November 21/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Hate even the clothing defiled by their flesh
The Letter from Jude /Chapter 01/17-25/But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you that “In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.” These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. On some have compassion, making a distinction, and some save, snatching them out of the fire with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh. 4 Now to him who is able to keep them‡ from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory in great joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

Question: "Why is salvation by works the predominantly held viewpoint? Why do so many people believe that we can be saved by works?"
Answer: The simple answer is that salvation by works seems right in the eyes of man. One of man’s basic desires is to be in control of his own destiny, and that includes his eternal destiny. Salvation by works appeals to man’s pride and his desire to be in control. Being saved by works appeals to that desire far more than the idea of being saved by faith alone. Also, man has an inherent sense of justice. Even the most ardent atheist believes in some type of justice and has a sense of right and wrong, even if he has no moral basis for making such judgments. Our inherent sense of right and wrong demands that if we are to be saved, our “good works” must outweigh our “bad works.” Therefore, it is natural that when man creates a religion it would involve some type of salvation by works.
Because salvation by works appeals to man’s sinful nature, it forms the basis of almost every religion except for biblical Christianity. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Salvation by works seems right to men, which is why it is the predominantly held viewpoint. That is exactly why biblical Christianity is so different from all other religions—it is the only religion that teaches salvation is a gift of God and not of works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Another reason why salvation by works is the predominantly held viewpoint is that natural or unregenerate man does not fully understand the extent of his own sinfulness or of God’s holiness. Man’s heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and God is infinitely holy (Isaiah 6:3). The deceit of our hearts is the very thing that colors our perception of the extent of that deceit and is what prevents us from seeing our true state before a God whose holiness we are also unable to fully comprehend. But the truth remains that our sinfulness and God’s holiness combine to make our best efforts as “filthy rags” before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6; cf. 6:1–5). The thought that man’s good works could ever balance out his bad works is a totally unbiblical concept. Not only that, but the Bible also teaches that God’s standard is nothing less than 100 percent perfection. If we stumble in keeping just one part of God’s righteous law, we are as guilty as if we had broken all of it (James 2:10). Therefore, there is no way we could ever be saved if salvation truly were dependent on works. Another reason that salvation by works can creep into denominations that claim to be Christian or say they believe in the Bible is that they misunderstand passages like James 2:24: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Taken in the context of the entire passage (James 2:14–26), it becomes evident that James is not saying our works make us righteous before God; instead, he is making it clear that real saving faith is demonstrated by good works. The person who claims to be a Christian but lives in willful disobedience to Christ has a false or “dead” faith and is not saved. James is making a contrast between two different types of faith—truth faith that saves and false faith that is dead.
There are simply too many verses that teach that one is not saved by works for any Christian to believe otherwise. Titus 3:4–5 is one of many such passages: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Good works do not contribute to salvation, but they will always be characteristic of one who has been born again. Good works are not the cause of salvation; they are the evidence of it.
While salvation by works might be the predominantly held viewpoint, it is not an accurate one biblically. The Bible contains abundant evidence of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Recommended Resource: Faith Alone, The Doctrine of Justification: What the Reformers Taught...and Why It Still Matters by Thomas Schreiner

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 20-21/17
Arab states urge Lebanon to rein in Hezbollah/Arabnews/November 21/17
The 'Iranian Interference' Item/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/November 20/17
Can Lebanon handle truth about Hariri, Saudi Arabia/Al Monitor/Week in Review/November 20/2017
Nuclear War Doesn’t Seem So Funny After All/Britt Peterson/The New York Times/November 20/17
The Media Won’t Give up its Role/Chris Wallace/The Washington Post/November 20/17
We’re at Cyberwar/David Von Drehle/The Washington Post/November 20/17
Turkey Islamizes Denmark with More Mosques/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 20/17
When Was the "Palestinian People" Created? Google Has the Answer./Jean Patrick Grumberg/Gatestone Institute/November 20/17
Rouhani Pays The Price For Khamenei’s Machiavellian Game/Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arabnews/November 21/17
Saudi Arabia’s changes are positive, but the way they are portrayed is not /Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya/November 21/17
Iraq’s child brides and the flaws in its democracy/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/November 21/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 20-21/17
Nasrallah Denies Sending Arms to Yemen, Kuwait, Involvement in Riyadh Missile
Aoun: Lebanon Must Not Pay Price for Regional Conflicts
Arab League Chief in Beirut, Holds Talks with Aoun
Netanyahu, Macron to Discuss 'Ideas to Stabilize Situation in Lebanon'
Berri Criticizes Arab League's Label of Hizbullah
Hariri to Travel to Egypt Tuesday
Arab League Stance on Iran 'Worthless', Says Tehran
Hamas Rejects Arab Statement Labeling Hizbullah 'Terrorist'
New Saudi Ambassador Arrives in Beirut
Jordan's King Stresses to Gemayel Kingdom's 'Full Support' for Lebanon
Hashem Says Arab League Must Understand Lebanon's 'Particularity'
Netanyahu to Meet Macron on Lebanon Crisis
Arab states urge Lebanon to rein in Hezbollah
The 'Iranian Interference' Item
Can Lebanon handle truth about Hariri, Saudi Arabia?

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 20-21/17
Egypt’s Sisi Says Gas Discoveries Can be EU's New Energy Source
Egyptian Central Security Forces Chief Survives Assassination Attempt in North Sinai
UN: Warring Sides Should Stop Targeting Civilians in Damascus, Eastern Ghouta
Iraqi Top Court Rules Kurdish Referendum Unconstitutional
Israeli Police Question Netanyahu for 6th Time
Riyadh conference aims to unify Syrian opposition, says adviser
Army Appeals for Calm as Mugabe Faces Impeachment Test

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 20-21/17
Nasrallah Denies Sending Arms to Yemen, Kuwait, Involvement in Riyadh Missile

Naharnet/November 21/17/
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah denied on Monday that his group had ever sent weapons to a host of conflict-ridden countries, including Yemen, Bahrain, and Kuwait. "I want to formally deny it: we did not send weapons to Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, or Iraq," Nasrallah said in a televised address.
"We haven't sent weapons to any Arab country -- no ballistic missiles, advanced weapons, not even a pistol," he said. “We only sent Kornet missiles to the Gaza Strip while in Syria we're fighting with our weapons,” Nasrallah added.
Hizbullah's chief also denied his group was involved in the firing of a missile from Yemen into Saudi Arabia earlier this month."No one from Lebanon's Hizbullah has anything to do with the launch of this missile," Nasrallah said. "I categorically deny this accusation, which is not based on truth or evidence," he added. Addressing Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Nasrallah said “the most important factor for Lebanon's security is the Resistance and Hizbullah's arms. If you want security for Lebanon, do not interfere in its affairs and do not incite Israel to strike it.”Nasrallah was responding to an Arab League statement issued Sunday, which labeled Hizbullah as a “terrorist” group and accused it of interfering in several Arab countries. The statement accused Hizbullah of “training terrorist groups” in Bahrain, “supporting terrorist groups” in Saudi Arabia, and “supporting terror and terrorist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.”Nasrallah slammed the statement as “ridiculous and absurd” on Monday. “The Arab League statement was expected... While Hizbullah was liberating (Syria's) al-Bukamal from Daesh (Islamic State group), which is labeled as terrorist by the entire world, these people were calling Hizbullah terrorist,” he said. “What have you contributed to the victory against Daesh?” Nasrallah added, addressing the Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Sunday.
“All the forces that thwarted the U.S. scheme in the region by fighting Daesh will be put on terror blacklists,” Nasrallah lamented. He added: “Ask Saudi Arabia to stop the crushing of children's bones and its massacres (in Yemen). Press for a political solution and this scary and suspicious silence in the Islamic world is unacceptable.” Nasrallah also accused the United States of offering support and assistance to the IS group in eastern Syria, describing the capture of al-Bukamal as a “major military achievement.”Moreover, Nasrallah said he was prepared to pull Hizbullah's military advisers from Iraq, after the IS group lost control over its last urban stronghold in the country.
Nasrallah acknowledged that his group had deployed "large numbers of our commanders and cadres" to Iraq to fight IS. "We consider that the mission has been accomplished, but we are waiting for the final, Iraqi announcement of victory," he said.
Once that official declaration came, Hizbullah would reassess its presence in Iraq and may pull its members out, Nasrallah added."If we find that it's over, that there is no need for the presence of these brothers, they will return to be deployed in any other arena that needs them," Nasrallah said. Hizbullah mostly deployed experienced commanders as advisers and trainers to work alongside the Hashed al-Shaabi, a paramilitary umbrella dominated by local Shiite militia groups also loyal to Tehran. Iraqi forces on November 17 announced they had retaken Rawa, the last town to have been held by the Islamic State group in Iraq, capping three years of anti-jihadist military operations. The latest efforts against IS have been spearheaded by Iraqi special forces and other regular troops but the Hashed, which counts tens of thousands of fighters, has been a key component of the bruising campaign.
While IS no longer controls any urban hub in Iraq, its surviving fighters have regrouped in remote desert areas along the border with Syria and mopping up operations remain to be completed. Turning to the developments in Lebanon, Nasrallah said Hizbullah is “awaiting the return” Prime Minister Saad Hariri, noting that the latter is still Lebanon's premier despite his resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia.“We're open to any dialogue and discussion in the country,” Nasrallah emphasized. Lebanon has been gripped in a political crisis since Hariri announced his surprise resignation earlier this month from Riyadh, lambasting Iran and Hizbullah for their policies in Lebanon and the region.
The shock announcement sparked worries that Lebanon would be caught up in the spiraling tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, which back opposing political and armed groups across the region. After resigning, Hariri spent two more weeks in Saudi Arabia amid rumors he was under de facto house arrest there, before traveling to Paris on Saturday. There, he met French President Emmanuel Macron and pledged he would be in Lebanon in time to mark its independence day on Wednesday.

