October 06/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomsoever he wishes.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 05/17-23/:"Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God. Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomsoever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son,so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Anyone who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 05-06/17
Is Lebanon Heading Towards Economic Bankruptcy/Michael Young/Carnegie Middle East Centre/October 05/17
Congress takes aim at Lebanese politicians with Hezbollah bill/Bryant Harris/Al Monitor/October 05/2017
Saudi King asks Putin to help contain Iranian threat, accepts Russian gains in Syria/DEBKAfile/October 05/17Fatah fears it will be 'trapped' by Hamas in Lebanon-style deal in Gaza/MEE contributor/Thursday 05 October 2017
Saudi Arabia and Russia are not Foes/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/October 05/17
What Iran Needs Are Not Concessions But Sanctions/Heshmat Alavi/The Federalist/October 05/17
Islamic Sunset on Germany/Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/October 05/17
The Real Roots of Islamic Terrorism/Khadija Khan/Gatestone Institute/October 05/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 05-06/17
Aoun: Corruption, Expenditures and Revenues Will be Controlled
Aoun: No turning back on fighting corruption, measures controlling revenues and expenditures
Foreign Ministry Guard Found Dead Inside Guardroom
Report: Financial Legislation for Wage Scale on Parliament Table Monday
Soldiers Injured as Army Bus Rams into Pole in Jezzine
LF Lashes Out at Gemayel over 'Very Shameful' Remarks
Army Arrests IS Official in Arsal
Hariri receives Labor Union delegation and chairs economic meeting
Financial-Economic Meeting
MP Hariri welcomes Shorter
Hariri meets Salam at Central House
Ministry of Telecommunications organizes workshop on "Lebanon Digital Strategy for Sustainable Development Goals"
Khoury meets Ambassador of Bangladesh
Army Commander meets French Director of Security Cooperation
Geagea tackles developments with Egyptian Ambassador
Berri meets Richard, Kaag
New EU Erasmus+ opportunities for Lebanese higher education students, staff and institutions
Is Lebanon Heading Towards Economic Bankruptcy
Congress takes aim at Lebanese politicians with Hezbollah bill

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 05-06/17
Saudi King asks Putin to help contain Iranian threat, accepts Russian gains in Syria
King Salman Says Coordination with Russia Continues on All That Promotes Security, Prosperity
Moscow Welcomes Saudi King, Describes Visit As ‘Most Important Event’
Saudi King, Putin Eye Energy, Arms Deals on Landmark Russia Visit
France’s Macron says Iraqi unity ‘essential’, offers to mediate with Kurds
Iraqi Army Retakes Central Hawija from ISIS
Palestinian Government Sets Economic Reform Plan for Gaza Strip
Hamas Names Formerly Turkey-Based Commander as New Deputy Chief
Erdogan Says Kurdish Independence Referendum Shows ‘Perfect Ingratitude’
Bahrainis Stripped of Citizenship Over Training with IRGC
Egyptian FM Says Eliminating ISIS ‘Isn’t the End’
Sisi Tells Armed Forces to be on High Alert
'We Don't Want Armed Confrontation', Iraqi PM Says on Kurds
Spain Court Orders Catalan Independence Session Suspended
US to ask NATO allies for some 1,000 more troops for Afghanistan: ambassador

Latest Lebanese Related News published on October 05-06/17
Aoun: Corruption, Expenditures and Revenues Will be Controlled
Naharnet/October 05/17/President Michel Aoun stressed on Thursday that measures to combat corruption and control expenditures and revenues will be taken. During a meeting he held with economic bodies at the Baabda Palace, Aoun stressed that “measures to control revenues, expenditures and combating corruption will be taken. There will be no turning back,” he said. Aoun stressed that the “State is in the process of preparing an economic plan that gives the production sectors an important role.”He pointed out that “there is a positive change in the balance of payments,” explaining that the “tourism season was successful and incomes have increased through the customs fees.”Expenditure control is an important element of budget execution and financial resources management accountability system. The Lebanese government has not approved a state budget since 2005 .

