May 26/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site

 News Bulletin Achieves Since 2006
Click Here to go to the LCCC Daily English/Arabic News Buletins Archieves Since 2016

Bible Quotations For Today
If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 03/12-15/:"If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."

I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need
Letter to the Philippians 04/08-14/:"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 25-26/17
Hezbollah's bogus Liberation & Resistance Day/Elias Bejjani/May 25/17
Iran: Rouhani's Re-Election Is Not the Key to the Country's Economic Recovery/Mohammad Amin/Gatestone Institute/May 25/17
The World Needs to Drive Out Destructive Fantasies/Shireen Qudosi/Gatestone Institute/May 25/17
Censoring You to 'Protect' You/Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/May 25/17
Qatar: It is about policies not news/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/May 25/17
Manchester attack and Riyadh’s center for combating terrorism/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 25/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 25-26/17
Hezbollah's bogus Liberation & Resistance Day
Nasrallah says time is narrowing but hope remains to reach new vote law, reiterating rejection of vacuum, extension and 60's law
Nasrallah Hails Lebanese Stances on Riyadh Summit, Says Saudi Sought to 'Bribe' Trump
Hariri Inaugurates Projects in Tripoli, Says Agrees to 'Any Electoral Law'
Man Kills Wife, Daughter Before Committing Suicide in Tyre
Mashnouq Says Parliament's Responsibility to Call for Elections
Israeli Army Fires in Air, Burns Minefield as Lebanese Rally on Border
Dead Man Found Inside Truck on Bekaa Highway
Shorter: We're Not Afraid of Terrorism, We're Proud to Invest in Lebanon Future
Frangieh, Fares tackle vote law in Bnechi
EU delegation visits advanced Italian base in the South
Geagea, Richard convene
Lebanon’s Aoun rejects Arab-US summit declaration
Marada leader calls for compromise to reach new vote law

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 25-26/17
Trump Scolds NATO on Spending and Terror
Report: Iran builds new underground ballistic missile factory
Safety Calls Increase between US, Russia Militaries
Lavrov Urges Participation of All Parties in Solving Syria Crisis
GCC Unified VAT Accord Comes into Effect
Arab tribes in Iraq’s Mosul demand Iran halt interferences
Syria Regime Says ISIS ‘Minister of War’ killed
Syrian force urges Raqqa militants to surrender by end-May
Russian-Israeli Coordination to ‘Reduce Tension’ South of Syria
Arab States Voice Support to Bahrain in Security Operations
Qatar Says Facing Hostile Campaign, 'Particularly in U.S.'
Qatari Media Blocked in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt
Egypt Blocks Several News Sites Including Jazeera
King Salman: Manchester Attack Contradicts Principles and Ethics of Islam
Algeria Appoints New Prime Minister
Riyadh Supports Bahrain’s Measures to Preserve Security
Germany Stresses Commitment to Political Process in Syria
Hamas Executes Three over Commander's Murder
Father of Manchester bomb suspect ‘was in militant group’
Saudi: Saturday is the first day of Ramadan

Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 25-26/17
Hezbollah's bogus Liberation & Resistance Day
Elias Bejjani/May 25/17
Believe it or not, on May 25 each year since 2000 Lebanon has been celebrating a so-called "Liberation & Resistance Day." Sadly, this celebration commemorates a bogus event, and a phony heroism that did not actually take place.
On May 22, 2000 the Israeli Army unilaterally and for solely Israeli domestic reasons withdrew from the security zone of South Lebanon in accordance with UN Resolution 425. The withdrawal was a fatal Israeli decision that has inspired the Hamas terrorism acts and the on-going havoc in the Palestinian Gaza strip. During the last 13 years many Israeli officials and politicians form all parties openly and harshly criticized Barak's Government (Barak was PM at that time) hasty and unwise decision through which Israel' abandoned its ally the South Lebanon Army (SLA) and gave Hezbollah all south Lebanon on a plate of sliver. The unilateral Israeli withdrawal created a security vacuum in south Lebanon. The Syrians who were occupying Lebanon at that time and fully controlling its government, did not allow the Lebanese Army to deploy in the south and fill this vacuum after the Israeli withdrawal. Instead Syria helped the Hezbollah militia to militarily control the whole southern region, and even patrol the Israeli-Lebanese border.
It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army's withdrawal was executed without any military battles, or even minor skirmishes with Hezbollah, or the Lebanese and Syrian armies. The Syrian regime, in a bid to justify both its on going occupation of Lebanon and the avoidance of disarming Hezbollah, came up with the "Shabaa Farms occupation big lie" and declared Hezbollah a Liberator, alleging it had forced Israel to withdrawal from South Lebanon.
Syria, in the same camouflaging and devious context, dictated to both the Lebanese parliament and government to declare May 25th a National Day under the tag of "Liberation & Resistance Day".
In reality Hezbollah did not force the Israeli withdrawal, and did not play any role in the Liberation of the southern Lebanese region. In fact both Hezbollah and Syria deliberately hindered and delayed the Israeli withdrawal for more than 14 years.
Every time the Israelis called on the Lebanese government to engage in a joint, serious effort under the United Nations umbrella to ensure a safe and mutually organized withdrawal of its army from South Lebanon, the Lebanese government refused to cooperate, did not agree to deploy its army in the south, and accused the Israelis of plotting to divide and split the Syrian-Lebanese joint track. This approach to the Israeli calls was an official Syrian decision dictated to all the Lebanese puppet governments during the Syrian occupation era.
Since then, Hezbollah has been hijacking Lebanon and its people, refusing to disarm and advocating for the annihilation of Israel. This Iranian mullahs' terrorist army stationed in Lebanon, is viciously hiding behind labels of resistance, liberation and religion. Hezbollah has recklessly jeopardized the Lebanese peoples' lives, safety, security and livelihood. It has been growing bolder and bolder in the last four years and mercilessly taking the Lebanese state and the Lebanese people hostage through terrorism, force and organized crime.
Sadly, Hezbollah is systematically devouring Lebanon day after day, and piece by piece, while at the same time marginalizing all its governmental institutions in a bid to topple the Lebanese state and erect in its place a Shiite Muslim regime, a replica of the Iranian Shiite mullahs' fundamentalist republic. Meanwhile the free world and Arabic countries are totally silent, indifferent, and idly watching from far away the horrible crime unfolding without taking any practical or tangible measures to put an end to this anti-Lebanese Syria-Iranian scheme that is executed through their spearhead, the Hezbollah armed militia.
Who is to be blamed for Hezbollah's current odd and bizarre status? Definitely the Syrians who have occupied Lebanon for more than 28 years (1976-2005). During their bloody and criminal occupation, Syria helped the Iranian Hezbollah militia build a state within Lebanon and fully control the Lebanese Shiite community. But also the majority of the Lebanese politicians, leaders, officials and clergymen share the responsibility because they were subservient and acted in a dire Dhimmitude, selfish and cowardly manner. If these so-called Lebanese leaders had been courageous and patriotic and had not appeased Hezbollah and turned a blind eye to all its vicious and human rights atrocities, intimidation tactics, crimes and expansionism schemes, this Iranian Shiite fundamentalist militia would not have been able to erect its own mini-state in the southern suburb of Beirut, and its numerous mini-cantons in the Bekaa Valley and the South; nor would Hezbollah have been able to build its mighty military power, with 70 thousand militiamen, or stockpile more than 50 thousand missiles and force the Iranian "Wilayat Al-Faqih" religious doctrine on the Lebanese Shiite community and confiscate its decision making process and freedoms.
Since Hezbollah's emergence in 1982, these politicians have been serving their own selfish interests and not the interests of the Lebanese people and the nation. They went along with Hezbollah's schemes, deluding themselves that its militia and weaponry would remain in South Lebanon and would not turn against them. This failure to serve the people of Lebanon allowed Hezbollah to make many Lebanese and most of the Arab-Muslim countries through its terrorism propaganda to blindly swallow its big lie of theatrical, faked resistance and Liberation.
Hezbollah would not have been able refuse to disarm in 1991, like all the other Lebanese militias in accordance to the "Taef Accord," which called for the disarmament of all militias. Hezbollah would not have become a state inside the Lebanese state, and a world-wide terrorism Iranian-Syrian tool which turned against them all after its war with Israel in year 2006 and after the UN troops were deployed on the Lebanese - Israeli borders in accordance with the UN Resolution 1701.
On May 7, 2008 Hezbollah invaded Sunni Western Beirut killing and injuring in cold blood hundreds of its civilian citizens, and attempted to take over by force Mount Lebanon.
Hezbollah's General Secretary Sheik Hassan Nasrallah called that day (May 7, 2008) a great and glorious victory for his resistance, and keeps on threatening the Lebanese that a replicate of that day will take place if they do not succumb and obey his Iranian orders.
Hezbollah is a deadly dragon that the Lebanese politicians have been allowing him to feed on sacrifices from the southern Lebanese citizens, especially on those who were living in the "Security Zone" and who fled to Israel in May 2000 after the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon. This dragon who enjoyed devouring his southern sacrifices has now turned on all the Lebanese and if they do not stand for their rights and dignity, he will keep on devouring them all one after the other.
We call on the Lebanese government, the Lebanese Parliament and on all the free and patriotic Lebanese politicians and leaders to cancel the May 25 National Day, because it is not national at all, and also to stop calling Hezbollah a resistance, put an end for its mini-state, cantons and weaponry, and secure a dignified, honorable and safe return for all the Lebanese citizens who have been taking refuge in Israel since May 2000.
N.B: This article was first published in 2010