Aoun: Lebanon Must Not Pay Price for Regional Conflicts
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 21/17/President Michel Aoun stressed on Monday during talks with Arab League chief Ahmed Abu el-Gheit at the Presidential Palace that Lebanon must not “pay the price for regional conflicts,” after its closing statement a day earlier that named Hizbullah party a “terror” organization. “Lebanon is not responsible for the Arab and regional conflicts that some Arab states are witnessing. Lebanon did not carry out any aggression against anyone and it should not pay the price of these conflicts,” Aoun told Abu el-Gheit who arrived in Lebanon Monday.
The President added: “Lebanon can not tolerate a suggestion that the Lebanese government is a partner in terrorist acts. Lebanon's stance declared through its representative at the Arab League yesterday expressed a national will.”
Turning to Lebanon's conflict with Israel and how the country has countered the Israeli aggressions since 1978, Aoun said: “Lebanon was able to face the Israeli aggressions since 1978 until the 2006 war. It was able to liberate its land. Israeli threats are still ongoing, the Lebanese have the right to fight and thwart it with all available means.”The closing statement of an emergency Arab League meeting on Sunday labeled Hizbullah as “terrorist”, which prompted Lebanon’s representative to voice reservations over certain clauses. The statement accused Hizbullah of “training terrorist groups” in Bahrain, “supporting terrorist groups” in Saudi Arabia, and “supporting terror and terrorist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.” And describing Hizbullah as a “partner in the Lebanese government,” the statement also accused the group of “spreading extremism and sectarianism” and “interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.”The Lebanese envoy to the meeting, Antoine Azzam, made carefully weighed comments at the talks. While not mentioning Iran by name, he said Lebanon condemned all attacks against Arab nations, but blamed exploitable inter-Arab divisions that allowed international and regional powers to promote their interests.

Arab League Chief in Beirut, Holds Talks with Aoun
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 21/17/Arab League chief Ahmed Abu el-Gheit stressed on Monday that the Arab League is keen on “understanding” Lebanon's “special composition” after naming Hizbullah a “terror” organization, assuring that no one accepts any harm for the Mediterranean country. No one wants to harm Lebanon we understand it has its own particularity,” said Abu el-Gheit after holding a meeting with President Michel Aoun at the Baabda Palace. “I explained to the President the circumstances that surrounded the Arab League's meeting and the closing statement,” he added. Earlier after arriving at the Rafik Hariri International Airport Monday, Abu el-Gheit stressed to reporters that the Arab countries "have great understanding for Lebanon's position and that they want to spare it from becoming embroiled in conflicts," the National News Agency reported.
Al-Joumhouria daily reported that the Arab League chief was not delegated by the Arab foreign ministers' conference following its Sunday statement. He will also hold talks with senior Lebanese officials, and will take part in a conference called by ESCWA for the regional economic commissions in the Arab countries.Arab diplomatic sources told the daily that “it was a coincidence for Abu el-Gheit to travel to Lebanon one day after the Arab League meeting, and that he will participate in a conference invited by the ESCWA.”The closing statement of an emergency Arab League meeting on Sunday labeled Hizbullah as “terrorist”, which prompted Lebanon’s representative to voice reservations over certain clauses. The statement accused Hizbullah of “training terrorist groups” in Bahrain, “supporting terrorist groups” in Saudi Arabia, and “supporting terror and terrorist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.”And describing Hizbullah as a “partner in the Lebanese government,” the statement also accused the group of “spreading extremism and sectarianism” and “interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.”According to the daily, talks between Aoun and Abul Gheit will discuss the positions of Lebanon calling for intensifying the work of the Arab League based on the positions launched during a visit to its headquarters last February. Aoun will also recall Lebanon's proposals calling on the Arab League to lead a joint Arab action aimed at ending differences by diplomatic means and renouncing the use of arms in resolving Arab-Arab disputes, said the daily.

Netanyahu, Macron to Discuss 'Ideas to Stabilize Situation in Lebanon'
Associated Press/Naharnet/November 21/17/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in early December to discuss threats against Israel from Hizbullah and Iran and "ideas to stabilize the situation in Lebanon."The prime minister told his Likud party at a meeting Monday that he spoke with the French president "at length" the previous day. Lebanon was plunged into crisis earlier this month by the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hariri recently traveled to France from Saudi Arabia, where he had made the announcement.
Netanyahu said he and Macron agreed to meet to "see if we can adopt similar approaches, as much as possible, concerning this threat and the nuclear agreement with Iran."

Berri Criticizes Arab League's Label of Hizbullah
Naharnet/November 21/17/Speaker Nabih Berri indirectly criticized on Monday the Arab League's closing statement that named Hizbullah a “terrorist” organization. “Thanks and sorry...Thank God and sorry that we in Lebanon have fought the Israelis,” said Berri in a post on his Facebook page. Berri did not make further remarks. The closing statement of an emergency Arab League meeting on Sunday labeled Hizbullah as “terrorist”, which prompted Lebanon’s representative to voice reservations over certain clauses. The statement accused Hizbullah of “training terrorist groups” in Bahrain, “supporting terrorist groups” in Saudi Arabia, and “supporting terror and terrorist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.”
And describing Hizbullah as a “partner in the Lebanese government,” the statement also accused the group of “spreading extremism and sectarianism” and “interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.”The Lebanese envoy to the meeting, Antoine Azzam, made carefully weighed comments at the talks.
While not mentioning Iran by name, he said Lebanon condemned all attacks against Arab nations, but blamed exploitable inter-Arab divisions that allowed international and regional powers to promote their interests.

Hariri to Travel to Egypt Tuesday
Naharnet/November 21/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri will visit Cairo on Tuesday, where he will meet with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the premier's media office said in a statement. Hariri will travel to Egypt from France were he is staying at the invitation of President Emanuel Macron after rumors that he was held against his will in Saudi Arabia after his surprise resignation. His failure to return to Lebanon since his shock resignation on November 4 from Riyadh, sparked rumors that he was being held in Riyadh against his will, which both he and Saudi officials denied. The Premier is expected to return to Lebanon to take part in the Independence Day celebrations. Lebanon will mark Independence Day on Wednesday and there have been concerns about whether Hariri will attend the annual celebrations. The ceremony is usually headed by the president, prime minister and parliament speaker.

Arab League Stance on Iran 'Worthless', Says Tehran

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 21/17/Iran on Monday dismissed as "worthless" a resolution by Arab League foreign ministers that accused the Islamic republic of "aggression" against Arab states.
"The solution to the region's problems, many of which are down to Saudi Arabia's sterile policy, is not to publish such worthless statements but to stop following the policies of the Zionist regime (Israel) which seeks to stoke divisions," the ISNA news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi as saying. On Sunday, the Arab League held an extraordinary general meeting in Cairo, at the request of Saudi Arabia, as tensions soar between the regional arch-rivals, including over League member Lebanon.

Hamas Rejects Arab Statement Labeling Hizbullah 'Terrorist'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 21/17/Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas rejected on Monday an Arab League resolution labeling Lebanon's Hizbullah a “terrorist” organization. In a statement the party said it "rejects the description of the Lebanese Hizbullah resistance movement as terrorist."Instead, it added, Israel's actions against Palestinians should be labeled "terrorism."It also called on Arab states to "support the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people" and urged them to work together to solve their differences through dialogue. On Sunday Arab League members adopted a resolution saying they would hold the "terrorist Lebanese Hizbullah... responsible for supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations in Arab countries, with modern weapons and ballistic missiles."The resolution came amid soaring tensions between regional arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran -- Hizbullah's backer. Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia and Iran, the predominant Shiite power, have for decades stood on opposing sides of conflicts in the Middle East including in Syria and Yemen. Despite being Sunni, Hamas has long been seen as an ally of Iran. Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008. Hizbullah for its part fought Israel in 2006 and had spearheaded military operations against Israeli forces occupying parts of southern Lebanon prior to the Israeli withdrawal in the year 2000.

New Saudi Ambassador Arrives in Beirut
Naharnet/November 21/17/The new Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Walid al-Yaaqoub, arrived Monday in Beirut to assume his duties, amid high Saudi-Lebanese and Saudi-Iranian tensions, Lebanon's National News Agency reported. The envoy was welcomed at the Rafik Hariri International Airport by acting protocol director at the Lebanese Foreign Ministry Assaf Doumit and the ambassadors of Kuwait, the UAE, Egypt, Iraq, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, Algeria and Sudan. Saudi charge d'affaires Walid al-Bukhari and the Saudi embassy's staff were also present at the reception. After a short stop at the airport, Yaaqoub left for the embassy without making a statement, amid strict security measures. According to information obtained by al-Markazia news agency, Yaaqoub had worked as a diplomat at the kingdom's embassy in Beirut in the past and most recently as an aide to firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan. Prior to the kingdom's latest escalation against Hizbullah and Iran, Sabhan had posted several blistering anti-Hizbullah tweets, with al-Mustaqbal Movement describing his remarks as a Saudi “warning message.” Riyadh did not immediately appoint a new ambassador to Lebanon after the departure of its envoy Ali Awadh Asiri in 2016.

Jordan's King Stresses to Gemayel Kingdom's 'Full Support' for Lebanon
Naharnet/November 21/17/Jordanian King Abdullah II held talks Monday in Amman with Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel, stressing the kingdom's “full support” for Lebanon amid the current turmoil. According to a statement issued by Gemayel's press office, Kataeb's leader had received an official invitation to visit Jordan. Talks tackled “the current developments in the regional and international arenas,” the press office said, adding that the monarch “put MP Gemayel in the picture of the critical developments that the region is going through, underscoring the depth of the historic and brotherly ties between the two countries.”“Jordan fully supports Lebanon in its efforts to overcome challenges and preserve its national unity, sovereignty, security and stability,” Abdullah II told Gemayel, wishing a “better future” for the Lebanese people.Gemayel for his part expressed appreciation for Jordan's stances, thanking the kingdom for “its support for the Lebanese Army” and underlining “the need to strengthen bilateral ties between the two states.”Talks between the two men also addressed “the situation of the city of Jerusalem and means to turn it into a city that is open to all the followers of Abrahamic religions” in addition to “Amman's effective role in the dialogue of cultures and religions and the Jordanian experience regarding Syrian refugees.”Lebanon has been gripped in a political crisis since Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced a surprise resignation earlier this month from Saudi Arabia, lambasting Iran and Hizbullah for their policies in Lebanon and the region. The shock announcement sparked worries that Lebanon would be caught up in the spiraling tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, which back opposing political and armed groups across the region. After resigning, Hariri spent two more weeks in Saudi Arabia amid rumors he was under de facto house arrest there, before traveling to Paris on Saturday. There, he met French President Emmanuel Macron and pledged he would be in Lebanon in time to mark its independence day on Wednesday.

