November 27/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
If you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers
James 02/01-10/"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

Question: "Why is idol worship such a powerful temptation?"
Answer: Ultimately, the answer to this question is “sin.” It is the sin nature of man that causes us to worship modern idols, all of which are, in reality, forms of self-worship. The temptation to worship ourselves in various ways is a powerful temptation indeed. In fact, it is so powerful that only those who belong to Christ and have the Holy Spirit within them can possibly hope to resist the temptation of modern idolatry. Even then, resisting the worship of idols is a lifelong battle that is part of the Christian life (Ephesians 6:11; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3).
When we hear the word idol, we often think of statues and objects reminiscent of those worshipped by pagans in ancient cultures. However, the idols of the 21st century often bear no resemblance to the artifacts used thousands of years ago. Today, many have replaced the “golden calf” with an insatiable drive for money or prestige or "success" in the eyes of the world. Some pursue the high regard of others as their ultimate goal. Some seek after comfort or a myriad of other passionate, yet empty, pursuits. Sadly, our societies often admire those serving such idols. In the end, however, it doesn’t matter what empty pleasure we chase after or what idol or which false god we bow down to; the result is the same—separation from the one true God.
Understanding contemporary idols can help us to understand why they prove to be such a powerful temptation. An idol can be anything we place ahead of God in our lives, anything that takes God’s place in our hearts, such as possessions, careers, relationships, hobbies, sports, entertainment, goals, greed, addictions to alcohol/drugs/gambling/pornography, etc. Some of the things we idolize are clearly sinful. But many of the things we idolize can be very good, such as relationships or careers. Yet Scripture tells us that, whatever we do, we are to “do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) and that we are to serve God only (Deuteronomy 6:13; Luke 16:13). Unfortunately, God is often shoved out of the way as we zealously pursue our idols. Worse yet, the significant amount of time we often spend in these idolatrous pursuits leaves us with little or no time to spend with the Lord.
We sometimes also turn to idols seeking solace from the hardships of life and the turmoil present in our world. Addictive behaviors such as drug or alcohol use, or even something like excessive reading or television viewing, may be used as a means of temporarily “escaping” a difficult situation or the rigors of daily life. The psalmist, however, tells us that those who place their trust in this behavior will, essentially, become spiritually useless (Psalm 115:8). We need to place our trust in the Lord “who will keep [us] from all harm” (Psalm 121:7) and who has promised to supply all of our needs when we trust in Him. We also need to remember the words of Paul, who teaches us not to be anxious about anything, but rather to pray about everything so the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, can guard our hearts and our minds (Philippians 4:6–7).
There is another form of idolatry prevalent today. Its growth is fostered by cultures that continue to drift away from sound biblical teaching, just as the apostle Paul warned us, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3). In these pluralistic, liberal times, many cultures have, to a large degree, redefined God. We have forsaken the God revealed to us in Scripture and have recast Him to comply with our own inclinations and desires—a “kinder and gentler” god who is infinitely more tolerant than the One revealed in Scripture. One who is less demanding and less judgmental and who will tolerate many lifestyles without placing guilt on anyone’s shoulders. As this idolatry is propagated by churches around the world, many congregants believe they are worshipping the one, true God. However, these made-over gods are created by man, and to worship them is to worship idols. Worshipping a god of one’s own making is particularly tempting for many whose habits and lifestyles and drives and desires are not in harmony with Scripture.
The things of this world will never fully satisfy the human heart. They were never meant to. The sinful things deceive us and ultimately lead only to death (Romans 6:23). The good things of this world are gifts from God, meant to be enjoyed with a thankful heart, in submission to Him and for His glory. But when the gift replaces the Giver or the created replaces the Creator in our lives, we have fallen into idolatry. And no idol can infuse our lives with meaning or worth or give us eternal hope. As Solomon beautifully conveys in the book of Ecclesiastes, apart from a right relationship with God, life is futile. We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and designed to worship and glorify Him as He alone is worthy of our worship. God has placed “eternity in man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and a relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to fulfill this longing for eternal life. All of our idolatrous pursuits will leave us empty, unsatisfied, and, ultimately, on the broad road that most people take, the one that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 26-27/17
Lebanese Actor Arrested For Collaboration With Israel/Jerusalem Post/November 26/17
Middle Israel: Where Did Lebanon Go Wrong/Jerusalem Post/November 26/17
Lebanese Information Centre Statement On The Situation In Lebanon/November 27/17/
Report: Israel Vows To Destroy Iranian Positions Within 40 Km Of Syrian Border/Jerusalem Post/November 26/17
Time to Drain the Swamp - Also in Europe/Geert Wilders/Gatestone Institute/November 26/17
Analysis Sinai Attack: Why the Arab World's Largest Army Can't Beat ISIS/Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/November 26/17
Banning Extremist Muslim Scholars/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/ASharq Al Awsat//November 26/17
End of Net Neutrality Isn't the End of the World/Tyler Cowen/Bloomberg/November 26/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on November 26-27/17
Aoun to Launch Bilateral Consultations with Political Leaders
Rifi Says Hariri Has Returned to 'Hizbullah's Captivity'
Saudi Daily Says Hizbullah Opened Hamas Bank Accounts in Algeria
Fadlallah: Political Resistance Has Foiled Sedition, Sabotage Scheme
Clean-Up Dives, Recycling: Lebanese Respond to Garbage Crisis
Hariri Will Not Allow 'Hezbollah' to Mess with Arab States
Hariri: Solution for Hizbullah Arms Regional, Russians Won't Allow Assad to Harm Lebanon
Abu Zeid: No new government in Lebanon, AounHariri relation more than excellent
Khalil representing Berri at "All for the Nation" Race in Tyre: National unity protected stability
Raad: We have come a long way in restoring the situation to normal
Bassil winds up Diaspora Energy Conference in Cancun: For protecting, preserving the land, calls on expatriates to partake in parliamentary elections
Riachi patronizes Beit Shabab ATV Race
Lebanese Actor Arrested For Collaboration With Israel
Middle Israel: Where Did Lebanon Go Wrong
Lebanese Information Centre Statement On The Situation In Lebanon

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 26-27/17
Report: Israel Vows To Destroy Iranian Positions Within 40 Km Of Syrian Border
Saudi Vows New Islamic Alliance 'Will Wipe Terrorists from Earth'
Iran Accuses U.S. over Saudi 'Atrocities' in Yemen
U.N. Says 11 Million Yemen Children Desperately Need Aid
Syria Regime Bombing Kills 19 Civilians near Damascus
U.N. Aims to Restart Syria Talks with Unified Opposition
Drone Kills 7 Qaida Suspects in Yemen
Egypt Upholds Death Sentences for 7 over Beheadings, IS Links
Pakistan Protests Grow as Military Stays Silent
Canada deeply concerned by ongoing conflict in Yemen
Sinai Attack: Why the Arab World's Largest Army Can't Beat ISIS

Latest Lebanese Related News published on November 26-27/17
Aoun to Launch Bilateral Consultations with Political Leaders

Naharnet/November 26/17/President Michel Aoun will launch Monday bilateral consultations with the leaders and representatives of the country’s political parties to explore their stances on the political crisis that followed Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation and his subsequent announcement that he was putting it on hold, media reports said. “Bilateral dialogue meetings will be held instead of a national dialogue conference, and at the end of the meetings the president will meet with Speaker Nabih Berri and PM Saad Hariri to discuss the outcomes of these talks,” presidency sources told the Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat in remarks published Sunday. In light of his discussions with Berri and Hariri, Aoun would “announce the next step on the track of addressing the crisis ahead of his Wednesday trip to Rome,” the sources said. “Until now, it is still unclear whether these dialogues will produce a memorandum of understanding, a new settlement or a renewal of the previous settlement,” the sources added. The newspaper said undeclared consultations have taken place over the past few days at the Baabda Palace, the Ain el-Tineh Palace and the Center House. Hariri had announced Saturday that “there is seriousness in the ongoing contacts and dialogues” and that the other parties seem to be inclined to accept his proposals. The premier has called for dissociating Lebanon from the regional conflicts through ending Hizbullah’s involvement in them. Hizbullah international relations officer Ammar al-Moussawi has meanwhile announced that his party is “ready to reach an understanding” with Hariri and his camp. “We are open to real dialogue and cooperation with everyone,” he said. Hariri had caused widespread perplexity on November 4 when he resigned during a TV broadcast from Saudi Arabia, citing assassination threats and blasting the policies of Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon and the region. After a puzzling mini-odyssey that took him to France, Egypt and Cyprus, Hariri arrived back in Lebanon on Tuesday and then announced that he was putting his decision to quit on hold ahead of negotiations. Many questions remain unanswered following the unprecedented scenario that saw Lebanon's prime minister resign in a foreign country suspected of keeping him under house arrest and return only after the apparent intervention of France.
But while Hariri and his backers seemed on a collision course with Hizbullah only a few days ago, an apparent behind-the-scenes deal now appears to be restoring the status quo.

