October 03/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 06/20-26L:"Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. ‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. ‘But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. ‘Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. ‘Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 02-03/17
Rest In Peace/Elias Bejjani/October 02/17
This is the happiest day of my life, Kurdish president says after referendum/Ynetnews/Bernard-Henri Lévy/October 02/17
Afghan children as young as 14 recruited by Iran to fight in Syria, says HRW/MEE/October 01/17
Islam and Feminism/Maryam Assaf/Gatestone Institute/October 02/17
The Big Middle East Lie/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/October 02/17
Palestine and Israel: Why the two-state solution looks dead/Meron Rapoport/MEE/Monday 2 October 2017
Before the spark breaks out in Kurdistan/Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/October 02/17
Directing the battle in Yemen toward Saada/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/October 02/17
Arab world politics and Amr Moussa’s diary/Hussein Shobokshi/Al Arabiya/October 02/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 02-03/17
Rest In Peace
Drone strike kills at least 8 Hezbollah fighters in Syria
Report: Sanctions on Hizbullah Will 'Destroy Lebanon's Economy'
FPM: Budget Must be Approved, Govt. Must Address Refugees Crisis
UK relaxes travel advice for some areas across Lebanon
Hamadeh, Richard discuss educational matters
Hariri receives economic bodies and LARP delegation
Mashnouq meets Lassen, Czech Ambassador
Berri meets Mikati, Salame
Judge Presses Charges Against 'Abu Ajineh' over Terror Links
Israeli Warplanes Fly at Medium Altitude over South

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 02-03/17
Trump on Las Vegas massacre: 'An act of pure evil'
Brother: Las Vegas gunman was wealthy real-estate investor

50 Killed at Las Vegas Concert in Deadliest US Shooting
Deadly twin suicide attack hits Damascus police station
FSA spokesman says Hamza Bin Laden’s presence in Syria doubtful
Special forces hunting Osama Bin Laden’s son in ‘kill or capture’ mission
Iraq Forces Launch Assault to Retake IS-Held Areas Near Hawija
Iraq Allows Foreigners to Leave Kurdistan Via Baghdad
Iran's Zarif to Visit Qatar amid Gulf Crisis
HRW Accuses Jordan of 'Summarily Deporting' Syrian Refugees
Norway Agrees to Host Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower
More Than Two Million New Refugees this Year, Says UN
Madrid Vows to Stop Catalan Independence Declaration
Catalan Leader Says Region Has 'Won the Right' to Secede from Spain
Saudi King Salman to Visit Russia on Thursday, Kremlin Says
Saudi Court Clears Binladin Group in Deadly Crane Crash
Palestinian PM Arrives in Gaza, First Visit Since 2015

Latest Lebanese Related News published on October 02-03/17
Rest In Peace

Elias Bejjani/October 02/17/Our prayers go for the rest of the souls of the Las Vegas innocent victims. May Almighty God help in the recovery of the hundreds that were injured in the shooting.

Drone strike kills at least 8 Hezbollah fighters in Syria
Philip Issa/ AP/ October 02 /17/BEIRUT — At least eight Hezbollah fighters were killed in a drone strike in the eastern Syrian desert, where pro-government forces are engaged in a grinding battle against the Islamic State group, a monitoring group said Monday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a drone struck a position of the Lebanese militant group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces. A Hezbollah official confirmed the strike but not the toll. The official was not authorized to speak to the media so spoke on condition of anonymity. It was not immediately clear who was operating the drone. Unmanned aerial vehicles are now widely used in Iraq and Syria, by armies and militant groups alike. Israel has been targeting Hezbollah’s convoys in Syria with growing regularity, saying it cannot allow advanced weapons provided by Iran to be sent to Lebanon. Iran has sponsored and supplied Hezbollah since establishing the group in the 1980s to fight Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon.But Israel’s strikes are generally confined to western and southern Syria, near the Lebanon and Israel borders. It has also been accused of striking Syrian government positions. The U.S. has also attacked Syrian pro-government forces by air, but only once in any connection to the war on the Islamic State group, in September 2016, when an air raid killed at least 60 Syrian soldiers. The White House called the raid a mistake, and said it was committed to the war against the jihadist group.

Report: Sanctions on Hizbullah Will 'Destroy Lebanon's Economy'
Naharnet/October 02/17/The Congress wants to “deal a blow to the Iranian Republic” through the sanctions it imposed on Lebanon's Hizbullah, which French sources said will “devastate the Lebanese economy,” the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported Monday. “The Congress wants to afflict Iran through Hizbullah, that is why the US State Department has decided to sanction the party,” a French source told the daily on condition on anonymity. The source pointed out that Paris has told the American side at the level of the administration that “the sanctions will not affect Hizbullah, but it will destroy the Lebanese economy.” To that the US Administration replied to the French argument allegedly saying that “France is right, but Paris does not know if that is enough to not implement these sanctions,” said the source. “The Congress has put these sanctions and the US President Donald Trump wants to undermine Iran,” it added. “Trump, who asked the Europeans to the whole of Hizbullah on the terrorism list, faced their refusal because that is not possible. It means that France and Europe are forced to boycott half of the Lebanese government, which is impractical,” concluded the source.Hizbullah has been a part of Lebanon's government since November 2005. On Thursday, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, chaired by Republican Representative Ed Royce, passed a bill to further sanction Hizbullah, according to a statement posted on its website.
“Hizbullah and Iran are reportedly introducing game-changing facilities into the region – independent factories that can produce rockets to be used against Israel and our allies. We also have reports of missile factories opening up in Lebanon near mosques, homes, hospitals, and schools,” Royce noted. “It is clear that Hizbullah intends to increase their exploitation of Lebanese civilians as defenseless human shields. So today the Committee is taking action against Hizbullah and its sponsor Iran, by passing legislation that tightens the screws on Hizbullah’s financial operations globally,” Royce added. According to Lebanon's MTV, the bill authorizes Trump to freeze the assets of “high-ranking Lebanese political figures who deal with Hizbullah.”“The first legislation targets Hizbullah's ability to raise funds and deprives it of access to the international financial system and the financial institutions,” MTV said. “It also increases pressure on Lebanese and foreign banks that deal with Hizbullah and its leadership,” the TV network added. A second bill slaps sanctions on Hizbullah for “violating human rights in the July 2006 war through using civilians as human shields,” MTV said.

FPM: Budget Must be Approved, Govt. Must Address Refugees Crisis
Naharnet/October 02/17/The Free Patriotic Movement stressed the necessity for the approval of the state budget “with reforms,” as he demanded the government to find solutions for the refugees crisis through the adoption of a policy that encourages them to return home, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Speaking at the FPM's periodic meeting, head of the movement and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil highlighted several issues mainly the country's economic situation, the Syrian displacement and parliamentary elections. “We call on the Lebanese government to launch an economic vision with short-term and long-term plans covering various sectors," the meeting said in a statement. “The first translation of this vision is to speed up the adoption of the budget for the year 2018. This budget should include all the reforms and recommendations set by the Finance and Budget Committee, primarily to stop financial squandering, control spending and work to end the accounting records as soon as possible within the time period provided by law,” added the statement. On the issue of displacement, the FPM said: “The Lebanese government must address the problem of Syrian displacement immediately and to adopt the political paper, submitted by Bassil, which rejects the encouragement of displaced Syrians to stay in Lebanon and adopt a policy that encourages them to return to their country.”The Movement has also stressed the need to “strengthening participation in the political decision,” emphasizing adherence to the desired reforms in the electoral mechanism.

UK relaxes travel advice for some areas across Lebanon
Mon 02 Oct 2017/NNA - In a press release by the British Embassy in Beirut, it said: "The British Foreign and Commonwealth has revised its travel advice for Lebanon, reducing the areas to which we advise against travel for British citizens."
A British Embassy spokesperson said: "We have changed our travel advice in response to improvements to the general situation in the country and a reduction in incidents in recent years. However, we continue to warn citizens that terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks against sites in Lebanon, as well as a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals. We advise our citizens to remain vigilant and familiarise themselves with our travel advice before travelling. We value our partnership with the Lebanese security forces and will continue to work closely with them. Our travel advice is kept under constant review and restrictions may be reinstated if our assessment changes."

Hamadeh, Richard discuss educational matters
Mon 02 Oct 2017/NNA - National Education and Higher Education Minister, Marwan Hamadeh, on Monday met with US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, with talks reportedly touching on a range of political, developmental and educational matters.Talks majorly touched on the American contribution to projects related to education for all children on Lebanese territories (Race 2). Minister Hamadeh thanked the US government, via the Ambassador, for the funds allocated to this project.

Hariri receives economic bodies and LARP delegation
Mon 02 Oct 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received this afternoon at the “Center House” a delegation from the economic bodies, headed by the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon Mohamed Choucair, who presented to him a document containing their observations on the government’s draft regarding the tax law. After the meeting, Choucair said: “Our meeting with Prime Minister Hariri was good and he understands the concerns of the economic bodies. We submitted our suggestions concerning law 45 and we will meet this week with President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil.”He added: “I think the suggestions that we submitted to Prime Minister Hariri are good and the basic point rejected by the economic bodies is the double taxation, article 17 of law 45, because it is against the Constitution and affects not only the Lebanese banks but all the Lebanese institutions whether banking, financial, industrial or commercial.”Choucair said: “We are calling on the citizens of the Gulf to return to Lebanon and the Lebanese to invest in Lebanon, and the Central Bank is establishing funds for the Lebanese expatriates, but who will invest in Lebanon while seeing all these taxes, with also the double taxation?”He explained that this is rejected and consultations will continue with everybody to reach a solution that is in the national interest. In response to a question, Choucair said that in the last four years, 388 factories closed and exports have fallen by 30%. He concluded: “The economic situation doesn’t bear more burdens. Today we are talking about the scale, taxes, increasing the wages in the private sector so where are we taking the country with all this? No country bears a cut of more than 2% of the gross domestic product and this is the percentage that we accepted, but with other increases, we will be ending the economy of this country, and if we continue like this, the economic will collapse.”
Lebanese-American Renaissance Partnership
Hariri also met with a delegation from the “Lebanese-American Renaissance Partnership” LARP, headed by its president Walid Maalouf, who said : “This association was founded in 2006 and is now organizing its fourth trip for Lebanese expatriates. It includes personalities from the business community who visit Lebanon for a few days and hold a conference. This year we held our conference in the Phoenicia Hotel under the patronage of Prime Minister Hariri.”He added: “We came to thank him and to offer him ideas and recommendations that express our opinion regarding the elections, defining borders, stability, security and other issues that keep us in contact with our homeland and enable us to help, within our capabilities, in supporting the government institutions and keeping the state strong, away from external interferences and militias. We generally call for stability, sovereignty, security and strong economy.”