Hashem Says Arab League Must Understand Lebanon's 'Particularity'
Naharnet/November 21/17/MP Qassem Hashem rejected the Arab League naming of Hizbullah as a “terrorist” organization, describing the party as a “major component of the Lebanese fabric.”In an interview with radio VDL (93.3) Hashem said Hizbullah is “part of Lebanon's political society. It constitutes a fundamental part in the Parliament and Cabinet and has its own popular and political weight.” Hashem added saying that the Arab League “must understand Lebanon's particularity,” asserting that “Lebanon is keen on having strong and excellent ties with the entire Arab countries.” “Hizbullah is dealing with all Lebanese issues wisely and positively mainly the recent crisis,” said the lawmaker, adding “but some issues can not be tolerated, especially external dictates, in light of the seriousness of what we are going through. What is happening today is not normal and we are all concerned with fortifying the internal arena.”
The closing statement of an emergency Arab League meeting on Sunday labeled Hizbullah as “terrorist”, which prompted Lebanon’s representative to voice reservations over certain clauses. The statement accused Hizbullah of “training terrorist groups” in Bahrain, “supporting terrorist groups” in Saudi Arabia, and “supporting terror and terrorist groups in Arab countries with advanced weapons and ballistic missiles.” And describing Hizbullah as a “partner in the Lebanese government,” the statement also accused the group of “spreading extremism and sectarianism” and “interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.”
The Lebanese envoy to the meeting, Antoine Azzam, made carefully weighed comments at the talks. While not mentioning Iran by name, he said Lebanon condemned all attacks against Arab nations, but blamed exploitable inter-Arab divisions that allowed international and regional powers to promote their interests.

Netanyahu to Meet Macron on Lebanon Crisis
Asharq Al-Awsat/Asharq Al Awsat/November 20/17/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in early December for talks expected to include developments in Lebanon, Netanyahu's office said on Sunday. In a phone call on Sunday, "President Macron updated Prime Minister Netanyahu with the measures he is taking in the crisis in Lebanon," it said in a statement. "The two leaders decided to speak again in the coming days and to meet in Paris at the beginning of next month."Netanyahu last visited the Elysee in July. The Israeli PM and Macron also spoke about the nuclear deal with Iran, its "attempts to set up bases in Syria and its activities in the region", the statement said. It said Macron instigated the 30-minute phone call. The Israeli government closely follows the developments in Lebanon. Recent comments made by Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil have dawn strong condemnation in Israel. “We should restrain Israel from starting a war exactly because Lebanon is sure to win it,” Bassil said during a visit to Moscow. But an Israeli minister played down his remarks, saying the 11-year calm on the Lebanese-Israeli border will not be shattered and the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri will not change Hezbollah’s caution. Hariri resigned on November 4, citing Iran's "grip" on his country and the region, and threats to his life.

Arab states urge Lebanon to rein in Hezbollah
Arabnews/NAJIA HOUSSARI/Tuesday 21 November 2017
Arab states stand united against ‘unacceptable Iranian aggression’
BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned on Nov. 4, will land in Cairo on Tuesday to meet the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi “to complement his international and Arab tours,” Hariri’s media office announced.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit arrived in Beirut on Monday — the day after his urgent meeting in the Egyptian capital with Arab foreign ministers, at which he condemned “the firing of an Iranian-made ballistic missile from Yemeni territories to Riyadh" and considered it "blatant aggression against Saudi Arabia and a threat to Arab national security.”
The statement released after the meeting held “the terrorist organization, Hezbollah, a major player in the Lebanese government, responsible for supporting terrorism and terrorist groups in Arab countries through providing them with advanced arms and ballistic missiles.”
Aboul Gheit heard Lebanese President Michel Aoun say: “Lebanon is not responsible for Arab or regional conflicts and had never attacked any country. Therefore, it must not pay the price for these conflicts."
Aoun stressed that “Lebanon faced Israeli aggression and managed to free its lands, but Israel continues to target Lebanon, which gives Lebanese people every right to resist and thwart Israel’s plans in every possible way.”
He also refused to “suggest that the Lebanese government plays a role in terrorist acts,” pointing out that “the stance of the permanent representative of Lebanon to the Arab League during the foreign ministers’ meeting reflects a strong national determination.”
Lebanon objected to “the describing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, as well as referring to it as being part of the government.”
In a statement released by the presidential palace after Aboul Gheit’s meeting with Aoun, Aboul Gheit said: “Arab states are keen on ensuring Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and role as well as protecting its unique political structure and refusing to allow any harm to get to it.”
The Arab League chief also told the media that he came to Lebanon “to explain to Aoun the circumstances surrounding the Arab League’s meeting and the decision made by the foreign ministers, which includes looking into Iran’s interference in Saudi, Bahraini, GCC and UAE affairs. The decision was adopted by the Arab Ministerial Quartet Committee, which was formed by the Arab League more than two years ago to address Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries, and which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, along with the secretary-general of the Arab League as members.
“The foreign ministers’ decision was issued mainly to inform the United Nations and the Security Council of Iran’s interference and approach in the Arab world,” he added. “I have noticed that everyone showed interest in understanding the Lebanese structure, and no one wants, accepts or wishes to harm Lebanon.”He continued: “It isn’t new or unusual for the decision to include stances regarding a specific Lebanese party; this has been going on for more than two years. Even when it referred to the Lebanese government, the reference was meant for a certain participation and not Lebanon as a whole.
“The formation of a new Lebanese government or the continuation of any situation in Lebanon is not something I would interfere in or comment about, and Prime Minister Hariri will come to Lebanon on Tuesday.”
He stressed that Arab countries were targeted by the ballistic missiles, especially Saudi Arabia, and this is the reason behind its anger. Observers of the decision will notice a reference to the UN Charter Article 51, which states that the targeted countries have the inherent right to defend themselves and respond to these ballistic missile attacks whenever and however they wish. According to the decision, those countries chose to resort to the UN's legitimate and legal diplomatic work and to turn to the Security Council.
Aboul Gheit visited the Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon, Nabih Berri, who commented on the outcomes of the Cairo meeting in a brief statement released by his media office, in which he said: “Pardon us in Lebanon for having fought Israel.”
After the Aboul Gheit-Berri meeting, Berri’s media office announced that he said: “Despite the explanation provided by the Arab League chief, I have reminded him of the decision’s introduction, which stresses the importance of ensuring that relations between Arab countries and Iran are based on the principle of good neighborliness. I have also reminded him of dozens of decisions issued by the Arab League during summits and ministerial meetings, which confirm the resistance’s right to liberate its lands and which support Lebanon in its fight against Israel. Besides, the decision’s reference to the Lebanese government is not a successful one at all — it is actually offensive given the government’s current state.”
In a statement, Abou Gheit repeated that he explained to Berri that “the decision did not refer to Lebanon as a whole, but to a specific party in a certain situation.”He also repeated: “Everyone recognizes the uniqueness of the Lebanese political structure, and no one at all wishes to harm Lebanon or turn its lands into a stage for any Arab-Iranian conflict. I am certain about this and never heard anyone suggest otherwise.”He stressed that “no one is accusing the Lebanese government of terrorism. The decision merely referred to a certain party that participates in the government, and the Arab League merely reflects the Arab world’s will or the outcomes of the ministerial meeting. It is an indirect way to demand that the Lebanese state or government speak to this partner and convince it to control its actions on Arab lands in a way that does not lead to forming alliances with non-Arab powers, and this is what was meant.”
In his comment on Berri’s statement, “Pardon us for having fought Israel,” Aboul Gheit said: “I come from a country that fought Israel for long decades. I support and stand with whoever fights Israel and rejects its injustice and aggression. I cannot say anything more.”

The 'Iranian Interference' Item
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/November 20/17
It is enough for Arab foreign ministers to open their world map to confirm that their emergency meeting in Cairo yesterday was justified and necessary.
Talking about the “Iranian interference” is not a passing accusation that lacks evidence. The insistence on discussing it never falls within the framework of harassment or escalation.
It is an attempt to crystallize a unified Arab will to deal with a tense Arab reality in a group of countries and maps. Repercussions of continued interventions are not only limited to countries, in which Iranian-backed militias operate, but they can affect the balance of power across the region.
The most striking aspect of these interventions is that Tehran is not trying to deny them. The missile that targeted Riyadh bears a clear signature, and the Houthis were only used as a platform to launch it. General Qassem Soleimani’s pictures, touring among militants and between crescent states, leave no room for doubt. Statements made by the generals of the Revolutionary Guard about the control of four Arab capitals are not just a blur or an exaggeration. President Hassan Rouhani’s words on the compulsory Iranian crossing complete the image.
“Iranian interference” is nothing new. The policy of “exporting the revolution” is primarily a declaration of the right to intervene in the affairs of other countries. What is new is the extent of this interference, the increasing threats it is posing and its growing exposure. Political changes, distortion of the power balance and demographic modifications to guarantee the consolidation of the new features… “Iranian interference” is nothing new. But after the blatant Iranian role in Yemen, it took a more dangerous course. What is new, however, is that targeted countries feel that they can no longer avoid calling things by their proper name and that this interference is a fixed item in Arab meetings and talks with international powers.
What is also new is the presence of an American administration that is not reassured with the nuclear deal, the achievement of which was an obsession for Barack Obama. The current administration has included the item “Iranian interference” at the core of its relationship with the region and its crises.
What is new in the “Iranian interference” is that Tehran has not dealt with the nuclear agreement as an opportunity to show respect to international laws and covenants. One can say that what happened was exactly the opposite. After signing the agreement, Iran stepped up its intervention in the region as if it considered the deal an opportunity that must be seized and used for the sake of the “big coup” project. It was an unprecedented scene: removing maps’ immunity, violating international law and turning allied militias into small armies to topple some regimes and prevent the fall of others, regardless of the feelings of people, whose maps have been violated. The situation became more dangerous with the formation of rocket-armed militias, which complement abuses committed by militias through ground-based incursions.
What is also new in the “Iranian interference” is that talks about it reemerged after threats posed by ISIS diminished. There are those who believe that Iran’s sectarian-based policy of destabilization was the reason for the fragmentation of national unity in more than one Arab country and that ISIS was born out of these ruptures. Since the region is also a hub of vital fortunes and corridors for global economy, international concern over Iranian role in missiles and militias has escalated.
On the eve of the Cairo meeting, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron discussed the situation in the Middle East. The White House said the two presidents “agreed on the need to work with allies to counter the destabilizing activities of Hezbollah and Iran in the region.”
Iranian interventions have reached an unprecedented level. This reality is even embarrassing for countries that usually prefer to adopt lukewarm stances and treat Arab wounds with general repeated terms. It has become difficult for any Arab minister to justify the Iranian behavior or give pretexts to mitigate its role. The Iranian missile on Riyadh and the content of the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri presented new evidence to those who were still looking for proof.
Mounting interventions explained the rhetoric used by Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit at the opening of the meeting. They also explained the firm tone used by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. At the meeting, Iran was accused of pursuing sectarian policies, deploying its militias on Arab soil and interfering in internal affairs. All these accusations have put the “Iranian Interference” item at the top of the agenda of regional and international meetings. One does not exaggerate when saying that the stance towards these interventions will be an influential factor in Arab inter-relations, as well as in Arab-international relations. Three parties must reflect on the outcome of the emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers. The first is Iran, whose behavior was condemned by the participants. The question is whether it wants to coexist with its Arab neighbors, or it insists on trying to subjugate them… If it chooses the second option, the winds of confrontation will intensify and Tehran will face isolation. The second party is Hezbollah, which must think about its current image at the Arab level. Hezbollah is no longer seen as a resistance against Israel, but as a terrorist organization, based on its role in the Iranian coup. The third party is President Michel Aoun, who will be the biggest loser of the resignation of Saad Hariri. The presence of Aoun – the former Army commander - in the presidential palace, will be meaningless if he does not employ his position to defend the idea of the state, the factors for its existence and the interests of the Lebanese people. Unless Iran makes a quick decision to stop its comprehensive offensive in the region, the “Iranian Interference” item will be the title of the next confrontation and the slogan for a new alignment. The same item will be the title of the move towards the Security Council and will leave its mark on the situation in exploding areas and those which are likely to explode.

