November 16/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
God will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it
01Corinthians/Chapter 10/01-18/ Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;  and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;  and all ate the same spiritual food;  and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.  However with most of them, God was not well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  Don’t be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”  Let us not commit sexual immorality, as some of them committed, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell.  Let us not test Christ, as some of them tested, and perished by the serpents.  Don’t grumble, as some of them also grumbled, and perished by the destroyer.  Now all these things happened to them by way of example, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.  No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men. Judge what I say.  The cup of blessing which we bless, isn’t it a sharing of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, isn’t it a sharing of the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf of bread, we, who are many, are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf of bread.  Consider Israel according to the flesh. Don’t those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 15-16/17
Lebanon accuses Saudi Arabia of holding its PM hostage/Lisa Barrington, Angus McDowall/BEIRUT (Reuters)/November 15/17
Why did the Maronite Patriarch visit Riyadh/Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/November 15/17
What Hariri has exposed is an axis of resistance/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 15/17
Only the UN Can Hold a Real Syrian Election/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg View/November 15/17/
Giulio Meotti/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/November 15/17
Europe's Collusion in Palestinian Illegal Land Grab/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/November 15/17
Paradise Papers Show How Misguided the G.O.P. Is on Taxes/Bryce Covert/The New York Times/November 15/17
Ten reasons why the Iranian regime is more dangerous than Daesh/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arabnews/November 16/ 2017

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 15-16/17
UN resolution calls on Iranian militia fighters to exit Syrian conflict
Hariri to Velayati: Yemen Comes before Any Dialogue with Saudi Arabia
Lebanese Patriarch: I Support Hariri's Reasons for Resignation
Israel Fears Syria Buffer Will Put Hizbullah, Iran Close to Frontier
Rouhani Accuses Saudi of 'Rare' Intervention in Lebanon
Bassil Says 'Lebanon is Not Hizbullah', Tells Saudi Its Problem is with Iran
Aoun Says Hariri 'Detained' in Saudi Arabia, PM Denies
French Presidency Says Hariri to Go to France 'in Coming Days'
Bahaa Hariri Backs Brother's Resignation, Slams Hizbullah, Iran
Abducted' Saudi 'Turns Himself in' to Army after Arriving from Syria
Jumblat Urges against 'Declaring War' on Saudi Arabia
Lebanon: Developments since Hariri's Resignation
Love Him or Hate Him, Lebanese Want PM Hariri Home
Supporters Say Refusing to Free Paris-Held Lebanese-Canadian 'Absurd'
Macron Says Hariri Must Submit Resignation in Lebanon, Le Drian to Meet PM in Saudi
Lebanese Army Captures ‘Abou Taqiyeh’
Lebanon accuses Saudi Arabia of holding its PM hostage

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 15-16/17
More than 60 killed in air strike on Syrian market town
International coalition: 300 ISIS fighters might have fled from Raqqa
Israel offers aid to arch-foe Iran after deadly earthquake
Survivors of Iran quake await badly needed aid, 3 days later
New roadblocks’ emerge in Iraq after ISIS defeat
Egypt court upholds life sentence of brotherhood leader
Migrants are auctioned for sale in Libya
Swiss woman abducted in Sudan’s Darfur region freed
Turkey Condemns 'Escape' of Raqa Jihadists
N. Korea Slams Trump for Insulting Leader
Washington Pegs US-Led Coalition Stay in Syria to Geneva Talks
Total’ Reviews Iranian Deal in Case US Reimposes Sanctions
Canada welcomes international community’s clear support for Iranian people and for human rights reforms in Iran

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 15-16/17
UN resolution calls on Iranian militia fighters to exit Syrian conflict
Al Arabiya English/15 November 2017/
The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution against serious human rights violations in Syria, most notably is their call on Iranian militias to leave Syria.
The UN resolution condemned systematic violations and abuses against Syrian civilians since the start of the revolution in 2011. The UN also held the regime accountable for the violence. The resolution demanded foreign fighters in Syria to leave, mainly referring to the Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran-backed Hezbollah militia. Meanwhile, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday which condemns Iran for its widespread violations, increased executions and repression of nationalities and religious minorities. Supporters of the resolution expressed their concern about the increasing number of human rights violations in Iran, including high death rates, discrimination against women, ethnic and religious minorities and arbitrary arrests of activists, journalists and critics. The Canadian representative at the UN General assembly, whose country prepared the resolution in question, said that the international community is deeply concerned about the increasing number of executions, particularly the execution of minors and women. Similarly, the Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdallah al-Muallami said during resolution discussions that Saudi Arabia supports the UN resolution on the human rights situation in Iran. Muallami also accused Iran of serious violations towards the rights of Ahvaz Arabs in Iran. Earlier, laws were passed to remove these people form their areas of residence in order to change the demographic structure of the region east and north of the Arabian Gulf.

Hariri to Velayati: Yemen Comes before Any Dialogue with Saudi Arabia
Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 .The press office of outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has denied remarks made by Iranian Supreme Leader’s advisor Ali Akbar Velayati that Hariri had offered to mediate with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during their last meeting in Beirut. “Hariri did not offer to mediate between any country, rather he 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 in relations between Iran and the Kingdom,” the press office said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Hariri reiterated insistently that this is his personal point of view.” When Velayati replied that he sees dialogue on the Yemeni crisis as a good starting point for dialogue between Iran and the Kingdom, Hariri answered: “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.”

Lebanese Patriarch: I Support Hariri's Reasons for Resignation

Beirut- Paula Astih/Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 /Lebanon’s Christian Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutrous al-Rahi said that Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri will return to Lebanon as fast as possible, expressing, for the first time, his support for the reasons behind Hariri’s resignation.
Rahi held a series of meetings with several officials including the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed, after which he heard from both the King and the Crown Prince “a Saudi anthem of love for Lebanon, its people and its land." Patriarch Rahi also reported King Salman's love and support for Lebanon and the Lebanese community in the kingdom "who helped build Saudi Arabia and respected its laws and traditions." Rahi asserted that nothing will affect the Lebanese-Saudi relations and pointed out that "even if the relations underwent certain circumstances, the friendship between the two countries will not be affected." Asked when he expected Hariri to return to Lebanon, Rahi said: “I wish tonight ... we hope as soon as possible.” He stated that he is convinced and supports his reasons for resigning, adding that the Prime Minister must contact the Lebanese President, Speaker, and political leaders to explain the reasons for his resignation.A source accompanying Rahi during his visit to Saudi Arabia, described the meetings held in the kingdom as "very positive" pointing that all issues had been discussed openly and amicably. The source told Asharq al-Awsat that Islamic-Christian dialogue had been also discussed, stating that Rahi's 24-hours visit was all in all historic. In addition, the source confirmed that Hariri-Rahi meeting was very good, stating that the PM is likely to return to Lebanon very soon. He also indicated that he doesn't expect the political crisis to prolong following the resignation. Rahi left Riyadh on Tuesday evening heading to Rome, Italy, where he'll stay until the end of the week and will meet several Vatican officials. Before leaving the kingdom, the Patriarch met with the Lebanese community residing in Saudi Arabia at the Lebanese embassy in Riyadh who expressed their fears of the negative influences of the crisis. However, Rahi assured them: "We will maintain a strong friendship between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon," stating that the kingdom had always supported Lebanon during the toughest political, economic, and security stages. "This is our history even if we have had stormy relations sometimes. (There) is a history of friendship with this dear kingdom," indicated the Patriarch, adding that several Saudi Kings and Princes had houses in Lebanon and loved this country. Addressing the Lebanese community, Rahi said: "Saudis love and respect you, and on your behalf, I thank the King and Crown Prince for having you. We will maintain the friendship and brotherhood between both Lebanon and the kingdom." Rahi also expressed that the Custodian's invitation to visit the kingdom consolidates the will to maintain the good relationship between the Maronite Patriarchate and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Maronite Church sources commented on Rahi's announcement concerning Hariri's resignation saying: "Who doesn't support the reasons for the resignation, namely involvement of part of Lebanese people in the affairs of Arab states precisely Syria and Yemen? Who doesn't want to re-establish the dissociation and neutral policy to avert Lebanon the crisis?" Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, the sources considered that, seeking the national interest, Patriarch Rahi voiced Lebanese people's thoughts without siding with anyone.

Israel Fears Syria Buffer Will Put Hizbullah, Iran Close to Frontier
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 15/17/A map included in a preliminary agreement that seeks to establish buffer zones in southwest Syria indicates that Iran-backed forces could deploy within several kilometers of the Israeli frontier, a media report said on Wednesday. The map of the agreement, reached between the U.S., Russia and Jordan last week, shows the buffer area nearly abutting the town of Quneitra next to the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the map on Wednesday. Israel has long complained about the involvement of archenemy Iran and its Lebanese ally Hizbullah in Syria. Israeli officials say Israel is not a party to last week's "memorandum of understanding" and will defend its interests. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that Israel maintains the right to "act freely" and will not allow Syria to become a front line.

Rouhani Accuses Saudi of 'Rare' Intervention in Lebanon

Associated Press/Naharnet/November 15/17/Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday ratcheted up the rhetoric against Saudi Arabia, his country's main regional rival, saying the kingdom pressured Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign in a "rare" intervention in another nation's affairs. Rouhani also accused Saudi Arabia, without naming the kingdom, of "begging" Israel to bomb Lebanon. Iran-allied Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has made the same accusation. Saudi Arabia has accused Hizbullah of aiding Iran-allied rebels in Yemen, who fired a ballistic missile that was intercepted outside the Saudi capital earlier this month. Hizbullah has said Saudi Arabia forced Hariri to resign in order to bring down his coalition government, which includes the group. Hariri is a Saudi ally who holds dual citizenship. He announced his unexpected resignation in a pre-recorded statement broadcast on Saudi TV on Nov. 4, in which he lashed out at Hizbullah and said he feared for his safety.

Bassil Says 'Lebanon is Not Hizbullah', Tells Saudi Its Problem is with Iran
Naharnet/November 15/17/Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil stressed Wednesday that Saudi Arabia should not act against entire Lebanon if it has a problem with Hizbullah or Iran.“Our premier is not Hizbullah and I'm not Hizbullah, and if Saudi Arabia has a problem with Iran, let it resolve it with Iran, not with Lebanon and the Lebanese,” said Bassil during a meeting in Rome with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano. Bassil, however, noted that Lebanon is still seeking to resolve the latest crisis with Riyadh in a “bilateral” manner and that resorting to international law would be the last option. “Our objective is to resolve the crisis bilaterally in order to restore the normal situation,” Bassil, who started a Europe tour on Tuesday to explain Lebanon's position, told reporters. He said it is “abnormal” for Lebanon's prime minister to be in an “ambiguous” situation despite his announcement that he will return home.“There is no reason that explains his failure to return to Lebanon and international conventions guarantee his freedom of movement and this is a sovereign matter,” Bassil added. “To overcome this dilemma, let our premier return to his country to express his opinion freely,” the FM went on to say. “Certainly, we will only resort to dialogue to resolve our problems, but we reject interference in our affairs and we reject dictations. Let us end ambiguity through the return of our premier to Lebanon. We also reject any interference by Lebanon or the Lebanese in the affairs of other countries,” Bassil said.
He also denied receiving a phone a call from Hariri after reports said the premier had called Bassil to ask him to stop raising the issue of his family's freedom of movement in Saudi Arabia. Bassil later held talks in Rome with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, who was in the kingdom on Tuesday. After talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri, al-Rahi said he was "convinced by the reasons for his (Hariri's) resignation." "He will return to Lebanon as soon as possible," al-Rahi promised. Hariri has tweeted earlier 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. A political crisis has gripped Lebanon since Hariri read a 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.

