November 02/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 05/01-12/:"When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

So terrifying was the sight that Moses said, I tremble with fear
Letter to the Hebrews 12/18-24/:"You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.’Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 01-02/17
Salute To The Courageous & Patriotic Nawfal Daou/Marlaine Badr/Face Book/
Shia Unrest in Hezbollah's Beirut Stronghold/Hanin Ghaddar/The Washington Institute/November 01/17
Euro-Stans/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17
The European Project Needs a New Long-Term Vision/Jean Tirole/Bloomberg/November 01/17
Gaza Strip: Breeding Ground for Radical Terror Groups/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/November 01/17
Yes, That Cartoon of Me Was Anti-Semitic/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/November 01/17
Might Xi Jinping's Star Be Burning Too Bright/David Ignatius/The Washington Post//November 01/17
Qatar’s official nonsense/Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/November 01/17
Respect for religious pluralism in Islamic history/Dr. Tayyeb Tizini/Al Arabiya/November 01/17
A new era: Women allowed in Saudi stadiums/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 01/17
America's Radicalization Problem: It's Local/Matthew Levitt/New York Daily News/November 01/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 01-02/17
Salute To The Courageous & Patriotic Nawfal Daou
Bukhari Hands al-Rahi Invitation to Visit Saudi Arabia
President Aoun meets newly appointed Lebanese ambassadors
Mashnouq to Bassil: You'll Never be in Position Allowing You to Define My Jurisdiction
Berri Warns: Israel's Planned Border Wall Will Violate Lebanon's Sovereignty
Maronite Bishops Say 'Heavy Burden' Syrian Refugees 'Risk Losing Their Identity'
Hariri: Expansion of Airport Capacity to Accommodate 5 Million More Passengers
Chamoun: Nothing Remarkable about Achievements During Aoun's Term
Report: Hizbullah Says Stances Against it 'Won't Impact' Govt Harmony
Drug Dealers Arrested in Mount Lebanon
Man Found Dead with Bullet Wound in Akkar
Information Ministry organizes 'protection of media creativity from piracy' conference upcoming Friday at Serail
Berri: For swift action against Israeli violations of Lebanon sovereignty
Jumblatt offers condolences to Richard on New York terror attack victims
Bassil meets Tachnag delegation
Audi tackles political issues with Pharaon, meets ambassador of Ukraine
Lebanese Army refers Shadi Mahmoud Ammoun to judiciary for links to Daesh
Guidanian, Tunisian Ambassador tackle tourism cooperation prospects
Shia Unrest in Hezbollah's Beirut Stronghold

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 01-02/17
Kuwait’s ruler reappoints PM: state news agency
Blast kills 13 at wedding in India
Syrian opposition rejects Russia-sponsored congress
Iraqi army threatens Erbil over ignoring security pact
Russian bombers hit militant targets in Syria's Deir al-Zor
Extremist Arrested after Knife Attack Near Tunisia’s Parliament
Hamas Hands Over Gaza Border Crossings to PA Control
Parliamentary Demands to Exclude Ahmadinejad from EDC
5 Argentinian Friends on School Reunion Killed in the New York Attack
Lawyer: Catalonia’s Puigdemont Unlikely to Return to Spain
Cargo Ship with 10 Crew Sinks in Black Sea, Search Operations Underway
Former Israeli Minister in Prison over Corruption
Saudi Arabia Strongly Condemns New York Attack
10 Bahrainis Stripped of Nationality, Convicted on Terrorism Charges
Putin Visits Tehran for Talks on Syria, Nuclear Deal
Hamas Hands over Egypt Border Crossing to Palestinian Authority

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 01-02/17
Salute To The Courageous & Patriotic Nawfal Daou
Marlaine Badr/Face Book/November 01/17
Marlaine Badr A man who loves the law and enforcing it, is a man of God. There is no buts and maybe's. One of the most satisfying things about his political discourse is knowing that we can go back and know he gives language its right place.( his interpretation of UN 1701 resolution is accurate) One cannot argue with him really. He has the law on his side.His emphasis on the United Nation's resolutions is indicative of his professionalism and his political command. If anything, President Awon deep down "Knows" he is speaking for matters..................he himself cannot speak about and be against of, and I believe............ the President (though he refuse to show it) is appreciative of the fact that there is someone who says it like it is . When the Lebanese see things as accurate as Naufal Daou, and are willing to do something about it, then they can begin to hope for real change.

Bukhari Hands al-Rahi Invitation to Visit Saudi Arabia
Naharnet/November 01/17/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi held talks Wednesday in Bkirki with Walid al-Bukhari, the chargé d'affaires of the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon. “I was honored to visit His Eminence, Patriarch al-Rahi, and I handed him an invitation to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and meet with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and His Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in a visit that is considered one of the most official visits,” Bukhari said after the meeting, describing the possible visit as “historic.” Asked about the date of the visit, the envoy said it will take place “in the coming weeks.” Should the visit happen, al-Rahi will be the latest high-ranking Lebanese figure to visit the kingdom in recent months. Prime Minister Saad Hariri had visited Riyadh on Monday and Tuesday where he held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel had held talks with the crown prince in the kingdom in late September.

President Aoun meets newly appointed Lebanese ambassadors
Wed 01 Nov 2017/NNA - President of the republic, Michel Aoun, met, at Baabda palace on Wednesday, with a panel of ambassadors newly appointed to represent Lebanon abroad. The delegation included representatives to Rome (Mira Daher), Syria (Saad Zakhya), Cyprus (Claude Hajal Dimashkieh), and Australia (Milad Raad).

Mashnouq to Bassil: You'll Never be in Position Allowing You to Define My Jurisdiction
Naharnet/November 01/17/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq lashed out fiercely at Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Wednesday in connection with the bickering over the mechanisms of the new electoral law. “I'm surprised that a minister possessing experience and intelligence is failing to understand very simple things, such as that the ongoing debate over (voter) pre-registration is a political debate in which Minister Mashnouq is not a party,” Mashnouq said in a statement. The dispute “is between Minister Jebran Bassil and those whom he apparently does not dare to name,” Mashnouq added. “It seems that Minister Bassil is no longer differentiating between his limit and the limit of others or between his position as a minister and his dreams to become an authority above the Constitution, the state and the institutions,” the minister added, accusing Bassil of “unacceptable encroachment on jurisdiction and norms.” “I directly tell Minister Bassil: You are not and will never be in a position allowing you to define, to me or to my political group, our jurisdiction, role or status in the Lebanese political system, which we exclusively draw from popular legitimacy, parliamentary confidence and the Taef constitution,” Mashnouq went on to say. “Your simplistic belief that you are in a position allowing you to appoint or sack ministers or to change their portfolios and responsibilities reflects personal and private dreams that have no place in the Constitution,” he added. Bassil had on Tuesday described Mashnouq as “a friend on the personal level” but accused him of “incompetence” regarding “the issue of the implementation of the electoral law.”"There is political collusion from the side overseeing the elections, or the interior minister, who is dealing in a lax manner with the issue of (biometric voting) cards in order to hold the elections without them. The current conduct regarding the issue of the card is an attempt to underestimate the intelligence of the Lebanese and the Lebanese should revolt,” Bassil added, warning of “an intention to rig” the elections.

Berri Warns: Israel's Planned Border Wall Will Violate Lebanon's Sovereignty
Naharnet/November 01/17/Speaker Nabih Berri warned Wednesday that Israel's planned border wall will violate Lebanon's sovereignty in several points, as he slammed a recent visit by Israeli settlers to the occupied Shebaa Farms. Speaking to MPs during the weekly Ain el-Tineh meeting, Berri also warned that Israel intends to encroach on the Prophet Ibrahim religious shrine in the Shebaa Farms. “Such attacks are a blatant violation of Lebanon's sovereignty and require rapid communication with the international organizations in order to put an end to them,” Berri added. Briefing the lawmakers on the content of a classified report, the speaker said Israel's planned wall in the Western Sector extends from “a point facing Ras al-Naqoura to a point facing the town of Alma al-Shaab, and in the Eastern Sector it extends from a point facing Adaisseh to a point facing Kfarkila.”“Although the UNIFIL commander has asked the Israeli side not to build any structure in disputed areas, the Israeli maps show that the wall will go through these areas in Naqoura, Alma al-Shaab and Adaisseh, not to mention that the building of this wall will require bulldozing, drilling and excavation works in agricultural areas owned by Lebanese citizens,” Berri added. The speaker also condemned a recent visit by Israeli settlers, who were escorted by Israeli troops, to the Mashhad al-Tayr area in the Shebaa Farms. “I join my voice to that of our people in Hasbaya and Marjeyoun on the need for filing a Lebanese complaint with the United Nations,” Berri added.

Maronite Bishops Say 'Heavy Burden' Syrian Refugees 'Risk Losing Their Identity'
Naharnet/November 01/17/The Council of Maronite Bishops stressed Wednesday the need for Syrian refugees to return home, warning that they are facing “the risk of losing their identity” if they stay in Lebanon. “While underscoring humanitarian and social solidarity with the Syrian refugees, the fathers stress the need for them to return to their homeland, because they have become threatened with losing their identity and are representing a heavy burden for Lebanon at all levels,” said the Council in a statement issued after its monthly meeting in Bkirki under the chairmanship of Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi. “This refugee situation heavily impacts the Syrians themselves, especially those of them who were born on Lebanon's soil,” the Council added. “Should the crisis persist, there will be a generation of refugees who have no national identity, so how would they be able to take part in Syria's future?” the bishops went on to say. And while calling for “a safe refugee return supervised by world powers,” the Council warned that “every day of delay is separating these people from their vital space and from their national dignity and future.” At least one million registered Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, almost 25 percent of its population. Many more are believed to live unregistered, straining the country's already fraying infrastructure.

Hariri: Expansion of Airport Capacity to Accommodate 5 Million More Passengers
Naharnet/November 01/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced on Wednesday that Lebanon is preparing to increase the capacity of its airport to accommodate five million extra passengers as part of a guideline prepared by the Ministry of Works and based on a donation by the Middle East Airlines. “Today we have a project to increase the capacity of 5 million extra passengers in an initial and urgent phase, to be completed in the general guideline that the Ministry of Works is preparing, based on a donation by the MEA to the Lebanese government,” said Hariri. His remarks came at opening ceremony of the Middle East Training and Conferences Center at Rafik Hariri International Airport. He added: “When the reconstruction of the airport project began (during the term of late ex-PM Rafik Hariri) after the end of the cursed civil war, the airport was receiving less than one and a half million passengers. “When Rafik Hariri reconstructed it to accommodate 6 million passengers, people asked: Why 6 million passengers, and where will they come from? The result? Last year this airport received more than 7 and a half million passengers,” he added. “The number this year will be bigger, because in July and August alone, the airport registered more than two million passengers,” noted the PM. Turning to the MEA and its chairman Mohammed al-Hout, Hariri said: “We are proud that in the era of Mohammed al Hout, this company moved from being a deficit causer for the state to a successful company, flying in the name of Lebanon all over the world. “From a company that was losing tens of millions after the civil war, threatened to be closed, to a company earning tens of millions a year with accumulated profits that reached under its current management more than one billion dollars, and that builds centers like the one we are inaugurating today, with its modern and sophisticated equipment, which shows how much we all believe in Lebanon’s leading role in the region and the world.”The PM also concluded by announcing that the hall will be called after the governor of the Central Bank, Riad Salameh, he said: “I am also proud to announce that the beautiful hall in which we gather today, that was known so far as the DOME, is now called Riad Salameh Hall.”

