November 07/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
My word that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please
Isaiah 55/1-13: "Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy? listen diligently to me, and eat you that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Turn your ear, and come to me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.  Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples.  Behold, you shall call a nation that you don’t know; and a nation that didn’t know you shall run to you, because of Yahweh your God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he has glorified you.”  Seek Yahweh while he may be found; call you on him while he is near:  let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to Yahweh, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Yahweh.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do. For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands.  Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to Yahweh for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” God is Sovereign: Life often feels confusing. If we're experiencing a tragedy or great turmoil, we might begin to doubt that God is in control. But these words remind us that the Lord is sovereign ... even in our pain, even in our troubles. Through it all, his love is transforming us, perfecting us, completing us. James MacDonald in Gripped by the Greatness of God, explains it this way: "God's sovereignty is first painful, then slowly powerful, and over much time seen to be profitable. It is to be studied with great sensitivity for the experiences of others and deep reverence for the One who controls the outcomes of every matter in the universe."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 06-07/17
Saudis Gamble On Hariri Resignation To Check Iranian Grip On Lebanon/Ben Lynfield/Jerusalem Post/November 06/17
After Hariri’s resignation, what’s next for Lebanon/Joe Macaron/Al Monitor/November 06/17
Prime Minister Hariri's Resignation Threatens Iranian Grip on Lebanon/Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/November 06/17
Hezbollah and Hariri’s resignation, time for confrontation/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 06/17

Turkey's Nuclear Ambitions/Debalina Ghoshal/Gatestone Institute/November 06/17
The Migrant Crisis Upended Europe/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/November 06/17
Hariri and the Doses of Poison/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17
Let’s Leave it to the Lawyers/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/November 06/17
Putin, Khamenei agree they need each other/Al Monitor/Week in Review/November 06/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 06-07/17
Jubeir Says Yemen Missile 'Launched by Hizbullah' as Sabhan Warns Lebanese
Berri Meets Aoun, Says 'Too Early' to Speak of Govt. Resignation, Formation
ISG Concerned by Hariri Resignation, Voices Support for 'Unity, Security'
Mashnouq Has 'Impression' Hariri Will Return, Lauds Aoun's 'Wisdom'
Paris Urges Lebanese to Show 'Responsibility, Harmony'
Rifi: Aoun Failure to Set Date for Parliamentary Consultations a Constitutional Violation
Al-Arabiya: Interference on Hariri's Convoy Carried Out with Iran-Made Equipment
Saudi King Salman Receives Lebanon’s Resigned PM
Lebanon seeks 'stability' after shock PM resignation: president
Lebanese President: Political Leaders Responsive with Calls for Calm after Hariri Resignation
Lebanon’s problems stem from Hezbollah and Iran
Further details surface linking Iran to Hariri assassination attempt
Aoun tells meeting security a red line
Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war against it
Saudis Gamble On Hariri Resignation To Check Iranian Grip On Lebanon
After Hariri’s resignation, what’s next for Lebanon?
Prime Minister Hariri's Resignation Threatens Iranian Grip on Lebanon
Hezbollah and Hariri’s resignation, time for confrontation

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 06-07/17
Saudi Arabia Freezes Accounts of Suspects Arrested in Anti-corruption Probe
Khamenei Replaces Army Commanders as Defense Budget Tightens
Saudi Leadership Offers Condolences to Trump over Texas Shooting
US in Mourning after Mass Shooting at Texas Church
Iraq Federal Court rules no region can secede after Kurdish independence bid
First civilians return to Raqqa after mines cleared
Top Netanyahu Aides Detained in Corruption Probe
Qatar Exchange Loses $33 Billion

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 06-07/17
Jubeir Says Yemen Missile 'Launched by Hizbullah' as Sabhan Warns Lebanese
Naharnet /November 06/17/Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Monday announced that the latest missile that was fired at Riyadh's international airport was “an Iranian missile, launched by Hizbullah, from territory occupied by the Huthis in Yemen.""We see this as an act of war," he told CNN. "Iran can not lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps," he added, citing Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. Al-Jubeir said the missile was made in Iran and smuggled in parts into Yemen, where he claimed "operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizbullah" helped put it back together again and then launch it. "We reserve the right to respond in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time," said al-Jubeir. He declined to say what those measures against Iran might be. "This is a very, very hostile act," he said. "We have been extending our hand to Iran since 1979 in friendship, and what we get back is death and destruction."Firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan meanwhile issued new warnings to Hizbullah and Lebanon, saying King Salman had briefed resigned Premier Saad Hariri on “Hizbullah's aggression against Saudi Arabia” during their meeting earlier in the day.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not accept that Lebanon be part of a war on Saudi Arabia,” Sabhan said in a phone interview with Al-Arabiya TV. “We will deal with Lebanon's government as a government that has declared war because of Hizbullah's militias,” Sabhan added, noting that “Hizbullah's militias influence all the decisions that Lebanon's government takes.” “The Lebanese government must understand the threat that Saudi Arabia is facing from those militias,” the Saudi minister added. He pointed out that Hizbullah “takes part in every act of terrorism against Saudi Arabia,” noting that Riyadh “will use all political means and other means to confront Hizbullah.”“The Lebanese must choose between peace and submission to Hizbullah,” Sabhan urged. “We were expecting the Lebanese government to work on reining in Hizbullah,” the minister added, noting that “it is up to the Lebanese to decide how things will turn out with Saudi Arabia.”Sabhan also accused Hizbullah of “smuggling drugs to Saudi Arabia and training Saudi youths on terrorism.”
“Hariri and the honorable people in Lebanon will not accept the stances of Hizbullah's militias,” the minister stressed, noting that claims that Hariri was “forced to resign” are “lies aimed at distracting the Lebanese.”“Lebanon is taken hostage by Hizbullah's militias and Iran... and the Lebanese have the ability to put an end to Hizbullah's violations,” Sabhan went on to say. Saudi Arabia and Iran traded fierce accusations over Yemen earlier on Monday as Riyadh said a rebel missile attack on Riyadh "may amount to an act of war" and Tehran accused its rival of war crimes. A Saudi-led military coalition battling Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen said it reserved the "right to respond" to the missile attack, calling it a "blatant military aggression by the Iranian regime which may amount to an act of war." Saudi forces on Saturday intercepted and destroyed the ballistic missile near Riyadh international airport. Yemen's Huthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to deadly Saudi airstrikes in Yemen. It was the first reported Huthi strike to reach Riyadh and threaten air traffic, underscoring the growing threat posed by the conflict on Saudi Arabia's southern border.

Berri Meets Aoun, Says 'Too Early' to Speak of Govt. Resignation, Formation
Naharnet /November 06/17/Speaker Nabih Berri announced Monday that it is “too early” to speak of accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri or forming a new government, following talks with President Michel Aoun.
“I'm in full agreement with the president regarding the current crisis, and I've learned that the Presidency has issued a statement over the resignation. I fully support this statement,” Berri said after meeting Aoun in Baabda. “It is too early to speak of the resignation of the government or the formation of a government,” Berri added. A statement issued Saturday by the Presidency had said that Aoun was “waiting for PM Hariri's return to Beirut to inquire about the circumstances of the resignation and decide on the next steps.” Hariri stunned the Lebanese with his resignation on Saturday and a haltingly delivered televised statement from the kingdom fueled speculations. In the speech, he accused Iran of meddling in Arab affairs and Iran-backed Hizbullah of holding Lebanon hostage. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speculated on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign amid the deepening Saudi-Iran rivalry.

ISG Concerned by Hariri Resignation, Voices Support for 'Unity, Security'
Naharnet /November 06/17/The members of the International Support Group for Lebanon met Monday in Beirut and expressed their “concern” following the announcement of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation. “They reaffirm their strong, collective support for the continued unity, stability, sovereignty and security of Lebanon and its people,” the ISG said in a statement distributed by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon. The ISG members commended Lebanon’s leaders for “responding to these unforeseen circumstances in a calm and steady manner,” stressing the importance for all parties to “support the continuity of Lebanon’s State institutions and the holding of timely elections, in adherence with the Constitution.”The International Support Group comprises the U.N. and the governments of China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the UK and the U.S., together with the European Union and the Arab League. It was launched in September 2013 by the U.N. Secretary-General with former President Michel Suleiman to “help mobilize support and assistance for Lebanon’s stability, sovereignty and state institutions and to specifically encourage assistance for the Lebanese Army, Syrian refugees in Lebanon and host communities and government programs and public services impacted by the Syrian crisis.”Hariri stunned Lebanon with his resignation on Saturday and a haltingly delivered televised statement from Saudi Arabia fueled speculations. In the speech, he accused Iran of meddling in Arab affairs and Iran-backed Hizbullah of holding Lebanon hostage. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speculated on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign amid the deepening Saudi-Iran rivalry.

