May 13/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Peter cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 14/22-33/:"Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’"

See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

First Letter to the Thessalonians 05/12-28/:"But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. Beloved, pray for us. Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Question: "What does the Bible say about being a good parent?"
Answer: Being a good parent can be a difficult and challenging venture, but at the same time can be the most rewarding and fulfilling thing we ever do. The Bible has a great deal to say about the way we can successfully raise our children to be men and women of God. As a good parent, the first thing we must do is teach them the truth about God's Word.
Along with loving God and being a godly example by committing ourselves to His commands, we need to heed the command of Deuteronomy 6:7-9 regarding teaching our children to do the same. This passage emphasizes the ongoing nature of such instruction. It should be done at all times—at home, on the road, at night, and in the morning. Biblical truth should be the foundation of our homes. By following the principles of these commands, we teach our children that worshiping God should be constant, not reserved for Sunday mornings or nightly prayers.
Although our children learn a great deal through direct teaching, they learn much more by watching us. This is why we must be careful in everything we do. We must first acknowledge our God-given roles. Husbands and wives are to be mutually respectful and submissive to each other (Ephesians 5:21). At the same time, God has established a line of authority to keep order. “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). We know that Christ is not inferior to God, just as a wife is not inferior to her husband. God recognizes, however, that without submission to authority, there is no order. The husband's responsibility as the head of the household is to love his wife as he loves his own body, in the same sacrificial way that Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-29).
In response to this loving leadership, it is not difficult for the wife to submit to her husband's authority (Ephesians 5:24; Colossians 3:18). Her primary responsibility is to love and respect her husband, live in wisdom and purity, and take care of the home (Titus 2:4-5). Women are naturally more nurturing than men because they were designed to be the primary caretakers of their children.
Discipline and instruction are integral parts of being a good parent. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Children who grow up in undisciplined households feel unwanted and unworthy. They lack direction and self-control, and as they get older they rebel and have little or no respect for any kind of authority, including God's. “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death” (Proverbs 19:18). At the same time, discipline must be balanced with love, or children may grow up resentful, discouraged, and rebellious (Colossians 3:21). God recognizes that discipline is painful when it is happening (Hebrews 12:11), but if followed by loving instruction, it is remarkably beneficial to the child. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
As a good parent, it is important to involve your children in the church family and ministry when they are young. Regularly attend a Bible-believing church (Hebrews 10:25), allow them to see you studying the Word, and also study it with them. Discuss with them the world around them as they see it, and teach them about the glory of God through everyday life. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Being a good parent is all about raising children who will follow your example in obeying and worshipping the Lord.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 12-13/17
Row over Lebanon’s al-Tufail to Be Resolved as Mashnouq Vows Residents’ Safe Return/Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/
Nasrallah Announces Hezbollah’s Withdrawal from Lebanese-Syrian Border/Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/1
Jimmy Carter: Trump Is Right. Canada’s Lumber Trade Practices Are Unfair/Jimmy Carter/The Washington Post/May 12/17
Crisis or Stasis/Ross Douthat/The New York Times/May 12/17
A Message to Putin From 42 Million Dead/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/May 12/17/
Macron and the Revival of Europe/Roger Cohen/The New York Times/May 12/17/
Iran’s Sham Elections: A Political Version of Ta’azieh/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/
Iran, Change of Attitude/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/
Are Islamists Conducting a New Jihad against the West/William DiPuccio/Gatestone Institute/May 12/17
President Trump Did Not Obstruct Justice/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/May 12/17
Identities that imprison us from birth to death/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/May 12/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 12-13/17
Saudi Move to Invite Hariri and Not Aoun to Summit Stirs Controversy
Lebanese, Malaysian PMs Invited to Saudi-US Summit in Riyadh
Experts evaluate Hezbollah's withdrawal from Lebanon’s Eastern boarders
Aoun spurns revanchism, says new vote law must ensure correct representation
FPM and Hizbullah Agree on Need for Extraordinary Legislative Session
Sami Gemayel visits Audeh, holds government responsible for power generating vessels' leasing
Hariri: Nasrallah Speeches Don't Benefit Lebanon, Govts. Can't be Formed without Hizbullah
Hizbullah Hands Over Eastern Border Posts to Lebanese Army
Tit-for-Tat Lawsuits between Berri and al-Jadeed after Attack
Five IS Militants Arrested in North and Bekaa
Authorities Say Israel Likely behind Hack of Phone Grid during Nasrallah Speech
Geagea, Jamaa Islamiya meet in Meerab
Customs seizes 17 kg of cocaine at Beirut airport
Row over Lebanon’s al-Tufail to Be Resolved as Mashnouq Vows Residents’ Safe Return
Nasrallah Announces Hezbollah’s Withdrawal from Lebanese-Syrian Borde

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
May 12-13/17
Three mass graves found in western Iraq
De-escalation zones chance for rebels to ‘reconcile’, says Assad
Russian monitors for Syrian Golan - not Iranians
Pentagon Tries to Ease Turkey's Concerns with Arming Kurds
Final push on Syria’s Raqqa to be launched in early summer
Moscow: US Participation in ‘De-escalation Zones’ Linked to Syrian Regime’s Approval
Erdogan Says Trump’s Kurdish Arms Move Harms Ties
Turkey Detains Dozens of ex-Bourse Staff over Coup Links
SDF Awaits Weapons, Says Final Push on Raqqa in Early Summer
Riyadh to Host Counter-Terrorism Forum on May 21
Sinai Tribes Rise against ISIS
Palestinian shot dead in west bank clash with Israelis: ministry
Israel Postpones Settlement Expansion Plans until after Trump Visit
White House Fumes after Moscow Releases Trump Meeting Photos
Small blast near Rome post office damages car, no injuries

Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 12-13/17
Saudi Move to Invite Hariri and Not Aoun to Summit Stirs Controversy
Naharnet/May 12/17/Saudi Arabia's decision to invite Prime Minister Saad Hariri and not President Michel Aoun to an Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh with U.S. President Donald Trump has stirred controversy in Lebanon, media reports said on Friday. Hariri was handed the invitation on Thursday by the Chargé d'affaires of the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon, Walid Al-Bukhari. “Several Lebanese leaders and officials said the invitation involved a flagrant diplomatic and protocol mistake, especially that the summit will be held at the level of presidents and kings, and accordingly the invitation should have been addressed to Lebanon's president and not to any other Lebanese official,” al-Joumhouria newspaper reported.Observers have noted that Lebanon's Christian presidents had taken part in several Islamic summits in the past, the daily said. “Lebanese diplomacy is trying to seek answers and clarifications regarding this step,” al-Joumhouria added. “The possibility of correcting this mistake through addressing an invitation to the president is not ruled out,” the daily quoted sources as saying. “Should Hariri decide to participate, he might clash with the president over the step, while his failure to participate might put him in an embarrassing situation with the summit's hosts and participants,” observers said. But citing reports, al-Joumhouria said that the prime minister has not yet responded to the invitation and that he intends to consult with the president over it. “The aim of the summit is to work towards the establishment of a new partnership to confront extremism and terrorism and reinforce the values ​​of tolerance and better living for the future of our generations in the Arab region,” the Saudi envoy said on Thursday.The summit will be attended by U.S. President Trump during his upcoming visit to the kingdom. Saudi media said King Abdullah II of Jordan, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Niger's Mahamadou Issoufou are among leaders invited by King Salman for the summit with the U.S. president. Trump has frequently been accused of fueling Islamophobia but aides described his decision to visit Saudi Arabia as an effort to reset relations with the Muslim world. In addition to heads of state from Jordan, Algeria and Niger, the official Saudi Press Agency reported that Salman asked Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Morocco's King Mohammed VI to attend. The leaders of Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia have also received invitations, the Arab News daily reported on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia -- which is home to Islam's holiest sites -- will be Trump's first foreign stop since becoming president in January.

Lebanese, Malaysian PMs Invited to Saudi-US Summit in Riyadh
Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/Jeddah – The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz has sent an official invitation to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, inviting him to attend the Arab-Islamic-American Summit to be held in Riyadh on May 21. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also received a similar invitation. According to a statement by Hariri’s press office, acting Charge d’affaires of the Saudi embassy in Lebanon, Walid Al-Bukhari, handed him the invitation during a meeting at the Grand Serail in Beirut. “The aim of the summit is to work towards an establishment of a new partnership to confront extremism and terrorism, and reinforce the values of tolerance and coexistence for the future of our generations in the Arab region,” said Bukhari, following the meeting. King Salman’s invitation to Razak was delivered by Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awadh al-Awadh during a meeting he held with the Malaysian PM in his office in Putrajaya city. Awadh relayed to Razak the King, crown prince and deputy crown prince’s eagerness to develop Saudi-Malaysian ties in various fields and in a manner that serves the joint interests of their people. For his part, the Malaysian prime minister relayed the same sentiment to the Saudi officials, thanking them for the invitation to attend the Arab-Islamic-American summit. He said that that the meeting will project the true image of Islam and its teaching and bolster international security and peace. King Abdullah II of Jordan, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou are among the leaders invited by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to the summit with United States President Donald Trump. In addition, Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and the leaders of Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq and Tunisia have also received invitations. Saudi Arabia, which is home to Islam’s holiest sites, will be Trump’s first foreign stop as president.

Experts evaluate Hezbollah's withdrawal from Lebanon’s Eastern boarders
Staff writer, Al Arabiya.netFriday, 12 May 2017/Military experts are coming up with theories after the announcement of Hezbollah militias that they will dismantle their units on the borders of eastern Lebanon with Syria. Experts believe that Hezbollah forces are re-positioning inside Syria again, especially after the agreement of the "four towns" in which the residents of the towns of Zabadani and Madaya were abandoned. The announcement of the Hezbollah militia does not mean withdrawing its participation in the Syrian war or their return to Lebanon. The experts stressed that the dismantling of the forces on the eastern border was expected after the agreement of the "four towns", which gave command over the whole of the eastern sector in Syria to the Syrian regime and its allies. This announcement comes after the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called on the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese Army to take the necessary measures to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring weapons and building paramilitary capabilities. Hezbollah paid a heavy price for its involvement in the Syrian war, in terms of the increase in the number of its causalities in Syria, including prominent leaders, as well as the depletion of its financial and military capabilities.

Aoun spurns revanchism, says new vote law must ensure correct representation
Fri 12 May 2017/NNA - President Michel Aoun on Friday rebuffed revanchism in politics and with respect to the election law issue, stressing that what is sought is a developed society. "The elections entitle us to run the country's affairs, but not to strip people of their rights," he said. "We are a society that seeks development; and this is what I mean by change," he stressed. "The legislative election law must echo the will of the Lebanese and ensure correct representation in preservation of unity," he added. Aoun made these remarks during his meeting with a delegation of Metn dignitaries. Aoun also met today with MP Fadil al-Aawar, who said that talks touched on the ongoing contacts over the new election law. Among Baabda itinerants have also been a delegation of "Lebanon Dialogue Initiative," and a delegation of Batroun Festivals Committee.

FPM and Hizbullah Agree on Need for Extraordinary Legislative Session
Naharnet/May 12/17/ The Free Patriotic Movement has confirmed that President Michel Aoun intends to issue a decree calling for an extraordinary parliamentary session should no agreement on an electoral law be reached before the end of May. The FPM's confirmation comes hours after Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called for an extraordinary session aimed at giving parliament extra time to agree on a new law before the expiry of its term on June 20. Aoun took the decision to authorize an extraordinary session “prior to Nasrallah's speech,” FPM sources told al-Akhbar newspaper in remarks published Friday. MP Alain Aoun of the FPM has also said that his movement sees a need for an extraordinary session should no agreement be reached on the electoral law “in order to allow further discussions aimed at finding a solution.”

Sami Gemayel visits Audeh, holds government responsible for power generating vessels' leasing
Fri 12 May 2017/NNA - Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Beirut Elias Audeh met on Friday with MP Sami Gemayel, with talks reportedly touching an array of matters on the local arena. On emerging, MP Gemayel held the government united responsible for the adoption of the electricity plan and the leasing of power generating vessels. Gemayel vowed he shall spare no effort to achieve the desired change in the country for a better future, deprecating the current political class for exploiting the current socio-economic dossiers to achieve its own partisan interests or settle accounts. "We cannot remain idle amid the deterioration of situation at the various political, development and ethical levels," Gemayel said, prodding the young men and women to join him in his confrontation battle for change. On the other hand, Archbishop Audeh met with Sri Lankan Ambassador to Lebanon, with talks between the pair reportedly touching on means of bolstering bilateral relations.