Chamoun: Nothing Remarkable about Achievements During Aoun's Term
Naharnet/November 01/17/Head of the National Liberals Party MP Dori Chamoun said on Wednesday there is “nothing remarkable” about the accomplishments made during the term of President Michel Aoun, as the President marked one year since assuming office.
“I can't see any thing outstanding that draws the attention,” he told the daily in an interview. Noting that he “has not heard or read the President's speech,” he added “this a tenure like other tenures, things are going the way they do, and it could have been better," he said. Chamoun's comments came after remarks made by Aoun during an interview with Lebanon's eight TV stations that marked one year since assuming the presidency. Aoun pointed to a number of “achievements,” he said :“We have approved a state budget, succeeded at the diplomatic appointments and approved a new electoral law based on proportional representation. The elections will be held according to the new law that will achieve balance among the country's components.” Aoun also pointed out to the army's battle against the Islamic State organization in the Lebanese mountains that led to their ouster. He also pointed out to the need for the judicial and security institutions to consolidate civil peace.”

Report: Hizbullah Says Stances Against it 'Won't Impact' Govt Harmony
Naharnet/November 01/17/Hizbullah made no reactions to a series of fiery stances against the party made by Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan, amid assurances that the diplomat's stances “will not affect agreements between Lebanon's political parties,” al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday. Hizbullah sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told the daily: “The matter will not affect the current agreements,” as they ruled out the possibility it would reflect on Lebanon's government. The sources said they were reassured about Prime Minister Saad Hariri's ”performance and role in neutralizing Lebanon from ongoing disputes and separating controversial files from the prevailing relationship between the political forces,” noting Hariri's “reiteration that he won't let anything affect the country's stability.” They stressed that the government “will distance itself from the prevailing disputes,” voicing expectations that Sabhan's positions may not be tackled during the upcoming cabinet meeting. On Monday, al-Sabhan lashed out at Hizbullah and called for “toppling” the party as he promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days.” In an earlier tweet on Sunday, the Saudi minister voiced surprise over what he called the “silence of the government and people” of Lebanon over Hizbullah’s actions. Al-Sabhan has taken to Twitter to blast Hizbullah several times in recent months.

Drug Dealers Arrested in Mount Lebanon
Naharnet/November 01/17/Police have cracked down on two drug dealers in the Mount Lebanon districts of Jbeil and Keserwan, the Internal Security Forces said on Wednesday. ISF police said that illegal “drug trade has spiraled in Mount Lebanon, mainly in Keserwan and Jbeil, which prompted intensive investigations that led to the arrest of the drug dealers on Tuesday,” an ISF statement said. The two suspects, who turned out to be brothers, were arrested while driving through al-Safra area aboard a Jeep Cherokee Laredo. Police have “confiscated the vehicle which contained 20g of cocaine placed in 20 envelopes, 223g of heroine in 71 envelopes, another 43g of cocaine in one envelope, a pistol, 4 mobile phones, an identity card that matched non of the suspects, $1530 cash money and LBP140000 in addition to a laptop,” added the statement. The suspects admitted that they were promoting drugs in the areas of Keserwan and Jbeil and in the vicinity of the Casino du Liban for the benefit of a third man who was identified by his initials as Aa.A. They said they got the drugs from the Hammoudieh town and sometimes from a man nicknamed al-Khal. Efforts are ongoing to arrest the rest of the ring.

Man Found Dead with Bullet Wound in Akkar
Naharnet/November 01/17/Police in the northern region of Akkar are investigating the shooting death of a man, the National News Agency reported on Wednesday. A man was found dead at his house in the Akkar town of Kroum Arab after sustaining a gun shot wound, NNA said. The victim was shot with a hunting rifle that he owned, it added. No arrests have been made. Investigations are ongoing to uncover the details of the incident.

Information Ministry organizes 'protection of media creativity from piracy' conference upcoming Friday at Serail
Wed 01 Nov 2017/NNA - Under the patronage of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the Information Ministry organizes a conference on 'the protection of media creativity from piracy' upcoming Friday at the Grand Serail at 10.30 am. The conference comes at the behest of Information Minister Melhem Riachy. The event is organized in cooperation with the Internal Security Forces (ISF) Directorate General and a group of leading media outlets. Speeches will be delivered by ISF chief Major General Emad Othman, and Minister Riachy. Discussion panels on relevant topics will be held.

Berri: For swift action against Israeli violations of Lebanon sovereignty

Wed 01 Nov 2017/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, shone light during Wednesday's regular meeting with MPs at Ain-el-Tineh, on "the organized Israeli attacks and violations of Lebanon's sovereignty," stressing on information and a report revealing the enemy's intention to build a wall along the borders and to sabotage Prophet Ibrahim shrine in Shebaa farms. "Such attacks are considered a blatant violation of Lebanon and its sovereignty, and they entail a swift action before the international stances to put end to the breaches," Berri said during the meeting. Moreover, the Speaker informed the lawmakers about the content of a classified report on the enemy's plan. According to him, the intended wall will be erected from a point in the Western Sector off Ras Naqoura till a point off Alma Shaab; in the Eastern Sector, the wall will extend from a point off Adaisseh to reach a point off Kfarkila. "Even though the UNIFIL Commander had asked the Israeli side not to build any construction in the reserved areas, but the enemy's maps show that those points are indeed in Naqoura," Berri said. On a different note, the Speaker reaffirmed that any bid regarding the energy dossier would be only Okayed by the tenders' authority." "This is conclusive."

Jumblatt offers condolences to Richard on New York terror attack victims
Wed 01 Nov 2017/NNA - "Democratic Gathering" head, MP Walid Jumblatt, on Wednesday cabled US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, deploring the terror attack in southern Manhattan, New York, which led to the falling of a number of killed and injured. Jumblatt expressed sincere affinity and offered heartfelt condolences to the families of victims, New Yorkers and the American people.

Bassil meets Tachnag delegation
Wed 01 Nov 2017/NNA - Foreign Affairs Minister, Gebran Bassil, met on Wednesday with a Tachnag Party delegation chaired by MP Aghop Pakradonian who, in the wake of the meeting, underlined the strong relations between the Tachnag and the Free Patriotic Movement. He also said he had discussed with Bassil the current situation in Lebanon and the region, as well as the legislative deadline and the role of Lebanese expatriates in the world. "We are preserving our old coalitions with the FPM and others," he added, signaling the possibility of "weaving" new coalitions in order to maintain the fair representation of the Armenian community, the Tachnag party and the FPM.

Audi tackles political issues with Pharaon, meets ambassador of Ukraine
Wed 01 Nov 2017/NNA - The metropolitan of Beirut, Elias Audi, received on Wednesday Minister Michel Pharaon, with whom he addressed political issues and an array of affairs related to the capital. Later, Metropolitan Audi met with the Ukrainian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ihor Ostash. The diplomat said he discussed cultural cooperation with his host, in the context of the launching of the Ukrainian Cultural Forum to be held on November 27 to mark the commemoration of 25 years since the birth of Lebanese-Ukrainian diplomatic relations.

Lebanese Army refers Shadi Mahmoud Ammoun to judiciary for links to Daesh

Wed 01 Nov 2017/NNA - Army Intelligence Directorate referred the so-called Shadi Mahmoud Amnoun to the concerned judiciary for links to the terrorist "Daesh" Organization, army command said in a communiqué on Wednesday. Ammoun partook in battles against the Lebanese army in Arsal and was involved in the assualt on the army's post in Wadi Hmayyid in the year 2014. The apprehended Ammoun also observed several persons inside the town of Arsal in an attempt to assassinate them and abduct others from the town.

Guidanian, Tunisian Ambassador tackle tourism cooperation prospects
Wed 01 Nov 2017/NNA - Tourism Minister, Avedis Guidanian, on Wednesday received at his ministerial office Tunisian Ambassador to Lebanon, Mohamed Karim Boudali, with talks reportedly touching on tourism relations between the two countries and preparations underway a memorandum of understanding on cooperation and tourism coordination. Both sides agreed to encourage tourism exchange between the two countries.

