May 29/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 12/20-25/:'Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life."

One God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all
Letter to the Ephesians 04/01-13/:"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, ‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.’ (When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth?He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Question: "What is the meaning and importance of the ascension of Jesus Christ?"
Answer: After Jesus rose from the dead, He "presented Himself alive" (Acts 1:3) to the women near the tomb (Matthew 28:9-10), to His disciples (Luke 24:36-43), and to more than 500 others (1 Corinthians 15:6). In the days following His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus and His disciples went to Mount Olivet, near Jerusalem. There, Jesus promised His followers that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit, and He instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit had come. Then Jesus blessed them, and as He gave the blessing, He began to ascend into heaven. The account of Jesus' ascension is found in Luke 24:50-51 and Acts 1:9-11.
It is plain from Scripture that Jesus' ascension was a literal, bodily return to heaven. He rose from the ground gradually and visibly, observed by many intent onlookers. As the disciples strained to catch a last glimpse of Jesus, a cloud hid Him from their view, and two angels appeared and promised Christ's return "in just the same way that you have watched Him go" (Acts 1:11).
The Ascension of Jesus Christ is meaningful for several reasons:
1) It signaled the end of His earthly ministry. God the Father had lovingly sent His Son into the world at Bethlehem, and now the Son was returning to the Father. The period of human limitation was at an end.
2) It signified success in His earthly work. All that He had come to do, He had accomplished.
3) It marked the return of His heavenly glory. Jesus' glory had been veiled during His sojourn on earth, with one brief exception at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9).
4) It symbolized His exaltation by the Father (Ephesians 1:20-23). The One with whom the Father is well pleased (Matthew 17:5) was received up in honor and given a name above all names (Philippians 2:9).
5) It allowed Him to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).
6) It indicated the beginning of His new work as High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15).
7) It set the pattern for His return. When Jesus comes to set up the Kingdom, He will return just as He left-literally, bodily, and visibly in the clouds (Acts 1:11; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7).
Currently, the Lord Jesus is in heaven. The Scriptures frequently picture Him at the right hand of the Father-a position of honor and authority (Psalm 110:1; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 8:1). Christ is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18), the giver of spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:7-8), and the One who fills all in all (Ephesians 4:9-10).
Recommended Resource: Jesus: The Greatest Life of All by Charles Swindoll


Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 28-29/17
The Majority of those Who allege to represent Christians in Lebanon know Nothing about Christianity/Elias Bejjani/May 27/17
Once Again Coptic children Are Brutally Massacred/Elias Bejjani/May 26/17
Israel preparing partial evacuation in case of conflict with Lebanon/Jerusalem Post/May 28, 2017
How the World Can Prepare for the ‘Day After’ ISIS/David Ignatius/Washington Post/May 28/17
Former Imam Of Mecca's Great Mosque Adel Al-Kalbani: The Shi'ite Scholars Are Heretics; 'Salafi Seed' Gave Rise To ISIS (Archival)/The Middle East Media Research Institute/May 28/17
Riyadh’s center for combating terrorism has provoked them/Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/May 28/17
Iran: The regime’s nature and its calculations/Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Arabiya/May 28/17
Qatar Emir’s speech and the art of political suicide /Hamoud Abu Taleb/Al Arabiya/May 28/17
"Drip-Drip" Genocide: Muslim Persecution of Christians, February, 2017/Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/May 28/17
Europe Fights Back with Candles and Teddy Bears/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/May 28/17
Turkey: Erdogan's Goon Squad Comes to Washington/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/May 28/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 28-29/17
The Majority of those Who allege to represent Christians in Lebanon know Nothing about Christianity
Once Again Coptic children Are Brutally Massacred
MP Alain Aoun says vote law debate advancing
Berri Hails Adwan's Electoral Law 'Miracle'
15-District Proportional Representation Law Put on Front Burner
Report: No Going Back on Adwan Proposal, MP Chose Right Regional Moment to Act
Report: Hizbullah Issues Ultimatum to Arsal Outskirts Militants
Berri, Hizbullah, Hariri Reportedly Oppose Moving Maronite Seats from Muslim-Majority Districts
Lebanese newspapers' headlines for Sunday 28/5/2017
Rahi from Batroun: People are fed up with political practices for personal interests
Rahi offers condolences to Tawadros II over Minya terrorist attack
Bassil: Proportional Representation Ends Monopolization, FPM Wants to be '3rd Shiite Force'
Riachi calls on TeleLiban employees to prioritize national channel's interests
Franjieh: Our positions are firm and do not change with interests
Raffoul from Bezbina: Lebanon is ravished not broke, legislative elections to take place end of September
Qobeissi says Lebanon deserves modern, fair electoral law
Hariri cables Sisi, Tawadros II in condemnation of Minya terrorist attack

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 28-29/17
Tel Aviv City Hall lights up in solidarity with Egypt
Egypt cites ‘self-defense’ for Libya strikes to UN Security Council
Egypt Intensifies Strikes against ISIS Offshoots in Libya
Emir of Qatar Stresses Enhancing Relations with Iran
Guarantors Disagree on Borders of De-escalation Zones in Syria
Broad Battles Launched to Retake Mosul Old City
King Salman: Saudi Arabia Saves No Effort in Supporting Egypt’s Fight against Terrorism
Libyan militant group Ansar al-Sharia says it has dissolved
UK looking to ‘increase pressure’ on internet firms over extremist material
Sounds of Silence as Russia Probe Pierces Trump's Inner Circle
Khamenei Slams Saudis as America's 'Milking Cow'
After UK, Egypt Attacks, Libya Seen as Militants' Haven

Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 28-29/17
The Majority of those Who allege to represent Christians in Lebanon know Nothing about Christianity
Elias Bejjani/May 27/17
Sadly the majority of politicians, feudal-commercial-Stalinist parities and officials who claim to represent Christians in Lebanon and fight for both their rights and existence are in reality and actuality totally alienated from all that is Christianity.
Their conduct, approaches and aims totally contradict Christianity and has nothing to do with it. Christianity in its core and essence, teachings and values ​​is love, forgiveness, sacrifice, sincerity, humility, faith and hope . They are completely detached from all these basic Christian foundations and solid principles...
In reality the majority of those who falsely allege to represent the Lebanese Christians, politicians, parties as well as officials are a bunch of hypocrites' and Pharisees.
Based on their acts, achievements, affiliations, chameleon practices, inartistic rhetoric, and personal agendas they only represent their own individual interests and their people, church and communities.
The majority of those political narcissists are preys to the temptations of their own instincts and mere servants to the head of the demons, Lucifer, (Satan)
My Almighty Lord and His Angles safeguard and protects our people and our homeland from the politician's evil ambitions, delinquency, ruthlessness and the vanity of their whims.

Once Again Coptic children Are Brutally Massacred
Elias Bejjani/May 26/17
More than 40 Egyptian Coptic Christians, mostly children, were brutally and savagely murdered,  while many others severely injured in Egypt this morning while on their way to visit a Coptic Monastery
As news agencies reported, the monstrous assailants were ten males, dressed in military attire, and heavily armed.
The 10 cowardly murderers targeted  a convoy of buses and cars that were carrying the Coptic children with their escorts to the monastery.
One wonders what is the rationale and what are the gains of killing for just the sake and pleasure of killing?
The reasonable questions are, what did these murderers accomplish in murdering innocent children,
What actually are their ultimate evil schemes, and what do they really want?
For heavens sake, who are these creatures that target innocent Coptic Christian Egyptian children while on their way to a religious monastery for praying, worshiping, supplication and reverence?
Who are these ugly monsters that enjoy, dance and hail the scenes of blood, disasters and tragedies? ..
Who does finance them and why?
Who trains, educates, breeds and uses these human like robots?
Who orchestrates, plans and facilitate these inhuman atrocities?
Who are those creatures that cherished and rejoice in watching weeping and howling  mothers whose children are slaughtered in front of their eyes and cut into pieces?
What kind of creatures are those mean cowards and barbarians who attack unarmed civilians, innocent children that are unable to defend themselves?
Who are these Draculas who hate, and hold grudges against other people to the extent that they explode their children, decapitate their clergy, confiscate their properties and destroy their worshiping places?
Who are these bloodthirsty monsters who never get satisfied with blood shedding, but always grow more and more barbaric, brutal and savage?
We wonder, are these barbarians and murderers actually human beings with emotions and feelings?
Do they actually fear Almighty God and take in account His last Day of Judgment?
Do they have human minds and human standards ?
In accordance with all religious, human and moral standards, these monster must be void from all that human, and merely alienated from all religions teachings, humanity standards, values ​​and moral principles.
In actuality and practicality, These are demonic creatures stripped of all feelings, sensations, and all that is intellectuality and reason.
They are practically mere satanic enemies for all that is humanity, peace, love, religions, civilization, science, tolerance, human rights and freedoms.
We call on each and every human being, all over the world who condemns such evil and brutal acts to pray and ask almighty to receive and dwell the souls of the Coptic martyrs in His heaven alongside the righteous and saints.
Meanwhile we wish all the injured a quick and safe recovery.
May Almighty God shower on the families of the victims all gifts of forgiveness, patience, faith and consolation.

Israel preparing partial evacuation in case of conflict with Lebanonإسرائيل تقوم بتحضيرات جزئية لإخلاء مناطق محاذية للبنان في حال نشوب حرب مع حزب الله
Jerusalem Post/May 28, 2017
A senior Israeli official said that the Israeli assessment is that neither Hezbollah nor Israel wants a war, but “there could be escalation or miscalculation on both sides.”
A senior Israeli military official told The Media Line that Israel has prepared a partial evacuation plan for areas close to the border with Lebanon in case of a renewed round of fighting with pro-Iranian Hezbollah guerrillas. He confirmed media reports that Hezbollah has more than 100,000 rockets that can cover all of Israel, but said “90 percent” of them are short-range rockets, with a range of about 28 miles.
“We know that (Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan) Nasrallah wants to harm Israeli civilians and he is using psychological warfare against our citizens,” he said in an exclusive briefing with The Media Line. “But we also believe that Nasrallah is acting out of weakness because he has lost about 1500 fighters in Syria.”
The condition of the briefing was that no identifying titles of the officer or where the briefing took place be published.
Hezbollah has been fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria for the past six years, and is credited, along with Russia and Iran, for helping to turn the tide of the war in favor of Assad. But Nasrallah has come under criticism from some in Lebanon, who say that the fighters should be defending Lebanon, not Syria.
Nasrallah has recently up his rhetoric against Israel, saying that “Israel should think a million times before it goes to war with Lebanon,” and that “Hezbollah is ready for any threat.” He has also threatened to hit Israel’s nuclear facilities in Dimona.
Israel has stepped up its own psychological warfare. Earlier this month, Nasrallah gave a speech on the anniversary of the death of military commander Mustafa Badreddine killed in Syria last year. The Lebanese group has said Israel is responsible for the assassination – which Israel neither confirmed nor denied.
During Nasrallah’s recent speech, thousands of Lebanese citizens received voice and text messages saying that Nasrallah ordered Baddreddine killed. Iranian media said that Israel was behind those messages.
The senior Israeli official said that the Israeli assessment is that neither Hezbollah nor Israel wants a war, but “there could be escalation or miscalculation on both sides.”
The last large-scale conflict between Israel and Hezbollah was in 2006, after Hezbollah launched a cross-border raid that killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two others. It later became clear that both of those soldiers were killed during their capture. During the 34 days of fighting, Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets on Israeli communities, while Israel bombarded targets in southern Lebanon. The month of fighting killed an estimated 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, as well as 44 Israeli civilians and 121 Israeli soldiers.
The Israeli airstrikes caused massive destruction to residential areas in south Lebanon and south of Beirut — areas where Hezbollah maintains a presence and has large support among the predominantly Shi'ite population. Israel also flattened entire blocs of residential apartments and destroyed roads, bridges, ports and power plants across the country.
Since then, Israel has expanded its missile defense system, adding David’s Sling, meant to stop medium-range missiles. It joins Iron Dome, which has been successful in stopping hundreds of short-range rockets from the Gaza Strip, and the Arrow system, meant for long-range rockets.
Besides an evacuation plan, Israel also has a detailed plan in the case of an earthquake or other natural disaster.
“We are waiting for an earthquake,” he said. “Historically, there is an earthquake every 80 – 100 years and the last one was in 1927.”
He said the disaster plan depends partly on what time of day a potential earthquake occurs. If it is during the day, for example, the first priority will be in getting to schools and saving children. He says that an earthquake has the potential to kill thousands of people.
Press reports say the government is preparing for a scenario that forecasts the collapse of 30,000 buildings, 7,000 people dead, and 170,000 left without shelter. The key to saving lives is reaching them in time, so Israel’s Home Front Command maintains contacts with municipal officials in Israel’s towns and cities.
The official said the chances of finding people alive go from 70 percent in the first 24 hours down to 30 percent after 48 hours. He said that Israeli is preparing a plan to rescue people trapped from an earthquake even in areas where cellphone reception fails.