Nasrallah says time is narrowing but hope remains to reach new vote law, reiterating rejection of vacuum, extension and 60's law
Thu 25 May 2017 ظNNA - Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah deemed Thursday that "time is narrowing but we still hope to reach a new election law," reiterating refusal of vacuum, mandate extension and 1960 law. In his speech marking "Liberation and Resistance Day," Nasrallah addressed his audience in proud remembrance of this glorious victory in Lebanese history. Speaking through a screen, Nasrallah praised the people of Hermel, chosen as the location for this year's celebration, and the Bekaa Valley in general, for their huge sacrifices and great contribution to this historical achievement back in 2000. Attending the ceremony was former Minister Gabi Lyon representing President Michel Aoun; Amal Movement Bekaa Branch Head Mustafa Fouan representing House Speaker Nabih Berri; Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul-Karim Ali and Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Fathali; current and former ministers and deputies, in addition to military and political party figures, clerics, representatives of Yemeni and Iraqi organizations and a crowd of supporters. "We are at a very sensitive political stage in the history of Lebanon and the region," said Nasrallah. "During the Israeli invasion in 1982, the entire world stood by watching but when Israel occupied nearly half of Lebanon, the world did not make any move. The Lebanese took on the liberation of their land from parties and factions, and with their modest capabilities launched their resistance, which culminated with the great victory in 2000," Nasrallah added.
"Those who believed in resistance did not wait for any Arab or Islamic country, or the United States or Security Council," Nasrallah went on, recalling "the only two countries in the world that stood by the Lebanese people were Iran and Syria." "This victory is the result of the sacrifices of the Lebanese people and their embrace of the resistance; the enormous sacrifices of the Lebanese army and security forces, and the close cooperation between the resistance, state and army before 2000," Nasrallah underscored. "The main lesson is that confronting occupation or external aggression depends on your will and determination," said Nasrallah addressing his audience crowd, stressing that "the will of the people of this region in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Palestine is what creates their victory." Referring to the "Riyadh Summit" and its possible outcome, Nasrallah said, "This is an important juncture in the history of the region and Lebanon," reassuring that "with the efforts, wisdom and understanding of the Lebanese, it will not have any reflection on the Lebanese situation, God willing." Nasrallah described the position of Foreign and Expatriates Minister Gebran Bassil regarding the Riyadh Summit statement as "sincere, courageous and responsible," and President Michel Aoun's as a "commitment to the oath speech."
"Similarly, what happened in yesterday's meeting between all political forces, including the Future Movement's position, serve to fortify the nation, and this is a very positive point in the interest of Lebanon," he added. Nasrallah further described the Riyadh meeting as a "bilateral summit between Saudi Arabia and America, while the rest of the Muslim countries were just guests, who were all surprised by the statement, since participants did not discuss its content but heard it through the media.""The statement is a Saudi-American declaration, and that in itself is a scandal," Nasrallah underscored, criticizing "the bilateral agreements between Saudi Arabia and America," adding that "what they called an expanded summit was actually a rally to honor Trump and highlight the Saudi position at the Gulf, Arab and Islamic levels."In addition, he considered that said summit aimed at intimidating Iran and the resistance axis, alongside the United States' attempt to enter into direct confrontation with Iran and the axis of resistance. "These were all Saudi targets behind the summit," deemed Nasrallah.He added: "Saudi Arabia has done this to protect itself within the Kingdom first and in the world at large, for it is no secret that Saudi is behind the Takfiri groups, and Trump and everyone knows. Saudi Arabia is the one that created al-Qaeda; hence, the whole world looks to it as the center that supports Takfiri ideology.""Saudi Arabia must keep the conflict and hatred aside. The only solution is dialogue and negotiation with Iran," stressed Nasrallah.

Nasrallah Hails Lebanese Stances on Riyadh Summit, Says Saudi Sought to 'Bribe' Trump
Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday hailed President Michel Aoun, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, the Lebanese government and al-Mustaqbal Movement over their stances that sought to dissociate Lebanon from the resolutions and statements of the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh.
“The stances of Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and President Michel Aoun on the Riyadh summit were courageous and responsible and will contribute to immunizing the country,” said Nasrallah in a televised speech marking the Resistance and Liberation Day. “Even the government and al-Mustaqbal Movement have said that the Riyadh declaration is not binding for Lebanon,” Nasrallah noted. He also reassured the Lebanese that “all the stances that were said and issued at the Riyadh summit will not have any impact on the Lebanese domestic situation.” “Saudi Arabia is behind the takfiri thought and the takfiri groups and the entire world knows this, that's why the Saudi regime sought to offer a bribe to (U.S. President Donald) Trump,” Nasrallah added, referring to huge deals worth some $380 billion that were signed between Riyadh and Washington during Trump's visit.
“The Riyadh summit was focused on deviating the accusation of supporting terrorism from Saudi Arabia and pinning it on Iran,” Nasrallah said. The U.S. president is "only interested in money" and is the most "racist" U.S. president against Arabs and Muslims, Hizbullah's chief added, saying the Saudi welcome and deals signed were a sign of the kingdom's "weakness."Slamming Hizbullah and Hamas in his speech at the Arab Islamic American Summit, Trump blamed Iran for destabilizing the Middle East and called for a crackdown on its allies, including Hizbullah. But Nasrallah struck a defiant tone on Thursday, saying Hizbullah was "not afraid of any war, sanctions, or intimidation in the media.""Threats of killing or dying do not scare us... No one scares us at all. They are weaker than ever," Nasrallah said. Addressing Saudi Arabia, Nasrallah also stressed that dialogue with Iran is the only way forward. Reminiscing Hizbullah's armed struggle against Israel's occupation of Lebanon, Hizbullah's chief said “this spirit and will were repeated in the Bekaa, Hermel and Baalbek.”“When the events started in Syria and the armed groups seized control of the border with Bekaa, and when Hermel was hit by rockets and car bombs, you were the ones who confronted the situation, not the foreign forces who were offering them arms and financial and political support,” Nasrallah added, addressing Hizbullah supporters at a Hermel rally. “You stood by your national army and offered martyrs and the entire resistance stood by you. The same as Hermel's youths fell as martyrs in the South, the young men of the South came to Hermel's outskirts to fall as martyrs there,” he added. Turning to the situation on the eastern border and in the outskirts of the border town of Arsal, Nasrallah reiterated that “the militants have been completely kicked out of the Eastern Mountain Range.”“The remaining phase is Arsal's outskirts. I reiterate that Arsal's residents and the government must exert efforts to put an end to this situation and we are keen on preventing bloodshed,” Nasrallah added. “The current situation cannot continue, seeing as the outskirts contain armed groups and would-be suicide bombers who are threatening the region and its neighbors and I tell the armed groups in the outskirts that they have reached a dead end,” he went on to say. As for the lawlessness and internal security situation in the Bekaa, Nasrallah noted that the army and security forces are carrying out new measures in Baalbek and Hermel. “We stress the importance of this official security effort in the face of the violations in this region. We call on residents to show further cooperation with the army and security forces to achieve this goal which will reflect positively on everyone,” he urged. On the electoral law, Nasrallah revealed the presence of positive developments. “There is not much time left but we are still hoping to reach a new electoral law. Some new ideas were proposed over the past two days and they might lead to a good result,” he said.“We stress the importance of reaching a new law for the sake of the country and everyone's credibility. We have said no to vacuum, no to extension and no the 1960 law and when the president says that the political forces have a grace period until June 20, this means that logically there should be an extraordinary legislative session in order to reach the desired result,” Nasrallah added.

Hariri Inaugurates Projects in Tripoli, Says Agrees to 'Any Electoral Law'
Naharnet/May 25/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri began an unannounced visit on Thursday to the northern city of Tripoli as part of a tour to inspect the implementation of a number of developmental projects in the area. “Saad Hariri will support any electoral law, regardless whether it is based on proportional representation or a hybrid system,” Hariri said.“The other parties must offer concessions to reach an agreement on a law, seeing as it is shameful not to reach a new electoral law,” Hariri added. And in remarks to al-Jadeed television, the premier said: “We have agreed on a new electoral law and the discussions are advanced and the elections will be held under the new law.”Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury accompanied Hariri on his visit, Hariri's media office said. Hariri was received by Ministers Mohammed Kabbara and Moein al-Merhbi in addition to several deputies, the governor of the north Ramzi Nohra, president of the municipality of Tripoli Ahmed Qamaruddin, president of al-Mina municipality Abdul Qader Alamuddin, the President of the Chamber of Commerce Tawfiq Dabbusi, clerics and a large crowd of citizens. Al-Mustaqbal Movement political bureau member Moustafa Alloush stated on Thursday that Hariri's visit was only planned 24 hours ahead. “It is normal to begin some preparations before the visit where Hariri is set to inaugurate some accomplished projects in the city and other projects that are still underway,” he said. At 5:45 pm, Hariri is also sponsoring the opening of a wholesale vegetable market in Hamad street in Beirut.

Man Kills Wife, Daughter Before Committing Suicide in Tyre
Naharnet/May 25/17/A man shot his wife and 15-year daughter before turning the gun on himself in a domestic-murder suicide in the southern city of Tyre, the National News Agency reported on Thursday. Identified by his initials, M.Sh from the town of Jnata in Tyre killed his wife (S.Sh) and daughter before committing suicide, NNA said.Security Forces came to the crime scene and ran investigation into the incident.The bodies of the deceased were taken to a hospital in Tyre for forensic examination. Daryan Says Ramadan Begins on Saturday. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan on Thursday announced that the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will begin on Saturday. “We have not been able to verify the sighting of the crescent moon of the holy month of Ramadan and accordingly tomorrow, Friday... will be the 30th day of Shaaban, and Saturday, May 27 will be the first day of the holy month of Ramadan,” Daryan said in a statement. “As we greet Muslims on this holy month... we ask God Almighty to fill its days with security and serenity for all Muslims and Lebanese,” the mufti added. Saudi Arabia had also confirmed earlier in the day that Ramadan will begin on Saturday, after the kingdom's moon-sighting committees failed to spot the month's crescent moon. The month begins with the sighting of the new moon, which varies from country to country. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable. The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam.

