November 15/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other
Saint Luke 16/13-17: "No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him.So he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God. ‘The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 14-15/17
First Church to open in Saudi Arabia/Walid Phares/Face Book/November 14/17
Der Spiegel suggests a disturbing scenario/Roger Bejjani/Face Book/November 14/17
The Reasons for the Resignation Were Not Political/Ahmad El-Assaad/November 14/17
A Look at Hizbullah's Sources of Power and Regional Role/Associated Press/Naharnet/November 14/17/
Lebanon's Fall Would Be Iran's Gain/John R. Bolton//Gatestone Institute/November 14/17
Lebanon’s Sunni community 'shocked' by Hariri’s resignation/Sunniva Rose/Al Monitor/November 14/17
The Real Victims of "Islamophobia"/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 14/17
Putin's Trolling of the West Is Not Just a Tactic/Leonid Bershidsky/Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17
Media Ownership Rules Must Adjust to the Digital Era/Ajit Pai/The New York Times/November 14/17
African Economic Growth Rides on Wireless Rails/Matthew Winkler/Bloomberg /November 14/17
America Is Importing Corruption. Here’s How to Stop It./Casey Michel/The Washington Post/November 14/17
The Clash of Social Visions/David Brooks/The New York Times/November 14/17
Trump, Iran, and a Fast-Changing Middle East/Daniel Pipes/L'Informale (Italy) /November 14/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 14-15/17
Der Spiegel suggests a disturbing scenario
First Church to open in Saudi Arabia
Saudi King Salman Receives Lebanese Patriarch Rahi
Al-Rahi Meets Saudi Leaders and Hariri in Riyadh
Bassil Begins Europe Tour, Says Lebanon Won't Discuss Any File before PM Return
Hariri Hits Back after Velayati Remarks on Their Meeting
Hariri Says 'Doing Very Well', Will Return within Days
Merkel Tells Aoun Berlin Exerting Efforts to Resolve Lebanon Crisis
Saudi Embassy in Beirut Reportedly Receives Kidnap Threats
France Says Hariri Should be Free to Go Home
Mustaqbal Says 'Priority' is Hariri's Return, Urges No Interference in Arab Nations
The Reasons for the Resignation Were Not Political
Macron to Meet UN Chief to Discuss Lebanese Crisis
Hariri’s Return Might Open Door to Discussing Expansion of 'Hezbollah’s' Weapons
Growing Fears on Assassinations Making a Return in Lebanon
Lebanon president lauds PM's pledge to return home 'soon'
Kuwait tells Aoun it supports Lebanese sovereignty
A Look at Hizbullah's Sources of Power and Regional Role
Lebanon's Fall Would Be Iran's Gain
Lebanon’s Sunni community 'shocked' by Hariri’s resignation

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 14-15/17
Egypt's Foreign Minister Concludes Gulf Tour
Erdogan Demands Russia, US to Withdraw their Forces from Syria
Bahraini Cabinet: Pipeline Terror Attack Is Dangerous Escalation
Iraq's Kurdistan to Respect Court Ruling Banning Secession
Several Killed, Wounded in Suicide Attack in Yemen’s Aden
Anbar Tribes Seek Vengeance against Iraqi ISIS Members
Israeli Forces Arrest Jihad Top Commander
Palestinian Foreign Ministry Holds UNSC Responsible for Silence over Ethnic Cleansing Operations
Death Toll in Air Strikes on Syria’s Atareb Rises to 61
Saudi Arabia: Hosting of Syrian Opposition Meeting Aimed at Achieving Peace
U.S. Says Won't Walk Away from Syria War until Talks Progress
Trump Hails Asian Tour, but Ends It Abruptly

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 14-15/17
Der Spiegel suggests a disturbing scenario
Roger Bejjani/Face Book/November 14/17
I have no doubt that Saad Hariri is profoundly a very good person who wants good for Lebanon and Lebanese.
When still a rookie in politics he was dragged to the sin sin and was compelled by the Saudis to a humiliating visit to Bachar.
Things have changed since, especially after the Iranian attempt to control Bab el Mandeb.
Unfortunately Saad overstretched himself between Saudi Arabia, a genuine and crucial support to Lebanon, and Hezbollah. In other words he did put himself in an untenable position.
With the Iranian threat becoming pressing, playing neutral was not an option anymore for KSA.
An article imputed to Der Spiegel suggests a disturbing scenario that sounds consistent and credible. If it is à Der Spiegel article (controlling it), its credibility will be difficult to challenge.
The logical conclusion to the Saad/KSA recent saga will most probably consist of the following:
1. Saad will officially resign in Lebanon.
2. Saad will be naming most probably Siniora as PM.
3. Baha'a joining later is a possibility as the charismatic Hariri name.
4. Rifi will be joining Mustaqbal, while Machnouk and few others will be put aside.
5. Saad will probably retire from politics and will select to reside in France.

First Church to open in Saudi Arabia
Walid  Phares/Face Book/November 14/17
First Church to open in Saudi Arabia, a gift to Maronite Patriarch
According to a report from Saudi Arabia, to be officially confirmed, a 900 years old church unearthed recently, will be renovated and opened in honor of Maronite Patriarch Rai who is visiting the Kingdom. If confirmed, this move by Prince Mohamed Bin Salman would create a historic precedent. The cascade of reforms taking place in the Kingdom is yielding domestic changes. But the opening of a historic church will be an unparalleled benchmark

Saudi King Salman Receives Lebanese Patriarch Rahi
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received Tuesday at Al-Yamamah palace Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al-Rahi, in an historic visit to the Muslim kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The landmark meeting tackled fraternal relations between the Kingdom and Lebanon and confirmed the importance of the role of different religions and cultures in promoting tolerance, renouncing violence, extremism and terrorism and achieving security and peace for the peoples of the region and the world.
The reception was attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Interior; Minister of State and Cabinet Member Dr. Musa ed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban; Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs Thamer bin Sabhan Al-Sabhan.
Rahi began his visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday, being the second Christian patriarch to visit the Kingdom, after another such trip in 1975.  Rahi also met during his visit with Saad al-Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon's prime minister from Riyadh on Nov. 4.
Hariri announced his resignation in a television broadcast, saying he believed there was an assassination plot against him and accusing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Al-Rahi Meets Saudi Leaders and Hariri in Riyadh
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 14/17/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi held separate talks Tuesday in in Riyadh with Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Saad Hariri as part of a historic visit to the kingdom. The visit comes amid tensions between the two countries after Hariri's shock resignation. The patriarch and the king "reviewed fraternal relations between the kingdom and Lebanon and confirmed the importance of the role of different religions and cultures in promoting tolerance, renouncing violence, extremism and terrorism," the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.Al-Rahi later met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri. Hariri's Future TV said the Rahi-Hariri meeting was "excellent" and that it tackled "the latest local developments." LBCI television said Hariri did not inform al-Rahi of a date for his return to Lebanon. The TV network however reported that Hariri is expected to return to Lebanon this week or at the beginning of next week. Hariri stepped down during a televised address on November 4 from Riyadh, where he is rumored to be under de facto house arrest, despite his insistence that he was "free."Al-Rahi's trip symbolizes a rare inter-religious exchange in the ultra-conservative kingdom, which is home to the holiest sights in Islam. "Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's... visit stresses the kingdom's approach for peaceful coexistence, closeness and openness for all sections of Arabic people," Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said on Twitter. Upon his arrival, the patriarch met with members of the Lebanese community. "We will maintain a strong friendship between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon," he said. "This is our history even if we have had stormy relations sometimes. (There) is a history of friendship with this dear kingdom."Hariri's resignation, which has thrown Lebanon into crisis, came against the backdrop of mounting tensions between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, which back opposing sides in power struggles in hotspots such as Syria and Yemen. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said France was "worried by the situation in Lebanon" and wanted to see the government there "stabilize as quickly as possible." He is set to visit the Saudi capital on Thursday. France joined Germany and the European Union on Monday in calling for an end to external interference in Lebanon.

Bassil Begins Europe Tour, Says Lebanon Won't Discuss Any File before PM Return
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 14/17/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has flown to Brussels on the first leg of a European tour that aims to rally support for Lebanon's stability following Prime Minister Saad Hariri's contentious resignation from Saudi Arabia. “Lebanon is still addressing the problem with Saudi Arabia within the framework of brotherly bilateral ties and the tour is to urge the kingdom to realize that what's happening is unacceptable,” Bassil said after arriving in Brussels. “Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation did not meet the legal requirements... and we will not discuss any issue until Hariri returns” from Saudi Arabia, Bassil added. He warned that “threats of governmental and political vacuum and sanctions against Lebanon will not only affect the Lebanese but also two million refugees and displaced people, who will become a problem for Lebanon's neighbors and Europe.”As for the Arab League's upcoming meeting in Cairo, Bassil said “Lebanese authorities will take a stance ahead of the meeting in light of (this week's) developments.” The meeting of the Arab foreign ministers will be held Sunday in Cairo. Bassil later held talks in Brussels with EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini. According to Lebanon's National News Agency, Mogherini stressed the European Union's support for Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity, emphasizing that no foreign state should interfere in its domestic affairs. Mogherini also underscored the need for the return of Hariri and his family to Lebanon in the coming days in order to fortify internal stability and national unity in Lebanon, NNA said. A statement from Mogherini's office said "close contacts will continue also with prime minister Hariri, through the EU’s diplomatic channels: High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini expects him and his family to return to Lebanon in the coming days."President Aoun has refused to accept Hariri's Nov. 4 resignation, which came abruptly and under mysterious circumstances from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, until Hariri returns to the country. Lebanese officials have insisted the resignation was forced by Hariri's Saudi patrons and that he is being kept in the kingdom against his will. Hariri said Tuesday that he'll return to Lebanon within days.Bassil will visit Paris after his talks in Brussels. The visit aims to rally diplomatic support and explain Lebanon's predicament following Hariri's move.

Hariri Hits Back after Velayati Remarks on Their Meeting
Naharnet/November 14/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri snapped back Tuesday at a senior Iranian official over remarks about their recent meeting in Beirut. “Hariri's latest statements were Saudi diktats,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, chief foreign policy adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei, referring to Hariri's TV interview on Sunday. “Hariri did not at all say during our latest meeting that Iran should not interfere in Lebanon's affairs,” Velayati added. “Hariri did not talk about Iranian interference in Lebanon's affairs... and our talks were neither bitter nor characterized by threats and confrontation. His remarks (on Sunday) were dictated by the Saudis, who are not ready to allow Lebanon to enjoy security and stability or to witness friendship between the Iranian and Lebanese peoples,” the Iranian official added.“We did not threaten Hariri and we rather discussed the current issues in the region. He somehow wanted to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia and we said that we do not have a problem with Saudi Arabia,” Velayati said. “We said that the Saudis' bombardment of Yemen for more than two years, besieging it and causing 700,000 cholera infections are issues that have nothing to do with politics. We said that they should negotiate with the Yemenis over this humanitarian issues,” Velayati added. Hariri issued a swift response to the Iranian official's remarks. “Prime Minister Hariri did not offer to mediate between any country and another. He rather expressed to Velayati his point of view, which is the need to stop Iran’s intervention in Yemen as a first step and a precondition to any improvement of the relations between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Hariri's press office said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Premier Hariri reiterated insistently that this is his personal point of view,” it added. “When Velayati replied that he sees dialogue on the Yemeni crisis as a good starting point for dialogue between Iran and the kingdom, Prime Minister Hariri answered him: 'No, Yemen comes before dialogue. I think that solving the problem in Yemen is the only way to start any dialogue between you and the kingdom,'” Hariri's office said.
In his first TV interview since he announced his surprise resignation on November 4 from Riyadh, Hariri said Sunday he will return to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia "within days" to seek a settlement with President Michel Aoun and Iran-backed Hizbullah. Hariri repeated several times that he resigned to create a "positive shock" and draw attention to the danger of siding with Iran in regional conflicts. Hariri sounded less belligerent in Sunday's interview than he did during the resignation announcement. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon since Hariri read his televised resignation in which he accused Iran of meddling in Lebanon in a vicious tirade that was uncharacteristic of the usually soft-spoken premier.