Shia Unrest in Hezbollah's Beirut Stronghold
Hanin Ghaddar/The Washington Institute/November 01/17
The group is hoping to rein in rampant social problems by allowing government authorities to crack down on its poorest constituents, but the plan could backfire amid unprecedented anti-Hezbollah riots.
On October 25, Lebanese police raided unlicensed street vendors in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiya, the main headquarters of Hezbollah, causing rare public expressions of discontent against the group. Internal security forces used bulldozers to take down shacks in the Hay al-Sollom neighborhood, where vendors mainly sold coffee and mobile phones. In response, dozens of citizens poured into the streets burning tires and blocking roads, an act seen many times when state authorities interfere in Dahiya. But this time protesters were caught on television badmouthing not the central government, but Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah, who they blamed for the loss of their livelihoods and the war in Syria. One woman addressed Nasrallah after she found her shop -- her only source of income – flattened: "We all provided martyrs for you in Syria. I have three injured sons. And this is how you're treating us?" Another man yelled at the camera, "Syria can go to hell, along with Hassan Nasrallah!"
The shops had been there for decades and were previously protected from raids by Hezbollah. It is common knowledge in Lebanon that government security authorities never enter Dahiya unless they coordinate with Hezbollah officials, and that the group often allows illegal ventures and hides criminals. This time, however, it did not even bother to inform locals that the raid would be taking place.
It is no coincidence that this exceptional act of revolt occurred in one of Dahiya's poorest neighborhoods. As much as the Syria war has changed Hezbollah militarily and expanded its regional role, it has also changed the Lebanese Shia community and its perceptions of the group. Class divisions in Dahiya are more drastic than ever -- the poor neighborhoods are providing fighters while the upper middle class and rich neighborhoods are benefiting from the war.
In Hay al-Sollom, posters of "martyrs" cover the walls, and funerals for young men have become a daily occurrence. The war is present in every home, where news reports and discussions center on Syrian battles and deaths. In other neighborhoods, however, the war is very distant, in large part because wealthy Shia do not send their sons to fight. On the contrary, many Hezbollah officials have taken advantage of the war economy to expand their local investments. Shops, restaurants, hotels, and cafes are now booming in prosperous areas of Dahiya and the south.
The growing wealth gap helps explain last week's riot, with the poor expressing their frustration toward Hezbollah officials who live in fancy apartments, drive brand-new cars, and send their children to private schools and universities in other neighborhoods. Previously, this frustration had been contained because Hezbollah maintained its role as protector of all Shia, rich or poor. So why did the group suddenly decide to step aside for a government raid?
According to sources in Dahiya, Hezbollah authorities not only allowed the raid, they actually asked for it. Bulldozing shops in Hay al-Sollom is part of a larger plan called Dahiyati (My Dahiya), launched in September. The plan is based on an effort by the three municipalities in charge of Dahiya to beautify it and make it a more comfortable place for residents. It includes removing a chaotic network of illegal structures that cause traffic jams and overcrowding in certain neighborhoods.
But Hezbollah's real objective is not beauty or comfort. Rather, many residents see the plan as cover for the group to confront the main challenges it faces in Dahiya: rampant small crime, drugs, and prostitution. These problems have proliferated since 2011 amid the war in Syria.
Hezbollah has dragged the Shia community into wars with Israel many times in the past, but these conflicts were relatively short, and local Shia were usually rewarded by ample money and services afterward. The Syria war is different, however. It has been dragging on for years, costing Hezbollah its image as a "resistance" group and its ability to provide social services, taking the lives of many young men in the process. Once the group became consumed by events next door, it could no longer keep a lid on drug cartels, petty criminals, and illegal construction back home. Shia street clashes increased in Dahiya and complaints grew louder, showing that livelihood and basic services are much more significant to locals than Hezbollah's prestigious new regional role. Families who could afford it began to leave the district, heading south or to other areas of Beirut. In response, Hezbollah felt compelled to act, hence the "My Dahiya" project.
Although last week's outbursts were immediately contained -- the people who badmouthed Nasrallah were forced to apologize on camera -- the deeper problems persist. These who were made to apologize are no doubt feeling even more humiliated than ever, and their apologies were based on fear, not regret. In addition, now that Hezbollah faces new U.S. sanctions, many local Shia believe they will be the ones to pay the price. In their view, sanctions will not stop the group from expanding its regional activities or operating in Syria, but simply force it to implement harsher economic measures at home, meaning poorer Shia might suffer the most.
Many locals are also afraid that if Hezbollah stops protecting them, they will become vulnerable to further crackdowns by state authorities. Still others fear that Hezbollah's status as the most powerful faction in Lebanon's government and institutions will make it more likely to crack down on discontent itself. Poor Shia are therefore caught in a dilemma: they do not want to provide more martyrs for the Syria war, but they do not want to be labeled as citizens who defy the authorities either, especially if doing so risks their chances of accessing services and surviving.
After the Hay al-Sollom incident, the question is how authorities can deal with this discontent. Hezbollah and anti-Hezbollah groups alike are asking themselves the same question. For Hezbollah, this issue is now its most formidable challenge. The group seems to believe it can handle international sanctions and rival political pressure without changing its approach, but internal discontent within the Shia community could implode its support base.
For now, the "My Dahiya" project will probably continue, though Hezbollah may seek less severe ways of implementing it. But any such measures can still be expected to create more discontent and frustration, mainly in poor neighborhoods.
Hezbollah has long rallied the Shia community around it based on a clear formula: "I am your protector and provider, but you have to embrace my ideology and my wars and forget you are citizens of the Lebanese state." This approach worked for decades -- until Hezbollah became a state with no services. Today, poorer Shia are well aware that "My Dahiya" is not really for them, but rather an effort to make the district more appealing to investors and less of a headache for Hezbollah. The gap between the group's wealthy officials and poor "martyred" foot soldiers is widening, leaving the people searching for an alternative it can no longer provide. In the end, the situation will likely develop in one of two ways: either public anger will be contained by force and the poor will simply surrender to the new rules, or their resentment will lead to more tension and clashes with the rich neighborhoods of Dahiya.
Whichever scenario unfolds, local Shia are primarily being driven by the fear of losing their livelihood. Rhetoric in the streets of Dahiya is now dominated by talk of employment opportunities, small loans for investment opportunities, and basic services. Poor Shia have come to realize that ideology and "divine victories" do not put food on the table, so the only alternative they are looking for today is an economic alternative. If Hezbollah cannot provide it, they will look for it elsewhere.
At this point, anti-Hezbollah political alternatives supported by the West are no longer feasible. Western governments should therefore shift toward a longer-term strategy of using economic programs to give disillusioned Shia a viable means of meeting their basic needs, working with the Lebanese private sector and international organizations such as the World Bank and IMF. Favorable political rhetoric will follow.
**Hanin Ghaddar, a veteran Lebanese journalist and researcher, is the Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 01-02/17
Kuwait’s ruler reappoints PM: state news agency
Reuters/November 01/17/DUBAI: Kuwait’s ruler reappointed his prime minister on Wednesday and asked him to form a cabinet, the official state news agency said on Wednesday, after the government stepped down earlier this week in an expected cabinet reshuffle. The major oil producer has the oldest legislature among the Gulf Arab states and experiences frequent cabinet resignations amid tensions between the government and lawmakers.Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah had tendered his resignation on Monday.

Blast kills 13 at wedding in India
AFP/November 01/17/NEW DEHLI: At least 13 people including a pregnant woman were killed when an electricity transformer exploded outside a wedding ceremony in western India, police said Wednesday. Dozens of guests had assembled for the ceremony outside a family home in the western state of Rajasthan when the transformer exploded, spewing hot oil and metal shards. “Four people died on the spot,” local police superintendent Rameshwar Singh told AFP. “We are ascertaining the cause of the blast.”Singh said several others were being treated for severe burns after the disaster, which triggered protests against the electricity department. Locals said they had raised concerns about the maintainance of the transformer with officials, but nothing had been done. They also said a circuit-breaker failed to work after the blast, exacerbating the disaster as live wires fell onto the crowd late Tuesday in the state capital Jaipur.
Transformers are part of the electricity distribution system and help maintain a uniform current. India’s power distribution system is prone to accidents, mostly because of poor maintainance and underfunding in rural areas. Nearly 10,000 people died due to electrocution in India in 2015, according to the most recent data available from the national crimes records bureau. Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje has ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident.

Syrian opposition rejects Russia-sponsored congress
ReutersWednesday, 1 November 2017/The Syrian opposition has rejected a new, Russian-sponsored initiative to reach a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, and Turkey protested against the invitation of the Syrian Kurdish side as Moscow’s peacemaking bid hit early complications on Wednesday. Having intervened decisively in the Syrian war in 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad, Russia now hopes to build on the collapse of ISIS to launch a new political process towards ending the six-year-long conflict. Damascus has said it is ready to attend the November 18 Sochi congress which is set to focus on a new constitution, saying the time is right thanks to Syrian army gains and the “terrorists’ obliteration”. But officials in the anti-Assad opposition rejected the meeting and insisted any peace talks be held only under UN sponsorship in Geneva, where talks have failed to make any progress towards ending the conflict since it erupted in 2011. The congress amounted to a meeting “between the regime and the regime”, said Mohammad Alloush, a member of the opposition High Negotiations Committee and a senior official with the Jaish al-Islam rebel group. The HNC was surprised it had been mentioned in a list of groups invited to the congress and would “issue a statement with other parties setting out the general position rejecting this conference”, Alloush told Reuters. The Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition (SNC), a political opposition group, said the congress was an attempt to circumvent “the international desire for political transition” in Syria.“The Coalition will not participate in any negotiations with the regime outside Geneva or without UN sponsorship,” SNC spokesman Ahmad Ramadan told Reuters.
Defeating militants in Syria
A Russian negotiator said on Tuesday that Syrian groups who choose to boycott the congress risked being sidelined as the political process moves ahead.
Russia has invited 33 Syrian groups and political parties to what it calls a ‘Syrian Congress on National Dialogue’. Russian President Vladimir Putin first mentioned the idea of the congress last month, saying that he believed Moscow and the Syrian government would soon finally defeat militants in Syria. Helped by Russia’s air force and an array of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias, Assad has defeated many of the Syrian militants who were fighting to topple him, leaving him militarily unassailable and the militants confined to enclaves in the west. Damascus and its allies have also recovered swathes of central and eastern Syria from ISIS in recent months, while a separate campaign by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has driven ISIS from other areas of the country. The separate campaigns are now converging on ISIS’s last strongholds in Deir al-Zor province at the Iraqi border.Russia’s decision to invite the Kurdish groups which dominate the SDF to Sochi triggered Turkish irritation on Wednesday. Ankara, which views the dominant Syrian Kurdish groups as a national security threat, said it was unacceptable that the Kurdish YPG militia had been invited. Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkish and Russian officials had discussed the issue and that he had held meetings of his own to “solve the problem on the spot.”Turkey views the YPG and its political affiliate, the PYD, as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a three-decade insurgency in Turkey.

Iraqi army threatens Erbil over ignoring security pact
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 1 November 2017/The Iraqi army announced that Kurdistan region ignored security agreements that have been approved previously, giving the region a "final deadline" to implement the security pact. In a statement issued Wednesday by the Joint Operations Command in Iraq, the army confirmed that Kurdistan’s forces are structuring their defenses and moving forces throughout the negotiation period, adding that "this is a policy of stalling and treason to target our troops." The Iraqi army stressed that the actions on Erbil’s side are unacceptable, contrary to set agreements and that they will secure the border areas with Kurdistan if Erbil doesn’t commit. The Joint Operations Command praised the "high responsibility and wisdom" manifested by the Iraqi Prime Minister Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Haider Abadi, sending a high-level military technical delegation to hold a series of meetings with the security delegation of Erbil and give a deadline for several days to prevent bloodshed and to ensure the protection of citizens. However, according to the statement of the Iraqi army, Kurdistan leadership and its delegation rejected the draft agreed upon in negotiations by the federal envoy with Erbil. The statement highlighted that it is clear that Erbil negotiators wasted time and pulled out at the last minute forcing negotiations back to square one. "What they have (Erbil) submitted is absolutely unacceptable," the statement added. The statement stressed that "the federal forces are required to secure areas and borders, protect the civilians and have strict instructions not to clash and prevent bloodshed, but if armed groups associated with Erbil fired missiles or bombed at federal forces, killed members and intimidated the citizens, they will be pursued by the forces of the federal law and will not be safe."