Can Lebanon handle truth about Hariri, Saudi Arabia?
Al Monitor/Week in Review/November 20/2017
REUTERS/Jamal SaidiPosters depicting Saad Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon's prime minister from Saudi Arabia, are seen along an airport highway in Beirut, Lebanon, Nov. 19, 2017.
Hariri’s transformative journey: “Unable to convince anybody”
“I am unable to convince anybody that you aren't a prisoner in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, that you're not a hostage, that you're not under house arrest even though we are in your own house," said Paula Yacoubian in her interview with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri last week. “Even I myself am being accused of being part of this theater.”
During the interview, conducted on his own Future TV, Hariri assured Yacoubian that all was fine and that he was not a captive in the kingdom, all the while drinking perhaps a quart of water and looking tired and at times on the verge of tears, saying at one point, “I have to think about my family, too. … You know what I went through when my father died."
As one of the Marx Brothers once said, “Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?” Not a single cab driver in Beirut or Cairo is buying Hariri’s assurances that he has been acting of his own free will or that his visit to the kingdom was simply in the context of his special and brotherly relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Also not buying it are French President Emmanuel Macron, whose intervention led to Hariri’s release, due to the good offices of United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed; German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who criticized Saudi interference in Lebanese affairs, prompting a crisis in German-Saudi relations; Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who said that he considered Hariri to “be held and detained, contrary to the Vienna Convention”; Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who called out Saudi Arabia for “irresponsibility and a reckless leadership in the region that is just trying to bully countries into submission.”
With regard to what has been seen with our “own eyes,” Hariri arrived in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 3, per a summons to meet King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. He was received without the normal protocol at the airport, and soon presented his resignation speech, in which he declared the need to "cut off the hands that wickedly extend to it," referring to Iranian and Hezbollah influence in Lebanese affairs, and that his life was in danger. Macron came to the kingdom Nov. 9 to address the crisis, and undertook a diplomatic effort to get Hariri and his family out of Riyadh. The interview with Yacoubian on Future TV, which is owned by Hariri, was such a fiasco that Lebanese state television stations will no longer run it. Hariri landed in France on Nov. 18, but with two of his children left behind in Saudi Arabia, fueling further speculation that his freedom of action remains constrained.
All this has the potential to upend Lebanese and regional politics, and for no good reason, other than the impulse of Mohammed bin Salman, who has arrested and confiscated the assets of hundreds of Saudi royals and business leaders. The crown prince's disastrous intervention in Yemen has killed thousands and brought the country to the brink of famine (see below), his decision to isolate Qatar has undermined Gulf Cooperation Council unity to Iran’s benefit and his frustration with Hariri’s inability to confront Hezbollah in Lebanon is well-known.
All eyes are therefore on Hariri’s return to Lebanon and the Nov. 22 meeting with Aoun. The Lebanese president has stood by Hariri, working closely with France and others to secure his release and safe return. Although Hariri and Aoun may differ on many issues, Aoun took on Hariri’s cause in the name of Lebanese sovereignty.
Hariri is expected to announce his resignation and seek to rally a more formidable opposition to Hezbollah. But the March 14 coalition has been fragmenting for years on Hariri’s watch. How can it be rebuilt on the shell, or even corpse, of his credibility, if he continues to keep his own counsel on what he has suffered the past few weeks?
And what will be the price for those Lebanese politicians who might be inclined to support such an effort, pretending they are not privy to the open secret that the foundation of the new coalition is built on a house of cards, and a game of silence, originating in Riyadh? The theater of Hariri’s journey is the staple of conversation in cabs and in coffee houses and other gathering places throughout Lebanon and the region. The Lebanese people, in the Marx Brothers’ terminology, are believing their eyes. Lebanese politicians place their credibility on the line by pretending to go along with the charade, given the immense risks for the country with more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah.
The present crisis is not without parallel to the challenges faced by Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who managed Lebanon’s affairs so artfully until his murder by political enemies in 2005. The elder Hariri was lionized for putting Lebanon first, despite the pressures of regional powers. When he was killed, the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon began a hunt for witnesses.
In this case, Saad Hariri is his own witness in a court of conscience, not an international tribunal. It is fitting that he returns to Lebanon on its independence day. The open secret of Hairi’s transformative journey has sparked a commendable popular outrage against such blatant and malign interference in Lebanese affairs. Although his political capital is in free fall, Hariri’s next steps may nonetheless be consequential as to whether the country keeps to its present and fragile course of stability and sovereignty, or whether it reverts to a regional battleground.
No earthquake diplomacy this time
In December 2003, a massive earthquake struck southeastern Iran, killing over 26,000 people, and injuring over 30,000. The Bam earthquake came at a low point in US-Iran relations, almost two years after US President George W. Bush labeled Iran a member of the "axis of evil." Nonetheless, the Bush administration offered, and Iran accepted, relief aid from the United States, and the United States lifted some US sanctions to allow humanitarian assistance. The Iranian government, however, rejected an offer by the White House to send a delegation led by North Carolina Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a former president of the American Red Cross, to help oversee the relief effort.
On Nov. 12, an earthquake in Kermanshah province in Iran, home to many Kurdish citizens, killed over 500 and injured thousands. While the US Treasury has allowed donations to Iran via approved charities, there has been no sanctions relief, or gesture of assistance, as there was in 2003. The Department of State released a two-line statement expressing "condolences" for those affected by the earthquake. US President Donald Trump has said nothing about the earthquake.
Ali Hashem reports from Eslamabad-e Gharb, in Kermanshah province: “In the center of the city, the scenes of destruction were more obvious. Entire neighborhoods had been wiped out. Some people wandered among the rubble, searching for their belongings, mostly valuable items like jewelry, electronics and rugs. While accompanying a family to their home, Al-Monitor heard a woman shouting, “There might be someone alive here!” Soldiers and members of the Red Crescent rushed to the scene: a three-story building turned to rubble. A rescue dog was brought to the scene to check for signs of life, while others searched among the rubble for documents that might provide residents' phone numbers or identification. Scattered certificates and papers revealed that a 25-year-old woman named Fatemeh lived there, but no phone number was found.”
While the 2003 earthquake was much more destructive than the one last week, the contrast in the response from Washington is telling. US-Iran relations have sunk back to, or below, the axis of evil days. Yemen is a case in point, and victim, of this grim reality. As Jack Detsch reports, the United States has “more than doubled US refueling support for the Saudi-led mission in Yemen over the past year … despite mounting public and congressional concerns about the operation.” A statement by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations earlier this month called out Iran for its “complete disregard for its international obligations” for being the possible source of a missile fired into Riyadh by Yemeni rebels. No comparable outrage is expressed for the Saudi-led blockade that is contributing to a famine, as well as the spread of cholera and diphtheria, in the region’s poorest country.
As we wrote here last week, “Absent some clear red lines, the Trump administration may find itself on a slippery slope toward confrontation with Iran or unrest in Lebanon because of decisions made in Riyadh, not Washington.” The United States might consider some conditions on the blank check that seems to spur Saudi action in the region, including Yemen, whose people are paying a terrible price in this war.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 20-21/17
Egypt’s Sisi Says Gas Discoveries Can be EU's New Energy Source
Asharq Al-Awsat/Asharq Al Awsat/November 20/17Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Monday that newly discovered gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean can offer Europe alternative sources of energy that it's searching for. Sisi said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart that Europe can take advantage of the proximity of both Egypt and Cyprus to the continent in that energy search. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he hopes gas discoveries can act as a catalyst for cooperation that boosts regional stability and prosperity. Anastasiades said Cyprus will promote closer Egypt-European Union relations, adding that Egypt constitutes an "absolutely necessary strategic partner" for the 28-member bloc on issues including security, energy and migration. The Egyptian president also said he and Anastasiades agreed on ways of countering the regional extremism threat.

Egyptian Central Security Forces Chief Survives Assassination Attempt in North Sinai
Asharq Al-Awsat/Asharq Al Awsat/November 20/17/A police officer and a man were killed in two separate attacks north of Sinai, while head of the Central Security Forces (CSF) survived an assassination attempt by unknown gunmen, Egyptian local and security sources said.
Head of Egypt’s CSF in the North Sinai city of al-Arish Nasser al-Husseini and other police personnel survived on Saturday an assassination attempt that targeted their security patrol. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was planted on the road of the patrol near the al-Khazan district in Arish, and a large-scale sweep was launched to arrest the perpetrators. Since 2013, when the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated former President Mohamed Morsi was removed from power, the Egyptian army and police forces have been engaged in a low-intensity war with various militant groups, most prominently in North Sinai. The most active militant group in the area is Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which in 2014 pledged allegiance to ISIS. Local sources in north Sinai said that gunmen killed Mahmoud Salam, 38, and injured two of his children after placing an IED in his car in the city of Sheikh Zuweid. Salam is one of the most prominent figures of a group that supports the army in its crackdown on militants in the city, according to the sources. In Arish, medical and security sources announced that a police officer was killed by armed elements while he was walking in the street. His corpse was transferred to Arish Public Hospital as relevant authorities started their investigation, sources pointed out, adding that the police are combing the area to search for those involved in the attack.