Hariri Says 'Doing Very Well', Will Return within Days
Naharnet/November 14/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced Tuesday that he is “doing very well” and that he will return from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon within days. “Folks, I'm doing very well, and God willing I will return within days, so let's be patient,” Hariri tweeted in Lebanese dialect, in his first tweet since November 6. “My family are in their home in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the kingdom of goodness,” Hariri added. It was not immediately clear if Hariri was responding to remarks voiced earlier in the day by EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini. According to Lebanon's National News Agency, Mogherini said during a meeting with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil in Brussels that there is a need for the return of “Hariri and his family” to Lebanon in the coming days in order to fortify internal stability and national unity in Lebanon. In his first TV interview since he announced a surprise resignation from Riyadh on November 4, Hariri said Sunday he will return to Lebanon to seek a new settlement with President Michel Aoun and Iran-backed Hizbullah. Hariri, looking downcast and tired, denied he was being held against his will in the kingdom and said he was compelled to resign to save Lebanon from imminent dangers, which he didn't specify. He held back tears at one point and repeated several times that he resigned to create a "positive shock" and draw attention to the danger of siding with Iran in regional conflicts. Hariri sounded less belligerent in Sunday's interview than he did during the resignation announcement. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon since Hariri read his televised resignation from Saudi Arabia in which he accused Iran of meddling in Lebanon in a vicious tirade that was uncharacteristic of the usually soft-spoken premier. Aoun and other Lebanese officials have refused to accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to the country. Lebanese officials have insisted the resignation was forced by Hariri's Saudi patrons and that he is being kept in the kingdom against his will. Hariri denied this on Sunday, stressing that he is “free.”

Merkel Tells Aoun Berlin Exerting Efforts to Resolve Lebanon Crisis
Naharnet/November 14/17/German Chancellor Angela Merkel held phone talks Tuesday with President Michel Aoun, reassuring him that her country is exerting efforts to resolve the crisis sparked by Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation, the Lebanese Presidency said. Merkel told Aoun that she is following up on the developments in Lebanon, lauding “the role that President Aoun is playing to find a solution to this situation,” the Presidency added. The German leader also stressed Berlin's “support for Lebanon,” noting that Germany is “carrying out contacts with the European nations to resolve this crisis out of keenness on Lebanon's sovereignty and independence and rejection of interference in its internal affairs.”Hariri announced Tuesday that he will return to Lebanon within days. In his first TV interview since his shock resignation, the premier announced Sunday from the Saudi capital that he will return to Lebanon to seek a settlement with Aoun and Iran-backed Hizbullah. Hariri repeated several times that he resigned to create a "positive shock" and draw attention to the danger of siding with Iran in regional conflicts. Hariri sounded less belligerent in Sunday's interview than he did during the resignation announcement. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon since Hariri read his televised resignation in which he accused Iran of meddling in Lebanon in a vicious tirade that was uncharacteristic of the usually soft-spoken premier.

Saudi Embassy in Beirut Reportedly Receives Kidnap Threats
Naharnet/November 14/17/The Saudi Embassy in Beirut has received threats that an unknown group will kidnap 15 Saudi citizens in Lebanon, media reports published Tuesday said.
“The embassy received three phone calls in which unknown individuals calling themselves 'Mulathamoun' (Masked) threatened to abduct fifteen Saudi citizens in Lebanon,” London-based Saudi daily al-Hayat reported. An embassy official told al-Hayat that “the embassy immediately informed the competent security authorities” and that “efforts are underway to verify whether the threat is linked to the group that had abducted Saudi citizen Ali al-Bashrawi on Friday.”The abductors had demanded a $1.5 million ransom to release the man.“The embassy in Beirut is also checking whether any of the Saudi citizens who might have remained in Lebanon has been kidnapped,” the embassy official added, noting that the embassy “is dealing seriously with the threats because it is not possible to downplay any threatening phone call amid these critical and delicate situations.”Saudi charge d'affaires in Beirut Walid al-Bukhari meanwhile denied to al-Hayat the presence of any threat against the embassy's diplomats. He categorically denied the kidnap of “any diplomat or embassy official.”Al-Bashrawi had been kidnapped Friday in the Keserwan region. “After dropping his wife off at their house in Adma on Thursday evening, Saudi citizen Ali Abdul Nabi al-Bashrawi parked his Saudi-plate, white BMW at the Tabarja roundabout before being kidnapped at the hands of unknown individuals from a nearby area,” LBCI television reported. The TV network said Bashrawi, 34, “belongs to the Shiite sect and is married to a Syrian woman.”“He called his wife on Friday, saying that the captors are demanding $1.5 million in return for goods that he had bought from them,” LBCI added. 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. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq has issued a statement saying “the safety and security of resident and visiting Saudi citizens, as well as all Arab and foreign residents, is a priority for all Lebanese authorities.”

France Says Hariri Should be Free to Go Home
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 14/17/French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Tuesday that Prime Minister Saad Hariri must be able to return to Lebanon from Saudi Arabia to end uncertainty caused by his shock resignation. "What's at stake is Mr. Hariri being able to return home freely to clarify his situation in line with the Lebanese constitution," Philippe told French parliament, saying his resignation, announced in Saudi Arabia, had caused "a period of uncertainty." Hariri tweeted earlier on Tuesday that he is “doing very well” and that he will return from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon within days. In his first TV interview since he announced a surprise resignation from Riyadh on November 4, Hariri said Sunday he will return to Lebanon to seek a new settlement with President Michel Aoun and Iran-backed Hizbullah. Hariri, looking downcast and tired, denied he was being held against his will in the kingdom and said he was compelled to resign to save Lebanon from imminent dangers, which he didn't specify.He held back tears at one point and repeated several times that he resigned to create a "positive shock" and draw attention to the danger of siding with Iran in regional conflicts. Hariri sounded less belligerent in Sunday's interview than he did during the resignation announcement. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon since Hariri read his televised resignation from Saudi Arabia in which he accused Iran of meddling in Lebanon in a vicious tirade that was uncharacteristic of the usually soft-spoken premier. Aoun and other Lebanese officials have refused to accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to the country. Lebanese officials have insisted the resignation was forced by Hariri's Saudi patrons and that he is being kept in the kingdom against his will. Hariri denied this on Sunday, stressing that he is “free.”

Mustaqbal Says 'Priority' is Hariri's Return, Urges No Interference in Arab Nations
Naharnet/November 14/17/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc stressed Tuesday that its “priority” is the return of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Lebanon, as it urged an end to “interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.”“The priority in the bloc's discussions and meetings is the return of PM Saad Hariri to Lebanon,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting. “The bloc and the Lebanese people are waiting for him to contribute to regularizing things in Lebanon and restoring balance at the internal and external levels, and so that he can achieve a new beginning towards promising horizons that achieve the interest of all Lebanese,” Mustaqbal added. Moreover, the bloc underlined “the importance of restoring consideration and respect for the Constitution, the Taef Accord and the ministerial Policy Statement that stipulated dissociating Lebanon from the region's conflicts and which also calls for refraining from interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.” Mustaqbal also emphasized that the Lebanese state “should extend its authority over its entire territory,” underscoring the need to “abide by U.N. resolutions, topped by Resolution 1701, whose all stipulations should be implemented.”
“The state and its legitimate security forces should have the exclusive authority and right to protect the Lebanese and preserve their security and safety,” the bloc added. Hariri tweeted earlier on Tuesday that he is “doing very well” and that he will return from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon within days.
In his first TV interview since he announced a surprise resignation from Riyadh on November 4, Hariri said Sunday he will return to Lebanon to seek a new settlement with President Michel Aoun and Iran-backed Hizbullah. Hariri, looking downcast and tired, denied he was being held against his will in the kingdom and said he was compelled to resign to save Lebanon from imminent dangers, which he didn't specify. He held back tears at one point and repeated several times that he resigned to create a "positive shock" and draw attention to the danger of siding with Iran in regional conflicts. Hariri sounded less belligerent in Sunday's interview than he did during the resignation announcement. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon since Hariri read his televised resignation from Saudi Arabia in which he accused Iran of meddling in Lebanon in a vicious tirade that was uncharacteristic of the usually soft-spoken premier.
Aoun and other Lebanese officials have refused to accept Hariri's resignation until he returns to the country. Lebanese officials have insisted the resignation was forced by Hariri's Saudi patrons and that he is being kept in the kingdom against his will. Hariri denied this on Sunday, stressing that he is “free.”

The Reasons for the Resignation Were Not Political
Ahmad El-Assaad November 10, 2017/
There is no doubt that the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri came as a shock to the Lebanese people, and the world, since no one had expected it. Some have even linked it to an imminent war between Hezbollah and Israel. In any case, the picture is still unclear, and quite mysterious. All we are getting, day after day, are bits and pieces of the bigger picture – but the canvas is still far from being complete. Although we would prefer to wait until the facts become clearer before we give our opinion regarding the abrupt resignation; all we could say for the moment, however, is that this resignation has absolutely nothing to do with the reasons provided by PM Hariri in his press conference in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. What is clear to everyone is that there are no factors that have forced PM Hariri say what he said in that press conference, and those factors are the furthest possible from the motives he gave for his resignation. In political logic, no one is capable of changing their position by 180° overnight, regarding any given subject – unless some new data comes up. Such data is not present on the Lebanese political scene, and there were no developments that would push Hariri to change, so radically and so suddenly, his views on the so-called “settlement”. As a matter of fact, this “settlement” is nothing more than a continuation of a defeat that had started many years ago, and to a downward path drawn by repetitive concessions made. The performance of this Cabinet came to confirm that it falls in this very context, since it has accumulated, during one year, a series of practices that are harmful to the sovereignty of Lebanon and the notion of government in it. This took us back to a time prior to 2005, and contributed in freeing the Syrian regime from its isolation, bringing it back to political life in Lebanon – thus throwing Lebanon in the furnace of regional conflicts. Amidst this picture of defeatism, PM Hariri announced his resignation without any introductions, and despite the fact that nothing changed in the political scene. Therefore, it is clear that the political factors are not what’s behind his change of vision, but the reason is probably completely different – it might be personal, or some kind of pressure from the KSA. In any case, when all the facts become known and certain, the Lebanese people will be able to judge on what happened, and we will be able to give our definitive opinion.

Macron to Meet UN Chief to Discuss Lebanese Crisis
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/s in order to clarify the status of resigned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is residing in Saudi Arabia.To that end, President Emmanuel Macron held talks recently with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, in the Kingdom last week. He also met in the United Arab Emirates with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. The French leader is expected to continue these efforts on Lebanon by holding talks on Wednesday with United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the Bonn Climate Change Conference in Germany. Sources from the Elysee Palace refused to comment on what options are available to Marcon, adding however that they are banking on upcoming developments in wake of Hariri’s televised appearance on Sunday. The PM had declared that he has “freedom to move” and that he may return to Lebanon “in the next two days.”His remarks had eased the tensions in Lebanon and Paris believes that the UN is the natural arena to discuss the Lebanese file, continued the sources. Macron is scheduled on Tuesday to receive Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, who was dispatched by President Michel Aoun to address the Lebanese crisis in various world capitals. The Elysee sources stressed that Paris is most concerned with “preserving Lebanon’s stability, security and safety in an environment that is rife with great dangers.” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had expressed on Monday his country’s concern over the developments in Lebanon in wake of Hariri’s resignation over a week ago. He underlined Paris’ keenness on Lebanon’s stability and need to respect the constitution, as well as the importance of keeping it away from foreign meddling. Le Drian is set to visit the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday where he will address regional affairs, including Iran’s interference in Arab affairs.

Hariri’s Return Might Open Door to Discussing Expansion of 'Hezbollah’s' Weapons
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Comments delivered by Lebanese resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in an interview from Riyadh with his party’s Future TV on Sunday, were met in Beirut Monday with comfort in the Lebanese arena. Visitors of President Michel Aoun quoted him as saying that Hariri’s statements show that the political settlement still stands and that the issue of reconsidering the prime minister’s resignation is still within his probable options. Sources close to Aoun told Asharq Al-Awsat that the discussion of any settlement in Lebanon is “first linked to the return of Hariri.” The sources also asserted that prior to Hariri’s return to Beirut, “there is no place for any kind of discussions, neither a dialogue table nor other issues.”On Sunday, Hariri said he may rescind his resignation if Lebanon fully commits to the disassociation policy and if interferences in regional affairs stop. His comments open the doors to discussing a political deal that keeps Lebanon away from regional crises and places “Hezbollah’s” weapons on the table of an internal dialogue hosted by President Aoun. Member of the Future Movement parliamentary bloc MP Okab Sakr told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that contrary to what the situation was before, it is now impossible to coexist with the issue of weapons. “There is a message to Hezbollah stipulating that the party should stop meddling in the security of Arab states and that Hezbollah should explain to Iran that the party’s weapons used for threatening the Arab national security has an ended expiry date,” Sakr said. Meanwhile, Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai kicked off on Monday a historic visit to Riyadh. Rai is expected to meet with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. At King Salman Air Base, the patriarch was received by Minister of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Thamer Al-Sabhan, Lebanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Abdulsattar Issa, representative of the Royal Protocol and other senior, civil and military officials.

Growing Fears on Assassinations Making a Return in Lebanon
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/The chances of the wave of assassinations hitting Lebanon once again left politicians with ever-growing fear amidst a fragile security state in the Middle East republic. Despite security alertness and cooperation being raised to praiseworthy levels, the disrupted political reality weakens reassurances made by security bodies and the overwhelming support world states gave to ensure Lebanon’s stability. Local media reported that security forces have arrested on November 9 an Israeli spy in Sidon who admitted to being tasked with assassinating MP Bahia Hariri. It is worth noting that only a few days before making the arrest, security forces had announced thwarting an assassination attempt on November 5. On the other hand, Lebanon’s interior ministry refuted claims around making an arrest against a plotter tracking down Hariri’s convoy. Instead, the ministry said that circulating false news might give rise to unnecessary tensions that inch in the country closer to civilian strife. In a move to consolidate civil peace, the interior ministry addressed media outlets demanding that sources for published material be restricted to official statements issued by concerned authorities. Lebanese Future Movement politician and a former MP Mustapha Allouch believes that assassinations usually carried out in correlation to personal gains by conspirers. “Political strain and the current atmosphere do not indicate whether an assassination would serve the perpetrating party or not,” Allouch told Asharq Al Awsat. Allouch reaffirmed that no physical evidence or intelligence indicate to a threat of the sort for the time being. “We fear the return of assassinations but have no hard evidence or intelligence as to whether another wave will sweep over,” added Allouch. Security and military Sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Lebanese national army hand-in-hand with security divisions are working relentlessly to advance needed measures, regardless of how demanding they get. All of which falls under a full-fledged guarantee of fighting against any exploitation of current events to shake up national stability.

Lebanon president lauds PM's pledge to return home 'soon'
The Nation/November 14, 2017 /BEIRUT - Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday he was happy to hear resigned prime minister Saad Hariri would be returning to Beirut from Saudi Arabia "soon."
Hariri stepped down from his post during a televised address more than a week ago from Riyadh and has remained there, sparking rumours he was under de facto house arrest. But he pledged during a television interview on Sunday night that he would be home within days, a development welcomed by Aoun. "I was happy with Prime Minister Hariri's announcement that he would return to Lebanon soon," Aoun said on Twitter. "I am awaiting this return to discuss with the prime minister the issue of the resignation, the reasons for it and the circumstances, issues, and concerns that need to be resolved," he added in an emailed statement. Aoun had said on Sunday that Hariri appeared to be "restricted" in his movements and demanded Riyadh clarify why he had not returned to Beirut. In Sunday's interview with his party's Future TV, Hariri, 47, said he was free to travel and would return to Lebanon in "two or three days".
"I will return to Lebanon very soon to initiate the necessary constitutional procedures," he said with reference to his resignation. Aoun has yet to formally accept the premier's resignation, and it remains unclear who could replace him. Lebanese fear that a new power vacuum in their country could put it in the crosshairs of rising regional tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. A fragile balance has ruled over Lebanon since a complex political deal a year ago brought Aoun to the presidency and Hariri to the premiership. "It will still be possible to save this political settlement if the government truly and practically commits to the disassociation policy," said Samir Geagea, a Christian ally of Hariri, on Monday. "Especially when it comes to Hezbollah's withdrawal from Syria and the crises of the region," Geagea wrote on Twitter. The "disassociation policy" refers to an agreement among political factions that Lebanon would not get involved in regional conflicts. Hariri has blasted Iran and its Shiite ally Hezbollah - an ally of Aoun and a member of the Lebanese government - for intervening militarily in Syria and Yemen.He met on Monday in Riyadh the German and British ambassadors to the kingdom. On Monday, the head of Lebanon 's minority Druze community Walid Jumblatt lauded Hariri as "a man of dialogue, a statesman". And France's Foreign Minister on Monday said his country was "worried by the situation in Lebanon " and wanted to see the government there "stabilise as quickly as possible".

Kuwait tells Aoun it supports Lebanese sovereignty
BEIRUT (Reuters)/November 14/17/ - Kuwait’s ambassador to Lebanon told President Michel Aoun the Gulf monarchy supports his efforts to overcome the “delicate situation” and stands by Lebanese sovereignty, Aoun said in a tweet on Tuesday.Lebanon’s Saudi-allied Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri declared his resignation on Nov. 4 in a broadcast from Riyadh, throwing Lebanon into political crisis. Saudi Arabia, an ally of Kuwait, has accused Lebanon of declaring war on it because of the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah, and has advised Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon.

A Look at Hizbullah's Sources of Power and Regional Role
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 14/17/
Hizbullah is at the center of the recent crisis that has gripped Lebanon and rattled a region already rife with conflict. When Saudi-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri declared his resignation in a surprise announcement from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, he blamed Hizbullah for imposing itself on the country and doing the bidding of its main backer, Iran, in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region. The one-time local Shiite guerrilla army that rallied Lebanon's Shiites and battled Israel — even earning admiration from the region's Sunnis — has turned into a powerful, well-armed group caught up in the Iran-Saudi rivalry that is shaping the Middle East. Saudi Arabia singled Hizbullah out, accusing it of declaring war on the kingdom, just as the U.S. ratcheted up its pressure on Iran and imposed new sanctions on Hizbullah, which it considers a "terrorist" group.
Here is a look at the 35-year old militant group, its sources of power and regional role.
Hizbullah was formed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 1982 to fight Israel's invasion of Beirut. Under the leadership of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who took over in 1992 after his predecessor, Abbas Moussawi, was killed in an Israeli airstrike, the group moved from seeking to implement an Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon to focusing on fighting Israel and integration into Lebanon's sectarian-based politics. Nasrallah, now 57, has played a key role in ending a feud among Shiites, focusing attention toward fighting Israel and later expanding the group's regional reach.
Hizbullah became the main resistance group opposing Israel and the buffer zone it established in southern Lebanon in 1985. In 1996, Israel launched an offensive to end the guerrilla attacks, striking Lebanese power stations and killing more than 100 Lebanese civilians sheltering in a U.N. base. A year later, 12 Israeli soldiers were killed in a commando raid in the south. Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 was hailed as a victory for Hizbullah. In the same year, Hizbullah captured three Israeli soldiers and a businessman in cross border raids, and later negotiated a swap in 2004, releasing hundreds of prisoners and fighters. Then in 2006, Hizbullah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, sparking a 34-day war that killed 159 Israelis and more than 1,000 Lebanese.
A U.N.-brokered cease-fire brought thousands of international peacekeeping troops to police the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Hizbullah's popularity at home didn't only stem from its opposition to Israel. With a weak Lebanese state, the Iranian-sponsored group, like most other sects, provided a vast array of social services for its supporters, through education, health and social networks. But as the militant group sought more executive and legislative powers following Israel's 2000 withdrawal, it worked to funnel some of its support through state institutions to reach the broader public. Another turning point came in 2008, when heavily armed Hizbullah fighters seized control of vast parts of Beirut, flexing its power domestically for the first time. The show of force followed attempts by Lebanon's Western-backed government to curb the militants' influence by dismantling its telecommunication network. Hizbullah has been the most powerful player in Lebanon's politics ever since. Saudi Arabia and Iran, which backed opposite sides inside Lebanon, ended a two-year deadlock over electing a president by tacitly approving a power-sharing deal that effectively enshrined Hizbullah's new powerful role. With that, Hariri, a Sunni, headed a unity government and Michel Aoun, a Hizbullah ally, became president.
Hizbullah sent its gunmen to fight alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2012, providing a significant boost to the overstretched military, and turning the tide of the war. It was also crucial to safeguarding the Shiite militant group's access to Syria, the land corridor through which it is believed to get its weapons from Iran. Citing estimates based on diplomatic reports and open-source data, Thanassis Cambanis, a fellow at the Century Foundation, said some 20,000 to 30,000 armed men, including 4,000 core fighters as well as local militiamen and tribesmen are under Hizbullah's command in the fighting in Syria and Lebanon. This war has allowed Hizbullah's fighters to improve their interoperability, working closely with the Russian military and other Iranian-backed militias from Iraq or Afghanistan. Hizbullah is also believed to have increased its military facilities in Syria's Qalamoun mountains and in the Golan Heights, as well as throughout Lebanon. It is believed to have built munitions factories there and Israeli officials estimate it has an arsenal of 150,000 missiles. "It has crossed a military threshold," Cambanis said. "Hizbullah today possesses a credible deterrent against pre-emptive war by its opponents."
Hizbullah backing for Yemen's Huthi rebels has been harder to prove, though the structure and rhetoric of the Shiite Yemeni group mirrors that of Hizbullah. Saudi Arabia accuses Hizbullah and Iran of providing the Huthis with training and financial support in the stalemated war that is causing a humanitarian disaster.
Saudi authorities said a recently intercepted missile near Riyadh airport, the longest-range yet used by the Huthis, had Iranian markings, confirmed by the Americans. In addition, small arms shipments allegedly from Iran were confiscated before reaching Yemen. And Saudi TV networks have aired what they say was evidence of Hizbullah fighters training the Huthis.

Lebanon's Fall Would Be Iran's Gain
John R. Bolton//Gatestone Institute/November 14/17
Almost unnoticed in the coverage of President Trump's Asia trip, Lebanon is slipping under Iran's control. On November 3, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, resigned, citing fears of assassination by Hezbollah, the Shia Muslim terrorist group funded and controlled by Iran. No one can say Hariri's fears are unjustified since his father, former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was murdered in 2005 — almost certainly at Syrian or Iranian direction.
While the full ramifications of Saad Hariri's resignation remain to be seen, Tehran's ayatollahs have now significantly extended their malign reach in the Middle East. This is bad for the people of Lebanon; bad for Israel, with which Lebanon shares a common border and a contentious history; bad for Arab states like Jordan and the oil-producing Arabian Peninsula monarchies; and bad for America and its vital national interests in this critical region.
Sadly, Iran's progress was foreseeable from the inception of Barack Obama's strategy of using Iraqi military forces and Shia militia units as critical elements in the campaign to eradicate the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The Baghdad government is effectively Iran's satellite. Accordingly, Obama's decision to provide that regime with military assistance and advice strengthened Iran's hand even further and materially contributed to its efforts to establish dominance in Iraq's Shia regions.
Moreover, Iran itself, supported by Russian forces in Syria, aided and directed the Bashar Assad regime in fighting against both ISIS and the Syrian opposition. Iran also ordered Hezbollah to deploy from Lebanon into Syria, thus effectively creating a Shia-dominated arc of control from Iran itself to the Mediterranean.
Apparently, neither the Pentagon, nor the State Department, nor the National Security Council advised the new Trump administration of the implications of facilitating Iran's Middle East grand strategy. Obama's approach is, ironically, easier to understand, given his determination to secure his "legacy" by conceding vital U.S. national interests to nail down the Iran nuclear deal. Seeing Iran enhance its hegemonic aspirations throughout the region was, in his view, just another small price to pay to grease the way for the nuclear deal. Trump's advisers have no such excuse.
Hariri's resignation shows the inevitable consequences of blindly following Obama's approach. Very little now stands in the way of Hezbollah's total domination of the Lebanese government, thereby posing an immediate threat to Israel. In recent years, Tehran continued supplying the Assad regime and Hezbollah with weapons systems dangerous to Israel. Even more Israeli self-defense strikes are now likely, as Iran's conventional threat on Israel's borders grows.
Nearby Arab states also see the potential dangers of an unbroken Shia military arc of control on their northern periphery. The Middle East thus faces an advancing Syria, backed by Iran's imminent nuclear-weapons capability, deliverable throughout the region — and likely able to reach America in short order.
The Trump administration cannot continue idly watching Iran advance without opposition. Washington and its regional allies need a comprehensive strategy to deal with Iran, not a series of ad hoc responses to regional developments. Time is fast running out.
**John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".
**This article first appeared in Pittsburgh Tribune Review and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Lebanon’s Sunni community 'shocked' by Hariri’s resignation
Sunniva Rose/Al Monitor/November 14/17
REUTERS/Hasan ShaabanLebanese former Prime Minister Saad Hariri addresses his supporters during the 11th anniversary of the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri, Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 14, 2016. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s surprise resignation Nov. 4 while in Saudi Arabia left Lebanon reeling in shock. The fact that Hariri has not yet returned has led Lebanese authorities to believe that he might be under house arrest. But in his much-awaited first interview since his resignation, Hariri said Nov. 12 that he is a free man and would return to Lebanon within days. He hinted at possibly rescinding his resignation, should Hezbollah agree to stay out of regional conflicts. However, his tired appearance left many believing that he was still speaking under tight control of Saudi Arabia. At one point during the interview, his eyes welled up with tears and he gave an angry look to someone who appeared for a short moment in the background. "Did you notice that? There’s no way he was speaking freely," Beiruti taxi driver Yasser Abdel Sater told Al-Monitor. "I am happy to hear Saad Hariri’s announcement regarding his imminent return to Lebanon," tweeted Lebanese President Michel Aoun Nov. 13. “We will then be briefed on all the circumstances, issues and concerns that need to be addressed." Aoun has previously said that he would not accept Hariri’s resignation as long as they cannot meet in person in Lebanon.
These developments have left Lebanon's Sunni community, which is traditionally backed by Saudi Arabia, particularly uneasy.
Lebanon’s second-largest city, Tripoli, is 80% Sunni. The city’s walls are usually covered with giant posters of local politicians, sometimes standing next to Saudi rulers such as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. "It’s a city where people like to show proximity with Saudi leaders. Our community feels that it has its back covered by Saudi Arabia, the biggest Sunni country in the region. They have the power of money. Now Iran is trying to play on their field, which is why they are fighting each other," Ahmad Kamareddine, the mayor of Tripoli, told Al-Monitor.
In his resignation speech, Hariri slammed Hezbollah and Iran, accusing them of sowing strife against the Arab world. On Nov. 6, the kingdom announced that Lebanon had declared war against it because of aggression by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. The declaration came two days after the Saudi military intercepted a missile fired from Yemen over Riyadh’s international airport. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of backing Yemen’s rebel Houthi group, which the kingdom has been fighting for over two years.
The escalating regional tensions and Saudi Arabia’s increasingly aggressive rhetoric have direct and dangerous implications for Lebanon. Mustafa Alloush, a former member of parliament from Tripoli and a member of the political bureau of Hariri’s party, the Future Movement, is pessimistic. "The only way to get out of the situation is through a major clash. If there is enough money funneled into Lebanon from abroad, a civil war can happen again," he told Al-Monitor. Foreign powers, such as Syria and Israel, had a major influence on Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990). But in the streets of Tripoli, no one wants to hear this. Until a few years ago, the city was marred by sporadic deadly fighting. Now that peace has returned, Tripoli has been revamping its infrastructure to attract foreign investors and position itself as a gateway to Syria, once the war is over and reconstructions work starts. Openly criticizing Saudi Arabia is taboo, even though many recognize how dangerous the kingdom’s recent declarations can be for Lebanon’s stability. "We do not want a new war," Mohamed Harb, a money-changer, told Al-Monitor. "We are not like the Shiites. We do not send our children to fight," he added, in reference to Hezbollah sending fighters to support President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Sunnis are not armed in Lebanon.
Much of the blame for Hariri’s resignation is laid on Hezbollah for having put too much pressure on the prime minister. Recently, Hezbollah and its allies, which are part of Hariri’s government, were pressing him to normalize relations with Syria, even though the Lebanese state officially distanced itself from the conflict in 2012. "The people of Tripoli were not happy with the consensus that was established between Hezbollah, Saad Hariri and President Aoun [to form a government together]," Tripoli’s mufti, Malek al-Chaar, told Al-Monitor. "The next government needs to be firmer with Hezbollah." According to him, the international community should increase "diplomatic and economic sanctions" against Iran, instead of going down the military route. Nobody in Tripoli was convinced by the call for calm issued by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah Nov. 5, the day after Hariri’s resignation. "It’s purely decorative," argued Alloush. "Nasrallah cannot call for calm and stay armed. Instead, he should hand over his weapons to the Lebanese army."With Hariri’s resignation, Sunni leaders with a hawkish stance against Hezbollah are trying to fill the void, such as Ashraf Rifi, who won Tripoli’s local elections in May 2016 against a list backed by Hariri. He resigned as justice minister a few months prior to the elections, in protest at what he described as the dominant role occupied by Hezbollah.
In a souk, posters of Rifi were being put up last week by local furniture shop owner Abu Yassine Sharaf Eddine. Some more recent ones feature Prince Mohammed. "I supported Ashraf Rifi during the last elections’ campaign," he told Al-Monitor. For Sharaf Eddine, Rifi is the only Sunni leader with a strong enough position against Hezbollah and Iran. By Nov. 12, all political posters were banned in Tripoli, after a poster of Prince Mohammed was burned over the weekend.But for most of Tripoli’s residents, politics are not a pressing matter in comparison with everyday worries. The city is considered to be the poorest in Lebanon. According to Alloush, one-third of its men are unemployed and only 40% of the population votes. In the main square, dozens of taxis stand in line waiting for customers. "I never vote," taxi driver Mohammad Badra told Al-Monitor, adding that he does not make more than 20,000 Lebanese pounds a day ($13). "I would only vote for a politician who offers new job opportunities, and no one has done that recently." For jeweler Omar Namel, the political scene in Lebanon is an "embarrassment." He has a scar on his leg caused by a grenade exploding next to him in 2012 during sectarian clashes. "I want to offer my 4-year-old daughter education opportunities like politicians’ children who can go abroad. But unfortunately, I cannot. Lebanon deserves better than politicians like Saad Hariri, or anyone else," he told Al-Monitor.
**Sunniva Rose is a journalist based in Beirut. She works for local and international media outlets such as Deutsche Welle, Middle East Eye, Executive Magazine and L’Orient-Le Jour. She studied journalism at Sciences Po in Paris and speaks English, French and Arabic.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 14-15/17
Egypt's Foreign Minister Concludes Gulf Tour
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Egypt Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry concludes his Gulf tour with his visit on Tuesday to Saudi Arabia. He is expected to deliver a message to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz from Sisi on Arabs unity in facing mounting challenges. Meanwhile, diplomatic sources affirmed that the foreign ministers meeting next Sunday will focus mainly on Iranian interventions. Earlier, Shoukry delivered similar messages to leaders of Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE and Oman. During his visit to Kuwait, he hailed Arab efforts exerted to consolidate Arab solidarity and accord. In UAE, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, underlined the importance of consultation and coordination in containing and addressing crises through inter-Arab collaboration and solidarity, during his meeting with Shoukry. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash described the meeting as an excellent one. Shoukry embarked on an Arab tour on Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia to discuss bilateral ties and consult regarding developments in the region. Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid stated that the FM tour falls under permanent consultation between Egypt and Arab states on bilateral ties and conditions in the region. Egypt shows concerns over latest developments: Houthis missile attack on Riyadh, blowing up Bahraini oil pipeline and political developments in Lebanon. This pushes toward intensifying coordination to maintain Arab national security and rid the region from tension and instability reasons. Shoukry delivered a message from Sisi to Qaboos bin Said on bilateral ties and the conditions in the region – at a time when security-related challenges in the region are increasing, therefore compelling intensive consultation and coordination among Arab states. He also conveyed Egypt’s vision and assessment of ways to deal with these challenges, stressing Egypt’s firm and fixed policy that always urges political solutions for crises.

Erdogan Demands Russia, US to Withdraw their Forces from Syria
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/In a surprise declaration, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Monday each of Russia and the United States to withdraw their forces from Syria. He stated that a military solution was not possible in Syria, condemning the ongoing deaths at the hands of the Syrian regime.He made his remarks during a press conference in Istanbul prior to his departure to Russia where he is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi. “Russia and the US must withdraw their forces if the military solution was indeed not on the table,” he added.
“Those who do not believe in this solutions should withdraw their troops,” he demanded. “While talk of an absence of a military solution continues, people are still being killed in various means,” Erdogan said. He stated that the Syrian regime has killed some one million people. On his trip to Russia, he revealed that he will discuss with Putin the political solution to the Syria crisis and joint Turkish-Russian action in its Afrin region, which is under the control of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party. Ankara is seeking to isolate the party in order to prevent its linking up with other Kurdish regions in northern Syria.

Bahraini Cabinet: Pipeline Terror Attack Is Dangerous Escalation
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Bahraini cabinet described the explosion at one of the Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco)’s oil pipelines near Buri area as a dangerous terrorist escalation, unveiling Iran's role in destabilizing and threatening the security of the region. In its session, chaired by Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the cabinet strongly condemned the terrorist attack which caused the explosion, resulting in damages to vital and economic interests as well as to property of individuals and enterprises. The cabinet asserted that the terrorist attack also put individuals’ safety at risk and spread panic among them. According to a statement, the session described the oil pipeline explosion as an escalation in terrorist acts aimed at targeting vital interests and jeopardizing the citizens’ safety. The cabinet added that the terrorist blast is a dangerous aggression revealing the role played by the Iranian regime in many acts of sabotage that affect security and stability of Bahrain and the region. Iran's meddling in the region has escalated recently through the hostile aggressive attacks by the Tehran-supported Houthi militias, that targeted Riyadh with an Iran-made ballistic missile from Yemen, in addition to the explosion of an oil pipeline, according to the statement. The session stressed that terrorist elements involved in such a heinous crime will be brought to justice firmly and severely by the force of the law. "The government will spare no effort for the sake of maintaining security and ensuring public safety," the session said. Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa briefed the cabinet about the circumstances of the Buri pipeline terrorist crime and measures taken by security authorities to deal with it. Meanwhile, Saudi Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources expressed full support to Bahrain's energy sector in the face of an aggressive action targeting Buri, resulting in the suspension of pumping oil to the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Energy Ministry denounced this utterly cowardly action, while praising the authorities' abilities in containing the situation in a record time. Bahraini Minister of Oil and Gas Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Khalifa described the attack as a terrorist act, denouncing it and condemning the parties behind it. The minister explained that the security forces will proceed with the needed investigations to reveal the details. He confirmed that production levels were back to normal soon after the incident.

Iraq's Kurdistan to Respect Court Ruling Banning Secession
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Kurdish authorities said on Tuesday they respect the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court's recent interpretation of Article 1 of the constitution regarding secession in Iraq, signaling a new phase in efforts to restart stalled negotiations over its future.
Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in September, defying the central government in Baghdad -- which had ruled the ballot illegal -- as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran which have their own Kurdish minorities.The Federal Supreme Court of Iraq issued a decision on Nov. 6 stating that no region or province could unilaterally secede. The ruling responded to a request from the Iraqi government in Baghdad to put an end to any “misinterpretation” of the constitution and to “assert the unity of Iraq,” a court spokesman said last week. The Kurdish government also called on launching a peaceful dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to address their differences. “We believe that this Decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes through implementation of all constitutional articles and in a way that guarantees all rights, authorities and status mentioned in the Constitution, since this is the only way to secure the unity of Iraq, as Article 1 stated,” the KRG said in a statement. Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi had previously urged the northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region to abide by the court’s decision. The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq’s central government and the country’s regions and provinces. Its decisions cannot be appealed, though it has no mechanism to enforce its ruling in the Kurdish region.

Several Killed, Wounded in Suicide Attack in Yemen’s Aden
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Ten civilians and members of the police were killed on Tuesday in a suicide bombing in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, said police sources. ISIS’ affiliate in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack that took place at a building in the Sheikh Othman district in the central part of the city. Residents several kilometers (miles) away heard a large explosion and saw thick black smoke rising from the area. The attack caused panic in this densely populated area, which is busy with schools, markets and street vendors. Ambulances rushed to the site, where the building was badly damaged, and debris and body parts littered the area. According to medical officials, six soldiers were killed but officials believe the death toll will rise. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the press. ISIS claimed responsibility in an online statement, hours after the attack. It named the suicide bomber as Abu Hagar al-Adani, which indicates the attacker hailed from Aden.The security building is an operations center for the UAE-trained Security Belt, a parallel body to the government's forces.

Anbar Tribes Seek Vengeance against Iraqi ISIS Members

Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/In the unforgiving deserts of Iraq, there is just one way to deal with defeated members of the ISISI terrorist group who try to come home -- tribal justice. No pardons are possible among tribes which have agreed among themselves to treat with the utmost severity those members who became jihadists. As for the families of ISIS members, many have already fled, fearing reprisals, reported Agence France Presse on Monday. The former army commander for operations in the western province of Anbar, where ISIS once held sway after a sweeping offensive across Syria and Iraq in 2014, told AFP returning members face short shrift. "The Bumahal and the other tribes have agreed to adopt a common stance" on the issue, said General Ismail Mehlawi, himself a Bumahal. In the vast region where tribal law prevails, the tribes have addressed the thorny question of what to do about any relatives who pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed ISIS "caliphate". "They've all fled to neighboring Syria," say residents of Al-Obeidi village in the heart of what was the last ISIS bastion in Iraq, which has just been retaken by Iraqi forces. But if any return or are discovered in the area, they "will be treated with severity", Mehlawi said. "No pardon will be possible," said the mustachioed Iraqi whose home was dynamited by members of his own tribe who had joined ISIS. "We will punish them as prescribed by God so justice is done to the tribesmen who have been wronged" during the ISIS occupation. The cycle of revenge has already begun in Al-Obeidi, said a security official in the Al-Qaim region whose 150,000 inhabitants belong to around half a dozen tribes. "A week ago, Busharji fighters blew up the house of a member of their tribe who had joined ISIS" and who was himself accused of blowing up homes in Al-Obeidi, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Before destroying his home, the tribe shunned him, leaving the former ISIS man unprotected in a country where tribal law often takes precedence over the law and the courts.
Mohammed al-Mohammedi heads the municipal council in Hit near the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi. He told AFP that several months ago, he was approached by families demanding "the expulsion of relatives of ISIS members".
Despite the authorities being aware of what was happening, this has not prevented acts of vengeance from taking place, said the AFP report. "One member’s house was destroyed by explosives, another was burned down and stun grenades have been thrown at the homes of other families whose relatives joined ISIS," Mohammedi said. The perpetrators of the attacks were never identified. But afterwards, several families moved out in a scenario mirrored in other places including Iraq's second city Mosul which ISIS also occupied before it was retaken. "The families of ISIS members can't live here because it creates tensions," said Mohammedi. Another senior tribal official in the Ramadi region, Sheikh Awad al-Dalma of the Budalma, has drawn up a list of more than 250 names. These are of "267 terrorists from the Budalma, Bushaaban, Budhiab and Janabin tribes" he said were guilty of "murders or destruction of houses". As for the Bumahal tribe, Sheikh Mohammed Sattam said "just two members joined ISIS in 2014. One was killed and the other fled and is now being sought." "We will keep fighting whoever joined ISIS," he added, wearing the military uniform of a tribal combatant. Several Anbar province tribes boast of having a long history of battling extremists. When another extremist group, Al-Qaeda, staged bloody attacks in Iraq in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, tribal fighters took up arms. A number of their members also hold senior positions within the Iraqi armed forces. When ISIS proclaimed its "caliphate" across Syria and Iraq in 2014, several Iraqi Sunnis -- in a country that is two thirds Shi’ite -- decided to pledge allegiance to the group. But Bumahal fighters, along with members of other tribes, formed Sunni units within the Popular Mobilization Forces a motley coalition of Shi’ite militias and local fighters determined to drive ISIS out of Iraq. Such was the case with Faisal Rafie, Kalashnikov assault rifle in hand. Behind him in a swirling sandstorm are piles of rubble -- what is left of houses ISIS blew up in Al-Obeidi. Today, those who lost their homes are demanding justice. "The ISIS terrorists destroyed our houses and stole everything from us because we were fighting against injustice and terrorism," Rafie said. "Everything we owned, we sacrificed everything for the people of Iraq."

Israeli Forces Arrest Jihad Top Commander
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Israeli forces arrested a top commander of the Palestinian Islamic movement in the West Bank, a day after exchanged threats between the group and Israel amid possible clashes in the strip. Israel's security service (Shin Bet) confirmed that commander Tariq Qaadan had been detained by Israeli forces in Arrabeh, southwest of Jenin, in the northern West Bank. A Shin Bet official stated that Qaadan was arrested since he is "a senior officer in the terrorist group’s West Bank wing."Qaadan was arrested along with 13 other Palestinians during night raids in the West Bank,. The arrests came two days after Israel accused Jihad movement of planning an attack in retaliation to the demolition of one of its attack tunnels in Gaza which killed 12 Hamas and Jihad members. Israel warned Jihad against any attacks or plans to target its facilities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Tel Aviv will respond harshly if Jihad attacked Israel. “We will take a very strong hand against anyone who tries to attack us from any sector," Netanyahu said in the weekly cabinet meeting. Netanyahu's statement came few hours after Defense Ministry’s chief liaison office with the Palestinians Maj-Gen Yoav Mordechai recorded a video in Arabic addressing Jihad leaders Ramadan Shalah and his deputy Ziad Nakhlah warning that Israel knew of their plans and was prepared to respond to them.
Mordechai said that in case of a Jihad attack against Israel, both Shalah and Nakhlah will be held responsible. Jihad considered Mordechai's statements a direct threat against group and considered it “an act of war” vowing to confront them. Amid the exchanged threats, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov described Hamas and Jihad's threats as "reckless" saying they could lead to dangerous escalations. "The reckless actions and statements of militants in Gaza risk a dangerous escalation. Palestinians have embarked on a course to solve the humanitarian crisis in the Strip and bring back the legitimate authorities. They should not be distracted by extremists,” Mladenov said. Jihad Hamas condemned a UN envoy's statement for holding Palestinian groups accountable for every tension with Israel, saying he is casting a blind eye towards Zionist threats and aggression. "We strongly condemn the remarks of Mladenov which ignore the crimes of invaders, the threats against our people, and their right of self-defense," Hamas said in a written statement. "We will not weaken the the leadership of our people and of our land. The threat by the enemy to harm the leadership is on the border of a declaration of war and we will deal with them,” the organization said in a statement. Hamas spokesperson Hazem Kassim said they had hoped Mladenov criticized Israel for creating tense situations. He added that Israeli occupation is responsible for the escalation when it attacked the "freedom tunnel" and admitted to killing anyone inside it. Kassim confirmed that Palestinian factions have the right to respond to the occupation's crimes, adding that international community should pressure the occupation for besieging Gaza. It is not clear whether Qaadan had been arrested to pressure the movement or Israel had information reporting Jihad's movement in West Bank.Jihad commander Sheikh Khodr Adnan said that the detention of Qaadan is another aggression against the movement and Israeli people, especially following Netanyahu and the so-called "chief liaison office's" threats against Jihad's leaders. “We reaffirm our right to respond to any aggression, including our right to respond to the crime of aggression on the resistance tunnel,” Jihad's statement said. “This unjust arrest of the leader Qaadan is a part of the occupation’s latest escalation against Islamic Jihad and our people,” the statement added. The movement called upon rights groups and international community to respond to this unjust arrest especially that Qaadan is ill due to repeated arrests.

Palestinian Foreign Ministry Holds UNSC Responsible for Silence over Ethnic Cleansing Operations
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates announced on Monday that it held the United Nations Security Council fully responsible for consequences of keeping silence on ethnic cleansing Palestinian valleys. In a statement, the Palestinian Authority foreign ministry condemned the comprehensive war carried out against Palestinians present in the Jordan Valley and said that Israeli occupation authorities intend to commit further mass deportation.  The wave of displacement affects over 300 Palestinian citizens who would be uprooted from their homes, in the villages of Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal. Israeli authorities are basing the evictions of claims of Palestinians inhabiting 'unauthorized property', the statement added. Israeli occupation forces also seized more than 550,000 meters of Palestinian land in occupied Jordan Valley and later allocated it to Zionist settlements and its facilities, the statement reported. Furthermore, it added that the ministry considers that act as a crime of ethnic cleansing that flagrantly violated international law, international humanitarian law and Geneva Conventions.

Death Toll in Air Strikes on Syria’s Atareb Rises to 61
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/The death toll in the air strikes against a market in the Syrian rebel-held town of Atareb rose to 61 on Tuesday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that the majority were civilians.Head of the monitor Rami Abdul Rahman said that a number of people died from injuries they sustained during Monday’s strikes, bringing the toll to 61, including five children. Three members of the local police were among the victims. Three strikes hit the northern town of Atareb despite a "de-escalation zone" in place there. The Britain-based monitor said it was not clear whether the bombing raids had been carried out by Syrian regime warplanes, or those of its ally Russia. The Observatory expected the toll to rise as more victims are retrieved from under the rubble. A photographer contributing to AFP saw massive destruction at the scene on Monday, with rubble from damaged buildings covering the street and panicked civilians carrying away the wounded. Atareb is in the west of Aleppo province, in an area that is part of a "de-escalation zone" agreed under a deal reached earlier this year between Syria's allies Russia and Iran, and rebel-backer Turkey. The zone mostly covers neighboring Idlib province. Despite the regime’s recapture of Aleppo city late last year, rebel groups maintain a presence in the west of the province.

Saudi Arabia: Hosting of Syrian Opposition Meeting Aimed at Achieving Peace
Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17/Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz chaired on Tuesday a cabinet meeting that underlined the importance of Riyadh’s hosting of an upcoming Syrian opposition meeting, reported the Saudi Press Agency. Information Minister Dr. Awad bin Saleh al-Awad said that meeting is aimed at bridging gaps between members of the opposition and unifying their ranks ahead of resuming direct negotiations in Geneva under the supervision of the United Nations. Riyadh’s hosting of the meeting stems from the Kingdom’s policy of backing peace efforts and combating terrorism, continued the minister after the cabinet meeting that was held at the Yamamah Palace in the Saudi capital. The gatherers then discussed the latest regional and international developments, strongly condemning the bombing that led to a fire in an oil pipeline near the village of Buri in Bahrain. They stressed that they stand by Bahrain against all attempts aimed at destabilizing it and the security of its people. King Salman also briefed the ministers on the talks he held with visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and later Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi.

U.S. Says Won't Walk Away from Syria War until Talks Progress
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 14/17/A U.S.-led coalition will forge ahead in its fight against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq until a U.N. peace process makes further headway, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said. "We're not just going to walk away right now until the Geneva Process has traction," he told reporters. "You need to do something about this mess now, not just fight the military part of it and then say good luck on the rest."The former marine general added that the coalition's goal had always been to fight IS while finding a diplomatic solution to end the Syrian civil war.
"We are going to make sure we set the conditions for a diplomatic solution," he said. His comments come after the U.S. and Russia issued a joint statement Saturday saying there was "no military solution" to the Syrian conflict. "The presidents affirmed their commitment to Syria's sovereignty, unity, independence, territorial integrity and non-sectarian character," it said, while calling on all parties to participate in U.N.-led talks in Geneva. A new round of negotiations is scheduled to take place from November 28, a process headed by the U.N. special envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura. Seven previous sessions between the Syrian regime and the opposition failed to overcome the main obstacle -- the fate of President Bashar al-Assad. More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Trump Hails Asian Tour, but Ends It Abruptly
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 14/17/Donald Trump hailed a "tremendously successful" five-nation tour of Asia in which he made a lot of friends, as he ended it abruptly Tuesday by skipping most of a Philippine summit. The U.S. president, who began his journey in Japan 12 days ago, said his trip had seen progress in his goal of narrowing America's yawning trade deficits. "I've made a lot of friends at the highest levels," Trump told reporters shortly before boarding Air Force One in Manila, adding the trip was "tremendously successful.""I think the fruits... are going to be incredible," he said. "We've explained that the United States is open for trade, but reciprocal trade." Trump made the comments after briefly gathering with 18 other world leaders ahead of the start of the East Asia Summit, the final set piece of his trip in Asia. Trump had initially planned to skip the summit, then backtracked after criticism he was turning his back on the region. But he did not stay for the official start of the summit on Tuesday afternoon, also missing the preceding group photo with his fellow leaders. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sat in for him at the summit, which was scheduled to run into the evening. The summit groups the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations with Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Russia, as well as the United States. In a trip that was dominated by the North Korean nuclear crisis, Trump was treated to pomp and pageantry in Japan and South Korea, where he repeatedly blasted the regime of Kim Jong-Un. In China, where President Xi Jinping rolled out the red carpet for a "state visit plus" -- a welcome Trump declared "people really have never seen anything like" -- the White House trumpeted more than $250 billion of trade deals. Analysts say the headline figure hides a paucity of deliverables, with lots of the agreements being non-binding memorandums of understanding. Many will take years to yield results and some will never materialize. At a regional summit in Vietnam, Trump returned to the topic of North Korea in what aides said was part of a strategy of forging a global front to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its weapons program. But the issue of alleged Russian interference in his 2016 election reared its head again when Trump appeared to endorse President Vladimir Putin's assertion that there had been no plot by Moscow. In the Philippines, Trump sparked headlines with his pally relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte, a man who has boasted of personally killing people and whose drug war has claimed thousands of lives.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 14-15/17
The Real Victims of "Islamophobia"
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 14/17
Local authorities, police, teachers and MPs have all been working with MEND even though the organization "meets the government's own definition of extremism" and "has regularly hosted illiberal, intolerant and extremist Islamist speakers... has openly sought to undermine counter-terrorism legislation and counter-extremism efforts, in addition to having its own links to extremists..."
Despite meeting the government's definition of an extremist group, MEND is nevertheless organizing a number of events for "Islamophobia Awareness Month" at British universities.
One can think of other issues that are more deserving of an "awareness month" in the UK, especially because many of the people affected by those issues have suffered the consequences of the British obsession with "Islamophobia".
In Britain, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, along with Liberal Democrats leader Vince Cable, are the poster boys for this year's "Islamophobia Awareness Month" a yearly campaign, which has been running under the leadership of Islamist group Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), since 2012.
"We have to drive out racism in any form in our society," said Corbyn – whose own Labour party has never been more anti-Semitic and who considers Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists his "friends". The message came wrapped in a propaganda video he stars in for the campaign. "Islamophobia," he continued, "is a terrible thing, causes terrible hurt and terrible pain".
"I greatly welcome the contribution that MEND is making to raise awareness of this issue and mobilise people in the political world and elsewhere to fight Islamophobia", Cable adds in the video.
Here are two leaders of British political opposition parties, virtually genuflecting to MEND, a group that was recently described, as "Islamists masquerading as civil libertarians".
Corbyn and Cable are not, however, the only ones to eager for the company of Islamic supremacists. Local authorities, police, teachers and MPs have all been working with MEND even though the organization "meets the government's own definition of extremism" ("Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.") and "has regularly hosted illiberal, intolerant and extremist Islamist speakers... has openly sought to undermine counter-terrorism legislation and counter-extremism efforts, in addition to having its own links to extremists..."
In addition: "Several of the organisation's employees and volunteers, including senior figures, have publicly expressed a range of disturbing views on terrorism and anti-Semitism. This has included expressing support for terrorists overseas, dismissing recent terror attacks in the UK, promoting anti-Semitic conspiracies and even calling on British Mosques to hold prayers for 'the Mujahedeen'".
Despite meeting the government's definition of an extremist group, MEND is nevertheless organizing a number of events for "Islamophobia Awareness Month" at British universities. It will feature its "Islamophobia Exhibition', which "celebrates positive contributions of British Muslims, dispose of common myths about British Muslims and highlights the media's role in perpetuating anti-Muslim prejudice" at Brunel University, SOAS, The London School of Economics and Political Science, and King's College, among others. There will also be talks, such as "Causes and Cures of Islamophobia".
Last year, the Bedford police force joined the "Islamophobia Awareness Month" campaign, but then withdrew after using the campaign's logo, which is similar to the hand gesture used by ISIS jihadists. One year later, the campaign still uses the same one-finger logo, unconvincingly claiming that it stands for "I" as in "Islamophobia".
The UK appears almost clinically obsessed with "Islamophobia" awareness campaigns. Only a few weeks ago, London police teamed up with Transport for London authorities to encourage people to report hate crimes during "National Hate Crime Awareness Week", which ran from October 14-21. The events were mainly targeted at Muslims, with officers visiting the East London Mosque to encourage reporting hate crimes.
One can think of other issues that are more deserving of an "awareness month" in the UK, especially because many of the people affected by those issues have suffered the consequences of the British obsession with "Islamophobia".
British authorities, especially police and social workers, criminally turned their backs on thousands of girls, who were groomed and raped "on an industrial scale" by Muslim rape gangs, especially in the city of Rotherham. Officials let down these children in the most horrific manner exactly because they had become conditioned to think along the lines of "Islamophobia". They grossly neglected their duties to protect the public, because they cared more about being labeled an "Islamophobe" or a "racist" than they did about the many young innocent lives that were being destroyed. Why is there no ongoing, nationwide awareness campaign for the detection of such grooming activity, including a campaign for officials to put their professional and ethical obligations ahead of what others might think of them?
British police and social workers criminally turned their backs on thousands of girls, who were groomed and raped "on an industrial scale" by Muslim rape gangs, especially in the city of Rotherham (pictured). Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images.
Victims of so-called honor crimes -- violence against women by their families in order to save the family's "honor", including honor killings -- are also badly in need of an urgent awareness campaign. Recent figures show that only 5% of honor-crime cases reported to the police were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2016-17, despite a large increase in the number of cases being detected. More than 5,000 honor crimes were reported to the police in 2016-17. In fact, police often send battered women right back to the problems they came from, telling them to go home -- which might mean these women will likely become victims not only of violence but of an actual honor killing.
Victims of female genital mutilation (FGM) could also use an awareness campaign. In 2016-17, more than 9,000 instances of FGM were identified -- only slightly less than the previous year.
The UK also needs an awareness campaign on anti-Semitism, which has risen dramatically in the UK in the past three years, yet which the judiciary largely continues to ignore. In 2016/17, the Crown Prosecution Service litigated 14,480 hate crimes, yet, according to the Campaign Against Antisemitism:
"we have yet to see a single year in which more than a couple of dozen anti-Semitic hate crimes were prosecuted. So far in 2017, we are aware of... 21 prosecutions, in 2016 there were 20, and in 2015 there were just 12. So serious are the failures by the CPS to take action that we have had to privately prosecute alleged anti-Semites ourselves and challenge the CPS through judicial review, the first of which we won in March. Last year only 1.9% of hate crime against Jews was prosecuted, signaling to police forces that their effort in investigating hate crimes against Jews might be wasted, and sending the strong message to anti-Semites that they need not fear the law... Each year since 2014 has been a record-breaking year for anti-Semitic crime: between 2014 and 2016, anti-Semitic crime surged by 45%" .
The government's own counter-terrorism campaign, "Make Nothing Happen" -- a national public awareness advertising campaign launched in March 2017, urging citizens to contact police about suspicious activity -- risks being upended by the continued preoccupation with "Islamophobia". The risk is that people will hesitate and not report suspicious activity for fear of being labelled "racist" or an "Islamophobe". In the US, before the San Bernardino terrorist attack, a neighbor of the attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, apparently did not report suspicious activity he witnessed outside their apartment precisely because of that fear.
This fear of being called an Islamophobe or a racist seems to have become deeply ingrained in the Western psyche. No one presumably condones disparaging anyone based on an ethnicity or religion, or defaming any group with a broad, indiscriminate brush. People even go to exorbitant lengths to avoid unjustly criticizing anyone or any group, even if criticism might be merited, as with England's Rotherham grooming gangs. The accusations of racism or Islamophobia seem meant to stop people from pointing out abuses even before they are committed so that the abusers can keep on freely committing them. The other question that is virtually never asked, is: If Muslims are upset about Islamophobia, how come so many of them, compared to other religious groups, keep providing "ammunition" that only supports and reinforces such a view -- especially when other Muslims remain silent, fail to condemn attacks by name, or seem to be doing nothing to try to prevent them? In addition, there is also the question of reciprocity: How come there seems to be no compunction about constantly defaming Jews as descendants of apes and pigs; saying that Jews are "filthy" and should be "annihilated" or even recommending genocide? These are real questions, asked in all honesty.
In New York, the deputy police commissioner told Americans that the deadliest attack in New York since 9/11 -- the car ramming attack perpetrated by jihadist Sayfullo Saipov -- had "nothing to do with Islam". People who dared react to his jihadist murders by committing (undefined) "bias incidents" or "hate crimes" would be "prosecuted to the full extent of the law".
Authorities in Britain, Europe and the United States are not fostering an atmosphere conducive to effective public safety, police work or counter-terrorism. Quite the contrary. Do they even realize that?
**Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Putin's Trolling of the West Is Not Just a Tactic
Leonid Bershidsky/Asharq Al Awsat/November 14/17
The White House snubbed Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday by announcing that President Donald Trump wouldn't formally meet with him at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam -- even though the Kremlin had said repeatedly that a meeting would take place. It's clear that the dialogue between the US and Russia is broken to a greater extent than the Kremlin is comfortable with.
Could it be that Putin made a strategic mistake by openly trolling the US and other Western democracies as they held critical elections in 2016 and 2017?
Smart people are saying he did.
"Tactically, great job," former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves told a conference on Thursday. "Strategically, what they have done is a failure. They managed to alienate many of the biggest countries in the West, the same countries that they launder their money to."
In a recent piece for the Guardian, Mark Galeotti, one of the most insightful Western academics writing on Russia today, made a similar point.
If Putin ever deluded himself that his campaign of hacks, disinformation, covert political donations and other gambits was going to allow him to shape the western political agenda, he ought now to be having second thoughts. Putin’s self-harming passion for subversion seems to be the toxic product of a KGB background, a nationalist’s anger at the decline of the superpower and a lack of other, more acceptable, ways of advancing Russia’s agenda. As Putin pushes his spies, trolls, diplomats and lobbyists to take every opportunity to divide, distract and disrupt the west, whatever the long-term cost, he risks making his country into a pariah state.
Western experts on Russia have been arguing for years about what Putin's forte is: Is it strategy or is it tactics? If one believes that the campaigns to sow chaos and, in some countries, to promote populist candidates in elections have backfired for Russia, Putin is a tactician who can't help playing a short-term game at the expense of a longer one.
I've been watching Putin since before he came to power, and I'm not so sure about that. The Russian leader attempted to play two different long games in his first eight years of power.
During his first presidential term, he tried to follow the rules of Pax Americana, striving for economic efficiency, forcing his government to pursue the doubling of economic output and aim for top spots in international rankings such as the World Bank's Doing Business. He even talked about the possibility of Russian membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Even if his domestic policy wasn't liberal even then, the first-term Putin was little different from, say, Hungary's Viktor Orban, Poland's Jaroslaw Kaczynski or Italy's Silvio Berlusconi.
Second-term Putin was getting fed up with Western rules and was trying to put Russia on an equal footing in talks with the US and European powers. In those years, Russia received a huge windfall from rising oil prices, and Russian wealth spread internationally, adding to Putin's confidence. It culminated in Putin's 2007 speech to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, in which he accused the US of being too eager to use force in international relations. That Putin, however, was still into an arm's-length partnership with the West, which included Russia's participation in the G8 and a joint war on terror.
As he sat out four years as president from 2008 and 2012, he clearly developed a conviction that neither partnership-based strategy worked. That explains his bitter and public argument with stand-in President Dmitri Medvedev over the Western intervention in Libya in 2011. As Russians protested a rigged election, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly supported the protesters, Putin's second long game, which Medvedev had continued playing, was over.
Putin didn't act chaotically or unpredictably for most of his reign. He was probably more strategic than any Western leader of his era, if only because he didn't care as much about winning elections. So it's unlikely that he suddenly turned into an opportunistic tactician during his third term. It's just that his current game is a grim journey into the unknown, and it appears to scare his underlings -- and perhaps Putin himself -- from time to time.
It's tempting to describe everything he had done since the 2014 Crimea invasion as a series of reactive, opportunistic, ultimately mistaken moves. He grabbed Crimea because he could; instigated a war of secession in eastern Ukraine because it was easy; went into Syria because there was a vacuum there; ran propaganda and "active measures" campaigns in the UK, the US and other Western nations because they were unprepared for it; and had his underlings befriend and support far-right politicians throughout Europe because they needed friends and, in the case of France's Marine Le Pen, money. He influenced people and outcomes but didn't gain any friends -- in fact, he appeared to make enemies at every step.
That, unfortunately, is likely Putin's third long game. He doesn't believe there's any upside to cooperating with the West. It has been his refrain in recent years that sanctions against Russia won't be lifted no matter what it does. So he's out to prove that the West, and above all the US, is so shaky that the slightest push could throw it off balance. The demonstration is intended for the rest of the developing world. It's supposed to embolden Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American nations to challenge US hegemony -- to treat the West as a colossus with feet of clay. It can work: In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte is a Putin admirer. Putin's demonstration of Western weakness may even be working on China, which increasingly appears to have abandoned any intention to continue liberalizing.
The path of the global troll, the global joker, the eternal challenger is a lonely one, though it fits the Russian character and its love of winning as an underdog. Putin appears to get phantom pains where G8 meetings, high-level diplomacy and soulful conversations with Western leaders used to be.
His circle is by now resigned that any Western assets they might own are threatened, but, as Russia settles into its new role, the billionaires and managers who remember Putin's previous long game get uncomfortable tinges when sanctions are stepped up and old business partners no longer want to drink together. These twinges of regret, as well as the Kremlin's feverish attempts to maintain a semblance of diplomatic contact, may look to Westerners as signs of remorse and attempts to find a face-saving way out.
They probably aren't: The evolution of Putin's views is irreversible, and Russia's capacity to take pain is constantly underestimated. Putin clearly believes it's higher than his Western adversaries think, and it's not clear at this point who's right.
The best Western response to Putin's game is to prove that democratic institutions still work, that they still reflect what people want from government, that the West can still be an example and a moral compass to the developing world and eventually to Russians. So far, the US and the UK are failing this test. Continental Europe is doing better, although its weaknesses are also there for the world to see. Putin's strategy is to frame the divisions and failures as an existential crisis, and he's not necessarily losing -- yet.

Media Ownership Rules Must Adjust to the Digital Era
Ajit Pai/The New York Times/November 14/17
Do you check your Twitter feed to get the latest news? Monitor trending topics on your Facebook page to see what’s making headlines? Set news alerts on Google News? Read blogs analyzing the latest at the White House? Watch breaking news on cable networks or YouTube channels?
No doubt most of you do some or all of these things. But none of these information sources exist in the regulatory world of the Federal Communications Commission, where core media ownership rules presume the marketplace for news is defined entirely by pulp, rabbit ears and transistor radios. In this archaic world, Americans get their news only from newspapers and broadcast television and radio stations, and the internet doesn’t exist.
For over four decades, the F.C.C. has restricted the ability of broadcast media outlets to also own newspapers, and vice versa, in the same market, under what is known as the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule.
This rule was established in 1975 with the stated purpose of preserving and promoting a diversity of viewpoints. Arguably, it made sense at the time. But with the internet now dominating the news landscape, the rule is no longer needed, and may actually be undermining the diversity of viewpoints it was intended to foster. The print newspaper business is dying, and for some papers, this rule has probably hastened their demise. Roughly one-quarter of American newspapers have gone out of business since 1975, and many of those that remain are struggling. Today, only 18 percent of Americans read print newspapers regularly. Less than 10 percent under the age of 50 do. By a large margin, people instead turn to the internet for news.
For newspapers to continue to play an important role in civic engagement, they need more access to capital. Their decline has created a real threat to independent reporting at the state and local level. A broadcaster’s investment in a newspaper could go a long way toward keeping citizens informed. (Indeed, the number of TV and radio stations has doubled over the past half-century, even as newspapers have been vanishing.)
There’s ample evidence that the cross-ownership rule has led to less local reporting. When the F.C.C. adopted the rule, some newspaper-broadcast combinations were allowed to continue. Multiple studies have found that, on average, a cross-owned TV station produces more local news than comparable non-cross-owned stations. And a cross-owned radio station is four to five times more likely to have a news format. This makes sense, because a company that owns both a newspaper and broadcast outlet is able to gather the news and distribute it more cost-effectively across its multiple platforms.
Simple fairness is another reason to change the rule. We need to create a level regulatory playing field. It makes no sense for internet giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter to be allowed to buy newspapers while a small AM radio station is prohibited from purchasing its local paper. Those companies increasingly dominate advertising, the major revenue source for news outlets; Google and Facebook have claimed 100 percent of recent online advertising growth, and their digital ad revenue this year alone will be more than twice the entire 2016 revenue of the radio industry. This rule thus singles out struggling news outlets for stringent regulation while leaving the biggest players untouched.
Critics of this proposal have expressed concern that eliminating the rule will lead to additional media consolidation. I understand that point of view and recognize that some limits are needed. That’s why, for example, F.C.C. rules will continue to prohibit any company from owning more than two television stations in any market. But as with any issue, it is important to go beyond the slogans and look at the specifics. And whether we look at the history of grandfathered newspaper-broadcast combinations in bigger cities like Chicago or smaller ones like Scranton, Pa., experience does not show that the residents in those communities have been harmed or their news marketplaces have been monopolized. Rather, we generally see news outlets that have been able to better serve the public.
For these reasons, the F.C.C. is scheduled to vote at its meeting next Thursday to repeal the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule. This common-sense move is not only long overdue, it also has support that crosses partisan lines. For example, Reed Hundt, President Bill Clinton’s first F.C.C. chairman, argued in a speech in 2013 that “the rule is perverse.” And this year, Greg Walden of Oregon, the Republican chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, joined with Representative John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Kentucky, to co-sponsor legislation that would repeal this rule. But we don’t need Congress to act; the F.C.C. can get rid of the rule itself.
In 2003, this newspaper noted on its editorial page that “making the argument that the current rules are outdated is easy.” The case is even stronger today. Few regulations are more disconnected from today’s realities than the F.C.C.’s media ownership rules.

African Economic Growth Rides on Wireless Rails

Matthew Winkler/Bloomberg /November 14/17
In Kenya, hundreds of thousands of people are rising out of poverty as mobile-money services turn subsistence farmers into businesspeople. A similar dynamic drives Ethiopia, the fastest-growing economy in Africa, where the gross domestic product is forecast to climb 8 percent in 2019. Borrowing costs in Ghana plummeted almost 2.5 percentage points during the past 12 months amid an unprecedented gain in GDP that's been led by the growth of the telecom industry.
From the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, hand-held phones are letting people become their own ATMs, increasing economic activity by enabling payments for food, travel, school and business. Wireless communication is driving economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa much as the railroad did in the 19th-century U.S., accounting for almost a tenth of global mobile subscribers and a growth rate that's beating the world.
The transformation is reflected in the more than 1,300 publicly-traded companies that make up corporate Africa. The value of communications firms increased during the past five years to 25 percent of the total market capitalization of African companies, up from 16 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Materials and energy, the natural-resources benchmarks that defined the region since its colonial days, diminished to a combined 18 percent from 27 percent during the same period.
Nowhere is the trend more pronounced than in Ghana, where the value of products and services produced by the information and communication sector surged 239 percent since 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, by far the fastest growth of any economic sector. Such explosive growth helped Ghana improve its creditworthiness and lower the average cost of public and private borrowing to 6.7 percent from 9.1 percent during the past 12 months. The economy continued to expand at a rate of 6 percent, and economists surveyed by Bloomberg say it will grow another 6.7 percent next year, almost double its 3.5 percent rate in 2016.
Both the region and the industry are benefiting. Kenya-based Safaricom isn't the biggest of the world's telecommunications giants -- its annual sales are about 3 percent of the average of the world's 60 largest carriers. But its products and services are changing Africa, boosting its bottom line and attracting global investors. Analysts say that Safaricom's revenues will rise 10 percent next year, more than triple the average of those 60 telecommunications giants, after a sales increase of 13 percent in 2016.
The company is more profitable than most of its 60 global peers, turning $100 of revenue into $23 of net income in 2016, twice the average. While its shares have gained 104 percent since 2014 -- more than 4 times the group average -- Safaricom still trades at a 33 percent discount to its global rivals on a price-to-earnings basis, according to Bloomberg data.
Safaricom's mobile-money transfer service, M-Pesa, launched in 2007, now has more than 25 million users in Kenya, a country where 80 percent of the population lives beyond the reach of the electric grid. A 2016 study credited M-Pesa with increasing daily per capita consumption levels of about 2 percent of Kenyan households that had been subsisting on less than $1.25 per day.
The study, by Tanveet Suri, an associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management and William Jack, an economist at Georgetown University, shows that mobile-money services relieve extreme poverty by enabling men and women to produce and sell goods and services in self-designed markets beyond the boundaries of their subsistence farms. The development is especially useful for women seeking financial independence in male-headed households, according to Suri.
Sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2016 had 420 million unique mobile subscribers, equivalent to a 43 percent penetration rate in the world's fastest-growing region, according to the London-based GSMA trade association of 800 mobile operators. Less than a fifth of individuals younger than 16 (who account for more than 40 percent of the population across the continent) have a mobile subscription, GSMA says. That's why investors anticipate escalating earnings. Mobile technologies and services generated $110 billion in sub-Saharan Africa, equivalent to 7.7 percent of GDP, and supported 3.5 million jobs last year.
Nowhere is the demography more favorable to mobile money. Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa include 420 million people, or 41 percent of sub-Saharan Africa and 6 percent of the world. The total GDP of these countries is $936 billion, or 66 percent of the region. The population younger than 15 in these five countries ranges from 28 percent to 44 percent, compared to 25 percent for the world, 19 percent for the U.S. and 17 percent for China.
Visa Inc., the world's largest payments network, said this year that it is planning to expand its mobile-phone application, mVisa, with lenders in 10 sub-Saharan markets, Bloomberg reported. At the same time, Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies Co., said it is working with London-based WorldRemit Ltd, the money-transfer operator, to enable African expatriates to send cash home to more than 100 million users of the Chinese company's mobile-money service platform.
At a point when mobile phone penetration is 65 percent for the world, sub-Saharan Africa's 43 percent rate is why telecom investors are making the region their favorite.

America Is Importing Corruption. Here’s How to Stop It.
Casey Michel/The Washington Post/November 14/17
Over the past few weeks, Americans have acquired unprecedented insight into how corrupt leaders use the United States to protect and expand their ill-gotten wealth.
This week, a consortium of journalists from around the world unveiled the so-called Paradise Papers, an extraordinary trove of leaked documents revealing the secret financial details of billionaires, celebrities and officials. The findings have turned a spotlight on ties between the Trump administration and the post-Soviet space. The most dramatic revelation involves the secret financial relationship between Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s family. Documents revealed that Ross owned shares in a shipping company that in recent years earned nearly $70 million in revenue directly from a Russian company that happened to be co-owned by, of all people, Putin’s son-in-law. (Note: There is no indication that Ross did anything illegal, but the news certainly raises the possibility of a serious conflict of interest.)
All this comes in the wake of the indictment of ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on charges of money laundering and tax evasion (among others). He and his colleague Rick Gates allegedly used shell companies and offshore accounts to channel the funds they earned from their work as political consultants to the blatantly corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The details of the government’s case make for illuminating reading. Manafort was even tied to the same Belize shell company that served as a conduit for illicit funds from corrupt leaders in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.
While Manafort is looking at a lengthy prison sentence, Ross has somehow managed to hang on to his job. Yet all these revelations highlight the pressing need for Washington lawmakers to start erecting defenses against the influx of grand corruption — while we still can. Admittedly, there’s not much we can do about overseas havens in the short term. But there’s plenty we can do right here at home.
The government could start by giving new life to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has now used to snare Manafort. For nearly 80 years, FARA has served as an important tool for identifying lobbyists, consultants and operatives shilling for dictators from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. That was the theory, at least. As scholar Jahad Atieh writes, the Act has been “essentially self-policed” — rarely enforced with any real enthusiasm by the authorities.
But Manafort’s case — and President Trump’s administration as a whole — may help jolt new life into FARA. Suddenly, thanks to the president’s men, a new specter is stalking Washington: transparency.
It’s also time for the US government to crack down on American states that have effectively transformed themselves into offshore havens for dirty money. As Martin Kenney, a lawyer specializing in shell companies, writes: “It’s not entirely beyond the realms of possibility that ISIS could be operating companies and trust funds domiciled in Delaware.” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may not live across the street from Joe Biden, but there’s little preventing him from opening his company just down the block — with the rest of us none the wiser.
And no matter how much it may grate upon the president, Congress — and legislators in California, Florida, Texas and New York — should pass laws ensuring transparency in high-end real estate purchases. For years, corrupt actors overseas have poured their cash into luxury pads in Manhattan, McMansions in San Antonio, waterfront properties in Seattle. Dictators and oligarchs have used US property as a haven for their money, skirting sanctions and letting the properties sit vacant, all while driving up costs for the rest of us. Until recently, no one had ever had to reveal the details of these transactions — what the source of the funds was, who was fronting the cash and which dictator’s daughter was moving into the neighborhood.
Real estate agents, of course, don’t care. But the Treasury Department — one of the lone bright spots in Washington these days — increasingly does. With the success of the department’s recent “Geographic Targeting Orders” (GTOs), which have pried into real estate purchases in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network announced this year that it would be expanding its writ, adding Honolulu as another metropolitan area where it will be pulling back the curtains on luxury sales.
But there’s no reason to stop there. Let’s expand the GTOs to all 50 states and to all high-end property purchases. Think of it as a know-your-neighbor law. You’d want to know if the apartment across the hall, or the brownstone on your corner, was a shield for protecting dictators’ dollars, right?
These are the easiest steps, which amount to enforcing and expanding laws already on the books. Such measures will hit the shady Americans — the consultants, the lawyers, the real estate agents — doing business with odious regimes abroad. The kleptocrats who have used the United States as the safest store for their money will have to look elsewhere. To be sure, there’s no reason to think that the revelations about the financial machinations of those surrounding Trump will end anytime soon. Nor is there any reason to think that a president so keen on undercutting existing anti-corruption regulations would be interested in combating sleaze. But we don’t need Trump. We have legislation on the books, and officials who – as the Treasury Department shows – are willing to act. It’s time for this country to stop acting as an accomplice of the oligarchs and autocrats who are plundering their own populations. This is one case where we can’t leave policy to the president.

The Clash of Social Visions
David Brooks/The New York Times/November 14/17
Every tax plan is a social vision and a statement of values. The social vision embedded in the House Republican tax plan is straightforward: to take money away from affluent professionals in blue states and to pump up corporations as the engine for broad economic growth.
The plan raises taxes on affluent professionals in blue states in several ways. First, it caps the mortgage interest deduction at loan principal of $500,000 instead of $1 million. According to an analysis by Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post, only about 2.5 percent of Americans are paying off mortgages on homes valued over $500,000. These are mostly in places like California, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.
Second, the Republican plan cuts the deduction for state and local taxes. In 2014, according to The Economist, nearly 90 percent of the benefit from this deduction flowed to those making more than $100,000 a year. Once again, this tax hike hits mostly those in high-tax blue states.
Third, the bill taxes investment income earned by private universities with at least 500 students and assets not directly tied to educational objectives of more than $100,000 per student. It imposes a 20 percent excise tax on nonprofit executives who make more than $1 million.
This is the beginning of the full-bore Republican assault on the private universities, which are seen as the power centers of blue America — rich, money-hoarding institutions that widen inequality and house radical left-wing ideologies.
Fourth, the bill preserves high top marginal tax rates on individual income and even raises rates in some cases on the very rich. Over the past few decades when Republicans have talked about tax reform, they have generally talked about sharply cutting the top marginal rate to 25 percent or even 15 percent. But this plan keeps the top rate at 39.6 percent. And then it throws in some peculiarities. As The Wall Street Journal noted, under the plan a married couple would face a 45.6 percent top rate on earnings between $1.2 million and $1.6 million.
These changes could leave the rich paying an astonishingly high percentage of their income in taxes. Scott Sumner of EconLog calculates that when you throw in state and local taxes, rich Californians would face a tax rate of 62.7 percent.
The intellectual case for general corporate tax reform is strong. Countries across the world have been cutting corporate rates. The United States now has the highest corporate rates in the O.E.C.D. and the third-highest rates in the world. Cutting those rates would attract investment, unlock money trapped abroad and increase wages for many families. Economists vary widely in their estimates, but Larry Kotlikoff of Boston University estimates, on the high end, that a lower corporate tax rate could increase working-household income by roughly $3,500 annually.
The Republicans have a social vision. The Republican vision is that the corporate sector is more important to a healthy America than the professional and nonprofit sector.
What, by contrast, is the Democratic vision? Are Democrats going to spend the next few months defending the mortgage interest deduction and other tax breaks for their own rich?
It could be that economic policy is becoming tribal just like everything else in our politics.

Trump, Iran, and a Fast-Changing Middle East
Daniel Pipes/L'Informale (Italy) /November 13, 2017
L'Informale's English-language title is "A new scenario in the Middle East: An Interview with Daniel Pipes." The Italian original can be found at ""Il nuovo scenario mediorientale : Un'intervista con Daniel Pipes."
Daniel Pipes recently visited Italy and L'Informale asked the American historian and political commentator, one of the leading international experts of the Middle East, some questions about the scene that is changing before our very eyes.
Donald Trump decertified the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, leaving it up to the U.S. Congress whether to sanction Tehran or not. Do you agree with John Bolton, Martin Sherman, and others that it is futile to "fix" the deal and necessary to "nix" it?
Yes, I emphatically agree with them. Trump took just half a step to dismantle the JCPOA when a full step is needed. His action does not fundamentally change American policy but puts the burden on the Senate. This represents a compromise between Trump's original intention and the views of those in his administration who oppose such a fundamental change.
The U.S. government declares Iran the foremost terrorist state but does little or nothing in Syria to curb Iranian entrenchment. How do you explain this inconsistency?
The Middle East is a complicated place where consistency may be impossible to achieve. Opponents in one theater are often allies in another. That said, I wish Washington were more fundamentally hostile towards the Islamic Republic of Iran to the point of seeking to change the regime, but that has never been the case in the almost forty years of Khomeinist government.
The American abandonment of Kirkuk by favoring the Baghdad government backed by Shiite militias against the Kurds is another example of favoring Iran, is it not?
That's unfair; Washington did not abandon the Kurds. They took an extremely unwise step in holding a referendum in late September and they are now paying the price for that mistake. You cannot blame the Trump administration for a referendum it clearly and consistently opposed. You cannot call the Americans not coming in and saving the Kurds from their mistake "abandonment."
Kirkuk: The Kurds lost it due to their own mistakes, not American perfidy.
Iran's aggression across the Middle East seems unstoppable given American passivity and Russian cooperation. Does this mean a looming war for Israel?
Yes, a confrontation does seem likely, probably in Lebanon or Syria. As Iranian power expands, Hezbollah is pulling its forces from Syria and directing them against Israel. The likelihood of a Hezbollah-Israel war grows with time.
Speaking to the American Congress in 2015, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Iran's regime poses a great threat not only to Israel but also to the peace in the entire world." In an interview with me, the German political scientist Matthias Küntzel emphasized the chiliastic nature of Iran's foreign policy, pointing to Ali Khamenei describing the Islamic revolution of 1979 as the "turning point in modern world history" and saying his movement aims to create a "new civilization." How seriously should we take this outlook and how should we respond to it?
Iran's leadership undoubtedly sees itself at the vanguard of a revolution as earlier the Communist, Fascist, and Nazi leaderships did; this is not in dispute. But all these regimes over time lose the support of their subject populations, something again taking place in Iran. Almost forty years after the Islamic Revolution, only a small minority of Iranians enthusiastically support it.
This confronts the leadership with a problem: it wants to act aggressively but it understands its own fragility. Any day now, there will be a bakery that has no bread or a gas station without fuel. The result could be a riot that spreads across the country and overthrows the government. I see that coming but, of course, cannot predict when. We who are on the outside should take steps to bring that day closer.
Is not the Iranian regime stronger than ever, after the ending of sanctions, billions of dollars in cash pouring in, and lucrative contracts with the EU pending? It has enough to improve the wellbeing of the population and become even more aggressive internationally.
Your calculus overestimates Tehran's economic competence and underestimates the Iranian population's expectations. From what we hear, there is massive disappointment with the JCPOA, leaving the regime yet more vulnerable.
As this "Porsche Center Iran" suggests, Iranians have a keen taste for luxury. How do you evaluate the resignation in Lebanon of Prime Minister, Saad Hariri and his allegations about Iranian interference?
This is part of the immense drama surround Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. It's hard at this early date to sort out what exactly Hariri's surprise and irregular resignation means. I suspect MbS was found him weak and wants to replace him as political leader of Lebanon's Sunnis.
What is your assessment of the Trump administration's Middle East policy up to now? In the campaign, Trump talked about making major changes to U.S. foreign policy in general and toward the Middle East especially. Nine months later, however, it appears policy has returned more or less to where it was. Troops are returning to Afghanistan, the American embassy remains in Tel Aviv, the Palestinian-Israeli "peace process" is revived, the JCPOA with Iran continues, Erdoğan is praised, funds are denied to Egypt's government as a punishment, and Islamism is no longer explicitly named.
Why this reversion to the conventional? Because Donald Trump lacks both the philosophical foundation and the specific knowledge to implement his radical vision. He ended up relying on the same people he had criticized because they are the experts.
We see in Syria right an alliance of the nasties: Assad, Putin, Rouhani, Erdoğan. Is the Western world, and especially Israel, confronting a new axis of evil?
As you indicate, the forces in the Middle East are now much more malign than when George W. Bush coined the term "axis of evil" in 2002. From Israel's point of view, the situation is more dangerous, what with a weaker United States, a stronger Russia and Iran, plus a hostile Turkey. But Israel also gains from this circumstance, because a weaker United States and a stronger Iran means that other neighbors, in particular the Saudis and the Egyptians, are open to working with it in a way that has never been the case.
Your recent article in the Washington Times, "Saving NATO from Turkey" argues that NATO's main goals today are to contain and defat Russia and Islamism. This reminds me of Bernard Lewis' seminal 1954 article drawing a parallel between Communism and Islam. Could you ponder this similarity?
Bernard Lewis, "Communism and Islam," International Affairs, January 1954, pp. 1–12.
Good question. But I would say this is more of a coincidence than a parallel. Putin is not a Communist but a Russian nationalist. He doesn't have an ideology to impose around the world; rather, he is expanding Russian power at a time when the Russian population and energy resources are diminishing. So, it is a defensive action, not comparable to Communist aggression sixty years ago. Further, Islam Islamism was a weak force in 1954 and a very powerful one today.