November 12/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
He who observes the wind won’t sow; and he who regards the clouds won’t reap.
Ecclesiastes 11/01-10/11:1 Cast your bread on the waters; for you shall find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, yes, even to eight; for you don’t know what evil will be on the earth. If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth; and if a tree falls toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falls, there shall it be. He who observes the wind won’t sow; and he who regards the clouds won’t reap. As you don’t know what is the way of the wind, nor how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child; even so you don’t know the work of God who does all. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening don’t withhold your hand; for you don’t know which will prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both will be equally good. Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to see the sun. Yes, if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. All that comes is vanity. Rejoice, young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh; for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 11-12/17
Lebanon’s Crisis on Verge of Inevitable Confrontation/Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/November 11/17
What will Become of the ‘Second Lebanese Uprising’/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/November 11/17
Syrian refugees in Lebanon face eviction/Scott Preston/Al Monitor/November 10, 2017
Gulf nationals exit Lebanon/Najia Houssary/Arab News/November 2017
Sa'ad Hariri: The accidental politician/Omar Shariff/Gulf News/November 10, 2017
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: October 2017/Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/November 11/17
Iran’s ‘Malign Activities’ and the Need to Put the Spotlight on its Actions/Dennis Ross/Asharq Al Awsat/November 11/17
How Iran Tried to Turn Arab States into Fading Ghosts/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/November 11/17
Name: "Sword of Islam"? Let Him In/Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/November 11/17
Fundamental Saudi shifts and the change coming to the Middle East/Raghida Dergham/November 11/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 11-12/17
Tillerson: No place or role in Lebanon for any militias or armed elements
Saudi minster: We will reveal the person who sold the Lebanese and incites us
Lebanese President Concludes Consultations amid Calls for Dialogue on ‘Hezbollah’ Arms
Lebanon Grand Mufti stresses importance of brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia
Report: Security Agencies Uncover Plots to Trigger Instability, Assassinations
Geagea Urges Hizbullah's Withdrawal from Regional Conflicts as Solution for Hariri's 'Crisis'
A Political Shock Throws Lebanon's Economy Back into Crisis
US and France Express Strong Support to Lebanon amid Crisis
Report: Aoun Mulling 'Complaint to UN' Over Hariri's Fate
Aoun Calls on SA to Clarify Delay in Hariri's Return, Says Beirut Marathon to Run in Solidarity with PM
Three Suspects Injured in Army Search for Abducted Saudi in Bekaa
Lebanon’s Crisis on Verge of Inevitable Confrontation
Way Hariri resigned unacceptable, Aoun tells Saudi diplomat
Conflicting Reports About Hariri’s House Arrest
Hariri Holds Diplomatic Meetings in Riyadh, Rahi to Visit Saudi Arabia on Monday
Lebanese political crisis: the background
What will Become of the ‘Second Lebanese Uprising’?
Syrian refugees in Lebanon face eviction
Gulf nationals exit Lebanon
Sa'ad Hariri: The accidental politician

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 11-12/17
ISIS regains full control of Syria border town Albu Kamal: monitor
Iraqi interior minister says 41 Iranians arrested after crossing borders
Jailed British-Iranian woman 'suicidal' in Iranian prison
Israel Downs Syrian Spy Drone over Golan Heights
Kremlin: Trump, Putin Agree there is No Military Solution in Syria
Iraq Launches Offensive to Recapture Last Town under ISIS Control
Libyan Presidential Council Seizes Control of West as Sewehli Escalates Anti-Haftar Rhetoric
Bahrain oil pipeline fire was act of sabotage - Interior Ministry
Egyptian forces destroy arms smugglers’ vehicles on Libya border
Egypt FM to Tour Gulf in Push for Political Solution
Trade Ministers Agree Asia-Pacific Trade Pact without US

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 11-12/17
Tillerson: No place or role in Lebanon for any militias or armed elements
Al Arabiya/November 11/17/US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday warned other countries and groups against using Lebanon as a vehicle for a larger proxy fight in the Middle East, saying the United States strongly backed Lebanon’s independence. “There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces, militias or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state,” Tillerson said in a statement released on Friday by the US State Department.  The United States views Hariri as a ‘strong partner’, added Tillerson. The French Foreign Ministry also issued a statement that France wants Saad al-Hariri to be fully able to play his essential role in Lebanon. With agencies.

Saudi minster: We will reveal the person who sold the Lebanese and incites us
Al Arabiya/November 11/17 /Saudi Minister Thamer al-Sabhan said on Saturday that the recent “biddings” by the Lebanese government on former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri were “very funny.”Sabhan wrote a post on Twitter saying: “The bidding on the subject of Hariri is very funny, all this love and affection. You killed his father and killed the hope of the Lebanese people to live a peaceful and moderate life and you try to kill him politically and physically.”He said: "The strange fact is who follows them and we will soon reveal the person who sold the Lebanese and incites us now."

Lebanese President Concludes Consultations amid Calls for Dialogue on ‘Hezbollah’ Arms
Asharq Al-Awsat/November 11/17/
Lebanese President Michel Aoun is still committed to his refusal to approve the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri until his return to Beirut as various Lebanese officials have started to demand that attention be turned to the issue of “Hezbollah”, its arms and role in the region. Aoun continued on Friday his series of consultations with Arab ambassadors and the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon, presenting them with his country’s stance on the latest developments. He also criticized the way in which Hariri tendered his resignation, reported the National News Agency. According to a statement from the presidency, Aoun stressed to the ISG the importance of international agreements on the relations between nations and the protection they provide. He also assured ambassadors of the “Lebanese leaders’ diligence and solidarity during this critical time in Lebanon’s history and their keenness on bolstering national unity, which has helped the country preserve its security and financial stability.”The ISG expressed their continuing concern regarding the situation and prevailing uncertainty in Lebanon. They appealed for Lebanon to continue to be shielded from tensions in the region. In this regard, they stressed the importance of restoring the vital balance of Lebanon’s state institutions, essential to Lebanon’s stability, they said in a statement. Noting the positive political achievements of the past year, ISG members urge all sides to continue to work for Lebanon’s national interests. Meanwhile, Hariri received at his residence in Riyadh on Friday the Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Luca Ferrari, and the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Kozlov. Mustaqbal Movement MP Oqab Saqr told Asharq Al-Awsat that the crisis in Lebanon cannot be resolved before resolving the issue of “Hezbollah’s” arms that have gone beyond the country’s borders. This is a stance shared by Lebanese Forces sources, who said that waiting to approve Hariri’s resignation is aimed at buying time so that the party and its camp can prepare for the next phase in Lebanon. The party and its allies have realized that this is the point of no return, added the sources.Despite their conviction that forming a new government would be impossible, they said that Aoun is obligated to call on parliamentary consultations so that Hariri can be once against appointed to form a new cabinet.
That way the president would have adhered to constitutional procedures, they explained. “Everyone realizes that ending the crisis can only be achieved with ‘Hezbollah’ returning to Lebanon and handing over its weapons,” said the LF sources.
Any internal dialogue on this issue will benefit Lebanon and the Lebanese, they remarked. Head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, had meanwhile held talks with numerous ambassadors to Lebanon over the crisis. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan continued his consultations over the crisis, stressing before political delegations that “calm dialogue and diligence in tackling issues between all Lebanese powers is a national necessity in wake of the critical phase the country is passing through.”He said that officials should not be hasty in making a stance over Hariri’s resignation, underlining the “historic fraternal ties” Beirut enjoys with Riyadh. In New York, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres had meanwhile carried out intense contacts on Lebanon over the past two days.

Lebanon Grand Mufti stresses importance of brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia
Al Arabiya/November 11/17 /Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Abdul Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan reemphasized on Friday the importance of "brotherly and historic relations" that tie the Middle Eastern country to Saudi Arabia. His remarks come after the resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri last week. Hariri has made no public remarks since announcing his resignation in a speech televised from Saudi Arabia, saying he feared assassination and accusing Iran and Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Report: Security Agencies Uncover Plots to Trigger Instability, Assassinations
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 11/17/Some contacts with the aim of triggering confusion and inciting the Sunni community and the Palestinian factions in Lebanon were monitored, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. A security source revealed to the daily that they monitored “in the last few days some contacts with the aim of inciting the 'Sunni street' and Palestinian factions, but they have failed in their endeavor.”According to information, the source warned of assassination plots with the aim of triggering sectarian strife and creating chaos.The source who spoke on condition of anonymity did not elaborate further but said that “former Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi is at risk in that regard.”Meanwhile, Army commander General Jospeh Aoun has assured that the “security situation is under control and that protecting Lebanon's stability is a priority.”Since Prime Minister Saad Hariri's shock resignation last week, Lebanon has been embroiled in confusion. Hariri resigned in a shock announcement broadcast from Riyadh on Saturday as a power struggle intensified between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which backs Lebanon's Hizbullah. On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that a new conflict in Lebanon would have "devastating consequences" and said he was engaged in intense contacts with all players to urge de-escalation. Guterres said he had been holding "very intense contacts" with Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, other countries in the region as well as governments with influence in the Middle East. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also warned other countries Friday against using Lebanon for "proxy conflicts" following the crisis triggered by Hariri's resignation. Tillerson also described Hariri as a "strong partner" of the United States.Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Friday that Hariri was "detained" by Saudi Arabia and prevented from returning to Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have urged their citizens to leave Lebanon while the UAE has renewed a travel warning.

Geagea Urges Hizbullah's Withdrawal from Regional Conflicts as Solution for Hariri's 'Crisis'

Naharnet/November 11/17/Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said on Saturday that “if the March 8 alliance truly” wants PM Saad Hariri's return they would “withdraw from the crises in the region.”“To all those of March 8 group shedding tears over Hariri's absence...If you truly want his return to Lebanon it only requires a single decision of withdrawing from the crises in the region,” said Geagea in a tweet. Geagea's tweet came in reference to Hizbullah's involvement, without naming the party, in the crisis in Syria and other Arab countries as a power struggle intensified between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which backs Lebanon's Hizbullah. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon and shattered the relative peace maintained by its coalition government since Hariri's stunning announcement on Nov. 4 from Riyadh that he was resigning. Lebanese officials have insisted on the return home of Hariri from Saudi Arabia amid rumors he is being held against his will.

A Political Shock Throws Lebanon's Economy Back into Crisis
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 11/17/Just when things were starting to look up for Lebanon's economy, a new political crisis threatens to send it crashing down again. Prime Minister Saad Hariri's shock resignation could unravel the first steps in years toward injecting some cash and confidence in Lebanon's anemic economy. Already, the crisis is putting at risk multi-billion-dollar plans to rebuild decaying road and electrical and communication networks and get the oil and gas sector moving. Lebanon has long been buffeted by blows from the great-powers rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. But its economy sputtered on under a tacit understanding among the regional heavyweights and their local proxies that left Lebanon on the sidelines of that contest. That may have changed Saturday when the Saudi-aligned Hariri announced his resignation in a televised statement from the kingdom's capital, Riyadh, saying Hizbullah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, had taken the country hostage. It was an unexpected announcement from the premier, who formed a coalition government with the group less than a year ago. Since then, the news has only gotten worse. Saudi Arabia, which feels it has been humiliated by Hizbullah's expanding influence in Syria and Iraq, says it will not accept the party as a participant in any government in Lebanon.Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates all ordered their citizens out of Lebanon this week, and the Lebanese are wondering and worried about what's to come.
"We don't know how things will escalate," said Rida Shayto, an associate director at the pharmaceutical manufacturer Algorithm, which does half its sales to the Gulf. The developments have stunned the Mediterranean country, which once looked to Saudi Arabia as a pillar to its own stability. The kingdom brokered the Taif agreement in 1989 that ushered in peace for Lebanon after 15 years of civil war. The kingdom has plowed decades of investment into Lebanon, opened markets to trade and allowed generations of talented and ambitious Lebanese to work in its oil-based economy. The concern now is that the kingdom and other Gulf nations will throw out Lebanese workers, as they did with Qatar this summer in a rage over that country's perceived closeness to Iran. Some 220,000 Lebanese work in Saudi Arabia and send back close to $2 billion in remittances each year, according to Mounir Rached, a senior economic adviser to the Finance Ministry. Lebanese are hoping Saudi Arabia will be too wary of the negative impact on its own economy from such a mass expulsion. Many Lebanese hold managerial positions, including in the kingdom's all-important oil sector, and it would take time to refill the posts. An expulsion would also undermine decades of Saudi efforts to cultivate ties with Lebanese Sunnis. "I think those who are invested in Lebanon are not going to come and destroy everything that they did in terms of relationships and associations and credibility," said Kamel Wazni, an economist and sometimes adviser to Hariri's government. But the kingdom and its powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has made his name by dramatic — or reckless, as his critics put it — moves, can't be seen as doing nothing, said Randa Slim, a Lebanese analyst at the Washington-based Middle East Institute.
"They have locked themselves into an escalatory path without giving themselves an exit," she said. The kingdom could expel Lebanese Shiites and Christians, she said. Shiites are Hizbullah's constituency and some Christian parties have allied with it. They number 10,000 to 20,000 in Saudi Arabia, according to Rached, the Finance Ministry adviser. As it is, the biggest threat now is a retreat to the political paralysis that has crimped growth since 2011. Lebanon, once a beacon of free market growth and joie de vivre living, was paralyzed for years over how to respond to the catastrophic civil war consuming its neighbor and trade partner, Syria. Hariri's Future Movement, the largest party in Parliament, wanted Lebanon out of Syrian affairs, while Hizbullah was sending its fighters there to fight on behalf of President Bashar Assad. The political log-jam resulted in Lebanon not having a president for more than two years and no economic vision to attract investment. Meanwhile, refugees poured into the country— more than one million of them, equivalent to a quarter of Lebanon's population — depressing wages in service and labor sectors. Hariri became premier under a deal that broke the deadlock and allowed the election of a Hizbullah-friendly president. The political breakthrough also brought an end to the stagnation in economic policy. The country passed its first budget since 2005, raising taxes and public salaries and opening up two oil and gas blocks off its coastline for drilling in a bid to bring in some sorely-needed investment.
That project and a $21 billion investment plan to improve the country's woefully inadequate infrastructure are now on ice. "The council of ministers will not be able to take a decision in the current conditions," said Nassib Ghobril, the chief economist at Lebanon's Byblos Bank, of the gas and oil bills. The government also needs to find revenues to service a public debt that has reached more than $75 billion — 140 percent of the gross domestic product, a debt-to-GDP ratio that is among the highest in the world. A key factor for stability has been the strength of its currency, the pound, pegged at 1,500 pounds to the dollar since the 1990s. For now, at least, experts believe that seems safe. The Central Bank holds $43.5 billion in foreign currency reserves, enough to sustain the peg for one to two decades at the current pace of currency conversions. There has been a flurry of transactions from pound to dollar among Lebanese accounts, bankers have told The Associated Press.But as long as the dollars stay circulating in Lebanon's already largely dollarized economy, the peg will remain stable. "I don't have any concern about the stability of the exchange rate," said Ghobril.