Mashnouq Says Parliament's Responsibility to Call for Elections
Naharnet/May 25/17/After his announcement that Lebanon's parliamentary elections are doomed to be staged under the controversial 1960 law if a new law is not agreed, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq pointed out that calling “again” the electoral bodies to begin preparations for the elections is the parliament's responsibility, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday. “I am not the one who will call again for the elections. That would be the duty of the parliament,” Mashnouq told the daily in an interview. However he pointed out: “There is still plenty of time,” assuring that efforts to agree on a new vote law have not ceased. “An extraordinary session will be opened, but if we fail to agree on a new law before June 20 (end of parliament's term) it would leave us no choice but the 1960 electoral law and staging the elections in September.”In accordance with Lebanon' law, Mashnouq signed a decree in February calling on electoral bodies to begin preparations for the elections that were supposed to be held in May. President Michel Aoun refrained from signing the decree in order to avoid having the polls staged under the current controversial 1960 electoral law. Parliament will conclude its ordinary session at the end of May and President Michel Aoun has jurisdiction to open an extraordinary session in coordination with the prime minister. The president can also invoke his powers to dissolve parliament ahead of the expiry of its term on June 20, which would force elections under the current law (1960 law) within a period not exceeding three months.Aoun had hinted Tuesday that the elections might be held under the 1960 law in order to prevent “chaos.” But Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil announced later in the day that the FPM would seek to “block vacuum and the 1960 law” the same as it had blocked the “extension” of parliament's term.

Israeli Army Fires in Air, Burns Minefield as Lebanese Rally on Border
Naharnet/May 25/17/Israeli troops on Thursday fired in the air and shouted warnings in a bid to disperse a group of young Lebanese men who were hoisting flags on the border fence in celebration of the Resistance and Liberation Day, which Lebanon marks on May 25, a media report said.
“After the young men refused to leave, enemy troops set fire to a field behind the border fence, which detonated a number of landmines in the area, before the troops opened fire anew,” al-Jadeed television reported. Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in 2000, after a 22-year occupation that faced armed resistance spearheaded by Hizbullah.The Israeli army had reached the capital Beirut in a 1982 invasion aimed at ousting the Palestine Liberation Organization from Lebanon. The invading forces eventually withdrew to a so-called security buffer zone in the South after facing guerrilla attacks in the capital and its suburbs.

Dead Man Found Inside Truck on Bekaa Highway
Naharnet/May 25/17/The dead body of a young man was found inside a pick-up truck parked on an under construction highway in the Bekaa region, the National News Agency reported on Thursday. The victim, who was identified by his initials as G.H.K and hails from al-Ghobairi in Beirut's southern suburbs, was found in a pool of blood inside the vehicle, said NNA. Security forces arrived at the scene and opened investigations into the case.

Shorter: We're Not Afraid of Terrorism, We're Proud to Invest in Lebanon Future
Naharnet/May 25/17/“Despite the dreadful terrorist attack in Manchester that targeted children and young people, it is in our nature to keep calm and carry on. Not to be cowed by terror. Because you Lebanese know something about resilience, your support means so much to us.” With those words, British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo shorter addressed his guests to mark Queen Elizabeth II's 91st birthday and her Sapphire Jubilee -- 65 years on the throne. A moment of silence was observed in honor of the victims. Attended by Minister Nicolas Tueini representing President Michel Aoun, MP Ali Bazzi, representing Speaker Nabih Berri, Minister Jamal al-Jarrah representing PM Saad Hariri, superstar Ragheb Alama, and political, economic, social and media officials, more than 600 guests flooded the Besançon School located in the heart of Beirut’s cityscape reflecting this year’s ‘Investing in the Future’ theme. Guests saw first-hand how scientific innovation and discoveries from the UK have contributed to the foundations of modern science and how they are helping build the future. Also showcased was how the UK is “matching its expertise with Lebanese potential to help build a better future for Lebanon,” a British Embassy statement said. Addressing his guests, Ambassador Shorter said: “The theme of today’s Queen’s Birthday is ‘Investing in the future’. So it is poignant to come together this evening only 48 hours after the terrorist attack in Manchester, which targeted so many children and young people. But it is in our nature to keep calm and carry on. Not to be cowed by terror. To remember, to mourn, but to stay strong. Because you Lebanese know something about resilience. So your support means so much to us.”“We are a partner for Lebanon’s future supporting Education which is the UK’s flagship program through formal and non-formal education; the knowledge economy supporting the UK-Lebanon Tech Hub and job creation offering support to small and medium enterprises through our INTAJ program and working with municipalities in response to community needs. We’re doing all this – and much more including as you know, in the security and defense sphere – because, fundamentally, we believe in Lebanon’s future,” Shorter added. He noted that there will always be those who try to “stop progress, to ruin dreams and aspirations, as the cowardly attacks in Manchester have shown.” “But the simple power of people striving for a better future, that is something no one can stop. Lebanon is blessed with resilient, talented and inspirational people. And that’s why I am proud that together, we are investing in a brighter future,” the ambassador went on to say. Also present where Chevening scholars, recipients of UK Government scholarships who have studied in the UK and AUB graduate Antranik Sefilian, selected from 6,000 candidates for a Gates Scholarship to do a PhD on astrophysics at Cambridge University.

Frangieh, Fares tackle vote law in Bnechi
Thu 25 May 2017/NNA - Head of Maradah Trend, MP Sleiman Franjieh, met Thursday with former Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares, who visited him in Bnechi, with talks centering on the election law, as well as the latest developments on the local scene.
On emerging, Fares hoped that a formula for the election law would be reached before June 20, so as not to face deadlock. "Everyone is keen on preserving this country and intentions are sound, and whenever such intentions exist, it is necessary to implement them," he added.
In turn, Frangieh said, "We reviewed the election law, but we touched on the nice and not the ugly parts!"

EU delegation visits advanced Italian base in the South
Thu 25 May 2017/NNA - A European Union delegation headed by EU Deputy Head of Mission to the United Nations, Julia Koch, visited Thursday the Italian advanced base along the Lebanese borders in the South. UNIFIL Sector West Commander General Francesco Ulla welcomed the delegation, briefing them on the history of the Blue Line. During the visit, Commander Ulla met with group leaders at the Italian base, in presence of UNIFIL Civil Affairs Office representatives, with talks touching on gender issues in peacekeeping operations. It is to note that the Italian base is led by a force of the Eighth Regiment of Lancheire de Monte Bello, whose mission is to monitor the Blue Line in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

Geagea, Richard convene
Thu 25 May 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces Party Leader Samir Geagea tackled Thursday the general political situation in Lebanon and the region with US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, in presence of the Party's Foreign Relations Official, Elie Khoury.

Lebanon’s Aoun rejects Arab-US summit declaration
Middle East Monitor/Daily Star/“What the (Lebanese) Foreign Minister said about the Lebanese position regarding the Riyadh Declaration is 100 per cent correct,” Aoun said in an interview with the Press Club delegation. Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil announced that his country was surprised by the content of the Riyadh Declaration which was issued on Sunday after the conclusion of the summit in Riyadh. “We were not aware of the Riyadh announcement. We understood that no statement would be issued after the summit, and we were surprised by its issuance and content while on the airplane back,” Basil said. “We say that we adhere to ministerial statement and the policy of distancing Lebanon from external problems to preserve Lebanon, its people and its unity,” the Lebanese Foreign Minister added.

