March 12/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Parable of Healing the Daughter of synagogue's Leader Jairus
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 08/40-56/:"When Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying. As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her haemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.’When Jesus heard this, he replied, ‘Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.’When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, ‘Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.’And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, ‘Child, get up!’Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death
Second Letter to the Corinthians 07/04-11/:"I often boast about you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with consolation; I am overjoyed in all our affliction. For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way disputes without and fears within.
But God, who consoles the downcast, consoled us by the arrival of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was consoled about you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it, for I see that I grieved you with that letter, though only briefly). Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance; for you felt a godly grief, so that you were not harmed in any way by us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal, what  punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves guiltless in the matter."

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 11-12/17
The Bleeding Women: Faith & Hope/
Elias Bejjani/March 12/17
European Parliament Censors Its Own Free Speech/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/March 11, 2017
Why Is General Mattis Nominating the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’s Stooge’/Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media/March 11/17
Jihadis Living on Support Payments from the Europe They Vowed to Destroy/Giulio Meotti//Gatestone Institute/March 11, 2017
The development of music and historical transformations/Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/March 11/17
The two-sided problem of Muslims/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 11/17
Who governs and manages a world of chaos/Ghassan Imam/Al Arabiya/March 11/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published On March 11-12/17
The Bleeding Women: Faith & Hope
Yemeni Officer: 4 Lebanese ‘Hezbollah’ Members Caught in Ma’rib
Aoun to attend his first Arab League summit
Estonia ready to promote digital sector in Lebanon: president
Rahi: Hizbullah's Involvemnet in Syria Divided the Lebanese
Syria's Assad Says Priority is Capturing IS Capital Raqqa
Sami Gemayel: Palestinian Arms Must be Controlled, State's Sovereignty Uncompromising
Hariri Determined to Approve Budget Plan on Monday
Travel Ban Challenge Puts Hawaii's Few Muslims, Lebanese in Spotlight
Rifi: Rahi's View on Hizbullah Reflects Positions of Believers in Sovereignty
Lebanese-Palestinian Clashes Erupt in Bourj al-Barajneh
Hariri meets with alFakha delegation, promises to study their demands
Meeting in Blida with UNIFIL, agreement on transferring surveillance control points
Hizballah denounces Damascus explosion, calls to unify efforts to get rid of terrorism gangs
Hizballah denounces Damascus explosion, calls to unify efforts to get rid of terrorism gangs
Minister of Environment denies differences during cabinet sessions
Khoury: To control illegal labor
Kenaan: Salary scale does not meet ambitions but it's the best we can provide currently
Spanish Ambassadress honors Conservatory of Music Director
Elie Aoun: Lebanon's sacrifices for the Palestinian cause led to civil war
Bou Assi: We insist on new electoral law

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published On March 11-12/17
At Least 40 Killed in Twin Bombings against Pilgrims in Damascus
Iraqi Foreign Ministry : 40 Iraqis Dead, 120 injured in Damascus Bombings
Syrian Foreign Ministry urges UN to condemn terrorist attack in Damascus, not to cover up perpetrators and those who stand behind them
Iraq paramilitaries find mass grave of hundreds executed by ISIS
Netherlands cancels landing permission for Turkish minister
US Ambassador to Turkey Targeted by Russian Ambassador’s Assassin
Erdogan Compares Dutch Rally Ban to Nazism as Row Spirals
Turkish Coast Guard: 48 Syrian Migrants Stopped at Sea
World Faces Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since WWII
German shopping mall shut on police fears of an attack
Narendra Modi’s party claims victory in four Indian states
Syrian family’s asylum is first setback for Trump’s revised travel ban

Links From Jihad Watch Site For March 11-12/17
Brampton, Ontario mayor: Criticism of Muslim prayers in public schools “hate speech”
Toronto imam says Muslims will eventually kill all Jews
Judge refuses to halt Trump’s new immigration order
UK: 5,500 cases of FGM in 2016 alone, not a single prosecution
Harvard smears virtually all sites that aren’t hard-Left, including Jihad Watch, as “fake news”
Orlando judge revokes bond for widow of Pulse nightclub jihad mass murderer
More citizens of Saudi Arabia have joined the Islamic State than from any other country
Time for Reza Aslan to tell the truth about Islam after brain-eating stunt
Nineteen U.S.-based Muslims inspired or directed by the Islamic State since 2014
Just one in five foreign rapists in Sweden are ever deported to their home countries
Australia: High school students “bullied into attending Muslim prayers, lectures on the Koran”
Video: BDS supporter does Nazi goosestep, makes Hitler salute on South Africa campus

Links From Christian Today Site On March 11-12/17
Crowd-Pleasing Kong: Skull Island Has An Important Christian Theme
Trump's New Travel Ban Challenged By Court
Tomb Of Jonah In Mosul Shows ISIS Preserving Artifacts To Sell For Loot
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

Latest Lebanese Related News published On March 11-12/17
The Bleeding Women: Faith & Hope
Elias Bejjani/March 12/17
(John 6:68): “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life”
Whenever we are in real trouble encountering devastating and harsh conditions either physically or materially, we unconsciously react with sadness, anger, confusion, helplessness and feel abandoned. When in a big mess, we expect our family members and friends to automatically run to our rescue. But in the majority of such difficult situations, we discover with great disappointment that in reality our heartfelt expectations do not unfold as we wish.
What is frustrating and shocking is that very few of our family members and friends would stand beside us during hardships and endeavour to genuinely offer the needed help. Those who have already walked through these rocky life paths and adversities definitely know very well the bitter taste of disappointment. They know exactly the real meaning of the well-know saying, “a friend in need is a friend indeed”.
Sadly our weak human nature is driven by inborn instincts that often make us side with the rich, powerful, healthy and strong over the poor, weak, needy and sick. Those who have no faith in Almighty God find it very difficult to cope in a real mess.
Meanwhile, those whose faith is solid stand up with courage, refuse to give up hope, and call on their Almighty Father for help through praying and worshiping. They know for sure that our Great Father is loving and passionate. He will not abandon any one of us when calling on Him for mercy and help because He said and promised so. Matthew 11/28-30: “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
One might ask, ‘Why should I pray?’ And, ‘Do I have to ask God for help, can’t He help me without praying to Him?’ The answer is ‘no’. We need to pray and when we do so with faith and confidence God listens and responds (Mark 11/:24): “Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them”
Yes, we have to make the effort and be adamant and persistent. We have to ask and knock in a bid to show our mere submission to Him and He with no doubt shall provide. (Matthew 7/7 & 8): “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened”.
On this second Sunday of Lent in our Catholic Church’s Eastern Maronite rite, we cite and recall the miraculous cure of the bleeding woman in Matthew 9/20-22, Mark 5/25-34, and Luke 8/43-48. As we learn from the Holy Gospel, the bleeding woman’s great faith made her believe without a shred of doubt that her twelve years of chronic bleeding would stop immediately if she touched Jesus’ garment. She knew deeply in her heart that Jesus would cure her even without asking him. Her faith cured the bleeding and made her well. Her prayers were heard and responded to.
Luke 8/:43-49: “A woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her living on physicians, and could not be healed by any, came behind him (Jesus), and touched the fringe of his cloak, and immediately the flow of her blood stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes press and jostle you, and you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 8:46 But Jesus said, “Someone did touch me, for I perceived that power has gone out of me.” When the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared to him in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. He said to her, “Daughter, cheer up. Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
The woman’s faith cured her chronic bleeding and put her back in the society as a normal and acceptable citizen. During that era women with uterus bleeding were looked upon as sinners, defiled and totally banned from entering synagogues for praying. Meanwhile, because of her sickness she was physically unable to be a mother and bear children. Sadly she was socially and religiously abandoned, humiliated and alienated. But her faith and hope empowered her with the needed strength and perseverance and enabled her to cope successfully against all odds.
Hallelujah! Faith can do miracles. Yes indeed. (Luke17/5 & 6): ” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you would tell this sycamore tree, ‘Be uprooted, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you”. How badly do we today need to have a faith like that of this women?
Let us all on this second Lent Sunday pray with solid faith.
Let us ask Almighty God who cured the bleeding women, and who was crucified on the cross to absolve our original sin, that He would endow His Holy graces of peace, tranquility, and love all over the world. And that He would strengthen the faith, patience and hope of all those persecuted, imprisoned, and deprived for courageously witnessing the Gospel’s message and truth.

Yemeni Officer: 4 Lebanese ‘Hezbollah’ Members Caught in Ma’rib
Asharq Al-Awsat English/March 11/17/Jeddah – Major-General Ahmed Hassan, commander of Third Military Zone, revealed that the Yemeni military intelligence has opened an expanded investigation with four Lebanese, recently caught in Ma’rib, affiliated to “Hezbollah” and providing support to Houthis and Saleh. Hassan added that they are still detained by the national army and are being investigated for more information. When the investigation is complete, they will be directly sent to prisons in a number of regions. He preferred not to reveal what has been mentioned in the investigations, but stressed that the army is keen to obtain all the required information. This is the second declared incident showing “Hezbollah” involvement in Yemen. In mid-October 2015, military investigations revealed that Lebanese leaders affiliated to “Hezbollah” and Iranian leaders were involved in smuggling huge amount of arms into Yemen. On the military level, Hassan stated that the third military zone is now in a defense phase of the liberated regions that are witnessing daily attempts by Houthis and Saleh militias to regain control over some of them. The Arab Coalition has not stopped supporting the army, said Hassan, and it has submitted to the coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, its requirements for the coming period. He added that, recently, militias have been forcing children and teenagers to enlist in the militias to fight on several battlefronts. Sana’a Resistance spokesperson Abdullah Al Shandaqi called on Yemenis and the international community to “support the legality and the military solution” that will lead to permanent and comprehensive peace as it will be the sole solution to spare Yemeni lives. Meanwhile, the Arab Coalition continues to stage raids over militias’ locations.

Aoun to attend his first Arab League summit
Hasan Lakkis/The Daily Star/The Daily Star/March 11/17
President Michel Aoun will head a high-level delegation to the 28th Arab League Summit this month, hosted on the Jordanian banks of the Dead Sea. Accompanying Aoun to the March 28-29 summit, his first, will be Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Economy Minister Raed Khoury as well as a number of administrative officials and journalists. Earlier this week, foreign ministers from several Arab countries taking part of the summit, held a preliminary meeting to discuss the agenda for the two-day session. Another meeting will be held in the presence of the remaining member states to discuss the final statement of the conference. However, a Syrian delegation will not attend as its membership is currently suspended. Signs point to the majority of Arab presidents who did not attend the previous meeting in Mauritania last year attending the upcoming summit. Most notably, both Saudi Arabian King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi are expected to attend. It is unlikely that Algerian President Abdulaziz Bouteflika and United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed are expected to miss the meeting due to health issues.
Arab diplomatic sources told The Daily Star that the summit will focus on the commitment by Arab countries to face the threats to the security of the region. The Palestinian cause will be reaffirmed as a central issue along with the crises in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Fighting extremism and terrorism will be at the forefront of the conference, the sources added. Meanwhile, sources at Baabda Palace close to the preparations for Lebanon’s participation told The Daily Star that it will be an opportunity for Lebanon to affirm two key areas. First, is the return of a unified Lebanon with functioning institutions, as per the Constitution. Second is the reaffirmation of working jointly with the Arab League to combat terrorism, while discussing the Syrian and Iraqi crises, the Palestinian cause, the case of Syrian refugees and financial assistance for Lebanon’s economy. The sources added that Lebanon’s main focus would be on the Syrian refugee crisis on Lebanon since there are over 1 million refugees hosted in the country. As for the Palestinian cause, sources predict that the Arab League Summit would announce its complete rejection of plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The summit will revitalize talks on a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, with Palestine having its own state and sovereignty side-by-side with Israel peacefully. The talks will suggest using the agreed upon borders of June 4, 1967.
If the issue of Palestinian refugee camps is raised, Lebanon will meet with Palestinian and other Arab leaders to gather help in turning in 128 wanted fugitives believed to be sheltering in the camps. The suspects, wanted on charges of terrorist-related activities, are beyond the reach of the Army as it stays out of the camps.However, the Palestinian authorities must take action because it is unacceptable for killings to continue to be carried out in the camps, and endanger the lives of camp residents and the safety of Lebanese security forces. Turning to the Syrian crisis, the sources did not believe any progress would be made due to the different opinions of countries on the matter. Some member states have said no solution will be reached as long as President Bashar Assad remains in power, while others have called for a political settlement even if it means Assad stays in place while other member states do not recognize the current Syrian government. According to the sources, if the Syrian crisis is brought up, Lebanon will not leave the meeting. However, if there is a division at the meeting over the crisis, Lebanon will distance itself from the discussion, in line with the government’s disassociation policy. The meeting is expected to see the formation of a joint force to combat terrorism with the support of European nations. The summit is also expected to accept an offer from U.S. President Donald Trump to form an alliance with Arab nations to fight terrorism. Dealing with Hezbollah, which has previously been a point of contention between Lebanon and some Arab states, sources did not expect anything to be mentioned in the final statement regarding the addition of Hezbollah to the League’s terrorist blacklist. Due to the relative agreement and compromise on Lebanese soil and Aoun and Hariri’s commitment to international decisions – especially U.N. Resolution 1701 – the issue of Hezbollah is unlikely to be discussed, the Baabda Palace sources said.

Estonia ready to promote digital sector in Lebanon: president
The Daily Star/March 10, 2017 /BEIRUT: Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid expressed her country's willingness to collaborate with Lebanon in promoting e-government and the digital sector. The Estonian president said her country was prepared to offer Lebanon assistance in the digital sector after a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail. The meeting with Hariri tackled regional developments and the bilateral between Lebanon and Estonia. "We can cooperate in wider sectors in the future," Hariri said, addressing Kaljulaid, adding that Lebanon is seeking assistance from Estonia to promote e-government. Kaljulaid earlier met with President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace, who thanked her for her country's contribution to the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon. Aoun said that Lebanon was keen to fortify ties with Estonia in various sectors, especially when it comes to technology.
He added that Lebanon was seeking to establish a joint group with members from the two countries to activate trade and increase Lebanon's imports to Estonian markets. The Estonian president arrived in Beirut Thursday for a three-day state visit. Later in the day, Kaljulaid met with Speaker Nabih Berri, who commended Estonia for taking over the presidency of the Council of the European Union. Kaljulaid said that Estonia was seeking to have an overview of the situation in the region, as it will assume the EU presidency from July to December. The Estonian leader also visited the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon headquarters in south Lebanon and met UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, a UNIFIL statement said. Kaljulaid was accompanied by a delegation of high-ranking Estonian officials including General Riho Terras, the Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, and Marin Mottus, Estonia’s Ambassador to Lebanon. Maj. Gen. Beary briefed Kaljulaid on the situation in south Lebanon “while acknowledging the important contribution of the Republic of Estonia to UNIFIL in fulfilling its mandated tasks in accordance with the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701,” the statement said. UNIFIL is comprised of over 10,000 military personnel from 40 countries, including the Maritime Task Force, the only naval force in peacekeeping operations – and a 1,000 civilian national and international staff.
The Estonian detachment with about 40 peacekeepers serves as part of Finland's contingent in southern Lebanon. Estonia will take over the EU presidency in July.

Rahi: Hizbullah's Involvemnet in Syria Divided the Lebanese
Naharnet/March 11/17/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi stated that Hizbullah's involvement in the Syrian war has divided and embarrassed the Lebanese between those supporting the move and others opposing it. “Hizbullah has engaged in the war in Syria without taking into consideration the State's dissociation policy. It has divided the Lebanese upon themselves, some supporting its step and others totally refusing it,” said al-Rahi in an interview on Sky News Arabia on Friday. The Patriarch pointed out: “When Hizbullah engaged in the Syrian war, it did not do as such upon a State decision. It was a decision taken by Hizbullah itself and the Lebanese are divided about it today. “The State has clearly announced its dissociation policy in the Baabda declaration,” he emphasized. “I am a citizen and my fellow partner is a citizen, but I am unarmed and he is. This is abnormal,” he stressed. The Patriarch lamented saying: “The Lebanese State has not made up its mind on the subject. Had Hizbullah been a militia outside the parliament things wold have been different.” Hizbullah has deployed thousands of militants to fight alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces against Islamist-led rebels and jihadists and many Hizbullah members have been killed in Syria since the start of the conflict. The party argues that its intervention, which is controversial in Lebanon, was necessary to protect the country from extremist groups and to prevent the fall of Syria into the hands of hostile forc

Syria's Assad Says Priority is Capturing IS Capital Raqqa
Associated Press/Naharnet/March 11/17/Syria's President Bashar Assad tells a Chinese TV station that his military's priority is to reach the Islamic State group's de-facto capital of Raqqa — toward which U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces are also advancing. The interview with Hong-Kong based Phoenix TV aired Saturday, Assad says another IS stronghold, Deir el-Zour, can be targeted in parallel. Assad says "in theory" he shares the same priority with U.S. President Donald Trump of fighting terrorism, but that they have had no formal contact yet. He says Russia, a major ally, hopes it can bring the U.S. and Turkey into cooperating with Moscow and Damascus in the fight against terrorism in Syria. Assad's government views all armed opposition as terrorist groups. Assad says all foreign troops on Syrian soil without invitation or consultation with the Syrian government are considered "invaders."

Sami Gemayel: Palestinian Arms Must be Controlled, State's Sovereignty Uncompromising
Naharnet/March 11/17/Kataeb party leader MP Sami Gemayel emphasized on Saturday that Palestinian arms spread out inside the refugee camps threaten Lebanon's sovereignty. “The Lebanese government must deal with the file of Palestinian armament inside the refugee camps as an issue of sovereignty not subject to any form of bargain or compromise,” Gemayel told al-Joumhouria daily in an interview. “What is needed is a clear and strict decision to impose the Lebanese State's sovereignty in the camps and to apply Lebanese laws on all those residing on Lebanon's territory without any exception,” stressed Gemayel. The MP expressed astonishment at “the silence of related officials and the government's and political authority's inaction to confront the clashes in Ain el-Hilweh and Bourj al-Barajneh, although Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called on Lebanon's authority during his recent visit to Beirut to take the initiative and boost its sovereignty inside the camps.”“The Lebanese state has had enough of chaos scenes in Palestinian camps that only remind the Lebanese of black historical eras of the State's incapability to protect and defend its sovereignty from those residing on its very land,” he concluded.
Lebanon has witnessed a series of armed clashes in Palestinian refugees camps the most recent was yesterday in Bourj al-Barajneh in south Beirut, and in the southern Ain el-Hilweh the week before. Heavy armed clashes erupted in and around the Palestinian refugee camp of Bourj al-Barajneh, one of the capital's crowded southern suburbs, between the Lebanese Jaafar family and the al-Qaffas Palestinian family. Media reports said at least three people were killed and several others wounded. In similar incidents, deadly armed clashes between the Fatah Movement and Islamist groups rocked Ain el-Hilweh for almost a week in February left one civilian dead and six others injured. By long-standing convention, Lebanon's army does not enter Palestinian refugee camps, where security is managed by joint committees of Palestinian factions. In recent years, tensions have risen between Fatah and the Jund al-Sham Islamist group in the camp. The UN's Palestinian refugee agency said on Tuesday it had halted all services in the camp for the second day because of the unrest. Ain al-Hilweh is an impoverished, overcrowded camp near the coastal city of Sidon, and is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in Syria.