Mashnouq Has 'Impression' Hariri Will Return, Lauds Aoun's 'Wisdom'
Naharnet /November 06/17/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq announced Monday that he has an “impression” that resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri will return soon to the country. “The meeting between Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and resigned PM Saad Hariri puts an end to a lot of rumors and proves that the situation is good. It also gives an impression that Hariri will return within days and this is an impression and not information,” Hariri said at Dar al-Fatwa after a meeting with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan. “The security situation is under control at all levels,” the minister reassured. He noted that “all answers, proposals and problems remain uncertain before PM Hariri gives answers about all that has happened.” Turning to President Michel Aoun's performance in the wake of Hariri's shock resignation, Mashnouq said the president “did a good thing when he said that he would wait for Hariri's return from Saudi Arabia before acting,” noting that Aoun “showed high wisdom and created balance with the vacuum that resulted from the televised resignation.”The minister also pointed out that “Lebanese security agencies did not have any information about the possibility of an assassination attempt against PM Hariri,” adding that “a credible Western security source could have informed Hariri directly of this.”Hariri announced his shock resignation on Saturday in a broadcast from the Saudi capital, decrying what he called the "grip" of Hizbullah and Iran on Lebanon. He also said he feared for his life.

Paris Urges Lebanese to Show 'Responsibility, Harmony'
Naharnet /November 06/17/Paris on Monday called on Lebanese parties to show “responsibility and harmony” in the wake of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's shock resignation. “France took note of the resignation of Lebanese PM Saad Hariri and it respects his decision,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement. It called on all Lebanese parties to “work in a spirit of responsibility and harmony.”“A year has passed since the reactivation of the country's institutions and it is in everyone's interest to spare Lebanon a new period of instability. The unity of the Lebanese is indispensable to enable the international community to help this country confront the numerous challenges it is facing,” the ministry added. Vowing to stay in “close contact with all Lebanese political parties,” the ministry emphasized that “France stands by Lebanon and it reiterates its support for the unity, sovereignty and stability of this friendly country.”Hariri announced his shock resignation on Saturday in a broadcast from the Saudi capital. He cited the "grip" of Hizbullah's ally Iran on the country, and also said he feared for his life.

Rifi: Aoun Failure to Set Date for Parliamentary Consultations a Constitutional Violation
Naharnet /November 06/17/Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, a former justice minister and Internal Security Forces chief, announced Monday that President Michel Aoun's “failure to set a date for binding parliamentary consultations to name a premier is a blatant constitutional violation.”Rifi also rejected what he called “the involvement of figures loyal to the president in the launching of statements that questioned PM (Saad) Hariri's resignation and included fabricated accusations against Saudi Arabia.”Aoun had announced Saturday that he would wait for Hariri's return to Lebanon and the submission of an official resignation letter. Hariri announced his shock resignation on Saturday in a broadcast from the Saudi capital. He cited the "grip" of Hizbullah's ally Iran on the country, and also said he feared for his life.

Al-Arabiya: Interference on Hariri's Convoy Carried Out with Iran-Made Equipment
Naharnet /November 06/17/Al-Arabiya television on Monday reported new information about an alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Saad Hariri prior to his shock resignation. “The technical interference that Hariri's convoy encountered in Beirut was carried out with Iranian-made equipment,” the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya quoted Western sources as saying. “The interference attempts were detected several days before Hariri's resignation,” the sources said. Western officials had warned Prime Minister Saad Hariri of a plot to assassinate him, a media report published Sunday said. Saudi-owned daily al-Hayat had reported Sunday that “high-ranking and credible Western sides relayed to resigned PM Saad Hariri a warning through direct channels about the presence of a plot to assassinate him.” Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan had said Saturday that the alleged assassination plot was unveiled by Hariri's security detail. For his part, Future TV director of political news Nadim Qoteish, who is close to Hariri, said Saturday that Hariri's convoy had been subject to telecom interference “on three occasions, the last of which was two days ago.” Qteish also revealed that Hariri had canceled a visit to the town of Beit Misk after one of the alleged interference attempts was detected. Also on Saturday, and shortly after Hariri's resignation, Al-Arabiya reported that “the plotters disabled the ‘watchtowers’ during the movements of Hariri's convoy.” Announcing his shock resignation earlier that day, Hariri said Lebanon is living "an atmosphere similar to the one that preceded the assassination of the martyr Rafik Hariri.""I have sensed covert plots to target my life," Hariri added. The Internal Security Forces issued a statement later on Saturday distancing itself from unconfirmed media reports about the alleged plot. "As for what is being circulated through media outlets, social networking websites and news websites about an attempt to assassinate PM Saad Hariri that was foiled by the ISF Intelligence Branch, the ISF Directorate General clarifies that neither it nor the Intelligence Branch are the source of the circulated reports," the ISF said.
"Therefore, it is not the source of these reports and it does not have any information about that," the ISF added. On Sunday, both the Army Command and the General Security agency said Lebanese security agencies had not been aware of any plot to assassinate Lebanese politicians prior to Hariri's resignation.

Saudi King Salman Receives Lebanon’s Resigned PM
Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17/The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz met in al-Yamamah Palace on Monday with Lebanon’s resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the Saudi Press Agency reported. During the meeting, King Salman and Hariri discussed developments in Lebanon, SPA said. The meeting was attended by Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Minister of State and Member of the Cabinet Dr. Massed bin Mohammed Al-Ayban, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs Thamer Al-Sabhan.

Lebanon seeks 'stability' after shock PM resignation: president
AFP November 06, 2017/Lebanon's president met with top national security officials on Monday, saying the country's political leadership was keen to maintain stability in the wake of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's shock resignation.
Hariri announced he was leaving his post in a television broadcast on Saturday from Saudi Arabia, citing fears for his life and sparking concerns of a political fallout. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has sought to allay those fears.
"The political leadership's responsiveness to calls for calm strengthens stability and preserves national unity," Aoun said Monday. He spoke after meeting senior national security officials, including army chief General Joseph Aoun, Defence Minister Yaacoub Sarraf, and Justice Minister Salim Jreissati.
"President Aoun will not take any unilateral decisions before meeting with PM Hariri," Jreissati said after the meeting, according to the presidency's office.
It was unclear when Hariri would return to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia, where he met King Salman on Monday. Hariri is a two-time premier whose father Rafik held the same position for years and was assassinated in 2005. In his televised resignation on Saturday, he accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of taking over his country and destabilising the broader region. His statement sparked fears that Lebanon -- split into rival camps led by Hariri and powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah -- could once again descend into violence. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday that his party had not sought Hariri's resignation, which had instead been "imposed" on the premier by Saudi Arabia.
In a televised address, Nasrallah called for "calm, patience and waiting until the reasons become clear" for Hariri stepping aside. Hezbollah ally and speaker of parliament Nabih Berri made a similar appeal on Sunday from Egypt, where he met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Aoun spoke by phone on Sunday to Sisi and to Jordan's King Abdullah II, according to the presidency.

Lebanese President: Political Leaders Responsive with Calls for Calm after Hariri Resignation
Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17/Lebanese President Michel Aoun chaired on Monday a security meeting at the Baabda presidential palace, announcing that political leaders have been responsive with the call for calm in wake of the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri over the weekend.
He said in a statement: “Their responsiveness bolsters security stability and preserves national unity.”Stability is “a red line”, said Justice Minister Salim Jreissati after the meeting the brought together ministers and top security officials to assess the situation in Lebanon after Hariri’s shock resignation of Saturday.
The meeting included Defense Minister Yaacoub al-Sarraf and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun. The PM stepped down in protest against Iran’s continued meddling in Lebanon’s internal affairs through its ally “Hezbollah.” In wake of the announcement, Aoun held a series of talks with various local and international figures to assess situation in Lebanon. On Sunday, he telephoned Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Sisi stressed that Egypt stands by Lebanon and it backs its sovereignty and unity of its land and people. The Jordanian monarch reiterated this stance, saying that Amman supports the unity of the Lebanese people and their national consensus. Aoun was set on Monday to meet Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, who later told local LBCI television that the country’s monetary situation was stable after Hariri stepped down. Markets were also normal two days after the resignation, he said, stressing that there was no danger to the Lebanese pound.

Lebanon’s problems stem from Hezbollah and Iran
Gulf News/November 06/2017 /Hariri rightly pointed to the issues, highlighting the suffocating Iranian interference in his country. There is no doubt that with the resignation of Lebanese premier Sa’ad Hariri on Saturday, there is an urgent need to ensure security and stability in Lebanon. But what is also important is being clear about where the problem lies — who threatens this security and stability of the tiny nation. The clear answer is Iran, and its proxy armed force in Lebanon, Hezbollah. True to form, militia boss Hassan Nasrallah promptly gave a speech saying Saudi Arabia was behind Hariri’s resignation. He can give speech after speech blaming everyone except his own organisation and its patron for the situation Lebanon finds itself in, but that will not change the reality. The fact is that Hezbollah is a state within a state, and does the bidding of Iran, not only in Lebanon but also in neighbouring Syria. Like former prime minister Fouad Siniora said, “The state should be the sole authority in Lebanon,” and Hezbollah is “acting according to Iranian instructions”. Hariri rightly pointed to the problem in Lebanon, highlighting the suffocating Iranian interference in the internal affairs of the country, both directly and through its proxy. He also implied that his life was under threat. There now exists the prospect of government paralysis in Beirut following Hariri’s move. Forming a government in Lebanon has always been a complicated process, and there is no reason to believe it will not be the case this time around. Saudi Arabia has long been Lebanon’s most reliable supporter and partner. Lebanon’s Grand Mufti, Shaikh Abul Latif Al Daryan, was unequivocal in his praise for the kingdom and also suggested that the Lebanese people understood why Hariri had to take the step he took. “Lebanon is for all its people. Saudi Arabia is keen on the security and stability of Lebanon and wants what is good for Lebanon as it wants good for other Arab countries,” Al Daryan said. No matter what their public posture, Hezbollah and its backers have been rattled by Hariri’s move. There will be alarm in Tehran that this might be the beginning of the moment Lebanon drifts away from its grip. United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has also said that all sides should focus their efforts on supporting the continuity of Lebanon’s state institutions, in adherence with the constitution and safeguarding the country’s security and stability. And that is the crux of the matter.

Further details surface linking Iran to Hariri assassination attempt
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 6 November 2017/Western sources confirmed that attempts to disrupt the convoy of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut happened before the announcement of his resignation. The sources said that the jamming was caused by specialized devices to disable and distort radars. These devices turned out to be Iranian-made, and they also distorted radars on Hariri’s other decoy vehicles in his entourage. Sources have told Al Arabiya earlier that the assassination attempt on Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri had been thwarted in Beirut a few days ago. Giving details, the sources said: “The planners of Hariri’s assassination attempt disrupted the watchtowers (control towers) when his convoy was passing by.” Hariri travelled to Saudi Arabia on Friday and announced his resignation as prime minister on Saturday in a speech condemning Iran and Hezbollah and saying he feared assassination. “I have sensed what is being plotted covertly to target my life,” he said. It may be recalled that Saad’s father, then prime minister Rafik Hariri was in 2005 killed by triggering a massive roadside bomb as his convoy passed by in Beirut.

Aoun tells meeting security a red line
The Daily Star/November 07, 2017/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun said Monday that national unity remained the basis for maintaining security and political stability in Lebanon, praising the responsiveness of the country’s leadership amid the recent developments. Speaking from he Baabda Palace, where he headed a security meeting, Aoun called for maintaining the calm that has prevailed since Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation and said doing so would help in finding an appropriate solution to the current political situation. Aoun also asked security forces to be prepared and follow events in the aftermath of the prime minister’s exit carefully. He also called for collaboration between the security forces and judicial authorities in order to respect the procedures in place to guarantee stability and security. The president also stressed that the role of the media was to avoid promoting rumors or anything that could affect the unity of the nation and its stability. Justice Minister Salim Jreissati reiterated Aoun’s remarks after the meeting, saying the president had assured him he would continue to hold dialogue with all political forces. “[The message] that is important in this meeting is about coordination between security and justice, above all,” Jreissati said. “President Aoun is the one who can make decisions and he stressed that the economic stability and security of Lebanon are a red line.”Jreissati added that it was encouraging that “the president heard from the heads of the security forces that the situation is calm, contrary to the rumors spread by some media.” The justice minister concluded his statement by saying that the meetings between the security and the judicial authorities would continue in order to assess the situation day by day. The meeting was attended by a number of ministers including Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, as well as State Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud, Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun and General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. A source who attended the meeting told The Daily Star on the condition of anonymity that the talks focused on the country’s security apparatus and ensuring that it was ready to face any possible terrorist threat or unrest. The source also confirmed that representatives from the security forces conveyed reassuring information on the country’s situation and said that bringing all political forces together was “a move that calmed the spirits to a great degree.” “Attention is needed to cut the road for any tensions entering the country,” the source said. “The security situation is under control and the security forces will not let anyone play with the stability of the country.” A separate meeting was held later in the afternoon to discuss the country’s economic situation, which was attended by Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil and Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh. “We hope that the political crisis will soon be resolved,” Khalil told reporters. “What can be confirmed is that our financial system can absorb the current situation and that we should not expect serious risks to financial stability.” Khalil also said ahead of the meeting that Aoun had no objection to meeting Speaker Nabih Berri. The two met later in the day, after which Berri said it was still too early to talk about the dissolution of the current government. According to the finance minister, the budget law will be published in the Official Gazette Tuesday, which is expected to “multiply the confidence [in Lebanon] locally and internationally.”
After the conclusion of the joint news conference, Khalil added that Hariri had contacted his Chief of Staff Nader Hariri before and after the premier met with King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz in Saudi Arabia Friday.

Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war against it
Tom Perry, Lisa Barrington/BEIRUT (Reuters) November 06/17/ Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of what it described as aggression against the Kingdom by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah. Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan, in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, said the Lebanese government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia”. Sabhan said this message had been delivered to the Saudi-allied Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri, who declared his resignation as the country’s prime minister on Saturday in a broadcast from Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah acts of “aggression” on the Kingdom “were considered acts of a declaration of war against Saudi Arabia by Lebanon and by the Lebanese Party of the Devil”, he added. A poster depicting Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who has resigned from his post, hangs along a street in the mainly Sunni Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh in Beirut, Lebanon November 6, 2017. The Arabic on the poster reads, "With you forever". REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir . Hariri cited an assassination plot against him in the statement announcing his resignation, and launched a scathing attack against Iran and Hezbollah for sowing strife in the Arab world. The crisis has pitched Lebanon back into the forefront of a regional struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has also played out in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen. There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese government.
Earlier on Monday, President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, appealed for national unity following Hariri’s resignation which toppled a coalition government that included Hezbollah and plunged Lebanon into political crisis. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, another political ally of Hezbollah, said in a televised statement after meeting Aoun it was too early to talk about forming a new government. Reporting by Ellen Francis, Tom Perry and Lisa Barrington in Beirut, Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; Editing by Peter Graff

Saudis Gamble On Hariri Resignation To Check Iranian Grip On Lebanon
Ben Lynfield/Jerusalem Post/November 06/17
صحيفة جيروزاليم بوست: مراهنة سعودية على استقالة الحريري لرفع قبضة إيران عن لبنان
"Saudi Arabia is more concerned than Israel about Iran."
Saad Hariri's apparently Saudi-dictated resignation as prime minister of Lebanon is the latest effort by Riyadh in its losing struggle to combat Iranian influence in the region.
Hariri announced his resignation Saturday in Saudi Arabia, citing a plot to assassinate him and blasting Hezbollah and Iran for their destructive role in Lebanon and other Arab countries
But in order to understand the actual dynamics leading to Hariri's resignation, it is necessary to keep in mind how he, backed by Riyadh like his assassinated father, came to be prime minister to begin with only a year ago.
It was through a deal between enemies he struck with Iran-backed Hezbollah. According to the deal, staunch Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun became president, while Hariri was appointed prime minister of a unity cabinet including nearly all of Lebanon's main parties. Hariri hoped he could represent the interests of the Sunni Muslim community and that his cabinet could restore governance and stability to Lebanon.
In the early part of his term, Hariri staked out an independent position, clashing with Aoun by calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah, whose political wing was a participant in his government. But over time, he acquiesced on this key issue, and Aoun's stance that Hezbollah arms are essential to defending Lebanon from Israel prevailed.
He was also seen as giving in to Hezbollah interests on budgetary issues. More recently, as noted by Eldad Shavit, senior analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies, Hariri went along with Hezbollah's insistence that a Lebanese ambassador be posted to Damascus, something that legitimized the Iranian-backed Assad regime and thus was a setback to Saudi interests.
"The Saudis felt that Hariri was not delivering and that Hezbollah and Iran were using [the governing arrangement] for their interest," said Shavit. "They felt he was not preventing their agenda and that he was influenced by Hezbollah and Iran."
Moreover, having Hariri as prime minister gave legitimacy to Aoun and to Hezbollah even as they held the real power. "To the extent that Lebanon works and functions, Hezbollah derives legitimacy from being part of that," said Brandon Friedman, a scholar at Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center. "As Hezbollah matured and played a more integral role in governance, it wanted to be seen as creating the means for a stronger, more effective Lebanon. Putting together a coalition that served Hezbollah's interest in governance legitimized it."
In Friedman's view, "Hariri's resignation can be viewed as the opening volley of Saudi Arabia to challenge Hezbollah's dominance in Lebanon. The message to Hezbollah is that Lebanon is not going to be Iraq or Syria, that Hezbollah dominance and Iranian primacy won't be permitted without a challenge."
By ordering Hariri to step down, the Saudis may be trying to create chaos in Lebanon in the hopes this will harm Hezbollah, Shavit said. "They hope a chaotic situation and difficulties assembling a government will limit Hezbollah's ability to maneuver and to achieve its objectives."
Hariri's resignation makes it more difficult for the creation of a coalition that allows Hezbollah the decisive voice, while at the same time paying lip service to other interests in Lebanon, Friedman said. "If Lebanon goes back to no functioning government and Hezbollah and Iran are seen as responsible for that, that damages the legitimacy of Hezbollah in Lebanon."
But in the view of Hebrew University scholar Yusri Hazran, it is doubtful that the Saudi gambit will succeed in really setting back Hezbollah, because it is simply too powerful in Lebanon. The Shiites are the largest community in Lebanon, they make up 40% of the population. "Hezbollah is an organization with military power stronger than the Lebanese army, and the new development is that Hezbollah has some control over the Lebanese military," he said.
"Saudi Arabia is trying to block Iranian influence in Lebanon, as in Yemen, but it's a lost cause," he said, stressing that Iran has the upper hand over Riyadh in the battle for regional primacy with governments it backs in Iraq and Syria. Yemen's fate is still being battled out. "Saudi Arabia is more concerned than Israel about Iran," he said.
The election of Aoun last year was a telling indicator that the Shiite community controls access to political power in Lebanon, which Hazran called "the Shia republic."
"The Saudis want to create a situation of political crisis, to break the political stability in Lebanon so that Hezbollah will be more busy in Lebanese internal politics than in Syria," he said. "But I'm not sure this will be achieved."
It is hard to predict how Hariri's resignation will effect Israeli interests. "If the Saudis are right and it limits Hezbollah and Iran, Israel will gain. But if the Saudis fail and Hezbollah strengthens its position and has more room to maneuver, we will lose," said Shavit.
Hazran said: "I'm not sure this will effect Israel. Israel is not interested in escalation in the near future, and the same is true of Hezbollah. Hezbollah's first priority is to achieve victory in Syria, to make sure the Ba'ath regime prevails there."

After Hariri’s resignation, what’s next for Lebanon?
Joe Macaron/Al Monitor/November 06/17
For those who entertain the dark allure of Arab conspiracy theories, Nov. 4 was a red-letter day. In the space of a few hours, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was the convergence point of three significant developments. One was that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation. The second was that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cracked down on rivals in the ruling family. The third was that a long-range ballistic missile was aimed at the Saudi capital by Yemen's Houthis.
Nothing about Hariri’s most recent travel plans or political views hinted that a resignation was imminent; this opened the door for speculation that he either had survived an assassination attempt in Beirut or was under house arrest in Riyadh. He has a history of being under Saudi pressure. In 2009-2010, when serving as prime minister for the first time, Hariri complained to US officials about Saudi pressure on him to make peace with the Syrian regime. Once the Saudi-Syrian rapprochement began to fray, Hariri was ousted from power in January 2011, within minutes of taking a photo with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. Most recently, Hariri was pressured by Saudi officials not to engage the Syrian regime or succumb to Iranian influence.
There are three plausible explanations for his Nov. 4 resignation.
The first plausible explanation is Lebanon’s legislative elections scheduled for May. While the Cabinet had reluctantly agreed on a new electoral law, there are procedural disagreements regarding how to implement it. In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has been unable to rally Lebanese leaders electorally against Hezbollah. Hariri’s ability to win by a decent margin is seen as slim due to his depleted financial resources and his perceived appeasement of Hezbollah. While the elections are up in the air for now, Hariri could be attempting to galvanize his base, just as his father, Rafiq Hariri, did while he was alive.
The second plausible explanation is Hariri’s standing in the crown prince's entourage. Since King Abdullah died in 2015, the Lebanese prime minister’s investments in Saudi Arabia have gradually fizzled. Hariri, who for months resisted Saudi pressure to act against Hezbollah, may be sending, through his resignation, a clear message of allegiance to the crown prince. If Hariri survived the latest crackdown that targeted key Saudi businessmen, this could mean that Hariri’s political stock in Riyadh has risen and that he may have the chance to finally save his company, Saudi Oger.
The third plausible explanation is the Saudi-Iranian competition. It is worth noting that as the Islamic State (IS) emerged as a major force in 2014, Riyadh made a detente with Tehran in Beirut and retreated from Iraq. Now that the war against IS is winding down, Riyadh has seized an opportunity to reassert its influence in Iraq and revoke the political detente with Iran in Lebanon. The Saudi move may aim to challenge Hezbollah’s status quo by forcing the hand of Iran in Lebanon in return for a compromise elsewhere, most notably in Syria. Pushing the envelope, though, as outlined by Hariri’s resignation, is an indication that Riyadh might not be ready yet for an open confrontation with Tehran.
The crucial question now is what will happen following Hariri’s resignation. The speculation that hell will break loose is overstated; this is not the first nor the last political crisis in Lebanon. There are some things to watch that might indicate what will come next. First is whether the security coordination between the Hariri-led Future Movement and Hezbollah will continue via the official agencies loyal to them. Second is whether Iranian-backed Hezbollah will push for a new prime minister to make the point that Lebanon can be governed without Riyadh. Third is whether the United States will join the Saudi push in Lebanon.
There are three main possible scenarios in the coming weeks and months.
Normalizing the void left by Hariri’s resignation is the first scenario, which would likely entail a paralyzed caretaker government and an extension of the parliament’s term once again. The Lebanese crisis would subsequently be on hold with no further escalation, on the back burner of US priorities such as Yemen and the GCC crisis, as deterring Iran takes center stage.
The second scenario would be to challenge Riyadh and select a confrontational prime minister, which would enable Hariri to lead the opposition against the new Cabinet.
The third and most effective scenario would be to form a transitional technocratic government, led by a neutral Sunni figure approved by Hariri, with the sole purpose of organizing the legislative elections. This would allow Hariri to run freely as an anti-Hezbollah candidate without the restrictions of governing.
It is unclear exactly what position the United States will take in all this; a US official told Al-Monitor that the expectation in Washington is that “an orderly political process” will follow in Lebanon.
If there is any benefit from the resignation, it is that it should be a wake-up call for Hezbollah’s miscalculations concerning Hariri by overtly embracing him, portraying him as weak and hinting there is a daylight between him and Riyadh. Prolonging the Iranian-backed group’s controversial adventure in the Syrian war carries dangerous regional risks, and normalizing relations between Beirut and Damascus should not have been a pressing priority ahead of the legislative elections. There also should be recognition that the Saudi return to Lebanese politics, after a long absence, might be too little, too late, that having a Lebanon policy might not be enough to counter Iran if there is no Syria policy, and that the common interests that bind the Lebanese oligarchy are usually stronger than any external pressure.
**Joe Macaron is a policy analyst at the Arab Center Washington DC. On Twitter: @macaronjoe

Prime Minister Hariri's Resignation Threatens Iranian Grip on Lebanon
Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/November 06/17
زافي بارل في صحيفة هارتس: استقالة الحريري تهدد قبضة إيران على لبنان
Saad Hariri's exit reflects a Saudi ultimatum not only to stop compromising with Hezbollah, but also to resign and put the militia and Tehran in a bind
His explanation was that the situation in Lebanon reminded him of the period leading up to the murder of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and also that “Iran is trying to destroy the Arab world, and Hezbollah’s weapons are aimed at Syrians and Lebanese.” But was fear of being assassinated really behind his decision?
The Saudi media reported a few details that could indicate that an assassination was being planned; for example, the observation towers that monitor Hariri’s convoys for security reasons had been shuttered, ostensibly to prevent anyone from summoning aid during an assassination attempt. But if this were the real reason, why didn’t he announce it Monday when he arrived in Saudi Arabia on the first of his two separate trips there in recent days?
Thus it seems the real reason stems from what he heard during those two trips to Saudi Arabia, and especially the scathing criticism by Thamer al-Sabhan, the Saudi minister of state for Gulf affairs, of the Lebanese government’s failure to curb Hezbollah and Iranian influence in Lebanon.
Saudi King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed, are waging an uncompromising war on Iran’s regional influence, so they find it hard to tolerate the continued presence of Hezbollah ministers in Hariri’s cabinet. The Saudis have been gritting their teeth over this since Hariri formed his government a year ago.
‘Flexibility’ toward Hezbollah
Hariri’s national consensus government has preserved Lebanon’s political stability, but at the cost of concessions to Hezbollah, and therefore de facto to Iran. Hariri has not demanded Hezbollah’s disarmament (despite calling its weapons illegal), has let the Lebanese army cooperate with Hezbollah in expelling the Islamic State from Lebanon’s border with Syria, and supported the appointment of Hezbollah’s candidate, Michel Aoun, as president. (Aoun subsequently made Hariri prime minister.
Hariri’s “flexibility” toward Hezbollah has also outraged some of his prominent Lebanese supporters, who warned him against falling into Hezbollah’s honey trap. But Hariri thought he could manipulate the organization for his own purposes.
Hezbollah did help Hariri manage his government. Contrary to its efforts in previous cabinets, it didn’t thwart government initiatives and generally tried not to embarrass the government in which it sat. But as months passed, it became clear not just to the Lebanese, but also to the Saudis, that their protégé Hariri, who holds both Saudi and French passports, was having trouble deciding whether he was “Saudi or Iranian.”
Saudi anger exploded after Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, said during a visit to Lebanon on Friday that “Lebanon’s victory over terror is a victory by the resistance” – meaning Hezbollah – and that Iran “will continue to protect Lebanon and won’t let things go back to the way they were before.”
Velayati’s meetings with Aoun, Hariri and parliament speaker Nabih Berri, on the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Tehran, were the last straw. Not only was Iran publicly flaunting its involvement in Lebanese affairs and trying to tilt Russia against Saudi Arabia, but Hariri was hosting the Iranian envoy as if he were an ally.
Political paralysis now
Hariri’s urgent second trip to Saudi Arabia has two possible explanations. Either he received a message from Velayati to give to King Salman, or he was summoned for a reprimand because he “hadn’t understood” the unsubtle hints he received from Saudi officials Monday. The first is unlikely. Hariri’s resignation indicates that the Saudis gave him an ultimatum. He must not only stop compromising with Hezbollah, but also resign in order to put
Hezbollah and Iran in a bind in Lebanon.
A bind is exactly what Lebanon can expect now, because the government will be paralyzed until a new prime minister is chosen. Granted, Hariri will stay in office until a replacement is found, but he’ll no longer be bound by his agreements with Hezbollah, as seen in his criticism of the organization in his resignation announcement Saturday.
Theoretically, Aoun can tap another minister or member of parliament to form a government. But experience shows that the process of forming a government in Lebanon is like an elephant’s pregnancy. At best, it will take many long weeks. At worst, it could spark violent clashes between Hariri’s supporters and Hezbollah supporters, rioting by armed militias, and attacks on Syrian refugees, who already face a nonviolent assault in the form of demands that they leave Lebanon.
Hezbollah and Iran understand the threat posed by Hariri’s resignation quite well, and Iran’s response – that “the resignation was a plot by Saudi Arabia and the United States” – reveals its fear of losing control of Lebanon, which until has now been run more or less to Tehran’s satisfaction. Still, it’s premature to envision disaster scenarios under which Hezbollah would exploit the resignation to attack Israel in order to demonstrate its continued control over the political arena.
*Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz Correspondent

Hezbollah and Hariri’s resignation, time for confrontation
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 06/17
Around a year later, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri made the normal and expected decision of leaving Hezbollah’s secret government.
Hariri formed his government in December 2016, and it has made some good achievements such as approving a budget and attempting to resolve the Syrian refugee crisis. More importantly there was also Hariri’s apparent attempt to maintain Lebanese peace and neutrality.
However, Iran’s arrogance , the stubbornness of its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, the deteriorating humanitarian consequences of the Syrian tragedy - Hezbollah is partner in this Syrian crime - the confrontation between Arabs and Iran, particularly Saudi Arabia which is fighting Khomeini Houthi gangs in Yemen and Hezbollah’s media campaign against Saudi Arabia and Arab coalition countries must be deterred. After all this, Hariri could not but resign. While delivering his resignation speech, he said the current situation resembles the phase which preceded the assassination of his father Rafiq. He said: “I sensed a plot to target my life.” He also said: “Iran has a wild desire to destroy the Arab world,” and vowed that “Iran’s hands in the region will be cut off.” He clearly said: “Hezbollah imposed a fair accompli on Lebanon through the power of its weapons.” Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said this stance was right and voiced surprise that his resignation took long as “no one who respects himself can stay in the government.”Hariri’s surprising step confused Iran’s calculations especially that Khamenei’s trusted advisor Ali Velayati was in Lebanon few days ago celebrating Iranian domination over Lebanon and victory in Syria
Surprising step
Hariri’s surprising step confused Iran’s calculations especially that Khamenei’s trusted advisor Ali Velayati was in Lebanon few days ago celebrating Iranian domination over Lebanon and victory in Syria. Iranian Shura Council adviser Hussein Amir Abdollahian voiced anger due to Hariri’s resignation and said that Velayati said from Lebanon that the Iranian Islamic Republic is keen on “Lebanon’s unity and independence.”Iran’s interferences and meddling in Arab countries is no secret and are not based on analysis but they are a tangible reality. “The Dove of Peace,” Iranian President Hassan Rowland recently said: “At the time being, it’s not possible to take any decisive measures in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, North Africa and the Gulf without Iran.” This statement called for a response from Saad Hariri himself. Rowhani’s statements expressed the Iranian regime’s ideology. For example, the deputy commander of al-Quds force, Ismail Qaiana, previously said: “Iran continues to conquest the region’s countries.” Is it time for the major confrontation with the Iranian regime? Will the beginning be with its major Arab tool, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and its Yemeni version, the Houthi movement ? We face historical and fateful moments.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 06-07/17
Saudi Arabia Freezes Accounts of Suspects Arrested in Anti-corruption Probe
Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17/Saudi authorities announced on Sunday a decision to freeze the bank accounts of figures previously arrested for their involvement in corruption cases. The Saudi Information Ministry said through the Saudi Center of International Communication that the sums linked to the corruption cases and which are currently present in the bank accounts of the arrested suspects, would be returned to the Kingdom’s treasury. Meanwhile, Asharq Al-Awsat learned on Sunday that the security apparatus operating in Saudi airports have enforced strict measures on the private planes of several figures, before their taking off. The sources said that the Saudi security members prevented any private plane from leaving airports across the Kingdom before receiving a permit. “Security members were seen in the lounges of private jets to monitor the situation and to make sure that no plane leaves the Kingdom without a permit,” the sources said. They added that no decree was issued to prevent the taking off of private jets, however, additional security members were seen in the airports with a list of specific names who should be prevented from leaving.Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mojeb said that the anti-corruption probe would treat everyone with “the same rights and treatment as any other Saudi citizen.”Al-Mojeb said all parties are considered innocent until proven guilty, but added that a suspect’s position or status will “not influence the fair application of justice.” The Attorney General said Sunday the newly formed anti-corruption committee headed by the Crown Prince is conducting investigations to ensure transparency and good governance. Reuters said on Sunday that the Saudi anti-corruption measures were met by popular satisfaction, as Saudi nationals who spoke with the news agency had described the step as important to correct mistakes. Saudi Arabia had launched on Saturday a strict campaign to fight corruption involving princes and ministers after the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a royal decree to form a supreme committee that could identify offenses, crimes, persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption. At least 11 princes, 4 sitting ministers and ‘tens’ of former ministers have been arrested on orders from the new anti-corruption committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday evening.

Khamenei Replaces Army Commanders as Defense Budget Tightens
Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17/Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered on Sunday replacing three senior Iranian army officials after budget challenges arose. The decree was released during a meeting that joined re-elected President Hassan Rouhani and top army commanders. In sweeping change, Khamenei sacked deputy army commander Brigadier General Reza Pourdastan, only a year after he was appointed to his post. Pourdastan was replaced with Brigadier General Mohammad Hossein Dadras, moving him up the hierarchy after serving as deputy commander of ground forces.
Kamenei’s decrees also appointed Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi in charge of the Navy, replacing the former long-serving Navy commander, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari. Well- informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the move came after army commanders were disgruntled by the newly announced budget for the armed forces, days before its submission to the Shura (parliament). According to those sources, the defense share was slashed in order to pressure the military institution to abandon its air force fleets in favor of the Revolutionary Guard, which is a parallel army in Iran which answers to Khamenei exclusively. On Monday, Rouhani held consultations with senior military leaders to persuade them to accept the new budget and promised them to update and develop the army's capabilities. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shares with the national army ballistic missiles, defense systems, cruise missiles and marines. But the national military enjoys the privilege of controlling the national air force, including warplanes, rocket launchers and combat helicopters. Sources said that economic pressures may push the Iranian army to abandon the air force, and become a pawn to Revolutionary Guards policy, giving the latter leverage should clashes between the two forces arise. Rouhani met with army commanders, in the presence of Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri and Khamenei's representative in the army. In a statement published at the government’s official website, Rouhani promised to modernize the Iranian army capacities. "The armed forces must be nonpartisan," Rohani said.

Saudi Leadership Offers Condolences to Trump over Texas Shooting
Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17/The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz has sent a cable of condolences to US President Donald Trump after the deadly shooting in a church in the State of Texas, the Saudi Press Agency reported Monday.
The King said in his cable that he had received with great pain the news of the shooting, which resulted in deaths and injuries, SPA said. He offered his condolences on behalf of the Government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the US president, the family of the victims and the friendly people of the United States of America, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured, the agency added. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, sent a similar cable to Trump.

US in Mourning after Mass Shooting at Texas Church
Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17/The United States was in mourning Monday after a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle on the congregation of a smalltown church in southeast Texas , killing 26 people and wounding 20 more in the latest shooting massacre that has plagued the nation. Five weeks after the worst shooting in modern US history President Donald Trump ordered flags be flown half-staff at the White House and federal buildings in the aftermath of the most recent tragedy. Trump, in Japan as part of his nearly two-week long Asia tour, called the "horrific shooting" an "act of evil.""Our hearts are broken but in dark times -- and these are dark times -- such as these, Americans do what they do best: we pull together." The victims, who ranged in age from five to 72, were gunned down at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a rural community of some 400 people located 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio.The gunman, widely identified as Devin Kelley, 26, was described by authorities as a "young white male" who was found dead in his vehicle after being confronted by a local resident. The Air Force said Kelley served at a base in New Mexico starting in 2010 before being court-martialed in 2012 for allegedly assaulting his wife and child. He was sentenced to 12 months in confinement and received a "bad conduct" discharge, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told AFP. He was discharged in 2014. Wearing all black and a bulletproof vest, he fired outside the church before entering the building and continuing to spray bullets, said Freeman Martin, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. "As he exited the church, a local resident grabbed his rifle and engaged that suspect. The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger AR assault-type rifle, and fled from the church. Our local citizen pursued the suspect at that time," Martin said. Law enforcement later found Kelley dead in his car, which had crashed on the Wilson-Guadalupe county line. It was not clear if he had killed himself or was shot by the resident who had confronted him. As with many other shootings before this one, Democrats pounced on the occasion to renew calls for gun control, a hot-button issue in a country that holds the right to bear arms as almost sacred. In denouncing the "act of hatred," Trump's predecessor Barack Obama said: "May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst."The shooting comes just over a month after a gunman in Las Vegas fired down from a hotel room on to an outdoor concert, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Asked what policies he might support in response to the shooting at a press conference in Tokyo, Trump said that based on preliminary reports, the gunman was "a very deranged individual, a lot of problems." "We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries. But this isn’t a guns situation," he said. "Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction.

Iraq Federal Court rules no region can secede after Kurdish independence bid
Reuters, Baghdad/Monday, 6 November 2017/Iraq's supreme federal court rules no region or province can sIraq’s Supreme Federal Court ruled on Monday that no region or province can secede from the country, reacting to a Kurdish vote for independence, a court spokesman said. The ruling was a response to a government request to put an end to any “wrong misinterpretation” of the constitution and assert the unity of Iraq. The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq’s central government and regions including Kurdistan. ecede after Kurdish independence bid.

First civilians return to Raqqa after mines cleared
AFP, Beirut/Tuesday, 7 November 2017/Hundreds of civilians have returned to a battered district of Syria’s Raqa in what a US-backed force said was the first wave of returns since it cleared explosives left by militants.
The ISIS group lost control of Raqqa - once its primary Syrian bastion - on October 17 after a months-long battle with the Syrian Democratic Forces. Tens of thousands of people fled the city during the offensive, reducing Raqqa to a ghost town of collapsed buildings. The SDF said in an online statement on Sunday that hundreds of families had returned to ql-Meshleb, Raqqa’s easternmost district. “The SDF informed civilians from al-Meshleb that they could return to their homes after mine-removal teams had finished clearing the entire neighborhood of explosives left indiscriminately in civilian homes by ISIS,” the force’s press center said. It said the district was the first to which residents had returned since the city’s “liberation from Daesh”, an Arabic acronym for ISIS. After capturing Raqqa, the SDF sealed off the city to allow for mine removal operations in bombed-out neighborhoods. Residents often amassed at checkpoints in recent weeks, waiting for permission to access the city and see if their homes were still standing. Some civilians who sneaked in were killed by unexploded ordnance. Mine-clearing and reconstruction operations in Raqqa are being coordinated by the Raqqa Civil Council, a provisional local government body appointed by the SDF but based outside the city. “Yes, residents of Al-Meshleb returned to their homes - but the whole city hasn’t been cleared of mines yet,” senior council member Omar Alloush told AFP on Monday. The deputy head of the council’s reconstruction committee, Nazmi Mohammad, said the body had dispatched 10 bulldozers to Raqqa to help clear rubble and blocked-off roads in al-Meshleb. After capturing Raqqa in 2014, ISIS used the city as a hub for the administration of its self-styled “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. Following months of losses in the face of multiple offensives, touted ISIS fighters are now defending their last redoubts further down the Euphrates Valley. More than 330,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests that were brutally suppressed.

Top Netanyahu Aides Detained in Corruption Probe
Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17 /Israeli police detained on Sunday two of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top aides, his cousin and personal lawyer David Shimron and another senior lawyer who has worked with him for years, as part of a corruption probe on submarines, dubbed as "Case 3000".
Police sources revealed the arrest is an indication that the Prime Minister would be summoned for investigation, knowing that the Attorney General ruled out Netanyahu's involvement. However, sources expected Netanyahu to be summoned for questioning upon his return from his diplomatic trip to Britain. They said this is the first time two people this close to Netanyahu had been arrested. Shimron had been under house arrest for four weeks, and as the investigation continued, the attorney's partner in the law firm resigned suddenly from his position in Netanyahu's office. Case 3000 is a police corruption investigation into Israel’s purchase of German-made naval vessels. Several politicians and military officials received bribery of tens of millions of dollars in exchange for pressuring the army to buy a submarine from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp. Once the investigation began, the German government froze the deal. Shortly after, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit issued a memorandum confirming that Netanyahu is not linked to corruption in this case. The German government later approved the deal and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) including a clause which allows Germany to back out of the deal if criminality is found in the behavior of senior decision makers or officials involved in the purchase of the submarines. Eight senior officials including Shimron, former Navy Chief Major General Eliezer Marom, and Israeli businessman and state’s "king witness" Miki Ganor, have been so far detained. It is said to be one of the biggest corruption cases in Israel's history including bribery, tax evasion, and money laundry. Shimron denied he was to receive a cut from the deal beyond his legal fees and denied any relation with the German company.

Qatar Exchange Loses $33 Billion
Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17 /The Qatar Stock Exchange (QE) index has seen a year-to-date drop by 21.8 percent. The market value of listed shares in Doha fell by about $33 billion, from $ 155 to $ 122 billion. QE registered the lowest regional performance since the beginning of the year, losing seven out of 10 months in 2017. The market's losses worsened in October as all indices edged lower and the 20-stock Qatar Index listed a staggering 1.8% of its value on a monthly basis, and closed at 8165 points after kickstarting 2017 at 10436 points.
Qatar's all-share index--which reflects a more comprehensive market performance-- witnessed further decline, falling by 3.5% last month alone. The market spread coefficient was weak. The index of the most sectoral indicators fell by 10.9%. Real-estate came second with a decline of 9%, as all real estate stocks fell. Banking and financial services fell less than previously, with the sector index falling 1.6 percent last month. The banking sector has seen financial inflows of about $30 billion since June of this year. After the boycott led by the four Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, the volume of non-resident deposits declined by a total of $10 billion, while the volume of financing between foreign banks decreased by $18 billion. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is believed to have become the last resort for lending and stimulating deposits alongside the Qatar Central Bank, in an attempt to offset foreign funding withdrawals and to ease pressure from sovereign rating cuts. An across-the-board selling in the market, whose year-to-date losses were seen at 22.13%, was stark.
The Total Return Index shed 0.24% to 13,628.31 points, the All Share Index fell 0.43% to 2,271.46 points and the Al Rayan Islamic Index by 1.11% to 3,168.24 points. The consumer goods index shrank 1.25%, followed by realty (1.05%), industrials (0.67%), transport (0.5%), telecom (0.21%), insurance and banks and financial services (0.08% each). GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) retail investors were net sellers to the extent of QR0.51mn compared with net buyers of QR0.29mn.GCC institutions’ net buying weakened to QR3.12mn against QR8.97mn on November 2.
The transport sector reported a 64% plunge in trade volume to 0.15mn equities and 82% in value to QR3.68mn but on a 28% expansion in deals to 143.The industrial sector’s trade volume plummeted 55% to 0.65mn stocks and value by 7% to QR23.57mn, whereas transactions gained 19% to 446.
The consumer goods sector saw 44% shrinkage in trade volume to 0.1mn shares, 40% in value to QR4.98mn and 8% in deals to 135. In the debt market, there was no trading of government bonds but a total of 10,000 treasury bills valued at QR99.93mn trade across nine deals.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 06-07/17
Turkey's Nuclear Ambitions
Debalina Ghoshal/Gatestone Institute/November 06/17
Russia's ROSATOM already has nuclear cooperation deals with Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, among others. Turkey is just the latest to benefit -- possibly along with Iran and North Korea, both of which have been openly threatening to destroy America -- from Moscow's play for power in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
The West would also do well not to feel secure in the knowledge that Turkey is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Nuclear reactors in the hands of a repressive Islamist authoritarian such as Erdogan could be turned into weapons factories with little effort.
Turkey's announcement over the summer that it had signed a deal with Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) -- of Hillary Clinton's Uranium One stardom -- to begin building three nuclear power plants in the near future is cause for concern. The $20 billion deal, which has been in the works since 2010, involves the construction in Mersin of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant -- Turkey's first-ever such plant -- will be operational in 2023.
ROSATOM already has nuclear cooperation deals with Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, among others. Turkey is just the latest to benefit -- possibly along with Iran and North Korea, both of which have been openly threatening to destroy America -- from Moscow's play for power in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It is also a source of desperately-needed revenue for Russia, hurt by sanctions imposed on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then Prime Minister) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 18, 2012. Their meeting focused on nuclear cooperation, among other things. (Image source:
Like Iran, Turkey claims that its budding nuclear program is for civilian purposes only. Ankara's interest in nuclear energy dates back to the 1960s, when it conducted a study on the feasibility of building a 300-400 megawatt nuclear power plant, three decades before the rise of President (formerly Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party.
Although it is true is that Ankara is currently incapable of meeting the country's electricity demands, and relies heavily on imported natural gas even to manage that, it would be wishful thinking to assume this is Turkey's only goal. Even though its state-controlled conventional power plants are dilapidated, since 2001, no public companies in Turkey have been allowed to invest in them.
Before international sanctions were imposed on Iran -- prior to the 2015 never-signed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- Tehran and Moscow were Turkey's main suppliers of fossil fuels for the operation of the conventional plants. Ironically, it was the hindrance to commerce with Iran that led Turkey to consider nuclear energy a viable option to supplement the natural gas imports on which it relies heavily.
Russia is not the only country to strive to profit from Turkey's nuclear energy ambitions. China, too, evidently wants a share. Last year, Beijing ratified the nuclear agreement it reached with Turkey in 2012. In 2015, China's arch-rival, Japan, also signed a deal with Turkey: $20 billion for the construction of four nuclear power plants at Sinop, along the Black Sea.
In 2008, Turkey reached an "Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation" with the United States. Two years later, it signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear cooperation with South Korea.
Let us not be lulled by Ankara's touting of the need to accommodate what it claims is the "highest rate of growing energy demand among OECD countries over the last 15 years." The West would also do well not to feel secure in the knowledge that Turkey is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The ever-radicalizing Erdogan regime, which exploited the opportunity created by the failed coup in 2016 to imprison thousands of judges, journalists, academic, generals and anyone else suspected of being critical of the ruling party and its policies, has made no secret of its hegemonic ambitions in an already volatile and war-torn region. Nuclear reactors in the hands of a repressive Islamist authoritarian such as Erdogan could be turned into weapons factories with little effort. This potential for disaster must be taken into account and monitored.
Debalina Ghoshal, based in India, is an independent consultant specializing in nuclear and missile and missile defense related issues.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Migrant Crisis Upended Europe
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/November 06/17
"The migrant crisis is the 9/11 of the European Union... That day in 2001, everything changed in the US. In a minute, America discovered its vulnerability. Migrants had the same effect in Europe... The migration crisis profoundly undermines the ideas of democracy, tolerance and... the liberal principles that constitute our ideological landscape." — Ivan Kratsev, Chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and a member of the Institute of Humanities in Vienna, Le Figaro.
The European public now looks at EU institutions with contempt. They perceive them -- under multiculturalism and immigration -- not only as indifferent to their own problems, but as adding to them.
"We are a cultural community, which doesn't mean that we are better or worse -- we are simply different from the outside world... our openness and tolerance cannot mean walking away from protecting our heritage". — Donald Tusk, President of the European Council.
A few weeks after Germany opened its borders to over a million refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that the migration crisis would "destabilize democracies". He was labelled a demagogue and a xenophobe. Two years later, Orbán has been vindicated. As Politico now explains, "[M]ost EU leaders echo the Hungarian prime minister" and the Hungarian PM can now claim that "our position is slowly becoming the majority position".
Many in Europe seem to have understood what Ivan Krastev, the Chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and a member of the Institute of Humanities in Vienna, recently explained to Le Figaro:
"The migrant crisis is the 9/11 of the European Union... That day in 2001, everything changed in the US. In a minute, America discovered its vulnerability. Migrants had the same effect in Europe. It is not their number that destabilizes the continent... The migration crisis profoundly undermines the ideas of democracy, tolerance and progress as well as the liberal principles that constitute our ideological landscape. It is a turning point in the political dynamics of the European project".
Migration is having a significant impact, for instance, on Europe's public finances. Take the two countries most affected by it. Germany's federal government spent 21.7 billion euros in 2016 to deal with it. Also reported was that Germany's budget for security this year will grow by at least a third, from 6.1 billion to 8.3 billion euros.
In Italy, the Minister of Economy and Finance recently announced that the country will spend 4.2 billion in 2017 on migrants (one-seventh of Italy's entire budget for 2016). Spain recently announced that in North Africa, the fence around its enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which keeps migrants out of the Spanish territory, will be funded through a further infusion of 12 million euros. Everywhere in Europe, states are allocating extra resources to deal with the migrant crisis, which has also changed Europe's political landscape.
The recent election victories of Sebastian Kurz in Austria and Andrej Babis in the Czech Republic have potentially enlarged the group of Central and Eastern European countries that oppose Brussels -- countries that do not want to accept the number of migrants that the EU is demanding. The topic of immigration is fracturing Europe along ideological lines. Not only fences, but rivalry, mistrust and hate now divide the European project more deeply than ever before. The European public now looks at EU institutions with contempt. They perceive them -- under multiculturalism and immigration -- not only as indifferent to their own problems, but as adding to them.
Another political earthquake linked with the migration crisis is "the decline of social democracy in the West", as Josef Joffe, Editor and Publisher of Die Zeit, recently called it. Everywhere in Europe, the migration crisis has all but killed the social-democratic parties, long perceived as unable to cope with it. Twenty years ago, these left-liberal parties governed everywhere -- Spain, Britain, Germany, for instance -- but now they are in the opposition everywhere except Italy. From Norway to Austria, Europe is now led by conservative governments.
More than half the terror plots in Germany since the onset of the migrant crisis in 2014 have involved migrants, according to headlines as well as a study by the Heritage Foundation. In addition, ever since the Islamic State -- now defeated in Raqqa -- took advantage of the destabilization caused by Syria's civil war to become a major driver of the migrant crisis, migration has been a major concern for Europe's security. From the territory it conquered, ISIS launched major terror attacks on Europe.
The migration crisis has also led to the strategic strengthening in Europe of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has been blackmailing European countries by threatening that if billions of euros and certain political concessions are not given to him, he will open Turkey's borders to let millions more migrants flood into Europe. Erdogan has not only demanded that Europe jail writers and journalists; he has also tried to influence elections in the Netherlands and Germany by appealing to his Turkish constituencies there.
A Pew Research report shows how migration is reshaping European countries. In 2016 alone, Sweden's population grew by more than 1%. The increase is ascribed to mass migration, the second-highest in the EU. The number of immigrants rose from 16.8% to 18.3% of Sweden's population between 2015 and 2016.
Austria and Norway, two other countries with large immigrant populations (at least 15% percent in 2016), saw a 1% rise from 2015. The newspaper Die Welt recently reported that 18.6 million German residents -- one-fifth of Germany's total population -- now come from migrant backgrounds.
The Machiavelli Center in Italy reported in a study, "How immigration is changing Italian demographics", that an "unprecedented" shift in Italy's demography has been taking place due to the migration crisis.
The Pandora's box of a demographic revolution has been opened.
Two years ago, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was the only voice in Europe speaking of the need to keep Europe "Christian". Now one of his most vocal opponents, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, has said:
"We are a cultural community, which doesn't mean that we are better or worse -- we are simply different from the outside world... our openness and tolerance cannot mean walking away from protecting our heritage".
In 2015, any talk about "culture" was condemned as "racism". Now it is becoming part of the mainstream.
In trying to cope with the Islamists' war on Western politics, culture and religion, and the cultural clash they created, Europe has been upended.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Hariri and the Doses of Poison
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/November 06/17
The Lebanese equation is very complicated. A thorny marriage and a forbidden divorce. Some leaders find themselves faced with cups of poison whenever the equation becomes unbalanced due to an external storm or an internal adventure. They clash and each tries to eliminate the other. You then find yourself forced to live with him in the street, parliament or government. You say that you will not shake the hand that has been tarnished with the blood of your loved ones or allies. The equation however forces you into a handshake that you sought to avoid.
Minister Walid Jumblat is an expert in drinking poison. He recounted to me the turmoil he went through after his father, Kamal, was assassinated in 1977. The choices were difficult: leave the country, retire from political work or take the Beirut-Damascus road.
He drank the poison and opted for the last choice. Forty days after the assassination, he was greeted by Hafez al-Assad, whose first words to him were: “You look so much like your father.” On his way back to Lebanon, Jumblat mulled the statement and its meanings.
Jumblat had several doses of poison, the most prominent of which after his father’s assassination was the assassination of Rafik Hariri. On that day, he drank the poison and revolted. He acted as the backbone of what was called the “Cedar Revolution.”
New seasons of poison will not take long to arrive.
On May 7, 2008, “Hezbollah” used its weapons on the Lebanese internal scene and Jumblat and his ally Saad Hariri had to drink the poison dose that was the “Doha agreement.” It was no secret that the image of Lebanese lawmakers flocking around then Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa was deliberate. It held a hidden desire to avenge the image of Lebanese lawmakers flocking around then Saudi King Fahd bin Abdulaziz in Taef. Jumblat would later drink the poison of once again heading on the Beirut-Damascus road to meet President Bashar Assad, knowing that they did not get along from the first time they met.
Jumblat entered the political arena carrying his father’s coffin. In February 2005, Saad Hariri would enter the arena carrying the coffin of his father. A young man, whose painful destiny was to enter the ring of heavyweights. He would enter the ring where he would deal blows and receive them. He often had to drink poison to preserve national unity or what was left of it.
In December 2009, Hariri drank a big dose of poison when he took the Beirut-Damascus road to shake the hand of Bashar Assad. He had taken an exceptional dose because prior to the meeting, he was informed by the late Wissam al-Hassan that “investigations indicate that ‘Hezbollah’ members may have been involved in his father’s assassination.”
Despite all of the mediations and vows, the seasons of poison did not end.
Saad Hariri was preparing to enter the office of then US President Barack Obama in 2011 when he was surprised by news from Beirut. The Free Patriotic Movement, “Hezbollah” and AMAL ministers had resigned, toppling his cabinet before his return to Lebanon. After that, Hariri would drink the poison of being forced to stay outside of his country over security fears. Experiences showed that winning a parliamentary majority does not mean being able to govern because “Hezbollah” changed the rules of the game. It monopolized the right to violate any Lebanese decision and monopolized the right to make dictates onto others. Hariri feared that what was left of the Lebanese state would be eaten up as “Hezbollah” was cementing itself in all of its institutions. Its units were crossing the border to fight in Syria and defend the Assad regime under the pretext of combating ISIS. Iran is continuing its violations in four Arab capitals. Hariri took a chance that could be considered drinking poison when he backed Michel Aoun for the presidency despite the latter’s alliance with “Hezbollah.”
Hariri gambled on this settlement. He expected Aoun to run the game enough to preserve the least amount of rights of the state and its image. The president however appeared unable to manage a game that is this complicated. Some say that he does not even want to. The scene therefore appeared very difficult and dangerous.
Hariri’s stay in power appeared to deplete him and his team. The regional tussle intensified after it became clear that Iran is insistent on marginalizing the Arab role and on bringing Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen into its axis and policies. With the emergence of the “Popular Mobilization” phenomenon and armies parallel to official militaries, talk of demographic changes and a Sunni crisis in more than one country, it appeared that the fragile settlement in Lebanon was on the verge of collapse.
After daily dealings with “Hezbollah,” which succeeded in creating deep changes within the choices of the Shi’ite sect in Lebanon, Hariri discovered that the party is insistent on achieving a complete change in Lebanon’s position and identity. The party’s policies have employed the Lebanese scene in favor of the major Iranian coup in the region and in the crises with Lebanon’s natural allies, meaning Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. It has also caused crises and complications with the United States and other countries.
Hariri grew tired of drinking poison. He could not accept that his government would be transformed into some form of agreement to approve the process of changing Lebanon’s position, identity and eventual isolation from its Arab fold. In this regard, his resignation came as a form of revolt. That is why it was frank and clear and phrased in damning terms, which he had previously avoided out of his keenness on stability and civil peace.
Hariri acted like someone who decided to reveal the game and all of its details. He said that Lebanon could not live with the existence of two armies and a statelet alongside the state. It could not leave its natural position and live under Iranian clout. It is an internal and regional battle and the Lebanese have to take sides. It is a difficult battle to restore the Lebanese state from internal and foreign hegemony which will ultimately witness several cups of poison being passed around.

Let’s Leave it to the Lawyers
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/November 06/17
Has there ever been a covert action that backfired as disastrously as Russia’s attempt to meddle in the 2016 US presidential campaign?
Granted, we know all the reasons Moscow is gloating: Donald Trump is president; America is divided and confused; Russia’s propagandization of “fake news” is now repeated by people around the world.
But against this cynical strategy there now stands a process embodied by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which we will call, as a shorthand: “The Truth.” Mueller has mobilized the investigative powers of the US government to document how Russia and its friends sought to manipulate American politics. We are seeing the rule of law, applied. Already, Mueller has stripped the cover from Russia’s machinations: Trump’s former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has confessed that he lied to FBI agents about his contacts with individuals connected to Moscow who promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton; Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been charged with laundering $18 million in payoffs from Russia’s Ukrainian friends.
Russian meddling is now advertised to the world. This topic will dominate American debate for the next year, at least. In Europe, meanwhile, a similar reaction to Russian influence operations is gaining force. President Vladimir Putin once imagined that Trump would be Russia’s bridge back from isolation. Not anymore. On the continuum of warfare, Russia has been playing somewhere in the middle, between war and peace. Now, as the world focuses on Russian mischief, will the Kremlin move the dial up or down?
Putin made some comments last week that worry me. Before a meeting of his security council on Oct. 26, Putin announced that he was augmenting cyberwar policies to take into account “that the level of threat in the information space is on the rise.” He proposed “additional measures” to combat adversaries and protect Russia. He argued that Russia was simply protecting its citizens from cybercriminals, but his language was emphatic: “It is necessary to be tough as regards those persons and groups that are using the Internet and the information space for criminal purposes.”
To me, that sounded as if Putin was doubling down on Russia’s bid to shape the “information space,” by whatever means necessary. That was reinforced by his call for a “system of international information security,” in which Russia would seek to impose new rules for the Internet through the United Nations and other pliable international organizations. That’s a threat I noted a week ago, now confirmed explicitly by Putin.
The potential scope of Russia’s cyber-operations was highlighted in a little-noticed report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, “Russia Military Power: Building a Military to Support Great Power Aspirations.” Its conclusion: “Russia views the information sphere as a key domain for modern military conflict . . . critically important to control its domestic populace and influence adversary states.”
The DIA explains how “Russian propaganda strives to influence, confuse and demoralize its intended audience.” The report describes Russian trolls, bots and cover organizations. Among the major themes of Russian propaganda, the DIA says, is this Steve Bannon-esque message: “The West’s liberal world order is bankrupt and should be replaced by a Eurasian neo-conservative post-liberal world order, which defends tradition, conservative values, and true liberty.” And remember, this exposé of Moscow’s hidden hand is coming from Trump’s Pentagon!
Here’s the strategic impact of Mueller’s investigation: He is probing efforts by Russia and its foreign allies to manipulate our political system; he is unraveling a covert action. Trump’s protests of “witch hunt” and “fake news” are similar to words used by Moscow-controlled media outlets.
Perhaps we begin to see a timeline: In March 2016, Papadopoulos met with a Russian-linked “professor”.
Trump may or may not have colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign; we’ll leave that question for the lawyers. But if Trump seeks to derail Mueller’s probe, he is implicitly colluding with Russia now. By many people’s definition, that would be aiding a foreign power, which might be deemed a “high crime or misdemeanor.” Let Mueller finish his job of exposing Russian manipulation.

Putin, Khamenei agree they need each other
Al Monitor/Week in Review/November 06/17
Putin signs $30 billion energy deal in Tehran
We wrote here in July that absent relief from US sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin would forge his own path in the Middle East by carefully working with and through regional powers, especially Iran.
So perhaps it is no surprise that when Putin met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Nov. 1, there seemed to be a meeting of the minds on regional developments, especially regarding Syria and Iraq, as well as agreement to deepening economic cooperation in many fields, including energy.
Putin continued his surge of regional energy diplomacy while in Tehran, following up on his reset in Iraq, as we reported last week. During Putin’s visit to Tehran, Russia and Iran agreed to “strategic” energy deals worth as much as $30 billion for development of Iran’s oil and gas fields, as well as research collaboration. With the agreement, Rosneft and Gazprom, the Russian energy giants, put themselves ahead of potential Western suitors in Iran. If the United States reimposes sanctions on Iran, Russian and Chinese energy companies are best positioned to run the field in meeting Iran’s substantial energy investment needs.
This is not to say that Iran and Russia are in lockstep on Syria, as we have reported here before. “There are concerns in Moscow and Tehran that — as the active phase in the war against radical Islamists comes to an end and Syria’s opposition forces are being engaged through a number of political platforms — this gap between Russian and Iranian approaches stemming from different interests may grow,” as Maxim Suchkov reports.
For example, Russia would prefer to reduce its military commitment and move to a political solution, while “Iranians don’t see the war in Syria as being over or even coming to end.” And despite the bravado from Iran, “Khamenei wants Putin to stay alert regarding the United States. On the one hand, that reflects Tehran’s concern over the possibility of a deal between Moscow and Washington that would be detrimental to Iranian interests in Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, it alludes to Iran’s own readiness for a worst-case scenario in which the United States can come up with policies obstructing — militarily or politically — Russian and Iranian gains.”
“The concerns are serious, and each party is having its own internal debate about how to not end up playing the fool for its efforts,” Suchkov continues. “Both recognize too well that there are many opponents inside Russia and Iran, and even more regionally and internationally, who seek every opportunity to drive a wedge between Russians and Iranians regarding Syria." He also wrote that "there seems to be a broader understanding in Iran and Russia that befriending each other on the basis of anti-Americanism doesn’t make for a strategic partnership. Instead, deepening ties into other spheres would make a partnership more sustainable in the long term. In transforming this understanding into real initiatives, cooperation on energy, trade and macro-level investments will be key and will take a great deal of time, resources and political will from both sides.”
Iran unlikely to retreat if Hezbollah attacked
Iran is benefiting from the defeat of the Islamic State, shifting from its “mostly low-profile strategy as they [Iranians] were filling the vacuums in both Syria and Iraq” to a more assertive regional posture to consolidate its gains, Ali Hashem reports from Tehran.
“Tehran proved its keenness to cooperate with neighbors and put out the message that it has no intention to dominate their areas of influence,” Hashem writes. “But after the tide turned against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, Iran's rhetoric changed. … The breakthrough on the Iraq-Syria border was followed by the entrance of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) into Mosul, Iraq, with Iraqi security forces. The move gave Iran a strong confidence boost because, although the PMU forces belong to Iraq, they are supported by and loyal to Iran, and the PMU wasn't on the US list of forces allowed to enter the conflict-torn city. Yet the real confidence booster was the outcome of the Iranian-Turkish role in the crises that followed the Sept. 25 independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan. To Tehran, finding solutions to such a big dilemma without the involvement of countries outside the region was more proof that the region is capable of managing its issues independently. That's another reason many in Tehran anticipate a new US effort designed to dismantle Iran’s regional power.”
Iran’s commitment to Hezbollah, therefore, takes on even greater weight. “Anyone attempting to hit or neutralize Hezbollah and the PMU is trying to clip the Islamic Republic’s wings, and thus undermine its strategic depth,” Hashem concludes. “Iran is unlikely to retreat if it perceives a threat to the regional leverage it currently enjoys and has been building for the past three decades. Rather, it is probable that it would respond with confrontation — though it’s not yet clear how or when such a confrontation might unfold.”
No comment on report of US back channel to Assad
“Feel free to say we declined to comment,” a CIA press officer responded last week when asked by Al-Monitor about reports that a US official had met in Damascus with security chief Ali Mamlouk, writes Laura Rozen.
“CIA director Mike Pompeo was previously reported to have started a back channel with Mamlouk shortly after taking office last January with the alleged purpose of seeking the release of American journalist Austin Tice. Tice, a former Marine, was abducted while working as a freelance reporter in Syria in August 2012 and is believed to be held by forces loyal to Assad. … Syrian officials have repeatedly denied that Tice is being held in Syria,” Rozen reports.
“The conspicuous lack of denials suggests that the United States might be pursuing discreet, back-channel talks with Damascus with the purpose of gaining the release of American citizens. Such talks could also be useful to directly communicate US security concerns as advances against the so-called Islamic State (IS) put US-backed forces in close proximity to Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian forces on the ground, and as the United States tries to ensure that Iran does not set up a presence on Syrian territory close to Israel, analysts said,” adds Rozen.