Marada leader calls for compromise to reach new vote law
The Daily Star/ May 24, 2017/BEIRUT: Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh Wednesday called on political rivals to compromise to reach a new electoral law, a day after President Michel Aoun signaled his support for the upcoming parliamentary elections to be held under the disputed 1960 majoritarian law. “Everyone needs to be patriotic. We will be able to hold elections if we sacrifice some things,” Frangieh said in a joint news conference with Minister of the Displaced Talal Arslan. He described the stage that the country that the country is passing through as a “bidding stage”. Kataeb Party leader Sami Gemayel said in remarks to a local daily that his party "will not back down from its war against the 1960 law and the political power." "What they are suggesting today is yes to vacuum and yes to the 1960 law, which means extension of the current political power for 4 new years," Gemayel told Al-Joumhouria newspaper. He affirmed his party's stance to “hold all government sides responsible for the failure [to reach an electoral law] or conspiring against the [correct] representation.”Free Patriotic Movement MP Ibrahim Kanaan said in a tweet that "a new [vote] law [would be reached] before June 19." He said that the time left to reach a deadline "requires everyone's full will and determination to reach a positive result and avoid bad possibilities.” On Tuesday, Aoun seemed to agree to holding the election based on 1960 majoritarian law if no agreement was reached on a new voting system before the expiry of the legislature’s term next month. “I don’t want the 1960 law. But if we don’t reach a solution and an agreement on a new [electoral] law, should I leave the republic in chaos?” Aoun said during a meeting with a delegation from the Press Club at Baabda Palace.
Speaker Nabih Berri was asked about the fate of a Parliament session scheduled on May 29 to extend the legislature’s term for one year, told visitors at his Ain al-Tineh residence: “From now until the date of the session, anything could happen. Big silence is better than futile screaming. When we reach a good solution [to the vote law problem], we will talk.”Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said that parliamentary elections would be held before the end of the year. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil warned that the political scene would change after June 20 if no new electoral law was endorsed, and rejected accusations that his party was seeking to hold the elections under the 1960 law, vowing to prevent a parliamentary void.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
May 25-26/17
Trump Scolds NATO on Spending and Terror
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 25/17/U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday berated NATO allies for not doing enough on terrorism and spending, while stopping short of the public commitment to collective defense they had hoped for. Trump's broadside at fellow leaders during his first NATO summit came as he unveiled a 9/11 memorial at the alliance's new $1.2 billion headquarters in Brussels which is meant to highlight allied unity and purpose. Trump said the bombing in the British city of Manchester on Monday, claimed by the Islamic State group, showed that "terrorism must be stopped in its tracks." "The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration as well as threats from Russia and NATO's eastern and southern borders," the president said. Trump denounced allies for not paying their fair share, saying that even if they met a commitment to allocate two percent of GDP to defense, it would still not be enough to meet the challenges. "Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they're supposed to be paying for their defense," the president said. "This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States. Many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years," repeating a charge he had raised constantly on the campaign trail.
Deeply troubling' links
German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck an entirely different note as she unveiled a memorial made up of a section of the Berlin Wall to mark the end of the Cold War. "Germany will not forget the contribution NATO made in order to reunify our country. This is why we will indeed make our contribution to security and solidarity in the common alliance," she said.The surprising mention of immigration was in line with one of Trump's key election promises to build a wall to keep out immigrants crossing into the United States from Mexico, a plan widely derided in Europe. Trump's harsh words came despite NATO saying it would formally endorse joining the U.S.-led coalition against IS at the summit, in the face of reservations in France and Germany about getting involved in another conflict. Shortly before his address, Trump had ran into his first problems of a landmark European trip, embarrassingly called out in public over Russia and on leaks from the probe into the Manchester terror attack. Trump announced a review of the "deeply troubling" leaks and warned that those responsible could face prosecution, the White House said. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said meanwhile she would raise directly with Trump the issue of leaks from a probe into the Manchester terror attack that have left British authorities infuriated with their U.S. counterparts. Arriving at NATO, May said she would "make clear to President Trump that intelligence which is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure."
Two Donalds at odds on Russia
Trump's carefully choreographed visits to the EU and NATO in Brussels had been designed to heal divisions caused by the billionaire's harsh campaign criticisms of both institutions on the campaign trail. He called NATO "obsolete" and praised Britain's Brexit vote to leave the EU. But differences immediately emerged after his talks with the European Union's top officials Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker on climate change, trade, and above all Russia. "I'm not 100 percent sure that we can say today -- 'we' means Mr President and myself -- that we have a common position, common opinion about Russia," former Polish prime minister Tusk said. Trump on the campaign trail made restoring relations with Russia a key promise but he has faced bitter opposition in Washington and has since become embroiled in a scandal over alleged links to Moscow. Tusk also called for "Western values" to be promoted, challenging former tycoon Trump's world view that self-interested deals best settle international problems. Trump came to Brussels direct from a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, after visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
On his arrival on Wednesday in Brussels, the city he once said had been turned into a "hellhole" by Muslim immigration, the president was greeted by around 9,000 protesters saying "Trump not welcome."

Trump Threatens Prosecution over Manchester Attack Leaks
President Donald Trump on Thursday described U.S. intelligence leaks over the Manchester bombing as "deeply troubling" and threatened to prosecute those responsible, after a warning by British Prime Minister Theresa May to keep shared data "secure." The two leaders discussed the row, which has threatened intelligence-sharing between the two key allies, as they posed for a photo with other leaders at a NATO summit in Brussels. In a statement issued by the White House before they met, Trump said: "There is no relationship we cherish more than the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom."The British government has expressed its anger at the release in U.S. media of details from the investigation into Monday's concert attack, including photographs of parts of the bomb which left 22 people dead, including children. Arriving in Brussels, May warned that intelligence sharing with the United States was "built on trust." "Part of that is knowing intelligence can be shared confidently and I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence shared with law enforcement agencies must be secure," she told reporters. Her spokesman later confirmed that May had discussed the matter with Trump. "The prime minister raised the issue of the intelligence leaks with the president while they were waiting for the family photograph to be taken," he said. "She expressed the view that the intelligence sharing relationship we have with the U.S. is hugely important and valuable, but that the information that we share should be kept secure."Visiting the military alliance's new $1.2 billion headquarters with fellow leaders later, Trump led a moment's silence for the victims of what he described as "a barbaric and vicious attack on our civilization." In his statement, Trump -- who was already struggling domestically to stem a tide of damaging leaks from law enforcement agencies -- said the information coming out in the U.S. media was "deeply troubling.""These leaks have been going on for a long time and my administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security," he said. "I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."In his NATO speech, he said: "Prime Minister May, all of the nations here today grieve with you and stand with you." "The recent attack on Manchester in the UK demonstrates the depths of the evil we face with terrorism," he said. "Innocent little girls and so many others were horribly murdered and badly injured while attending a concert -- beautiful lives with so much great potential, torn from their families for ever and ever."

Report: Iran builds new underground ballistic missile factory
Reuters/Jerusalem Post/May 25/17/In January, US officials say that Iran has conducted a ballistic missile test in violation of the UN resolution put in place after the Iran nuclear deal. Iran has built a third underground ballistic missile production factory and will keep developing its missile program, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Thursday, in a development likely to fuel tension with Arab neighbors and Washington. "Iran's third underground factory has been built by the Guards in recent years ... We will continue to further develop our missile capabilities forcefully," Fars quoted the head of the Republican Guard’s airspace division, Amirali Hajizadeh, as saying. Since taking office in January, US President Donald Trump has imposed new sanctions on Iran in response to Tehran's recent missile launches, putting Tehran "on notice."Iran's Sunni Gulf neighbors and its arch-enemy Israel have expressed concerns over Tehran's ballistic missile program, seeing it as a threat to regional security. "It is natural that our enemies America and the Zionist regime (Israel) are angry with our missile program because they want Iran to be in a weak position," Hajizadeh said. In retaliation for the new US sanctions, Iran had added nine American individuals and companies to its own list of 15 US companies for alleged human rights violations and cooperation with Israel. In January, US officials say that Iran has conducted a ballistic missile test in violation of the UN resolution put in place after the Iran nuclear deal. Officials told Fox News that the test occurred outside Semnan, about 140 miles east of Tehran, on Sunday. The missile in question was the Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile, which the officials said flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle. The test was in direct violation of UN resolution 2231, which stated that Iran could not conduct such acts. * Staff contributed to this report.

Safety Calls Increase between US, Russia Militaries
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 25/17/Russian and US military officials are increasingly communicating about operations in Syria -- and doing so at a higher level -- as both countries wage separate but overlapping campaigns, a US general said Wednesday. Lieutenant General Jeffrey Harrigian, who heads US Air Forces Central Command, said generals from both militaries are now using a special "deconfliction" hotline to avoid mishaps. The hotline, which had initially been staffed by lower-ranking officers, was established in late 2015 after Russia entered the Syrian war to prop up the regime of President Bashar Assad. Russia and the US-led coalition regularly use the hotline to make sure each side is apprised of where planes and ground forces are located. The hotline has become ever more vital as Assad's forces have won victories over rebels in western Syria. They are now focusing more toward the east, approaching areas where the US-led coalition that is fighting the Islamic State group is operating. "We have had to increase the amount of deconfliction work we're doing with the Russians, given the tighter airspace that we're now working ourselves through," Harrigian said. Both sides want to avoid any accidents in the skies, or inadvertently striking the wrong ground forces. "We ensure that as we prosecute the fight against the enemy, the Russians, while we don't give them specifics, we make sure we note where we're going to operate," Harrigian said. He added the coalition has been establishing various movable "deconfliction zones" around Syria that aim to ensure Russia tells US officials if they are planning operations in those locations.

Lavrov Urges Participation of All Parties in Solving Syria Crisis
Taha Abed alWahed/Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Moscow – Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Iran could not be excluded from international efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Speaking at a news conference following talks with Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Davor Ivo Stier, Lavrov expressed Russia’s stance that all the problems in the Middle East, including Syria, could only be solved on the basis of wide-ranging dialogue. “We believe all crises in the Middle East and North Africa should be settled via national dialogue with the participation of all ethnic and religious groups. This applies to Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen,” the Russian foreign minister stated. “External powers that influence the situation on the ground should participate in the Syrian crisis settlement. This includes also Iran,” he added. Lavrov noted that the Astana talks, which were initiated by Turkey, Russia and Iran with an aim to end the Syria conflict, were also based on the principle of inclusiveness. Commenting on the outcome of the Islamic-Arab-US Summit- held on Sunday in Riyadh- which underlined efforts to counter Iranian threats in the region, the Russian official warned against divisions based on confessional considerations, noting that the war in Syria could not be resolved through confessional means that further divide the country.

GCC Unified VAT Accord Comes into Effect
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Riyadh-The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) unified selective excise tax and the unified value-added tax (VAT) agreements have come into effect after ratification by the UAE. The General Secretariat of the GCC has received the UAE’s ratification documents for the two agreements. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the secretariat said: “The UAE is the second state to submit the two ratification documents to the secretariat.”“The two agreements become effective when the second state submits the ratification documents to the secretariat,” it added. “Hence, the GCC unified selective excise tax and the VAT agreements have come into force,” the statement added.

