May 30/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 13/22-30/:”Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us”, then in reply he will say to you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.”But he will say, “I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!” There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’”

We constantly give thanks to God for you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word
First Letter to the Thessalonians 02/13-17/:”We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God’s wrath has overtaken them at last. As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you in person, not in heart we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face.”

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 29-30/17
The Majority of those Who allege to represent Christians in Lebanon know Nothing about Christianity/Elias Bejjani/May 27/17
Terra Incognita: The myth of ‘American Jewish liberalism’ظSeth J. Frantzman/Jerusalem Post/May 29, 2017
Israel conducts 'experimental' rocket test over heart of the country/Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/May 29/17
TV Host Nadine Al-Budair: Saudi Men Say Women Are Diamonds But Treat Them As Cheap StonesظThe Middle East Media Research Institute May 29/17
Palestinians: Abbas Immediately Breaks Promises to TrumpظBassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/May 29/17
Sharia Down UnderظJudith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/May 29/17
Why European Experts are Under AttackظJustin Fox/Bloomberg/May 29/17
A New Yalta and the Revival of EuropeظRoger Cohen/The New York Times/May 29/17
Qatar and The Role that wasظGhassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17
Zakaria, Zarif and Saudi ArabiaظAbdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17
Florida Museum Celebrates the Loss of Hagia SophiaظDaniel Pipes/National Review Online /May 29/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 29-30/17
The Majority of those Who allege to represent Christians in Lebanon know Nothing about Christianity
UNIFIL Observes the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers
Aoun: Progress Achieved Over Agreement on Electoral Law
Aoun Receives French Ambassador to Lebanon as His Mission Ends
French ambassador stresses France's support for Lebanon upon final return
Speaker Berri says Parliament can hold regular sessions
Berri Says Redistribution of Parliamentary Seats 'Unacceptable'
Hariri Warns against Return to 1960 Law or Extension, Says Berri Wants 'Modern Law'
Miqati Says Reallocation of Parliamentary Seats Paves Way for 'Federalism'
Elderly Man Stabbed to Death in Hometown in Tyre
Fight over Fireworks Injures Man in Ain el-Hilweh

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 29-30/17
Iran leader slams Saudis as America's 'milking cow'
Iran to Dispatch More Forces to Syria
Egypt’s Sisi Meets with Russian Defense, Foreign Ministers
France’s Macron Vows Reprisals against Chemical Weapons Usage in Syria
UN: Civilians Struggle with Lack of Food, Medicine in Ongoing Mosul Battle
Erdogan to Reshape A-team in AKP
Algerian Tourism Minister Dismissed Three Days after Being Appointed
Macron Vows Reprisals if Chemical Weapons Used in Syria
Iraq Presses Mosul Assault, U.N. Warns of Danger to Civilians
Cholera in Yemen Threatens Lives of 1.1 Mn Pregnant Women
Bahraini Premier: Promising Future Lies ahead for Region

Latest Lebanese Related News published on May 29-30/17
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.

UNIFIL Observes the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers

Naharnet/May 29/17/The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on Monday observed the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers at its headquarters in the southern city of Naqoura, vowing to “advance its partnership” with Lebanese authorities and local leaders in maintaining “a safe and stable environment in south Lebanon,” a UNIFIL statement said. “Today, I wish to pay tribute to all peacekeepers – men and women, civilian and military – who serve selflessly, tirelessly and courageously in UNIFIL every day. Your work is a source of pride for the United Nations every day of the year,” said the acting Head of Mission, Imran Riza, in his address to UNIFIL peacekeepers. “As you know, peacekeeping is an investment in global peace, security, and prosperity. It is a flagship enterprise of the United Nations,” he added.
The U.N. General Assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers in February 2003 in order to pay tribute to “the professionalism, dedication and courage of all the men and women serving in U.N. peacekeeping operations, and honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace,” the UNIFIL statement said. The global theme of this year’s observance is “Investing in Peace Around the World.”UNIFIL peacekeepers representing 40 national contingents and civilian personnel were joined at today’s event by Mr. Riza, Acting Force Commander Brigadier General Sandeep Singh Bajaj, the representative of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander Brigadier General Abbas Zamat as well as representatives of the State Security Forces, Governors and religious leaders. Brigadier General Bajaj reviewed a Guard of Honor, and together with Mr. Riza and LAF Brigadier General Zamat, laid wreaths at the cenotaph in memory of the 325 UNIFIL peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the line of duty in South Lebanon since the Mission’s establishment in 1978. In his address, Mr. Riza hailed the strong mutual respect and friendship between UNIFIL and the residents of south Lebanon as “extremely rewarding and motivating.”“In our efforts to keep the peace, we will continue to work closely with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Lebanese authorities – and to rely on the bond of friendship with the people of south Lebanon,” he said.
While reading out U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for this year’s observance, Mr. Riza said U.N. peacekeeping missions are intended to be short-term investments that provide long-term dividends by creating the time and space for political processes to unfold. Currently, more than 113,000 peacekeepers (military, Police and civilian personnel) serve in 16 missions worldwide. More than 10,500 military personnel and about 900 civilians currently serve in UNIFIL. Many UNIFIL veterans who served in south Lebanon in the past frequently come back to see the progress made in the area in addition to contributing to the local economy, according to UNIFIL's statement.Referring to some of those visits carried out recently, Mr. Riza said “their efforts and sacrifices contributed to the prevailing peace and stability the area is now enjoying.”

Aoun: Progress Achieved Over Agreement on Electoral Law
Naharnet/May 29/17/President Michel Aoun emphasized on Monday that consultations to reach a new electoral law for the country's parliamentary elections before June 20 have made progress. “Contacts have made progress as for agreeing on a new vote law before June 20,” Aoun told his visitors. The President stressed on “the importance of the people's choices, because the governor does not want applause from the people but wants work and solidarity to change the situation and introduce reforms."The parliament's term ends on June 20. The president has the authority to open an extraordinary session giving political parties extra time to agree on a new law. But if he decides to dissolve the parliament, then the elections would be staged based on the law in force, in this case the 1960 majoritarian vote system.

Aoun Receives French Ambassador to Lebanon as His Mission Ends
Naharnet/May 29/17/President Michel Aoun received French Ambassador Emmanuel Bonne at the Presidential Palace in Baabda who came on a farewell visit ending his two-year service in Lebanon, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Aoun awarded the Ambassador the National Order of the Cedar-Grand Officer rank in recognition of his efforts. Bonne was appointed in August 2015 heading the mission in Beirut after Ambassador Patrice Paoli's term expired.

French ambassador stresses France's support for Lebanon upon final return
The Daily Star May 29, 2017/BEIRUT: French ambassador to Lebanon Emmanuel Bonne Monday stressed France’s support for Lebanon upon leaving the country, a source told The Daily Star. The ambassador left Lebanon Monday afternoon for a new position as Director of Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s Cabinet. “I love Lebanon and I have confidence in Lebanon and its people, and their ability to surpass all the challenges that face them,” Bonne said. “France will always stand by Lebanon’s side and acknowledges the country’s role, and this is something that won’t change at all,” Bonne added, touching on the long history between the two countries, and the bright future he thinks is coming. When asked about the role he can play to help Lebanon through his new position, Bonne said that the important thing is not how France can help Lebanon, rather ”how France can be Lebanon’s best friend.”Earlier Monday, Bonne Monday bid farewell to President Michel Aoun during a meeting at Baabda Palace. The meeting was the last between the two officials, as Bonne had Saturday announced the end of his two-year stint in Lebanon. Aoun presented Bonne with the Cedars Medal officer grade following the meeting. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil also met with Bonne following his meeting with Aoun. Bonne Saturday bid farewell to Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri in separate meetings. Following the meeting at the PM's Beirut residence, the French ambassador told the press that his country's new Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had appointed him as "director of his office." Emmanuel Bonne was appointed as French Ambassador to Lebanon in August 2015.

Speaker Berri says Parliament can hold regular sessions
The Daily Star May 29/2017/BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri Monday said that Parliament could extend its regular sessions beyond May 31 after President Michel Aoun suspended sessions for one month. By using his prerogative under Article 59 of the Constitution, Aoun in April had defused a major political crisis and averted a much-feared confrontation between supporters of the three major Christian parties – the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party – opposing extension of Parliament’s mandate and security forces. The speaker said in a rare news conference at his residence in Ain al-Tineh that he was optimistic on endeavors over the weekend to reach a new vote law.However, after contacting Aoun and meeting with Lebanese Forces deputy chief MP George Adwan, "agreement began looming on the 15 constituencies vote law, despite knowing that I rejected it first."
"I called Prime Minister Saad Hariri and informed him, and the PM later phone called me and said he had sent Aoun a decree to open an extraordinary parliamentary cycle," Berri added. "But I never received it," Berri said.The Lebanese Parliament normally convenes in two ordinary cycles from mid-March till the end of May and from mid-October through the end of December. The speaker said that if the delay is to press the Parliament "as rumored," then he is "glad to inform them that no one can pressure it but the Lebanese people.""President Aoun used his prerogatives to delay a parliamentary session. It was the first time since independence," Berri said. The speaker added that "Parliament has the right to continue its cycle after its suspension as normal." Article 59 stipulates that the “president may postpone the Parliament’s meeting for a period not exceeding one month, but he may not do so twice during the same [parliamentary] session.”"The executive authority has no right to marginalize the Parliament. The Parliament will continue its month after it was adjourned."Berri, however, said that he would seek to agree with Aoun on the timing of the session, stressing that there was no rift with the president. Parliament's term expires on June 20. A key parliamentary session to discuss the vote law is scheduled for June 5, the session has been already postponed twice.
The speaker added that he was "keen to drift away from the 1960 [majoritarian vote law], extension, vacuum and any other form of sectarian vote laws." Berri said Adwan's proposal for the adoption of the proportional system in the upcoming elections, based on 15 constituencies, was "acceptable."
"It's known as the Bkirki law, and was proposed at the beginning by [former Interior Minister] Marwan Charbel. I rejected it back then," he said. Berri told reporters that after he had accepted Adwan's proposal, "conditions began" surfacing. Adwan included in his proposal the moving of three Maronite seats from areas that have Muslim majority as follows: from Tripoli to Batroun, western Bekaa to Jbeil and Baalbeck to Bsharri. The speaker expressed total rejection for redistributing the seats. "If we want an agreement, this (article) should be scrapped," Berri said, adding that he was waiting for a final stance from the Free Patriotic Movement over the matter. Berri also added that a "technical extension" is expected, but not for longer than "three to four months."Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Kataeb Party MP Nadim Gemayel and Marada Movement head Sleiman Frangieh have so far explicitly rejected Adwan's proposal.
Parliamentary elections were originally scheduled to take place between May 21 and June 21, yet political deadlock is expected to delay elections beyond June. The last parliamentary elections were held in 2009. Terms were extended twice in 2013 and 2014.