Russian bombers hit militant targets in Syria's Deir al-Zor

ReutersWednesday, 1 November 2017/Six long-range strategic bombers took off from their bases in Russia to hit militant targets in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor on Wednesday, Russian news agencies cited the Russian Defence Ministry as saying. The Tu-22M3 planes flew over Iran and Iraq to hit the targets which included “terrorist” strongholds and depots with weapons and ammunition, TASS news agency reported. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage on Wednesday of the Tu-22MZ bombers taking off and dropping bombs on ISIS group positions outside the militant-held town of Boukamal (Abu Kamal) on the border with Iraq. Syrian government forces are battling the militants outside the town. Russia has been providing air cover for the Syrian government’s operations against ISIS and rebels since 2015 but it has mostly used an airfield in Syria. The Russian military said the airstrikes destroyed the militants’ command posts and ammunition depots.(With AP)

Extremist Arrested after Knife Attack Near Tunisia’s Parliament
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 /A suspected militant was arrested on Wednesday after wounding two policemen in a knife attack near the parliament building in the Tunisian Capital, the interior ministry said. The assailant was known to authorities and said after the attack that he considered the police to be "tyrants", according to the statement. One of the policemen was taken to hospital for treatment after being injured in the neck, while the other was only lightly wounded, it said. Large numbers of police were deployed to Tunis’ Bardo square in the aftermath of the attack, a witness said. Blood could be seen on the ground in the square. The square is opposite the parliament building and close to the Bardo museum, the site of a militant attack against foreign tourists that killed 21 people in March 2015. An official at the police station where the man was taken after being detained said the attacker was in his 20s and appeared "very aware of what he did"."He spoke calmly and showed no remorse," the official said, asking to remain anonymous. Tunisia suffered two other major attacks that year, one against tourists at the beach resort of Sousse and the other against presidential guards in the capital. Since then, security has been boosted at strategic sites while Tunisian authorities have cracked down on militants, dismantling dozens of networks.

Hamas Hands Over Gaza Border Crossings to PA Control
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 Hamas began ceding control of the Gaza Strip's border crossings with Israel and Egypt to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday under an agreement brokered by Cairo last month to end a decade of internal divisions. Witnesses said that employees from Abbas' Palestinian Authority (PA) moved into Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings on the Israeli border and Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, as Hamas counterparts packed up equipment and departed on trucks. At Rafah, large murals of Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi decorated the entrances to the passport hall and Palestinian and Egyptian flags flew over the compound. Mufeed al-Husayna, a PA minister, gave a short speech at the crossing, saying all the border crossings were being handed over. "We began today, under the directive of the prime minister (Rami Hamdallah), to exercise our duties by receiving all the crossings," he said, thanking the Egyptians for mediating the deal. "There is no yellow and green. All our Palestinian people are under the Palestinian flag," he added, referring to the flag colors of the political parties that signed last month's reconciliation deal. Hamdallah is due to visit Gaza again in the coming days, he added. Citing security concerns, Israel maintains tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods at its crossings with the Gaza Strip, including an almost blanket ban on exports from the territory. Hamas’ move on Wednesday marked the most concrete implementation of the Oct. 11 reconciliation deal struck in Cairo. Ministers from the Abbas-backed government of national consensus have begun gradually to assume their duties in Gaza in past weeks and on Tuesday took over the revenue accounts of the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, officials said. Hamas had used those revenues - taxes and fees collected from merchants and passengers - as part of its Gaza budget, to pay salaries of the 40,000 to 50,000 employees it has hired since 2007. Those wages will now be paid by the PA, under the Cairo agreement. The Palestinian Authority will begin operating the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings immediately, officials said, while in Rafah the operation will await further security arrangements such as deploying a force from Abbas' presidential guards and Cairo completing innovations on its side of the facility.

Parliamentary Demands to Exclude Ahmadinejad from EDC
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 Nearly two weeks after Iranian Parliament’s Audit Court announced that former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spent $1.3 billion of Iran’s oil income “illegally”, the deputy head of a conservatives’ faction has called for his expulsion from the influential Expediency Discernment Council, EDC. Member of parliament Gholamali Jafarzadeh said om Tuesday, “As it is proven that Ahmadinejad has violated the law, he must be expelled from EDCS”, according to ILNA. Earlier in October, Iranian parliament’s Audit Court had announced Ahmadinejad’s violations, ordering him to repay $1.3 billion. The ruling accused Ahmadinejad that during his presidency from 2008 to 2013 oil revenues were unlawfully spent without being properly transferred from the oil ministry to the treasury. Asked by ILNA what should be done with Ahmadinejad, who obviously cannot repay such an amount, Jafarzadeh responded, “As a rule, those responsible for such violations are condemned to lose their governmental positions. Therefore, Ahmadinejad should be expelled from EDC”. After completing his eight years of presidency in 2013, Ahmadinejad was appointed as a member of EDC by Supreme Leader Ali Kahmenei’s decree, on the grounds of his “priceless efforts” during his presidency. Commenting on that, Jafarzadeh said that when Khamenei appointed Ahmadinejad, the former president’s financial mishandling was not revealed. Nevertheless, at the moment, expelling him from EDC is necessary.
Notably, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Plan and Budget Commission Golamriza Tacgerdun revealed last week that mounting suspicions against Ahmadinejad are enough to take to court. More so, Tacgerdun said Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani had ignored the revealing reports which make a strong case against Ahmadinejad. For his part, Ahmadinejad dismissed the charges and threatened to divulge a “cowardly scenario” by “bands of power and wealth”.
Moreover, he has alleged that a “cabal” is waging war against the leading officials of his administration.

5 Argentinian Friends on School Reunion Killed in the New York Attack
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 Argentina on Wednesday mourned a group of friends who fell victims during the bike path terror attack in New York near the World Trade Center. The 5 friends were part of a group of 8 friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation from the Polytechnic School of Rosario, Argentina. They were all on a trip to New York and Boston, where their classmate, Marro, lives. The Argentine foreign ministry identified them as Ariel Erlij, Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, and Hernan Ferruchi. Erlij, who owned a steel mill, paid for the trip, according to Argentina's La Nacion newspaper. Several other victims were architects. Argentina's consul in New York, Mateo Estreme, told La Capital in Rosario that the survivors in the Argentine group are in a state of shock. Only days earlier, before flying to the US, they had posed for a group photo, all of them wearing T-shirts with the word "Libre," or Free, according to AP. "Four died at the scene and another young man died when he was taken away by an ambulance," Jose Nunez, a national deputy who was a friend of several of the men, told La Nacion. The Argentinian government released a statement expressing “its sincere condolences for the death of Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernán Ferruchi.”The attack killed eight people and seriously injured 11. The deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister of Belgium said in a tweet that one of the dead was Belgian, AP reported.

Lawyer: Catalonia’s Puigdemont Unlikely to Return to Spain
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 Catalonia's dismissed leader Carles Puigdemont will not return to Spain as there is a "good chance that he would be detained", one of his lawyers has said. Speaking to Dutch public newscaster NOS late Tuesday, Belgian lawyer Paul Bekaert said "as far as he told me that's not going to happen" when asked if his client would go back to Spain. "That's because we are awaiting further reactions from the Spanish authorities to see what's going to happen," Bekaert said, speaking by phone to the Nieuwsuur actuality program. The lawyer also told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Puigdemont "is not going to Madrid and I suggested that they question him here in Belgium. It is possible."Puigdemont together with 13 other former members of his administration has been summoned by Madrid’s National Audience, which deals with major criminal cases. He and his government were sacked on Friday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hours after passing a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain through the regional parliament, a vote boycotted by the opposition and considered illegal by Spanish courts. On Monday, Spain's chief prosecutor said he was seeking charges of rebellion -- punishable by up to 30 years behind bars -- sedition and misuse of public funds. But the 54-year-old Puigdemont is in Brussels, where he surfaced after reportedly driving to Marseille in France and taking a plane to the Belgian capital. At a packed and chaotic news conference Tuesday, Puigdemont said he was in Brussels "for safety purposes and freedom" and to "explain the Catalan problem in the institutional heart of Europe". He denied that he intended to claim asylum but said he and several other former ministers who traveled with him would return only if they have guarantees that legal proceedings would be impartial. Bekaert told NOS he believed "there is a good chance that Puigdemont will be detained" should he return to Spain. Asked whether Puigdemont would face a fair trial in Spain, the lawyer said "it would be premature (to say), but that would certainly be an argument we would use at an eventual extradition request". Attention in the crisis over Catalonia is now turning to the December election, called by Rajoy when Madrid took over control of the autonomous region.

Cargo Ship with 10 Crew Sinks in Black Sea, Search Operations Underway
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 A Turkish cargo ship with 10 crew on board sank on Wednesday morning in the Black Sea near the Asian side of Istanbul and a search and rescue operation is underway, the coast guard said. The cause was still unclear. The ship, Bilal Bal, sent a distress signal early on Wednesday, November 1, the coast guard command said in a statement. The ship was carrying cast iron from Turkey’s northwestern province of Bursa to the northern province of Zonguldak, Dogan news agency reported. “Unfortunately, one of our cargo ships sank in ... the Black Sea,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said. Search and rescue operations were continuing, he said. Three boats, one helicopter and one plane belonging to the coast guard were conducting search and rescue operations, according the coast guard. Lifeboats, life jackets and other gear believed to belong to the stricken vessel were found on the surface, the coast guard said. Five boats more were deployed to aid in the operations, as well as a remotely operated underwater vehicle from the Turkish naval forces, it said. The ship left from a port in the northwestern province of Bursa on Friday, Hurriyet daily reported.

Former Israeli Minister in Prison over Corruption
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 Former Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov will serve 15 months in prison for breach of trust as part of a plea bargain agreed with the State Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday. Charges of drug possession against Misezhnikov were dropped as part of the deal and he will also pay a 70,000 shekel ($20,000) fine. According to the amended indictment, Misezhnikov will admit that while serving as tourism minister, he allocated a budget of 1 million shekels to a student festival held in Eilat in 2010, while at the same time asking the organizers of the festival to employ his girlfriend Julia Roth. The Prosecution agreed to drop charges stating that Misezhnikov during his tenure was sending his advisers to purchase cocaine and that he used drugs during official occasions. Misezhnikov is one of 35 figures in Yisrael Beiteinu Party who were arrested for various corruption accusations, and they all worked under the leadership of the minister of defense and head of Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman. Among these figures are heads of settlements in the West Bank. There have been strict discussions in the media and politics regarding the role of Lieberman and the reason that prevents the police from investigating him.

Saudi Arabia Strongly Condemns New York Attack
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly condemned the truck-ramming attack in the US city of New York, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday. The source offered the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's condolences to the families of the victims, the US administration, and the friendly American people, SPA said. The official source reiterated the Kingdom's rejection and condemnation of such terrorist acts, reaffirming its solidarity with friendly countries against all forms and manifestations of terrorism and extremism, the agency added.