Arab tribes in Iraq’s Mosul demand Iran halt interferences
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishThursday, 25 May 2017/Tribal leaders of Nineveh province called the international community to distance Popular Mobilization militias from Mosul and its suburbs and stop Iranian expansion in the region. This statements came at a tribal conference held in a region of northwest of Mosul.The tribes accused the popular mobilization militias of bulldozing houses and stealing properties in captured areas west of Mosul. The Iranian-backed Shiite militias have been part of a coalition of forces that began the Battle for Mosul operations to retake the city from ISIS extremists last year.
This statements came at a tribal conference held in a region of northwest of Mosul. (Supplied)Iraq’s Planning Minister Salman Al-Jumayli said on Wednesday that a plan has been formulated to rebuild the liberated areas from ISIS over the span of the next 10 years with $100 billion starting 2018.“The plan to bring stability and development for the liberated areas will be in two steps. The first will be from 2018 to 2022, and the second from 2023 to 2028,” Al-Jumayli said in a statement he made on the sidelines of his meeting with the World Bank’s Regional Director Saroj Kumar Jha, the Ankara-based Anadolu agency reported.

Syria Regime Says ISIS ‘Minister of War’ killed
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Syrian forces said on Wednesday they had killed ISIS’ “minister of war” among other senior figures in the terrorist organization in operations in northern Syria.A Syrian source cited by regime media identified the war minister as Abu Musab al-Masri, without saying exactly when or where he was killed. He was named among 13 senior ISIS figures killed in Syrian operations east of the city of Aleppo. A previous ISIS minister of war, Abu Omar al-Shishani, died last year. The Pentagon said Shishani was likely to have been killed in a US air strike in Syria. The jihadist group confirmed his death in July but said he had died fighting in the Iraqi city of Shirqat south of Mosul. ISIS faces separate campaigns in northern Syria by the Russian-backed Syrian regime forces, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and Turkey-backed rebels fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner. Baghdad-based ISIS expert Hisham al-Hashimi said the death of Masri, if confirmed, would be a “significant blow to the terrorist group ahead of the battle of Raqqa”. He said al-Masri was the fourth most senior figure in the organisation.
Also Wednesday, Syrian regime forces carried out a series of airstrikes on the southern city of Daraa that has been declared a safe zone under a recent Russia-sponsored deal, opposition activists and an independent monitor said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces carried out at least 12 airstrikes and dropped at least nine barrel bombs on rebel-held parts of Daraa as intense clashes with fighters, including members of Levant Liberation Committee, continued in the city’s Manshiyeh neighborhood.
The monitoring group added that at least two rockets were launched by regime forces in the area.

Syrian force urges Raqqa militants to surrender by end-May
Reuters, BeirutThursday, 25 May 2017 /A US-backed alliance of Syrian militias promised on Thursday that no harm would come to ISIS fighters in Raqqa who turned themselves in by the end of the month, calling on them to lay down their arms ahead of an expected assault on the city. The Syrian Democratic Forces, which groups Kurdish and Arab fighters, has advanced to within a few kilometers of Raqqa city at the nearest point, in an offensive that got underway in November to encircle and capture the city.The SDF, which includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, said earlier this month it expects to launch the final assault on Raqqa in early summer. YPG and SDF officials had previously given April start dates for the assault, but these slipped. The US-led coalition has not declared any time frame for the final assault on Raqqa city, which has served as ISIS's de facto capital in Syria since the group declared its cross-border “caliphate” in 2014. In a statement, the SDF said a May 15 appeal for militants to turn themselves in within 10 days had achieved “positive results”, and the deadline would now be extended until May 31 based on “requests from the noble people of Raqqa”. The SDF said it would guarantee the lives of militants who turn themselves in regardless of their position, “paving the way for the settlement of their situation”. The safety of their families was also guaranteed, it says. The SDF statement issued by spokeswoman Jihane Sheikh Ahmad said the extension would “allow the greatest number possible of those who were deceived or forced to join to benefit from this opportunity”.The US-led coalition says some 3,000 to 4,000 ISIS fighters are thought to be holed up in Raqqa city where they continue to erect defenses against the anticipated assault. The six-year-long Syrian war has allowed ISIS to seize swathes of Syria, where the group faces separate campaigns by the US-backed SDF, the Russian-backed Syrian military, and Free Syrian Army rebels backed by the United States.

Russian-Israeli Coordination to ‘Reduce Tension’ South of Syria
Taha Abed alWahed/Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Moscow – Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu underlined the presence of constructive coordination with Israel to reduce tensions in south Syria, stressing that the priority was to draft a new Syrian constitution during the upcoming Astana meetings. Addressing the Russian parliament on Wednesday, Shoigu said he hoped that work on drafting a new constitution would be launched during the Geneva or the Astana talks. The defense minister said that Russia was actively working with Israel and Jordan on the Syrian file.“We enjoy a constructive dialogue,” he stated. In the same context, Shoigu said that Russia and the United States were preparing a joint project on the southern zone of de-escalation. “We did not halt contacts and cooperation with them [the US], this is also happening almost in a round-the-clock mode, we are talking with them during the day and night, and we are meeting at different venues,” he stated. “We are working with them and working, naturally, on the southern zone of de-escalation,” the minister said. On a different note, Shoigu said that reports on the use of chemical weapons in Syria were an information weapon and were used for political purposes.
“We have already reached the point where we are absolutely convinced today that most of the films and reports are staged, before that they were also staged. Not only we have who proved that, it was shown many times that it became an instrument. It began, as you can remember, in Iraq, when all sorts of test tubes and vials were shown up, but it turned out that there was nothing and the country was collapsed,” he said. Meanwhile, Iranian local news agencies reported that heads of national security councils of Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Syrian regime convened at a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday.
While the Russian media published no information on the meeting, Fars news agency said it was attended by Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev, Iraqi National Security Adviser Falih al-Fayad, and Director of Syria’s National Security Bureau Ali Mamlouk. Tasnim news said that the officials stressed the need for continued cooperation between Iran, Russia, and Turkey to implement the decisions made in the Astana talks for peace in Syria, help maintain the agreed ceasefire, and implement an agreement on the establishment of de-escalation zones in the war-torn country. It added that talks during the meeting touched on plans for “closer cooperation among coalition members in the fight against terrorism in the region”.

Arab States Voice Support to Bahrain in Security Operations
Obaid Al-Suhaymi/Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Manama – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Jordan have voiced their support to efforts deployed by Bahraini authorities to preserve the country’s security and stability, in the wake of a targeted security operation in the region of Diraz. “The security and stability of the brotherly Kingdom of Bahrain is an integral part of the security and stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” an official source at the Foreign Ministry said, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The official expressed the Kingdom’s support to the measures undertaken by Bahrain to maintain the safety of its citizens, including the latest security operation in the village of Diraz. Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, received a phone call from his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Al-Safadi, who stressed that the security of both brotherly countries was “inseparable”. He also expressed support for the measures taken by the security bodies to extend public order, promote civil peace and enforce the law. Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior announced on Wednesday it has undertaken a targeted security operation in the village of Diraz. Security forces were operating on intelligence information about terrorist organizations, which had abducted and tortured innocent civilians. The ministry said that 48 hours prior to the operation, the interior ministry engaged with community leaders in an attempt to communicate with those responsible in order to resolve the situation peacefully. Security forces – whilst removing an illegal roadblock in the area – came under direct attack by a large number of assailants using firebombs, knives, and axes. The assailants used illegal roadblocks to protect themselves, the ministry added.
The attack resulted in severe injuries to 31 officers. Security forces arrested 286 individuals during the operation.

Qatar Says Facing Hostile Campaign, 'Particularly in U.S.'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 25/17/Qatar has been targeted by a hostile campaign, particularly in the U.S. media, its foreign minister said, a day after the Gulf state accused hackers of attributing false remarks to the emir on state media. "There is a hostile media campaign against the state of Qatar, which we will confront," Sheikh Mohammed al-Thani told reporters, adding that the campaign was "particularly in the United States."

Qatari Media Blocked in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/London – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt blocked on Wednesday Qatari media outlets, including Al-Jazeera, in response to recent comments by Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in which he purportedly attacked US foreign policy, called for cooperation with Iran and urged Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain to review their stance against Doha. Two hours after the Qatar News Agency (QNA) published the emir’s speech, the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement: “QNA’s website was hacked at 12:14 am on Wednesday morning, with hackers publishing false statements attributed to HH the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.”It added that the “shameful cyber crime was instigated and perpetrated with malicious intent.”In the comments, which were published on the Qatari state-run news agency, Al Thani said that Qatar was facing an “unfair campaign that coincided with the visit of US President Donald Trump to the region,” adding that the campaign was aimed at linking his country with terrorism and distorting its efforts to achieve stability. Sheikh Tamim said the real threat was the behavior of some governments, which have instigated terrorism by adopting an extremist version of Islam. He also described relations with Israel as “good,” adding that Iran’s regional and Islamic role could not be ignored. QNA quoted the Qatari emir as saying that it was not wise to escalate tensions with Iran, which he described as the guarantor of stability in the Middle East.
In a later statement, an official at the Qatari foreign ministry said the country would investigate and prosecute those responsible for the hacking of QNA’s website. The official said authorities were able to take control of the website four hours after the hacking occurred and that they continued to counter ongoing hacking attempts of QNA’s social media accounts.

Egypt Blocks Several News Sites Including Jazeera
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 25/17/Egypt blocked several media websites on Wednesday including those belonging to the Qatari Al-Jazeera news channel and an opposition television station based in Turkey, a security official said. Mada Masr, an independent Egyptian media outlet that has published investigative reports on corruption, was also inaccessible on Wednesday night. Egypt has accused Jazeera of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement it blames for violence after the military ousted them from power in 2013.HuffPost Arabi, the Arabic website for the US outlet The Huffington Post, was also apparently blocked. The website had published articles critical of Egyptian government. The website for Al-Sharq, a pro-Brotherhood channel based in Turkey, was also blocked. The security official said 21 websites had been blocked but did not name them all.

