November 08/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Their minds do not function, have no faith & will not get very far because they are stupid 
Timothy01/ 03-09/" Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days.  People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious;  they will be unkind, merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good;  they will be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather than God;  they will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people.  Some of them go into people's houses and gain control over weak women who are burdened by the guilt of their sins and driven by all kinds of desires,  women who are always trying to learn but who can never come to know the truth.  As Jannes and Jambres were opposed to Moses, so also these people are opposed to the truth—people whose minds do not function and who are failures in the faith.  But they will not get very far, because everyone will see how stupid.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 07-08/17
Lebanon's Prime Minister Resigns: What's Next/Hanin Ghaddar/The Washington Institute./November 07/17
US sticks by Lebanese army despite Hariri resignation/Jack Detsch/Al Monitor/November07/17
Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war, deepening crisis/Tom Perry, Lisa Barrington/November 07/17
Saad Hariri’s resignation? Part of Saudi's latest push to confront Iran/Lina Khatib/MEE/November 07/17
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Germany: October 2017/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/November 07/17
The Options of the War with Iran/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/17
Unexpected Benefits From a Battle Against ISIS/Malcolm Cook/The New York Times/November 07/17
New York City Submits to Islam/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 07/17
The Israeli-Saudi alliance beating the drums of war/Richard Silverstein/MEE/November 07/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 07-08/17
Audio/Yezid Sayigh discusses the growing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and its impact on Lebanon and Syria.
Aoun promotes national unity in series of meetings
Lebanon’s Hariri Departs Saudi Arabia for Abu Dhabi
Hariri Returns to Riyadh after Meeting Abu Dhabi Crown Prince
Nasrallah, Bassil Stress Keenness on 'Stability, Unity, Coordination'
Aoun Runs Political Consultations in Wake of Hariri's Resignation
Report: Aoun Expands Meetings in Wake of Hariri's Resignation
Rouhani to Aoun: Lebanese Won't Allow Lebanon to be Conflict Arena
Geagea Meets Mufti: We Can Overcome Crisis through Calm, Strenuous Work
Bassil from Dar el-Fatwa: Lebanese Won't Allow Differences to Sow Discord
Mustaqbal 'Awaiting Hariri's Return', Hopes Lebanon Will 'Overcome Crisis'
Change and Reform bloc after weekly meeting: Solidarity is an absolute priority to preserve nation's unity
Lebanon PM Resignation May Lead to Credit Downgrade, Says Moody's
US sticks by Lebanese army despite Hariri resignation/Jack Detsch
Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war, deepening crisis
Saad Hariri’s resignation? Part of Saudi's latest push to confront Iran/Lina

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 07-08/17
Mogherini Warns of 'Dangerous' Middle East Escalation
Damascus Shelling Exchange Kills 10
Saudi King Hosts Abbas after Palestinian Accord
U.S. Accuses Iran of Supplying Missile to Yemen
US Congress Committee to Discuss Embassy Transfer to Jerusalem
Israel Retrieves, Holds Bodies of 5 Palestinians Killed in Tunnel Airstrike
Yemen Rebels Threaten Saudi, UAE Ports and Airports
Rouhani Calls on Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff to Control Borders
Saudi Public Prosecution Has ‘Great Deal’ of Evidence against Corruption Detainees
Iranian Weapons-Smuggling to Yemen’s Houthis Passes through 3 Countries
Saudi Crown Prince Accuses Iran of 'Direct Aggression'
Trump Claims 'Progress' on Global Problem of North Korea

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 07-08/17
Audio/Yezid Sayigh discusses the growing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and its impact on Lebanon and Syria.
November 07, 2017
Yezid Sayigh is a senior fellow in the Carnegie Middle East program. His work focuses on the Syrian crisis, the political role of Arab armies, security sector transformation in Arab transitions, the reinvention of authoritarianism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process. Diwan spoke to Sayigh in early November to get his perspective on recent events in the Middle East, including the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the Saudi escalation against the Lebanese government, and the ongoing rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the region.

Aoun promotes national unity in series of meetings
The Daily Star/ November 07, 2017 /BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Tuesday held a flurry of meetings with former heads of government, in what Baabda sources told local media was part of an effort aimed at strengthening national unity following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Aoun met separately with former presidents Emile Lahoud, Michel Sleiman and Amine Gemayel. He also met with former prime ministers Fouad Siniora and Najib Mikati, and former Parliament Speaker Hussein al-Husseini. After meeting with Aoun, Siniora told reporters that he had been in contact with Hariri. He added that the priority was for Hariri to return, and for the crisis to be solved with “more unity.” Gemayel, following his own meeting with the president, said that Lebanon was going through a very difficult period. “The roots of this crisis are deep, which translates into a long path [to end it],” Gemayel said, adding that he did not envy Hariri’s position. Meanwhile, Mikati said that his meeting with Aoun had centered on the reasons for Hariri’s resignation and ways to deal with its fallout. Mikati expressed full confidence in the president’s “vision in approaching this problem,” which he said was in line with the Constitution. “I say honestly, God willing, we will exit this crisis soon,” Mikati said. Aoun also met with Taymour Jumblatt, son of Progessive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblatt, and Sidon MP Bahia Hariri. Former Prime Minister Tammam Salam reportedly excused himself from meeting with Aoun, due to travel commitments.

Lebanon’s Hariri Departs Saudi Arabia for Abu Dhabi
Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/17/Resigned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri departed Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and headed to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, announced his press office. He held talks with UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, it added. The two officials discussed bilateral ties and the latest developments in Lebanon before Hariri later returned to Riyadh, it continued. In Saudi Arabia, the Lebanese official had held talks on Monday with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Hariri resigned over the weekend in a move that shocked Lebanon. He attributed his decision to Iran’s ongoing meddling in local Lebanese affairs through its proxy “Hezbollah.” His stepping down threatened to plunge Lebanon into political paralysis. The ratings agency Moody's has said that any return to the stalemate that existed before Hariri joined a national unity government last year would harm its credit rating. Commenting on the resignation, the French Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it respected his decision. It called on all Lebanese factions to work together responsibly and in consensus, which is in the interest of all sides. In Lebanon, political circles were awaiting any step that President Michel Aoun would take regarding the premier’s resignation. The president had intensified his contacts over this issue, reiterating on Monday that he will not take any action until Hariri returns to Lebanon. Hariri had declared during his resignation speech over the weekend that he had received information that a plan to assassinate him was being plotted. Aoun had on Monday chaired a meeting for senior security and judicial officials during which he urged calm and caution, demanding that those spreading malicious rumors in recent days should be persecuted. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, who had held talks with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan on Monday, underline the importance of preserving security to avert any instability in Lebanon. He revealed that the Lebanese agencies had no information over the plot to assassinate Hariri.He added however that the premier appeared to have received the information from a trusted western agency. “We cannot predict what will happen until Hariri returns to Lebanon and I have an impression that that will be within days,” Mashnouq said.

Hariri Returns to Riyadh after Meeting Abu Dhabi Crown Prince
Naharnet/November 07/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks Tuesday in the UAE with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, on his first departure from the Saudi capital after the announcement of his shock resignation from Riyadh on Saturday. Hariri returned to Riyadh after the talks with Abu Dhabi's ruler which tackled "the brotherly relations and the developments in Lebanon," his office said. The Emirati official news agency meanwhile reported that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed "stressed the UAE's support for Lebanon regarding the challenges and the regional interference that are facing it and impeding the course of growth and development in it."The "regional interference" is also "threatening the safety and security of its brotherly people," the news agency quoted the Emirati leader as telling Hariri. Hariri's trip comes after days of speculation in Lebanon that the resigned Premier is under an alleged house arrest in Saudi Arabia following his resignation over the weekend. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are strong allies and are spearheading an anti-Iran coalition in the region. 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.

Nasrallah, Bassil Stress Keenness on 'Stability, Unity, Coordination'
Naharnet/November 07/17/Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has met with Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to discuss the fallout from Prime Minister Saad Hariri's shock resignation, media reports said. The meeting, which was held on Monday, lasted “five hours,” al-Jadeed television reported. According to OTV, the two leaders discussed the current developments and voiced “utter keenness on stability, unity and coordination among all forces.”Hariri stunned the Lebanese with his resignation on Saturday in a televised speech from Saudi Arabia. In the haltingly delivered address, he accused Iran of meddling in Arab affairs and Iran-backed Hizbullah of holding Lebanon hostage. Nasrallah speculated on Sunday that Saudi Arabia had forced Hariri to resign amid the deepening Saudi-Iran rivalry.

Aoun Runs Political Consultations in Wake of Hariri's Resignation
Naharnet/November 07/17/President Michel Aoun held a series of meetings on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace with former presidents, premiers, speakers and other officials where discussions focused on the measures needed in the wake of PM Saad Hariri's shock resignation. Sources from the Presidential Palace assured that no decision will be made before reviewing the reasons for Hariri's resignation, stressing that Aoun has assured that he is “waiting for PM Hariri's return to Beirut to inquire about the circumstances of the resignation and decide on the next steps.”In the afternoon, Aoun met with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the head of Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad, Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel, Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh, Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan, the representatives of the Progressive Socialist Party Taimur Jumblat and Ghazi Aridi, and MP Hagop Pakradounian of the Tashnag Party. Geagea declined to make a statement after the talks, saying he would comment on the developments in a Wednesday evening TV interview. Taimur Jumblat for his part said "dialogue remains the basis for overcoming any challenge.""We are visiting the president to stress our commitment to reaching a settlement under the ceiling of state institutions," Jumblat added. Former President Michel Suleiman said after meeting Aoun earlier in the day: “The solution lies in national consensus that may produce a government of technocrats to run the upcoming parliamentary elections.”Former Prime Minister Najib Miqati expressed optimism and stated: “President Aoun has explained to me why he is temporizing before taking any decision. I am optimistic and I trust the President's vision.”For his part ex-PM Fouad Saniora urged for vigilance to address the “internal and external accumulated imbalances and return to non-alignment and neutrality and the restoration of the strong State.” “PM Hariri will return and we will always stand by his side,” he emphasized. The President has also received former president Emile Lahhoud, ex-Speaker Hussein al-Husseini. Ex-PM Tammam Salam could not attend due to travel reasons. Aoun also met with Mustaqbal MP Bahia Hariri. PM 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. 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.

Report: Aoun Expands Meetings in Wake of Hariri's Resignation
Naharnet/November 07/17/In the wake of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation, President Michel Aoun will expand his political and party meetings on Tuesday to consult with everyone the steps that can be taken in order to ensure political consensus at all levels, al-Joumhouria daily reported. Invitations have been extended to former presidents and governments and to leaders of parties participating in the cabinet, as well as to the head of the Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel, to visit Baabda Palace, informed sources told the daily on condition of anonymity. They added that the President wishes to consult with all political components on the expectations for the upcoming phase and the steps needed to be taken, and that he refuses to monopolize decisions at this critical stage. 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.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.

Rouhani to Aoun: Lebanese Won't Allow Lebanon to be Conflict Arena

Naharnet/November 07/17/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday held phone talks with President Michel Aoun, voicing confidence that the Lebanese “will not allow Lebanon to become an arena for the conflict of forces.”
According to the National News Agency, talks between the two presidents tackled “the general situations, the current developments and a host of current issues.”A political aide to Rouhani quoted the Iranian leader as telling Aoun that “through their prudence, the great Lebanese people will overcome this new sedition and will not allow Lebanon to become an arena for the conflict of forces or for the return of terrorists.”Rouhani emphasized to Aoun that “unity and harmony among ethnicities, sects and religions in Lebanon will guarantee the defeat of foreign sedition attempts and regional problems.”“Iran will always stand by the Lebanese people and will spare no effort to contribute to consolidating Lebanon's stability and firmness,” the Iranian president added. Aoun for his part told Rouhani, according to the Iranian president's aide, that “despite the presence of very, very feeble voices seeking to create sedition in Lebanon, Lebanon and the Lebanese are moving forward serenely.” Hariri stunned the Lebanese 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.