10 Bahrainis Stripped of Nationality, Convicted on Terrorism Charges
Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17 The Fourth High Criminal Court stripped 10 defendants from their Bahraini citizenship and sentenced nine to life imprisonment. They had been charged with forming an outlawed group that plotted "terror" attacks, smuggling arms and ammunition into Bahrain, traveling to Iran and Iraq for military training and possessing arms and ammunition. Attorney General Ahmed al-Hammadi said that the Fourth High Criminal Court issued on Tuesday a verdict against 10 defendants, sentencing nine of them to life imprisonment over charges of association with a terrorist group, while sentencing the tenth to one month imprisonment and a fine of 100 dinars for possession of a sword without a license from the competent authorities, also revoking the nationality of all the defendants. The prosecution relied on evidence from prosecution witnesses, confessions of the accused, and technical evidence, including reports of the forensic evidence directorate. It said it was informed on the arrest of a terrorist group, “and investigations indicated that a person, who moved and was deceased in Iraq, was recruiting Bahraini elements before traveling in order to send them to Iraq and Iran to receive military training." He was able to establish a terrorist group inside Bahrain to carry out terrorist attacks aiming at destabilizing Bahrain. After fleeing Bahrain before his death in 2014, he managed to recruit three convicts in the same case, all who fled to Iran. The report also included a fourth convict who recruited six convicts in the case and facilitated and arranged for seven convicts to travel to Iran for military training and to receive shipments of weapons and materials used in the manufacture of explosive materials after their return.Three convicts in the case provided secret caches of weapons received by the cell from Iran. The three suspects were also helped to flee to Iraq early in 2014 to receive military training and carry out terrorist operations in Bahrain.

Putin Visits Tehran for Talks on Syria, Nuclear Deal
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 01/17/Russian President Vladimir Putin met Iran's leadership Wednesday in Tehran as the two Damascus allies push a Syria peace plan and the Kremlin offers its backing for a landmark nuclear deal facing U.S. opposition. Putin -- on his first visit to Tehran since 2015 -- held talks with President Hassan Rouhani, before he was due to meet supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Kremlin strongman will also take part in a three-way summit with Rouhani and the leader of ex-Soviet Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev aimed at bolstering economic ties between their energy-rich nations. Moscow said Syria will be a focus of Putin's visit, which comes after Russia, Iran and Turkey pledged after negotiations in Kazakhstan on Tuesday to bring the Syrian regime and its opponents together for a "congress" to push peace efforts. Russia and Iran, key military supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey, which backs Syrian rebels, have organized a series of peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana this year, agreeing on the establishment of "de-escalation" zones in various parts of the war-torn country. Wednesday's talks will also focus on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which saw sanctions lifted in exchange for limits on Tehran's atomic program and which is under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump. Tehran signed the deal with six countries including Russia and the United States, but Trump last month refused to certify the agreement, drawing criticism from Moscow which slammed the U.S. president's "aggressive and threatening rhetoric" against Iran.
Syria peace push
Ahead of Putin's arrival, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported Russia's chief of staff Valery Gerasimov flew into Tehran for talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Bagheri to discuss "Syria...and the fight against terrorism."
The military might of Moscow and Tehran in Syria has helped prop up Assad's forces and turn the protracted conflict in his favour with a string of key battlefield victories. Since the start of the year Russia has looked to cement the gains from its game-changing intervention by spearheading the peace push at talks in Kazakhstan, positioning itself as a broker between key players Iran and Turkey and largely bypassing the West. Up until now the focus has been on quelling the violence on the ground and the three powers have established four "de-escalation zones" around rebel-held territory in the country. The zones were initially credited for bringing about a significant reduction in bloodshed, but international aid groups say they are currently failing to curb the fighting. Now Moscow seems keen on expanding its peace drive in search of a political settlement and on Thursday got Iran and Turkey to agree an initiative for a "Congress of Syrian National Dialogue" that aims to bring together some 33 delegations in the Russian city of Sochi on November 18.
Opposition to U.S.
Putin and the Iranian leadership are also set to find common cause in their fierce opposition to Trump's stance on the 2015 deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. The U.S. leader's decision not to certify the deal has been opposed by the other international powers that signed off on it as they insist the agreement is working.  The lifting of the sanctions under the nuclear deal has opened Iran up for business and Russian firms are competing to bolster their involvement in the country.  Moscow and Tehran have had close military and economic relations for some time, and in the nuclear field Russia has already built one reactor at Iran's Bushehr plant and just started work on two new ones. Putin's arrival in Iran comes a day after the U.S. Treasury added 40 Iranian individuals and entities already targeted by sanctions to a counter-terrorism blacklist. Despite initial opposition, Trump in August signed off on a sanctions bill targeting Russia, Iran and North Korea after it was passed overwhelmingly by Congress.

Hamas Hands over Egypt Border Crossing to Palestinian Authority
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 01/17/Hamas handed over control of the Gaza Strip's borders with Egypt and Israel to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday in the first key test of a landmark reconciliation accord agreed last month. The handover signaled that Islamist movement Hamas remained committed to a deal that would eventually see it give up full control of the Gaza Strip and bring an end to a 10-year rift with rivals Fatah. It not only handed over control of the crossings, but also completely dismantled its own checkpoint along the border with Israel, leaving only the one operated by the Palestinian Authority (PA) there, with trucks carting away furniture and material. A ceremony was held to formalize the handover at the Rafah border with Egypt. "There is no yellow and green. All our Palestinian people are under the Palestinian flag," said Mufeed al-Husayna, a PA minister, referring to the flag colors of the political parties that signed last month's reconciliation deal. Speaking at the Rafah ceremony, Husayna said: "We began today, under the directive of the prime minister (Rami Hamdallah), to exercise our duties by receiving all the crossings." Palestinian and Egyptian flags were flying at the Rafah ceremony, alongside large pictures of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the leader of Fatah, and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. At a separate checkpoint with Israel, an AFP photographer saw Hamas installations being dismantled and carted away, as PA and Hamas officials oversaw the handover. Hisham Adwan, director of information for the Hamas crossings, told AFP that PA employees would have full control of the borders. Under an Egyptian-brokered deal agreed on October 12, the PA is due to resume full control of the strip by December 1, with the borders the first test.
The agreement set November 1 as the deadline for handing over control of the borders.
Worsening conditions
Many issues remain to be resolved, however, particularly the fate of Hamas' 25,000-strong armed wing. Israel, which has fought three wars with militants in Gaza since 2008, has said it will not deal with any Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas unless the Islamist movement disarms and recognizes the country, among other demands. The United States has also called on Hamas to disarm and recognize Israel. Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, when the Islamists seized control in a near civil war with Abbas's Fatah, based in the occupied West Bank. Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade, citing the need to control Hamas and stop it from obtaining weapons or materials that could be used to make them. Egypt has largely closed its border as well. The Rafah crossing was not open on Wednesday despite the official handover. Azzam al-Ahmad, Fatah's chief negotiator, told Palestinian media that the Rafah crossing would be opened on November 15, but there was no confirmation from Egypt. The Gaza Strip's two million residents suffer from worsening humanitarian conditions, with only a few hours of power a day and a lack of clean water.
The reconciliation agreement has raised hopes that a more regular opening of the Egyptian border could ease humanitarian suffering.
'Positive momentum'
"The return of the crossings should facilitate the lifting of the closures, while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns, and unlock increased international support for Gaza's reconstruction, growth, stability and prosperity," Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, said in a statement. Israel's government had not responded, but a statement from the Israeli body responsible for affairs in the Palestinian territories said they would meet with PA officials in the coming days to discuss the new situation. Multiple previous pushes for reconciliation have collapsed and an incident this week threatened to undermine the latest attempt. On Monday, seven Palestinian militants were killed when Israel blew up a tunnel stretching from the Gaza Strip into its territory. Such tunnels have previously been used for attacks. The incident raised fears the timetable could be delayed, but both the PA and Hamas stressed they remained committed to the agreement. Officials from both factions accused Israel of trying to disrupt the deal, while the Israel's army said it was forced to act after its sovereignty was breached. In another step in the reconciliation process, all major Palestinian factions are due to meet in Cairo later this month to discuss the formation of a unity government.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 01-02/17

Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/November 01/17
So the worst has come to pass, and the two protagonists of the “Catalonia Crisis” have slid into open confrontation; as neither Barcelona is happy with the ‘marriage’, nor Madrid is willing to entertain a ‘divorce’.
The Pro-Independence Catalonian Regional Government – i.e. ‘the secessionists’ as Spain’s Government calls them – are regarded by Madrid as rebels, and their referendum on Independence illegal and unconstitutional. The picture is not the same, however, in the Catalonian capital Barcelona, where Pro-Independence parliamentary groups see things differently. They have insisted on seeking ‘divorce’ and won the vote in the Region’s parliament 70 to 10, in the 135 seat assembly, after the anti-Independence deputies had walked out.
This means that Catalonia, like Scotland during its own independence referendum in 2014, is a deeply divided society. There is no large majority with a well-defined idea about where it is going, its alternatives, and the future of co-existence with current domestic partners, and Europe and the world community beyond.
Calling for a full independence may have been a decisive factor that was reflected in the relatively small margins; for in Catalonia, and against in Scotland. This is quite different from what we saw a few days ago in two significant referenda in two of Italy’s richest Regions, Lombardy and Veneto. In both there were huge majorities (%98.1 in Veneto and % 95.3 in Lombardy) for those favoring stronger autonomy and more diluted relationships with the rest of Italy.
The message from Italy is clear; as although both regions are led by the northern ‘isolationist’ and Northern League - which regards the richer Industrialized North as “more European” while the poorer agrarian-touristic South as “more Mediterranean” – the organizers neither sought full secession, nor made the referenda results binding. Such an attitude shows the organizers’ deep understanding of Italy’s fragile structure and interesting contradictions, and their wise tendency to rush things during a critical period in the history of Europe, indeed the whole world.
In Italy, contrary to what we see in Spain, the political players seem more patient, although economic, cultural and linguistic differences are as common. While there are Basque and Catalan speakers in northern Spain, there are German and French speakers in northern and northwestern Italy, respectively; and while there are both radical and socialist Lefts confronting the remnant of Francisco Franco’s fascist legacy, there are radical and socialist Italian lefts confronting the fascism legacy of Benito Mussolini. Furthermore, as there exist active secular and pluralist trends throughout Spain, Italy’s Left even managed during the Cold War era to dominate city councils of major cities, including Rome, the political capital and spiritual center of Catholicism.
As a matter of fact, no large or medium sized European country is free of secessionist currents of suppressed wishes for ethnic, cultural or regional distinctions and privileges. In the ‘Old Continent’, where there is a widespread acceptance of separating the state and church – perhaps more than anywhere else in the world – one notices the maturing of the experience of ‘co-existence through accumulation’, including accumulation imposed or effected from above through wars, alliances of elites, and royal intermarriages. In the ‘Old Continent’ ‘interests’ - nothing but ‘interests’- play the central role in the nation-building process.
Religions in Europe have never been a sufficient element in bringing about unity. Christian states have fought long wars showing that religion on its own is never a uniting factor; indeed, one of the most salient proofs is that Christian powers led the two warring coalitions of the two world wars, with the Ottomans being the exception in the first, and the Japanese in the second. This applies, as we are aware, to the Muslim states throughout history, in Asia and Africa.
Religious sects too, neither in the past nor the present, are enough to create a secure union or even alliance. Germany and Great Britain are both predominantly ‘protestant’, Russia and Ukraine are likewise predominantly ‘orthodox’; and in Spain secessionist fires rage in ‘catholic’ regions against a ‘catholic’ center, and at a much less acute situation the same is true in Italy. On the other hand, in the Middle East, it is well known known that Turks, Kurds and Arabs, are not only predominantly Muslim, but also Sunni; and yet, there is an old conflict between the Turks and the Kurds, moreover after Saddam Hussein was deposed, the Kurdish leadership in Iraq sided with the Shi’ite political parties and militias against Sunni parties and militias, and this continued up until the last few weeks.
Added to the above, even sharing one landmass is not enough to turn neighbors into one country. Sweden and Norway share the bulk of the Scandinavian Peninsula, and Spain and Portugal share the Iberian Peninsula but still they have remained independent.
Then, what about language? Even speaking the same language did not convince the American Colonies to remain loyal to the British Crown, and did not prevent Canada, Australia, and New Zealand from achieving independence, and never tempted Spain’s colonies in the Americas to unite in one nation.
Last but not least, there is the element of ethnicity.
Well, as pertains to the notion of unity based on ethnicity or race, the purity of race is scientifically unproven. It does not exist in major societies not living isolated from historical trade routes and in territories fought over by liberators and attacked by conquerors. No one ethnicity or race automatically means or insures political unities; otherwise, we wouldn’t have known animosities and wars of all kinds between members of the same ethnicity, such as the those between the Russians and Poles who are both Slavs, the English and German who are both Germanic (in fact the British royal family is of German origins), the Pashtuns and Tajiks of Afghanistan both of whom are Indo-Europeans; just to mention a few.
To conclude, one must say that what creates nations are ‘interests’ of the people(s) if they have the right to choose freely and responsibly in a democratic environment; and these days, although history of nations is full of myths and folklore – some of which may be true or untrue – wise leaders are becoming more realistic. The notion of ‘globalization’ in Europe now needs to be re-defined, and the same goes for ‘Arabism’ in the Arab world.
After the West’s long co-existence with the ‘nation-state’ and trials with ‘pluralism’, and the Arabs’ confusion in dealing the two opposites of ‘state of partition’ (of the ‘Arab nation’) and ‘minority rights’, here come the experiments of the Catalonians, Scots and Kurds to ring alarm bells to all nations.