King Salman: Manchester Attack Contradicts Principles and Ethics of Islam
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz expressed Saudi Arabia’s strong denunciation of the terrorist act that took place in the British city of Manchester, noting that it contradicts the principles and ethics of Islamic religion.In a telephone call to the British Prime Minister Theresa May, the monarch extended his sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, wishing the injured a quick recovery, reported Saudi Press Agency (SPA). During the conversation, King Salman confirmed the stance of the Kingdom with all its might with Britain in the war against terrorism. For her part, PM May expressed her appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for his noble feelings, confirming joint efforts of the two countries to confront terrorism. Earlier, the Custodian sent a cable of condolences to the British Prime Minister following the terrorist bombing in Manchester. According to SPA, King Salman strongly condemned in his cable the criminal act, wished a speedy recovery to the injured and stressed the importance of international efforts to confront and eradicate terrorism. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, also sent a cable of condolences to May following the terrorist bombing in Manchester. In the cable, the Crown Prince strongly condemned this shameful criminal act and wished continued security and stability for Britain.
For his part, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, sent a cable of condolences to PM May following the terrorist bombing in Manchester.
The Deputy Crown Prince strongly condemned this cowardly criminal act, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.

Algeria Appoints New Prime Minister

Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Algiers — Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Wednesday appointed Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was housing minister, the new prime minister, replacing Abdelmalek Sellal in the wake of parliamentary elections. The president’s office, quoted by national news agency Algeria Press Service (APS), said the move to appoint a new premier came after Sellal submitted his government’s resignation to Bouteflika following the sitting of a new national assembly on Tuesday. On May 04, National Liberation Front (FLN) and its ruling coalition won a clear majority parliamentary elections. The announcement was made in a statement issued by the Algerian presidency which said: “Following the Constitutional Council’s announcement of the final results of recent legislative polls, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal submitted his resignation today to President Bouteflika. “The president congratulated Sellal and members of his government for their good performance during their time in office,” it added. The statement explained that in accordance with Article 91, paragraph 5 of the Constitution, the President, following consultation with the parliamentary majority, has appointed Abdelmadjid Tebboune Premier. Bouteflika also instructed members of the resigning government to attend to the current affairs of their respective sectors, pending the appointment of the government. The announcement of the new cabinet is expected soon and will most probably include members of majority parties FLN and Rally for Hope in Algeria (TAJ). Islamist party Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP), said the party and its ally the Front for Change would have won if there had not been any fraud and refused Bouteflika’s suggestion to join the new government. MSP said that the new government will not be able to face the challenges and dangers of the coming phase. Tebboune, 71, has been minister of housing since 2012. He is seen to be close to the president and his brother al-Saeed Bouteflika who is the actual president of the country since President Bouteflika suffered a stroke in 2013. In other news, Deputy Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff Ahmed Gaid Saleh condemned Tuesday the statements of the opposition claiming military personnel were instructed to vote for certain candidates, describing those statements as: “incorrect, inappropriate, and unacceptable.”Saleh didn’t explain at whom his statements were directed but media was under the impression that he was responding to Secretary General of the Workers’ Party Louisa Hanoun. Hanoun criticized the performance of the military during the elections.Saleh stressed that the leadership was keen that all military personnel vote in elections all across Algeria. He explained that this had happened in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Algeria and in full coordination with the Ministry of Interior.

Riyadh Supports Bahrain’s Measures to Preserve Security
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Saudi Arabia stressed on Wednesday its support to the measures taken by Bahrain to preserve its security. An official source at the Foreign Ministry said that “the security and stability of the brotherly Kingdom of Bahrain is an integral part of the security and stability of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.”The source affirmed “Saudi Arabia’s support for the measures being taken by Bahrain in order to maintain its security and stability and the safety of its citizens and residents including the latest measures taken by the Bahraini security services in the village of Diraz to maintain security and order and to address all terrorist attempts aimed at destabilizing and damaging them.” The source spoke to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Germany Stresses Commitment to Political Process in Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 25/17/Beirut– German Foreign Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel stressed his country’s commitment to supporting a political process in Syria, during a meeting on Tuesday in Berlin with Riad Hijab, the General Coordinator of the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian opposition. Gabriel welcomed efforts deployed by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to boost the political process. “I very much welcome the fact that UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is currently trying to expedite the negotiation process. I asked Riad Hijab to play a constructive and active role in this context. Success will require a unified opposition that represents the interests of all sections of Syria’s population,” the German foreign minister said on his Twitter account following the meeting.He added that the recent round of talks in Geneva “has once again demonstrated how the regime is trying to draw out and undermine the negotiations.”“This means it is all the more important to have a unified and courageous opposition,” Gabriel added. He continued: “The questions relating to Syria’s future are too important to allow the delaying tactics of the Syrian regime to work. The delegation of the opposition is working to ensure this doesn’t happen. They are continuing their serious and constructive engagement for a political solution to the conflict.” The German foreign minister called on those who support the Syrian regime, namely Russia and Iran, to work toward cessation of hostilities throughout the country so that secure and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance and aid workers could finally be achieved. Hijab, for his part, stressed the Committee’s adherence to a peaceful solution through the international mediation, while underlining the need “to submit fresh and new proposals that would be adapted to the transformations witnessed in the region”.

Hamas Executes Three over Commander's Murder
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 25/17/The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas executed three people in the Gaza Strip on Thursday over the assassination of one of its military leaders allegedly on behalf of Israel. Two men were hanged to death in Gaza City over the killing of Mazen Faqha in March, while a third was executed by firing squad, said an AFP correspondent who attended the executions. Hundreds of people were allowed to watch the executions, though the streets around the site were closed to the public. One of those executed, Ashraf Abu Leila, 38, was named as the alleged assassin and hanged. Abdallah al-Nashar, 38, and Hisham al-Aloul, 42, were convicted of being his accomplices and "collaborating with the Zionist enemy." Nashar was shot instead of hanged as he was previously an officer of the presidential guard with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who leads Hamas' rivals Fatah. The executions, which come only two weeks after the announcement of their arrests, were immediately condemned by human rights groups. Human Rights Watch said in a statement the "rush" to kill the men "smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law."Hamas had released alleged confessions from the three men, which rights groups said were likely obtained under duress. Amnesty International said the court they were tried in "utterly disregarded international fair trial standards." Citing figures from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, HRW said 25 people had been executed in Gaza since Islamists Hamas seized control in 2007.
Military leader
Faqha was shot dead on March 24 near his house in Gaza City. He had been in charge of forming cells for Hamas' military wing in the occupied West Bank. He played an important role in preparing major attacks, including a suicide attack in the Israeli settlement neighborhood of Gilo in east Jerusalem in 2002 that killed 19 people. Israel sentenced him to nine life sentences plus 50 years, but he was released in 2011 along with more than 1,000 other Palestinians in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas had detained for five years, and transferred to Gaza. The well-planned assassination in the middle of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip shocked the Islamist movement. Hamas immediately blamed its arch-enemy Israel, with which it has fought three wars since 2008, and implemented strict border restrictions on those seeking to leave the Palestinian enclave. Israel has not confirmed or denied the allegations. Last month, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said his country did not seek "adventures" in Gaza and suggested Hamas itself could have killed him. Three other men accused of collaborating with Israel in unrelated cases were executed shortly after Faqha's killing. At the same time, Hamas offered a one-week amnesty for other alleged collaborators, encouraging them to turn themselves in. Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza for a decade and most recently fought Hamas in 2014. U.N. officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, citing deteriorating humanitarian conditions, but Israel says it is needed to keep Hamas from importing weapons or materials used to make them. Gaza's sole crossing with Egypt has also remained largely closed in recent years.

Father of Manchester bomb suspect ‘was in militant group’
AFP, Tripoli Thursday, 25 May 2017/ The father of suspected Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi was once part of a Libyan militant group with alleged ties to Al-Qaeda, a Libyan security source said Thursday. Abedi’s father Ramadan “was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG),” said Ahmed bin Salem, spokesman for Libya’s Deterrence Force, which acts as the police for Libya’s unity government. The Tripoli-based force arrested Abedi’s father and brother after Monday’s attack at a pop concert which killed 22 people and was claimed by the ISIS group. Ramadan Abedi was hunted by the regime of Moamer Kadhafi for his ties to the group, finding refuge in Britain before returning to Libya in 2011 to join the NATO-backed uprising that finally overthrew the dictator, British media have reported. The now-disbanded LIFG was founded in 1995 by Libyans who had fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan and stayed on after their withdrawal. The group’s sole aim was to topple Kadhafi. After thwarting an attempt to assassinate the Libyan strongman, Kadhafi’s security services launched a merciless pursuit of the group’s members, most of whom had fled the country. After the dictator’s ouster and death, Abedi served in the Tripoli police department, Bin Salem said, without providing further information. “The investigation is ongoing and he is still being questioned by the relevant services. I cannot give more details,” Bin Salem said.LIFG members have allegedly maintained murky links with Al-Qaeda.
Some of its members joined the international jihadist network.