Berri Says Redistribution of Parliamentary Seats 'Unacceptable'
Naharnet/May 29/17/Speaker Nabih Berri emphasized that a proposal to reallocate Maronite seats from Muslim-majority to Christian-majority districts is completely “unacceptable,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Monday. “We can never accept such a proposal and a major questions arises here: What is the purpose of this concept? Winds of division are blowing in the region and here we are amid these atmospheres going for a sectarian separation. This is totally unacceptable,” Berri told the daily. The Speaker pointed out that the said law was initially discussed and approved in Bkirki without any reference to the reallocation of parliamentary seats. “When MP George Adwan first suggested the law based on full proportional representation and 15 districts, we assured him that we will go along with this law which was discussed in Bkirki,” said Berri. “But when we asked whether the reallocation of seats was also agreed, they said it was not. Why do they want to move seats now? asked Berri. The political parties have agreed on a law based on full proportional representation and 15 districts but the FPM and the LF are reportedly demanding the reallocation of three Maronite seats from Muslim-majority districts to Christian-majority districts. The FPM and the LF 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, media reports say. 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.”

Miqati Says Reallocation of Parliamentary Seats Paves Way for 'Federalism'
Naharnet/May 29/17/Former Prime Minister Najib Miqati said he rejects proposals to reallocate parliamentary seats from one electoral district to another, including moving the Maronite seat from Tripoli, the National News Agency reported on Monday. “In the midst of the debate on the election law, while we welcomed the current proposal which stems from the spirit of a draft law approved by our government, we were surprised by the suggestion to move parliamentary seats from one region to another under the pretext of achieving just representation,” said Miqati. “This proposal carries great danger because it practically means legitimizing the division between the Lebanese, and the beginning of a rejected political federation at a time when everyone is required to cooperate to consolidate unity,” he added. The political parties have reportedly agreed on a law based on full proportional representation and 15 districts but the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces are reportedly demanding the reallocation of three Maronite seats from Muslim-majority districts to Christian-majority districts. The FPM and the LF 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. “We express our rejection about reallocation of seats and we hold on to the Maronite seat in Tripoli, because the city in all its spectrum is keen on its unity and coexistence among all its people,”concluded Miqati.

Hariri Warns against Return to 1960 Law or Extension, Says Berri Wants 'Modern Law'
Naharnet/May 29/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri warned Monday that a return to the 1960 electoral law or the extension of parliament's term would be “a defeat for us all,” noting that Speaker Nabih Berri wants a “modern” law. “Some are analyzing that we're calling for change in public while secretly seeking to return to the 1960 law or extension, but I tell you that I'm fully confident that a return to the 1960 law or extension would represent a defeat for us all in front of our popular bases,” Hariri said at the Grand Serail during an iftar banquet attended by Berri and a host of political, religious and social figures. “When I say that we will reach an electoral law, this means that we will reach an electoral law, because failure is prohibited,” Hariri added. “We are on the verge of achieving that,” the premier reassured. He also noted that a new electoral law and the organization of parliamentary elections would improve the situations in the country at all levels and would also lead to real “stability.”

Miqati Says Reallocation of Parliamentary Seats Paves Way for 'Federalism'

Naharnet/May 29/17/Former Prime Minister Najib Miqati said he rejects proposals to reallocate parliamentary seats from one electoral district to another, including moving the Maronite seat from Tripoli, the National News Agency reported on Monday. “In the midst of the debate on the election law, while we welcomed the current proposal which stems from the spirit of a draft law approved by our government, we were surprised by the suggestion to move parliamentary seats from one region to another under the pretext of achieving just representation,” said Miqati. “This proposal carries great danger because it practically means legitimizing the division between the Lebanese, and the beginning of a rejected political federation at a time when everyone is required to cooperate to consolidate unity,” he added. The political parties have reportedly agreed on a law based on full proportional representation and 15 districts but the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces are reportedly demanding the reallocation of three Maronite seats from Muslim-majority districts to Christian-majority districts. The FPM and the LF 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. “We express our rejection about reallocation of seats and we hold on to the Maronite seat in Tripoli, because the city in all its spectrum is keen on its unity and coexistence among all its people,”concluded Miqati.

Elderly Man Stabbed to Death in Hometown in Tyre
Naharnet/May 29/17/An elderly man found stabbed to death in the southern city of Tyre was identified as Salman Mohammed Khyami, father of Zayd Khyami, Director General of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Initial reports said the man was hit several times with a sharp tool, in his southern hometown Jbal al-Batm in Tyre, NNA said. The agency later reported that the man had suffered stab wounds with a knife that was later found thrown underneath a bed in the victim's house. It is worth noting that the Ethiopian housemaid who works for the deceased, has left the house and is regarded as the primary suspect, NNA added. The victim was taken to a hospital in the city.

Fight over Fireworks Injures Man in Ain el-Hilweh
Naharnet/May 29/17/A personal dispute over fireworks that aggravated into an arms fight in the southern Palestinian camp of Ain el-Hilweh left one person injured, the National News Agency reported on Monday. A personal dispute followed by gun shooting erupted in Hay al-Zainab near the vegetable market in al-Tahtani street inside Ain el-Hilweh, NNA said. One person, who was identified by his initials as M.A. and known as Sonbol, was injured after being shot by H.A. following an argument over fireworks, it added.
The victim was taken to a hospital inside the camp.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 29-30/17
Iran leader slams Saudis as America's 'milking cow'
MEE and agencies/Sunday 28 May 2017/Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 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 on Saturday 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 21 May, Saudi Arabia agreed to buy $110bn of US 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.

Iran to Dispatch More Forces to Syria
Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17/London – Following statements by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani on Iran’s readiness to double its military presence in Syria, Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan said on Sunday that the Iranian official’s visit to Moscow comes in the context of “more Iranian-Russian military coordination in Syria.”Shamkhani revealed Iran’s readiness to dispatch more military forces to Syria as a response to US President Donald Trump’s recent statements on Iran’s role in Syria, in shaking stability and in supporting terrorism. He affirmed that Tehran is serious in proceeding in its role in the Syrian crisis and that his country is ready to double its efforts through sending more military forces “to maintain security in the region”. Meanwhile, Dzhagaryan said that Washington objects to the Iranian presence at the Astana negotiations and considers its role as negative in Syria. “Russia does not agree with the US on the Iranian role – which it sees as positive in reaching a resolution for the Syrian crisis. Finding a solution is impossible without Iran,” he added. The ambassador pointed out that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov notified international parties that Moscow opposes excluding Iran from the Syrian negotiations and he affirmed its support of Iran’s participation in the current and future negotiations on Syria.He denied any US-Russian agreement on Kurdish regions in Syria, saying that Russia acknowledges the unity of the Syrian territory and rejects dividing it. “Syria should be one country,” he added. Furthermore, Dzhagaryan stressed the Turkish role in Syrian negotiations, adding that the opposition that boycotted the Astana negotiations is a minority. He also saw that the US, Russia, Turkey and Iran are active players in Syrian negotiations.

Egypt’s Sisi Meets with Russian Defense, Foreign Ministers
Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17 Cairo -Egyptian/ President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday held talks in Cairo with Russia’s foreign and defense ministers on ways to battle “terrorism”, his office said. A statement said the talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu focused on “the struggle against terrorism” and bilateral cooperation. Lavrov earlier discussed the situation in chaos-riddled Libya with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, the foreign ministry in Cairo said.Rival administrations and militias have been fighting for control of oil-rich Libya since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Egypt’s neighbor has also been a breeding and training ground for hardliners, including terror group ISIS. The Cairo talks came after Egypt’s air force on Friday bombed terrorist training camps in eastern Libya. The air strikes were launched hours after masked gunmen shot dead 29 Coptic Christians in central Egypt, in an attack later claimed by ISIS. Forces loyal to east Libya military strongman Khalifa Haftar, which also took part in the strikes, said late Friday’s raids hit a pro-Al-Qaeda group in the Libyan city of Derna. Sisi and his Russian visitors “agreed on the importance of uniting international efforts in the battle against terrorism” and to step up their cooperation to meet that goal, the Egyptian presidency said. A statement said Sisi told the Russian ministers that Cairo wants to bolster “economic, commercial and industrial ties” with Moscow. Monday’s talks also focused on the conflict in Syria. Shoukry praised “Russia’s role in the success of the Astana process” — the talks in Kazakhstan trying to bring about peace in Syria — and said he hoped it would lead to “a total ceasefire”, his office said. Earlier this month, Damascus allies Russia and Iran as well as rebel supporter Turkey signed a deal to create four “de-escalation” zones across some of Syria’s bloodiest battlegrounds. Lavrov also met Arab League head Ahmed Aboul Gheit, with both men stressing the importance of “working seriously to find political solutions to the crises and armed conflicts in the Arab world”, the 22-member bloc said in a statement. The Russian ministers’ visit to Cairo had been planned for weeks as part of regular meetings between the allied countries.