UN: Warring Sides Should Stop Targeting Civilians in Damascus, Eastern Ghouta
Asharq Al-Awsat/Asharq Al Awsat/November 20/17/The United Nations on Sunday called on Syria's warring sides to stop targeting civilians in the capital Damascus and nearby neighborhoods, mainly Eastern Ghouta, where escalating bombardment has killed dozens in recent days. UN coordinator for humanitarian and development affairs in Syria Ali al-Zaatari called on "all warring sides to avoid targeting civilians.” "For days, there have been daily reports about civilians being killed and others being severely wounded, in addition to warehouses, hospitals and schools being put out of service during the exchange of shellfire, particularly in Damascus and Eastern Ghouta," Zaatari said.
His comments in Arabic came in a statement emailed to AFP.
Regime forces have escalated their bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, an opposition stronghold outside Damascus, since Ahrar al-Sham attacked a military base in the area last week. Since Tuesday, heavy artillery fire and air strikes on Eastern Ghouta have killed at least 66 civilians including 13 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 281 people have been wounded, the Britain-based monitor said on Sunday. Rebel groups meanwhile have fired rockets into Damascus neighborhoods, killing at least 16 people since Thursday, the Observatory said. The toll included two people killed by rocket fire on Sunday. "The United Nations hopes for an immediate ceasefire and the establishment of secure humanitarian corridors to evacuate wounded, sick, and elderly people, as well as children, as soon as possible from areas seeing hostile operations," Zaatari said. He called for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those who need it across the country. Eastern Ghouta is supposed to be part of a "de-escalation zone" under a deal between Russia, Iran and Turkey aimed at reducing the level of violence. Bashar al-Assad's forces have besieged Eastern Ghouta since 2013, making humanitarian conditions in the area, where some 400,000 people live, extremely dire.

Iraqi Top Court Rules Kurdish Referendum Unconstitutional
Asharq Al-Awsat/Asharq Al Awsat/November 20/17/Iraq's Supreme Federal Court declared on Monday that a referendum held on Kurdish independence in September was unconstitutional and that the results of the vote were void. "The Federal Court issued the decision to consider the Kurdish region's referendum unconstitutional and this ruling is final," a court spokesman said. "The power of this ruling should now cancel all the results of the referendum."The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq’s central government and regions including Kurdistan. The verdict cannot be appealed.
Kurds voted overwhelmingly to break away from Iraq in a referendum held on Sept. 25, defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities. The court had already ruled on Nov. 6 that no region or province can secede, and the Kurdistan Regional Government said last week it would respect that verdict. Iraqi government forces launched a surprise offensive on Oct. 16 in retaliation. Government forces managed to wrest back control of the oil city of Kirkuk and other disputed territories. September's referendum was initiated by then Kurdish leader Massud Barzani, for whom the repercussions were severe. At the beginning of November, he announced he was stepping aside after the Kurds lost the territories. Last month, the UN Security Council urged the Iraqi government and regional leaders in Kurdistan to set a timetable for talks.

Israeli Police Question Netanyahu for 6th Time
Asharq Al-Awsat/Asharq Al Awsat/November 20/17/Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned for a sixth time on Sunday over two suspected cases of corruption, police said. Channel Two television said that detectives arrived at the premier's official Jerusalem residence shortly after 4:00 pm Sunday. At 9:00 pm a police statement confirmed that he had been questioned "for a number of hours" by officers of the national fraud and serious crimes squad. It was their second visit in 10 days, after Netanyahu was questioned for about four hours on November 9. He was first quizzed on January 2. Netanyahu is suspected of having received luxury gifts from wealthy supporters, including Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan. Milchan, a long-time friend of Netanyahu, reportedly sent him boxes of expensive cigars and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars. The producer was himself questioned in September. In addition to suspicions that the gifts constituted bribery, the police also suspect that he sought a secret pact for favorable coverage with the publisher of the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper. The alleged deal, not believed to have been finalized, would have seen Netanyahu receive favorable coverage in return for helping curb Yediot's competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom. Netanyahu, who has been in power since 2009, has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and says he has been the target of a campaign by political opponents. Earlier this month, Netanyahu confidants Yitzhak Molcho and David Shimron, partners in a law firm and both relatives of the premier, were questioned by police as part of a probe into suspected corruption around the $2 billion purchase of German submarines. Netanyahu himself has not been named as a suspect in the submarine case.

Riyadh conference aims to unify Syrian opposition, says adviser
Arabnews/ Tuesday 21 November 2017
JEDDAH: Yahya Al-Aridi, a political adviser to the Syrian High Negotiations Committee, has said the Syrian opposition’s conference in Riyadh on Wednesday mainly aims to discuss unifying the opposition and adopting a mechanism to adopt a new constitution for the country.
The intention, he said, is to deprive Russia of excuses to stop efforts to address the crisis. “The fragmentation of the opposition has been used by the Russians as a pretext to discredit the opposition in general,” he said. “I have been present in almost all Geneva and Astana talks and the Russians and the regime have always been using this as an excuse to foil the talks. We want to unify our stances so that they have nor more excuses — neither the regime nor the Russians. “The Riyadh conference aims to sideline or take away this card from the hands of Russia and the regime. Also, there should be some sort of consolidation of strengthening of the opposition front, meaning that we need to introduce new actors who are more experienced and better trained and have in-depth knowledge about the negotiations,” he added.
Moreover, he said, the Russia and Cairo platforms are being invited, and this will be a way of checking how serious they are about engaging in serious talks over the future of Syria and the Syrian people and their best interests.
“We acknowledge that there are certain discrepancies and differences between the different opposition platforms but these can be resolved and overcome. If they are really part of the Syrian opposition.
“The two platforms, particularly the Moscow platform, have been insisting on the continuation of the Syrian regime and the adoption of the 2012 Syria Constitution which was introduced by the Syrian regime and gave absolute powers to Bashar Assad,” he said. “If they continue to insist on these two demands then i suggest that they should be members of the regime front and not the opposition, as their demands meet the demands of the regime.”However, Al-Aridi said the opposition has other alternatives to discuss with all parties with regard to which constitution should be adopted for the future of Syria.
“We will call for a constitutional declaration that governs the transitional period which will be the responsibility of a transitional body. This body would establish an national assembly which would select a team of skilled and qualified individuals to be tasked with drafting a new constitution that serves the country and the people’s aspirations of a new dictatorship-free Syria,” he said.
The conference will be attended by representatives of Syrian opposition groups from Riyadh, Moscow and Cairo.
One of the participants representing the Moscow platform, Firas Al-Khaldi, explained that the committee will study and prepare the necessary documents and the meeting’s final communiqué. The conference aims to unite the opposition under one delegation and issue a unified document before the delegation heads to the Geneva talks at the end of November. Moreover, the conference seeks to resolve points of dispute, including the fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and whether or not he should step down at the beginning of the transitional period. The second point of dispute, according to Al-Khaldi, is about the constitution. He said there are those who want to follow the constitution set by Assad in 2012, which is what Moscow wants, and those who favor the Fifties constitution.
This came as the political bodies in the Syrian governorates confirmed on Sunday that Russia seeks to create an opposition in line with Assad’s regime and Russia’s interests in Syria. In a statement issued by these bodies, they said: “The political bodies in Syria, which represent the revolutionary and political movement inside Syria, are following with great concern these calls. We firmly reject all suspicious attempts that seek to refloat Bashar Assad’s criminal regime. “We highly appreciate the efforts of some Arab brothers and Syrian friends in supporting our revolution’s legitimate demands, and we expect them to continue to do so with real representation of the Syrian revolutionary bodies.”The statement also highlighted the right of revolutionary bodies to select their representatives in conferences and negotiations.
The political bodies also refused to accept any individual or group that does not consider the Geneva Declaration 1 and Resolutions 2118 and 2254 the only references for a political solution. They also noted that “the determinants of the Riyadh I Conference are the basis for joining any political body that opposes Assad’s regime.” On Monday (Nov. 20), anti-Assad activists launched the campaign “Reject the Moscow Platform,” which aims to send messages to participants in the Riyadh II Conference, set to be held by the end of this week, and insist on not allowing the Moscow platform to join the negotiations delegation that will represent the Syrian revolution, given that the stances of the Moscow platform favor Assad’s regime. Syrian opposition figure Michel Kilo said: “Participants in the Riyadh II Conference are required to thwart the Russian plan. The Geneva Declaration 1 and Resolution 2118 state that the political solution begins with the establishment of a transitional governing body, formed by mutual consent of the regime and the opposition, with full executive powers, which will create a democratic system in Syria.  “The Riyadh II Conference’s commitment to international resolutions means its commitment to the Syrian people’s right to establish a transitional governing body,” Kilo said.
“This right is not a precondition as the National Coordinating Body says, but a right recognized by international resolutions. Russia attacked us and our people with all kinds of weapons in order to save Assad’s regime. It used its veto 11 times. Therefore, we must reject the Russian solution, commit to change and insist on having Assad step down with his entire regime.”