Aoun Says Hariri 'Detained' in Saudi Arabia, PM Denies
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 15/17/President Michel Aoun on Wednesday accused Saudi Arabia of having "detained" Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who announced his resignation in a statement from the kingdom earlier this month. "Nothing justifies the failure of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to return for 12 days, therefore we consider him to be held and detained, contrary to the Vienna Convention," Aoun said in a tweet on the official Lebanese presidency account. Speaking to Lebanese media executives, Aoun also accused Saudi Arabia of committing a "hostile act against Lebanon."Speculation has swirled about the circumstances of Hariri's resignation since his surprise announcement on November 4 in a statement read on Saudi Arabia's Al-Arabiya television channel. There have been rumors that the prime minister, who is a Saudi citizen and grew up in the kingdom, had been detained along with dozens of Saudis in what Riyadh says is an anti-corruption campaign. Hours after Aoun's statement, Hariri took to Twitter in an apparent bid to quell rumours of his detention. "I want to repeat and confirm: I am totally, totally fine and I'll come back, God willing, to beloved Lebanon like I promised you all. You'll see," he wrote. It was his second tweet in two days seeking to dispel concerns that he was being held against his will. "Guys, I am perfectly fine, and God willing I will return in the coming days. Let's calm down," he said on Tuesday, in his first tweet in more than a week. Hariri, who has long been close to Saudi authorities, insisted in an interview with his party's television channel over the weekend that he had freedom of movement and would return to Lebanon in the coming days. But he has yet to show any sign of coming home, and statements from France and other countries have fuelled speculation that he is being held in Saudi Arabia.
Aoun has yet to officially accept Hariri's resignation, and has said he will not do so before meeting the premier in person in Lebanon. "No decision can be made on a resignation from abroad," he reiterated in a tweet on the presidency's account on Wednesday. "He should return to Lebanon to present his resignation or withdraw it, or to discuss the reasons for it and how to address them. "We cannot extend this wait and lose time, we cannot stop state affairs."  Aoun sought however to calm fears about Lebanon's stability in the face of the political crisis. "Do not be afraid, whether economically, financially or in terms of security," he said. "The country is safe and the financial markets are functioning properly."

French Presidency Says Hariri to Go to France 'in Coming Days'

Agence France Presse/Associated Press/Naharnet/November 15/17
Prime Minister Saad Hariri will come to France "in the coming days," a source at the French presidency told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.
The development came after the presidency said in a statement that President Emmanuel Macron had "invited" Hariri and his family to France. The statement said the invitation came after Macron spoke by telephone to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri, who announced his resignation in a surprise statement from the kingdom on November 4. Macron later said he is not offering Hariri political "exile," but wants him to come to France for a while to help calm tensions in Lebanon and dispel fears that he is a Saudi prisoner. Speaking to reporters Wednesday during a climate meeting in Germany, Macron said that in discussions with Hariri and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, "we agreed that I would invite (Hariri) to France for several days with his family."He said "we need to have leaders who are free to express themselves," adding that "it's important that (Hariri) is able to advance the political process in his country in the coming days and weeks." A French diplomatic official said it is up to Hariri to announce his plans publicly but that he is believed to have accepted Macron's invitation, and that he would probably come directly from Riyadh. Lebanon's LBCI television said Hariri will "likely" head to France on Thursday. "Macron urged him to return to Lebanon after visiting Paris and he will meet with him the moment he arrives in the French capital," LBCI added. It later reported, quoting sources informed on the negotiations, that Hariri was “invited to Paris in his capacity as prime minister.”“He will then return to Beirut to inform the president of his stance on the issue of the premiership,” LBCI added. The development came as French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in Riyadh where he is due to meet Prince Mohammed later Wednesday and also hold talks with Hariri on Thursday. Speculation has swirled around Hariri's prolonged stay in Saudi Arabia since the announcement of his resignation. There were rumors that Hariri, who is a Saudi citizen and grew up in the kingdom, had been detained along with dozens of Saudis in what Riyadh says is an anti-corruption campaign. Hariri moved to dispel rumors of his detention, saying on Twitter that he had freedom of movement. He said he was planning to return home to his "beloved" Lebanon. President Michel Aoun has yet to officially accept Hariri's resignation, and has said he will not do so before meeting the premier in person -- in Lebanon.

Bahaa Hariri Backs Brother's Resignation, Slams Hizbullah, Iran

Associated Press/Naharnet/November 15/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri's older brother broke his silence Wednesday over the premier's mysterious resignation, saying he supports his brother's decision to step down over Hizbullah's policies.In his first public statement, Bahaa Hariri also blasted Iran, Hizbullah's regional sponsor. In a statement from Bahaa Hariri's office sent to The Associated Press, he accused Hizbullah of seeking "to take control of Lebanon." He also expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia for "decades of support" for Lebanon's national institutions. Bahaa Hariri's name has been mentioned in Lebanese media reports as a possible Saudi-backed candidate to replace his brother, who announced his resignation from the Saudi capital on Nov. 4. In a follow-up phone call from Monaco with the AP Wednesday, Bahaa Hariri declined to comment further. Saad Hariri, who headed a year-old coalition government that included Hizbullah, cited Iran and Hizbullah's meddling in the region for his decision to step down. He has not returned to Lebanon since, and the Lebanese president has refused to accept his resignation before he returns to the country to explain the circumstances of his decision. Top Lebanese officials believe Saudi Arabia forced the resignation on Hariri, a dual Lebanese-Saudi national, and is holding him in the kingdom against his will. "I support my brother Saad's decision to resign as prime minister of Lebanon in the face of the growing demands and actions of Hizbullah, Iran's surrogate party, in Lebanon," the statement by Bahaa Hariri said. It said the Hariri family has always stood for the principles that make Lebanon unique in the world, including its mosaic of different confessions and political backgrounds. "Only a pernicious outside actor, such as Iran and its surrogate, Hizbullah, can upset the balance as this group now seeks to take control of Lebanon," the statement added. Lebanese media reported last week that the kingdom had decided to replace Hariri, whom it has come to perceive as too lenient with Hizbullah, with his older brother as its new man in Lebanon. Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, a member of Hariri's al-Mustaqbal Movement and a close aide, dismissed the reports. "We are not a herd of sheep or a piece of property whose ownership can be handed over from one person to the other," he told reporters. Bahaa Hariri, 51, worked in his family's construction and development company, Saudi Oger, in Saudi Arabia. He then split, and now runs his own real estate and investment businesses. He rarely makes comments to the press. In April 2005, two months after their father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was assassinated in a Beirut bombing, the family announced that Saad would assume his father's political mantle, skipping over his brother, Bahaa, who is several years his senior. The relationship between the two Hariri brothers is reportedly tense.

Abducted' Saudi 'Turns Himself in' to Army after Arriving from Syria
Naharnet/November 15/17/Saudi citizen Ali al-Bashrawi turned himself in to a Lebanese Army checkpoint in the Hermel area of Jisr Hawsh al-Sayyed Ali, an army statement said. Bashrawi turned himself in after entering into Lebanon from Syria, the army added. “A probe has since been launched under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities,” the military said. Media reports said 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 was 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.”

Jumblat Urges against 'Declaring War' on Saudi Arabia

Naharnet/November 15/17/Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat on Wednesday urged against “declaring war” on Saudi Arabia, amid a political and diplomatic offensive led by President Michel Aoun and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil demanding that Prime Minister Saad Hariri return home from the kingdom. “What happened with Sheikh Saad Hariri was extraordinary and unusual, and in my opinion the efforts to address the situation should be calm and in accordance to norms,” Jumblat tweeted.“Hariri will return as he confirmed, but No to declaring war on the kingdom,” Jumblat added. Hariri will travel to France "in the coming days," a French presidential source said Wednesday, after Aoun accused Saudi Arabia of detaining him following his shock resignation. International pressure has been mounting for Hariri to return to Beirut after his prolonged stay in the kingdom since he announced in a televised speech from Riyadh on November 4 that he would be stepping down. The French presidency said Hariri and his family had been "invited" to France after President Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone with both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Lebanese prime minister.
Speculation has swirled around the fate of Hariri, who is a Saudi citizen and grew up in the kingdom, with Aoun describing him as a “hostage.”In his sharply worded resignation from Saudi Arabia, Hariri, 47, accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hizbullah of destabilizing Lebanon and the broader region.
The statement sparked concern that tiny Lebanon would be caught in the crosshairs of rising tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. While he was guarded in his first reactions to Hariri's absence, Aoun has since stepped up the rhetoric. "What happened wasn't a resignation -- it was an attack on Lebanon's independence and dignity," he said Wednesday, adding that Hariri's absence represented "a violation of the international declaration of human rights."Aoun has yet to formally accept Hariri's resignation and has said he will not do so before meeting him in person in Lebanon. Bassil has also visited several European capitals over the past two days to press for Hariri's return to Lebanon. Jumblat's remarks come a few days before an Arab League meeting requested by Riyadh and Bassil is yet to confirm his participation in the talks. In his first media appearance since he stepped down, Hariri said on Sunday that he had freedom of movement and would return to Lebanon in the coming days.