MP Alain Aoun says vote law debate advancing
The Daily Star/ May. 28, 2017/BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement MP Alain Aoun Sunday said the progress in vote law talks was the result of the party's steadfast stance to achieve a breakthrough in the monthslong deadlock. Aoun said that the FPM was approaching positively all new proposals. "Claims that an agreement had occurred and only the FPM hasn't joined, are inaccurate.""No party announced its final statement ... but the stances are evolving," Aoun said in an interview with Al-Jadeed channel. MP George Adwan, Lebanese Forces’ deputy chief, conducted shuttle meetings with senior state official on the new law, reportedly making progress in his ongoing talks. Aoun defended his party’s lobbying for the controversial sectarian-based two-stage “qualification” vote law proposal, which has drawn opposition from Berri, MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc and the Lebanese Forces, said no one can impose on the FPM any electoral law after his several vote proposals have been rejected.A proportional system, based on 15 constituencies, seems to have gained favor of political parties in the coming elections. The fine details are yet to be ironed among the conflicting parties.
“We were the first to demand proportionality as (the basis) for an advanced reformative electoral law,” Aoun said, demanding “correct representation of all components. “We have demanded guarantees to deter any current or future inclination for one constituent’s control over the other and to stop jeopardizing national unity and coexistence,” Aoun said. “What is required is an actual and permanent formula of partnership among Christians and Muslims in Lebanon,” he added. “Establishing a Senate can be one of the guarantees, however, other guarantees can be reached,” Aoun said.
Parliament's term expires on June 20. A key parliamentary session to discuss the vote law is scheduled for June 5.
U.S. Sanctions Exaggerated
Aoun also downplayed the impact of the new U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah, saying they have been exaggerated in the media. “[U.S. sanctions] are real, however they are not quite the size that is being circulated in media,” Aoun said. Lebanon recently came into the spotlight in the U.S. after Congress planned to review additional, tougher sanctions against Hezbollah, its affiliates and allies, a move with detrimental political and financial ramifications on the country. The draft of the “Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017” mainly aims at cutting off financial support to the party, blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Washington. The U.S. Treasury has published a list of around 100 persons and organizations associated with Hezbollah. Aoun clarified that these “are additional measures through which the U.S. administration perhaps seeks to reinforce the previous measures.”“The monetary system in Lebanon is connected to the American monetary system,” Aoun said, advising that Lebanon should send delegates “to the Congress and present Lebanon’s point of view,” to avoid the influence of the lobbies that are targeting the country. Lebanese banks complied with the list in view of the grave results on the local banking sector, a pivotal component of Lebanon’s economy. “The international and regional decision to protect the stability of Lebanon is still valid,” Aoun said, adding that the Lebanese are unanimous in maintaining stability.

Berri Hails Adwan's Electoral Law 'Miracle'
Naharnet/May 28/17/Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has hailed the major breakthrough that MP George Adwan has managed to create in the electoral law negotiations as a “miracle.”“Berri's remarks to his visitors that a progress has been made can be attributed to his belief that Adwan is exerting serious efforts to end the deadlock,” sources informed on Adwan's efforts told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Sunday.“A cautious Berri is still waiting for Adwan to succeed in clinching a final approval from the Free Patriotic Movement on some details that are still a subject of contention,” the sources added. However, Berri has told Adwan that he has “performed a miracle” regarding the electoral law in appreciation of his efforts, the sources revealed. The speaker lauded the fact that Adwan “has avoided the media with the aim of ensuring the success of his initiative and preventing any attempt to foil it,” the sources went on to say. Al-Hayat said Adwan's proposal has received the approval of Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Hizbullah, Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, and the FPM – which “managed to get a large part of its previous demands.”Adwan's proposal, which is based on full proportional representation and 15 districts, will not involve any sectarian voting as previously demanded by the FPM, the sources added. Voters' choice of preferred candidates on the electoral ballots will be counted based on the current 26 administrative districts and not in the 15 electoral districts, the sources added.

15-District Proportional Representation Law Put on Front Burner
Naharnet/May 28/17/The upcoming parliamentary elections will apparently be held under a new law based on proportional representation, media reports said on Sunday.
"The only remaining obstacle is the demand to move some Christian seats across some districts,” al-Mustaqbal newspaper said. “It has become known that President Michel Aoun in agreement with Prime Minister Saad Hariri is inclined to sign a decree opening an extraordinary legislative session... and Speaker Nabih Berri yesterday announced the postponement of Monday's session to June 5 in a step that observers say is aimed at confirming the optimism that is engulfing the electoral discussions,” the daily added. Al-Mustaqbal said the last hours witnessed an agreement in principle on the format of the new law. “The 15-electorate format is making headway and an agreement has been reached on counting votes for preferred candidates in each of the current 26 administrative districts,” the daily added. It said the electoral districts will be three in the Bekaa, three in the South, four in Mount Lebanon, three in the North and two in Beirut.

Report: No Going Back on Adwan Proposal, MP Chose Right Regional Moment to Act

Naharnet/May 28/17/The political forces have become “in the last 50 meters of the race towards the electoral law and the atmosphere is very positive,” sources informed on MP George Adwan's efforts have said. “An agreement has been reached on the electoral districts -- the backbone of the law and a subject of major contention in the past – and we can say that an agreement has been reached on 90% of the law's details,” the sources told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Sunday. “We have reached a point from which there can be no going back, and discussions are now revolving around some additions and technicalities that cannot sabotage the proposal, even if we witness some escalation from some parties,” the sources added. They noted that Adwan might have chosen the “right regional moment to act.” “None of the parties wants to step into the major dilemma that leads to parliamentary vacuum and the closure of parliament, which would harm the position of the Shiite sect in the Lebanese formula, not to mention that the regional developments and the new phase of confrontations have obliged everyone to respond positively to efforts aimed at steering Lebanon clear of escalating tensions that have an impact on the Sunni-Shiite situation,” the sources explained.

Report: Hizbullah Issues Ultimatum to Arsal Outskirts Militants
Naharnet/May 28/17/The security situation in the outskirts of the eastern border town of Arsal has returned to the spotlight after Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's remarks in two consecutive speeches about the need for the evacuation of Syrian militants from the area. “Hizbullah is negotiating through mediators to convince the militants to leave the outskirts, amid obstacles related to disputes among the militant groups themselves,” Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai reported on Sunday. “Some of the militants want to leave to (Lebanon's) Tripoli, others want to go to (Syria's) Idlib, while other groups are insisting on staying in the area and defending their presence there,” the daily added. “Hizbullah, which has given these groups a grace period to leave the area peacefully, has lately warned them that it will come for them and that it will not wait for a long time,” al-Rai said. It added that there are expectations that the file will be resolved “through negotiations or combat after the month of Ramadan.”Militants from the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front jihadist groups are entrenched in rugged areas in Arsal's outskirts and other regions along the Syrian-Lebanese border. In 2014 they overran the town of Arsal for several days before being ousted by the army after deadly battles. The army still shells their positions on regular basis while Hizbullah and the Syrian army have engaged in clashes with them on the Syrian side of the border.

Berri, Hizbullah, Hariri Reportedly Oppose Moving Maronite Seats from Muslim-Majority Districts

Naharnet/May 28/17/MP George Adwan's electoral proposal involves moving three Maronite seats from Muslim-majority districts but sources close to Speaker Nabih Berri have said that the speaker, Hizbullah and Prime Minister Saad Hariri have strongly objected against the suggestion. “This is unacceptable because it would deprive a segment of Christian voters in Tripoli, West Bekaa and Baalbek-Hermel from being represented in parliament,” sources close to Berri told pan-Arab daily al-Hayat in remarks published Sunday. The newspaper said the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces believe that moving a Maronite seat from Tripoli to Batroun, another from West Bekaa to Jbeil and another from Baalbek-Hermel to Bsharri would raise Christians' ability to elect MPs with their own votes to 50 out of 64 seats. But the sources that are close to Berri wondered “if it is also required to move the Maronite voters in those districts to the areas to where the seats would be moved.”“These districts enjoy a special status in terms of the need to consolidate Muslim-Christian coexistence in them despite the fact that Muslim are the majority there,” the sources added. Al-Hayat said there is speculation that the FPM and the LF might settle for moving the Tripoli and West Bekaa seats and leaving the Baalbek-Hermel seat unchanged. Sources close to Adwan meanwhile reassured that “the issue of moving parliamentary seats will not lead to a problem, seeing as the foundations have been finalized and the law provides an acceptable share for everyone and relieves all parties.”

Lebanese newspapers' headlines for Sunday 28/5/2017
Sun 28 May 2017/NNA - Following are the headlines of Lebanon's newspapers:
AD-DIYAR: Prominent source: Vacuum in Parliament will affect state institutions
Electoral law based on 15 constituencies: awaits restrictions interpretation
AL-MUSTAQBAL: House of Representatives moving toward holding extraordinary session...Possibility to decree new vote law June 5...Proportionality electoral law elaborated...awaits agreement on contested seats

Rahi from Batroun: People are fed up with political practices for personal interests
Sun 28 May 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros Rahi said on Sunday that the Lebanese people are tired with the political practices that only serve personal interests and narrow calculations. "Lebanese people are fed up with exploiting power and political practices for personal interests," Rahi noted during a Mass service on the occasion of the "National Family Day" at the Cathedral of Saint Stephan in Batroun. Rahi added that the "duty of politicians is to protect the people from political, economic and security crises."The Patriarch considered that politicians brought us to the edge of the abyss through the parliamentary mandate extension and vacuum in the legislative body.

Rahi offers condolences to Tawadros II over Minya terrorist attack
Sun 28 May 2017 /NNA - Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Beshara Boutros Rahi, phone called Sunday Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, offering his condolences over the terrorist attack that targeted a bus carrying Egyptian Copts while traveling to a monastery in southern Egypt, killing 26 people and wounding dozens.Rahi called on the International Community "to put an end to the countries that are supporting terrosim with money, arms, fighters and political cover.""Silence about crimes is an indirect complicity," Rahi concluded.

Bassil: Proportional Representation Ends Monopolization, FPM Wants to be '3rd Shiite Force'
Naharnet/May 28/17/Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil announced Sunday that the proportional representation electoral system would “put an end to monopolization inside sects,” adding that the FPM is seeking to become “the third Shiite movement” in the country.“In this period, we in the FPM are being accused of being sectarian, but would a sectarian party inaugurate four FPM offices in one day in northern Bekaa in Shiite and not Christian towns?” Bassil said during the opening of an FPM office in the Shiite-majority town of Shaath. “We don't have a complex when we say that we in the Free Patriotic Movement want to defend the rights of Christians if their rights are being encroached on... Also when we feel that Sunnis in Lebanon are targeted, we defend them. We don't have a complex that prevents us from defending al-Mustaqbal Movement because we would be defending moderation in Lebanon,” Bassil said, describing Mustaqbal as “Lebanon's security valve.” “Lebanon was built upon moderation, and extremism should be in defending rights and justice, not religious extremism,” he added. “We also don't have a complex when we defend our Shiite brothers in Lebanon when we sense that they are being targeted, because nowadays any attack against them is an attack on Lebanon's strength. Today, they want to crush the resistance (Hizbullah) because it is confronting Israel and terrorism,” Bassil went on to say. Commenting on the electoral law format that is making headway nowadays – proportional representation in 15 districts – Bassil said a proportional representation law “would put an end to monopolization inside sects” in terms of political representation. The FPM chief also reminded that his movement “had called for proportional representation from the very beginning.” “The Orthodox Gathering law is a proportional law, the qualification law is a porportional law, and the law based on creating a senate is a proportional law,” Bassil added, noting that “the FPM is seeking to become the third Shiite movement” after Hizbullah and AMAL.