Army Appeals for Calm as Mugabe Faces Impeachment Test
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 21/17/Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe came under increasing pressure to quit Monday as his ruling party said it would move to impeach him and the army revealed his likely successor would soon return to the country. In a televised address late Sunday, the 93-year-old president had flouted expectations he would step down after the military's takeover, pitching the country into a second week of political crisis.
Lawmakers from his ruling ZANU-PF party said that they would take the first steps on Tuesday to force Mugabe from office after he ignored their ultimatum to resign."We want to get rid of this animal called Mugabe. We have the numbers, the opposition is also going to support us," said ZANU-PF MP Vongai Mupereri."We are going to impeach -- the man has to go," said another government MP, MacKenzie Ncube, speaking to AFP after a meeting of lawmakers who until recently were his fiercely loyal supporters.
On Monday evening, army chief Constantino Chiwenga said that progress had been made in talks towards an apparent deal over Mugabe's exit. Chiwenga also said the president was in touch with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ousted vice president whose sacking triggered the military takeover and Mugabe's loss of power."The security services are encouraged by new developments which include contact between the president and the former vice president... who is expected in the country shortly," Chiwenga said.
"Thereafter the nation will be advised of the outcome of talks between the two."
Chiwenga called for calm after Zimbabweans had celebrated Saturday at huge anti-Mugabe marches that would have been brutally repressed just a week ago.
Their joy quickly turned to despair as Mugabe brushed aside the turmoil, blithely declaring on Sunday he would chair a top-level meeting of the party that had just disavowed him.
'He's lost his marbles'
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, called Mugabe's speech a "complete reversal of the people's expectations."Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the influential war veterans' association, called for larger protests than those staged at the weekend in an effort to dislodge Mugabe. "He's lost his marbles," he added.
Though Mugabe has struggled with public speaking in recent years, the wily statesman appeared alert and attentive as he delivered his address.
"It might take days and weeks, but Mugabe is on his way out," said Charles Muramba, a 46-year-old bus driver. The crisis erupted on November 13 after a factional squabble over the presidential succession erupted into the open.
Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, secured prime position to succeed him when Mnangagwa, who is close to the military leadership, was fired. After Mnangagwa fled abroad, the army took over the country and placed Mugabe under house arrest. The army insists it has not carried out a coup, but rather an operation to arrest allegedly corrupt supporters of the highly ambitious first lady.
On Sunday ZANU-PF dismissed Mugabe as its leader and demanded he resign as head of state, naming Mnangagwa as the new party chief.
Risk of violence?
Chris Vandome, an analyst at the Chatham House think-tank, warned that further delays heightened the risk of disorder. "They will start impeaching him (Tuesday), that is certainly the will of the military, but it's increasingly now the will of the people," he told AFP. The longer this goes on for, the more the likelihood of violence increases." Some sources suggest Mugabe has been battling to delay his exit in order to secure a deal that would guarantee future protection for him and his family. Mugabe was a key figure in the war for independence and took office as prime minister in 1980, riding a wave of goodwill. But his reputation was swiftly tarnished by his authoritarian instincts, rights abuses and economic ineptitude. Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, urged "everyone to refrain from violence.""What does appear clear is that Mugabe has lost the support of the people and of his party," British Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 20-21/17
Nuclear War Doesn’t Seem So Funny After All
Britt Peterson/The New York Times/November 20/17
In January, I started writing a novel in which a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb was detonated in the center of Washington, where I live. It was meant to be funny. I had read a 2011 report by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that described the effect of such a detonation, and was surprised to learn that my apartment in Adams Morgan would most likely survive the initial blast.
I imagined myself and my neighbors — about half wealthy millennials and half older people who’d bought in before the neighborhood’s property values skyrocketed — sheltering in awkward place in a basement, bickering over scraps of food and someone’s private stash of LaCroix cans.
Then, in April, Kim Jong-un of North Korea released a propaganda video of his army striking the Capitol; over the summer he tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that may be capable of striking the East Coast. More recently, President Trump called Mr. Kim “short and fat,” and now, apparently, North Korea has sentenced Mr. Trump to death in absentia. Suddenly, my novel started feeling a lot less funny.
For 1980s babies like me, nuclear war has long had a darkly comic edge. Too young to have experienced 1950s school drills or to remember the heightened anxieties of the early 1980s, we’ve viewed nuclear war as a terrifying improbability, especially compared with the terrifying certainties that we know all too well: global warming, terrorism, lone-wolf gunmen. America is in the privileged position of having inflicted nuclear casualties, not suffered them — and since the Cold War ended, it’s felt relatively likely that we wouldn’t be on either side of that equation again.
Understanding nuclear war from movies, books and grainy videos of kids hiding ineffectually under desks, we’ve seen it mostly through two prisms: black humor and camp. On the camp side, there’s the 1983 movie “The Day After,” with an Urkel-jeaned Steve Guttenberg and all the flashing skeletons. On the black humor side, everything from “Dr. Strangelove” to Kurt Vonnegut to the work of Takashi Murakami, as Spencer Weart points out in his book “The Rise of Nuclear Fear.”
Humor requires distance — we’ve been living in a constantly refreshed state of “too soon” for jokes about school shooters ever since I graduated from high school, two months after the Columbine attack. The psychologists Peter McGraw and Caleb Warren have developed a framework called “benign violation theory” to describe events that lend themselves best to humor: a violation or a threat, but one from which the joker is somewhat removed. It’s unclear exactly how much distance we need to laugh about something as cataclysmic as nuclear attack.
Spencer Weart believes that the black humor of the ’60s was actually occasioned by proximity — a nervous proximity that forced nervous laughter. While “nobody was making jokes during the Cuban missile crisis,” Dr. Weart said, writers and artists in the years after used morbid satire to express their inexpressible panic. “Thoughts of nuclear war were repressed because they were so terrible, and it came out in humor,” he told me.
Since the end of the Cold War, he points out, the instinct to humorize nuclear war has diminished along with the threat. More recent dystopian and nuclear fiction, from “The Hunger Games” to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” to “Mad Max: Fury Road,” have mostly been intensely serious. (There are exceptions: the running gags on “South Park” about Korean leaders with terrible haircuts, for instance.) Although “Saturday Night Live” and other late-night shows still mock Kim Jong-un (“the Harry Styles of North Korea,” as the Weekend Update host Colin Jost called him in April), there hasn’t been the flowering of gallows humor that we saw during the early days of the Cold War. Dr. Weart believes that the relative lack of specific threat over the past decade has encouraged a more serious approach: “You don’t have the visceral terror and therefore, you don’t have that reaction of laughing.”
This theory is borne out by the response of a nation that earns its visceral terror far more than anyone in America: South Korea. According to Haeryun Kang, a South Korean journalist, South Koreans tend to be somewhat blasé about the threats from their northern neighbor, either because of denial or sheer habituation. But they also have a “vibrant culture” of joking about it, creating meme-like “parody posters” showing, for instance, Kim Jong-un on a barbecue. “Laughing about something is one of the more accessible ways to approach a difficult issue,” Ms. Kang said by email.
For me, an increase in visceral terror over the past year at first made me need to laugh, and then made laughing feel inappropriate. When I started my nuclear-attack novel, I felt I was using humor to assuage my latent fears of an attack; it felt cathartic. But catharsis, like humor, implies a remove: You’re re-experiencing a past trauma, or inhabiting someone else’s. As it became increasingly plausible that I could live through the precise situation I was describing, the humor faded, and I abandoned the project.
Should we actually approach the brink of nuclear war, humor might feel necessary again. And if it does, I have a novel all ready to go.

The Media Won’t Give up its Role
Chris Wallace/The Washington Post/November 20/17
Whatever side you’re on in the debate over journalism these days, you’re not going to like some of what I have to say. Let’s start with a basic fact. President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on the free press in our history. Since early in the campaign, he has done everything he could to delegitimize the media — attacking us institutionally and individually. And I think his purpose is clear: a concerted campaign to raise doubts over whether we can be trusted when we report critically about his administration.
According to the Trump Twitter Archive, between Jan. 10 and the end of October, Trump tweeted about “fake news” 141 times. One stands out. On Feb. 17, the president tweeted this: “The FAKE NEWS media is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American People!” And that was precisely his point. If we report negatively about something he’s doing, we are hurting the country.
Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, was my guest on “Fox News Sunday” two days later. When I asked him about the president’s tweet, he complained that, yes, we covered what Trump did, but that “as soon as it’s over, the next 20 hours is all about Russian spies.” I answered: “You don’t get to tell us what to do any more than Barack Obama. He whined about Fox News all the time. But he never said we were the enemy of the people.”
But don’t take it from me. Listen to William H. McRaven, a Navy SEAL for 37 years, the man in charge of the missions that captured Saddam Hussein and killed Osama bin Laden. McRaven graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism. He’s now the chancellor of the University of Texas system. And after the president’s tweet, he told students: “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
Remember, this is a man who fought the Soviet Union, who fought terrorism. But when I asked him about his comments, he said, “Those threats brought us together. Both the president and I swore an oath to the Constitution. And the First Amendment of that Constitution is freedom of the press. When the president says the media is the enemy of the people, to me that undermines the Constitution. So I do think it is a tremendous threat to our democracy.”
It turns out McRaven may have understated the threat. A Politico poll a couple of weeks ago found that 46 percent of voters believe that major news organizations make up stories about Trump. A Newseum Institute poll in May found that 23 percent think the First Amendment “goes too far.” And 74 percent don’t think “fake news” should be protected by the First Amendment.
But there is another side to this debate, as there usually is. And even if Trump is trying to undermine the press for his own calculated reasons, when he talks about bias in the media — unfairness — I think he has a point.
On Nov. 10, 2016 — two days after the election, here was the lead paragraph of a front-page article in the New York Times: “The American political establishment reeled on Wednesday as leaders in both parties began coming to grips with four years of President Donald J. Trump in the White House, a once-unimaginable scenario that has now plunged the United States and its allies and adversaries into a period of deep uncertainty about the policies and impact of his administration.”
On Feb. 16, this was the lead on the “CBS Evening News”: “It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality.” A week later, this was the lead: “The president’s troubles today were not with the media — but with the facts.”
On Aug. 2, this was the report from CNN’s White House correspondent: “This White House has an unhealthy fixation on what I call the three M’s: the Mexicans, the Muslims and the media. Their policies tend to be crafted around bashing one of these three groups.”
Now, I’m sure some of you hear those comments and think they’re spot-on. But ask yourself — honestly — do they belong on the front page of the paper? Or the lead of the evening news?
I believe some of my colleagues — many of my colleagues — think this president has gone so far over the line bashing the media, that it has given them an excuse to cross the line themselves, to push back. As tempting as that may be, I think it’s a big mistake.
We are not players in the game. We are umpires, or observers, trying to be objective witnesses to what is going on. That doesn’t mean we’re stenographers. If the president — or anyone we’re covering — says something untrue or does something questionable, we can and should report it.
But we shouldn’t be drawn into becoming players on the field, trying to match the people we cover in invective. It’s not our role. We’re not as good at it as they are. And we’re giving up our special place in our democracy.

We’re at Cyberwar
David Von Drehle/The Washington Post/November 20/17
The United States and its allies are under attack. The cyberwar we’ve feared for a generation is well underway, and we are losing. This is the forest, and the stuff about Russian election meddling, contacts with the Trump campaign, phony Twitter accounts, fake news on Facebook — those things are trees.
We’ve been worried about a massive frontal assault, a work of Internet sabotage that would shut down commerce or choke off the power grid. And with good reason. The recent exploratory raid by Russian hackers on American nuclear facilities reminds us that such threats are real.
But we failed to prepare for an attack of great subtlety and strategic nuance. Enemies of the West have hacked our cultural advantages, turning the very things that have made us strong — technological leadership, free speech, the market economy and multi-party government — against us. The attack is ongoing.
With each passing week, we learn more. Russia and its sympathizers have cranked up the volume on existing political and cultural divisions in the West. They’ve exploited the cutting-edge algorithms of Facebook and Google to feed misinformation to Americans most likely to believe and spread it. They have targeted online ads designed to intensify our hottest culture wars: abortion, guns, sexuality, race. They have partnered with WikiLeaks, the supposed paragon of free speech, to insert propaganda into influential Twitter accounts — including @realDonaldTrump. They have created thousands of phony online identities to add heat to political fever swamps.
The genius of this cyberwar is that unwitting Westerners do most of the work. Our eagerness to believe the worst about our political opponents makes us easy marks for fake or distorted “news” from anti-American troll farms. Our media — talk radio, cable news, every variety of digital communication — seek to cull us into like-minded echo chambers. The West has monetized polarization; our enemies have, in turn, weaponized it.
What was first perceived as a targeted attack — Russia attempting to hack the US election — is proving to be a broader and bolder war. Britain’s head of cybersecurity Ciaran Martin rang the alarm Wednesday, after a series of attacks on British media, telecommunications and energy-sector software. “Russia is seeking to undermine the international system,” Martin said. “That much is clear.” Those attacks and others led Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to issue a blunt warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a speech in London. “We know what you are doing and you will not succeed,” May declared. So far, she’s wrong about that. Seeking to weaken and discredit the Western alliance that has constrained Russia’s global ambitions for 70 years, Putin pushed the Brexit vote that rattled the European Union. His cyber-sappers have also aided nationalist movements in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Hungary that are shaking the alliance, although they have failed (for now) to win power.
Putin’s goal, in May’s words, is to “sow discord in the West,” and Trump eats, sleeps and breathes discord. He understands that our siloed, targeted, algorithmic media feeds on conflict and outrage, and he is happy to dish it up.
What are we to do when an adversary has figured out how to use our strongest companies, our most-watched news programs, even our president’s pugnacious personality against our national interest?

Turkey Islamizes Denmark with More Mosques

Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/November 20/17
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan clearly sees Turks living in the West as a spearhead of Islam.
"Yes, integrate yourselves into German society but don't assimilate yourselves. No one has the right to deprive us of our culture and our identity", Erdogan told Turks in Germany as early as in 2011.
This assessment of Milli Görüs, however, does not seem to bother Danish authorities, who appear to see no problems with their cities becoming Islamized by the Turks. How many more mosques will it take?
"Islam cannot be either 'moderate' or 'not moderate.' Islam can only be one thing," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on November 9. "Recently the concept of 'moderate Islam' has received attention. But the patent of this concept originated in the West... They are now trying to pump up this idea again. What they really want to do is weaken Islam..."
Erdogan is working on strengthening Islam in the West, something he does, among other ways, by building Turkish mosques in Western countries. It is hardly surprising that he does not want the West to "weaken Islam", but at the moment there seems little risk of that happening. The establishment of Turkish mosques in Western countries appears to be proceeding apace with very little opposition. Conversely, building Western churches in Turkey is inconceivable.
Erdogan clearly sees Turks living in the West as a spearhead of Islam. "Yes, integrate yourselves into German society but don't assimilate yourselves. No one has the right to deprive us of our culture and our identity", Erdogan told Turks in Germany as early as 2011. This year, he told Turks living in the West:
"Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you."
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan clearly sees Turks living in the West as a spearhead of Islam. This year, he told Turks living in the West: "Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you." (Photo by Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images)
Erdogan is evidently working to ensure, by continuously building new mosques and expanding old ones across Europe, that Muslims will indeed be the future of the continent.
One Western country where Erdogan is ramping up Islam is Denmark. Two new Turkish mosques are about to open in the Danish cities of Roskilde and Holbæk; in the past year, two Turkish mosques opened in the cities of Fredericia and Aarhus. New Turkish mosques were opened in Ringsted and Hedehusene in 2013; and in Køge the existing mosque opened a cultural center. There are 27 Turkish mosques in Denmark; eight of them are expanding or wish to expand.
The new mosque in Roskilde, complete with minarets, is owned by Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet). The inclusion of minarets is due to second- and third-generation Turkish immigrants, who wanted the mosque to look like a "proper mosque".
"It is a general trend in all of Europe that Diyanet is expanding physically with new mosques, and through [the mosques] also religiously, politically and culturally" said professor Samim Akgönül, of the university of Strasbourg. He has analyzed the Friday sermons that Diyanet sends to mosques all over Europe; his analyses show that the sermons are full of political and nationalistic messages favoring Erdogan's regime.
According to Tuncay Yilmaz, chairman of the board of Roskilde's Ayasofya Mosque, "Diyanet is not political, I can promise you that. Obviously they belong to the Turkish state, but they are independent of the government".
That statement is false. Diyanet is an agency of the Turkish government -- and an extremely active one. As Gatestone's Burak Bekdil has noted:
"In a briefing for a parliamentary commission, Diyanet admitted that it gathered intelligence via imams from 38 countries on the activities of suspected followers of the US-based preacher Fetullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accused of being the mastermind of the attempted coup on July 15... Diyanet said its imams gathered intelligence and prepared reports from Abkhazia, Germany, Albania, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkmenistan and Ukraine".
In Denmark, nonetheless, the newest Turkish-state mosque was welcomed with open arms. The mayor of Roskilde, Joy Mogensen, who knew that the Turkish government owned the mosque, participated in the ceremony of laying the foundation stone in February 2016. She claims that the very fact that she and the city's bishop were invited to the ceremony meant that there were "good people" in the mosque working for "integration" -- otherwise they would not have allowed "a Christian woman like myself without a headscarf" to participate in their ceremony.
One of those people "working for integration" is the chairman of the board of the mosque, Tuncay Yilmaz, who is also a member of the Roskilde city council for the Social Democratic party. He happens to have close ties to the radical Islamic organization Milli Görüs, which runs a travel agency where Yilmaz works. He organizes their trips to Mecca. "I am not a member of that organization" Yilmaz says. "The only connection is that I work for their travel agency".
Clearly, Roskilde's mayor does not consider Yilmaz's affiliation a problem, nor does the city council. "If we had observed anything suspicious about that organization, we would have talked to him about it; but we haven't heard anything like that" said Søren Kargaard, chairman of the Social Democratics in Roskilde, when asked by journalists about Yilmaz's connection to Milli Görüs. Well, perhaps if Kargaard had bothered to look up Milli Görüs to inform himself about it, this is what he would have found, according to a 2005 report from the Middle East Quarterly:
"Germany's domestic intelligence agency, has repeatedly warned about Milli Görüş's activities, describing the group in its annual reports as a 'foreign extremist organization'. The agency also reported that 'although Milli Görüş, in public statements, pretends to adhere to the basic principles of Western democracies, abolition of the laicist government system in Turkey and the establishment of an Islamic state and social system are, as before, among its goals... As the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Landesverfassungsschutz) in Hessen notes: The threat of Islamism for Germany is posed ... primarily by Milli Görüş and other affiliated groups. They try to spread Islamist views within the boundaries of the law. Then they try to implement ... for all Muslims in Germany a strict interpretation of the Qur'an and of the Shari'a. ... Their public support of tolerance and religious freedom should be treated with caution".
This assessment, however, does not seem to bother Danish authorities, who appear to see no problems with their cities becoming Islamized by the Turks. That kind of ignorance -- or pretense of ignorance -- amounts to the dereliction of duty on the part of people such as the mayor of Roskilde and Mr. Kargaard.
How many more mosques will it take?
*Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

When Was the "Palestinian People" Created? Google Has the Answer.

Jean Patrick Grumberg/Gatestone Institute/November 20/17
All people born in British Mandatory Palestine between 1923-1948 (today's Israel) had "Palestine" stamped on their passports at the time. But when they were called Palestinians, the Arabs were offended. They complained: "We are not Palestinians, we are Arabs. The Palestinians are the Jews".
After invading Arab armies were routed and the Arabs who had fled the war wanted to return, they were considered a fifth column and not invited back. The Arabs who had loyally remained in Israel during the war, however, and their descendants, are still there and make up one fifth of the population. They are known as Israeli Arabs; they have the same rights as Christians and Jews, except they are not required to serve in the army unless they wish to.
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese." – PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen, interview in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, March 1977.
In an op-ed in the Guardian on November 1, 2017, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called on the UK to "atone" for the century of "suffering" that the document allegedly wrought on the "Palestinian people." Abbas reiterated the claims he has been making since 2016, to justify a surreal lawsuit he has threatened to bring against Britain for supporting the "creation of a homeland for one people [Jews], which, he asserted, "resulted in the dispossession and continuing persecution of another."
"Palestinians" were the Jews who lived, along with Muslims and Christians on land called Palestine, which was under British administration from 1917 to 1948.
All people born there during the time of the British Mandate had "Palestine" stamped on their passports. But the Arabs were offended when they were called Palestinians. They complained: "We are not Palestinians, we are Arabs. The Palestinians are the Jews".
Bernard Lewis explains:
"With the rise and spread of pan-Arab ideologies it was as Arabs, not as south Syrians, that the Palestinians began to assert themselves. For the rest of the period of the British Mandate, and for many years after that, their organizations described themselves as Arab and expressed their national identity in Arab rather than in Palestinian or even in Syrian terms."
When Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab armies joined up to try to kill the infant nation in its crib. After they were routed, some of the local Arabs who had fled the war wanted to return, but they were considered a fifth column and most were not allowed back. The Arabs who had loyally remained in Israel during the war, however, and their descendants, are still there and make up one-fifth of Israel's population today. They are known as Israeli Arabs; they have the same rights as Jews, except they are not legally required to serve in the army. They may volunteer if they wish to.
Israeli Arabs have their own political parties. They serve as members of Knesset and are employed in all professions. The moral is, or should be: Do not start a war unless you are prepared to lose it -- as the Arabs in and around Israel have done repeatedly, in 1947-48, 1967 and 1973.
Incidentally, the land that was being held in trust for the Jews in the British Mandate for Palestine initially included all of what is now the Kingdom of Jordan, which was granted its independence in 1946 as the Kingdom of Transjordan.
Less than a week after the article in the Guardian, Omar Barghouti, the instigator of today's attempts to destroy Israel by suffocating it economically, echoed Abbas in a Newsweek piece, calling the Balfour Declaration "a tragedy for the Palestinian people."
The same sentiment was expressed at the end of September in a lecture delivered by Rashid Khalidi -- the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University -- at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies in New York City: that the Balfour Declaration "launched a century-long assault on the Palestinians aimed at implanting and fostering this national homeland, later the state of Israel, at their expense..."
Khalidi's claims, like those of Abbas and Barghouti, are false. Prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, there were no "Palestinians." As the prominent Lebanese-American historian and Mideast expert Philip Hitti stated in his testimony before the 1946 Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry: "There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not."
Authors Guy Millière and David Horowitz elaborate on this in their 2015 book, Comment le peuple palestinien fut inventé ("How the Palestinian People Were Invented"), illustrating that the purpose of the fabrication was "to transform a population into a weapon of mass destruction against Israel and the Jewish people, to demonize Israel, and to give totalitarianism and anti-Semitism renewed means of action."
The ploy for a while worked beyond expectations. The term "Palestinians" was used across the world -- including in Israel -- to define the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza; it is often employed also to describe Arabs with Israeli citizenship. The narrative that the Jews displaced them by establishing a state completely contradicts the facts.
What are these facts? When was the "Palestinian people" actually created? Simply using the Google Ngram Viewer provides the answer.
Ngram is a database that charts the frequency that a given phrase appears in books published between the years 1500 to 2008. When a user enters the word phrases "Palestinian people" and "Palestinian state" into the Ngram search bar, he discovers that they began appearing only in 1960.
In his November 2, 1917 letter to Walter Rothschild, the leader of Britain's Jewish community, Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour wrote:
"His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine [emphasis added], or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
Finally, apart from Ngram, there are the words of the PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen, who, in a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, stated:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.
"For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."
**Jean Patrick Grumberg is a journalist for the French-language news site Dreuz.
© 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.