Rifi Says Hariri Has Returned to 'Hizbullah's Captivity'
Naharnet/November 26/17/Former justice minister Ashraf Rifi has lamented that Prime Minister Saad Hariri “has returned to Hizbullah’s captivity.”“I believe that the real moment of freedom that PM Hariri lived was when he declared his resignation” from Riyadh, Rifi told Bahrain’s al-Watan newspaper in excerpts of an interview that will be published in full on Monday. “Hariri has wasted a golden chance for our camp,” the ex-minister added. “The dissociation policy is only present in the ministerial Policy Statement… Enough with lying… For whose sake Lebanon and the Lebanese people are being sold to Iran?” Rifi asked. As for Hariri’s decision to put his resignation on hold, the ex-minister described it as “a constitutional heresy.”“The premier is not an employee so that he visits the president to submit his resignation and there are several examples in Lebanese history,” Rifi added, referring to the fact that Hariri had announced his resignation from a foreign country instead of submitting it in person to the president as per Lebanese norms. Hariri had caused widespread perplexity on November 4 when he resigned during a TV broadcast from Saudi Arabia, citing assassination threats and blasting the policies of Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon and the region. After a puzzling mini-odyssey that took him to France, Egypt and Cyprus, Hariri arrived back in Lebanon on Tuesday and then announced that he was putting his decision to quit on hold ahead of negotiations. Many questions remain unanswered following the unprecedented scenario that saw Lebanon's prime minister resign in a foreign country suspected of keeping him under house arrest and return only after the apparent intervention of France. But while Hariri and his backers seemed on a collision course with Hizbullah only a few days ago, an apparent behind-the-scenes deal now appears to be restoring the status quo.

Saudi Daily Says Hizbullah Opened Hamas Bank Accounts in Algeria
Naharnet/November 26/17/Hizbullah has opened bank accounts for Hamas leaders in Algeria, a Saudi newspaper reported on Sunday. “The money that has been injected into these accounts was transferred from local banks in Algeria and from accounts belonging to individuals who are loyal to Hizbullah and are residents of the Algerian capital,” the Okaz daily quoted a source close to Hamas as saying. “The new bank accounts were opened under the name of Hamas leader Sami Abu Zahri, who had moved from the Gaza Strip to Cairo before moving to live in Algeria last month,” the source added.

Fadlallah: Political Resistance Has Foiled Sedition, Sabotage Scheme

Naharnet/November 26/17/MP Hassan Fadlallah of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to Resistance bloc announced Sunday that a “sedition” and a “sabotage scheme” have been foiled through “political resistance.”“The objective behind the crisis that our country faced in the past weeks was to sabotage Lebanon and stir sedition in it,” Fadlallah said, referring to the crisis that followed Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s shock resignation from Riyadh on November 4. Hariri put his resignation on hold on Wednesday, saying he wanted to give negotiations a chance. “The political and diplomatic resistance -- led by His Excellency President Michel Aoun and assisted by Speaker Nabih Berri and by a national front consisted of essential political forces -- has managed to liberate political will and the political decision in Lebanon,” Fadlallah added, “The vast majority has told the conspirators that they have no place in Lebanon and that their hand cannot be extended to ruin this country anew. The era during which the Israeli enemy, some Arab states or some world powers would manipulate Lebanon has ended,” the lawmaker stressed. “We have managed to foil a sabotage scheme against Lebanon thanks to this political resistance,” Fadlallah boasted. Hariri had caused widespread perplexity on November 4 when he resigned during a TV broadcast from Saudi Arabia, citing assassination threats and blasting the policies of Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon and the region. After a puzzling mini-odyssey that took him to France, Egypt and Cyprus, Hariri arrived back in Lebanon on Tuesday and then announced that he was putting his decision to quit on hold ahead of negotiations. Many questions remain unanswered following the unprecedented scenario that saw Lebanon's prime minister resign in a foreign country suspected of keeping him under house arrest and return only after the apparent intervention of France. But while Hariri and his backers seemed on a collision course with Hizbullah only a few days ago, an apparent behind-the-scenes deal now appears to be restoring the status quo.

Clean-Up Dives, Recycling: Lebanese Respond to Garbage Crisis
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/The Lebanese divers plunge below the surface, scuba tanks on their backs and nets in hand. But what they're looking for under the ocean surface is not treasure, it's trash. The group is conducting a clean-up below the waves, one of many initiatives emerging from Lebanon's civil society and private sector in response to the government's failure to address a long-running garbage crisis. The dive, off the town of Tabarja, 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Beirut, proved fruitful: the divers emerged with nets full of plastic and glass bottles, rusted drink and food cans and even tires, as a few swimmers nearby looked on bemused. "What we saw down there, it makes your heart hurt," said Christian Nader, a 19-year-old student, who has been diving for five years. The event was organized by Live Love Beirut, a group of Lebanese working to promote a positive image of their country, who said more than 100 divers joined clean-ups at eight sites throughout the country over two days. "It's sad, it's our sea. There should be awareness campaigns, the state should help us clean," Nader said. But Lebanon's government has proved serially unable to address the country's rubbish crisis, which reached catastrophic proportions in the summer of 2015. Mountains of trash piled up in the streets of Beirut and its surroundings after the nation's largest dump closed down. That site had been years overdue for closure, and the government had pledged to find an alternative before it was shuttered but failed to do so in time. So there was nowhere for collectors to send the rubbish produced by the two million residents of Beirut and its environs. Experts warn the nightmare scenario could soon be repeated thanks to the government's continued failure to adopt a comprehensive waste management strategy, even as the country produces 6,000 tons of refuse a day.
No 'plan for the future'
In response to the 2015 crisis, and the massive demonstrations it provoked, the government in March 2016 approved a "temporary" plan to reopen two long-closed dumps in the Beirut area. But the massive backlog created by months of accumulating and uncollected trash meant the two sites quickly reached capacity. Authorities are now examining the possibility of expanding the sites. "The government must start to think seriously about lasting solutions and start putting them in place, even if it's little by little," said Lama Bashour, head of the Ecocentra environmental consultancy. Like many experts, she emphasized the importance of "sorting and recycling" waste. European Union funds have helped pay for several sorting and composting facilities in Lebanon, but there are still more than 900 unlicensed dumps nationwide, according to an official study. "The government should first of all have a strategy," said Farouk Merhebi, a waste management expert. "By 1997, it was an emergency plan. Today we are in 2017, and we are still in an emergency plan. So we are reacting, we don't plan for the future." He said the failure to produce a proper strategy had dire consequences. "Any region where there is no waste management facility, they are resorting to burning of the waste. Most of the municipalities burn their waste." Despite the large quantity of recyclable material being deposed of each day, just 15 percent of it is actually recycled, according to a source with knowledge of the sector.
Smelly seaside trash mountain
The government is reportedly now studying a plan that would seek to decrease waste and boost recycling, something that Ziad Abi Chaker, of the company Cedar Environmental, has long called for. Founded in the late 1990s, Abi Chaker's firm now runs eight sorting centres across Lebanon, including one in the idyllic forested peaks of Mount Lebanon's Beit Meri. In the large metal warehouse, workers sort in a chain, taking apart blue and black garbage bags and pulling out recyclables including glass, plastic and metal. The company boasts of sorting 80 tons a day at its facilities, sending reusable items on to recycling factories. "We've proved that the concept of zero waste, in a decentralized framework, can succeed," said Abi Chaker. But elsewhere, attempts to tackle the waste crisis have been less of a success story. In the southern seaside town of Sidon, a mountain of smelly trash has appeared on the shore, despite the presence of a new waste management facility. The mountain is made up of what is known as "residues" that can neither be recycled nor composted and ordinarily should be placed in a sanitary landfill. But no such landfill is available yet, so the leftovers are piling up on the facility's site, right next to the water's edge. The municipality says it is planning to build a landfill to address the mountain, now several metres high. In the meantime, residents simply have to put up with the stink. At the mountain's base, fishermen seem almost oblivious to it as they cast their lines into the shallows, hoping for a bite.

Hariri Will Not Allow 'Hezbollah' to Mess with Arab States
Beirut - Paula Astih/Asharq Al Awsat/November 26/ 2017/Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Sunday that he would not accept the 'Hezbollah' stances that affect Arab brothers or target the security and stability of their countries, adding that contacts and dialogues are serious to respond to those proposals to build on them. Hariri’s comments were distributed by his media office on Saturday after the prime minister met with the Supreme Islamic Sharia Council and its Vice-President, former minister Omar Meskawi. “The postponement step we have taken at the request of President Michel Aoun is to give an opportunity to discuss our demand to keep Lebanon neutral about the fires and wars in the region, to apply the disassociation policy and commit to the Taif Agreement. We will not accept the 'Hezbollah' stances that affect our Arab brothers,” Hariri said. Also on Saturday, Lebanon’s official news agency NNA quoted 'Hezbollah’s' International Relations Officer Ammar Moussawi as saying that his party is ready to reach understandings with “our partners in the country”, and that the group is open to real dialogue and cooperation with all. Moussawi added that Hariri’s resignation, which he said was done under coercion from Riyadh, was a spark that aimed to ignite Lebanon. Meanwhile, President Aoun is set to hold bilateral meetings on Monday with representatives and heads of the country’s parliamentary blocs and parties currently participating in the government, in addition to other figures. Aoun wants to find the best exit for the current crisis and to discuss with the Lebanese concerned officials their visions regarding the basic files that Hariri already placed on the table, and which constituted a set of conditions for holding off his decision to resign from the government.
Presidential sources said that Aoun decided to kick off bilateral meetings on Monday instead of holding the National Dialogue table to discuss the government crisis. Aoun will then travel to Rome on Wednesday.

Hariri: Solution for Hizbullah Arms Regional, Russians Won't Allow Assad to Harm Lebanon
Naharnet/November 26/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri has said that there is no “domestic solution” for Hizbullah’s controversial possession of a huge arsenal of weapons. “Hizbullah does not have the ability to run the country and its strength stems from the Iranian-financed weapons,” said Hariri in an interview with Saudi Arabia’s Arrajol magazine that was published on Sunday. Excerpts from the interview had been released on Tuesday.“The solution for Hizbullah’s arms is a regional solution and not a domestic one and we cannot do anything in this regard,” Hariri added. He also revealed that Russia had promised him “not to allow the Assad regime in Syria to harm stability and sovereignty in Lebanon.”Hariri had caused widespread perplexity on November 4 when he resigned during a TV broadcast from Saudi Arabia, citing assassination threats and blasting the policies of Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon and the region. After a puzzling mini-odyssey that took him to France, Egypt and Cyprus, Hariri arrived back in Lebanon on Tuesday and then announced that he was putting his decision to quit on hold ahead of negotiations. Many questions remain unanswered following the unprecedented scenario that saw Lebanon's prime minister resign in a foreign country suspected of keeping him under house arrest and return only after the apparent intervention of France. But while Hariri and his backers seemed on a collision course with Hizbullah only a few days ago, an apparent behind-the-scenes deal now appears to be restoring the status quo.

Abu Zeid: No new government in Lebanon, AounHariri relation more than excellent
Sun 26 Nov 2017/NNA - "Change and Reform" Parliamentary Bloc Member, MP Amal Abu Zeid, said on Sunday that there will be no formation of a new government in Lebanon, describing the relationship between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri as "excellent."In an interview with Radio Lebanon, Abu Zeid indicated that self-dissociation and neutrality are part of the issues to be discussed internally. However, he considered that it is not easy to apply the dissociation policy since Lebanon is not an isolated island. "Yet, Lebanon has managed to show a minimum level of neutrality away from the crisis that has hit the region," he added. "Lebanon has also managed to expel terrorism through unity within the government and harmony between the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister," stated Abu Zeid. Regarding the issue of Syrian refugees, the MP revealed that Minister Gebran Bassil had stressed to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrorv, the need to resolve this matter, especially after the launch of the political settlement in Syria.

Khalil representing Berri at "All for the Nation" Race in Tyre: National unity protected stability
Sun 26 Nov 2017/NNA - "Lebanon has known triumph thanks to its national unity, whereby the recent weeks have proven that this unity protected Lebanon's stability and political march, and fortified its strength in the face of all challenges," deemed Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil on Sunday. Khalil's words came as he represented House Speaker Nabih Berri at the Semi-Marathon marking Lebanon's Independence Day, under the slogan "All for the Nation," which was organized by Amal Movement's Youth and Sports Bureau for Jabal Amel region in the city of Tyre this morning. "Today, we reiterate the same logic through which we were able to overcome the last days. We will face the upcoming stage with openness and deliberations, and with keenness on safeguarding our independence, sovereignty, the freedom of our decision and the extent in which we protect our foreign relations with the Arab countries and the whole world," added Khalil. He hoped that the political institutions would regain their strength, in addition to resuming the cabinet's work cycle. "We will participate actively and positively, as in previous days, in the deliberation sessions that the President of the Republic will call for tomorrow. Certainly, we shall maintain the same attitude of solidarity and commitment to the restoration of State institutions, particularly the Council of Ministers," asserted Khalil. He concluded by saying, "We look forward to a stage of hard work to protect the accomplishments we have made so far, and to meet the needs and aspirations of the people in their daily lives in order to strengthen their faith in this nation. We insist on creating the appropriate climates for holding the parliamentary elections on the basis of the new vote law, signaling the start of a new political life."

Raad: We have come a long way in restoring the situation to normal
Sun 26 Nov 2017/NNA - "Loyalty to the Resistance" Parliamentary Bloc Head, MP Mohammad Raad, deemed Sunday that a lot of progress has been achieved in restoring the situation back to its desired state, placing further hope on the coming days of deliberations initiated by the President of the Republic.
"We, in the Resistance, maintain a high state of alert and readiness for any aggressive move whether by Israel or the Takfiris," added Raad, speaking at an honorary ceremony held by Hezbollah in the town of Kfarsir in South Lebanon. "We must act cautiously and keep our security and military forces alert to preserve our stability and prevent any tampering with our security," he concluded.

Bassil winds up Diaspora Energy Conference in Cancun: For protecting, preserving the land, calls on expatriates to partake in parliamentary elections
Sun 26 Nov 2017/NNA - Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister Gebran Bassil called on Lebanese expatriates to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, highlighting the need to "protect and preserve national territories" and encouraging expatriates "to purchase lands in their mother nation so as to avoid selling to foreigners."Bassil's words came at a dinner hosted in his honor by the Governor of Quintana, Ro Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, at the closing of the Lebanese Diaspora Energy Conference in Cancun, Mexico. At the end of the Conference, several recommendations were issued, including the call to the Lebanese Diaspora worldwide to recover the Lebanese nationality, and the appeal to expatriates to participate in the upcoming legislative elections, as a national obligation.

Riachi patronizes Beit Shabab ATV Race

Sun 26 Nov 2017/NNA - Information Minister Melhem Riachi, represented by Mr. Joe Riachi, patronized Sunday the ATV Race in Beit Shabab organized by "Adrenaline Rush Production," in cooperation with the Lebanese Army. Attending the event was MP Ghassan Mkhaiber, former Minister Nicola Sahnawi, who participated in the race, Beit Shabab-Shawia-Qneitra Municipality Head Elias Ashkar, and a crowd of lovers of this sport, in presence of the Lebanese Red Cross and Civil Defense units. The ATV race, which included 61 participants, was inaugurated by the Lebanese national anthem and a word by the Information Minister's representative, in which he greeted the audience and participants, stressing his support for "this sport activity that encourages love of life today and in the future."Riachi's representative also commended the Lebanese army for being "the protector of our nation, our honor, dignity and independence." He also thanked the Municipality Head for his support of this activity, which enabled a large number of participants to join, praising as well the efforts of the organizers and wishing the participants safety and success.

Lebanese Actor Arrested For Collaboration With Israel
Jerusalem Post/November 26/17
One of Lebanon's well-known satirical television stars, Itani is alleged by Lebanon to have committed a range of offenses on behalf of Israel.
Lebanon’s General Directorate of State Security detained Lebanese actor and comedian Ziad Itani on Thursday and accused him of “collaborating with Israel,” it was revealed over the weekend. Itani’s arrest at his home in Beirut comes amid tensions between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and among Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia and Israel. State Security said Itani had been under surveillance for “several months,” according to an article in Al Jazeera and other media. He was reportedly interrogated and “confessed” to meeting with Israelis in Turkey, and Lebanon said he provided the Israelis with “extensive” information.
Itani is known in Lebanon for hosting a comedy show and appearing in plays, including Beirut Tariq al-Jedideh. Some of his appearances can be found on He was previously a reporter and, according to Middle East Eye, worked for Al-Mayadeen television, which is considered pro-Hezbollah and pro-Syrian government. According to Al-Naher newspaper, he was detained from his home in Ain al-Remmaneh in mostly Christian East Beirut. He was accused of involvement in a plan to monitor Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk and Abdul Rahim Mrad, a former minister.
According to the newspaper, the actor-director-playwright, who was born in 1975, was allegedly “collaborating and communicating with the Israeli enemy. A specialized unit for State Security followed, monitored, tracked and investigated for several months inside and outside Lebanon on direct orders from Maj.-Gen. Tony Saliba.”
Saliba was appointed head of State Security in March 2017. The report claimed that Itani was accused of “establishing a Lebanese network to support the concept of normalization with Israel, support Zionist ideas among the intelligentsia and provide his operators with reports.” The salacious details in Lebanese media also claimed that Itani was supposed to arrange a stay for a “female Israeli officer” contact at the Al-Bustan Hotel at Beit Meri on Mount Lebanon, east of Beirut. The supposed targets of Itani’s collaboration include Machnouk, who is a member of Saad Hariri’s Future Party and a former adviser to Hariri’s father. Machnouk has been a powerful advocate of professionalizing the security forces in Lebanon and has encouraged closer cooperation between Lebanon and the international community in the war on terrorism. On November 15, he responded to the Hariri controversy in Lebanon and the tug-of-war between Iran and Saudi Arabia by saying his countrymen were “not a herd of sheep whose ownership can be handed from one person to another.”Mrad is a former minister of defense and education who once blamed the 9/11 World Trade Center attack on the Mossad. The arrest of Itani comes after Lebanon claimed it had detained three “spies” in October, for allegedly giving Israel information on Hezbollah. In August, Lebanon claimed it found an Israeli spying “device,” and in January, it said it had arrested five spies, including a Nepalese worker and an Iraqi. In January 2016, Lebanon returned a vulture to Israel that it had initally said was used for spying. While Lebanon has been spy-crazed over the years regarding Israel, the issue of “normalization,” for which Itani is also accused, has also been an issue for Lebanese. In October, Ramallah cancelled the screening of The Insult, a Lebanese-French film by Ziad Doueiri, after the director was accused of “normalizing” with Israel. In May, Lebanon banned the movie Wonder Woman because it features Israeli actress Gal Gadot.

Middle Israel: Where Did Lebanon Go Wrong
Jerusalem Post/November 26/17
What went wrong with the country that had the potential to be, and for a while seemed ready to become, the Switzerland of the Middle East?
Hypocrisy, tragedy and irony joined hands in downtown Beirut Wednesday, as the Land of the Cedars wore an artificial smile for its Independence Day in a heroic effort to appear happy, unified and sovereign.  American-made Patton tanks rolled by Martyrs’ Square, while white-socked horses – the cavaliers atop them gripping bed sheet-sized Lebanese flags – ambled by the red-carpeted podium, where the country’s lost son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, exchanged whispers with the ally of his father’s assassins, President Michel Aoun. Next to the pair, the speaker of parliament for the past 25 years, Nabih Berri, sat regally, enjoying his role as nominal leader of the Shi’ites, even though all know that their real leader is the gowned cleric ensconced underground several blocks from the parade. All also listened politely as Aoun warned Israel of an “appropriate response,” should it operate in Lebanon, just like they nodded fatalistically the previous week when he made the laughable claims that Hezbollah plays “a complementary role to the Lebanese Army,” and that Lebanon needs the Shi’ite militia because otherwise it won’t be able “to battle Israel.”The absurd insinuations – that Israel and the Christian Aoun want to duel, that Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese national interest rather than its scourge, and that Hassan Nasrallah is subordinate to the government which he undermines every day – are perfectly acceptable rhetoric in Lebanon, a land where what you think you don’t say, what you say you don’t think, and anything your leaders do or – as happens more often – don’t do is immediately understood as a foreign plot.
Yes, it’s been an eventful 74 years since France set Lebanon free; so many years, and so little independence, security and self-respect in a land of beauty, wealth and worldliness that became a kingdom of hatred, treachery and deceit. The future's ailments were hinted at already in 1941, when French fascists clashed in Lebanon with British and Free French forces (and also several dozen Hagana fighters, including Moshe Dayan, who then lost his eye in a battle south of Tyre). Lebanon thus emerged as an arena for other people’s wars, a role it would play intermittently to this day, mocking its founders’ hope to make it the Switzerland of the Middle East.Benefiting from a commercial heritage that harks back to the ancient Phoenicians, the only Arab land without one inch of desert could have been that regional oasis, both physically and politically, and for a while indeed was a colorful island of tolerance, prosperity and hedonism in an otherwise austere and angry Middle East.
Yes, the real future was hinted at again in 1958, when Gamal Abdel Nasser and Dwight Eisenhower sparred in Lebanon, as the former’s demand that Beirut sever diplomatic ties with Western powers made its leaders invite an American invasion. Even so, Lebanon soon returned to storm life.
In the 1960s Beirut was home to 100 mostly foreign banks which offered shady depositors full secrecy, minimal taxation and lax currency restrictions alongside a booming gambling industry studded by 64 nightclubs and laced by azure beaches that bustled with bikinied women, all of which was unthinkable elsewhere in the Arab world.The country thrived. Car purchases soared more than tenfold between 1950 and 1965, tourists crowded ski resorts nestled in pristine cedar forests, per capita income was higher than Saudi Arabia’s, hundreds of seaside restaurants served exquisite international menus and new hotels were adding new stories even before inaugurating their lobbies.
It was not to last.
First, Yasser Arafat used Lebanon for his attacks on Israel. Then Syria, which saw Lebanon as part of a Greater Syria, fueled a Muslim-Christian war, before invading the country it would occupy for 29 years. Then Ariel Sharon sent the IDF chasing after Arafat all the way to Beirut. Finally, following Iran’s Islamist revolution, Tehran pocketed the poor and neglected Shi’ite south, soon turning it into a radical state within a state. The 15-year civil war took 100,000 lives, while Lebanese patriots were assassinated by the dozens, from former president René Moawad (1989), former prime minister Rafik Hariri (2005), president-elect Bashir Gemayel (1982) and former finance minister Mohamad Chatah (2013), to the sons of former presidents Suleiman Frangieh, Amin Gemayel and Camille Chamoun, respectively Tony (1978), Pierre (2006), and Danny (1990), who was mowed down in his apartment along with his wife and two boys.
The end of the civil war saw some of the previous Lebanon’s cosmopolitan spirit restored, but the island of tolerance it once seemed ready to become had vanished. Lebanon found itself repeatedly between the lion and the tiger. Having finally seen Syria and Israel leave, it woke up with Iran pulling it from the head and Saudi Arabia by the feet. After having somehow restored peace between Christian and Muslim, it now found itself smack on the cracking Sunni-Shi’ite fault line. Now, as it prepared to celebrate what its leaders call independence, Lebanon saw its prime minister survive Saudi brutalization, only to return to Iranian emasculation, after having been redeemed by the same France whose historic departure Beirut’s cheering crowds, titular leaders, parading horses, bereted cavaliers and husky chariots of war have all gathered to hail.
Why is Lebanon so subjugated, disjointed, disoriented and helpless? What is its original sin, and could its fate have been different? Of course it could have. Lebanon could have avoided, and still can shed, the parochial system whereby its parliament and key offices are pre-allocated according to religious affiliation, and it could have avoided, and still can shed, the norm whereby political leadership passes from father to son. Had it been a country of all its citizens, Lebanon would not have been the fractured state and compilation of estranged communities, militias and warlords that has been such tempting prey for successive abusers, from Nasserist Egypt to Islamist Iran. Such thinking crosses no mind in Lebanon. Like Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya, the Land of the Cedars remains addicted to a feudal mindset whereby tribe supersedes state, and lineage overpowers merit.
That is why Lebanon, instead of becoming its neighbors’ antithesis, is a microcosm, engine and battleground of a hopelessly tribal, sectarian and hateful Middle East.

Lebanese Information Centre Statement On The Situation In Lebanon
November 27, 2017/
LIC Welcomes Return of PM Hariri, Urges Efforts Against Iran’s Overreach
The Lebanese Information Center in Washington, DC welcomes the return of Lebanon’s resigned Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Beirut, while stressing the need to continue focusing on the paramount threat posed to Lebanon and the broader region by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
LIC President Dr. Joseph Gebeily was in Lebanon during Hariri’s surprise resignation and held a series of meetings with government officials, military leaders, politicians, United Nations representatives, and other key stakeholders, accompanied by the head of the LIC’s Office of UN Relations Dr. Melanie Raffoul. They discussed the political state of play in light of Hariri stepping down, the security situation in Lebanon and the region, and the issue of Syrian refugees.
Throughout these meetings, it was clear that the existential threats to Lebanon’s politics and security remain unresolved: Hezbollah’s dominance and Iran’s overreach in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East.
Hariri was appointed premier as part of a 2016 arrangement that also led to General Michel Aoun’s election as president and stipulated Lebanon’s neutrality towards regional conflicts. This arrangement ultimately failed because of Hezbollah’s repeated violations of Lebanon’s “disassociation” policy.
On the security front, these actions include Hezbollah’s ongoing military interventions in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq; its efforts to sideline the Lebanese army in the fight against terrorist groups along Lebanon’s eastern border; and its negotiated deal with the Islamic State group (ISIS/ISIL) that chiefly served Hezbollah’s own agenda and that of its patron Iran -- not Lebanon’s interests. These nefarious activities threaten Lebanon’s security and its people.
Hezbollah is also damaging Lebanon’s political standing in an increasingly volatile Middle East. It continues to viciously slam Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies, resulting in a direct backlash against the livelihoods and economic interests of Lebanese citizens in the Gulf. Cabinet ministers allied to Hezbollah have visited Damascus without the Lebanese government’s approval, as part of Hezbollah’s attempt to forcefully open official relations with the Syrian regime.
Unfortunately, it is clear that Lebanon’s year-old government has been unable to confront Hezbollah. The cabinet has not reined in Hezbollah’s violations of the “disassociation” policy, including its dangerous regional interventions and its movement of fighters and equipment across borders. State security forces are unable to adequately monitor Hezbollah’s military movements in southern Lebanon, or prevent any acts of aggression that may spark a new war with Israel.
In recent weeks, policymakers and observers have suggested that Hariri’s resignation would exacerbate regional tensions and ultimately destabilize Lebanon. The LIC stresses that, despite recent developments, it is still Hezbollah that poses the preeminent threat to Lebanon’s security and prosperity.
The LIC recognizes PM Hariri’s return to office last week as an important step towards reasserting the state’s legitimate monopoly on policy-making, particularly in decisions of peace and war. We hope Lebanon’s factions will seize this opportunity.
The LIC also urges all friends of Lebanon, particularly the United States, to focus their efforts on confronting Iran’s expansionism. With tens of thousands of militiamen deployed across multiple countries, alliances with the region’s most brutal regimes, and a radical, violent Islamist ideology, Iran and its proxies remain the main menace to regional stability and must therefore be a policy priority for the US government.
The Lebanese Information Center in the US, the largest grassroots organization of Americans of Lebanese descent, remains committed to work through its organization, bolstered by its grassroots support and longstanding relationships with the US government, to build a free, sovereign and democratic Lebanon, for the good of the Lebanese people and in the interests of the United States of America.
1101 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202-505-4542 . Fax: 202-318-8409 .

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on November 26-27/17
Report: Israel Vows To Destroy Iranian Positions Within 40 Km Of Syrian Border

Jerusalem Post/November 26/17
Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly offered Netanyahu a comprehensive deal that would include a demilitarized zone stretching 40 kilometers from the border.
Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida revealed on Sunday that an Israeli source disclosed a promise from Jerusalem to destroy all Iranian facilities within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Israel's Golan Heights.The source, who remains unnamed, said that during Syrian President Bashar Assad's surprise visit to Russia last week, Assad gave Russian Premier Vladimir Putin a message for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Damascus will agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries, but only if Israel does not work to remove Assad's regime from power. The report also claims that Putin then called Netanyahu to relay the message, and that the Israeli prime minister said he would be willing to accept the deal, but that Israel's goal of eradicating Iran and Hezbollah from the country would remain.
According to the source, Jerusalem sees Assad as the last president of the Alawite community, indicating that a change of regime in Syria - at least towards a government less-linked to Iran - would be favorable for Israel. The Alawites are a minority Shi'ite community in Syria, and have long been supported by Iran, which seeks to extend its influence from the Gulf across the region to the Mediterranean. The source also commented that after the defeat of the Islamic State, the conflict in Syria would become ''more difficult,'' likely pointing towards a vacuum that would be left without the group. Russian, Syrian and Iranian-backed forces have been fighting against ISIS, while also seeking to knock out rebel groups that oppose the current regime. Russia's stated interests have been in line with Iran's in wanting to keep Assad in power. Israel has participated mostly on the periphery of the war in Syria, responding to fire on the northern border and occasionally bombing positions, including a weapons depot and scientific research center that allegedly produces chemical weapons. Damascus and Jerusalem have exchanged heated remarks as well, with Netanyahu threatening to bomb Assad's palace, and Syrian officials warning of ''dangerous repercussions'' to Israeli strikes on Syrian targets. Over the course of the war, Israel has operated several field hospitals near the Syrian border, where those injured from the war are treated and subsequently returned to Syria. Some of those who have been treated have been rebels fighting against the Assad regime, leading some to say that Israel is assisting the rebels to unseat Assad.
**Yasser Okbi contributed to this report.

Saudi Vows New Islamic Alliance 'Will Wipe Terrorists from Earth'
Agence France PresseNaharnet
Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince vowed to "pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth" as officials from 40 Muslim countries gathered Sunday in the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance. "In past years, terrorism has been functioning in all of our countries... with no coordination" among national authorities, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the Saudi defense minister, said in his keynote speech at the gathering in Riyadh. "This ends today, with this alliance."The summit is the first meeting of defense ministers and other senior officials from the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, which officially counts 41 countries and identifies as a "pan-Islamic unified front" against violent extremism. The alliance was announced in 2015 under the auspices of Prince Mohammed, whose rapid ascent since his appointment as heir to the throne in June has shaken the political scene across the region. The alliance groups largely, although not exclusively, Sunni-majority or Sunni-ruled countries. It excludes Saudi Arabia's arch-rival, Shiite-dominated Iran, as well as Syria and Iraq, whose leaders have close ties to Tehran.  Sunday's meeting coincides with an escalation in tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, particularly over wars in Syria and Yemen and the political structure of multi-confessional Lebanon.  Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting armed groups across the Middle East, including Lebanon's Shiite Hizbullah and Yemen's Huthi rebels.
The meeting also comes as several military coalitions, with backers including both Iran and key Saudi ally the United States, battle to push the Islamic State group from its last remaining bastions in Iraq and Syria. The alliance meeting in Riyadh brings together Muslim or Muslim-majority nations including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Uganda, Somalia, Mauritania, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen and Turkey.  Retired Pakistani general Raheel Sharif has been appointed commander-in-chief.
 'Distorted image of Islam'
The alliance aims to "Mobilize and coordinate the use of resources, facilitate the exchange of information and help member countries build their own counter-terrorism capacity," Sharif said. While the alliance officially includes Qatar, which is the target of a six-month boycott led by Saudi Arabia, organizers in Riyadh said no Qatari officials were present at the meeting.
Qatar's flag was also absent.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain abruptly cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing the emirate of being too close to Iran and supporting Islamist extremism. Qatar denies the allegations. Egypt, which sent a military official and not its defense minister to the Sunday meeting, is reeling from a Friday attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people during prayer time. While IS has not claimed responsibility, Egyptian authorities say the organization is the main suspect as the mosque is associated with followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam, whom IS has branded heretics. Prince Mohammed said Friday's "painful event" was a reminder of the "danger of terrorism and extremism." "Beyond the killing of innocent people and the spread of hatred, terrorism and extremism distort the image of our religion," he said. Since his sudden appointment as crown prince, Prince Mohammed has moved to consolidate power, announcing crackdowns on both terrorism and corruption. A corruption purge saw around 200 Saudi elites including princes, ministers and business tycoons arrested or sacked earlier this month.

Iran Accuses U.S. over Saudi 'Atrocities' in Yemen
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/Iran on Sunday accused the United States of responsibility for "atrocities" in Yemen through its support for Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition fighting Tehran-backed Huthi rebels. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said a White House statement on Friday in support of Riyadh "clearly and without question proves America's participation and responsibility in the atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen."In its statement, Washington had said it was "committed to supporting Saudi Arabia... against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' aggression and blatant violations of international law." Regional arch-rivals Shiite-ruled Iran and Sunni heavyweight Saudi Arabia back opposing sides in conflicts from Yemen to Syria. They cut diplomatic relations in January 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic missions in reaction to Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. In early November, Riyadh accused Tehran of "direct aggression" after Saudi forces intercepted a missile fired by Huthi forces towards Riyadh's international airport. But Ghassemi denied that Iran has "any military connection with Yemen," although Tehran says it supports the Huthis politically and regularly denounces Saudi Arabia for allegedly bombing civilians. Accusing Washington of making "totally unfounded" allegations, Ghassemi said its statement on Friday showed it "openly supports... appalling atrocities" by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The Saudi-led Arab military coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after the Huthis forced him into exile. Last month, the United Nations put the coalition on its blacklist for killing and maiming 683 children during the conflict last year and carrying out 38 verified attacks on schools and hospitals. A report published in mid-November by the Congressional Research Service showed that Riyadh had signed arms deals worth more than $65 billion (55 billion euros) with the United States between 2009 and 2016. "Since 2015, the U.S.-trained Saudi military has used U.S.-origin weaponry, U.S. logistical assistance, and shared intelligence in support of military operations in Yemen," it said. Both parties in the Yemen conflict stand accused of neglecting civilian safety. The United Nations has blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition over the "killing and maiming" of children.
On the Agenda at the U.N. Syria Talks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/ The United Nations' Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, has been accused of lacking clarity at times when he speaks. But when it comes to the topics on the agenda at the peace talks he mediates, his focus is clear: the so-called "four baskets."Three of the baskets were laid out in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254, which passed in 2015, and a fourth on terrorism was added later at the insistence of the Damascus regime.
The eighth round of U.N.-backed Syria talks opens in Geneva on Tuesday.
Here is what's in the four baskets on the agenda:
Resolution 2254 calls for the establishment of "credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance" in Syria. The main opposition High Negotiations Committee insists that governance means "political transition" and specifically the removal of President Bashar al-Assad from power. Regime negotiators have refused to engage on the issue of Assad's future in previous rounds.
New constitution
A primary focus of the upcoming round of talks is a new Syrian constitution, according to the U.N. Neither the regime nor opposition camps have outlined their visions for the charter, but have discussed ideas on the subject with de Mistura.
Supervised elections
The U.N. Security Council initially called for elections of the "highest international standards of transparency and accountability ... under supervision of the United Nations" to be held by the middle of 2017. While that deadline has gone by, the U.N. has said that making progress on plans for elections in Syria will be the other main point of emphasis at talks this week.
A subject not mentioned in Resolution 2254, Damascus insisted earlier this year that it be added to the official talks agenda. Assad's chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari has a habit of referring to opposition representatives as "terrorists."
The opposition says terrorism is just a way of avoiding talking about Assad and elections.

U.N. Says 11 Million Yemen Children Desperately Need Aid
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/ More than 11 million children in war-torn Yemen are in desperate need of humanitarian aid, the United Nations children's fund warned on Sunday. "Today it is fair to say that Yemen is one of the worst places on earth to be a child," said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. "Two million children today in Yemen suffer acute malnutrition (and) almost every single Yemeni boy and girl" is in acute need of humanitarian assistance, he told a press conference in Jordan's capital Amman. "Today we estimate that every 10 minutes a child in Yemen is dying from preventable diseases." U.N. officials have warned that Yemen could face the world's largest famine in decades unless a crippling blockade by a Saudi-led coalition battling Huthi rebels is lifted. The blockade, put in place after Saudi forces intercepted a missile fired by Huthi forces at Riyadh's international airport early this month, has further tightened the coalition's stranglehold on the rebel-held port of Hodeida, the main conduit for U.N.-supervised deliveries of food and medicine. A U.N. plane carrying desperately needed vaccines landed in the rebel-held Yemeni capital Sanaa on Saturday after coalition forces partly lifted the blockade, after warnings that thousands of people could die. But U.N. officials have said desperately needed shipments of food and medicines to Hodeida remain blocked. Cappelaere welcomed the reopening of Sanaa airport but said much more aid was needed. "The war in Yemen is sadly a war on children," Cappelaere said, adding that close to 5,000 children had been killed or seriously injured since the start of a Saudi-led campaign in support of the government in March 2015. "Thousands of schools and health facilities have been damaged or completely destroyed," he said, calling for all parties in Yemen to take responsibility for the situation there. The coalition intervened to prop up Yemen's government after the Iran-backed Huthis drove it from Sanaa. The devastating war has since killed some 8,600 people, while a further 2,000 have died of cholera. Yemen is highly dependent on imported wheat for its basic needs, and aid groups have warned that humanitarian deliveries cover only a small portion of what is required.

Syria Regime Bombing Kills 19 Civilians near Damascus
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/Syrian regime air strikes and artillery fire killed 19 civilians on Sunday across the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region outside the capital Damascus, a monitor said. The deaths come despite the area falling within a so-called "de-escalation zone" put in place under a deal between government allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey. Eastern Ghouta is already in the grip of a humanitarian crisis caused by a crushing regime siege of the area since 2013 that has caused food and medical shortages. On Sunday, government air strikes on the areas of Mesraba and Madira killed 17 civilians, while artillery fire on the town of Douma killed another two civilians, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. "The toll could rise further because of the number of wounded people in serious condition," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. Regime bombardment of Eastern Ghouta in the last two weeks has killed more than 100 people, according to the Observatory. Rebels have also fired from the region into Damascus, killing several people. Humanitarian access to Eastern Ghouta has remained limited despite the implementation of the truce zone, and a United Nations official referred to the region as the "epicenter of suffering" in Syria.More than 340,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

U.N. Aims to Restart Syria Talks with Unified Opposition
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/The United Nations will try to revitalize its flagging Syria peace process this week, buoyed by the prospect of hosting a unified opposition delegation in Geneva for the first time. The U.N.-brokered talks to end the war that has killed more than 340,000 people since 2011 have achieved little through seven previous rounds, leaving them overshadowed by separate diplomatic pushes led by Russia, Turkey and Iran. U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura, who describes himself as a "chronic optimist" and highlights incremental progress where others see stalemate, has voiced hope that the eighth round, which opens on Tuesday, will mark the first "real negotiation."For that to happen rival sides will need to overcome the hurdle that has derailed past discussions: the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. De Mistura, typically a cautious diplomat, has bluntly told the main opposition High Negotiations Committee that its demand for Assad's ouster may no longer be tenable.In September, he said the HNC needed to be "realistic" and realize "they didn't win the war." Those comments infuriated the opposition. But the U.N. envoy's position is supported by facts on the ground. Backed by Russian military support, Assad's government has regained control of more than half the country, while the rest remains carved up between rebel factions, jihadists and Kurdish forces.
Opposition unites
Meeting in the Saudi capital this week, disparate Syrian opposition groups agreed to send a united delegation to Geneva. The hardline HNC has joined with opposition groups based in Moscow and Cairo, which take a softer approach on Assad's future. The opposition unity push has already rankled the Saudi-backed HNC. Riad Hijab stepped down as the group's leader over what he called "attempts to lower the ceiling of the revolution and prolong the regime."The HNC on Friday chose Nasr al-Hariri to lead its 36-member delegation in Geneva. Hariri, the HNC's chief negotiator at previous rounds, has insisted that Assad needs to go and there were no immediate signs that the new opposition grouping will row back its stance on the president.
Geneva 'stimulus'
Other Syria initiatives, largely spearheaded by Moscow, have in recent months outperformed the U.N.'s effort to end the Syrian conflict. Russia, fellow regime ally Iran and rebel-backer Turkey have hosted negotiations in the Kazakh capital Astana that led to the creation of four "de-escalation zones" which produced a drop in violence, though deadly air strikes and battles continue in some areas. And this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for a "congress" of Syrian regime and opposition figures, a move backed by Ankara and Tehran. The U.N. maintains that the Astana talks complement the Geneva process. Putin has also said that the coming Syrian congress would be a "stimulus" for Geneva. For Fyodor Lukyanov, who chairs Russia's Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow's diplomatic efforts on Syria will be meaningless "without their legitimization by international organizations, starting with the U.N."
"Nothing will work" unless it gets a stamp of approval in Geneva, he argued.
Where's Washington?
Experts have said that De Mistura's influence has also been curtailed following the election of President Donald Trump, with the U.S. becoming less active on the Syrian diplomatic front. Former president Barack Obama's foreign envoy John Kerry made frequent trips to the Swiss city to boost the U.N. negotiations. Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his first trip to Geneva last month and declared following a meeting with de Mistura that "the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end."That comment marked a toughening of Washington's tone towards the Syrian regime, but the extent to which the U.S. will seek to shape the upcoming negotiations remains unclear.

Drone Kills 7 Qaida Suspects in Yemen
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/A drone strike has killed seven suspected members of al-Qaida in southern Yemen, a security official said on Sunday. The United States is the only force known to operate armed drones over Yemen. "A drone likely to be American" killed all seven overnight as they were aboard three vehicles on the road from the southern province of Shabwa to the central province of Bayda, the official said. Washington considers the Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to be the radical group's most dangerous branch. A long-running drone war against AQAP has intensified since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January. AQAP has flourished in the chaos of the country's civil war, which pits the Saudi-backed government against the Huthi rebels. More than 8,700 people have been killed in the conflict since a Saudi-led military coalition intervened on the government's side in March 2015. Al-Qaida's jihadist rivals, the Islamic State group, have also carried out several deadly attacks in the country. Last month, the United States said it had killed dozens of IS fighters at training camps in Bayda.

Egypt Upholds Death Sentences for 7 over Beheadings, IS Links
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/An Egyptian court has upheld death sentences for seven people over the beheadings in Libya of 21 Christians, all but one from Egypt, and for belonging to the Islamic State group, a judicial official said Sunday. In February 2015, Libya posted a video on the internet of the beheadings on a Libyan beach, sparking international condemnation and Egyptian air strikes against jihadist targets in the neighbouring country. Saturday's court ruling came a day after an attack on a mosque in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula that killed more than 300 people and for which IS is the main suspect. The court also sentenced 10 people to life in prison -- 25 years in Egypt -- and three others to 15 years in prison, the official said. The ruling can still be appealed. The court first condemned the seven to death in September. Three were condemned in absentia, and an unspecified number of those sentenced were accused of having taken part in the beheadings. Prosecutors accused the seven suspects of belonging to an IS cell in Marsa Matruh, northwest Egypt, and of planning attacks after having received military training at jihadist camps in Libya and Syria. In May, Egypt again struck what it said were jihadist targets in Libya after IS claimed a massacre of Coptic Christians on their way to a monastery south of Cairo. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said military reverses for IS in war-torn Syria were driving its fighters to try to relocate to Libya and the Sinai Peninsula of eastern Egypt. Egypt has been battling an insurgency by an IS affiliate based in North Sinai since the military's ouster in 2013 of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Hundreds of members of Egypt's security forces have been killed, while more than 100 Copts have died in church bombings since December.
Twenty-seven children were among 305 people killed in Friday's assault on the mosque in North Sinai, according to the state prosecution.

Pakistan Protests Grow as Military Stays Silent
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/November 26/17/Thousands more protesters massed in Pakistan's major cities Sunday after attempts to disperse an Islamist rally in Islamabad ended in deadly violence, with the military hesitant to respond to a government appeal for help. An estimated 5,000 demonstrators were occupying roads between Islamabad and neighbouring Rawalpindi, AFP reporters saw, more than twice the number that were in the streets when police and paramilitaries began a bungled operation to clear them one day earlier. At least 4,750 were in Pakistan's biggest city Karachi, according to traffic officials, up from roughly 200 the day before. In the cultural capital Lahore an estimated 3,400 were occupying main roads. Reports said the protests had also spread to other cities and towns across the country. The numbers are still relatively small by Pakistani standards but have grown swiftly. The situation has become more charged since authorities moved to clear the roughly 2,000 people who have blocked a major highway in Islamabad since November 6, paralyzing the capital for weeks. They were met with stubborn resistance by protesters who torched vehicles and threw stones, with at least seven people were killed and dozens injured before security forces retreated on Saturday. An interior ministry order said the federal government had authorized the deployment of troops to secure the capital until further notice. But one day after the order was released there was no official military response and no sign of armoured vehicles or soldiers on the streets. A military spokesman declined repeated requests for comment. Late Sunday an interior ministry official told AFP the paramilitary Rangers force had been empowered to "deal with the protests", but offered no further details. Civil-military relations have long been fraught in Pakistan, with the military ruling the country for nearly half of its 70-year history.  The little-known Islamist group at the centre of the protests, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLY), is demanding the resignation of Pakistan's law minister Zahid Hamid over a hastily-abandoned amendment to the oath, which election candidates must swear. Demonstrators have linked the issue to blasphemy -- a highly contentious matter in Muslim Pakistan that has fueled violence many times before. TLY leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi repeated the demand in a press conference Sunday and insisted terrorism charges be leveled against top officials including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and current leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. He called for a general strike across the country Monday, and declared that TLY will "fully participate" in general elections due to be held next year.
Rizvi said his group was "negotiating" but refused to offer further details, including of who with, and vowed the sit-in would continue "at any cost." "We are not scared of these bullets. We have to die one day so why not die for the honour of the holy Prophet," he said.
Broken teeth
Earlier, at a main stage set up at the centre of the sit-in, demonstrators were playing religious songs as more groups arrived. A military helicopter flew briefly overhead but otherwise few members of the security forces were in sight. "I don't care if my wife and child ... die of hunger, for me nothing matters more than the honour of my Prophet," Riaz Shah, a labourer from Lahore who has been at the sit-in since it began, told AFP. He dismissed fears of military intervention, saying the army "would not come here and dishonor the Prophet." Pakistan's media authority lifted a ban on television broadcasts and authorities said social media sites were no longer being restricted, after an information blackout earlier in the day sparked confusion about the state of the protests. But many schools announced closures and commuters braced for another week of traffic chaos. "People's businesses have been destroyed, people are unable to go on their jobs, to hospitals, they are not sending their children to schools," said resident Maqbool Ahmed, calling for the army to "disperse them up by beating them with clubs". The violence is the latest blow to the embattled Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) government ahead of the 2018 election, and after its leader Nawaz Sharif was deposed as prime minister over graft allegations this summer. Analysts said the government had allowed a relatively small protest by an obscure group to grow into a potentially dangerous situation. The government's predicament was "daunting", analyst Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center in Washington told AFP, adding that its ability to survive "depends on the trajectory of the protests."

Canada deeply concerned by ongoing conflict in Yemen
November 25, 2017 - Ottawa, Canada- Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the following statement regarding the worsening conditions for people in Yemen:
“Canada is deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in Yemen and its humanitarian impact on civilians, particularly women and children, who continue to bear the brunt of the fighting.
“Allowing full and unhindered access to lifesaving food, fuel and medicines for civilians in need is imperative. All ports of entry must also allow immediate shipments of humanitarian and commercial supplies to reduce the risk of famine and the spread of disease.
“We further urge all parties to the conflict to promptly resume peace talks. The people of Yemen need action and an end to the violence.’’
Quick facts
At the September 2017 session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Canada co-sponsored a resolution which will establish, by the end of 2017, a group of eminent international and regional experts to investigate and report on the human rights situation in Yemen and to carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of human rights since 2014.
In March 2017, Canada announced $34 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected people in Yemen, especially women and children. An additional $7.7 million for Yemen was announced in August 2017 as part of the Famine Relief Fund. This brings Canada’s total 2017 humanitarian assistance contribution for Yemen to $41.7 million.
Adam Austen
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
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Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on November 26-27/17
Time to Drain the Swamp - Also in Europe
Geert Wilders/Gatestone Institute/November 26/17
Our democracies in the Western half of Europe have been subverted. Their goal is no longer to do what the people want. On the contrary, our political elites often do exactly the opposite. Our parliaments promote open-door policies that the majority of the people reject. Our governments sell out sovereignty to the EU against the will of the people. Our rulers welcome ever more Islam, although the majority of the people oppose it.
Our democracies have become fake democracies. They are multi-party dictatorships, ruled by groups of establishment parties.... The establishment parties control everything, not just the politicians in their pay, but also the top brass of the civil service, the mainstream media, even the courts.... They call us "populists" because we stand for what the people want. They even drag us to court.
We need to show that Europe's streets are our streets, that we want to stay who and what we are, and do not want to be colonized by Islam. Europe belongs to us!
Next month, I will be visiting Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. I have been invited to speak to a group of Czech patriots. The Czechs are a freedom loving people. In 2011, on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, they named a street in Prague after this great American president and freedom fighter.
This fact reminded me of a shameful event in my home town of The Hague, the seat of the Dutch Parliament and the government of the Netherlands. Look for a Ronald Reagan Street in The Hague and you will find none. A proposal in 2011 to name a street in The Hague after Reagan ran into fierce political opposition. Leftist parties, such as Labor, the Greens and the liberal D66 party, argued that naming a street in honor of Reagan would "do the image of the city no good." The whole affair ended in a disgraceful political compromise. Last year, a short stretch of a local bicycle path was named the "Reagan and Gorbachev Lane".
This anecdote is indicative of the difference between East and West in Europe. We can see the same difference in the attitude of their ruling elites towards Islam, the new totalitarianism that is threatening Europe today. In the East, political leaders oppose Islam; in the West, they surrender.
Islam has already gained a strong foothold in Western Europe. Its streets have come to resemble the Middle East, with headscarves everywhere. Parts of Western Europe, such as the Schilderswijk district in The Hague, the Molenbeek borough in Brussels, the banlieues [suburbs] of Paris, Birmingham in Britain, the Rosengård area in Malmö, Sweden, and many other neighborhoods, have become hotbeds of Islamic subversion.
Islam's totalitarian nature cannot be denied. The command to murder and terrorize non-Muslims is in the Koran. Islam's prophet Muhammad was a mass murderer and a pedophile. Those who leave Islam supposedly deserve death. And everyone who criticizes Islam and exposes what it actually says, ends up like me: on an Islamic death list.
In the past decades, Islam has entered Western Europe with the millions of immigrants from Islamic countries. Now, the European Union wants to distribute third-world immigrants over all the 28 EU member states. The nations in Central and Eastern Europe reject the EU plans to impose permanent and mandatory relocation quotas for all EU member states. They warn about the dilution of their identity, which is not Islamic, but Judeo-Christian and humanist -- rooted in the legacy of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome; not Mecca.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has denounced the EU's pro-immigration agenda as a means to eradicate the culture and Christian identity of Hungary. Czech President Miloš Zeman is an outspoken opponent of immigration and the Islamification of the Czech Republic. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has said that "Islam has no place in Slovakia" and warns that "migrants change the character of our country." Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło staunchly defends Poland's refusal to accept the EU-imposed immigration quotas. "We are not going to take part in this madness," she says. In the Eastern part of Europe, anti-Islamification and anti-mass migration parties see a surge in popular support.
Resistance is growing in the West, as well. This year, we have seen my party, the Party for Freedom (PVV), become the second-largest party in the Netherlands. This is a great achievement in a country with 13 parties in Parliament. In France, Marine Le Pen made it to the second round in the French presidential elections and her party, the Front National, got more votes than ever. In Austria, the FPÖ became the second biggest party. In Germany, the patriots of the AfD forced their way into the Bundestag.
**Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV), casts his vote in The Hague during the Dutch general election that made his the second-largest party in the Netherlands, on March 15, 2017. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
However, the political elites in the West do all they can to keep the winners of the elections from power. Last month, in my country, the Netherlands, a new government coalition consisting of no less than four parties was formed. Because they stubbornly refused to talk to PVV, it took the political elites a record seven months to put together a coalition. They preferred to take in D66, the party which had denied Ronald Reagan his street in The Hague, and still they were only able to form a government with a majority of just one single seat in Parliament.
Our democracies in the Western half of Europe have been subverted. Their goal is no longer to do what the people want. On the contrary, our political elites often do exactly the opposite. Our parliaments promote open-door policies that the majority of the people reject. Our governments sell out sovereignty to the EU against the will of the people. Our rulers welcome ever more Islam, although the majority of the people oppose it.
Our democracies have become fake democracies. They are multi-party dictatorships, ruled by groups of establishment parties. They wheel and deal, often selling away the principles for which they have been elected. The establishment parties control everything, not just the politicians in their pay, but also the top brass of the civil service, the mainstream media, even the courts. Parties such as mine are excluded from coalition talks. They call us "populists" because we stand for what the people want. They even drag us to court.
Three decades ago, the countries in Central Europe witnessed a Velvet Revolution: Democratic, political and peaceful. They took to the streets. They decided that enough was enough. Thanks to their Velvet Revolution, they have leaders today who truly represent the people and who are not afraid to stand up for their nation and its identity.
We, in Western Europe, can learn lessons from the Velvet Revolution in the East. We, too, urgently need to make clear that enough is enough. In Western Europe, too, it is time to drain the swamp and to drive the elites from power. Peaceful and democratic, but thorough. We have to make our so-called democratic systems truly democratic again. The political actors should no longer be the professional politicians alone. The crisis is existential. It is time for every man and woman to do his and her duty. Because the survival of our nations itself is at stake.
We, too, have to make it very clear that we no longer want to take part in the madness of leaders, who sell out their country to the EU institutions in Brussels, and the madness of the EU elites, who sell out our continent to mass-immigration and Islam. That is why the PVV will demonstrate in the streets of Rotterdam on January 20th. We need to show that Europe's streets are our streets, that we want to stay who and what we are, and do not want to be colonized by Islam. Europe belongs to us!
*Geert Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Netherlands.
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Analysis Sinai Attack: Why the Arab World's Largest Army Can't Beat ISIS
Anshel Pfeffer/Haaretz/November 26/17
Egypt has neglected northern Sinai for too long, and now it's paying the deadly price
The Islamic State has yet to take responsibility for the attack on a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai on Friday that claimed 305 lives, but there is little doubt that it was carried out by Wilayat Sinai — an Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai. The organization has targeted Sufis before in other countries and it is currently the only insurgent group operating in Sinai capable of such a large-scale attack. Which leads to the question, why is ISIS, currently in retreat in its former main strongholds of Syria and Iraq, still capable of such operations, in Egypt of all places
Unlike Syria and Iraq, where Islamic State took advantage of the vacuum created by civil war and demoralized armies, Egypt — despite political upheaval in recent years — still boasts the largest army in the Arab world and for over four years, has been ruled by the iron fist of a military regime. The Egyptian army does not lack for the resources to fight a counter-insurgency war in Sinai, including mobile armored vehicles and attack helicopters. Israel has green-lighted every Egyptian request to reinforce its units in the peninsula, despite the demilitarization protocols of the Camp David peace accords. And yet despite Egypt’s ongoing campaign to wipe out ISIS in Sinai — a campaign which, according to foreign reports, includes major assistance from Israel — the group still retains the capability of launching the sort of devastating attack we saw on Friday.
A year ago, the tide seemed to have turned in Sinai. In a series of attacks on Wilayat strongholds, the Egyptians succeeded in eliminating an estimated two-thirds of the ISIS fighters, including their commander Abu Du’a al-Ansari. They were down to around only 300 men when Muhammad al-Isawi, known in ISIS as Abu Osama al-Masri, an Egyptian who had fought with the group in Syria, took command. Al-Masri, with reinforcements, aid and supplies from Islamic State’s base in Libya has succeeded in reviving the organization, with its numbers back to around a 1,000 and more damaging attacks on both military and civilian targets. According to intelligence sources, the Wilayat’s fighting force is made up of Egyptian Islamists, volunteers from other countries, including veterans of Syria and Iraq, and most crucially, members of local Sinai Bedouin tribes. Their zone of operations is the northern half of Sinai, while for the most part, the Red Sea coast region in the south, where thousands of Israelis spent their High Holidays vacation two months ago, has remained calm. This is not disconnected from the fact that while billions have been invested in building the Red Sea resorts, the villages and towns of the northern Mediterranean coast have remained underdeveloped. Until about three years ago, residents of the region were still making money from the open trade of the smuggling routes that run through the tunnels under the border with Gaza. Egypt has now destroyed all but a few of the tunnels, which are now used exclusively by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, for arms and personnel. While the local Bedouin tribes in the south are loath to jeopardize their income from Red Sea tourism by cooperating with ISIS in the south, those in the less developed north have fewer qualms. Egypt is now paying the price for decades of neglect of northern Sinai. Its soldiers hunker down in armored vehicles and fortified positions, while the jihadists enjoy cover from local collaborators there and in the nearby mountain passes. Egypt’s energetic sponsorship of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement in recent months was mainly motivated by its interest in ensuring that Gaza doesn’t serve as Islamic State’s backyard — something it was in danger of becoming. But the Egyptians’ real problem is within its own territory. It has allowed northern Sinai to remain a black hole of resentment and radicalism for too long and is now paying the price.

Banning Extremist Muslim Scholars
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/ASharq Al Awsat//November 26/17
Recently, the Arab quartet Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt added two radical Islamic organizations and eleven extremists to their terror list; a step long overdue. Dealing with the Union of Muslim Scholars, founded by Muslim Brotherhood and welcomed by Qatar, and the International Islamic Council should have been banned long ago, especially the Union. Since its establishment, Union of Muslim Scholars posed a threat to Muslim societies all over the world. Its emergence, which coincided with al-Qaeda and all its leaders' first appearance, was like declaring a blatant war against traditional and moderate Islam in the region and the world. The Union of Muslim Scholars was born as part of the domination project led by extremist religious groups as part of their different approaches which include: inciting jihadist political rhetoric, armed organizations, and parallel religious institutions that grant legitimacy to their practices and cancel moderate institutions.At the time Qaeda carried out explosions killing people and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi beheaded people in the name of Islam, Union of Muslim Scholars was born in Qatar in 2004 for the same extremist project.
For that purpose, its members prepared fatwas, justified violence and engaged in ideological wars that deprived traditional muftis and scholars of their worth and ridiculed their fatwas. Let’s not forget that traditional Salafists scholars of Saudi Arabia also issued fatwas prohibiting jihadist operations since the 1990’s as they viewed them as defiant to the state. This angered the mufti of the Brotherhood and Qatar-affiliated union who justified “martyrdom operations” and wanted to religiously legitimize it. The union worked on destroying major religious institutions in the Muslim world, like the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia and al-Azhar in Egypt. Historically, the terrorism project hiding within Islam began around the same time organizations of extremist fatwas were established. Like Qaeda and ISIS, these jurisprudence groups refused local-ism and viewed themselves as global and intercontinental organizations.
Qaeda’s birth in Afghanistan coincided with the emergence of the "European Council for Fatwa and Research" in 1997 in London. Is it by chance that it’s headed by Yusuf al-Qaradawi and his deputy Ali al-Qaradaghi, the two same figures who had been involved in extremist ideology for the past 20 years?
Just like Qaeda branched in the Middle East and Europe, extremist jurisprudence organizations established branches in the Gulf, Iraq, Lebanon, North Africa, France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and Ireland.
Through the slogans, statements, and activities of such religious institutions, as well as different nationalities of their members, we can see how they played the role of the religious reference which extremist groups, based on calls of extremism and jihad, needed during the dangerous years of unrest.
If we realized that the most dangerous aspect of terrorism is extremist ideology, we must also be aware that extremist ideology would not have existed, developed, and became armed organizations hadn’t it been for these religious figures and institutions that embraced extremist scholars.
In addition, it wouldn't have happened if Qatar hadn't protected and funded them, making it easier for them to gain influence on the intellectual and media levels and buy even some of those who are afraid of its control or don't agree with it.

End of Net Neutrality Isn't the End of the World
Tyler Cowen/Bloomberg/November 26/17
Eliminating net neutrality is, in the best and worst case scenarios, either necessary to keep the internet up and running, or will lead to a dystopian future where a few major corporations control our thoughts. The more prosaic reality, however, is that a world without net neutrality will work just fine. I am therefore not incensed (or very excited) about the Federal Communications Commission proposal released Tuesday that will move away from net neutrality. Let’s put aside the heated rhetoric, and look at two recent studies. In the past, the FCC went through a process to extend public-utility-style regulation (Title II) to internet service providers starting in early 2015, in response to a court order invalidating its earlier net neutrality policy. In essence, the agency moved to reinstate net neutrality under a slightly different and more legally defensible guise. Most relevant corporate share prices didn’t much react to these events, which suggests that the net neutrality decisions weren’t so important for the sector. This study, conducted by telecommunications expert Robert W. Crandall at the Brookings Institution, looked at AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable LLC, Cablevision Systems Corp., Charter Communications Inc., the Walt Disney Co., Time Warner Inc., Viacom Inc., CBS Corp., 21st Century Fox Inc., Starz Inc., Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., AOL Inc., Yahoo Inc., and finally Netflix Inc.
Many of these media companies did better than the S&P 500 across the critical part of 2015 when the new regulations were unveiled. That shows changing net neutrality is unlikely to cripple the U.S. media landscape. But is net neutrality such a big deal for keeping an open internet? After a statement by President Barack Obama in November 2014 in favor of new regulations, the shares of traditional media companies (owners of movie and TV content) did better than the shares of new media companies (Netflix, Facebook). That’s at direct disagreement with the story that net neutrality rules are necessary to prevent cable companies from levying extortionate access rates on bandwidth-intensive new media companies.
You might think these share price changes aren’t significant in assessing policy, because there are so many disparate factors impinging on the profitability of these companies. And that’s probably the correct intuition, but it also means net neutrality is just one factor of many shaping the future of media, rather than the decisive force. Look at Netflix, a major bandwidth user, which had a volatile share price over this period. Most of that volatility seems to have come from general business conditions for the company. When the court first struck down net neutrality, Netflix shares rose in value. When Obama made it clear he would try to reinstitute net neutrality, Netflix shares fell in value. Again, those patterns reflect the opposite of the usual critical story that Netflix or its customers will be charged a fortune for bandwidth use if net neutrality is removed. Netflix shares have done fine over the last year, even in light of this expected revision to net neutrality policies.
To put these share price movements in context, stocks for businesses that would clearly benefit from tax reform rose in value immediately after President Donald Trump’s election. When clear costs and benefits are on the line, share prices seem to reflect this.
A second recent study is by José Francisco Tudón Maldonado, a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Chicago. Tudón Maldonado looked at Inc.’s, a popular platform for video games, eSports and musical performances, among other services. Twitch itself advocates net neutrality, but applies its own service prioritization rules within the system. Tudón Maldonado found that Twitch users benefit from this prioritization, receiving higher quality programs and suffering less from bandwidth congestion. That’s only one example, and it hardly proves that service prioritization will benefit the internet as a whole. Still, we’ve been living with various forms of non-neutrality for some while, and when they’re not framed as such we typically don’t find them so outrageous. Have you ever used your Kindle to connect to wireless to download new books from your Amazon account? That too is a kind of non-neutrality. You can download the books, but you can’t use that same wireless connection for more general purposes. Proponents of net neutrality are typically worried about the monopoly and pricing power held by cable companies and other internet service providers. Options for access, however, are improving. Cellphone service is falling in price, smartphones are growing in size and quality, and Wi-Fi connections are all over the place. That said, a lot of monopoly power remains. But look at it this way: Those monopolists don’t want to distort the consumer experience too much, so they can keep charging high prices.
I used to favor net neutrality, but I now think we’re at the point where we’ll do just fine without it.