Aoun: No turning back on fighting corruption, measures controlling revenues and expenditures
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - President of the republic, Michel Aoun, on Thursday maintained that the measures to control the state's revenues and expenditures and to fight corruption would be taken. "There will be no turning back on the measures controlling revenues and expenditures and those taken to fight corruption," Aoun told a delegation of the Economic Committees who visited him at Baabda palace today. "The state is in the process of preparing an economic plan that gives the production sectors an important role," Aoun said. Separately, Aoun met with Minister of Information, Melhem Riachy, with whom he discussed the current general situation in the country. The pair also dwelt on the condition of the Ministry of Information and Télé Liban. Aoun later received a delegation of Zouq Mkayel municipal council, and Ambassador Roula Noureddine.

Foreign Ministry Guard Found Dead Inside Guardroom
Naharnet/October 05/17/A ministry guard at the Foreign Ministry premises in Ashrafiyeh was found dead at midnight sustaining gunshot wounds, the National News Agency reported Thursday. First sergeant, N.H., tasked with guarding the ministry was found dead inside the guardroom, NNA said. The victim was reportedly shot at a close distance non more than 5 centimeters. He had his pistol in his hand, added NNA. The agency added that criminal evidence have shown so far that no act of violence was encountered. Investigations were opened into the incident.

Report: Financial Legislation for Wage Scale on Parliament Table Monday
Naharnet/October 05/17/The Parliament will begin looking into three draft laws referred to it by the Cabinet and strictly related to the controversial newly approved wage scale that witnessed a setback lately after the Constitutional Council revoked tax laws aimed at securing funding for the scale. As of Monday, the parliament will begin studying bills passed by the government allowing the latter to delay the implementation of Law 46, which raises the minimum wage and gives cost of living increases for employees and contractors, media reports said. Moreover, it will study amendment of Law 45 to introduce some taxes and fees, and the inclusion of an article in the general budget attached to the year 2017, related to the accounting records, reports added. Speaker Nabih Berri is expected to call for budget discussion sessions immediately after the completion of the projects passed by the government and the rest of the agenda of previous meetings, they concluded. On Tuesday the Cabinet has sent to Parliament a draft law calling for the postponement of the payment of public sector employees’ salaries until revenues are secured. It has also sent an expedited draft law that includes amendments to the tax hike law that is supposed to fund the wage scale for public sector employees. Sources to fund the newly approved salary scale for civil servants has been a contentious issue after the Constitutional Council revoked a tax law aimed at funding the scale following an appeal filed by ten MPs led by Sami Gemayel.

Soldiers Injured as Army Bus Rams into Pole in Jezzine
Naharnet/October 05/17/Several soldiers were injured Thursday when an army bus rammed into a pole on the Anan-Jezzine road, state-run National News Agency reported. The injured soldiers were rushed to hospitals in Sidon and Jezzine, NNA said. An investigation has since been launched to determine the causes of the incident.

LF Lashes Out at Gemayel over 'Very Shameful' Remarks

Naharnet/October 05/17/The Lebanese Forces on Thursday lashed out at Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel over remarks related to the LF's relation with the Free Patriotic Movement and its role in Saad Hariri's government. “Despite all our attempts to return the LF-Kataeb relation to the level it was at before MP Sami Gemayel assumed Kataeb Party's leadership, MP Gemayel is still insisting on attacking the LF on every occasion,” the LF's media department said in a statement.
“MP Gemayel hinted that the LF and the FPM have united over a host of interests, but this has nothing to do with the LF and its modus operandi, and there is no need to remind that the LF had rejected to take part in the successive governments during the Syrian hegemony era although it was offered what no one was offered back then,” the statement added. “It preferred disbanding, arrests and assassinations over bowing to the hegemony era,” the LF stressed. It also added that it is “very shameful” from Gemayel to “criticize the LF over issues related to sovereignty, independence and the rise of the state in Lebanon, after the LF alone paid the heftiest price for the sake of achieving them.” “It will always be a spearhead in this domain, no matter how much some parties try to distort this reality,” the LF underlined.
Gemayel had announced Wednesday during an interview on MTV that “a political alliance should be built upon principles, not interests.”The LF-FPM “agreement was on a host of interests, not on political principles, and we have seen the result,” Gemayel said. “They have not agreed on anything except on splitting shares, and when their interests clashed they parted ways,” he added.

Army Arrests IS Official in Arsal

Naharnet/October 05/17/The Army arrested in the northeastern border town of Arsal early on Thursday an Islamic State official who has taken part in kidnapping and killing of military members and civilians, al-Jadeed TV said. An IS official, identified as Mohammed Toufic al-Hujeiri, was arrested at dawn in the town of Arsal in a raid staged by the Army Intelligence, al-Jadeed said. The detainee is said to be involved in the kidnapping and killing of soldiers and civilian. He has reportedly participated with terrorist groups in attacks against Lebanese army positions in Arsal back in 2014.

Hariri receives Labor Union delegation and chairs economic meeting
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri received today a delegation from the General Labor Union headed by Bechara Asmar, who said after the meeting : "During the meeting with Prime Minister Hariri, we affirmed the basic principle of rejecting taxes that affect people with low income, middle classes, workers and the poor, starting with VAT, as well as the need to pay salaries next month according to the new tables and the need to continue taxes as stated in article 45, which affect the banks, marine and river properties and violations of public property as stated in article 12 of this law. We also stressed the principle of dialogue in order to correct wages in the private sector, and start a serious dialogue to correct the wages in the private sector. We also emphasized the need to combat corruption and insisted on reform in various sectors so the Lebanese state will rise".
Question: What did you hear from Prime Minister Hariri? Answer: He insisted on dialogue. We hope that the dialogue with government and parliament next week will lead to a solution for the draft tax law and that the wages would be paid according to the new scale.
Question: Do you still have the same position regarding tax raise? Answer: Of course, especially the VAT and what is being leaked about an increase to 12%. This is totally rejected, and PM Hariri stressed that this will not happen in the foreseeable future.

Financial-Economic Meeting
In the afternoon, Hariri held a financial-economic meeting attended by the Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, the Minister of Economy Raed Khoury and the Central Bank Governor Riad Salame to coordinate between the various departments and ministries about the meetings to be held with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the US capital between October 11 and 15.
Tripoli's development
Hariri chaired a meeting attended by Labor Minister Mohamed Kabbara, MP Samir Jisr and the mayor of Mina, Abdelkader Alameddine, in the presence of Hariri's advisors Fadi Fawaz and Abdel Ghani Kabbara, to discuss the necessary projects for the city of Tripoli. After the meeting, minister Kabbara said: "We were honored to meet with PM Saad Hariri to complete the discussion of projects aiming to improve the lives of citizens in Tripoli and finding jobs for them especially the young ones. PM Hariri expressed full care to implement a number of projects for Tripoli and its people, especially as he intends to hold a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Tripoli soon.
Minister Safadi
Hariri also received former minister Mohammed Safadi and discussed with him the situation and the demands of Tripoli.

MP Hariri welcomes Shorter
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - Member of Parliament, Bahia Hariri, welcomed on Thursday, British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter. Talks between the pair featured high on the general situation in Lebanon.

Hariri meets Salam at Central House
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - Prime Minister Saad Hairi is currently meeting with Former Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, at the Central House.

Ministry of Telecommunications organizes workshop on "Lebanon Digital Strategy for Sustainable Development Goals"
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - The Ministry of Telecommunications and OGERO Telecom in cooperation with the European Union TAIEX Programme organized on 2-3 October 2017 a workshop on "Lebanon Digital Strategy for Sustainable Development Goals". The Aim of this workshop is to promote a national consultation with EU experts and relevant stakeholders on the role of ICT in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Lebanon. The workshop will contribute to (i) draft a comprehensive ICT plan and (ii) define ICT projects aimed at fostering SDGs and (iii) reinforce the capacity building in line with the central role of digital technologies for the economy and society and their predominant role in development.The workshop was attended by over 60 participants. During the opening session, the Director General of Operations & Maintenance at the Ministry of Telecommunications, Mr Bassel Al Ayoubi, thanked the EU for supporting this initiative and welcomed the European and Lebanese experts while stressing on the role of ICT in reaching the SDGs. OGERO then presented its projects, and discussions followed for 2 consecutive days with the different sectors' representatives.

Khoury meets Ambassador of Bangladesh
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury met on Thursday with Bangladeshi Ambassador to Lebanon, Abdul Motaleb Sarker, who presented the Minister with an invitation to attend the Bangladeshi Cultural Conference, to be held in Dhaka from 2 to 4 December. Khoury then received a delegation from the Lebanese Opera, accompanied by a delegation from Rome Opera. Talks touched on ways to develop Opera in Lebanon and strengthen partnership between the two countries.

Army Commander meets French Director of Security Cooperation
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - Lebanese Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, on Thursday met in Yarze with the Director of Security and Defense Cooperation in France, Didier Brousse, accompanied by the French military attaché.Discussions reportedly focused on bilateral relations, as well as on cooperation projects during this period. General Aoun then received Finnish Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff, Eero Pyotsia, accompanied by Finnish Ambassador to Lebanon, Matti Lassila, and military attache, Colonel Jurki Litmanen. The meeting discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries, as well as the role of the Finnish contingent operating under UNIFIL in southern Lebanon.

Geagea tackles developments with Egyptian Ambassador
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - Lebanese Forces Leader, Samir Geagea, welcomed in Meerab on Thursday Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Nazih Najari. Talks between the pair reportedly touched on the most recent developments at the local and regional scenes.

Berri meets Richard, Kaag
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri, met on Thursday with US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, who visited him at his in Ain Teeneh residence. The pair discussed developments in Lebanon and the region. Berri later had an audience with Minister of State for Combating Corruption, Nicolas Tueni. United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, also visited Berri. Discussions featured high on ongoing developments.

New EU Erasmus+ opportunities for Lebanese higher education students, staff and institutions
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - The annual Information Day about the European Union's Erasmus+ programme took place today. Erasmus+ is the EU programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport. The purpose of the Information Day is to ensure that Lebanese higher education institutions are well prepared to submit their proposals for support. Participants were informed on the different key actions of the Erasmus+ programme, good practices were presented and training on how to design a project was conducted. Additional EU opportunities for higher education institutions and individuals under the EU programme Horizon 2020 in the field of research were also presented at the event. Education and Higher Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh said: "The European Union Erasmus+ Programme and its predecessor the Tempus Programme played an important role in building human and physical capacities in higher education institutions in Lebanon. It enabled them to work closely with each other and with European universities." He added: "This led to the generation of common ideas and projects that contributed greatly to setting a unified framework for higher education in Lebanon."
EU Ambassador Christina Lassen said: "The internationalisation of higher education helps prepare our students to live in a global world, increasing their experience and knowledge, employability, and productivity. She added: "It brings new opportunities for higher education institutions to promote strategic partnerships around research and innovation activities''. Over the last 15 years, the EU has been supporting Lebanese higher education through several programmes including Tempus and Erasmus Mundus (2002-2013) that have contributed to the development of new curricula, the creation of new structures for research, the modernisation of governance systems and the building of new links between universities and the labour market. Between 2016-18, ERASMUS+ has made it possible for 1736 staff and students short term exchange (1228 from Lebanon going to Europe and 508 coming from Europe to Lebanon). New this year is that a Jean Monnet module teaching about the European Union has been selected for funding for the first time in Lebanon since 2007. The project consists of a teaching module on "Europe and the MENA region: Issues and Challenges in the Trans-Mediterranean Relations."

Is Lebanon Heading Towards Economic Bankruptcy? هل يتجه لبنان صوب الإفلاس
Michael Young/Carnegie Middle East Centre/October 05/17

A regular survey of experts on matters relating to Middle Eastern and North African politics and security.
Zafiris Tzannatos | Former professor in and chair of the Economics Department at the American University of Beirut, served as a senior advisor to many international organizations and governments, including that of Lebanon
Perhaps a more appropriate term is “crisis” and, under current economic conditions the answer to the question is “yes”—even if the crisis is half the size, say, of the one that occurred in Greece. Real GDP growth is projected to remain anemic at around 2 percent per year (representing half of Lebanon’s average in the post-civil war period until 2014) against a very tenuous fiscal position. This includes a high debt-to-GDP ratio, estimated at 150 percent by the World Bank and projected to increase, as well as a fiscal deficit of 10 percent. At the same time remittances have been declining while merchandize imports have been rising, as has the already sizable current account deficit that stands presently at 20 percent.
These three indicators (the debt and the dual fiscal and current account deficits) are not only sizeable as such, they are also among the largest in the world. This makes the size of the problem formidable, as evidenced by structural adjustment programs internationally, even if one bypasses the risks arising from the highly dollarized pegged economy and the lack of dynamism in a business environment dominated by rentierism and corruption.
Prospects can deteriorate further (and quickly) with a reversal in oil prices, increases in international interest rates, and an appreciation of the euro, which have so far been favorable to the Lebanese economy. One can only hope that regional instability will be reduced and that the political process will not revert back to stalemate. But even under the most promising scenarios in these two areas, the economic challenges are daunting.
David Butter | Associate fellow in the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs
The Lebanese economy is far from healthy, but it’s not on the brink of bankruptcy. Public debt is a daunting 148 percent of GDP, but it has been higher in the past, and there are well-established mechanisms to refinance debts as they fall due. The foreign exchange reserves of the Central Bank have climbed to $42 billion—partly thanks to switching Lebanese pound debt to Eurobonds—which is enough to cover more than two years of imports. Real GDP growth has slumped since 2010 to below 2 percent, reflecting the impact of the Syrian conflict. Syrian reconstruction and an offshore oil and gas bonanza could turn things round, but not for some time, if at all. The revival of tourism has been positive, but could be undermined by new security crises.
Keeping Lebanon solvent depends on maintaining the confidence of creditors. They are unlikely to be impressed by the government’s failure to get a grip on fiscal policy. The recent deal for higher state salaries in return for modest hikes in the value-added tax and some other taxes has been stymied by political squabbles, and the budget deficit is getting close to 10 percent of GDP.
Sami Nader | Director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, economist, and a lecturer at Université Saint Joseph in Beirut
Lebanon’s financial situation today is not so very different from that of Greece in 2009. It faces an increasing budget deficit, equivalent to 11 percent of GDP, which is leading to an alarming level of public debt, coupled with a high level of corruption and the absence of growth. In fact for the sixth year in a row, since the outbreak of the uprisings in the Arab world, particularly in Syria, Lebanon’s debt is growing five times faster than its economy—the economy is growing at an average growth rate of 1.2 percent.
Lebanon’s Central Bank has managed so far to absorb the burden of the debt through its repeated resort to financial engineering, drawing on foreign currency in banks that are already overloaded with treasury bills. However, such policy is unsustainable and will not make up for the absence of economic planning and structural reforms. Unless drastic changes are initiated to reabsorb the budget deficit, such as privatizing the national electricity utility, Electricité du Liban, which is responsible for a significant share of the deficit, and kick-starting rapid growth, Lebanon is indeed edging towards collapse.
Sami Atallah: Economist and director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies in Beirut
Indeed, Lebanon appears to be headed toward economic bankruptcy. Its chronic fiscal deficit, compounded with a trade deficit, is exposing the country’s financing needs. Although for many years Lebanon managed to attract capital from abroad to address this gap through overly generous interest rates offered to domestic banks, this practice may be coming to an end. Declining oil rents in the Gulf countries, which are reducing remittances, regional instability, including the war in Syria, as well as a lack of interest by Gulf governments in coming to Lebanon’s rescue, all mean the Central Bank has had to financially engineer ways to bring capital into the banking system for finance consumption.
Yet the political elite does not seem willing to actually reform the system that is serving its interests through excessive spending and debt financing. Politicians will buy time through other gimmicks and will try to monetize the Syrian refugee crisis through another international conference to collect funds, lest any economic collapse have geopolitical consequences for Europe. While some may then praise the resilience of the economic system, it will remain fragile and vulnerable, with a poor record in creating jobs and enhancing the productivity of the private sector.
While Lebanon may avoid a crash as a result of these temporary measures, one thing is for sure: The country’s policymakers are morally and intellectually bankrupt when it comes to developing an economic system that delivers equitable growth for its citizens.