Lebanon: Developments since Hariri's Resignation
A timeline of developments since the surprise announcement by Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia that he was resigning.
Shock resignation
On November 4, Hariri , in Saudi Arabia, announces his resignation, citing Iran's "grip" on the country and threats to his life. In a speech broadcast by the Al-Arabiya news network, he accuses Tehran of "creating a state within the state... to the extent that it gets the final say on how Lebanon's affairs are run."Iran rejects what it says are "unfounded accusations."On November 5, Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says Hariri's resignation had been "imposed" by Saudi Arabia. "It is clear that the resignation was a Saudi decision that was imposed on Prime Minister Hariri," he says in a televised address.
The resignation coincided with a mass purge of more than 200 Saudi princes, ministers and businessmen. On November 7 Hariri, a day after meeting Saudi King Salman, visits Abu Dhabi. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan assures him of his country's "support" for Lebanon "in the face of regional challenges and interferences in its affairs."
Hariri 'detained': Hizbullah
President Michel Aoun, who steps up diplomatic contacts, expresses concern at Hariri's fate. On November 10 Nasrallah says in a televised speech Hariri was "detained" by Saudi Arabia, which was "inciting Israel" the sworn enemy of his movement, "to strike Lebanon."U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warns other countries against using Lebanon for "proxy conflicts."French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says Hariri is "free to move around."
Hariri says 'free'
On November 12 President Aoun criticizes "the obscure circumstances in which... Hariri is staying in Riyadh."On the same day , Hariri says he will "return to Lebanon very soon." "I am free here. If I want to travel tomorrow, I will," Hariri says in an exclusive interview from Riyadh with his party's Future TV.
Maronite patriarch in Riyadh
On November 14, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, in a historic visit to Saudi Arabia, meets King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Hariri.
"I am convinced by the reasons for his resignation," al-Rahi says. "He will return to Lebanon as soon as possible."
France steps up initiatives
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says Hariri must be able to return home from Saudi Arabia to end "a period of uncertainty."President Emmanuel Macron, who paid a flying visit on November 9 to Riyadh to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reiterates his wish that "Hariri can go to Lebanon as he has announced," during a meeting with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.
Hariri detained: Aoun
On November 15 President Aoun accuses Saudi Arabia of having "detained" Hariri. "We consider him to be held and detained," he says. Hariri replies on Twitter: "I want to repeat and confirm: I am totally, totally fine and I'll come back, God willing, to beloved Lebanon like I promised you all. You'll see."
France says Foreign Minister Le Drian is to meet with Hariri on Thursday during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Love Him or Hate Him, Lebanese Want PM Hariri Home
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 15/17/Lebanon's divided politicians rarely agree on anything, but they have fleetingly united in calling for Prime Minister Saad Hariri to return home, even if their motivations vary vastly.Hariri announced his resignation on November 4, in a shock statement delivered from Saudi Arabia on the kingdom's Al-Arabiya television station. The resignation, which reportedly took even his closest advisers by surprise, as well as his decision to announce it from abroad, quickly led to speculation about whether he had been forced to step down by Riyadh. Then, a massive wave of arrests of high-profile figures within Saudi Arabia led to swirling rumors about whether Hariri too was being held against his will. Hariri's detractors, including Hizbullah and its allies, have used the speculation to paint him as feeble and at the mercy of his Saudi sponsors. On Wednesday, President Michel Aoun, a political rival of Hariri's despite the deal they made to form a government, directly charged Riyadh with having "detained" the Lebanese premier. "Nothing justifies the failure of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to return for 12 days, therefore we consider him to be held and detained, contrary to the Vienna Convention," Aoun said in a tweet on the official Lebanese presidency account. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has also suggested the premier was being held.
Imminent return
Hariri's own al-Mustaqbal Movement has called his return its "top priority."Hariri tried to put paid to suggestions he was being held against his will in an interview with his party's Future TV on Saturday."I am free here. If I want to travel tomorrow, I will," Hariri said. "I will return to Lebanon very soon," he added, pledging to land in Beirut "in two or three days."But he has yet to return, and pronouncements from France and other countries have suggested he may not have the freedom of movement he professes. In tweets on Tuesday and Wednesday, he renewed his promise to return, but there was little sign many Lebanese expected his arrival imminently. On the ground, conversation among Lebanese has been consumed by the whereabouts of their erstwhile prime minister and the possibility of his return. Treatment of the subject has ranged from earnest to satirical, with hashtags and memes circulating on social media as debate rages on the issue. Soon after his resignation, the hashtags #WhereisSaad? and #freeSaad began to circulate on social media, and a website -- -- was set up tracking the minutes since he stepped down. Over the weekend, runners in Beirut's 15th annual marathon sported T-shirts and signs declaring "We want our PM back."And across parts of the capital, posters have gone up in solidarity with the missing premier, featuring his face and slogans like "We are all with you."
Anger and laughter
Nawal, a resident of Beirut's Ras al-Nabaa neighborhood in her fifties, was fuming at what many in the country, regardless of sectarian or political allegiance, have perceived as a humiliation. "We're very upset about what happened to him. We didn’t think Saudi Arabia could treat a Lebanese like this. We want Saad Hariri to return immediately because what happened has made us very angry," she said. In a country that has lived through decades of political turmoil and unrest even since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, there is still enough sangfroid however to joke about the situation. One widely circulated meme showed a crop of Lebanese politicians in military helmets on a parody poster of the movie "Saving Private Ryan.""Saving Private Saad" reads the caption below them. In another instance, the word "HELP" was edited onto the face of Hariri's wristwatch. But not everyone has found the events so amusing. "The sad fact is that the joke is really on us," wrote Najib Mitri on the BlogBaladi website."This is humiliating to all of us Lebanese. And Lebanon's newspapers have been full of editorials warning that the crisis bodes ill for a country that has been buffeted by regional conflicts including the rivalry between Saudi and Iran, and the war in neighboring Syria. "What is most disturbing... is the fact that people are ignoring building clouds of danger," wrote editorialist Nabil Bou Monsef in the An Nahar newspaper."Someone has decided that they are capable of destroying their regional rival... even if it comes at the cost of a new crisis for Lebanon."

Supporters Say Refusing to Free Paris-Held Lebanese-Canadian 'Absurd'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 15/17/Lawyers and supporters of the chief suspect in a deadly attack on a Paris synagogue in 1980 expressed disappointment at his being denied release for an eighth time on Tuesday. Hassan Diab, 63, had been ordered released pending the conclusion of the investigation into the case, but the decision was overturned on appeal. The Lebanese-Canadian sociology professor is accused of being part of a Palestinian group blamed for the bombing on October 3, 1980 that left four dead and around 40 injured. Diab has been detained in France since being extradited from Canada in 2014. While the 37-year-old case has been investigated by French authorities, he has maintained his innocence and denied being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Roger Clark, a former director of Amnesty International and member of a Diab support group, told AFP that his continued detention is "extremely disappointing.""The decision to deny his release reflects the ridiculous nature of what's going on in his case. It's grotesquely absurd," he said. Clark met with Diab in prison during a recent trip to Paris. "He expressed a lot of disappointment. Physically he's finding it quite difficult, his health is okay but not great, his mental state is a challenge for him, and he's having difficulty remaining optimistic," Clark said. The bombing at the synagogue on Rue Copernic in Paris was the first major attack on a Jewish site in France since World War II. The prosecution has pointed to a sketch of the bomber resembling Diab, the discovery of a passport in his name with entry and exit stamps from Spain, where the bomber is believed to have fled, and testimonies that Diab was a member of the PFLP in the early 1980s. Diab insists that he was in Beirut at the time of the attack, taking university exams, which witnesses have corroborated. The facts raise "doubts" about Diab's presence in France and other evidence implicating him in the attack, said the judge who had ordered Diab's release, according to a source close to the case.
"We are confronted with an unprecedented and ubiquitous situation," his lawyers told AFP."As almost always in the most serious cases, the liberation and recognition of the innocence of the one who was wrongly accused takes time, but it will come."

Macron Says Hariri Must Submit Resignation in Lebanon, Le Drian to Meet PM in Saudi

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 15/17/French President Emmanuel Macron, in a fresh statement via a spokesman Wednesday, stressed that Prime Minister Saad Hariri should be able to return to Lebanon to confirm, or not, his resignation. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will meanwhile meet with Hariri on Thursday during a visit to Saudi Arabia, an aide said. Le Drian will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and meet with powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the capital Riyadh before holding talks with Hariri on Thursday, the aide at the foreign ministry told a briefing. As it was unclear when Hariri will leave Saudi Arabia to return home, the timing of the meeting "may be adjusted," the aide said. President Michel Aoun on Wednesday openly accused Saudi Arabia of having "detained" Hariri, who announced his resignation in a surprise statement from the kingdom on November 4. "Nothing justifies the failure of Prime Minister Saad Hariri to return for 12 days, therefore we consider him to be held and detained, contrary to the Vienna Convention," Aoun said in a tweet on the official Lebanese presidency account. Hariri, who has long been close to Saudi authorities, insisted in an interview with his party's television channel over the weekend that he had freedom of movement and would return to Lebanon in the coming days.

Lebanese Army Captures ‘Abou Taqiyeh’
Asharq Al Awsat/Wednesday, 15 November, 2017 /The Lebanese army arrested on Wednesday Mustafa al-Hujairi who is suspected of involvement in the abduction of Lebanese servicemen by ISIS and al-Nusra Front militants when they briefly overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August 2014.The military’s general command said that al-Hujairi, also known as Abou Taqiyeh, was captured by the army intelligence during a dawn raid in Arsal. The suspect is being questioned by the relevant authorities, the army communique said. In September, the army sought Hujairi’s arrest following confessions by his detained son, Obada, about his father's involvement in the 2014 hostage-taking of around 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen.

Lebanon accuses Saudi Arabia of holding its PM hostage
Lisa Barrington, Angus McDowall/BEIRUT (Reuters)/November 15/17
Lebanon’s president on Wednesday accused Saudi Arabia of holding hostage prime minister Saad al-Hariri along with his family - the first time he has explicitly said he was being held - and called this an act of aggression. Lebanese President Michel Aoun meets with Lebanese journalists and media executives at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, November 15, 2017. Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS
“We will not accept him remaining a hostage whose reason for detention we do not know,” President Michel Aoun said in a statement. Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the head of Aoun’s political party, said the situation was “not normal” but that Beirut wanted “good relations” with Riyadh.
Hariri’s abrupt resignation as premier in a statement televised from the Saudi capital Riyadh on Nov. 4 thrust Lebanon to the front of a Middle East contest for power between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri’s resignation until he returns to Lebanon to formally submit it and explain his reasons, which Hariri has said he will do in the coming days. Top Lebanese officials and senior politicians close to Hariri told Reuters last week that Saudi Arabia was holding him and had coerced him into quitting. Hariri has denied being kept in custody by Saudi Arabia and pledged on Wednesday to return soon. Riyadh denies detaining him or forcing him to resign. Saudi Arabia has long been considered Hariri’s main external supporter. Aoun is a political ally of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a powerful Shi‘ite Muslim group with close ties to Iran. Lebanon’s coalition government was formed last year through a political deal that made Aoun president, Hariri prime minister, and included members of Hezbollah in the cabinet.
Saudi Arabia last week accused Lebanon of having declared war on it because of Hezbollah’s role in other Arab countries. It regards Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Riyadh’s main ally, the United States, has struck a different tone, continuing its support for Lebanon including military aid. The European Union has also repeatedly stated its support for Lebanon, which hosts 1.5 million Syrian refugees. In an interview on Sunday night with a television station he owns, Hariri warned of economic sanctions against Lebanon and of a threat to the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese workers living in Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies. “Nothing justifies Hariri’s lack of return for 12 days. We therefore consider him detained,” Aoun said.
He added that Lebanon had confirmed that Hariri’s family were under detention in their house in Saudi Arabia and were searched whenever they entered or left it. Speaking in Italy, Foreign Minister Bassil said: “We will continue all steps...for this problem to be solved in a brotherly way through good relations that we want to have with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” He added, however: “If Saudi Arabia has a problem with Iran or with Hezbollah, they have to solve it with Iran, not with Lebanon and not with all the Lebanese.”Hariri wrote on Twitter that he was “perfectly fine” and would return, “God willing, to dear Lebanon as I promised”. On Wednesday he said he would return in a couple of days but that his family was staying in Saudi Arabia, calling it “their country”. Hariri holds Saudi nationality and his family fortune is based on the construction company - Saudi Oger - built by his father Rafik al-Hariri, who served twice as Lebanese prime minister and was assassinated in 2005. Okab Sakr, a member of parliament for Hariri’s Future Movement, told Reuters he had spoken on Wednesday to Hariri and that he told him neither he nor his family were being held.
On Tuesday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said after meeting Bassil in Paris that she expected Hariri and his family to return to Lebanon soon.
Sources from across Lebanon’s political spectrum have said Hariri struck a more compromising tone in his Sunday interview than in his resignation statement, when he bitterly attacked Iran and Hezbollah. Lebanon wants good ties with Saudi Arabia: foreign minister . The sources said this represented a retreat by Riyadh attributable to Western pressure. On Wednesday, Aoun said Riyadh had not responded to Arab countries who tried to secure Hariri’s return so he had asked the international community to help. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called on Hariri to return to Lebanon. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives in Riyadh late on Wednesday and is due to discuss Lebanon with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and meet Hariri on Thursday, a French diplomatic source said. France has close relations with Lebanon, which was under French control between the world wars, and with Hariri, who has a home in France and spent several years in the country. “(Le Drian) will reiterate the importance of avoiding all interference and respecting the principle of sovereignty in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told reporters in a daily briefing. “(Drian) will confirm France’s attachment to Lebanon’s stability within this context.”Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-foe, accused Riyadh of “multiple mistaken calculations” in the Middle East. In Lebanon it had “made a completely childish mistake”, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Fars news agency.
**Reporting by Lisa Barrington, Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam in Beirut, John Irish in Paris and Isla; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Mark Heinrich. Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 15-16/17
More than 60 killed in air strike on Syrian market town
Reuters, Beirut/15 November 2017/The death toll from air strikes on a Syrian town in a “de-escalation zone” has risen to 61, a war monitor said on Tuesday, a demonstration of the fragile state of areas set up in attempt to ease the violence. Extremist rebels blamed Russian warplanes of carrying out Monday’s attack and said they would fight back against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and his Russian and Iranian backers in the six-year-old conflict. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three air strikes hit the market in Atareb, west of Aleppo, and killed at least 61 people.
Atareb is inside what is known as a de-escalation zone under an agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran to reduce the bloodshed. But despite the diplomatic efforts, fighting continues in many areas, including Aleppo, Idlib, Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Hama. “(The zones) did de-escalate fighting,” UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland told Reuters. But lately, “there has been increased fighting also.”The zones were set up under the Astana process, a series of talks in the capital of Kazakhstan between Russia and Iran, and the rebels’ supporter Turkey. They agreed in September to deploy observers on the edge of a de-escalation zone in Syria’s Idlib province, which is largely under the control of militant insurgents. Following the air strikes, the Tahrir al-Sham extremist alliance denounced the ceasefire talks and pledged to keep fighting government forces and their Russian and Iranian allies. “This aggression and crimes confirms for us that there is no solution with the colonizers without fighting and struggling,” it said. Tahrir al-Sham includes the group formerly known as the Nusra Front, which changed its name last year when it broke formal ties to al Qaeda.