Geagea Meets Mufti: We Can Overcome Crisis through Calm, Strenuous Work
Naharnet/November 07/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Tuesday met with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan and reassured that the Lebanese can overcome the crisis resulting from PM Saad Hariri's resignation through “calm and strenuous work.”“Tomorrow I will have a lengthy interview on MTV and I will talk extensively about several issues,” said Geagea after the talks at Dar al-Fatwa. “I was pleased to meet with the mufti, who is a major national figure. We wish many people had his balance and clear vision. We spoke extensively about the current crisis and, God willing, through patience, calm and strenuous work we will manage to overcome this crisis,” Geagea added.Asked whether Hariri will return soon to Lebanon, Geagea said: “I will speak tomorrow.”

Bassil from Dar el-Fatwa: Lebanese Won't Allow Differences to Sow Discord
Naharnet/November 07/17/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said on Tuesday that the Lebanese won't allow divisions to sow discord among them and that the crisis that emerged in the wake of PM Saad Hariri's resignation can be turned into an opportunity for national unity. “We can turn this crisis into an opportunity. Today, we are all losers in what happened, but we will emerge from the crisis,” said Bassil after holding talks with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan at Dar al-Fatwa. “The only solution is to stay involved,” stated Bassil, adding “The Lebanese will not allow division to be sown among us. We all want stability and peace. Whatever we attain by understanding is an achievement.” 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.

Mustaqbal 'Awaiting Hariri's Return', Hopes Lebanon Will 'Overcome Crisis'
Naharnet/November 07/17/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc announced Tuesday that it is “awaiting the return” of resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Riyadh to Lebanon, saying it has decided to hold continuous meetings to follow up on the current crisis. “The bloc took note of PM Saad Hariri's meeting yesterday with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, as well as his meeting today with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, hoping Lebanon will overcome the current crisis,” said Mustaqbal in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. “The bloc is awaiting PM Hariri's return and it has decided to hold continuous meetings,” it added. Hariri's trip to the UAE comes after days of speculation in Lebanon that the resigned Premier is under house arrest in Saudi Arabia following his surprising resignation over the weekend. 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.

Change and Reform bloc after weekly meeting: Solidarity is an absolute priority to preserve nation's unity
Tue 07 Nov 2017/NNA - "Change and Reform" bloc on Tuesday categorically underlined that "solidarity is an utter priority to preserve the nation's unity and institutional safety and stability." The Bloc's fresh words on Tuesday came in a statement issued in the wake of its weekly meeting, chaired by bloc head, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, at the Conferences Center in Sin El Fil. The meeting broached most recent developments in the wake of the surprise resignation of PM Saad Hariri and its repercussions, commending in specific the initiative of President Michel Aoun which called for patience, solidarity and reinforcement of stability at the political, security and financial levels. The bloc affirmed respect for the Constitution and parliamentary and democratic principles in dealing with the current developments, stressing that it is the President's national and constitutional duty to find out about the factual circumstances of PM Hariri's resignation in the ake of his return to Beirut. The blco besseched all political and spiritual parties, leaderships and movements to reinforce soldiarity, as an utter priority to preserve the homeland's unity and institutional safety and stability. On the forthcoming legislative elections, the bloc underscored the need to hold these elections on constitutional deadlines "as an essential step on the path toward the renewal of constitutional institutions and respect for the will and choices of the Lebanese." The bloc called on the Lebanese Diaspora in the world to seize this unique opportunity through participating in the upcoming elections by registering on the ballot lists in the Lebanese embassies and consulates in the countries where they reside. The statement brought to attention that the official deadline for registration ends on the 20th of this month. The Bloc head briefed conferees on the outcome of the FPM's delegation to Dar el-Fatwa and its meeting with Grand Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Abdul Latif Derya. The bloc affirmed its full support for the positions of the Mufti calling for unity, wisdom and tranquility as well as for the preservation of the Constitution and national partnership, which solely anchors stability and shields Lebanon from the repercussions of external crises.

Lebanon PM Resignation May Lead to Credit Downgrade, Says Moody's
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 07/17/The surprise resignation of Lebanon's prime minister at the weekend could reduce confidence in the country's banking system and lead to a credit rating downgrade, Moody's Investors Service has said. The shock announcement by Saad Hariri in a television broadcast from Saudi Arabia has prompted worries that Lebanon would be sent into a political and economic tailspin. On Monday, Moody's said the move "threatens to disrupt the fragile political balance in place" during Hariri's one-year stint as premier. "A drawn-out political stalemate less than a month after the government passed its first budget in 12 years would undermine recent institutional improvements and expose the banking system to a loss in confidence," the rating agency said. "Our elevated political event risk assessment indicates a higher susceptibility to a downgrade in case of a prolonged political stalemate."Moody's has a "B3 stable" rating for Lebanon. Since its devastating 1975-1990 civil war, Lebanon has been weighed down with endemic corruption and a national debt estimated at 140 percent of GDP. The 2005 assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri -- Saad's father -- plunged Lebanon into further economic and political turmoil. Last month, lawmakers passed a government budget for the first time since 2005, but it covers the current financial year, not 2018. Since Hariri's televised resignation on Saturday, analysts have expressed concern that job creation and investor confidence in Lebanon could suffer a serious blow. But Lebanese President Michel Aoun and senior economic officials met on Monday and sought to allay those fears. "What we can confirm is that we can absorb this problem through our financial and monetary capabilities -- we don't expect serious risks to this stability," said Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil after the meeting.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Resigns: What's Next?
حنين غدار: رئيس الحكومة اللبناني يستقيل، فماذا بعد؟
Hanin Ghaddar/The Washington Institute./November 07/17
Hariri's announcement could make Hezbollah and its Iranian patron more vulnerable to international pressure, particularly if the upcoming parliamentary elections do not go their way.
On November 4, Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri unexpectedly resigned during televised remarks delivered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The speech mentioned an assassination plot against him and accused Iran and its proxies of destabilizing his country and the wider region. The timing of these claims was especially startling given that Hariri had just hosted Ali Akbar Velayati, the Iranian Supreme Leader's advisor for international affairs, one day prior, after which they released a joint statement emphasizing the "interests for Lebanon."
Moreover, the fact that the resignation happened in Riyadh carries a regional dimension that could open Lebanon up to both the Iranian-Saudi conflict -- which escalated this weekend after the Saudis intercepted a missile fired on Riyadh from Yemen and characterized it as an act of war by Iran -- and U.S. efforts to contain Tehran's ambitions in the Middle East. It is still uncertain why Hariri made the announcement in the kingdom. The Saudis may have pressured him to do so in reaction to Velayati's visit or as part of a wider plan to confront Hezbollah in Lebanon. Earlier today, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir struck an ominous tone, telling CNN that the attack on Riyadh involved "an Iranian missile, launched by Hezbollah, from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen." Whatever the truth behind the resignation and the missile incident, Hezbollah is now more exposed, without a coalition government to give its domestic and regional activities the stamp of legitimacy, and without a substantial Sunni partner to replace Hariri.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah criticized the resignation on Sunday, accusing Saudi Arabia of forcing Hariri to step down and keeping him under house arrest. Significantly, though, his rhetoric was calmer than usual -- he mostly called for patience and restraint. Hezbollah leaders seemed taken aback by the resignation, as Hariri has not tried to defy their authority since he came back as prime minister last year. Rather, his prior moves -- such as nominating Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun for the presidency -- and recent rhetoric signaled that his plan was to keep compromising with the group.
As for what happens next, one of several scenarios could unfold. Under the constitution, President Aoun is supposed to call for parliamentary consultations to pick the next premier. According to his most recent statements, however, he will not accept the resignation until Hariri returns to Lebanon and explains his reasons, something that Nasrallah demanded as well. If Hariri refuses, Aoun may have to move on. In any case, Lebanon faces a serious void in its institutions. Given its already delicate political, security, and economic situation, more instability could push the country into serious trouble.
If the void does not suit Hezbollah leaders -- who know they will need the cover of government to face potential new international sanctions -- they could try to push the president to replace Hariri with another premier, who is constitutionally required to be a Sunni. Yet this route would be challenging for two reasons. First, with parliamentary elections slated for May 2018 and international pressure on Hezbollah escalating, any Sunni leader would find it politically difficult to join a Hezbollah government. Second, the group does not have the necessary quorum in the current parliament to choose a new prime minister -- in fact, no party does. Some fear that Hezbollah will resort to assassinations in order to secure the quorum. Whatever happens, the interregnum will be thorny.
As for the elections themselves, getting all factions to agree on the details was already a nightmare, so their status is now up in the air. The current void makes it even more urgent to hold the elections on time, but Hariri's resignation -- with the confrontational tone it embodied -- might lead to a postponement, or perhaps internal and external pressure to change the new proportional electoral law. Hariri agreed to that law because he claimed that Lebanon's stability and democratic process were paramount, despite the fact that the electoral changes would probably guarantee Hezbollah's victory next May by allowing its allies more seats. Now that Hariri's priorities have seemingly shifted, the new law and election schedule are no longer certain.
His resignation might also affect several items passed by his cabinet, including oil and gas decrees for offshore exploration and the new national budget, Lebanon's first in twelve years. The resultant turmoil could scare off foreign companies that need to trust the political environment in order to make business investments -- a grim prospect given that Lebanon is still struggling with the impact of the Syria war, which cut major trade routes and brought more than one million refugees into the country.
These problems, coupled with the possibility of more forceful interference by Saudi Arabia and Iran, mean that Lebanon could move even faster toward political and economic crisis. Accordingly, the international community should respond to the resignation with a coordinated plan aimed at two goals: ensuring the country's stability, and confronting Hezbollah to make sure it cannot use the void to its advantage.
Whether or not Hezbollah choses to accept the void until elections, it will try its best to keep a grip on Lebanon amid growing regional and domestic challenges. This gives its domestic and foreign opponents an opportunity to push back, particularly against the backdrop of upcoming elections. Supporting anti-Hezbollah candidates or pushing to change the electoral law could both prove helpful. But elections are unlikely to be held on time unless the international community keeps the country from succumbing to chaos and ensures that the Iran-Saudi war does not escalate into armed clashes inside Lebanon. Political voids and chaos have only strengthened Hezbollah and weakened the state since 2005, so they are hardly a recipe for countering the group today.
**Hanin Ghaddar, a veteran Lebanese journalist and researcher, is the Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute.

US sticks by Lebanese army despite Hariri resignation
Jack Detsch/Al Monitor/November07/17
The Donald Trump administration is standing by the Lebanese army despite Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s shocking resignation over the weekend.
Hariri announced his decision to step down during a visit to Saudi Arabia, citing threats from Hezbollah and its Iranian patron. The move raises concerns about US support for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which critics worry is too close to the Shiite militia.
“The United States expects an orderly political process in Lebanon and will remain supportive of the legitimate institutions of the Lebanese state,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway told Al-Monitor.
Hariri’s resignation comes less than a week after US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard announced the first delivery of Super Tucano attack aircraft to the Lebanese military. During an Oct. 31 event at Lebanon’s Hamat air base, Richard said US support for the Lebanese military over the past year totaled $160 million from State Department and Defense Department accounts.
Two months earlier, on Aug. 14, Richard had announced the delivery of eight Bradley fighting vehicles to the Lebanese military. At the time, she said the United States over the past 12 months had provided the Lebanese military with 40 howitzers, 50 armed Humvees, mortar systems and more than 5,000 small arms, including machine guns, grenade launchers and assault rifles.
“Our support to the LAF, including our Oct. 31 announcement, will continue,” a State Department official told Al-Monitor today.
The show of support comes even as Trump’s State Department cut down its annual foreign military financing grants to Lebanon from $105 million to zero in the budget request for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Still, US officials insist that neither budgetary turmoil nor political intrigue will derail efforts to outfit Lebanon’s military; this funding has totaled more than $1.4 billion since 2005.
“The administration is committed to combating threats to Lebanon and the region, including [the Islamic State] and other terrorist organizations, and maintains the flexibility to respond with any combination of [State Department and Defense Department] programs,” another State Department official told Al-Monitor. “We are confident that we can work closely with the Department of Defense to ensure we are able to address the most urgent needs for the LAF.”
The US government could potentially draw upon a new $850 million Defense Department program to provide security and counterterrorism assistance around the world, as well as a Pentagon effort designed to build up foreign military capacity. A provision in the House version of pending defense legislation would also allow the Pentagon to allocate money to strengthen Lebanon’s military from funds budgeted to counter the Islamic State. Lebanon is also a priority country for receiving assistance through a $200 million global train-and-equip program for countries to secure their borders and fight terrorism.
Lawmakers who supervise foreign aid said they were keeping an eye on the situation.
“Hezbollah may increase its already strong grip on Lebanon," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., told Al-Monitor in an e-mailed statement. "We are watching Lebanon closely as we continue working to advance our House-passed bill imposing new sanctions on Iran’s terror proxy.”
Former US officials pointed out that US support for the Lebanese Armed Forces has continued throughout a series of political crises in recent years. Washington has provided more than $800 million in training and equipment to the Lebanese military since Hariri was first forced from power in 2011, after Hezbollah and its allies left his political coalition. “Political instability is a time-honored tradition in Lebanon,” Mara Karlin, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense during the Barack Obama administration, told Al-Monitor. “The bigger questions would be what does this instability mean for the Lebanese military? Is it still using materiel appropriately and in line with efforts to ascertain government sovereignty? Is it still taking on bad actors?”But the effort to outfit countries such as Lebanon with security assistance could still change, experts say, given the larger foreign aid shakeup underway during the Trump administration. Strengthening ties between the White House and Saudi Arabia as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tightens his control in the kingdom is another wild card.
Foreign military financing “to Lebanon has to be reviewed in its entirety given recent events between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia,” said Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser with the Gulf State Analytics consultancy and an adjunct senior fellow at the Lexington Institute think tank in the Washington area. “The kingdom has been able to convince America to halt and/or alter FMF [foreign military financing] and other aid before. Given the US-Saudi security nexus against Iran," he said, foreign military financing to the Lebanese military "may not resume until there is a resolution to the emerging Lebanese crisis.”
**Jack Detsch is Al-Monitor’s Pentagon correspondent. Based in Washington, Detsch examines US-Middle East relations through the lens of the Defense Department. Detsch previously covered cybersecurity for Passcode, the Christian Science Monitor’s project on security and privacy in the Digital Age. Detsch also served as editorial assistant at The Diplomat Magazine and worked for NPR-affiliated stations in San Francisco. On Twitter: @JackDetsch_ALM, Email:

Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war, deepening crisis

Tom Perry, Lisa Barrington/November 07/17
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia accused Lebanon on Monday of declaring war against it because of aggression by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah, a dramatic escalation of a crisis threatening to destabilize the tiny Arab country. Lebanon has been thrust to the center of regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran since the Saudi-allied Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Saturday, blaming Iran and Hezbollah in his resignation speech. Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said the Lebanese government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia” because of what he described as aggression by Hezbollah. Faulting the Hariri-led administration for failing to take action against Hezbollah during a year in office, Sabhan said “there are those who will stop (Hezbollah) and make it return to the caves of South Lebanon”, the heartland of the Shi‘ite community.
In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, he added: “Lebanese must all know these risks and work to fix matters before they reach the point of no return.”He did not spell out what action Saudi Arabia might take against Lebanon, a country with a weak and heavily indebted state that is still rebuilding from its 1975-90 civil war and where one-in-four people is a Syrian refugee.
There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese government. Hezbollah is both a military and a political organization that is represented in the Lebanese parliament and in the Hariri-led coalition government formed last year.
Its powerful guerrilla army is widely seen as stronger than the Lebanese army, and has played a major role in the war in neighboring Syria, another theater of Saudi-Iranian rivalry where Hezbollah has fought in support of the government.
Lebanese authorities said on Monday the country’s financial institutions could cope with Hariri’s resignation and the stability of the Lebanese pound was not at risk. But the cash price of Lebanon’s U.S. dollar-denominated bonds fell, with longer-dated maturities suffering hefty losses as investors took a dim view of the medium- to longer-term outlook for Lebanon.
People walk next to a poster depicting Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who has resigned from his post, along a street in the mainly Sunni Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh in Beirut, Lebanon November 6, 2017.
Hariri cited a plot to assassinate him during his unexpected resignation speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia which caught even his aides off guard. He also slammed Hezbollah and Iran, accusing them of sowing strife in the Arab world.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said he will not comment on Hariri’s speech, calling it a “Saudi statement” and saying Riyadh had forced Hariri to resign. The sudden nature of Hariri’s resignation generated speculation in Lebanon that his family’s Saudi construction business had been caught up in an anti-corruption purge and he had been coerced into resigning. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said it was “nonsense” to suggest Hariri had been coerced into quitting in a CNN interview on Monday. Hariri had quit because Hezbollah had been “calling the shots” in the government, he said. Hariri, a Saudi citizen, was free to leave the country at any time, he said.
Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, a senior member of Hariri’s political party, said he was under the impression Hariri would return to Beirut within days. A meeting between Saudi King Salman and Hariri in Riyadh on Monday proved “rumors” wrong, he said - an apparent reference to speculation that Hariri was detained or forced to quit. Earlier on Monday, President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, appealed for national unity.
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. The crisis could re-aggravate tensions between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims and afflict Lebanese government with paralysis once again. All of the sides have called for calm and there has been no sign of unrest since Hariri’s resignation.
The Hariri-led government took office last year in a political deal that made Aoun president. The deal ended years of deadlock, and last month it produced Lebanon’s first budget since 2005. Hariri flew to Saudi Arabia on Friday after meeting in Beirut the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, who described the coalition as “a victory” and “great success” afterwards.
**Reporting by Ellen Francis, Tom Perry and Lisa Barrington in Beirut, Ali Abdelaty in Cairo; Editing by Peter Graff
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Saad Hariri’s resignation? Part of Saudi's latest push to confront Iran
Lina Khatib/MEE/November 07/17
The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Saturday sent shockwaves across Lebanon. It came after several statements by Hariri to political leaders in Lebanon about his commitment to the national unity government through which he had come to power just over a year ago following a period of political vacuum in the country. Hariri's resignation was announced during his second trip to Saudi Arabia in one week, sparking much speculation about his relationship with Saudi Arabia and the kingdom's intentions in Lebanon in particular and vis-à-vis Iran more broadly.
Playground for rivalries
While much of this speculation was based on rumours, the developments in Lebanon are part of a wider process of change happening in Saudi Arabia's policy towards Iran in which Riyadh is becoming increasingly hawkish.Lebanon has always been a playground for rivalries between foreign actors. The Saudi-Iranian rivalry has played out in Lebanon sometimes in the form of soft confrontation between their respective Lebanese allies through the ballot box, and sometimes through escalated activities like the stand-off between the Hezbollah-dominated (and therefore pro-Iranian) March 8 political coalition and the March 14 camp led by Saad Hariri's political party, the Future Movement (and therefore pro-Saudi). The stand-off meant that on more than one occasion, Iran's and Saudi Arabia's allies in Lebanon refused to participate in the same government or disagreed on which electoral law should be used in the next round of elections.
These disagreements led to a political deadlock that left Lebanon facing a cycle of postponed parliamentary elections.
Having Hariri out of power is better than witnessing him face a significant loss in the ballot box
The Saudi-Iranian rivalry is also playing out in neighbouring Syria, where Hezbollah has been actively supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia has tried several methods aimed at toppling the regime. Most notably the Saudis sought to unify the Syrian opposition with the creation of the Higher Negotiating Committee that was first announced in Riyadh in 2015 to pave the way for a negotiated political transition in Syria through the Geneva process. The situation in Syria added to the pressure on the pro-Saudi camp in Lebanon, which had explicitly rejected Hezbollah's intervention in Syria on the basis that this intervention is not related to Lebanese interests. The questioning of Hezbollah's role in Syria in 2013 led to the inability of then-prime minister Tammam Salam to form a cabinet for a period of 10 months.Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal walks with Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri (L) during the opening ceremony of the Four Seasons hotel in Beirut, 22 June 2010 (Reuters)
Iran meddling
It is in the context of those two interlinked developments that a national unity government was eventually announced in Lebanon last year to end the political vacuum, bringing back Saad Hariri as prime minister, while March 8's General Michel Aoun was announced as president. The Lebanese street breathed a sigh of relief at what appeared to be a national compromise blessed by both Saudi Arabia and Iran. But neither subsequent developments in Lebanon nor those in Syria showed that this compromise was in Saudi Arabia’s favour. Taking advantage of the United States' inaction on Syria, Iran, in partnership with Russia, expanded the scope of its activities in Syria. Hezbollah gained from this process, strengthening its military capability inside Lebanon.
Hezbollah says Saudi 'imposed' Lebanon PM's resignation
Iran's meddling in Syria and Hezbollah's increased stature became a cause of concern for Saudi Arabia, especially after the ascension of Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the position of crown prince. Having faced Iran's Houthi allies in Yemen through military confrontation, Saudi Arabia in this new era started edging closer to a hardline stance towards Iran. This culminated in the abandonment of the path of seeking compromise, as demonstrated by the Saudi-blessed resignation of Hariri from the Lebanese national unity government.
Political vaccum
While Hariri’s resignation means that Lebanon once again finds itself in a political vacuum, it also works in Saudi Arabia's favour because the electoral law that was finally agreed on by the Hariri-led national unity government, paving the way for parliamentary elections to take place in May 2018, would have resulted in fewer votes for Hariri's party. Having Hariri out of power is better than witnessing him face a significant loss in the ballot box. Many in Lebanon fear that this political vacuum might pave the way for a hot war between Hezbollah and Israel, because the latter shares Saudi Arabia's rejection of Iranian interests. But the likelier scenario is one in which Saudi Arabia works with the United States and its allies to increase pressure on Iran inside Syria and outside. The wave of arrests of high profile figures that the Saudi government has led is a strong signal that no one is immune: if the kingdom's leadership can be this ruthless with its own citizens, what can one expect from how it will approach its rivals? In the end, there could not have been a solution for the situation in Lebanon without things being first settled in Syria. Lebanon has always been more of a witness of side effects of international developments than an agenda setter of regional politics. With the end of the national unity government in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia has left the negotiating table and is preparing to enter the boxing ring. While a political vacuum in Lebanon is worrying, it gives Saudi Arabia space to reorder its affairs in the country. For as long as Iran continues to be the most prominent international player in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia will be in no rush to install a loyal figure to fill the position vacated by Hariri, because that means having to work with Hezbollah one way or another. With Hariri's resignation, Saudi Arabia is therefore resetting its terms of engagement with Iran. After all, Lebanon was the only place in which pro-Saudi and pro-Iranian players were in an uncomfortable political marriage. With the end of the national unity government in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia has left the negotiating table and is preparing to enter the boxing ring.
The next chapter in the Saudi-Iranian relationship is likely to be a harsh one.
** Lina Khatib is the head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. You can follow her on Twitter @LinaKhatibUK.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 07-08/17
Mogherini Warns of 'Dangerous' Middle East Escalation
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 07/17/Europe's top diplomat Federica Mogherini warned Tuesday that the mounting tension between Saudi Arabia, Iran and their respective allies and proxies is "extremely dangerous." Speaking in Washington, Mogherini stopped short of criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump's warm support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's aggressive anti-Iranian stance. But she made it clear that in Europe, in any case, officials would like to see both sides calm their rhetoric and seek a "minimum of common ground" on which to build peace. "I know that this is not the wind that is blowing as the majority voice in the world of today," Mogherini told reporters at the EU mission in Washington. "But allow me to bring a little bit of wisdom as the European voice in a world that seems to go completely crazy here: It's dangerous," she warned. Neither Trump nor Mogherini's opposite number U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were in Washington for her visit -- both were in Asia for talks dominated by North Korea. But Trump has taken time on his voyage to tweet support for Mohammed bin Salman's "anti-corruption" drive, which has seen 11 royal princes and dozens of political and business leaders arrested. The United States, in the person of ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, has also supported a Saudi claim that Iran supplied a missile that Yemeni rebels allegedly fired at Riyadh. Bin Salman has branded Saturday's apparently intercepted ballistic missile strike a "direct military aggression" on Iran's behalf, and Riyadh claims the right to respond. Mogherini was cautious on the Saudi crackdown and mass arrests, saying that Europe would support any moves to fight corruption and modernize the kingdom's economy. But she would not comment on Trump's enthusiastic tweeted support for Bin Salman, including his "harshly treating" figures who had been "milking" their country. Instead, she noted that the European Union and Canada were among "very few" governments that can claim human rights and the rule of law are central to their foreign policy. "Here, I know, the thinking has gone in a different direction," she added, in an implicit reference to Trump's "America First" approach to world issues.

Damascus Shelling Exchange Kills 10
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 07/17/Shelling by the Syrian regime on a rebel-held enclave on the outskirts of Damascus killed seven civilians, while retaliatory fire killed three people Tuesday, a monitor said. Six civilians, including two children, were killed by shelling on Saqba, in the Eastern Ghouta area that a rebel group controls but is besieged by government forces, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Another child was killed in the nearby town of Douma, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based monitoring organization. A total of 18 people were also wounded in the besieged area, he said. Shelling by the rebels on central Damascus later killed three people, including at least two civilians, and wounded at least 15, said Abdel Rahman. "The shelling was in response to the attack on Ghouta," said the director of the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria for its information. A "de-escalation zone" deal agreed by regime allies Iran and Russia and rebel backer Turkey has been in place in Eastern Ghouta since July, but it has been repeatedly violated. In addition to an uptick in regime shelling on Eastern Ghouta, humanitarian workers have warned the conditions inside the enclave were increasingly dire. Up to 400,000 people are believed to live in Eastern Ghouta, which has been under government siege since 2013. The blockade has caused serious food and medicine shortages, and pushed the prices for what remains beyond the reach of impoverished residents.

Saudi King Hosts Abbas after Palestinian Accord
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 07/17/Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held talks with Saudi King Salman on Tuesday on his first visit to the kingdom since last month's landmark reconciliation accord between rival factions Hamas and Fatah."During the session, the (two leaders) reviewed the latest developments in the Palestinian arena," state-run Saudi Press Agency said in a brief statement. Under an Egyptian-brokered deal signed between Abbas' Fatah and the Islamist Hamas movement on October 12, the Palestinian Authority is due to resume full control of the Gaza Strip by December 1. Abbas' visit to Riyadh comes after Hamas handed over control of the Gaza Strip's borders with Egypt and Israel to the Palestinian Authority last week, in the first key test of the accord.

U.S. Accuses Iran of Supplying Missile to Yemen
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 07/17/The United States on Tuesday accused Iran of supplying a missile to Yemeni rebels that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for an international response. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Riyadh had released information showing that the missile was an Iranian Qiam and that this weapon was not present in Yemen before the conflict. "By providing these types of weapons to the Huthi militias in Yemen, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp‎s is violating two U.N. resolutions simultaneously," Haley said in a statement. "We encourage the United Nations and international partners to take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations." There was no US request however for the council to hold a meeting on the missile attacks. The accusations came amid heightened tensions after the Huthis fired a missile that was intercepted near Riyadh. Haley said that missile may also be of Iranian origin. The United States "will not turn a blind eye to these serious violations of international law by the Iranian regime," she said. Haley, a strong voice on foreign policy in the U.S. administration, has repeatedly called on the U.N. Security Council to take a tougher stance toward Iran.Haley has accused Iran of illegal arms deals and military support in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. A Saudi-led Arab military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis forced him into exile. The coalition said it had shot down on July 27 a missile fired by the Huthis close to Mecca, a month before the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

US Congress Committee to Discuss Embassy Transfer to Jerusalem
Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/17/Israeli sources in Tel Aviv revealed that the Subcommittee on Security Affairs in the US Congress would hold a special session on Wednesday to discuss the transfer of the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in accordance with a promise made by President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. According to Israeli political sources, discussions are initiated by members of the Republican Party, known for their relations with the Israeli and American right movements. The Israeli right will send a “senior expert” on the subject, former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, who served as a senior advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prof. Dore Gold, who is currently the head of the Jerusalem Center for Citizen and Public Affairs. Gold will present his position in a lecture entitled: “Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: Opportunities and Risks.” Former US Ambassador to Israel, John Bolton, who also served as a permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations, will also participate in the meeting. He was known for his radical positions against Palestinians. Last June, Trump decided not to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem to prevent hampering efforts to move the peace process forward. Netanyahu described the decision as “disappointing”, saying that the continued presence of foreign embassies outside Jerusalem “distanced peace and contributed to the revival of the Palestinian illusion that the Jewish people had nothing to do with Jerusalem.” He reiterated Israel's firm position that the US Embassy and other foreign embassies should be located inside Jerusalem, “our eternal capital”. Since then, the Israeli right has tried to coordinate and cooperate with the American Republican party to push for the implementation of Trump’s electoral promise.

Israel Retrieves, Holds Bodies of 5 Palestinians Killed in Tunnel Airstrike
Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/17/In an operation described as a race against time, the Israeli Combat Engineering Corps retrieved the bodies of five Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement members from a tunnel its jets had destroyed last week. An Israeli spokesperson said that the army will not hand the bodies to Palestinian authorities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Monday that he opposes returning them without receiving something return. Last week, Israel destroyed the Gaza Strip tunnel, which turned out to be dug by the Islamic Jihad. The tunnel extended beyond the border near Khan Younes, reaching deep into Israeli territory. The Palestinian Hamas movement requested the permission to search for the bodies, but Israel rejected it. It instead conditioned that Hamas return the bodies of two Israeli soldiers that have been held by the movement since the war on Gaza in 2014. Subsequently, Israeli rights groups submitted to the Supreme Court of Israel a request to release the Palestinian bodies out of humanitarian considerations. Netanyahu, as he concluded his visit to UK, said that the government is tasked with achieving two major missions: first to defend the country and second to build it. Hamas pokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that held bodies prove that Israel has failed in its bet to get back its soldiers. Jihad spokesman Ahmed al-Modallal vowed: “We will find a way to get them back.”

Yemen Rebels Threaten Saudi, UAE Ports and Airports
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 07/17/Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels on Tuesday threatened retaliation against the ports and airports of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which this week closed the Yemeni land, sea and air borders. "All airports, ports, border crossings and areas of any importance to Saudi Arabia and the UAE will be a direct target of our weapons, which is a legitimate right," read a statement released by the rebels' political office. Allied with Yemen's government, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been battling the Huthis on Yemeni land since 2015.
The Huthi's statement comes the day after the coalition announced it had closed all of Yemen's borders, after Saudi forces intercepted a ballistic missile headed for the kingdom's international airport in Riyadh. The Huthis have claimed the missile attack. The United Nations on Monday reported the Saudi-led coalition had prevented two humanitarian aid flights from flying to the war-torn country.

Rouhani Calls on Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff to Control Borders
Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/17/Iran's President Hassan Rouhani met on Monday Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa in Tehran where they exchanged views on bilateral relations and the security of the eastern Iranian border. Rouhani demanded in a statement Monday to hunt down Kurdish armed groups three days after the death of eight Iranian border guards north-west of the country. The President announced his country’s willingness to deepen and develop Tehran-Islamabad defense and military cooperation to consolidate stability and security in the region, according to Iranian presidency’s website. "Military and defense cooperation of the two countries must be developed along with relations and cooperation in the fields of politics, economy and culture," Rouhani said. "Given the will of the two governments of Iran and Pakistan to promote relations and cooperation between armed forces, cooperation can be promoted by developing training and joint maneuvers," he said, adding that the history of Iran and Pakistan's military and defense cooperation dates back to decades ago. Rouhani also described terrorism and sectarian and ethnic disagreements as two main problems of the World of Islam today and emphasized the role of some powers in creating and reinforcing these problems and differences in the region, saying: "Powers do not have interest in unity and brotherhood among Muslims because if this unity and brotherhood is strengthened, then Islamic countries will be able to solve problems without the presence of outsiders.”He also said that improving security of the common borders of the two countries is imperative. "The borders between Iran and Pakistan should be frontiers of friendship, development and tourism between the two nations, and we should not allow some terrorist groups promote insecurity in these borders,” he explained. The Iranian media reported Sunday that the visit of the Chief of Staff of Pakistan came as a response for the invitation of his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Baqeri. The official IRNA news agency said Monday that Bajwa's three-day visit will witness negotiations with leaders of the Iranian armed forces on regional issues and areas of military and political cooperation. Notably, Bajwa is the second chief of staff to visit Tehran in the past three months, as Turkish Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar also visited Tehran last month and met senior Iranian officials. The visit followed a border tension between the two countries in May after 10 Iranian soldiers were killed by gunmen from the Baluchi separatist armed group. Baqeri then threatened to target Pakistani territories, to which Islamabad responded by calling up the Iranian ambassador.

Saudi Public Prosecution Has ‘Great Deal’ of Evidence against Corruption Detainees
Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/17/Saudi individuals detained over the weekend were questioned as part of anti-corruption investigations in the oil-rich kingdom, Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said on Monday, adding that a great deal of detailed evidence had been gathered against the detainees. “The government of Saudi Arabia is undertaking these measures in accordance with its laws and regulations in a manner appropriate to the nature of the crimes,” said Mojeb. Mojeb, who is also member of National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), pointed out that the trial for the defendants will take place in the right time. He explained that given the nature of the case and investigations and in order to preserve the integrity of the legal proceedings, it was crucial to maintain the secrecy of the first phase of investigations. “Yesterday does not represent the start, but the completion of Phase One of our anti-corruption push,” Mojeb said, adding that it was necessary to complete the first phase discreetly "in order to preserve the integrity of the legal proceedings and ensure there was no flight from justice.” The Attorney General assured that the suspects are being granted the same rights and treatment as any other Saudi citizen.
“Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and everyone’s legal rights will be preserved," he added. Mojeb said this is the beginning “of a vital process to root out corruption" in Saudi Arabia reiterating that this will be an independent judicial process and it will be fully respected.
Nazaha President Khalid al-Muhaisen said the detentions came after three years of work by Saudi anti-corruption authorities and it confirms the determination of both Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to uproot corruption.
He indicated that the evidence of transgressions and financial mismanagement uncovered recently points to widespread corruption in a number of cases. "The responsibility of the new anti-corruption committee is to ensure that investigations into those cases are completed, and that the full force of the law is applied," Muhaisen said. He explained that the committee has the authority to reveal the bank details of the accused, freeze their assets and funds, and take other appropriate measures. Muhaisen stated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has stated clearly, no one is above the law, and no one who is proven to have indulged in corruption will escape, not even a prince or a minister. Fighting corruption is not the responsibility of one party, every citizen should participate in this civic duty, according to Muhaisen who also reiterated that this is a battle that "we can win if we all fight together."

Iranian Weapons-Smuggling to Yemen’s Houthis Passes through 3 Countries
Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/17/The Arab Coalition Supporting Yemen's Legitimacy showed evidence on Monday of the Iranian tactics to smuggle qualitative weapons to Houthi militias in Yemen and modernize outdated arms. It added that the smuggling process starts from Lebanese “Hezbollah”-controlled regions in Syria, then passes through Iraq and Iran before reaching Yemen. Tehran also supplies militias with experts and modern techniques to manufacture remote-controlled explosives-laden speedboats to use them in attacks against ships and therefore affect the navigation in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. Kuwaiti expert Dr. Fahd al-Shulaimy highlighted the Iranian smuggling operations, saying that the missiles need technical skills to be launched and tools to be directed. These tools and skills are not found among the former Yemeni regime. The development of the missiles is taking place by Iranian cadres and in cooperation with “Hezbollah”, he explained. He also noted that “Hezbollah” cadres received training in Iraq and moved to Yemen. Shulaimy told Asharq Al-Awsat that the number of ballistic missiles is not huge because they are launched intermittently. Their aim is not to destruct specific targets, but to intimidate, restore confidence of insurgents, draw attention of the media towards them and achieve political gains. The Arab Coalition also addressed mines planted by Houthis, revealing that around 50,000 mines were planted at the Saudi border, which represents a threat to civilians. Furthermore, a Yemeni official said that Iran is exploiting the weak supervision on international passages near Hodeida Port to smuggle ballistic missiles through dismantling, loading and refurbishing them by 75 Iranian experts spread in several cities.

Saudi Crown Prince Accuses Iran of 'Direct Aggression'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 07/17/Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince accused Iran on Tuesday of "direct military aggression" through Yemen's Huthi rebels, ratcheting up regional tensions as the kingdom reels from a sweeping royal purge. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and predominantly Shiite Iran have been trading fierce accusations over their involvement in the conflict in Yemen, in which they back opposing sides. In the latest flare-up, Saudi Arabia on Saturday intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile near Riyadh international airport, reportedly fired from Yemen by Iran-backed Huthi rebels, provoking a bitter war of words. Saudi Arabia accused Iran of supplying missiles to the rebels. Tehran vehemently denied the charge and in turn accused Riyadh of war crimes in Yemen. "The involvement of Iran in supplying missiles to the Huthis is a direct military aggression by the Iranian regime," the Saudi Press Agency quoted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying during a telephone conversation with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. This "could be considered an act of war," he said. It was the first reported Huthi missile to reach Riyadh, with smouldering debris landing inside the King Khalid International Airport, underscoring the growing fallout for Saudi Arabia from its involvement in neighbouring Yemen.
War crime
The kingdom has led a military intervention in support of Yemen's internationally recognised government since 2015 during which more than 8,650 people have been killed. Prince Mohammed, who is also defence minister, is seen as a key proponent of the intervention. The missile attack could escalate the proxy conflict between Riyadh and Tehran, which back opposing sides in wars and power struggles from Yemen to Syria. On Monday, the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen said it reserved the "right to respond" to the missile attack, calling it a blatant military aggression by the Iranian regime which might amount to an act of war. The coalition sealed Yemen's air, sea and land borders, saying they were being closed to fill the gaps in inspection procedures that enable "smuggling of missiles and military equipment to the Huthi militias". The coalition has imposed severe restrictions on all deliveries of goods to rebel-held areas of Yemen since the start of its intervention, allowing in only UN-supervised relief supplies. The New York-based Human Rights Watch, which has often been critical of the coalition, on Tuesday blasted the Huthi rebels for the missile attack, saying it was "most likely a war crime". The tensions come as Saudi Arabia remains embroiled in the biggest purge of the kingdom's elite in its modern history. Dozens of high-profile figures including princes, ministers as well as billionaire tycoon Al-Waleed bin Talal were swept up in the weekend purge -- just after an anti-graft commission headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was established. US President Donald Trump voiced support for the crackdown late on Monday, saying that some of those arrested had been "milking' their country for years". The purge underscores an unprecedented restructuring of the kingdom as Prince Mohammed steps up a dramatic reform drive for a post-oil era while consolidating power before his eventual succession as king. The commission hinted on Monday that it could widen its crackdown by issuing more arrest warrants and imposing more travel restrictions.

Trump Claims 'Progress' on Global Problem of North Korea
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 07/17/North Korea poses a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action, President Donald Trump said in Seoul Tuesday, but insisted "we are making a lot of progress" in reining in the rogue state. The US leader, standing alongside his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In, reiterated he was prepared to use the full range of American military might in order to halt Pyongyang's march towards becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. But he added: "It makes sense for North Korea to come to the table to make a deal that is good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world." "North Korea is a worldwide threat that requires a worldwide action. "I think we are making a lot of progress," he said, adding that Chinese President Xi Jinping -- whom he has often claimed holds the key to disarming the North -- has been "very, very helpful". After a relaxed few days in Tokyo, Seoul is a more complicated stop for the mercurial US president. Trump's relationship with the liberal-leaning Moon has been cool, and the former real estate magnate has railed at South Korean moves to engage its neighbour -- something he has previously labelled "appeasement".
But he began his diplomatic day vowing to "figure it all out" with "fine gentleman" Moon, despite their differences on the nuclear-armed North. As tensions over Pyongyang's weapons programme have soared, the US president has traded personal insults and threats of war with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Trump arrived from Japan, where he secured Tokyo's full support for Washington's stance that "all options are on the table" regarding Pyongyang, and declaring its nuclear ambitions "a threat to the civilised world and international peace and stability". He enjoyed three days of near-bromance with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, calling him "wonderful" after a round of golf and describing US-Japan ties as "really extraordinary". But at Camp Humphreys on Tuesday, where US forces stationed in the country have moved their headquarters from downtown Seoul, he and Moon sought a rapprochement. "Ultimately, it will all work out" on North Korea, said Trump. "It always works out. It has to work out."And Moon -- whose parents were evacuated from the North on a US ship during the Korean War -- was abundant in his praise for the United States."They say one knows a true friend when one is in need," he told Trump. "The United States is a true friend who has been with us and has bled with us in our time of need." South Korea is rolling out the red carpet for Trump as it seeks messages of assurance about the alliance and US resolve. But while Trump has threatened Pyongyang with "fire and fury", Moon is mindful that much of Seoul is within range of the North's artillery and in an address to parliament last week demanded: "There should be no military action on the peninsula without our prior consent." Kim Hyun-Wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, told AFP that the two allies have "subtle differences in their positions" and underlying suspicions about each other.
Reckless remarks
Citizens views are mixed, with both pro- and anti-Trump demonstrations taking place in downtown Seoul since the weekend, sometimes only a few blocks apart, and a heavy police presence lined the route of his motorcade Tuesday. North Korea -- which carried out by far its most powerful nuclear test to date in September -- itself welcomed Trump to the region with a rhetorical volley via the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, calling the US a "thrice-cursed nuclear criminal" and condemning "Trump's mad remarks". Another issue on his agenda is commerce between the US and the South, with Trump saying he had "a terrific meeting scheduled on trade" with Moon. His administration has caused consternation in Seoul by demanding the renegotiation of the five-year-old US-Korea free trade agreement, which Trump has called a "horrible deal" and a "job killer". It will start working out and working out so we create lots of jobs in the United States, which is one of the many important reasons I am here," Trump said. On Wednesday, Trump will speak to South Korean MPs but his visit will not include a trip to the Demilitarised Zone dividing the Korean peninsula, with the administration downplaying the destination as "a little bit of a cliche". Some observers have fretted that a gaffe by a president given to off-the-cuff remarks could send tensions rising on the peninsula. "If Trump says anything that can provoke North Korea, it could send military tensions soaring again," said professor Koo Kab-Woo from the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 07-08/17
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Germany: October 2017
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/November 07/17
Thieves broke into an immigration office in the Moabit district of Berlin and stole up to 20,000 blank passports and other immigration documents, as well as official stamps and seals
The Federal Prosecutor's Office opened more than 900 terrorism cases during the first nine months of 2017. Of those cases, more than 800 involved Islamists.
Violent crime, including murder, rape and physical assault, is running rampant in German asylum shelters, according to an intelligence report leaked to the newspaper Bild. German authorities, who appear powerless to stem the rising tide of violence, justified their failure to inform the public about the scale of the problem by citing the privacy rights of the criminal offenders.
October 1. The Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, NetzDG) — also known as the Facebook law — entered into force. The measure requires social media platforms with more than two million users to remove "blatantly illegal" hate speech within 24 hours, and less obviously illegal content within seven days, or face fines of up to €50 million ($58 million). Critics argue that the definition of hate speech is ambiguous and subjective and that the new law is a threat to online free speech. The German government plans to apply the law more widely — including to content on social media networks of any size, according to Der Spiegel.
October 2. Germany's partial ban on face coverings "must be expanded" to include a full ban on the burqa in public, said Andreas Scheuer, the secretary general of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU). "A ban is possible and necessary," he said a day after a burqa ban went into effect in neighboring Austria. "We will not give up our identity, we are ready to fight for it, the burqa does not belong to Germany," he said. The deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Stephan Harbarth, said that the partial ban "goes to the limit" of what is constitutionally possible: "I fear that a more far-reaching ban would not be compatible with the Basic Law."
October 3. Beatrix von Storch, the deputy leader of the anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), said that political Islam has no place in Germany. "Islam does not belong to Germany," she told the BBC. "We are in favor of religious freedom of course, but Islam is claiming political power, and this is what we oppose."
October 3. Approximately 1,000 mosques in Germany opened their doors to visitors as part of the 20th annual "Day of Open Mosques." The event, which has been held since 1997 on Germany's national holiday, the Day of German Unity, was conducted under the slogan "Good Neighborhood - Better Society," and aimed at creating transparency and reducing prejudice.
October 4. A 47-year-old migrant from Kazakhstan at a refugee shelter in Eggenfelden castrated a 28-year-old Ukrainian migrant, who bled to death at the scene. It later emerged that the Kazakh man had been raped by the Ukrainian man, who was aided and abetted by a group of migrants from Chechnya. The case drew attention to runaway crime in German refugee shelters.
October 5. The German government plans to cut project funding for the Turkish Islamic organization DITIB by around 80% next year, according to the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. The Interior Ministry appropriated €297,500 ($345,000) for 2018, compared to €1.47 million for 2017, and €3.27 million for 2016. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of using DITIB — part of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs, to control over 900 mosques in Germany — to prevent Turkish immigrants from integrating into German society.
October 7. Roughly 60 migrant teenagers attacked each other and police at the 70th annual Harvest Festival in Fellbach. Police described the youths as "exclusively German citizens with a migration background and other migrants." The youths were said to be engaged in "turf wars."
October 8. Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to cap the number of refugees Germany accepts each year to 200,000. The move was a concession to her conservative Bavarian allies ahead of coalition talks to form a new government. The refugee cap deal was also interpreted as extending an olive branch to the more than one million Christian Democrats who have defected to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in anger over Merkel's open-door migration policy.
On October 8, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to cap the number of refugees Germany accepts each year to 200,000. Pictured: Merkel in December 2014. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
October 9. Thieves broke into an immigration office in the Moabit district of Berlin and stole up to 20,000 blank passports and other immigration documents as well as official stamps and seals.
October 9. An off-the-cuff proposal by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière to introduce Muslim public holidays sparked a furious debate over the role of Islam in Germany. Speaking at a campaign rally for state elections in Lower Saxony, de Maizière, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said that federal states with large Muslim populations should be allowed to celebrate Muslim public holidays. De Maizière's statement, apparently aimed at enticing Muslim voters, prompted a furious backlash from his own party and political allies, who are still reeling from the CDU's poor results in the general election on September 24.
October 11. The Interior Ministry of Lower Saxony approved a temporary ban on additional refugees from settling in Salzgitter, a city with a high rate of immigration. The immigration restriction, the first of its kind in Germany, is to be reviewed annually.
October 12. A 28-year-old migrant from Nigeria was sentenced to 13 years in prison for stabbing to death a 22-year-old assistant at a refugee shelter in Ahaus near Münster. According to the prosecutor, the two had been in a romantic relationship, and when the woman ended it, the Nigerian went into a jealous rage, stabbing her 21 times. The criminal charges were, however, reduced from murder to manslaughter because the court could not decide if the killing was premeditated.
October 12. An official inquiry into the jihadist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in December 2016 concluded that the attack could have been prevented, according to Der Spiegel. The 72-page report described the performance of police and prosecutors as "poor," "inadequate," "belated," "flawed" and "unprofessional." It also noted that the Berlin Attorney General's Office missed repeated opportunities to arrest Anis Amri, a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia, in the months before he carried out his attack.
October 12. Hezbollah combatants have entered Germany disguised as refugees from the Middle East, according to a German intelligence report reviewed by The Jerusalem Post. The report also showed increased membership for Hezbollah and Hamas in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Around 950 Hezbollah operatives are active in Germany, according to German intelligence.
October 13. An entire wing of a hospital in Bonn was closed after an outbreak of scabies. The area was cleaned and disinfected and sick patients were sent to an isolation ward. The number of people diagnosed with scabies in North Rhine-Westphalia jumped by nearly 3,000% between 2013 and 2016, according to local health officials. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the federal government's central institution for monitoring and preventing diseases, recently confirmed an across-the-board increase in disease since 2015, when Germany took in an unprecedented number of migrants.
October 14. The trial began in Oldenburg of a 37-year-old migrant from Iraq accused of stabbing his wife, the mother of his five children, who were in the house at the time of the attack. According to the indictment, the Iraqi is said to have murdered his wife in May 2017, by stabbing her at least nine times to restore the "family honor" after he believed she was having an affair with another man. The woman had, in fact, been attending German language courses.
October 18. Hans-Georg Maaßen, the head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), warned that a new generation of junior jihadists posed a long-term threat to Germany. "We see the danger that children of jihadists indoctrinated in Islamism will return from combat zones to Germany," he said. At least 950 German jihadists have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State as of October 2017, according to the BfV. Of those, most are under 30 years of age; one-fifth are women; one-third have returned to Germany, and around 150 have been killed on the battlefield. German intelligence is currently monitoring 80 returnees.
October 22. The German justice is overwhelmed with terrorist proceedings, according to Welt am Sonntag, which reported that the Federal Prosecutor's Office opened more than 900 terrorism cases during the first nine months of 2017. Of those cases, more than 800 involved Islamists. "Given the backlog, we need significantly more staff at both the prosecutor's office and the courts," said Wolfgang Kubicki of the Free Democrats (FDP). "If Islamists are not German nationals, deportation should be compulsory and enforced."
October 22. About 80 Turkish Germans in the Bavarian town of Waldkraiburg called for local authorities to do more to protect them from violent attacks by asylum seekers. The protest came amid a spate of clashes in the town between Turks and newcomers from Africa and the Middle East. Turkish protesters said they were no longer safe on streets or in parks and threatened to take matters into their own hands if police failed to deport criminal migrants.
October 23. A court in Frankfurt ruled that Haikel S., a 36-year-old jihadist from Tunisia, cannot be deported because Tunisian authorities failed to promise that the man would not be jailed for the rest of his life. Haikel S. was arrested in February 2017 for allegedly planning a jihadist attack in Germany on behalf of the Islamic State. He is also wanted in Tunisia on terrorism charges.
October 24. The anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), vowed a "new era" as it made its debut at the first sitting of Germany's newly elected parliament. The AfD's parliamentary group chief, Bernd Baumann, said: "Take note: the old Bundestag has been voted out. The people have decided, a new era begins now. From this hour on, the issues will be renegotiated — not your maneuver's and tricks on parliamentary business but the euro, massive debt, enormous immigration numbers, open borders and brutal criminality in our streets."
October 24. Violent crime, including murder, rape and physical assault, is running rampant in German asylum shelters, according to an intelligence report leaked to the newspaper Bild. German authorities, who appear powerless to stem the rising tide of violence, justified their failure to inform the public about the scale of the problem by citing the privacy rights of the criminal offenders.
October 24. Authorities in Hamburg paid €2.4 million ($2.8 million) during the past 12 months for a mostly disused deportation shelter, according to the Hamburger Morgenpost. Only 84 migrants were deported from Hamburg during the past year, at a cost to taxpayers of around €28,500 ($33,000) per migrant.
October 25. Germany deported 14 rejected Afghan asylum seekers. Eleven of the deportees had criminal records for acts that included manslaughter, causing grievous bodily harm, sexual abuse of children, fraud and theft, according to interior ministry spokeswoman Annegret Korff. Greens MP Claudia Roth called on the government to stop the deportations. She argued that Afghanistan is unsafe for returnees: "Expulsions to Afghanistan clearly violate our responsibility to provide humanitarian protection."
October 28. More than 50 migrants from Africa and the Middle East attacked each other with knives and other weapons at the train station in Unna. Police from across North Rhine-Westphalia were deployed to restore order.
October 28. A migrant verbally assaulted a Roman Catholic priest at a supermarket in Werl. He grabbed the priest's shopping cart and shoved it back and forth while shouting, "You unbeliever! You pig!" The priest called police, who told him that he was responsible for his own personal safety.
October 29. Police in Spain arrested a fugitive 33-year-old Pakistani migrant, accused by authorities in Hamburg of murdering his two-year-old daughter by cutting her throat. Police say the murder was an act of revenge against his German wife, who had reported him for spousal abuse, and refused to withdraw the charges. The Pakistani man's asylum application was rejected in 2011; he should have been deported in 2012, but was allowed to stay.
October 31. A 19-year-old migrant from Syria who described himself as a "soldier of the caliphate" was arrested in Schwerin and charged with planning a jihadist attack aimed at killing "as many people as possible."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 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 Options of the War with Iran

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/November 07/17
The fronts of confrontation with Iran and its main allies are increasing. The ballistic missile that the Houthis launched against the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh is a dangerous military development that cannot be separated from the regional conflict with Iran in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Diplomacy has failed due to Iran’s ongoing refusal to withdraw its forces and militias from Syria. It had previously refused to withdraw from Iraq, where it is operating militarily. The latest of these operations is the advance on the Kurdistan region.
Iran is a remotely running the battles in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The countries in the region, as well as the United States, have failed in adopting a suitable policy that can confront Iran’s expansionist strategy in the region. The Americans, who have incurred repeated losses in bombings and “Hezbollah” assassinations, have sufficed in confronting the proxy itself through kidnapping or assassinating collaborators or members of the party. Egypt and Arab Gulf countries have also made due with the policy of adopting political and economic measures against “Hezbollah.”
Iran is making its foes adopt one of two strategies: either a direct confrontation with the regime itself or creating regional proxies and engaging in wars with them. The first option, a war with Iran, is unlikely to happen, except in defensive cases should Tehran launch a direct armed attack. This however is not its style in managing its crises. Even when Iran lost eight diplomats and others in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, it did not get involved in a direct war there. It instead relied on patiently and continuously growing local militias there.
Despite Iran’s clear hegemony in areas such as Iraq, the Iraqi army cannot confront the local pro-Iranian armed forces because its political leadership is dominated by Tehran. It is clear that Iran is playing a major role in directing the Iraqi forces, the Popular Mobilization Forces in particular, to eliminate the Kurdish presence in Kirkuk and beyond. This is an important regional battle that is not limited to Iraq. This does not acquit the Kurds however of the major political and military errors they have committed in this crisis as a result of their independence referendum. The vote was exploited by Iran in order to advance on the vital geographic and oil-rich region.
Countries will have no choice but to resort to a militia conflict in order to restore balance in the region. Syria is now entering the phase where governing arrangements are being made, the most important aspect of which is who controls the ground. The Iranian militias are committing mass executions against locals in regions they control. The victims are often former members of the opposition. Through these measures, Iran is seeking to impose security control of its regions, given that the Syrian regime no longer has the sufficient security or military means to impose its complete control.
In light of these circumstances, the regional countries will find themselves faced with a major Iranian project that is using Syria to control Syria itself, as well as Iraq and Lebanon, and at a later point, areas beyond these countries. Faced with this policy, there is no way to remove Iran from the equation or weaken it, no matter how much the Russians or Syrian regime try to convince themselves. Syria is therefore expected to turn into a country run by militias.
For the Iranians, this proxy war is very advantageous, especially with their investment in “Hezbollah”, their most valuable and long-term project, which costs them around $700 million annually. As for their Houthi agents in Yemen, their price is much cheaper because a fighter costs about $2 dollars a week.
I will return to what I said at the beginning and it is that the confrontations are increasing with Iran’s expansion and the lack of a deterrent to it. It is becoming more dangerous the more it achieves victories, most recently with the weakening of the Hariri camp in Lebanon and the strengthening of the Houthi missile capabilities that are directly threatening the heart of Saudi Arabia. With the elimination of the direct military confrontation with Iran, which no one really wants, bolstering local militias in the turbulent countries remains as the only option.

Unexpected Benefits From a Battle Against ISIS
Malcolm Cook/The New York Times/November 07/17
SINGAPORE — On Oct. 23, the defense secretary of the Philippines, Delfin Lorenzana, announced the end of combat operations in the southern city of Marawi, after the armed forces spent 154 days fighting local and regional Islamist terrorists. At last, victory — of a sort.
Marawi, which declared itself an “Islamic city” in 1980, is the capital of Lanao del Sur province, on the island of Mindanao, and the religious center of the Maranao, a tight-knit indigenous Muslim community. Marawi and the Maranao have been at the forefront of a decades-long insurgency against the central government in Manila. In recent years, however, disgruntled factions have splintered off, some embracing gangsterism or Islamist terrorism.
Last December, President Rodrigo Duterte dared one of those offshoots, the Maute group, to come to Marawi. On May 23, it did, with reinforcements.
That a coalition of local terrorists backed by the Islamic State could then hold off the Philippine military for five months was a propaganda victory for the terrorists. The prolonged battle also became a threat to democratic freedoms after Mr. Duterte, with congressional support, promptly imposed martial law (and suspended the writ of habeas corpus) across Mindanao, home to more than one-fifth of the country’s total population and the vast majority of its Muslim minority.
Martial law is still in force, and the physical damage caused by the fighting has been colossal. The siege has destroyed vast sections of Marawi, the largest city in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, a specially designated area that was granted some measure of autonomy from Manila three decades ago. The head of Palafox Associates, a leading Philippine architecture and urban-planning firm, says it could take up to seven decades to rehabilitate the city. The Philippine government estimates that more than 350,000 people have been displaced by fighting in and around Marawi.
And yet the crisis has also created unexpected opportunities, notably for cooperation on counterterrorism, both in the Philippines and regionally, and for finally resolving long-festering insurgencies in Muslim areas of the country.
The battle for Marawi prompted unprecedented, if limited, cooperation between the Philippine armed forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest insurgent group, which for years has fought for independence or self-governance for Muslim Mindanao, routinely clashing with government forces. In January 2016, long before the Maute group seized Marawi, the MILF announced that it had created a task force to fend off local recruitment efforts by the Islamic State. In September, it waged combat operations against Islamic State-affiliated terrorist groups in central Mindanao, with assistance from the army, its old enemy.
In August, all 41 mayors in the province of Lanao del Sur signed a manifesto declaring the Maute group “enemies of the Maranao people,” blaming it for the siege of Marawi. Local Muslim clerics issued a fatwa condemning local terrorists. The government, longtime insurgents and local authorities have found common ground in pushing back against Islamist terrorism, and that should now yield broader political gains.
The task of reconstructing Marawi, for example, presents a major opportunity to help dispel local distrust of the central government, or “imperial Manila.” Local Maranao should be given the leading voice in what to rebuild and how — say, the main mosque, which sustained considerable damage. Instead of housing the displaced in temporary shelters, as the government has done elsewhere after natural disasters, it could, as has been proposed, offer financial assistance for residents so they can immediately rebuild their homes.
Now would also be a good time to revive the peace process for Mindanao, already some two-decades old. It has stalled in recent years — causing, some MILF leaders have warned, younger Muslims to turn to terrorism.
In March 2014, the MILF and the Philippine government, then led by President Benigno Aquino III, signed a comprehensive agreement granting Muslim Mindanao much more regional and fiscal autonomy. But the legislation needed to make the deal effective has been languishing in Congress, held back by some legislators’ enduring distrust of the MILF and others’ concerns that the proposed bill would require amending the Constitution.
To kick-start the law, the Duterte government could capitalize on the goodwill that seems to have emerged recently among the various parties who rallied against the Islamist terrorists in Marawi. Mr. Duterte, who is from Mindanao, has supermajorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the leaders of both houses are from Mindanao as well.
This is an opportune moment also because the military’s image has been burnished, boosting trust in the government generally, including among its usual skeptics.
The reputation of the armed forces took a hit as the siege of Marawi dragged on and they repeatedly failed to meet the government’s deadlines for ending the face-off. But it got a lift, paradoxically, from Mr. Duterte’s much-dreaded declaration of martial law.
That announcement sparked fears that the Philippines might slide back toward authoritarianism, as happened during martial rule under Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and ’80s. Mr. Duterte didn’t help matters by professing his admiration for Mr. Marcos, calling him the “brightest” president the Philippines has ever known. Yet under the command of the defense secretary, Mr. Lorenzana, also formally the “administrator of martial law,” the Philippine armed forces seem to have exercised those special powers with great restraint.
In fact, during his recent visit to the Philippines, the US Defense Secretary James Mattis said, “I think the most important thing is, here’s an army that had to go in a fight like that, and they had not one human rights allegation against them with any credibility — not one.”
Military cooperation with the United States, the Philippines’s most important security partner, certainly has benefited, after being shaken by a series of intemperate, sometimes profane, statements by Mr. Duterte deriding the alliance. US forces provided intelligence and surveillance during the fight to liberate Marawi, and the Philippine military chief said that assistance “tilted the balance” against the Islamist fighters.
The crisis in Marawi has also given a welcome boost to the Philippines’s relations with some of its Muslim neighbors, with their shared concern about Islamist terrorism bridging over their differences about other issues. After fighters from Malaysia and Indonesia joined the Islamic State-backed coalition that seized Marawi, those two countries joined the Philippines for the first time to conduct trilateral maritime and air patrols in the Sulu Sea — despite a dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia over Sabah, a Malaysian state that borders that sea.
The siege of Marawi, in other words, could restart the stalled peace process in Mindanao and bolster some of the Philippines’s delicate foreign relations. The city’s destruction may have given new urgency to the fight against Islamist terrorism in the Philippines, but it has also revealed the ways of tackling that task.

New York City Submits to Islam
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 07/17
The media began to paint Muslims as the victims of Saipov's attack -- not the dead and the wounded victims of the terrorist.
"As a Muslim committed to fighting Islamism, I appeal to you: The need for strong surveillance of Muslim communities in the West has never been greater.... Counterterrorism experts and politicians must know that far from being Islamophobic, the scrutiny is supported by Islam.... Nations seasoned in combating Islamism -- most recently, Egypt.... have identified mosques as critical nerve centers for Islamism. Mosques in Egypt, for example, are monitored by the state....Islam itself demands no less." — Dr. Qanta Ahmed, Muslim physician, Newsday.
New York has adopted, in its entirety, the European response to Islamic terrorism: Appeasement and genuflection to Islam. Historically, such behavior was required by non-Muslim citizens of Islamic states, known as dhimmis, in exchange for "protection". The question is why American citizens, who live in the United States and not in an Islamic state, feel obliged to submit to Islam?
On October 31, Sayfullo Saipov, a Muslim immigrant from Uzbekistan, shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" ("Allah is the greatest!") as he rammed his rented truck into 20 people in downtown Manhattan, killing eight and wounding twelve more. The truck-ramming attack, a terrorist tactic popularized by jihadists in Israel, then Europe, was the deadliest terror attack in New York since September 11, 2001. The response to Saipov's attack from New York City officials, as well as the US media, displays the extent to which officials have submitted to Islamic terrorism since then, and how unquestioningly the mainstream media backs this capitulation. Americans should be extremely worried.
NY Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller said after the attack:
"This is not about Islam, this is not about the mosque he attends, there are hundreds of thousands of law abiding Muslims in New York City, who are adversely affected by things like this. It is probably a good time to say that we have seen in the aftermath of incidents like these, bias incidents, hate crimes, assaults... and anybody behind those will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law".
In fact, this attack had everything to do with Islam. Saipov was a devout Muslim, who left a note at the site of the attack making clear that he had committed the atrocity on behalf of ISIS, an organization that is, as studies have shown, nothing if not Islamic. The mosque Saipov allegedly attended had actually been under surveillance since 2005; and mosques are among the most popular places for Muslim outreach, dawa. Although the internet also plays a role in the radicalization process, a recent study showed that face-to-face encounters are even more important.
Instead of threatening New Yorkers -- who have a constitutionally protected right to voice their objections to being murdered by Muslim terrorists, even if the deputy police commissioner thinks it might be "biased" to be against your own demise -- with prosecution, the police deputy commissioner should have admonished them, "If you see something, say something". Instead, he not only lied about the Islamic nature of the terrorist attack, but, through his grossly negligent remarks, enabled future attacks. Possibly, now, if people witness something suspicious, they will be afraid to speak out for fear of being labelled an "Islamophobe", or, as in Europe, prosecuted.
The deputy police commissioner, by the way, is the same official, who, in 2014, helped shut down the New York Police Department Demographics Unit -- a team that monitored mosques and neighborhoods to guard against threats to public safety -- after Muslim activists lobbied the police and demanded that it be closed down.
The unit was discontinued, even though a federal judge ruled that the surveillance could be justified: "The police," he said, "could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself".
Recently, the physician Qanta Ahmed wrote:
As a Muslim committed to fighting Islamism, I appeal to you: The need for strong surveillance of Muslim communities in the West has never been greater.... From inside the communities where Islamists hide, we can deter Islamism....The Quran is not ambiguous: "Be strict in observing justice, and be witness for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against your parents or kindred."...
Counterterrorism experts and politicians must know that far from being Islamophobic, the scrutiny is supported by Islam.
Nations seasoned in combating Islamism — most recently, Egypt.... have identified mosques as critical nerve centers for Islamism. Mosques in Egypt, for example, are monitored by the state. I have testified on Capitol Hill that the United States needs similar surveillance to expose domestic radicalization.
Also, the state must outlaw Islamist groups. To Saudi Arabia's dismay, Britain failed to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood despite evidence of the Brotherhood's actions on British soil....
Rather than accept the Islamist narrative of the victimization of Muslims by the West, in combating Islamism, Muslims will discover our wherewithal to help protect the nations where we make our homes. In doing so, we will become more invested in our adoptive nations and safeguarding ourselves from the marginalization Islamists seek to exploit....
Islam itself demands no less.
Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a British Muslim, recently wrote: "The need for strong surveillance of Muslim communities in the West has never been greater.... From inside the communities where Islamists hide, we can deter Islamism.... the state must outlaw Islamist groups." (Image source: Fox News video screenshot)
Other officials seemed to take their cue from European leaders -- to deny and deflect any connection between Islam and terror attacks in the name of Islam: "The new terrorist tactic... are these lone wolves who commit these acts of terror," New York governor Andrew Cuomo said, adding that there was no evidence of a "wider scheme". Saipov's attack, however, was part of a "wider scheme" known as jihad, which has been ongoing for 1,400 years -- a fact Cuomo appears to have missed.
Speaking about the attack, H.R. McMaster, the President's National Security Adviser, said:
"What the President wants is to secure the American people from this threat and from mass murderers like this, murderers like this. And so what he's asked us for are options to take a look to assess if our tremendous law enforcement teams and our judicial system has all the tools they need to be able to combat this threat to the American people".
Here is a free tip: Refusing to name the threat, calling it a "mass murderer" and the attacker a "lone wolf" or "mentally ill", instead saying "Islamic jihad", guarantees that the United States (or Europe) will not be able to combat "this threat".
The media, instead of scrutinizing and questioning the motives for jihadist attacks, instead doubled down and apologized for Islam: "The phrase 'Allahu Akbar' is an everyday phrase tarnished by attacks", wrote the New York Times, assuring its readers that "Its real meaning is far more innocent". Actually, it is not.
"Translating and understanding this phrase as merely 'God is great' strips it of its crucial aspect of Allah's supremacy over all other deities", according to Yigal Carmon of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). Most media sources mistranslate Allahu Akbar. It does not mean "Allah is great", a simple declaration of piety, according to Robert Spencer, Islam expert and author of 17 books on Islam; it means "Allah is greater " or "Allah is greatest" -- a "declaration of supremacism and superiority, and of victory over the infidels".
"The next time you hear Allahu Akbar," wrote a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a piece for the New York Daily News,
"whether... on an airplane, or in a shopping mall -- remember that the phrase used by millions of Muslims and Christians daily to praise God regardless of their circumstances, can never be justified for use when harming His creation."
First, it is false that Christians worship Allah. The New York Daily News apparently wants to help condition people to the lie that "Allahu Akbar" is an innocent term -- so that the next time people hear it, they will not question its meaning, fight or flee from a terrorist scene for fear of being labelled an "Islamophobe". It is propaganda.
"The Arabic chant 'Allahu Akbar,' God is great," said Jack Tapper, CNN's anchor about an hour after Saipov had gone on his vehicular jihad, "Sometimes said under the most beautiful of circumstances, and too often we hear it being said in moments like this".
At the same time, the media began to paint Muslims as the victims -- not the dead and the wounded victims of the terrorist attack. The Associated Press wrote:
"In aftermath of bike path killings, mosques near NYC face hostility again. Much like after the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. Muslims who object to terrorism are the targets of threats.... Many people here worry that President Trump's statements – including calling Saipov an 'animal' – will inflame tensions".
President Trump's response to the terrorist attack -- not the attack itself -- is what the reader was supposed to believe "will inflame tensions" -- whatever that means in a city where a Muslim just murdered eight people, simply for being "infidels".
One is reminded of Mark Steyn's citation of the satirical headlines: "British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow's Train Bombing", followed by, "Belgian Cabinet Minister Says Tomorrow's Train Bombing Is All Our Fault".
New York has adopted, in its entirety, the European response to Islamic terrorism: Appeasement and genuflection to Islam. Historically, such behavior was required by non-Muslim citizens of Islamic states, known as dhimmis, in exchange for "protection", in addition to the payment of the special "protection" tax, jizya, for non-Muslims.
The question is why American citizens, who live in the United States and not in an Islamic state -- and whose Muslim population constitutes less than two percent -- feel obliged to submit to Islam?
Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Israeli-Saudi alliance beating the drums of war
Richard Silverstein/MEE/November 07/17
Over the past 24 hours, the drumbeat of war in the Middle East has risen to a fever-pitch. Saudi Arabia has provoked both an internal domestic, and a foreign crisis to permit Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to realise his grandiose vision of the Saudi state.
Internally, Salman suddenly created an anti-corruption commission and within four hours it had ordered the arrest of some of the highest level royal princes in the kingdom, including at least four sitting ministers and the son of a former king.
The most well-known name on the list, and one of the world's richest men, was Alwaleed bin Talal.
Under duress
Just a few hours earlier, after being summoned to Saudi Arabia for consultations, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri told a Saudi TV audience that he was quitting his job due to "death threats" against him. Why the prime minister of a country would resign in the capital of a foreign nation is inexplicable.
Coverage of Hariri's statement noted that he spoke haltingly into the camera and looked off-camera several times, indicating that the statement may have been written for him and that he may have delivered it under duress.
Given the strong-arm tactics used by bin Salman to both secure his own title as crown prince, and the subsequent arrest of scores of prominent Saudis deemed insufficiently loyal to him, it would not be at all out of character to summon the leader of a vassal state and offer an ultimatum: either resign or we will cut you off (literally).
Middle East Eye editor David Hearst agrees: "It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that when he left Lebanon, Hariri had no intention of resigning, that he himself did not know that he would resign and that this resignation had been forced on him by the Saudis."
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called Hariri "our prime minister" in his own address to the nation after the "resignation". This doesn't sound like a man who wanted Hariri out of power. Lebanon's president announced he would not accept Hariri's resignation till he returned in person to affirm it.
Further, Saudi Arabia announced that Hariri would not be returning to Lebanon due to the so-called threats on his life. Something doesn't smell right.
Saad Hariri and his deep-rooted Saudi linksBoth Hariri and his late father earned their wealth thanks to Saudi largess. They also owed their own leading role in Lebanese politics to Saudi patronage.
The assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005 came after threats levelled against him by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which partly explains lingering hostility between the Syrian regime and the Saudi royal family.
This hostility was likely a prime factor in Saudi Arabia becoming the principal financier of the Syrian armed opposition groups, including some of the most bloodthirsty militants affiliated with Islamic State (IS) and al Qaeda.
Bin Salman's new ally
After losing in Yemen and Syria, bin Salman appears willing to try yet a third time, turning Lebanon into a political football to even scores with foreign enemies. Unfortunately Hariri, like his father before him, is being squeezed to within an inch of his life. This time, by the Saudis instead of the Syrians.
The Saudi crown prince appears eager to ratchet up the conflict with Iran. Bin Salman, like his new ally, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appears willing to exploit and manipulate hostility to a foreign enemy in order to bolster his own domestic stature.
Given that he's hellbent on establishing his own dominance in Saudi internal politics, such an enemy is very helpful in holding rivals at bay.
Israel has responded in kind. On Monday, the foreign ministry sent an urgent cable to all diplomats demanding that they mouth a pro-Saudi line regarding the Hariri resignation. Haaretz' diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid, tweeted the contents of the cable:
This indicates that Israel and Saudi Arabia are developing the sort of "no-daylight" relationship that Israeli leaders used to tout with their American counterparts. Together with their combined military might and oil wealth, these two countries could pose a highly combustible commodity.
Bin Salman may have also learned another lesson from Israel: that it is fruitless to seek the help of outside powers in waging such conflicts. He saw Netanyahu spend years fruitlessly begging two US presidents to join him in a military adventure attacking Iran.
His new alliance with Saudi Arabia might provide the military punch he needs to forge a successful series of attacks on regional enemies.
Both the Saudis and Israelis watched ruefully as former US President Barack Obama's Iran nuclear deal, negotiated despite vociferous opposition from Netanyahu, removed this card from their political deck. Netanyahu had played the card for years in drumming up opposition to Iran's purported nuclear programme.
He was furious he could no longer use it to defang domestic political challenges or invoke national crisis.
Over the past few months, both countries have lost another critical regional "card:" Their Syrian Islamist allies have folded under a joint onslaught from the Syrian regime and its Iranian-Russian backers.
A few years earlier, Netanyahu had joined Saudi Arabia in intervening in Syria, attacking military facilities associated with Iran or Hezbollah. He pursued this policy as a method of deterrence, to diminish the arsenal available to the Lebanese Islamists during the next war with Israel. But he acted no less in order to bolster his security bona fides among security-obsessed Israelis.
But with the civil war winding down and Saudi-Israeli proxies having failed, Netanyahu can no longer offer the Syrian bogeyman to Israeli voters. He has four major corruption scandals facing him. More and more of his closest confidants are being swept up in the police investigation.
Netanyahu desperately needs a distraction. A war against Lebanon is just the ticket. It would do wonders to unite the country just long enough to see the charges evaporate into thin air.
But there would be a major difference in this coming war: Saudi Arabia will join this fight specifically to give Iran a black eye. So attacking Lebanon will be only part of its agenda while attacking Iran directly will be the real Saudi goal.
With Israel joining the fight, the two states could mount a regional war with attacks launched against targets in Lebanon, Syria, Iran; sparking possibly counter-attacks against Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Gulf states.
Foreign enemy
As I mentioned above, bin Salman appears to have learned a critical political lesson from his Israeli ally: you need a foreign enemy in order to instil fear within your domestic constituency. You must build that enemy into a lurking, ominous force for evil in the universe.
That's one of the reasons bin Salman is intervening in the Yemen civil war. Despite a Saudi massacre inducing mass starvation and epidemic, bin Salman has been able to invoke Muslim schisms in order to paint Iran as "the aggressor" and threat to Saudi interests.
The night of the long knives in Saudi Arabia
More recently, he declared his neighbours in Qatar to be persona non grata for not siding fulsomely enough with the Saudis against Iran. With bin Salman, you are either with him or against him. There is no middle ground.
Fortunately, most of the rest of the human race seeks that middle ground.
Those who eschew the middle end up being dictators or madmen. That seems to be the direction in which the Saudi royal is headed.
In Lebanon, his strategy seems to be to provoke a political and financial crisis. Saudi Arabia provides a huge level of financial and commercial support to Lebanon.
Bin Salman seems to believe that if he withdraws such support, it will force the Lebanese to rein in Hezbollah. Though it's not clear how the Lebanese are supposed to restrain a political movement that is one of the largest and most popular in the country.
The Saudi prince is trying the same strategy which so far failed with Qatar. There he declared a boycott. He strong-armed all the states which relied on him for largesse to declare a blockade. Borders were closed. Flights were cancelled. Trade was halted.
But instead of folding, the Qataris (with Iranian encouragement no doubt) have taken their case to the world and fought back. They show no signs of folding.
The Russia factor
It's unclear how the Saudis believes he will force a much larger and distant state like Lebanon to submit. He can turn off the spigots and declare a boycott. Indeed, Bahrain, one of the Saudi vassal states, directed its citizens to return from Lebanon and declared a travel ban like the Qatari ban which preceded it.
All this will only strengthen Hezbollah's hand. It will also serve as a tacit invitation to Iran to play a much larger role in Lebanon. When there is a vacuum, it will be filled.
There is an even larger power looming behind this all: Russia. The stalemate in Syria between the Saudi-funded rebels and Assad permitted Putin to intervene decisively and effect the eventual outcome of that conflict. If Putin perceives a similar Saudi strategy in Lebanon, I see little reason Iran and Russia might not team up in the same fashion to support their allies on the ground.
It's interesting to note that King Salman made the first ever visit by a Saudi royal to Moscow this past month and held talks with Vladimir Putin.
Wouldn't one like to know what they discussed? It certainly had to have involved Syria and Lebanon, since those are the two places in which Saudi interests either conflict, or potentially conflict with Russia's.
Salman's 'moderate Islam': A disneyland for robots, not open society
Perhaps the Saudi king warned Putin not to take advantage of chaos in Lebanon as he did in Syria. I doubt that Putin would be much intimidated given the Saudi failure in Syria.
Russia's future actions will be determined by how much Putin feels he has to gain if he were to side with Hezbollah and Iran in a future conflict in Lebanon.
It's important to remember that during the days of the Soviet Union, with the US a dominant force in the region, it supported most of the frontline Arab states in their conflict with Israel.
Putin is well-known for seeking to restore the former glory that was the Soviet empire. No doubt, it would please him no end to engineer a fully fledged Russian return to power and influence in the Middle East.
Military strategists in Riyadh and Tel Aviv
Israel is the elephant in the room here. It borders Lebanon and has fought two major wars there, along with a 20-year failed occupation of the south. Hezbollah is Israel's sworn enemy and Iran, the movement's largest backer, is also one of Israel's chief adversaries.
The Saudis have the financial wherewithal to support a protracted conflict in Lebanon (they also spent $1bn in support of Israel's sabotage campaign against Iran). They may be more than willing to bankroll another Israeli invasion.
Bin Salman, like his new ally Netanyahu, appears willing to exploit and manipulate hostility to a foreign enemy in order to bolster his own domestic stature
For their part, the Saudis may be willing to create yet another Lebanese government cobbled together by collaborators and bought-off politicians, while shutting Hezbollah out of political power.
Similarly, the history of Israeli intervention is filled with such sham political constructs. In the West Bank, they created the "village councils". In south Lebanon, they created the South Lebanese Army. And in Syria, they funded the al-Nusra rebels fighting the regime in the Golan Heights.
One can only hope that the military strategists in Riyadh and Tel Aviv aren't mad enough to contemplate such a scenario. But given the gruesome history of Lebanon, and its role as a sacrificial lamb in conflicts between greater powers, one cannot rule it out.
Finally, the US which had played a decisive role in preventing an Israeli attack on Iran for years, is now led by a president who's quite enamoured both of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Trump's first foreign visit as leader of the country was to Saudi Arabia. His warm relations with Netanyahu and support for Israel's most extreme policies is also well-known. No one should expect this administration to restrain either the Saudis or Israelis. If, anything, they may goad them on.
**Richard Silverstein writes the Tikun Olam blog, devoted to exposing the excesses of the Israeli national security state. His work has appeared in Haaretz, the Forward, the Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times. He contributed to the essay collection devoted to the 2006 Lebanon war, A Time to Speak Out (Verso) and has another essay in the upcoming collection, Israel and Palestine: Alternate Perspectives on Statehood (Rowman & Littlefield).