Mashnouq meets Lassen, Czech Ambassador
Mon 02 Oct 2017/NNA - Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Nohad Mashnouq, on Monday met with European Union Ambassador to Lebanon, Christina Lassen, with whom he discussed his ministry's preparations for the looming legislative polls. The pair reportedly dwelt on the current situation and latest developments in Lebanon and the broader Arab region, shedding light on the EU efforts to help alleviate the burden borne by the communities hosting by Syrian refugees. Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Lassen indicated that she highlighted the importance of conducting the elections on their due time.
Separately Mashnouq held talks with Ambassador, Czech Republic in Beirut, Michaela Fronkova, over the means to bolster the bilateral ties, especially on the security level. The Ambassador also presented Mashnouq with an official invitation to visit her country.

Berri meets Mikati, Salame
Mon 02 Oct 2017/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, welcomed, at his Ain-el-Tineh residence on Monday, former Prime Minister MP Najib Mikati, with whom he discussed most recent developments, especially the next legislative session regarding the tax law. "It is true that the tax law's issuance was delayed due to the challenge motion submitted to the Constitutional Council; but we have to take into consideration many things regarding the new law that is being prepared. First of all, we must look into the quality if levies so that they should not include the poor," Mikati explained to reporters following the meeting. On the political side, we discussed the dissociation policy that was adopted by my government and the two governments that followed. I believe that this policy is the best for Lebanon which cannot be part of regional and international alignments," he said. "Lebanon must be away from any foreign axis," he stressed.Berri later met with MP Mohammad Safadi over the current general situation. He also held talks with Lebanese Central Bank's governor, Riyad Salame, over the financial and monetary situation.

Judge Presses Charges Against 'Abu Ajineh' over Terror Links
Naharnet/October 02/17/Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr pressed charges against Ali al-Hujeiri, aka Abu Ajineh, over his links to a terrorist group and for his involvement in the fights against the Lebanese army, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Hujeiri was charged over his affiliation to al-Nusra Front terrorist group and facilitating the entry of combatants into Lebanese territories to participate in battles against the Lebanese army in the northeastern border town of Arsal back in 2012, 2013 and 2014, according to NNA. Hujeiri is also accused of “providing the jihadists with weapons and ammunition, holding meetings with leaders of armed groups, as well as kidnapping Lebanese and foreign nationals, handing them over to terrorist organizations, and finally releasing them in return for ransom,” it added.

Israeli Warplanes Fly at Medium Altitude over South
Naharnet/October 02/17/Israeli warplanes hovered at a medium altitude on Monday above several regions in south Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported. NNA said the enemy airplanes flew above the towns of Nabatieh, Iqlim al-Teffah, al-Khyam, Marjeyoun and al-Arqoub at around 10:00 am. VDL (100.5) said that “Israeli units have combed the military road adjacent to the technical fence between the al-Wazzani hills, al-Asal valley, al-Ghajar and Abbasieh.”Israeli warplanes regularly violate Lebanon's airspace. Lebanon has filed a complaint with the United Nations against Israel in September for violating the country's airspace and flying low over the southern Lebanese city of Sidon. Israeli jets have flown low over Sidon, causing at least one sonic boom.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 02-03/17
Trump on Las Vegas massacre: 'An act of pure evil'
Mon 02 Oct 2017 /NNA - President Donald Trump used a solemn address from the White House on Monday to call for unity in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, calling the massacre an "act of pure evil."
The gun attack on a country music festival Sunday in Las Vegas killed at least 50 people and injured more than 400 others. In a subdued statement, Trump said the nation was united "in sadness, shock and grief."Reading from a teleprompter in the Diplomatic Reception Room, Trump mourned the victims and announced he would visit the stricken Nevada city on Wednesday.
"We cannot fathom their pain, we cannot imagine their loss," Trump said of those who lost loved ones in the massacre.
For the second time of his presidency, Trump sought to provide solace after a deadly US shooting. He acknowledged the work of local law enforcement officers and called for unity in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Speaking for five minutes, Trump acknowledged there were few answers for Americans still coming to grips with the tragedy. "In times such as these I know we are searching for some kind of meaning in the chaos, some kind of light in the darkness," he said. "The answers do not come easy. But we can take solace knowing that even the darkest space can be brightened by a single light, and even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope." The massacre in Nevada is the worst domestic act of violence of Trump's presidency. He was briefed on the situation Monday morning by his chief of staff, John Kelly, and conveyed his initial condolences on Twitter. "My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!" he wrote early Monday. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the attack a "horrific tragedy" and said in a statement that the White House was "monitoring the situation closely."Shortly after Trump spoke, the White House released a proclamation ordering flags be flown at half-staff on federal buildings. As a candidate, Trump used the Orlando night club shooting -- until Monday, the worst mass shooting in American history -- as a data point in his push to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
"I said this was going to happen -- and it is only going to get worse," Trump said in a statement then. Trump was criticized for immediately connecting the incident to radical Islamic terrorism, but later he was defiant when the shooter was identified. "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!" Trump wrote on Twitter in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting. Little is known about the perpetrator of the Las Vegas attack. Authorities have identified 64-year-old Stephen Paddock as the gunman. During the course of his presidency, Trump's predecessor Barack Obama responded to more than a dozen mass shootings. His responses ranged from angry, to emotional, to -- by the end of his term -- resigned. On Monday, Trump was originally scheduled to speak at an event about regulatory reform, but his public remarks were canceled. Later in the day he's slated to meet with Republican governors and the prime minister of Thailand. He still plans to travel on Tuesday to Puerto Rico to survey storm damage, the White House said. ----CNN

Brother: Las Vegas gunman was wealthy real-estate investor
The Canadian Press The Canadian Press /October 02/17
MESQUITE, Nev. — Stephen Paddock lived in a tidy Nevada retirement community where the amenities include golf, tennis and bocce. He was a multimillionaire real-estate investor, recently shipped his 90-year-old mother a walker and liked to travel to Las Vegas to play high-stakes video poker.
Nothing in his background suggests why he would have been on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino with at least 17 guns on Sunday night, raining an unparalleled slaughter upon an outdoor country music festival below.
"I can't even make something up," his bewildered brother, Eric Paddock, told reporters Monday. "There's just nothing."
At least 59 people were killed and nearly 530 injured in Paddock's attack on the Route 91 Harvest Festival, where country music star Jason Aldean was performing for more than 22,000 fans. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The 64-year-old gunman killed himself in the hotel room before authorities arrived.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, without offering evidence, but Aaron Rouse, the FBI agent in charge in Las Vegas, said investigators saw no connection to international terrorism.
Asked about a potential motive, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said he could not "get into the mind of a psychopath at this point."
Public records offered no hint of financial distress or criminal history. Eric Paddock, who spoke with reporters outside his home near Orlando, Florida, said even if his brother had been in financial trouble, the family could have bailed him out.
"No affiliation, no religion, no politics. He never cared about any of that stuff," Eric Paddock said as he alternately wept and shouted. "He was a guy who had money. He went on cruises and gambled."
Stephen Paddock, who had worked previously as an accountant and never served in the military, was "not an avid gun guy at all," though he had a couple of handguns and a long gun, he said.
Eric Paddock also told The Associated Press that he had not talked to his brother in six months and last heard from him when Stephen checked in briefly by text message after Hurricane Irma.
Their mother spoke with him about two weeks ago, and when he found out recently that she needed a walker, he sent her one, Eric Paddock said.
"She's completely in shock," he said.
Eric Paddock recalled receiving a recent text from his brother showing "a picture that he won $40,000 on a slot machine. But that's the way he played."
He described his brother as a multimillionaire and said they had business dealings and owned property together. He said he was not aware that his brother had gambling debts.
"He had substantial wealth. He'd tell me when he'd win. He'd grouse when he'd lost. He never said he'd lost four million dollars or something. I think he would have told me."
Heavily armed police searched Paddock's home Monday in Mesquite, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas near the Arizona border, looking for clues. Paddock lived there with his 62-year-old girlfriend, who authorities said was out of the country when the shooting happened. Eric Paddock described her as kindly and said she sometimes sent cookies to his mother.
Police also searched a two-bedroom home Paddock owned in a retirement community in Reno, 500 miles from Mesquite.
While Stephen Paddock appeared to have no criminal history, his father was a notorious bank robber, Eric Paddock confirmed to The Orlando Sentinel. Benjamin Hoskins Paddock tried to run down an FBI agent with his car in Las Vegas in 1960 and wound up on the agency's most wanted list after escaping from a federal prison in Texas in 1968, when Stephen Paddock was a teen.
The oldest of four children, Paddock was 7 when his father was arrested for the robberies. A neighbour , Eva Price, took him swimming while FBI agents searched the family home.
She told the Tucson Citizen at the time: "We're trying to keep Steve from knowing his father is held as a bank robber. I hardly know the family, but Steve is a nice boy. It's a terrible thing."
An FBI poster issued after the escape said Benjamin Hoskins Paddock had been "diagnosed as psychopathic" and should be considered "armed and very dangerous." He'd been serving a 20-year sentence for a string of bank robberies in Phoenix.
The elder Paddock remained on the lam for nearly a decade, living under an assumed name in Oregon. Investigators found him in 1978 after he attracted publicity for opening the state's first licensed bingo parlour . He died in 1998.
Stephen Paddock bought his one-story, three-bedroom home in a newly built Mesquite subdivision for $369,000, in 2015, property records show. Past court filings and recorded deeds in California and Texas suggest he co-owned rental property.
He previously lived in another Mesquite — the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, Texas — from 2004 to 2012, according to Mesquite, Texas, police Lt. Brian Parrish. Paddock owned at least three separate rental properties, Parrish said, and there was no indication the police department had any contact with him over that time, Parrish said.
He has been divorced at least twice, including marriages that ended in 1980 and 1990. One of the ex-wives lives in Southern California, where a large gathering of reporters congregated in her neighbourhood . Los Angeles police Sgt. Cort Bishop said she did not want to speak with journalists. He relayed that the two had not been in contact for a long time and did not have children.
According to federal aviation records, Paddock was issued a private pilot's license in November 2003. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said he obtained three-day, nonresident fishing licenses in 2009 and 2010.
In 2012, Paddock sued the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Resorts in Nevada, saying he slipped and fell on a wet floor there. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed by a judge and settled by arbitration.
Reached by telephone, Paddock's lawyer at the time, Jared R. Richards, said he could not comment because of client confidentiality concerns.
Paddock kept a vacation home in Heritage Isle, a gated retirement community in Viera, Florida, from 2013 to 2015, said Don Judy, his neighbour there. Judy said gambling, online and in person, was how Paddock claimed to make his living. One time, he said, Paddock showed Judy's wife his laptop as evidence that he had won $20,000 in an online game.
"He never gave me any indication that he was strapped for money or needing money," Judy said. "He said he was a gambler by trade, a speculator."
Judy described Paddock as "a real nice guy" who typically dressed in a polo shirt and shorts and didn't stand out among other part-time residents.
"The second time I met him, he pulled out his keys and he gave me his house key," Judy said.
When Paddock was away, Judy said, he would bring in his mail and the newspaper and walk through the house to make sure the air conditioning was working and that there wasn't any flood damage after storms.
"He would call me every so often to ask if everything was OK with the house. Just so ordinary. ... There's nothing to profile this guy by."
Johnson reported from Seattle. Associated Press writers Terrance Harris and Tamara Lush in Orlando, Florida; Jennifer Kay in Miami; Florida; David Warren in Dallas; Michael Sisak in Philadelphia; Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City; Jeff Donn in Plymouth, Massachusetts; Sadie Gurman in Washington; and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
Ken Ritter And Gene Johnson, The Associated Press