Riachi calls on TeleLiban employees to prioritize national channel's interests
Sun 28 May 2017/NNA - Information Minister Melhem Riachi Sunday urged Tele-Liban's employees to render the interests of the national channel a priority.Riachi, currently on a visit to the United States, affirmed from New Jersey that "the verdict by Judge Jad Maalouf to dismiss TL's transitional administration was inevitable."The minister thanked the judiciary for its prompt response to the State's request, owner of the national channel, calling on Tele-Liban employees to cooperate with the temporary director, and to accord the company's interests priority. Riachi clarified in response to a question that all measures adopted by the former TL administration after March 1 would be revised. He finally said he was confident that "the Council of Ministers will select new members of the board of directors to achieve significance and presence for a long-standing national screen away from traditional competition, ensuring high media standards in line with the concepts of dialogue, communication and modernity."

Franjieh: Our positions are firm and do not change with interests
Sun 28 May 2017/NNA - Al-Maradah Movement Head, MP Sleiman Franjieh, stressed Sunday on the constancy and firmness of his Movement's positions "which never change with interests.""Lebanon's benefit is fundamental for us," he emphasized during a meeting with a delegation of activists and supporters of al-Maradah in Byblos, who visited him in Bnachii earlier today. Talks centered on the latest local developments, whereby Franjieh highlighted the importance of preserving coexistence in the country. He considered that all electoral law proposals put forward actually aimed at excluding al-Maradah.
Frangieh also referred to the risk of forcing communities to adapt, adding "what is even more dangerous is the transfer of candidacy seats.""The solution lies in building a strong and capable state and a truly balanced development," he underscored. Franjieh concluded by underlining "belief in the country's unity and continuous readiness for victory and loss altogether," expressing support for any positive competition.

Raffoul from Bezbina: Lebanon is ravished not broke, legislative elections to take place end of September
Sun 28 May 2017/NNA - State Minister for Presidency Affairs, Pierre Raffoul, said a new electoral law will see the light soon, adding that "[legislative] elections will be held the end of September."Speaking during the inauguration of a new Free Patriotic Movement bureau in Bezbina in Akkar, Raffoul deemed that Lebanon is "ravished and not broke."Also present during the opening ceremony was Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf, who announced the start of the Free Patriotic Movement's election campaign all over Lebanon.

Qobeissi says Lebanon deserves modern, fair electoral law
Sun 28 May 2017/NNA - Liberation and Development Parliamentary Bloc Member, MP Hani Qobeissi, deemed Sunday that Lebanon, which succeeded in liberating its territories from the Israeli occupation, deserves to decree a modern and fair election law."Lebanon deserves that everybody exerts more efforts to issue a fair and modern electoral law which keeps away the ghost of vacuum [in the Lebanese Institutions]," he added. Qobeissi, whose words came during a library inauguration ceremony in al-Ghaziyeh municipality earlier today, considered that the new vote law should "ensure partnership among the Lebanese, without excluding anyone."

Hariri cables Sisi, Tawadros II in condemnation of Minya terrorist attack
Sat 27 May 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri Saturday cabled Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, expressing his deep condemnation and strong denouncement of the "terrorist crime against a bus carrying Coptic citizens in Minya yesterday." He considered the attack "an attempt to undermine the stability of sister-nation, Egypt, and stir up strife among its people."Hariri expressed warmest sympathy and condolences for the fallen victims.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 28-29/17
Tel Aviv City Hall lights up in solidarity with Egypt
Jerusalem Post/May 28, 2017
At least 29 Coptic Christians perished in the brutal attack when terrorists stormed the bus they were riding on their way to a monastery outside of Cairo on Friday morning. The facade of the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality building wore red, white, black and golden hues on Saturday night as it was lit up in solidarity with Egypt, which suffered a lethal terror attack on Friday. The municipality building, situated in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, donned the colors of the Egyptian flag in an official expression of Israel's support of its southern neighbor, as Egypt continues to reel from the attack that claimed the lives of at least 29 Coptic Christians, including ten children. In the attack an estimated 10 masked perpetrators driving up in three SUVs stormed a bus outside of Cairo that was reportedly carrying a group of people en route to a monastery south of the Egyptian capital. The gunmen, who were dressed in military garb, demanded that the passengers recite the Muslim profession of faith and then opened fire, according to the Wall Street Journal. Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday morning, according to the terror group's news agency, Aamaq, which also claimed that 32 perished in the assault on the bus.According to several reports, three children aboard the bus survived the attack. The Egyptian Cabinet told the media in an official statement that 13 of the victims were still hospitalized in different conditions. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi responded to the attack hours after it took place by announcing that Egypt had struck military training bases in Libya. Friday's attack was the fourth in a series of attacks that targeted the Christian Coptic community since December. It happened on the eve of the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holy month of fasting that commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammed according to Islamic faith.

Egypt cites ‘self-defense’ for Libya strikes to UN Security Council
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Sunday, 28 May 2017/Egypt officially notified the UN Security Council of its air strikes on extremist strongholds in Libya on Saturday, citing Article 51 of the UN charter – the right to self-defense after armed attacks occur. The official spokesman of the Egyptian foreign ministry, Ahmed Abu Zeid, told the Security Council that the permanent mission of Egypt to the United Nations delivered a letter to the president of the Security Council on Saturday informing the Council of the air strikes targeting the sites of the terrorist organizations in the town of Darna in eastern Libya. In a related context, Abu Zeid said that Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received a call from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressing condolences to the victims of the Minya attack. He added that the US Secretary of State expressed his sincere condolences and solidarity with the Egyptian government and people and families of victims in the face of terrorism. He relayed the support of the United States for Egyptian efforts in the fight against terrorism, as well as its readiness to cooperate in the field of counter-terrorism in information, intelligence and military. Shoukry briefed his US counterpart on the air strikes carried out by the Egyptian air force on terrorist strongholds in the east of Libya within the framework of self-defense. He also confirmed the availability of all information and evidence pointing towards the training of terrorist elements involved in the Minya attack within those camps, in addition to their involvement in other incidents.

Egypt Intensifies Strikes against ISIS Offshoots in Libya
Waleed Abdul Rahman/ Asharq Al-Awsat/May 28/17/Cairo, Jeddah – Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz phoned Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Saturday reiterating his kingdom’s support to all measurements taken by Egypt’s government to combat terrorism. Increasingly, Egyptian forces have announced intensifying its attacks against Libya-based ISIS terrorists, with the army claiming success over an operation which destroyed a terrorist encampment. The targeted enclave presumably had hosted the perpetrators of the Minya terror attack against Christians in Egypt. Ravaging the whole country, ten gunmen opened fire against a bus transporting Coptic Christians in Minya, southern Egypt, killing 29 and wounding dozens. Sisi said he had ordered strikes against what he called terrorist camps, declaring in a televised address that states that sponsored terrorism would be punished. He also reassured head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros and Pope Francis on the state’s commitment to protect all its citizens, including Copts, and to secure their freedom of faith and freedom of worship, “despite some issues that President el-Sisi did say still require sensitive treatment.”Egyptian military sources said six strikes took place near Derna in eastern Libya at around sundown, hours after the masked gunmen attacked the Copts traveling to a monastery in Minya. The Egyptian military said the operation was ongoing and had been undertaken once it had been ascertained that the camps had produced the gunmen behind the attack on the Coptic Christians in Minya, southern Egypt, on Friday morning. “The terrorist incident that took place today will not pass unnoticed,” Sisi said. “We are currently targeting the camps where the terrorists are trained.”He said Egypt would not hesitate to carry out further strikes against camps that trained people to carry out operations against Egypt, whether those camps were inside or outside the country. Egyptian military footage of pilots being briefed and war planes taking off was shown on state television. East Libyan forces said they participated in the air strikes, which had targeted forces linked to al-Qaeda at a number of sites, and would be followed by a ground operation. A resident in Derna heard four powerful explosions, and told Reuters that the strikes had targeted camps used by fighters belonging to the Majlis al-Shura militant group. Majlis al-Shura spokesman Mohamed al-Mansouri said in a video posted online that the Egyptian air strikes did not hit any of the group’s camps, but instead hit civilian areas. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the Christians, which followed a series of church bombings claimed by terror group ISIS in a campaign of violence against the Copts. ISIS supporters reposted videos earlier this year urging violence against the Copts in Egypt.

Emir of Qatar Stresses Enhancing Relations with Iran
abdollah al-haida/Asharq Al Awsat/May 28/17
Riyadh – In less than a week, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has said his country enjoyed deep and historical ties with Iran, and said during a phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday, that he wanted the ties with Tehran to be “stronger than ever before.”
The remarks confirm lingering suspicions circulating in the media world about the Emir’s statement, which Doha tried to deny and claimed its state news agency had been hacked. The Emir called President Rouhani to congratulate him on the Holy Month of Ramadan. The phone call was preceded by another, right after the Riyadh summit was over during which he congratulated Rouhani on his re-election. Sheikh Tamim expressed his belief that there is no obstacle on the way of deepening Iran-Qatar relations, adding that negotiations and dialogue are the only way of resolving regional issues.
According to Rouhani’s website, the president said there are ample grounds and potentials for developing Iran-Qatar cooperation in political and economic fields and the two countries should make the best use of them to promote relations. Rouhani added: “Continuing cooperation with neighboring countries, especially the Persian Gulf neighbours, is one of Iran’s basic policies and we believe that we can remove the obstacles and strengthen brotherly bonds by firm resolve from both sides”.Tamim’s statements are similar to the previously denied statements published by Qatar’s news agency (QNA). Officials claimed that the agency had been hacked and statements published were not true. Earlier, QNA published a statement by Sheikh Tamim a day after the Arab-Islamic-US summit held in Riyadh during which he said “Iran represents a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored and it is unwise to face up against it.” The news also reported him saying Tehran is a big power in the stabilization of the region. Saudi Political Expert Ahmad al-Farraj stated that the phone call of congratulations confirms that Qatar began new relations with Iran, adding that this move is against Riyadh summits which were against terrorism in the region backed by Iran. During a phone call with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Farraj said that Doha is inaugurating new strategic relations with Tehran in response to Riyadh’s relations with Washington. He considered Qatar as part of the axis of Iran. He added that Qatar’s message was clear and delivered to Saudi Arabia, hoping it will be received in the US in a manner that exposes Doha’s intentions in the region. Previous events confirm that Emir of Qatar is keen on maintaining good relations with Iran as he previously described the relations with the republic as very good and friendly. In March 2015, Tamim said during his reception of Speaker of the Iranian Shura Council Ali Larijani that since the revolution, Iran had never created any problem. Within the framework of enhancing relations, Qatar and Iran had signed in October 2015 a military security agreement, during a time Iran faces an international campaign to counter its terrorism in the region. During a joint press conference with the Somali Foreign Minister, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed that the agency was hacked reiterating that this is part of a conspiracy against Qatar. In Riyadh, the Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman said during the summits that Iran is the spearhead of all terrorism since the Khomeini revolution until today, which is also reflected by the US administration’s confirmation that Iran spreads chaos in the region and is responsible for funding terrorists.