The European Project Needs a New Long-Term Vision
Jean Tirole/Bloomberg/November 01/17
Back in the 1950s, the European Union's founders had a long-term vision for managing the potentially dangerous period following World War II. Today, we once again need a long-term vision.
The euro area has two main options: the current strategy of improving the Maastricht Treaty, designed to ensure the fiscal discipline required for many states to share a currency; or a more ambitious move toward federalism, which would require greater risk sharing among member states. Neither is compatible with the desire for more sovereignty. This is the heart of the problem.
The Maastricht approach focuses on controlling government debt and deficits. To that end, independent fiscal councils have been introduced in member states. These can be useful in identifying issues such as systematically optimistic growth forecasts, which make projected deficits appear smaller. But to be effective, they must have the power to require prompt corrective action and be staffed by Europeans rather than citizens of the countries concerned. All of this works against the current impulse toward national sovereignty.
The federalist option goes even further. Starting with the U.S. at the end of the eighteenth century, many countries reacted to the difficulties of their member states by increasing the federal capacity to go into debt and by introducing systematic fiscal transfers among their members. This implies a greater level of risk sharing than the euro area countries currently allow. It would entail the issuance of jointly guaranteed bonds, a federal budget and joint insurance plans for deposits and unemployment -- all of which would act as automatic stabilizers, offering support for countries in temporary difficulties.
The practical importance of such risk sharing is debated: In the US, for example, financial diversification might be a more important stabilizer. Nonetheless, the sharing of risk -- by reducing the excuses for poor performance -- may have helped the federal government refuse bailouts for states, a policy it has maintained since the 1840s.
The federalist vision requires that countries meet two preliminary conditions. First, every insurance contract must be signed behind the veil of ignorance. You wouldn’t sell me insurance if you suspected that my roof had a good chance of falling in tomorrow -- which is why the countries of northern Europe are wary of entering such agreements with the countries of the south. This asymmetry might be corrected by identifying and isolating the problems inherited from the past and dealing with them adequately. For example, in introducing a European system of deposit insurance, banks' existing troubled assets could be dealt with by transferring them to “bad banks,” which would remain the responsibility of each member state.
A second and much more fundamental condition is a set of common rules to limit moral hazard. Such rules should concern those areas of potential mismanagement that can force a country to ask for help. We have seen, for example, that the supervision of banks should not be carried out at the country level, because the banking sector and the politicians then have too much influence over the process.
Setting rules for common unemployment insurance is more complex. The jobless rate in euro area countries is only partly determined by the economic cycle, which by itself would justify a mechanism of insurance among countries. It also depends on how governments approach such issues as job protection, social security contributions, occupational training, collective negotiations and the protection of professions. Those countries whose choices produce an unemployment rate of 5 percent will not wish to share an insurance system with those whose choices create a 20 percent rate. The same goes for pension and legal systems. Harmonizing policies will require ceding some sovereignty, an idea which even some of those who claim to be federalists still oppose.
Granting extended powers to the European parliament will not make the federalist approach more acceptable. First, there must be an agreement on a foundation of common laws and regulations, as was the case -- in a more modest way -- during the initial phase of the European project. More generally, each member state will fear that the profound contractual incompleteness of a top-down “political Europe” will produce a result even more distant from its aspirations than what we have today. The consequences of federalism should be understood by everyone before we set out on this path.
Federalism is sometimes much more than an insurance policy among regions of a single federation. In other words, transfers between regions can be more structural than conditional. In the U.S., wealthy states such as California and New York systematically and substantially subsidize poor states such as Alabama and Louisiana. Puerto Rico currently receives 30 percent of its gross domestic product from the rest of the U.S. Germany makes large, regular transfers among its Länder, which all receive about the same amount per inhabitant. Italy transfers resources from the north to the south, the U.K. from the south to the north, and Catalonia to the rest of Spain. In Belgium, Flanders transfers funds to Wallonia, whereas financial flows used to move from Wallonia to Flanders.
In the end, everything depends on the willingness of wealthy regions to finance poor regions. We still have an imperfect understanding of what would determine this willingness. Clearly a common language and nationalist feeling help generate the unidirectional transfers in Italy. It can also be argued that the strong separatist movements in regions like Catalonia in Spain and Flanders in Belgium are linked to a sense of cultural and linguistic distance. More generally, the welfare state is usually more developed in homogeneous communities. For better or worse, groups are more receptive to redistribution when the beneficiaries are close to them culturally, linguistically, religiously, and racially.
It's hard to say what path Europe will take. But if we Europeans want to live together, we have to accept the idea of losing a little more of our sovereignty. To achieve this in an era of increased nationalistic fervor, we must rehabilitate the European ideal and remain united around it. This is no easy task.