Saudi: Saturday is the first day of Ramadan
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishThursday, 25 May 2017/Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court said on Thursday that Saturday May 27 is the first day of Ramadan.On Thursday, Saudi was not able to sight Ramadan's crescent. Muslims follow a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days. Sighting a crescent moon heralds the start of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.It is expected that Ramadan to start on Saturday. More than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world will mark the month, during which believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having martial relations from dawn until sunset. They also try to avoid evil thoughts and deeds. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because tradition says the Koran was revealed to their prophet Mohammed during that month. Fasting the month of Ramadan is also one of the five pillars of Islam. It is followed by the Eid al-Fitr festival.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 25-26/17
Iran: Rouhani's Re-Election Is Not the Key to the Country's Economic Recovery
Mohammad Amin/Gatestone Institute/May 25/17
The true culprit in Iran's economic failure is Iran itself, whose internal barriers make a flourishing economy a pipe-dream. These include: the absence of free-market competition, due mainly to the monopoly of conglomerates affiliated with Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards over a huge sector of the country's economy, which affects at least half of its GDP; the precariousness of the rule of law; the deterioration of human rights; and the exorbitant cost of military intervention in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, as well as the bankrolling of the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah and other regional proxies.
The clear victory on May 19 of incumbent Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over his key rival, Ebrahim Raisi -- the candidate supported by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – indicated that voters were concerned above all with the economy. Raisi, an extremist and isolationist like Khamenei, was the candidate who represented hardline power politics and Middle East hegemony.
It was during Rouhani's first term in office that the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed between Iran and six world powers. This not only led to the lifting of crippling international sanctions from the regime in Tehran, but seemed to signal an effort to renew diplomatic and commercial ties the West.
Iran initially benefited greatly from the JCPOA. From the document's signing in July 2015 and up until early 2017, dozens of delegations from Western countries visited Iran, and hundreds of economic memoranda of understanding were reached.
Excitement could be felt within and beyond Iran's borders. Despite his decades as a prominent member of the mullah-led regime's security apparatus, President Rouhani was and largely still is viewed in the West as a moderate. In addition, the appetite of Iran's 80 million-strong consumer market for Western goods was high, as was the need for Western investment and technology to rebuild Iran's outdated infrastructure. Meanwhile, Western companies were eager to enter the potentially lucrative market, imagining post-JCPOA Iran to be like the mythical Spanish city of gold, El Dorado.
The fantasy, however, never materialized. The wave of signed agreements fizzled out, and although oil exports did reach pre-sanctions levels, Iran's poor legal structure, strangling regulations, corruption and mismanagement hampered economic growth.
Furthermore, although Rouhani's most important achievement was drastically to lower inflation, this had the terrible side-effect of skyrocketing the unemployment rate.
In addition, a tsunami of bankruptcies swept away hundreds of businesses. In the past two years, at least 14 out of 31 private and government banks have gone under, as have 16 out of 20 pension funds.
Undoubtedly, a contributing factor to Iran's economic failure is the refusal of major European banks to finance trade deals, coupled with an extension of American sanctions and the suspicious attitude of U.S. President Donald J. Trump.
The true culprit, however, is Iran itself, whose internal barriers make a flourishing economy a pipe-dream. These include: the absence of free-market competition, due mainly to the monopoly of conglomerates affiliated with Khamenei and the IRGC over a huge sector of the country's economy, which affects at least half of its GDP; the precariousness of the rule of law; the deterioration of human rights; and the exorbitant cost of military intervention in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, as well as the bankrolling of the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah and other regional proxies.
It is safe to assume, therefore, that despite Rouhani's re-election, prospects for economic recovery are bleak and will remain so until Iran's strategic political trajectory undergoes a complete transformation.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. (Photo by Sergey Guneev/Host Photo Agency/Ria Novosti via Getty Images)
*Mohammad Amin, born in Tehran, is a prolific author and expert in Iranian international affairs, and a fellow researcher at the Foundation of Studies for the Middle East (FEMO) in Paris.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The World Needs to Drive Out Destructive Fantasies

Shireen Qudosi/Gatestone Institute/May 25/17
The Palestinians and other powers such as the OIC, the UN and domestic interest groups do not get a veto over reality.
If we are going to "reset" the Middle East, we need to reset our thinking as well, starting with accepting that Israel has a right to exist. Israel exists, and Israel has a legitimate claim to Jerusalem. Further, the Jewish people have proven themselves as more capable custodians of Jerusalem than their Muslim neighbors, who are already burdened by challenges in their own territory.
Alongside us, the world must drive out the fantasy that Jerusalem is not Israel's capital. Jerusalem is the heart and soul of Israel. To deny Jerusalem as a part of Jewish and Israeli identity is the same as denying Mecca as inherent to Muslim identity.
The most iconic moment of President Donald Trump's visit to the Middle East was not his "speech on Islam"; it was his visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The Western Wall is a contested space, and that controversy has bled outside Israel's borders. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently reignited the debate, mentioning the Wall as being in "Jerusalem", instead of in Israel. It is a play on language often used to deny Israeli sovereignty over a space that clearly belongs to the Jewish people, as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, quickly rectified in response.
U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to the Western Wall in Israel was the most iconic moment of his recent visit to the Middle East.
How we talk about religion matters. If we want to be effective in moving forward, it is important to be truthful. The truth is that Israel won the Six Day War, thereby liberating eastern Jerusalem from Jordan, which had seized it illegally when it attacked Israel in 1948-49 and expelled all Jews from eastern Jerusalem.
Israel has earned the right to reclaim Jerusalem fully. This also means that the Palestinians and other powers such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UN and domestic interest groups do not get a veto over reality. If the new foreign policy standard is to work together to combat destructive forces, then it is also important to recognize that it is destructive to start a discussion from positions of falsehoods.
If we are going to "reset" the Middle East, we need to reset our thinking as well, starting with accepting that Israel has a right to exist. That includes confronting calls for the annihilation of the Jewish people, and contesting the dishonest re-imagining of borders that quite literally erase Israel from the map. Israel exists, and Israel has a legitimate claim to Jerusalem. Further, the Jewish people have proven themselves as more capable custodians of Jerusalem than their Muslim neighbors, who are already burdened by challenges in their own territory.
The world also needs to stop aiding the Palestinians in believing they have not lost the war. For the Palestinian people to build a vibrant society of their own, the world needs to abandon the collection of fantasies it has allowed the Palestinians to keep. There is no "right of return" and the dismantling of all settlements is not possible, especially if the entire state of Israel is regarded by many as one big settlement.
Then there is the issue of Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Muslim devotion to the Temple Mount stems from a story in which the Islamic Prophet Muhammad is said to have dreamt traveling from Mecca to Jerusalem to the Heavens beyond space and time (and back) all in one night. The tale of the night ascent is a spiritual journey with only brief mention in the Quran, while second-hand sources in hadiths colored in the rest of the story years after the prophet's death. The Temple Mount rests on historically Jewish territory. It is a generosity to allow it to remain under Muslim control, especially when the claim to the territory is based on a dream the Quran touches on only briefly. Typically, a dream does not secure land rights (even in centuries prior). A person cannot reasonably expect to get a key and deed to another person's home simply because they dreamed they visited it. It is an absurd claim.
Critical Muslim thinkers drive out fantasies from our faith. Alongside us, the world must drive out the fantasy that Jerusalem is not Israel's capital. Jerusalem is the heart and soul of Israel. To deny Jerusalem as a part of Jewish and Israeli identity is the same as denying Mecca as inherent to Muslim identity.
Finally, the world must drive out the belief that Palestinians do not have to make peace with Israel. It is abusive and counter to the interests of a future thriving Palestinian society to indulge in a warring fantasy that Israel can be destroyed. Instead of fetishizing the destruction of Israel, Palestinians would truly improve their lives if they started working to rebuild their own society rather than take on additional territory that could be governed or cared for with the respect and sanctity for history that Jerusalem deserves.
Palestinians would be better served addressing bedrock issues in their own society, including holding their people accountable for the hate indoctrinated into the hearts and minds of every Palestinian as soon as they learn to walk and talk. Stop financially supporting families of terrorists. Stop calling terrorists martyrs. Stop sacrificing your children and celebrating their deaths.
*Shireen Qudosi is the Director of Muslim Matters, at America Matters. Follow her on Twitter @ShireenQudosi.
© 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.