Guarantors Disagree on Borders of De-escalation Zones in Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 28/17/Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the memorandum on de-escalation zones during phone calls with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. Meanwhile, NATO declared it had joined forces to combat ISIS as the leaders of Group of Seven (G7) urged Russia and Iran to influence Syrian regime to ensure implementation of ceasefire. During the phone call, Putin and Erdogan confirmed their mutual desire for a deepening of the strategic partnership between their two countries, the Kremlin said on Saturday. Kremlin’s statement added that both leaders reiterated the importance of prompt agreement on the practical aspects of the memorandum on de-escalation zones in Syria. “This would make it possible to enhance the ceasefire regime, and increase the effectiveness of the intra-Syrian talks in the Geneva and Astana formats. It was agreed to step up the coordination of efforts on these issues at different levels,” it stated. Putin also held a phone call with Iran’s Hassan Rouhani in which the two leaders stressed the need for more joint efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis and discussed economic ties. Kremlin added that both leaders agreed that it is important to step up joint efforts to facilitate the political and diplomatic settlement of the conflict, particularly within the framework of the Astana process and through the implementation of the memorandum on the creation of de-escalation areas in Syria. Observers believe that Putin may be coordinating his moves with the guarantor countries prior to his talks with French President Emanuel Macron. An informed source told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the borders of the zones are being planned according to the memo, but there are certain complicated points that need to be agreed upon. The source added that the main issue to be solved is for all guarantor countries to reach an agreement among themselves, and then with the Syrian regime concerning which countries will be monitoring the implementation of the memo. Egypt may be one of the countries sending troops to the de-escalation zones, according to the source who expects the issue to be discussed during Russian Ministers of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and Defense Sergei Shoygu visit to Egypt on Monday.The Russian ministers will hold talks with their Egyptian counterparts and will meet with the Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi. Russia continues its attempts to assert its role in countering terrorism in Syria. On Saturday, Russian airstrikes targeted ISIS terrorists who were trying to flee Raqqa in northern Syria towards Palmyra in the central part of Syria, a Russian Defense Ministry source says. The source added that the strikes destroyed 39 pick-up trucks carrying weapons and some 120 terrorists. The source went on by saying that Russian drones have been deployed around the clock to track the possible routes that the terrorists could use to escape the city. Russian combat aircraft and special forces units were engaged to prevent the militants from fleeing Raqqa. The leaders of G7 countries called on Russia and Iran to exert their influence on Damascus in order to ensure implementation of the Syrian ceasefire. “Those with influence over the Syrian regime, in particular Russia and Iran, must do their utmost to use that influence to stop this tragedy, beginning with the enforcement of a real ceasefire, stopping the use of chemical weapons, ensuring safe, immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need, and releasing any arbitrarily detained persons, as well as allowing free access to its prisons. To this end, we hope that the Astana agreement can contribute effectively to de-escalating violence,” according to the joint communique of G7 meeting in Italy’s Taormina.

Broad Battles Launched to Retake Mosul Old City
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 28/17/Irbil- Amid battles launched by Iraqi forces to retake control over ISIS-held Old City of Mosul, reports said that an Iranian top Revolutionary Guard general was killed in battles near Syrian borders. Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah made a statement saying that army troops had raided neighborhoods in the vicinity of Mosul’s Old City, so did federal police members. The fall of the city would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the so-called “caliphate” declared nearly three years ago by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which also covers parts of Syria. The enclave includes the Old City center and three adjacent districts along the western bank of the Tigris river. Later on, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander was reported killed in an explosion during clashes west of Mosul, an Iraqi official said. General Shaaban Nasiiri was an adviser to Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Being a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations, the Quds Force reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. A number of Iranian soldiers and offices are expected to have been killed during clashes, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. For their part, residents in the Old City sounded desperate in telephone interviews over the past few days. “We’re waiting for death at any moment, either by bombing or starving,” one said, asking not to be identified. “Adults eat one meal a day, either flour or lentil soup.” The United Nations expressed deep concern for the hundreds of thousands of civilians behind ISIS lines, in a statement on Saturday from the organization’s under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien. “Although the UN is not present in the areas where fighting is occurring, we have received very disturbing reports of families being shut inside booby-trapped homes and of children being deliberately targeted by snipers,” he said. Residents said millet, usually used as bird feed, is being cooked like rice as food prices increased ten-fold. People were seen collecting wild mallow plants in abandoned lots and also eating mulberry leaves and other plants. About 700,000 people, about a third of the pre-war city’s population, have already fled, seeking refuge either with friends and relatives or in camps.

King Salman: Saudi Arabia Saves No Effort in Supporting Egypt’s Fight against Terrorism
Asharq Al-Awsat/May 28/17/Jeddah – Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, in a phone call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, reaffirmed that his kingdom stands in solidarity with and supports all efforts spent by the Egyptian government on reigning in terrorism. King Salman expressed Saudi Arabia’s preparedness to stand behind and back Egypt until terrorism is removed from its roots and seizes to exist in any form. King Salman also offered condolence to the president and the Egyptian people, following a terrorist attack, wishing speedy recovery for the injured. The terror group ISIS had claimed responsibility for an attack on a bus outside of Cairo that killed at least 29 Coptic Christians including 10 children. The Copts had been travelling to the monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, 85 miles south of Cairo, when their small convoy was halted on a desert road by up to 10 gunmen dressed as soldiers, who then opened fire. The savagery of the attack on the Copts, with at least two children, aged two and four, among the dead, has shocked Egypt. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques asserted that the Kingdom strongly disapproves and denounces such a heinous terrorist act, which contravenes with Islamic values and humanitarian principles, reiterating the Kingdom’s support for all measurements taken by the Egyptian government against terrorist actions and that the Kingdom stands along the side of Egypt, with all potentials, to eliminate terrorism. On the other hand, the King congratulated Sisi on the beginning of Ramadan, a holy month in Islam’s lunar calendar. For his part, the president expressed appreciation of the King for his noble sentiments and the great back-up to Egypt.

Libyan militant group Ansar al-Sharia says it has dissolved
AFP, Tripoli Sunday, 28 May 2017/The Libyan militant group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organization by the UN and United States, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the militant groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust militant fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting. The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar's forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014. Most of its members then defected to ISIS. Ansar al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias.At its zenith, Ansar al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya.The organization took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Qaddafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of militants seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.

UK looking to ‘increase pressure’ on internet firms over extremist material
Reuters, London Sunday, 28 May 2017/Britain is looking at range of options to put pressure on internet companies to do more to take down extremist material, Security Minister Ben Wallace said on Sunday. The government has previously complained technology companies are not doing enough to tackle the use of their networks both to promote extremist ideology and for communication between militant suspects. “We are going to look at the range of options. We have seen the Germans have proposed perhaps a fine, we are not sure whether that is going to work but there are range of pressures we can put on to some of these companies,” Wallace told BBC Television. “We think they have the technology and the capability to change the algorithms they use,” he said, adding that one issue was the way the companies linked posts to other similar material online.Wallace said some companies were “being difficult” but there was evidence that others were trying to improve their work on the issue.

Sounds of Silence as Russia Probe Pierces Trump's Inner Circle
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 28/17/Donald Trump, just back from his first international trip as U.S. president, geared up to combat concerns Sunday over aides' ties to Russia including explosive reports that his son-in-law sought a secret communications line with Moscow. The latest furor was stirred up after The Washington Post reported late Friday that Jared Kushner -- arguably Trump's closest White House aide, and husband to the president's eldest daughter Ivanka -- made a pre-inauguration proposal to the Russian ambassador to set up a secret, bug-proof link with the Kremlin.
Kushner, 36, even suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States to protect such a channel from monitoring, The Post said, quoting U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports. The report, if confirmed, would raise new questions about the Trump team's relationship with the Russians, who U.S. intelligence agencies say tried to sway the November election in Trump's favor. News reports said the White House, reeling from the explosive developments in the long-running Russia saga, is creating a new rapid-fire communications unit to respond to the controversy, led by Kushner, senior presidential adviser Steve Bannon and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
'Naive' or 'Sinister'
After some delay, a senior Trump administration official en route back to Washington briefed reporters for almost 25 minutes, on matters from antiterror cooperation to the administration's view that the summit had been a smashing success -- despite huge differences on climate change. Trump plans to make an announcement within the week on his climate position, the official said. But the said official did not address the Kushner reports Saturday. Trump then returned to Washington Saturday night from his first overseas trip, to the Middle East and Europe. Accompanied by first lady Melania, Trump waved to reporters as he made his way into the White House but made no comment. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster refused to talk about the allegations. But he said that in general, "We have backchannel communication with a number of countries. What that allows you to do is communicate in a discrete manner."
"I would not be concerned about it," he added. But a former head of the U.S. National Security Agency harshly condemned Kushner's alleged effort to set up a secret communications line, saying if it is true, it would reveal a dangerous degree of ignorance or naivete. "What manner of ignorance, chaos, hubris, suspicion, contempt would you have to have to think that doing this with the Russian ambassador was a good or appropriate idea?" Michael Hayden said on CNN.
He said he leaned toward "naivete" as an explanation, though he did not find it comforting.
Malcolm Nance, a retired naval officer and expert on terrorism and intelligence, said: "This is now sinister. There is no way this can be explained, from the intelligence perspective.""That is indicative of espionage activity of an American citizen that is working in league with a hostile government," he told MSNBC. The Washington Post said Kushner's secret communications proposal was made December 1 or 2 at Trump Tower in New York, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Michael Flynn, who was Trump's national security adviser for just 24 days before being fired amid questions about meetings he held with the Russian ambassador, was also present, the newspaper reported. The Post said the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, was surprised by the future White House aide's idea of a secret channel and passed it on to the Kremlin. The New York Times said the channel was never established. Trump returned to Washington to face a cascade of other worries related to the Russia probe in the coming days, including expected testimony by fired former FBI director James Comey before a Senate committee. In another development, The New York Times reported Friday that Oleg Deripaska, a Russian once close to Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, has offered to cooperate with congressional bodies probing alleged Russian election meddling.
Not yet a 'target'
Kushner boasts an enormous portfolio of domestic and international responsibilities underscoring his importance as Trump's chief aide-de-camp, despite having no experience in politics before the 2016 White House race. He is the only person currently in the White House known to be under investigation. The Post and other media have been careful to note that their sources did not say Kushner was a "target" of the investigation, nor that he was accused of any wrongdoing. Labeling him a "target" would suggest Kushner was a main suspect of the investigation. But there have been a number of as yet unexplained contacts -- during last year's presidential campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton and afterward -- between other top Trump aides and senior Russian officials, including Flynn, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Manafort and others. The investigation is being led by Robert Mueller, a respected former FBI director who was given broad powers to pursue the case as a special counsel after Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9. The Senate and House Intelligence committees also are investigating, but not with an eye to bringing criminal charges. Former CIA director John Brennan revealed this week that intelligence chiefs had been looking into suspicious contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials since mid-2016. Trump denies any collusion with Russia, calling the probe "the greatest witch hunt" in American political history.

Khamenei Slams Saudis as America's 'Milking Cow'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/May 28/17/ Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has launched a fierce attack against regional rival Saudi Arabia, saying it was being pumped "like a milking cow" by "infidel" Americans."These people (the Saudis) appear to believe in the Koran... but in practice they act against its teachings," Khamenei said at a meeting to mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan. "They are close with the infidels and offer the enemy the money they should be using to improve the lives of their own people. "But in reality there is no closeness and, as the Americans have said, they are just there to pump them for money like a milking cow, and later slaughter them," he added. During a visit by President Donald Trump to Riyadh on May 21, Saudi Arabia agreed to buy $110 billion of U.S. weapons and signed investment deals worth billions more. Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shiite-majority Iran are on opposing sides in a number of regional conflicts, including in Syria and Yemen.Trump sought to boost an anti-Iran alliance of Arab powers during his trip -- but the visit was dismissed as a "show with no practical or political value" by Iran's newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani.