International coalition: 300 ISIS fighters might have fled from Raqqa
Al Arabiya English/15 November 2017/The International Coalition stated, after a month since Syria's democratic forces restored Raqqa, that dozens of foreign fighters could have been hiding among civilians and might have managed to escape elsewhere during the evacuation of 3,000 civilians from the city.
Col. Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for the coalition forces, said there were about 300 militants who had been identified as potential fighters but not all those fighters who fled Raqqa were identified. The local council of Raqqa and the "Syrian-democratic" forces reached an agreement regarding the exit of civilians from the city. During the exit, all civilians were subjected to inspection and examination, during which the Syrian Democratic Forces identified four foreign militants who had been arrested, and about 300 others who were classified as "potential fighters of ISIS." The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has repeatedly stated that hundreds of ISIS fighters, including foreigners, left Raqqa with their weapons and ammunition in a large convoy on 12 October. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of seeking to change the regime in Syria by "supporting terrorists and foreign fighters and providing a cover for ISIS fighters," Moscow said. Turkey, however, expressed its shock at Washington's position on the agreement signed by the Syrian Democratic Forces with ISIS organization, which stated that all ISIS organization fighters must depart from Raqqa.

Israel offers aid to arch-foe Iran after deadly earthquake
Reuters, Jerusalem/15 November 2017/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered aid to the victims of the weekend's deadly earthquake in Iran insisting enmity between the two governments does not prevent humanitarian sympathy. The offer, made in a video conference with the Jewish Federations of North America, was largely rhetorical. Iran does not recognize the Jewish state and Israeli media reported that the offer was swiftly turned down through the International Committee of the Red Cross. But it comes as many of the tens of thousands left homeless by the quake have vented anger at the Islamic regime for what they say has been the slow response of the charitable foundations set up after the revolution of 1979. "I saw these heartbreaking images of men and women and children buried under the rubble," Netanyahu told the meting in Los Angeles. "A few hours ago, I directed that we offer the Red Cross medical assistance for the Iraqi and Iranian victims of this disaster. "I've said many times that we have no quarrel with the people of Iran. Our quarrel is only with the tyrannical regime that holds them hostage and threatens our destruction. But our humanity is greater than their hatred." More than 400 people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless by the quake that struck on the Iran-Iraq border late on Sunday. Israel regards Iran and its close ally Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah as its most dangerous foes Iran has been a staunch supporter of Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Tens of thousands of Jews of Iranian ancestry have played a prominent role in the state of Israel, counting among their number a former president, a former army chief and several former government ministers.

Survivors of Iran quake await badly needed aid, 3 days later
The Associated Press/15 November 2017/Many survivors in Iran were still awaiting badly needed aid on Wednesday, three days after the powerful earthquake along the Iraq border killed more than 530 people and left thousands injured. The delay in getting help to the needy came as public order broke down in many instances where aid was being delivered. Officials said families that were not affected by the quake rushed and took some of the aid supplies. The police said they deployed forces to secure aid distribution and prevent more chaotic outbreaks. Many in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e Zahab, home to half the casualties from the temblor, told The Associated Press that they still have not received aid and that they needed help to remove debris so they could try to get to their damaged homes and retrieve some essential belongings. Reports said more than 12,000 tents were distributed in the area, though more than 30,000 houses were affected by the quake - 15,500 of them completely destroyed. Debris removal was expected to end within the next 10 days. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged late on Tuesday for continued aid shipments to the area ahead of the “cold weather and difficult cold season.”Iranian officials blamed the slow aid in part on the chaotic situation in the stricken region. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told an open session of the parliament on Thursday that a total of 36,000 tents had been sent to the region, including those already distributed.Many families unaffected by the earthquake had rushed to aid distribution places and taken supplies that were not meant for them, Fazli added. Because of a lack of public order, some dispatches of aid deliveries were “blocked” before reaching their destination, he also said. Morteza Salimi of the Iranian Red Crescent told state TV that despite enough aid supplies, “there were some problems in distributing the relief ... safety and security were violated.” Iran’s deputy police chief, Gen. Eskandar Momeni, visited the area and told reporters that his forces would ensure “security for the distribution of assistance.”The region, reconstructed in the decades since Iran’s 1980s war with Iraq, was hit by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake on Sunday night. The official IRNA news agency said 530 were killed while state TV put the number at 432. There was no explanation for the discrepancy though double-counting and burying bodies in remote villages without informing officials are common occurrences in the country. The quake injured 9,388 people, according to a Wednesday report by the semi-official ISNA news agency. Of those, some 1,400 were still hospitalized. The temblor hit about 19 miles (31 kilometers) outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the US Geological Survey, and struck 14.4 miles (23.2 kilometers) below the surface, a somewhat shallow depth that can cause broader damage. Nine people were killed in Iraq and 550 were injured, all in the country’s northern, semiautonomous Kurdish region, according to the United Nations. Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to near-daily quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. In 2012, a major casualty earthquake killed over 300 in northeast of the country.

New roadblocks’ emerge in Iraq after ISIS defeat
Reuters, Erbil/15 November 2017/The war against ISIS in Iraq may soon be over but providing humanitarian aid to Iraqis is becoming more difficult as new political and cultural divides open up, the director of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said. Jan Egeland also warned that members of the international coalition which helped Baghdad in its three-year campaign against ISIS could now drastically reduce their humanitarian budget for Iraq following the militants’ defeat. More than 3 million people displaced by ISIS-related violence in the last three years have still not returned home. A rift between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurds following a September referendum on independence has created a fresh wave of displacement. “New political, cultural and sectarian divides seem to be popping up,” Egeland told Reuters during a visit to Iraq. “There are too many cleavages in Iraq. We don’t need more roadblocks and certainly not more violence.” The NRC runs one of the largest foreign aid operations in Iraq. ISIS’ self-declared caliphate effectively collapsed in July when US-backed Iraqi forces re-took Mosul, the group’s de facto capital in Iraq, after a grueling nine-month battle which reduced much of it to rubble. Nearly one million people fled Mosul since 2014, but only one third of its residents have so far been able to return, aid groups say. Iraqi government officials have estimated it will take at least five years and billions of dollars to rebuild Mosul alone. “There’s one thing we should have learned in Iraq - it is that we cannot spend countless billions of dollars on military campaigns and then not spend the smaller sums needed to make it safe for people in the future,” Egeland said. “This is a time of decision-making: will we stay and help people recover and rebuild their lives next year? Or will we prematurely think the job is done? The international community must not abandon the millions of people who are still displaced, Egeland said. “That would be not only shameful but shortsighted.”

Egypt court upholds life sentence of brotherhood leader
AFP, Cairo/15 November 2017/An Egyptian court Wednesday upheld a life sentence passed in 2016 against Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie over deadly clashes following Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, judicial officials said. The court of cassation, whose rulings can not be appealed, upheld the verdict of life terms against Badie, the Brotherhood’s spiritual guide, and eight others over clashes in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya that killed three people. The court also confirmed three-year jail sentences against 19 defendants and 10-year terms against 29 others. The authorities have arrested thousands of Brotherhood leaders and members, including Morsi, since his ouster by the army in 2013. Hundreds have been sentenced to death, although many have appealed and won retrials. The country was rocked by violence for weeks after Morsi’s supporters set up protest camps and demonstrated against his overthrow. On August 14, 2013, security forces violently dispersed two protest camps in Cairo demanding Morsi be reinstated, leaving more than 700 people dead. Morsi had won the country’s first free election in 2012, a year after a popular uprising ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak. But his rule was divisive and millions held protests in Cairo demanding his resignation, prompting the army to overthrow and detain him. Badie is facing charges in more than 35 trials, according to his lawyers. He was handed death sentences in three other cases but those rulings have been scrapped.

Migrants are auctioned for sale in Libya
Staff writer, Al Arabiya/15 November 2017/CNN has reported an investigation into the slavery trade in Libya and the human suffering of migrants stranded on its shores after failing to cross into Europe. The report relied on secret footage showing a market auctioning migrants to sell them for use as workers or farmers. The video shows two people sold within a few minutes for a thousand and two hundred Libyan dinars, less than three hundred dollars, and this is taking place in a natural atmosphere as if the people of this region are accustomed to this terrible sight. Tens of thousands of migrants cross the border every year from the sub-Saharan Africa to Libya, sailing on boats to the Italian coast, but the recent campaign by the Libyan Coast Guard in coordination with the European Union has blocked smugglers' operations. While the number of boats has been reduced on average, the number of migrants has increased in the warehouses of smugglers, so that they begin to treat migrants as goods offered for buying and selling when the smugglers fail to profit from them as passengers on their “death boats.”The investigation highlighted young Victor, a 21-year-old Nigerian. Victor said he escaped corruption in Nigeria, and his mother borrowed money so that he could travel to Europe to fulfill his dream. But as the European Union fought against illegal immigration and returned migrants to Libya, Victor found himself stranded in a detention center amid bleak humanitarian conditions. Most of the migrants in Libya are being subjected to human trafficking, he said. The fate of these immigrants remains unknown. Either the immigrant dies at sea or dies more than once on Libyan territory. CNN said it had handed over the evidence it had to the Libyan authorities, who on their part promised to investigate the case.