50 Killed at Las Vegas Concert in Deadliest US Shooting
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 02/17/A gunman killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 200 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas Sunday in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Police said the gunman, a 64-year-old local resident named as Stephen Paddock, had been killed after a SWAT team responded to reports of multiple gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a hotel-casino next to the concert venue. Revelers screamed and fled in panic as a steady stream of automatic gunfire rang out at the venue shortly after 10:00 pm local time (0500 GMT Monday), footage captured on smart phones showed. "We are looking at in excess of 50 individuals dead and of 200 individuals injured at this point," Las Vegas Metro Police Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told a pre-dawn press conference on Monday in the Nevada gambling hub. "Obviously this is a tragic incident and one that we have never experienced."Lombardo said that police and FBI were still looking into Paddock's background but they had "located numerous firearms within the room that he occupied" in the hotel. Police said that Paddock had opened fire on the crowds below from the 32nd floor of the giant hotel located on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Paddock's female companion, who had earlier been named as a person of interest by police, is believed to have been located, Lombardo added. Thousands of fans were attending the concert next to the Mandalay Bay which was part of a three-day country music festival known as Route 91. Donald Trump was briefed on the "horrific tragedy", the White House said, and the US president took to Twitter to offer his "warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families."- 'Like firecrackers' -Witnesses told how Paddock opened fire with an initial long burst, and then appeared to reload as he continued his spree.
"We heard (what) sounded like a glass breaking, so you looked around to see what's going on and then heard a pop, pop, pop," Monique Dekerf told CNN. "You'd think for a moment okay we're fine, there's no more gunfire, then it starts again."Her sister Rachel said it sounded like "the shots were coming from the right side ... it sounded like they were right beside us too ... it was right there." Best-selling country singer Jason Aldean was on stage and near the end of his concert when the shooting began. "We were watching the concert having a great time, then we heard what sounded like firecrackers," witness Joe Pitz told the local Las Vegas Sun news outlet. "I guess it was an automatic weapon going off but it literally sounded like firecrackers. "Then soon enough there was commotion on the Mandalay Bay side of the stage. They were motioning for medics to come and safety people to come and Jason Aldean ran off the stage. "Everybody in the vicinity went down. I don't know if they were ducking or if they were but it was chaos."- 'Beyond horrific' -Although the final toll has yet to be confirmed, it is already the deadliest shooting in the United States. The previous deadliest shooting came in June 2016 when 49 people were killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was also the latest in a series of recent deadly attacks at concert venues. Twenty-two people were killed while leaving a concert in the northern English city of Manchester in May when a suicide bomber detonated a nail bomb in the foyer. Ninety people were killed in November 2015 at the Bataclan venue in Paris during a concert by the US band the Eagles of Death Metal. A shocked Aldean told his fans via Instagram that he and his band was safe."Tonight has been beyond horrific," the singer wrote. "I still don't know what to say ... My Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved tonight. "It hurts my heart that this would happen to anyone who was just coming out to enjoy what should have been a fun night."

Deadly twin suicide attack hits Damascus police station
Reuters, DamascusMonday, 2 October 2017/Two suicide bombers attacked a police station in Damascus on Monday, killing a number of civilians and policemen, the interior minister said, in the first such attack in the Syrian capital since July. Four militants carried out the attack, killing more than 10 people, the pro-Damascus TV channel al-Mayadeen said. Russia's RIA news agency reported that 15 people were killed. Militants targeted the station in the al-Midan neighborhood and clashed with police officers there, Interior Minister Mohammad al-Shaar said in comments broadcast by state television from the police station. One attacker blew himself up at the main entrance and another detonated his explosive device on the first floor, he said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Footage broadcast by state TV showed bodies wrapped in shrouds at the scene and fire fighters putting out flames.
Previous suicide attacks in Damascus have been claimed by both ISIS and the Tahrir al-Sham militant alliance, which is led by the group formerly known as the Nusra Front.

FSA spokesman says Hamza Bin Laden’s presence in Syria doubtful
Huda al-Saleh, Al ArabiyaMonday, 2 October 2017/Recent reports on the presence of Osama Bin Laden’s son, Hamza, has proven to be inaccurate, the spokesman for the northern front of the Free Syrian Army confirmed to Al Arabiya. Earlier in the day, several British media outlets ran stories suggesting Hamza, 28, was being hunted in a “kill or capture” mission by Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit which includes UK special forces. Colonel Ahmed al-Hammadi told Al Arabiya that what was being raised on the subject at the present time was “nothing more than mere analyses and does not amount to information from facts on the ground”. The spokesman, however, did not rule out the potential role of the Iranian regime in the transfer of Hamza bin Laden, who has lived with his family for several years in Iran. “There are terrorist groups and countries that facilitate the transfer and movement of extremists to and from Syria,” he said. British tabloid Daily Mail published a report on Monday suggesting Hamza bin Laden was being hunted by SAS forces after intelligence suggested he has moved to Syria after being holed up in Pakistan for years after his father’s capture and death.

Special forces hunting Osama Bin Laden’s son in ‘kill or capture’ mission
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishMonday, 2 October 2017/Osama bin Laden‘s 28-year-old son Hamza is being hunted in a “kill or capture” mission by Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit which includes UK special forces, according to British media reports. Hamza has become active as an al-Qaeda propagandist since his father’s death at the hands of US special forces in May 2011. “A Joint Coalition Special Operations Unit, including 40 SAS soldiers, have reportedly been flown in to Syria on a covert mission to find Hamza and his gang,” The Mirrror reported. “He is now considered in the top 10 “high-value” targets being hunted by Coalition forces deployed on Operation Shader.” Hamza is expected by experts to potentially become the next al-Qaeda leader.  The United States added Hamza bin Laden to its terrorist blacklist in January.The US Treasury estimates that he was born in 1989 in the Saudi city of Jeddah. His mother was Khairiah Sabar, one of the Al-Qaeda founder’s three wives. Last year, the fifth anniversary of the death of the man who ordered the 9/11 attacks on the United States, experts began to note his son’s increasing prominence in the movement. The State Department has designated him a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”, freezing any assets he holds in areas under US jurisdiction. Experts believe Hamza is preparing to take over the leadership of al-Qaeda and exploit ISIS defeats in Syria and Iraq to unify the global militant movement under the banner of al-Qaeda. (With AFP)

Iraq Forces Launch Assault to Retake IS-Held Areas Near Hawija
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Iraqi forces on Monday launched an attack against jihadist-held areas southeast of the Islamic State group's bastion of Hawija, the operations commander said. Government forces and the Hashed al-Shaabi, an alliance mostly of Shiite militias, are fighting to retake the northern town of Hawija after expelling IS from large parts of the territory they seized in Iraq in 2014. "The Counter-Terrorism Service and Hashed al-Shaabi have started a broad operation to liberate Rashad and nearby villages as part of the second phase to liberate Hawija," Lieutenant General Abdel Amir Yarallah said. The Hashed al-Shaabi confirmed the offensive and said it had retaken five villages west of Rashad, which is 35 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Hawija. On September 21, Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition launched an offensive to retake a jihadist enclave around Hawija, swiftly taking the town of Sharqat on its second day before pushing on towards Hawija itself. On Friday, they started the battle to retake the town itself, one of the last IS bastions in the country along with a stretch of the Euphrates Valley near the border with Syria.

Iraq Allows Foreigners to Leave Kurdistan Via Baghdad
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Iraq on Monday authorised foreigners stranded in Iraqi Kurdistan after an international flight ban to leave the country via Baghdad despite not having a federal visa. Foreigners who had entered the northern autonomous region on regional visas not recognised by Baghdad could previously not travel to other parts of Iraq."Any person can leave the country via Baghdad without paying a fine or for an exit visa," Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji told journalists. Baghdad ordered the suspension of international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan from Friday in retaliation for the Kurds voting for independence earlier last week. A top ministry official said he would facilitate journalist visas, which usually take at least a month to process. Iraqi Kurds gave a resounding 92.7-percent "yes" vote for independence in last Monday's non-binding referendum, which has also sent regional tensions soaring.

Iran's Zarif to Visit Qatar amid Gulf Crisis

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will visit Qatar on Monday, officials said, for talks on relations between Tehran and Doha that have caused tensions in the Gulf. Zarif held talks with officials in Oman Monday before heading to Doha on his first visit to Qatar since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in June.
The four countries accuse Qatar of backing extremism and fostering ties with their Shiite rival Iran, charges that Doha denies.Oman, a tiny sultanate across the water from Iran, has traditionally had closer ties with Tehran than its neighbours and has maintained relations with Qatar throughout the crisis. Zarif's talks in Muscat covered "energy, the economy and transit" and the potential "transfer of Iranian gas through the Sultanate of Oman to India," according to the official Oman News Agency.
Oman and Iran in 2014 agreed to build an underwater pipeline to pump Iranian gas to the Omani port city of Sohar. Zarif is due to meet Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi told AFP talks would focus on relations in the Gulf, economic cooperation and the latest developments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Speaking in Paris last week, the Qatari foreign minister said moves by Qatar's rivals, including the cutting of trade and transport links, were actually pushing Doha into closer ties with Tehran. "They accuse Qatar of being close to Iran but with their measure... they push Qatar towards Iran. They are giving Qatar like a gift to Iran," he said.Qatar said in August it was restoring full diplomatic relations with Iran. Doha along with other Sunni Arab Gulf states had pulled its ambassador from Tehran in January 2016 following attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, spurred by Riyadh's decision to execute a Shiite cleric in the kingdom.