France’s Macron Vows Reprisals against Chemical Weapons Usage in Syria
Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17/The use of chemical weapons in Syria is a red line for France and would result in reprisals, Emmanuel Macron said on Monday during his first meeting as president of France with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.“Any use of chemical weapons would results in reprisals and an immediate riposte, at least where France is concerned,” Macron said at a joint news conference with Putin in which he added that his aim was the fight against terrorism in the country. He said he wanted to work with Putin to that end.The two countries back different sides in the Syrian conflict, with Putin behind regime head Bashar al-Assad and Macron part of a western coalition that supports rebel groups and has accused Assad of using chemical weapons in the past. Macron said he had a frank exchange of views with Putin, and that the two had aired their disagreements on a number of subjects. For his part, Putin said sanctions against Russia will not help stabilize east Ukraine. He also voiced the possibility for improving interaction with France on Syria. Addressing forces present in Syria, Putin added that Russia has no details on how independent France is from the United States on operations in the war-torn country. Towards the end of the meeting Macron said that reopening the French embassy in Syria is not a priority at the moment.

UN: Civilians Struggle with Lack of Food, Medicine in Ongoing Mosul Battle
Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17/The United Nations expressed late on Sunday concern over the humanitarian situation of tens of thousands of civilians still caught behind ISIS lines as US-backed Iraqi government troops launched a new offensive to retake the northern city of Mosul. Up to 200,000 civilians in Mosul’s Old City and three other districts are struggling to get food, water and medicine, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande told Reuters. People who had managed to get out of the militant areas “report a dramatic situation including lack of food, limited water and severe shortages of medicines,” Grande said by phone. “We know that there have been health facilities in these areas, but we don’t know whether they are still functioning.” On Saturday, Iraq’s army said it had launched a new offensive to take the militant zones on the western side of the Tigris river. Progress has been slow, an Iraqi government adviser told Reuters, also late on Sunday. “The fighting is extremely intense … the presence of civilians means we have to be very cautious,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Overnight, planes dropped “thousands of leaflets on the Old Mosul, Al-Zinjili, Al-Shifaa and Al-Saha areas urging citizens to leave toward our security forces,” it said. “We have been informed by authorities that the evacuation is not compulsory … If civilians decide to stay … they will be protected by Iraqi security forces,” said Grande. “People who choose to flee will be directed to safe routes. The location of these will change depending on which areas are under attack and dynamics on the battlefield,” she added. International aid organization Save the Children has said it is “deeply concerned that any calls to leave west Mosul will mean that civilians, particularly children, are in significant danger of being caught in the crossfire.”The latest Iraqi government push is part of a broader offensive in Mosul, now in its eighth month. It has taken longer than planned as the militants are dug in among civilians, retaliating with suicide car and motorbike bombs, booby traps, snipers and mortar fire. Its prime target is the medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque with its landmark leaning minaret in Mosul’s Old City, where ISIS’s black flag has been flying since mid-2014. The fall of Mosul 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 in a speech at the mosque. 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. Meanwhile, in an interview on Sunday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said civilian casualties are inevitable in the war against ISIS, but the United States is doing “everything humanly possible” to avoid them. Interviewed on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program, Mattis said that “civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.”But he quickly added that “we do everything humanly possible, consistent with military necessity, taking many chances to avoid civilian casualties — at all costs.” Some NGOs have blamed the rising civilian death toll on a push by President Donald Trump’s administration to accelerate the pace of combat in an effort to “annihilate” the extremists. But the Pentagon contests both the NGOs’ death counts and the charge that a new sense of urgency under Trump is to blame. “We have not changed the rules of engagement,” Mattis said. “There is no relaxation of our intention to protect the innocent.”

Erdogan to Reshape A-team in AKP
Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17/Ankara- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will chair on Monday the meeting of the Justice and Development Party Central Executive Committee, kicking off his second term as president. The party is expected to witness huge changes in the Central Decision Making and Central Executive Committee. Erdogan was reelected to head the party – which he established in 2001 with his peers – in the Third Extraordinary Congress on May 21 as a first practical application of the presidential regime that was stipulated by virtue of constitutional amendments. These amendments were controversial and garnered a slight majority (51.4%) in the referendum that took place on April 16. In today’s meeting, Erdogan is set to determine his closest aides and deputy leaders in the administration of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), some sources from AKP revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat. Sources added that the coming week is expected to witness a limited ministerial amendment and Erdogan will select from 50 members – elected during the congress on May 21 – the members of the Central Executive Committee. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim will be appointed as the deputy president of the party to replace Erdogan when absent – this is a new position that has been added to the party system.Earlier, Erdogan announced that Turkey has learned its lessons from the failed coup in July 2016 and that it will not allow such a thing to happen again. In a related matter, last Monday Ankara witnessed the commencement of the trial of 221 plotters of the failed coup, on top of them Fethullah Gulen. Among the accused, there are 200 generals and high officers who have formed the “Peace at Home” council.

Algerian Tourism Minister Dismissed Three Days after Being Appointed
Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17/Algeria-Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika sacked his tourism minister on Sunday three days after he was appointed to the post. A statement issued by the presidency did not say why Bouteflika had fired Messaoud Benagoun. Algerian media had criticized Benagoun’s appointment, claiming that the 38-year-old had never had a job before joining the new government that was formed on Thursday. Private television station Enahar claimed Benagoun held a fake university diploma and a crimin Benagoun belongs to the Popular Algerian Movement (MPA) which won 13 seats. On Wednesday, Bouteflika appointed a new prime minister, Abdelmajid Tebboune, replacing his ally Abdelmalek Sellal in the wake of the election, and Tebboune formed his government the following day.

Macron Vows Reprisals if Chemical Weapons Used in Syria
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/May 29/17/France would respond immediately to any use of chemical weapons in Syria, French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday while urging a stepped-up "partnership" with Moscow in fighting the Islamic State group in the country."A very clear red line exists on our side, the use of chemical weapons by whomever," Macron said at a joint news conference in Versailles with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. "Our absolute priority is the fight against terrorism and the eradication of terrorist groups and Daesh in particular," he said, using an alternate name for the Islamic State group. "It's the guiding principle of our action in Syria and in which I want... for us to be able to strengthen our partnership with Russia."The newly elected French leader said he favored "a democratic transition" in Syria that would "preserve the Syrian state." He added that "failed states in the region are a threat to our democracies, and we have seen each time they have enabled terrorist groups to advance."

Iraq Presses Mosul Assault, U.N. Warns of Danger to Civilians
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/May 29/17/Iraqi forces pressed forward Monday with an offensive against jihadist-held areas of Mosul as the United Nations warned of grave danger to civilians in the final stages of the battle. More than seven months into the massive operation to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State group, Iraqi forces have retaken the city's east and large parts of its western side, but the jihadists are putting up tough resistance in areas they still hold. "Our units are continuing to advance... and entered al-Saha al-Oula and al-Zinjili and al-Shifaa neighborhoods and the Republican Hospital," said Joint Operations Command spokesman Yahya Rasool. IS was using "explosives-rigged vehicles and snipers and suicide bombers" to target Iraqi forces, he told AFP. The areas mentioned by Rasool -- which are located north of Mosul's Old City, where IS also still holds significant territory -- are the main targets of the offensive, which was announced on Saturday. The Joint Operations Command also said Monday that Iraqi aircraft had dropped leaflets over Mosul urging residents to leave IS-held areas -- the second time this has been done within the past week. This is the opposite of the strategy Iraqi forces employed in east Mosul, where they urged civilians to stay in their homes, and may encourage even more people to leave. "In the past several weeks, 160,000 civilians have fled, and our expectation is that, because of this order (from the government), we could be seeing a similar number of civilians flee in coming days," Lise Grande, the U.N.'s humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, told AFP. "Altogether, since the start of Mosul, 760,000 civilians have left their homes, and we are looking at the possibility of another 200,000 civilians leaving," she said. Of the 760,000 civilians who have fled, some 150,000 have since returned home, leaving more than 600,000 currently displaced. "We are deeply concerned that right now, in the last final stages of the campaign to retake Mosul, that the civilians... in (IS) areas are probably at graver risk now than at any other stage of the campaign," said Grande. She said that the U.N. estimates there are between 180,000 and 200,000 civilians in jihadist-held areas of Mosul, the majority of them in the Old City area. The area -- a warren of closely spaced buildings and narrow streets -- has posed a significant challenge to Iraqi forces, which have surrounded it with a large number of civilians trapped inside. "The Old City has been blockaded for a while, completely from the south and now our units are present on the north and west," Rasool said. The area's eastern side is bordered by the Tigris River. According to information received by the U.N. from families who have managed to flee, conditions in IS-held Mosul are increasingly dire."We understand that medicines are very scarce, that there are severe shortages of safe drinking water, that there are very limited stocks of food. We also are aware that families which try to escape are often targeted by snipers," Grande said. "You have an enclosed area, you have fighters which are determined to hold out, the civilians are in many ways trapped in that area, there haven't been resupplies into the Old City for months," she said. The battle for Mosul has taken a heavy toll on civilians, pushing hundreds of thousands to flee, while hundreds more have been killed or wounded.IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by U.S.-led air strikes have since regained much of the territory they lost. The recapture of Mosul will not, however, mark the end of the war against IS: the jihadists hold other territory in three Iraqi provinces and are also able to carry out frequent attacks in government-controlled areas. Forces from the Hashed al-Shaabi -- an umbrella organization for pro-government paramilitaries that is dominated by Iran-backed Shiite militias -- are battling the jihadists west of Mosul. In a video released on Monday, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, a senior Hashed leader, said the paramilitary forces had reached the border with Syria.