Swiss woman abducted in Sudan’s Darfur region freed
Reuters, Khartoum/15 November 2017/A Swiss aid worker abducted in Sudan’s war-torn southern region of Darfur last month has been freed by Sudanese security forces and is in good health, a regional government official said on Wednesday. The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed that the woman, who was abducted on Oct. 7 in the city of El-Fasher in North Darfur, had been freed. Sudanese officials did not name those responsible for the kidnapping or provide further details of the rescue. Authorities had previously said they suspected a criminal gang. A spokesman for the North Darfur government said security forces launched an operation early on Wednesday morning to free the woman from where she was being held in a rural area just outside the southern town of Kutum. North Darfur deputy governor Mohamed Barima said she was subsequently taken to a security headquarters at Kutum. The Swiss and Sudanese governments have not identified the woman. “The Swiss foreign ministry is relieved by this positive development and thanks the Sudanese authorities for their great commitment,” the Swiss foreign ministry said in a statement. A multi-agency task force including federal police and intelligence was formed following the woman’s abduction to help win her release, the ministry said. Khartoum has been at war with rebel groups in Darfur since 2003, when mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against Sudan’s Arab-led government. Sudan has been keen to show it is making progress in winding down long-standing conflicts after the United States lifted 20-year old sanctions last month. Just after the sanctions decision Khartoum announced it would extend a unilateral ceasefire with rebels until the end of December.

Turkey Condemns 'Escape' of Raqa Jihadists
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 15/17/Turkey on Wednesday condemned as "an extremely grave revelation" the potential escape of hundreds of jihadists from the Syrian city of Raqa, saying it underscored the perils of Washington's alliance with Kurdish fighters. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said over 3,000 civilians had left Raqa on October 14 as part of a deal negotiated between officials from the provisional Raqa Civil Council and Syrian IS fighters. The US-led coalition later acknowledged that of these up to 300 were seen as "potential" IS fighters, following a BBC report that hundreds of jihadists, including foreigners, had left as part of the deal. IS lost control of Raqa on October 17 after months of fighting against the SDF, a Kurdish-dominated force regarded with disdain by Turkey. The Turkish foreign ministry described the information as an "extremely grave and eye-opening revelation", accusing the SDF of negotiating with IS to evacuate fighters. The SDF is dominated by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a "terror" group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) waging an insurgency inside Turkey. Ankara has long lambasted Washington for working with and arming the YPG as the main US ally in the fight against IS. - 'Terror corridor' -The ministry said the purpose of the YPG was not to fight IS "but to create illegitimate faits-accomplis on the ground, to occupy territories and to alter their demographic structures," the ministry said. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed he would not allow a "terror corridor" controlled by the YPG in Syria close to Turkey's border.  He has also warned that Turkey could yet mount a military operation against the YPG to oust the group from the northern Syrian town of Afrin. Concerns over the Raqa deal came to the fore this week after the BBC reported on Monday that hundreds of IS fighters, including foreigners, had left Raqa in a massive convoy assembled on October 12. But at the time the US-led coalition against IS said it was "very adamant" that foreign IS fighters not be allowed to leave Raqa. Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said on Tuesday that "out of the 3,500 civilians that came out of... Raqa at that time, approximately less than 300 were identified and screened as potential (IS) fighters."Turkey has suffered a series of attacks blamed on IS militants over the past two years, the latest in January at an elite Istanbul nightclub during which an IS gunman killed 39 people.

N. Korea Slams Trump for Insulting Leader
North Korea's state media on Wednesday slammed Donald Trump for insulting leader Kim Jong-Un, saying the US president deserved the death penalty and calling him a coward for cancelling a visit to the inter-Korean border. An editorial in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun focused its anger on Trump's visit to South Korea last week, during which he denounced the North's "cruel dictatorship" in a speech to legislators in Seoul. The visit was part of a marathon five-nation Asia tour by the US president aimed largely at galvanising regional opposition to the North's nuclear weapons ambitions. "The worst crime for which he can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership," the editorial said. "He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people," it added. Since becoming president, Trump has engaged in an escalating war of words with Kim Jong-Un, trading personal insults and threats of military strikes and raising concerns about an outbreak of hostilities. Towards the end of his Asia tour, he sent a tweet from Hanoi that took the verbal jousting to a new level, taunting the North Korean leader over his height and weight. "Why would Kim Jong-Un insult me by calling me 'old,' when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat'?" he tweeted. The members of the ruling Kim dynasty -- past and present -- enjoy near god-like status in North Korea, which has demonstrated extreme sensitivity to any remark that might be seen as mocking or disrespectful of the leadership. The editorial also took a dig at Trump's failure to tour the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas -- a traditional stop-off for senior US officials visiting the South. Trump's helicopter taking him to the DMZ had turned back after just five minutes due to bad weather -- an explanation the newspaper dismissed. "It wasn't the weather," the editorial said: "He was just too scared to face the glaring eyes of our troops."

Washington Pegs US-Led Coalition Stay in Syria to Geneva Talks

Asharq Al Awsat/November 15/17/Russian Foreign Minister Seregy Lavrov criticized US Defense Secretary James Mattis correlating the US-led international coalition’s withdrawal from Syria and Iraq with Geneva peace talks.“We’re not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has traction,” Mattis told an audience of reporters. “The United States believes that the right direction for Syria is regime change, as you know. Despite not demanding that Syrian President Bashar Assad resign immediately, their claims contradict the Geneva agreements,” Lavrov responded, adding that Washington's stated aim in the Syria war is the fight against terrorism. On the other hand, Lavrov said that Russia did not promise to ensure the withdrawal of pro-Iran groups from Syria, commenting on a statement from a State Department official who said otherwise. “If we can achieve calm in areas of escalation. We can talk about it. Of course, if peace and tranquility have a stable character, we can talk about withdrawing Iran-controlled units," said Russia's special envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev. But Russia, which has a long-term military garrison in Syria, has said it wants foreign forces to quit the country eventually.
Both US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed joint efforts to stabilize Syria as its civil war wanes, including with the expansion of a July 7 truce in the southwestern triangle bordering Israel and Jordan. Mattis said he believed the southwestern zone was working, and spoke hopefully about additional areas in the future that might allow for more refugees to return home. “You keep broadening them. Try to (demilitarize) one area then (demilitarize) another and just keep it going, try to do the things that will allow people to return to their homes,” he told reporters at the Pentagon.
He declined to enter into specifics about any future zones.

Total’ Reviews Iranian Deal in Case US Reimposes Sanctions
Asharq Al Awsat/November 15/17/French oil and gas major Total would have to review its Iran gas project if the United States decided to impose unilateral sanctions on Tehran, given its interests in the US market, Total’s chief executive told CNN.
Last month, US President Donald Trump unveiled a tough and comprehensive new policy towards Iran. He accused Tehran of violating the nuclear accord and announced that he would no longer certify that the lifting of sanctions was in US interests. The agreement is now effectively in limbo while Congress decides how to respond as it now has about a month to decide whether it will re-impose sanctions on Iran. “Either we can do the deal legally if there is a legal framework,” Patrick Pouyanne said in remarks made to CNNMoney Emerging Markets late on Monday. “If we cannot do that for legal reasons, because of change of regime of sanctions, then we have to review it.”Pouyanne’s office confirmed to AFP that the interview had taken place. “If there is a sanctions regime on Iran, then we will have to study it carefully,” Pouyanne also said. “We work in the USA, we have assets there and we have just acquired more assets in the US” he added. Total has become the first major Western oil company to sign an agreement with Iran to develop phase 11 of the giant South Pars gas field, the world's largest gas field. It increased its US presence in November 8 with the purchase of a portfolio of liquified natural gas assets from Engie (ENGIY), including the company's stake in the Cameron LNG project in Louisiana, one of the first new gas export terminals in North America. Iran has repeatedly said Total's agreement on the South Pars field demonstrated the success of the nuclear deal, hoping that other Western and Asian companies would sign agreements with Iran. However, fearing possible US sanctions, western companies and major international banks are still reluctant to invest in Iran. Pouyanne said that until the US makes its decision, it would push ahead with the South Pars deal, repeating that the company hoped for first contracts to be concluded by January.