HRW Accuses Jordan of 'Summarily Deporting' Syrian Refugees
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Jordan of "summarily deporting" Syrian refugees despite possible risks of harm to them in their war-torn country. Jordan hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled a six-year war in their home country.
"Jordanian authorities have been summarily deporting Syrian refugees –- including collective expulsions of large families," HRW said. A new report quoted a 30-year-old mother of three who said her family was deported despite the United States examining their request for resettlement. "They never gave us a reason," she said. During the first five months of 2017, Jordanian authorities deported about 400 registered Syrian refugees each month, HRW said. Some 300 registered refugees appeared to return voluntarily each month, and another 500 returned "under circumstances that are unclear". "Jordan shouldn't be sending people back to Syria without making sure they wouldn't face a real risk of torture or serious harm and unless they have had a fair opportunity to plead their case for protection," said Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at HRW. The rights group called on other countries to support Jordan "to enable it to provide safe and decent asylum space for Syrian refugees and asylum seekers". The United Nations says Jordan is hosting more than 650,000 Syrian refugees, while the kingdom puts the actual number at 1.3 million. Government spokesman Mohamed Momani rejected HRW's findings, saying "the return of refugees is voluntary and not to any dangerous areas". He also said international organisations should do more to pressure other countries to host more refugees. HRW said group and individual expulsions peaked in mid-2016 and in early 2017 after armed attacks on the Syrian border and in the town of Karak. "Those suspected of posing threats should be given a fair opportunity to challenge the evidence against them and to have the authorities consider the risk of torture and other severe human rights abuse if returned," Frelick said. In June last year, a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group killed seven soldiers in a no-man's land near the Syrian border. In December 2016, another IS attack in Karak, home to one of the region's biggest Crusader castles, killed seven policemen, two Jordanian civilians and a female Canadian tourist. Jordan is part of the US-led international coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq. It also hosts coalition troops on its territory.

Norway Agrees to Host Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Norway has agreed to host former Israeli nuclear technician and whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, his Norwegian wife has told local television. "We made a request for family reunification as that's exactly the case here, for spouses and a family to be able to live together," Kristin Joachimsen told TV2 late Saturday. "So even if I know the affair is controversial in some circles, it's the family values that won over," she said. But she said she did not know when her 62-year-old husband could join her in Norway. Karl Erik Sjoholt, an official with Norway's immigration agency, confirmed the request had been approved. "The ministry sent us the request last week and we reviewed it in the usual manner. We approved the request for family reunification," he told TV2. Israel jailed Vanunu in 1986 for disclosing the inner workings of its Dimona nuclear plant to Britain's Sunday Times newspaper. He spent more than 10 years of his sentence in solitary confinement. Upon his release in 2004, Vanunu was slapped with a series of restraining orders, forbidding him from travel, contact with foreigners or speaking to the media. He has twice been jailed for breaking those orders. The couple's Norwegian lawyer, Arild Humlen, said the immigration agency's decision had increased the likelihood of Vanunu leaving Israel to settle in Norway. "I hope it will resolve a blocked situation and that Israel will seize this opportunity," he told TV2. Vanunu converted from Judaism to Christianity shortly before being snatched by Mossad agents in Rome in 1986 and smuggled to Israel. On Sunday, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry could not say if Vanunu had made a new request to travel to Norway.
But he said restrictions on the whistleblower's freedom of movement were "due to the danger that he posed" to the Jewish state. In a statement, the foreign ministry said: "Israel will continue to review updates of the situation in order to determine appropriate restrictions in accordance with security dangers posed by Vanunu." Israel is the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power, refusing to confirm or deny that it has such weapons. Israel has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to allow international surveillance of its Dimona plant in the Negev desert in southern Israel.

More Than Two Million New Refugees this Year, Says UN
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Conflicts, violence and persecution in Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and elsewhere have forced more than two million people to flee as refugees this year, the UN refugee chief said Monday. At the end of 2016, a record 65.6 million people had been uprooted from their homes worldwide, with 22.5 million of them registered as refugees. "The despair of millions of men, women and children driven from their homes, cast adrift into a life of uncertainty, is a stain on our collective conscience," Filippo Grandi told UNHCR's annual Executive Committee meeting in Geneva.
Calling for more international cooperation and support to address the crisis, he pointed to the dire needs of the more than half a million Rohingya Muslims who crossed into Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 25.  During the same period, 50,000 refugees had flooded out of South Sudan and another 18,000 had fled clashes in the Central African Republic, he said. War-ravaged Syria continues to account for the world's largest number of forcibly displaced people, with civilians there still bearing the brunt of clashes. Grandi warned that refugee rights and protection were eroding worldwide, including in Europe and the United States, "driven by confused, sometimes frightened public opinions often stirred up by irresponsible politicians.""Border closures,... restrictive asylum procedures, indefinite detention in appalling conditions, offshore processing, pressure for premature returns all have regrettably proliferated," he said.
He said resettlement was vital to addressing the growing refugee problem and decried that countries were dragging their feet. "Close to 1.2 million refugees need resettling globally," he said, voicing "major concern that fewer than 100,000 resettlement places are expected to be available this year, a drop of 43 percent from 2016." Grandi also warned that his organisation was facing a dramatic funding shortage and was increasingly being "faced with impossible choices", which in some cases was leaving refugees without protection and host communities without support.In 2016, UNHCR had $4.4 billion available funds, but still ended the year with a 41-percent shortfall. And this year, the agency expects to receive less, with $4.2 billion available, leaving nearly half of the needs unmet, Grandi warned.

Madrid Vows to Stop Catalan Independence Declaration
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Spain will do "everything within the law" to prevent Catalonia from declaring independence, Justice Minister Rafael Catala said Monday, a day after Catalonia's regional government declared victory in a banned secession referendum. "If anyone plans to declare the independence of part of the territory of Spain, as he can't since he does not have the power to do so, we would have to do everything within the law to impede this," he said in an interview with Spanish public television. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont declared late on Sunday that Catalonia had won the right to break away from Spain after 90 percent of voters taking part in the referendum voted for independence, defying a sometimes violent police crackdown and fierce opposition from Madrid. He said he would now present the results to the region's parliament, which then had the power to adopt a motion of independence. Pro-separatist lawmakers have a narrow majority of 72 seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament. Asked if the central government would use Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which would allow it to practically suspend the autonomous powers of the northeastern region, Catala said: "That is a tool that is there.""We have always said that we will use all the force of the law, all the mechanisms that the constitution and the laws grant the government," he added. "We are not here to divide Spaniards, we are here to serve the general interest, therefore if we have to use certain measures that worry us and may hurt, we will do it. It is important to guarantee that Spain has rule of law, that laws are fulfilled," he said.

Catalan Leader Says Region Has 'Won the Right' to Secede from Spain
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Catalonia's leader Carles Puigdemont said the region had won the right to break away from Spain after 90 percent of voters taking part in a banned referendum voted for independence, defying a sometimes violent police crackdown and fierce opposition from Madrid. His declaration appeared to set the restive region on course for a deeper split with the Spanish government, after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated his government's position that the vote was an illegal act, to which the state had reacted "with firmness and serenity". Any attempt to unilaterally declare independence is almost certain to be opposed not just by Madrid but also by a large section of the Catalan population which is deeply split on the issue.  The regional government said 2.26 million people actually took part in Sunday's referendum, or 42.3 percent of the electorate. A jubilant Puigdemont said his people had "won the right to an independent state" and urged the European Union to stop looking "the other way". Puigdemont has said that in the event of a "yes" victory he would declare independence for Catalonia, which accounts for 19 percent of Spain's economic output. At least 92 people were confirmed injured out of a total of 844 who needed medical attention, Catalan authorities said. Further adding to tensions, unions and Catalan associations called a region-wide strike for Tuesday due to "the grave violation of rights and freedoms," urging people to take to the streets.
Helmeted police armed with batons moved in en masse early Sunday to seal off polling stations and seize ballot boxes, sparking clashes. Videos posted on social media showed police dragging voters from polling stations by their hair, throwing people down stairs and attacking Catalan firefighters protecting polling stations. The interior ministry said 33 police required treatment. Rajoy declared the plebiscite had been blocked, and called the vote a process that "only served to sow division, push citizens to confrontation and the streets to revolt", but left the door potentially open to negotiations on greater autonomy for the region. The referendum was organised under the threat of reprisals and criminal charges but thousands of Catalans stood in defiance of the central government crying "Votarem" -- "We will vote".Puigdemont said in an address after polls closed: "With this day of hope and suffering, the citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state in the form of a republic." - Camped inside overnight -The referendum law foresees a declaration of independence soon after a "yes" vote but it remains unclear if the regional government will actually do so.
Even before the vote, judicial officials ordered police to seize ballot papers, detain key organisers and shut down websites promoting the referendum after Madrid and the courts deemed it unconstitutional. Thousands of people had gathered outside polling stations before dawn, joining those who had spent the night camped inside to ensure they would be open on the day. In central Barcelona, riot police charged at demonstrators who were sitting on the ground at a polling station, and fired rubber bullets, witnesses said. - 'Unjustified violence' - Riot police also stormed a polling station near Girona, smashing the glass doors of the sports centre where Puigdemont was due to vote and cutting a chain to force their way in. But Puigdemont managed to vote anyway in nearby Cornella del Terri. The crackdown drew a sharp rebuke from Catalan leaders and others including Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party. The trouble caused Barcelona football club to play its La Liga tie against Las Palmas behind closed doors after the Spanish league refused to postpone the match. But in several areas, voting was peaceful. Under a sea of umbrellas outside a school in Barcelona, a crowd gathered, among them elderly people in wheelchairs, families with baby carriages and parents clutching toddlers by the hand. With no police in sight, they were able to cast their ballots, prompting scenes of jubilation. "That's the great hope, to be able to vote freely like this despite the problems we've faced, I'm very happy. I can die peacefully," said Jose Mas Ribas, 79. Although Catalans are divided over independence, most want to vote on the matter in a legal and binding plebiscite. Catalonia already has significant control over education, healthcare and welfare, but the region says it pays more in taxes than it receives from Madrid.

Saudi King Salman to Visit Russia on Thursday, Kremlin Says

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/King Salman of Saudi Arabia will visit Russia on Thursday, senior Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying. "We are awaiting the king's visit on Thursday," Ushakov said Monday, without elaborating. The visit comes a month before members of the OPEC oil cartel, of which Saudi Arabia is the biggest producer, are due to meet with the other nations that have joined them in cutting crude output, including Russia, to discuss extending the pact that has helped prop up prices. OPEC and its allies agreed from the beginning of 2017 to cut their production by around 1.8 million barrels per day for six months. It was subsequently extended through March 2018. The pact has helped reduce the glut of crude supplies on the market and the price to climb to around $55 per barrel currently. Saudi Arabia and Russia are heavily dependent on oil exports and the plunge of the price of crude that began in 2014 lashed both of their economies. While Russia and Saudi Arabia are now allies on the global oil market, they are on the opposite sides in the Syria conflict. Moscow supports the regime of President Bashar al-Assad while Riyadh supports the opposition. At least 3,000 people including 955 civilians were killed in September, the deadliest month of the conflict this year, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said on Sunday.

Saudi Court Clears Binladin Group in Deadly Crane Crash
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/A Saudi Arabian court has cleared the Binladin Group of responsibility for the 2015 collapse of a crane in Mecca which killed 100 people, the Saudi press reported on Monday. The Saudi-based Binladin construction firm belongs to the family of the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. At least 107 people were killed and some 400 injured on September 11, 2015, when the crane toppled over near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site, just days before the annual hajj pilgrimage.  The Binladin Group's defence team claimed the group could not have predicted the severe thunderstorm and violent winds that caused the crane to fall, according to the Arabic-language Asharq al-Awsat daily. The verdict can still be appealed. The Binladin Group was hit by a string of Saudi-issued sanctions after the crash.  The construction firm had been working for years on a multi-billion-dollar 400,000-square-metre (4.3-million-square-feet) enlargement of the Grand Mosque to accommodate the increasing numbers of Muslim pilgrims to the site.

Palestinian PM Arrives in Gaza, First Visit Since 2015
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 02/17/Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in Gaza Monday for his first visit in two years, as rival factions seek to overcome a decade of crippling divisions, an AFP reporter said. Hamdallah, along with dozens of ministers and officials from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, began crossing the border into the coastal enclave around noon, ahead of meetings with leaders of rival faction Hamas. The event is meant to be the first significant step in a transfer of powers from Islamist movement Hamas to the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas has ruled Gaza since ousting the Palestinian Authority in 2007, but recently agreed to dissolve what has been seen as its rival administration and make way for a unity government. Hamas politicians and members of the premier's Fatah faction were due to greet Hamdallah on the other side of the crossing, as some 2,000 people gathered ahead of an expected speech. He is expected to meet Hamas overall leader Ismail Haniya and the group's Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar on Monday afternoon, and chair a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Palestinian Authority is the internationally recognised Palestinian government and supposed to steer its people to an independent Palestinian state. Hamas, blacklisted as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, won a landslide victory in 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections. Multiple previous attempts at reconciliation have failed.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 02-03/17
This is the happiest day of my life, Kurdish president says after referendum/البرزاني: يوم الإستفتاء هو اسعد أيام حياتي

Ynetnews/Bernard-Henri Lévy/October 02/17
Massoud Barzani fought for his people’s independence for nearly 50 years. ‘Now I can die,’ he tells French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy the morning after the historic vote. Feeling closer than ever to fulfilling his dream, he is determined to do so despite the warnings issued by Iraq, Iran and Turkey. ‘We’ve been tortured, gunned down, displaced. Nothing could be harsher than what we’ve already endured.’
Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish president and commander of the Peshmerga, begins our interview with an anecdote. “Someone told me that one of your statesmen said on the evening following France’s victory over Germany in 1918, ‘Now I can die.’ That’s how I feel this morning.”
The advisers surrounding Barzani Tuesday morning in the Salahaddin presidential palace north of Erbil hasten to observe that the outcome of the referendum is just the beginning of the battle and that, at age 71, the president is much too important to his people to entertain such thoughts. But he is not deterred.
“I’ve been fighting for half a century. With my people I have been through mass killings, deportations, gassings. I remember times when we thought we were done for, headed for extermination. I remember times, as in 1991 after the first war against Saddam, when the democracies came to our rescue but left the dictatorship in place, thus casting us back into the shadows. During those decades of resistance, of hopes dashed and reborn, I never imagined that in my lifetime I would see the day when, at the end of an exemplary electoral process unmarred by any major incident or petty political dispute, my people would finally be able to come together and express to the world their desire to be democratic and free. That day came; and it is the happiest day of my life. It’s as if everything I’ve done and dreamed of, all of the struggles that we went through together, converged at that moment.”
Listening to him, I can’t help but think of all the small men who, right up to the last minute, speculated from their desks in embassies and foreign offices that Barzani would agree to a delay. I think of the deal that U.S. Sec. of State Rex Tillerson offered him five days before the vote. I had access to the draft. In a way, it was a good deal, which, in exchange for postponing Barzani’s dream, would have brought him much praise, massive amounts of financial assistance, and an American guarantee. But it didn’t take into account the invincible pride of the old lion of Kurdistan. The deal showed no understanding of the core idea that haunts him, an idea that gives meaning, not only to his own life, but to his people’s destiny. As if reading my thoughts, he continues:
“You have to understand. My preoccupation for weeks, as I have been pressed from all sides to back away from the referendum, was to be able, when my time comes, to look the people who elected me directly in the eye. And I’m not talking only of the living, but also of those who gave their lives to defend the Kurdish cause. At my last public meeting, this past Thursday, at Hariri Stadium in Erbil, I had only one obsession: not to be embarrassed to stand before them.”
‘We've committed no crime’
I jump in again, thinking about those who suspected Barzani of organizing the referendum so as to extend his time in office. I remind him of one of the last times we saw each other. It was on the front lines the evening before his offensive against the Islamic State in Sinjar. On that occasion, this pro-western, pro-American, pro-Israel liberal told me that his model was North Vietnamese General Giáp. Hadn’t there come a time when Giáp had to turn himself in to Ho Chi Minh, I asked, a time when the strategist had to become the builder of an emerging nation—just the sort of nation that Kurdistan had become on Tuesday?
“No,” he insisted, verging on impatience. “The first thing I did last night after the last polling station closed in the remotest village in the Barzan mountains was to collect my thoughts on the grave of Mustafa Barzani, my father and the father of the Kurdish nation. Don’t forget what I told you on the battlefield in Sinjar. All of my life I have been a member of the Peshmerga, just as he was. And being part of the Peshmerga always seemed to me greater than being president. I have not changed my mind. So, taking the time to explain to our neighbors the significance of our peaceful referendum—yes, fine. But Ho Chi Minh, no. Honestly, no. The Kurdish nation needs a generation of young leaders.”
His look hardened when he mentioned the “neighbors”—Turkey, Iran, and Iraq—whose warnings and saber-rattling have increased and proliferated in the hours since the vote.
“We have committed no crime. We have violated neither Iraqi federal law nor the charter of the United Nations. And I repeatedly emphasized, right up to the day of the vote, that this was not about proclaiming a hasty or unilateral independence but rather about opening a frank negotiation with Baghdad that will take as long as it takes. So it’s not hard to understand why, when our neighbors respond as they have, when they react to our vote with threats and blackmail, we can only conclude that we were right to be wary and, after so many centuries of betrayal, to consider taking our future into our own hands.”
I worry out loud about the seriousness of those threats, drawing his attention to the tragic geography that landlocks his country, which is both old and young. I mention Bosnia under the Serbian blockade. The assault on Israel immediately following its founding. Another Massoud, the Afghan rebel leader, besieged in Panjshir.
“All in good time.”
Fala Mustafa, Barzani’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is acting as an improvised translator and has a knack, as many Kurdish leaders do, for speaking American with an Oxford accent, puts it another way: “Don’t meet trouble half way.”
‘We paid a heavy price’
Throughout this conversation, I sense Barzani’s determination to counter with unshakeable calm the feverishness of the Baghdad–Ankara–Tehran trio, who don’t let a day go by without announcing a new reprisal.
“All in good time, like I say. The ramping up has just begun. And I hope with all my heart that they won’t carry it through. But if they do …”
Barzani seems to be weighing his words.
“If they do—if they were really to try to smother us, to close our airports or cut our trade links, then I’ll tell you: We’ve seen others like them. We’ve been tortured, gunned down, displaced. Years ago in the mountains and just weeks ago on the thousand-kilometer front that we almost single-handedly held against the Islamic State, we paid a high price—very high—for our love of freedom. So, believe me, no hostile measure, no collective punishment, could be harsher than what we’ve already endured. And another thing…”
He turned toward his companions as if he were reviewing them.
“Burned into the memory of every one of us is first-hand knowledge of the worst that man can do to man. We are all well aware of that. And that time is over. Never again we will allow ourselves to be treated thus. No longer will anyone attack our dignity with impunity. And as for the international community …”
This time he’s looking at me, a look of defiance in his eye.
“Suppose our neighbors follow through with their unreasonable plans. Will the international community stand by and watch us be strangled? Will they just take in the show, as they did when we were gassed? Remember the Fazlya incident last year, at the outset of the battle of Mosul. You were there, weren’t you?
Yes, indeed, I was there with my film crew. A Peshmerga unit was ambushed. Several hours of fierce combat ensued. Despite repeated appeals by the commander of the column and in violation of the Coalition’s rules of engagement, no air support was provided. That night, in his bivouac in the Zartik mountains, the president seethed with rage.
“The Coalition had made a promise, but that day it did not keep its promise. At the time, the Peshmerga was on everyone’s lips. The courage of the Peshmerga. The sacrifice of the Peshmerga. But when the time came to support the Peshmerga, there was no one to be seen. To this day, I have not received an explanation.” Recalling that incident seems to have brought back the wrath he felt at the time. But he quickly recovers his equanimity.
“I cannot say this often enough: We seek negotiation and dialogue. We are ready to repeat, over and over, that the independence we seek is for the Kurds of Iraq; we have no intention of getting involved in the affairs of neighboring countries. I emphasized this to President Macron when he called me last week upon his return from New York. He was amicable. He understood.”
And now I know that Emmanuel Macron has offered France’s services as a mediator. I also know that the president told Massoud Barzani that he was prepared to invite him to Paris without delay to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi. Barzani’s face brightened.
“I have confidence in President Macron and his leadership. Our countries have a special relationship, you know. Tell your president that all Kurds feel to a degree like children of a great Frenchwoman, Danielle Mitterrand. I am honored to accept his invitation. I can be there as early as tomorrow. I hope that the same is true of Mr. Abadi.”
**Translated from French by Steven B. Kennedy.

Afghan children as young as 14 recruited by Iran to fight in Syria, says HRW
إيران تجند اطفال افغان من عمر 14 سنة للمشاركة في الحرب السورية

MEE/October 01/17
Human Rights Watch calls on Iran to halt practice 'immediately' and to protect all children
Afghan children as young as 14 are being recruited to fight in the war in Syria by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
The rights group says that the IRGC has recruited Afghan immigrant children living in Iran to fight inside Syria.
Many of the children who were recruited had fought in the Fatemiyoun division, an exclusively Afghan armed group supported by Iran that fights alongside Syrian government forces in Syria's civil war.
The report comes as Syrian government and Russian warplanes pound rebel-held territory inside Idlib, in northwest Syria.
Researchers from HRW said that eight children had been recruited to fight in the civil war after the organisation reviewed photographs of tombstones in Iranian cemeteries where authorities had buried combatants killed in Syria.
Iranian media reports had corroborated some of these cases and reported at least six more instances of Afghan children who died in Syria.
For two of the reported cases, researchers reviewed photographs of tombstones that indicated the individual was under the age of 18.
Family members of these deceased fighters told Iranian media that they were children who had misrepresented their age to join the Fatemiyoun division.
Earlier this year, Afghan fighters had told HRW that they saw children in training camps for Afghan forces that were being deployed to Syria.
In August, Ali, a 29-year-old Afghan, told HRW that he talked to 16- and 17-year-old child soldiers who were being trained to fight in Syria.
He told HRW that he joined the Fatemiyoun division after a recruiter approached him while he was trying to renew his residency permit at the Bureau for Aliens and Foreign Immigrants Affairs (BAFIA) office in a city outside Tehran. The Afghan said that the recruiter told him he could get his residency permit if he joined up.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, called on Iran to protect all children and for the Iranian authorities to "immediately" stop this practice.
"Iran should immediately end the recruitment of child soldiers and bring back any Afghan children it has sent to fight in Syria," said Whitson.
"Rather than preying on vulnerable immigrant and refugee children, the Iranian authorities should protect all children and hold those responsible for recruiting Afghan children to account."
In 2015, the Iranian interior ministry estimated that there were 2.5 million Afghans in Iran, many of them without residency papers.
HRW had previously documented cases of Afghan refugees in Iran who "volunteered" to fight in Syria in the hope of gaining legal status for their families.
While Iran officially claims that all Afghans living in Iran who join the Fatemiyoun division are volunteers, the vulnerable legal position of many Afghan children living in Iran and their fear of being deported to Afghanistan may contribute to their decision to join up.
Since 2013, Iran has supported and trained thousands of Afghans, at least some of them undocumented immigrants, as part of the Fatemiyoun division, a group that an Iranian newspaper close to the government describes as volunteer Afghan forces, to fight in Syria.

Islam and Feminism
Maryam Assaf/Gatestone Institute/October 02/17
By claiming that Islam is "feminist," these self-appointed advocates seem to be trying to convince others that Islam is keeping up with modernity, human rights, and democratic values. This, sadly is a lie, and one that unfortunately seems told to facilitate the assimilation of Islam into Western countries and to improve its image.
Furthermore, both men and women from their earliest age are indoctrinated by a male-dominated society to think that staying subjugated is part of a woman's fulfillment of her duty toward both her husband and her religion.
Many women like the idea of being supported by a husband and not having to find an outside job. Nowadays, a large number of young women do not even finish their studies, but instead stay home to wait for their "prince charming" to get married. That they would apparently prefer to be their husband's "slave" and "concubine" to working to support themselves is probably often the main reason they reject Western values such as feminism and gender equality.
Lately, western Muslim "feminists" such as Linda Sarsour or Yasmin Abdel-Magied claim that Islam is a "feminist religion" that respects women's rights. "Islam to me," says Abdel-Magied, a Sudanese-Australian author, "is the most feminist religion".
By claiming that Islam is "feminist," these self-appointed advocates seem to be trying to convince others that Islam is keeping up with modernity, human rights, and democratic values. This, sadly is a lie, and one that unfortunately seems told to facilitate the assimilation of Islam into Western countries and to improve its image.
The religion of Islam is supported by Sharia, a set of religious laws that organize the lives of all Muslims. Sharia -- originally, in Arabic, "The Path," but in modern times meaning Allah's laws and recommendations -- is based on the Quran and the hadiths, which are sayings and deeds of the prophet Muhammad, regarded by many Muslims as the perfect man.
Under Sharia, however, Muslim women enjoy fewer rights than men. In inheritance for instance, "The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females"(Quran 4:11). This law is applied even in countries such as Tunisia or Algeria, in which the legal system is not based on Sharia. As a result, Muslim women habitually inherit far less money than men, an injustice that virtually forces them, economically, to stay submissive to men. It is also a situation that has built into it the reason this law is never repealed by any parliament.
Another "tradition" perpetuated by Sharia is polygamy: allowing Muslim men to have up to four wives:
"And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan-girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four..." Quran (4:3).
Countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, under the pretext of "practicing Sharia," have thereby legalized -- and thereby even further cemented -- the submission of women.
In addition, both men and women from their earliest age, are indoctrinated by a male-dominated society to think that staying subjugated is part of a woman's fulfillment of her duty toward both her husband and her religion.
Women in Islam are often regarded as men's possessions -- here to satisfy and please them whenever their men wish:
"Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves." (Quran 2:223).
The concept of women as objects of desire has often led to complicated outcomes:
"Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire -- of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return." (Quran 3:14).
From it, "Jihad al-Nikah", sexual Jihad, has arisen. "Nikah", in Arabic, actually has multiple meanings, which include temporary marriage as well as offering oneself as a "comfort" to Muslim fighters on the battlefield. Young women recruited by ISIS for "Jihad al-Nikah" are basically "sex toys," concubines, pleasuring terrorists for a few hours.
Another setback is that Muslim women are actually ordered to be obedient toward their husbands, who are considered superior to them: "But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority"]" (Quran 2:228).
Sahih al-Bukhari Book 48 Hadith 826 states that:
"Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
"The Prophet said, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind."
Moreover: "Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: "Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."
If women try to rebel, they are permitted to be abused by men both physically and psychologically:
"Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them." (Quran 4:34)
These are just some of the ways women are led to remain, obedient and resigned, under men's control. Many Muslim men treat their women as if they were servants, concubines and sometimes even objects, but, not as if they were human beings with rights.
Women are also sometimes just demonized -- used as a metaphor for undesirable situations: "Indeed, those who do not believe in the Hereafter name the angels female names" (Quran 53:27).
Women are often perceived by many Muslim men as perfidious creatures who use cunning and trickery to compensate for their physical weakness. The men seemingly take no responsibility for their actions.
Although is not explicitly stated, Muslim men, in this way, seem to blame women for their sexual needs, as they force them to wear the hijab and niqab, so they will not seduce them with their bodies or provoke their desire.
Although is not explicitly stated, many Muslim men seem to blame women for their sexual needs, as they force them to wear the hijab and niqab, so they will not seduce them with their bodies or provoke their desire.
Paradoxically, a study was led by Gallup and the "Coexistence[1]" foundation, in twelve Muslim countries[2], to see how to improve relationships with Western countries and fight against received ideas. The study showed that, contrary to what the Western world thinks, most Muslim women living under Sharia law apparently do not feel oppressed.
They are told that Western females' emancipation and gender equality mean denying fundamental values, such as family and the dignity of females. Many Muslim women therefore feel superior to Western women because what Westerns consider "oppression", is for these Muslim women, a protection against deviating from "the right path." These women believe that they are regarded as valorous and valued more greatly by the men who oppress them. Many have even been convinced that their forced seclusion is for their own good. Staying on "the right path," nevertheless, means staying subjugated to males and their authority. Sadly, staying subjugated means moral decay.
Recently, when Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi announced his intention to establish equality in Tunisian women's inheritance, and abolish the law that prohibits them from marrying non-Muslim men, these decisions created a huge national uproar. They were strongly opposed, especially by women, who said they wanted to follow Allah's orders to the letter.
The passage of these laws raised the question if those countries, such as Tunisia, want to be governed by civil or religious law.
On July 28, Tunisia actually passed a law protecting women against rape and domestic violence -- but the ruling "does not set out provisions" to provide funds in a timely way for women's shelters or assistance.
Many Muslim women consider following Western principles and values, which contravene Islamic values, immoral. Western values such as gender equality, women's emancipation, and secularism often are in direct violation of Islam's values, in which males are considered superior to females, and dictate that Islam should exist as the only religion. Women often therefore prefer to stay with the known, the principles of Islam.
Another important reason Muslims women accept remaining subjugated to males is that according to Sharia, it is males who should go out to work and earn a living, while, women must stay at home to take care of their families and do the household chores. Many women apparently like the idea of being supported by a husband and not having to find an outside job. Nowadays, a large number of young women do not even finish their studies, but instead stay home to wait for their "prince charming" to get married. They would apparently prefer to be their husband's "slave" and "concubine" to working to support themselves is probably often the main reason they reject Western values such as feminism and gender equality.
In Muslim male-dominated societies, which consider that husbands actually "complete" women, some males even take advantage of the needy situation of single women, to abuse them. That is a significant reason why some women do not seek divorce and stay in unwanted relationships -- because their husbands represent social protection for them.
Thus, Sharia laws educate Muslim women not only to be resigned, but even to accept injustice and to consider it normal -- if not valuable. They are thereby making a significant contribution, alongside with men and religion, to locking themselves in a lifelong imprisonment.
Women's oppression has a long history, doubtless long before the advent of modern religions. As men are physically stronger, women have needed them for protection. Males may have used their power to abuse women, who then accepted their supposed inferiority to men. Progressively, an entire male-dominated culture was established, making it even easier for men to dominate women even more. Inequality in opportunities and access to education for men only boosted this dominant relationship by making males more capable of economic independence. This way, women became financially dependent on men who hold the fate of their women in their hands. This arrangement, reinforced by religion, made sexism look innocent by putting it in a religious framework.
In conclusion: please note that these thoughts are not a criticism of Islam. I do not strive against Islam or any other religion. I am a believing Muslim, but a bit curious and always asking questions.
**Maryam Assaf is a young Muslim woman based in the Middle East.
[1] The Saudi engineer "Mohamed Abdellatif" has founded " Coexistence" as a charity foundation to promote understanding between Abrahamic religions, through dialogue, learning, studies and researches.
[2] Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Big Middle East Lie
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/October 02/17
Jamal wanted to murder Jews because he believed this was a noble deed that would earn him the status of shaheed (martyr) and hero among his family, friends and society. In Palestinian culture in particular, and Arab culture in general, murderers of Jews are glorified on a daily basis.
The Trump administration and Jason Greenblatt seem to have bought the lie that "It's about money, stupid."
No. The conflict is about Israel's existence in the Middle East. It's about the abiding interest in the Arab and Islamic world to destroy Israel and murder Jews.
Nimer Mahmoud Jamal, the 37-year-old Palestinian terrorist who on September 25 murdered three Israelis at the entrance to Har Adar near Jerusalem, had a permit from the Israeli authorities to work in Israel.
His family and friends say he also had a good life and was considered lucky to have been employed by Jews because he received a higher salary and was protected by Israeli labor laws. The night before Jamal set out in his murderous mission, he spent a few hours at the fitness gym in his village, located only a few miles away from Har Adar.
So, Jamal, the murderer of the three Israelis (two of the victims were Arab Israelis), was not poor. He was not unemployed. In fact, according his friends, Jamal earned much more than what a senior police officer or school teacher working for the Palestinian Authority or Hamas brings home every month.
What was it, then, that drove Jamal to his murderous scheme, gunning down three young men who were supposed to be facilitating his entry into Israel? Was it because he could not provide for his children? No. Was it because his landlord was pressuring him about the rent? No: Jamal lived in a nice place of his own, complete with furniture, appliances and bedrooms that any family in the West would be proud to own.
Left: Nimer Mahmoud Jamal. Right: Har Adar. (Images source: Social media, Josh Evnin/Wikimedia Commons)
Jamal wanted to murder Jews because he believed this was a noble deed that would earn him the status of shaheed (martyr) and hero among his family, friends and society. In Palestinian culture in particular, and Arab culture in general, murderers of Jews are glorified on a daily basis.
They are touted as the lucky ones who are now in the company of Prophet Mohammed and the angels in Paradise. Male terrorists are also busy with the 72 virgins they were awarded as a prize for murdering Jews. The murderers -- as Muslim clerics and leaders hammer into the heads of Palestinians -- are also given access to rivers of honey and fine drinks once they set foot in their imaginary Paradise.
Jamal's friends and family are now convinced that he has been rewarded by Allah and Prophet Mohammed in Paradise for murdering three Israelis. They do not care about his children, whom he left behind, and certainly not about the families of the three Israelis he murdered.
In his village and on social media, Jamal is being hailed as a hero and martyr. Not a single Palestinian has come out against the cowardly terror attack by a man who took advantage of a permit from the Israeli authorities to commit a terror attack.
The Jewish families that once employed Jamal as a cleaner had trusted him. They had opened their homes and hearts, as well as their wallets, to him. The Israeli authorities wanted to trust him and see him as a normal person who just wanted a job with a decent income to support his family.
But Jamal, like many other Palestinians, betrayed the trust the Jews gave him. He chose to stab in the back the same people who had gone out of their way to help him.
Sadly, this terrorist also betrayed the cause of thousands of Palestinian workers who enter Israel for work every day. These workers stand to lose the most from Jamal's terror attack and treachery.
Luckily for them, the Israeli authorities are saying that the Har Adar murder will not affect Israel's policy of granting permits to Palestinians to work inside Israel, because the vast majority are not involved in violence.
The Har Adar murders ought to teach us at least one thing: that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about the economy or improving the living conditions of the Palestinians. Jamal, who had a job and freedom of movement and a lovely apartment, surely proves this point, as do the murders or attempted murders by other well-to-do terrorists such as Mohammad Atta, Osama bin Laden, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and many others.
Jamal's bloody lesson, however, apparently still needs to be learned by the West, which, despite all evidence, doggedly persists in drawing an unbroken line between Palestinian terrorism and poverty.
Jamal, however, is far from the first terrorist to convey this crucial lesson: most Palestinian terrorists over the past decades were educated and had jobs.
Some Palestinian suicide bombers were nurses, schoolteachers and lawyers. Some came from middle class and even wealthy families and clans. Money and education, however, did not stop them from committing atrocities against Israelis.
Terrorists like Jamal are motivated by deep hatred for Jews and Israel. They have been indoctrinated and brainwashed by their leaders and Muslim religious clerics into believing that Jews are evil and need to be eliminated by all available means.
Not a single terrorist has complained of carrying out an attack because he or she were starving, had no food for the children and were unable to buy ice cream from the local grocery store. The terrorists, in fact, spell it out as it is: they openly announce that they are motivated by their indoctrinated hatred for Israel and Jews. This is what the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic propaganda machine has done to generations of Arabs and Muslims. Officials and people in the West may deny what they hear as hard as they like; but the terrorists could not be more are honest about what their murderous motives are.
What, then, about those on the West who continue to talk about the conflict as if it were about creating new jobs and paving roads and improving infrastructure for the Palestinians? This seems to be the approach endorsed in the U.S. by Donald Trump's administration.
There is nothing wrong, of course, with boosting the economy and creating job opportunities. This might have a moderating effect on a few Palestinians. They will be happy to see a better economy and a drop in the unemployment rate.
Such measures, however, will never change the hearts and minds of Palestinians. Palestinians will never recognize Israel's right to exist because Americans and Europeans built them an industrial park somewhere in the West Bank.
Over the past 25 years, the Palestinians have received billions of dollars in aid from the international community. When they headed to the ballot boxes, they voted for Hamas because it told them it will destroy Israel. Palestinians are most likely to vote for Hamas once again if free and democratic elections were held tomorrow in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
We might remember this as Trump's Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, returns to our region to discuss ways of reviving the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The Trump administration and Jason Greenblatt seem to have bought the lie that "It's about money, stupid."
No. The conflict is about an unbendable refusal to allow a Jewish Israel to exist in the Middle East. It is about the abiding interest in the Arab and Islamic world to obliterate Israel and murder Jews. It is about the ongoing, bloody Arab and Islamic incitement against Israel and Jews. Jobs are not the problem, and they are not the solution. Let us pay attention to reality for a change: Jamal and his fellow terrorists can teach us something -- if only we would listen.
*Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute

Palestine and Israel: Why the two-state solution looks dead
Meron Rapoport/MEE/Monday 2 October 2017
One thing unites an Israeli right-wing coalition partner, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: the realisation that the two-state solution has been superseded by the reality of one state
Question: What do Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Bezalel Smotritz, the most nationalist member of the ultra-right faction in the already nationalist Jewish Home party, have in common?
Answer: They have never met - and probably never will. But between them they have managed, during the past few weeks, to shake the already crumbling belief that the two-state solution is a viable way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas did so in his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York; for Smutritz, it was through the political programme adopted by his National Unity faction.
From 1967 onwards, the political "division of labour" – as it is perhaps best termed - in Israel meant that the left or centre-left was supposed to propose or promote initiatives to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Meanwhile the role of the right was to fail them by building more settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The right's efforts are not the sole reasons for the failure of these so-called peace initiatives, which were all based on some sort of Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories, along with autonomy or independence for their Palestinian residents. But they certainly helped to bring about their failure.
The failure of two-state solution
Therefore, for many years the Israeli right has not felt compelled to offer any vision for Israeli rule over the territories it occupied in 1967 beyond the very vague idea of a Greater Israel. Instead, it has believed that the widening and deepening of the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza would be enough.
Yet during the last several years the Israeli right’s attitude has changed, more so since the establishment of the current right-wing coalition government. On the one hand, victory in the 2015 elections, the third consecutive win for Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, strengthened the right's conviction that its majority is secure for many years to come and that the left has no chance of winning elections anytime soon.
On the other, the virtual death of the peace process after the failure of talks led by then-US secretary of state John Kerry, as well as the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank, convinced most right-wing leaders that they have succeeded in their long-term efforts to bury the two-state solution and with it, the danger of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.This combined feeling of permanent victory over the left and alleged defeat of the two-state model has given many right-wing leaders a sense of self-confidence, enabling them to venture into territories they dare not enter before. These include proposing their own seemingly detailed plans and visions for the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As the peace process has lost momentum by the day, so the political scenery in Israel has changed
The Zionist left seems unable to come up with any new ideas to restart the peace process. This was evident in an interview given in September by Shlomo Ben Ami, the former foreign minister, who participated in the talks with the Palestinians at Camp David and Taba during Ehud Barak's government in the second half of 2000. The two-state solution, said Ben Ami, is the "redemption of the Zionist dream", but for the time being it is not "attractive enough" for both sides. Unfortunately, only an event with "nearly apocalyptic" features can bring it about, according to Ben Ami.
Making apartheid official policy
Yet while Ben Ami and others from the old Zionist left are waiting for the apocalypse, right-wing thinkers and politicians have started to produce new plans. These ideas differ from each other, but all share one thing: the negation of any Palestinian state west of the Jordan river.
Yet the end of the two-state model did not mean that these ideas favoured the establishment of a democratic state between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean. With very few exceptions, all of these nationalist politicians rejected the idea that Palestinians in the West and Gaza would enjoy the same rights as Jews. In short, they proposed different variations of an apartheid state. Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, suggested a plan to annex Area C in the West Bank - roughly 60 percent of the territory occupied by all the Israeli settlers and some 100,000 Palestinians. It would leave the rest of the Palestinians in the West Bank under some kind of state-less self-rule.
Miki Zohar, an MP from Netanyahu's Likud party, suggested that Israel will annex the whole of the West Bank, while giving Palestinians only residency rights, meaning that they could vote for their local councils but not for the Israeli parliament. Others ave proposed that the Palestinians will become Jordanian citizens, able to vote for the Jordanian parliament, while living under full Israeli rule. Smotritz went one step further. According to his "subjugation plan", Israel will officially annex the West Bank and will offer the Palestinians three options:
to emigrate out of Palestine with the help of the Israeli authorities
to accept living in a "Jewish state" without political rights
to face heavy repression towards those Palestinians who refuse to give up their national aspirations
Three weeks ago, the National Unity faction, which is a part of the Jewish Home party, adopted Smotritz's plan. This is the first time in Israeli history that a coalition party (the National Unity fraction has a minister in the government and Somtritz himself is deputy parliamentary speaker) has adopted full-blown apartheid and transferist ideas as its official political agenda.
This is the first time in Israeli history when a coalition party has adopted full blown apartheid and transferist ideas as its official political agenda
This is, of course, a very dangerous precedent and may lead to legitimisation of extreme and violent measures against the Palestinians.
But at the same time it is an acknowledgement that the state of occupation, started in 1967, cannot go on forever, that the status quo cannot be a permanent solution.
Netanyahu: It's over
If Israel refuses to accept an independent Palestinian state, as it does now, then it must face the prospect of a one-state solution, whether through apartheid, as Smotritz suggests, or through democracy.
This is where Abbas' speech comes into play. Apart from creating a new space for discussion within Palestinian society, it also emphasises the challenge Israel is facing now.
Until recently, calls for a democratic one-state solution were restricted to non-Zionist politicians or activists.
The old separation model of a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, Netanyahu is saying, is over
But now such voices are heard on the Israeli right. President Reuven Rivlin is among those, although he does not wish to see Gaza as part of this unitary state and will not accept the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Netanyahu himself has hinted that he stands at a crossroads. In his speech during a ceremony last month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, he declared that no "Jewish or Arab settlement" will be removed in the framework of any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
The old separation model of a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, he is saying, is over.
As some commentators rightfully noted, Abbas did not give any details on how this single state will look or how it will be achieved.
But the very fact that he pushed this idea from the rear into the front of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may have wide implications further down the road.
- Meron Rapoport is an Israeli journalist and writer, winner of the Napoli International Prize for Journalism for an inquiry about the stealing of olive trees from their Palestinian owners. He is ex-head of the news department at Haaretz, and now an independent journalist.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Before the spark breaks out in Kurdistan
Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/October 02/17
On Sept. 25, the region woke up on a decisive moment with 92.7 percent of Kurdish people voting for independence from Iraq. Then events accelerated and the Iraqi government announced, in coordination with Ankara and Tehran, its willingness to restore control over four cross-borders (two with Turkey and two with Iran) and to impose an air-embargo on flights from and to Iraqi Kurdistan with scenarios of likely armed conflicts in disputed regions especially the oil-rich Kirkuk. Two days before the referendum, the Iraqi Army advanced to launch an offensive on ISIS strongholds in Hawija – the scene foresees a spark of military confrontation that would break out anytime. True that the local government in Kurdistan confronted the international community with its insistence to carry out the referendum, but the tension in Iraq and the region wasn’t caused only by it. Announcing the referendum is not something new, its date has been previously set and the Kurds reiterated several times their determination to separate from Iraq. Kurds attribute this demand to years of abuse that have made them realize that it is time to establish their own state. Where was this international rejection before? (Especially that of the US, European Union, Turkey and Iran) Back then, none of them attempted to reform ties between Kurds and the central state, especially that Kurdistan government has been accusing the central government in Baghdad for years of depriving the Kurds from fair shares in power and resources. Despite all that, the dispute was neglected and this pushed Kurds to insist on the referendum, whose outcome came as expected. This gives Iraqi Kurdistan a strong card to use in upcoming negotiations with the central government on natural resources as well as reinforcement of its political position as a self-ruled region.
It is difficult for Kurdistan dream of independence to come true in the midst of this regional and international rejection
Severe escalation
The severe escalation by the Iraqi central government, Iran and Turkey with the unprecedented siege and threats of starving the Kurds, disregard the fact that Kurds announced earlier that the referendum is not an announcement of independence — it only acknowledges the necessity to move to the next step and to negotiate with Iraq and neighboring states in addition to the international community the conditions of separation, if it happened. Confederation with enhanced conditions and possibly a new version of the current self-ruling which means that Kurds moved on with the referendum after they lost hope in any of the main powers to understand the situation. They moved on with a referendum that enhances their condition and urges European countries to focus on reforming ties between Kurds and the central government. It should be mentioned that it is difficult for Kurdistan dream of independence to come true in the midst of this regional and international rejection. Geographically, the anticipated Kurdish state has no navy border and is surrounded by states that reject its independence. Also read: Iraqi Kurd leader Barzani: Majority of Kurdistan voted ‘yes’ for independence.
Economically, Kurdistan government economy depends on oil transported via pipes that pass through Turkey or is exported via the central government. Iraqi Kurdistan exports around 550,000 bpd – out of daily produced 600,000 bpd – via a pipe in Turkish Jihan’s Port overseeing the Mediterranean Sea. All these basic-income sources would be hindered if the tension remains. How would Erbil establish a state without the ability to export its oil? With the referendum card in its hand, the government of Kurdistan has a strong negotiation card that permits it to move on with a confederation that maintains its status, doesn’t marginalize its people -as it is the case now- and ensures that Iraq remains united as everyone wishes.
This would contribute to finding solutions for pending topics, including the disputed regions between Erbil and Baghdad based on the Iraqi constitution and providing joint market and currency as Kurdistan maintains its independent cultural, economic, political and foreign policies.

Directing the battle in Yemen toward Saada
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/October 02/17
Saada, the Yemeni governorate that is adjacent to the south of Saudi Arabia, is home to the Houthis and Ansar Allah militias affiliated to Iran. We are not exaggerating when we say that Iran wants to be present on Saudi Arabia’s southern borders through them.
This presence poses serious threats not only to Saudi Arabia but also to any authority that rules Sanaa. The Houthis, who are Iran’s allies, fought five wars against the government forces during the presidential term of Ali Abdullah Saleh and attacked Saudi Arabia in 2009. It was them who undermined the Yemeni agreement which the UN sponsored when their militias entered Sanaa and seized power in September 2014.
Also read: Activist raises Yemen’s flag over Mount Everest calling for ‘peace’
Saudi Arabia has two goals to achieve in Yemen. The first one is to solidify legitimacy of its neighbor as stability and security in Yemen is vital. The second one is to protect its borders and territories from chaos, terrorism and smuggling.
Saudi Arabia fears that the Houthis resemble a Trojan Horse which the Iranians are hiding in to besiege Saudi Arabia. Their activities against the kingdom includes continuous attacks on the borders and shelling cities.
If it hadn’t been for Saudi Arabia’s advanced defense capabilities, missiles would have caused panic and serious damage in southern cities and other major cities like Jeddah, Mecca and Taif.
If it hadn’t been for Saudi Arabia’s advanced defense capabilities, missiles would have caused panic and serious damage in southern cities
Riyadh’s options
Riyadh has several good options now that more than one third of Yemen has been liberated and is governed by legitimate forces under the Saudi-led coalition. The first option is for the war to go on, confront hostile forces in Yemen and fight Saleh’s troops, Houthi militias and al-Qaeda organization.
The second option is to settle with what has been achieved and resume its military support of the legitimate government to strengthen its influence in areas it controls. The third option is to protect its territories and create a buffer zone, south of its borders that include Saada.
I think the full-scale war may prolong. I also think it’s no longer necessary, with the presence of a legitimate government in Aden, especially that Sanaa no longer has any influence on the rest of the state. The second option of completely giving up on war is not practical because parties like Iran and al-Qaeda will be active and legitimacy will weaken.
The third option of cleansing north of Yemen and creating a buffer zone will unify all capabilities to attack the Houthis in their home. If the campaign succeeds, the results will serve Saudi Arabia and the rest of Yemen as most of the crisis is because of the Houthis. Removing this rotten tooth from Yemen will lead to stability in the north and protect Saudi Arabia. After that, we can pay attention to Sanaa.
The Houthis are a relatively small Yemeni component that does not exceed 3 percent of Yemen’s residents. Perhaps those who support them for ideological, political and military reasons is double that percentage. I do not have reliable information about their forces and extent of deployment but we know that they are a small armed and religiously extremist group that ideologically and politically follows Iran.
Chronic threat
We can understand the Houthi threat more when we compare it to al-Qaeda, which resembles it a lot. The small number of Houthi followers does not mean they are only a little dangerous as they have ideological commitments based on glorifying the fighting ritual of “jihad” as per their interpretation of it.
Therefore, if we do not besiege them, the Houthis will continue to pose a chronic and dangerous threat to everyone. We can cooperate with Yemeni tribes in the north as they’ve always been allies of Saudi Arabia and a source of stability there.
Houthis can be deterred in Saada as it’s the headquarters of their tribal and military leadership. This will destroy Houthi militias in other conflict zones. When they withdraw from Sanaa as a result of the Saada war, it will be easier for parties to agree on a peaceful solution for whoever is left in the city.
The Houthis and Saleh have terribly failed. They have failed at establishing their own state ever since the war began and they have failed to prevent legitimacy from returning to Yemen from exile.
However, we acknowledge that even though they are militias, and not armies, they are capable of engaging in further confrontations and skirmishes. If the Houthis’ power is crushed in their governorate, the rebellion may be completely extinguished.

Arab world politics and Amr Moussa’s diary
Hussein Shobokshi/Al Arabiya/October 02/17
In the Arab world politics, there are a small number of characters that can be called superstars or extraordinary stars.
One of these figures is Amr Moussa, former secretary-general of the League of Arab states and the Egyptian foreign minister during the era of former President Hosni Mubarak. His role as an envoy of the Arab League and Egypt apart from other tasks made him a respectable and beloved politician.
Therefore, the political and media circles received with great appreciation and attention the news of the publication of the first part of his memoir entitled “Written.” I got one of the first copies of the book and started reading it immediately. I have an old relationship with the man.Together we participated in many conferences, forums and symposia in Prague, Washington, Cairo and Davos. The book supervised by his friend lawyer Khalid Abu Bakr has more than 500 pages with pointers and references given in a clear and professional way. The book covers a remarkable period of life of Amr Moussa — personal and professional — and focuses largely on central positions and major scenes such as the crisis of the occupation of Kuwait by the Iraqi regime, and the consequences of the war to liberate Kuwait.
Amr Moussa reviews in his memoirs positions of the leading figures in the Arab world and airs his views about the leadership of Egypt clearly and boldly.
Egyptian diplomacy has produced many distinguished personalities and Amr Moussa entered history as one of the most important
Hussein Shobokshi
Speaking about the role of the coup regime in Qatar, its support for terrorism and its blatant hostility to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, I recalled a personal stand I had with Amr Moussa at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. I attended a lecture by the foreign minister of the Qatar, which confirmed the hostility of the coup regime in Qatar toward the four countries before the events of the Arab Spring.
Amr Moussa came to me after Hamad Bin Jassim had finished his speech and asked me, “What did Hamad Bin Jassim say this time?” After my reply, he muttered saying: “Too much, what he wants?” and this happened while Hamad Bin Jassim crossed in front of us and looked toward Amr Moussa in an evil way.
A pleasant journey
The book is a pleasant journey and rich memories for a man known for his “presence” and “charisma”, which generated great popularity in the Arab people, finding a mention in a popular song sung by Shaaban Abdel Rahim.
The song caused a great deal of controversy cost Moussa his job as Egyptian foreign minister. The people who were jealous of his growing popularity in the Arab world persuaded President Mubarak to remove him from the ministry in order to cut him down to size. He knew how to deal with the Western mentality, especially the American one, and had a pride in the Arab position.
The international diplomatic corps has calculated an account for which it has a lot to play and this appreciation for its position is what kept the man standing after leaving the official positions. He kept himself active and remains present at the local, regional and international levels.
The book is a beautiful and enjoyable journey in the memory of a man who imposed his presence and respect for many years, including experiences in India, Egypt, the United Nations and the Arab world, where personal and professional attitudes varied between ups and downs, joy and sadness.
Egyptian diplomacy has produced manIt is not usual for Arab politicians to write their memoirs (which are puzzling and incomprehensible) because their experiences are not personal but they belong to the public and they have the right to know the experience as a way to benefit and transfer experience and knowledge to future generations.
The book is prepared in a professional and respectful way and is an enjoyable reading journey in the life of a distinguished man. I recommend reading it and am looking forward to the second part of his biography.
On one occasion that brought me together with the man, specifically during the Prague 2000 forum, we were together in the car on our way to the forum room. I asked him: Is it not a time to put your notes? He said to me, “Do you think that there are people who will care and read?” Praise is to Allah. He listened to himself and offered his enjoyable memoirs.