Hariri: Nasrallah Speeches Don't Benefit Lebanon, Govts. Can't be Formed without Hizbullah
Naharnet/May 12/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed Friday that the anti-Gulf statements of Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah “do not benefit Lebanon in any way whatsoever,” as he noted that any government in Lebanon cannot be formed without Hizbullah's participation. “Hizbullah represents large segments of our Shiite brothers and so does the AMAL Movement, and those blaming us for taking part in the same government with them must shut up,” Hariri said in an interview on the pan-Arab Rotana Khalijia TV network, pointing out that any prime minister will be obliged to form a government with Hizbullah. And emphasizing that he rejects all of Hizbullah's “regional policies,” Hariri said he has a responsibility to push the country forward. Nasrallah had lashed out Thursday at Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the latter's latest anti-Iran stances.The Hizbullah leader has launched several verbal attacks on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries in recent years in connection with the conflicts in several Arab countries and the Gulf-Iranian tensions.

Hizbullah Hands Over Eastern Border Posts to Lebanese Army
Naharnet/May 12/17/Hizbullah handed over Friday to the Lebanese army its military posts in the outskirts of the eastern border towns of Tufail, Brital, Ham and Maaraboun, Hizbullah's al-Manar TV said. The move comes a day after Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared that the group is dismantling its military posts along Lebanon's eastern border with Syria. Hizbullah's mission on the eastern border “has been accomplished,” Nasrallah declared in a televised address. Nasrallah added that the group will however maintain a security presence on the Syrian side of the border to protect against any infiltration by militants. Hizbullah has sent thousands of its supporters to Syria to shore up President Bashar Assad's military in Syria's civil war and continues to be engaged in battles across many parts of the war-torn country. Its fighters have also fought battles against militants along Lebanon's northeastern border with Syria.

Tit-for-Tat Lawsuits between Berri and al-Jadeed after Attack
Naharnet/May 12/17/Speaker Nabih Berri has filed a lawsuit against al-Jadeed TV, its owner Tahsin Khayat, its chairwoman Karma Khayat and its news director Mariam al-Bassam, state-run National News Agency said on Friday. He accused them of “criminal defamation, stirring sectarian sentiments, and libel and slander in connection with what has been aired and stated,” NNA said. Al-Jadeed meanwhile filed a lawsuit against Berri and his AMAL Movement, accusing them of “attacking freedoms, deliberate harm and death threats.”The TV network's lawsuit was filed after two assailants torched a live broadcast vehicle belonging to al-Jadeed outside the channel's headquarters at dawn Thursday. The attack followed the removal of al-Jadeed from cable service distribution in several regions across Lebanon including Beirut and its southern suburbs.“Whenever we air any report containing criticism against Speaker Nabih Berri, an attack on the station follows, knowing that we've broadcast thousands of reports targeting everyone without anyone acting in this manner,” Karma Khayat said on Thursday. State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud has referred al-Jadeed's lawsuit to the public prosecution for further investigations aimed at “unveiling the perpetrators and handing them the severest punishment,” NNA said. Al-Jadeed said its lawsuit is linked to Thursday's attack and similar previous incidents. In February, supporters of Berri's AMAL Movement attempted to storm al-Jadeed TV's building in protest at a satirical TV show that they deemed insulting to the parliament speaker and to AMAL founder Imam Moussa al-Sadr.The angry protesters hurled rocks and firecrackers at the building, causing substantial material damage and injuring two al-Jadeed employees and a policeman.
Al-Jadeed's building had come under several such attacks in the past.

Five IS Militants Arrested in North and Bekaa
Naharnet/May 12/17/Five militants belonging to the terrorist Islamic State group were arrested Friday in the North and the Bekaa, the army said. “Following surveillance and investigations, the Intelligence Directorate arrested at dawn three individuals in the North region and two individuals in the Bekaa region,” the army said in a statement.“Four of them belong to the terrorist IS group and were communicating with leaders and officials of the group,” the statement added. “The fifth suspect who was arrested in the Bekaa was involved in smuggling of logistical material to the aforementioned group,” the army said.

Authorities Say Israel Likely behind Hack of Phone Grid during Nasrallah Speech
Naharnet/May 12/17/Investigations have determined that Israel was likely behind the hijacking of Hizbullah media department's phone lines during Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's speech on Thursday, Lebanese authorities said on Friday. Thousands of Lebanese citizens had received Thursday voice and text messages accusing Nasrallah of ordering the assassination of Hizbullah military commander Mustafa Badreddine in Syria last year. The party says Badreddine was killed by “artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri groups” near Damascus airport. A joint statement issued by the Telecom Ministry and the OGERO telecom commission said around 10,000 people in Lebanon received "suspicious phone calls" on Thursday and that "advanced technology was used to penetrate the telephone grid from outside Lebanon." "Following technical assessment, it turned out that these calls came from France, Italy, Syria, Iraq and other countries and that the real phone numbers were not shown" on the phones of the receivers, the statement said. "The numbers were manipulated to give the impression that the source is the landline grid," the statement added. "Accordingly, we believe that the Israeli enemy was behind these suspicious calls, which had also taken place during the 2006 Israeli aggression," the ministry and OGERO said. They added that an investigation is still underway to "unveil all the circumstances of this piracy that the Israeli enemy did and to take the necessary technical steps and measures to prevent its recurrence."
The ministry and OGERO also promised that "the Lebanese government and public opinion will be briefed on all the developments and conclusions."An official statement issued by Hizbullah's media department said that during Nasrallah's speech commemorating Badreddine on Thursday, “a manipulation of an unknown source affected the landlines of Hizbullah's Media Relations Department.”“Several citizens received voice and text messages that appeared to be coming from these numbers,” the department said, noting that the messages “carried insults to the resistance and its leader.”“Hizbullah's Media Relations Department is following up on the issue with the relevant officials in the Lebanese telecom ministry and the OGERO authority in order to unveil the manipulators and the methods that they used to achieve this penetration,” the dept. added. Al-Akhbar newspaper said “tens of thousands” of Lebanese citizens received phone calls and text messages part of which appeared to be coming from Hizbullah's landlines. U.S., Canadian, Sri Lankan and Thai numbers were also used in the operation, al-Akhbar added, noting that these numbers sent a “unified voice message” in addition to video messages via WhatsApp and Viber. The newspaper also reminded that Israel had waged a similar campaign during the 2006 war with Hizbullah and that it has launched several similar campaigns in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In March, Israeli army chief Gadi Eisenkot had openly declared that Badreddine “was killed by his own officers."

Geagea, Jamaa Islamiya meet in Meerab

Fri 12 May 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea met on Friday at his residence in meerab with a delegation of Jamaa Islamiya, led by Politburo head Asaad Harmoush. The delegation extended to Geagea an invitation to attend the Jamaa's General Conference set to take place upcoming Sunday May 14 in Biel. Separately, Geagea met with "Independence Movement" chief Michel Mouawad, with talks reportedly touching on the overall situation on the local arena, notably the stalled election law. Mouawad stressed the need to come out with a new election law that secures proper representation of all the Lebanese citizens. Touching on the issue of the Christian-Christian understanding between the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement, Mouawad highlighted the paramount importance of this understanding that led to the election of a strong president of the republic, who in his words is playing a key role in rectifying imbalance in the national partnership.

Customs seizes 17 kg of cocaine at Beirut airport
Fri 12 May 2017/NNA - Customs officers at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport seized a while ago 12 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a suitcase of a Venezuelan passenger arriving on a flight from Venezuela via Turkey, NNA reporter said on Friday. The detained passenger was referred to the concerned authorities for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Lebanese territories. Customs Department branded operation as "qualitative and unanticipated." On the other hand, Customs officers also seized at dawn five and a half kilograms of cocaine in the possession of a US citizen arriving aboard an Ethiopian flight from Addis Ababa.

Row over Lebanon’s al-Tufail to Be Resolved as Mashnouq Vows Residents’ Safe Return
Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/
Beirut – The dispute in the Lebanese border town of al-Tufail is nearing its end after safe passage has been achieved for its residents to return home following their displacement as a result of the unrest in neighboring Syria. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq vowed on Thursday that he will exert more efforts to oversee their passage “in coordination with the Army Command, Internal Security Forces and General Security.”A dispute had erupted between the minister and “Hezbollah” after the latter informed the residents that they may return to their town after three years of displacement. They were set to go back on Tuesday. The party had said that this return was being coordinated with the security forces, which Mashnouq had denied and which consequently led to a delay in their return. The minister’s sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that efforts are being exerted to ensure the return of the residents, who are mostly Sunni Muslims, in the upcoming days. “The most important thing for now is the presence of the state in this Lebanese town through having each concerned body perform its necessary role and focus on security issues that will reassure the residents,” they added.
“Hezbollah” Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah had meanwhile sought to also reassure them, by saying: “If our military presence was an obstacle to your return, then today I declare that our presence there is over and everyone can go back.”The residents were forced to flee al-Tufail in 2014 in light of battles that erupted between the party and Syrian opposition factions. “Hezbollah” then entered the town, forcing Lebanese and Syrian families who have been living there for dozens of years to leave. Only 12 families chose to stay. Mashnouq acknowledged in recent meetings with the residents the two previous Lebanese governments’ “shortcomings” in tackling their case. The residents informed the minister of the harsh conditions they are enduring, demanding that he speed up their return home. Their most important demand was the deployment of state security agencies in al-Tufail. Mashnouq pledged to relay these demands to President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Mashnouq had chaired on Thursday an extraordinary meeting for the central security council. The gatherers agreed that concerned security and military agencies should oversee the safe passage of the residents to and from al-Tufail and also provide the logistic needs of the residents of nearby villages. Mayor of al-Tufail Ali al-Shoum revealed after meeting the interior minister that he had pledged to pave the road leading to the town, while former Baalbek – al-Hermel Mufti Sheikh Bakr al-Rifai said that the issue will “soon be positively resolved after the setbacks a few days ago.” “The state will gradually resume its duties in the town and we are awaiting a signal from the army to return,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat. A security source revealed that the army will deploy throughout the region extending between the outskirts of Brital and al-Tufail to ensure safe passage. The road through Brital will also be paved after the locals used to access a dirt road. Residents had meanwhile refused to give their names to “Hezbollah” and al-Rifai said that the names are now in the hands of the Lebanese army.
There are around 100 Lebanese families and 50 Syrian ones that have opted to go back to al-Tufail after three years of displacement. Some of the residents acknowledged to Asharq Al-Awsat that even though the state is overseeing their return, it inevitably has to coordinate with “Hezbollah” because “it is capable of protecting our passage through Brital and prevent the Syrian regime from attacking us once we are back.”Al-Tufail is located in the eastern most outskirts of Lebanon’s eastern mountain range that borders Syria. Al-Tufail can be clearly seen on the map 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”.

Nasrallah Announces Hezbollah’s Withdrawal from Lebanese-Syrian Border
Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/Beirut – “Hezbollah” Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah declared on Thursday that the party “competed its mission” along Lebanon’s border with Syria, leaving the arena to the Lebanese state. He announced that “Hezbollah” has “dismantled its positions” along the border, but noted that there is “no end in sight” to the battle on the outskirts of the northeastern border region of Arsal. He made his declaration during a speech marking the first anniversary of the assassination of party military commander Mustafa Badreddine in Syria. “The developments are positive on the eastern border between Lebanon and Syria and they have become very safe,” he added. “We, in the resistance, entered those mountains and spent difficult days and nights. We offered martyrs and now our presence is no longer needed,” Nasrallah stated. “We dismantled our positions and we will continue to dismantle the remaining military posts along the Lebanese side of the border because our mission is complete and the responsibility now lies on the Lebanese state,” he remarked. “We are not a substitute to the state and Lebanese army,” stressed Nasrallah. Despite announcing the completion of “Hezbollah’s” mission, he acknowledged that the battle on the outskirts of Arsal will continue. “We are prepared to ensure a settlement because the state is not prepared to negotiate with the Syrian government. Regarding the refugees in the camps in Arsal, we are prepared to contact the Syrian regime to return as many of them as possible to their towns and villages. We have no problem with this,” he said. Nasrallah called for cooperation “because the armed presence on the outskirts has become a burden on Arsal and the people. It is therefore best if these issues are addressed to avoid bloodshed.”