Cholera in Yemen Threatens Lives of 1.1 Mn Pregnant Women
Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17/Aden-The United Nations has warned of an unprecedented cholera epidemic in Yemen that threatens the lives of 1.1 million malnourished pregnant women. “With some 2,000 suspected cases reported daily, the recent and unprecedented cholera outbreak in Yemen threatens the lives of 1.1 million malnourished pregnant women who need immediate care and reproductive health services,” a statement issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said. Saudi Arabia has earlier launched an eight-million-dollars worth project to fight Cholera in Yemen. A convoy of 20 truckloads was sent from Riyadh last Monday and has medical equipment to treat 50,000 cases of cholera. On the other hand, Vice Minister of Health in Yemen Dr. Abdullah Dahan discussed with Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in a phone call means of providing necessary support to fight Cholera in Taiz and Ibb governorates urgently from Aden and Sana’a. Dahan stressed that the legitimate government is keen to carry out its duties and responsibilities towards Yemenis in all governorates.He pledged to communicate with the organization’s office and take the necessary measures to achieve this goal.

Bahraini Premier: Promising Future Lies ahead for Region
Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17/Manama – Bahraini Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa said that the atmosphere in the region is satisfactory and indicates that a promising future lies ahead for the region regarding security and stability, especially following the successful historic summits hosted recently by Saudi Arabia. PM added that Riyadh summits represented a key phase in the process of serious international action to consolidate security and stability and confront terrorism and extremism. The Prime Minister made the statements during his meeting with senior state officials, trade, economic, intellectual and media personnel. He exchanged with the audience Ramadan greetings and good wishes, praying to Allah to bless Bahrain with lasting security, stability and prosperity. Premier Prince Khalifa stressed the importance of expanding Bahrain’s external investments through the private sector’s entering into economic and investment partnerships to boost various economic development tracks, according to Bahrain News Agency. He affirmed the kingdom’s support to every effort aimed at speeding up the pace of development and international cooperation in the investment and economic fields to fulfill people’s aspirations for more welfare and prosperity. Prince Khalifa stated that it is important to take advantage of the spiritual atmosphere during the holy month of Ramadan to strengthen rapprochement, interaction and ties among members of the Bahraini society. The Premier stressed that the development process and achievements are continuing in all sectors with more resolve and determination to ensure that the citizens enjoy the best services leading to a better future for the nation and its people. He lauded the role of the press and media in enlightening the society and motivating the citizens to be effective elements in the nation’s development and prosperity. During the meeting, the Premier also reviewed latest regional and global developments and stressed the need to ensure a more secure and stable world in which peoples enjoy all requirements of welfare and prosperity.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 29-30/17
Terra Incognita: The myth of ‘American Jewish liberalism’
Seth J. Frantzman/Jerusalem Post/May 29, 2017
The American Jewish community is outwardly liberal in surveys, but like others who claim to be left-wing, that liberalism is often only skin deep.
That American Jews are liberal and left wing is one of the foregone conclusions of anyone who writes about the community. “Jews earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans,” Milton Himmelfarb said decades ago. Beneath the surface however, the liberal badge many American Jews wear on their sleeves may not really reflect reality.
The myth of American Jewish liberal values generally begins with a historical tale. Jews were an ethnic minority when they came to America in large numbers in the late 19th and early 20th century. Some gravitated toward left-leaning socialist ideologies, even anarchism, the kinds of new movements swirling around in central Europe and fleshpots like Odessa. Those who came to America came from the same pool of supporters for the 1905 Revolution in Russia. In America Jews gravitated toward urban environments and the social movements common in them. That meant labor unions and activism, progressive forerunners of social justice movements. The second generation, born in the US and tending towards secularism and assimilation, was active in 1960s civil rights movements. Jews played an outsized role in the Freedom Riders just as their peers did in causes in South Africa, the UK or France.
Now comes the third or fourth generations in the US. They are born into the wealthiest income group in America, with 44% of families making over $100,000 a year, according to a 2016 Pew study. They intermarry at high rates. Asked what it means to be Jewish, most (73%) say “remembering the Holocaust,” leading an ethical life or working for social justice (56%), according a 2013 Pew poll. Sixty-nine percent say they care about Israel. A 2005 AJC study called “Jewish distinctiveness in America” found uniquely high support for abortion and gay rights, and high levels of secularism.
So far, outwardly liberal. A new book by Sara Yael Hirschhorn, City on a hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli settler movement, has shed light on a contradictory side to this “liberalism” by examining the left-leaning American Jews who played a pioneering role in building Jewish communities in the West Bank. She writes that US Jews have been “deploying a liberal rights-based rhetoric that reconciled western universalism with Jewish particularism.” One interviewee who moved to the West Bank told Hirschhorn “it was peace, love and happiness when I first moved here.” Others talked about “equal rights” and “democracy.” They had the “luxury to ignore Arab civil liberties,” the author writes. Harvard University Press noted that the book reveals the settlers “were not messianic zealots or right-wing extremists but idealists engaged in liberal causes.” A 2011 headline about the research claimed that “West Bank residents who move from the US share more ideological roots with MLK [Martin Luther King].” The Atlantic claims the settlers were once “secular hippies.”
We are presented with a fait accompli that these self-defined “liberals” were liberal. But there is a fundamental problem here. How could so many people – Hirschhorn estimates around 60,000 Americans – play such a major role in Israel’s settler movement and have been nurtured on “liberal” values? They fight for civil rights for all in the US, but ignore millions of Palestinians who are their neighbors and who lacked basic voting rights and civil liberties? Maybe the answer is that many never internalized liberal values and like so many who describe themselves as left wing but identify with right-wing values when it suits them, they were never as liberal as they seemed. Saying “I’m a liberal” in the West is like saying “I’m a good person.” So you say “I’m liberal.”
Most of what happens when ostensible liberals do illiberal things is that they have blinders on regarding what is really happening. That is how in 2006 Judith Butler came to describe Hamas and Hezbollah “as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of the global Left.” Butler is Jewish, and here she is turning two radical religious right-wing hate movements into “the Left.” They are not left-wing, and how can anyone who supports them be considered such?
The problem with the self-perception of American Jewish leftism is that when confronted with certain realities, it breaks down. Benjamin Mann at The Forward recently wrote about “How to break Israel’s bond with young American Jews in one easy lesson.” He told a story of young American Jews visiting a kibbutz and being denied access to a Torah scroll because they hold egalitarian prayer services. He described how, if Israel wants American Jewish support, it must also care about catering to certain demands, such as mixed prayer.
But this discussion missed an elephant in the room: If you’re a real liberal, your problem with any kibbutz shouldn’t be the lack of a Torah scroll for egalitarian prayer, but the lack of diversity in general. Israel’s hundreds of kibbutzim and other Jewish rural communities practice official segregation, which often means non-Jews are not allowed to move to them. This often includes segregation among Jews as well, keeping secular and religious Jews segregated, along with Jews of different ethnic backgrounds. Only after long, arduous court cases have a few people won the “right” to move to such segregated communities.
Beyond that elephant is the even larger one of segregated education in Israel. How can anyone seriously talk about liberal values and Martin Luther King when Israel has official segregation in its schools? The fact is that “liberal” American Jews have accepted this segregation since 1948. The pro-Israel American Jewish Left even see in pre-1967 Israel a kind of “social justice” utopia. A utopia that had curfews for Arab citizens?
One reason for the disconnect between outwardly liberal American Jews and illiberal ideas is the intersection between particularism and universalism. The popular concepts of “Tikkun Olam” and “light unto the nations,” which are themes for social activism in liberal Jewish circles, sometimes make people feel superior. What does it really mean to “fix the world” and be a “light” unto other countries? It’s a kind of manifest destiny and “civilizing mission.” Isn’t a more healthy relationship with the world not to want to be a “light unto them,” but rather to be equal to them? Isn’t it more healthy not to want to “fix” them, but rather to work with them? There’s something strange about seeing people volunteer with African refugees and believe they are “fixing the world.” Maybe the refugee doesn’t want to be fixed, or play a role in boosting someone’s self-esteem? These terms are problematic.
Why did people go on the freedom rides to the American South? Was it because they felt superior and were trying to burnish their “good deed” credentials, or was it because of a passionate belief in civil rights? It was probably the latter. But that has morphed into something else. One can argue the rights of Jewish people to live in the West Bank, but one cannot seriously see Jewish communities in the West Bank as involved in anything liberal. If you want the West Bank to be something liberal, then equal rights should have been granted to the Arabs first and then an equal process of allowing Jews to purchase land there should have followed. You can’t allow one group to have more rights for 50 years and pretend you’re doing anything “liberal.” The fact that the US Jewish community produced a disproportionate number of people wanting to “pioneer” in the West Bank can’t be wrapped inside a liberal ideology.
That doesn’t mean the US Jewish community hasn’t produced large numbers of genuine liberals. It has.
Peter Beinart wrote in 2010 that “the Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at Zionism’s door.” The reality is it didn’t have to ask them to do that – many willingly checked their liberalism at the door, while at the same time maintaining liberal pretensions. The fact is the American Jewish community is outwardly liberal in surveys, but like others who claim to be left wing, that liberalism is often only skin deep. That is why it so easily created tens of thousands of nationalist Jews who went to the West Bank not as liberals, but as muscular Zionists.