Gaza Strip: Breeding Ground for Radical Terror Groups
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/November 01/17
Hamas is doing its utmost to conceal the truth about ISIS in the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority (PA) is continuing to pretend as if Hamas is headed toward moderation as a result of the "reconciliation" accord.
Hamas presents itself as the sole and legitimate ruler of the Gaza Strip and as if it is in full control of the Gaza Strip.
If the "reconciliation" agreement is implemented, Majed Faraj, commander of the PA General Intelligence, and considered a strong candidate to succeed Abbas in the West Bank, will soon find himself working with his Gaza Strip counterpart -- a convicted terrorist who serves as a "general," named Tawfik Abu Na'im.
Hamas claims that Israel was behind the attempt on the life of Tawfik Abu Na'im, a top Hamas security official in the Gaza Strip. There is good reason to believe, however, that ISIS was behind the assassination attempt, which took place in the Gaza Strip on October 27.
Abu Na'im, commander of Hamas's security apparatus, was lightly injured when an explosive device hidden beneath his car exploded after Friday prayers in a local mosque. Even before Abu Na'im was rushed to hospital, several Hamas officials and spokesmen publicly held Israel responsible. This claim, of course, came without any evidence to support their charge.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, visits top Hamas security official Tawfik Abu Na'im at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on October 27, 2017. (Image source: Mohammad Austaz, Hamas Media Office)
Abu Na'im, who was released from an Israeli prison in 2011 after 23 years behind bars for terror-related offenses, is one of the founders of Hamas's military wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam.
Since his release and return to the Gaza Strip, Abu Na'im, who holds the rank of "general," has been dubbed the "man of difficult missions."
Only a handful of Hamas officials know the nature of the "difficult missions" Abu Na'im is said to have carried out on behalf of the terrorist movement. What is certain, is that these missions were anything but humanitarian in nature.
Those who are familiar with Hamas's "missions" cannot but conclude that the "general" was involved in terrorist activities such as the digging of tunnels and the smuggling of weapons. It is also likely that he was involved in planning terror attacks and preparing Hamas for another war against Israel. Hamas is now claiming that Abu Na'im was targeted by Israel precisely because of his involvement with Hamas's terrorist activities. Hamas is also claiming that by targeting its "general," Israel is seeking to sabotage the recent "reconciliation" agreement between Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA). Ma'mun Abu Amer, a Palestinian expert on Israeli affairs, argues that Israel is the only beneficiary of the assassination of a senior Hamas official. "Israel is trying to sabotage the reconciliation and create chaos in the Gaza Strip," he alleged. He even went as far as claiming that Israel is behind a number of ISIS-inspired terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
This last claim is significant. Why? Because it contains a hint as to the identity of the party that is really behind the assassination attempt on the life of Abu Na'im: another ISIS-inspired groups. In the Gaza Strip, most Palestinians do not seem to be buying the Hamas claim that Israel was behind the assassination attempt.
It is, in fact, an open secret among Palestinians there that ISIS-inspired terrorists were the ones who planted the explosive device beneath Abu Na'im's vehicle.
In addition to his involvement with Hamas's anti-Israel terrorism, Abu Na'im was also responsible for a crackdown on ISIS-inspired groups and individuals who have been openly challenging the Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. Hamas considers these groups and individuals a major threat to its totalitarian regime and hegemony over the Gaza Strip. Many of the ISIS-affiliated jihadis in the Gaza Strip are former disgruntled members of Hamas who broke away from the group under the pretext that Hamas is too soft, and is failing to carry out enough terror attacks against Israel.
A few weeks ago, Abu Na'im's men managed to detain one of the prominent ISIS-affiliated fugitives, Nur Issa, in the Gaza Strip. Issa had been wanted by Hamas for nearly two years before he was captured in a Hamas security operation. The detention of Issa enraged ISIS and its supporters in the Gaza Strip and Syria.
According to some sources, shortly before the assassination attempt, Abu Na'im received a telephone call from an unnamed ISIS operative in Syria. The ISIS operative reportedly who made threats against Abu Na'im's life because of the Hamas crackdown on ISIS members and the detention of Issa. Abu Na'im, however, according to the sources, apparently did not take the threat seriously,
Abu Na'im is the second senior Hamas official who has reportedly been targeted by ISIS-inspired groups in the Gaza Strip. Earlier this year, Mazen Fuqaha, another senior Hamas operative, was gunned down outside his home in the Gaza Strip. There, too, Hamas pointed the blame at Israel. Three Palestinians were arrested and executed after a secret trial, in which they allegedly confessed that they had carried out the assassination of Fuqaha on the instructions of Israel. However, only very few Palestinians in the Gaza Strip seem to believe this claim by Hamas. Many are convinced that Fuqaha was killed by ISIS-affiliated terrorists.
Hamas knows the truth about the responsibility of ISIS for targeting members of Hamas. Yet, this is a rather inconvenient truth that Hamas prefers to hide. First, it is not comfortable for Hamas to admit that ISIS has long been operating under its nose in the Gaza Strip. Second, it is not convenient for Hamas to admit that its members are defecting to ISIS and other more extremist Islamist terror groups in the Gaza Strip. Third, the timing of last week's assassination attempt on the life of Abu Na'im is particularly problematic for Hamas, as it coincides with its "reconciliation" agreement with Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. Hamas presents itself as the sole and legitimate ruler of the Gaza Strip and as if it is in full control of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas does not want Abbas or the rest of the international community to know about the ISIS threat to its regime, as this could have a negative impact on the "reconciliation" agreement and perhaps scare Abbas away from the Gaza Strip.
Particularly disturbing, meanwhile, is that Abbas's top Palestinian Authority officials were among the first Palestinians to phone the Hamas general and arch-terrorist, Abu Na'im, to congratulate him on surviving the botched assassination attempt.
Of special significance is a phone call Abu Na'im received from Majed Faraj, commander of the PA General Intelligence in the West Bank. Faraj is one of the most powerful figures in the West Bank and is considered a strong candidate to succeed Abbas. Moreover, Faraj enjoys the full political and military backing of the US and other Western countries. If the "reconciliation" agreement is implemented, Faraj will soon find himself working with his Gaza Strip counterpart -- a convicted terrorist who serves as a "general," named Tawfik Abu Na'im.
If and when Faraj and the Palestinian Authority ever set foot in the Gaza Strip, they too will have to face the reality that ISIS is already operating there and that it poses a threat not only to Hamas, but also to the PA itself. If ISIS sees Hamas as being too moderate and pragmatic, one can only imagine what ISIS thinks about President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority.
For now, however, Hamas and the PA continue to prefer the ostrich routine, burying their heads in the sand. Hamas is doing its utmost to conceal the truth about ISIS in the Gaza Strip, while the PA is continuing to pretend as if Hamas is headed toward moderation as a result of the "reconciliation" accord.
Hamas and the Palestinian Authority point accusing fingers at Israel rather than deal with the perils that stare each of them in the face. And it works: this incessant, knee-jerk blame of Israel distracts the world from seeing that the Gaza Strip has become a breeding ground for radical Islamist terror groups. Abbas knows very well that Hamas is not going to change its ideology, but is nevertheless proceeding to get into bed with his nemesis. Hamas knows very well that ISIS is already in the Gaza Strip, but continues to claim Israeli conspiracies. The question is, for how long will Abbas and Hamas manage to fool everyone all of the time?
**Bassam Tawil is a Muslim 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.

Yes, That Cartoon of Me Was Anti-Semitic
Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/November 01/17
When the official newspaper of Berkeley published a color caricature of me as a spider-like creature with one leg stomping on a Palestinian child and another holding an IDF soldier spilling the blood of an unarmed Palestinian, there was universal condemnation of what was widely seen as a throwback to the anti-Semitic imagery of the Nazi era. The chancellor condemned the cartoon, stating that "its anti-Semitic imagery connects directly to the centuries-old 'blood libel' that falsely accused Jews of engaging in ritual murder."
Writing in the Daily Cal, students from a pro-Israel organization at Berkeley debunked the claim that the cartoonist and the student paper editors at the Daily Cal could not have known that this cartoon was seeped in traditional anti-Semitic stereotyping:
"In the cartoon, Dershowitz is depicted with a hooked nose and a body of a large amorphous black sphere. His exaggerated head and contorted legs and hands evoke images of a spider. The rhetoric of Jews as 'invasive' insects in society, trying to take over resources and power, has long been used to justify violence, persecution and murder. The two elements of the cartoon, with Dershowitz's face in the front and the black body in the back, plays into the anti-Semitic trope of Jews as shape-shifting, sub-human entities using deception and trickery in order to advance their own agendas. This rhetoric is nowhere more common than in Nazi propaganda, and can be traced far beyond WWII in European and American media."
The students also wrote about the "pain" the anti-Semitic cartoon had caused them:
"To a Jewish student on this campus, seeing this cartoon in the Daily Cal is a reminder that we are not always welcome in the spaces we call home... Telling Jews that we can or cannot define what is offensive to us, because of our status as privileged minority in the United States, is anti-Semitic."
Some students also pointed to the swastika that had defaced my picture on a poster outside Berkeley Law School, as evidence of a pervasive anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism on that campus.
Not surprisingly, it was only an op-ed writer for the Forward who not only denied that the imagery was anti-Semitic, but actually justified it:
"The mere appearance of blood near a Jew is not a blood libel. The State of Israel has an army, and that army sometimes kills Palestinians, including women and children. When you prick those people, I am told, they bleed. It is perverse to demand of artists that they represent actual, real Israeli violence without blood, just because European Christians invented a fake accusation."
But how then does the writer justify my depiction as a hulky black spider with an overbearing shape and twisted spider-like hands – imagery traditionally used to depict Jews as offensive, venomous insects? The Forward also did not show readers the color cartoon. Instead they showed them a black and white version that makes it harder to see the spider like imagery.
Echoing the editor of the Daily Cal, the op-ed writer published by the Forward also argued that the cartoon was a legitimate criticism of my talk. But the cartoonist has now admitted that he didn't hear my talk. Nor did the Daily Cal report on it. Had they listened, they would have heard a pro-peace, pro two-state, pro compromise proposal.
Would the Forward publish an ope-ed that justified comparable images of women, blacks or gays? The baseball player, Yuri Gurriel, who made a slanted-eye gesture was also reflecting the "truth" about facial differences, but no one would suggest that it wasn't a racist stereotype.
By publishing an op-ed that defends bigoted caricatures only of a Jewish supporter of Israel –- when no college newspaper would ever peddle stereotypes of other ethnic, religious or social groups –- the Forward too engages in an unacceptable double standard.
**Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of, "Trumped Up! How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy," which is now available.
© 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.

Might Xi Jinping's Star Be Burning Too Bright?

David Ignatius/The Washington Post//November 01/17
WASHINGTON -- President Xi Jinping's command at this month's Communist Party gathering was so complete that President Trump likened him to a "king." But some China analysts are wondering whether Xi has overreached.
Xi dominated the stage, literally and figuratively, at the party's 19th Congress, which ended this week in Beijing. His consolidation of power has nearly erased the collective leadership style of his recent predecessors and vaulted him into a Chinese pantheon occupied only by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. "Xi Jinping Thought" is now celebrated as the guide to a "new era" for China.
Xi's capture of the commanding heights was summarized in a private report by Pamir Consulting, a leading advisory firm in China. During Xi's first five years in office, Pamir reported, his anti-corruption campaign has disciplined 1.53 million party members and prosecuted 278,000, including 440 ministerial or provincial officials and 43 Central Committee members, about 11.4 percent of that body.
Xi has purged the Chinese military, too. Under his rule, 13,000 officers have been sacked and more than 50 general officers have been imprisoned for corruption, by Pamir's count. In place of the ousted generals, Xi has installed new commanders for the joint staff, army, navy and air force of the People's Liberation Army. Members of this reshaped PLA now appear to control nearly 20 percent of the party's reconstituted Central Committee.
Xi also reigns supreme in the factional battle at the top of the party leadership. Of the 25 members of the Politburo, 17 are his allies, Pamir estimates. His faction has four seats on the Politburo's seven-member standing committee. And for the first time in several decades, the leadership hasn't signaled who will succeed Xi after he completes his second five-year term as party secretary, suggesting that he may ignore the 10-year limit that capped recent Chinese leaders.
Trump appears to see a kindred spirit in Xi. He made a congratulatory telephone call Wednesday and praised Xi's "extraordinary elevation" in a tweet. "Some might call him the king of China," Trump said in a television interview.
What could go wrong for a leader with such sweeping authority? Several leading analysts argue that Xi's dominance is now so complete that it carries a kind of vulnerability. He owns China's economic and foreign policies so totally that he'll get blamed for any setbacks. Perhaps more important, his power play may worry older Chinese who remember the damage done by Mao's cult of personality.
"Beneath the confetti, there's an uncomfortable apprehension among some of China's elderly leaders who recall the capriciousness and brutal realities of one-man rule," explains Kurt Campbell, who ran the State Department's Asia policy during the Obama administration and was in Beijing to observe the congress.
Will other top Chinese officials dare to question Xi? Analysts noted the mostly impassive posture during Xi's long speech from Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji, former president and prime minister, respectively. The gathering wasn't attended by Li Rui, a deeply respected 100-year-old former secretary of Mao who suffered during the Cultural Revolution and helped establish the institutions of post-Mao collective leadership.
Xi's concern about dissent was perhaps signaled by a recent internal party document that, according to a Chinese source, warns against criticism of party leadership, Communist history, traditional Chinese culture and national heroes. That implies a ban on criticism of Xi himself.
The scope of Xi's ambition isn't just domestic or personal power. He outlined at the congress an agenda for China's growth through 2050 into a "modernized strong country" that can dominate technology, finance and security. China five years ago spoke of its ambitions to be a regional power, but Xi now describes a China that can frame a new global order.
Trump's America poses a tricky problem. For now, Xi chooses to reciprocate Trump's embrace. China is planning for Trump's arrival next month as if it's a royal visit, much as the Saudis received him last May. An elaborate welcoming ceremony is planned, perhaps followed by a photogenic meeting of Xi's grandchildren and Trump's. (Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are said to be coming with their family.)
The "deliverables" at the Trump-Xi summit will be mutual commitments on North Korea and trade. To oversee the Sino-America account, Xi is said to be readying Yang Jiechi, a former ambassador to Washington, as deputy prime minister with oversight of foreign policy. Chinese strategists have traditionally argued that it's wise to appear less powerful than you really are, and take adversaries by surprise. This approach is no longer possible for a monarchical Xi. He must beware the weakness inherent in his dazzling display of strength.