Hariri Determined to Approve Budget Plan on Monday
Naharnet/March 11/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri is determined to approve Lebanon's 2017 budget plan early next week after Friday's cabinet meeting devoted to pursue the issue failed to complete discussions, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. Members of the cabinet chaired by Hariri did not finalize Friday evening the needed discussions to approve the budget plan, Hariri has therefore scheduled another session on Monday afternoon at 4:00 at the Grand Serail to wrap up discussions. The PM had asked the ministers not to make any appointments on Monday because he intends to approve the budget even if it takes to “stay all night,” reported the daily. “The Council of Ministers will meet on Monday at four o'clock in the Grand Serail to continue the study of the budget,” Hariri's media office said in a statement. “During (Friday's) the meeting, Hariri congratulated the new military and security commanders, wishing them success in their missions. He also thanked the outgoing officials, praising their efforts throughout their term to maintain security and stability and fight terrorism,” it added. Lebanon's cabinet made several security and military appointments on Wednesday including a new army chief, General Joseph Aoun, ending a deadlock that twice forced an extension of the term of the military's sitting head. The appointment of the successor to General Jean Qahwaji is the first by Lebanon's cabinet since it was formed after President Michel Aoun's election in October. The cabinet has been meeting for several weeks now in a bid to approve the budget plan after it has been stalled for 12 years due to conflicts between the rival political parties. Lebanon has not approved a state budget since 2005 and its public debt has amounted to around $70 billion.

Travel Ban Challenge Puts Hawaii's Few Muslims, Lebanese in Spotlight
Associated Press/Naharnet/March 11/17/Hawaii has 5,000 or so Muslims many Lebanese- less than 1 percent of the state's population— who are finding themselves thrust into an international spotlight after the state's top lawyer launched a challenge to President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, saying it contradicts the islands' welcoming culture that values diversity. Named as a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit fighting the ban is Ismail Elshikh, the imam of the island of Oahu's only mosque — a converted plantation-style house in a hilly Honolulu neighborhood a few miles from Waikiki beach where Muslims who gather in the prayer room know they're facing Mecca when the view of iconic Diamond Head is at their backs. Elshikh's mother-in-law is a Syrian living in Syria who won't be able to visit her relatives in Hawaii because of the ban, and that will deprive the rights of Elshikh, his wife and their children as U.S. citizens, said Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin. It was difficult for the shy and reserved Elshikh to make the decision to join the lawsuit and he is not speaking publicly because of legal reasons and fears for his security in a state that has seen a rise in threats to Muslims that started just before Trump was elected, said Hakim Ouansafi, who is the president of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. "It took some thinking. It took some convincing," Ouansafi said. Chin said the small size of Hawaii's Muslim community had no bearing on his decision to challenge the travel ban because "they are part of our community. They should not be labeled presumptively as terrorists." Also, the lawsuit is a way to protect a minority community in state familiar with the wrongs committed when Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, Chin said. "And we should speak for them in ways that people did not speak for the Japanese back in the 1940s when everything was happening," he said. The first Muslims in Hawaii can be traced back to the 1800s, Ouansafi said. Today, Hawaii's Muslims have ties to 46 countries, including Asian and Arab countries. About 30 percent are American-born who converted to Islam, he said. And about 80 of Hawaii's Muslim families are originally from the six countries named in the revised travel ban.
"It's beautiful mix," Ouansafi said.
Youssef Dakroub, born and raised in Lebanon, met his wife who is from Hawaii in Dubai. They moved to Oahu in 2006, where he now owns a Moroccan and Lebanese food restaurant in downtown Honolulu. Dakroub, who describes himself as Muslim but not religious, said the lawsuit challenging the travel ban reinforced his belief that Hawaii is the right place for him to live."Hawaii is home," he said. Pennsylvania-born Esma Arslan remembers being nervous about wearing her headscarf on her first day of seventh grade at Iolani, a prestigious Honolulu private school. "I got over those fears very quickly," said Arslan, now 21, whose parents are from Turkey. "Personally for me, it's always been a positive experience here."Hawaii's temperate climate brought Amro Nassar to Maui, where he used to be imam of the island's only mosque. Born in California to parents from Egypt, Nassar said he hasn't encountered any problems because of his religion. "Hawaii is a melting pot of different beliefs and cultures," he said. "One can blend in, not stand out." Ouansafi, who is from Morocco and is the executive director of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority, said he considers Hawaii the most inclusive and safest place for minorities to live in the U.S. But he is troubled by the recent spate of hate threats directed at Muslims. The threats started before the election and increased when Trump became president, prompting the association to install security cameras, he said. On Jan. 27, a man followed two Muslim children getting off a city bus and harassed them, Ouansafi said. A spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department said a harassment case was opened and an investigation is ongoing. About two weeks ago, the mosque recorded an anonymous caller yelling: "Killing Muslims is God's will." Hawaii's lawsuit also argues that the travel ban will hurt the economy of a state that depends on a constant stream of visitors from all corners of the world. The Honolulu mosque is already seeing the impact, Ouansafi said. Before Trump's election, the popular Friday afternoon prayer service used to see many Muslim tourists show up to join local residents in prayer. The numbers of praying tourists have since declined and some Muslims who are not from countries covered by the ban don't want to travel to Hawaii anymore, Ouansafi said. "They can take their money and take it elsewhere," he said. "We have princes and we have rulers from Muslim countries that do come. They don't want to be stuck at the airport. They don't want to be insulted in the street."

Rifi: Rahi's View on Hizbullah Reflects Positions of Believers in Sovereignty
Naharnet/March 11/17/Former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi on Saturday lauded the positions of Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi that lashed out at Hizbullah's possession of arms and its intervention in Syria's war. “We praise the stances expressed by Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi as for Hizbullah's weapons. His position represents the entire Lebanese who have faith in the State's sovereignty and who reject illegal arms,” Rifi's said. He added that illegal weaponry has become “a tool for chaos used by Iran in the region in order to achieve its its expansionist ambitions ignoring the interests of Lebanon, its sovereignty, stability, and its Arab relations.”In sn interview with Sky News Arabia, al-Rahi stated that Hizbullah's involvement in the Syrian war has divided and embarrassed the Lebanese between those supporting the move and others opposing it. He also said that Hizbullah has engaged in the war despite the State's policy to dissociate itself from regional turmoil. Since the war broke out in Syria, Hizbullah has deployed thousands of militants to fight alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces against Islamist-led rebels and jihadists and many Hizbullah members have been killed in Syria since the start of the conflict. The party argues that its intervention, which is controversial in Lebanon, was necessary to protect the country from extremist groups and to prevent the fall of Syria into the hands of hostile forces.

Lebanese-Palestinian Clashes Erupt in Bourj al-Barajneh
Naharnet/March 11/17/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.

Kanaan: Reform alone prevents financial collapse

Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Head of Finance and Budget Parliamentary Committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, stressed on Saturday that "reform alone prevents a financial collapse caused by waste expenditure, corruption and unaccountable funds." In a TV interview to "LBCI" Channel, Kanaan said "the increasing burdens without real reform expose the economy to a huge challenge; however, the approved ranks and salaries series came in parallel with several reform processes, to which the outlined reform steps in the draft budget will be added." Kanaan called for "everyone's cooperation, including economic bodies and trade unions, to push in the direction of said reform."

Hariri meets with alFakha delegation, promises to study their demands
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri met on Saturday evening at the "House of Center" with a delegation from the Bekaa town of al-Fakha, led by the town's Municipality Head, Nasri Muheiddine and Mufti of Baalbek, Khaled el-Solh. The delegation raised their concerns in wake of the "State Shoura Council" resolution to annul the recent municipal elections outcome, which negatively impacts the work of the town's municipality and impedes the implementation of several development projects. The delegation, thus, urged PM Hariri to find a quick solution to this issue which concerns the whole town. Hariri, in turn, promised the delegation to study their demands from all aspects, so as to come up with possible solutions.

Meeting in Blida with UNIFIL, agreement on transferring surveillance control points
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - In wake of the attempt by a number of residents of the Southern town of Blida to remove monitoring points belonging to the Nepalese UNIFIL Contingent near the borderline yesterday, a meeting was held in the town's municipality building on Saturday, which was devoted to addressing this issue and preventing its recurrence, NNA correspondent in Marj'Ayoun reported. Following the meeting attended by officers from the UNIFIL and Lebanese Army and various townsmen, it was agreed that the Contingent would re-position its units in other points near the borders, and to coordinate with the Lebanese Army on any step. Townsmen also submitted a request to the UNIFIL Command to obtain rent for their lands currently under use by the International Forces.

Hizballah denounces Damascus explosion, calls to unify efforts to get rid of terrorism gangs

Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Hizballah condemned in a statement issued on Saturday "the brutal crime against the innocent persons near Damascus this morning, which killed dozens and injured more than a hundred of visitors to the holy shrines," considering "this cruel crime against innocent Muslims a clear evidence of how far those terrorists are from God and His Prophet." The statement called to unify efforts to get rid of those terrorist gangs that are used by International and regional forces to carry out savage projects which aim to crumble the region and kill the resistance spirit in it. The statement concluded by paying condolences to the families of the victims, wishing quick recovery to the injured persons.

Minister of Environment denies differences during cabinet sessions
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Minister of Environment Tarek Khatib denied what is being reported about differences during cabinet sessions. Minister Khatib whose words came during a visit to Greek Melkite North Metropolitan Bishop, Edward Daher, underscored that the cabinet discussions over the items listed on the agenda were successful, positive and approved unanimously. "We hope to approve a new electoral law that satisfies all the political parties within the legal deadlines, but as it seems, there is no accord on this matter yet," Khatib concluded.

Khoury: To control illegal labor
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Economy and Trade Minister Raed Khoury thanked on Saturday the north mayor Judge Ramzi Nohra on his efforts to serve the citizens of the North, especially in controlling the illegal labor who compete against the Lebanese labor, pointing out that solving this problem needs united efforts from all the Lebanese political parties. Khoury's words came during a visit, amidst his tour to the port and Karameh exhibition in Tripoli, to the north mayor at his office in Tripoli Serail in the presence of the economy and Trade General Director Alya Abbas and a number of dignitaries. The Minister added that the Council of Ministers has formed a governmental committee presided by the Premier Saad Hariri to discuss this issue, pointing out that the committee will meet regularly to set all the measures needed to protect the Lebanese labor. The Minister noted that the municipalities also play an important role in this issue, calling them to cooperate with the security forces to take intensive measures against this problem. The Minister hoped to reach a positive result that allows them to protect the Lebanese labor.

Kenaan: Salary scale does not meet ambitions but it's the best we can provide currently

Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - "Change and reform" parliamentary bloc Secretary MP Ibrahim Kenaan on Saturday told "LBC" T.V. station via "Naharkom Said" (Good Day) program" that the salary scale draft approved by the committees does not meet the (citizens') ambitions but it is the best that we can provide at this time." Kenaan confirmed that reform will continue to prevail in the discussions of the Budget and Finance committee regarding the budget, noting that controlling squandering is a necessity to secure resources without increasing burdens on the Lebanese. Kenaan underscored that they will focus on carrying out reforms of fruitful results which boost growth and strengthen investments away from any provocations, calling upon whoever wants reform to work with them as there is a grave problem in the general finance status which needs constitutional and control treatment. Responding to a question about talks regarding disagreements between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces, Kenaan said,"let everybody be reassured that there is no clash between Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces. The honest and reconciliation agreement that took place between the two parties aimed at building the state and resuming presence," adding, "we are in an age of achievements ; and we are working to accomplish a real new electoral law not just to record stances."

Spanish Ambassadress honors Conservatory of Music Director
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - The Spain's Ambassadress to Lebanon Milagros Hernando honored the director of the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music Dr. Walid Moussallem during a musical celebration. Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury, MP Ghassan Moukhaiber and a number of dignitaries attended the celebration. In an interview to the National News Agency, Khoury praised the cultural cooperation between Lebanon and Spain, describing it as a fruitful one which is not limited to the cultural field as Spain also contributes in protecting peace in Lebanon through the presence of its contingent among the UNIFIL. The Minister added that Spain also has contributed in the execution of a number of projects in Lebanon. The Minister thanked Spain and the Spanish Ambassadress, hoping this cooperation would increase in favor of the two countries' interest. In turn, the Spanish Ambassadress thanked Dr. Moussallem and praised the wonderful works of the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music.

Elie Aoun: Lebanon's sacrifices for the Palestinian cause led to civil war
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Member of the Democratic Gathering, MP Elie Aoun, told Free Lebanon radio on Saturday that the many sacrifices Lebanon has made for the Palestinian cause led the country into civil war; thus, Palestinian factions are now required to cooperate with the Lebanese State to limit security breaches in refugee camps. Aoun argued that Palestinian factions refused to hand over their camps' security to the Lebanese Army under the pretext that such a matter required dialogue with the State, army and security forces. "Will Palestine be liberated from Ayn el Helwe? The State does not desire a repeat of the events of Nahr al Bared." The issue that required internal dialogue was the weapons of Hezbollah. Once such dialogue took place, a security strategy, which preserved the dignity of the Lebanese army, could be reached. "Hezbollah did not ask anyone's permission to go into Syria, despite the many objections." Shifting the focus to legislative elections, Aoun said that serious discussions were ongoing over a mixed law.

Bou Assi: We insist on new electoral law
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Minister of Social affairs, Pierre Bou Assi, told Voice of Lebanon radio on Saturday that despite failing to reach consensus over a new electoral law, all Lebanese factions agree on holding legislative elections. "The Lebanese Forces insists on a new electoral law," said the Minister, adding that the mixed proposal remained the most viable solution. The Minister denied any clash between the LF and the Free Patriotic Movement over the electricity file. "The plan is ready and all it needs is putting our hands together to implement it." Touching on the Syrian refugees issue, Bou Assi feared that the mettle of the international community has gone cold. "Negotiations with the Syrian regime would not facilitate the safe return of refugees," he concluded.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published On March 11-12/17
At Least 40 Killed in Twin Bombings against Pilgrims in Damascus
Asharq Al-Awsat English/March 11/17/At least 40 people were killed, the majority of them Shi’ite pilgrims, in twin bombings in the Old City of Damascus on Saturday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group. Al-Mayadeen, a Lebanon-based TV station, said the bombings targeted buses transporting pilgrims to the Bab al-Saghir cemetery near one of the seven gates of the Old City of Damascus. Interior Minister Mohammed al-Shaar visited the injured in local hospitals. He said 40 were killed and 120 were injured. He said the attacks targeted civilians, including Arab visitors, who were frequenting the shrines in the area. He didn’t elaborate, but Iraqi Shi’ites often visit shrines in Syria. Iranians and other Shi’ites from Asia are often also among the pilgrims to the area. The Iraqi Foreign Ministry in Baghdad later announced that at least 40 Iraqis pilgrims were killed and 120 wounded in the bombings. “There are also dozens of people wounded, some of them in a serious condition,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. The director general of the capital’s Al-Mujtahed hospital told AFP earlier there were at least 28 people dead and 45 wounded. The SANA state news agency reported that “two bombs planted by terrorists exploded near the Bab al-Saghir cemetery in Bab Musalla, causing dead and wounded.”Bab al-Saghir is one of the seven gates of the old city of Damascus and houses a cemetery where a number of early Islam religious figures, including family members of Prophet Muhammad and figures revered by Shi’ites, are buried. Shi’ite shrines are a frequent target of attack for Sunni extremists of al-Qaeda and the ISIS, not only in Syria but also in neighboring Iraq. The Sayeda Zeinab mausoleum to the south of Damascus, Syria’s most visited Shi’ite pilgrimage site, has been hit by several deadly bombings during the six-year-old civil war. Twin suicide bombings in the high-security Kafr Sousa district of the capital in January killed 10 people, eight of them soldiers. Bomb attacks are rare in Damascus, a stronghold of the regime of Bashar Assad. The Syrian capital is sometimes the target of shelling by rebel groups who hold areas on the outskirts.

Iraqi Foreign Ministry : 40 Iraqis Dead, 120 injured in Damascus Bombings
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Bombings targeting pilgrims in Damascus killed around 40 and injured about 120 Iraqis on Saturday, the Iraqi foreign ministry said. "Preliminary statistics indicate the fall of around 40 Iraqi martyrs and 120 wounded," ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal said in a statement, terming it a "criminal terrorist operation." Jamal said that roadside bombs targeted buses carrying the pilgrims, while the Syrian opposing Observatory reported that there was one roadside and one suicide bombing in the Bab al-Saghir area of Damascus. The Iraqi statement blamed the attack on takfiri groups, that declare those who do not follow their ideology to be "kuffar", or infidels. These include the ISIL ‘jihadist’ group, which Iraq is battling at home, but which also holds significant ground in Syria. The Damascus attack could provide the impetus for increased Iraqi strikes against ISIL in Syria, which Baghdad has already carried out near the border.--AFP

Syrian Foreign Ministry urges UN to condemn terrorist attack in Damascus, not to cover up perpetrators and those who stand behind them
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Damascus - Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry addressed two letters to the United Nations Secretary General and Security Council President about the blasts in Damascus today, urging the UN to "condemn this cowardly terrorist attack and not to cover up the perpetrators and the governments of the countries that stand behind them." The Syrian Foreign Ministry called on the UN to "work to unite the international community's efforts to combat terrorism in coordination and full cooperation with the Syrian government." "At a time when the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic condemns this attack, it reaffirms the necessity of distancing all parties involved in Astana and Geneva talks themselves from terrorist organizations," the Syrian Ministry underscored.

Iraq paramilitaries find mass grave of hundreds executed by ISIS
AFP, Baghdad Saturday, 11 March 2017/Iraqi paramilitary forces announced Saturday that they had discovered a mass grave at Badush prison near Mosul containing the remains of hundreds of people executed by ISIS. ISIS reportedly killed up to 600 people after seizing the jail in 2014, and was also said to have held hundreds of kidnapped women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority at the facility. The Iraqi military said that forces from the Hashed al-Shaabi -- an umbrella group of pro-government forces that are dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias -- were among the units that recaptured the prison from the extremists. Hashed forces found “a large mass grave containing the remains of around 500 civilian prisoners in (Badush) prison who were executed by (ISIS) gangs after they controlled the prison during their occupation of Mosul,” they said. The Hashed did not say how they reached that figure, which could not be independently confirmed, but it is in keeping with a Human Rights Watch report of ISIS killings at Badush. According to HRW, ISIS gunmen executed up to 600 inmates from Badush prison on June 10, 2014, forcing them to kneel along a nearby ravine and then shooting them with assault rifles. Iraqi lawmaker Vian Dakhil also said that year that the jihadists were holding more than 500 Yazidi women at Badush. ISIS targeted the Yazidi religious minority in a brutal campaign of executions, kidnapping and rape, killing men and holding women and girls as sex slaves.
ISIS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since regained most of the territory they lost. Iraqi forces launched an operation to retake Mosul -- the last ISIS-held city in Iraq -- in October, recapturing its eastern side before setting their sights on its smaller but more densely populated west.

Netherlands cancels landing permission for Turkish minister
The Associated Press, The Hague, Netherlands Saturday, 11 March 2017/The Dutch government on Saturday withdrew landing permission for the Turkish foreign minister’s aircraft, drawing the ire of the Turkish president and escalating a diplomatic dispute between the two NATO allies over campaigning for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reform. The Dutch government said in a statement it had withdrawn the permission because of “risks to public order and security” caused by the proposed visit of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Rotterdam. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised retaliation against Dutch diplomatic flights. “You can stop our foreign minister’s plane all you want, let’s see how your planes will come to Turkey from now on,” Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul. “They do not know politics or international diplomacy,” said Erdogan and added, “these Nazi remnants, they are fascists” with the crowds booing. Earlier Saturday, in an interview with private broadcaster CNN Turk, Cavusoglu said: “If the Netherlands cancels my flight permit, our sanctions to the Netherlands would be heavy.”He also repeated the government’s charges that bans on rallies are “fascist practices.”Cavusoglu said that the German and Dutch bans on campaigns for a “yes” vote in the April 16 referendum on constitutional changes means that Europe is “taking a side for a ‘no’ vote.” The constitutional changes would give the president more powers. The Dutch government said it had been searching with Turkish authorities for an “acceptable solution” to Cavusoglu’s plan to campaign in the Netherlands, but “before these talks were completed, Turkish authorities publicly threatened sanctions. That makes the search for a reasonable solution impossible.” The diplomatic row comes just days before the Netherlands goes to the polls in a March 15 election for the lower house of Parliament. The campaign has been dominated by issues of identity, with anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders set to make strong gains. Ahead of Saturday’s decision, Wilders had accused the government of a weak response to Turkish plans to send ministers to the Netherlands to campaign. The Dutch government said it does not object to meetings in the Netherlands to give information about the Turkish referendum, “but these meetings should not add to tensions in our society and everybody who wants to organize a meeting must adhere to instructions from authorities so that public order and security can be guaranteed.”It said the Turkish government “does not want to respect the rules in this matter.”

US Ambassador to Turkey Targeted by Russian Ambassador’s Assassin
Asharq Al-Awsat English/March 11/17Ankara – Mevlut Altintas, the Turkish policeman who assassinated Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara in December, had also researched the whereabouts of the US ambassador to Turkey, according to investigating sources in this matter.
Investigators examining Altintas’s computer have found that just before the murder, he searched for information about US ambassador John Bass. He also collected information about the activities of Russian and American cultural centers in Ankara, Turkish newspaper Milliyet reported on Thursday.
The findings have led investigators to wonder if Altintas was also planning an attack on the US ambassador. Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot dead by Altintas, who was on leave from the police force at the time of the attack, at the opening of an art exhibition on December 19.
Ankara prosecutor’s office asked the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for assistance in investigating Karlov’s murder. Prosecutors want the FBI to help them hack the iPhone used by the 22-year-old killer. They have also made a written request to Google’s Gmail service, asking them to restore messages that were deleted from Altintas’s email account two hours after the murder. In response, the email service said that it was not possible to restore the deleted messages. Investigators therefore sought the FBI to help them access the messages via the server from which they were deleted. On the other hand, head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Esendere, Tayfun Ayhan, was injured and his brother Murat Ayhan was killed in an armed attack in the Yuksekova district of Hakkari on Thursday. The two brothers were attacked in front of their home in the Yenimahalle neighborhood by unidentified parties after returning from a campaign for an April 16 referendum on an executive presidency in Turkey.
Following the attack, security forces launched an operation in the Yuksekova city center to catch the perpetrators.

Erdogan Compares Dutch Rally Ban to Nazism as Row Spirals
SourceAgence France Presse/Naharnet/March 11/17/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday likened a Dutch ban on his foreign minister's visit to Nazism, in a dramatic escalation of a row over campaign events abroad for Turkey's high stakes referendum. The leader's strongly-worded comments came after The Hague said it would refuse Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's plane permission to land ahead of a rally to gather support for boosting Erdogan's powers. The Dutch decision to ban Cavusoglu from visiting and holding a rally in the port city of Rotterdam came after Germany and other European nations also saw moves to block campaign events. Unlike in Germany, however, where a string of planned rallies were barred by local authorities, in the Netherlands it was the government that stepped in to block Cavusoglu's visit. "They are the vestiges of the Nazis, they are fascists," Erdogan told an Istanbul rally Saturday, days after he angrily compared moves to block rallies in Germany to "Nazi practices". "Ban our foreign minister from flying however much you like, but from now on let's see how your flights will land in Turkey," Erdogan said. The Turkish foreign ministry swiftly announced it had summoned the Dutch deputy ambassador in protest over the ban. The Dutch government said in a statement that its decision to bar Cavusoglu from visiting followed a Turkish threat of sanctions. "For that reason the Netherlands has let it be known it will withdraw permission to land" for the minister's plane, it said.
- 'It will backlash' -The Netherlands is home to some 400,000 people of Turkish origin, and Ankara is keen to harness votes of the diaspora in Europe ahead of the April 16 referendum.
Erdogan accused the Netherlands of working against the "Yes" campaign and said: "Pressure however much you like. Abet terrorists in your country however much you like. "It will backlash, and there's no doubt that we'll start retaliating after April 16... We are patient. Whoever is patient will reach victory." The latest escalation came after a string of European towns and cities cancelled similar campaign rallies, citing logistical difficulties and security concerns. Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders had warned Thursday that his government would not facilitate Cavusoglu's visit. "We will not participate in a visit by a Turkish government official who wants to conduct a political campaign for a referendum," he said. Dutch far-right anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders celebrated the government's ban, attributing it to "heavy PVV pressure", in a reference to his party. "I call on Prime Minister (Mark) Rutte, in the name of millions of Dutch people, to refuse the Turkish minister access to the Netherlands!" he tweeted earlier Saturday.
"Don't let him land here!" wrote Wilders, whose party appears set to emerge as one of the largest in parliament in Wednesday's vote. - 'Out of place' -The latest row came after NATO allies Turkey and Germany sparred over the cancellation of a series of referendum campaign events there. Germany is home to 1.4 million people eligible to vote in Turkey -- the fourth-largest electoral base after Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Although Berlin insisted that the string of cancellations by local authorities were down to logistical reasons, Turkish officials repeatedly hit back, leading to Erdogan's angry "Nazi" remark.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said such rhetoric was "depressing", belittled Holocaust victims and was "so out of place as to be unworthy of serious comment". Berlin has emerged as a strident critic of Ankara's vast crackdown in the wake of the attempted putsch of last July, which has seen more than 100,000 people arrested, suspended from their jobs or sacked for alleged links to the plotters or to Kurdish militants. Ankara has in turn accused Berlin of harbouring "terrorists" and failing to respond to requests to hand over suspects from the coup as well as Kurdish militants who it believes are members of the outlawed PKK group. Elsewhere in Europe, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern has called for an EU ban on Turkish politicians campaigning for the referendum. And Swiss police on Friday blocked a rally supporting a "yes" vote in the referendum, amid uncertainty over whether the Turkish foreign minister would be allowed to host a similar event planned for Zurich this weekend.

Turkish Coast Guard: 48 Syrian Migrants Stopped at Sea
Associated Press/Naharnet/March 11/17/Turkey's coast guard says it has prevented 48 Syrian migrants from reaching Greece. In a statement on its official website, the Turkish Coast Guard said the migrants on a rubber dinghy were stopped after a tip early Friday. Aerial footage accompanying the statement shows the dinghy at sea followed by the rescue operation off the coast of Kusadasi in western Turkey. According to coast guard statistics, 1,812 migrants have been stopped at sea and 19 smugglers apprehended this year. The number of migrants making the illegal crossing to Greece dropped dramatically since the EU-Turkey migrant deal last March.

World Faces Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since WWII
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/March 11/17/The United Nations is warning that the world is facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II, with more than 20 million people facing starvation and famine in four countries. The world body's humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien called Friday for an urgent mobilization of funds -- $4.4 billion by July -- for northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen to "avert a catastrophe.""Otherwise, many people will predictably die from hunger, livelihoods will be lost and political gains that have been hardwon over the last few years will be reversed," O'Brien said in his stark warning to the UN Security Council. "Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease. Children stunted and out of school. Livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost."He called war-wracked Yemen "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world," with two thirds of the population, or 18.8 million people -- three million more than in January -- in need of assistance and more than seven million with no regular access to food.The conflict in Yemen has left more than 7,400 people dead and 40,000 wounded since an Arab-state coalition intervened on the government's side against rebels in March 2015, according to UN figures.
In just the past two months alone, more than 48,000 people have fled fighting in the Arab world's poorest country, according to O'Brien, as it grapples with a proxy war fought by archrivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. - 'Arbitrarily denying' access -During recent meetings, O'Brien said senior leaders in both parties agreed to provide continuous humanitarian access and respect international humanitarian law. He noted that 4.9 million people received food assistance last month alone. "Yet all parties to the conflict are arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicize aid," he added. "Already, the humanitarian suffering that we see in Yemen today is caused by the parties and proxies and if they don't change their behavior now, they must be held accountable for the inevitable famine, unnecessary deaths and associated amplification in suffering that will follow."
He noted that despite assurances from all parties that he would obtain safe passage to the flashpoint city of Taiz, he was in fact denied access and came under gunfire after retreating to a short distance away. A total of $2.1 billion are needed to reach 12 million people with life-saving assistance and protection in Yemen this year, according to O'Brien, who noted that just six percent of those funds have been received so far. He announced that a ministerial-level pledging event for Yemen will take place in Geneva on April 25, to be chaired by UN chief Antonio Guterres. - Politics behind 'man-made famine' -During his visit last week to South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, O'Brien said he found a situation that is "worse than it has ever been." "The famine in South Sudan is man-made," he added.
"Parties to the conflict are parties to the famine -- as are those not intervening to make the violence stop."He said more than 7.5 million people need assistance, an increase of 1.4 million fro last year. And some 3.4 million people are displaced, including nearly 200,000 who have fled South Sudan since January alone. More than half the population of Somalia -- 6.2 million people -- need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 2.9 million at risk of famine. Nearly one million children under the age of five will be "acutely malnourished" this year, according to the humanitarian chief, who also visited the country. "What I saw and heard during my visit to Somalia was distressing -- women and children walk for weeks in search of food and water," O'Brien said. "They have lost their livestock, water sources have dried up and they have nothing left to survive on. With everything lost, women, boys, girls and men now move to urban centers."In northeastern Nigeria, O'Brien said 10.7 million people need humanitarian aid, including 7.1 million people who are "severely food insecure." The humanitarian emergency afflicting the area was triggered by the Boko Haram insurgency, which erupted in Nigeria in 2009. Poor governance and climate change have also been powerful contributors to the crisis. The conflict, which has left around 20,000 people dead and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes, has aggravated an already difficult humanitarian situation in one of the poorest regions of the world.

German shopping mall shut on police fears of an attack
Sat 11 Mar 2017/NNA - Police in the western German city of Essen sealed off a shopping center in the center of town and ordered it to remain closed on Saturday due to concrete indications of a possible attack. Germany is on high alert following major radical Islamist attacks in France and Belgium and after a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas market in December, killing 12 people. "Yesterday we received very serious indications from security sources that a possible attack was planned here for today and would be carried out," a spokesman for Essen police told Reuters Television. "That is why we were forced to take these measures." Earlier, a police spokesman told a German broadcaster that they had viewed the threat as a possible "terrorist" attack. Armed police and vans surrounded the shopping center, one of Germany's biggest with more than 200 retail outlets, but roads nearby were open to traffic. Essen, in the industrial Ruhr region, has nearly 600,000 inhabitants.--Reuters

Narendra Modi’s party claims victory in four Indian states
By Rupam Jain and Tommy Wilkes Reuters, India Saturday, 11 March 2017/Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party won a landslide victory in India’s most important battleground state on Saturday, in a personal triumph that will strengthen his claim to a second term as national leader.
Wresting control of Uttar Pradesh is a ringing endorsement of Modi’s stewardship of Asia’s third-largest economy after his high-risk decision last November to scrap high-value banknotes worth 86 percent of the cash in circulation. The Election Commission of India said Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won a clear majority, according to partial results. The BJP was on course to win 309 of 403 seats in the state assembly, the biggest majority for any party in the state since 1980. Almost four in ten voters backed Modi’s party, the election commission said as it tallied the last votes, close to the party’s vote share in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 national election when it won the biggest national majority in three decades. “I give my heartfelt thanks to the people of Uttar Pradesh. This is a historic victory for the BJP; a victory for development and good governance,” Modi told his 28 million followers on Twitter.

Syrian family’s asylum is first setback for Trump’s revised travel ban
Steve Gorman, Reuters Saturday, 11 March 2017/A federal judge in Wisconsin dealt the first legal blow to President Donald Trump's revised travel ban on Friday, barring enforcement of the policy to deny U.S. entry to the wife and child of a Syrian refugee already granted asylum in the United States.
The temporary restraining order, granted by U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison, applies only to the family of the Syrian refugee, who brought the case anonymously to protect the identities of his wife and daughter, still living in the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo. But it represents the first of several challenges brought against Trump's newly amended executive order, issued on March 6 and due to go into effect on March 16, to draw a court ruling in opposition to its enforcement. Conley, chief judge of the federal court in Wisconsin's western district and an appointee of former President Barack Obama, concluded the plaintiff "has presented some likelihood of success on the merits" of his case and that his family faces "significant risk of irreparable harm" if forced to remain in Syria. The plaintiff, a Muslim, fled Syria to the United States in 2014 to "escape near-certain death" at the hands of sectarian military forces fighting the Syrian government in Aleppo, according to his lawsuit. He subsequently obtained asylum for his wife and their only surviving child, a daughter, and their application had cleared the security vetting process and was headed for final processing when it was halted by Trump's original travel ban on Jan. 27. That executive order sought to ban admission to the United States of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries - Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq - for 120 days and to suspend entry of all refugees indefinitely. The original travel ban, which caused widespread chaos and protests at airports when first implemented, was rescinded after the state of Washington won a nationwide federal court order blocking further enforcement of the policy. The modified executive order reduced the number of excluded counties - removing Iraq from the list - and lifted the indefinite refugee travel ban for Syrians. But opponents from several states have gone to court seeking to halt its implementation as well. "The court appreciates that there may be important differences between the original executive order, and the revised executive order," Conley wrote in his decision. "As the order applies to the plaintiff here, however, the court finds his claims have at least some chance of prevailing for the reasons articulated by other courts." In a related development on Friday, the federal judge in Seattle who imposed a nationwide injunction on enforcement of the original travel ban refused a request to apply that order to the revised policy, saying that lawyers from states opposed to the measure needed to file more extensive court papers.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published On March 11-12/17
European Parliament Censors Its Own Free Speech

Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/March 11, 2017
The rule strikes at the very center of free speech, namely that of elected politicians, which the European Court of Human Rights has deemed in its practice to be specially protected. Members of the European Parliament are people who have been elected to make the voices of their constituents heard inside the institutions of the European Union.
The rule can only have a chilling effect on free speech in the European Parliament, and will likely prove a convenient tool in trying to shut up those parliamentarians who do not follow the politically correct narrative of the EU.
By lifting Le Pen's immunity while she is running for president of France, the European Parliament is sending the clear signal that publicizing the graphic and horrifying truth of the crimes of ISIS, rather than being received as a warning about what might soon be coming to Europe, instead ought to be punished.
Where does this clearly totalitarian impulse stop and who will stop it?
The European Parliament has introduced a new procedural rule, which allows for the chair of a debate to interrupt the live broadcasting of a speaking MEP "in the case of defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior by a Member". Furthermore, the President of the European Parliament may even "decide to delete from the audiovisual record of the proceedings those parts of a speech by a Member that contain defamatory, racist or xenophobic language".
No one, however, has bothered to define what constitutes "defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior". This omission means that the chair of any debate in the European Parliament is free to decide, without any guidelines or objective criteria, whether the statements of MEPs are "defamatory, racist or xenophobic". The penalty for offenders can apparently reach up to around 9,000 euros.
"There have been a growing number of cases of politicians saying things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate," said British EU parliamentarian Richard Corbett, who has defended the new rule. Mr. Corbett, however, does not specify what he considers "beyond the pale".
In June 2016, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, addressed the European Parliament in a speech, which drew on old anti-Semitic blood libels, such as falsely accusing Israeli rabbis of calling on the Israeli government to poison the water used by Palestinian Arabs. Such a clearly incendiary and anti-Semitic speech was not only allowed in parliament by the sensitive and "anti-racist" parliamentarians; it received a standing ovation. Evidently, wild anti-Semitic blood libels pronounced by Arabs do not constitute "things that are beyond the pale of normal parliamentary discussion and debate".
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas receives a standing ovation at the European Parliament in Brussels on June 23, 2016, after falsely claiming in his speech that Israeli rabbis were calling to poison Palestinian water. Abbas later recanted and admitted that his claim had been false. (Image source: European Parliament)
The European Parliament apparently did not even bother to publicize their new procedural rule; it was only made public by Spain's La Vanguardia newspaper. Voters were, it appears, not supposed to know that they may be cut off from listening to the live broadcasts of the parliamentarians they elected to represent them in the EU, if some chairman of a debate subjectively happened to decide that what was being said was "racist, defamatory or xenophobic".
The European Parliament is the only popularly elected institution in the EU. Helmut Scholz, from Germany's left-wing Die Linke party, said that EU lawmakers must be able to express their views about how Europe should work: "You can't limit or deny this right". Well, they can express it (but for how long?), except that now no one outside of parliament will hear it.
The rule strikes at the very center of free speech, namely that of elected politicians, which the European Court of Human Rights has deemed in its practice to be specially protected. Members of the European Parliament are people who have been elected to make the voices of their constituents heard inside the institutions of the European Union. Limiting their freedom of speech is undemocratic, worrisome and spookily Orwellian.
The rule can only have a chilling effect on freedom of speech in the European Parliament and will likely prove a convenient tool in trying to shut up those parliamentarians who do not follow the politically correct narrative of the EU.
The European Parliament lately seems to be waging war against free speech. At the beginning of March, the body lifted the parliamentary immunity of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Her crime? Tweeting three images of ISIS executions in 2015. In France, "publishing violent images" constitutes a criminal offense, which can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros. By lifting her immunity at the same time that she is running for president of France, the European Parliament is sending the clear signal that publicizing the graphic and horrifying truth of the crimes of ISIS, rather than being received as a warning about what might soon be coming to Europe, instead ought to be punished.
This is a bizarre signal to be sending, especially to the Christian and Yazidi victims of ISIS, who are still largely ignored by the European Union. European parliamentarians, evidently, are too sensitive to deal with the graphic murders of defenseless people in the Middle East, and are more concerned with ensuring the prosecution of the messengers, such as Marine Le Pen.
So, political correctness, now effectively the "religious police" of political discourse, has not only taken over the media and academia; elected MEPs are now also supposed to toe the politically correct line, or literally be cut off. No one stopped the European Parliament from passing this undemocratic anti-free speech rule. Why did no parliamentarian out of the 751 MEPs raise red flags about the issue before it became an actual rule? Even more importantly: Where does this clearly totalitarian impulse stop and who will stop it?
**Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 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.

Why Is General Mattis Nominating the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’s Stooge’?

Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media/March 11/17
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ pick for undersecretary of defense for policy, Anne Patterson, is problematic. Politico briefly explains why:
If nominated and confirmed, Patterson would hold the fourth most powerful position at the Pentagon — and would effectively be the top civilian in the Defense Department, since both Mattis and his deputy, Robert Work, were military officers. As ambassador to Egypt between 2011 and 2013, Patterson worked closely with former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist government. She came under fire for cultivating too close a relationship with the regime and for discouraging protests against it — and White House officials are voicing concerns about those decisions now.
This is putting it mildly. Back during the months leading to the June 30, 2013 revolution, Patterson — the “Brotherhood’s Stooge” as she was called by all, from news analysts to the Egyptian street — was arguably one of the most hated individuals by the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets against Morsi and the Brotherhood.
Not only did her face regularly appear next to Obama’s in placards; it sometimes appeared alone, indicating just how closely she was seen as supporting the Brotherhood. It should be noted that these were not isolated sightings, as shown by the number of different placards and signs:
Patterson with Muhammad Badie — supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood — currently serving a life sentence in prison for terrorism related charges in Egypt.
Below are just a few anecdotes that I had translated from Arabic language media before, during, and after the June 30, 2013 revolution that highlight Patterson’s unsavory ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the days leading to the revolution, Patterson called on Egyptians not to protest. She even met with the Coptic pope and asked him specifically to urge the nation’s Christian minority not to oppose the Brotherhood — even though Christians were naturally going to suffer the most under Morsi, especially in the context of accusations of “blasphemy.”
In a live interview on Tahrir TV, political insider and former Egyptian Member of Parliament Mustafa Bakari exposed the relationship between Patterson and Khairat al-Shater, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He said she was regularly seen going to and from the Brotherhood leader’s private residence, as opposed to meeting at the party’s headquarters. He said she told al-Shater “we [the U.S.] will stand with you [regarding the June 30 protests],” and that she treated the Brotherhood leader as the “true ruler of the nation.” Bakari concluded by saying:
[I]n fact, in my opinion, she is a member of the sleeper cells of the Brotherhood, likely recruited by Essam al-Erian or Muhammad al-Baltagi.
Soon after the revolution, she repeatedly tried to reinstate the Brotherhood to power. Even Muhammad Heikal — “the Arab world’s most respected political commentator,” and for over 50 years an Egyptian political insider — said during a live interview that Patterson had assured the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hisham Qandil, who under Morsi was Egypt’s prime minister, that “there are many forms of pressure, and America holds the keys to the Gulf.”
Later, Patterson demanded that Egypt’s recently appointed supreme commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces, General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, release all Muslim Brotherhood members currently being held for questioning:
And when Sisi rejected this order, the American ambassador began threatening him that Egypt will turn into another Syria and live through a civil war.
Another report said Patterson was “trying to communicate with General Sisi, demanding dialogue with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and concessions to them,” to which Sisi reportedly retorted:
Stop meddling in our affairs … the Egyptian people are capable of looking after their own welfare.
Because of all this, several of Egypt’s revolutionary forces, including Tamarod, which played a pivotal role in the June 30 Revolution, staged protests in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo “calling for the ejection of ambassador Anne Patterson.”
In connection, Egyptian journalist Abdullah al-Sanawi said this on live TV:
Anne Patterson’s presence in Egypt has become a great burden for America, and Patterson should be admitted into a mental hospital for her deeds are full of bloodshed and the Obama administration is in a very awkward position in front of the whole world, the [U.S.] Congress and the Pentagon.
Soon thereafter, Youm 7, a popular newspaper in Egypt (then the sixth-most visited website in the nation according to, conducted a survey asking its readers:
Do you support the call to kick U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson out because she interfered in Egyptian affairs?
A whopping 87.93% said yes, 10.54% said no, and 1.53% was indifferent. Youm 7’s audience is almost exclusively moderate, secular-leaning or Christian. It was the non-Islamists of Egypt that disliked the U.S. ambassador — not the Muslim Brotherhood, which benefited from her.
In 2013, even Foreign Policy, a publication notorious for always siding with establishment D.C., noted that Patterson was widely seen among Republicans “as the key implementer for a policy that at least offers tacit support to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Such is the person that General Mattis wants to place in a top Pentagon position.

Jihadis Living on Support Payments from the Europe They Vowed to Destroy
Giulio Meotti//Gatestone Institute/March 11, 2017
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. (Image source: Channel 4 video screenshot)
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.

The development of music and historical transformations

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran/Al Arabiya/March 11/17
“Any deep and strong indescribable pleasure is felt by a conductor as he leads a good orchestra.” This is how Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky began part 19 of his dairies. It included a critical reading of how the Russians and the world received his musical work and opera. He also criticized Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No.1 which critics described as an extension of Beethoven and which was dubbed Beethoven’s tenth. Tchaikovsky voiced his anger and complained: “They are highly praising Brahms in Germany and I see nothing attractive about him.” Tchaikovsky said Brahms’ music is full of pretension because it’s deep when it’s not. He then commended the progress of French musicians during his era and held Richard Wagner responsible for the deterioration of German music. Tchaikovsky then addressed music’s relation with politics, arts, philosophy and ideas.
Tchaikovsky recorded the history of opera and symphonies according to the development of nature and the indulgence of music in conversing with the land, water, illusions and dreams. He recorded this at the peak of his fame and managed to pave way for criticizing musical works since the Baroque era in the 16th century and up until the Romantic era and the struggles of the opera with all its arts and magic.
This shows the tragic difference when compared with how Arabs address the history of music. Most of the time, they address this history by separating it from political and religious influences. The history of music is thus recorded via individuals and their relations. This is what George al-Khoury did in his book about Mohammed Abdulwahab and what Adnan Khouj did in his thesis about Talal Maddah and what Hazam Saghiyeh did in his book about Um Kulthoum. What’s really important is to study the development of music by addressing its activity within political and social relations. Ali al-Shouk mastered this in his study The Secrets of Music and Salim Sahhab also mastered this in a study entitled The School of Egyptian Music and Singing during the 19th Century. Sahhab documented the history of music by starting with the beginner Al-Sha'biya school and the role of Ahmad al-Qabbani (1786-1962) in establishing it and developing it from illiteracy. He also touches on the sheikh who learnt in Al-Azhar, Mohammed Abdelraheem al-Masloub, who is a founder and a pioneer in Egyptian music.
Sahhab talks about the role of another sheikh, Mohammed al-Shlshlamoni, in the development of Egyptian music. He’s the one who discovered Salama Hijazi, the genius of the Arab music theatre, and Youssef al-Menylawi.
The point is that history is important to music, within the latter’s religious, economic, scientific and political manifestations. Music is a world that is involved in all fields, even the fields of physics. Physicists have benefitted from musical terms like the case is in the Superstring Theory. Albert Einstein believed that music helped solve what physicists could not find a solution for in their studies and research.
Arabic music
Shaher Obeid discussed and summed up Peter Crossley’s research, which is about the history of Arabic music. Crossley addressed the role of music and its relation with religious rituals in Mesopotamia 6,000 years ago. The examples he provides are about religious chanting of the Sumerians. Music developed during the era of Babylon and Ashur. The people then linked between the rhythm of music and the universe’s harmony. He also documented the history of music in Hejaz during the first eras of Islam and documented the history of music throughout all phases up until the Umayyad era when the Islamic empire established for interest in music. He also talked about music during the Abbasid and Andalusian eras when music greatly developed and was a matter of huge interest. Crossley monitored the entire phases of creating the Oud.
Each musical instrument is linked to a history of struggle, blending and interlacement. Ali al-Shawk quotes Curt Sachs as saying during a lecture about the history of the piano: “All our musical instruments came from the East and were then transferred to Europe via different routes. The only instrument which Europe bragged that it innovated was the piano but it’s been proven that this instrument’s source is Andalusia.”
In his book The Rational and Social Foundations of Music, Max Weber documented the history of the piano and said it was invented by monks in the beginning of the Middle Ages and wrote: “The unshakable modern position of the piano rests upon the universality of its usefulness for domestic appropriation of almost all treasures of music literature, upon the immeasurable fullness of its own literature, and finally on its quality as a universal accompanying and schooling instrument.”
The history of music has been linked to the transformations of the big nations and to individual changes in philosophical fields. Shawk notes that “Nietzsche who seemed impressed by Richard Wagner’s opera ended despising him and became more attached to the Dionysian emotional aspect of music’s ideological Apollonian angle. Towards the end of his life, he favored the opera Carmen for Georges Bizet over all of Wagner’s operas.”
This is the movement of music. The position of music in society is bigger than a hall in which people gather. It’s part of the ideological, sentimental, emotional and mental development of humans since ancient times. Perhaps those who are now speaking out about reconciliation with music are reading the ancient history that reveals the deep roots of music on human heritage. In his early years, Poet Abdulrahman Badawi once wrote letters to a mysterious woman he was in love with. In one of the letters he wrote her while in Paris, he said: “There is salvation in art – even from the anxiety of big cities.”
*This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat.

The two-sided problem of Muslims
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 11/17
The terms “Islam” and “Muslims” are now mostly used to designate extremist groups whose crimes have now conquered the reputation of the religion and the people. Limiting “Islam” and “Muslims” to terrorism is certainly unfair. When I wrote yesterday about two concept of two “Islams,” differentiating between moderates and extremists, I did not only intend to correct the term and the image that has been tinted with unfair discrimination and generalization; I did not want us to be dragged behind the propaganda that is being used by regimes and evil groups to justify misconducts in the name of Islam and Muslims. Their radical Islam has nothing to do with our Islam. Fundamentalist religious concepts have accompanied political confrontations between the Iranian regime and the West. Then, al-Qaeda, ISIS and other groups have copied the Iranians and started promoting the rejection of other communities and reprisal instead of coexistence. They considered that Western or modern issues are meant to attack their sacred past. Ideological cleansing has invaded every aspect of the Iranian life, and gone beyond the borders to infect other countries. Similar to the Maoist Cultural Revolution in China, the Iranian Islamic Revolution initiated a cultural extremist project that intruded Islamic societies and Muslim communities in the West. Islamic movements were founded on this project to copy its extremism.
Cultural extremist project
These groups have undertaken cleansing operations, raising the sword of atonement and intimidating moderate Muslims. They considered the moderates as enemies of the religion. These groups have also fought the regimes that stand in their ways to achieve their ideological and interventionist projects. The majority of Muslims suffered from extremists, and unfortunately, governments have only taken action to fight extremism, when they saw that they are becoming a project that would threaten their existence. Today, there are extremist schools in Islam, calling for war and conflict. There are indeed extremist Muslims who are dangerous to the world; those who deny these facts are either arrogant or ignorant.
If governments had made coexistence part of the education system, extremists would not have found a place for them between us. When they point out in the West to “radical Islam”, they mean a regime like the one in Tehran. When they say “terrorist Islam”, they mean organizations like ISIS, the “Muslim Youth Movement” in Somalia or “Ansar al-Sharia” in Libya. They are all terrorist groups and that does not mean that Islam is extremist or radical in general. I admit that radicalism and extremism might be true in the above-mentioned context but I refrain from using these terms to avoid comparison and generalization that can hurt the majority of Muslims that have nothing to do with these organizations and do not even embrace takfiri ideology. We can say things the other way round; they should not generalize and be unjust to all Muslims. The same applies to us, as we should not defend all the ideas that are used by Islam for political purposes against others. We will neither defend the Wali al-Faqih Islam in Iran, nor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islam in Raqqa, Syria. They exploit issues like the caricatures in Denmark or a satirical magazine in France for their own purposes. They desperately want to mobilize Muslims. There is enough room in the world for believers and non-believers as well as followers of other religions.
Muslims need to believe more in the possibility of co-existing with other religions and their followers because there are 1.5 billion people around the globe coexisting with each other, from Buddhist China to Catholic Brazil. The other reason is that those who suffer from wars and hunger represent the majority of refugees in the world and are in need of shelters and charitable and humanitarian support. All the above leads me to one last point, which is the most important one. We should not only be aware that we are suffering from these ideological and organizational problems and reject them in general, we should also work on including coexistence as a culture and curriculum taught at all educational levels. If the governments had made coexistence part of the education system, extremists would not have found a place for them between us.
**This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on March 11, 2017.

Who governs and manages a world of chaos?

Ghassan Imam/Al Arabiya/March 11/17
Amid the chaos governing the world, a generation that lived through the Cold War is still alive thanks to better awareness in the importance of preventive health. This generation longs to an era, which was governed by two international giants that cancelled politics and managed the world through the balance of nuclear terror. America and Red Russia possessed thousands of nuclear rockets, which were capable of destroying life on earth several times. However, they did not have the courage to press the launch button. Inside their secret rooms of diplomacy, they found an art for settlement and co-existence and there was thus no need for the violent war. The Cold War cancelled politics. Diplomacy became an elitist art to make mutual concessions. The international giants neutralized the leaders of the non-aligned movement. Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Josip Broz Tito, Gamal Abdelnasser and Sukarno became the leaders of “positive neutrality.”They made many statements but they didn’t achieve anything. The two giants owned the world and allowed these leaders to govern people with an iron and authoritarian fist. They controlled people’s protests as they voiced anger against the two giants. People then returned home without being chaotic. Today, however, there is massive chaos that raises concern over our fate and fear of terrorism.
Democratic mechanisms
The generation of the Cold War found solace in the American popular culture, which was spread by Hollywood’s Jews. Lazy young men dressed like Marlon Brando and loved like Clark Gable. Brigitte Bardot became the cover girl. Meanwhile, there was significant literary and intellectual momentum. Marxist thinkers created to billions of humans a rosy dream that is void of politics and money. Capitalist thinkers responded by criticizing the Marxist experience which turned Karl Marx’s and Vladimir Lenin’s revolutionaries into governmental employees working for Joseph Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev.
The cultural dialogue which marked the era of the Cold War created a political and social ideology that’s read with great interest. Right-wing and leftist intellectuals were categorized separately particularly in terms of their dialogue about important social and political matters. The most important issue was faith in the possibility of achieving social justice via equality from within and equal job opportunities.
This intellectual wealth was not separate from the intellect of the era of modernity, which was interested in liberation, not in freedom and its democratic mechanism. It focused on eliminating the last remnants of the colonial era and on studying the society’s rights and the state’s duties towards it. The novels of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Thomas Mann and Ernest Hemingway touched on political and social matters.
On the Arabic level, Arab societies gained their independence during the era of the Cold War. The independent regimes got preoccupied with education and the anthem’s music and with bragging about national sovereignty and achieving the nation of national unity. The failure of a unified nationalistic project produced deep intellectual dialogues about the reasons of defeat against Israel. At the forefront was the responsibility of the Arab system and not the democracy of nationalistic and communist parties and movements.
Amid the current cultural and political chaos, we find intellectual void and Arabic and global incapability to create a new intellectual culture to the postmodern world and that’s equal to existentialism, structuralism and deconstruction which inspired the era of the Cold War. Marxism no longer inspires political thought. The theory of equal opportunities and economic equality among people in terms of resources, income and work collapsed. There’s nothing left of Marxism except its outstanding ability for political analysis which is adopted by right-wing and leftist authors to explain what’s socially and politically happening.
Islamizing the Arab system coincided with the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Marxist state and the tough financial crises which capitalist states suffered from. Yes, the Arab Islamized system managed to undermine the terrorism of the first Afghani wave which thought was capable of toppling the system. The Arab Islamized system also toppled the “infidel” community regime in Afghanistan.
This slow system is currently engaged in a war which has been dubbed “a war against terrorism.” It’s participating in this war alongside Europe and the US. The bitter irony in this bloody confrontation is embodied in the capability of the ISIS state to recruit 100,000 terrorists who were affected by the ISIS and al-Qaeda culture which was produced by religious references in Islamic societies.Giving the Arab uprising an ISIS-like character and its brutality to deal with itself and its people prevented the emergence of a single novelist to immortalize it in an epic work or the emergence of a great poet like Ahmed Shawqi, Nizar Kabbani and Mahmoud Darwish who followed up on the wave of Arab struggles and independences during the 20th century.
Capitalization’s pressures
The European intellectual void during the postmodern era failed to produce authors as great as Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett, Bernard Shaw and Albert Camus who criticized and discussed political and social matters and mocked them. Beckett’s soft symbolism in his play Waiting for Godot saved him from suffering a fate similar to that of Indian-British author Salman Rushdie who still has a security team ever since a fatwa (religious edict) that permits killing him was issued by Khomeini who did not even read his works.
Since I occupy a geographic space in this world, I have a cynical desire that I must give it up for new generations which increase by an extra 1 billion every 50 years.
The reason behind my noble desire to abandon “this rental space” is the massive chaos and its leaders like Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Putin thinks Russia lost the Cold War without using its right in firing one bullet or a nuclear rocket and must thus avenge from the shaken capitalist world. Trump wants to avenge from globalization which liberalism produced and which awarded the brown worker in the developing world at the expense of the white worked who is unemployed in the richer part of the world.
Actually, this liberalism which put its trillions in the state now controls the world which is governed by a secret government of businessmen, banks and wealthy people. Meanwhile it manages its financial and economic crises at the expense of broke tax payers and miserable workers who, for instance, work at fabric factories which have bad ventilation and chains so they don’t escape when a fire breaks out. The current global chaos may be an introduction to civil and religious regional wars in Europe, to political assassinations, (Russian research centers predict that the governing American institution will assassinate Trump) and to a new form of terrorism that is practiced by these chaotic generations which are deprived of capitalism’s pleasures.