert, without giving a precise location.
The Islamic Republic is also developing its own version of the S-300 system, the IRIB broadcaster reported, quoting Esmaili as saying that the Bavar-373 system, which “would be [more] technologically advanced than the S-300,” is due to be tested “in the near future.”Assael said that Tehran developing its own advanced missile defense system comes as no surprise. “The Iranians are well-advanced in their technology. In the last decade or two we can say that they developed a lot, especially in the field of rockets,” he said, adding that while it takes time to develop a complicated system, the Iranians are very capable of developing a very advanced system, even more so than the S-300. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has dismissed calls from US President Donald Trump’s administration to stop testing ballistic missiles, and in February, Mojtaba Zonour, a member of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission and a former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps official, warned that an Iranian missile could hit Tel Aviv in under seven minutes.

Netanyahu: Iran responsible for more than 80% of Israel’s security concerns

Herb Keinon/Jerusalem Post/March 6, 2017/Iran is responsible for more than 80% of Israel's security problems, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, quoting one of the country's security agencies. “We are not deterred, and are also building out strength,” he said at a ceremony in the Foreign Ministry marking 25 years to the bombing of the embassy in Buenos Aires. “Since the attack in Argentina, Israel has gotten much stronger.”Netanyahu said that it was clear from the very beginning that Iran was behind that bombing, which killed 29 people, including Israeli diplomats, and injured 250 more.“Iran initiated and planned it, and Hezbollah, which does what it [Iran] says, carried it out,” he said. That alliance will be foremost on Netanyahu's mind when he travels to Russia on Thursday. The premier has made clear in recent weeks that Jerusalem is very concerned that Iran is increasingly establishing a permanent foothold in Syria, and he will discuss this – and the close Iranian-Hezbollah alliance – when he meets in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.“We will strongly oppose arming Hezbollah with dangerous weapons,” Netanyahu said. “Our red-lines are thick and clear, and we do not hesitate to act in order to preserve them.”According to foreign reports, Israel has acted on a number of occasions to disrupt arms shipments from Iran intended for Hezbollah. If the 1992 bombing wasn't enough proof of the reach of Iran's terrorist tentacles, the blast two years later at the AMIA building in Buenos Aires – where 87 people were killed and 100 injured – was another indication of the Islamic republic's malicious designs, Netanyahu said. “Iran is the greatest generator of terrorism in the world,” Netanyahu said, adding there is a need to fight this terrorism which is just one of of Iran's arms of aggression. He said the other arms included its desire for nuclear arms, its development of ballistic missiles, and its sowing of instability through the Middle East. In addition, he said, the Iranian regime “continue to threaten Israel with destruction.”

Iraqi Cleric Ahmad Al-Kubeisi: The Iraqi Army Will Annihilate The Jews In The Battle Of Armageddon
MEMRI/March 06/17/Iraqi cleric Sheikh Ahmad Al-Kubeisi said that the Jews were "the driving force" behind everything that has happened to Iraq. He said the there is an "historical enmity" between Iraq and the Jews and that in the battle of Armageddon, "the Iraqi army will annihilate the Jews, not leaving a single Jew in the world." The interview aired on the Iraqi Al-Fallujah TV channel on February 3.
Ahmad Al-Kubeisi: "The responsibility lies with the driving force, the Jews. Everything that has happened to Iraq was instigated by the Jews. There is an historical enmity between Iraq and the Jews. They know this, and we know this. It is in their scriptures and in ours. The Quran reads: 'We sent against you Our servants, possessed of great military might...' This will come from Iraq. It's the same with them. The Talmud says that Iraq will fight in the battle of Armageddon. The Iraqi army will annihilate the Jews, not leaving a single Jew in the world, and it will restore Jerusalem to the Muslims for the fourth and last time."
Interviewer: "The Iraqi army?"
Ahmad Al-Kubeisi: "Yes, the Iraqi army. So there is an historical enmity..."
Interviewer: "You say that the driving force is the Jews, or the West in general, but we have the tendency to implement what they dictate us."
Ahmad Al-Kubeisi: "We have no such tendency. We are given orders, and we obey."
Interviewer: "So why do we do it?"
Ahmad Al-Kubeisi: "By Allah, they wouldn't make you president, even if your father were Ali bin Abi Taleb, unless they believed that you were a traitor, Only then would they select you to be president."

Syrian militia: Manbij under protection of US-led alliance
Reuters, Beirut Monday, 6 March 2017/The northern Syrian city of Manbij is under the protection of the US-led coalition against ISIS after an increase in “Turkish threats” against the city, a Kurdish-allied militia that controls the city said. Manbij has come into renewed focus since Turkey declared it the next target of the campaign it is waging with Syrian rebels in northern Syria to keep both ISIS and Kurdish fighters away from its border. The Manbij Military Council is part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia alliance dominated by the Kurdish YPG group, which is seen by Ankara as an extension of a Kurdish group that is waging an insurgency in Turkey. The Turkish government says the YPG remains in Manbij, though the YPG says it withdrew last year after the city was captured from ISIS in an SDF assault backed by the US-led coalition. Also read: Turkey’s Erdogan says aims safe zone in Syria after Raqqa operation . In a statement released late on Sunday, the Manbij Military Council said the US-led coalition had increased its presence in Manbij and the surrounding countryside “after the increase in Turkish threats to occupy the city”. “We in the Manbij Military Council confirm again that Manbij and its rural areas are under the protection of the Manbij Military Council and under the care of the international coalition and its protection,” the Manbij Military Council said. After clashing with Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebels west of Manbij last week, the council declared a deal with Russia to hand villages at the frontline with Turkish forces to Syrian government control.

Syrian fighters cut main road linking ISIS-held areas
The Associated Press, Beirut Monday, 6 March 2017/US-backed Syrian fighters on Monday cut the main road between the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, which is controlled by ISIS, and the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, which is partially held by ISIS, as they press against the extremists’ territory in Syria. But despite the fresh blockade on the Raqqa-Deir el-Zour road, ISIS still controls large swaths of ground south of Raqqa and the extremists should be able to use smaller roads and paths through open desert to move between the cities. Fighters from the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syria Democratic Forces have been on the offensive under the cover of US-led coalition airstrikes since November. Operation Euphrates Wrath aims to surround and capture Raqqa, the de facto capital of the ISIS self-declared caliphate. The SDF began the third phase of Euphrates Wrath last month with the aim of capturing villages and towns east of Raqqa. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said SDF fighters cut the road linking the two cities in the area of Jazra near Raqqa early Monday. SDF spokesman Talal Sillo told The Associated Press that “our forces have cut the main supply line between Raqqa and Deir el-Zour.” He added that it is still too early to impose a siege on Raqqa since the extremists still control areas west and south of the city. The blockade of the main road comes amid an ongoing SDF march toward Raqqa; its fighters are now stationed eight kilometers (five miles) north of the Euphrates River city and supported by both coalition airstrikes and a deployment of some 500 US special forces operators. The Pentagon has said its soldiers are working in a purely advisory capacity. But Turkey, a US ally through NATO, views the Kurdish militia known as the YPG - the main component of the SDF - as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency inside its own borders and has classified the party as a terror organization. It has objected strongly to the SDF offensive and also vowed to repel the Kurdish-led forces in the town of Manbij back over the banks of the Euphrates, a move that would disrupt the Raqqa campaign. There are Turkish forces stationed in al-Bab, 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Manbij. The Turkish threats prompted the SDF to ask Russia and the Syrian army to establish a buffer between them and the Turkish forces. With uncertainty building, the US deployed a number of armored vehicles to its allies in Manbij, the Syrian Kurdish Rudaw news agency reported Saturday.Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. John Dorrian confirmed the deployment on Twitter. He said it was mean to “deter aggression and keep focus on defeating ISIS.”

Syrian Warplanes Bomb Nusra Posts on Lebanese-Syrian Border
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 06/17/Syrian fighter jets on Monday launched fresh strikes against posts for the jihadist group Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, in areas on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Several militant posts were destroyed in the raids, media reports said. Other reports said the strikes on the outskirts of the Lebanese border town of Arsal followed fierce clashes between al-Nusra and the Islamist Syrian rebel group Ahrar al-Sham. Similar strikes had targeted al-Nusra's posts in the region on Thursday.

US-Backed Forces Cut Key Supply Route to IS-Held Raqa
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 06/17/US-backed forces in Syria have cut a key supply route between the Islamic State group's stronghold Raqa and their territory in Deir Ezzor province, a monitoring group said on Monday. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, cut off the route with air support from the US-led anti-IS coalition, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Trump Signs New Travel Ban Targeting Six Nations, Iraq Exempted

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 06/17/U.S. President Donald Trump signed a revised ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority nations Monday, scaling back the order to exempt Iraqis and permanent U.S. residents. With his first attempt frozen by federal courts, Trump signed a second order halting new visas for Syrians, Iranians, Libyans, Somalis, Yemenis and Sudanese citizens. The White House said Trump -- who is embroiled in controversy over his aides' links to Russia -- signed the order behind closed doors Monday morning. The new order is meant to address legal problems. It explicitly exempts Iraqis, legal permanent residents and valid visa holders. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, one of three cabinet members rolled out to present the order in Trump's absence, described it as "a vital measure" for strengthening national security. Attorney General Jeff Sessions added that it "provides a needed pause" allowing a review of how America deals with travelers from "countries of concern." "Three of these nations are state sponsors of terrorism," Sessions said, referring to Iran, Sudan and Syria. He added that others had served as "safe havens" for terror operatives. Critics questioned the composition of the list, which includes citizens from countries that have never been involved in terror attacks in the United States. They accused Trump of covertly pursuing his controversial and possibly illegal campaign promise of a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."The question of Trump's intent is likely to dominate new legal challenges that are already being flagged by organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union. "President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people," said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrant Rights Project. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the measure should be repealed, adding: "A watered down ban is still a ban."
Travel ban, take two
Trump's first order had sparked a legal, political and logistical furor. There was chaos at major airports and mass protests while several district courts moved to block its implementation and lawmakers expressed opposition. The troubled rollout also dominated the first weeks of the new administration, leaving many with the impression that it was badly planned and badly implemented. Polls show that American public opinion is deeply divided on the issue. Most indicate a slight majority of voters opposed, with strong support among Trump's political base. The Republican president criticized a court order suspending the ban as "a very bad decision, very bad for the safety and security of our country. The rollout was perfect."But he has now stepped away from a promise to challenge the matter in the courts. The second order repeals the first, spelling the end of any pending legal proceedings. Whatever the legal outcome, Trump's new ban is likely to polarize opinion further and be immensely popular with his core supporters.
Shoulder to shoulder
Iraq's inclusion in the first order prompted outrage in that country, including from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. It risked scuttling cooperation between Baghdad and Washington in fighting the Islamic State group. The U.S. and Iraqi militaries are currently fighting side-by-side in northern Iraq, trying to wrest the city of Mosul from jihadist control. The Iraqi foreign ministry on Monday expressed its "deep satisfaction" with the new order, and described it as an "important step" in strengthening relations between Baghdad and Washington. But the revised travel ban is also likely to sow further confusion about U.S. immigration policies. On Monday, Nigeria advised its citizens against all but essential travel to the United States, citing the lack of clarity on new immigration rules. "In the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry US visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria," said special adviser to the president Abike Dabiri-Erewa. According to a report released Monday by travel data firm Forwardkeys, travel from the United States to the Middle East has also fallen sharply, with bookings for departure in the next three months falling 25.4 percent behind the equivalent time last year.
Roiled by Russia
But the ban is likely to help Trump divert attention from rolling crises on his ties with Russia. Since U.S. intelligence publicly accused Russia of trying to swing the November election in Trump's favor, questions have swirled about whether some in Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow. The last week has seen his attorney general recuse himself from election-related investigations, after it emerged he met the Russian ambassador in Washington twice during the campaign. It has also seen Trump level unsubstantiated allegations that former president Barack Obama ordered a wiretap on the now president's phone.

Fillon Keeps Presidential Bid Alive as Rival Juppe Rules Himself Out
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 06/17/Former French prime minister Alain Juppe ruled out a run for the presidency on Monday, boosting embattled rightwing party colleague Francois Fillon whose campaign has been thrown into chaos by a fake job scandal. Juppe, 71, was the most likely candidate to replace Fillon and try to unite their deeply divided Republicans party only seven weeks from the start of the two-stage election. Polls suggest Juppe would be more popular with voters, but the centrist is considered too soft on immigration and other social issues for many of Fillon's supporters on the right flank of the party. "I confirm for a final time that I will not be a candidate to be president of the republic," Juppe said in a downbeat statement that criticized Fillon and said France was "sick" and suffering from a "profound crisis of confidence."His decision removes a major rival for Fillon, who is sticking with his bid for power despite the prospect of criminal charges later this month, mounting criticism within the party and falling poll numbers. The conservative 63-year-old was once the favorite to be France's next leader but his campaign is mired in accusations he used public funds to pay his wife hundreds of thousands of euros for fake parliamentary jobs. "No one today can prevent me being a candidate," Fillon told France 2 late on Sunday, emboldened by a rally of tens of thousands of supporters in Paris earlier in the day. Party leaders are to meet for crisis talks on Monday evening, with allies of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy still pushing Fillon to step aside and name a replacement.This infighting and Fillon's chaotic campaign have made an already unpredictable election even harder to call. The disarray appears to have benefited centrist pro-business candidate Emmanuel Macron in particular, as well as far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who are shown by polls as the top two candidates in the first round on April 23. Polls suggest 39-year-old Macron would beat Le Pen in the decisive second round on May 7 -- but after Donald Trump's victory and Britain's vote to leave the European Union, analysts caution against bold predictions.
Juppe bows out
"Never under the fifth republic have we had an election in such confused conditions," Juppe said, stressing the dangers of National Front leader Le Pen's "anti-European fanaticism" and Macron's "political immaturity."Fillon's defiance and accusations that the government, justice system and media were plotting against him have "led him into a dead-end," Juppe added in one of several criticisms of his colleague. Both Le Pen and Macron -- one a far-right anti-establishment figure, the other an independent who founded a new political movement last year -- have tapped into widespread anger at France's political class. "French people want a profound renewal of their politics," Juppe, a veteran politician with a conviction over a party finance scandal, told a press conference in his hometown of Bordeaux. "Evidently I do not embody this renewal," he added. National Front vice-president Florian Philippot said Monday that many French people who were thinking of voting Fillon would now opt for Le Pen. "They want a free, safe and prosperous France, not a France that is subjected to the most brutal winds of globalization," he told LCI television. Current President Francois Hollande also warned in an interview published Monday that the threat of a Le Pen presidency was real but that he would fight to prevent it happening. France "is aware that the vote on April 23 and May 7 will determine not only the fate of our country but also the future of the European project itself," he added.
Sarkozy intervenes
Fillon, a devout Catholic, beat Juppe in the Republicans' primary in November, pulling off a surprise victory by campaigning as a "clean" candidate. He was the frontrunner in the presidential race until Le Canard Enchaine newspaper revealed in late January that he paid his wife Penelope and two of their children nearly 900,000 euros ($950,000) as his parliamentary assistants. Ahead of the meeting of Republicans party leaders later Monday, former president Nicolas Sarkozy piled pressure on Fillon to meet Juppe and find a way out of the crisis. Sarkozy urged the two men to meet "to find a dignified and credible way out of this situation which cannot continue and which is creating serious problems for the French people." A number of Sarkozy's closest allies have already called on Fillon to step aside.

Baghdad relieved by Trump’s exclusion of Iraq from US travel ban
Reuters Monday, 6 March 2017/Iraq expressed “deep relief” at US President Donald Trump’s decision to remove Iraq from a list of countries targeted in a US travel ban, the Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.
“The decision is an important step in the right direction, it consolidates the strategic alliance between Baghdad and Washington in many fields, and at their forefront war on terrorism,” the statement said. Trump is expected to sign a new executive order on Monday banning travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority nations after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts, a White House source said. A senior White House official said the new executive order would keep a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority nations - Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

40,000 displaced from Mosul as Iraqi forces near old city
Reuters, Baghdad Monday, 6 March 2017/More than 40,000 people have been displaced in the last week from the Iraqi city of Mosul, where U.S.-backed forces launched a fresh push towards the ISIS-held old city center on Sunday and closed in on the main government complex.The pace of displacement has accelerated in recent days as fighting approaches the most densely populated parts of western Mosul, and aid agencies have expressed concern that camps to accommodate people fleeing the city are almost full. The International Organization for Migration's Mosul Displacement Tracking Matrix showed the number of people uprooted since the start of the offensive in October exceeded 206,000 on Sunday, up from 164,000 on Feb. 26. That number may still rise sharply. The United Nations last month warned that more than 400,00 people, more than half the remaining population in western Mosul, could be displaced. Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on Feb. 19. Defeating ISIS in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the caliphate declared by the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014, over parts of Iraq and Syria.
Baghdadi proclaimed the caliphate from Mosul's grand Nuri mosque, in the old city center which is still under his followers' control. Rapid Response units and Counter Terrorism Service forces launched a fresh push into the city on Sunday after a 48-hour pause due to bad weather that hampered air surveillance, facilitating counter-attacks by the militants. Rapid Response teams are "very close" to the government buildings near the old city, said a senior media officer with the elite Interior Ministry units. Their progress was met with heavy sniper and mortar fire, a Reuters photographer reported from Mosul.
The complex, which houses the Nineveh Provincial Council and the Nineveh Governorate buildings, should be taken on Monday, Lt. Colonel Abdel Amir al-Mohammadawi told Reuters. Recapturing the site would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the nearby old city. It would also mark a symbolic step towards restoring state authority over Mosul, even though the buildings are destroyed and not being used by ISIS. Rapid Response units captured have captured the Danadan district, which lies just south-east of the complex, while U.S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Service units pushed through Tal al-Ruman and the Somood districts, in the south-west.
The Iraqi military believes several thousand militants, including many who traveled from Western countries, are hunkered down among the remaining civilian population, which aid agencies estimated to number 750,000 in western Mosul at the start of the latest offensive. The militants are using suicide car bombers, snipers and booby traps to counter the offensive waged by the 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iranian-trained Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups. They were also reported to have fired rockets and mortar rounds filled with toxic agents from the western side of the city to the eastern, government-controlled side. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) offered to assist the Iraqi government investigating the use of chemical weapons in Mosul. Twelve people, including women and children, are being treated in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region east of Mosul, for possible exposure to chemical agents causing blisters, eye redness, vomitting and irritation, the United Nations said on Saturday. ISIS used chemical weapons at least 52 times in Iraq and Syria and at least 19 times in the areas around Mosul between 2014 and November 2016, according to data collected by IHS Markit.Several thousand people have been killed or wounded so far in the Mosul offensive, both civilians and military, according to aid organizations.

Pentagon plan calls for more US participation in attack against ISIS
Staff writer, Monday, 6 March 2017/The US pentagon has issued a plan for the upcoming attack on ISIS’ capital of Raqqa in Syria. According to the Washington Post, the plan calls for more US military participation, including increased Special Operations forces, helicopters, artillery and arms supplies. US troops will not be involved in ground combat yet, however, the plan proposes easing some of the restrictions put by the Obama administration on US participation in Syria. The plan proposes increasing the 500 US advisers currently working with Syrian Democratic Forces. US President Donald Trump has previously vowed to “extinguish” terrorism organizations like ISIS. He had asked Pentagon to come up with a new plan to prepare for the assault on Raqqa.

Israeli police kill prominent Palestinian activist in shootout
AFP, Jerusalem Monday, 6 March 2017/A Palestinian was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Israeli army said Monday. The man, whom Israeli police named as 31-year-old Bassel al-Aaraj, opened fire at soldiers who came to arrest him at his home Sunday night and was shot dead. Two other Palestinians were wounded by gunfire in subsequent clashes with Israeli troops, Palestinian hospital sources said. Two weapons were later found on the property, according to an army spokeswoman. A police spokeswoman said al-Aaraj was “the head of a cell planning attacks against Israeli targets”. Since a wave of violence broke out in October 2015, 254 Palestinians, 40 Israelis, two Americans, one Jordanian, one Eritrean. and one Sudanese have been killed, according to an AFP count.Most of the Palestinians who lost their lives were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities, with others killed during protests, in clashes or during air raids on Gaza. The Israeli army routinely carries out forays and arrests in Ramallah even though it is in principle entirely under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Israeli minister Lieberman: US warned Israel about annexing West Bank
Al Arabiya/Monday, 6 March 2017/Israel’s defense minister said Monday the US has notified Israel that imposing Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank would lead to an “immediate crisis” with the Trump administration. “We received a direct message – not an indirect message and not a hint – from the United States. Imposing Israeli sovereignty on Judea and Samaria would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at the start of parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee meeting. Judea and Samaria is the biblical term for the West Bank, land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war and continues to occupy. The defense minister was responding to a media interview with lawmaker Miki Zohar, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, in which he rejected the idea of a Palestinian state and advocated for a “one-state solution” in which Palestinians would have Israeli citizenship.“The two-state solution is dead,” Zohar told i24NEWS, an Israeli TV channel. “What is left is a one-state solution with the Arabs here as, not as full citizenship, because full citizenship can let them to vote to the Knesset. They will get all of the rights like every citizen except voting for the Knesset,” the Israeli parliament. “They will be able to vote and be elected in their city under administrative autonomy and under Israeli sovereignty and with complete security control,” Zohar added.
Zohar’s proposal
Lieberman said he received phone calls “from the entire world” about whether Zohar’s proposal reflected the Israeli government’s position. He said imposing Israeli sovereignty on the West Bank would mean Israel would be faced with the financial burden of providing Palestinians with health care and other benefits. He called on the governing coalition to “clarify very clearly, there is no intention to impose Israeli sovereignty.”In a striking departure from longtime American policy, President Donald Trump has not explicitly embraced a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which Israel would end its occupation of the West Bank and an independent Palestinian state would be established alongside Israel. Trump said last month he would support whatever solution is acceptable to both sides.

Canada condemns North Korea’s missile launches
March 6, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement in response to North Korea’s March 6, 2017, missile launches:
“Canada condemns in the strongest terms North Korea’s launches of ballistic missiles, which violated multiple UN Security Council resolutions. Three of these missiles reportedly landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
“These launches, which follow similarly provocative actions, including two nuclear tests in 2016, further underscore the threat posed by North Korea to regional and international security and demonstrate the need for a concerted international response.
“Canada calls on North Korea to comply fully with its international obligations, cease its pattern of illegal and destabilizing actions, and immediately and verifiably abandon its ballistic missile program.
“We will continue to work with international partners to constrain North Korea’s destabilizing actions.”

Iran: Fear of Tensions on the Eve of Elections Show
NCRI/Monday, 06 March 2017/On the eve of the Iranian regime’s elections show, a confidential document on overdue payments of businesses, municipalities and their affiliated organizations has been released, showing the regime’s fear of popular demonstrations and protests on Election Day. The document, issued by the governor of Lanjan on February 19, 2017, is listed below: Statement by the Governor of Lanjan, February 19, 2017: Below is paragraph 19 of the decisions made by Lanjan Security Council on February 14, 2017, submitted for the purpose of informing, taking necessary actions, and announcing the results to the Governor.” Paragraph19 – it was ordained that businesses and firms, municipalities and affiliated organizations take necessary measures to make overdue and end-of-year payments of their personnel, in order to avoid any labor discontent on the eve of the elections, thus preventing anti-revolutionary and dissident groups from taking advantage of labor-related issues.

Iran: Dozens Arrested as Police Cracks Down on Private Parties
NCRI/Monday, 06 March 2017
Raiding private ceremonies and night parties by the police has reached new dimensions in Iran. The most recent cases were arresting 34 girls and boys at a night party in Southwestern province of Khuzestan as well as organizers of another one in Tehran. Khuzestan revolutionary prosecutor-general announced on Sunday March 5 that 14 girls and 20 boys have been arrested at a night party in the province. A day before the police in Khuzestan raided a night party, Western Tehran Police Chief announced that police had raided a hen party. Mohsen Khancharli said that “some people had advertised in social media, inviting ‘notorious’ women to attend a so-called special ‘get-together party’ held at a garden hall in western Tehran.”
Western Tehran Police Chief, however, didn’t explain what he meant by ‘special party’ and ‘notorious’ women’.
The organizers of the party have been arrested during the police raid, lawsuits have been filed against them, and the venue where the party was held has also been shut down. Khancharli had also announced on July 25 this year that 150 young girls and boys were arrested at a party in Eslamshahr. Raiding private parties and ceremonies by the police has reached new dimensions this year, with lash punishment being administered in some cases. In a recent raid carried out by the so-called ‘morality police’, announced on March 3, 30 people were arrested at a party in Ahwaz.
Also on March 2, the ‘enjoining good’ officials in Fars province had announced that 14 girls and boys were arrested in the city of Sepidan. Earlier on February 25, it was announced that 44 women and men were arrested at a party in Mashhad. Hassan Haydari, head of Mashhad General and Revolutionary court, called the organizer of the party ‘leader of a group of thugs’ who under the guise of a birthday party had gathered a number of women and men in the place.
At least 44 men and women were arrested at a party in Mashhad, Iran
Also Urmia Chief of Police announced on December 24, 2016, that 40 girls and boys were arrested at a night party in the city. Hossein Samadpour said that “after obtaining the necessary warrant issued by judicial authorities, law enforcement forces responsible for fighting against social evils entered the … house and arrested 40 single girls and boys for participating in an illegal, mix-gender party.” The detainees were brought to court after lawsuits were filed against them, said Urmia Chief of Police .
Also Iranian media had reported late December on 11 girls and 7 boys being arrested at a mix-gender party in Khorasan-Razavi province. At the same time, 54 young girls and boys were also arrested at a night party in Abadan.
On December 14, 2016, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran prosecutor, announced that 120 women and men were arrested in a coffee shop in Tehran. He accused the detainees of ‘corruption’, saying that they have been sent to prison after issuing subpoenas. Also 23 girls and boys were arrested in a mix-gender party held in a garden in Dezful.
On May 26, 2016, Iranian regime’s Judiciary website had announced that 35 girls and boys were arrested at a night party in Qazvin. The state-run Mizan website quoted ‘Esmaeil Sadeghi Niaraki’, Qazvin revolutionary prosecutor-general, as saying that the detainees ‘were dancing in a ceremony held under the guise of graduation party’ when they were arrested and punished.
‘Interrogation, investigation, trial, sentencing and implementing the court ruling’ were all done in less than 24 hours, with each of the detainees being lashed 99 times a day after they were arrested. Shortly after the students were lashed, a German government official responsible for human rights ‘Berbel Koffler’ criticized the Iranian regime’s judiciary, describing its behavior with Iranian youth as ‘inhumane and cruel’. Mrs. Koffler said that with judiciary rushing into trying and punishing the 35 young students, there’s serious doubts over the law and basic rights being respected during their trial.
Police raids are not just limited to night parties, but wedding ceremonies, birthday celebrations and family events have also been recently targeted by the police.
An emphasis by Iranian regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei on fighting against what he calls ‘social harms’, is believed to be the reason for increased cases of raids and arrests by regime’s law enforcement and security organizations.
Iranian regime’s law enforcement behavior has been frequently criticized by human rights organization, including the Amnesty International, which criticized last week the arrest of Iranian citizens and issuing flogging sentence for some of them for attending parties.

IRAN: 7 March 2017 Press Conference to Expose IRGC's Illicit Piers

Press Conference
NCRI/Monday, 06 March 2017Exposing network of illicit piers run by Revolutionary Guards in southern Iran
Revealing front companies engaged in exporting weapons for IRGC proxies in the region. The office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in UK will hold a press conference in Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster on Tuesday, March 7 to expose the network of illicit piers in southern Iran used by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The IRGC uses the revenue generated by those piers to finance its activities including sponsorship of terrorist groups.
The press conference will include detailed and previously unseen intelligence on a number of IRGC companies involved in exporting weapons to the regional groups affiliated to the Iranian regime, particularly those operating in Yemen. Detailed information on the methods of operations of these companies will also be presented in the conference. At the press conference, Struan Stevenson, President of European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) and former President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq will also present a thorough joint study by EIFA and International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) titled “Destructive role of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Middle East.” EIFA and ISJ are Brussels based international NGOs.
Dr Matthew Offord, Conservative MP will also attend to address Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East.
Date and Time: Tuesday, 7March 2017, 2:30pm
Venue: Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster

Iranian Resistance Condemns Presence of Mullahs' Representatives in Bundestag
NCRI/Monday, 06 March 2017
Press Release
Iran is the Godfather of terrorism
Berlin – A five-man delegation from Iran’s parliament is in Berlin for various meetings from March 6th to the 9th, incoming reports indicate. The National Council of Resistance of Iran Representative Office in Berlin strongly condemns the presence of this delegation in the German Bundestag as against the interests of the Iranian people, and against human rights and democracy.
What is named a parliament in Iran is in fact a gathering of individuals who in the past three decades have been a part of the ruling state and proven their utmost loyalty to the religious dictatorship in deeds and action. No dissident is authorized to enter this parliament and the body has no right to become involved in any matter without the regime leader’s consent.
The delegation in Germany represents a regime described by Amnesty International as amongst the main human rights violators. Nearly 3,000 people have been executed during the tenure of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to official statistics. From the beginning of 2017 to this day 150 individuals have been sent to the gallows in Iran, and one man and one woman have been sentenced to death through stoning. On the very day the Iranian parliament delegation enter Germany two prisoners were executed in the cities of Qazvin (northwest Iran) and Shahroud (east of Tehran), while 11 inmates were transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for their executions.
It is extremely disgraceful that a dozen delegations representing federal and state governments, along with members of parliament who have travelled constantly to Iran in the past 15 months to sign contracts, have failed to condemn the non-stop and group executions in Iran. Such opportunistic practices have strongly emboldened the mullahs’ regime in continuing its crimes against the Iranian people and exporting fundamentalist and terrorist across the region.
Members of the German government and Bundestag must condition any increase in relations with the mullahs’ regime to the immediate stoppage of all executions, and in this regard refrain from accepting or negotiating with this regime’s representatives.
National Council of Resistance of Iran/Representative Office in Germany

Recent Suicides and Ongoing Iranian Human Rights Abuses
NCRI/Monday, 06 March 2017In January, a young woman in Iran committed suicide. Now, sadly, suicides have become increasingly common among Iranian women due to a variety of social ills, including state-mandated misogyny. But, in Mahdis's case, it happened one day after she was released from prison. She was sexually abused by Iranian suppressive forces. Wrote Soona Samsami in ‘THE HILL’ on March 5, 2017. The following is the full text of this article. At only 26, the aspiring engineer was taken into custody by intelligence agents on Jan. 24. She was not the same after being released. Her fate resembled that of a 23-year-old political science student who also took her own life after spending four months in prison.
These heart-wrenching stories are but a small portion of the gross human rights violations committed by the religious fundamentalist rulers of Iran. Raping female prisoners is a common practice in Iran.
Recently, Amnesty International released a damning report, condemning Tehran for "heavily" suppressing "the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and religious belief."
"Women and girls," it added, "faced pervasive violence and discrimination."
The report went on to highlight the regime's "extensive use of the death penalty, carrying out hundreds of executions, some in public."
"At least two juvenile offenders were executed" in 2016.
Since the start of 2017, the theocracy has been conducting an execution every 8 hours, on average. In the first two weeks of February, 25 youth were among the victims, all under the age of 30. There are officially 160 juveniles on death row in Iran, but the real figures are much higher. All this is happening under the regime's so-called "moderate" president Hassan Rouhani, who has managed to captivate some western businesses with trade opportunities after the Iran nuclear deal. Meanwhile, the regime's assortment of suppressive forces have been unleashed to quash basic freedoms. Recently, a 14-year-old girl was beaten and arrested by "morality police" for wearing ripped jeans on her birthday.
Two women in the city of Dezful were arrested for riding a motorcycle. A local police commander told the state-run news agency that the women "committed an action against revolutionary norms and values by riding a motorcycle."
The mullahs have spent close to four decades suppressing dissent, torturing or killing people for their beliefs, legalizing and institutionalizing misogyny, executing opponents on the streets, chopping off limbs and stoning women to death.
But, the vast scale of their crimes does not stop there. In the summer of 1988, the Iranian regime executed as many as 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were young supporters of the main opposition, Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
In an audio tape published for the first time last August, the regime's former no. 2 official, Hossein-Ali Montazeri, is heard telling other regime officials that the executions amount to "the biggest crime in the Islamic Republic, for which history will condemn us."
Montazeri, who died in 2009, had also admitted that girls as young as 15 and pregnant women were among the victims of the 1988 massacre.
On March 1, Six human rights groups with consultative status to the United Nations human rights body joined together to issue a statement to the current session of the Human Rights Council condemning the 1988 massacre.
These rights groups recommended that the UN high commissioner for human rights and the UN Human Rights Council appoint an international commission to investigate the massacre.
They also called on the special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Asma Jahangir, and the special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, Pablo de Greiff, to conduct separate inquiries into the massacre.
In light of the regime's abhorrent human rights abuses, western governments cannot morally or strategically engage the mullahs. The United States should adopt a firm and principled policy that holds Tehran accountable for its crimes and terrorism and embraces the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, the West's true allies. Too many of Iran's young girls have been mistreated, abused, tortured and killed. Mahdis, should have been alive to rebuild Iran. If the thousands of young women and men were not massacred by a brutal regime in 1988 or throughout the past 40 years, they would have had an opportunity to create a democratic, peaceful, non-nuclear and generous Iran. It is time to stop being silent about human rights abuses in Iran. Enough is enough.
Samsami is the representative in the United States for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is dedicated to the establishment of a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic in Iran.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published On March 06-07.17
Egyptian Authorities Fail To Protect Egypt's Coptic Christians, Says Amnestyالأمنستي انترناشيونال تؤكد أن دولة مصر فشلت في حماية المسيحيين
Joseph Hartropp/Christian Today/March 06/17
The Egyptian government has 'consistently failed' to protect Coptic Christians fleeing ISIS in the region, Amnesty International has said.
Hundreds have fled El-Arish in North Sinai, Egypt following 40 murders of Coptic Christians by ISIS in the last three months.
Amnesty International says in a statement that Egypt's authorities needed to offer 'urgent protection' to persecuted faith community and do more to provide for those who have been displaced.
'The government has failed to take action to protect Christians in North Sinai who have increasingly faced kidnapping and assassinations by armed groups over the past three years.
'The authorities have also failed to prosecute those responsible for sectarian attacks against Christians elsewhere in Egypt, resorting instead to state-sponsored reconciliation agreements which, at times, have involved the forced eviction of Christian families from their homes,' Amnesty says.
Bishop Angaelos, the head of the Coptic church in the UK said that Copts in the area were essentially told to 'leave or die'. Most of the displaced have found refuge in the governate of Ismailia, given ad hoc shelter and provisions courtesy of churches and other groups in the area.
Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's Deputy Director for Campaigns in Tunis, said: 'This terrifying wave of attacks has seen Coptic Christians in North Sinai hunted down and murdered by armed groups. No one should face discrimination - let alone violent and deadly attacks - because of their religious beliefs.'
In December, ISIS claimed responsibility for a Cairo Coptic church bombing that killed 27. In recent weeks the jihadist group released a video inciting violence against the 'infidel' Christian faith community. Since Jan 30, seven individuals have been murdered by militants in northern Egypt, with victims being burned alive, stabbed in their sleep and shot in the street.
'The government has a clear duty to ensure safe access to housing, food, water and medical and other essential services to all those who have been forced to leave their homes due to violence and persecution,' said Bounaim.
She added: 'The Egyptian authorities must ensure that those who have fled are resettled in secure housing, have adequate access to basic necessities and are granted opportunities to pursue education and employment.'
President al-Sisi said last week that the displaced would be given paid leave in lieu of the employment they have had to abandon.
Egypt's Christians –mostly Orthodox Copts – represent about 10 per cent of the country's majority Muslim population.
Amnesty says that attacks on Orthodox Copts have increased since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July 2013, noting crimes of arson on homes and churches, looting and physical violence against the community.
The charity says: 'Successive Egyptian governments have failed to tackle a longstanding pattern of discrimination against Copts and rising incidences of sectarian violence, by bringing those responsible for sectarian crimes to justice.
'Instead of prosecuting those behind such violent attacks the Egyptian government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has continued to rely on state-sponsored reconciliation agreements, which in some cases have involved forcibly evicting Coptic Christians from areas where they are under threat.'
Bounaim said that the government must cease its 'prevailing impunity for attacks against Egyptian Christians, and 'end its reliance on customary reconciliation deals which further fuel a cycle of violence against Christian communities.'

Egyptian Journalist, Fathia Al-Dakhakhni: Discrimination Of Egyptian Copts The Result Of Fanaticism In Education Systemالمناهج المدرسية في مصر تعلم التعصب والتزمت الدينيين
MEMRI/March 6, 2017 Special Dispatch No.6815
Following the expulsion by ISIS of Coptic families from their homes in north Sinai,[1] Egyptian journalist Fathia Al-Dakhakhni wrote an article in the daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm in which she harshly criticized the discrimination suffered by Copts in Egypt, saying that Egyptians are "raised on the concept of discrimination against the other" and need reeducation. While praising the efforts of President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi to combat sectarian and religious fanaticism in Egyptian society, she stressed that "the problem will not be solved by laws, declarations or presidential decrees." Rather, efforts must begin with the education system, which inculcates racist ideas in pupils and teaches them that Christians are infidels destined for Hell. She also called to abolish religion studies in schools that separate Muslims from Christians and highlight the distinction between them from an early age, to punish fanatical teachers who poison children's minds with extremist ideas, and remove the religion clause from Egyptian identity cards. According to her, the discrimination against Copts blackens the image of peace-loving and tolerant Egypt, keeps it from making progress and provides an excuse to interfere in its affairs and harm it.
The following are excerpts from her article:[2]
"Luckily for me, or perhaps unluckily, I went to school outside Egypt and therefore never heard the question 'Are you Muslim or Christian?' or the [derogative names applied to Copts in Egypt, such as] 'udhma zarqa ["blue bone"],[3] arba'a risha ["four feathers"][4] or Kufts [a distortion of "Copts"] until I came back to Egypt to complete my university studies. Although both my parents are Egyptian, neither of them spoke of these things at home, [so I never heard] these expressions until one day I happened to hear one of my younger brothers use them. He refused to eat the sweets that a Christian neighbor had sent us because she was a 'blue-bone' 'four-feathers.'
"I pondered long, trying to understand how my little brother's behavior could change this way although we had grown up in the same home. I realized that my parents' closest friends were Christians, although this had never occurred to me before. I knew that I had grown up among Christian friends, and could not understand what had made my brother talk this way.
"The answer [turned out to be]: school. That's where my brother heard these terms and learned that Christians are infidels destined for Hell. Worse than that, [he heard that] their food is disgusting and Muslims must not eat it. From that moment I started noticing the hidden signs of the fanaticism and sectarianism that exist in our society, whose leaders are always brandishing the slogan of unity and repeating the mantra 'the Crescent lives alongside the Cross.'
"We often hear of a sectarian crisis erupting [in Egypt] because [a Muslim and a Copt] became romantically involved or because of some financial dispute [between a Muslim and a Copt]. [Then we hear] that the government announced it would settle [the dispute] by means of a customary-law mediation committee,[5] and that the committee ruled that the Christian families must be expelled from the Kashah area [in Sohag governorate in the south] to Al-Faiyum [governorate in the north] or elsewhere. And now we have [a sectarian crisis] in Sinai, although the situation there is different, because we are facing a terror organization [ISIS] that is trying to destroy the country and uses the Coptic issue as an excuse to heighten the [sectarian] conflict.
"President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi has called more than once to reform the religious discourse and strengthen values of tolerance. He has also stressed the need to build a church in every new city and he makes sure to visit the [Coptic] cathedral on Christmas. All these presidential moves are praiseworthy and indicate a desire to end fanaticism and sectarianism in society. But the problem will not be solved by laws, declarations or presidential decrees. Fanaticism in Egypt is a matter of education, so there is need to reform the education received by [the members of our] society, who are raised on the concept of discrimination against the other. [The change] must start in school – because fanaticism begins with religion classes that separate Muslims from Christians, so that the child discovers in his earliest formative years that there is an 'other' who is different and who must be shunned. The next stage arrives when some teachers secretly poison the children's minds, [spreading] the racism and discrimination they [themselves] were raised on and treating the other as an infidel destined for Hell. The inculcation of racism continues in the mosque and [in interaction] with friends, until we arrive at the current situation.
"We must stop burying our heads in the sand like ostriches and acknowledge that there is a problem, that there is fanaticism and discrimination against Egypt's Copts, who are excluded from holding [certain senior] positions. This blackens the image of peace-loving and tolerant Egypt and keeps it from making progress, and supplies an excuse for interference in our internal affairs and for harming us from within. We must reconsider the proposals to abolish religion studies in schools and remove the religion clause from identity cards, change the culture of [our] teachers and punish those of them who teach our kids to be fanatics. We must also act to make [the principle of] citizenship, enshrined in the constitution, a reality and not just words on paper. I charge the parliament to establish an anti-discrimination commission as soon as possible, as the constitution demands. I also urge Education Minister Dr. Tarek Shawki to give this issue as much attention as he devotes to the issue of leaking and falsifying exams."
[1] On this see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis, Copts Flee Sinai Amid ISIS Campaign Of Murder, Threats, February 27, 2017.
[2] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), February 26, 2017.
[3] According to some, this epithet dates from the time of the sixth Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim (985-1021), who required Christians to wear a heavy cross around their necks. The chain, rubbing against the nape of their necks, painted it blue, hence the epithet.
[4] Apparently a reference to the cross that consists of four lines.
[5] The reference is to reconciliation committees comprising representatives of the Muslim and Coptic communities that meet to resolve conflicts between these communities in Egyptian villages, as an alternative to resolving them in court. This practice has come under fire from Egyptian Copts and others, who stated that these meetings are aimed at dropping the charges against Muslim aggressors while persuading the Coptic victims to give up their rights and even to leave their villages. For a 2015 incident in Beni Suef in which Coptic families were evicted from their village, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No.6097, Expulsion Of Coptic Families From Their Homes Sparks Uproar In Egypt, July 8, 2015.

Iran indicts Iranian-Canadian nuclear negotiator for espionage, six months after he was arrested: reports
Joseph Brean/National Post/March 05/17
An Iranian-Canadian accountant who was involved in the financial aspects of Iran’s hard-won nuclear deal is believed to have been indicted in Iran on suspicion of espionage, six months after he was arrested. Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani was arrested in August but not immediately charged. He was granted bail, which is rare for people accused of such serious crimes. Citing Iranian news sources, the Associated Press reported on Sunday that the indicted person was only identified by his initials, D.E., but was said to be a dual national. Based on this information, the AP said the person is “likely” Dorri Esfahani. It quoted a judiciary spokesman saying the a court would now decide whether to pursue the charges. The AP described Dorri Esfahani as a member of the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, a former adviser to Iran’s Central Bank, and a former diplomat in the Hague working on disputes with the United States over military equipment purchases dating back before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.When he was arrested in August, reports spoke of “infiltration” of Iran’s negotiation team, and called Dorri Esfahani himself an “infiltrating element” and a “spy.” That report was immediately contradicted by Iran’s Foreign Ministry, which said no member of its negotiating team had been detained. The Guardian newspaper, however, cited a report in a conservative Iranian outlet that quoted a hardline lawmaker saying Dorri Esfahani “bypassed the negotiation team and gave invaluable information to the U.S.”Although it was supported by President Hassan Rouhani, the 2015 nuclear deal has been criticized by Iranian hard-line clerics who wield great influence over the country’s judiciary. They have used it to push back against Rouhani’s moderate agenda, sometimes using prisoners as bargaining chips, such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an imprisoned British dual national. Several American dual nationals have also been detained since the deal, in which Iran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the easing of sanctions. Rouhani is expected to stand for re-election in May. Iran does not legally recognize dual citizenship, and so does not typically allow consular access to Iranian dual nationals. This was a problem for Homa Hoodfar, the Iranian-Canadian anthropologist at Concordia University who was released from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison in September, after months of detention on unknown charges relating to her work on women’s participation in politics.A Canadian government spokesperson has previously acknowledged reports of a Canadian’s detention in relation to Dorri Esfahani, but said nothing more due to privacy restrictions.

Palestinians: Arab Idol or Arab Apartheid?
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/March 06/17
It was not Abbas's meeting with the Arab Idol contestants that sparked a wave of denunciations from Palestinians. Rather, it was his failure to set foot in any of the refugee camps surrounding Beirut or in other parts of Lebanon.
Abbas knows very well that if he had so much as set foot in a refugee camp in Lebanon, it might have been the last step he would ever take.
The residents of the refugee camps are furious with their leaders, who have kept them there for decades, lying to them about a mythical return to their forbears' homes in Jaffa, Haifa, Acre and Ramle. That is the real reason Abbas and other Arab leaders stay as far as possible from these miserable holding-pens.
What could possibly be said against a leader who supports and encourages art, especially music, singing and dancing of youths? A leader who does so, particularly one from the Arab world, should be commended for such efforts.
The catch: except when a leader says that supporting singers and musicians takes precedence over solving basic problems facing hundreds of thousands of his people.
Take, for example, the case of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who recently visited Beirut for talks with Lebanese leaders on a wide range of issues pertaining to bilateral relations and the status of more than 500,000 Palestinians living in extremely harsh conditions in numerous refugee camps throughout Lebanon. Many of the camps have long been "no-go zones" for the Lebanese security forces; this situation has turned them into bases for anarchy, lawlessness and a home for various rival armed gangs, which sometimes kill each other.
During his three-day visit to Lebanon, President Abbas held a series of meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and scores of Lebanese government officials and politicians. He also met with some representatives of the Palestinian community in Lebanon. Abbas, however, steered clear of any of the refugee camps, where Palestinians are deprived of basic rights, particularly employment.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) meets in Beirut with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun (right), on February 23, 2017. (Image source: RT video screenshot)
Striking to many Palestinians was that Abbas did find time to meet with three young men participating in the hugely popular Arab Idol show, based on the British show Pop Idol. One of the contestants, Yacoub Shaheen, is from Bethlehem, while the second, Ameer Dandan, is an Arab citizen of Israel, from the Galilee. The third contestant, Mohammed Alazaki, is from Yemen. (Shaheen, a Palestinian Christian, won the television song contest).
It was not Abbas's meeting with the Arab Idol contestants that sparked a wave of denunciations from Palestinians. Rather, it was his failure to set foot in any of the refugee camps surrounding Beirut or in other parts of Lebanon. Many Palestinians suspect that Abbas timed his visit to Lebanon so that he could meet with the Arab Idol contestants and be there when the identity of the winner was announced. They noted that Abbas is a big fan of the television show and has been closely following it for the past few years. His son, Yasser, and several senior Palestinian figures often travel to Beirut to attend Arab Idol. On his visit to Beirut, Abbas also found time to meet and exchange jokes with the famous Emirati singer Ahlam, who is also one of the judges on the Arab Idol show.
Abbas's enthusiasm for the singers and the Arab Idol show is downright heartwarming. Many Palestinians, however, were left wondering about compassion for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Lebanon and who are being exposed to apartheid, discriminatory laws and severe restrictions that have turned their refugee camps into ghettos. Time on these diplomatic visits is rather limited: how, they wonder, did Arab Idol contestants and Ahlam the singer and judge make the cut, and the suffering compatriots did not?
Sufian Abu Zayda, a top Fatah official from the Gaza Strip, commented:
"From my point of view, there is no problem with President Abbas's care for art and singers, including following the Arab Idol show or any other program. Nor is there a problem if President Abbas devotes time for a meeting with the esteemed singer, Ahlam. The problem is that Abbas is not the president of Sweden or Norway that he can afford so much time on a television show. Is it conceivable that a Palestinian president would visit Lebanon for talks with Lebanese officials without going to see his people in the refugee camps, some of which are very close to the studios of Arab Idol?"
Abu Zayda's views have since been echoed by a large number of Palestinians, who see Abbas's intentional ignoring of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon as part of the Palestinian leadership's long-standing policy of turning its back on the plight of its people and preferring to deal with "trivial" issues. While Abbas was in Lebanon, armed clashes erupted between Abbas loyalists and followers of his chief rival, Mohammed Dahlan, in the Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp. At least one person was killed and three wounded in the confrontation.
Abbas, in fact, had no time to deal with the deteriorating security situation in the refugee camp because he was too busy thinking about who would win the Arab Idol contest (Palestinians argue his preferred candidate was Yacoub Shaheen from Bethlehem).
"We thought President Abbas and the entire Palestinian leadership came to Beirut to discuss the tragic conditions of the Palestinians in the refugee camps," wrote a number of Palestinians on social media. "But we soon discovered that the real purpose of the visit was to attend Arab Idol. What a disgrace!"
Referring to Abbas's obsession with Arab Idol, other Palestinians launched a hashtag on Twitter: #AbbasFollowUsToo. The goal of the campaign is to express Palestinians' disappointment with their leaders' carelessness and disdain.
Palestinian leaders have long ignored the plight of their people in Lebanon and other Arab countries. In Lebanon, the living conditions of the Palestinians are unquestionably inhumane. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Palestinians in Lebanon
"do not enjoy several important rights; for example, they cannot work in as many as 20 professions... Around 53 percent of the Palestinians in Lebanon live in 12 refugee camps, all of which suffer from serious problems, including poverty, overcrowding, unemployment, poor housing conditions and lack of infrastructure."
Abbas, however, is nothing if not savvy. He knows very well that if he had so much as set foot in a refugee camp in Lebanon, it might have been the last step he would ever take. So he was smart to stay away from the refugee camps, where his people bleed and which have become militia bases for armed gangs that are affiliated with so many groups, including his own Fatah faction.
Yet, it is not only Lebanese refugee camps in which Abbas feels a bit edgy. Similar camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are also teeming with bitterness. The residents are furious with their leaders, who have kept them there for decades, lying to them about a mythical return to their forbears' homes in Jaffa, Haifa, Acre and Ramle. That is the real reason Abbas and other Arab leaders stay as far as possible from these miserable holding-pens. That is also why Palestinian leaders do not care if Lebanon or any other Arab country treats Palestinians as second- or third-class "citizens" (Palestinians in any case cannot be citizens because, with the exception of Jordan, Arab countries deny them the right to citizenship). And that is why Abbas would rather spend time with Arab singers and Arab Idol contestants than confront those he betrays on a daily basis -- people being subjected to real apartheid and discrimination in Lebanon.
**Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
© 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.

Germany's Jihad on Freedom of Speech
Vijeta Uniyal/Gatestone Institute/March 06/17
Germany's police and legal systems, which took weeks to prosecute anyone in the city of Cologne in the wake of the New Year's Eve mass sexual assaults, and then closed most of the cases after a year-long investigation, immediately swung into action against a group of small-town revellers.
In Merkel's Germany, you are allowed to walk free after setting fire to a synagogue, but not for mocking the Chancellor's "sacred" refugee policy.
While German police are busy raiding homes across the country and targeting citizens who write "hateful" or "offensive" Facebook postings, mosques in German are openly preaching anti-Semitism and ISIS-style jihadism.
Carnival in Germany is a time for some light-hearted fun, fancy costumes and political satire. This year, many German cities held traditional float parades on Rosenmontag, or Rose Monday, many of which depicted political themes. Images of U.S. President Donald Trump took centre stage in many float processions, in some instances with his decapitated head held up high by the Statue of Liberty, in the style of an ISIS beheading.
Other floats went after nationalist European leaders and right-wing parties. In Düsseldorf, President Trump was shown standing next to a blond Hitler, joined by France's Marine Le Pen, and the Netherlands' Geert Wilders.
Germany prides in its traditional Narrenfreiheit ("jesters' freedom") to mock the high and mighty. This year, Germany's state-run Deutsche Welle news agency proudly proclaimed, "German jesters take on kings for 2017 Carnival."
To those objecting to some of these violent depictions of President Trump, prominent German journalist Christian Thiels reminded the public that, "It's called 'freedom of satire'. You don't have to like it or find it tasteful but it is part of free speech."
In this very spirit of "freedom", some residents of the sleepy German town of Bad Bergzabern thought they could mock Chancellor Angela Merkel and her refugee policy.
A local non-political group showed up with a float showing Chancellor Merkel behind prison bars, with the caption: "This is how traitors end up." It is German equivalent of the popular U.S election slogan used by many Trump supporters for former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: "Lock her up."
A police complaint was filed the following day. The day after that, police rolled into action, and the State Attorney of Landau district opened an investigation against the subversive "miscreants."
The Carnival parade float from Bad Bergzabern, Germany, that triggered an investigation by the police and State Attorney, showing Chancellor Angela Merkel behind prison bars, with the caption: "This is how traitors end up." (Image source: SWF video screenshot)
Germany's police and legal systems, which took weeks to prosecute anyone in the city of Cologne in the wake of the New Year's Eve mass sexual assaults, and then closed most of the cases after a year-long investigation, immediately swung into action against a group of small-town revellers.
Germany's state-run Südwestrundfunk broadcaster wrote:
"The float showed the head of the Chancellor behind the prison bars. According to a police statement, by Tuesday many residents had complained about the float and a case had been filed. The State Attorney's office in Landau is examining if the depiction of the Chancellor is a punishable offense."
"The float was registered by a private group from South-Palatinate Kapellen-Drusweiler. The office-holders of the group told SWR that they do not belong to any right-wing group, and only wanted it to be a thought-provoking exercise."
Before German law enforcement could make any assessments, the mayor's office of Bad Bergzabern issued a statement that from now on, all Carnival floats were first to apply for mayoral approval.
Meanwhile, in January 2017, the regional court of Wuppertal acquitted Arab arsonists guilty of setting fire to a local synagogue in 2104, declaring it a legitimate political protest to draw "attention to the Gaza conflict" with Israel, and "deemed the attack not to be motivated by antisemitism."
In Merkel's Germany, you are allowed to walk free after setting fire to a synagogue, but not after mocking the Chancellor's "sacred" refugee policy.
While German police are busy raiding homes across the country, targeting citizens who make "hateful" or "offensive" Facebook postings, mosques in Germany are openly preaching anti-Semitism and ISIS-style jihadism.
Merkel's Germany is policing Carnival floats and Facebook posts, when it might better spend its time and taxpayer money securing the borders and cracking down on recruitment to jihad.
**Vijeta Uniyal is a journalist and news analyst based in Germany.
© 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.

Geneva farce: Regime is the opposition
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 06/17
In order for Nazi Germany to control occupied France during World War II, it used some Frenchmen and formed a government of dummies, also called the Vichy government, to convince the world of the legitimacy of its presence. This is what the Damascus regime is doing as of now. When the Syrian regime realized that the opposition has more legitimacy than it had, it resorted to the trick of inventing groups called “the opposition” and allowed them to work in Damascus and sent them to capitals which support it, like Tehran and Moscow, to negotiate on behalf of the opposition. For more than three years now, no one believed this charade operating under the name of Moscow and Cairo factions, which are just extensions of the Syrian regime. The Damascus regime has, with the help of Russia, imposed these groups on the Geneva negotiations. After the international envoy had agreed to include them, Moscow now calls for their integration with the real opposition delegation. When the real opposition refused to integrate with these fake groups, they were accused of sabotaging the negotiations. There is no point for the HNC to continue participating in these negotiations now that they have deprived themselves of everything, even of their right to represent the opposition. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not like the opposition’s move and said: “The so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC) is refusing to cooperate equally with the Moscow and Cairo factions and is in fact sabotaging fully fledged dialogue.”
After including the Moscow and Cairo factions, Geneva’s negotiations turned into a political farce, which is the worst in history as we have seen nothing like it. Even the fake Vichy government had more integrity than them.
Right to opposition
I think there is no point for the HNC to continue participating in these negotiations now that they have deprived themselves of everything, even of their right to represent the opposition. Everything that represents the Syrian regime is fake. Its army isn’t its army and its opposition, which it insists to negotiate with, isn’t really an opposition. The Assad regime has been known for fabricating slogans related to nationalism, Arabism and democracy and for forging elections and inventing groups like Fateh al-Sham, on behalf of the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon, and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. When it assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005, it created an organization it named Jund al-Sham and produced a video in which a man named Abu Adas claimed that he was the one who assassinated Hariri. It later turned out that it was a fabricated story as the international investigation exposed the names of real perpetrators who were linked to the regime in Damascus. The Syrian regime did even more than all that during the Iraq war after the American invasion. In cooperation with Iran, it established organizations that claimed to be Islamic and Baathist resistance. These opposition platforms are a façade submitting to the regime’s demands and defending it. As long as Moscow and Iran support these Moscow and Cairo factions, it is better if it signs a deal with them in Tehran and end this farce.

Bahrain will not lose faith in democracy
Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/March 06/17
Following the 2011 developments, in what was named the Arab Spring, the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is a new constitutional monarchy, could have revolted against democracy and lose faith in it. It could have turned against the system which specifies the authorities’ jurisdictions, separates between them, specifies royal jurisdictions and restrains them within constitutional framework. It could have revolted against all these restraints which prevented it from confronting terrorism and terrorists who wreaked havoc on the level of security and hid behind the system of civilians’ human rights which the constitution has granted them and residents in Bahrain. All the blessing of democracy, such as human rights, parliamentary immunity of elected members of parliament, the support which civil society institutions were granted, media and civil rights and other rights, were exploited. They were entirely employed by the Shiite Al-Dawa Party to stage a coup against the constitution and the monarchy, not peacefully, but through violence and terrorism. More than 20 member of the security forces were killed, and more than 3,000 were injured. Police stations and prisons were attacked - these terrorist acts enjoyed both - a local and an international cover and umbrella, all under the pretext of protecting rights and freedoms. However, Bahrain did not alter its choice and it adhered to a constitutional framework even when it wanted to make amendments to this system that allow the military judiciary to try civilians who carry out terrorist acts against the armed forces and military facilities.
Legal framework
It adhered to a legal framework despite the violence of armed militias and organizations that claimed to be civilians, despite receiving military training and taking up arms, while operating within cells led by a central command. Bahrain’s government did not violate the authorities’ jurisdictions which are stipulated by the constitution, and it submitted its proposal to amend the constitution according to the constitutional measures outlined. It submitted a draft law to the legislative authority so the latter can look into it during its ordinary session. The legislative committee’s first chamber met with the minister of defense and listened to his ministry’s justifications for proposing this draft law, and then it submitted its report which was discussed during a public hearing. They casted a vote and the draft law was approved. Even if there were some who opposed to the law, the majority approved it and then the law was transferred to the parliament’s second chamber to resume the ordinary procedure. Bahrain has the right to brag about the fact that despite its chance to abandon its promises and back down from keeping them by simply citing the West’s retreating actions and using the excuse that there are threats against the region - particularly against it - it adhered to its democratic choice and did not turn against it. Bahrain thus adheres to its constitutional choices and resolves what it can confront changes and developments without turning against this choice - although revolting against this entire liberal system prevails in the entire world today due to the developments related to security and peace. Candidates who represent the extreme right-wing in Europe, or US, and who are calling for restrictions on immigration and for expanding security jurisdictions do not win for no reason. They do not advance over their competitors without indications that western societies, which have chosen liberalism as an ideology and a system of values for more than half a century, but are the ones to have begun to have enough of this system’s predominance at the expense of collective security.
Mobile prisons
Even attempts to go around these restrictions have failed. The mobile prisons which the US established outside its borders - to be able to pursue terrorists and protect its national security away from the restrictions of the American civil rights system - were shut down and they were pursued by this same system and by the latter’s sponsors and protectors. In Europe, they’re considering all security matters which intersect with civil freedoms and rights related to expression, immigration, wiretapping and moving. Rights and freedoms have acted as gaps that terrorism exploited, to enter certain countries and threaten collective security as well as this system of freedoms itself. US President Donald Trump, French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen or The Alternative for Germany Party - or other so called extreme right-wing movement in Europe or the US - don’t compliment, or alter terms, but they speak frankly, calling a spade a spade. They clearly say the system of rights has limits and its predominance must not reach the extent it has reached and which allowed terrorists to operate under its umbrella and hide under its cover. They also address America’s and Europe’s fears over these civilized achievements which the West enjoys thanks to the “blessing” of this system and they assure them that their rights and freedoms will not be altered but the system will be more rationalized!
If we consider how the pioneers of democracy reviewed the limits of the rights system, which they established. And if we take a thorough look at how terrorism exploited the loopholes in these systems to cause harm and hide under its cover, then Bahrain has the right to brag about the fact that despite its chance to abandon its promises and back down from keeping them by simply citing the West’s retreating actions and using the excuse that there are threats against the region - particularly against it - it adhered to its democratic choice and did not turn against it. Bahrain carried out a constitutional amendment via an elected legislative authority and through guaranteed rights which are provided by the civil judicial or military judicial law wherever the trial is held.

Adonis and the Riyadh International Book Fair

Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/March 06/17
An annual cultural event is about to unfold in Saudi Arabia in the form of the most important and most popular book fair in the Arab world. Intellectuals, authors and writers launch and release their books at the Riyadh International Book Fair. There is intellectual, narrative, philosophical and poetic growth in Saudi Arabia, which is reflected in the awards a number of creative people have won. Zaki al-Milad deserved winning the fair’s award in the intellect and philosophy category. He won it for his book “The Renaissance Era, how it arose and why it failed?” Jubair Almulyhan, whose writing style is elegant and graceful, also won an award for his novel “The sons of al-Adham.”Ali al-Dumaini won an award in the poetry category while Saleh Zmanan and Abdul Aziz Saqabi jointly won in the theatre category. Syrian poet Adonis was right as Saudi Arabia continues to attract the attention of Arab intellectuals and all those interested in culture.
Adonis speak
Around 16 years ago, a television interview was broadcast with Syrian poet Adonis. The Lebanese host asked Adonis publications from which country were the most dynamic in the region. “In the Gulf”, he simply answered, citing the intellectual, cultural and poetic activities. It now turns out that Adonis’ opinion was right as Saudi Arabia is attracting the attention of Arab intellectuals and all those interested in culture. This is the spirit that emerges when culture complements the education. We hope the Riyadh International Book Fair illuminates us all.