US and France Express Strong Support to Lebanon amid Crisis

Associated Press/Naharnet/November 11/17/The United States and France have expressed their support for Lebanon's sovereignty and stability amid heightening tensions between Beirut and Saudi Arabia. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon and shattered the relative peace maintained by its coalition government since Prime Minister Saad Hariri's stunning announcement Nov. 4 from the Saudi capital that he was resigning. Lebanese officials have insisted on the return home of Hariri from Saudi Arabia amid rumors he is being held against his will. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Saturday that Washington calls upon "all states and parties to respect Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, and constitutional processes." Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported Saturday that French President Emmanuel Macron called his Lebanese counterpart expressing France's commitment to Lebanon's "unity, sovereignty and independence."

Report: Aoun Mulling 'Complaint to UN' Over Hariri's Fate
Naharnet/November 11/17/President Michel Aoun could file a complaint to the UN Security Council if Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned last week from Riyadh, did not return to Beirut and the circumstances surrounding his stay in Saudi Arabia are not clarified, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Saturday. Aoun has told the diplomatic delegations he met, that he “would not wait more than a week to clarify the fate of Hariri before he refers the file to the international community,” informed sources told the daily. They added “there are international preparations to assist Lebanon in this endeavor, in an implicit reference to Russian and other Western preparations.”Baabda circles said that “Aoun was clear and frank in talks with the International Support Group for Lebanon (on Friday) and explained the circumstances that accompanied the resignation. “He was surprised to hear from the prime minister last Saturday that he can no longer bear the situation and that he will be in Beirut within two or three days. But since then no contact between the two men was made whatsoever.”Baabda circles elaborated to say that the President has “expressed extreme concern over the circumstances of Hariri's stay in Saudi Arabia, he said “Lebanon awaits for the ISG assistance to secure Hariri's return because what is happening harms the the dignity of Lebanon and the Lebanese.””Hariri resigned in a shock announcement broadcast from Riyadh on Saturday as a power struggle intensified between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which backs Lebanon's Hizbullah.

Aoun Calls on SA to Clarify Delay in Hariri's Return, Says Beirut Marathon to Run in Solidarity with PM
Naharnet/November 11/17/President Michel Aoun has called on Saudi Arabia to “clarify the reasons for the delay in Prime Minister Saad Hariri's return to Lebanon” after his shock announcement last week from Riyadh that he was resigning and amid reports that he is being held in SA.
Aoun added that “Lebanon does not accept its prime minister to be in a situation that contradicts the international agreements.”Aoun called on the participants in the Beirut Marathon that takes place tomorrow to “run under the slogan of the return of Hariri to Lebanon to confirm solidarity with him and to clarify the ambiguity surrounding his presence outside the country.”Addressing a delegation from the Beirut Marathon led by May Khalil, Aoun said: “Lebanon with its people, politicians and athletes does not accept that its prime minister is in a situation that contradicts the international agreements and the rules adopted in relations between countries.”He called on Saudi Arabia whom “Lebanon has deep-rooted ties of brotherhood and friendship to clarify the reasons that have so far prevented Hariri's return to Lebanon to be among his people and supporters.”“The Marathon of Beirut will be a national event tomorrow, in solidarity with Prime Minister Hariri and with his return to his homeland," he said. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon and shattered the relative peace maintained by its coalition government since Hariri's announcement Nov. 4 from the Saudi capital that he was resigning. Lebanese officials have insisted on the return home of Hariri from Saudi Arabia amid rumors he is being held against his will.

Three Suspects Injured in Army Search for Abducted Saudi in Bekaa

Naharnet/November 11/17/The Lebanese army carried out raids in Baalbek in the Bekaa valley that included an exchange of gunfire in search for a Saudi national kidnapped a day earlier, media reports said on Saturday. Army members staged raids in the town of Dar al-Wasaa that escalated into an exchange of fire with the suspects leaving three injured, reports said. A Saudi man was kidnapped on Friday in the Keserwan region amid political tensions with Saudi Arabia. LBCI said that the abductee, Ali Abdul Nabi al-Bashrawi, was kidnapped after dropping his wife off at their house in Adma on Thursday evening and parked his Saudi-plate, white BMW at the Tabarja roundabout before being kidnapped at the hands of unknown individuals from a nearby area. The TV station added that the captors are demanding $1.5 million in return for goods that he had bought from them. Quoting probe sources, the TV network said the case is likely linked to drug trade. The incident came on the same day that Saudi Arabia ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately amid skyrocketing tensions with Iran and Hizbullah and warnings to the Lebanese government.

Jreissati Says Probe 'Libelous' Saudi Journalists

Associated Press/Naharnet/November 11/17/Justice Minister Salim Jreissati has asked the country's prosecutor general to launch an investigation against two Saudi journalists who appeared on a TV talk show and branded the Lebanese president and parliament speakers as "terrorists," the National News Agency reported. Jreissati wrote in a two-page letter Friday to the prosecutor that the two men, Ibrahim Al Merhi and Adwan al-Ahmari, have engaged in libel against top officials including President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. The move comes at a time when tensions are high between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia over last week's resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, announced from the Saudi capital Riyadh. Al Merhi and al-Ahmari appeared Thursday night on Kalam Ennas, one of the most watched weekly TV programs in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s Crisis on Verge of Inevitable Confrontation
Beirut – Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al-Awsat/November 11/17/
The crisis that Lebanon is witnessing today due to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri is unlike any other the country has experienced in its history. Despite the analysis and debate over his motives, his resignation speech was clear in stipulating the reasons that prompted him to step down.
“Hezbollah” and its backer Iran are the direct reason for what is happening in Lebanon, a year after the “settlement” that saw the election of Michel Aoun as president and appointment of Hariri as premier. So what will happen now, given that the president has not yet approved the PM’s resignation and the “Hezbollah” and its allies’ refusal to examine the reasons why Hariri rsigned. The party’s rivals believe that Lebanon has reached “the point of no return” and that the main focus should be on disarming it.
Nasrallah’s response
In his reaction to Hariri’s resignation, “Hezbollah” chief Hassan Nasrallah overlooked, as did others from the party, the causes for his decision. They instead focused on superficial aspects of his speech, tossing the ball of finding a solution to the crisis in Aoun’s court and holding Saudi Arabia accountable. Nasrallah stated that the Lebanese government “had made achievements and it could have accomplished more had it been allowed to continue.” He also claimed that the party is “keen on Lebanon’s stability,” saying that there was no cause for concern.
He also called for preserving security and civil peace in a region that is boiling with political crises. Mustaqbal Movement MP Ahmed Fatfat slammed Nasrallah’s speech, labeling it a “declaration of war.”Head of the Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Saniora meanwhile said that the “settlement” is over, explaining that “Hezbollah” and its ally, the Free Patriotic Movement, had exploited it to make gains at Lebanon’s expense. Hariri chose to step down after months of attempts to steer Lebanon clear of problems created by “Hezbollah’s” meddling in the affairs of Arab countries at Iran’s bidding.
“The solution lies in returning to the Taif Accord and constitution and restoring the authority of the Lebanese state,” he explained. Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Gulf affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan had announced earlier this week that Riyadh will deal with the Lebanese government as one that had declared war on the kingdom.
He held Hariri’s government responsible for failing to deter “Hezbollah” from its harmful actions, vowing: “There is someone that will deter it and make it return to its caves in southern Lebanon.”He urged the Lebanese to become aware of these dangers and work to avert them before they reach the “point of no return.”Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir blamed “Hezbollah” for Hariri’s resignation, “who had had enough and we completely support him in his decision.”“It was clear that ‘Hezbollah’ was holding him back in every regard and that the party was implementing Iranian dictates,” he continued.
Aoun’s position
At a time when the majority of political powers in Lebanon believe that the settlement in the country has collapsed, presidential sources said that it was too soon to speak of that. Saudi sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hariri had demanded that political understandings be reached in exchange for blessing Aoun’s election as president last year. These demands include “Hezbollah’s” withdrawal from Syria and refraining from carrying out hostile acts in Yemen and the Arab Gulf and that Hariri and Aoun would work to that end.
None of this materialized however, on the contrary, Lebanon found itself in the Iranian fold, noted the sources. There was talk of a one-year deadline to achieve those goals, but none of that happened. “Lebanon did not adhere to its policy of disassociation, its ministers visited Syria and normalized ties with the regime. ‘Hezbollah’ was involved in security unrest in Kuwait and launched ballistic missiles from Yemen,” added the sources. Furthermore, they revealed that Hariri had informed Riyadh in recent months that his “security guards’ telecommunications equipment twice did not have reception while passing through certain areas.”The PM had spoken of a plot to assassinate him when he announced his resignation a week ago.
“Hezbollah” arms
The PM also accused Iran of violating Lebanon and establishing a “state within a state”, which now has the final say in local affairs. He also pointed to “Hezbollah” imposing its will through its weapons. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said that the resignation was the announcement of a “new scenario to create tensions in Lebanon and the region.”
In wake of these developments, Lebanese Forces media officer Charles Jabbour and Director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs in Beirut Dr. Sami Nader said that “Hezbollah” and its arms are now the main obstacle in finding any solution to the crisis. Former deputy Prime Minister and “Hezbollah” supporter Elie Firzli linked the party’s weapons to Israel. He called on the international community “to end Israeli occupation before demanding that the party disarm.”He told Asharq Al-Awsat that returning affairs to normal requires rationality, asking: “How can we demand that the party be targeted when Israel itself could not confront it?”
“The arms have been in its possession for years. Today, instead of targeting them, we should focus on strengthening the state, according to the constitution and Taif Accord, which would restore calm and ease the need for arms. Once this is achieved, we can shift discussions towards its weapons.”The Taif Accord can be “saved” through reappointing Hariri as premier so that the government can stage the parliamentary elections that are scheduled for May, he explained.
Sunni representation
As Aoun bides his time in calling for parliamentary consultations to name a prime minister, all sides are convinced that it would be difficult to find a Sunni figure willing to take Hariri’s position. Head of the Marada Movement MP Suleiman Franjieh announced that he refuses the appointment of a figure “who challenges the Sunnis”. Head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblat said that the best solution for a Lebanon’s stability is the current national unity government. These are views shared by Aoun, whose sources said it was too soon to talk about a government that does not enjoy “Hezbollah” representation.
Neutral government
Jabbour remarked that it was impossible to form a new government, regardless of its composition, at this current time. Nader meanwhile stated that the “neutral” government was needed to complete the preparations for the parliamentary elections. He warned that Lebanon would be faced with an open political confrontation if “Hezbollah” is excluded from cabinet. Jabbour told Asharq Al-Awsat that it was “impossible” to form a government with “Hezbollah” representation because this issue has “become a red line on the regional and international scenes.”
The party in turn refuses to be excluded from any cabinet because it will be therefore kept out of rule. Any attempts otherwise could be confronted with its weapons, warned Jabbour. Given the above, it appears that Lebanon is headed towards an open crisis that requires non-traditional solutions. He pointed to late former Minister Mohammed Shatah’s proposal to wait for the success of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and use it as a framework to tackle “Hezbollah’s” weapons. The LF official said that Shatah was assassinated in 2013 for making such a demand.
Eyes are now turned to Iran and how it will deal with the developments after “Hezbollah’s” arms have become part of international and regional affairs.Hilal Khashan, a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, told AFP that Lebanon does not have a government with Hariri no longer in power. This therefore entails that “Hezbollah” is not represented in it, which means that any attack against the party will not be directed against the Lebanese state.
Months ago, al-Sabhan had called for forming an international coalition against “Hezbollah” and against simply making due with US sanctions against it. Nader meanwhile said that the developments “demand more than just a settlement.”
Others should support Hariri’s stance after he had announced that the other camp had abandoned the settlement and dragged Lebanon in the Iranian axis and imposed the normalization of ties with the Syrian regime, he explained.
He therefore said that the Lebanon is now open to all political and economic options. He also did not rule out the possibility that “Hezbollah” would take an escalatory measure similar to what happened on May 7, 2008, when it took over Beirut. He did not rule out the chance that the party may also form a one-sided government, which violates the constitution and reason, and place Lebanon in total isolation.
Subsequent political crises
Lebanon has witnessed since 2005 numerous political crises, especially due to the divide between the Hariri and “Hezbollah” camps. Tensions usually culminate in security unrest through assassinations and armed clashes. Amid the turbulence in Lebanon, some observers believe that Hariri’s resignation breathes life into the opposition camp against “Hezbollah”. It could be an opportunity to revive the “Cedar Revolution” and “March 14 camp,” which was born after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005.
This view was expressed by former aide to US President Donald Trump Walid Fares and March 14 General Secretariat coordinator Fares Soaid. Soaid told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We should first acknowledge that the settlement that prevented the formation of a Lebanese opposition collapsed with Hariri’s resignation.”
He did acknowledge that the March 14 alliance that was formed after Rafik Hariri’s assassination had collapsed, but he did stress that a “national voice should be formed against Iranian hegemony over Lebanon.”This national initiative is being prepared and it will bring together figures that oppose “Hezbollah” and Iran. He revealed that it will be officially announced “soon.”
Is the opposition ready?
Asked if the opposition in Lebanon is able to share Hariri’s stance and confront “Hezbollah’s” arms, Soaid replied: “In 2005, the Syrian regime was kicked out of Lebanon at a time when the national will was stronger than the Arab and international one. Today the situation is reversed. We now need to form a national will to meet this reawakening.”After its launch, the new initiative will communicate with all Lebanese factions that share its views in order to lead Lebanon and the region towards a new phase, he remarked.
Fares, for his part, said during a televised appearance that the Lebanese opposition should play its role and not wait on the international community.The court is now in the opposition’s court and it shares the views of the international community, he noted. It will also enjoy the backing of the United States if it mobilizes in contrast to the past when it used to voice it objection to Iran and “Hezbollah’s” arms before then joining the party in government. He ruled out the possibility of an Israeli war or American military intervention in Lebanon, adding however that the Lebanese opposition was to blame for failing to confront “Hezbollah’s” possession of arms.

Way Hariri resigned unacceptable, Aoun tells Saudi diplomat
The Daily Star/November 11/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Friday told Saudi Arabian Charge d’Affaires Walid Bukhari that the manner of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation was “unacceptable,” during a meeting at the presidential palace. Almost a week after Hariri’s surprise announcement, Aoun reiterated his stance that Hariri should return to Lebanon. “The way that Hariri’s resignation took place was unacceptable,” the president told Bukhari during the meeting, a statement from Baabda Palace said. The sit-down was part of consultations that Aoun held Friday with Arab ambassadors to Lebanon, members of the International Support Group for Lebanon and Papal Charge d’Affaires Ivan Santos. During his morning meetings, Aoun separately met with United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Lebanon Hamad Abdullah al-Shamsi, Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Nazih al-Naggari, Qatari Ambassador to Lebanon Ali bin Hamad al-Marri, Jordanian Ambassador in Beirut Nabil Masarweh as well as Syria’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim. “The Arab ambassadors expressed their countries’ keenness on the stability and security of Lebanon and they expressed their appreciation for the efforts that Aoun has been exerting in order to withstand the political crisis that the country is currently witnessing,” the statement said.
Hariri announced his resignation in statement made from Saudi Arabia last Saturday and amid rising tensions between Riyadh and Beirut over Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon. The prime minister’s abrupt move caught the political establishment by surprise, throwing the government into disarray and sparking a flurry of meetings at Baabda aimed at preserving national unity. During his meetings Friday, Aoun explained Lebanon’s position regarding the developments that followed Hariri’s resignation. Aoun, along with Speaker Nabih Berri and several prominent politicians, has said that Hariri’s resignation will not be accepted until he returns to the country. Aoun reiterated his position and expressed concern over Hariri’s situation and whereabouts while meeting with ambassadors of the International Support Group for Lebanon members. The ISG brings together representatives of China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Union and the Arab League with the U.N. and other organizations. It was established in 2013 to help Lebanon’s state institutions and military deal with the influx of refugees from neighboring Syria, as well as with security incidents linked to the Syrian war.
“Aoun affirmed [to the ambassadors] that making a decision regarding this resignation is [contingent on] Hariri’s return and confirming the reasons that pushed him to announce this resignation,” the statement said. The meeting, attended by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, gathered Russian Ambassador Alexander Zasypkin, U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, Chinese Ambassador Wang Kejian, French Ambassador Bruno Foucher, British Ambassador Hugo Shorter, German Ambassador Martin Huth, Italian Ambassador Massimo Marotti, acting U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini, European Union Ambassador Christina Lassen and Arab League Ambassador Abdulrahman al-Solh. “Aoun expressed his concern regarding [reports] surrounding Hariri’s circumstances and underscored the need to clarify [the situation]. He reminded [ISG] member states about the international agreements that govern the relationship between the countries and immunity that [the agreements] provide to the state officials,” the statement added. The ISG members in return expressed their concern regarding the situation in Lebanon, according to a joint statement issued after the meeting. “They appealed for Lebanon to continue to be shielded from tensions in the region. In this regard, they stressed the importance of restoring the vital balance of Lebanon’s state institutions, essential to Lebanon’s stability,” the statement reported. The members also called on all sides to continue working and cooperating in Lebanon’s best interest, and praised Aoun’s call for unity and calmness amid the current crisis. “They welcomed the steps taken to contain the political crisis and to safeguard the country’s unity, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity. In this regard, the ISG welcome the call of the president for ... Hariri to return to Lebanon,” the statement said. “In solidarity with Lebanon, ISG members reaffirmed their commitment to support the country, its leadership and its people during this difficult time.”

Conflicting Reports About Hariri’s House Arrest
Financial Tribune/November 11/17/L ebanese President Michel Aoun expressed concern on Friday over reports surrounding the circumstances of Saad Hariri, who resigned as Lebanese prime minister on Saturday while in Saudi Arabia. Aoun, in a meeting with foreign ambassadors and representatives of the United Nations, EU and Arab League in Lebanon, urged clarification of these circumstances, presidential sources said, Reuters reported. Two top Lebanese government officials told Reuters on Thursday they believed Hariri was being held in Saudi Arabia. A third source, a senior politician close to Hariri, said Saudi Arabia had ordered him to resign and put him under house arrest. A fourth source familiar with the situation said Saudi Arabia was controlling and limiting his movement. Riyadh says Hariri is a free man. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s official news agency SPA quoted a source in the foreign ministry on Thursday as saying: “Due to the situations in the Republic of Lebanon, the kingdom advised all citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations,” Al Jazeera reported. Only hours later, Kuwait and the UAE also urged its nationals to leave Lebanon immediately. Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, threatened on Thursday to refer Hariri’s case to the UN Security Council if the “ambiguity” continues.“The issue of Hariri’s return to the country concerns the sovereign rights of Lebanon,” Zasypkin said in an interview with Lebanese channel LBC. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe-1 radio “to our knowledge” Hariri is not being held by Saudi authorities. Hariri is “free in his movements”, he said on Friday, adding “it is up to him to make his choices”.Le Drian’s office wouldn’t say where France’s information came from. French President Emmanuel Macron discussed Lebanon, a former French colony, during a surprise visit on Thursday to Riyadh. The United States declined to comment on Hariri’s situation. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a press briefing on Thursday that Chris Henzel, the US charge d’affaires in Riyadh, met Saad Hariri on Wednesday, but refused to comment on where the meeting took place or to elaborate on Hariri’s status. “We have seen him. In terms of the conditions of him being held or the conversations between Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister Hariri, I would have to refer you to the government of Saudi Arabia and also to Mr. Hariri’s office.” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday Saudi Arabia had declared war on Lebanon and Hezbollah, and said Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who resigned in a speech from Riyadh on Saturday, was being detained in Saudi, Reuters reported. In a televised address Nasrallah said Hariri’s resignation was an “unprecedented Saudi intervention” in Lebanese politics and called for Hariri to return to Lebanon. He said Lebanon’s government was still legitimate and had not resigned.

Hariri Holds Diplomatic Meetings in Riyadh, Rahi to Visit Saudi Arabia on Monday

Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat/November 11/17/President Michel Aoun held on Thursday a series of meetings with politicians and diplomats, in parallel with intensive activity witnessed in Dar al-Fatwa to discuss the Lebanese crisis resulting from the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Hariri's office announced that the resigned premier had conducted separate meetings in Riyadh with the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, François Gouyette, the head of the European Union mission in the Kingdom, Michel Serfon Dorso, US Charge d'Affaires in Riyadh Christopher Henzel and British Ambassador Simon Collis. While Aoun is still refusing to deal with Hariri’s resignation as a matter of fact and to call for consultations to appoint a new prime minister, pending the return of Hariri to Beirut, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that he is expected to meet on Friday with Arab and foreign ambassadors and the international group for the support of Lebanon, to present his stance on the latest developments. The Lebanese president received on Thursday Maronite Patriarch Bshara al-Raii, who is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on Monday, and former Prime Minister Tammam Salam. The two officials left without giving a statement. He also met with a delegation of economic organizations headed by former Minister Adnan Al-Qassar. Sources told the Central News Agency (CNA) that Raii would spend one day in Riyadh, before heading to Rome to participate in pontifical councils. They added that he would meet with Hariri if the latter was in Riyadh. During his meetings at the Baabda Palace, Aoun underlined the need to preserve national unity, pointing out that “measures taken to maintain security and financial stability continue and have achieved their objectives”. He also stressed that the Lebanese leaders, in all their affiliations, have responded to his calls for calm and the strengthening of national unity.

Lebanese political crisis: the background
Cristina Abellan Matamoros/euronews/November 10/17
With Lebanon drawn into the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, here is a look at some of the regional issues which have fed the crisis. Saad al-Hariri announced on Saturday (November 4) that he was resigning as Prime Minister of Lebanon. He made the announcement from Saudi Arabia.
Hariri said he believes there is an assassination plot against him and accused Iran and Hezbollah of sowing disruption in the region. A Saudi official said that Hariri was in Saudi Arabia for his own safety but that same day Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said that “Lebanon is too weak to bear the consequences of Hariri’s resignation and cannot afford to take sides against Iran.”Hariri’s resignation puts Lebanon into the front line of a regional competition between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran and could exacerbate sectarian tensions between Lebanese Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.
But in order to understand how Lebanon has become entangled in tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, one must understand what is at stake between Iran and the Saudi kingdom.
Iran’s military buildup
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Iran’s defense budget reached more than 12 billion dollars (10.3 billion euros) in 2016. Tehran currently disposes of 534 000 active military personnel and a reserve of 400 000.
Expanding regional network
Iran has worked on expanding its network across the Middle East. The country is linked to the Shi’a Islamist political party Hezbollah in Lebanon and is also present in the Gaza strip and in Syria as the main ally of Syrian president Bachar el-Assad, as well as Yemen and Iraq.
Internal production of military equipment
Iran has its own arms production such as the Zulfiqar tanks and has a considerable production of long-range, cruise, and ballistic missiles, which is distributes to its allies (mostly Hezbollah and Houthis). Thierry Kellner, author of l’histoire de l’Iran (History of Iran) and professor at Univesite libre de Bruxelles, told the Lebanon-based French paper L’Orient-Le Jour that “the Iranians are more organized on the military front than the Saudis” and that “Iranian nationalism is another factor that plays in Tehran’s favour because the population could rise up” if there was ever any confrontation.
With important Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria and growing military power, the new Saudi approach might be to bring conflict to Lebanon to stop Iran from gaining more power over the region. “The Saudis appear to have decided that the best way to confront Iran is to start in Lebanon,” a European diplomat told Reuters. Riyadh is blaming Hezbollah for the resignation of Hariri accusing it of “hijacking” Lebanese politics. A Saudi Minister also demanded that the Lebanese act against the Shi’a party, which is a major political player in Lebanon. But how things might play in Lebanon are still very uncertain Halim Shebaya, a political commentator on Lebanon and the Middle East told Euronews. “For now, nobody knows exactly why Hariri resigned, says Shebaya, what we do know is that it definitely has something to do with Saudi Arabia’s new approach to regional affairs.” What is certain is that Hariri’s resignation means political instability and deadlock for Lebanon, since the Lebanese president Michel Aoun has not yet recognised Hariri’s resignation from Riyadh. “The official position is that Hariri has to come back [to Lebanon] so we can hear from him directly,” says Shebaya, otherwise there won’t be any movement in terms of forming a new government.” Shebaya added that Lebanon is also waiting to see what other sanctions Riyadh will impose on them since they ordered their citizens to leave Lebanon.However, what is also clear is that “there is no appetite for another civil war in Lebanon,” said Shebaya.

What will Become of the ‘Second Lebanese Uprising’?
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/November 11/17
For some in ‘occupied’ and ‘subjugated’ Lebanon the nightmare is over; for others, the country is approaching a regional cliff edge.
In fact, Lebanon is going through a second ‘March 14th’ uprising, this time against direct Iranian ‘hegemony’ which was always the real thing, compared to the first uprising against Syria’s ‘security custody’ which was very much a mere shadow of that real thing.
Many have viewed the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri from a post that was always a flimsy cover of the above-mentioned hegemony, as a step in the right direction. If anything, his resignation may have been overdue, since his only task was rubber-stamping, without questions or reservations.
Those relieved that Hariri had resigned have always felt that he had already lost a good deal of credibility in both the nationalist and Sunni Muslim camps. Moreover, he had been too passive in the face of unrelenting effort to discredit him through pushing him and the military and security forces to accept Iran’s political and security hegemony, and to turn the Lebanese national army into an understudy to a sectarian militia led from abroad and serves foreign aims. In the meantime, there still are certain groups that are happy to be passive, and continue their futile wait, at the expense of Lebanon’s national identity, Arab interests, and even its demographic composition. Up till now these groups have convinced themselves that diplomacy and appeasement are enough to check Iran’s expansionism fuelled by armed-blackmail already used several times both inside and outside Lebanon.
However, what Ali Akbar Velayati, the political adviser to ‘The Supreme Guide’, said in Beirut after meeting with Hariri was the clearest haughty indication that Lebanon was now under Tehran’s hegemony, extending from southern Iraq to the Mediterranean across large Syrian territories. The Iranian regime has, thanks to Hassan Rouhani’s and Javad Zarif’s diplomacy and Mohammed Ali Jafari’s and Qassen Suleimani’s militias, destroyed national borders drawn in 1920 to separate the Arabs, and had many ‘Arabists’ dreaming of bringing down. Through ISIS (and those behind it) and Iran’s sectarian militias, there are no more borders between Iraq and Syria, or between Syria and Lebanon; thus, Iran now enjoys a corridor to the Syrian and Lebanese Levantine coasts. What Velayati said in Lebanon in front of those supposed to be entrusted with the Lebanese ‘state sovereignty’ laid bare the Iranian plans for the whole region, not only a Lebanon under the military occupation of Hezbollah.
Given the above, one should seriously ask: What next?
On the Lebanese front, I believe Saad Hariri did what he had to do, first as a patriotic leader who believes in an independent sovereign Lebanon, and second as Sunni Muslim leader in a time when Sunni Arabs are being only targeted and marginalised in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. His decision was not an easy one, more so as many Lebanese politicians – including him – have been for the last two years warning against political ‘vacuum’, and, subsequently, that any political way out was less damaging than that ‘vacuum’.
However, since agreeing to elect General Michel Aoun as President and appointing Hariri as Prime Minister heading a ‘consensus cabinet, including Hezbollah minister, Lebanon lived the worst scenario of ‘vacuum’ in peaceful manner without a shot fired in anger! Under Aoun’s Presidency and Hariri’s ‘consensus cabinet’, Iran’s influence inside Lebanon gained both a cover of legitimacy and an involuntary acquiescence from representatives of its religious sects. Furthermore, displaced Syrian refugees became victims of animosity highlighting the high cost of their stay, and their individual transgressions rather than holding responsible for the whole phenomenon the Lebanese players – namely, Hezbollah –, who caused their displacement as a result of their fighting on Bashar Al-Assad’s side in Syria, without a governmental or popular Lebanese mandate.
Moreover, pressure was put to make the army’s and security’s ‘defence doctrine’ an almost carbon copy of that of Hezbollah, which is part and parcel of Iran’s revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Finally, the post of the Prime Minister – reserved to the Sunnis – was more than once marginalised, and its authority compromised. A salient example was when Gebran Bassil, the Foreign Minister and the President’s son – in – law, ignored the cabinet collective responsibility and the Prime Minister’s position against the Syrian regime, by meeting Walid Al-Mu’allem, Al-Assad’s foreign Minister in New York!
Thus, in the light of Hezbollah’s monopoly of heavy weapons and its ability to penetrate the Christian community, through aligning itself with Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) - which provided it with a political and religious cover reflecting the logic of ‘Alliance of Minorities’- the ‘consensus cabinet’ insured Hezbollah achieved most of its aims. They included securing its favourite ‘electoral law’ and getting away with its strategy towards the sensitive Sunni town of Arsal near Lebanon northeast borders with Syria. The non-existing, or fake, consensus spared Hezbollah the need to use military force in order to impose its will, and tighten its control of the country.
Saad Hariri’s resignation has, thus, pulled the cover over a sinister situation that was damaging to him as well as to Lebanon had it continued. The outgoing Prime Minister has done the right thing, preventing “filling the vacuum with another vacuum’, throwing the ball into the world community’s court.
Lebanon, at any rate is but one link in the Middle East chain. The resignation of a Prime Minister who finally decided not to be a cover for a plan for regional hegemony is certainly an important step in blocking it, however, it is not enough on its own. It will not bear fruits without a serious willingness to block and derail this plan from a much higher level. Hariri was subjected to many criticisms during the past year, but he has now acted courageously. Will he now be supported by those vocal critics of Tehran’s policies, ambitions, and plans for hegemony underpinned on its arsenals inside Iran, and its active militias in several Arab countries? Will the world community react with serious urgency in dealing with a Middle East nearing boiling point?
And is there a genuine understanding of how dangerous it is to allow religion-clad extremist ideologies to establish its sway in a highly sensitive area, where ethnic, religious and sectarian identities intersect, nor far from the heart of Europe?
In 2005, when the Lebanese people rose against a ‘security custody’ imposed from across its borders, the world community reacted quickly only to forget them soon after.
Many fear this might happen again to their ‘Second Uprising’!

Syrian refugees in Lebanon face eviction
Scott Preston/Al Monitor/November 10, 2017
Thousands of Syrian refugees residing in several municipalities across Lebanon are under threat by eviction campaigns that have ramped up in recent weeks. Aid workers from several humanitarian organizations say that reports of refugee evictions have increased in a number of predominantly Christian areas.
Nowhere is the issue more evident than in Haddath, where up to 6,000 individuals — including 1,800 children — could be at risk of expulsion, Allison Zelkowitz, the country director of Save the Children Lebanon, told Al-Monitor. Throughout the municipality, local police are conducting door-to-door investigations, profiling individuals and issuing eviction notices to Syrian refugees. Haddath’s mayor, George Aoun, contends that his administration is expelling displaced Syrians on the basis of illegal employment, unregistered rental arrangements or the lack of residency permits. “I have the labor law and we are implementing it word by word,” Aoun announced at a press conference Oct. 26, referring to a January decree from the Ministry of Labor.
Speaking to Al-Monitor, municipal council member George Haddad said, “Refugees are asked to leave — each one at a specific time. In some cases certain refugees were asked to leave a year ago, while others who are now being identified are given 15 days to leave.” Mahmoud Youssef, a Syrian who has lived in Haddath for eight years, provides for his wife and daughter through his work at a grocery store. “Of course [evictions] are escalating in the last two weeks,” Youssef told Al-Monitor. "They’re kicking lots of people out and everyone who is working in Haddath — even the concierges — they are evicting them.”
According to Youssef, the municipal police told him and his family to vacate the area in spite of his sponsorship agreement with his employer. Subsequently, Youssef began searching for another home but was unable to find an alternative before the police returned a week later.
“So they said, ‘Why didn’t you leave? You have to pack your stuff and take your family and leave now.’ And they started yelling, ‘You have to leave, you have to pack now. We don’t care [if you didn’t find a house] we’re going to take your stuff and throw it outside,’ and this kind of stuff. He [police officer] almost hit me.” Following the incident, Youssef’s wife and child managed to move to another area of the city. Refugees who do not live in Haddath have also been issued evacuation notices. Hassan Tillarni, who came to Haddath four years ago, works at a local restaurant. “They [police] came for me twice here and the last time they took me with them and they told me I had to leave. They made me sign an agreement that I will leave,” he told Al-Monitor, showing a security camera video of police escorting him out.
“They came twice or three times and the [restaurant] owner told them that he was trying to find Lebanese [to work for him], but that he has not found any Lebanese who want to do this job. So he will close the restaurant for one month,” Tillarni said.
In practice, the municipality may be attempting to evict all Syrians from the area, regardless of legal status. Ahmad al-Obeid, 16, came to Lebanon six months ago, after fleeing war in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor. He told Al-Monitor that the municipal police came to his home and ordered him and his relatives out on short notice without asking if he was working or inquiring about his residency papers. “They came here and they told us we have to leave in two days.”
The Lebanese Constitution very ambiguously grants municipalities power to "protect" the areas under their jurisdiction. This has allowed municipalities to try to clear their areas of all Syrians on the basis of their ethnicity alone, alleging the implementation of the constitution.
In addition to Haddath, the Mount Lebanon municipalities of Mansourieh and Joun are also conducting evictions of refugees, according to the United Nations refugee agency's communications officer, Lisa Abou Khaled. In addition, the village of Bcharre posted a notice Oct. 1 stating that the municipality will deploy police to expel Syrian refugees as of Nov. 15, citing fears of demographic shifts.
“We haven’t been able to triangulate all the information, but we know so far that it could be Haddath, Bcharre, Mansourieh, Hazmiyeh, Baabda. So it [affected area] is quite larger than just Haddath,” George Ghali, the programs manager at ALEF, a Lebanese human rights organization that monitors the protection of Syrian refugees, told Al-Monitor.
The pace of evictions has stepped up notably in 2017 amid calls from Lebanese officials for the country’s 1.5 million refugees to return to Syria. In early April, the army told up to 11,000 displaced Syrians that they had five days to leave the area surrounding the Rayak air base. The mass relocation of refugees was orchestrated by the municipality of Miziara early last month. The expulsion came in response to the rape and murder of a 20-year-old Lebanese woman by a Syrian concierge. Following the event, Haddath increased its evictions and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil visited the suburb — considered a bastion of electoral support for his political party, the Free Patriotic Movement — and praised the municipality’s efforts.
As Haddath began to implement evictions, the minister of interior and municipalities issued a statement declaring that his office was not affiliated with the initiative. The statement, however, stopped short of calling for the cessation of eviction activities. Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Mouin Merhebi also denounced the policy and the spread of a “racist spirit,” yet no further actions have been taken by the national government to curb expulsions.
“What happened in Miziara actually accelerated the process [of evictions] because the government did nothing to prevent the evictions given the sensitivity of the situation that could have escalated to a public uproar against Syrian refugees. The municipality just put all the Syrians in trucks and evicted them from the village. So when other municipal leaders saw this happen with nobody flinching they were emboldened to follow suit. I don’t think stakeholders will intervene as aggressively as they used to in the past because of the current [parliamentary] election season,” Ghali said, adding, “This year’s new development to the recurrent eviction orders is that municipalities are no longer deterred.”

Gulf nationals exit Lebanon

Najia Houssary/Arab News/November 2017
BEIRUT: There has been an exodus of Gulf nationals from Lebanon. A Kuwaiti airliner arrived at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut late Friday night in order to bring Kuwaiti citizens who are in Lebanon home to Kuwait. The permanent representative of the National News Agency (NNA) in Lebanon told Arab News that Beirut airport had witnessed on Thursday night the departure of Saudi citizens on regularly scheduled Beirut-Riyadh flights. She also noted that the airlines at the airport had reported many booking cancelations from passengers who had booked their flights to come to Lebanon during the coming holiday season. The exodus comes in response to the call from the foreign ministries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE to their respective citizens who are in Lebanon to return to their countries and to avoid travel to Lebanon.
Lebanon is still experiencing the fallout from the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, announced from Riyadh about a week ago.
Al-Hariri blamed Iran and Hezbollah for his resignation and noted, “We live in an atmosphere similar to the atmosphere that prevailed before the assassination of (his father) Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.” Lebanese President Michel Aoun continued his consultations on Friday with Arab and foreign ambassadors in the Presidential Palace. Aoun expressed concern over “the circumstances surrounding the situation of Hariri after announcing his resignation from abroad” and he pointed to the necessity of its unraveling, according to a statement from the Presidential Palace. The statement added that President Aoun had held meetings with Arab ambassadors in Lebanon, in the presence of Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. The spokesman at the Palace stated that Aoun told the Saudi Charge d’Affaires Walid Al-Bukhari that the circumstances of Al-Hariri’s resignation were “unacceptable,” and he demanded the return of the Lebanese prime minister to Beirut.
Arab diplomatic sources told Arab News that the Saudi charge d’affaires “assured Aoun the commitment of Saudi Arabia to the safety and security of Lebanon, and when Aoun raised, in the presence of Bassil, the ambiguity surrounding the situation of Al-Hariri, Al-Bukhari replied that it was possible to communicate with Al-Hariri directly or to send the foreign minister to the Kingdom to meet him.” The sources told Arab News: “Prime Minister Hariri announced his position, and according to their information, we need to look into the problem and tackle it, and then Al-Hariri would return to Lebanon. But if he returned now, who would guarantee his safety? Taking into consideration the fact that the Kingdom did not dictate an option forcing him to stay in the Kingdom or leave it, he is free in his movements.”The sources added that “questioning the situation of Al-Hariri and focusing on protocol issues is not right. Are we in Tora Bora? What’s the logic?”
After visiting Aoun, the ambassadors of the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon stressed in a statement read by UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini the importance of “keeping Lebanon protected from tensions in the region,” and the importance of “restoring the vital balance of Lebanon’s state institutions, which are essential to the country’s stability.” They welcomed the “steps taken to contain the political crisis and protect the country, its stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.” The ambassadors reiterated their “commitment to support the country, its leadership, and its people during this difficult time.”
On the international front, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a statement on Friday, warned other countries against using Lebanon for “proxy conflicts.” Tillerson also called Al-Hariri a “strong partner” of the US. “The US cautions against any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country,” Tillerson said. France’s Foreign Ministry on Friday noted comments made earlier by the French minister, suggesting that Al-Hariri may not be free and urging that he continue to play his rightful role in the country, according to Reuters.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Europe 1 Radio that as far as France was aware, Al-Hariri “was free in his movements” and that it was “important he made his own choices.”From the UN, AP reported that the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was essential that peace be preserved in Lebanon, warning that a new conflict could have “devastating consequences” in the region. In Germany, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel expressed his concerns to his Saudi counterpart, Adel Al-Jubeir, about the possibility of the destabilization of Lebanon. A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry said in a press conference on Friday that Gabriel told Al-Jubeir in a phone call that he believed the “progressive steps achieved under the leadership of Al-Hariri should not be endangered.”However, the spokeswoman added, “Berlin has no evidence that Al-Hariri has been detained against his will.”
She added: “Germany shares the Saudi concerns about Iranian meddling in Yemen and the support of Tehran for Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah.”

Sa'ad Hariri: The accidental politician
Omar Shariff, Deputy Editor, GCC & Middle East/Gulf News/November 10, 2017
With his surprise resignation as the prime minister of Lebanon, the son of slain former premier Rafik has thrown a curve at extremists in the region
Out of nowhere, on November 4, Lebanon’s prime minister Sa’ad Hariri took the region by storm by announcing his resignation. The announcement came not from his office in Beirut, but from his residence in Riyadh. He said he believed there was an assassination plot against him and accused Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah of destroying the region’s stability. Under Lebanon’s confessional political set up, the president of the country is, by law, a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni, and the speaker of parliament a Shiite. And the Hariri family is by far the biggest pillar of Sunni politics in Lebanon. The Future Movement, which was set up by Sa’ad’s assassinated father Rafik Hariri, and which Sa’ad has headed since 2005, is essentially the political voice of Sunnis of Lebanon.
Sa’ad became prime minister of Lebanon last year in a political deal that made the Hezbollah-allied Maronite Christian politician Michel Aoun President. The coalition government that resulted had nearly all of Lebanon’s political blocs as members, including Hezbollah. The Hariris have always had deep ties with Saudi Arabia, which has provided tremendous political and financial support to Lebanon for a long time. Like his father before him, Sa’ad holds both Lebanese and Saudi citizenship. Rafik had first arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1965. By the late 1970s, he was an immensely wealthy businessman. He used much of his own money to fund philanthropic projects in his homeland, which gained him a lot of goodwill — enough for him to enter Lebanese politics. The 1990 Taif Accords — which were mediated by Saudi Arabia and took place in the Saudi city of Taif — marked the end of the 15-year-long Lebanese civil war. Rafik had played a key role in the lead-up to the talks. He would go on to become prime minister of Lebanon five times and earn the nickname “Mr Lebanon”. It was after his brutal death in a massive car bomb explosion in Beirut in 2005 — for which Hezbollah operatives are being tried in absentia — that his younger son Sa’ad was thrust into the whirlpool of Lebanese politics.
Like some other scions of powerful political dynasties — India’s former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi comes to mind — Sa’ad was initially reluctant to enter politics. Earlier, Sa’ad had helped manage his father’s multibillion dollar businesses. He was born in Riyadh in 1970; his mother was Rafik’s first wife, Iraqi Nida Bustani. He graduated in 1992 from McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington and joined his father’s vast business empire. According to Forbes, Sa’ad is currently worth $1.1 billion (Dh4.04 billion). After his father’s death, Sa’ad, instead of taking over the reins of the Lebanese premiership himself, backed seasoned politician and close friend of his father’s, Fouad Siniora, to become prime minister. Siniora was at the helm from July 2005 to November 2009, following which, Sa’ad became the prime minister of Lebanon for the first time.
Before that, Sa’ad’s first political successes came in the form of securing a financial aid package from the United States in 2007, largely as a result of his lobbying effort and his mediation that helped in the formation of a unity government in 2008.
The March 14 Coalition — named as such to commemorate the day massive crowds gathered in Beirut to demand the end of the Syrian regime’s suffocating, decades-long presence in Lebanon, following the assassination of Rafik — won the elections held in June 2009. Hariri became prime minister-designate. The then president Michel Sulaiman asked him to form a new government — no easy task in a system as complex as that of Lebanon. Hariri, after trying for many weeks, gave up and said that he would step down from his prime minister-designate post. But Sulaiman persuaded him to try again and, in November, Hariri finally announced the formation of a unity government. He also became prime minister.
Meanwhile, as the international tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik gathered steam, tensions arose over Lebanon’s participation in the tribunal, with the March 14 coalition engaged in a tussle with Hezbollah over the issue. In 2011, the resignation of 11 Hezbollah MPs forced the collapse of the unity government, and Hariri became caretaker prime minister, handing over the reins to Najeeb Mikati later. Mikati had the support of Hezbollah. Hariri adopted a principled stance and refused to be part of any government that was dominated by Hezbollah. The eventual government had no ministers from the March 14 coalition.
Also in 2011, when Syria’s brutal conflict began, Hariri — like most Sunnis in Lebanon — came out clearly against his old nemesis, the dictatorship of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, which Sa’ad also blamed for the assassination of his father. In 2012, the Syrian regime issued an “arrest warrant” against Sa’ad for his alleged support for Syrian rebels. Hariri promptly responded by branding Al Assad a “monster”. Sensing imminent danger from the Syrian regime or its allies in Lebanon, he moved to Paris along with his wife and three children in 2011. He only returned in 2014.
The period that followed was one of political paralysis in Lebanon, with the country being unable to agree on electing a president. Following several rounds of deliberations, a deal was finally struck under which long-time aspirant Aoun was elected President, and he signed a decree appointing Hariri as prime minister. Thus, Hariri became premier for the second time on December 18, 2016.
But less than a year later, he was to announce his surprise resignation.
Agreement Poll

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 11-12/17
ISIS regains full control of Syria border town Albu Kamal: monitor
AFP/Al Arabiya English/November 11/17 /The ISIS group fully recaptured the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal on Saturday, a monitor said, after a tough fightback for its last urban bastion against pro-regime forces. “ISIS fully recaptured Albu Kamal, and regime forces and allied militia are now between one to two kilometres from the city limits,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Iraqi interior minister says 41 Iranians arrested after crossing borders
Al Arabiya English/November 11/17 /The Iraqi Minister of Interior, Qasim al-Araji, said that local authorities have arrested 41 interiors who illegally crossed the country’s borders, reported Anadolu Agency on Saturday. The statement said that the Ministry of Interior (MOI) warned all residents in Iraq from engaging in political activities which may negatively impact the country’s external relations. The MOI also stressed that necessary legal action must be taken against violators – deportation if necessary. Recently, Iranian police said that nearly two million and 200,000 visitors have passed through the Iranian border for Iraq to participate in the annual commemoration fourty days after the anniversary of Imam Hussain’s death.

Jailed British-Iranian woman 'suicidal' in Iranian prison
MEE/A fellow inmate with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says her 'hair was falling out' as she faced brutal treatment in Iranian custody
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the imprisoned British-Iranian woman at the heart of a diplomatic crisis involving UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, was left suicidal following her treatment at the hands of the Islamic Republic, according to newly released interviews. Former inmates of the prison complex where Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being held on charges of being a foreign spy described to the Times newspaper in London the ordeal she faced as she suffered brutal interrogation from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) and eight months in solitary confinement. "Nazanin was very upset," said Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-American who in June spent two days in jail with Zaghari-Ratcliffe. "Her interrogators had promised if she signed these papers she would be able to get out and be with her baby. Desperate, she went ahead and signed, but they wouldn’t let her out."Hoodfar said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had cried uncontrollably about being seperated from her two-year old daughter Gabriella. We've all become accustomed to Boris Johnson's foot-in-mouth syndrome, but as foreign secretary his words matter
Wes Streeting, Labour MP
"Her hair was falling out, huge clumps of it covered our blankets," she said.
"She was crying about her daughter, who was going to celebrate her second birthday. She just talked about her little girl and cried."Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested while on holiday in Iran last April, worked in London for the Thompson Reuters Foundation. Although she has no involvement in the journalistic wing of the organisation, Foreign Secretary Johnson mistakenly told a meeting of the UK parliament's foreign affairs select committee that she had been teaching journalism in Iran. This mistake has led to Zaghari-Ratcliffe facing potentially an extra five years in prison on accusations of "propaganda against the regime" and has provoked numerous calls for Johnson to be sacked. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the Iranians had taken Johnson's error at face value. "There is a way in which the foreign secretary is responsible which he was not two weeks ago," he said, according to the Times.
"He was cited in Iranian media coverage of Nazanin. They are taking his words."
Months in solitary
Following her arrest, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first held for a month in isolation in Kerman province, in the south of Iran. The only people permitted to see her were interrogators. She was then kept for a further seven months in isolation in Evin prison, in a cell where the light was never turned off. On Friday, British diplomats reportedly increased their efforts to raise support for Zaghari-Ratcliffe. According to the Evening Standard in London, Ambassador Nicholas Hopton said the UK had "no doubt" that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been holiday on when she was arrested. Although she is being kept in better conditions now, the Johnson incident has her facing a new trial on new charges. Opposition politicians said Johnson's position was untenable. "We've all become accustomed to Boris Johnson's foot-in-mouth syndrome, but as foreign secretary his words matter," said Labour MP Wes Streeting, speaking to the UK's Sun newspaper. "This isn't his first gaffe in recent months, but it looks as though his careless attitude will result in a longer prison sentence for an innocent British national. "This is intolerable. He should be sacked." Zaghari-Ratcliffe used to work in London for the BBC, which Iran says is seeking to topple the Islamic theocracy. Iran refuses to recognise dual nationals and denies them access to consular assistance.

Israel Downs Syrian Spy Drone over Golan Heights
Asharq Al-Awsat/November 11/17/Israel’s military said it had shot down a Russian-made Syrian drone carrying out a reconnaissance mission over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Saturday. The drone was intercepted by a Patriot missile in the demilitarized zone between the Israeli- and Syrian-controlled parts of the Golan, a military spokeswoman said in a statement. The zone has separated Israeli and Syrian forces since the ceasefire deal that followed their 1973 war. "It was a reconnaissance UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and not an attack UAV and we are checking whether there is any connection to Iran and Hezbollah," military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, told Reuters. "The State of Israel regards with utmost seriousness any violation of its sovereignty and will respond with force to any provocation," Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement."We will not allow the consolidation of a Shi’ite axis in Syria" as a base for operations against Israel, he added, referring to the presence of Syrian regime allies Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the war-torn neighboring country.

Kremlin: Trump, Putin Agree there is No Military Solution in Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/November 11/17/Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump agreed a joint statement on Syria on Saturday that said they would continue joint efforts in fighting ISIS until it is defeated and that there was "no military solution" for the war in Syria, the Kremlin said. The Kremlin said the conversation between Trump and Putin took place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Vietnamese resort of Danang. It said the statement on Syria was coordinated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson especially for the meeting in Danang. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the Kremlin announcement. Putin and Trump confirmed their commitment to Syria's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and called on all parties to the Syrian conflict to take an active part in the UN-led peace talks in Geneva, the Kremlin said. Moscow and Washington agree there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, according to the text of the joint statement published on the Kremlin's website. Television pictures from Danang showed Putin and Trump chatting - apparently amicably - as they walked to the position where the traditional APEC summit photo was being taken at a viewpoint looking over the South China Sea. Earlier pictures from the meeting show Trump walking up to Putin as he sits at the summit table and patting him on the back. The two lean in to speak to each other and clasp each other briefly as they exchange a few words. Although the White House had said no official meeting was planned, the two also shook hands at a dinner on Friday evening.

Iraq Launches Offensive to Recapture Last Town under ISIS Control
Asharq Al-Awsat/November 11/17/Iraqi forces launched an offensive on Saturday to capture Rawa, the last remaining town under ISIS control, leaving the extremist organization’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” on the verge of complete defeat. Two Iraqi infantry divisions and tribal forces are participating in the offensive to recapture Rawa and its surrounding areas along the border with Syria, the Joint Operations Command said in a statement. The defeat of militants in Rawa would mark the end of ISIS’ era of territorial rule over the so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. Syrian forces declared victory over the militants on Thursday, after seizing the last substantial town on the border with Iraq. The forces and their allies were still fighting ISIS in desert areas near Albu Kamal, the last town the militant group had held in Syria. Last week, Iraqi forces recaptured the larger town of al-Qaim, in what Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called "record time", leaving just a few small pockets of land in ISIS hands, including Rawa and surrounding scraps of desert. The region has been known as a hotbed of insurgency and smuggling since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, long before the arrival of ISIS in 2014.

Libyan Presidential Council Seizes Control of West as Sewehli Escalates Anti-Haftar Rhetoric
Asharq Al-Awsat/November 11/17/The Libyan Presidential Council of the National Accord government imposed its control of the western part of the country after completely capturing the region of Warshefana.The achievement coincided with a war of words by High Council of the State chairman Abdulrahman Sewehli against National Army commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The capture of Warshefana, which lies 30 kms south of Tripoli, blocks all attempts of infiltration to the capital. It was seized after ten days of fierce battles between the forces of the commander of the western region Osama al-Juwaili and the “Tripoli Rebels” brigade, which is loyal to Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, against the National Army. Sarraj voiced on Thursday night his satisfaction with the “cleansing of Warshefana from criminals”, warning “outlaws and mercenaries” that they will not no longer be allowed in the region. Addressing the people in wake of his forces’ victory, he declared: “The locals, who abandoned their homes and region due to the spread of crime, will be able to return once again.”He revealed that security forces, the police and state institutions have been ordered to resume their duties in there. Warshefana is the second region, after Sabratha, that has been seized by Sarraj’s forces. Sabratha was liberated on October 7. These two developments appear as a clear challenge to vows he had made to Haftar as he inches close to Tripoli. Army spokesman Ahmed al-Masmari had pledged to liberate Tripoli from “militias in order to end the state of division should political dialogue fail.” Haftar had on October 14 declared before his forces that the army now controls 1.73 million kms of Libyan territory and 30,000 kms only remain. His rivals have however questioned the claims, saying that several regions are not loyal to the National Army. Meanwhile, Sewehli seemed to have abandoned his previous caution, launching a critical verbal attack against Haftar, speaking on more than one occasion of “terrible war crimes” being committed in the areas under the field marshal’s control in eastern Libya. In a letter to the foreign minister in the National Accord government, he protested against Libyan Ambassador to the United Nations Elmahdi Elmajerbi’s “deliberate failure” to mention the Derna and Abyar crimes before the Security Council on Wednesday. “This is a disregard to the lives of dozens of women, children and men that were lost in these crimes,” he said in his letter to FM Mohammed Taher al-Siala. Elmajerbi’s speech before the Security Council “did not rise to the expectations of our people, who have been waiting for accountability in systematic war crimes and human rights violations that have been committed in the past months.”Furthermore, the UN ambassador claimed that Libyan judicial and security institutions were capable of imposing the law “and this totally untrue,” continued Elmajerbi.

Bahrain oil pipeline fire was act of sabotage - Interior Ministry
Reuters//November 11/17/An explosion which caused a fire at an oil pipeline in Bahrain on Friday was caused by sabotage, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Saturday. “The incident was an act of sabotage and a dangerous act of terrorism aimed at harming the higher interests of the nation and the safety of the people,” the ministry said on its official Twitter account.State-run Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco) closed the flow of oil to the stricken pipeline, the civil defense added in the statement, published on the interior ministry's website. Residents close to the incident near Buri village, some 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the capital Manama, were being evacuated to a safe shelter, the statement added. A Reuters witness said there was a large fire which burst the pipeline. Bahrain relies on the Abu Safa oilfield for the majority of its oil. It shares the field with Saudi Arabia.
Oil to Bahrain is transported via the 55 km A-B pipeline which has a capacity of 230,000 barrels per day (bpd). A new 350,000-barrels per day oil pipeline between the two countries will be completed next year and will serve the planned expansion of Bahrain’s refinery capacity. Arabian Light crude oil will flow from Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq plant via the 115-km new pipeline, 73 km of which will run overland and the rest under the Gulf.

Egyptian forces destroy arms smugglers’ vehicles on Libya border

Reuters/November 11/17/Egyptian military jets destroyed 10 vehicles carrying weapons, ammunition and smuggled goods near the country’s western desert border with Libya, the army said on Saturday. Egypt’s porous border with Libya has long been a headache for security forces as weapons flow across the frontier, but an attack on police last month claimed by a new militant group has highlighted the security challenges in the western desert. “The air force dealt with them and destroyed them completely and killed all the elements inside,” the army statement said, without giving a date of the operation.
Egypt’s security forces are battling a stubborn ISIS insurgency in the northern Sinai region, where militants have killed hundreds of police and troops since 2014 when attacks there started to increase.

Egypt FM to Tour Gulf in Push for Political Solution
Agence France Presse//Naharnet/November 11/17/Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will embark on a Gulf tour to push for a political solution as tensions rise between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah, his ministry said Saturday.
Shoukry, whose government is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, will carry a message from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman as well as Jordan during his three-day visit starting Sunday, it said in a statement. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has accused Saudi Arabia of declaring war and detaining Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri, who resigned last week in a statement from Riyadh citing Iran's "grip" on Lebanon. Saudi Arabia, which in turn accused Hezbollah and Iran of declaring war against the kingdom, urged its citizens to leave Lebanon. Shoukry "will affirm Egypt's firm position on the need to preserve Arab unity," the ministry statement said. He will also "affirm Egypt's policy... that pushes for political solutions to crises and the need to spare the region any more turmoil and polarisation."Egypt, which has the most powerful Arab army and has depended on Saudi Arabia for aid, has supported the Gulf country against its regional arch-rival, Iran. But it has displayed little enthusiasm for a Saudi-led coalition's devastating war in Yemen against Iran-backed Huthi rebels. Cairo has backed the coalition with only a few naval vessels after having pledged to send ground troops if needed. Sisi told a press conference on Thursday that Egypt fully supported Gulf countries, whose security he called a "red line."But he also urged caution. "I am not for war. We have had our experience with war," he said. "The region faces enough turmoil already. We should approach (the tensions) extremely cautiously," he added.

Trade Ministers Agree Asia-Pacific Trade Pact without US
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 11/17/Ministers from 11 Asia-Pacific countries agreed Saturday to press ahead with a major trade deal without the United States, as the world's largest economy seeks to go it alone under President Donald Trump's "America First" policy. Trump pulled his country from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) at the start of the year, dismaying allies and casting into doubt an agreement heralded for tying lower tariffs to strong environmental and labour protections. He has been something of a lone protectionist voice at the APEC summit in the Vietnamese city of Danang where world leaders, including China's Xi Jinping, have been keen to promote the virtues of free trade and multilateral deals. In a joint statement Saturday morning, the remaining countries -- dubbed the TPP-11 -- said they had "agreed on the core elements" of a deal at the sidelines of the APEC summit in the Vietnamese city of Danang, after days of stalled talks raised fears it could collapse altogether. The ministers said further talks would be needed to reach a full consensus before inking the deal, which now carries an even longer official name -- the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Japan's lead negotiator Toshimitsu Motegi said the remaining members would still welcome the United States back into their pact.
"This time all the 11 countries are on board and this would send out a very strong positive message to the United States and other Asia Pacific countries in the region," he said.Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada's trade minister, described the breakthrough in a tweet as "big progress".
Canada had held out to maintain environmental and labour protections linked to freer markets in the deal. Those elements were thrown into jeopardy by America's sudden withdrawal from the deal earlier this year. Canada had dug in over those progressive clauses. But they are much less attractive to countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Chile and Peru now that the carrot of access to the huge US market has been pulled.
- Upended consensus -Trump's election has upended years of American-led moves to open up global trade. The US president is among leaders attending the APEC summit in Danang and on Friday he ladled out more of his trademark "America First" rhetoric.
In a strident address he said his country will "no longer tolerate" unfair trade, closed markets and intellectual property theft. "We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of any more," he added, taking a swipe at multilateral trade deals.
Shortly after, China's Xi offered a starkly different vision, casting his country as the new global leader for free trade. Beijing is not included in the TPP, a deal initially driven through by the former US administration as a counterweight to surging Chinese power in Asia. China has since sought to fill the free trade gap left by the United States, even if much of its own market remains protected.
Japan, the world's third largest economy, has been particularly active in pushing for a swift consensus on TPP, fearful that delays could lead to the collapse of the pact after years of negotiations and hand more regional influence to China.
But Canada has pushed back against a quick fix.
"This is about setting the terms of trade for generations," a Canadian delegation source told AFP. Analysts say the provisional deal reached in Danang will breath new life into global free trade deals at a time when the United States is turning its back on them.
Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, told AFP that even without the US, TPP-11 is "the most important trade agreement signed in the last 20 years". "Companies had largely given up on the TPP after the withdrawal of the United States," she said. "Now firms will need to scramble to figure out how the agreement matters to their business."At the APEC summit on Saturday Trump faces a long day of meetings with world leaders who are all pushing for more open trade.
As well as Xi, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Japan's Shinzo Abe and Canada's Justin Trudeau are among those attending. The original TPP deal was once described by the US as a "gold standard" for all free trade agreements because it went far beyond just cutting tariffs. It included removing a slew of non-tariff restrictions and required members to comply with a high level of regulatory standards in areas like labour law, environmental protection, intellectual property and government procurement.
Without the US, TPP-11 only represents 13.5 percent of the global economy but the remaining countries are scrambling to avoid the deal's collapse, especially given the increasingly protectionist winds sweeping through the United States and Europe.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 11-12/17
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: October 2017
"We are still in a state of war."
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/November 11/17
Article 57 of the French Civil Code states that the name chosen by parents must be in "the best interests of the child." If the public prosecutor thinks the name "Jihad" is contrary to the law, he can ask a judge to order the name to be changed. If the parents are unable or unwilling to choose a new name, the judge has the right to choose a name.
1,900 French jihadists fighting with the Islamic State, as many as one-fifth have received as much as €500,000 ($580,000) in social welfare payments from the French state, according to Le Figaro.
Henda Ayari, in an interview with Le Parisien, gave detailed public testimony accusing Tariq Ramadan of sexually assaulting her in Paris. She said that Ramadan believes that "either you wear a veil or you get raped."
October 1. A 29-year-old illegal immigrant from Tunisia stabbed two women to death at the central train station in Marseille. Witnesses heard the assailant shout "Allahu Akbar" as he lunged at the women with a 20-centimetre (eight-inch) knife before threatening soldiers, who shot him dead. The man, identified as Ahmed Hanachi, was using seven different identities and had a long criminal history. He had been arrested in Lyon for shoplifting just days before the attack, but those charges were dropped due to a lack evidence. He was released, despite not having the documents needed to live in France. Why he was never deported remains unclear.
October 2. Five people were arrested in Paris after police found four makeshift bombs at a building in the 16th arrondissement, one of the city's most exclusive neighborhoods. Police said there was no one living in the apartment block who might be considered a target for jihadists. Interior Minister Gérard Collomb surmised that the bomb was simply meant to create fear: "Blowing up a building in a posh neighborhood shows that no one is safe...that it could happen anywhere in France." He added: "This shows that the level of the threat in France is extremely high...yes, even if the Islamic State has suffered military setbacks, we are still in a state of war."
October 2. The trial began of Abdelkader Merah, the 35-year-old brother of Mohamed Merah. In March 2012, Mohamed had gone on a nine-day shooting spree in southern France, killing three soldiers and gunning down a teacher and three children at a Jewish school before being shot dead by police. Abdelkader stands accused of "knowingly" helping to facilitate the "preparation" of the attack, in particular by stealing the scooter used for the three separate shootings. He appeared alongside 34-year-old Fettah Malki, accused of giving Mohamed Merah a bulletproof jacket, an Uzi submachine gun and the ammunition he unloaded on his victims. Abdelkader Merah faces a possible life sentence while Malki could get 20 years in prison.
October 5. Six gas canisters attached to a "crude detonator device" were found under several trucks at a cement company in Paris. The trucks, parked in the French capital's northeastern 19th arrondissement, belonged to Franco-Swiss cement company Lafarge-Holcim. Lafarge is being investigated over claims that it paid taxes to the Islamic State and other armed groups in Syria to keep a plant running in a war zone. The company admitted that it resorted to "unacceptable measures" to continue operations at a now-closed cement factory in northern Syria in 2013 and 2014, after most French groups had quit the war-torn country.
October 6. A French woman who travelled three times to Syria in support of her jihadist son was sentenced to 10 years in prison for being part of a terrorist conspiracy. Christine Rivière, 51, was sentenced for her "unfailing commitment" to jihad and for helping a number of young women travel to Syria to marry jihadists, including her son, Tyler Vilus. Rivière, a Muslim convert who was nicknamed "Mama Jihad," said of her son: "I didn't want to push him to die a martyr, but that could happen. Then he would be in heaven, near Allah."
October 6. French prosecutors charged three men in connection with a makeshift explosive device made of gas canisters, placed inside an apartment block in western Paris. Amine A, his cousin Sami B, and Aymen B., were charged with "attempted murder in an organized group in connection with a terrorist enterprise" and placed in pre-trial detention. All three were arrested on October 2, two days after the device was found in the exclusive 16th arrondissement. Amine A., 30, and Aymen B., 29, are both on the terror watch list.
October 9. French police and intelligence services are surveilling around 15,000 jihadists living on French soil, according to Le Journal du Dimanche. Of these, some 4,000 are at "the top of the spectrum" and most likely to carry out an attack.
October 10. President Emmanuelle Macron announced a plan to open immigration offices in Niger and Chad to identify persons eligible for asylum on lists provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and bring them directly to France. The stated aim is to "better prevent an influx of economic migrants" who are not eligible for asylum. In all, France will take in 10,000 people, not only from Niger and Chad, but also from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, by October 2019.
October 11. Interior Minister Gérard Collomb announced the dismissal of the central government's top representative in the southern Rhône region, after a report criticized "errors of judgement" and "serious faults" in handling foreigners whose papers are not in order. The report was commissioned after 29-year-old Tunisian Ahmed Hanachi stabbed two women to death at the central train station in Marseille on October 1.
October 11. A 20-year-old woman was arrested in Rouen on suspicion that she may have played a role in a jihadist attack on a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray. On July 26, 2016, two jihadists had broken into the church and murdered Father Jacques Hamel while he was celebrating mass. While leaving the church, they were shot dead by the police. A few hours later, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Police say that shortly before the attack, the woman had been in contact with one of the jihadists.
October 12. A French intelligence agent accidentally sent a text message to the mobile phone of a jihadist, inadvertently warning him that he was under surveillance and being monitored, according to M6 television. The target, a "proselytizing Islamist" living in Paris, responded by directly calling the agent and informing him of his mistake.
October 12. The interior ministry announced that France will maintain border checks with its European neighbors until April 30, 2018, because of "persistent" terror threats. The 1985 Schengen Agreement ended passport checks and other protective measures on borders, but after the jihadist attacks in Paris in November 2015, France resumed them.
France recently announced that it will maintain border checks with its European neighbors until April 30, 2018, because of "persistent" terror threats. France resumed passport checks and other protective measures on borders after the November 2015 jihadist attacks in Paris. Pictured: French border and customs police control vehicles at the France-Italy border. (Photo by Murielle Gander Cransac/Getty Images)
October 15. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in Strasbourg to expand the Eyüp Sultan Mosque. The 32 million euro ($37 million) project will make the mosque one of the biggest in Europe. The 15-acre site will include a school, a library, conference rooms, restaurants and boutiques, as well as a prayer room for up to 3,000 worshippers. The mosque, which will be redesigned according to Ottoman architecture, will have 28 domes and 44-meter-high (145-foot) minarets. Local officials say the mosque will contribute to the religious, architectural and cultural diversity of Strasbourg.
October 16. President Emmanuel Macron pledged to deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes in France. He said that even without new legislation, "we can take tougher measures" and expel illegal immigrants if they commit a crime, "whatever it may be." He added: "We are not taking all the steps that should be taken. Well, that's going to change." He was speaking after it emerged that a Tunisian who stabbed two women to death in Marseille had been arrested in Lyon two days earlier for shoplifting.
October 18. President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a plan to bolster France's domestic security. A key promise was to hire 10,000 extra police and gendarmes during the next five years. He also proposed to create a new "daily security police" (police de la sécurité du quotidian, PSQ) which would be deployed in "priority neighborhoods from the point of view of insecurity." The PSQ, community police charged with fighting crime at the local level, will be tested in about fifteen localities in early 2018. In addition, Macron announced a plan to combat radicalization and to reform of asylum procedures to bring them in line with those of Germany. Finally, he promised to speed up the deportations of illegal immigrants who commit crimes in France. "We don't welcome people well; our procedures are too long; we don't integrate people properly and neither do we send enough people back," Macron said. "We should take our fair share, but we can't just welcome in all the world's poor people."
October 20. Prosecutors in Toulouse launched an investigation after receiving a report that a couple in nearby Léguevin named their newborn son "Jihad." Article 57 of the French Civil Code states that the name chosen by parents must be in "the best interests of the child." A justice ministry memo on the topic states that local registrars must inform the public prosecutor if a name appears to be contrary to the law. If the public prosecutor thinks the name "Jihad" is contrary to the law, he can ask a judge to order the name to be changed. If the parents are unable or unwilling to choose a new name, the judge has the right to choose a name.
October 20. Henda Ayari, a former Salafist who is now a Muslim feminist activist, accused prominent Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan of sexually assaulting her in Paris. Ramadan, a grandson of the founder of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, denied her accusations. Some of his supporters criticized Ayari on social media, insinuating that if the assault did take place, it was her own fault because Islam forbids an unmarried woman to be alone with a man. Others claimed that Ramadan is a victim of "international Zionism" and that the charges were "fabricated by Jews."
October 22. Eight people, including three minors, were charged with "criminal terrorist conspiracy" for plotting to attack left-wing politicians, migrants and mosques. An investigation found that the group, led by Logan Alexandre Nisin, a 21-year-old far-right activist based in Provence, planned to buy weapons, organize paramilitary training exercises and conduct shooting practice.
October 23. An official inquiry cast doubt on allegations that the French police had abused migrants in the northern port city of Calais. Human Rights Watch had accused police of a disproportionate use of force against migrants as well as aid workers when the notorious Calais migrant camp, known as the "jungle," was dismantled in October 2016. The inquiry said that some abuse was "plausible" but that there was no proof it had occurred. It added that accusations that police had used pepper spray against migrants while they were sleeping were "without foundation." The report found that many of the injuries sustained by migrants were due to brawls among migrants. "There is no evidence to prove the most serious allegations made," Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said.
October 24. France issued an arrest warrant for Redouane Sebbar, a 25-year-old Moroccan man being held in Germany and suspected of helping plan an August 2015 attack on high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris.
October 26. Of the 1,900 French jihadists fighting with the Islamic State, as many as one-fifth have received as much as €500,000 ($580,000) in social welfare payments from the French state, according to Le Figaro.
October 30. Henda Ayari, in an interview with Le Parisien, gave detailed public testimony accusing Tariq Ramadan of sexually assaulting her in Paris. She said that Ramadan believes that "either you wear a veil or you get raped." Ramadan denied the accusations as a "campaign of slander." Since Ayari's original allegation, two more women have filed sexual assault complaints against Ramadan.
October 30. President Emmanuel Macron formally signed a new counter-terrorism law that gives prefects, police and security forces wide-ranging powers — without the need to seek prior approval from a judge — to search homes, place people under house arrest and close places of worship. The measure also authorizes police to perform identity checks at French borders. The new law, adopted by the French Senate on October 18, makes permanent many of the previously exceptional measures imposed under a two-year-old state of emergency, which was introduced after the jihadist attacks in Paris in November 2015. That state of emergency was slated to expire on November 1. Macron said the new law strikes the right balance between security and respect for civil liberties. Hardliners countered that it does not go far enough, while human rights groups complained that it will leave France in a permanent state of emergency.
**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.

Iran’s ‘Malign Activities’ and the Need to Put the Spotlight on its Actions
Dennis Ross/Asharq Al Awsat/November 11/17
President Donald Trump pulled no punches about Iran when he outlined the pillars that would guide his administration’s policy toward the country. He recounted Iran’s aggressive, threatening behavior over time and declared that the United States would counter Iran’s de-stabilizing activities in the region. Left unsaid was how his administration would do so.
A quick survey of the region validates the need to counter what Iran is doing in the region. Saad Hariri resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister, citing fears of an assassination plot against him. In announcing his decision, he accused Iran of sowing “sedition, devastation and destruction in any place it settles in.” He charged it with interfering with “the affairs of Arab nations” and referred to Hezbollah as a “state within a state” in Lebanon.
In Yemen, the Houthis are firing rockets at Saudi cities, including Riyadh, with increasing frequency—and the rockets are supplied by Iran. Anti-ship rockets are also being provided by Iran to threaten shipping lanes in the Bab el-Mandeb straits.
In Iraq, Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Forces, the action-arm of the Revolutionary Guard, was quick to take advantage of the conflict between the central government and the Kurdish Regional Government, pushing the Popular Mobilization Units, who are materially supported and guided by the Iranians, to force the Peshmerga to retreat from Kirkuk even as they keep the crisis going.
To be sure, the Iranians don’t create these conflicts but are quick to exploit them, using Shi’ite militia proxies from as far away as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nowhere is this more true than in Syria. It is not just that the Iranians and their proxies have helped to secure the Assad regime; they are actively now trying to fill the vacuum that is going to be left by the defeat of ISIS—a defeat that has in the main not been inflicted by them. While the US has concentrated on defeating ISIS, Iran is focused on the day after and is actively creating facts on the ground and even working to change the demography by moving Shi’ites into Sunni-majority areas.
Iran’s reach, especially with Hezbollah, extends everywhere in Syria. Go to the Golan Heights and one can see, as I just did, the hill-top where the Quds Force and Hezbollah have established forward observation posts peering into Israel. It is only a matter of time before they will turn their attention to the border with Jordan. The Iranians are being quite purposeful in Syria and in time will control Syria’s border with Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. Will they do so with Syria’s Turkish border? If it means cutting a deal with Turkey to prevent an autonomous Kurdish region, one can bet this, too, will happen.
So the Trump administration is right to speak of Iran’s “malign activities.” The problem at this point is that the policy seems to be tough in tone and rhetoric but largely limited to words. True, there are increasing designations for sanctions of entities tied to the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah. While sanctions are surely one instrument of policy, their application is largely a continuation of the Obama approach. Of course, the Obama administration was also willing to talk to the Iranians. Its engagement policy was designed to gain international support for pressure on Iran as well as for any agreements that might emerge from the diplomacy.
President Obama hoped that the nuclear deal, the JCPOA, would not only limit the Iranian nuclear program and forestall its move toward nuclear weapons, but build the Iranian stake in good behavior. By re-integrating the Iranians into the international financial system, the Obama administration reasoned that the weight and influence of the pragmatists in the Iranian leadership would grow and Iran would gradually normalize with their neighbors and the world—at least that was the hope. In the long-run such a possibility might exist; in the short-run, however, it was always unlikely as Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, was bound to want to prove that he had not forsaken his “resistance” ideology by permitting the JCPOA to be concluded; indeed, for Khamenei, by becoming more aggressive in the region, he could show that his deal with the United States and the other members of the P5+1 reflected no softening of his world view and the belief system that underpins Iran.
The challenge from Iran is unmistakable. The policy must be to raise the costs to the Iranians. The Obama administration was not wrong that there are splits in the Iranian leadership. In fact, there are those pragmatists around Rouhani who prefer normalization with the outside world, much as the Iranian public seeks, not the resistance economy that Khamenei so often calls for but a modern, open and growing one. Every time they get a chance to vote, Iranians clearly prefer normalization on the outside and liberalization on the inside.
Like many, I believe that Obama could have preserved the leverage that brought the Iranians to the negotiating table more effectively during the talks to produce a better outcome. But if the Trump administration wants to deal with some of the flaws of the JCPOA—the end of key limitations on enrichment and reprocessing in 13 years and ongoing ballistic missile testing—it needs to be sure it has international partners. And, the same is true for dealing with Iran’s behavior in the region.
Here again the logic should be to raise the costs to the Iranians while leaving them a way out. That starts with developing an international consensus by putting the spotlight on what Iran is doing everywhere in the region. Iran is not about stability but expansion. And, the US must lead, not with words but with action.
I believe containing Iran in Syria and not permitting the Shi’ite militias to expand further there is essential for showing the Iranian regime, we will now impose limits. There is every reason to talk directly with the Iranians and make clear what we can accept and what we cannot. Certainly, we should do the same with the Russians, conveying unmistakably that if the expansion continues we will use our air power to stop the spread of the Shi’ite militias.
Presently, in the Trump administration, there continues to be a debate about how to counter the Iranians. Some seem prepared to concede Syria to Russia and let them contain the Iranians while the US does more to counter the Iranians in Iraq. There are two problems with this approach: first, the Russians have little incentive to play this role, particularly as long as a low level insurgency continues in Syria and the Shi’ite militias represent their boots on the ground. And, second, Iran may have more leverage in Iraq than we do.
Either approach requires something from the administration other than words and the threat of sanctions, particularly if the sanctions are going to be largely unilateral and not multilateral. As it is, Trump is unlikely to get the Europeans to join the sanctions unless he addresses their concerns about not renegotiating the JCPOA or makes clear that the price for him not walking away from the JCPOA is European responsiveness on sanctions against Iran’s de-stabilizing regional actions. Even this may not be sufficient to put the necessary pressure on the Iranians unless the Trump administration is prepared to use tailored air power to raise the costs to the Iranians and the Shi’ite militias in Syria and also engage the Iranians. Is it prepared to do so? If it is not, if President Trump is not prepared to back diplomacy with coercion and contain the Iranians in Syria or Iraq, the gap between his stated policy and reality will only widen.

How Iran Tried to Turn Arab States into Fading Ghosts
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/November 11/17
If history is a stage on which the fate of nations is played out, knowing when to step in and when to bow out is of crucial importance. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time and, even worse, in the wrong context, could lead to loss and grief.
These may have been some of the thoughts that Lebanon’s outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri may have had in mind when he decided to throw in the towel rather than pretending to exercise an office without being able to do so in any effective manner. Hariri realized that he was in office but not in power.
Whatever the reason for Hariri’s departure, I think he was right to withdraw from a scenario aimed at turning Lebanon into a ghost of a state with a ghost of a president and ghost prime minister and parliament.
That scenario was written in Tehran in the early 1980s with the creation of the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah by then Iranian Ambassador to Damascus Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-pour. The original idea had taken shape in 1975 when Ayatollah Hadi Ghaffari created the first branch of Hezbollah in Tehran to fight the Shah. By 1977 clandestine branches had been created in Turkey and Kuwait.
The hope was to fade out political frontiers, often created by accidents of history or designs of empires, and replace them with religious frontiers. The aim was to create an archipelago of Shi’ite communities across the Middle East, linked together through a network of religious-political organizations controlled by Iran.
The rationale for this was that throughout Islamic history, the element binding people together was allegiance to a version of the religion (Arabic :Mazhab) rather than political concepts such as citizenship of a state.
The fall of the Shah and the seizure of power in Tehran by mullahs gave the scheme a new impetus by putting Iran’s resources at its disposal.
However, very soon it became apparent that the grand design could not be realized without destroying or at least weakening Western-style state structures already in place. The states targeted had more or less strong armed forces that would resist an Iranian takeover.
This was precisely what happened in Turkey, where attempts by the Hezbollah branch to make a splash were crushed by the army.
In Iraq, premature takeover bid by Khomeini gave Saddam Hussein an excuse to invade Iran and start an eight-year war.
In Syria, according to the memoirs of General Hussein Hamadani, who led the Iranian military contingent there, the national army did all it could to prevent Tehran from creating power bases of its own. The situation in Syria changed only when the nation was plunged into civil war by President Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless repression of peaceful protests.
The mullahs learned from their experience in Iran.
Soon after they seized power by a combination of freakish circumstances, Khomeini realized that he would never win the loyalty of existing state structures while being unable to destroy them altogether.
Thus, he developed the strategy known as “parallelism” (movazi-sazi in Persian).
He created the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a parallel to the national army. Islamic courts were set up as parallels to state courts based on laws inspired by the Napoleonic Code. The Majlis (parliament) found its parallel in the Assembly of Experts.
Applied to other Middle Eastern countries, this strategy was known as “tohi-sazi” or “emptying of content”. The first place this was put into practice was Lebanon.
Iran created a Shi’ite militia to “parallel” the regular Lebanese army. Then, through Hezbollah, Tehran also recruited allies among other Lebanese communities and transformed the Lebanese parliament into a toothless bulldog. Finally, Tehran succeeded in propelling its candidate into the presidency, and secured effective power of veto in the Council of Ministers.
All that costs a lot of money.
According to the current Iranian national budget, Iran is spending an average of $60 million a month in Lebanon, most of it through Hezbollah. Consequently, as President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech last month, nothing can be done in Lebanon without Iran’s say-so.
The Lebanese branch of Hezbollah has given Iran value for money to the point of sustaining thousands of casualties in combat in the 2006 mini-war with Israel and, more importantly, the campaign to crush Assad’s opponents in Syria.
In Iraq, the Iranian scheme has had partial results.
Tehran has created the Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of 17 Shi’ite militias, plus the Islamic Peshmergas (Kurdish fighters hired by Tehran) to parallel the Iraqi national army and the military force of the Kurdistan Autonomous Government.
Tehran also exerts political influence through at least part of the Ad-Daawa (The Call) party. However, Iran’s hope of doing a second Lebanon in Iraq has not succeeded because many Iraqis resent Iranian domination while the grand ayatollahs of Najaf regard the Khomeinist regime in Tehran as an abomination.
The mullah’s scheme in Syria has also run into trouble because of Russian intervention and President Vladimir Putin’s determination that Syria’s future is decided in Moscow and not in Tehran.
Tehran’s scheme has had partial success in Yemen.
Iran’s surrogates, the Houthis, succeeded in creating a parallel army in the shape of Ansar Allah but failed to fully clip the wings of the regular army. The Houthis also reduced President Ali Abdullah Saleh to a shadow of his past but could not fully get rid of him. On top of that the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention has dealt a decisive blow to Tehran’s hope of doing a second Lebanon in Yemen.
In the case of Qatar and Oman, Tehran used Finlandization, allowing them to enjoy tranquility in exchange for splitting the Arab ranks and toeing the mullahs’ line on key issues.
When Muhammad Morsi took over as Egypt’s elected president, Tehran tried to sell its scenario in Cairo as well.
Former Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Velayati was sent to Egypt with a letter from ‘Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei. In it Khamenei called on Morsi to disband the Egyptian army and create a parallel military force to “guard the revolution”. The proposed scheme was never applied either because, as Velayati and Khamenei claim, Morsi rejected it or the Egyptian army pre-empted it by deposing Morsi.
Hariri’s resignation may be a sign that the Arabs are no longer prepared to grin and bear it as Tehran dismantles their state structures by creating doubles to their armies and transforming their governments into puppets with their strings pulled from the Iranian Embassy.
Tehran’s scheme for dominating the Arab states may have reached its limits; the rapid advance of the mullahs may now be followed with a roll-back. And that could mean the return of political frontiers and loyalties based on citizenship not religious sect.

Name: "Sword of Islam"? Let Him In!
Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/November 11/17
Even the craziest immigration systems dreamed up by European officials have not yet come up with something like America's "diversity visa" lottery, by which someone named "Sword of Islam" is promptly let into the country -- only then to mow people down in a New York bicycle lane.
Nearly 56,000 foreign nationals have disappeared from the radar of the British authorities after being told that they were required to leave the country.
Instead of looking warm and big-hearted, you begin to look as if you were just unforgivably lax with the security of your own citizens. So an entire political class has been.
It is only eight weeks since an 18-year old Iraqi-born man walked onto the London Underground and left a bomb on the District line. Fortunately for the rush-hour commuters and school children on that train, the detonating device went off without managing to set off the bomb itself. Had the device worked, the many passengers who suffered life-changing burns would instead have been among many other people taken away in body bags. Ahmed Hassan came to the UK illegally in 2015 and was subsequently provided with foster care by the British government. He has now been charged, and is awaiting trial, for causing an explosion and attempted murder.
As stories like that of Mr. Hassan emerge, there are varying reactions. Some people say that this act is not indicative of anything, and that we must accept that such things happen -- like the weather. Others suggest that anyone might leave a bomb on the District line in the morning, and that there is no more reason to alter your border policy because of it than there is to alter your meteorological policy because of it.
As poll after poll shows, however, the majority of the public in Britain -- as in every other European country -- think something else. They think that a country that has lost a grip on its immigration policy is very likely to lose control of its security policy, and that one may indeed follow the other.
So the British public were not at all reassured by the news this month that the country's Home Office has lost track of tens of thousands of foreign nationals who were due to be removed from the country. Nor that there is no evidence of any effort to find the people in question.
Figures revealed in two new reviews by the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration showed that nearly 56,000 foreign nationals have disappeared from the radar of the British authorities after being told that they were required to leave the country. This figure includes over 700 foreign national offenders (FNOs) who went missing after being released into the community from prison. It also revealed that around 80,000 foreign nationals are required to check in on a regular basis at police stations and immigration centres while authorities prepare for them to leave the country. By the end of 2016, just under 56,000 of them had failed to keep appointments and had become persons "whose whereabouts are unknown and all mandatory procedures to re-establish contact with the migrant have failed."
Nevertheless, with a straight face, Brandon Lewis, the immigration minister for the present Conservative government, declared that "People who have no right to live in this country should be in no doubt of our determination to remove them." Yet he still admitted that "Elements of these reports make for difficult reading."
For the British public, they will also make difficult living. We all have to live with the consequences of an immigration system which has been more than usually unfit for purpose since the Labour government of 1997. It is just the British version of a story that is playing all across Western Europe. Across the Western half of the continent, all governments have allowed immigration policy to slide for more than a generation. Having become lax about policing the borders, they have become lax about returning people who have no right to be inside those borders. And having become lax about returning people who should not be in the country, they end up putting at peril the citizens of the country.
When the post-1997 Labour government first decided that the return of people in the UK illegally was not an important priority, they did so in part because the then-immigration minister decided that it was too traumatic for everyone involved: traumatic for the illegal migrant and for the UK border officials who had to remove them. In just such a way, by thousands of small cuts, does a nation's territorial integrity and future security become shattered.
Although a person's name may be nothing more than an inauspicious start -- its owner, after all, did not choose it -- even the craziest immigration systems dreamed up by European officials have not yet come up with something like America's "diversity visa" lottery, by which someone pronounces themselves to be called "Sword of Islam" [terrorist Sayfullo Saipov] and is promptly let into the country -- only then to mow people down in a New York bicycle lane. But we are all suffering from variants of the same mania.
Nevertheless, even the most seriously ingrained manias can be snapped out of. In Britain, as in the rest of Western Europe and North America, there is only thought to be a political price to pay for being tough on immigration. For the time being, only people who believe in enforcing the law look heartless. Only those who insist on following -- or even tightening -- due process look like the ones who have done a wicked thing.
But as the events on the Underground in London in September presage, all of this can change in a few instants. A few more bombs left by a few more illegal immigrants, or a few more trucks driven along a few more bicycle lanes -- let alone by illegal immigrants who have overstayed and not been deported -- and the whole thing can change. At that point, instead of looking warm and big-hearted, you begin to look as if you were just unforgivably lax with the security of your own citizens. So an entire political class has been. But it may take a lot of bloodshed yet for them to learn that there are not just political benefits to be accrued from such laxness, but one day a political price to pay.
**Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
© 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.

Fundamental Saudi shifts and the change coming to the Middle East
Raghida Dergham/November 11/17
What will happen now that the strategy of US President Donald Trump on Iran and its proxies has finally converged with Saudi strategy, which has decided that Lebanon’s Hezbollah is the ‘head of the snake’ in Tehran’s expansionism in the Arab world, from Iraq to Yemen via Syria and Bahrain?
The obvious questions include whether the convergence consist exclusively political orientations, or whether there is a plan with mechanisms and instruments, distribution of roles, and assignment of responsibilities, be they political, economic, or otherwise. The questions include also Russia’s role in this context, and to what extent Europe can exclude itself as it adapts to the new US policy that radically depart from those of the Obama administration, Europe’s partner in accommodating the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The best-case scenario being circulated envisions that a grand bargain between the key regional and international players is in the preparation stage, based on preempting any devastating regional war through accords that include Iran, the Saudi-led Sunni bloc, and Israel. Those dreaming of this outcome are many. They have crossed the traditional barriers that have placed the “Palestinian cause” as an excuse for preventing any peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, and they are sick of sectarian wars that have ravaged the region and shattered the hopes and dreams of ordinary Iranians and Arabs.
By contrast, there are two other camps, which can be said to be comprised of realists: One argues that the grand bargain requires a grand war. They say that there is no room for normalization of relations without such wars. What is clear, however, is that all players in the region want to keep these wars away from their own home soils. Iran is not fighting on its territories, nor is Israel. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are building for the future and want to firmly keep all battles away from their lands. This means then that the battlefield will be in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon – and perhaps Lebanon is the only place where Israel could become directly involved.
The other camp argues that Iran is not about to go to war with Iran even through Hezbollah, because the historical truce-like relationship between the Persians and the Jews would not collapse just because of a convergence between Washington and Riyadh at this moment in history. Accordingly, the Trump administration would have no choice but to consent to the project for a ‘Persian Crescent’, developed with the consent of both the US and Israeli establishments a long time ago.
A key question vis-à-vis all these scenarios is: Where does the US really stand? What is the margin of trust in the administration and its ability to deliver on its promises and threats? Furthermore, where does Israel stand in the same balance of war and peace?
According to a source close to the White House, Donald Trump learned a valuable lesson from Iraq, namely that the US must not be in the front row of the region’s wars. The source said the US would support but not lead, instead placing the burden and the responsibility on the Sunni bloc to fight terrorism. The US would back the US in its fight against terrorism and in its quest to modernize, reform, and purge itself of corruption, the source added, “but the US will not be in the front row.”
The source explained that US strategy vis-à-vis Iran, the Revolutionary Guards, and Hezbollah is “economic isolation”. Washington is determined to pressure the Europeans into ending their economic dealings with Iran, or else force their companies to pay a price, the source said.
With regard to the IRGC and Hezbollah, the US strategy goes beyond economic isolation and sanctions. The ultimate goal, according to the source, is to dismantle the Iranian model of creating a dual structure shared by regular armies and paramilitaries along the lines of the IRGC and Hezbollah, and to a lesser degree, the Popular Mobilization forces in Iraq.
The source says the Trump administration has a strategy for confrontation, but it is not based on war as a first choice, but on economic and political pushback against Iran, through the designation of the IRGC and Hezbollah in parallel with a campaign to enlist European powers led by Germany, and by “providing support for all that Saudi Arabia sets out to do at this juncture”.
The US source stressed that Saudi Arabia is not alone, but is backed by a Sunni alliance consisting of the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan. The US is “quietly coordinating” with these countries on more than one level.
However, Egypt has made it clear in the words of its President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that it does not intend to take action against Hezbollah. Sisi’s positions are reminiscent of Egypt’s stance regarding the Arab Coalition’s intervention in Yemen, when it poured cold water on expectations it would join the intervention. Egypt here is singing a different tune from the US-GCC camp, which believes the time has come to stand up to Iran and Hezbollah, according to the US official, though not militarily at the time being. After his remarks on Hezbollah, however, Sisi was keen to mend the damage his statements caused to relations with the Saudis and Emiratis, proclaiming that the security of the Gulf was a “red line” and that Egypt was opposed to Iranian meddling.
Now Israel – is it willing and prepared to deal a military blow to Hezbollah? One Hezbollah leader has been quoted as saying that if the Saudis are betting on war between Israel and Hezbollah, then they will be disappointed. According to all indications, neither Hezbollah is prepared to use its ‘resistance’ arms against Israel, nor is Israel currently prepared for war with Hezbollah, as long as it is getting everything it wants in Syria’s Golan thanks to Russia, and as long as resolution 1701 continues to rein in Hebzollah with its consent. The matter of Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal is on hold until further notice, it seems, pending the progression of the Iranian-Israel dynamic towards either containment or confrontation.
Israel is not in a hurry to substitute the historical truce between Jews and (Shia Muslim) Persians with an accord with Sunni Arabs, who it has always seen as the enemy seeking to restore Palestine. Otherwise, it does not mind peace and normalization with the Sunni bloc as long as no concessions in Palestine are asked of it as a price. In reality, however, non-peace is convenient for Israel, which can continue to claim it is in danger of war to garner international sympathy. Israel may therefore not be in a hurry to make peace with the Sunni bloc nor to build an alliance with the Sunnis against Iran or Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The US strategy to confront Iran and Hezbollah is not of a military nature, as long as Israel is not a player. So far, the US strategy is confined to sanctions and isolation, and pressure on the Europeans to isolate Iran in parallel with upgrading ties with Saudi Arabia from resentment to a full alliance.
The litmus test for the US-Iranian/Hezbollah dynamic is not Lebanon, but remains Syria and Iraq. In these two countries, the Trump administration can do a lot to rein in Iran’s gains on the ground, and prevent Iran and its allies from holding on to the arc or crescent cutting through the territories recaptured from ISIS creating a corridor that links up to the Holy Land, perhaps part of that truce-like dynamic with Israel.
The Trump administration believes embargoing Hezbollah in Lebanon is an easier task than retaking the Syrian-Iraqi corridor from Iran. The administration believes this approach could succeed and could be taken up by the Europeans, bearing in mind the Russians would veto any such bid at the Security Council level.
Washington agrees with its allies in the Gulf that Hezbollah has become an enemy, waging direct war on their interests. Washington supports any measures by the Gulf countries against Hezbollah, believing the Saudi escalation together with the US measures are enough to send a message to both Iran and Hezbollah that the status quo needs to change, now through ‘civilian’ measures but if not, then later through ‘non-civilian’ ones.
The problem here is one of confidence in US promises and even strategy that many in the Arab region and the Middle East have today. What’s new in the equation, however, is not the vacillating and furtive US policy, but the new direction in Saudi Arabia.
Among the key challenges the new Saudi Arabia faces, besides its domestic purge of corruption and complacent attitudes, is how to forge relations with the peoples of Arab countries that have become an arena for Iranian wars with Saudi Arabia, led by Yemen and Lebanon, at a time when the outcome in Syria and Iraq so far favors Iran.
In other words, the new language adopted by Saudi Arabia must take into account its reception among the peoples of Lebanon and Yemen, and elsewhere. Yemen is different from Lebanon given the direct implications for Saudi national security, where Iran is working together with the Houthi rebels to create a forward base for the destabilization of the kingdom. Riyadh has a right to defend its national security, particularly after the launch of Iranian-made ballistic missiles towards the Saudi capital from Yemeni territory. However, the people of Yemen remain the most important element to win the war in their country. This requires a new language, the kind of language Saudi Arabia uses to characterize its own future, and must be extended to Yemen’s human infrastructure with respect and boldness.
In Lebanon, Saudi Arabia must evaluate the effect of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s resignation announced from Riyadh, instead of downplaying the implications. All of Lebanon has felt insulted including those who fully understand it is not logical or reasonable for the kingdom to continue to bless a government coalition that brings together its Lebanese ally with its enemy, who is implicated in the war on its border.
The bombshell resignation from the Saudi capital, together with reports or rumors that Hariri is under house arrest, has rallied the Lebanese emotionally against the kingdom, and made them ‘appreciate’ the ‘reassuring’ positions of Hezbollah’s chief Nasrallah. Even if this is all temporary, Saudi Arabia must be aware of Lebanon’s patriotic sensitivities – even though the Lebanese continue to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to the impossible contradiction between Hezbollah in government and Hezbollah the paramilitary organization fighting Saudi Arabia on behalf of Iran.
Saudi Arabia has adopted historical shifts and developed a new foreign policy based on Iran not Israel being the threat to its national security, without hiding or denying this implication. Perhaps clarifying the seriousness of the partnership between the Trump administration and the Saudi-led Sunni bloc, and their determination to stand up to Iran through real action against the IRGC and Hezbollah, will prompt Tehran to revise its course. Tehran may understand that the truce-like dynamic with Israel is not permanent, and that its interests amid all this lies in a radical reversal of its bid to export its Islamic revolutionary and republican model. But then it may do the opposite and double down, believing that its Russian ally will remain faithful, and that its gains and investments in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon are worth the risk.
In conclusion, there can be no return to the status quo after all these earthquakes. Some kind of change is coming to the Middle East, either under this or other scenarios, be they peaceful or otherwise, before a grand bargain matures.