Rouhani Pays The Price For Khamenei’s Machiavellian Game
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arabnews/November 21/17
Rouhani pays the price for Khamenei’s Machiavellian game
The Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is ratcheting up his criticism of President Hassan Rouhani, echoed by Iran’s state-owned media.
Some scholars and policy analysts are interpreting Khamenei’s opposition to Rouhani as a manifestation of Iran’s dynamic, democratic and inclusive political system. However, looking closely at the history of the Iranian regime and Khamenei’s nearly three-decade rule, it becomes evident that this argument is simplistic and fails to demonstrate the complexity of the regime’s apparatuses.
Since Khamenei became supreme leader in June 1989, he has distanced himself from his presidents, especially in their second presidential term; he has done this with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjnai, Mohammad Khatami, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and now Rouhani. For example, Khamenei’s criticism of Ahmadinejad in his second term was evident, although the regime’s leader strongly endorsed Ahmadinejad at the beginning of his term and promoted him later.
So why would Khamenei criticize his presidents in public? First of all, he knows that they cannot fulfill people’s economic demands because the nation’s revenues are directed to the treasury of the Office of the Supreme Leader and spent on Khamenei’s gilded circle of cronies, proxies and military advisers. Khamenei has made it clear in his speeches that Rouhani has failed to improve the Iranian people’s economic life or fulfill any of his economic promises.
Khamenei is distancing himself from the president’s failures. He is evading responsibility and accountability. He is attempting to manipulate the disaffected population, who are suffering from unemployment and poverty, by telling them simply that Rouhani is the one to blame, and your supreme leader sympathizes with you. Khamenei is deluding the people into believing that, like the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people, he too is opposed to the government in the shape of the presidential office.
The Iranian president has served his purpose of obtaining economic and political concessions from the West, and the supreme leader can now blame him for unemployment and poverty.
Khamenei’s tactic is pure hypocrisy, because he has the final say on where Iran’s major revenues are spent. He instructed the “moderate” Rouhani to increase the military’s budget, which was raised by nearly $500 million this year. He instructed Rouhani to spend more money on Iran’s ballistic program.
The second reason behind Khamenei’s strategy is to justify further empowering of his hardline core. By criticizing Rouhani, Khamenei is pointing out that the “moderates” have failed to make economic, social, religious, cultural or political progress. Therefore, the alternative is to give more power to the hardliners. That is why Khamenei has recently appointed the hardliner Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi chairman of the regime’s Expediency Council, members of which are chosen by the Supreme Leader every five years. Khamenei even appointed the notorious former presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi and several other hardcore mullahs to the council as well.
This manipulative skill and modus operandi of Khamenei is one of the major reasons that the theocrat has been capable of ruling for nearly three decades. He has always been successful at choosing a president who can forcefully accomplish the regime’s objectives on the international stage, and at the same time bow to the Supreme Leader when criticized in the public.
In a nutshell, Khamenei’s criticism of Rouhani is a Machiavellian tactic. He has used Rouhani to obtain economic and political concessions from the West because of Rouhani’s diplomatic skills. He used the president as an excuse to strengthen the regime’s hard core. He has also used the president as a pawn to avoid responsibility and accountability for failures in delivering the people’s economic demands. Rouhani is into this game with Khamenei. The supreme leader is masterful at grooming presidents who are powerless when it comes to making major decisions, but are willing to accept blame and responsibility for failures.
• 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

Saudi Arabia’s changes are positive, but the way they are portrayed is not
Faisal J. Abbas/Al Arabiya/November 21/17
Saudi Arabia always had a communication problem. While one has to admit that in the past two years there has been unmatched international media access to the country, many Saudi officials do not yet understand the basic PR lesson that if we don’t tell our story, someone else will.
On the other hand, not only are some journalistic practices of several international media outlets questionable, but sometimes so is the the common sense of some of the editors who work in their newsrooms.
Take the infamous — and supposedly “leaked” — recent video of prominent princes, former officials and super-wealthy businessmen sleeping on the lobby floor of the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh. I am shocked that so many outlets, including highly respectable ones — such as Sky News (UK) — didn’t stop to question the authenticity of the video before broadcasting it; especially since not a single face was recognizable throughout it.
How could such outlets, usually noted for their accuracy, not notice the obvious about this video: Since when are corruption suspects, many of whom are being investigated for financial crimes committed jointly, allowed to stay together in a way that enables them to share notes?
Far more importantly, didn’t anyone notice the rifles lying on the floor next to the sleeping suspects? Since when are prisoners allowed access to firearms? If this doesn’t raise a flag in a newsroom, I am not sure what would!
Another absurd assumption about the ongoing crackdown on corruption is that it is in reality a clamp on freedom of expression. This was written in a Washington Post op-ed by Marwan Kraidy, who is supposed to be an expert on Arab media given that this is his field of study and the subject of his books.
This false assumption is based on the fact that three of the corruption suspects have established influential local or regional media outlets. However, the obvious question is: How does this explain the other 198 people, who have no media interests, being investigated?
From an unsubstantiated video of corruption detainees sleeping on the floor at the Ritz, to claims that Lebanon PM was barred from traveling, Riyadh needs to counter fake news more effectively.
Furthermore, none of the media outlets owned by the people in custody were ever really classified as “opposition outlets” — in fact, all of them toed the line, so it is not clear what such a hypothetical crackdown would achieve.
Then there were the equally unsubstantiated claims that Saudi Arabia barred the former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri from traveling back to Beirut. I am not sure what more can be done to convince some people otherwise, when Hariri himself has left the country after repeating several times that he was not held captive.
Of course, the latest conspiracy theory is that Riyadh has allowed Hariri, his wife and eldest son Hussam to go, but are holding on to his other two children as a way to ensure that he abides by what Riyadh dictates.
This highly imaginative plot is possibly suitable for a mafia-themed film in which the gangsters require a financial ransom, but one would hope that most right-minded people understand that this is not how politics work; even when you want to apply pressure.
The simplest counter-argument to this hypothesis is: What would Saudi Arabia do if Hariri simply tweeted saying that Riyadh was holding his two children hostage? The former PM would not only be able to secure his family’s freedom, but would also be able to turn global public opinion against the Kingdom at the same time.
There is so much imagination and lack of understanding out there that one just has to wonder what scenario will be made up tomorrow.
Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia is changing and much of what the Kingdom has gone through over the past two years is nothing short of ground-breaking. Everything from the curbing of the religious police’s powers, to allowing women to drive, to hosting world-class entertainment events has never been tried before; so I guess the conclusion is that we should forgive outsiders for misunderstanding us, but we should not forget the need to communicate far more efficiently and effectively.
• Faisal J. Abbas is the editor in chief of Arab News.
Twitter: @FaisalJAbbas

Iraq’s child brides and the flaws in its democracy
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/November 21/17
Iraq today has an elected Parliament, and 90 years ago it also had an elected Parliament; one of the oldest countries in the world to exercise modern democracy.
In theory, community awareness should develop over time, but this is not always the case.
Iraq’s parliamentarians are considering amending the Personal Status Law to allow for several pieces of legislation, including permitting girls as young as 9 to marry, and allowing tribal customs between clans and others.
It is almost not too far from the thoughts and practices of Daesh, the terrorist group!
The problem of democratization in “simple” societies (less developed and less aware) has been repeated.
The Parliament reflects the state of society and its culture. Parliamentarians deal with democracy in its basic concepts by applying what the people want, by pleasing their constituents and by meeting their demands.
The prevalence of culture and awareness in Iraqi society is similar to that in most Arab societies — simple and limited, dominated by old rural customs and traditions, although Iraq is a country of great ancient civilizations and a country that has been associated with new civilization since the beginning of the last century. Egypt, too, is a country of ancient civilizations and the first Middle Eastern country to respond to and assimilate modern industrial civilization, but it suffers the same situation as Iraq.
After the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, an outcome of the “Arab Spring,” there was a debate among the victors about the concepts of democracy and liberalism associated with it.
When the Muslim Brotherhood group came to power, by election, represented in the party of President Mohamed Morsi, they tried to write a new constitution in line with the rest of the Egyptian political forces.
Because they won, the Islamist group thought they had the right to dictate their views in the proposed constitution on the ground that they had won the most votes.
Their vision of the constitution would be written at the expense of minorities such as the Copts and women, and the marginalization of the principle of separation of powers by domination over the judiciary. This is a distorted concept of democracy.
Parliamentarians give the people what they want, but sometimes old rural customs and traditions have no place in a modern society.
Iraqis are overpowered by conservative, religious and tribal social forces; the constitution allows those forces to practice political action without setting limits on their power to use their influence in elections, and on parliamentary or government action.
Religious forces, in particular, exploit this to attack their rivals or strengthen their influence by raising money in the name of religion to form armed militias, claiming that it is their religious duty.
Because the central authority is weak and cannot confront these militias to avoid internal sedition, all it has done is prevent armed religious political forces from contesting elections. However, these forces can maneuver through the appointment of those who won the backing of the armed militias to run in the elections. But the state cannot deny religious workers, as it prevents the military, from entering politics, because more than half of Iraq’s political leaders today belong to religious organizations as well as tribal groups.
The supreme judicial authority cannot intervene to prevent Parliament from imposing legislation that violates the principles of democracy and the basic rights of Iraqis, whether ethnic or religious minorities, women, or others.
Democracy suffers in backward societies, and the elite’s relative awareness fails to impose itself; although segments of society are well aware and educated, they remain a minority.
Extremists can override democracy by voting for the same ends that the terrorists failed to achieve by force of arms!
The irony is that if Parliament votes to amend the Personal Status Law and allows the marriage of female children, then Iraq will be placed on the list of countries that violate human rights; but at the same time it will remain classed as one of the democratic countries in the world because of its government and its legislation.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article is also published. Twitter: @aalrashed