Canada welcomes international community’s clear support for Iranian people and for human rights reforms in Iran
November 14, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today welcomed the adoption, by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly (72nd session), of the resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran:
“Human rights have no borders. Through the adoption of this resolution, Canada and the international community voice our strong support for the people of Iran and call on the Iranian government to live up to its own international human rights obligations. Iran must ensure its people are able to enjoy the rights and freedoms to which they are entitled.
“Canada urges the government of Iran to engage constructively with the international community to address the grave human rights concerns raised in this resolution.”
Quick facts
Canada has led an annual UN General Assembly resolution on the human rights situation in Iran since 2003.
Presented by Canada and 43 co-sponsors, this year’s resolution was adopted by the UN General Assembly Third Committee on November 14, 2017, with 83 member states voting in favour.
The resolution will be presented for adoption by the UN General Assembly in plenary in mid-December.
The resolution allows the international community to speak with a united voice, expressing its serious concerns about Iran’s poor human rights record and calling on Iran to comply with its international human rights obligations. Canada collaborated with a cross-regional group of countries to ensure strong support of the resolution.
Despite some promising developments, reports from the UN Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran reveal that the scope and gravity of human rights violations in Iran remains staggeringly high.
Of deep concern are the high number of executions, including of persons who were under the age of 18 at the time of the offence; numerous cases of arbitrary arrests and detention; the lack of due process; the severe restrictions on freedom of expression and the intimidation of human rights defenders; and the persistent discrimination against women and members of ethnic and recognized and unrecognized religious minorities.
Associated links
Resolution on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Report of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
Adam Austen
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Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 15-16/17
Why did the Maronite Patriarch visit Riyadh?
Mamdouh AlMuhaini/Al Arabiya/November 15/17
Before commenting on Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi’s visit to Riyadh, and his historic meeting with King Salman, it is important to take a step back. We should also learn about the new Saudi leadership project, which is determined to fight fanaticism and enhancing religious and sectarian rapprochement. Rahi’s visit adds another chapter to it. In fact, expressions such as “war on extremism” or “promoting the culture of tolerance” have echoed so much that they have lost their meaning. This is because they often ignore the substance and turn into propaganda to silence Western governments and international organizations that place Arab and Muslim countries at the bottom of the list on religious freedom and anti-extremism efforts. As a result, we have heard a lot about the need for religious and cultural reform as the number of instigators and teenage suicide bombers grows. Therefore, the correct and honest beginning to deal with extremism starts from within and not without. Also read: Maronite Patriarch says Hariri will be back, supports reasons for resignation
This is exactly what the new Saudi Arabia has done – adopting the same approach both at home and abroad in one clear and unambiguous language. Those who have been observing the Saudi situation during the past two years will notice the diminishing voices of extremism after decades of contagious activities. Although the Saudi government has spent huge sums of money to develop public and university education, and while officials have consistently spoken about the importance of the values of moderation, tolerance and patriotism, organized groups of Sahwa activists and the Brotherhood have sought to destroy these values necessary for the stability of any society. This is a new Saudi Arabia that holds no room for oppressors of women and demonstrates a culture that, some believed, had faded away
Spreading fanaticism
They have spread fanaticism, accused tolerant scholars of diluting the Islamic faith and labelled patriotism as contradictory to the spirit of Islam. Moreover, they maintain that it is a western concept without natural roots in our societies. A dogmatic message completely contradicts the discourse of a state, which is linked to world powers, with the best relations. The repercussions were not only limited at the domestic front through safeguarding of an authentic Saudi culture characterized by the spirit of moderation and co-existence prevailing before 1979. However, it also led to a negative propaganda used by opponents of Saudi Arabia.
Also read: Saudi King Salman receives Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi. But all of this has become part of the recent past. So, those who follow news bulletins and social media around the world is introduced to a new, dynamic and open Saudi Arabia that practices moderation through work, not by words. This is a new Saudi Arabia that holds no room for oppressors of women and demonstrates a culture that, some believed, had faded away. However, it has returned to life quickly and amazingly. The dilemma many governments face is that its rhetoric looks pretty but it is not accompanied by effective action, unlike the firm Saudi leadership that at times precedes acts and words. Thus, when Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “we will destroy them today and immediately,” Saudi observers noted that the rhetoric of extremism had been strangled before his words.
The cultural image
The Saudi project in its war on extremism and enhancing tolerance began internally and expanded with clear cultural and political images. The most prominent cultural image is the opening of King Salman’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (ETIDAL), in the presence of US President Donald Trump. The center is described the most critical step toward combating extremism. Similarly, Saudi Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, visited many Western and Islamic countries and delivered many speeches reflecting Saudi Arabia’s efforts to besiege the culture of extremism and promote the most tolerant thought on a wide scale. Al-Issa also met with the Vatican Pope in Rome, where a picture of the two shaking hands was widely circulated. It is a symbolic image, which does not require an explanation. It is true that religious leaders meeting remain protocol that journalists like and then they quickly disappear from memory. However, this meeting was different given the dimension of change in and outside Saudi Arabia.The Saudi project to fight extremism and promote a culture of tolerance was the main motive behind boycotting Doha, which became a dumping ground for terrorist leaders. It turned into a forum for the proponents of a culture of violence and an open hub for violent groups and militias to cause mayhem.
Also read: Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the onus of preserving relationship
The same applies to the Iranian side, which supported Shiite terrorist groups such as Hezbollah. To summarize the picture without complicating things, the new Saudi Arabia is leading a project for coexistence, tolerance, growth and investment in life and the future. It seeks to change the face of the region with large projects such as NEOM, but it clashes openly with the Iranian-Qatari project, which supports a culture of intolerance and support for Sunni and Shiite terrorism. Such an approach has consequently led the region into successive crises, failed its countries, exhausted its communities and made them loose hope.
This is an open war between good and evil. The best region is one that is socially stable, economically prosperous and one in which religions and sects coexist peacefully. It is where the evil of suicide operations, failed and disintegrated states, and the waves of migrants choose to drown in oceans. This analysis outlines some features of Saudi Arabia’s religious, economic and political project. Now, in this context, we can answer the following question: Why did al-Rahi visit Riyadh for the first time and at this particular time?

What Hariri has exposed is an axis of resistance
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/November 15/17
“Everybody, I’m doing very well and in God’s will I’ll be back in a couple of days… let’s all calm down. My family is in its country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of goodness.”This was the resigned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s comment on Twitter on Tuesday. Hariri’s tweet came after the first televised interview, with Future TV, after his famous resignation. It was a resignation that created big ripples in the stagnant Lebanese political waters. During the interview, presenter Paula Yacoubian reflected on all Lebanese media claims, the cons before the pros, about the myths of Hariri’s resignation, which were ignited by Hassan Nasrallah, the Free Patriotic Movement, Berri’s group and the like. As we said in the previous article, Nasrallah’s group, and those allied with them, instead of discussing the core of Hariri’s resignation and the reason behind it, “changed” the subject to the form and place of Hariri’s resignation. Even after Hariri’s interview with Paula Yacoubian, Lebanese media correspondents insisted on “chewing” on media illusion tablets again, questioning the reporter who interviewed the man and questioned him about most of the accusations of fictional conspiracies in the Lebanese media. However, the person who spoke to the interviewer upon her return at Beirut airport insisted that Hariri was not at his house, but somewhere else and that we don’t know where this “somewhere” is! Yet the presenter swore that she interviewed Hariri at his home with his family where with the team they ate dinner at his table!
Trivial details
Imagine that we have come to this point of trivial details. All of this is an escape by Nasrallah’s team and his allies from discussing the original point of this issue. This is the point that Hariri has focused on time and time again during his interview, and that is: The fate of the Lebanese state, which some of its leaders want to accept its harmful reality. A reality that there is a state, controlled by a party or terrorist organization, killing and training killers in Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, al-Qatif ... and of course Syria and Iraq. That is the question ... Hezbollah’s weapon and role in our region. The end of an era of lies and procrastination with this destructive reality. That in itself is beneficial to Lebanonrather than its neighbors, because it is for Lebanon. The current situation is that this media delinquency in Lebanon, not all of it, is eye-catching. Despite all the facts and evidence before us, there is in this media someone who is running in the valleys of ignorance and illusion, spreading lies, then believing it and then forcing others to believe it too! The current situation is that this media delinquency in Lebanon, not all of it, is eye-catching. Despite all the facts and evidence before us, there is in this media someone who is running in the valleys of ignorance and illusion, spreading lies, then believing it and then forcing others to believe it too! The reason behind Hariri’s resignation is the issue, not any other story, and this collective, emotional scramble will not do anything to change the subject.

Only the UN Can Hold a Real Syrian Election

Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg View/November 15/17/
The US-Russian joint statement on Syria, released last Saturday, contains an intriguing tidbit: The parties agreed that Syria should hold "free and fair elections under UN supervision, held to the highest international standards of transparency, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate." Elections in Syria may still seem like wishful thinking, but the fact that global adversaries are endorsing UN supervision is a hopeful sign, and not just for Syria.
"UN supervision" isn't a phrase that can be used frivolously in this context. Since 1989, when the UN helped Namibia hold its first post-colonial election, it provided election assistance to more than 100 countries. Most of the UN projects were confined to technical assistance. For example, in Iraq in 2005, the UN supplied advisers to the local election commission and coordinated international assistance in holding it -- but the UN didn't play a supervisory or organizational role. Some missions, as in Nicaragua in 1990, Angola in 1992 and South Africa in 1994, were charged with election verification. On two occasions, in Cambodia in 1992-1993 and in East Timor in 1999-2002, the UN actually organized and conducted elections. But it hasn't supervised an election since the Namibian one.
At the time of the 1989 election, South Africa controlled Namibia and was engaged in an armed conflict with national liberation organizations. It was the South African authorities that organized the election, but the UN administration watched them every step of the way, helped draft the rules and had veto power over the organizers. Turnout reached 96 percent, and Swapo, the biggest of the national liberation organizations, won with 57 percent of the vote, setting up Namibian independence but giving the South African-backed party enough seats to make sure it took part in drafting the country's constitution.
It was a major success for the UN. So were the elections it fully organized in Cambodia (after the bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge, which called on supporters to boycott the election and tried to prevent voting in some parts of the country) and in East Timor soon after it declared independence from Indonesia. UN election support missions with narrower mandates and smaller budgets have, on occasion, failed -- for example, in Angola in 1992, where a civil war resumed soon after the election, or in Haiti in 1990-1991, where a coup occurred eight months after the presidential election.
The Syrian case is special. No one except the UN can organize a meaningful election because so much of Syria's prewar population of 22 million has been scattered throughout the world by the conflict. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees counts 5.3 million people who have fled to neighboring countries, some 3 million of them to Turkey, others spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Most of these people live in camps that are well-known to the UN. In addition, almost a million Syrian refugees are registered in Europe, about two-thirds of them in Germany and Sweden. If the refugees are ever to return, they have to be able to vote on their country's future. The government of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is incapable of organizing foreign voting and would certainly oppose a voting right for refugees, since many of these people fled the Assad regime.
It's usually helpful if all the sides in a civil conflict accept election results before the vote is held. That was the case in Namibia. Syria, with its many diverse combatants, may never get there -- but hands-on UN supervision should persuade most of the combatants to accept a vote and find ways to induce cooperation; those who don't would be labelled international pariahs.
It's important that the international organization be more involved than they were in Iraq or Afghanistan, where democracy has remained shaky and less than inclusive in part because the UN only played an advisory role. In the Afghan presidential election of 2004, US-backed incumbent Hamid Karzai won amid substantial fraud, and the results of the parliamentary elections the following year were even announced later than planned because of fraud issues. With less than a full UN imprimatur, such votes don't have much legitimacy. The Assad regime, however, would risk losing the last shreds of its international support if it refused to go along with a UN-supervised vote, backed even by his ally Putin.
This isn't the first time there's been talk of Syrian elections under UN supervision; they were mentioned in the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, to which the joint statement refers. But that resolution, passed in December 2015, merely expressed "support" for UN-supervised elections to be held within 18 months under a new constitution. That deadline has come and gone, and of course no new constitution has been adopted. It's heartening, though, that Trump and Putin are still in favor of giving the UN a meaningful role in the future election, whenever it takes place.
It would certainly be a timely intervention for the UN, whose influence has been on the wane lately as the Trump administration has voiced skepticism about its usefulness. Arranging a Syria settlement could reverse the UN's decline. It should seek the broadest possible mandate and ample funding.
It could also help build a case for a strong peacekeeping mission to eastern Ukraine. Russia, Ukraine and its Western allies have all agreed that such a mission could be helpful, but disagree about how it could work. Ukraine and the US have pushed for a UN peacekeeping force on the Russian-Ukrainian border, while Russia only wants the peacekeepers to guard international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. A proposal for UN election supervision, or even direct election organization as in Cambodia, could break the stalemate: It could soften Ukrainian resistance to holding any kind of vote in areas held by pro-Russian forces and it could change Russia's thinking on what peacekeepers could do. For example, it would probably have fewer objections to the Blue Helmets' standing guard at polling stations than to a border-patrolling force. No one is proposing such a solution at the moment. But a UN success in Syria would logically lead the parties in that direction. One can only hope both Trump and Putin, who don't put much stock in sticking to publicly expressed positions, really meant it when they made election supervision part of the Syria statement.

France: Muslims In, Jews Out
Giulio Meotti/Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/November 15/17
Suburbs have become transformed into one of the most visible signs of the Islamization of France. Anti-Semitism is devouring the French Republic.
While Jewish symbols disappear from France, Islamic symbols proliferate, from burkinis on the beaches to veils in the workplace. Jews who have not fled France are trying to become "invisible".
France's suburbs are rapidly becoming apartheid societies. Hatred of Jews has become the gateway to "la France soumise" -- the submission of France.
Suburbs ("banlieues") -- distant from the affluent boulevards and bistros of Paris -- form the "other France". They are the "peripheral France", ("La France Périphérique") as the geographer Christophe Guilluy calls them in an important book. They are where "living together" between communities has really been tested.
In the last 20 years, these French suburbs have not only become "concentrations of poverty and social isolation", but have gone from being some of France's most densely-populated Jewish areas to "lost territories of the Republic", according to the great historian Georges Bensoussan, in his book, Les territoires perdus de la République.
These suburbs have become transformed into one of the most visible signs of the Islamization of France.
Anti-Semitism has returned as one of Europe's worst diseases. France hosts Europe's largest Jewish community, and Jews have been fleeing the suburbs to either emigrate or move to gentrified districts of the cities, where they feel more protected. What happens to the Jews will have a seismic impact on the entire continent.
In the Parisian suburb of Bagneux, someone recently vandalized the memorial plaque for Ilan Halimi, a young Jew who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered by a "barbarian gang" in 2006, just for being a Jew. At the time, it was France's first case of murderous anti-Semitism in many years. After it, Islamists murdered Jews at a school in Toulouse and a kosher supermarket in Paris.
As Le Monde reported in a chilling new inquiry, anti-Semitism now knocks daily at the doors of the French Jews. It has been creating a serious migratory trend: French Jews have become "internal refugees".
French Jews are now not only threatened in their synagogues and schools, but in their homes. A Jewish family was recently held hostage, beaten and robbed in their home in the suburb of Seine Saint-Denis. Before that, a retired Jewish doctor and schoolteacher, Sarah Halimi, was beaten and thrown to her death from her balcony, in the Belleville district of Paris. The man who murdered her, while yelling "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is Greater"), was a Muslim neighbor. Two Jewish brothers were recently attacked on a Paris street by men wielding a hacksaw and shouting "You dirty Jews! You are going to die".
Recently, "Paul" received a letter containing death threats, in his mailbox at Noisy-le-Grand. The note said, "Allahu Akbar" and contained a 9mm bullet. The next day brought second letter. That one said, "you will all die". This time it contained the bullet of a Kalashnikov rifle. Many Jewish families, warns Le Monde, are under pressure. In Garges-lès-Gonesse (Val-d'Oise), young Jewish men who had built a temporary autumnal hut (a sukkah) in the yard of their synagogue were attacked in the neighborhood by people shouting, "Dirty Jews".
Historic Jewish quarters have been emptied. Jérôme Fourquet and Sylvain Manternach, in their book, "L'an prochain à Jérusalem?" ("Next Year in Jerusalem?") tell of Jewish children leaving public schools in favor of private ones. Organizations have been helping 400 Jewish families relocate their children into private schools, to be more secure.
Between 2005-2015, there were 4,092 anti-Semitic attacks in France. According to a September study by the Foundation for Political Innovation, 60% of Jews in France said they were "worried about being physically attacked in the street as Jews."
After the Paris terror attacks in 2015, a Jewish Agency-affiliated think tank prepared a plan to help 120,000 French Jews emigrate to Israel. There were 5,000 departures in 2016 and 7,900 in 2015. In addition to a total of 20,000 Jews emigrating from France to Israel in the past three years, there has also been an internal "high mobility" shift, from the eastern to the western part of Paris -- to the sixteenth and seventeenth arrondissements. In the last 10 years, "60,000 of the 350,000 Jews of the Île-de-France have moved", according to Sammy Ghozlan, President of the National Office of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism.
The French government has launched an operation to protect 800 synagogues, schools and community centers. But as Le Monde explains, there is little it can do to protect Jews on the streets and in their homes. Islamic anti-Semitism is devouring the French Republic.
According to a study conducted by Ifop, "exposure to anti-Semitic violence is highly correlated with wearing a kippa". The Jewish skullcap has disappeared from public view in many areas of France. In Marseille, it was explicit -- a local Jewish leader called on Jews, for their safety, to avoid wearing the Jewish symbols in public. While Jewish symbols disappear, Islamic symbols proliferate, from burkinis on the beaches to the veils at the workplace. Jews who did not flee France are trying to become "invisible".
Until the year 2000, the Parisian suburb of Bondy "was nice and quiet, with 250 to 300 Jewish families, and synagogues full on the Sabbath. Now, only about a hundred Jewish families remain", said a local resident, Alain Benhamou, who left after he saw the words "dirty Jews" painted on the walls.
Jewish families have also been leaving Toulouse due to anti-Semitism. Former Prime Minister Manuel Valls talked about "a territorial, ethnic and social apartheid". France's suburbs are rapidly becoming apartheid societies.
A few days ago, French authorities sentenced Abdelkader Merah, the brother of the terrorist who murdered four Jews in Toulouse, to 20 years in prison for being part of a criminal terrorist conspiracy. The trial was called by a French scholar of Islam, Gilles Kepel, a "biopsy" of the "other France": the Islamized, de-Judaized, peripheral France. "It is striking that after decades spent in France, [Merah's] mother still speaks very poor French and that it was necessary to call a translator to the court", Kepel said.
In Seine-Saint-Denis, 40% of the inhabitants are now Muslim. The result? Historical Jewish communities in towns such as La Courneuve, Aubervilliers, Stains, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, Trappes, Aulnay-sous-Bois, Le Blanc-Mesnil and Saint Denis are now vanishing. Because of the lack of security, in places such as Courneuve, where there were 600 to 700 Jewish families, there are now fewer than 100. For many of these Jews, it is a second escape.
70% of the half-million Jews in France are Sephardic -- those who were expelled from Spain in 1492 and who fled to the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, rather than to Europe. They came to France between 1956 and 1962, when Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia gained independence -- as did, for example, two French Nobel Prize laureates for physics, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (1996), born in Algiers, and Serge Haroche (2014), born in Casablanca, Morocco.
In a suburb south of Paris, Kremlin-Bicêtre, with a population of 25,000 people, 25% now are Muslim. Until 1990, 10% of the population was Jewish; now it is 5%.
Anti-Semitism has revolutionized France -- both its geography and demography. Jew-hate has become the gateway to the "France soumise" -- the submission of France.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Europe's Collusion in Palestinian Illegal Land Grab
Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/November 15/17
It takes particular gall for European Union representatives to express "humanitarian" outrage at Israel for razing illegal structures in the West Bank -- while the EU is in league with Palestinian criminals who have been brazenly stealing Arab-owned land.
There has been massive "behind-the-scenes" Palestinian construction, the goal of which is "to create irreversible facts on the ground," and completely encircle Jerusalem. Once the buildings – which "do not meet even the most minimum standards required by engineers, architects and housing planners" – are erected, the apartments are sold cheaply ($25,000-$50,000), to guarantee they are purchased and populated quickly.
If there is any debt to pay here, it is not Israel's to Europe, but the other way around. Belgium and the rest of the EU should be embracing its natural ally, the democratic Jewish state, against all forces that support and perpetrate violence, while rejecting peace.
In what is being called an "unprecedented move," eight European countries -- members of an initiative called the West Bank Protection Consortium -- recently announced that they had drafted a formal letter to the Israeli government, demanding the reimbursement of €30,000. According to Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Ireland and Denmark, this was the sum spent by the Consortium on materials provided for two structures (modular classrooms equipped with solar panels) erected for Palestinians and Bedouin in the West Bank, and dismantled by Israel at the end of August.
What these EU countries failed to mention, however, is that the structures were illegal, and therefore should not have been built in the first place. Instead, in its letter, the Consortium accused Israel of causing "suffering to Palestinian civilians," through its "practice of coercive measures such as demolitions and confiscations of humanitarian supplies as well as infrastructure for schools," and of "contradict[ing] Israel's engagement according to the international point of view..."
This is worse than disingenuous. Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, signed on the White House lawn between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, in the presence of US President Bill Clinton, Area C of the West Bank is under Israeli military and civil jurisdiction, and only Israel has the authority to build or approve building there.
Oslo II, which created the Palestinian Authority (PA), divides the West Bank into three geographical sections – Area A, Area B and Area C -- and specifies which government controls each. Area C is under the military and civil jurisdiction of Israel alone.
This is something that the EU acknowledged, as recently as last year, in a statement on its official website:
"Israel retains almost exclusive control over law enforcement, planning and construction in Area C.
"In line with the recommendations of the EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions, the European Union works in Area C on two fronts: humanitarian assistance and development.
"The EU provides humanitarian assistance to communities in need in Area C in accordance with the humanitarian imperative. At the same time, the EU works with the Palestinian Authority to develop Area C and support Palestinian presence there..."
Yet, for years, there has been non-stop building in Area C, on land between Israel and Jordan as far south as Gush Etzion, in a transparent effort to populate Area C with Arabs by building "irreversible facts on the ground."
It is not only Area C, however, that has been in the headlines of late. Area B, which is administered jointly by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, shot into the news again in October, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had decided to postpone a vote on the "Greater Jerusalem" bill, which would expand the Israeli capital's city limits to include nearby settlement blocs. According to sources from Netanyahu's coalition, the legislation would not be advanced before the Netanyahu government had a chance to consult with Washington, which is engaged in efforts to reignite the "stalled" peace process between Israel and the PA. Ironically, the renewed controversy over Israeli sovereignty coincided with the burgeoning of strategic ties -- in the form of a reconciliation accord -- between the PA's ruling Fatah faction and Hamas, the terrorist organization that has controlled the Gaza Strip since the Palestinian people elected it to do so in 2006. Gaza has also served as Hamas's base for the launching of rockets into Israel, and the origin of hundreds of terror tunnels. The reconciliation accord is currently under serious threat by the refusal of Hamas, to honor its commitment to disarm.
The ostensibly problematic nature of legal Israeli construction in the E-1 corridor -- between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim (a large urban settlement included in the Greater Jerusalem bill) -- is based on the false claim, made by the Palestinian Authority and its backers in the international arena, that Jewish presence in that area would prevent territorial "contiguity" and hinder movement within the Palestinian state when it is established. As a result, successive Israeli governments have avoided building in that area.
Highlighting the hypocrisy of the world on this issue, in December 2016, Middle East analyst Bassam Tawil noted massive "behind-the-scenes" Palestinian construction, the goal of which is "to create irreversible facts on the ground," and completely encircle Jerusalem. He pointed out that while Israel is condemned for any and every attempt to build housing in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority has been undertaking, with impunity, a "colossal" construction project that is "illegal in every respect."
Although Tawil referred to this as a "quiet" endeavor, it is actually being carried out in a blatant fashion. Anyone driving around Arab neighborhoods in the greater Jerusalem can see thousands of apartment buildings in various stages of completion. Many are occupied; others are in the process of being built. Bulldozers and tractors move noisily and freely in broad daylight, digging, hauling debris and moving materials back and forth across lots designated for additional housing, as well as grocery stores, body shops and other consumer outlets.
On a recent tour of the area, Arab affairs expert and Jerusalem resident Khaled Abu Toameh explained that this ongoing construction, funded mainly by the EU and Qatar, is made possible through the "confiscation" (theft) of privately owned tracts of Palestinian land by unlicensed contractors whose interest is solely financial. According to Abu Toameh, these "thugs and gangsters" care nothing about the welfare of fellow Palestinians, and are concerned about Palestinian statehood. All they want, he said, is to line their pockets at the expense of helpless landowners, who are told that they must sacrifice their property to help the Palestinian Authority populate the area for political gain against Israel.
Illegal Palestinian construction in the Jerusalem area.
Once the buildings – which, according to Tawil, "do not meet even the most minimum standards required by engineers, architects and housing planners" -- are erected, the apartments are sold cheaply ($25,000-$50,000), to guarantee they are purchased and populated quickly.
On November 12, the Israeli TV network Kan reported that the Jerusalem municipality and Israeli security forces are planning to demolish six such illegal apartment buildings. These are located in the village of Kafr Aqab, within Jerusalem municipal boundaries to the north -- and under Israeli sovereignty -- but outside the security fence.
It takes particular gall for European Union representatives to express "humanitarian" outrage at Israel for razing illegal structures in the West Bank -- while the EU is in league with Palestinian criminals who have been brazenly stealing Arab-owned land. It is particularly unfathomable for Belgium -- which spearheaded the demand for Israeli restitution -- to be protesting the removal of modular classrooms, of all things. Less than two weeks earlier, Brussels suspended funding for Palestinian schools, when the monitoring organization Palestinian Media Watch informed the Belgian government that a school it had financed was renamed in honor of a Palestinian terrorist. The female terrorist, Dalal Mughrabi, was responsible for the massacre of 38 people, among them 13 children, near Tel Aviv in 1978.
If there is any debt to pay here, it is not Israel's to Europe, but the other way around. Belgium and the rest of the EU should be embracing its natural ally, the democratic Jewish state, against all forces that support and perpetrate violence, while rejecting peace.
Illegal Palestinian construction in the Jerusalem area.
Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"
© 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.

Paradise Papers Show How Misguided the G.O.P. Is on Taxes
Bryce Covert/The New York Times/November 15/17
Bryce Covert is an independent journalist writing about the economy. She is a contributing op-ed writer at the New York Times and also writes for the New Republic, The Nation, and other outlets.
A treasure trove of documents given the name of the Paradise Papers was unveiled last week, giving us a clearer idea of how rich people and powerful companies keep their money from the prying eyes of the Internal Revenue Service.
Apple, for example, went hunting for a new tax haven when Ireland, its former shelter, began cracking down. It got help from law firms that specialize in offshore tax shelters to park its $128 billion stash on the English Channel island of Jersey instead. For years, Nike held intellectual property rights in a subsidiary on tax-free Bermuda, and that subsidiary charged fees to its other headquarters, thus shifting the profits to the island and avoiding taxes on them. Now it does the same with a subsidiary that technically resides nowhere at all. Allergan, Facebook and Uber have all been caught doing the same.
Appleby, the law firm at the heart of the documents leak, has 31,000 American clients, most of whom are what are known as “ultra-high-net-worth individuals.” The firm, which has offices in most of the world’s tax havens, helps clients establish trusts and other vehicles for their wealth headquartered on Bermuda to keep the money out of the I.R.S.’s reach.
As those named in the papers contend, many of these maneuvers are perfectly legal. But it isn’t a victimless act when companies and the wealthy shield their money from our government.
The economist Gabriel Zucman and his colleagues have spent years estimating how much wealth is stashed in low-tax havens and what that means for government coffers. He’s found that 63 percent of foreign profits made by American multinational corporations are stuffed in these subsidiaries and accounts, depriving the country of about $70 billion in tax revenue each year.
We worry a lot about the cost of social programs in this country, saying we simply can’t afford many things that we know could bring big rewards. But that missing $70 billion from corporate offshore tax avoidance would go a long way. A mere $140 million could replace the lead water pipes poisoning children in Flint, Mich. It would cost just an estimated $22.5 billion to end homelessness by providing all needy families with rental assistance. President Barack Obama asked Congress for $75 billion for his initial universal preschool plan; universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds would cost $98.4 billion over 10 years.
Senator Bernie Sanders’s College for All Act doesn’t even require the federal government to cover the entire $70 billion cost of public college tuition, but it could if this money were available to the government. Divvying up $70 billion a year to each parent in the country would be a huge step toward ending childhood poverty. And the available pot of money, were offshore tax avoidance not an option, would be even larger if rich individuals were taxed at the rates we all face here at home.
Yet even in the face of the Paradise Papers revelations, Republicans want to lower taxes on big corporations and rich individuals even further.
Businesses and the wealthy, the Republicans’ argument goes, will bring their money back to our shores and pay taxes on it if rates are lower. But there are few mechanisms included in their tax package that would actually push either group to do so, rather than keep it abroad and away from taxation.
The House package included a new tax on intellectual property royalties multinational corporations pay to offshore affiliates in an effort, the writers say, to keep them from moving money to tax shelters. But, after an outcry from those multinationals, an amendment was added on Monday that weakens its impact such that it’s worth 95 percent less. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, haven’t included it in their version of the legislation.
The House package also calls for a one-time tax of 7 percent and 14 percent on offshore earnings that have been stockpiled abroad, and an effective 10 percent rate on “high returns” to a parent company headquartered in this country from foreign subsidiaries, both efforts to supposedly keep multinationals from avoiding taxes. The Senate version proposes even lower rates on offshore earnings. Those rates are far lower than the 20 percent rate Republicans want to levy on corporate profits — and a huge drop from the current rate of 35 percent — leaving an incentive to keep money elsewhere.
The House plan shifts the country to a territorial tax system, in which companies would owe taxes only on money they make here. Money generated abroad in foreign subsidiaries would be subject to the taxes of that country, so they’d have even more incentive to keep it in the low-tax places the Paradise Papers show they’ve already been using.
None of these provisions go after wealthy individuals who keep their money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. Instead, the House package hands these same people a variety of giveaways: an enormous loophole via a lower tax rate on pass-through businesses; the elimination of the alternative minimum tax that ensures they have to pay at least something; and the eradication of the tax on the wealthiest estates.
The groups that are already dodging taxes through offshore accounting are the ones that make out with the biggest benefits. According to an analysis by the conservative Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, $1 trillion of the overall $1.5 trillion cost is from cuts for businesses. According to the Tax Policy Center, the highest-income families can expect the biggest reward. The richest 0.1 percent of Americans will get an average $278,370 reduction in their tax bill by 2027, while the poorest two-fifths of the country get around $25.
The Republican tax plan would shift more of the tax burden onto those who can least afford to shoulder it and relieve those who are already starving the government of tax revenue. The Paradise Papers shine yet another spotlight on how the rich and powerful game the system to avoid paying what they would otherwise owe. The rest of us suffer for it. Why hand them even more favors?

Ten reasons why the Iranian regime is more dangerous than Daesh
النظام الإيراني هو أخطر من داعش لأسباب عشرة
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arabnews/November 16/ 2017
Western powers place Daesh at the top of their counterterrorism and foreign policy agenda, characterizing the terrorist group as the No. 1 national security threat. Before Daesh, it was Al-Qaeda. This strategic and security prioritization is misplaced. For the following reasons, the Iranian regime is far more of a security threat to the world than non-state terrorist groups such as Daesh.
First, the Iranian regime’s leaders and military generals enjoy the legitimacy of the nation-state system endorsed by the UN, even though the regime is neither a democracy nor representative of the Iranian nation. As a result, the interventions, military adventurism and crimes against humanity committed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Quds Force and their militias draw less attention because they operate under the “legitimacy” of a sovereign state. The mullahs have got away with their brutal actions for almost four decades because they have a “government.”
Second, history has shown that the power and capabilities of terrorist groups such as Daesh ultimately fade away. One prominent example was Al-Qaeda. But the increasing dominance and control of the Iranian regime in the region will continue to grow if it is not stopped.
Third, the Islamic Republic has vast military and militia establishments with more than 500,000 active personnel. It hires hundreds of thousands of mercenaries and militiamen.
Fourth, unlike terrorist groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda, the Iranian regime has powerful ballistic missiles, which have been used against other nations, most recently in Syria. IRGC generals have repeatedly boasted that their ballistic missiles can hit any country in the region. With the help of North Korea, the Iranian regime is working on producing intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Fifth, Iran’s regime is the top state sponsor of terrorism. It supports, both militarily and financially, hundreds of militia and terrorist groups all around the world. It regularly gives birth to terrorist groups.
No matter how much other governments spend on resources to fight and eradicate terrorist groups, the Iranian regime will create new ones. When a terrorist group is eliminated, Tehran grooms and funds others to advance its agenda. According to my research at Harvard, only one entity, Iran, single-handedly assists almost half of the world-designated terrorist groups. The Iranian regime contributes to terrorist attacks around the world. This means that Iran is responsible for blood spilled across many nations, and for the slaughter of countless victims of terrorism. It has placed spies, lobbyists and agents across the globe, even in the US. As an Iranian general bragged, Iran can activate its cells in any nation to attack those governments.
Iran’s regime is like a gigantic factory that constantly mass-manufactures terror groups.
Non-state militant groups are a symptom; the disease is the regime in Tehran, the godfather of terrorism and extremism.
Sixth, Iran controls and exploits the resources and wealth of a large nation and wields all of the influence that comes with it. Iranian leaders do not have to worry about running out of funds since they rule over a country with the second-largest gas reserves and fourth-largest oil reserves in the world. The Iranian regime does not redistribute wealth among its people, so the level of poverty remains high. The nuclear agreement has definitely assisted Tehran with the flow of additional billions of dollars. These funds go into supporting terrorist groups and dictators such as Bashar Assad.
Seventh, Iran’s expanding influence in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and other countries can become a permanent reality if necessary steps are not taken. Take a close look at how much the mullahs have expanded their power since they came to power in 1979. At the beginning, they hardly had any influence in other nations. Now their militias are everywhere. They have made “legitimate” political parties of Iraqi and Lebanese militia groups in those countries’ Parliaments. They control the security and political establishment of the Syrian regime. They bully almost every other nation in the Gulf.
Eighth, Iran produces sophisticated weapons and has an advanced nuclear program. The Iranian regime will continue trying to obtain nuclear weapons regardless of whether it has a deal with other nations or not. More importantly, the current nuclear deal expires in less than 14 years, lifting restrictions on Iran and allowing Tehran to ramp up its nuclear proliferation.
The Iranian regime conducts policies on a long-term basis. Iranian leaders are extremely patient. Although 14 years may appear a long period for Western powers because their administrations and governments go through elections every few years, 14 years is a short period for the Iranian regime.
Ninth, Iran is a major cybersecurity threat. It has been successful in attacking and hacking into its rivals’ security and governmental organizations. In the most recent example, the regime targeted dozens of British MPs.
Tenth, the mullahs’ regime commits crimes against humanity on a much larger scale than non-state terrorists do. On a daily basis, Iran tortures and executes people, and it helps its proxies to commit brutal acts in other countries. Iran is ranked top in the world at executing its own people. This regime brutally cracks down on religious and ethnic minorities. It regularly crushes all kinds of freedoms, engages in torture, and executes children. The Iranian regime ranks at the top when it comes to human rights abuses, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The Iranian regime is far more of a national security threat to the world than terrorist groups such as Daesh. They are symptoms, and the Iranian regime is the disease; the godfather of terrorism and extremism.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh