May 10/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 06/01-15/:"After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself."

You accepted the Word Of God not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.

First Letter to the Thessalonians 02/13-20/:"We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God’s wrath has overtaken them at last. As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you in person, not in heart we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. For we wanted to come to you certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?Yes, you are our glory and joy!

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 09-10/17
Aoun’s Presidency: Is it in its first six months or at the End Of its six years Term/Elias Bejjani/May 09/17
Jumblatt says Aoun, Hariri have 'stumbled'/The Daily Star/May 09/17
Erdogan's Crimes against Humanity/Turkey Bombs Yazidi Homeland/Uzay Bulut//Gatestone Institute/May 09/17
Qatar needs to stop funding Islamists: Dennis Ross/Dennis Ross/USA Today/May 09/17
A Slap in the Face to Democracy: Canada's "Anti-Islamophobia" Motion/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/May 09/17
Iran Tests The Trump Administration/Yigal Carmon and A. Savyon/MEMRI/May 09/17
The Separation of South in Yemen/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/May 09/17
America’s ‘Miracle Machine’ Is In Desperate Need of, Well, a Miracle/Eric S. Lander and Eric E. Schmidt/The Washington Post/May 09/17
Trump in Saudi Arabia: Restoring what Obama ruined/Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/May 09/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 09-10/17
Aoun’s Presidency: Is it in its first six months or at the End Of its six years Term?
Israel Starts Building Fence along Lebanese Border
Hezbollah-Mashnouq Dispute Erupts after Residents Return to Lebanon’s al-Tufail
Yemeni Pro-Government Forces Spot 16 Hezbollah Militants in Tihama
Hariri to Propose ‘Salvation’ Initiative to Resolve Lebanon’s Electoral Law Crisis
PM Says Negative Atmospheres Don't Set Grounds for Agreement
Hariri: North Lebanon Has Strategic Future Role in Boosting Lebanon's Economy
Report: Hariri Has No 'Rescue Initiative' for Electoral Stalemate
Berri Says Tenders Passed Outside CIB are 'Suspicious'
Landmine Maims Syrian Boy in Southern Border Town
LF Slams FPM Minister's Power Plan Conduct, Says Disagreement Won't Harm Ties
Aoun calls for election law that secures fairness, equity
LF ministers hold press conference on electricity plan: We will take necessary measures to guarantee respect of laws in force
Riachy, Makdessi launch COPEAM Conference
Kenaan after Change and Reform bloc meeting: Qualification law adopted in more than one country
Hariri chairs meeting of ministerial panel tasked with devising vote draft law
Jumblatt, Chilean Ambassador tackle current developments
Hajj Hassan, Khoury target drop in import, export growth of $2 billion
Aridi: In case of disagreement on new electoral law we will opt for 1960
Jumblatt says Aoun, Hariri have 'stumbled'

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
May 09-10/17
Major Evacuation of Fighters, Civilians since Beginning of War in Syria
Washington Looks at ‘Devil in Details’ of Syria’s ‘De-escalation Zones’
ISIS releases video showing ‘Russian officer beheaded in Syria’
Next UN peace talks on Syrian conflict to start in Geneva next week
Russia’s Lavrov to visit Washington with Syria in sight
Riad Seif: Reforming National Coalition Is Priority
King Salman Invites Arab Leaders to Participate in Arab, Islamic and US Summit
Joint Operation Leads to ISIS Head in Afghanistan
Iraq: Asayish forces charged for expelling the displaced from Kirkuk
German president: Moving toward Mideast deal ‘truly urgent’
Pakistan summons Iranian ambassador over recent threats
UN: Nearly 250 missing and feared dead after two shipwrecks in Mediterranean
Police slowly reopen Paris train station after security alert
Iran’s Rouhani tells conservative election rivals ‘your era is over’
Abbas Says is Ready to Meet Israel PM as Part of Trump Peace Efforts

Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 09-10/17
هل العهد في شهره السادس أم في نهاية سنته السادسة؟
Aoun’s Presidency: Is it in its first six months or at the End Of its six years Term?

Elias Bejjani/May 09/17
In the midst of the Aoun’s presidency staunched stumbling, overt licentiousness and all the questionable fishy deals…
and in the midst of the unprecedented presidential milieu and education of nepotism that is topped by armies of advisers and consultants!!
One really wonders with sadness and disappointment if this presidency term is in its first six months as actually it is, or at the end of its six years tern as all failures and pitfalls clearly indicate?
But despite all these shocking governing deviations, and despite of the hatching and breeding of armies of opportunist… still we with many others hope that this presidency will correct its path and ultimately succeed and not fail.

Israel Starts Building Fence along Lebanese Border
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/Tel Aviv – The Israeli Defense Ministry is set to soon start building a new fence along the Lebanese border to prevent any threat caused by the “infiltration of armed militants”. The decision came when Tel Aviv discovered a week ago a Lebanese young man in the Kiryat Shmona town after he infiltrated it through the border and walk several kilometers inside Israeli territories. The man was arrested and interrogated, but later transferred back to Lebanon via the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for being mentally ill.Later, Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot established an internal investigation committee to investigate the incident. The committee found a big failure in the current fence and in the performance of Israeli soldiers responsible for monitoring the area. Disciplinary measures were later taken against those linked to the incident. Israeli officials also reached a conclusion that despite the presence of a barbed wire fence, modern cameras, electronic alarm equipment, tunnels and water barriers, there are still weak points along the border that require urgent actions. In the next days, a new and upgraded security wall is to be erected along the border with Lebanon, similar to the wall along Israel’s border with Egypt, a 30-kilometer stretch from its southeastern border with Jordan, and in the occupied Golan Heights border with Syria. The six-meter-high barrier between Israel and Lebanon will cost around 100 million shekels ($28 million). It will be erected in two segments, the first near Ras al-Naqoura and the second near Metula, an Israeli community adjacent to the border. Meanwhile, Israeli military sources said that Israel does not expect a war with Lebanon in the near future. However, it does not rule out that the situation between the two sides could deteriorate suddenly. Moreover, the Israeli Army announced on Monday a four-day exercise depicting a scenario in which war erupts simultaneously with Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” and Iranian-backed forces in the Golan Heights.

Hezbollah-Mashnouq Dispute Erupts after Residents Return to Lebanon’s al-Tufail
Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/Beirut – The issue of the border town of al-Tufail came back into the spotlight in Lebanon after “Hezbollah” took the decision for the residents to go back to their homes. The decision was made after the militant group completed its operation to seize control of the surrounding towns on the Syrian side of the border, in the al-Qalamoun region.The development sparked a dispute with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, who had informed head of the Islamic authority Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek that the return of the residents should take place in coordination with security forces. The minister denied the issue, saying that the “ministry and its agencies did not cooperate with ‘Hezbollah’ or any other political or security side.”The Interior Ministry distanced itself from Yazbek’s statements, saying that “it knows its national and security responsibilities and know how to practice them.”Mashnouq stressed however that the residents have the right to return to their town “under the protection and supervision of the state should the conditions for their safe return be available.”Meanwhile, Mufti of the eastern Bekaa region Bakr al-Rifai, who is following up on the al-Tufail issue, stressed the need to tackle the case away from politics. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Coordination with ‘Hezbollah’ has been imposed on us due to the nature of the region and the location of the town on the border with Syria and in areas controlled by the party.”
“Is the Lebanese state prepared to coordinate with the Syrian regime to protect the residents of al-Tufail if they returned to the town that also passes through the town of Brital, which is also under the party’s influence?” he asked. “At this point, we obtained a guarantee from ‘Hezbollah’ that the residents will be able to return without being harassed. They also received guarantees that they will be able to return to their homes without being targeted by the Syrian regime forces,” explained al-Rifai. He revealed the return of the residents is being coordinated by the Lebanese army, especially since many of them own cars with Syrian license plates. The situation has created confusion among al-Tufail’s locals, who despite having waited three years to return to their home after “Hezbollah” entered it, will wait how developments will unfold before taking the decision to make a final return to their town. A resident, Abdul Nasser Daqo told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is likely that the men will first head to the town to check on their property. Once the situation is clear, women and children will be asked to follow. “There is no doubt that we are afraid to return. Who guarantees our lives? We are on the border with the Syrian regime and therefore can be arrested at any moment,” he said.
“We will return no matter the price. We have been displaced from our land for three years and our houses have been occupied. We were forced to take our children out of schools in order to later find out that our land and crops have fallen in the hands of strangers,” Daqo added. Al-Tufail had in 2014 been emptied of its residents in wake of battles that erupted between “Hezbollah” and Syrian opposition factions. The group soon entered the town, which saw the displacement of hundreds of Lebanese and Syrian families that have been living there for dozens of years. Some 12 families decided to stay, including Daqo’s brother.“My brother, his wife and two girls decided to remain, while we brought with us to Lebanon his two sons,” he explained. Al-Tufail mayor Ali al-Shoum told Asharq Al-Awsat that he received information that indicates that the Lebanese army will enter the town for the first time after “Hezbollah” members leave it towards their positions on the outskirts of the area. “The party informed us that all who want to return can do so,” he added, predicting that the return of the residents will take place in phases, especially after the end of the academic year. The return will include Syrian families as well. There are about 4,200 Lebanese who hail from al-Tufail, but many of them left it years ago. Syrian families have taken their place, said the mayor. Al-Tufail is located in the eastern most outskirts of Lebanon’s eastern mountain range that borders Syria. Al-Tufail can be clearly seen as “finger” that extends into Syria and disputes had erupted between Beirut and Damascus over it until it was officially included as part of Lebanon in 1925 even though it still suffers from the neglect of the Lebanese state. It residents even lead more of a “Syrian life” than a Lebanese one.
In April 2014, Lebanese security agencies entered al-Tufail for the first time since Lebanon’s independence. The agencies at the time had delivered aid to families that were under siege for three months by Syrian regime forces and “Hezbollah”.

Yemeni Pro-Government Forces Spot 16 Hezbollah Militants in Tihama
Sa'ed Al-Abyadh/Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/Jeddah- Yemen’s Popular Resistance, made up of tribesmen backing the government, sent reconnaissance information on 16 Hezbollah militants, among which are three Iranian nationals, present in the Red Sea coastal plain of Arabia. ntelligence was handed over to the military command present in the fifth zone. The 16 militants have been located within Tihama province between Hodeidah and Hajjah, as well as militias’ headquarters in all governorates. In a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, Deputy Governor of Hajjah Nasser Daqin, tasked with supporting the popular resistance in Tihama, said pro-government tribesmen have registered the presence of 16 foreign militiamen and reported to respective authorities immediately. After locations and logistics of the militiamen were verified, tribesmen swiftly cooperated with military present in the area to tackle the threat as soon as possible. Despite persistent attempts by the militias, pressured by army advancement on several axes, to flee the region toward Sanaa, they failed because main ports inside Tihama are controlled and secured by Arab coalition forces, Daqin added. Multiple factors prompt militias to flee urgently, one of which is the rapid progress made by national army troops supported by Arab coalition aircraft. Efforts carried out by local popular resistance members are also one of the key factors. At least 16 senior militia commanders have been killed as a result of these efforts. Popular Resistance members diligently track Houthi militiamen movements, providing valuable intelligence prior to operation launch. Tribesmen have turned over the tables in terms of direct confrontation with militias, and have provided information which caused heavy losses among Houthi ranks in the past three months. Some 232 operations have been a success all thanks to intelligence afforded and gathered by Popular Resistance members. Abovementioned operations neutralized 400 regional militia targets. Losses have further pressured Houthi leaders to order militias present in Tihama to exit. Yemen’s war has pitted pro-government forces against Iran-aligned Houthi insurgents and their allies, troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to help the government retake the capital Sanaa.

Hariri to Propose ‘Salvation’ Initiative to Resolve Lebanon’s Electoral Law Crisis
Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/Beirut – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to propose before a ministerial panel aimed at tackling a new parliamentary electoral law a “salvation” initiative that would resolve the dispute over the issue. Mustqabal Movement MP Oqab Saqr told Asharq Al-Awsat that the initiative is a “national draft law that takes into consideration all the parties and members of civil society.” It also caters to all sectarian concerns without actually being a sectarian draft law, he explained. “This proposal is the last chance after all other draft laws were rejected in the past,” he added. Hariri waited for all parties to submit what they had and he has “positively dealt with them without vetoing anything,” continued the MP. Officials were however informed that he will “preempt” the May 15 parliamentary session in an attempt to end the protracted crisis over the electoral law, said Saqr.
The dispute over the law has led Lebanon’s parliament to twice extend its term amid popular opposition. The extension has twice led to the postponement of parliamentary elections, which were last held in 2009. Saqr refused to reveal the details of Hariri’s draft law proposal or whether it is based on the hybrid system or the proportional one. He stressed the need for the law to “take the natural course of being submitted before the ministerial panel and later the concerned leaderships.” “This is not a publicity stunt, but a centrist and final solution that takes into consideration the observations of all parties that were made on other proposals,” he clarified. “If this draft law is not approved, then it will be clear that there is no intention to adopt a new electoral law. We therefore will no longer be able to deal with the political powers rationally because Hariri made concessions that no other camp made,” he stated.

PM Says Negative Atmospheres Don't Set Grounds for Agreement
Naharnet/May 09/17/President Michel Aoun held talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday at the Baabda Palace, where talks focused on the controversial electoral law on the eve of a cabinet meeting scheduled the next day, and ahead of a ministerial committee meeting in the afternoon. “Negative atmospheres can not help establish the grounds for an agreement on an election law,” stressed Hariri, pointing out that he would consider his government “unsuccessful” shall it fail at devising a new law. The PM said the Lebanese citizens are tired of the talk about elections, and all they want is a proper electoral law and public services that include “electricity, water and hospitals. They do not want to listen anymore to those who threaten of vacuum.”Hariri said coordination between political parties must be improved and that settlement must be made in order to reach an agreement on a law to rule the upcoming polls. Asked whether the cabinet will vote on a voting system, he said :”The principle of voting already exists in the cabinet, but when it comes to an electoral law we need consensus.”

Hariri: North Lebanon Has Strategic Future Role in Boosting Lebanon's Economy
Naharnet/May 09/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed on Tuesday that it is necessary to develop solutions, projects and programs to address problems in the country, pointing out that the northern city of Tripoli “has a historic opportunity ahead that we won't allow anyone to spoil.”Hariri's comments came at the opening of the Development Conference in Tripoli at the Grand Serial, organized by the Safadi Foundation under the title “From Tripoli to all of Lebanon - Progress and Development". “Tripoli that was oppressed in recent years due to deliberate rounds of fighting and tensions, and to the distortion of its open, educated and moderate image, has a historic opportunity and we will not allow anyone to spoil it,” said Hariri. “This is why we are working to complete infrastructure projects, roads and highways to the west and east. Efforts are continuing to launch the Rene Mouawad Airport, the railway in the north and the special economic zone, develop the port and activate the fair and the Lebanese University complex.”The PM added: “All this work is based on a strategic vision for Tripoli’s coming role in the reconstruction of Syria and Iraq. I am convinced that at some point Tripoli and the North will be leverage for the whole Lebanese economy and development in Lebanon, especially in the north and all the disadvantaged areas.Hariri stressed that the main goal is to “provide job opportunities namely for the youth,” pointing out that Tripoli will continue to symbolize moderation.

Report: Hariri Has No 'Rescue Initiative' for Electoral Stalemate
Naharnet/May 09/17/A ministerial committee tasked with studying a new electoral law for the parliamentary elections will convene on Tuesday, amid reports denying that Prime Minister Saad Hariri has a “rescue initiative” up his sleeve, al-Joumhouria daily reported.
The daily said the overall picture is pessimistic, unless a promising outcome emerges from the committee meeting which will be chaired by Hariri at the Grand Serail and will discuss a voting system draft. The daily said it was remarkable in the past few hours how some reports emerged about a “rescue initiative” that Hariri plans to take. But sources close to the PM denied the reports. However they pointed out to his continuous endeavors with various political parties in order to “dispel the tension.”Hariri is counting on a fruitful meeting of the committee that would breach the electoral deadlock. He made intensive consultations one of which was a meeting between Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and the PM's political aide Nader Hariri. Ministerial sources told the daily “although today's committee meeting is crucial but high hopes can not be pinned. We can not be optimistic. The meeting is important but most importantly it should be productive. We hope that Hariri will have something to propose. We open to discussion until we reach consensus.”

Berri Says Tenders Passed Outside CIB are 'Suspicious'
Naharnet/May 09/17/Nabih Berri indirectly described a tender to lease power generating vessels launched by Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil as “suspicious.” “A tender to lease power-generating vessels brings gains to pockets,” LBCI quoted the Speaker as saying. Berri continued to say that any “bid and tender that does not pass through the Tender Department of the Central Inspection Bureau is considered suspicious.”Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil held a tender for power-generating contracts at the Energy Ministry on Monday. Abi Khalil had stressed the “legality” of the tender and said “public institutions need not launch tenders at the CIB.”“The tender is perfectly legal and is carried out in accordance with a book of conditions prepared by the government of (former) PM Najib Miqati,” he had said.
A total of eight interested companies have participated in the bidding process.

Landmine Maims Syrian Boy in Southern Border Town
Naharnet/May 09/17/A Syrian boy lost his legs and one of his hands in a landmine explosion Monday in the southern border town of Yaroun, Lebanon's National News Agency reported. The boy was working with his parents in a tobacco field, NNA said. He was taken to the Bint Jbeil state-run hospital where he underwent several surgeries.

LF Slams FPM Minister's Power Plan Conduct, Says Disagreement Won't Harm Ties
Naharnet/May 09/17/The ministers of the Lebanese Forces on Tuesday criticized the conduct of Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil of the Free Patriotic Movement in the electricity plan that he has proposed, while noting that the disagreement over the file will not affect the political alliance with the FPM. In a joint press conference, LF ministers Ghassan Hasbani, Pierre Bou Assi, Melhem Riachi and Michel Pharaon stressed the need to “respect the decisions of the council of ministers and to return to it during every phase of the electricity plan phases.”Stressing that they will take “the necessary steps inside and outside Cabinet to put things on the right track,” the ministers said their opposition to their ally's conduct is aimed at “preserving public funds and supporting the rise of the state of law and institutions that this new presidential tenure had promised upon its commencement.”Hasbani noted that the Cabinet had taken “a clear decision tasking the energy and water minister with taking the necessary measures, calling for bids, preparing the public tenders and briefing the Cabinet on all the stages in line with the applicable laws and regulations.”But Abi Khalil “did not submit any book of terms to Cabinet and instead endorsed an amended book of terms that had been approved by a previous government, under which a public tender marred by several legal and procedural flaws has been organized,” Hasbani said. He emphasized that the call for bids “did not conform to the legal norms – neither through the Public Procurement Administration nor according to the public audit law nor through the Electricité du Liban firm.”“We insist on diversifying the options in the book of terms in order to seek the best solutions in terms of cost, speed of implementation, transparency, the applicable laws, and environmental priorities,” Hasbani added. Minister Riachi for his part said: “We are partners in this presidential tenure and allies with the FPM and the electricity file is purely technical.”

Aoun calls for election law that secures fairness, equity
Tue 09 May 2017/NNA - President of the Republic Michel Aoun categorically stressed that he seeks an election law that restores utmost rights to the Lebanese citizens, saying the vote law issue is not a sectarian matter. "We back an election law that secures fairness and equity," President Aoun said during his meeting with his visitors at the Baabda palace on Tuesday, stressing that the new vote law should not secure gains for one side at the expense of the other. The President stressed the need for devising a proportional law with restrains, including qualification that secures the arrival of qualified candidates who best represent their communities. "We are open to any format that in fact guarantees the realization of these goals," Aoun remarked.On the other hand, in the wake of his meeting with President Aoun at Baabda on Tuesday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri relayed the President's rejection of vacuum saying "he is seeking to find solutions in the country."Hariri also pointed out the existence of agreement over 95% on proposed matters, stressing the dire need to avoid negative atmospheres in the country. Premier Hariri arrived at Baabda palace this afternoon, where he held talks with the President over an array of hour issues on the domestic arena.

LF ministers hold press conference on electricity plan: We will take necessary measures to guarantee respect of laws in force
Tue 09 May 2017/NNA - The Lebanese Forces ministers announced on Tuesday that they will take the necessary measures at the cabinet and elsewhere to rectify the electricity plan in order to preserve public funds and pave the way for the rule of law. Minister of Public Health, Ghassan Hasbani, Minister of State, Michel Pharaon, Social Affairs Minister, Pierre Bou Assi and Information Minister, Melhem Riachi, held a joint press conference at the Ministry of Information whereby they revealed their "remarks on the solicitation of tenders in the electricity plan file, contrary to the government's decision and the rules."Information Minister Melhem Riachy said the LF was a partner of the presidential mandate and an ally of the Free Patriotic Movement. According to his remarks, the LF's comments concerning the electricity plan were technical par excellence.Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani spoke on behalf of his colleagues, expressing his party's commitment to the success of the government and the presidential mandate in the reconstruction of the State of institutions and the instilment of trust in State institutions. He also stressed the Lebanese Forces keenness on respecting the Constitution, the laws in force, the institutions and their transparency. "During the discussions on the Budget, we realized that the electricity sector had caused the State losses that have accumulated over the years to exceed $20 billion, hence a large share of the public debt. No solutions have been found over the past years, however," he said.
The minister added that "the LF has called for a final resolution of this crisis, urging the cabinet to reduce the budget deficit and provide electricity supply by the least cost and at the soonest possible." Hasbani explained that the tendering operation in the context of the electricity plan was launched contrary to the decision of the Council of Ministers and the laws in force. According to his comments, the book of conditions was not submitted to the government, and the tender was not in conformity with the laws to the extent that it did not take place through the Auctions Bureau, neither according to the Public Accounts Act, nor via the EDL. He added that the remarks made several times by the LF ministers in messages addressed to the Prime Minister were not taken into account. "First and foremost, we call for the respect of the cabinet's decisions, and we underline the need to return to them at all stages of the electricity plan. (...) We also call for widening the scope of choices within the book of conditions to have better solutions in terms of cost, speed, execution and transparency. We also want the laws in force to be respected, while taking into consideration the ecological priorities," said Hasbani. Lastly, he highlighted the commitment of the LF ministers to the application of the Public Accounts Act during auctions and calls for tenders, recalling the effectiveness of this measure in the Airport Duty Free tenders.

Riachy, Makdessi launch COPEAM Conference

Tue 09 May 2017/NNA - Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, and Tele Liban CEO, Talal Makdessi, held a joint press conference at the ministry on Tuesday to announce the launching of the Permanent Conference of Audiovisual Mediterranean Operators (COPEAM) scheduled for 12 and 13 May. Minister Riachy said he will have the honor of representing the President of the Republic of Lebanon at the conference, during which media issues in the Mediterranean countries will be discussed. "We are pleased with the holding of this conference in Lebanon; a country similar in strategic choices, deep policies and pluralistic components to the Mediterranean area, its parties and its factions," the minister added. He finally wished success for the conference, especially in promoting the concepts of acceptance of the other and the rejection of hatred. For his part, Makdessi thanked the Ministry of Information "whose name will shortly be that of communication". He said the COPEAM conference will bring together media representatives from 27 Mediterranean countries to discuss issues related to the information sector, including the disbursement of political money, narrow interests and respect for the deontology of the profession.

Kenaan after Change and Reform bloc meeting: Qualification law adopted in more than one country
Tue 09 May 2017/NNA - "Change and Reform" bloc MP Ibrahim Kenaan stressed the dire need for realizing a new election law, indicating that the sole vote law enjoying acceptance and approval is the currently proposed qualification law. "National coexistence is neither a motto nor a banner," MP Kenaan said in the wake of Change and Reform bloc weekly meeting on Tuesday, ruling out that the qualification vote law is divisive or discordant. "The qualification vote law is adopted in more than one country," the Lawmaker said, indicating that such a law is not the one which produced sectarianism in the country.
On the other hand, Kenaan wondered about all the turmoil moved up in the issue of electricity, stressing that the coming days shall prove the Bloc and FPM's keenness on reforms."We are the advocates of reform project," Kenaan remarked.

Hariri chairs meeting of ministerial panel tasked with devising vote draft law
Tue 09 May 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hariri chaired on Tuesday evening at the Grand Serail the meeting of the ministerial panel in charge of studying election draft law. The meeting took place in the presence of Ministers: Youssef Fenianos, Ghattas Khoury, Talal Arslan, Ayman Choucair, Ali Hassan Khalil, Gebran Bassil and Pierre Abu Assi. On emerging, Minister Khalil described the general atmosphere that prevailed during discussions was "positive."Minister Arsaln, in turn, said the meeting was marked by openness and the need by all sides to make concessions for the sake of enacting a new vote law.
Minister Bou Assi highlighted the dire need to alleviate certain concerns under the three unyielding constants: No for 1960 vote law, No for Parliament term extension and No to vacuum.Minister Choucair, for his part, pointed out the presence of genuine determination by all sides to reach a solution on the election vote law issue.Minister Hajj Hassan deemed today's session as "positive" with no specific law format taken up during discussions.

Jumblatt, Chilean Ambassador tackle current developments
Tue 09 May 2017/NNA - Democratic Gathering head MP Walid Jumblatt met on Tuesday at his Clemenceau residence with Chilean Ambassador Marta Chalhoub, with talks reportedly touching on most recent developments in Lebanon and the broader region.

Hajj Hassan, Khoury target drop in import, export growth of $2 billion
Tue 09 May 2017/NNA - Industry Minister, Hussein Hajj Hassan, and Economy Minister, Raëd Khoury, announced that their target for the next two years would be a drop in the volume of imports and an increase in exports of two billion dollars. The Lebanese Industrialists Association on Tuesday sounded an "industrial alarm", urging the State to "take a salvation action and put an end to the illegal competition by Syrian refugees."Hajj Hassan made the decision to ask the security forces "to close all unlicensed factories in Bekaa". Khoury said a crisis cell has been formed to protect the institutions.
"This cell will hold periodic meetings to review the proposals and mechanisms needed to support the industry," he said.

Aridi: In case of disagreement on new electoral law we will opt for 1960
Tue 09 May 2017/NNA - Progressive Socialist Party deputy Ghazi Aridi said on Tuesday that in the event of disagreement over a new electoral law, the ballot will be held in accordance with the 1960 law. "Accordingly, we will respect the Constitution and the laws," he said in an interview with the Orient Radio. "We are in the final stage before consensus, despite complications, intimidation, maneuvers, tactics and attempts to lobby for certain ideas or draft electoral laws," he added.

Jumblatt says Aoun, Hariri have 'stumbled'
The Daily Star/May 09/17
BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt described Speaker Nabih Berri as his "only ally," saying that major issues have caused President Michel Aoun to “stumble.”"Speaker Berri is my ally ... he is still my ally, and my only ally," Jumblatt said in a lengthy interview with Al-Akhbar newspaper, published Tuesday.Jumblatt said that Aoun’s administration is pushing Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil's sectarian-based two-stage “qualification” vote law proposal. Berri and Jumblatt have rejected Bassil’s proposal, warning that it would deepen sectarian divisions in the country. When asked if the government has made any progress since the election of President Michel Aoun in October and the formation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Cabinet, Jumblatt said: "Not at all." "He [President Aoun] carried the slogan of combating corruption, but he didn't combat any corruption and will not be able to," he said. He accused Aoun of using "an arrogant" approach with rivals, "which will not be fruitful.""I don't differentiate between the president and the Cabinet," the PSP chief said, when asked if Hariri was included in his statement. He added that he had agreed on the election of Aoun to end more than two-and-a-half years of presidential vacuum."We said let's start, but the beginning was stumbling.""It's not a personal issue. Some matters are [not working]. There's a term and a system [that don't fit]. They swamped themselves with headlines bigger than themselves and refused to back down," Jumblatt said. The PSP chief described his relationship with PM Hariri as neutral. "He has chosen a certain path that we haven't been used to. So I decided to step back. Contacts happen every once in a while."
Electoral Law Division
Despite the gloomy division between rivals over the country's new vote law, Jumblatt called on the Lebanese Forces to play a role with its allies and convince the Free Patriotic Movement to accept new ideas. "Our priority with the LF is [acquiring] unity in [Mount Lebanon] and affirming reconciliation ... and the qualification proposal blasts this path." He concurred that there are new political affiliations that have aligned him with Hezbollah, LF and Amal Movement - led by Berri - and placed the Future Movement and the FPM together. “We need to agree on an idea that unites us." Jumblatt stressed that the Parliament's tenure would not be extended. "There's a clear thing called the 1960 majoritarian vote law. A technical extension could occur if we agree on a vote law based on proportionality for the Parliament and [the establishment of] a Senate ahead of May 15." He said that the "technical" extension would last until October.
Parliament has extended its term twice since 2013. Jumblatt added that the Cabinet would not vote on the electoral system. "It's a Constitutional matter. We have agreed to reach consensus." In an unexpected move during last week’s Cabinet session at Baabda Palace, President Aoun said he supported voting on an electoral law in the absence of an agreement in order to avoid a vacuum in Parliament. Speaker Nabih Berri and Jumblatt staunchly opposed the move, and called for an agreement on this sensitive issue. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has also cautioned against resorting to a vote on an electoral law. Jumblatt reiterated that the Senate should be led by a Druze. The 1989 Taif Accord stipulates the establishment of a Senate. The common assumption is that it should be headed by a Druze. Jumblatt told Al-Akhbar that if rivals fail to reach an agreement soon, "they would end up in a futile game that would have negative repercussions on Lebanon's economy." Politicians are still scrambling to agree on a new vote law. Despite the lingering differences over the number and size of electoral constituencies, the main political parties are in agreement that proportionality should be the core of any vote law to replace the disputed 1960 majoritarian system used in the last parliamentary elections in 2009. On April 15, Parliament was set to discuss a proposal to extend MP's terms. However, President Aoun used his prerogatives based on Article 59 of the constitution to suspend the Parliament’s session once for a period of a month to grant parties a final chance before the legislative session on May 15. Aoun has rejected the extension of terms and propositions of vacuum in Parliament. Parliamentary elections were originally scheduled to take place between May 21 and June 21, yet political deadlock is expected to delay elections beyond June.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 09-10/17
Major Evacuation of Fighters, Civilians since Beginning of War in Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/London – During the years of the Syrian war that erupted in 2011 as many areas were besieged by all conflict parties, the country has witnessed several evacuations involving tens of thousands of civilians and fighters, especially from the strongholds of the opposition factions. The Syrian regime has always praised the reconciliation agreements, which usually come after a military escalation and end with the departure of the opposition fighters from areas they controlled before the regime’s forces took over. The United Nations has criticized these operations, which the Syrian opposition regards as “forced displacement” and accuses the regime of seeking “demographic change” in the country.Following are the highlights of the most prominent evacuations as reported in an AFP report: -Syrian rebels and their families started to leave Barzeh district in Damascus on Monday in the first evacuation process of opposition factions from the Syrian capital since the eruption of the conflict more than six years ago. Damascus governor told the Syrian national television that a first wave of 1,022 people, including 568 fighters and their families, left the district. – In April, and for the first time since 2015, an estimated 11,000 fighters and civilians left besieged Kufraya and al-Fuaa in the first two convoys the same month. In return, 3,900 fighters and civilians from Madaya and Zabadani in Outer Damascus left for rebel-held Idlib province.The first phase of the operation concluded on April 21, followed by a second phase scheduled for June. -Syrian opposition faction fighters agreed to leave their stronghold in Homs, Syria’s third largest city, in May 2014, to limit their presence to al-Waar district.This deal was the first of its kind between the regime and the opposition faction fighters, and it stipulates their withdrawal from the beginning of the conflict in March 2011. It was negotiated between the United Nations and the Syrian government. In 2016, dozens of fighters left Waar district in three phases under the virtue of another deal that was concluded in December 2015 under the auspices of the UN, yet the implementation of its provisions was not completed. Mid-March 2016, opposition factions’ fighters also started leaving the district, which was the last area under their control, in implementation of an agreement sponsored by Russia, and the phased completion would allow the Syrian army to control the entire city.

Washington Looks at ‘Devil in Details’ of Syria’s ‘De-escalation Zones’
Paula Astih/Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/Beirut, New York – While the United Nations announced holding a new round of inter-Syrian talks in Geneva next Tuesday, Russia faced on Monday Western opposition against a draft resolution presented to the Security Council in support of the “de-escalation zones” in Syria. The Russian-sponsored draft resolution seeks to internationalize the protocol signed with Iran and Turkey last Thursday, but the US said it would take a close look at the “devil in the details” to see if the proposal can work. Western diplomats expressed their reservations to the Russian-sponsored draft resolution, considering it was still early to pass it before agreeing on the final arrangements related to the suggested safe zones. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Monday his country would closely examine the “de-escalation zones” proposal, warning that “the devil is always in the details.” Mattis said: “So we have to look at the details, see if we can work them out, see if we think they’re going to be effective.”Last week, Russia, Turkey and Iran signed during the Astana talks on a Syrian settlement a memorandum to establish four safe zones in the country. The memorandum entered into force on Friday. Meanwhile, in Damascus, buses carried on Monday more than 1,000 residents, including opposition fighters and their families, from the Barzeh neighborhood to the Idlib province, northern Syria. Rami Abdul Rahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Asharq Al-Awsat that around 1,100 people left the Barzeh neighborhood on Monday. Abdul Rahman expected that in the coming days, the final number would reach 8,000, including fighters and civilians. He also said that at a later stage, the Syrian regime’s plan to expatriate residents could reach the nearby al-Qaboun neighborhood, where regime forces escalated their military operations ahead of pushing opposition factions to sign a new truce.Abdul Rahman said the regime currently plans to empty the capital from any force that rejects to sign a truce, in preparation to devoting themselves to fighting ISIS militants in the camp of Yarmouk and in Hajar al-Aswad.

ISIS releases video showing ‘Russian officer beheaded in Syria’
Reuters, Dubai Tuesday, 9 May 2017/ISIS has issued a video showing the beheading of what it described as a Russian intelligence officer captured in Syria, the US-based SITE monitoring website reported on Tuesday. The Russian Defense Ministry and the FSB security service were not immediately available for comment. The 12-minute Russian-language video, released on the day Russia celebrates the anniversary of the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany with military parades, showed the man dressed in a black jump suit kneeling in a desert scene and urging other Russian agents to surrender. "This idiot believed the promises of his state not to abandon him if he was captured," a narrator says in the recording, before a bearded man beheaded him with a knife. The authenticity of the recording and the identity of the man could not immediately be verified, nor was it clear when the killing occurred. Russian forces are backing Syrian President Bashar Assad in his war with rebels and militants seeking to oust him. The video showed scenes of what it described as the aftermath of Russian bombing raids in Syria. The Russian defense ministry says about 30 Russian servicemen have been killed since the start of the Kremlin's operation there in September 2015.

Next UN peace talks on Syrian conflict to start in Geneva next week
AFP, Geneva Tuesday, 9 May 2017/A new round of United Nations-backed peace talks for war-ravaged Syria is set to begin in Geneva next week, the office of the UN mediator said Monday. “Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura will reconvene the intra-Syrian talks under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva on 16 May 2017,” the UN said in a statement. The announcement comes days after regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey signed a deal in the Kazakh capital Astana to strengthen a ceasefire agreed upon last December by implementing “de-escalation zones” where the government and opposition will halt hostilities.De Mistura, who was in Astana as an observer, hailed that deal as “an important, promising, positive step in the right direction” toward de-escalation. On Monday, his office said the UN mediator hoped last week’s Astana agreement “will be implemented in full -- thus bringing about a significant de-escalation in violence, and helping shape an environment conducive to the political intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.” Years of diplomatic initiatives have failed to end Syria’s war, which has killed more than 320,000 and displaced millions since it started in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Numerous rounds of UN-backed peace negotiations in Geneva have fallen short of producing concrete results, although during the last round in March the sides finally got into some substance after spending previous rounds discussing the agenda for the talks. In accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254, they began discussing four separate “baskets” of issues, on governance, drafting a new constitution, elections and combating terrorism in the war-ravaged country. But with the sides remaining hopelessly deadlocked over the fate of Assad and violence on the ground, there were few signs of a breakthrough. In the round starting next week, and in subsequent rounds of talks, de Mistura “is looking forward to intensified work with invitees on the items on (the) agenda of the talks, within the context of the overall framework of relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolution 2254,” Monday’s statement said. “The Special Envoy continues to press strongly for the meaningful participation of women in the political process,” it added.
De Mistura will be briefing the UN Security Council on the talks “in the course of this month,” the statement said.

Russia’s Lavrov to visit Washington with Syria in sight
AFP, Washington Tuesday, 9 May 2017/US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet in Washington on Wednesday with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss issues including the conflict in Ukraine and how to end the war in Syria, the State Department said.
The department, in a statement on Monday, said the two men will talk about how to end fighting between Ukrainian troops and Russian backed separatist rebels. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after delivering remarks to the employees at the State Department in Washington, US. (File Photo: Reuters) It added that on Syria, Tillerson “intends to discuss efforts to de-escalate violence, provide humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, and set the stage for a political settlement of the conflict.”Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian foreign ministry had initially said the two diplomats would meet Wednesday or Thursday in Alaska on the sidelines of a summit on the arctic.But the meeting has now been moved to the US capital.

Riad Seif: Reforming National Coalition Is Priority

Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/Istanbul- Head of Syrian National Coalition Riad Seif said that reforming the coalition is a priority to him as a newly-elected president, noting that the Syrian National Coalition represents the Syrian opposition.
“My next plan is to direct the coalition back to its original role – On November 11 2012, it was formed to represent the leadership of the Syrian people in the liberated regions (from the regime), to mobilize all potentials to oust the regime and to provide the services and needs of Syrians in these regions,” Seif said during an interview with Anadolu Agency. He mentioned that “five days after the establishment of the coalition, friends of the Syrian people met in London and pledged to empower the coalition to play its essential role.”
Speaking of mechanisms he is willing to adopt, Seif said that “reform begins with the membership and structural aspects, as there has been a difficulty in accepting new members and canceling membership of those who have presented nothing to the coalition. For this, a mechanism must be put after these elections to restructure the coalition.” He added that the statute was an obstacle at many towns, hindering some reforms, in addition to task distribution and the system of accounting and monitoring. Seif pointed out that “one month ago, a committee was established and it established good ties with factions. Therefore, the coalition gained respect and appreciation from other parties, especially international ones.”“It is normal to form two divisions: a political and military. This is the case now in the High Negotiations Committee (HNC)… The coalition will put a program for the coming year to be on good terms with main factions,” he added. Commenting on the fate of head of Syrian regime Bashar Assad, Seif said that there is a consensus among opposition forces that Assad has no place in any transitional period.

King Salman Invites Arab Leaders to Participate in Arab, Islamic and US Summit

Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/Jeddah – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz sent messages to Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, Iraqi President Fuad Masum and King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco inviting them to attend the Arab, Islamic and US Summit to be hosted by Saudi Arabia. The message to Essebsi was delivered by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir during an audience at Gartaj palace in Tunis on Monday, stated the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).During the meeting, Jubeir conveyed the greetings of King Salman to the Tunisian president, government and people. In turn, the president sent his greetings to the Custodian, Saudi government and people. King Salman also sent King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco a message which included an invitation to attend the summit. The message was received by Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita during a meeting with Jubeir. During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest. Masum’s message was delivered by the Saudi Chargé d’Affaires to Iraq Abdulaziz al-Shammari to Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari during a meeting. The two officials also reviewed bilateral relations and ways of enhancing them. Essebsi’s message to the King was delivered by the Tunisian president’s representative in the Kingdom, Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, reported SPA. It was delivered during his meeting with King Salman at al-Salam Palace in Jeddah. The audience was attended by Minister of State Ibrahim bin al-Assaf, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar bin Obaid Madani and Tunisian Ambassador to the Kingdom Lotfi Ben Gaied. In other news, under the auspices of the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques, King Abdulaziz University (KAU) announced its annual exhibition “Prince Nayif’s Values Exhibition”. This exhibition is held annually in order to commemorate the late Prince Nayif’s pioneering role and the great contributions he made to Islam, Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.

Joint Operation Leads to ISIS Head in Afghanistan
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 09/17/ Reuters Kabul – The head of ISIS in Afghanistan was killed in an operation on April 27 conducted jointly by Afghan and US Special Forces in the eastern province of Nangarhar, US and Afghan officials said on Sunday. Abdul Hasib, appointed last year after his predecessor Hafiz Saeed Khan died in a US drone strike, is believed to have ordered a series of high profile attacks including one in March 8 on the main military hospital in Kabul, a statement said. The statement, following an earlier announcement by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said Hasib directed the March 8 attack on the main Kabul military hospital by a group of militants disguised as doctors. Dozens of medical staff and patients were killed in the attack. The local affiliate of ISIS, sometimes known as ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K), after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has been active since 2015, fighting Taliban and Afghan and US forces. In April, a Pentagon spokesman said Hasib had probably been killed during the raid by US and Afghan Special Forces in Nangarhar during which two US army Rangers were killed, but prior to Sunday’s announcement there had been no confirmation.
“This successful joint operation is another important step in our relentless campaign to defeat ISIS-K in 2017,” top US Commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said in a statement from US military headquarters in Kabul. The US military statement said 35 ISIS militants and several high ranking commanders were killed in the April 27 raid. US and Afghan special forces, backed by drone strikes and other air support, have waged a series of operations against ISIS-K since March, killing dozens of their militants, mainly in Nangarhar, on the border with Pakistan.Defeating the group remains one of the top US priorities in Afghanistan, and last month the United States dropped its largest non-nuclear device on a network of caves and tunnels used by ISIS in Nangarhar, killing 94 fighters, including four commanders.

Iraq: Asayish forces charged for expelling the displaced from Kirkuk
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Tuesday, 9 May 2017/Human Rights Watch accused authorities of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Kirkuk, of forcing the displaced Sunni Turkmen to leave the city and called on them to “stop annoying them.”The affected population said that the Asayish (Internal Security) forces of the Iraqi KRG had confiscated their identity cards, ration cards and abused them with the intention of forcing them to return to cities under the control of “Shiite units” under the Iraqi government’s popular staffing forces.Two days ago, the organization mentioned in the investigation that several citizens said that the Asayish forces arrested them arbitrarily for several hours and in some cases beat them to force them to leave the city.
Iraqi Kurdistan government denies
In a written response to Human Rights Watch’s investigation, a spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government denied giving the displaced a deadline to leave Kirkuk, which is a key city in so-called ‘disputed territories’ between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. He also denied that any religious or ethnic groups, including Turkmens, had faced any discrimination but said that, based on a decision by the local authorities, “refugees whose lands were liberated a few months or a year ago. Would be assisted to return to their original places of residence.”According to Human Rights Watch, after an attack by the state organization in Kirkuk on October 21, 2016, KRG authorities forced hundreds of displaced Arab Sunni families to leave the city. It is worth mentioning that, the Peshmerga forces control Kirkuk, with the exception of south-west of the province is still under the grip of ISIS.

German president: Moving toward Mideast deal ‘truly urgent’
The Associated Press, Ramallah Tuesday, 9 May 2017/Germany’s president says that it’s “truly urgent” to start moving toward a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke in the West Bank on Tuesday, after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Steinmeier says much time has already been spent on efforts to set up a state of Palestine alongside Israel. He says that “in our view there is no other solution,” and that “it’s high time to work on the requirements for it.”Abbas met last week with President Donald Trump who has promised to try to broker an elusive deal. Trump is visiting the Holy Land later this month.Abbas said in an interview Monday that Trump gave him the impression that “he wanted to do something quickly, in a year more or less.”

Pakistan summons Iranian ambassador over recent threats
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Tuesday, 9 May 2017/The Pakistani foreign ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador on Tuesday over recent, threatening statements made by the head of the Iranian armed forces regarding striking Pakistan to confront militants, local media reported. “We cannot accept the continuation of this situation,” Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the head of the Iranian armed forces was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA. “We expect the Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists and shut down their bases.”“If the terrorist attacks continue, we will hit their safe havens and cells, wherever they are,” he said. Pakistan condemned the statements, stating that they were harming bilateral relations between the two bordering countries. The foreign ministry added that Iranian authorities must abstain from making such negative comments. Ten Iranian border guards were killed by militants last month. Iran said Jaish al Adl, a militant group, had shot the guards with long-range guns, fired from inside Pakistan. The border area has long been plagued by unrest from both drug smuggling gangs and separatist militants. (With Reuters)

UN: Nearly 250 missing and feared dead after two shipwrecks in Mediterranean
The Associated Press, Geneva Tuesday, 9 May 2017/UN agencies say up to 245 migrants and refugees are missing and feared dead following two recent shipwrecks of smugglers’ boats in the Mediterranean Sea. UNHCR says one of its partner agencies, the International Medical Corps, reported a shipwreck on Sunday off the Libyan coast in which 163 people are missing and feared dead. The UN agency said one woman and six men were rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard. The refugee agency also said some 82 people are missing and feared dead after a rubber dinghy carrying 132 people on Friday sank in the Mediterranean after several hours of sailing. Some 50 survivors were rescued and taken to Pozzallo, Sicily. The shipwrecks come as the weather warms and sea conditions are improving, which the UN says will only entice more smuggling boats to launch from lawless Libya. Many people who take the central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy are migrants from Africa seeking to flee from political persecution or find better economic opportunities in Europe. Overall, UNHCR said Tuesday that more than 1,300 people have disappeared and are believed to have died this year while crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy, and some 43,000 migrants and asylum-seekers reached Italy. The International Organization for Migration, the UN’s migration monitor, said separately that over 190 migrants lost their lives in the two shipwrecks. It estimated about 80 people died from the sinking of the dinghy off Italy, and at least 113 died following the shipwreck off the coast near Az Zawiyah, Libya. IOM said its Rome branch, meanwhile, was reporting operations to help 6,612 people rescued from a dozen locations off Italy since Friday. IOM spokesman Joel Millman feared the better weather is kicking off the Mediterranean’s traditional summer migration surge. “There is normally pent-up demand,” Millman said. “The summer tends to be very, very busy because sea conditions are better.” And in Spain on Tuesday, officials said about 300 migrants tried to scramble across the 6-meter (20-foot) border fence separating Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla from Morocco, with many throwing stones and other objects at police. Melilla’s Interior Ministry said most of the migrants were pushed back by Spanish and Moroccan police, but about 100 managed to enter the city. It said three officers and three migrants were treated for injuries.

Police slowly reopen Paris train station after security alert
Reuters Tuesday, 9 May 2017/Police gradually began reopening Paris' Gare du Nord train station early on Tuesday morning after earlier evacuating the platforms and cordoning off the area because of a security alert, local police authorities said. A Reuters witness at the scene said there were between 20 to 30 police vans outside the station in central Paris with security forces wearing balaclavas and carrying assault weapons. "End of security checks. Gradual return to normal," Paris police said in a tweet. Authorities gave no other details about the nature of the operation. Security has been stepped up across France because of Sunday's presidential runoff, which Emmanuel Macron won. Over the past two years, the country has been hit by a series of Islamist militant attacks in Paris and other cities in which more than 230 people have been killed.

Iran’s Rouhani tells conservative election rivals ‘your era is over’
AFP, Tehran Tuesday, 9 May 2017/Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani launched a scathing attack on his conservative election rivals on Monday, saying their era of “violence and extremism” was over. “The people of Iran shall once again announce that they don’t approve of those who only called for executions and jail throughout the last 38 years,” he told a packed stadium in the western city of Hamedan, referring to the Islamic revolution of 1979. “We’ve entered this election to tell those practicing violence and extremism that your era is over.”Rouhani faces a tough battle for re-election on May 19 as conservative opponents attack his failure to revive Iran’s stagnant economy. Iranian conservative presidential candidate  Analysts say his surprise victory in 2013 was largely down to his promise of improved civil liberties, and he has again made this a dominant theme of his campaign this year. “Your logic is prohibition and nothing else. Our young people have chosen the path of freedom,” he told his opponents. Rouhani raised an old threat, often levelled at hardliners, that they want to segregate men and women on public footpaths. “You don’t know them, I know them. They wanted to create segregated pavements the same way they issued a directive for sex segregation in their work place,” Rouhani said in a swipe against one of his main challengers, Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who reportedly tried to split the sexes in his city council offices. The allegation was dismissed by one of his opponents. “This ridiculous and repetitive accusation fools no one,” said leading conservative Alireza Zakani in a tweet. “By contrast, the economic wall between this government of money-makers and people’s empty plates is perfectly understood,” wrote Zakani.

Abbas Says is Ready to Meet Israel PM as Part of Trump Peace Efforts
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 09/17/Mahmud Abbas said Tuesday Donald Trump was expected to visit the Palestinian territories "soon" and that he was ready to meet Israel's prime minister as part of the US president's peace efforts. Trump is expected in Israel later this month as part of his first foreign trip and the Palestinian president said "we are looking forward to his visit soon to Bethlehem" in the occupied West Bank, with speculation it will occur on May 23."We told him that we were ready to collaborate with him and meet the Israeli PM (Benjamin Netanyahu) under his auspices to build peace," Abbas told reporters during talks with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Abbas met Trump in Washington last week for their first face-to-face talks. Trump announced last week that his first foreign trip as president will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican -- the spiritual centres of Islam, Judaism and Catholicism.The stop in Israel is expected on May 22, though it has not been officially confirmed. A senior Trump aide last week did not rule out the possibility of a presidential visit to the West Bank, but said that it was likely to be contingent on security and Abbas taking concrete steps toward peace. Trump has been seeking ways to restart moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. As he hosted Abbas in Washington, Trump confidently predicted that a peace agreement was within grasp, brushing aside the complexities of a decades-old conflict that has bedevilled successive US leaders.
- Embassy move -Abbas said Tuesday that "we told him again of our commitment to a peace based on justice, with international resolutions and the two-state solution as references." Trump has however sent mixed signals over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He backed away from the US commitment to the two-state solution -- Israel and an independent Palestinian state side-by-side -- when he met Netanyahu in February. He said he would support a single state if it led to peace, delighting Israeli right-wingers who want to see their country annex most of the occupied West Bank. Trump also vowed during his campaign to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem, a prospect that alarmed Palestinians but which has been put on the back burner for now. At the same time, he has urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world.One of Trump's top advisers, Jason Greenblatt, held wide-ranging talks with both Israelis and Palestinians during a visit in March.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 09-10/17
Erdogan's Crimes against Humanity/Turkey Bombs Yazidi Homeland
Uzay Bulut//Gatestone Institute/May 09/17
While Yazidis are still suffering from these atrocities, Turkey, evidently still no friend of non-Muslims, has attacked them yet again.
Turkish officials say they consider these groups "terrorists." The general staff of the Turkish armed forces issued a statement concerning the airstrikes, saying that "operations will continue until the terrorists have completely been eliminated."
"Denying the genocide is not only saying 'we didn't do it.' It's much, much worse.... It is declaring murderers as heroes. It is honoring the genocide's perpetrators... [and] saying to the grandchildren of genocide victims, 'Murderers of your grandfathers and grandmothers are our heroes; they did it well, God bless them. If necessary, we would do it again.'" — Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association, Commemoration of the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, April 24, 2017.
Just a few hours after the commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2017, Turkish warplanes dropped bombs on the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar (Shingal) on April 25, at around 2 AM local time, according to reports from the region.
The strikes reportedly killed at least 70 people in the area, with one bomb hitting a Kurdish peshmerga post in Sinjar, killing at least five and severely wounding several more.
Yazidis say they have been subjected to 72 genocidal massacres. The latest genocide, committed by ISIS, is the 73rd and is still going on. Tens of thousands of Yazidis have been displaced and are refugees in several countries. Hundreds of Yazidi girls and women are still bought, sold and raped by ISIS terrorists -- the same men who murdered their husbands and fathers.
While Yazidis are still suffering from these atrocities, Turkey, evidently still no friend of non-Muslims, has attacked them yet again.
On August 3, 2014, Islamic State terrorists invaded Sinjar, the homeland of the Yazidis in Iraq, and started slaughtering the Yazidis; many survivors fled up Mount Sinjar.
In his speech to the U.S. Congress, Mirza Ismail, founder and chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International, described the genocide in Sinjar and pled for help:
"The entire Yezidi population was displaced in less than one day on August 3, 2014! The Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians face this genocide together. Why? Because we are not Muslims, and because our path is the path of peace. For this, we are being burned alive. For living as men and women of peace."
The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking, non-Muslim minority indigenous to northern Mesopotamia, oppose violence. Their faith combines aspects of ancient Mesopotamian religions, including Zoroastrianism.
Fox News reported on the attack:
"The Yazidis of Mountain Shingal are terrified. They feel threatened and unsafe. They thought ISIS days were almost done and they can return to their villages and towns, but now they face a bigger problem," Yakhi Hamza, country director of the 1st New Allied Expeditionary Force, a humanitarian nonprofit delivering medical help to the most vulnerable Yazidis.
"The strikes hit the only civilian clinic on the Mountain Shingal," Hamza said. "The clinic was run by a volunteer, Dr. Khansa, who was selflessly serving displaced Yazidi community on the mountain from Day One."
Before being bombed the clinic... was a makeshift room with six beds and a handful of medications run by a 36-year-old woman the locals lovingly call "Hero Doctor Khansa."
In the face of ISIS attacks, Yazidis formed defense forces.[1]
Turkish officials apparently consider these groups "terrorists." The general staff of the Turkish armed forces issued a statement concerning the airstrikes, saying "operations will continue until the terrorists have completely been eliminated."
In 1915, up to 1.5 million Armenians were expelled from their native lands in Ottoman Turkey. Not only Armenians were targeted. Between 1914 and 1923, Assyrian and Greek Christians were also massacred, according to a report by the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS). The report described the situation as "a state-organized and state-sponsored campaign of destruction and genocide, aiming at wiping out from the emerging Turkish Republic its native Christian populations."
During the Armenian genocide, Yazidis, as well as Christians, were targeted. "To this day," writes professor Israel Charney in the report, "the Turkish government ostensibly denies having committed this genocide." Actually, Turkey not only denies the genocide, but also honors the perpetrators.
Talaat Pasha, Enver Pasha and Djemal Pasha, known as "the three Pashas," were the senior officials who ruled the Ottoman Empire during World War I. They were also the masterminds behind the Armenian Genocide. Their names, as well as the names of other officials who were responsible for the genocide, are still bestowed on many schools, neighborhoods and streets across Turkey.
In 1915, up to 1.5 million Armenians were expelled from their native lands in Ottoman Turkey. Not only Armenians were targeted. Between 1914 and 1923, Assyrian and Greek Christians were also massacred, according to a report by the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Pictured above: Armenian civilians, escorted by Ottoman soldiers, marched through Harput to a prison in nearby Mezireh (present-day Elazig), April 1915. (Image source: American Red Cross/Wikimedia Commons)
On April 24, the Committee Against Racism and Discrimination of the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) held a commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in front of the Turkish-Islamic Arts Museum, a former prison where Armenian intellectuals were held prior to deportation.
Its statement read, in part: "Denying the genocide is not only saying 'we didn't do it.' It's much, much worse. It is inflicting the genocide to the grandchildren of its victims every day, again and again with countless tiny little details of daily life. It is declaring murderers as heroes. It is honoring the genocide's perpetrators... [and] saying to the grandchildren of genocide victims, 'Murderers of your grandfathers and grandmothers are our heroes; they did it well, God bless them. If necessary, we would do it again.'"
According to Professor Gregory H. Stanton, president of Genocide Watch:
"Studies by genocide scholars prove that the single best predictor of future genocide is denial of a past genocide coupled with impunity for its perpetrators. Genocide Deniers are three times more likely to commit genocide again than other governments."
Meanwhile, in a recent speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to Turkey's military operations in Iraq and Syria:
"It has now been revealed who acts in obedience to foreign forces and who acts in obedience to Allah.... We are determined to root out traitor gangs completely while we will also never forget that the Muslims cannot be bitten on the same wound over and over again."
Turkey did not bomb Sinjar when ISIS attacked and invaded the region in 2014. Turkey also did not run to the rescue of Iraqi and Syrian Kurds when ISIS targeted them. Turkey, however, did bomb Sinjar after the region was liberated from ISIS, at a time when thousands of Yazidi civilians are still seeking shelter there.
Many Yazidi survivors of genocide still wish to return to their homeland. They request only infrastructure and international protection, after their homeland was largely destroyed by ISIS.
Matthew Karanian, the author of the 2015 book Historic Armenia After 100 Years, explained in his recent speech at Pasadena City College why Armenians are still fighting for recognition of their genocide. "The alternative," he said, "is a world in which crimes against humanity are committed with impunity, leaving the victims -- and the world -- forever at risk."
*Uzay Bulut, a journalist born and raised a Muslim in Turkey, is currently based in Washington D.C.
[1] The Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ), its all-women offshoot, the Ezidxan Women's Units (YJÊ), and the Protection Force of Sinjar (HPŞ) founded the all-Yazidi joint commando umbrella structure "Sinjar Alliance," and took part in the November 2015 Sinjar offensive against ISIS.
© 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.

Qatar needs to stop funding Islamists: Dennis Ross
Dennis Ross/USA Today/May 09/17
Qatar wants to have it both ways — have a U.S. base and fund Muslim Brotherhood.
President Trump is looking anew at American allies and partners. While saying he will preserve these relationships, he wants them to pay their fair share and uphold their side of the relationship. Whether it is South Korea or Saudi Arabia, they are subject to his calls for them to contribute more and defray our costs in deploying forces to defend them. Burden-sharing is not a new concept, but he is placing a premium on it.
It is an important measure, and it should be given greater weight, but it must also be kept in perspective. Consider that one country that would do well on this measure is Qatar. Qatar permitted us to build and operate a massive air base, al-Udeid, and has helped meet the costs of operation. From al-Udeid, the U.S. conducts all coalition air operations for the entire region — from Afghanistan to Syria. It is a critical base for protecting our national security interests in the Middle East, and viewed from this perspective alone, one might judge Qatar to be an American ally.
However, allies at a minimum share our interests, support our basic policies, and see common enemies. They don’t give support, especially material support, to those who threaten our interests and the interests and well-being of our friends and partners. By this measure, Qatar is most definitely not an ally. Few countries have done more to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, including its Palestinian offshoot Hamas, than Qatar. The actions of the Muslim Brotherhood may vary from country to country, but it rationalizes attacks against American forces and interests, rejects the very concept of peace with Israel, and promotes religious intolerance. During Pope Francis’s visit to Egypt, Samuel Tadros points out that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Alexandria account tweeted: “The Pope of Terrorism, he came to end what remains of Islam.”
That tweet is in keeping with the mindset and beliefs of the Brotherhood-affiliated preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who resides in Qatar and conveys his views on a weekly show on the network Al Jazeera. Qaradawi, who is anti-American and considers all attacks against Israeli civilians to be legitimate, is especially pernicious because his weekly guidance on how to live as a good Muslim has produced a large following in the region. Al Jazeera is subsidized by the government of Qatar and has long given a platform not just to Qaradawi, but to those who favor the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists more generally. True, it has others appear who argue against these views, but by legitimizing extremist, intolerant beliefs, giving them equal standing with others, and allowing their constant repetition, it lends credence to them.
Unfortunately, it is not only through the soft power of Al Jazeera that Qatar promotes radical Islamists. In both Libya and Syria, Qatar provided money and material not to the more secular forces but to the Islamist fighters. Indeed, when I was in the Obama administration in 2011 and we sought to get the Qataris to coordinate with us and to be transparent about where and to whom they were sending arms in Libya, we rarely got straight answers. And, consistently, we found that they sent weapons to the Islamist forces, the very militias we were opposed to getting arms. The same pattern has been followed in Syria.
How can one account for Qatar’s behavior? Qatar is a very small country that has ambitions to play a larger out-sized role in the region and beyond — and it has used it natural gas and oil wealth combined with a tiny population — to use its money to build influence. While some may say it has used its money to buy off Islamists so they will not cause a problem in Qatar, the Qataris prefer to present themselves as playing a bridge-building role between the Islamists and the West. That argument might be more convincing if there were any evidence that Qatar used its position to moderate the behavior of the Brotherhood or other radical Islamists. But there is no real sign of that.
Instead, what one sees is that Qatar appears to want to have it both ways. Preserve its ties to us and to the Islamists — keep the U.S. base in Qatar as a way of ensuring an American stake in Qatar’s security and deterrent against more overt threats to the country and preserve the ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and like-minded groups; bring in American universities to establish campuses and highlight the investment in western-oriented education and values even as it continues to underwrite Al Jazeera and its role in spreading a narrative that challenges those very values.
Qatar can only have it both ways so long as we permit it. Qatar’s leaders clearly want the American security connection. Trump should make it clear to them that they will have it so long as they are not threatening our interests and those of our partners in the region. As important as the al-Udeid base is, the Qataris should know we have alternatives and are prepared to develop them in the UAE and elsewhere unless Qatar is prepared to be a genuine partner and not a party that contributes to the very threats we need to counter.
**Former Ambassador Dennis Ross is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and served in senior national security positions in the Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations. His most recent book is Doomed to Succeed: The US-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama.

A Slap in the Face to Democracy: Canada's "Anti-Islamophobia" Motion
Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/May 09/17
"While the NCCM's open letter does not directly call for Sharia law or the criminalization of criticism of Islam, it does advance the notion that the famously tolerant nation of Canada must set up anti-racism directorates in each province to track instances of Islamophobia, institute a mandatory course on systemic racism for Canadian high school students, and train its police officers to use bias-neutral policing." — Josh Lieblein, The Daily Caller.
"Now that Islamophobia has been condemned, this is not the end, but rather the beginning... so that condemnation is followed by comprehensive policies," wrote Samer Majzoub, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate of the Canadian Muslim Forum -- presumably meaning that the next steps are to make it binding.
"The objective of Jihad... warrants that one must struggle against Kufr (disbelief) and Shirk (polytheism) and the worship of falsehood in all its forms. Jihad has to continue until this objective is achieved." — ICNA Canada website.
Growing concern in Canada over liberal policies benefitting Muslim extremists sheds light on why an "anti-Islamophobia" bill -- proposed in the wake of the deadly January 17 Quebec City mosque attack and approved by parliament on March 23 -- spurred such heated controversy there.
Motion 103, tabled by Liberal Party MP Iqra Khalid, a Muslim representing Mississauga-Erin Mills, calls on the Canadian government to "develop a whole-of-government approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia." Because the bill makes no mention of any other religious group targeted by bigots, it was opposed by most Conservative Party politicians and a majority of the public.
Ahead of what would turn out to be a 201-91 vote in favor of the motion, a petition was circulated asking MPs not to support it. According to the petition, Motion 103 would "lay the groundwork for imposing what is essentially a Sharia anti-blasphemy law on all of Canada."
The petition further stated:
"...criticism of Islam would constitute a speech crime in Canada.
"This motion uses the term 'islamophobia' without defining it, and without substantiating that there is in fact any such widespread problem in Canada.
"This will lead to ideologically-driven overreach and enforcement against alternative points of view—including mature, reasoned criticisms of Islam.
"Criticism of the treatment of women in Islamic-majority Middle Eastern countries could be criminalized;
"It could be a punishable offense to speak out against the Mustlim Brotherhood, or to denounce radical Imams who want to enact Sharia law in Canada;
"Criticism or depiction of Muhammad could be punishable by law;
"Schools that teach the history of Islam's violent conquests could be fined—or worse.
"That kind of content-based, viewpoint-discriminatory censorship is unacceptable in a Western liberal democracy."
Meanwhile, citizens bemoaning what they view as the increasing radicalization of Muslim communities in Canada, due largely to the unfettered immigration policies of the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, took to the streets of Toronto, Ottawa and other cities to denounce the bill. This response took place in spite of its being non-binding.
A closer look at Motion 103's initiator, supporters and other respected Muslim figures in Canada, however, indicates that there is cause for worry.
"Now that Islamophobia has been condemned, this is not the end, but rather the beginning... All of us must work hard to maintain our peaceful, social and humanitarian struggle so that condemnation is followed by comprehensive policies," wrote Samer Majzoub, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate of the Canadian Muslim Forum -- presumably meaning that the next steps are to make it binding.
According to Islamist Watch's Josh Lieblein, writing in The Daily Caller:
" ...Khalid is a former President of York University's Muslim Students Association, a student group with documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Similarly, Omar Alghabra is a former director of the Canadian Arab Federation, an association that has published statements in support of terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
"M103's supporters in the Muslim community have questionable ties of their own. It has been reported that Samer Majzoub was the manager of a Montreal private school that received a $70,761 donation from the Kuwait embassy, while the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) – formerly the Canadian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations – published an open letter linking M103 to a wide-ranging campaign aimed at reducing systemic racism and Islamophobia in Canada.
"While the NCCM's open letter does not directly call for Sharia law or the criminalization of criticism of Islam, it does advance the notion that the famously tolerant nation of Canada must set up anti-racism directorates in each province to track instances of Islamophobia, institute a mandatory course on systemic racism for Canadian high school students, and train its police officers to use bias-neutral policing."
This attempt to turn free speech on its head in Canada is in keeping with the teachings of the country's top Muslim cleric, Iqbal Al-Nadvi, chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams, president of the Canadian branch of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Muslim chaplain of the Canadian army.
ICNA is an organization that strives "to build an Exemplary Canadian Muslim Community" by "total submission to Him [Allah] and through the propagation of true and universal message of Islam," according to Jonathan D. Halevi.
Al-Nadvi, he pointed out, has openly quoted the Islamic Prophet Muhammed asserting, "Jihad will continue till the Day of Judgment."
Canada's top Muslim cleric, Iqbal Al-Nadvi, who is chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams, president of the Canadian branch of the Islamic Circle of North America and the Muslim chaplain of the Canadian army, has openly quoted the Islamic Prophet Muhammed asserting, "Jihad will continue till the Day of Judgment." (Image source: ICNA video screenshot)
ICNA Canada's website states: "The objective of Jihad... warrants that one must struggle against Kufr (disbelief) and Shirk (polytheism) and the worship of falsehood in all its forms. Jihad has to continue until this objective is achieved." In a piece for Gatestone Institute last October, Canadian terrorism expert Thomas Quiggin pointed to the enabling of, and contribution to, the rise of Islamic radicalism by Prime Minister Trudeau himself. According to Quiggin, Trudeau lauded a mosque in Ottawa, whose imam is part of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, an organization that was placed on the United Arab Emirates list of designated terrorist organizations in 2014. Trudeau called the mosque a shining example of "diversity... within the Muslim community in Canada."
Two months later, during the days prior to and following the Quebec City mosque attack, a survey revealed that more than half of the citizens of Canada and Quebec consider the presence of Muslims to be a security concern. An even greater majority said they support some form of vetting of immigrants to test their appreciation for Canadian values, and believe that immigrants should integrate into and adopt Canadian culture once they settle in the country.
In this context, the passage by the Canadian Liberal Party establishment of Motion 103, pushed and backed by influential Muslims with radical records, was a slap in the face to democracy -- just as its opponents have been claiming.
**Ruthie Blum, a journalist, is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama and the 'Arab Spring.'"
© 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.

Iran Tests The Trump Administration
Yigal Carmon and A. Savyon/MEMRI/May 09/17
After its 100 days of restraint and hiatus in its anti-U.S. threats and incitement following U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration,[1] the Iranian regime has begun to cautiously change its direction.
Iranian spokesmen from the ideological camp are taking a more aggressive tone towards the U.S., and have also resumed criticizing the administration of Iranian President Hassam Rohani and the decision makers in the regime who have been deterred by the displays of American anger – that even led to the cancellation of a long-range missile test.[2] Furthermore, the verbal Iranian attacks on the U.S. have been in the name of the entire resistance axis – Iraq, Syria, Hizbullah, Yemen – with an emphasis on Iran's mission, with which Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is charged: spreading (Shi'ite) Islamic rule worldwide.[3]
Iran is also continuing its provocations against American vessels in the Gulf. Although these provocations are significantly fewer in number than during the Obama era – only seven so far – their continuation indicates an attempt to test the reaction of the Trump administration.
On May 8, 2017, Iran announced its intention to launch two communications satellites in the near future.[4] If the launch takes place, Iran will be using long-range missiles, regarding which it was "put on notice" by the Trump administration in early February 2017 – and following this warning Iran cancelled a planned long-range missile launch.[5]
Why The Change?
The Iranian regime is testing President Trump because of the signs that Trump's positions do not line up with his statements against the JCPOA and against Iran's activity to destabilize the region. For example:
The JCPOA – From Criticism To Endorsement
In April 2017, the Trump administration sent Congress a letter confirming that Iran was meeting the demands of the JCPOA.[6] With this action, the administration legitimized the conditions set out in the Obama era that allow for no real inspection of Iran's military nuclear development. The Trump administration could have postponed the confirmation that Iran is abiding by the JCPOA,[7] or could have exposed the flawed terms of inspection set out by the Obama administration that were aimed at shielding Iran from serious and intrusive inspection – but chose not to, and instead gave these terms credence.[8] The Iranian side even warned the Trump administration not to dare to reveal these agreements and the administration heeded the warning. [9]
Furthermore, in April 2017, the U.S. joined the G-7, which states that it supports the JCPOA: "We support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as an important contribution to the non-proliferation regime."[10] That is, the Trump administration has moved from criticizing the JCPOA to endorsing it.
It should be noted that the U.S. also joined decisions of the joint committee of the JCPOA in April 2017 aimed at giving Iran additional incentives in the framework of civilian nuclear cooperation with it.[11]
Iranian Activity To Destabilize The Region – Trump Administration: Statements Against, Actions For
In Congress, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson harshly warned against Iranian regime activity in the region,[12] but the warning was contradicted by the following Trump administration actions:
At the end of his statements against Iran's activity, Tillerson announced that the administration had launched an interagency review of its Iran policy. This review appeared to be unnecessary in light of the resolute statements that Tillerson had just made, and of other statements by the Trump administration regarding Iran's activity in the region. What this announcement means in practical terms is that Senate legislation against Iran will be pushed off until after the conclusion of the review, because the Senate will not continue legislating while a White House review on the same issue is underway.[13]
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced during his April visit to Saudi Arabia that the solution to the internal conflict in Yemen lies with the UN: "Our goal is for that crisis down there [in Yemen] – that ongoing fight – to be put in front of a U.N.-brokered negotiating team and try to resolve this politically as soon as possible... It has gone on for a long time."[14] It should be noted that turning to the UN in this matter serves Iran's interests and is also characteristic of President Obama's approach.
The Trump administration has supported the Russia-Turkey agreement, the De-Escalation Zones Plan, and by so doing recognized Iran's role as a guarantor of the plan, legitimizing the continued presence of Iranian forces in Syria. Later, the U.S. State Department made an announcement that was internally contradictory, that included both actual support for the agreement and expression of reservations about it. The U.S. is not party to the agreement, it said, but "[w]e appreciate the efforts of Turkey and the Russian Federation to pursue this agreement and have encouraged the Syrian opposition to participate actively in the discussions despite the difficult conditions on the ground." However, it added: "We continue to have concerns about the Astana agreement, including the involvement of Iran as a so-called 'guarantor.' Iran's activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence, not stopped it, and Iran's unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians."[15]
In a briefing of journalist Laura Rozen, known to be a supporter of the Obama administration and its Iran policy, a White House official clarified that "Iran supports Hezbollah and sends weapons to support the Houthi rebels. The Trump administration will demonstrate its dissatisfaction with Iran's behavior in the region with actions." Yet he added: "If Iran wants to talk about it, Islamic Republic officials can pick up the phone and call us."[16]
If to date the Iranian regime has assessed that the Trump administration's Iran strategy differentiates between the JCPOA – against which it has decided not to act – and Iran's activity in the region – against which it has promised to take measures – it is now clear that even the latter involves words only at this time that are contradicted by and even surpassed by deeds, such as in the matter of its endorsement of the JCPOA. Also in the matter of the Russian plan it has shifted to supporting it, which means that it has legitimized Iran's activity in Syria – contrary to all the statements it made previously.
Nevertheless, the Iranian regime is not certain that these are shows of Trump's and the U.S.'s weakness and submission, because the administration responded strongly – with a focused bombing raid – to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. Therefore, they consider that Trump may be marking out his red lines – i.e. he will react to the use of weapons of mass destruction or long-range missiles, but in other areas, such as Iran's spread through the region by use of its proxies, the administration will, despite its statements, refrain from taking action – and in such cases is even open to Iran "pick[ing] up the phone."
Iran realizes that this approach by the Trump administration is likely to shift after the completion of the interagency review announced by Tillerson and also if Iran continues its direct provocations against the U.S. military. Therefore, it should be assumed that in the short term, Iran will continue testing, by various means including violent provocation, to see whether the gap between the Trump administration's statements and its actual acts will contract or expand.
One way in which the Iranian regime is testing Trump is the announcement by the Iran-sponsored Shi'ite Al-Hashd Al-Sha'bi militias in Iraq that they will move towards Mosul – a move opposed by the U.S. According to Iraqi sources, the U.S. has warned that if Al-Hashd Al-Sha'bi do indeed move towards Mosul, it will bomb them from the air. Hashd Al-Sha'bi forces did set out towards Mosul on April 24, 2017, but turned back after receiving messages from Iraqi elements that the Americans were "serious in their threats."[17]
*Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI; A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Project.
[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1305, Facing Trump Administration, Iran Shows Fear And Military Self-Restraint, Halts Provocations, Threats, And Incitement – While Boosting Morale At Home And Delegating The Bulk Of Conflict To Its Proxies, March 20, 2017.
[2] Kayhan (Iran), April 23, 2017. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC missile division, said on March 9, 2017: "We have a non-military satellite launching missile and are taking it to the warehouse because of an angry American tone?!... How long will we be blackmailed and how long will we compromise? If we do not change our strategy and continue to act according to the instructions of some of the [Iranian] officials who are stuck in the quagmire, our situation will get worse every day." Tasnim (Iran), March 9, 2017.
[3] See forthcoming MEMRI report on this issue.
[4] ISNA (Iran), May 8, 2017.
[5] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1305, Facing Trump Administration, Iran Shows Fear And Military Self-Restraint, Halts Provocations, Threats, And Incitement – While Boosting Morale At Home And Delegating The Bulk Of Conflict To Its Proxies, March 20, 2017;
[7] See, for example, article by former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and former undersecretary of State for arms control and international security affairs, Washington Times, April 26, 2017.
[9] On February 12, 2017, Iranian Majlis Foreign Policy and National Security Committee chairman Alaa Al-Adin Boroujerdi warned of the possibility that Trump would reveal Iran's secret documents in the JCPOA: "If Trump wants to publish the secret documents between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, this will constitute a violation of the IAEA's promise that it undertakes not to give any country, including the U.S., Iran's secret and nuclear documents." &UID=346771.
[13] This is a familiar and well-known tactic. When an administration seeks to block a legislative initiative in the parliamentary body, it announces an initiative of its own on the same topic. In this instance, Tillerson's announcement included no information about when the review would be completed.
[14] Stars and Stripes, April 18, 2017.
[16], May 4, 2017.
[17], April 27, 2017.

The Separation of South in Yemen
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/May 09/17
In Yemen, there are two political parties who are trying to seize opportunities during the Yemeni crisis: Brotherhood and secessionists. Both are fighting via proxies and depend on others to fight on their behalf. They are allies despite the enmity and media wars.
Muslim Brotherhood believes the separation of the South is acceptable since it will provide a better chance to dominate the political arena in the North, knowing that rebels are weary of the war with Houthis and former President Ali Abdallah Saleh’s party. Southern secessionists also believe that separating from the North is better for them. It reduces area and population and enhances their chances in governing Aden.
A while ago, I wrote against the separation to which I received several emotional responses protesting my opinion which I don’t find convincing, with all due respect to those who disagree with me. First of all, separation is a project of political change and achieving it is more difficult than the coup. In principle, a region’s separation from its original state is not achieved unless its citizens decided so, even if it came with consensus. Otherwise, many countries in the world would have been dismantled. There is an international law which rules those things.
Practically, Kurdistan separated from Iraq in 1990, prior to the liberation of Kuwait. Even after 27 years have passed, they are still waiting international recognition. We can’t forget that Kurds are people with their own language, flag, and parliament that distinguish them from Iraq.
Another example is Somalia. For over 20 years, the country has been in disunion with stable sub-states each with its own jurisdiction, flag and currency, and yet they hadn’t been recognized. Even Scotland which threatens about separating from the UK can’t do it without the consent and approval of London.
There are dozens of separation requests around the world presented by regions that couldn’t succeed in achieving independence because the international system won’t recognize it even if they succeeded.
Surely, the southern separatists can achieve their separation when a suitable circumstance arise and not amid the absence of a state because of the war, as the case is now.
When the situation is settled and a permanent government is chosen or a legitimate elected parliament, then a separation can be legal if Yemenis of both sides agree.
This was the case in Sudan where the government of Bashir accepted the separation of the South under international sponsorship.
It is noticeable that the southern separatists ignore those facts in their statements. They even refer to it as “post-independence.”
The South has its own problems that were developed during Saleh’s regime and there are several parties fighting over the power. There are no guarantees that the South will be stable once it gets separated from the country. It might even open the door to more conflicts. Like the North, there are several rival tribes and local leaders who disagree with one another in the South. There is no doubt that the majority of people of the South actually want the separation, even since Saleh’s ruling.
The unity was imposed via a coalition between the defeated Southern party’s alliances with Ali Saleh’s regime in the North. Their tragedy began with a conspiracy and ended with a charade called unity. Saleh impoverished the South, just as he did with the North.
Yet, Southern people shouldn’t rush into celebrating the separation because it is ruled by the international laws and not the will of Aden.
When the situations stabilize in Yemen, and in case the separation was not an option, there are other choices just as good with wide administrative independence like the federal or even the con-federal systems.

America’s ‘Miracle Machine’ Is In Desperate Need of, Well, a Miracle
Eric S. Lander and Eric E. Schmidt/The Washington Post/May 09/17
For more than a half century, the United States has operated what might be called a “Miracle Machine.” Powered by federal investment in science and technology, the machine regularly churns out breathtaking advances.
The Miracle Machine has transformed the way we live and work, strengthened national defense and revolutionized medicine. It has birthed entire industries — organized around computers, biotechnology, energy and communications — creating millions of jobs. It’s the reason the United States is the global hub for the technologies of the future: self-driving cars, genome editing, artificial intelligence, cancer immunotherapy, quantum computers and more.
Our machine is the envy of the world. And yet, while other nations, such as China, are working furiously to develop their own Miracle Machines, we’ve been neglecting ours. Though historically a bipartisan priority, science and technology funding has steadily eroded over the past decade. One example among many: Adjusted for inflation, the budget for the National Institutes of Health, the federal medical research agency, has fallen since 2003 by nearly 25 percent.
If the Trump administration and Congress want to ensure that the United States remains the most powerful nation in the world, they should embrace and support our Miracle Machine. The spending bill that Congress passed this week represents a good step, but there’s still a long way to go to recover lost ground and secure our leadership.
The Miracle Machine can be traced back to a report during the closing days of World War II called “Science: The Endless Frontier.” The blueprint saw the power of bringing together two interlocking engines — the public sector and the private sector — to drive progress and innovation.
The United States has the most dynamic private sector in the world, with entrepreneurs, investors, big companies and capital markets all eager to license technologies and launch start-ups. But those ventures are often driven by technologies that come from basic research. Few companies undertake such research because its fruits are typically too unpredictable, too far from commercialization and too early to be patentable.
That’s where government comes in. While investing in basic research typically doesn’t make sense for a business, it has been a winning strategy for our nation. For 60 years, the federal government has invested roughly a penny on each dollar in the federal budget into research at universities and research centers. In turn, these institutions have produced a torrent of discoveries and trained generations of scientific talent, fueling new companies and spawning new jobs.
For starters, investing in curiosity about the natural world has paid stunning dividends. Exploration of bacteria that thrive in geysers or salt flats led to breakthrough tools that can make millions of copies of DNA molecules, repair disease-causing mutations in living cells and use light pulses to fire nerve cells. Studies of fruit fly embryos led to drugs to treat skin cancer. Academic ideas inspired by neurons ultimately led to the artificial-intelligence revolution that is transforming industry today.
Building powerful tools without worrying about precisely how they’ll be used has also turned out to be a great public investment strategy. Fundamental physics studies, funded by public investment, gave us high-energy particle accelerators, which are now a mainstay in pharmaceutical drug development, and atomic clocks, which enable the Global Positioning System that guides travelers to their destinations.
And we’ve witnessed firsthand that creating and sharing mountains of scientific data can drive both exploration and commercialization. The $4 billion NIH investment in the Human Genome Project, which one of us (Lander) co-led, dramatically accelerated the understanding of human disease — and unleashed roughly $1 trillion in economic activity. That’s like $5 in a savings account growing to $1,250.
Finally, tackling novel engineering challenges has laid the foundation for new industries. In the late 1960s, federal grants to universities to explore message-passing among computers led directly to the Internet. A $4.5 million National Science Foundation grant to Stanford University in 1994, to explore the idea of digital libraries, helped contribute five years later to the creation of Google. Today, the US taxes paid each year by the company and by its more than 40,000 domestic employees total in the billions — a good portion of the NSF’s annual $7 billion budget.
Crucially, when scientific breakthroughs spawn new industries and jobs, those benefits occur right here in the United States — because companies want to remain close to the flow of new discoveries and experienced workers.
The Miracle Machine has been astoundingly successful. The problem is that too few people — in government or in the public — know how it works. As a result, we’ve been letting it fall into disrepair.
If we don’t change course and invest in scientific research, we risk losing one of America’s greatest advantages. To our lasting detriment, we may wake up to find the next generation of technologies, industries, medicines and armaments being pioneered elsewhere.
**Eric S. Lander is president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University. Eric E. Schmidt is the executive chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Trump in Saudi Arabia: Restoring what Obama ruined
Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/May 09/17
US President Donald Trump has described his planned visit to Saudi Arabia as “historic.” The president’s first foreign trip will be to Saudi Arabia. The visit thus represents an unprecedented case as American presidents’ first foreign trips were usually either to Mexico or to Canada.
Trump has broken the mold and proven that he’s not a traditional president, but instead closer to being a “phenomenon.”During the US presidential elections, Arab analysts warned Saudi Arabia of woe and intolerance if Trump is elected. However, electoral campaigns usually include a lot of propaganda as part of certain speeches and agendas to attract voters. Once the elections end though, American-Saudi relations go back to normal. The historic alliance between the two countries has existed since the days of Theodore Roosevelt up until today.
During his visit to Washington, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman managed to put relations back on their right and normal track. During his most recent interview, he said former President Barack Obama wasted many opportunities regarding Syria and the region in general. Thanks to the chemistry between Trump and Mohammed bin Salman, the American administration’s visions towards the region’s problems were identical to Saudi Arabia’s. Riyadh and Washington have work to do towards the future of social peace and national security. Trump’s visit to the kingdom will most likely include or pave a way towards joint cooperation agreements. This is in addition to intentions to work together to address thorny issues in the region.
Thorny topics
Both countries confront the Iranian challenge which threatens national security and empowers bloody practices in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The Iranian file will be the most prominent affair on the visit’s agenda especially since the Trump administration – unlike Obama’s – believes that Iran is the number one sponsor of terrorism, not just in the region but in the entire world. The Trump administration also thinks that US interests will be in the heart of danger if Iran’s interferences in the affairs of independent countries are not curbed. Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia is a historic precedent; however, it’s not only a visit to the kingdom but also a message to Muslims across the world. America’s national interests have been affected during the past eight years due to the decline and passiveness of the former administration. The US therefore wants to restore its striking power and influence to the vital Middle East region. Obama and Hillary Clinton used to say that becoming influential in Asia was more important than all Middle Eastern affairs and that being engaged in the Middle East exhausted America’s energy for almost nothing worth mentioning in return. Trump completely contradicts this as he believes resolving the Palestinian cause is a priority. He also thinks that a solution in Syria and the rebels’ commitment to international resolutions in Yemen are a priority that cannot be given up. Saudi Arabia and the US must also address major economic matters. The cooperation which stumbled in the past will be better resumed especially amid the economic fluctuations in the world. The two countries are one of the richest and most influential in the world and the US is well-aware of the significance of the Saudi Vision 2030 projects. American experts and companies can contribute to the economy and to future developmental plans in Saudi Arabia.
Trump believes that Saudi Arabia is the heart of the Islamic world and that it has the virtue of serving the two holy mosques. This strategic weight made Trump mention the holy sites in Saudi Arabia while he announced he will visit the kingdom. This was intended by Trump to reassure Muslims that the US plans to empower dialogue among civilizations and religions and to show that accusations that he hates Islam were merely “electoral manifestations” that have nothing to do with his effective political programs and that recent American measures do not target “the civilization of Islam” as they are just technical procedures with pure security aims. There is clearly no hostility towards any religion or nation or civilization.
Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia is a historic precedent; however, it’s not only a visit to the kingdom but also a message to Muslims across the world – a message which stipulates that we are with you and not against you and that partnership and dialogue are important. This is the cultural message behind the visit.