Qatar’s official nonsense
Mohammed Al-Hammadi/Al Arabiya/November 01/17
The Qatari emir has surprised me by what he said this week in interview with CBS. But, when it comes from Qatar then it is shouldn’t actually come as a surprise. Sheikh Tamim is trying to show the world that the boycotting countries do not want to begin dialogue because they only want a regime change. He tried to appear as if he is ready to have dialogue and make concessions. But what has Qatar done in the last five months to show this?
He continued giving hints about sovereignty, claiming that the four countries seek to violate Qatari sovereignty. As for their relations with the “honorable” Iran, the prince explained that this rapprochement is due to closed border with Saudi Arabia and the boycott imposed on Qatar.
This is not really strange as two days earlier, we heard of former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem’s admiration of Israel. When he wanted to compare Arab countries with other countries, he did not choose Britain, Finland, Singapore or South Korea, but he went directly to the Israeli model to show how he is impressed with it, saying that it is country that has no oil, but it has goals.
The appropriate response to all these Qatari official statements might be what Bahraini King Hamad bin Issa said yesterday, stressing that it is time to take firmer action against those ask the support of the other countries against neighboring countries. The king added that Qatar proved that it does not respect the agreements upon which the GCC was established. This has led to the king rethinking Bahrain’s participation in the upcoming GCC summit; he said: “Bahrain cannot attend any summit or meeting, attended by Qatar unless it reforms its approach, returns to its correct path and responds to the demands of the boycotting countries.”So all has became clear again, Doha has to stop this nonsense, media games and trivial campaigns. The statements from the Qatari officials are not showing responsibility and are not addressing the crisis. They are just maneuverings that have made Qatar fail to get out of the crisis in its early phases. Everyone should see the reality of this crisis and know that the four boycotting countries have approached Qatar for years to hash out differences, but Qatar instead insisted on escaping the many issues.

Respect for religious pluralism in Islamic history
Dr. Tayyeb Tizini/Al Arabiya/November 01/17
The Pact of Umar was a ‘treaty’ forged during the conquest of Jerusalem more than 1400 years ago, at the beginning of Islamic history. It contributes to laying down the foundations of coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims. In it are answers to most contemporary issues, such as: How do we deal with our enemies who fight us, how do we treat women and children during times of war, is every means permissible to kill enemies, who use women and boys as human shield, etc. These questions have been addressed in an enlightened manner by modern laws and customs with the aim of preserving human values and dignity.
Islamic rules of engagement
On comparing modern rules of engagement and laws of war that establish the safety of civilians during times of conflict and with Islamic thought and jurisprudence we find many convergences. The reflection of Islamic approach can be drawn from the instructions of first Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, gave to the army of Osama bin Zaid before the latter’s campaign: “Stop Oh people that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. Do not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy's flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.” (cf. History of Al Tabari, Part 3, p 226).
This text is replete with humanitarian profundity and dates back 1,400 years. Even in modern times (especially the 20th century), these values were acknowledged, for example in the Introduction to International Humanitarian Law, Geneva: International Committee of the Red Cross under the section titled: Islamic Arab history. We have witnessed the emergence of religious and ideological divisiveness in all its ugliness, which presents a bleak picture of the Arab world.
“In a conscious look at the long-standing Arab-Islamic heritage, we can see how keen it is to assert egalitarian traditions by adding to its humane character and urging adherence to them in terms of mutual respect. This is consistent with the provisions and spirit of international humanitarian law, which protects the rights of combatants and victims of armed conflict.”
This tradition was evident in the era of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), the first Caliph Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), and was passed on to the second Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab, (may Allah be pleased with him), who laid the foundations of coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims.
This is exemplified in the incident when the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab when he travelled from Jabiyah in Damascus to Jerusalem. In accordance with a pact between him and the Christians, he entered Jerusalem and set up a separate room which he cleaned with his companions and prayed there.
Being the leader of the victorious army, he could have prayed in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre but he did not. When asked why he did not pray inside the church, he answered: “If I had prayed inside the church, I was afraid Muslims would say, ‘This is where Omar prayed’, and then may try to establish a mosque in its place.” This shows The Pious Caliph’s great wisdom and commitment to values of tolerance.
Review Islam with new knowledge
In light of these glorious Islamic traditions, why don’t we tackle the issue of tolerance and coexistence in our times, where religious and sectarian wars have again raised their ugly head and have destroyed countries like Syria!
We have witnessed the emergence of religious and ideological divisiveness in all its ugliness, which presents a bleak picture of the Arab world.
While speaking about Islam, we are aware that it is capable of rational interpretation. In spite of several interpretations of religious texts at present, we believe there is room for re-interpretation in the light of new knowledge in disciplines of sociology, politics and history through which we could review traditional understanding of sacred texts, in order to promote the spirit of tolerance and respect for pluralism and human rights.

A new era: Women allowed in Saudi stadiums
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 01/17
The decision that the Saudi sports authority has taken to allow women and families to enter football stadiums is one of the most important bold and commended steps the Saudi government has taken recently.  Before this decision there was another drastic changed that echoed loudly and there’s no exaggeration in that. I meant the ruling to allow women to drive. As was expected, and this is not unusual, there are those who are resisting these changes on the pretext of religion, socio-cultural excuses or both. But the strength of rejection today is not as it was in yesterday’s Saudi Arabia ... We are really changing ... This is evidence to a healthy prospect because those who don’t change become doomed to annihilation and stagnation.
There is a common collective and individual psychological procedure. The norm lies in rejecting the new and generating doubts about it no matter how useful and beneficial the change may be. The new is resisted even if it has nothing to do with a forbidden acknowledged and testified religious law. Yet, religious jurisprudence is applied simply as a cover for the social psychological denial.
This behavior has been apparent in more than one country and in more than one religion or religious sect. The ancient Iraqi social researchers mentioned what they have called Shiite clerics’ resistance to opening formal educational schools.
When the printing press was founded as the most important invention to spread knowledge in the Middle Ages, the scientists of Asitane (Istanbul nowadays) Astana, capital of the Ottoman Empire, and the ‘Sheikhs of Islam in it’ stood against the printing press. So, in 1728 Ottoman scholars issued a fatwa forbidding the printing of all religious books and limiting permissibility – how generous of them – to print non-religious books only. As for the resistance on formal female education, you can go on and on about this. This resistance is not only in Najd, but also in Hejaz. Yet, it’s not just in Najd and Hejaz, but also in the Gulf such as Kuwait and Sharjah. The again, it’s not only in the Arab world but in many Muslim countries, as per the thorough explanation of Saudi researcher Abdullah al-Washmi in his book “Fitnat Alkawl Bitaaleem Al Banat” (The Fitna in educating girls).
Speaking of this, I recall the Saudi scene of when some religious Sheikhs resisted modernization manifestations, even the simple ones. A time where it was forbidden for a man to wear a watch on his wrist. Others include:
- Football
- Holding theatrical plays
- Training soldiers on foreign systems
- Men were forbidden to clap because it resembled them to women
- Women were forbidden to have a side parting that allowed their hair to wrap around one side of their neck
These are not assumptions, but they’ve been stipulated in a book written by the late Sheikh Hamoud al-Touegri, who died in 1993.
Rejecting the new is usual behavior, however it is decreasing and disappearing with time and the disappearance of any concern over it, unless there are people who seek to create a fake case. But not to those who seek from rejecting the new to create a mobilization issue.
Welcome to the New World, Saudi women.

America's Radicalization Problem: It's Local
Matthew Levitt/New York Daily News/November 01/17
The Trump administration's focus on border security and 'terrorism prevention' is not well suited to countering homegrown attacks like the one New York just suffered.
Tweeting in the wake of yesterday's vehicular terrorist attack in Manhattan, President Trump quickly pointed to his preferred counterterrorism plan: border security. "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!" Forget the fact that Uzbekistan does not appear on any of the President's various iterations of the travel ban, that's beside the point. The problem is that the kind of terrorist threat New York just suffered has nothing to do with border security. The most pressing terrorism threat facing American communities today is local, not foreign. The solutions must be local too.
The suspect behind yesterday's attack, Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old from Tampa, Florida, reportedly emigrated to the U.S. from Uzbekistan in 2010. The investigation is in its early stages, but if previous cases are any indication, it is likely Saipov did not come to this country -- legally or illegally, that is still unclear -- as a violent extremist. Odds are, he was radicalized here.
According to a March 2017 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, "most foreign-born, U.S.-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States." DHS' findings echo a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee December 2016 report, which concluded that "the United States faces its highest Islamist terror threat environment since 9/11, and much of the threat now stems from individuals who have been radicalized at home." Today's most immediate threats are mostly from homegrown violent extremists who act in small groups or as lone offenders. Simply stopping people from certain countries from entering the United States does not address the problem. Even the strictest immigration policies fail to address this issue, because radicalization happens here.
To make matters worse, authorities have long warned of the likelihood of vehicular attacks in the United States. In December 2010, the FBI and DHS co-authored a report warning of "ramming attacks" and the ease with which a truck could be rented for such a purpose, as apparently happened yesterday in New York. Al Qaeda's Inspire magazine recommended wannabe jihadists consider car rammings as a particularly effective terrorist tactic. There is no such thing as 100% success in the counterterrorism world, even when authorities know to expect certain types of attacks.
The good news is that we are not without effective responses to Homegrown Violent Extremism (HVE). The DHS report concluded that radicalization trends in the U.S. present opportunities for tailored programs to counter violent extremism (CVE). A bipartisan report from The Washington Institute also identified local communities as being "on the frontlines of defense against homegrown violent extremism." Getting ahead of the curve and preventing the next homegrown violent extremist from being radicalized requires a CVE strategy that empowers communities and builds trusting partnerships with and within local communities to prevent and counter violent extremism.
But here too, the Trump administration shows signs its counterterrorism approach is behind the times. DHS officials have indicated they now prefer to reframe CVE efforts as "terrorism prevention," but it is not at all clear the kind of local, community-based programs that can effectively counter extremism here in the homeland would be included in this new, more muscular but likely less effective framing.
Homegrown terrorism is often less sophisticated than terrorism carried out by groups trained abroad, but as yesterday's Halloween attack in New York underscored they can be painfully successful. Military success against the Islamic State will almost certainly lead to a drop in terrorism in the West, but no travel ban will stop the next HVE attack by someone who is radicalized only after arriving here in the United States.
**Matthew Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler Fellow and the director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute.