March 11/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 11/19-25./:"And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.’Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, "Be taken up and thrown into the sea", and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. ‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.".

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever

Letter to the Hebrews 12,28-29//.13,1-9/:"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire. Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Let marriage be held in honour by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them."

Question: "Why does God allow us to go through trials and tribulations?"
Answer: One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear? Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.
As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7: "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.
Trials develop godly character, and that enables us to "rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Jesus Christ set the perfect example. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). These verses reveal aspects of His divine purpose for both Jesus Christ's trials and tribulations and ours. Persevering proves our faith. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our "trials and tribulations" if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. "By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler" (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.
Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:2-4,12).
Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ." Although we are in a spiritual battle, Satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published On March 10-11/17
Analysis/ Sending Lebanon Back to the Middle Ages? Israeli Minister Talks Strategy After Lebanon Reveals Its True Hezbollah Face/Amos Harel/Haaretz/ March 10/2017
All Art Is “Immoral,” Says Egypt’s Top—and “Moderate”—Cleric/Raymond Ibrahim/Coptic Solidarity/March 10/17
Jihadis Living on Support Payments from the Europe They Vowed to Destroy/
Giulio Meotti/ Gatestone Institute/March /17
Two Islams in the world/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 10/17
Of students, teachers and a careless attitude/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/March 10/17
Preparing Saudi students for life after school/Samar Fatany/Al Arabiya/March 10/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published On March 10-11/17
UN Report Says Escalated Hizbullah Rhetoric Increases War Risk with Israel
Kaag Congratulates Lebanon on Military and Security Appointments
Army Chief Vows Fight against Terrorism, Release of Abdcuted Servicemen
Army says manhunt for Borj Barajneh gunmen underway
Lebanese-Palestinian Clashes Erupt in Bourj al-Barajneh
Berri Says Wage Scale Listed on Parliament Agenda
Hariri Receives Estonian President
Joint Parliamentary Committees Finalize Wage Scale, Refer It to Parliament
Geagea Declares Fadi Saad as Batroun Parliamentary Candidate
Cabinet resumes state budget talks, slates meeting on Monday
President of Estonia visits UNIFIL
Balloons found in Mais Jabal carried by air from inside occupied Palestinian territories
Re-opening Qleiaat airport upright demand: Aoun
Analysis/ Sending Lebanon Back to the Middle Ages? Israeli Minister Talks Strategy After Lebanon Reveals Its True Hezbollah Face
Lebanese Interior Minister: Stable, Continuous Cooperation between Aoun, Hariri

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published On March 10-11/17
Iran Regime's Senior Mullah: People Cannot Earn Enough to Afford Living
Iran Regime's Leader and Revolutionary Guards Exposed for Building a Terror Empire
Call to Blacklist Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Their Affiliated Militias
Terrorism Funded by Iran's IRGC at the Expense of the Iranian People
The Message of Maryam Rajavi to a Meeting at the U.S. House of Representatives
Mosul Church Turned into IS Religious Police Base
Mosul: ISIS battles fiercely as Iraqi forces push forward
US-backed SDF says it can capture Syrian city of Raqqa
Iran successfully tests naval missile: reports
Pentagon: Iran is the biggest security threat to the region’s stability
Iran’s presence in Syria blocks peace deal, Netanyahu tells Putin
Erdogan: Turkey cooperating fully in military sphere with Russia on Syria
Trump Invites PA Oresident Abbas To White House
Palestinian ends hunger strike as Israel agrees his release
Pope sends 100,000 euros to poor of Aleppo
Five killed as helicopter crashes in outskirts of Istanbul
Egypt says two security officers killed, four wounded in Sinai
Amal Clooney urges Iraq to allow probe of ISIS crimes
South Korean President Sacked by Top Court

Links From Jihad Watch Site for March 10-11/17

German efforts to deport North Africans thwarted by upper house
Muslim claims “Islamophobia” after being handcuffed for refusing Staten Island Ferry bag check
Dusseldorf axe attacker: “Fatmir H,” Muslim from Kosovo — cops rule out “Islamic fundamentalist motive”
Dusseldorf axe attacker arrested, from “former Yugoslavia,” cops say mental illness, no terror motive
Reza Aslan’s agenda: showing Hinduism and Christianity as violent, Islam as peaceful
Germany: Axe-wielding attackers wound five in Dusseldorf train station
Robert Spencer video: What if the media had covered World War II the way it covers jihad?
Raymond Ibrahim: The Islamic State Revives Islam’s Original Terror Tactic — Cannibalism
Trinidad: Imam arrested as part of Islamic State gang, threatens to murder police
A week before 2016 election, Obama administration spiked arrest of jihadi who lied to enter US

Links From Christian Today Site On March 010-11/17
World Vision Warns Of Millions At Risk In East Africa, Launches Hunger Crisis Appeal
The Resignation That Rocked The Church: How The CofE Reacted To Philip North's Decision
How To Help Syrian Refugees: Church Led Group Becomes One Of First To Welcome Family To UK
All Change At Songs Of Praise? BBC Will No Longer Produce Popular Christian TV Programme
World Council Of Churches Voices 'Grave Concern' Over Israel Clampdown On Boycott Support
It Is Devastating For Families': How Compassion International Is Being Forced Out Of India
Philip North 'Hounded' Out Of Role, Claims Key Conservative Bishop
Australia's Third Largest Denomination Has Paid Out 17m Dollars To Child Abuse Victims
Philip North Withdraws As Bishop Of Sheffield

Latest Lebanese Related News published On March 10-11/17
UN Report Says Escalated Hizbullah Rhetoric Increases War Risk with Israel
Naharnet/March 10/17/Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres denounced in a periodic report on the implementation of resolution 1701, the recent statements made by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah against Israel, rejecting “deterrence” justifications which “increases the risk of tension and could lead to renewed war,” An Nahar daily reported on Friday. The report encouraged President Michel Aoun to resume national dialogue among political parties until a defense strategy is agreed to remove weaponry from Hizbullah and other armed groups, according to the daily. The report, which consists of 91 paragraphs and prepared by the Special Coordinator for the United Nations in Lebanon Sigrid Kaag citing a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701, is the first for Guterres since he took office on the first of January. In the report, Guterres welcomed the “institutional and political progress” made in recent months in Lebanon, saying it “represents an opportunity to further strengthen the Lebanese state's authority and expand it.” Nevertheless it added that “Retention of arms by Hizbullah and other groups undermines the state's authority and contradicts with the duties of the country under resolutions 1559 and 1701.” The report condemned the “threats launched by Secretary General of Hizbullah against Israel on February 16, which can not be justified as a need for deterrence.” It pointed out that “rhetorical threats of use of force by any of the two parties (Israel and Hizbullah), destabilizes the relative calm and stability prevailing between them.”It called on all parties to "refrain from such threats, because they increase the risk which could lead to renewed war.”

Kaag Congratulates Lebanon on Military and Security Appointments
Naharnet/March 10/17/UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag welcomed the nomination of a new Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces and Director General of the Internal Security Forces, a UN statement said on Friday. “This is an important step in ensuring the continuity and effectiveness of these important state institutions,” said the statement. Kaag praised “the role played by the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces under the leadership of General Jean Qahwaji and Maj. General Ibrahim Basbous in maintaining security and stability in the country.”The Special Coordinator also conveyed her appreciation to Maj. General Mohammed Kheir, the outgoing General Secretary of the Higher Defense Council. Kaag congratulated “Gen. Joseph Aoun on his appointment as the new commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Brig. Gen. Imad Othman as the new chief of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim on his reappointment as head of the Directorate of General Security – as well as Maj. General Saadallah Muheiddine al-Hamad as the incoming General Secretary of the Higher Defense Council. “The United Nations looks forward to continuing its collaboration with all the security institutions in Lebanon,” concluded the statement.

Army Chief Vows Fight against Terrorism, Release of Abdcuted Servicemen
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 10/17/Newly-appointed Army Commander General Joseph Aoun assured on Friday that the army's efforts to fight terrorism will continue, and its endeavors to release the kidnapped servicemen will not stop. Aoun's comments came in his Order of the Day on the occasion of his appointment as Army chief replacing General Jean Qahwaji, he said: “The new (presidential) term depends on the role of your institution to provide a comprehensive and sustainable security and stability, so be ready to continue the war against terrorism with all the power you have got. “Put before your eyes the release of your fellow servicemen and their return back to their families and institution as fast as possible,” added Aoun. “I am honored to be entrusted with this great confidence by the President and Premiership and be appointed as Army chief. I receive the Army command in the midst of difficult regional circumstances, and waves of terror that still touch on our borders. I am confident that at present and in the future you will rise up to the hopes entrusted in you,” he concluded. The security appointments approved by the cabinet on Wednesday ended a deadlock that twice forced an extension of the term of the army's sitting head. A ministerial source said the appointments had "the consensus of all the political forces," adding the new chief was "well-known and removed from any political conflicts." Joseph Aoun is not related to President Michel Aoun, himself a former army chief, although the two served together in the military. Lebanon's already fractious political scene has faced tensions linked to the war in neighboring Syria since March 2011.

Army says manhunt for Borj Barajneh gunmen underway
Fri 10 Mar 2017/NNA - Following an armed clash that erupted in Borj Barajneh today, an army unit intervened to restore calm, while it carries on pursuit of gunmen who traded fire and made casualties, to arrest them and bring them to justice, the Lebanese military indicated in a statement on Friday.

Lebanese-Palestinian Clashes Erupt in Bourj al-Barajneh
Naharnet/March 10/17/Heavy armed clashes erupted in and around the Palestinian refugee camp of Bourj al-Barajneh in south Beirut between the Lebanese Jaafar family and the al-Qaffas Palestinian family, media reports said on Friday. Media reports said at least three people were killed and several others wounded. MTV said its cameraman Jad Abu Antoun was wounded in the leg by a ricochet gunshot during his coverage of the clashes. He was later discharged from hospital after receiving the needed treatment. The reports said that machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades could be heard in the area. Several roads around the area were blocked as the result of stray bullets. After relative calm that followed the deployment of the Lebanese army, media reports said gunfire had renewed in the evening. It has been reported that the clashes erupted against the backdrop of disputes over construction works. "The situation is now calm and we're communicating with the army and with AMAL Movement and Hizbullah and we've informed them that the gunmen have been pulled from the streets," Fatah Movement's Bourj al-Barajneh official was quoted as saying. He stressed that the incident had no political motives. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq meanwhile left a cabinet session to follow up on the situation.

Berri Says Wage Scale Listed on Parliament Agenda
Naharnet/March 10/17/After the Joint Parliamentary Committees finalized discussing the controversial wage scale file, Speaker Nabih Berri said the file will be included on the agenda of the parliament when it meets next Wednesday, the National News Agency reported on Friday. The Speaker called the parliament to session at 10:30 next week to study and approve several draft laws and bills and it will include the wage scale, NNA said. A day earlier and during a parliament bureau meeting, Berri said he will consider the wage scale in the agenda if the joint parliamentary committees complete discussions. The Joint Parliamentary Committees finalized on Thursday evening the draft new wage scale and referred it to parliament. The committees agreed to grant non-commissioned officers a one degree hike in addition to the increase that was granted a day earlier to soldiers, whose salaries will jump monthly from 655,000 to 988000 Lebanese pounds.Public administration employees will meanwhile get two degrees while public school teachers will get three degrees.

Hariri Receives Estonian President
Naharnet/March 10/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri received at the Center House on Friday the Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid, and the accompanying delegation, where the meeting focused on bilateral relations and the work of the Estonian contingent in the UNIFIL in south Lebanon, Hariri's media office said. After the meeting, Kaljulaid said: “Estonia is the incoming rotating president of the European Union Council. It is important for us to get a feeling of the hopes and views of the Lebanese people about the possible developments in the region and how the international community, based on democratic values and freedoms, can help the Lebanese people achieve continuous economic growth, to solve the major issues that the country is facing in the context of refugees, and to secure peaceful development for the whole region”. “Definitely, we are ready to provide our knowledge to you on developing digital society,” added the President. “Estonia is very proud that in 2016 it counted as the fourth biggest per-capita contributor to the UN peacekeeping missions. Our biggest mission is in the south of your country and I am going to visit them this afternoon and tomorrow,” she added. For his part, Hariri said: “I want to thank you for coming to Lebanon, for the participation of Estonian soldiers to UNIFIL and for everything you have done for this country. We hope that this relationship enhances itself by our cooperation together. “We will make sure to cooperate more in the future. We understand that you have done a lot in e-government and this is something we would like to implement in our country so hopefully we can work together to do that”.

Joint Parliamentary Committees Finalize Wage Scale, Refer It to Parliament
Naharnet/March 10/17/The Joint Parliamentary Committees on Thursday finalized the draft new wage scale and referred it to parliament. “It has been agreed to grant non-commissioned officers a one degree hike in addition to the increase that was granted yesterday to soldiers, whose salaries will jump monthly from 655,000 to 988000 Lebanese pounds,” the head of the Finance Parliamentary Committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, announced after the session. Public administration employees will meanwhile get two degrees while public school teachers will get three degrees. “As for revenues, we were keen not to target ordinary citizens with taxes and fees,” Kanaan added. “The cost of 1,200 billion Lebanese pounds is difficult to secure and it needs reforms, but these reforms need time to be achieved,” Kanaan went on to say, defending the new taxes that have been approved. The Loyalty to Resistance bloc meanwhile voted against hiking the VAT tax from 10 to 11% as the Kataeb Party voted against all the proposed taxes and fees. “We rejected all the revenues that were proposed today. There is a wage scale that needs to be funded and we all support its funding and we will vote for the rights and for the new wage scale,” Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel announced in a press conference. He stressed that instead of imposing new taxes on citizens and institutions, the State should seek to end “tax evasion” and “corruption in the customs administration, the electricity sector, the airport, the port, the tenders, the waste management file, the rented buildings and the aid that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars that goes to associations loyal to influential figures, state officials and political parties.”Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh had earlier in the day walked out of the session in protest at what he called injustice against public school teachers.
“The wage scale is fair for administrative employees and the members of the armed forces but it marginalizes teachers of all levels. That's why I have walked out of the Committees' session and I hope the academic year will not be suspended,” Hamadeh told reporters. Kanaan had announced Wednesday that “reforms are essential for securing funds and preserving financial stability in the country.” Admitting that the approved parts fell short of the expectations of civil servants and the members of the armed forces, the MP said “what happened does not satisfy all people and does not meet the aspirations of teachers and the armed forces.”Speaker Nabih Berri is expected to call a March 15 legislative session and the wage scale will be on its agenda. The Syndical Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, 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.

Geagea Declares Fadi Saad as Batroun Parliamentary Candidate
Naharnet/March 10/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea announced Thursday that Fadi Saad will be the LF's candidate for the Batroun district in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Saad will replace incumbent MP Antoine Zahra, who has represented Batroun in parliament since 2005. “Sooner or later we will reach an electoral law,” Geagea promised during a Maarab ceremony. “We won't tolerate the postponement of the elections, which must be held under a new law,” Geagea stressed. He said that Zahra has decided to step aside “to give the chance to the young generation.” Geagea also noted that Saad's nomination enjoyed near-consensus in the LF's executive committee.

Cabinet resumes state budget talks, slates meeting on Monday
Fri 10 Mar 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri chaired at the Grand Serail on Friday a Cabinet session devoted to continuing discussions over the state budget. In the beginning of the session, the Prime Minister congratulated the newly appointed security and military chiefs, thanking the outgoing commanders for their efforts in preserving security and stability, as well as in combatting terrorism. The Cabinet decided to meet on Monday afternoon at the Grand Serail, to resume budget talks.

President of Estonia visits UNIFIL

Fri 10 Mar 2017/NNA - PPresident of the Republic of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, today visited the headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in south Lebanon, the UNIFIL in a statement on Friday. Upon her arrival at the UNIFIL base in Naqoura, President Kaljulaid was greeted by the UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Michael Beary, and received the Guard of Honour. Her 16-member delegation included high-ranking Estonian officials including General Riho Terras, the Commander of the Defence Forces of Estonia, and Marin Mottus, the Ambassador of Estonia to Lebanon. While acknowledging the important contribution of the Republic of Estonia to UNIFIL in fulfilling its mandated tasks in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, Major General Beary briefed President Kaljulaid on the situation in the Mission's area of operation in south Lebanon.As one of 40 contributors to UNIFIL's more than 10,500-strong peacekeeping force, Estonia currently has 38 troops deployed in south Lebanon. The Republic started sending its troops to UNIFIL, operating under the resolution 1701, in 2015.

Balloons found in Mais Jabal carried by air from inside occupied Palestinian territories
Fri 10 Mar 2017/NNA - Locals of the town of Mais Jabal found a number of floral-color balloons with Hebrew language inscriptions, blown by air from inside the occupied Palestinian territories into the Lebanese territories, NNA reporter said on Friday.

Re-opening Qleiaat airport upright demand: Aoun
The Daily Star/March 10/17/BEIRUT: The re-opening of the Qleiaat airport in north Lebanon is a righteous demand, President Michel Aoun said Friday. "Reopening the Rene Mouawad airport in Qleiaat would achieve prosperity for north Lebanon and comes in line with the [plan] to rehabilitate [Lebanon's] infrastructure," Aoun told a delegation from the civil movement in the northern district of Akkar and the city of Tripoli. Passenger flights operated for some time at the airport, until it was turned into a military airport when Lebanese MPs returning from the Taif Accords in Saudi Arabia met there in 1989 and elected Rene Mouawad president on the spot. Aoun told the delegation that Lebanon wasn't divided into factions and there was no discrimination between the Lebanese. He vowed to fully implement his presidential oath, saying "I wrote it and I abide by implementing all of it."Aoun called on the residents of remote areas of Lebanon not to be displaced and to increase their attachment to the land. "Two sectors that have been neglected in the past few years [are] the agriculture and industry [sectors]. I salute the residents of Akkar and the north. You are in the heart of Lebanon and not on its edges.” Aoun also met with Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, who stressed that the financial situation in Lebanon was stable.The president held separate talks later in the day with newly appointed chief of the Central Inspection Department Judge George Attieh and Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Imad Othman.

عقب كلام عون عن تبنيه سلاح حزب الله إسرائل تهدد بتدمير لبنان واعادته إلى القرون الوسطى
Analysis/ Sending Lebanon Back to the Middle Ages? Israeli Minister Talks Strategy After Lebanon Reveals Its True Hezbollah Face

Amos Harel/Haaretz/ March 10/2017
Naftali Bennett’s formula for avoiding the next war in Lebanon involves accepting the fact that the country is 'a subsidiary unit of Hezbollah.'
Lebanese President Michel Aoun paid an official visit to Cairo a month ago, ahead of which he gave a number of interviews to the Egyptian media. Aoun was only elected president after a long power struggle in which Iran and Hezbollah finally held sway, and he spoke about the fact that the Shi’ite organization continues to be the only Lebanese militia that refuses outright to disarm.
Hezbollah is a significant part of the Lebanese people, Aoun explained. “As long as Israel occupies land and covets the natural resources of Lebanon, and as long as the Lebanese military lacks the power to stand up to Israel, [Hezbollah’s] arms are essential, in that they complement the actions of the army and do not contradict them,” he said, adding, “They are a major part of Lebanon’s defense.”
Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion from the Institute for National Security Studies wrote recently that Aoun’s comments were a “lifting of the official veil and tearing off of the mask of the well-known Lebanese reality – which widely accepted Western diplomacy tends to blur. The Lebanese president abolishes the forced distinction between the ostensibly sovereign state and Hezbollah. Thus, the Lebanese president takes official responsibility for any actions by Hezbollah, including against Israel.”
Aoun’s declaration also tallies with the facts on the ground. At a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this past week, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the Lebanese army is now “a subsidiary unit of Hezbollah.”
What does that mean with regard to an Israeli response against Hezbollah in case another war breaks out on the northern front? This column recently discussed the basic difficulty that faces the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon: limited ability to deal with the threat of high-trajectory rockets directed against both the Israeli civilian population and the strategic infrastructure on the rear front. On the southern front, even though the air force lacks a proper offensive response to rockets, the missile intercept systems – chiefly the Iron Dome batteries – are enough to thwart most of the launches.
In the north, with Hezbollah able to launch more than 1,000 rockets into Israel on a single day of fighting, the offensive solution seems partial and the defensive solution limited.
The state comptroller’s report on the 2014 war in Gaza disappeared from the headlines within a few days, but the difficulties facing Israel in future conflicts in Gaza – and even more so in Lebanon – remain.
Fighting rockets with tweezers
At this point, it’s interesting to listen to security cabinet member Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), whose opinions the state comptroller accepted with regard to disagreements with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Hamas attack tunnels in the Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett at a Second Lebanon War memorial event in 2016.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (left) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett at a Second Lebanon War memorial event in 2016.Gil Eliahu
While in the political realm Bennett seems determined to create unilateral facts on the ground (i.e., settlements in the territories) even at the risk of a potential face-off with the Europeans and embarrassing the Trump administration, it seems his positions on military issues are more complex. More than once he has shown healthy skepticism over positions taken by top defense officials, and he refuses to accept their insights as indisputable conclusions.
Hunting rocket launchers during a war is almost impossible, Bennett told Haaretz this week, adding that he says this “as someone who specialized in hunting rocket launchers.”
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when he served as a reserve officer, Bennett commanded an elite unit sent deep into southern Lebanon to find Hezbollah’s rocket-launching squads.
“When we worked in a particular area, we did reduce the teams of rocket launchers there – but they simply moved a little farther north,” Bennett related. Since then, he said, 11 years have passed and Hezbollah has learned to deploy in a more sophisticated manner. “They moved their launchers from the nature reserves, outposts in open areas, to dense urban areas. You can’t fight rockets with tweezers. If you can’t reach the house where the launcher is, you’re not effective, and the number of houses you have to get through is enormous,” he explained.
“After I was released from reserve duty, I read all of the books you wrote about the war,” Bennett told me. “I understood in retrospect that the fundamental event of the war took place on its first day, in a phone call between [former Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert and Condoleezza Rice.” President George W. Bush’s secretary of state had asked the prime minister not to hit Lebanon’s infrastructure, and was given a positive response. As a result, “there was no way that Israel could win the war,” Bennett said.
“Lebanon presented itself as a country that wants quiet, that has no influence over Hezbollah,” he continued. “Today, Hezbollah is embedded in sovereign Lebanon. It is part of the government and, according to the president, also part of its security forces. The organization has lost its ability to disguise itself as a rogue group.”
Bennett believes this should be Israel’s official stance. “The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out. That’s what we should already be saying to them and the world now. If Hezbollah fires missiles at the Israeli home front, this will mean sending Lebanon back to the Middle Ages,” he said. “Life in Lebanon today is not bad – certainly compared to what’s going on in Syria. Lebanon’s civilians, including the Shi’ite population, will understand that this is what lies in store for them if Hezbollah is entangling them for its own reasons, or even at the behest of Iran.”
At the same time, he notes that this is not necessarily the plan for a future war, but instead an attempt to avoid one: “If we declare and market this message aggressively enough now, we might be able to prevent the next war. After all, we have no intention of attacking Lebanon.”
According to Bennett, if war breaks out anyway, a massive attack on the civilian infrastructure – along with additional air and ground action by the IDF – will speed up international intervention and shorten the campaign. “That will lead them to stop it quickly – and we have an interest in the war being as short as possible,” he said. “I haven’t said these things publicly up until now. But it’s important that we convey the message and prepare to deal with the legal and diplomatic aspects. That is the best way to avoid a war.”
Bennett’s approach is not entirely new. In 2008, the head of the IDF Northern Command (and today IDF chief of staff), Gadi Eisenkot, presented the “Dahiya doctrine.” He spoke of massive damage to buildings in areas identified with Hezbollah – as was done on a smaller scale in Beirut’s Shi’ite Dahiya quarter during the 2006 war – as a means of deterring the organization and shortening the war.
That same year, Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland proposed striking at Lebanon’s state infrastructure. To this day, though, the approach has not been adopted as Israeli policy, open or covert. Bennett’s declaration reflects an attempt by a key member of the security cabinet (albeit Netanyahu’s declared political rival) to turn it into such policy.
The fact that Israel only tied with Hamas in Gaza in 2014 only convinced Bennett that he is right. There, too, Hamas finally agreed to a cease-fire after 50 days of fighting only after the Israel Air Force systematically destroyed the high-rise apartment buildings where senior Hamas officials lived.

Lebanese Interior Minister: Stable, Continuous Cooperation between Aoun, Hariri
Asharq Al-Awsat/March 10/17
Beirut – Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad al-Machnouk said that cooperation between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri was steady and continuous to better serve the country’s interests.The interior minister coordinated the handover of the director-general position of the Internal Security Forces at the ISF headquarters on Thursday.The ceremony installed newly appointed Maj. Gen. Imad Othman and officially ended the term of former Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous. Addressing the ceremony, Machnouk said that the government was witnessing a new era of positive developments.“The cooperation between President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri is serious, stable and ongoing at the state’s service,” he stated. A ceremony was also held Thursday at the Defense ministry in Yarze, where outgoing Army Commander Gen. Jean Kawhagi passed the leadership of the Army Command to Gen. Joseph Aoun, who pledged to keep the military away from sectarian strife.“I vow to keep the military institution impregnable against the venom of sectarian and regional [turmoil],” Aoun said.The outgoing commander expressed his confidence his successor’s capabilities.“I have full confidence in the capacity of this institution to face dangers and challenges … and in your personal ability to assume its command with high competence, in a new era presided over by his excellency the president, Gen. Michel Aoun, who is fully aware of the national role of this institution,” Kahwagi stated.Also on Thursday, the ISF received a US grant of approximately $1 million dollars’ worth of equipment. US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth H. Richard attended the ceremony, highlighting US commitment to Lebanon’s state institutions.In a statement, Richard said the US was proud to deliver this much-needed equipment and reiterated America’s partnership with Lebanon in the fight against terrorism and extremism. “The gear and equipment delivered today is part of the US State Department’s Anti-terrorism Assistance (ATA) program, which also included five courses of training to advance the ISF as a sophisticated, capable, and professional police force,” Richard stated.“The equipment and training is part of long-standing US support to develop Lebanon’s border and internal security,” she added.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published On March 10-11/17
Iran Regime's Senior Mullah: People Cannot Earn Enough to Afford Living
NCRI/Friday, 10 March 2017/The Head of the Assembly of Experts and the Secretary of the Guardian Council, Ahmad Jannati stated: "there are people in our society who do not earn enough to afford living, while we call our government Islamic."He also slammed Rouhani's government and added: “meanwhile, the cabinet holds a ceremony in Karaj which costs 500 million Tomans ($155,500)."Jannati attacked Rouhani's government on March 7th in a formal meeting of the Assembly of Expert held on the eve of the presidential election. He asked Rouhani to apologize since the economic strength which Khamenei spoke of has not been implemented. Jannati said: “we cannot rely on the words and statistics. The gentlemen have to say what measure they have adopted in order to make the people happy. If the economic strength is not implemented effectively, the authorities have to apologize."As the officials claimed the term "economic strength" stresses on the economic independence; when the government resists against possible sanctions. However, due to the corrupt structure of organs and institutions, this term has just become an empty slogan to tricks people."
Following Jannati's electoral remarks against the rivals, the Vice-President of the Parliament of Iran stated: “some people are more royalist than the king and they intend to idolize the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist. I believe the Assembly of Experts does not carry out its duty well since the Constitution expressly states that the Assembly of Experts should constantly observe the Supreme Leader. Nevertheless, some think that it is an insult to use the word "observe" for the Supreme Leader." In response to a student who asked about Ali Motahari's views on the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist, he said:"the Supreme Leader could not arbitrarily take measures. So if he does anything at will then he should be automatically disregarded as the Supreme Leader."In response to Jannati's remarks, Hassan Rouhani claimed that his government is "definitely winning in the economic strength"; saying that this question could not be worse than this."Rouhani responded Jannati in a speech on March 8th during his trip to Mashhad. He reiterated that it is irrelevant to ask questions regarding government's success in the economic strength.The Member of the Board of Directors of the Assembly of Experts, Ebrahim Raeesi in an interview with the journalists confessed to the economic problems; stating that the government shall submit a report about its doings since the Supreme Leader believes that the economic problems could be only eliminated by implementing economic strength.
Reuter in a report wrote about the reactionary Assembly of Experts:"while the presidential election is coming ahead, Rouhani does not speak of people's salary. However, (the opponents) slammed him in the economic field."
Reuter referred to Jannati's speech and wrote: “he sharply criticizes the policy of negotiation with the world powers and he talks about Rouhani's failure in improving the economic situation. He said that Rouhani has to apologize if the economic conditions fail to prosper."

Iran Regime's Leader and Revolutionary Guards Exposed for Building a Terror Empire
NCRI/Friday, 10 March 2017/Iran’s leader, military spend billions on terror and weapons, Iranian dissidents report. Iran has spent up to $100 billion in the past five years financing operations in Syria that were instrumental in keeping President Bashar Assad in power, according to a book on the hardline Islamic theocracy’s vast business holdings and wealth. Wrote Rowan Scarborough in The Washington Times on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The e-book “Iran: The Rise of the Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire” estimates that the Islamic republic has paid nearly $100 million a year in salaries to a grab bag of mercenaries it sent to Syria under the direction of the notorious Quds force. Iran is meddling in Syria as the Shiite-dominated regime directs the largest arms buildup in its history, focusing on new missiles and ways to deploy forces into regional conflicts, such as Syria’s civil war. The e-book was released Wednesday by the Islamic republic’s largest internal dissident group — the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which includes the operational People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK). The study has two purposes. The first is to document a major corporate and money grab by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a military branch that exports terrorism and tenaciously protects all aspects of the mullahs’ rule over 79 million people. “Khamenei’s office has devoured virtually everything that matters,” the e-book says.

Call to Blacklist Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Their Affiliated Militias

NCRI/Friday, 10 March 2017/Following the recent statement of The IRGC's Iraqi agent Al-Moussavi, boasting the active involvement of Iran regime mercenaries in the massacre of Syrian people. Struan Stevenson, president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association, called for black listing of IRGC, the full text is as follows:
Seyed Hashem al-Moussavi, the spokesman for a Shi’ia Iraqi militia group known as Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, declared at a press conferenceon Wednesday in Tehran: "We have been in Syria for the past four years,” and added “We will not leave Syria until the last terrorist (meaning the Syrian opposition) leaves." (Iran’s Tasnim News Agency 8 March 2017). The group openly receives training, arms, and military advice from Iran and has close ties to the notorious Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.
Al-Moussavi threatened Turkey, the government of Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraqi popular forces in Mosul saying: "We will resort to military action if Turkey does not retreat from Bashiqa in Iraq. We will not allow 'the forces of Nainawa' (local tribes) to dominate Mosul… Erdogan deceived Massoud Barzani but the dreams of Turkey were buried in the borders of Senjar."
Such blatant admissions of active participation in the genocidal massacre of the people of Syria and Iraq, underlines the need to expel the Iranian regime and the IRGC from the region and to blacklist and dissolve their affiliated terrorist groups.
The IRGC's Iraqi agents take advantage of the resources of the government of Iraq and utilize American weapons to implement and advance Iran’s sectarian agenda to slaughter the predominantly Sunni people in the region. They are now the main obstacle to peace and security. Under the pretext of fighting Daesh (ISIS), they seek to dominate the sensitive region of Tal Afar in order to send supplies to their forces in Syria, Lebanon and round the Mediterranean Sea.
The al-Nujaba group was formed in 2013 by the IRGC. Its general secretary is a mullah by the name of Akram al-Kaabi. The group is comprised of three combat brigades: Amar Yasser, Imam Hassan Mojtaba and al-Hamd. They operate under the IRGC command in various parts of Syria including Damascus, Aleppo, Mazaree Shabaa. They also secure the road to the International Airport of Damascus. The Military Academy is the headquarters of this criminal group in Aleppo. The responsibility of providing protection for two airports in Aleppo and Nairab has been granted to the Amar Yasser and al-Hamd brigades.
In Syria, the al-Nujaba militia is commanded by Abu-Yousef al-Kaabi. His deputy is Abu-Zahra al-Khaffaji. Previously, al-Nujaba members received training at the Quds Force's Jalilabad Garrison in Varamin, Iran. Recently, however, the IRGC trains these forces at a garrison in Lattakia, Syria. The wounded are sent back to Tehran.
The policy of appeasement adopted by the previous U.S. administration led to the expansion of militia groups affiliated with the IRGC, particularly in Iraq and Syria. We welcome the remarks by the American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley who said: "Syria can no longer be a safe haven for terrorists. We've got to make sure we get Iran and their proxies out." We call on the UN Security Council, the U.S. and the European Union to take the following measures in order to neutralize this threat and achieve a final resolution to the crisis in the region:
1. Blacklist the IRGC and its affiliated militia groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, etc.
2. Compel the government of Iraq to dissolve all Iraqi militia groups who are exploiting the government's budget, faciliites and weapons. American and Europan weapons should be taken away from them, in particular.
3. The sectarian pro-Iranian militia groups must be banned from participating in the war with Daesh. They must be denied the opportunity to take advantage of the Coalition's aerial cover to dominate more areas in Syria and Iraq.

Terrorism Funded by Iran's IRGC at the Expense of the Iranian People
NCRI/Friday, 10 March 2017/The National Council of Resistance of Iran’s U.S. Representative Office hosted a panel of experts on March 8, 2017, to discuss the IRGC’s growing influence, and global options that may be used to mitigate the threat. A book prepared by the NCRI-US was also released, “Iran: The Rise of the Revolutionary Guard’s Financial Empire.” The book documents the way the Supreme Leader and the IRGC have taken over the Iranian economy, and how those profits are being used to fund terrorist networks.
Adam Ereli, a former U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain, and a spokesman of the U.S. State Department, moderated the panel, which included such prominent individuals asWilliam A. Nitze adjunct fellow of The Center for Strategic and International Studies, member council on Foreign Relations, Michael Pregent, adjunct fellow of The Hudson Institute, adjunct lecturer of the College of International Security Affairs, and National Defense University; Edward G. Stafford, Foreign Service Officer (ret.), Political-Military Affairs, State Department; and Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director of the NCRI’s Washington Office.
In Iran, ownership of property in various spheres of the economy has gradually shifted from the population at large, to a minority of the ruling elite, according to the report. This minority is comprised of the Supreme Leader’s office and the IRGC, using 14 powerhouses. The report summarizes it this way, “The driving force behind all major economic developments have been the expansion of the sphere of influence of Khamenei’s office and the IRGC over the country’s economic resources, in order to intensify suppression, support terrorism, and advance the nuclear program.”
“Privatization” in this case means that a significant number of Iran’s economic institutions have been handed off to the Supreme Leader and the security, military, and economic groups under his influence.
The study found that a small number of IRGC affiliates and Khamenei aides gain easy access to low-interest loans, many of which have never been repaid, resulting in a financial crisis in its own right.
The report boldly stated, “Western companies engaged in economic and financial deals with Iran would like to portray their activities as transactions with the ‘private sector’. However, to do business with Iran is to do business with Khamenei and the IRGC.”
Iran’s economy has not experienced the renaissance many anticipated, with regards to the 2015 Nuclear Deal. Marked improvements have not materialized and in reality, the control of the regime over the entire economic systems and the astonishing growth of extremely disruptive and obstructive rules and regulations severely limit freedom of action. This leaves little or no room for free-market competition in Iran. Two-thirds of Iran’s total industrial capacity has either vanished or remains idle, according to analysts’ estimates.
Negatively impacting the Iranian economy is not the only way Supreme Leader and the IRGC affect the situation in Iran. Their financial empire is also used to export terrorism. Up to $100 million a year has been spent on salaries for mercenaries sent to Syria under the direction of the notorious Quds Force.
There is a two-fold purpose for the study. The first is to document a major money grab by the Supreme Leader and the IRGC. Secondly, it is a warning to the West. Investments in the post-Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in Iran are not likely to invigorate the Iranian economy, but are more likely to enrich the IRGC and fund terrorism.
Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the dissident group’s Washington office said, “The book is intended to show that, behind the veneer of the official banks and seemingly benign companies, lies a web of institutions controlled by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his ideological terrorist arm, the Revolutionary Guard Corps. According to the book, foreign investors cannot in practical terms aDissidents have criticized the nuclear deal of 2015, saying that it has further emboldened Iran, instead of moderating its leadership. The book says, “International sanctions were never the cause of Iran’s economic ills, which is why their lifting has not provided the cure. There are systemic, entrenched forces at play that have to do with the nature and sociopolitical roots of the political system in power today.”
As described by the panel, Iran’s current economy won’t bring an improvement to the Iranian population, but will continue to fund Iran’s expansion of fundamentalism and terrorism throughout the region and within the global community instead.

The Message of Maryam Rajavi to a Meeting at the U.S. House of Representatives
NCRI/Friday, 10 March 2017/The Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), is the primary tool of domestic repression and export of terrorism in the region
March 9, 2017. On the occasion of Nowruz (Iranian New Year) a ceremony was held in Rayburn Foyer of US House of Representatives in which members of Iranian-American communities and a number of representatives participated, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president of the Iranian Resistance send a message to this meeting, the following is the full text of her message:
Honorable lawmakers and dear friends,
With the arrival of spring, Iranians are preparing to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which marks the first day of the Iranian calendar year.
Nowruz has been celebrated for decades and symbolizes change; change from the gray, gloomy days of winter to the promising green days of spring.
For Iranians, Nowruz has a simple but significant message:
The springtime of freedom is inevitable.
It may be delayed, but it cannot be stopped.
For the people of Iran, Nowruz brings a new hopeful prospect:
The certain end of religious dictatorship and rule of freedom and democracy.
Our suppressed people deserve to live in a free and democratic society, which is key to peace and stability in the region.
It is the only way of uprooting Islamic fundamentalism as a global threat.
Events in Iran over the past year are signs of critical developments in the coming year.
Conservative estimates show more than 3,000 executions during Hassan Rouhani’s term and yet widespread crackdown on the rise.
Yet, the Iranian people have risen up in different cities to protest the regime’s suppression. They rallied against censorship, poverty and widespread government corruption. They took to the streets in thousands of large and small demonstrations to protest that even their most basic demands are not met.
The most recent example is the uprising of last month by thousands of our brave countrymen and women in Ahvaz. The death of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani seriously weakened the regime. For 38 years, Rafsanjani was the regime’s number-two man and was critical to its internal balance.
In addition, the windfall money from the lifting of sanctions did not relieve living conditions.This money was spent for the regime’s warmongering in Syria, Iraq and other regional states While Rouhani’s promises of moving the wheels of the economy have proven empty.
This regime is the main responsible for continuation of six years of war and killings in Syria and the crisis in Iraq as well as empowering ISIS and increasing sectarian conflicts in the region.
Fueling conflicts, increase of suppression in Iran and expansion of warmongering and terrorism are the critical means used by the Mullahs to maintain their shameful rule and hold back the wave of anger, which will lead to a national uprising that will sweep them away.
But the mullahs have reached the end of the line.
They have used all of strategic resources and have no way forward and no way back. They face inevitable overthrow by the Iranian people and their organized resistance.
To that end, the international community and the United States must hold this anti-human regime accountable for crimes against the Iranian people, meddling in the war in Syria, export of terrorism to regional states and its network of terrorist militias in neighboring states.
The Iranian regime’s dossier of human rights abuses must be referred to the United Nations Security Council for the adoption of binding punishments.
The Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as the primary tool of domestic repression and export of terrorism in the region, should be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
A strong, bipartisan demand should be made for those responsible for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 in Iran to be identified and brought to justice.
I welcome the bipartisan measure demanding pressure on the Iranian regime to stop its destabilizing actions in support of terrorist groups, and its continued test-firing of ballistic missiles.
I also welcome a legislative language, which calls for the application of UN Security Council resolution 2231 as well as a bill that calls for the designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
I deeply appreciate the friendship and bipartisan support of the U.S. lawmakers for the oppressed people of my homeland and I am grateful for their strong solidarity with the PMOI members in Albania.
Your growing, bipartisan support for the Iranian people’s efforts to obtain freedom are going to be more effective than ever before.
I wish you and the American people success in the Iranian New Year.
Thank you, and happy Nowruz.

Mosul Church Turned into IS Religious Police Base
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 10/17/The elegant columns of a west Mosul church stand plastered with Islamic State group propaganda after the jihadists' infamous religious police took over the Christian place of worship.  The sign above the door of Um al-Mauna (Our Mother of Perpetual Help) in Iraq's second city reads "Chaldean Catholic church", but its jihadist occupants had other ideas."No entry, by order of the Islamic State Hesba Division (the religious police), they wrote on the building's outside wall. Five jihadists lie dead outside, their bodies twisted and one with the top of his skull blown off, after Iraqi forces retook the neighbourhood from IS this week. The church "was an important office for the authorities tasked with making sure (Mosul) residents had a beard, wore short robes and followed their extremist convictions," says Lieutenant Colonel Abdulamir al-Mohammedawi of the elite Rapid Response Division. Iraqi forces are pushing an offensive to retake the whole of Mosul, the jihadist group's last major urban bastion in the country, after retaking its eastern side in January. IS fighters took control of the city in 2014, imposing their harsh interpretation of Islamic law on its inhabitants.
Above the door of the ochre-coloured church, IS members have damaged a stone cross. Not far away, they seem to have tried to rip another from a metal door off its hinges.
Not a single crucifix, or statue of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary has survived in the building's nave, from which all mark of Christianity has been methodically removed. Only the grey marble altar remains. In the church's empty alcoves lies the base of a statue that was probably also destroyed, decorated with red and yellow flowers. The posters on the church's marble columns give an indication of what life was like under IS. Chilling illustrations -One shows religious invocations to repeat in the mornings and evenings, while another explains the benefits of praying in a mosque.
A "town document" lists the 14 rules of life in Mosul under jihadist rule: "The trade and consumption of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes is banned."Women should wear modest attire and only appear in public "when necessary", it says. A pamphlet on the rubble-covered ground explains the different forms of corporal punishment prescribed for theft, alcohol consumption, adultery and homosexuality. It comes complete with chilling illustrations. Jihadists have scribbled their noms de guerre on the church's walls, and a large chandelier has been dumped in the yard. In the church's small side rooms, artificial flower garlands are draped near posters explaining how to use a Kalashnikov rifle. Chaldeans make up the majority of Iraq's Christians. But a community that numbered more than a million before the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein has since dwindled to less than 350,000 in the face of recurring violence. In June 2014, jihadist fighters led by IS seized control of Mosul and ordered the city's Christian community to convert to Islam, pay a special tax, leave or face execution. Weeks later, the jihadists swept through Qaraqosh and the rest of the Nineveh Plain east of Mosul, where an estimated 120,000 Christians lived, prompting them all to flee. But the Um al-Mauna Church is in a better condition than most of the rest of the Al-Dawasa neighbourhood, which has been ravaged by the fighting. On one of its empty trading streets, once flashy shop facades have been reduced to contorted iron and shredded concrete. On one poster advertising male clothing, IS members -- whose interpretation of Islam forbids human representation -- have blacked out the faces and bare arms of the models.

Mosul: ISIS battles fiercely as Iraqi forces push forward
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 10 March 2017/The joint Iraqi forces continued their progress on Friday in the western part of the city of Mosul. An official statement emphasized that the forces are 150 meters away from the main entrance of the governmental compound. The statement highlighted that the fifth and sixth Armored Division as well as the task squad are finishing up their logistical and combat formation in preparation for the battles, with the assistance of the federal police to bomb the locations of ISIS militants. ISIS using car bombs.Furthermore, a security source at Nineveh said on Friday, that they have foiled an ISIS attack on security troops. The source told Al Arabiya that the security forces were able to destroy five wheel bombs used by the organization in the assault on the security troops west of Mosul. The security forces continue their advancement in the right coast of Mosul for the emancipation of the old city.
ISIS relentlessly fighting as operations continue
For his part, Major General Maan al-Saadi confirmed to Al Arabiya “that the operations to liberate the western side are ongoing. He pointed out that the security forces are actively storming neighborhoods in the western side of the city.”As for the ferocity of the battles, al-Saadi told Al Arabiya that ISIS is fighting brutally, yet most fighters located in Mosul are foreigners to the country and do not know any escape roots so they have accepted that sooner or later they will meet their fates. The Iraqi Government along with the coalition forces have waged on the 17th of October an all scale war to free the city of Mosul from the grips of ISIS. After three months of fighting, they have managed to free the left coast, and a large section of the right coast.

US-backed SDF says it can capture Syrian city of Raqqa
ReutersFriday, 10 March 2017/US-backed Syrian militias said on Thursday they have enough forces to capture the city of Raqqa from ISIS with support from the US-led coalition, underlining their opposition to any Turkish role in the attack. Raqqa is ISIS’s main base of operations in Syria and the US-backed campaign to capture it has been boosted with the arrival of a Marines artillery unit. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the Kurdish YPG militia and Arab groups, have in recent days cut the road from the Raqqa to ISIS’s stronghold in Deir al-Zor province - the last main road out of the city.
Deeply worried by the YPG’s influence, Ankara is pressing Washington to take part in the final assault on Raqqa. The SDF says it ruled out any Turkish role during meetings with US officials last month, though Turkey said on Thursday no decision had been made yet and the US-led coalition said a possible Turkish role remained a point of discussion. “The number of our forces is now increasing, particularly from among the people of the area, and we have enough strength to liberate Raqqa with support from the coalition forces,” Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, an SDF spokeswoman, said. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish government. An SDF spokesman told Reuters on Thursday he expected the forces to reach the outskirts of the city within a few weeks. Its forces began the operation to encircle Raqqa in November.
“We have information that the enemy is moving part of its leadership outside the city, as it is also digging tunnels under the ground. We expect they will fortify the city and the terrorist group will depend on street warfare,” Ahmed said. The SDF and YPG have been the main partners for Washington in its campaign against ISIS in Syria. The US-led coalition has been providing air support and deployed special forces in Syria to help in the campaign against ISIS.

Iran successfully tests naval missile: reports

AFP, TehranFriday, 10 March 2017/Iran has successfully test-fired a naval missile which hit its target 250 kilometers away, local news agencies reported Thursday. “We have this week tested the Hormuz-2 missile,” the Fars and Tasnim agencies quoted the commander of the air wing of the elite Revolutionary Guards, General Amir-Ali Hadjizadeh, as saying.“The missile succeeded in destroying its target 250 kilometers (155 miles) away,” in the Gulf of Oman, Hadjizadeh added. According to the local news agencies the new Hormuz-2 missile has a maximum range of 300 kilometers.The missile test was carried out at a time of heightened tension between Iran and the United States. On Wednesday a senior Revolutionary Guards official accused the United States of provoking tensions after two separate incidents in the Gulf last week. “A US Navy ship crossing the Strait of Hormuz changed its international route and approached to within 550 metres of Revolutionary Guards’ boats in an unprofessional way,” Mehdi Hashemi told the Guard's website Sepahnews. He said actions by the United States and the United Kingdom in recent days showed they have “harmful, illegitimate and provocative objectives”. The Pentagon on Monday blasted the “unprofessional” behavior of the Iranian navy. The spike in tensions follows the inauguration of Donald Trump as US president. Washington imposed fresh sanctions on Iran following a missile test in late January.

Pentagon: Iran is the biggest security threat to the region’s stability

Staff writer, Al Arabiya English/Friday, 10 March 2017/US CENTCOM commander Army Gen. Joseph Votel, asserted that Iran poses the greatest security threat in the whole Middle East. Votel told the Senate Armed Committee Thursday that Iran seeks to be the regional hegemon, pointing out to its clout in Iraq and Syria, adding that Tehran is playing a pivotal role in supporting the Syrian regime and exploiting the Shiite-dominated areas to achieve this goal. Votel testified: “In my view, Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to the stability of this part of the world.” He revealed that the US is dealing with a range of malign activities perpetrated by Iran and its proxies in the Middle East. The CENTCOM commander said Iran seeks to be the “regional hegemony” and is using destabilizing behavior to achieve its goals, according to VOA. He continued: “We hold Iran accountable for maritime harassment. Nobody does that.”; referring to Tehran’s pattern of harassing US Navy ships in the Arabian Gulf. Newly elected US President Donald Trump accuses the previous administration of having a soft stance towards Iran’s calamitous role in the region, specifically in Syria and Yemen.

Iran’s presence in Syria blocks peace deal, Netanyahu tells Putin
Reuters, Jerusalem Friday, 10 March 2017/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday there could never be peace in Syria as long as there was an Iranian presence there. “We discussed at length the matter of Iran, its objectives and intentions in Syria, and I clarified that there cannot be a peace deal in Syria when Iran is there and declares its intention to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu said in footage supplied by his office after their meeting. Iran has been embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s staunchest backer and has provided militia fighters to help him in the country’s civil war. “(Iran) is arming itself and its forces against Israel including from Syria territory and is, in fact, gaining a foothold to continue the fight against Israel,” he said in reply to a reporter’s question. “There cannot be peace when they continue the war and therefore they have to be removed.” Russia, also Assad’s ally, is seen as holding the balance of power in achieving a deal on Syria’s future. In Geneva last week, the first UN-led Syria peace talks in a year ended without a breakthrough. Israeli leaders have pointed to Tehran’s steadily increasing influence in the region during the six-year-old Syrian conflict, whether via its own Revolutionary Guard forces or Hezbollah. Netanyahu has said that Israel has carried out dozens of strikes to prevent weapons smuggling to the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah via Syria. Two years ago, Israel and Russia agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria in order
to avoid accidentally trading fire.

Erdogan: Turkey cooperating fully in military sphere with Russia on Syria
The Associated Press, MoscowFriday, 10 March 2017/Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in Moscow on Friday after talks with Vladimir Putin that Turkey was cooperating entirely with Russia’s military over Syria.Turkey launched a military operation in August to create a safe zone along its border inside Syria. Russia also has an active military presence backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Putin hosted his Turkish counterpart for talks focusing on Syria, where Russia and Turkey have launched mediation efforts and coordinated military action. The two countries brokered a cease-fire in December that helped reduce the scale of fighting between Syrian President Bashar Assad and the opposition, and they also co-sponsored two rounds of talks this year between Assad’s government and its foes. A third round is set for next week.“We are actively working to solve the most acute crises, first of all in Syria,” Putin said as he greeted Erdogan at the start of the talks. “I’m very pleased to note, and few seemed to expect it, that our military and special services have established such efficient and close contact.”Russia and Turkey also coordinated their operations against ISIS in Syria. A Russian air raid last month accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers, but the incident didn’t derail the military coordination. Earlier this week, the chief military officers from Russia, the United States and Turkey met in the Turkish city of Antalya in an apparent attempt to work out additional steps to prevent incidents and help assuage mutual mistrust between Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces, US-backed Kurdish forces, and Russian-allied Syrian government forces all fighting their way toward ISIS’s de facto capital, Raqqa. The increasingly close cooperation on Syria between Russia and Turkey marked a sharp turnaround for the two nations, which have backed opposing sides in Syria, with Moscow siding with Assad and Turkey supporting his foes since the start of the Syrian conflict six years ago. The conflicting interests led to the downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish jet at the Syrian border in November 2015, which put the two nations on the verge of a direct military conflict. Moscow responded by barring the sales of package tours to Turkey and halting imports of agricultural products, moves that badly hurt the Turkish economy. Erdogan’s apologies for downing the plane helped rebuild ties, and Putin offered firm support to the Turkish leader in the wake of a botched coup last July. Despite the rapprochement, Russia has moved gradually to lift economic restrictions, keeping some in place as an apparent motivator for Turkey. On the eve of the Kremlin talks, it allowed the imports of a few other agricultural products from Turkey. “We are pleased to see our ties recovering at a quick tempo,” Putin said. Erdogan noted that cooperation in building a prospective Russian natural gas pipeline and a nuclear power plant in Turkey also have regained pace.

Trump Invites PA Oresident Abbas To White House
Jerusalem Post/March 10/17/WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House on Friday during the first phone call between the two leaders. According to Abbas' spokesman, Trump expressed his desire for "real peace" in the region, after previously telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would work to reboot peace talks. Negotiations have not occurred in earnest since 2014. Abbas was invited to visit Washington "very soon," his spokesman said. Trump said he and Abbas planned to "discuss ways to resume the political process," reported Wafa, an official Palestinian news outlet. Trump considers the Middle East peace process one of his top foreign policy priorities, according to senior administration officials. President Abbas added that he firmly supports "he establishment of Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Palestinian ends hunger strike as Israel agrees his release
AFP, JerusalemFriday, 10 March 2017/An imprisoned Palestinian journalist ended a 32-day hunger strike on Friday after receiving assurances Israel would not extend his detention without trial next month, his wife and lawyer said. It will be the second time within a year that 34-year-old Mohammed al-Qiq, who works for the Saudi television channel Al-Majd, has been released by Israel from so-called administrative detention following a prolonged hunger strike. An Israeli military court ruled on Thursday that Qiq’s detention would not be extended when it expired next month, his lawyer Khaled Zabarqa told AFP.
Qiq’s wife, Fayha Shalash, said that the journalist, hospitalized near Tel Aviv, has ended his hunger strike and called his release expected on April 14 a “judicial victory.”The Israel Prison Service confirmed to AFP he had stopped refusing food and would be released next month. In May 2016, Qiq was released from a six-month prison term without trial following a 94-day hunger strike. He was arrested again in January near the West Bank city of Ramallah for alleged “terror activity” on behalf of the Islamist group Hamas, the Shin Bet domestic security service said at the time, a claim he denied. He was also accused of undermining the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. A military court in February ordered he be imprisoned for six months which were later reduced to three. The controversial Israeli administrative detention laws allow the state to hold suspects without trial for periods of six months, renewable indefinitely.

Pope sends 100,000 euros to poor of Aleppo
Reuters, Vatican CityFriday, 10 March 2017/Pope Francis has sent 100,000 euros ($106,090) to the poor in the ravaged Syrian city of Aleppo, a Vatican spokeswoman said in a statement on Friday.The Vatican administration, known as the Curia, contributed to the donation, which will be made through the papal charity office and the Franciscan order working in the Holy Land. Aleppo was Syria’s most populous city before war broke out six years ago, but swathes of it have been destroyed and thousands displaced in the conflict gripping the country. Government forces, which seized the city from rebels in December after months of intense fighting, have captured its main water supply station from ISIS, a monitor group said this week.

Five killed as helicopter crashes in outskirts of Istanbul
The Associated Press, Istanbul Friday, 10 March 2017/A helicopter crashed in the outskirts of Istanbul on Friday after apparently hitting a television tower in dense fog, killing at least five people, reports said. The private Dogan news agency said the helicopter, with two pilots, four foreign nationals and a Turkish citizen on board, crashed on the side of a highway in Istanbul’s Buyukcekmece district. The district's mayor, Hasan Akgun, told private NTV television that he saw five bodies at the site of the crash. Pieces of the helicopter were scattered on the highway as well as a green area on the side of the road.
Eyewitness Fikret Karatekin, a taxi driver, told CNN-Turk television by telephone that the helicopter crashed into the tower before crashing on the highway. “It hit the tower and crashed by spinning,” he said, adding that the highway had been closed down.

Egypt says two security officers killed, four wounded in Sinai
The Associated Press, Egypt Friday, 10 March 2017/Egypt’s Interior Ministry and security officials say militants have detonated a roadside bomb, killing two officers and wounding four in the north of the restive Sinai Peninsula. The explosion took place on Thursday evening when a security patrol came upon a militant planting the device by a road in the town of el-Arish. Security forces fired and killed the militant while his accomplices fled, setting off the device. The security officials say the two slain officers were a lieutenant-colonel and a captain. An explosives-laden suicide vest was also found at the site of the blast. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media. Egypt has been battling an insurgency in northern Sinai, mainly by militants from an ISIS affiliate.

Amal Clooney urges Iraq to allow probe of ISIS crimes
AFP, United NationsFriday, 10 March 2017/Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney on Thursday urged Iraq to agree to a UN investigation of atrocities committed by ISIS and bring those responsible for crimes to justice. Clooney, who represents Yazidi women who escaped from ISIS enslavement, was addressing UN member-states for the second time in six months to appeal for action to prosecute ISIS militants. “Why is it that nothing has been done?” Clooney told the gathering. “Mass graves lie unprotected and unexhumed. Witnesses are fleeing and not one ISIS militant has faced trial for international crimes anywhere in the world,” she said. The Lebanese-British lawyer said a British-drafted resolution setting up the investigation was ready to be submitted to the Security Council, but that Iraq had yet to give its approval for the measure. Also read: Amal Clooney, Yazidi rape victim demand prosecution of ISIS. Britain is leading a push for accountability for the crimes of ISIS who seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq in mid-2014. Clooney called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to “send the letter to the Security Council requesting the investigation into ISIS crimes.” “Don’t let ISIS get away with genocide,” she urged. Iraq’s Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim said his government was committed to ensuring justice and that Iraqi courts had received 500 cases involving ISIS crimes. With Iraqi forces beating back ISIS fighters in Mosul, Alhakim said that the next step would be ensuring a “true reconciliation” among the city’s religious and ethnic groups. “We need these communities to be at peace with each other,” he said.

South Korean President Sacked by Top Court
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 10/17/South Korean President Park Geun-Hye was fired Friday as a court upheld her impeachment over a corruption scandal that has paralysed the nation at a time of mounting tensions in East Asia. The unanimous decision brought to a climax months of political turmoil that saw millions of people take to the streets in weekly protests, and triggers a new presidential election to be held within 60 days. That will offer South Korea a chance to draw a line under the scandal, which has occupied its attention for months, even as the North has unleashed new missile launches and threats that have raised international alarm. Park, the country's first female president, also becomes its first leader to be removed by impeachment. She loses her executive immunity from prosecution and is obliged to leave the Blue House -- although she did not do so Friday, with a spokesman saying her private residence still needed to be prepared. Reading the verdict, constitutional court chief justice Lee Jung-Mi said Park's actions "seriously impaired the spirit of representative democracy and the rule of law". "President Park Geun-Hye… has been dismissed," she said, sending opponents watching live on giant television screens outside the nation's top court into eruptions of joy. "We won, we won," they chanted, cheering and hugging each other, some breaking down. "I am so pleased that I cannot hold back tears," said Shin Seo-Young, 43, clasping her friend. "This is a sweet revenge." A few hundred metres away, and separated by a huge police presence, a rival protest by the president's flag-waving supporters were stunned. "We don't accept this decision," said Cho Bong-Am, 60, a kindergarten operator. "We will take to the streets to fight to the end."
Scuffles broke out as the largely older pro-Park crowd tried to drag away buses and break through the police barricades to reach the court.
Police -- more than 20,000 of whom were deployed in the capital -- used pepper spray to try to subdue them and two protestors died, one of them apparently killed when a speaker fell on him from a police vehicle.- Rule of law -The court found Park broke the law by allowing her friend Choi Soon-Sil -- who is already on trial for abuse of power -- to meddle in state affairs, and by breaking rules on public servants' activities. "Park's breaching of the constitution and the laws betrayed the trust of the people," said judge Lee, describing her actions as "a serious and unacceptable violation of the laws". One of Park's lawyers expressed "strong regrets" over the verdict. But her own Liberty Korea party apologised, with its interim leader saying it had "failed to protect the dignity and pride of South Korea". Kwon Seong-Dong, a lawmaker and a member of the parliamentary indictment committee, said the verdict confirmed the rule of law and that "all people including the president are equal in front of the law". Park, the daughter of a late army-backed dictator, secured the highest vote share of any candidate in the democratic era when she was elected in 2012. But her aloof style and a series of controversies, coupled with mounting economic and social frustrations, saw her ratings plunge and millions take to the streets to demand her removal. She was impeached by parliament in December on charges including bribery and abuse of power, and an overwhelming majority of South Koreans -- around 77 percent -- supported her removal in opinion polls.
Park repeatedly apologised for the impact of the scandal, but rejected all allegations of wrongdoing when she submitted a written statement to the court's last hearing in February. "I've never sought private gains or abused power as president... I plead with the court to make a wise decision," she said.
- 'Witch of Chongwadae' -South Korea's National Election Commission opened applications for the presidential poll, which is expected to be held on May 9. The winner will have to try to deal with the troublesome North, which US President Donald Trump has vowed to rein in, and a furious China.
Beijing, angered over America's THAAD missile-defence system which is being rolled out in the South in response to the North's missile threat, has imposed a series of measures seen in Seoul as economic retaliation.
North Korea's official KCNA news agency, which has repeatedly described Park as a "traitor" and "the witch of Chongwadae" (Blue House), reported her dismissal in a brief, factual dispatch. With thousands of US troops stationed in the South, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington would "continue to meet all our alliance commitments, especially with respect to defending against the threat from North Korea". The impeachment, he added, was a "domestic issue" and the US had no position on it. "It is up to the Korean people and their democratic institutions to determine the future of their country, and we respect their decisions."Washington looked forward to a "productive relationship with whomever the people of South Korea elect to be their next president", he said.‎ The current electoral front-runner is Moon Jae-In, former leader of the opposition Democratic Party, who had the support of 36.1 percent in a Realmeter poll released on Thursday, with conservative acting president Hwang Kyo-Ahn a distant second.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published On March 10-11/17
All Art Is “Immoral,” Says Egypt’s Top—and “Moderate”—Cleric

Raymond Ibrahim/Coptic Solidarity/March 10/17
Art has a largely negative impact on human morality. So says Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al Azhar madrassa and arguably the “most influential Muslim in the world.”
In a recent televised interview, Tayeb was asked “To what degree does art influence the morals of the youth.” The sheikh responded that art—presumably all forms and expressions of art, as no particular form was specified—has a 90 percent influence rate on the morality of the youth; and all of it is bad.
What is of note here is that, once again, Tayeb responds in a way that one is hard pressed to differentiate from the “radical” response. For we are constantly hearing that it is the “radical Muslims”—the ISIS types—who condemn all forms of art. Yet here is the “moderate” making essentially the same claims.
But of course, this is nothing new. As documented here, Tayeb agrees with any number of “radical” views: he believes that Islam is not just a religion to be practiced privately but rather is a totalitarian system designed to govern the whole of society through the implementation of its (otherwise human rights abusing) Sharia; he supports one of the most inhumane laws, punishment of the Muslim who wishes to leave Islam, the “apostate”; he downplays the plight of Egypt’s persecuted Christians, that is, when he’s not inciting against them by classifying them as “infidels”—the worst category in Islam’s lexicon—even as he refuses to denounce the genocidal Islamic State likewise.
One can go on and on. Tayeb once explained with assent why Islamic law permits a Muslim man to marry a Christian woman, but forbids a Muslim woman from marrying a Christian man: since women by nature are subordinate to men, it’s fine if the woman is an “infidel,” as her superior Muslim husband will keep her in check; but if the woman is a Muslim, it is not right that she be under the authority of an infidel. Similarly, Western liberals may be especially distraught to learn that Tayeb once boasted, “You will never one day find a Muslim society that permits sexual freedom, homosexuality, etc., etc., as rights. Muslim societies see these as sicknesses that need to be resisted and opposed.”
Also not new is how important Western and Christian institutions ignore all this and continue to portray Tayeb and Al Azhar as “moderates.” Thus, despite all the above—despite the fact that Al Azhar encourages enmity for non-Muslims, and has even issued a free booklet dedicated to proving that Christianity is a “failed religion”—it was rcently announced that “The Vatican and Al-Azhar University, one of Islam’s most renowned schools of Sunni thought, will be joining forces to discuss how to fight religious extremism that uses God’s name to justify violence.”
Such are the mockeries of our time as ugly reality continues marching unopposed.

Jihadis Living on Support Payments from the Europe They Vowed to Destroy
Giulio Meotti/ Gatestone Institute/March /17
Al Harith's story reveals the depth of one of Europe's biggest scandals: the jihadis' use of European cradle-to-grave entitlements to fund their "holy war".
Europe gave them everything: jobs, homes, public assistance, unemployment benefits, relief payments, child benefits, disability payments, cash support. These Muslim extremists, however, do not see this "Dependistan", as Mark Steyn called the welfare state, as a sign of generosity, but of weakness. They understand that Europe is ready to be destroyed.
Filled with religious certainty and ideological hatred for the West, not required to assimilate to Europe's values and norms, many of European Muslims seem to feel as if they are destined to devour an exhausted civilization.
Public policy goals instead need to be to move people off welfare -- shown to be basically a disincentive to looking for work -- and toward personal responsibility. There need to be legal limits on the uses to which welfare funds can be put -- for example, welfare funds should not to be used for purchasing illegal drugs, gambling, terrorism or, as there is no free speech in Europe anyway, for promoting terrorism. One could create and fine-tune such a list. Disregarding the limitations could result in losing benefits. This would help fight the ghettoization and Islamization of Europe's Muslims. The cycle of welfare and jihad needs to be stopped.
Four years ago, the British liberal newspaper, The Guardian, ran a story about the "survivors of Guantanamo", the "victims of America's 'icon of lawlessness'", "Britain's survivors of the detention centre that has been called the 'gulag of our times'". The article featured a photograph of Jamal al Harith.
Al Harith, born Ronald Fiddler, a Christian convert to Islam, returned to Manchester from detention at Guantanamo Bay thanks to activism of David Blunkett, Home Secretary of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. Al Harith was immediately welcomed in England as a hero, the innocent victim of the unjust "war on terror" after September 11. The Mirror and ITV gave him £60,000 ($73,000) for an exclusive interview about his experience at Guantanamo. Al Harith was also compensated with one million pounds by the British authorities. The victim of the "gulag of our times" bought a very nice house with the taxpayers' cash.
A few weeks ago, al Harith made his last "journey": he was blown up in Mosul, Iraq, on behalf of the Islamic State. Al Harith had also been recruited by the non-governmental organization "CAGE" (formerly known as "Cageprisoners") as part of its testimony advocating the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Celebrities such as Vanessa Redgrave, Victoria Brittain, Peter Oborne and Sadiq Khan appeared at CAGE's fundraising events. The NGO has been funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust, a fund created by the chocolate magnate, and by the Roddick Foundation, the charity of Anita Roddick. Al Harith was also invited to the Council of Europe, to give testimony against retaining Guantanamo.
Al Harith's story reveals the depth of one of Europe's biggest scandals: the jihadis' use of European cradle-to-grave entitlements to fund their "holy war". Europe gave them everything: jobs, homes, public assistance, unemployment benefits, relief payments, child benefits, disability payments, cash support. These Muslim extremists, however, do not see this "Dependistan", as Mark Steyn called the welfare state, as a sign of generosity, but of weakness. They understand that Europe is ready to be destroyed. They have no respect for it. From Marseille to Malmö, many Muslim children have been raised to despise the societies that have made them so comfortable. Most Islamists in Europe are now living on support payments from the nations they had vowed to destroy.
A few days ago, the Danish press revealed that the Danish government has been paying sickness and disability benefits to Muslim extremists fighting in Syria for the Islamic State. "It is a huge scandal that we disburse money from the welfare fund in Denmark for people who go to Syria," said Employment Minister Troels Lund Poulsen. The terrorists who struck Paris and Brussels have also used the generous British welfare system to fund their jihad. It is emerging from a trial in the UK that Mohamed Abrini, known as "the man with the hat" after the deadly attack at Brussels airport, received £3,000 in benefits before flying to Paris and disappearing.
It is not the first time that the role of the welfare state emerges in the Islamic infrastructure of terror:
The family of Omar Abdel Hamid el Hussein, the terrorist behind the attack in Copenhagen in February 2015, which killed two people, received money from Danish social programs.
British Islamist Anjem Choudary, convicted of encouraging people to join the Islamic State, urged the faithful to leave work and to seek unemployment benefits to devote full-time to war against the "infidels". Choudary himself pocketed £25,000 a year in benefits.
In Germany, when the newspaper Bild ran an analysis of the 450 German jihadists fighting in Syria, it found that more than 20% of them have received benefits from the German state.
In the Netherlands, a jihadist named Khalid Abdurahman appeared in a video of the Islamic State in front of five heads just cut off. The Dutch newspaper Volkskrant revealed that he had been declared "unfit for work" and was paid for a treatment of claustrophobia.
Europe's welfare system has created a cultural toxin for many in a sullen, unproductive Muslim underclass who live in the segregated enclaves such as the banlieues of Paris or "Londonistan". Filled with religious certainty and ideological hatred for the West, not required to assimilate to Europe's values and norms, certain of these European Muslims seem to feel as if they are destined to devour an exhausted civilization.
Muhammad Shamsuddin, a 39-year-old London-based Islamist, was featured in a documentary called "The Jihadis Next Door." Shamsuddin, a divorced father of five who lives on state handouts and claims he cannot work because he has "chronic fatigue syndrome," was filmed preaching hate against non-Muslims on British streets. Public policy goals instead need to be to move people off welfare -- shown to be basically a disincentive to looking for work -- except in extraordinary cases, and toward personal responsibility. There need to be legal limits on the uses to which welfare funds can be put -- for example, welfare funds should not to be used for purchasing illegal drugs, for gambling, for terrorism or, as there is no free speech in Europe anyway, for promoting terrorism. One could create and fine-tune such a list. Disregarding the limitations could result in losing the benefits. Measures such as that would will help fight against the ghettoization and Islamization of Europe's Muslims. Who is winning here? Democracy or Islamic extremism? The cycle of welfare and jihad needs to be stopped. Now.
*Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Two Islams in the world
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 10/17
It is not possible to disregard Muslims or ignore the importance of Islam as a widespread and influential religion. There are 1.5 billion Muslims spread around the world, and there are 57 countries with a Muslim majority.
Islam, like other major religions i.e. Christianity and Judaism, is divided into sects and schools and differs from the other religions. Despite these differences, Muslims in the modern history have not faced crises like the ones they are facing today. The most dangerous problem is that their reputation has been tarnished. There are large numbers of people everywhere, who now consider that Muslims represent a big problem on the security, political and cultural level; based on this new conviction, there are public calls now to clamp down on Muslims and consider them as an undesirable community. This restlessness is the hallmark of some politicians and racist people. If they succeed in what they are doing to Muslims, we will embark on a new journey tormented by a crisis that is bigger than what we are witnessing now. In my opinion, it is wrong to disregard the image that has emerged of Islam and Muslims, as well as the anger against them. It is also wrong to label it as racism; instead, we should try to understand its origins and deal with it. Before that, it is necessary to stop denying the problem within the Muslim communities and we should stop considering that the reactions to Islam and Muslim are just racist. Of course, this does not negate the role of racist and opportunist people in fueling the bad image and hatred against Islam. The problem of Muslims in the world begun with the Iranian revolution that claimed that its project is to defend Islam and Muslims around the world, using violence, mobilization, plots and movements
The Iranian revolution
The problem of Muslims in the world begun with the Iranian revolution that claimed that its project is to defend Islam and Muslims around the world, using violence, mobilization, plots and movements. Prior to all that, Muslims were only minding their own affairs and were dealing with other communities in peace; they were only following their doctrines and practicing their religion. However, the Tehran regime wanted to exploit Islam and Muslims in the world. They started to chant “Allahu Akbar” with their bands on their heads, on which religious and political slogans like “I am at your service Khomeini” were written.
This is an ugly exposure that reflects a new Islam that has nothing to do with Muslims. These horrible stained faces have taken diplomats as hostages, defying all norms, ethics and religions of course. This scene was the new title for a different Islam and new Muslims. They started to come up with problems that would serve their political conflicts, such as converting an unknown story that was published in Britain to fuel the hatred of Muslims toward Britain, despite the fact that Iran has printed books and novels that are more blaspheming against the beliefs of Muslims and other religions.
The incitement and putting a financial reward to kill author Salman Rushdie was a political act plotted by the Iranian regime. Hence, prosecutions against intellectuals, cartoonists and leaders of other religions have started and for many years now; Tehran has been compulsorily leading Muslims like sheep, claiming that it is defending their religion, causes, communities and cultures. Later one, al-Qaeda has risen and followed Tehran’s approach. This is how they distorted Islam and generated a bad image about Islam that is now hated by the whole world.
Dragged to extremism
We have been dragged into a big hole dug by a group of extremists in Iran and elsewhere. This is not our Islam and we should not be defending their Islam, their ideas and their cases. There are two Islams in the world: the Islam of Iran and other extremists, and moderate Islam and Muslims. The two have nothing to do with each other. We should stand with those who are against the tarnished Islam and extremist Muslims because we (moderate Muslims) are the first to be affected by this Islam and Islamic regimes and groups. This is a perfect time to denounce the Islam of Iran, al-Qaeda, ISIS and the organizations that are forcibly involving religion in politics. Denouncing them is for the sake of Islam, individual faith and all the Muslims in different countries. The conflicts of the world and its governments are mostly political and have nothing to do with religion; governments that want to intellectually exploit Muslims should not be supported, because they do not care about the relations between nations or about what is happening to the majority and minority of peaceful Muslims in their countries.
They only want to emerge victorious from the ashes of chaos. They know that they will lose once peace and moderation prevails.
**This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on March 10, 2017.

Of students, teachers and a careless attitude
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/March 10/17
I recently read a funny yet provocative piece of news in the Egyptian daily Almasry Alyoum that addresses a real problem in the education sector. The report said the following: “During their midterm exams, third-year philosophy students at the Beni Suef University answered a question related to Jesus Christ as per German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s vision. Some students wrote how Jesus was betrayed by Jehovah – as per Nietzsche’s vision – and wrote that Jehovah sold out Jesus to the Romans for $30.” Nietzsche said the treacherous disciple betrayed Jesus for three pieces of silver and not $30 because, obviously, the dollar did not exist at the time and America itself hadn’t been discovered yet. Almasry Alyoum’s report quoted Dr Mohammed Kamal, teacher of philosophy of ethics at the Beni Suef University, as saying that he was surprised that more than 15 students wrote “Jehovah sold out Jesus for $30” in their exam answers and none of them thought for a second that Jesus was born 2017 years ago. Adopting the principle of reward and punishment and maintaining the proficiency of learning are keys to eliminating element of disrespect among the youth
Teachers’ woes
“This is not the first time this happens. Last year, when asked about the pharaohs’ most significant hobbies, a large number of students replied motorbikes,” Kamal said. The frustrated philosophy teacher concluded saying: “The government must provide blood pressure and diabetes medication to us, the teachers, in order to cope with what we go through.”Some may see these stupid answers as a joke but this is not the case. We all know what a university degree means to young people, especially to Egyptians amid these difficult circumstances. It is a critical requirement to succeeding in life and work. The right description is that these answers – and this is why this is a disaster – represent the level of education and awareness and reflect the extent of carelessness, dullness and intellectual void.
Dangerous repercussions
These are dangerous indications, which has potential for dangerous repercussions. These are not isolated examples as they are rather increasing due to the illusion of knowledge, which social media and internet searches create. Many young men are brave to the extent of being reckless in terms of pretending that they know everything. Of course, not all young people are like that, as some of them make a great example. I think adopting the principle of reward and punishment and maintaining the proficiency of learning are keys to eliminating element of disrespect among the youth. Improving the quality of education and respecting knowledge are the only means to build personalities so that diabetes does not become common among teachers.
**The article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.

Preparing Saudi students for life after school
Samar Fatany/Al Arabiya/March 10/17
Preparing students for life after school and the general well-being of our children are major national concerns. One of the most significant initiatives of Saudi Vision 2030 is the Irtiqaa program that measures the effectiveness of Saudi parents’ engagement in their children’s education. The objective of the program is to engage 80 percent of Saudi parents in school activities by 2020. The idea is to encourage the participation of parents in the learning process of their children. The implementation of this program is very much needed to produce better educational standards among students and to engage parents in their children’s upbringing. This will marginalize the role of housemaids and allow parents to discipline their children and build character in our youth with proper guidance and support. Nurturing and guiding the nation’s youth is also the responsibility of the school. Today many of the young are either disillusioned by extremists or disappointed by the failure of reformers. Hence, they remain confused and are easy targets for radicalization and violent extremism. Unfortunately, our schools in the past did not monitor militant literature and extremists were allowed to gain influence in almost every academic institution. Providing extracurricular classes in art, sports and drama could enrich the creativity and innovative skills of children. The lack of such subjects deprives our children of the opportunity to develop well-rounded personalities and the chance to be creative at an early age. One of the most important obligations of any school is to enhance the leadership skills of its students and develop their knowledge to prepare them to be future leaders. Promoting cultural activities can be an effective way to shun extremist ideology. More attention to our rich cultural heritage can project the true Muslim identity reflected in the compassion of the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) and the chivalry of the Arabian knight. One of the innovative approaches to protect the well-being of young people is to work toward promoting a happier generation of youth with a more positive outlook on life
Innovative approaches
One of the innovative approaches to protect the well-being of young people is to work toward promoting a happier generation of youth with a more positive outlook on life. Happiness can provide them with a boost to overcome their challenges and the determination to achieve their goals. Science has shown that people are more productive when they are happy and positive. When we feel positive our intelligence, creativity and energy levels rise. Happiness may be a crucial ingredient for success. Therefore, creating a happy environment in our schools can produce better students. For Vision 2030 to succeed, promoting girl’s education is also critical. Today, girls’ schools in particular have a responsibility to create an environment where girls are encouraged to aspire to reach their potential and are well aware of their rights. Experts say that the best way to increase awareness of rights among women is to begin educating them at a very early age. Many women have little or no knowledge about their religious rights or about state laws. Many are complacent and even afraid to ask for their basic rights. Extremists and ill-informed scholars have twisted facts and encouraged many women in our society to remain subservient to their male guardians. Young girls with a proper Islamic education can be taught the true teachings of Shariah to refute discrimination against them, often done in the name of Islam. Educated women can set an example with their knowledge and expertise to inspire those who are less educated to assert their rights.
Maintaining order
Respect for the rule of law is another major national concern that needs more attention from our schools. Addressing the prevalent callousness and recklessness and teaching respect for rules and regulations is essential for maintaining order. The common trend of disrespect for the law is responsible for our youth breaking traffic laws, abusing financial rights and bullying and abusing others, especially women. Introducing the concept of social responsibility at an early age can prepare students for greater community involvement. Saudi environmentalists have consistently drawn attention to the dangerous situation that threatens our shores, the toxic chemicals and industrial waste that pollute our air, and the landfills and hospital waste that contaminate our soil. It is time our schools gave serious attention to such environmental issues that do not have adequate support and teach our children to protect the environment and our natural resources. The lack of cleanliness and hygiene has also contributed to the spread of diseases, viruses and dangerous epidemics. Social scientists lament the erosion of our social values that has spread in recent years and urge schools to address the rise of disorderly attitudes among the youth. The absence of discipline in many schools leaves children more vulnerable to drug addiction and criminal behavior. Many crimes are committed because of disobedience and family feuds. The erosion of these values is harming our social fabric and produces unproductive and callous youth.
Upgrading the standards of our schools and preparing students for life after school continues to be a major concern for parents and government officials. Our children are the future leaders of our country and education is the key to progress and development.
It is time our schools live up to the expectations of the nation.
**This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on February 25, 2016.