Censoring You to 'Protect' You
Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/May 25/17
The editor of The Vanguard at Portland State University decided that it was more important to cover up a story than to break it, more important to evade truths than to expose them, and more important to treat students -- and the wider world -- as children rather than thinking sentient adults able to make up their own minds.
That students such as Andy Ngo exist is reason for considerable optimism. So long as there are even a few people left who are willing to ask the questions that need asking and willing to tell people about the answers they hear -- however uncomfortable they may seem right now -- all cannot possibly be lost.
Indeed, it is imaginable, that with examples such as this, students in America could be reminded not only that truth will always triumph over lies, but that the current trend of ignorance and censorship might one day soon begin to be turned around.
In the culture-wars currently rocking US campuses, the enemies of free speech have plenty of tools on their side. Many of these would appear to be advantages. For instance the employment of violence, thuggery and intimidation against those who disagree are generally effective ways to prevent people hearing things you do not want them to hear. As are the subtler but more regularly employed tactics for shutting people down, such a "no-platforming" people or getting them disinvited after they have been invited, should the speaker's views not accord 100% with those of their would-be censors. As also noted in this space before, many of the people who campaign to limit what American students can learn also have the short-term advantage of being willing to lie without compunction and cover over facts whenever they emerge.
The important point here, however, is that word "short-term". In the long run, those who wish to cover over a contrary opinion, or even inconvenient facts, are unlikely to succeed. Adults tend to be capable of more discernment and initiative than the aspirant-nannies believe them to be, and the effects will always tend to show. Take, for example, events in Portland, Oregon, last month.
In April, a gathering took place at the Portland State University. The occasion was billed as an interfaith panel and was given the title, "Challenging Misperceptions." As this is an era when perceptions, as well as misperceptions, of religion are perhaps unusually common, there might be some sense in holding such a discussion, even in the knowledge that it is likely to be hampered -- as interfaith get-togethers usually are -- by the necessity of dwelling on things that do not matter and focussing attention away from all things that do. Thus, by the end of an average interfaith event, it can generally be agreed upon that there are certain dietary laws that certain religions have in common, some agreement on the existence of historical figures and an insistence that religion is the answer to most problems of our world. Fortunately, at Portland, there were some people in the audience who appear to have been happy to avoid this sort of boilerplate.
A young woman raised her hand and asked the Muslim student on the panel about a specific verse in the Koran which would appear to approve killing non-Muslims (Possible verses might have included Qur'an: 8:12; 22:19-22; 2:191-193; 9.5; 9:29). The Muslim student replied:
"I can confidently tell you, when the Koran says an innocent life, it means an innocent life, regardless of the faith, the race, like, whatever you can think about as a characteristic."
This had the potential to develop into an interesting, or at the very least, an interestingly evasive answer. And so a young student there, named Andy Ngo, who also worked for the university's student newspaper, The Vanguard, got out his phone and began recording. The Muslim student on the panel went on to say:
"And some, this, that you're referring to, killing non-Muslims, that [to be a non-believer] is only considered a crime when the country's law, the country is based on Koranic law – that means there is no other law than the Koran. In that case, you're given the liberty to leave the country, you can go in a different country, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. So you can go in a different country, but in a Muslim country, in a country based on the Koranic laws, disbelieving, or being an infidel, is not allowed so you will be given the choice [to leave]."
All of this is an admirably more complete answer than tends to be given at such affairs. All of this is also theologically strong. Speaking about the attitudes of the Islamic faith towards apostasy a few years ago, no less an authority than Yusuf al-Qaradawi said that if Muslims had got rid of the punishments for apostasy, "Islam would not exist today". It is a striking admission, and one which would appear to suggest an awareness that the religion's innate appeal is not as great as is often alleged.
The young reporter who captured this segment of video proceeded to share it on his Twitter account. This is the sort of thing journalists often do if they are at a public event and someone says something of interest. The alternatives (that journalists hope never to attend anything interesting, or attend events that are interesting but choose to keep their discoveries private) are not models for success in the profession.
In the days immediately following the event, a couple of websites picked up the story. Shortly afterwards, Andy Ngo was called in for a meeting at his student newspaper and told by the editor-in-chief that his behaviour was "predatory" and "reckless" and that he had put the life of the Muslim student and that student's family at risk. So far as anyone knows, nothing has happened to either the Muslim student or his family. Despite much flame-fanning by "Defenders of Minorities", America does not seem to be in the middle of a lynching season for religious minorities, even though these moralists often appear to wish it otherwise. Nevertheless, "health and safety" and "minimising harm" are, as Mark Steyn has observed, the new "shut up". Where once someone would invite you just to "shut up", today they can appeal to the possibility that a non-existent lynch-mob might show up to murder anyone whose cause the censor of the day happens to be trying to protect.
At any rate, while the Muslim student and his family are, of course, fine, the young journalist who reported his words was fired. The editor of The Vanguard at Portland State University decided that it was more important to cover up a story than to break it, more important to evade truths than to expose them, and more important to treat Portland students -- and the wider world -- as children rather than thinking adults able to make up their own minds.
The account of The Vanguard is a typical display of student cowardice and American academic dishonour. The report, nevertheless, should also stand as a demonstration of American hope. That students such as Andy Ngo exist is reason for considerable optimism. So long as there are even a few people left who are willing to ask the questions that need asking and willing to tell people about the answers they hear -- however uncomfortable they may seem right now -- all cannot possibly be lost. Indeed, it is imaginable, that with examples such as his, students in America could be reminded not only that truth will always triumph over lies, but that the current trend of ignorance and censorship might one day soon begin to be turned around.
*Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Qatar: It is about policies not news
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/May 25/17
The story from Qatar is not whether the news is fabricated or true. The problem is much bigger than what meets the eye. Qatar, a country which is rich with natural resources and whose people are very close to the Saudi society, has since 1996 adopted a strange approach in looking after the general interest of the Gulf system particularly towards any higher interest of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s biggest country. A lot has been said about the statements attributed to the Qatari Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and which were published by the official Qatari news agency, state television and other official Qatari media outlets. They later denied the report. This was followed by Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini comments. Let’s keep in mind that “ordinary” media outlets publish news from their “ordinary” and usual sources.
The substance
What attracts attention here is the content of the report. According to the report, it was said that Brotherhood is a legitimate group and not a terrorist organization and that Hezbollah is a resistance movement while Hamas is a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
It was also said that Iran is a major country that one must gain to his side and that Qatar is being subjected to “an unjust campaign” coinciding with the US President Donald Trump’s visit. The report also said the situation with the US will change due to the problematic new administration.
It added that Al-Udeid Air Base provides a deep and permanent cooperation with the Americans that no one can change. It also said that some governments which claim to fight terrorism actually adopt extremism (it’s clear who is meant here following Riyadh’s major summit) and added that the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt must end their campaigns against Qatar.Are these Qatari contentions false? They do not exist? Is this all slander? Does this reflect reality?The reason behind Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini and other Arab countries’ anger is that clarity in terms of unified policies is no longer something that we can take lightly or overlook
Beyond denial
The situation is far deeper than the denial. Media outlets affiliated to Qatar – from Al-Jazeera network to London and Turkey’s platforms, research centers and publishing houses – are all dedicated to promoting the Brotherhood propaganda. Everyone is aware of that. Prior to that we have known about the honeymoon period between Hezbollah and Doha.Even the United States, during the presidential term of Iran’s and Brotherhood’s friend Barack Obama, was aware of that. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently spoke about Qatar’s relation with Brotherhood at a seminar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy.“Qatar has long welcomed the Muslim Brotherhood more than any other country in the region,” adding that whenever Washington asked Doha to pursue a rejected Brotherhood activity they would “but the initiative never came from them,” he said.
The reason behind Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini and other Arab countries’ anger is that clarity in terms of unified policies is no longer something that we can take lightly or overlook, especially after the departure of Obama who obstructed such efforts.
Everyone should try and comprehend the importance GCC-US and the Islamic-US summits. This is a new phase in politics which leaves its mark on media and other fields. We hope the brothers in Qatar think of mutual interests.

Manchester attack and Riyadh’s center for combating terrorism
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 25/17
The difference between al-Qaeda and ISIS is in the use of terror techniques. Al-Qaeda has almost disappeared because it decided to stop using the internet and modern technology after it realized this could expose it. ISIS, as a secret group, became prominent as a result of technology and published most of its activities on social media networks. Theoretically speaking, technology is supposed to expose ISIS but it turned out that the latter is often one step ahead of global security apparatuses. It individually communicates with those who are enthusiastic about its message via online networks. According to preliminary details, this is was the case of the young man who carried out the recent Manchester attack. ISIS recruited him at his home in Manchester and he did not need to travel to ar-Raqqah in Syria. Security forces work to expose terrorists and thwart their operations by infiltrating such organizations and planting their agents. They monitor electronic messages and phone calls but it seems this is no longer yielding any results. The frequency of terrorist attacks in Europe prove this fact. A relevant event of great significance happened recently. Few days ago, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology was inaugurated in Saudi Arabia. Although there are around 1,000 centers in the world that specialize in the affairs related to terrorism, this center is different. It is a massive radar that electronically detects activities particularly on social media networks.
It reads billions of circulated letters, sorts them and categorizes them following which they are analyzed by relevant officials. The center handles the task of recognizing concepts, lessons and fatwas (religious edicts) and has distinguished itself for its ability to differentiate between local dialects as most of the circulated material, whether written or spoken. Intervention is done through detecting and pursuing dangerous circulated material or by discussing it and guiding it in the right direction. The Center is supposed to fill the gaps in the electronic space, which extremists dominate.
Manchester’s lone wolf is one of hundreds or perhaps thousands in the virtual world. Security apparatuses confront difficult challenges as terrorists’ tools and tactics progress. They listen to phone calls, read messages, monitor the sale of arms and materials used to make weapons, and gather information from their informants who risk their lives to be on the ground. Real failure is not in the inability to expose criminals before they commit crime or in failing to to thwart a terror attack, it is in the inability to build bridges to stop these torrents of hatred and incitement
Recruiting online
Meanwhile, ISIS looks online for those with characteristics matching its objectives. The group communicates with them individually and this lessens the chances of being exposed or infiltrated. After communicating with dozens of young men who had already been deceived, they are guided to achieve the group’s aims. Most of the time, one of them will be willing to carry out a crime either by using a suicide belt or a machine gun. Sometimes, they are tasked with using a vehicle to ram people or with simply using a kitchen knife to murder people.
Real failure is not in the inability to expose criminals before they commit crime or in failing to to thwart a terror attack, it is in the inability to build bridges to stop these torrents of hatred and incitement. This is not a general case in Muslim societies as it is claimed, and it’s not true that hatred and criminal activities have spread as a result of the Muslims’ suffering in European “ghettos.”
These crimes are also not exclusive to those angry with their regimes’ practices in Muslim countries. These are all excuses to justify terrorism. There are the same exact cases in other communities who follow other religions, such as Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism, so why don’t they wear suicide belts to voice protest or purify themselves? Even Muslims from the previous generations did not do this. Why are today’s Muslim generations doing so? The spread of extremism in Birmingham and Manchester in Britain is much easier than its spread in Saudi Arabia and Egypt because laws are strict in the latter two and lenient in the former.
One last note: Fighting extremism is more important than fighting terrorism.