After UK, Egypt Attacks, Libya Seen as Militants' Haven

Associated Press/Naharnet/May 28/17/The Libya connection in the May 22 Manchester concert suicide bombing and Friday's attack on Christians in Egypt has shone a light on the threat posed by militant Islamic groups that have taken advantage of lawlessness in the troubled North African nation to put down roots, recruit fighters and export jihadists to cause death and carnage elsewhere. Libya has been embroiled in violence since a 2011 uprising toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi. Vast and oil-rich, Libya currently has rival administrations, an army led by a Gadhafi-era general as well as powerful Islamist militias that compete for territory, resources and political leverage. At the peak of its power in Libya, the Islamic State group controlled a 160-kilometer (100-mile) stretch of Libyan coastline and boasted between 2,000 and 5,000 fighters, many of them from Egypt and Tunisia. It is that Libya that the alleged Manchester bomber, 22-year-old British citizen Salman Abedi, found when he and his family moved back from Britain after Gadhafi's ouster in 2011. Monday's bombing left 22 dead, including an 8-year-old girl, and was claimed by IS. Abedi's brother Hashim has been taken into custody in Tripoli and, according to Libyan authorities, has confessed that he and Salman were IS members. In Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi sent his fighter-jets to bomb militant positions in eastern Libya just hours after IS fighters shot dead 29 Christians on their way to a remote desert monastery. The military said the attackers were trained in Libya. Egypt also has long complained that weapons smuggled across the porous desert border with Libya have reached militants operating on its soil. It also has claimed that militants who bombed three Christian churches since December received military training in IS bases in Libya.
Hundreds of Libyan youths answered the call to Jihad in the 1980s, traveling to Afghanistan to fight against the Russians. When they returned home after the war, Many of them wanted Islamic Sharia laws implemented in their country. They formed underground cells to escape the regime's watchful eyes and unsuccessfully tried to assassinate Gadhafi.After Gadhafi's fall, veteran jihadists, al-Qaida sympathizers and Islamists of all shades formed militias that filled the post-Gadhafi power vacuum. Libya's present woes are rooted in the failure of the very first transitional government to dismantle those militias and integrate them into a national army. Instead, they carved up Libya into fiefdoms.
The eastern Libyan city, where militant positions were targeted by Egyptian warplanes on Friday, has historically been a bastion of radical Islamic groups as well as highly respected Islamic scholars. Extremists made the city their stronghold in the 1980s and 1990s, protected by the rugged terrain of the surrounding Green Mountain range. It was the main source of Libyan jihadists for the insurgency in Iraq. Entire brigades of Darna natives are known to be fighting in Syria's civil war. During the 2011 uprising, residents formed the "Abusaleem Martyrs" brigade to fight Gadhafi loyalists. It proved to be one of the most effective rebel outfits. Its ranks soon later swelled and its fighters seized the city, setting up the Darna Mujahideen Shura Council to replace the local government. The Islamic State group's Libyan affiliate had a robust presence in Darna, but the IS faction eventually fell out with the council and was driven out. The IS fighters relocated to the coastal city of Sirte and Darna remains to this day under the control of the Mujahideen Shura Council.
Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, was the first to fall under the influence of extremist Islamic militias. Many of those militias were formed to fight the Gadhafi regime in 2011 and were led by radicals, widely viewed as experienced and motivated.
Perhaps the most notorious of the Benghazi militias is Ansar Al-Sharia, blamed for the killings of hundreds of former Libyan soldiers and for the death of the U.S. ambassador in 2012. For more than two years, the so-called Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter has battled an alliance of Benghazi's militias. His forces have managed to secure most of the city, except for pockets of a seaside neighborhood, heavily fortified and surrounded by fields of land mines.
Sirte was where Gadhafi and his loyalists made a last stand in the 2011 civil war. The city, Gadhafi's hometown, was almost completely destroyed in the fighting. Furious over the city's loyalty to Gadhafi, anti-government rebels punished the city's residents with extrajudicial killings and revenge attacks. In 2013, Sirte fell under the control of Ansar Al- Sharia, which made alliances with local tribes and an uneasy truce with other militias and the small number of remaining army troops. The group took over a sprawling former Gadhafi compound and boasted its own TV and radio station. IS also slowly infiltrated the city as fighters from countries like Mali, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria moved in and later declared Sirte an IS emirate. Last year, militiamen from Misrata and other localities in western Libya, acting with the support of a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, waged a protracted and bloody campaign to drive IS militants from Sirte. When fighting stalled, the government sought support from the United States, which responded with airstrikes that sped up the collapse of IS in the city. IS was finally defeated in Sirte and the fighters who survived the carnage fled to the vast deserts to the south.
Sebratha has earned a reputation as a small but tenacious stronghold of Islamic radicals, something that made it easier for IS militants to find a foothold there and spawned a lucrative business in human trafficking to Europe. The city is the main IS gateway due to its location near the Tunisian border. The jumble of various militias have helped IS keep a low profile in the city, but a 2016 U.S. airstrike that killed about 40 of the group's operatives highlighted their presence in Sebratha.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 28-29/17
How the World Can Prepare for the ‘Day After’ ISIS
David Ignatius/Washington Post/May 28/17
The Manchester terrorist attack by an alleged ISIS “soldier” will accelerate the push by the United States and its allies to capture the terrorist group’s strongholds in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. But it should also focus some urgent discussions about a post-ISIS strategy for stabilizing the two countries.
For all of President Trump’s bombast about obliterating ISIS, the Raqqa campaign has been delayed for months while US policymakers debated the wisdom of relying on a Syrian Kurdish militia known as the YPG that Turkey regards as a terrorist group. That group and allied fighters have been poised less than 10 miles from Raqqa, waiting for a decision. All the while, the clock has been ticking on terrorist plots hatched by ISIS and directed from Raqqa. US officials told me a few weeks ago that they were aware of at least five ISIS operations directed against targets in Europe. European allies have been urging the United States to finish the job in Raqqa as soon as possible. The horrific bombing in Manchester, England, is a reminder of the difficulty of containing the plots hatched by ISIS — and the cost of waiting to strike the final blows. ISIS is battered and in retreat, and its alleged “caliphate” is nearly destroyed on the ground. But a virtual caliphate survives in the network that spawned Salman Abedi, the alleged Manchester bomber, and others who seek to avenge the group’s slow eradication.
The Raqqa assault should move ahead quickly, now that the Trump administration has rejected Turkish protests and opted to back the YPG as the backbone of a broader coalition known as the “Syrian Democratic Forces”. These are committed, well-led fighters, as I saw during a visit to a special forces training camp in northern Syria a year ago. The Trump administration listened patiently to Turkish arguments for an alternative force backed by Ankara. But the Pentagon concluded that this force didn’t have a significant battlefield presence and that the real choice was either relying on the Kurdish-led coalition to clear Raqqa or sending in thousands of US troops to do the job.
The White House rightly opted for the first approach several weeks ago. To ease Ankara’s worries, the United States is offering assurances that the Kurdish military presence will be contained and that newly recruited tribal forces will help manage security in Raqqa and nearby Deir al-Zour.
The endgame is near in Mosul, too. Commanders say only about 6 percent of the city remains to be captured, with 500 to 700 ISIS militants hunkered down in the old city west of the Tigris River. Once Raqqa and Mosul are cleared, the challenge will be rebuilding the areas of Syria and Iraq, with real governance and security — so that follow-on extremist groups don’t quickly emerge. This idea of preparing for the “day after” ISIS has gotten lip service from US policymakers for three years but very little serious planning or funding. It should be an urgent priority for the United States and its key partners, such as Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Intelligence services from several key allies are said to have met in recent weeks with many leaders to form a core leadership that can take the initiative. But so far, this effort is said to have produced more internal bickering than clear strategy — a depressing rewind of failed efforts to build a coherent opposition in Syria. CIA Director Mike Pompeo told me and several other journalists in an interview Tuesday that he plans to move the agency to a more aggressive, risk-taking stance. Here’s a place to start. The Kurds are the wild cards in both Iraq and Syria. The Syrian Kurds are already governing the ethnic enclave they call “Rojava.” That should be an incentive for Syria’s Sunnis to develop similar strong government in their liberated areas. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurds have told US officials that they plan to hold a referendum on Kurdish independence soon, perhaps as early as September.
US officials feel a deep gratitude toward Iraqi Kurds, who have been reliable allies since the early 1990s. But the independence referendum is a potential flash point, and US officials may try to defer the Kurdish question until well after Iraqi provincial elections scheduled in September.
Iraq and Syria need to be reimagined, better-governed, more inclusive confederal states that give minorities room to breathe. The trick for policymakers is to make the post-ISIS transition a pathway toward progress, rather than a continuation of the sectarian catastrophe that has befallen both nations.

Former Imam Of Mecca's Great Mosque Adel Al-Kalbani: The Shi'ite Scholars Are Heretics; 'Salafi Seed' Gave Rise To ISIS (Archival)

The Middle East Media Research Institute/May 28/17
Saudi cleric Adel Al-Kalbani, former Imam of the Great Mosque of Mecca, reiterated his claim that the Shi'ite scholars are heretics, saying: "What would you call someone who accuses Abu Bakr, Omar, or Uthman of heresy? You cannot call him anything [else]. Any person who accused 'Aisha of adultery is undoubtedly a heretic." Speaking on the Saudi MBC TV on July 1, 2016, Al-Kalbani also said that the ideology of ISIS is a Salafi one and that most of the people who criticize ISIS do not criticize its ideology.
Interviewer: "Do you think that our current crisis is purely political, or does it have sectarian aspects?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "It is both political and sectarian."
Interviewer: "Is it possible that this is a Sunni-Shi'ite conflict?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "That’s what they want."
Interviewer: "Who is 'they?'"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "The West and the Shi'ites. They want this, in my view."
Interviewer: "Do you still consider the Shi'ite scholars heretic, or have you changed you mind?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "It's not just me. You can read on Twitter..."
Interviewer: "We are not on Twitter now. I have you with me..."
Adel Al-Kalbani: "You will see that by now, many people support me, or have become more extreme than me, if you wish to call this extremism. Many of them now consider any Shi'ite to be an unpatriotic transgressor, and this is not true, of course."
Interviewer: "But you insist that the Shi'ite scholars are heretics?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "Yes. That is my opinion."
Interviewer: "You wrote on Twitter: 'We have a national dialogue, but our reality is not national.' How can you lead a campaign for national dialogue, when you level accusations of heresy at Shi'ite Saudi scholars who sat at the same table with us in the national dialogue, like Sheikh Hassan Al-Saffar and Sheikh Musa Bukhamseen? Do you consider them to be heretics?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "I was talking about something specific. If you go back to what I said, you would see that it is very clear. What would you call someone who accuses Abu Bakr, Omar, or Uthman of heresy? You cannot call him anything (else). Any person who accuses 'Aisha of adultery is undoubtedly a heretic. I would say the same thing if that person were Sunni."
Interviewer: "Is ISIS a product of the Islamic Awakening?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "Yes, there is no doubt about it."
Interviewer: "You also said that a 'Salafi seed' gave rise to ISIS."
Adel Al-Kalbani: "That is right."
Interviewer: "How come?"
Adel Al-Kalbani: "They rely on... Look, some people claim that ISIS is the product of intelligence agencies. Intelligence agencies do not create anything new. They use what already exists. They have made use of people who believe in this ideology. The ideology of ISIS is a Salafi one. It is not the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it did not originate with Sayyid Qutb. It is not Sufi or Ash'ari either. They rely on what is written in our own books, on our own principles. That is why most of the people who criticize ISIS do not criticize its ideology. They only criticize the practices of ISIS, but we want to criticize its underlying ideology.
"Take, for example, the issue of apostates. How come we do not clarify this issue, and explain who is allowed to execute them, and so on and so forth? No. All we say is that the execution method is barbaric, and it tarnishes our image in the eyes of the world.
"Some people believe in the same ideology, but their approach is more obscure. When they are asked about transgressors... You know that many... When some journalists were killed, it was the result of specific fatwas. Some ulema were asked, and they sanctioned their killing. These were Salafi fatwas. They were not foreign to Salafism."

Riyadh’s center for combating terrorism has provoked them
Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/May 28/17
Just as Saudi Arabia inaugurated the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology - named “Etidal” or “moderation” – the little Brotherhood supporter inside some people woke up and they responded in anger and with a torrent of criticism. This is because the center is a one of a kind in the world as it is viewed as a radar that works all the time to detect and analyze billions of pieces of data and link between statements and developments. Those lurking can no longer hide under fake names to spread terrorism under the name of “political opposition.” All information, whether on the internet or television channels, will be scanned on a daily basis. The center will focus on the Brotherhood’s activities and the Sorourists’ ideology and people can therefore choose between a civil and secure life that’s based on respecting states and institutions or to be affiliated with blacklisted terrorist organizations and be punished by law.
It’s the time of “Etidal,” so why fear it?

Iran: The regime’s nature and its calculations
Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Arabiya/May 28/17
It was interesting that the arrival of the US president Donald Trump in Riyadh in his first foreign visit since taking office should coincide with the election of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani for a second term.
Avoiding the temptation of ‘conspiracy theory’, I reckon it was very much in the interest of the Iranian regime that Rouhani easily defeated his opponent Ebrahim Raisi who is thought of as the future ‘supreme guide’, given the change of leadership in Washington. Such a result reflects a wise and tactful approach by the ‘movers and shakers’ in Tehran to internal as well as foreign policies.
Those ‘movers and shakers’ may be pretty extremist anti-Arab and anti-West, but it doesn’t follow that they are stupid. Actually, the opposite is true; as there are many smart and cultured individuals in the Iranian regime who are skillful political and tactical operators and understand the limits of adventures and open hostilities, thus, never hesitate to bend before the storm.
Now that Barack Obama has left office carrying with his vision for the Middle East, a Republican administration is in charge. It is less convinced of Tehran’s leaders’ ‘moderation’, and more doubtful that their policies of sectarian incitement, military intervention, and direct hegemony adopted towards the Arab world are the best way to fight terrorism.
Hence, with the apparent end of the American-Iranian honeymoon, beginning with Syria, Tehran’s political ‘kitchen’ felt in need to balance out the two Iranian power blocs, although they are nothing but the two sides of one coin. With this in mind, the final six presidential candidates were approved, while others were disqualified including Mahmud Ahmadinejad, the former two-term president!
Of course, the ‘supreme guide’ remains the real ruler of Iran, regardless of the attempts of its state PR machine to promote a mirage of democracy. Indeed, the unrivalled position of the ‘supreme guide’ is a fact even the much trumpeted ‘reformists’ Rouhani and his vice president Mohsen Jahangiri by the Iranian people during the last four years of his presidency, he would never had the courage to raise the issues of corruption, unemployment, social problems, and claim to the champion of the poor, as he did during the televised debates. The fact is that Rouhani’s tough talk was directed at the de facto presidential candidates of the IRGC, which thanks to its institutions, interests, and money, network the real powerbase of Iran’s security system and its major strike force.
Flawed democracy
This actually means that the election campaign, just like ‘Iranian democracy’ itself, is flawed and self-contradictory; since the president does not rule … and the real ruler is neither the president nor a candidate to be chosen through elections.
Despite this fact one has to accept that Iran has gained in political savviness since 1979 with the emergence of ‘pragmatists’ like Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami, and later Hassan Rouhani, who have mastered the policy of taking a few steps forward and one step backward. And although ‘conservative’ hawks remain the real mainstay of the regime and the honest reflection of its true nature, those infrequently described as ‘reformists’ and ‘moderates’ are much closer to the pulse of people, millions of whom do not agree with the regime’s political priorities.
Here it is worth recalling how the ‘Revolution devoured its children’. Hundreds, indeed, thousands of the Iranian revolution were liquidated. Former foreign minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh was executed after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Government and kill Ayatollah Khomeini; Abolhassan Banisadr, the first president after the 1979 revolution, had to flee the country after being impeached and is now living in exile in France. Even senior clerics, such as Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari and Grand Ayatollah Hussein Mutazeri, suffered for their opposition. And last but not least, both a former prime minister, Mir Hussein Mousavi, and a former parliament speaker Mehdi Karoubi, have been placed under house arrest since the 2009 pro-democracy ‘Green Path of Hope Movement’.
The reality is that most Iranian voters do not remember – and do not care about – the old legacy of hate against the Pahlavi royal family, and the abuses of the old royalist SAVAK secret police; as around %70 of Iranians are under-30 years old. Thus, they are not hostages to memories but are rather dreamers for a better future, and deservedly so. They have every right to dream of steady jobs, better education, refining their oil more efficiently, and sure enough, live in peace with their compatriots and neighbors instead of demonizing and fighting them.
Moreover, it is ironic that against the logic of accountability in proper democracies, incumbent president Rouhani was re-elected by ‘protest votes’ against the real rulers. Most of the votes cast in Rouhani’s favor were not ‘his’ but ‘against’ his adversaries, i.e. the ‘supreme guide’ and the IRGC and their authority, even though he is a product of this authority.
What will happen next?
The first question must deal with Rouhani’s policies during his second term, and the second would be about the future of his challenger Raisi.
The new Middle East perhaps best portrayed by Trump’s pictures in Riyadh should send a clear message to Rouhani. It may be beneficial for him if follows Washington’s new approaches in the Arab ‘arenas’ that Tehran managed to penetrate during Obama’s presidency. So far one of Washington top goals is undoing the Russo-Iranian alliance with all its consequences in the Region.
As for Raisi, one wonders if his chances of becoming ‘supreme guide’ can survive his crushing defeat. For even in a lame democracy, like Iran’s, it may prove difficult for someone so strongly rejected by people, in what has been described as fair and clean election, to assume absolute power like that of the ‘supreme guide’!

Qatar Emir’s speech and the art of political suicide خطاب امير قطر والإنتحار السياسي
Hamoud Abu Taleb/Al Arabiya/May 28/17
We wish that the Emir of Qatar had waited for the ink to dry on the recommendations of the Riyadh summit that he attended before setting off his new bomb whose fragments have hit other Arab countries. We have become used to Qatar’s negative surprises, but we never expected anything like this as it is devoid of political principles and reflects poor diplomacy. The action also failed to take into consideration the simplest rules of bilateral relations between countries.
There was no justification for what the Qatari ruler, Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani, said in his speech on Wednesday morning because the name of Qatar was not mentioned by summit speakers or in its final communiqué. The Emir might have been the victim of his subconscious mind in an attempt to raise suspicion about the conference and its discussions.
The worst impact of his speech was that it drew condemnation of Qatar’s strange political behavior. It also exposed the Emir’s haughtiness and his move to compare himself with highly experienced rulers in the region who have mastered the art of politics, ruling large countries and steering them through major events and crises, unlike Qatar, which has only experienced a storm in a teacup.
Imagination has led Sheikh Tamim to assume that the US president’s visit to the region – he meant the Kingdom – coincided with a campaign against Qatar, as if all that Saudi Arabia wanted to accomplish from this historic visit and summit was to organize a campaign against Qatar, linking the country with terrorism and distorting its efforts to establish regional stability, as claimed by the Emir.
Sheikh Tamim went on to say that he was aware of the reason behind this alleged campaign and emphasized that it would not succeed because of “judicial investigations into the president’s violations and abuses.” Hats off to the Emir for his political knowhow and wisdom!
The worst impact of his speech was that it drew condemnation of Qatar’s strange political behavior. It also exposed the Emir’s haughtiness and his move to compare himself with highly experienced rulers in the region who have mastered the art of politics, ruling large countries and steering them through major events and crises, unlike Qatar, which has only experienced a storm in a teacup.
The Qatari Emir gave two valuable pieces of advice to the Kingdom while commenting on the summit, and may God reward him for it. Firstly, he stressed the importance of hard work, and of not relying on emotions or underestimating things in order to protect the region from danger. Secondly, he advised the Kingdom to focus on development, rather than concluding big arms deals, which will increase tension in the region.
Speaking about development, we do not know what the Emir saw when he visited Riyadh to attend the summit. Riyadh has a population several times larger than that of Qatar and it is spread over an area several times larger than Doha. He should have seen the tremendous progress achieved by the Kingdom on his way from Riyadh airport to the conference palace.
With regard to his advice on hard work beyond emotions and miscalculations, I would like to remind the Emir that he should practice it himself before preaching to others. Qatar has had problems with others mainly because of its miscalculations, which is what he talked about.
Laughing stock
Let’s move on to another dangerous part of his speech, which will make Qatari politics the laughing stock of other nations and all politicians. Sheikh Tamim tells us that Iran is a big power that can ensure stability in the region if we cooperate with it and that it is unwise to escalate tensions with Tehran. This was a big surprise and we would not have known about it if it were not for Sheikh Tamim. God may reward him for this piece of advice.
We understand from the Emir’s statement that Iran is the guarantor of stability enjoyed by Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen where it has deployed its peacekeeping forces, not militias or spies or agents. They apply products that are useful to human beings, not missiles and mines. The Emir has also informed us that Tehran does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and does not try to spread chaos and confusion in other states.
All summit leaders emphasized the danger posed by Iran; however, perhaps they were mistaken or unfair when they warned against Tehran’s reckless practices. Sheikh Tamim, the master of politics, was the only exception and sided with Iran. Is this not a new political breakthrough for Qatar?
As long as he considers Iran to be the guarantor of stability in the region, he should consider Hezbollah as the symbol of resistance and Hamas as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In this respect, the Emir also takes pride in Qatar’s relationship with Israel and praises it.
Indeed, we are deeply saddened to see the continuing political suicide of Qatar, incurring heavy losses and pushing the country into isolation. It cannot be saved by Iran or terrorist organizations, which Doha hosts and supports. We did not see Osama Bin Laden after the events of 9/11 except on the Al-Jazeera television channel, which continues to serve as the media hub of terrorists, saboteurs and agents. It is impossible for the channel to do so without the government’s green light and patronage.
Qatar has carried out a number of conspicuous and hateful plots but they have been exposed in many places, including by the country’s close allies, because they were shallow and primitive. Its elders have tried to cover up and have advised it not to repeat such dangerous practices but it has insisted on continuing the same negative practices like a handicapped brother who does not listen to advice. This time, the little brother has crossed all limits. If it fails to save itself from this self-made danger, the end will be tragic.
**Hamoud Abu Taleb is a Saudi columnist who writes frequently on current affairs in the Gulf and the Middle East.