Israel conducts 'experimental' rocket test over heart of the country
Anna Ahronheim/Jerusalem Post/May 29/17
The Defense Ministry said Monday that it conducted a successful experimental test of its rocket propulsion system from a military base located in the center of Israel.
Images shared on social media showed a projectile streaking through the sky.
Israel has a multi-layered aerial defense system, which includes the Iron Dome, Arrow and David’s Sling, and missile system tests such as these are not uncommon. Rocket propulsion systems are designed to launch large systems such as satellites, ballistic missiles and large ground to air missiles.
The launching, conducted in the early morning hours, was planned in advance and carried out as planned. There was no comment on whether or not the test was successful nor what system was tested but some speculated that it may be the surface-to-surface Jericho 3, an intercontinental ballistic missile which according to foreign reports can support a nuclear payload.
In 2013, foreign media outlets reported that the Defense Ministry carried out a test launch of a rocket propulsion system as part of the development of the Jericho ballistic missile, speculating that the missile had a range of 4,000km. Israel has since been continuously trying to improve the system, both in terms of range and accuracy and it is now reported to have a range of over 10,000km.
Others speculated that it was a testing of the Arrow system designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside of the earth’s atmosphere. The Israel Air Force officially received the Arrow-3 interceptors from the Israel Missile Defense Organization in January and according to IMDO Director Moshe Patel, further trials of the system were expected as Israel will continue to work with the United States in developing additional capabilities for the system.
In 2015 during the testing of advanced version of the system the Ministry of Defense announced that one of the tests had failed and another had been called off at the last moment. The first use of the Arrow system occurred in April when the system was launched to intercept a Syrian regime air defense fired three surface-to-air missiles towards IAF jets.
Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets and the Arrow system which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The David’s Sling missile defense system is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired at ranges between 40 to 300km.
The advanced systems provide Israel will a comprehensive protective umbrella able to counter threats posed by both short and mid-range missiles used by terror groups in Gaza and Hezbollah as well as the threat posed by more sophisticated long-range Iranian ballistic missiles.
Alongside the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed by world powers aimed to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that “called upon [Iran] not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Nonetheless Tehran has since carried out multiple ballistic missile tests and Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps airspace program, was quoted by the semi-official Fars News agency as saying that Iran would continue its ballistic missile program despite international criticism.
Israel and the United States remain concerned that Iran has continued to work on its nuclear program and last week the IRGC said that it had established a third underground ballistic missile production facility in southwestern Iran.

TV Host Nadine Al-Budair: Saudi Men Say Women Are Diamonds But Treat Them As Cheap Stones
The Middle East Media Research Institute May 29/17
Saudi TV host Nadine Al-Budair talked about the contradictions in Arab society regarding attitudes toward women, saying that men prevent women from stepping out of their homes out of fear for their wellbeing, but "violently rape, burn, and kill their women at home." Al-Budair, speaking on her Khalijiyya TV show on May 7, blamed the curricula and the religious establishment and culture for double standards toward women and said that "the situation of Arab women is in terrifying decline."
Nadine Al-Budair:"I dedicate this show to all the people who swear hundreds of times that women in our society live as protected diamonds and hidden pearls.
"Women are not diamonds, pearls, or precious stones of any kind. Some people treat women as stones - stones of the cheapest kind. Our society is full of contradictions, and people talk about their fear for the wellbeing of women. They oppose women going to work, being around men, or taking part in the (country's) progress - all of this under the pretext of fear for the wellbeing of women. These people oppose women showing their faces, and they declare war against freedom, and against any manifestation of women's liberation. They claim that Saudi women live in their homes among soft feathers, and that it is their husband's duty to serve them and accommodate their demands.
"Nobody can understand these contradictions. Some people are very extreme in their position on women's issues, and they prevent women from stepping out of their homes, because they fear for them of who they call 'the wolves out there,' the men who might rape them, attack them, or act violently toward them.
"At the same time, they themselves violently rape, burn, and kill their women at home. So this is more likely about hatred (of women) than about fear for their wellbeing.
"The cause might be our school curricula. The Arab curricula - not just in Saudi Arabia - heavily discriminate against women. These curricula might be the reason women are looked down upon. In these curricula, women are portrayed entirely differently than men. The woman cooks, wears only the kind of clothes you wear at home, always at home, cooking, sweeping the floor, and cleaning... The woman is portrayed as a servant at home.
"The man, in contrast, is a brave soldier, defending and saving his country, a builder, a plumber, a carpenter, an engineer, a doctor - a person of value. Perhaps the curricula instill in boys a sense of superiority, which grows with them, because the curricula teach them that girls are creatures whose goal is to serve them.
"I can also trace it back to the religious culture upon which we were raised in our society. When Sheikh So-and-So - any random sheikh - tells you that women are the reason that you will go to Hell, it is only natural for you to hate them. You may like women's bodies, but you hate them inside. Sheikhs offer mitigating explanations for all your sins and crimes against women - all the way to the sin of rape - and the woman is blamed for being the cause for sexual harassment and assault, and the cause for any crime against her honor and her reputation...
"And then the criminal emerges from his crime - even if it is a crime of physical assault - as if nothing ever happened. On the contrary, society and the religious establishment pity the poor criminal, because the victim is viewed as the real criminal. She is the one who needs to be punished. The victim is viewed as the cause for the crime, and there have been many cases in which a raped woman was punished. Women who were sexually harassed and assaulted were later punished.
"Take a look at the Arab world map. In Iraq, women are raped, killed, and bought and sold in slave markets. In Yemen, you have early marriages. In Egypt, 27 million women undergo circumcision. In Saudi Arabia, women are oppressed. In Jordan, there are honor killings. The situation of Arab women is in terrifying decline. Even though the Arab revolutions toppled some regimes, they failed to find freedom. Instead, they have found terrorism, and once again, women and children are required to pay the price.
"The woman is where the man turns to vent his anger. They are murdered and their bodies are burned and dragged on the ground, in the name of false honor."

Palestinians: Abbas Immediately Breaks Promises to Trump
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/May 29/17
Less than 24 hours after the Abbas-Trump meeting in Bethlehem, in which Abbas promised Trump and his representative, Jason Greenblatt, to cease all forms of incitement against Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) government in Ramallah resumed its vicious rhetorical attacks on Israel.
The Palestinian denial of Jewish ties and history to the land also continues full blast, despite Abbas's pledge to Trump that Palestinians are not in conflict with Jews or Judaism.
Hard on the heels of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's assurances to US President Donald Trump that he is raising Palestinians on a "culture of peace," he continues to glorify terrorists who have Jewish blood on their hands.
Abbas, who met with Trump in Bethlehem on May 23, told reporters that he was committed to working with the new US administration to achieve a "historic peace deal with Israel." Abbas also announced his readiness to become a "partner in the war on terrorism in our region and the world." He claimed that he and his Palestinian Authority have been promoting "tolerance and coexistence, and spreading a culture of peace and renouncing violence."
US President Donald Trump talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on May 23, 2017 in Bethlehem. (Photo by PPO via Getty Images)
Abbas's sweet talk, however, did not last long. Just hours after Trump left the region, Abbas and his PA returned to their anti-Israel incitement. This stands in blinding contrast to what Abbas told Trump and his Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, with whom Abbas met 48 hours after his get-together with Trump in Bethlehem.
At a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah on May 25, Abbas described Palestinian prisoners held by Israel as "heroes."
His remarks came in response to the hunger strike of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are serving lengthy terms for murdering or wounding hundreds of Israelis. The hunger strike, which began on April 17, is led by Marwan Barghouti, a senior official with Abbas's Fatah faction who is serving five life terms in prison for his role in a spate of terror attacks that killed five Israelis during the Second Intifada (2000-2005).
Referring to the convicted terrorists as "our heroes," Abbas lashed out at the Israeli government for its refusal to surrender to the demands of the hunger strikers.
"We will stand with them and support them," Abbas said, referring to the convicted terrorists. "We will emerge triumphant and we won't allow [Israel] to defeat or humiliate the prisoners."
Abbas's powerful message flies in the face of his promise to Trump and his representative, Jason Greenblatt, to cease all forms of incitement against Israel.
By describing the convicted terrorists as "heroes," Abbas is in fact sending a message to all Palestinians that murdering Jews is a noble and heroic act.
Such rhetoric prompts Palestinians to launch terror attacks against Israelis. It is a clear call by Abbas for Palestinians to follow in the footsteps of terrorists and murderers.
Is this Abbas's way of promoting a "culture of peace" among his people? Is this his version of encouraging Palestinians to renounce violence?
Less than 24 hours after the Abbas-Trump meeting in Bethlehem, in which he promised Trump and envoy Jason Greenblatt to cease all forms of incitement against Israel, the PA government in Ramallah resumed its vicious rhetorical attacks on Israel.
The attacks came in response to celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem. They also came in response to routine and peaceful visits by Jews to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
In a statement issued by the Palestinian Authority on May 24 that is reminiscent of a medieval blood libel against Jews, Israel was accused of perpetrating "black crimes" against Jerusalem and Palestinians and of defiling Islamic holy sites in the city.
It described the Jews visiting the Temple Mount as "extremist settlers" and falsely claimed that they were deliberately targeting the Al-Aqsa Mosque (on the Temple Mount). In fact, Jewish visitors never enter the mosque.
It is precisely this kind of rhetoric that drives Palestinians to launch knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis. For the past year and a half, Abbas and his PA officials and institutions have been waging a poisonous campaign of incitement surrounding peaceful, permitted Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. The incitement has resulted in a wave of terror attacks against Israelis. How does this fit in with promoting peace?
Abbas's prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, both before and after the meeting with Trump, has also joined the chorus of glorifying convicted terrorists.
In a statement on May 25, Hamdallah, who is often referred to by Westerners as a moderate and pragmatist, stated: "We salute the legendary steadfastness displayed by the knights of freedom, our heroic prisoners."
Like his boss, Abbas, Hamdallah also strongly condemned the Israeli government for failing to comply with the hunger strikers' demands, which include increased family visitations, allowing inmates to have a photograph with their families every three months, installing more TV channels and air conditioning in their cells, and increased access to university studies.
Hamdallah and Abbas are sending precisely the same message to the Palestinians: if you murder a Jew, you earn the title of "knight of freedom." In other words, Hamdallah, too, is urging Palestinians to engage in acts of violence against Israelis.
One wonders exactly how Abbas and his officials will explain these statements to Trump and the U.S. Administration.
Experience has shown that the glorification of terrorism and jihad (holy war) only serves to encourage more Palestinians to take to the streets and stab or run over with their cars the first Jew they see.
The Palestinian denial of Jewish ties and history to the land also continues full blast, despite Abbas's pledge to Trump that Palestinians are not in conflict with Jews or Judaism.
Hours after Trump left the region, Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, issued a statement that pointedly ignored any Jewish links to the land. "East Jerusalem, with its Islamic and Christian holy sites, will remain the eternal capital of the State of Palestine," Abu Rudaineh announced. Note his deliberate omission of any reference to Jewish holy sites in the city.
This is neither a slip of the tongue nor a poorly-worded statement on the part of Abbas's spokesman. Rather, it is an intentional denial of Jewish rights to Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, which Palestinians refer to as an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and claim has no significance to Jews. This has always been part of the Palestinian strategy -- to deny Jewish rights and to delegitimize Israel.
Like his boss, Abbas, however, Abu Rudaineh seems to have a good sense of humor. He has called on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to "stop his daily incitement against Palestinians and their leaders." And what is the content of Netanyahu's "incitement"? His statement that a united Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel.
In the view of Abbas's spokesperson, such a statement is clear "incitement" -- not the glorification of terrorists, not the incendiary anti-Israel rhetoric and not the continued denial of Jewish history and rights.
President Trump's visit to Israel proved to be yet another opportunity for Abbas and his Palestinian Authority to practice once again their skills of deceit and deception. In English, everything sounds great. In Arabic, however, the messages sent by Abbas to his people take on the unmistakable ring of hate.
*Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.
© 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.

Sharia Down Under
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/May 29/17
Sharia law, the president at the time of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils ludicrously argued, far from discriminating against women, "guarantees women's rights that are not recognised in mainstream Australian courts".
The Australian Federal Police investigated 69 incidents of forced or under-age marriage in the 2015-16 financial year, up from 33 the previous year. While there are no official numbers, it is estimated that there are 83,000 women and girls in Australia who may have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which has spent the past four years probing numerous religious organizations, has made no inquiries into Islam. The commission has held 6,500 one-on-one private interview sessions with survivors or witnesses making allegations of child sexual abuse within institutions, but only three sessions in relation to Islamic institutions.
What legacy did Australia's former Grand Mufti, Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali -- named "Muslim Man of the Year" in 2005 and the country's most senior, longest-serving (1988-2007) Muslim cleric -- leave behind?
In 1988, when Hilali was imam of the largest mosque in Australia, he gave a speech at Sydney University in which he described Jews as the cause of all wars and the existential enemy of humanity.
In July 2006, he called the Holocaust a "Zionist lie" and referred to Israel as a "cancer".
In October 2006 -- insinuating that the long prison sentences handed to Sydney's Lebanese gang-rapists for attacking young teenage girls in the year 2000, were unfair -- he compared Australian women who do not wear the Islamic veil to meat left uncovered in the streets and then eaten by cats. During his long career, Hilali also praised suicide bombers as heroes and called the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States "God′s work against oppressors" and "the work of 100 percent American gangs".
At the time, Hilali's principal adviser and spokesperson, Keysar Trad, wrote, "The criminal dregs of white society colonised this country and... the descendants of these criminal dregs tell us that they are better than us." Trad subsequently served as president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils -- the national umbrella organization, which represents Australian Muslims at national and international level -- from July 2016 until May 2017.
According to Australian senator Cory Bernardi:
"In 2009, the New South Wales Supreme Court found that Mr. Trad 'incites people to commit acts of violence', 'incites people to have racist attitudes' and is a 'dangerous and disgraceful individual'... When talking about the gang rape of young women in Sydney by a group of Lebanese men... Mr. Trad ... described these types of perpetrators as 'stupid young boys'... Mr. Trad did not condemn Sheikh Hilali's disgraceful comments about women being 'uncovered meat' in a speech about rape. Instead Mr. Trad chose to defend that speech and the sheikh's comments".
In February, Trad told Sky News presenter Andrew Bolt that an angry husband can beat his wife as "a last resort" but should only use his fists against her once he sees that "counselling" -- chocolate and flowers, according to Trad -- does not work.
Trad also called for the introduction of polygamy in Australia. He said that taking a second wife was "an alternative to divorce", as, "in our religion, god hates divorce".
Recently, in May 2017, after an emergency election, Rateb Jneid replaced Trad as president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.
Since 2011, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, who does not speak English and relies on translators, has been the Grand Mufti of Australia. In 1995, before moving to the West, Abu Mohamed wrote:
"The West does not bring to us any good, all they bring are their diseases, their designs and their shortcomings... They insist to impose on us their corrupt values, and their philosophy and mannerism, the very things which brought disease, fear, crime and stress to them, the very things which severed ties and broke relationships."
According to the Daily Telegraph:
The Grand Mufti's views were also laid bare... with the release of details of a book he wrote saying non-Muslims wanted their women to walk around 'exposed as a piece of sweet pastry ... ­devoured by the eyes of men'".
In December 2012, Abu Mohamed led an Australian delegation of Muslim scholars to the Gaza Strip, where they met senior Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh. Abu Mohamed told local news agencies:
"I am pleased to stand on the land of jihad to learn from its sons and I have the honor to be among the people of Gaza, where the weakness always becomes strength, the few becomes many and the humiliation turns into pride".
In 2013, Grand Mufti Abu Mohamed visited sheikh Yusuf al-Qara­dawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Qatar. Qaradawi advocates suicide bombings; has urged the world's Muslims to fight in Syria and has said that killing people who leave Islam is essential, as Islam would otherwise disappear.
After the Paris attacks in November 2015, Abu Mohamed implied that the ISIS atrocities were partly caused by "Islamophobia", saying:
"It is... imperative that all causative factors such as racism, Islamophobia, curtailing freedoms through securitisation, duplicitous foreign policies and military intervention must be comprehensively addressed."
With Muslim leaders such as former Grand Mufti Hilali, former president of the Association of Muslim Councils, Kayser Trad, and current Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, it should hardly come as a surprise that sharia -- and indeed jihad -- have made significant inroads in Australia. In 2011, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils sent a submission to the Federal Parliament's Committee on Multicultural Affairs, asking for Muslims to be able to marry, divorce and conduct financial transactions under the principles of sharia law. Sharia law, the president at the time of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils ludicrously argued, far from discriminating against women, "guarantees women's rights that are not recognised in mainstream Australian courts".
Although polygamy is illegal in Australia, a study in 2011 found that, "Valid Muslim polygynist marriages, lawfully entered into overseas, are recognized, with second and third wives and their children able to claim welfare and other benefits". When former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for action after learning about the issue, he was told that it would cost more to pay the wives the single parent benefit. Centrelink, the Australian authority responsible for welfare and other benefits, said that it did not hold data based on polygamous relationships or religion, and that Islamic marriages are not registered. The problem of unregistered Islamic marriages and social welfare fraud is a familiar issue in Europe.
Last year, a 14-year-old Melbourne girl was forced to marry Mohammad Shakir, 34, in a ceremony at a Victoria mosque. In March, Shakir pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of forced-marriage. Ibrahim Omerdic, the Melbourne imam who performed the Islamic wedding ceremony, is also due to appear in court on criminal charges.
Muslim Australian girls, some allegedly as young as nine, have also been taken overseas, or are being threatened with it, and forced to become child brides. A nine-year-old girl reported that she would be taken to Afghanistan to marry, while others were told they would be forced to marry cousins of their parents when they turned 13. In 2012, a 16-year old refugee girl from Afghanistan was flown to Pakistan for a "family holiday" and forced to marry a man she had never met.
The Australian Federal Police investigated 69 incidents of forced or under-age marriage in the 2015-16 financial year, up from 33 the previous year. In the 2013-14 financial year, only 11 cases were investigated. Government agencies are said to consider the figure of 69 potential recent cases the tip of the iceberg, with many girls "too fearful to contact police". A government child-welfare hotline has received more than 70 calls for help in the past two years, mainly from concerned teachers, counsellors and school principals. Forced marriage was criminalized in March 2013 in Australia. However, the law is not retroactive and marriages entered into prior to the law are beyond the authorities' jurisdiction, meaning those girls are almost certainly lost.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is another Islamic practice that has recently come to public notice in Australia. In March 2016, three people, among them the mother and a Muslim cleric, were sentenced in Sydney for their role in the female genital mutilation of two seven-year-old sisters. While there are no official numbers, it is estimated that there are 83,000 women and girls in Australia who may have been subjected to FGM. 1,100 girls are born every year to women who may have had FGM, which means that their daughters are also at risk of being subject to FGM.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which has spent the past four years probing numerous religious organizations, including Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses and obscure cults numbering a negligible amount of members, such as new age ashrams, has made no inquiries into Islam. The commission has held 6,500 one-on-one private interview sessions with survivors or witnesses making allegations of child sexual abuse within institutions, but only three sessions in relation to Islamic institutions.
Four Islamic terrorist attacks, including the Lindt Café siege in Sydney in December 2014, in which the manager and a mother of three were killed, have taken place in Australia. Eleven attacks have been foiled, including planned public beheadings. This statistic does not include the January 2017 car-ramming in Melbourne. The driver, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, murdered six people, including children, and wounded 20 others, when he plowed his car into pedestrians. Even though a witness claimed that Gargasoulas was shouting "Allahu Akbar", police refused to treat the event as a terrorist attack and even allegedly told a reporter to remove her interview with the witness from the internet. Gargasoulas had apparently converted to Islam prior to the attack and told the judge in a subsequent court hearing, "Your Honour, did you know the Muslim faith is the correct faith according to the whole world?"
Recently, Australia adopted stricter vetting rules for immigrants to avoid admitting those who harbor hostile Islamic views. Evidently, this measure comes several decades too late: Those who harbor hostile Islamic views were let in a long time ago. Now, what will Australia do about those who are there?
*Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Why European Experts are Under Attack?
Justin Fox/Bloomberg/May 29/17
Across the Western world, the elite and the experts are under attack. This is especially true of economic experts, whose credibility took a deserved beating during and after the global financial crisis.
France is no exception to this tendency. In the first round of the country’s presidential elections in May, 45 percent of the vote went to anti-establishment candidates 1 — just shy of the 46 percent of the popular vote that Donald Trump got in the US.
Yet France is now led by not a populist but by President Emmanuel Macron, a polished, centrist product of elite educational institutions, the civil service and Rothschild & Co. who was the country’s economy minister from August 2014 to August 2016.
Macron’s new En Marche! party is rapidly gaining ground in the polls for next month’s legislative elections, giving him the strong prospect of taking full control of the government over the summer. If that happens, or even if he has to build a coalition with the center-right, Macron will then push for a set of expert-designed economic reforms aimed at getting France out of its long economic funk.
This is, first of all, an object lesson in how different electoral systems can process similar public attitudes into dramatically different political results. It is also going to be a fascinating test of whether those elite experts can actually get something right.
I’m guessing that in France they probably will — in large part because the conditions are so ripe. For the past few years, the country has been a leading candidate for the venerable title of “sick man of Europe.” Economic growth has been excruciatingly slow, unemployment stubbornly high. Yet some key fundamentals are strong: French workers are among the most productive in the world, with output per worker trailing only the U.S. among major economies. And, in sharp contrast to the situation in neighboring Germany, Italy and Spain, France’s working-age population is actually expected to grow over the next few decades.
The basic problem is that France hasn’t been putting enough of its people to work.
The standard economic-expert explanations for this (the European Commission issued a useful roundup earlier this week) are that French labor markets are too rigid, there’s too little competition in the economy, and taxes on business and labor are too high. During his stint as economy minister, Macron pushed for reforms aimed at fixing some of these problems, with limited success. Now he’s president, elected on a platform of reform. Presumably that means he’ll get further this time.
How much further he’ll get is of course the big question — France is notoriously resistant to market-oriented reforms. But while in past decades such efforts could be derided as forays into Anglo-Saxon cowboy capitalism, the models Macron can point to these days tend to be Teutonic or Nordic. The continental European countries to France’s north all have strong labor unions, well-developed welfare states, and usually some kind of job security for workers — and (with the exception of Belgium) they’ve all been doing a much better job of putting people to work in recent years than either France or the U.S. has. The keys seem to be flexibility and a focus on investing in the future instead of trying to preserve the status quo.
Again, it seems a tall order to think France can suddenly become as nimble as Denmark or Sweden. But it probably doesn’t have to. As is apparent in the above chart, France actually had a pretty healthy prime-age employment-to-population ratio at the time of the financial crisis. But the aftermath, and the drawn-out euro crisis, hit France especially hard. Now most signs are that those headwinds are easing and French economic growth is beginning, fitfully, to accelerate. In other words, Macron may turn out to be quite lucky in his timing. Cutting back on job protections would be less of a political minefield if companies are hiring, and growth would make it appear that his reforms are succeeding even before they really start having an effect.
There are two deeper labor market problems that seem harder to fix but could drive growth for years if Macron and his experts can find solutions. One is the large number of immigrants who are disconnected from the French job market. The employment gap between native-born and foreign-born is bigger in France than almost anywhere else in Europe. There’s no reason this has to be the case — in the U.S., immigrants are more likely to be employed than the native-born — but bringing more immigrants into the workforce could require big changes in labor-market regulation, vocational training programs and attitude.
The other issue is the huge number of educated, ambitious French people who have sought their fortunes elsewhere during the past two decades. As Philip Delves Broughton put it in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month:
Some time after the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994, during the long drear of the Jacques Chirac years, they began to leave. All those graduates of Paris’s famed lycées, Henri IV and Stanislas, and the products of its vaunted grandes écoles looked at what France had to offer and hoofed it, some for New York, a few for Silicon Valley, and a great thundering herd for London.
With Brexit, London is likely to become a tougher place for French nationals to make a living. The U.S. has recently become less welcoming to immigrants as well. Which means this is a moment of opportunity. French authorities are already working hard to persuade financial firms to move operations to Paris — an effort that was assisted greatly by Macron’s election victory. Reversing the brain drain will be tough, but even just slowing it would be a huge victory. A few tax cuts here, a few signs of momentum there, and maybe the tide could start to turn.

A New Yalta and the Revival of Europe
Roger Cohen/The New York Times/May 29/17
PARIS — In the end the French election turned on the most unlikely of subjects: Europe. Yes, the ugly European duckling of 2016 politics — rejected by Britain, mocked by President Trump — ushered Emmanuel Macron into the Élysée Palace as France’s youngest president.
Macron, throughout his campaign, was strong in his support of the European Union and its shared currency, the euro. That was risky; identification with the European Union hardly seemed a winning ticket. But it was precisely on the euro and the union that Marine Le Pen, the rightist candidate of the National Front, committed public political suicide.
In the final TV debate, days before this month’s vote, she babbled and blundered for minutes on end about Europe and its currency. It was, as Macron put it, “du n’importe quoi” — roughly meaningless garbage. And it was garbage that touched the French in a very sensitive area: their pocketbooks.
The French, unlike Americans, don’t talk about money but they think about it as much as anyone else.
Le Pen confused the euro and the ECU (a basket of European currencies once used as a unit of account); she seemed to think Britain had been in the euro and made the wild claim that Brexit had sent the British economy skyrocketing; she blabbered about the coexistence of a restored franc for French people and a euro for big companies; she appeared to decree that other nations would leave the euro at the same time as her France. She accused Macron of “submission to European federalism.”
The retort was swift. It was also devastating because the French, it turns out, are attached to the euro. Macron said the value of people’s savings would plunge 20 to 30 percent the day after a return to the franc. He asked how anyone from the producer of Cantal cheese to Airbus — small or large enterprises fully integrated in the European economy — would function once compelled to do their foreign transactions in euros and pay their employees’ salaries in francs. He predicted the return of capital controls as people rushed to get money out of the country.
Le Pen gaped at him, laughed inappropriately, fired increasingly wild and unrelated salvos, and generally seemed on the verge of total meltdown. It was the end. Europe had killed her. For any Europhile, and I proudly wear that badge, it was the sweetest of moments after a rough passage.
Le Pen had made a serious miscalculation. France, where the blue-and-gold European flag adorns many public buildings, is not Britain. It is a founding member of the European Union; the union still defines in many ways the aspirations of postwar France. As Jacques Rupnik, a political scientist, put it to me, “For Germany, the union was redemption. For France, it was ambition by other means after the World War II humiliation and decolonization.”
The Franco-German couple ran into trouble after the end of the Cold War because its balance was lost in German unification, but the shared commitment to the European idea remains fundamental to both countries. Suddenly that idea is recovering luster because Brexit has focused minds and because of what the French call the threat of “a new Yalta.”
In an interview with Le Monde, Jean-Louis Bourlanges, a former member of the European Parliament, defined this 21st-century Yalta as “a Russian-American couple that does not hide its hostility to the union and to the independence of Europeans.” Trump, in his first visit as president to Europe, will face the widespread perception that he loves every dictator he meets but has a hard time with a European democratic leader, like Germany’s Angela Merkel. This in turn has inspired a sense that an opening exists for Europe to lead the free world in the defense of its values because America under Trump has abdicated that role.
Merkel is the favorite to win the German election in September. A Macron-Merkel duo could be formidable. They will have to deliver in several areas if Europe is to seize this moment. The first is security: the European Union needs effective external borders. The second is fiscal: the euro in the long run can only function with fiscal consolidation. The third is growth: Europe is already stirring from stagnation but needs to create more jobs, and for that Macron’s planned labor-market reforms will be important. The fourth is solidarity: the free ride of countries like Hungary and Poland that benefit from vast European Union financial transfers but flout European values through their growing autocratic tendencies must be stopped. It’s simple: no free money without a free press and an independent judiciary.
Macron and Merkel are both passionate Europeans (as is the Social Democratic contender in Germany, Martin Schulz). Putin’s threats, Trump’s valueless American foreign policy, and Britain’s small-mindedness — alongside an economic recovery that is gathering steam — have created a unique opportunity to rekindle the dream of a federalizing Europe. It could be that 2017 will be the year of Europe.

Qatar and The Role that was
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17
I tried to understand the new crisis in Qatari-Saudi relations, which is also one in Qatari-Gulf relations. Based on a logical calculation, Qatar has an interest in being a natural and effective member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Developments over the past two years have suggested that the country has reconsidered policies based on the endorsement of disputes, trouble-making and moving against the current. It is not surprising to see a state seeking to expand and promote its role, especially if it has a strong media and finances that allow it to influence stances, countries and the public opinion. States can sometimes resemble individuals to a large extent. They get caught up by dreams to an extent that they may fall into illusions. They become attached to the major role that they are playing, even if the circumstances of such a role changed. Since the present cannot be separated from the recent past, I decided to skim through my papers and review what I heard or published.When the revolution broke out in Libya, I was engaged, as a journalist, in collecting stories on the long era of Maammar Gadhafi, and met a number of people who accompanied him from the early beginnings until the outbreak of the conflict, whether in his tent, his government, or in the Libyan Revolutionary Command Council.
The following are excerpts from a long interview that I conducted in February 2014 with former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, which was published in sequences in “Al-Hayat” newspaper. Jibril said that Qatar, which provided the Libyan revolution with cash and weapons, has been betting from the beginning on political Islam and has exerted exceptional efforts to appoint Abdul Hakim Belhaj as the commander of Libyan revolutionists. Belhaj is the former “emir” of the Libyan Islamic militant group. He has fought in Afghanistan and was arrested by the Americans, who handed him over to Gadhafi. He remained in jail until 2010. Jibril stressed that Qatar has intentionally delayed the eruption of the revolution in Tripoli to wait for Belhaj’s arrival to the Libyan capital in order to be crowned as the coup leader. The former prime minister added that he had to leave a bilateral meeting with then Qatari Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim, because the latter was too busy watching the arrival of Belhaj to Bab al-Azizia barracks in Tripoli, which was broadcast by “Al-Jazeera”. Jibril also recounted a very significant story. He said that a friends of Libya conference was held in Paris in September 2011. The meeting ended with a joint press conference, with the participation of Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, Jibril and Mustafa Abdel Jalil.
Jibril said: “One of the journalists asked me: Now that the regime has collapsed, what will you do with the existing weapons? I replied that we had a plan for Tripoli’s stability and for collecting and buying the weapons. The Qatari emir interrupted me in front of everyone and said: ‘Revolutionaries never lay down their arms. Revolutionaries are the ones who enjoy legitimacy’. That was of course embarrassing and strange.”The following is another important issue. In the last week of March 2009, I conducted an interview with President Ali Abdullah Saleh, two days before his departure to Doha to participate in the Arab Summit. Saleh said: “The Qatari mediation is over. Unfortunately, they are encouraging the Houthis to go far and consider themselves as the State’s opponents. This has been one of the negative aspects into which the Yemeni government has fallen.”
Circumstances that allowed Qatar to assume the abovementioned role have changed. This role is no longer possible. The Syrian war is raging, along with tensions between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites. Donald Trump’s America is not similar to Barack Obama’s America. Its priorities in the region are widely different. Trump’s speech in Riyadh is different from Obama’s address in Cairo. Washington is no longer counting on containing al-Qaeda by facilitating the arrival of “moderate Islamists” to power. “The Brotherhood” is no longer a possible of acceptable choice. Qatar is no longer able to have a mediatory role in this regard.The Trump Administration’s stance towards Iran is also clear. It does not consider the nuclear deal with Tehran as an exceptional US gain. The Trump Administration calls for isolating Iran and condemns its policies in the region, in particular in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. In order to accept the “Russia solution” in Syria, the US requires Moscow to curb Iran’s influence and to end the role of Iranian-backed militias. In this context, there is no room for a Qatari mediation.
The regional landscape has changed. The summits held in Riyadh have highlighted the stance of the Arab and Muslim majority towards terrorism, extremism and Iran’s destabilizing policies. Saudi-US relations have taken a new different path. Egypt has changed, as well as Yemen.
It is not easy for a country to accept that what was achievable before is no longer possible now. Its stubbornness reminds us sometimes of a person’s attachment to an old photo. What is certain is that Qatar’s relations with its natural environment will never be normal and stable again, unless the Arab state thoroughly reconsiders its stances and acknowledges that its old role has become unachievable and that it has a real interest to return to the limits of a normal role in the region.
*Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Zakaria, Zarif and Saudi Arabia
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/May 29/17
On two consecutive days, two articles which pretty much share same ideas, were published criticizing US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia – claiming it is the “country of extremism and terrorism”. Journalist and author Fareed Zakaria repeated what he always said in his articles and television program when he defended former President Barack Obama’s policy of rapprochement with Iran at the expense of relations with Saudi Arabia. He wrote that in a column published in the Washington Post. With a logic similar to Zakaria’s, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote an article that was published in the New York Times. No on can deny that it is natural for the Iranian foreign minister to defend his country and justify its bloody and extremist policies adopted since Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. It’s his job to do so. As for Zakaria, it suffices that most of those who praised his article are Iranian media outlets in the region. They both mocked Trump’s visit and the Islamic summit while ignoring the significance of the attendance of more than 50 leaders from Muslim countries. In fact, all Islamic governments actually responded to Saudi Arabia’s invitation except two countries: Iran and Syria. There’s no surprise here. All Muslim leaders went to the Saudi kingdom to confirm their rejection of accusing Islam and Islamists of the evil practices by lawless organizations. They showed their willingness to cooperate with the US in combating terrorism and extremism. The event in Riyadh is a semi-consensus of Islamic countries to support Saudi Arabia in its project to bridge the gap with the West and prevent generalizations that lead to cultural and religious conflicts – the latter are exactly what extremists want and wish for. This is Saudi Arabia’s idea and project, so what exactly is angering Iran and writers who support it? Like Zarif, Zakaria did not like the fact that the current US administration decided to cooperate with Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, to combat terrorism. They tried to focus on the idea that Saudi Arabia follows a conservative school of Islam and interpreted this by concluding that Saudi Arabia is responsible for religious and politicized extremism and terrorism. This is a distortion of the facts. Religious and social extremism is present in all religions and not just in Islam, and in fact it exits in Saudi Arabia. However, religious political extremism is different thing and Islamic societies became acquainted with it only after Khomeini assumed power in Iran. He became an inspiration for Sunni and Shi’ite religious groups to governance by power, like he did. At the time Saudi Arabia pursues, jails and executes those with ties to terrorism, Iran grants them top governmental posts, allows them to participate in its forged elections, and lead its armed troops deployed in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Whereas Saudi Arabia and the rest of Islamic countries have been – for 20 years now – confronting armed extremist groups and, in cooperation with the US, they killed many of the groups’ commanders. In his opinion piece, Zakaria cited one telegram to exonerate Iran and accuse Saudi Arabia. However, there are dozens of Congress accounts and a long session (held in December 2016) in which intelligence and defense department officials described Iran as the state primarily responsible for terrorism. An international consensus to combat terrorism is required against armed Sunni and Shi’ite. Will Iran accept this principle? Will it accept to participate in this task?No, it will not, because it’s publicly managing armed extremist religious groups whose members are more than 20,000 brought from Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Both Zarif and Zakaria know this truth. They only want to defend the historical mistake Obama made when he reconciled with Iran without lifting the sanctions through altering Iran’s hostile behavior against the region and other countries. The result was around 500,000 casualties in Syria alone.

Florida Museum Celebrates the Loss of Hagia Sophia
Daniel Pipes/National Review Online /May 29/17
I rubbed my eyes in disbelief seeing a wall plaque at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida, explaining an artifact in its "Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston" exhibit.
The plaque that caught my eye praises the Ottoman Empire for having turned the Hagia Sophia church into a mosque. Its words:
In addition to their renowned patronage of architecture, which yielded the conversion of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a congregational mosque, Ottoman sultans and elites supported flourishing textile and ceramics industries.
Cummer Museum's celebration of the sack of Constantinople.
(What does "yielded the conversion" even mean? A search engine finds seven uses of this phrase in the English language, all connected to science.)
Hagia Sophia happens to be one of the oldest, largest, most beautiful, most celebrated, and most important churches of all Christendom. Built in the 530s in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, it has always been the object of exceptional praise, from ancient times (AD 563: "as you direct your gaze towards the eastern arches, you behold a never-ceasing wonder") to modern ones (2014: "In this paradigmatic building, beauty, wisdom and light became interwoven through the architectural structure").
The transformation of the Greek Hagia Sophia Cathedral into the Turkish Ayasofya Mosque did not take place gently. Fergus M. Bordewich describes the brutal shift that took place 564 years ago today:
On May 29, 1453, after a seven-week siege, the Turks launched a final assault. Bursting through the city's defenses and overwhelming its outnumbered defenders, the invaders poured into the streets, sacking churches and palaces, and cutting down anyone who stood in their way. Terrified citizens flocked to Hagia Sophia, hoping that its sacred precincts would protect them, praying desperately that, as an ancient prophesied, an avenging angel would hurtle down to smite the invaders before they reached the great church.
Instead, the sultan's janissaries battered through the great wood-and-bronze doors, bloody swords in hand, bringing an end to an empire that had endured for 1,123 years. "The scene must have been horrific, like the Devil entering heaven," says [Roger Crowley, author of 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West]. "The church was meant to embody heaven on earth, and here were these aliens in turbans and robes, smashing tombs, scattering bones, hacking up icons for their golden frames. Imagine appalling mayhem, screaming wives being ripped from the arms of their husbands, children torn from parents, and then chained and sold into slavery. For the Byzantines, it was the end of the world." Memory of the catastrophe haunted the Greeks for centuries. Many clung to the legend that the priests who were performing services that day had disappeared into Hagia Sophia's walls and would someday reappear, restored to life in a reborn Greek empire.
That same afternoon, Constantinople's new overlord, Sultan Mehmet II, rode triumphantly to the shattered doors of Hagia Sophia. ... He declared that it was to be protected and was immediately to become a mosque. Calling for an imam to recite the call to prayer, he strode through the handful of terrified Greeks who had not already been carted off to slavery, offering mercy to some. Mehmet then climbed onto the altar and bowed down to pray.
Recalling this violent and dismal history as I wandered the Cummer, I wondered why a Florida museum would celebrate the vicious transformation of this cathedral into a mosque. Could an Islamist be lurking behind the wall plaque's perverse praise?
I searched for clues by reviewing the makeup of the "Ink, Silk, and Gold" exhibit's Advisory and Host committees. Sure enough, the answer lay there in broad daylight, highlighted on the glass entry door.
Parvez Ahmed, an apologist for suicide bombing and president of the country's most prominent Islamist organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (commonly known as CAIR) in 2005-08, sits on the two committees; in addition, his sometime-mosque, the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, sits on the Advisory Committee.
Mystery solved.
It's worth noting on the anniversary of the sack of Constantinople that Islamic conquests need not be only by the sword - or suicide vests in concert halls. The penetration of Western culture is underway, with purposeful and intent Islamists rolling over distracted or self-critical kafirs (infidels).
May 29, 2017 addendum: By coincidence, today is both Memorial Day in the United States and İstanbul'un Fethi (Istanbul Conquest) day in Turkey. The contrast is revealing. Americans solemnly remember compatriots who gave up their lives to protect the country; Turks boisterously revel in a long-ago conquest.
In one particularly grotesque celebration this year, 1,453 trucks (one for each year, get it?) drove very slowly, 9-across, forming 172 rows extending 3.2 kilometers, taking 107 minutes to go down the runway of an unfinished Istanbul airport.
1,453 trucks celebrate 564 years since 1453 and the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople.
This tacky achievement broke a Guinness world record for the "largest parade of trucks."
The Guinness record has been far superseded.