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 12-13/17
Three mass graves found in western Iraq
AFP, Habbaniyah, IraqFriday, 12 May 2017/Three mass graves have been discovered in Iraq’s western province of Anbar containing the bodies of civilians and members of the security forces, officials said Thursday. It was not yet clear how many bodies the graves contained, a police lieutenant colonel said, adding that the victims had been executed by the Islamic State jihadist group. The three sites are in the Saqlawiyah region, north of Fallujah, in the Karma area, east of Fallujah, and behind the old central library in central Ramadi, the province's capital. Ramadi lies about 100 kilometers west of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, and Fallujah is located half-way between the two. “Samples have been taken from the graves and it has been confirmed that the bodies belong to civilians and soldiers,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said there appeared to be several dozen bodies in the three graves but added no definitive number was yet available. Security forces were deployed to protect the site and forensic teams from Baghdad were expected in the coming days, he said. Ammar Nuri al-Dulaimi, an official from the Martyrs Committee for Anbar province, said the discoveries were the result of an investigation by a purposely formed investigation team. He said preliminary findings showed that some of the victims had been shot in the head, suggesting they were executed by ISIS. ISIS militants carried out several attacks on military bases in the area in 2015, in some cases capturing large number of soldiers and executing them.

De-escalation zones chance for rebels to ‘reconcile’, says Assad
ReutersFriday, 12 May 2017/Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that de-escalation zones proposed by his ally Russia were a chance for rebels to “reconcile” with Damascus and drive out ISIS militants, but vowed to fight on calling UN-led peace talks fruitless. Assad pledged, in an interview with Belarusian TV Channel ONT aired on Thursday, to defend the zones and to crush, with the support of Iran and Hezbollah, those who try to breach them. Efforts over the past year to halt the six-year Syrian war have fallen flat, and a ceasefire agreed to by the government side and militia in December was violated early on. Russia’s proposal for zones took effect last week, covering areas in the west of the country and Damascus has suggested there could be a role for Russian military police. Assad said the primary aim was to protect civilians. “The second goal is to give the militants who want reconciliation with the state a chance ... to settle their cases, hand over their weapons in return for amnesty,” he said. Damascus has said rebels should help drive ISIS groups out of the de-escalation zones, and sees so-called reconciliation agreements, which have involved the evacuation of militia from besieged areas, as an alternative to peace talks. Violence reduced somewhat after the de-escalation zones were announced last week, but heavy fighting persists in some areas. Syria’s opposition rejected the Russian plan, calling it a threat to the country’s territorial integrity and refusing to recognize Iran as a guarantor of any ceasefire plan. Assad said he was “not tired” and would continue to fight terrorists - the government’s term for all insurgents. He also said US President Donald Trump had ordered strikes against a Syrian air base last month - a response to an alleged chemical attack against civilians - in order to “present his credentials” to US political and lobby groups.

Russian monitors for Syrian Golan - not Iranians
DEBKAfile Special Report May 11, 2017/Moscow this week responded to Israel’s concerns about posting Iranian and Turkish officers on its borders to monitor the potential “de-escalation” zones Russia is proposing for Syria. In respect of those concerns, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reveal that Russia agreed in high-level contacts in the last few days to replace them with Russian military officers in the Mt. Hermon region and the areas where Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian borders meet. The proposal also calls for the expansion of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which supervises the cease-fire between Israel and Syria on the Golan. (debkafile was the first publication to reveal Israel’s concerns on May 3 and May 5.) The Russian military are preparing to establish four ceasefire safe zones in Syria. The southernmost would be located along Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan. The issue came up during Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on May 11, and a day earlier, in a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, was also involved in the exchanges on the ceasefire zones between Washington, Moscow and Jerusalem during his visit to Israel this week as the guest of the Israeli chief of staff, Lieut. Gen. Gady Eisenkott. On Tuesday, May 9, Dunford said that “Israel is concerned about the possibility of having Iranian or Iranian-backed forces, such as Hizballah, so close to its border.” Both Putin and Lavrov promised that neither Iranian, pro-Iranian, nor Turkish officers would be placed in areas close to the Israeli border. Our military sources report that during talks between Washington, Moscow and Jerusalem on Thursday, May 11, the three sides agreed to continue to discuss the Russian proposal. Another issue raised among them was who will deal with the ISIS forces in the Yarmouk area near the Israel-Jordan and Israel-Syria borders, including the bases established by the Khaled bin al-Walid army, which has sworn allegiance to ISIS. The coming DEBKA Weekly out Friday, May 12, also reveals positive US-Russian dialogue on more Syrian issues. If you are not already a subscriber, click here.

Pentagon Tries to Ease Turkey's Concerns with Arming Kurds
Associated Press/Naharnet/May 12/17/U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made clear Thursday that America is committed to protecting Turkey after angering its NATO ally with a deal to arm anti-Islamic State fighters in Syria that Turkey considers terrorists. Mattis stressed the enduring nature of the U.S.-Turkey relationship in a meeting with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, the first face-to-face contact between officials from the two countries since the U.S. announcement about military support for the Syrian Kurds. The defense secretary, speaking to reporters aboard a U.S. military airplane after the meeting in London, characterized the discussions as "honest, transparent and helpful." Their half-hour conversation took place before an international conference on Somalia, and Mattis said he had no doubt the U.S. and Turkey would "work this out with due consideration and significant attention paid to Turkey's security, to NATO's security and the continuing campaign against ISIS."The U.S. is convinced that the Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG, are the most effective local force in trying to oust IS militants from their stronghold in Raqqa, Syria. Turkey wants the arms agreement reversed. Its leaders have railed against any strategy that, in their view, would involve the U.S. using one terrorist group to fight another. Washington is trying to provide Turkey assurances. A senior American official said the U.S. will step up joint intelligence-sharing with the Turks to help them better target terrorists. The move, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is one of the things Washington is offering to ease Turkish concerns that the weapons will end up in enemy hands. The official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. has yet to provide the weapons. Mattis acknowledged Turkey's concerns that weapons could end up in the hands of the Kurdish militants in Turkey, known as the PKK. Like Turkey, the U.S. considers that group a terrorist organization. "We support Turkey in its fight against PKK," he said. "We do not ever give weapons to the PKK. We never have and never will."Before his meeting with Mattis, Yildirim had warned that "there is still an opportunity for the United States to take Turkey's sensitivities into consideration. Otherwise, the outcome won't only affect Turkey. A negative outcome will also emerge for the United States."Mattis has played down the friction between the allies, saying that while "it's not always tidy," they will resolve any differences. Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is to visit President Donald Trump in Washington next Tuesday. Erdogan has demanded that Washington undo the arms decision, and said he would take up the issue with Trump. The Trump administration has not specified the kinds of arms to be provided. U.S. officials have indicated that 120 mm mortars, machine guns, ammunition and light armored vehicles were possibilities. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the matter, said artillery or surface-to-air missiles would not be provided. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against IS, Col. John Dorrian, said Wednesday that the weapons would be delivered to the Kurds soon. He and other officials have said the U.S. will closely monitor the weapons' distribution and insure that they are used only against IS. The Syrian Kurds have been encircling Raqqa, preparing for the launch of what the U.S. military predicts will be a long and difficult battle to retake the city.

Final push on Syria’s Raqqa to be launched in early summer
AFP, Tabqa, Syria Friday, 12 May 2017/A US-backed alliance of Arabs and Kurds will launch their final assault on ISIS’s Syrian bastion Raqqa in early summer, two commanders from the force said Friday. “The attack on Raqqa will take place in the beginning of the summer,” Syrian Democratic Forces commander Rojda Felat told AFP. She later specified that it would likely start in June based on “military and tactical considerations.”Felat spoke at a press conference in Tabqa, which the SDF captured from ISIS on Wednesday along with its nearby dam. The city is a key waypost in the SDF’s flagship offensive for Raqqa, the Syrian heart of ISIS’s so-called caliphate, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) further down the Euphrates Valley. The deputy head of the SDF, Qahraman Hassan, said: “In the beginning of the summer, we will storm and liberate (Raqqa) city.”He said the alliance would receive “special weapons and armored vehicles” to enter the city after President Donald Trump changed US policy to allow arms deliveries to Kurdish as well as Arab SDF fighters.“I believe this support will arrive soon,” he said.

Moscow: US Participation in ‘De-escalation Zones’ Linked to Syrian Regime’s Approval
Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/Moscow, Beirut- Russia insisted Thursday that the US contribution to the memorandum on establishing de-escalation zones in Syria should be acceptable for Damascus in the first place. Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters in Sochi that it was still early to speak about a US participation in the de-escalation zones.” He said: “This issue should be discussed with the Syrian side, because Syria is a sovereign state.”On May 3-4, Russia, Turkey and Iran signed in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana a memorandum on setting up de-escalation zones in Syria. Bogdanov uncovered that Russia was exerting efforts to solve disputes between Washington and Tehran, particularly on Syria. He said the US recognizes the role played by Russia and Turkey in the Astana peace process, but looks at Iran as having an unconstructive role in the region, a role that Washington “can’t praise under any circumstances.”The deputy foreign minister said: “Of course there are differences and difficulties between the two sides and this requires additional political and diplomatic efforts. We will continue to work.”
In a related development, military sources close to the Syrian regime said Russian forces in Aleppo took certain measures to prevent Assad’s forces, Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” militants, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from entering the city, located in the north of the country.
The sources said that Russia is working to “gradually decrease the influence of Iran, which has invested all what has been achieved by Moscow to its benefit.”Italian news agency, AKI, quoted sources as saying that the Russian military police in Moscow have arrested a number of intelligence officials working for the Syrian regime air force because they refused to respect Russia’s orders.The sources also said that Russia had sent fighters from Ingushetia and Chechnya to Syria as military police.

Erdogan Says Trump’s Kurdish Arms Move Harms Ties
Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday his visit to the United States next week could mark a “new beginning” in relations between the two countries although he repeated Ankara’s criticism of the Trump Administration’s decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria. “The United States is still going through a transition period. And we have to be more careful and sensitive,” he told a news conference at the Ankara airport before departing for China and the United States, where he will meet President Donald Trump for the first time since the president’s January inauguration. “Right now there are certain moves in the United States coming from the past, such as the weapons assistance to the People’s Protection Units (YPG),” Erdogan said. “These are developments that are in contradiction to our strategic relations with the United States and of course we don’t want this to happen.”Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the outlawed PKK, which has fought an insurgency in its southeast region for three decades and is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and United States.Erdogan said he did not want to see “a terrorist organization alongside the United States”, and that Turkey would continue military operations against Kurdish militia targets in Iraq and Syria.Erdogan said his meeting with Trump would be decisive. “I actually see this US visit as a new beginning in our ties,” he said, alluding to Turkey’s fraught relations with former President Barack Obama. The tone of Erdogan’s comments, contrasted with angry rebukes from Ankara earlier this week, when the foreign minister said every weapon sent to the YPG was a threat to Turkey and the defense minister described the move as a crisis.
Turkish sources also told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made sure on Thursday to send a clear message to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that providing arms to the Kurds in Syria would have negative repercussions on the two country’s ties. The two officials met in London on the sidelines of a conference on Somalia.

Turkey Detains Dozens of ex-Bourse Staff over Coup Links
Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/Turkish police on Friday detained 62 people in an operation against the Istanbul stock exchange over alleged links to Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating the failed July 15 coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media said. State-run Anadolu Agency said the suspects were detained in simultaneous police raids in Istanbul and five other cities. Detention warrants were issued for 40 other people, the agency reported. The Haberturk daily said on its website that those held are former employees of the Istanbul stock exchange and are suspected of using an encrypted messaging application called Bylock which Turkey claims was especially created for supporters of US-based preacher Gulen. They are also accused of performing transactions on behalf of Bank Asya, a bank once closely affiliated with Gulen. Anadolu said the suspects were removed from positions at Borsa Istanbul stock exchange following the attempt. Some 47,000 people have been arrested under the state of emergency imposed after the coup, while tens of thousands more have lost their jobs. Late last month, Turkey dismissed almost 4,000 public officials under the state of emergency while over 9,100 police were suspended on April 26. The latest move underlines that there is to be no let-up in the anti-Gulen purge after Erdogan won the April 16 referendum on expanding his powers. Turkey’s Western allies, led by the European Union, have expressed concern over the magnitude of the post-coup purge which has affected every walk of life in Turkey. Ankara however says that the action is necessary to rid Turkey of what Erdogan calls the “virus” created by Gulen’s infiltration of key Turkish institutions.
Gulen denies involvement in the failed coup.

SDF Awaits Weapons, Says Final Push on Raqqa in Early Summer
Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Arab groups and the Kurdish YPG, said on Friday their attack to capture ISIS’ Syrian bastion Raqqa city would begin in early summer, and the US-led coalition would supply them with arms for the assault. SDF commander Abdul Qader Hevdeli declined to say when exactly the assault on Raqqa would begin, but said it would be soon. “I can’t specify exactly, I believe entering and storming the city will happen at the start of the summer,” he said during a news conference in the town of Tabqa, which the SDF captured this week from ISIS jihadists after weeks of battles. “At the start of entering (Raqqa), of course, as (the US-led coalition) promised us, there will be support in the form of specialized weapons, armored vehicles or others,” he said. SDF commander Rojda Felat also told AFP that the attack on Raqqa will take place in the beginning of the summer, without giving a more precise date. The SDF has been waging a campaign to isolate and ultimately capture Raqqa city since November, with backing from the US-led coalition. While the US-led coalition has already supplied weapons to Arab fighters in the SDF, the White House this week authorized for the first time arming its most powerful element – the Kurdish YPG – to help in the Raqqa assault, infuriating Turkey. Hevdeli said that weapons the White House has approved for the YPG had yet to arrive. “I believe these weapons or this support will arrive soon,” he said. His comments came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated Ankara’s criticism of the Trump Administration’s decision to arm the Kurdish fighters. Four days before he is due in Washington to meet Trump, Erdogan said he did not want to see “a terrorist organization alongside the United States”, and that Turkey would continue military operations against Kurdish militia targets in Iraq and Syria. The capture of Tabqa and its nearby dam on the Euphrates river marked a major milestone in the SDF campaign against ISIS. The SDF said in a statement Tabqa would be turned over to a civilian council once fully secured. It also said the authority that oversees the hydroelectric Tabqa dam would remain “a national Syrian institution that will serve all the regions of Syria without exception”.

Riyadh to Host Counter-Terrorism Forum on May 21
Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/Riyadh – The Saudi capital Riyadh will host next week the inaugural counter-terrorism forum, sponsored by the Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism. Organized by the King Faisal Center for Islamic Research and Studies, the forum will be held on May 21 under the theme “The Nature of Extremism and the Future of Terrorism.”Secretary General of the Center Dr. Saud al-Sarhan revealed that the forum will bring together international experts to discuss pressing issues on the global agenda, such as the nature of fundamentalism, its forms and influence.
They will also discuss predictions of the future of terror and the role of social media in affecting it, he added. Saudi Arabia has taken the initiative and played a leading role in the war on terrorism, he continued. The forum will serve to bolster the kingdom’s pioneering role on the regional and international levels, he stressed. Saud remarked that terrorism has had destructive effects on several Islamic countries, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Yemen over the past decade and several Islamic nations have found themselves fighting terrorism alone. The Riyadh forum seeks to overcome the state of fragmentation and launch open, constructive and honest dialogue on the causes and roots of the current situation, he revealed. The forum’s agenda includes four discussion sessions that will debate ways countries can work together to find solutions to dealing with terrorism, which poses one of the greatest pressing challenges not just to the Islamic countries, but the whole world. The topics cover the future vision of terrorism, extremism on the internet and social media, terrorism’s ties to crimes and corruption and mechanisms to combat fundamentalism and terrorism in the Middle East. Established in 1983, the King Faisal Center for Islamic Research and Studies is considered a platform that brings together researchers and institutions to preserve scientific work and enrich cultural and intellectual life in Saudi Arabia. It acts as a bridge between East and West and offers in-depth analyses of modern issues, Saudi Arabian, North African, Iranian and Asian studies among others. It cooperates with prestigious scientific research institutions from all over the world and enjoys a broad network of ties with specialists in Saudi Arabia and the globe.

Sinai Tribes Rise against ISIS
Mohamed Abdu Hassanein/Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/Cairo- A number of tribesmen in Egypt’s Sinai region revolted on Thursday against ISIS and started collaborating with the Egyptian Army to regroup ahead of launching a significant qualitative operation against the terrorist organization.Local sources in Sinai said the tribesmen’s decision came after ISIS militants killed on Wednesday 13 members of the Tarabin tribe, one of the largest in northern Sinai. Security sources had announced that 13 Egyptians were killed and two others were missing in a military attack launched by ISIS jihadists against local tribesmen in the south of the border town of Rafah.The sources said that the terrorist organization had staged an ambush against men from the Tarabin tribe, using a military vehicle, which they stole from the Army. The local tribesmen thought the vehicle was safe; therefore they did not deal with it. Tribesmen sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that armed men from the Tarabin tribe were gearing up to respond to the latest ISIS attack. “Currently, the tribal union and the Egyptian Army are sieging one of ISIS’ nests in the area,” the sources said. In recent years, Egyptian authorities fought a fierce battle against ISIS militants in North Sinai. Hundreds were killed from both sides. But, in the past few weeks, members of Sinai’s powerful tribes have decided to be involved in the fighting and have staged a military campaign against ISIS. The conflict between the two sides escalated in the past days when members of the Sinai tribes succeeded to kidnap and kill dozens of militants from the terrorist organization. In late April, the tribes announced kidnapping nine ISIS members who were handed to the Egyptian Army. The tribes also killed eight others in a battle in south Rafah earlier this month. Moussa Al-Delh, a spokesman of the Tarabin tribe, said that the tribe is in war with militants under the leadership of the state.

Palestinian shot dead in west bank clash with Israelis: ministry
AFP, NablusFriday, 12 May 2017/A Palestinian youth was shot dead during clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the Palestinian health ministry said. The man was shot during the protests which are held weekly near the village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, and later died in a nearby hospital, the ministry said in a statement. The dead man was named as Saba’ Nidal Obaid, 20. The Israeli army said in a statement to AFP it was “aware of reports” that a protester had been killed but could not confirm it. “A violent riot involving dozens of Palestinians hurling rocks at (Israeli army) forces broke out earlier today,” a spokeswoman said. “Dispersal means,” including firing live ammunition, were used “in response to that imminent threat”.A wave of unrest which erupted in October 2015 has claimed the lives of 263 Palestinians, 41 Israelis, two Americans, one Jordanian, an Eritrean, a Sudanese and a Briton, according to an AFP count.Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, Israeli authorities say.Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Israel Postpones Settlement Expansion Plans until after Trump Visit
Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/Tel Aviv – The Israeli government submitted to permanent US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley a list of demands, including eliminating Security Council resolution 2334 that condemns settlements. The demands were made at a time when the government decided to postpone a meeting that was aimed at expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank until after a visit by US President Donald Trump to Israel on May 22. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to postpone the Israeli army’s Civil Administration and the High Planning Council meeting until after Trump’s visit. An Israeli public employee, who chose to remain anonymous due to the sensitive diplomatic issue, revealed that the postponement was aimed at avoiding tensions and disputes between Tel Aviv and Washington over settlement building before the US president’s trip.Such disputes could lead to the complete failure of the visit, explained the official. Furthermore, making the settlement issue a major topic during Trump’s talks will grant Palestinians a weapon that will bolster their position during his visit to Bethlehem where he is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he added.The Civil Administration and the High Planning Council will likely meet in July, revealed the employee. Sources described Netanyahu’s orders as “strict” because he does not want a repetition of the crisis that broke out in 2010 when Tel Aviv ordered the construction of 1,600 settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem at a time when then Vice President Joe Biden was paying a visit to Israel. Meanwhile, Tel Aviv decided to test the extent of Haley’s support to Israel and her pledge to introduce radical change in the UN’s policy towards it. Among its demands are reducing the number of reports issued each year by UN agencies against Israel. These agencies meet once a month. It also called for decreasing the work and budget of UN agencies concerned with Palestinian affairs. It also urged Haley to appoint an Israeli official to a high UN position.

White House Fumes after Moscow Releases Trump Meeting Photos
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 12/17/Donald Trump's administration was left red-faced Thursday after the Moscow surprised it by releasing pictures of a closed-door meeting between the U.S. president and Russia's top diplomat. The images -- issued by the Russian state news agency TASS, and subsequently published by much of the global media -- showed a grinning Trump shaking hands with Sergei Lavrov and the Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergei Kislyak, during an Oval Office meeting. That Wednesday meeting was already being seen as a major diplomatic coup for the Kremlin, a red carpet welcome just months after being hit with U.S. sanctions for meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Veteran diplomats questioned why Trump agreed to host the diplomats -- a rare honor for non-heads of state, much less for those at the center of major U.S. political scandal. U.S. administrations often treat Oval Office meetings as a type of currency, dangling the prospect of a high-profile sit-down to gain leverage or concessions in negotiations. But the emergence of photos compounded the perception that Russia had won a diplomatic victory and that the Trump White House was outmaneuvered. "Congrats Kollegi (colleagues) at getting these photos! Huge coup," said former U.S. ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul. Publicly, the White House put on a brave face. Trump "should be meeting with the foreign minister," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, lambasting critics. "For them to try to attack him for doing his job, maybe they should spend a little more time doing their jobs and we wouldn't have all the problems that we do."Privately though White House officials seethed at what they described as a breach of trust.
Officials said that Vladimir Putin had requested the meeting, a quid-pro-quo for his recent face-to-face with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow. The White House was told an official Russian photographer would be present, implying the images would be for the historical record and not necessarily made public. "Our official photographer and their official photographer were present, that's it," said one aide shortly after the meeting. But when the images were published across the world via state media, the White House raged that Moscow had misled them. Two officials admitted they were not told that the images would be made public. Asked whether the Russian delegation informed the White House that they planned to release the photos, one official said tersely: "No they did not." Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, writing on Facebook, countered: "The American side did not ask us to refrain from publishing these photographs."The photographer involved -- Alexandr Scherbak -- also took to Facebook to address what he called the "hysteria around my photoshoot," which raised hackles among U.S. media denied access to the meeting. "There was nothing unusual about the photoshoot," he said, adding that the images were taken as part of a regular collaborative deal between his employer, TASS, and the Russian foreign ministry. "I was scanned, patted down, and then sniffed by canines," he said. "We worked for just a minute and that's all." Former U.S. intelligence officials have suggested allowing a Russian photographer access to the Oval Office could pose a potential cyber-security risk, and the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers, was grilled on the subject by the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday. Rogers told the hearing he had not been consulted beforehand. The Oval Office pictures could hardly have come at a worse time for Trump, deepening suspicions that he is too cozy with Putin's government. His campaign faces a slew of investigations about whether it colluded with the Kremlin to derail Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. The Lavrov meeting came just hours after Trump fired his FBI director James Comey, the man responsible for investigating the allegations of collusion between his team and Russia. The embarrassment was compounded by Ambassador Kislyak's presence. He is at the center of a series of questions about contacts between Trump's inner circle and the Russian government. Michael Flynn's failure to disclose meetings with Kislyak eventually led to his departure as national security advisor and made the Russian diplomat a virtual household name. "I could have done without the attention" Kislyak told AFP recently. The White House later released its own pictures from the meeting, which did not feature Kislyak.

Small blast near Rome post office damages car, no injuries
Fri 12 May 2017/ NNA - A rudimentary explosive device exploded between parked vehicles outside a post office in Rome on Friday, causing no injuries but damaging a car, police said. A preliminary investigation indicated that the blast likely was "a demonstrative act, showing that it could be done," but apparently not designed to cause major damage, Rome police official Massimo Improta told reporters. Similar explosions in Rome and other Italian cities in recent years have frequently been blamed on or claimed by anarchists. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The post office, an imposing, 1930s Fascist-era building that is often studied by architecture students, remained opened throughout the incident. The blast occurred in a small parking area outside a side entrance where people go to pick up packages that the post office couldn't deliver because no one was home. Improta said that a trigger, set off by a timer, initiated the explosion, which then ignited gasoline inside a plastic container that was part of the device, a noisy sequence leading some people at first to think there were two explosions. The post office serves the residential Testaccio neighborhood and is near the foot of the Aventine Hill. ---Associated Press

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 12-13/17
Jimmy Carter: Trump Is Right. Canada’s Lumber Trade Practices Are Unfair.
Jimmy Carter/The Washington Post/May 12/17
I agree with the recent decision of the White House and the Commerce Department to impose anti-subsidy duties against Canada’s unfairly traded softwood lumber imports. This belated enforcement of US trade laws will help millions of private timberland owners, American forestry workers and members of their local communities by leveling the playing field in the timber industry.
Timber sales are a major source of income for my own family, and we have suffered financially for many years from an unfair advantage enjoyed by our major competitor in this vital market.
With moderate adjustments in management, there is enough timberland in the United States to supply the total American market with lumber. Without adjusting any US timber policies, and if we are able to compete on a level playing field against Canada, our production of lumber could satisfy more than 84 percent of total US demand, according to Western Woods Products Association data. This would leave the remaining 16 percent to be supplied by imports, but now about 32 percent of our lumber is being imported from Canada.
Canada enjoys an inherent advantage in that the vast majority of its standing timber is owned by provincial governments, which are free to dump their timber at practically no cost in order to stimulate their forest industry. At the same time, most of America’s timber is privately owned, and market forces impose a minimum price at which farm owners can continue in business.
There has been a long-lasting dispute about importing Canadian softwood, which has gone through an increasingly crucial phase during the past 35 years. About 70 percent of Canada’s softwood lumber exports came to the United States in 2015. One indication of the recent changes in market forces is that the number of Canadian-owned sawmills in our country has exploded to more than 40 in the past decade — partially because of lower labor costs in the United States.
The latest Softwood Lumber Agreement expired on Oct. 12, 2015, and Canadian producers now have almost unrestricted access to the U.S. softwood lumber market. Last month, the Trump administration announced plans to impose average duties of 20 percent on most Canadian lumber, charging that these lumber companies are subsidized by the government. To remain in effect, however, the duties need to be finalized by our Commerce Department and then confirmed by the US International Trade Commission after an investigation that includes testimony from both sides. This enforcement of US trade laws is consistent with our international commitments.
The members of my family own about 1,800 acres of timberland, and the softwood (pine) tracts are mostly planted as seedlings (from 550 to 900 per acre) that even in our warm climate need to grow for at least 25 years before becoming large enough to sell for lumber. Unless in urgent need of cash income, we usually wait at least 10 additional years before harvesting and replanting. After this 35-year period, we sell our softwood timber — usually less than 100 acres a year — in a competitive and open process to Canadian sawmills to make lumber.
With logs selling at the present price of $25 per ton, we can expect to realize a net income of about $875 per acre, or just $25 a year over 35 years, plus some secondary income for pulp wood and other products. Largely because of Canada’s unfair trade, the prices we receive today are the same as when I was in office over 35 years ago, although expenses from planting seedlings, thinning, removing unmarketable trees, periodic controlled burning and timber severance taxes are much greater.
While there are many benefits to harmonious bilateral relationship between the United States and Canada, our neighbor to the north must still play by the rules and stop engaging in its unfair trade practices. We must either enforce US trade laws with tariffs or insist on an effective and lasting bilateral softwood trade agreement that allows our industry to survive, provide jobs for workers and sustain vibrant forestry communities across our country.
**Jimmy Carter served as the 39th president of the United States and later founded the Carter Center. He was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

Crisis or Stasis?
Ross Douthat/The New York Times/May 12/17
After the cascading weirdness of recent Western history, the results from France’s presidential election were strangely … normal. All the hours that Trump-traumatized commentators spent imagining how Marine Le Pen could get from the low 40s to striking distance turned out to be wasted: Her tumble to just 34 percent, and the cruise-control victory for Emmanuel Macron, was about the outcome you would have expected if there had been no Brexit, no Trumpening, no Syrian refugee crisis and Continental terror wave, no sudden sense of capital-H History awakening from its sleep.
Of course if you prefer anxiety — and some Americans dealing with the James Comey madness may have that preference — you can spin the outcome differently. Le Pen almost doubled her father’s vote share from 2002, Macron was running his own kind of (pretend) outsider’s campaign, the two main French political parties look wrecked, and the neophyte president faces the same array of daunting challenges that had certain dotty pundits considering the case for Le Pen.
But I would still submit that the basic normalcy of the French landslide, the populist challenge’s hard rebuff, is a useful indicator for observers trying to answer the great question of the moment: Is ours really an age of deepening Western crisis — as it has certainly seemed, of late — or beneath all the populist sound and fury, does our society actually remain in a kind of stasis, stagnant but not close to revolution or collapse?
Since the Berlin Wall came down and Francis Fukuyama announced the End of History, “stasis” has had by far the better of the argument. From 1989 onward Western political arguments were conducted within extremely narrow lines, with radicals and reactionaries thoroughly excluded. Liberal democracy lacked plausible ideological challengers, in the West and elsewhere: Neither radical Islam nor Putinism had anything like the appeal of Marxism and fascism in their heyday. The contradictions of capitalism inspired plenty of criticism but little in the way of active resistance. And every time a seemingly world-historical crisis came along — Sept. 11, the Great Recession — it turned out to just circulate the same groups of elites in and out of power.
I don’t need to rehearse all the ways in which the last few years in Western politics have broken with this pattern, how our populist moment has elevated unexpected and extreme-seeming forces from Warsaw to Westminster to Trump’s Washington.
But more important than the political developments, potentially, has been the widening of ideological possibility, the sense on both the younger right and left that ideas from way outside the neoliberal center are up for consideration once again.
So things definitely feel different than just five or 10 years back. The intersectional left is purging campuses, reactionary thought is getting the cover treatment in New York Magazine, the language of the 1930s (“America First!”) is on the lips of politicians, the kids are into socialism and integralism and even once in a while ISIS there’s a whiff of tear-gas in the streets of Berkeley and talk of schism in Catholicism and a strange sort of nationalist international in play in geopolitics.
But how different? This is the hard question, because in Western politics, what sometimes seems like a sea change may still turn out to just be a spasm — more significant than Buchananism or Occupy Wall Street or the last Le Pen breakthrough but ultimately contained and managed and defused.
A glance at the stock market shows that’s how the West’s moneymen are betting, and not without some reason. In Britain Theresa May’s embrace of Brexit has left the far right without a cause and the Corbynite left poised for a devastating defeat. In the United States Donald Trump’s nationalism seems to be collapsing back into zombie Reaganism at home and the usual post-Cold War management of rogue states abroad — the former shadowed by the possibility of impeachment, the latter seasoned by incompetence in various terrifying ways, but neither representing the kind of highly ideological, post-post-Cold War revolution that Trumpism once seemed to promise.
In France, Le Pen’s disappointing performance came after years of attempting to inch toward the liberal center; for all the talk about the republic in the balance, she was running as a secular Gaullist, not a fascist. On Europe’s peripheries, Poland’s far-right Law and Justice has not yet set up a Catholic monarchy, nor Greece’s far-left Syriza a people’s republic. The new illiberalism everywhere has its limits, and may not always be genuinely illiberal at all.
Meanwhile, as someone who reads widely in (and has sympathies with) neoliberalism’s critics, I’m not sure any of the theoretical attempts at a post-liberal politics have yet escaped what you might call the Steve Bannon trap, in which name-dropping figures from the more ideologically exciting past substitutes for actually devising a new blueprint of one’s own.
The alt-right “counterculture” profiled in New York Magazine, for instance, includes a few genuinely radical figures — the much-cited Mencius Moldbug really does want monarchy, of a sort — but often its subjects are just a little more populist or a little more race conscious or a little more intemperate than the normal run of post-Goldwater American conservatives.
Likewise the campus left has added transgenderism to its list of causes and some new words to its vocabulary of enforcement, but otherwise its recent inquisitions feel more like a replay of the 1990s P.C. wars than a 1960s-level convulsion, with the internet amplifying the attention they garner but not necessarily their real scope.
The role of the online realm in this moment is generally ambiguous. It is clearly a place where the extreme and heterodox can find one another, where reaction and radicalism can flourish unpoliced. But there’s a sense in which the internet’s virtual forms of political engagement, its slacktivism and Twitter mobs and meme wars, might also limit online radicalism’s real-world reach, encouraging 1930s playacting and recondite debates that never leave the realm of pixels and nostalgia.
This matters because real historical turning points require both structural crises and usable philosophies, an intersection of events and ideologies — industrialization plus “Das Kapital” plus World War I, for instance — strong enough to dissolve all the habits and fears and status-quo biases that keep a given order going.
I argued last week that Europe seems closer to such a moment than America — the tensions within its version of the liberal order are more profound, the weak points of its system more obvious, its social-cultural decadence somewhat more advanced, the external pressure more severe. Le Pen’s larger-than-expected defeat doesn’t change this reality, nor weaken the case that European elites should learn from their populists lest a future deluge carry them away. But in neither Europe nor America do post-liberal ideas look anywhere near fully ripe, and in both Europe and America there is a “first as tragedy, then as farce, then as online flamewar” quality to the way they’ve entered into political debates.
Nor do the pressures on the system from social fragmentation and economic stagnation yet look strong enough to overcome the stabilizing effects of the developed world’s great wealth, the risk aversion bred by age and habit, the fearful memories of what the last age of illiberalism wrought.
That’s the case, in brief, for betting on continued stasis, and for interpreting our moment’s perturbations — Trump, Comey and all — as pointing toward a real crisis for the West that still lurks a generation or more ahead.

A Message to Putin From 42 Million Dead
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/May 12/17/
According to official data, more than 800,000 people in Moscow alone, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, took part in Tuesday’s march to commemorate their ancestors’ participation in World War II. This memory is the basis of the Putin school of Russian patriotism and a big part of the ideology underlying the nation’s recent geopolitical assertiveness. But the so-called Immortal Regiment movement also has another side, which undermines this ideology: Its leaders claim that declassified data show the Soviet Union’s wartime losses reached an astronomical 42 million people, rather than the officially recognized 27 million.
The “Immortal Regiment” — the tradition of people marching with the photographs of their relatives who fought in the war to mark the anniversary of the Soviet victory on May 9 — started as a grassroots movement in the 2000s; three journalists named it. The Kremlin’s decision to head up the marches has had the effect of replacing the patriotic spontaneity of local activists with the dutifulness of an official propaganda effort specifically aimed at making the 1945 victory the cornerstone of Russian national pride. Organizers have quarreled about the degree of closeness to the official authorities, with the Moscow chapter of Immortal Regiment splitting off to go along entirely with the Kremlin effort.
Something about the original urge, however, has resisted the government’s narrative: The people in those pictures are, after all, almost all dead. Many of them were killed in a war that decimated the Soviet Union’s population, sometimes leaving entire extended families and even villages without men.
In February, the Russian parliament held a hearing on the Immortal Regiment movement as an element of young Russians’ “patriotic upbringing.” The many parliamentary and government bodies who decided to participate was an unambiguous signal that support came from the highest level. As he opened the hearing, legislator Vyacheslav Nikonov spoke of defending Russia’s victory against a hybrid attack and a resurgence of Nazism in Ukraine. But another legislator, Nikolai Zemtsov, who was one of the movement’s early organizers and one of the strongest officialization advocates, delivered a somewhat unexpected contribution.
In a report to the hearing, Zemtsov said that according to data declassified in the post-Soviet years, 41.979 million Soviet citizens died in World War II — about 19 million soldiers and 23 million civilians.
The World War II casualty count has always been a matter of government policy in Russia. Josef Stalin had stuck to a low estimate Soviet losses — 7 million; Nikita Khrushchev then admitted 20 million lives were lost, and that was the number I was taught while attending a Soviet school in the 1970s and 1980s. In the Soviet Union’s final years, under President Mikhail Gorbachev, the official count rose to 27 million. It was an uncomfortable number: Germany only lost 7.3 million people, according to the official count, which some historians argue is low. Such an enormous cost of the Soviet victory gave rise to questions about Stalin’s conduct of the war and the value the victorious Soviet state attached to human life.
The 27 million number has held up since. Putin has used it in speeches. General Grigory Krivosheev’s definitive, state-sponsored work from 2009, “The Great Patriotic War Declassified,” put the final figure at 26.6 million. The number, however, was based on certain census data extrapolations. Zemtsov’s estimate, based on the work of historian Igor Ivlev, doesn’t rely on them. The State Planning Committee, the statistical and quota-setting center of the Soviet planned economy, had more specific numbers. Ivlev argued, however, that those data didn’t include service members, who were accounted for separately.
In total, according to Ivlev, the Soviet Union had a population of 205 million in 1941 and 169.8 million in 1945. Taking into account the 17.6 million births and natural deaths at the 1941 level, that leaves almost 42 million in war-related losses.
Though Ivlev’s approach has been questioned by some historians, his headline number is now bandied about semi-officially but by people responsible for using the memory of the war for “patriotic upbringing.” If it’s correct, it drives home the vastness of Russia’s tragedy and the price the country paid to rid the world of Nazism — but it also describes a Pyrrhic victory by a dictator who didn’t care how many people died following his orders. The cockiness of the victory anniversary celebrations since the 2014 invasion of Crimea and the ubiquitous cries of “We can do it again” are downright macabre next to Ivlev’s casualty number.
Given the size of its sacrifice, Russia is a country that should be less belligerent than any other nation in the world — even less than Germany, which has consciously kept its military activity at a low level even despite completely shedding the legacy of its aggressive 20th century rulers. If indeed it lost a quarter of its population in World War II, it should be committed to never “doing it again.” Putin’s depredations against neighboring nations and his willingness to intervene militarily far from Russia’s borders ignore the somber memories the Immortal Regiment evokes.
Even victories can carry an unthinkable cost. Putin might want to ponder that as he walks with the crowd, carrying the portrait of his father, who fought in the war and was lucky enough to come back — but not his brother Viktor, who died from diphtheria in Nazi-besieged Leningrad.

Macron and the Revival of Europe
Roger Cohen/The New York Times/May 12/17/
It’s not just that Emmanuel Macron won and will become, at the age of 39, France’s youngest president. It’s not merely that he defeated, in Marine Le Pen, the forces of xenophobic nationalism exploited by President Donald Trump.
It’s that he won with a bold stand for the much-maligned European Union, and so reaffirmed the European idea and Europe’s place in a world that needs its strength and values.
This, after Britain’s dismal decision last year to leave the European Union. Macron underlined his message by coming out to address his supporters in Paris accompanied by the European anthem, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” rather than the Marseillaise — a powerful gesture of openness.
A Le Pen-led lurch into a Europe of nationalism and racism has been averted. President Vladimir Putin of Russian backed Le Pen for a reason: He wants to break down European unity and sever the European bond with the United States. Instead, the center held and, with it, civilization.
A federalizing Europe is the foundation of European postwar stability and prosperity. It offers the best chance for young Europeans to fulfill their promise. It is Europeans’ “common destiny,” as Macron put it in his acceptance speech, standing before the French and European Union flags. To think otherwise is to forget history. No wonder Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, through her spokesman, immediately proclaimed a victory “for a strong and united Europe.”
That will require reform. Europe, complacent, has lost traction. Macron recognized this. He declared, “I want to re-weave the bond between citizens and Europe.” More transparency, more accountability and more creativity are required. No miracle ever marketed itself more miserably than the European Union.
Macron, who came from nowhere in the space of a year at the head of a new political movement, did not make facile promises or make up stories. He stood by refugees; he stood by Europe’s shared currency, the euro; and he was prepared to tell the French that they cannot turn their back on modernity and prosper.
Through rational argument he increased a lead over Le Pen that polls put at 20 percent after the first round two weeks ago to 30 percent, winning with 66.1 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 33.9 percent. This, in the age of Trump’s fake news, fake claims, and overall fakeness, was an important demonstration that reason and coherence still matter in politics.
Now the hard part begins. For the first time in France, the far right took more than a third of the vote, a reflection of the anger in the country at lost jobs, failed immigrant integration and economic stagnation. Macron, who said he was aware of “the anger, the anxiety, the doubts” needs to address this social unease head-on by reviving a sense of possibility in France. Without change, Le Pen will continue to gain support.
Change is notoriously hard to fashion in France. It is a country fiercely attached to the “acquis,” or acquired rights, enshrined in its comprehensive welfare state. Many have tried. Many have failed.
It is especially hard without strong parliamentary backing, and Macron will need that. Parliamentary elections will be held next month. His En Marche! (Onward!) movement must organize fast to build on his victory. It has extraordinary momentum. The traditional political landscape of the Fifth Republic — the alternation of center-left Socialists and center-right Republicans — has been blown apart.
Perhaps this very feat, without parallel in recent European political history, and Macron’s status as a centrist independent give him unique latitude to persuade the French, at last, that they can — like the Germans and the Dutch and the Swedes and the Danes — preserve the essence of their welfare state while forging a more flexible labor market that gives hope to the young. With 25 percent of its youth unemployed, France undoes itself.
If France grows again, Europe will grow with it. This would constitute a powerful rebuke to the autocratic-nationalist school — Le Pen with her sham of a political makeover, the xenophobic buffoon Nigel Farage in Britain, Putin in Moscow..
Macron’s is a victory for many things. He has demonstrated that France is not a country where racism and anti-European jingoism can win an election. He has reasserted the European idea and raised the possibility that France and Germany will conjure a revival of European idealism. He has rebuked the little Englanders who voted to take Britain out the Union (and made a tough negotiation on that exit inevitable).
Above all, through his intelligence and civility, his culture and his openness, Macron has erected a much-needed barrier to crassness and incivility, ignorance and closed-mindedness.
Vive la France! Vive l’Europe! Now more than ever.

Iran’s Sham Elections: A Political Version of Ta’azieh

Amir Taheri/Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/
In any elections, including the ersatz ones held in Iran, the voter is expected to make his choice on the basis of the candidates’ personality, record and programme.
Taking those three factors into account, how might Iranian voters judge the incumbent, Hojat al-Islam Hassan Rouhani who is seeking a second term?
Let’s start with personality.
With the talent of novelist, Rouhani has re-written his life story to suit the circumstances.
In 1970s he was in England trying to learn English and study textile design. When the clouds of revolution appeared he donned a clerical garb and cast himself as a student of theology, spending a few weeks in the “holy” city of Qom. He also changed his family name from Fereidun, the name of the mythological king who is regarded as the father of Iranian nationalism, to Rouhani, an Arabic word which in Persian means both “clerical” and “spiritual”.
Knowing that some Iranians like many others in the so-called “developing world” attach great importance to academic titles, especially when obtained from Western establishments, Rouhani shopped around for a “doctorate” in Europe. Initially, he wanted to enroll in a French university and obtain one of those “Doctorats d’Universite” that French issue to please people from the “Third World.”
However, a break in diplomatic relations between Tehran and Paris, due to the Iranian Embassy in Paris having become a nest of terrorists, killed that scheme. By that time, Rouhani – elevated to the post Secretary of the High Council of National Security – had found a friend in the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. That led to Straw advising, and, later, arranging for Rouhani to obtain a “doctorate” from a British University. The establishment chosen was the privately owned Caledonian University in Glasgow, Scotland, which was prepared to grant Rouhani a Ph.D in “Islamic law.”
Rouhani has been in or around the inner circles of powers in Tehran for four decades. In his memoirs, Rouhani claims that, aged 12, he was close to the late Ayatollah Muhammad Beheshti, regarded as the regime’s strongman before he was blown up by terrorists in 1981.
That may or may not be true. But the fact is that Rouhani always took care to be close to the “strongman” of the day. That led him into the entourage of Hashemi Rafsanjani who between 1988 and 1997 really ran the show in Tehran.
At the same time, however, Rouhani maintained close ties with the security services and the military including with a stint as head of the so-called Khatam al-Anbia cartel that runs the military’s vast business empire. When it comes to personality, Rouhani is an adept of Machiavellianism in its purest form. What matters to him is a share of power. If that means fondling the silken handkerchief he does it, and if the iron fist is required he is prepared.
His friends say he is a reformist and a moderate.
However, he has never advocated, let alone introduced, any reform whatsoever. He is an “Islah-talab” (seeker of reform), but never tells what is it that he is seeking. As for his claim of moderation, he misses no opportunity to boast about his revolutionary zeal. A moderate revolutionary, however, is like someone who is moderately pregnant.In the current campaign Rouhani has cast himself as leader of the opposition, blasting other contenders for “four decades of repression.”This may be because he has realized that those who have the final say in this charade may have decided to ditch him, and has thus decided to secure a measure of respectability.
It is also possible that by lashing out at his own regime he hopes to fool a section of the Iranian middle classes to go to the polls and give the sham exercise some credibility.
It would require a fantastic leap of imagination to vote for Rouhani on the strength of his character.
What about his record?
Well, according to official data, under Rouhani’s watch Iran has experienced four years of negative or zero economic growth. The Islamic Majlis Committee on Economy (Asl 44) reports double-digit inflation which may hit 50 per cent. The Majlis also reports that youth unemployment tops 25 per cent while thousands of privately-owned businesses have filed for bankruptcy. Official indexes concord that Iran today is poorer than it was four years ago.
Rouhani’s promise of a torrent of direct foreign investment pouring into Iran after his nuclear deal with Washington has not yet brought in a single farthing under the so-called nuclear deal, Iran has put large chunks of its industry, scientific policy and international trade under foreign mandate for between 10 to 25 years (and in some case indefinitely) through the P5+1 group led by the United States.
Rouhani’s foreign policy has been a total failure.
Iran is more isolated than ever and the so-called “Looking East” – an ersatz alliance with Russia – is tightly controlled by “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei. Rouhani doesn’t even dare question Iran’s costly involvement in the Syrian and Yemeni quagmires. Rouhani’s record is also questionable on national security. According to Islamic Security Minister Alavi, Iran has suffered over 100 terrorist attacks from across the borders with Iraq and Pakistan.
What about human rights?
Under Rouhani Iran has suffered the largest number of executions since 1988, becoming world number-one. Iran is also number-two in the world for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience (after Turkey). Shutting down newspapers and websites, arresting people on whimsy charges, banning concerts, and black-listing books and writers are all current practices.
According to official media, corruption, always a key feature of Khomeinist rule, is running out of control. According to the government, 25 per cent of Iran’s imports come through illegal ports and black-market channels controlled by Islamic security and military networks. According to Security Minister Alavi at least 53 top officials of Rouhani’s government are holders of US “Green Cards”. Some are also agents of Western companies.
Interestingly, Rouhani has admitted almost all of that in his TV debates with other candidates. His defense is that he has no control over the economy, security, military, foreign policy and judiciary. That is perfectly true. He is an actor playing president in a political version of the “ta’azieh” the traditional Persian passion-play.

Iran, Change of Attitude
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al-Awsat English/May 12/17/
As the US President complained to Russian Foreign minister over Iran’s attitude and the importance of suppressing it, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was publicly warning citizens that “they want to change Iran’s attitude and this means changing our regime”.
Tehran is undergoing an internal concern of change and Khamenei was right when he described the change of the regime’s attitude as dangerous on the state. Change is a tough process but it is the bitter medicine because the regime is old on the level of ideas and not years – the regime fits the Cold War period but not the age of competing markets.
He sees that danger lies in politicians who praise the people and grant them development and change promises during elections. The supreme leader expresses rejection, “we will not change,” and ignores the change of circumstances, succession of generations and the rise of ambitions. Candidates want to gain electors’ support and they promise of positive change – which is rejected and seen as dangerous by the regime guards.
There are world powers and region countries also complaining that Iran did not change. It still has the same policy established by Khomeini – at the beginning of his term – the policy of revolutions and wars in the region. For this reason, he established and supported local groups.
He built a network of agents that do filthy actions on his behalf. It started with hijacking airplanes’ operations, kidnapping and killing diplomats and academics and attempting to control local authorities in the targeted countries. This is Iran’s policy until today.
When the US administration complained over the Iranian attitude, it was complaining over a situation that has been there for a while. It is the reason behind chaos and tension in the region. Pressure put on Iran’s political regime is increasing to change its attitude and cope with the new world.
In fact, the greatest danger does not come from US or regional enemies but from the Iranian interior. Tehran’s authorities are worried that elections might go out of their hands just like in 2009, although the political process is already designed in the official framework, whether through allowing the pro-regime only to run for the elections, limiting electoral letters or even controlling the media and sorting ballots.
The challenges that the old regime in Tehran is facing are represented in rejecting to deal in a realistic manner with the change of generations. Majority of the world’s regimes have changed and are coping with their surroundings.
China, for example, maintained its regime but changed its methods – it let go the ideological legality and adopted the recent modern administration and the legality of the economic achievement. Vietnam – the most famous country to fight an ideology – changed and opened up to the world even on the level of enmity with the US.
Iran should learn from Arab regimes that refused to change and then collapsed, starting from Saddam in Iraq to Qaddafi in Libya, Saleh in Yemen and Assad who is suffering in Syria.
This strictness in ideology, political demagogy and the centralism of the security and military project will lead Iran to collapse. It will suffer foreign crises for adopting wars’ projects in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and for its support to extremist armed religious groups in Bahrain, Pakistan and others.
Also, the internal condition in Iran can’t be controlled by the authority of religious men who object over the youth’s ambitions; the majority of population. Candidates tried to attract Iranian voters by openness’ promises but Khamenei called them not to open this door.
This electoral conflict unveils the social and mental changes and reveals expectations of the Iranian people that the regime is trying to put an end for.

Are Islamists Conducting a New Jihad against the West?
William DiPuccio/Gatestone Institute/May 12/17
"But, as regards the reward and blessing, there is one deed which is very great in comparison to all the acts of worship and all the good deed­[s] -- and that is Jihad!" — Saudi publisher's prefatory note, Jihad in the Qu'ran and Sunnah by Sheikh 'Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid.
The rewards of Paradise are also promised to the observant Muslim, but the highest grades of Paradise, of which there are 100, are reserved only for those who perform jihad.
Jihad is, by all appearances, first and foremost an act of religious devotion and only secondarily an act of economic and political rebellion.
About four decades have passed since Sheikh 'Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid (1908-1981), ex-Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia, published his lengthy, impassioned, essay on jihad.[1] This essay, still available on the Internet, is the only one that Saudi religious scholars chose to include with the Noble Quran -- a modern, nine volume, English translation of the Quran, which includes ancient commentary.[2]
A cursory reading of Sheikh bin Humaid's essay should forever silence any fantasies regarding traditional Islam's peaceful disposition toward the non-Muslim world.[3] As the Saudi publisher says in his prefatory note:
"But, as regards the reward and blessing, there is one deed which is very great in comparison to all the acts of worship and all the good deed­[s] -- and that is Jihad!"
The publisher continues: "Never before such an article was seen, describing Jihad in its true colours­ -- so heart evoking and encouraging!... We are publishing this article and recommend every Muslim not only to read it himself but to offer every other Muslim brother within his read."
To be clear, Sheikh bin Humaid defines "jihad" as "holy fighting in Allah's Cause." This is not, in other words, the "lesser jihad," or "spiritual struggle," that some Muslim apologists cite, possibly to obfuscate the primary historical usage of the word. Jihad is war fought with "the heart," "the hand (weapons, etc.)," and "the tongue" (2).
Why Do Muslims Take Up Arms?
According to Sheikh bin Humaid, Allah sent Muhammad to fight against the mushrikun of Mecca -- the "polytheists, pagans, idolaters, and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad" (2). Muhammad patiently invited the Meccans to Islam for 13 years, warning them of Allah's judgement. But they refused the invitation.
This refusal, by itself, was not the justification for jihad. Allah's mercy was not yet exhausted. Sheikh bin Humaid tells us, in storied detail, that Muhammad and his followers were oppressed and persecuted by the Meccans. They were "imprisoned, made to suffer from hunger and thirst and by being beaten (in a horrible manner)" (3). Moreover, Muhammad himself was physically accosted more than once.[4]
The portrayal of cruelty on the part of the Meccans is enough to evoke sufficient anger in the reader, setting the stage for retaliation and jihad. At first Allah permitted the Muslims to defend themselves, but jihad was not obligatory. Allah can certainly defend the Muslims without fighting, according to the Sheikh, "but Allah wants from His worshippers obedience with all their efforts" (4). Consequently, he calls them to jihad as an act of obedience and devotion, not simply as an act of self-defense. This appears to be the birth of the Islamic doctrine of war.
Who is the Enemy of Islam?
Bin Humaid views jihad as a perpetual war that is to be waged against the world until submission to Islam is secured. The time for patience is over; the time for judgment has come. He cites the famous "verse of the sword":
"Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled." (Quran 9:29, Sahih International)
Bin Humaid tells us that Allah ordered the Muslims
"to discard (all) the obligations (covenants, etc.) and commanded the Muslims to fight against all the Mushrikun as well as against the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizya (a tax levied on the non-Muslims who do not embrace Islam and are under the protection of an Islamic government) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued" (4).
Peace with pagans, Jews, and Christians is not an option as long as they resist Muslim rule. And, as long as the Muslims were capable of fighting, says Sheikh bin Humaid, they "were not permitted to abandon 'the fighting' against them... and to reconcile with them and to suspend hostilities against them for an unlimited period" (4).
What is the Reward for Jihad?
Muslims, according to the Qur'an, disliked the call to jihad at first, but Allah insisted upon it:
"Jihad (holy fighting in Allah's Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it maybe that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know" (2:216): (5).
Jihad, then, was not a fabrication of Muhammad; it was, we are told, a direct command from Allah himself.
According to Bin Humaid, Muslim resistance to jihad soon turned to a love for the fight. The motivation, in this case, is the reward, which far exceeds the hardships of fighting. These warriors (Mujahidin) "fight against the enemies of Allah in order that the worship should be all for Allah... and that the Word of Allah... should be superior" (5).
This alone, he tells us, should be sufficient compensation for the warrior, but Allah goes farther. "He will forgive your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow and pleasant dwellings in Gardens of Eternity" (6).
Allah, says the Sheikh, also assists the Muslims in their battles against the enemies to give them victory. Although not specifically mentioned in the essay, Muslims find a celebrated example of this divine intervention in Islam's first major conflict, the Battle of Badr. In it, a relatively small army of Muslims defeated the well-equipped Meccan army. This was acclaimed as a certain sign of divine favor.
Sheikh bin Humaid spends several pages (6-10) discussing the superiority of the mujahidin (the warriors) over every other ministry and occupation in Islam, including those who maintain the mosque. The "believers who fight in Allah's Cause (mujahidin) are far superior in grades before Him" (7).
He describes the rewards of Paradise that await them (although he never mentions the fabled virgins). The rewards of Paradise are also promised to observant Muslims, but the highest grades of Paradise, of which there are 100, are reserved only for those who perform jihad (8).
Sheikh bin Humaid places virtually no emphasis on the spoils of war as a reward (see 16). Yet, we know from the many battles chronicled in the hadith, that booty was a major motivation for some of Muhammad's men.[5] Sheikh bin Humaid's idealism seems intended to appeal to the "true believer," and to the purest and most exalted motives to which devout Muslims aspire.
Is Jihad an Act of Worship?
Jihad, according to Sheikh bin Humaid, is spiritual warfare as well as armed conflict. The Quran says (4:76): "Those who believe, fight in the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Taghut (Satan etc.)." By battling the friends of Satan, Muslims are, according to him, protecting the weak and rescuing the oppressed from this evil (10). They are fighting to bring mankind "from the darkness into the light," from idolatry to the worship of Allah alone, and "from the injustices of the religions to the justice of Islam" (17).
Jihad, bin Humaid tells us, is also connected deeply to prayer and fasting -- all three of which are ordained by Allah. "All the Muslim religious scholars unanimously agree" that it is superior to non-obligatory prayer, as well as to the Hajj (the required pilgrimage to Mecca) and the Umra (a voluntary pilgrimage to Mecca) (11).
The Prophet Muhammad's lofty aspiration for Jihad is captured in this hadith from Sahih Al-Bukhari (2797). "I would love to be martyred in Allah's Cause, and then come back to life, and then be martyred, and then come back to life again, and then be martyred, and then come back to life again, and then be martyred" (11).
"Anyone", said Muhammad, "whose both feet get covered with dust in Allah's Cause will not be touched by the Hell-fire" (Sahih Al-Bukhari 2811) (16). This quest for martyrdom was echoed by the Fort Hood killer, Major Nidal Malik Hasan. Two years before he killed 13 people in 2009, he told an audience of his fellow Army doctors, "We love death more than you love life!"[6]
What are the Punishments for Refusing to Participate in Jihad?
If the rewards of jihad are great, then so, it seems, are the punishments for able-bodied Muslim men who refuse to participate, or who withdraw. According to Sheikh bin Humaid:
"Allah (swt) disapproved of those who abandoned Jihad (i.e. they did not go for Jihad) and attributed to them hypocrisy and disease in their hearts, and threatened (all) those who remain behind from Jihad and sit (at home) with horrible punishment" (12).
Punishment, says the Sheikh, is not limited to temporal justice: "whosoever turns his back to the unbelievers on the field of battle...has drawn upon himself the wrath from Allah. And his abode is Hell, worst indeed is that destination!" (Quran 8:16) (16). In the event that the Muslim people "march not forth," and forsake their duty to jihad, Allah has threatened to replace them with another people (12).
The severity of punishment for those who forsake jihad has been graphically demonstrated by ISIS during the last few years. ISIS cruelly executed dozens of their own soldiers who fled the battlefield. News reports indicate that these fighters were either burned alive, gassed, beheaded, or buried alive. [7]
How is Jihad Carried Out?
The call to jihad requires the support of the entire Muslim Ummah or people. It involves the transformation of a religious community into a military machine. Sheikh bin Humaid states:
"And you will not find any organization past or present, religious or non-religious...(ordering) the whole nation to march forth and mobilize all of them into active military service as a single row for Jihad in Allah's Cause so as to make superior the Word of you will find in the Islamic Religion and its teachings" (13).[8]
The jihad must be fought with "true bravery," faith, and utter confidence (of which the author cites numerous historical examples). Allah assisted the prophet and his fighters, "with victory" and "helped them with angels and... cast terror into the hearts of their enemies" (16). Against those who disbelieve, jihadists are instructed to "smite at their necks[9] till you have killed and wounded many of them." If the enemy does not capitulate, captives may be ransomed, or freed without ransom, "according to what benefits Islam" (14).
Mercifully, women, children, and the elderly, should not be killed in battle (Sahih Al-Bukhari 4:52, 257) (16). Although this rule of engagement was generally followed by Muslim armies on the battlefield, it does not prevent Muslims from engaging in mass destruction (such as setting fire to habitations, using catapults or bombs) that may entail the death of innocents.[10] Muhammad, moreover, appears not to have spared his personal enemies, regardless of age or sex, according to the historical traditions.[11]
Why did 20th Century Islam Forsake Jihad?
Having set before his readers the high calling of jihad, Sheikh bin Humaid turns his attention to the plight of 20th century Islam. The success of jihad has always depended on the ability of Muslims to maintain a pure faith. This entails the fear of one's own sins, and the fear of disobedience to Allah. Muslims are victorious, despite their small numbers, because, according to bin Humaid, their enemies disobeyed Allah. Should the Muslims fail in this one point, they will be overpowered by their enemies (18).
By Allah's might, bin Humaid continues, the Muslims became "the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind" -- enjoining true monotheism and forbidding polytheism. But today they "are leading a life of the one who knows not any Prophet, nor believes in any Divine Message or Divine Revelation,[12] nor expects any reckoning nor is afraid of the Hereafter." They have, in some ways, he laments, reverted to the pre-Islamic ignorance of Arabian polytheists (19).
In response, Allah has sent them trials through the imposition of Western civilization and Soviet communism (this was written before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991). "So their land," says the Sheikh, "became 'a free wealth' with no protector." Fulfilling Muhammad's prophecy, Allah has removed fear from the hearts of those who hate Islam, while casting a love for this world and a hatred of death into the hearts of Muslims.[13] Allah has covered the Muslims in humiliation for cheating one another, abandoning their nomadic lifestyle to indulge their own comforts,[14] and deserting their call to jihad (19).
Having fallen so far, Muslims, he adds, have added yet another sin to their apostasy: They have asked for help from their enemies, and asked unbelievers to protect them, "begging them; turning towards them, expecting good from them" (19). Sheikh bin Humaid does not link this charge to any specific historical events. He was probably referring to numerous Saudi-American ventures including oil exploration in the 1930s, the permanent establishment of U.S. air bases in Saudi Arabia near the end of the WWII, and the military protection the U.S. has afforded Saudi Arabia since the 1940s.
Despite maintaining an outward appearance of Islamic religion and culture, Muslims, he says, have "become mean, despised before Allah." They have immersed themselves in luxury, the worship of wealth, and a love for this world. They have succumbed to their enemies without so much as raising a hand. They have abandoned Islamic law (sharia) in favor of man-made laws which are in conflict with Allah's judgement (19-20).
There is, in the Sheikh's exhortation, a complete absence of the usual refrains against Western imperialism and economic oppression that we are accustomed to hearing today. With some notable exceptions, Muslims have not suffered economically under Western influence; rather they have thrived, especially those who live in the oil-rich Gulf states. The guilt for abandoning their religion is the result of indulgence rather than want or oppression.
With some notable exceptions, Muslims have not suffered economically under Western influence; rather they have thrived, especially those who live in the oil-rich Gulf states. Pictured above: The skyline of Dubai. (Image by Francois Nel/Getty Images for XCAT)
In his final appeal, Sheikh bin Humaid exclaims that it is "absolutely obligatory" for the Muslim people, and especially for Islamic scholars, to obey Allah, settle their differences, invite Muslims and non-Muslims alike to Islam, "publish its good aspects," and instruct the people in the laws and wisdom of Islam, "as did Muslim nobles of early days." Failure to do so is an invitation to Divine judgement (20-21).
The New Jihad
Since Sheikh bin Humaid penned this essay, evidently between 1974 and 1981, we have seen a resurgence of traditional faith in much of the Muslim world. With that renewal has come, predictably, an increase in violence as Muslims subdue unbelievers and seemingly attempt to purify their own ranks by punishing and killing apostates. Whether Sheikh bin Humaid would have approved of the brutality of ISIS and the use of suicide bombers is open for debate. But we can be certain that he would have lauded the willingness of many Muslims to spread the message of Islam and sacrifice their lives for the cause.
The new jihad is not primarily a reaction to Western economic oppression, as if more wealth in the hands of the many would arrest the problem.[15] To view this in neo-Marxist terms as an economic class struggle would be misleading. Muslim countries, as noted above, have largely prospered under Western influence and some have invited the protection of Western powers.[16] Rather, the new jihad evolves naturally from traditional Islamic doctrine which seeks to emulate Muhammad and his historical successors. Jihad is, by all appearances first and foremost an act of religious devotion, and only secondarily an act of economic and political rebellion.
Whereas Western nations generally seek peace and view it as a corollary to prosperity and the development of a high culture, Muslim traditionalists such as Sheikh bin Humaid believe that jihad is indicative of a vigorous and pure Islamic faith. Peace, according to him, can only be achieved when unbelief is subdued or vanquished from the earth. An Islam at perpetual war with the unbelieving world is the highest aspiration of faith and obedience. By contrast, the peace, prosperity, and culture so prized by the West has corrupted traditional Islam from within, posing a threat to its existence. This, evidently, is why the new call to jihad against the West has become more urgent for Islamists than ever.
*William DiPuccio holds a Ph.D. in religious studies and has authored numerous articles and essays on both religion and science. He has also worked and taught in both fields. You can find his blog, Science Et Cetera, at
[1] "Jihad in the Qur'aan and Sunnah". Numbers in parenthesis refer to the page numbers in this online version. In quoting the work I have followed the corrected spelling of the print version which is appended to the Noble Quran, cited below. The English renderings in either case are often awkward.
[2] "The Call to Jihad (Holy Fighting for Allah's Cause) in the Quran," Interpretation of the Meaning of the Noble Quran (Ryadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2000), 9:459-477. This is the official Saudi translation of the Quran and represents the Salafi (sometimes called, Wahhabi) form of Islam. The essay, however, is conspicuously absent from the more popular one-volume version, perhaps to conceal from non-Muslims the violent intentions of traditional Islamic doctrine.
[3] Not all Muslim's follow the traditional teachings, of course, especially those who live in the West. Muslims who insist on following traditional theology and law in all of its details are often referred to as Islamists. Their intent is to bring about submission to Islam worldwide, and implement sharia law in every nation. See "What Do the Terrorists Want? [A Caliphate and Shari'a]" by Daniel Pipes, July 26, 2005.
[4] Most historians believe that the Muslims were, indeed, persecuted at first. However, the extent of the persecution may have been exaggerated in order to justify later violence against the Meccans.
[5] See Muhammad at Medina, by W. Montgomery Watt (Oxford Press, 1956), 145-146.
[6] "We love death more than you love life!," National Post, April 6, 2011.
[7] See,,,
[8] The English translation is very awkward here, and I have omitted some words in an attempt to render it more intelligible.
[9] Decapitation has always been the preferred method of execution among Muslims. The severed heads, especially of important persons, are regarded as the trophies of victory and are often displayed after the battle.
[10] See discussion in, Hedaya, by Shaikh Burhanu 'd-din 'Ali, trans. Charles Hamilton (London: T. Bensley, 1791), 2:145-146 and A Dictionary of Islam, by T.P. Hughes (London: W.H. Allen, 1885), "Jihad."
[11] See examples in The Life of Muhammad, by Ibn Ishaq, trans. A. Guillaume (Oxford University Press, 1955), 665, 676 (women); Life of Muhammad, 551 and Bukhari 52:256 (children); Life of Muhammad, 675 and Bukhari 19:173 (elderly).
[12] The earlier, online version says "Divine Inspiration."
[13] The source is not cited, but it is probably Abu Dawud 4297.
[14] The English text says, "and followed the tails of the cows (i.e. indulged in agriculture and became contented with it)"
[15] See, for example, "State Department spokeswoman claims jobs are key to defeating ISIS," and "Kerry: 'Root Cause of Terrorism' Is Poverty"
[16] Occupation of Muslim lands is often considered an incitement, especially in the dispute over a Palestinian state. But even here, the religious dimensions of the problem (e.g., refusing to recognize any Jewish right to the land, inhibiting Muslims from living under an Islamic government, etc.) shape the political and economic conflict.
© 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.

President Trump Did Not Obstruct Justice

by Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/May 12/17
A dangerous argument is now being put forward by some Democratic ideologues: namely that President Trump should be indicted for the crime of obstructing justice because he fired FBI Director James Comey. Whatever one may think of the President's decision to fire Trump as a matter of policy, there is no legitimate basis for concluding that the President engaged in a crime by exercising his statutory and constitutional authority to fire director Comey. As Comey himself wrote in his letter to the FBI, no one should doubt the authority of the President to fire the Director for any reason or no reason.
It should not be a crime for a public official, whether the President or anyone else, to exercise his or her statutory and constitutional authority to hire or fire another public official. For something to be a crime there must be both an actus reus and mens rea – that is, a criminal act accompanied by a criminal state of mind. Even assuming that President Trump was improperly motivated in firing Comey, motive alone should never constitute a crime. There should have to be an unlawful act. And exercising constitutional and statutory power should not constitute the actus reus of a crime. Otherwise the crime would place the defendant's thoughts on trial, rather than his actions.
Civil libertarians, and all who care about due process and justice, should be concerned about the broad scope of the statute that criminalizes "obstruction of justice." Some courts have wrongly interpreted this accordion-like law so broadly as to encompass a mixture of lawful and unlawful acts. It is dangerous and wrong to criminalize lawful behavior because it may have been motivated by evil thoughts. People who care about the rule of law, regardless of how they feel about President Trump, should not be advocating a broadening of obstruction of justice to include the lawful Presidential act of firing the FBI Director. Such an open ended precedent could be used in the future to curtail the liberties of all Americans.
So let's put this nonsense behind us and not criminalize policy differences, as extremists in both parties have tried to do. Republican and Democratic partisans often resort to the criminal law as a way of demonizing their political enemies. "Lock her up," was the cry of Republican partisans against Hillary Clinton regarding her misuse of her email server. Now "obstruction of justice" is the "lock him up" cry of partisan Democrats who disagree with President Trump's decision to fire Comey. I opposed the criminalization of policy differences when Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congressman Tom Delay and Senator Bob Menendez were indicted, and I strongly oppose the investigation now being conducted against Prime Minister Netanyahu. The criminal law should be used as the last resort against elected officials, not as the opening salvo in a political knife-fight. There is no place in a democracy for elastic statutes that can be stretched to fit lawful conduct with which political opponents disagree. If they are allowed to be stretched today to cover your political enemies, they could be stretched tomorrow to go after your political friends.
The debate over the propriety of the President's actions, about which I have opined repeatedly, should continue but let's take the allegations of criminal obstruction of justice out of this important debate. There is more than enough fodder for a debate over the merits and demerits of the President's actions without muddying the waters with politically motivated charges of criminality.
Partisanship seems to have no limits these days. Both parties are equally at fault, as are extremists among the public and within the media. It is getting harder and harder to have a nuanced debate about complex political issues. Everything is either evil or good. Nothing has elements of both. Actions either deserve criminal indictment or the Nobel Prize. Nobody benefits from this kind of ideological shouting match. So let's agree to disagree about important issues, but let's not distort the debate with extremist slogans like "lock her up" or "obstruction of justice." We are better than that.
© 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.

Identities that imprison us from birth to death
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/May 12/17
Commentators and intellectuals routinely offer solutions to the problems we experience. Some say that economic stagnation is the reason we are still an undeveloped country. Others say that political reform is going to save us. A third opinion asserts that a return to the past will save us from suffering and bring blessings. Fourth, a future full of technology is the only solution that will save our slowly drowning boat. Perhaps all these solutions are part of the answer to the big question, but we forget an important point that may be bigger than all the above. In my opinion, the solution is to deepen the sense or humanism in the minds and hearts of people; everything without it will definitely fail and ruin.
Identities as labels
Each one of us is born with pure human identity. However, this identity does not last long. We are labelled with all the religious, sectarian, ethnic and national identities that bury this original identity until we become completely unaware of it. You see yourself through the prism of religion or sect, and naturally weaken the original sense of being spontaneously connected to others.
The sectarian strife that we are continuously witnessing is mainly due to this acute and profound classification since childhood. The hatred of a particular sect or religion is necessarily formed at a young age due to one’s religious and sectarian identities. Sometimes we are told, with absolute certainty, that others are infidels and disbelievers, and we act accordingly. Then comes the ethnic identity. You think that you belong to a particular race that is superior to others. The problems that we hear about superiority complex, class fanaticism, insult for others, preferring family and tribe in jobs and institutions stem from this identity. There is a constant whisper in one’s mind: “Your blood is purer than others.”
If human identity becomes the primary and fundamental identity, all other identities give it a distinctive flavor. Maintaining human identity means keeping the correct approach to all other things
Race hierarchy
Those who believe in the hierarchy of races can hardly judge because they will certainly prefer the owners of the noble genes will persecute the owners of the other “despicable” ones. He will take something that is not his right but does not care about it. In his consciousness, he is superior to others, so he deserves to take his right and the right of others without an eye blink.
He will keep the job to his unqualified son because he believes that this son has the right to be happy at the expense of the misery of the children of others. If we checked the stories of widespread known corruption, we will notice that a large part of it is due to favoritism based on the preference of the close ones.
That’s how the original human identity vanishes, that identity which will make a human see others equivalent to him, would not steal their rights, and no longer sees them only through their colors and last names. We notice the same thing regarding national identities, which easily slip into a disgusting chauvinism that despises others just because the coincidence that made him belong to another nation with a different national flag and anthem.
Abhorrent chauvinism
Because of abhorrent chauvinism, wars break out only because of misplaced nationalistic feelings. It is strange that national identities have divided us as rival tribes even though it is a new phenomenon.
New identities have emerged in decades related to the social and financial situation. The rich person only sees in himself the amount of money he earns and sets himself barriers and restrictions that make him not to share space with the one who has average income. Almost everything that can humanly enrich him and help combine with others almost disappears, and luxury cars and first-class seats represents their personality and values.
Can a person live without these sub-identities and suffice only with human identity? Of course not. But if human identity becomes the primary and fundamental identity, all other identities give it a distinctive flavor. Maintaining human identity means keeping the correct approach to all other things.
In the religious and sectarian identity, one can see the aesthetic dimensions, ritual and heritage traditions that deepen human feelings and connect it with others. What you see in the family background is not superiority or transcendence, but the history and life of parents and grandparents that came to you and you should give it to others.
Nationalism turns into a sense of responsibility, and a desire to know history, but not a bomb that we throw at other nationalities out of anger.
Human identity is appropriate for the time we are living where races, faiths and nationalities are mingled together. The erosion of old identities means that one society will be torn and divided; conflicts can erupt at any moment. That is precisely why other people developed when their human identity was put ahead of all other identities, neutralizing intolerance, corruption and ignorance.
What would political and economic reforms, of the past and the future, achieve if the old identities become like prisons where a person remains from birth to death?