"Drip-Drip" Genocide: Muslim Persecution of Christians, February, 2017
Raymond Ibrahim/Gatestone Institute/May 28/17
"They are burning us alive! They seek to exterminate Christians altogether! Where's the military?" -- Christian man fleeing Al-Arish, Egypt; video.
"Historical churches in Iran being destroyed while UNESCO overlooks," is the title of one report.
On the same day as Pakistan's government charged an elderly Christian man with blasphemy -- which carries a death penalty -- it acquitted 106 Muslims of burning down an entire Christian village.
The Islamic State is at it again. More stories of atrocities against Christians continued to surface. In one, a Christian man, Meghrik, said the bus in which he was riding in Syria was stopped at what turned out to be an ISIS checkpoint. Three men dressed in black entered and began checking all the passengers' identification papers. "Are you a Christian?" they asked him. "No," he said. He explained that he was raised by Christian parents and his family name was Christian, but that he was not. "You're lying," the fighter said. "Your name says you're a Christian. Come with me." He was taken to an ISIS judge who "concluded that he was a Christian" and said "You're sentenced to death." Thereafter Meghrik was severely whipped and tortured. At one point, he was thrown in a hole in the ground and surrounded by an execution squad prepared to fire. After 10 days of this treatment and for unknown reasons -- Meghrik cites a miracle and is now a devout Christian -- he was released.
While much of the world acknowledges that the Islamic State is engaged in acts of genocide against religious minorities such as Christians and Yazidis, in other Muslim states, such as Pakistan, Christians and other non-Muslim minorities are experiencing a "drip-drip genocide", said the noted author, journalist and Pakistani politician Farahnaz Ispahani:
"Right before the partition of India and Pakistan, we had a very healthy balance of religions other than Islam. Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Zoroastrians. Pakistan goes from 23 per cent [non-Muslim at the time of partition in 1947], which is almost a quarter of its population, to three per cent today. I call it a 'drip drip genocide', because it's the most dangerous kind of wiping out of religious communities.... It doesn't happen in one day. It doesn't happen over a few months. Little by little by little, laws and institutions and bureaucracies and penal codes, textbooks that malign other communities, until you come to the point of having this sort of jihadi culture that is running rampant."
Other accounts of Muslim persecution of Christians to surface in February 2017 include, but are not limited to, the following:
The Slaughter of Christians in Egypt
As in January, when five different Christians were killed in four separate hate crimes around the country, another murderous wave took non-Muslim minorities by storm, this time in al-Arish, Sinai. The murders may have resulted from a video released in February by the "Islamic State in Egypt." In the video, masked militants promise more attacks on the "worshipers of the cross" — a reference to the Coptic Christians of Egypt, of whom they also refer to as their "favorite prey" and "infidels who are empowering the West against Muslim nations." One of the militants, carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, added, "God gave orders to kill every infidel." Below is a list of Christians murdered in al-Arish:
January 30: A 35-year-old Christian was in his small shop working with his wife and young son when three masked men walked in, opened fire and killed him. The masked men then sat around his shop table, eating chips and drinking soda, while the bodies lay in a pool of blood before the terrified wife and child.
February 13: A 57-year-old Christian laborer was shot and killed as he tried to fight off masked men trying to kidnap his young son on a crowded street in broad daylight. The men, after murdering the father, seized his young son and took him to an unknown location (where, if precedent is accurate, he is likely being tortured or possibly killed, if a hefty ransom is not paid).
February 16: A 45-year-old Christian schoolteacher was moonlighting at his shoe store with his wife, when masked men walked in the crowded shop and shot him dead.
February 17: A 40-year-old medical doctor was killed by masked men who, after forcing him to stop his car, opened fire and killed him. He leaves a widow and two children.
February 22: Islamic State affiliates killed a 65-year-old Christian man by shooting him in the head. They then abducted and tortured his 45-year-old son before burning him alive and dumping his charred remains near a schoolyard.
February 23: A Christian plumber was shot dead in front of his wife and children at their home.
After the slayings, at least 300 Christians living in al-Arish fled their homes, with nothing but their clothes on their backs and their children in their hands. In a video of these Copts, one man can be heard saying "They are burning us alive! They seek to exterminate Christians altogether! Where's the military?" Another woman yells at the camera:
"Tell the whole world, look — we've left our homes, and why? Because they kill our children, they kill our women, they kill our innocent people! Why? Our children are terrified to go to schools. Why? Why all this injustice?! Why doesn't the president move and do something for us? We can't even answer our doors without being terrified!"
"We loved our country but our country doesn't love us," said the brother of one of the slain.
Muslim Abduction, Rape, Murder and Mutilation of Christian Women
Pakistan: Hours after being dropped off at the Convent of Jesus and Mary school in Punjab by her brother, Tania Mariyam, a 12-year-old Christian girl, was found dead in a canal. Despite all the evidence to the contrary — including her clothes being ripped off and signs of drugging — police investigations concluded that she had committed suicide. After three weeks of pressure from Mariyam's family and human rights groups, who insisted that the girl had been raped and murdered — as so many Christian girls (and boys) in Pakistan have been before her — police finally conceded that she had not killed herself. Even so, "the severe delays," says the British Pakistani Christian Association, "mean that much of the evidence has been lost."
"There was a disgusting police cover up," the murdered girl's father said, "and I fear that they have colluded with the murderer and know more than they are letting on. They do not care about Christians."
West Africa: According to a report, "Muslims radicals punished the [14-year-old] daughter of a Christian missionary for her faith by subjecting her to brutal female genital mutilation. Currently, the young woman remains in a coma, struggling for her life." Lydia's father, Yoonus, formerly a Muslim scholar, had converted to Christianity. When the local Muslim community heard of this — and that he "was now leading Muslims to Christ" — they "urged him to return to Islam and promised to give him gifts if he rejected Christianity. However, Yoonus and his family refused to renounce their faith, resulting in increased persecution," including the attack on his daughter.
Egypt: Two new cases surfaced of young Christian girls being abducted with the indifference or complicity of the authorities. After Rania Eed Fawzy, 17, failed to return home, her parents and lawyer said it was "an incident of kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam." They "filed a complaint with the local police that a Muslim male named Rabee Radi Naghi had taken their daughter against her will." When the family lawyer contacted the Egyptian Attorney General, Nabil Ahmed Sadek, requesting "to remove Rania from hiding and deliver her to one of the Christian Orthodox homeless youth shelters"—as "[n]ormally in such cases the local authorities know where the kidnap victim is kept" — the Attorney General refused and said, "[T]he girl embraced Islam, what do you want?"
As the report explains, even if she did freely convert, "a child in Egypt is considered a minor until age 21. Until [one comes] of age, conversion from one religion to another is illegal."
"In such kidnapping cases, however, the authorities always settle the issue by accepting the minor Christian girl's 'conversion' to Islam ... never the other way around. In conversion from Islam to Christianity complaints, police go above and beyond their role to retrieve the girl and warn her of death from apostasy. Such cases suit the purposes of ideological jihad. By removing a non-Muslim young woman of child-bearing age from the Christian community, adding her to the Muslim girl population to bear Muslim children serves to increase the Muslim population while decreasing Christian numbers."
Separately, after an apparent ruse caused the older brother of Hanan Adly, an 18-year-old Christian girl, to step out of the house one night, she disappeared from the family farm. The family and their lawyer made a formal complaint to the police, accusing a neighbor, Mohamed Ahmed Nubi Soliman, 27, of kidnapping her. Prosecutors summoned the man and "he admitted a connection with the incident. However, he was released due to lack of physical evidence," says the report.
"A national security investigation was ordered, but ... there has been no progress with the case, despite protests outside the police station by friends and family of Hanan."
Mali: A Christian nun was kidnapped in the Muslim-majority African nation with "no claims or demands for ransom", said a local Christian leader. Sister Cecilia Narváez Argoti, of Colombian background, belonged to the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate.
"The kidnappers arrived on 7 February from a secluded location a bit far from the village where Sister Cecilia and her sisters were. They broke into the missionary center and plundered money and computer equipment. They then escaped with the ambulance of the medical center with the nun."
Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches
Central African Republic: Supporters of a Muslim rebel group destroyed two churches and killed a pastor in what are described as "revenge attacks." After the national security forces, backed by UN peacekeepers, launched a military operation to interrogate Youssouf Malinga, a local Muslim militia leader known as the "Big Man," he and his men opened fire on the security forces and killed two passersby. Security forces responded with fire and killed Malinga and one of his men; three soldiers were also injured in the shootout. Malinga's supporters responded by surrounding an apostolic church and stabbing its pastor to death. "More than two dozen people were wounded. At least two churches were destroyed, along with a school," in the "revenge attacks," the report adds. "Central African Republic was plunged into civil war in 2013 following the overthrow of former president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Muslim rebels from the Seleka militia."
Congo: Churches are "being desecrated and Christian nuns terrorised by 'violent thugs' amid a wave of increased hostility on Christians," according to reports. Elsewhere the "thugs" are described as "Islamist extremists." In February alone, "the extremists" burned a major seminary and
"sow[ed] terror among the Carmelite Sisters in nearby Kananga.... The extremists also attacked the St. Dominic church in the town of Limete. They 'overturned the tabernacle, ransacked the altar, smashed some of the benches and attempted to set fire to the church,' the archbishop said."
Iran: "Historical churches in Iran being destroyed while UNESCO overlooks," is the title of one report. After explaining that "Destroying church buildings has a long record in the history of the Islamic regime of Iran," it gives several examples in recent times. Sometimes churches are attacked by "extremist Muslims" who destroy crosses, statues, and icons with sledgehammers and axes; other times the government is responsible. In one case, "judicial authorities in Kerman issued a ruling for a historical church building in their city to be brought down, even though a few years earlier this church had been registered as a national heritage site"; in another instance, a "historical evangelical church building in Mashhad that had been registered as a national heritage site in 2005, was destroyed." There "are around five hundred registered church buildings in Iran, with many of them abandoned or on the verge of destruction."
Sudan: The government ordered the "demolition of at least 25 church buildings" in the Khartoum area, relates one report. The government claimed the churches were built on land zoned for other uses, although mosques located in the same area were spared from the demolition order. Christian leaders said this is "not an isolated act" but rather part of a wider "crack-down" on Christianity that "should be taken with wider perspective." The Sudan Council of Churches denounced the order and called on the government to reconsider the decision or provide alternative sites for the churches. But Mohamad el Sheikh Mohamad, general manager of Khartoum State's land department in the Ministry of Physical Planning, said the order should be implemented immediately. "Sudan since 2012 has bulldozed church buildings and harassed and expelled foreign Christians," the report concludes.
Nigeria: The Christian Association of Nigeria is calling on the nation's government to help rebuild destroyed churches in the Muslim majority regions of the nation's northeastern states. This comes after a report revealed that "at least 900 Christian places of worship have been destroyed by Boko Haram since the [militant Islamic] group began its violent activities." U.S. lawmakers said that Nigeria is the worst nation in which to be Christian. Christopher Smith, Chairman of US House of Representatives' Sub-committee on Africa, said that both his staff and he have "investigated the crises facing Christians in Nigeria today" and "made several visits to Nigeria, speaking with Christians and Muslim religious leaders across the country and visiting fire-bombed churches, such as in Jos.... Unfortunately, Nigeria has been cited as the most dangerous place for Christians in the world and impunity for those responsible for the killing of Christians seem to be widespread."
What makes the African nation so hostile to Christians is Boko Haram, a militant Muslim group, which has "forced Christians to convert and forced Muslims to adhere to its extreme interpretation of Islam."
Pakistan: Catholic churches and schools in the Lahore area closed down after a Taliban splinter group, which had killed seventy Christians on Easter Day, 2016, carried out a suicide bombing at a rally and killed at least 14 people. The group had vowed a year ago that it planned on launching "more devastating attacks that will target Christians and other religious minorities as well as government installations."
Coptic Christians protest outside the church of St Peter and St Paul in Cairo, Egypt, after a bomb attack on the complex, on December 11, 2016. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Pakistani Justice
On January 28, a court acquitted 106 Muslims of burning down an entire Christian village in 2013 — including 150 homes and three churches. The attack came after one of its inhabitants, Sawan Masih, was accused of blasphemy. More than 80 prosecution witnesses, 63 of them with statements recorded about the attack, said they did not recognize any of the 106 accused. So they were all released.
Also on January 28, the government arrested an elderly Christian man on the charge of blasphemy — which carries a maximum death penalty. A mosque leader accused Mukhtar Masih, 70, of writing two letters containing derogatory remarks about the Koran and Muhammad. The report cites a source who said that "the charges against Masih were fabricated by local Muslims seeking to seize his property." Nonetheless, police raided the elderly man's home the same day and took his entire family into custody. His family was released but he was booked on charges of blasphemy, and beaten in an attempt to force him to admit to it.
Separately, the Pakistani government denied that "Christian minorities are being targeted by the country's controversial blasphemy laws," says another report — despite the well-known fact that religious minorities, chief among them Christians, are the demographic group most prone to being accused and convicted of blasphemy, to say nothing of being beaten, lynched, and burned alive in mob attacks. After alleging that, of 129 cases of blasphemy, 99 were leveled against fellow Muslims, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said "religious minorities are not being embroiled in blasphemy cases more than Muslims." However, "[s]everal different persecution watchdog groups have pointed out that Christians are often heavily targeted by blasphemy laws." Pakistani human rights activist Wilson Chowdhry said officials are "twisting statistics":
"Sadly, Mr Khan's comments... [and] contrived results have failed to recognize that Christians in recent years have become the number one target of blasphemy allegations. It is our belief that a large proportion of the 26 percent of blasphemy convictions listed against minorities will have sentenced Christians, yet we contribute only 1.6 percent of the entire national population."
Muslim Hate for and Discrimination against Christians
Egypt: Fadi, a 15-year-old Christian boy, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of what human rights activists say is a false accusation. Last summer, a Muslim neighbor accused him of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old Muslim boy. Investigations and forensic examinations were performed but revealed no evidence of sexual activity. The family was still ordered to leave the village and the charges remained. According to Fadi's mother, Hana, he was targeted only because their Muslim neighbors, whose grandfather is an influential imam at the local mosque, "don't like Christians." She adds: the "judge convicted my son to 15 years because he is a Christian. If he was a Muslim boy, the judge would acquit him when he saw the forensic report, because the forensic report absolved my son," but "because my son is Christian," the judge "believed the speech of [the Muslim boy's] father instead of the forensic report."
Turkey: The Islamic terrorist who opened fire on an Istanbul nightclub during New Year's Eve celebrations confessed that "I wanted to stage the attack on Christians in order to exact revenge on them for their acts committed all over the world. My aim was to kill Christians." But for a variety of reasons that made it difficult for him to launch a spectacular attack on Christians, Abdulkadir Masharipov, of Uzbeki origin, ended up killing 39 people and wounded 65 others at a nightclub. He laments that he did not die then and there as a "martyr": "When I was out of bullets, I threw two stun grenades. I put the third one near my face to commit suicide, but I didn't die. I survived, but I entered Reina [nightclub] to die." Apparently to hurry him on his way to what he sought on the day of attack, Islamic paradise, Abdulkadir said that "it would be good if he were given capital punishment."
Iraq: Kurdish Peshmerga forces continue to be hostile to a Christian militia group also fighting the Islamic State. After William J. Murray, chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based Religious Freedom Coalition, visited the Christian town of Qaraqosh on the Nineveh Plain, he wrote that it
"has enemies other than the ruthless Islamic State, or ISIS, which left it in ruins. Currently the Kurdish militia, the Peshmerga, is blocking aid to the NPU [Nineveh Protection Unit] that guards the town, because the NPU is the Assyrian Christian militia. It is the only armed Christian group in Iraq.... While for appearance and funding from Washington, the Kurds support Christian interests for now, the historical relationship between the two groups includes participation in slaughtering Christians by the tens of thousands. There is no room for a Christian enclave, particularly one that is armed, in the future of an independent state of Kurdistan..."
Kurds are Sunni Muslims.
France: A new study revealed that, in the Western European nation with the largest Muslim population, the overwhelming majority of "religious attacks" are against Christians. "Acts targeting Christian places accounted for 90% of all attacks on places of worship (Christians, Jews or Muslims)." Although the government responded to these statistics by saying that "all these acts have no religious motivation," and that out of 949 attacks on churches, "there was a possible 'satanic motivation' in 14 cases and an 'anarchist' motivation in 25," it did not reveal the source behind the other 910 attacks. Another report, however, from neighboring Germany gives a hint:
"Last year in Dülmen, following the arrival of well over a million [mostly Muslim] migrants in Germany, local media said 'not a day goes by' without attacks on Christian religious statues."
About this Series
While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians by Muslims is growing. The report posits that such Muslim persecution is not random but rather systematic, and takes place irrespective of language, ethnicity, or location.
Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (published by Regnery with Gatestone Institute, April 2013

Europe Fights Back with Candles and Teddy Bears

Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/May 28/17
Europe still has not realized that the terror which struck its metropolis was a war, and not the mistake of a few disturbed people who misunderstood the Islamic religion.
We are apparently not ready to abandon our masochistic rules of engagement, which privilege the enemy's people over our own.
It appears that for Europe, Islamic terrorism is not real, but only a momentary disruption of its routine. We fight against global warming, malaria and hunger in Africa. But are we not ready to fight for our civilization? Have we already given up?
This long and sad list is the human harvest of Islamic terrorism on Europe's soil:
Madrid: 191. London: 58. Amsterdam: 1. Paris: 148. Brussels: 36. Copenhagen: 2. Nice: 86. Stockholm: 4. Berlin: 12. Manchester: 22. And it does not take into account the hundreds of Europeans butchered abroad, in Bali, in Sousse, in Dakka, in Jerusalem, in Sharm el Sheikh, in Istanbul.
But after 567 victims of terror, Europe still does not understand. Just the first half of 2017 has seen terror attacks attempted in Europe every nine days on average. Yet, despite this Islamist offensive, Europe is fighting back with teddy bears, candles, flowers, vigils, Twitter hashtags and cartoons.
Candles and flowers left behind following an evening vigil on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England, held after a suicide bombing by an Islamic terrorist who murdered 22 concert-goers the night before. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
After 9/11 and 2,996 victims, the U.S. under George W. Bush rose to the fight. The United States and a few brave European allies, such as the UK, Italy and Spain, proved themselves "the stronger horse". Islamic warriors were thrown on the defensive; Jihadist recruits dropped off and dozens of terror plots were disrupted. But that response did not last. Europe quickly retreated into its own homefront, while the Islamists carried the war onto Europe's soil: Madrid, London, Theo van Gogh...
Since then, the situation has only become worse: a simple calculation shows that we went from one attack every two years to one attack every nine days. Take just the last six months: Berlin, London, Stockholm, Paris and now Manchester.
Europe has still not realized that the terror which struck its metropolis was a war, and not the mistake of a few disturbed people who misunderstood the Islamic religion. Today there are more British Muslims in the ranks of ISIS than in the British Armed Forces. According with Alexandre Mendel, author of the book Jihadist France, there are more violent Salafists in France than regular soldiers in the Swedish army.
Thirteen years after the attack on Madrid's trains, Europe's leaders read from the same script: hiding the images of pain, so as not to scare anyone; concealing that the Islamist attackers are "made in Europe" insiders; repeating that "Islam is a religion of peace"; being prisoners inside our liberties; watching them removed one-by-one while we proclaiming that "we will not change our lifestyle"; and eradicating the fundamentals of our civilization -- freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of movement, freedom of religion -- the entire basis, in fact, of the Judeo-Christian West.
Radical Islam is the greatest threat to Europe since Nazism and Soviet Communism. But we still have not been inclined to question any of the political or ideological pillars that have led to the current disaster, such as multiculturalism and mass immigration. Hard counter-terrorism measures, the only ones that could break the terrorists' plans and morale, have never been taken. These would include shutting down mosques, deporting radical imams, banning foreign funding of mosques, closing toxic non-governmental organizations, draining the welfare financing of Europe's jihadists, refraining from flirting with jihadists, and stopping foreign fighters from returning home from the battlefront.
We treat war and genocide as if they are simply mistakes made by our intelligence agencies.
We dismiss radical Islam as the "mental illness" of a few disturbed people. Meanwhile, every week, two new Salafist mosques are opened in France, while radical Islam is preached in more than 2,300 French mosques. Thousands of European Muslims have gone off to wage jihad in Syria and Iraq, and fundamentalists are taking control of mosques and Islamic centers. In Brussels, all the mosques are controlled by the Salafists, who are disseminating radical Islam to the Muslim masses.
The sad truth is that Europe has never had the political will to wage a total war against ISIS and the other jihadist groups. Otherwise, Raqaa and Mosul would already have been neutralized. Instead, Islamists have been taking over Molenbeek in Belgium, the French suburbs and large swaths of Britain. We now should be celebrating the liberation of Mosul and the return of Christians to their homes; instead we are mourning 22 people murdered and 64 wounded by an Islamic suicide-bomber in Manchester, and 29 Christians killed in Egypt this week alone.
Serious fighting would require massive bombing to eliminate as many Islamists as possible. But we are apparently not ready to abandon our masochistic rules of engagement, which privilege the enemy's people over our own. Europe also never demanded that its Muslim communities disavow jihadism and Islamic law, sharia. This silence is what helps Islamists shut the mouths of brave Muslim dissidents. Meanwhile, Europe's armies are getting smaller by the day, as if we already consider this game done.
After every attack, Europe's leaders recycle the same empty slogans: "Carry on"; "We are stronger"; "Business as usual". The Muslim Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, tells us that we must get used to daily carnage! He says he believes that the threat of terror attacks is "part and parcel of living in a big city", and that major cities around the world "have got to be prepared for these sorts of things". Does he seriously mean that we are supposed to get used to the massacre of our own children in the Manchester Arena? Islamic terror has now become part of the landscape of so many major European cities: Paris, Copenhagen, Nice, Toulouse, Berlin....
Instead of concentrating on jihad and radical Islam, Europe's leaders continue to talk about the "Russian threat". It would indeed be a mistake to neglect Russian expansionism. But did Vladimir Putin's troops attack Westminster? Did Russian agents blow themselves up, taking the lives of children at a Manchester concert? Did a former Soviet spy massacre Swedes walking in Stockholm? For Europe's leaders, talking about Putin appears a welcome distraction from the real enemies.
The French writer Philippe Muray wrote in his book, Dear Jihadists:
"Dear Jihadists! Quake before the wrath of the man in Bermuda shorts! Fear the rage of consumers, of travellers, of tourists, of holiday-makers, who rise from their caravans! Imagine yourselves like us, as we wallow in the joy and luxury that have weakened us".
It seems that for Europe, Islamic terrorism is not real, but only a momentary disruption of its routine. We fight against global warming, malaria and hunger in Africa, and for a global world of equality. But are we not ready to fight for our civilization? Or have we already given up?
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Turkey: Erdogan's Goon Squad Comes to Washington
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/May 28/17
The savagery of Erdogan's Turkish enforcers in Washington, whom many observers viewed as thugs, reflects a new dimension in carrying his message to any potential leader who may host him in the future: We treat peaceful dissent abroad as we treat it in Turkey.
Turkey probably was protesting the United States for not giving President Erdogan's men a license to kill.
According to the official narrative, U.S. President Donald Trump was hosting in Washington the leader of a long-friendly country and historic ally. In typical diplomatic niceties, Trump mentioned Turkey's role as a pillar in the Cold War against Soviet expansion, and Turkey's legendary courage in fighting alongside American soldiers in the Korean War in the 1950s. Trump also said, speaking of the present, that he looks forward to "working together with President Erdogan on achieving peace and security in the Middle East, on confronting the shared threats, and on working toward a future of dignity and safety for all of our people." Facts on the ground, however, are frequently less pleasant than Kodak-moment niceties.
The fundamental incompatibility between Trump and Erdogan was too apparent from the beginning of what looks like a largely transactional, pragmatic but problematic relationship. Erdogan's political ideology is deep-rooted in an often-aggressive blend of Sunni Islamist supremacy and neo-Ottoman, Turkish nationalism. Erdogan, disregarding Saudi Arabia and other possible contenders for the title, claims to be the protector of Sunni Muslims across the Middle East, and does not hide his ideological kinship with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, of which Trump is not a great admirer. In contrast, Trump hit out at Muslims during his campaign and proposed both a "Muslim travel ban" and a "Muslim registry". It was only too predictable: in response, Erdogan, in June 2016, called for Trump's name to be stripped from the Trump Towers in Istanbul.
Erdogan's Washington, DC visit, apart from Trump and Erdogan agreeing to disagree on more essential issues, will be remembered as a Turkish excess, with scenes of the bloodied faces of peaceful protestors beaten up by Erdogan's bodyguards in front of the Turkish ambassador's residence. Although these unpleasant incidents caused an uproar in America, such brutality should have come as no surprise.
Slightly over a year ago, Erdogan and his team were in America on another visit, with the Turkish president scheduled to speak at the Brookings Institution. His security guards harassed and physically assaulted journalists trying to cover the event; they also forcibly attempted to remove several journalists, although they were on the guest list. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Brookings staff prevented them from ejecting the reporters. One Turkish journalist was removed from the building while checking in. But that was not the entire show. An American reporter attempting to film the harassment was kicked in the chest. The National Press Club was outraged. "We have increasingly seen disrespect for basic human rights and press freedom in Turkey," said the president of the Club, Thomas Burr. "Erdogan doesn't get to export such abuse".
Shortly before that, in February 2016, Erdogan had embarked on a Latin America trip. During his speech at the Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales (National Higher Studies Institute) in Ecuador's capital, Quito, a group of women began shouting "Fuera Ecuador Erdogan" ("Get out of Ecuador, Erdogan") and "Asesino" ("Murderer"). About a minute later, Erdogan's bodyguards brutally attacked and forcefully removed them from the room: they punched the protesters in their heads and breasts. As the women were removed from the room, Erdogan said: "As we see now, there are sometimes disrespectful characters as well. Appropriate responses will always be taken to handle these disrespectful people".
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo by Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images)
The embassy violence, however, and the savagery of Erdogan's Turkish enforcers, whom many observers in Washington viewed as thugs, reflects a new dimension in carrying his message to any potential leader who may host him. CNN's Marc Randazza, after mentioning video footage showing Erdogan speaking to the black-suited agents before they rushed the protesters, said, "It was brutal -- with the agents punching protesters and kicking them while they were on the ground.... The word outrage," he wrote, "does not come close to describing this incident". The bloody clash sent nine people to the hospital. The White House remained silent, but the Turkish ambassador was summoned to the State Department, which "raised its concerns about these events..." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration's "dismay" had been expressed to the Turkish government.
Arizona Senator John McCain and California Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote to Erdogan that "the actions of your staff violate the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly enjoyed by all Americans." McCain even suggested:
"We should throw their ambassador the hell out... This is the United States of America. This isn't Turkey; this isn't a third-world country; and this kind of thing cannot go unresponded to diplomatically".
Instead, the Turks added insult to injury. The Turkish Foreign Ministry on May 22 summoned U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass over the incident to give him a verbal and written protest. But what could Turkey be protesting after its president's bodyguards attacked a defenseless, small bunch of peaceful protesters? Read the Turkish ministry's statement about the protest: "... due to the aggressive and unproffessional [sic] actions taken, contrary to diplomatic rules and practices, by US security personnel towards the close protection team..." Turkey probably was protesting the United States not giving President Erdogan's men a license to kill.
The second "Turkish circus" in Washington in a span of about a year must have demonstrated to the free world the kind of oppression that any kind of dissent may earn protesters in Turkey. There is one difference, though. The peaceful protesters in Washington, mostly Kurds, were merely beaten up by Erdogan's bodyguards. Similar protests in Turkey usually end up with brutal police beatings -- followed by arrest and prosecution, often on charges of "terrorism".
Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was just fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 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.