Congress takes aim at Lebanese politicians with Hezbollah bill
الكونغرس الأميركي يستهدف سياسيين مع قانون عقوبات حزب الله
Bryant Harris/Al Monitor/October 05/2017
Congress is moving ahead with a Hezbollah sanctions bill that targets the Iran-backed Shiite militia’s allies in government, sending shock waves across Lebanon’s political elite.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed legislation from Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., last week that tightens the screws on Hezbollah’s illicit funding streams abroad, setting up a vote in the full House later this month. The bill notably calls on the US president to publicly disseminate US estimates of Hezbollah and allied politicians’ net worth, a highly controversial move in a country where corruption is rampant.
“I’ve had long conversations with the government from Lebanon on this [bill],” Royce said at a Capitol Hill panel hosted by the hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies on Tuesday. “These conversations would probably be more impactful to me and my colleagues if we didn’t have an agent of Hezbollah sitting in the room when we have them. And this is one of the greatest misgivings I have about Lebanon allowing Hezbollah into the government.”
Action on the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 follows last year’s accession to the presidency by Michel Aoun, a Christian politician whose Free Patriotic Movement is allied with Hezbollah and the Shiite Amal Movement. Hezbollah, which the United States considers a terrorist group, also has about a dozen members in parliament.
Lebanese politicians and the country’s banking sector have been bracing for a US crackdown since April, when a draft of the Royce bill was leaked to Lebanese media. According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, the bill’s earlier iteration would have targeted senior members of Hezbollah, including parliamentarians and Cabinet ministers, as well as the Amal Movement.
The new version of the bill doesn’t sanction Hezbollah politicians or call out Amal by name, but it would require the US president to issue a public report every year on the net worth of Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, members of Hezbollah’s political bureau and anyone the president determines “is a senior foreign political figure of Hezbollah, is associated with Hezbollah, or otherwise provides significant support to Hezbollah.” That information, including “a description of how [those] funds were acquired, and how such funds have been used or employed,” is to be posted on the State Department website and all US embassy websites for everyone in Lebanon to see.
“Reporting does not necessarily mean sanctions but it could lead to sanctions,” Joseph Gebeily, president of the Lebanese Information Center, a think tank critical of Hezbollah, told Al-Monitor. “Congress was a little bit frustrated with the previous administration because … they were not seeing actions being taken.”In addition, the bill includes a “sense of Congress” that the president should sanction financial institutions that do business with ”any member of parliament or any Cabinet official of the Lebanese Republic who is a member of Hezbollah, or any affiliate of Hezbollah.”
Lebanon’s banks, a crucial component of the tiny state’s economy, strongly opposed the earlier draft, and a parliamentary delegation visited Washington in May to make its concerns known. Opposition from the financial sector seems to have died down as the bill evolved, however, even as Prime Minister Saad Hariri continued to lobby Congress against additional Hezbollah sanctions during his visit to Washington in July.
“I believe that there are already enough sanctions on Lebanon in the banking sector,” Hariri told Al-Monitor at the time.
"I’ve had long conversations with the government from Lebanon on this [bill]. These conversations would probably be more impactful to me and my colleagues if we didn’t have an agent of Hezbollah sitting in the room." — Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.
The bill’s proponents in the House, however, believe that its main impact would be on curbing Hezbollah’s illicit racketeering activities abroad and its support from foreign states, namely Iran, Syria and Russia. The House bill, which is co-sponsored by ranking member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., builds upon a 2015 Hezbollah sanctions package that also sparked a fight with the Lebanese government at the time.
“The legislation we’re moving now … has a whole series of steps to try to close any last loopholes that remain for this criminal enterprise,” Royce said at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies event. “It labels them a criminal enterprise in a way which will help us with respect to our European and Latin American friends and allies and give us additional leverage.”
The new bill would block the financial assets of anyone “the president determines knowingly assists, sponsors, or, provides significant financial, material, or technological support” for Hezbollah and its affiliates from the US banking system. It would also require the executive branch to submit a report of individuals to Congress if there is “credible evidence” that they have supported Hezbollah.
Gebeily downplayed the fear that the additional sanctions on Hezbollah and its supporters could destabilize Lebanon’s financial services sector. According to him, the Lebanese concern over the sanctions is rooted in the fear that they could have a chilling effect on US banks’ willingness to do business in Lebanon, even though the US government has told the banks that Lebanon is complying with the 2015 Hezbollah sanctions.
“If the correspondent bank in New York says, ‘This is too complicated for me, this might be too risky, I’m just not going to deal with a Lebanese bank,’ there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Gebeily.
The bill's supporters have played down the concerns of the Lebanese public and instead pointed to its measures sanctioning foreign states for supporting Hezbollah.
"We must go after the Assad regime and its enablers and their campaign of carnage,” Engel told the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies panel. “This includes going after Moscow [and] Tehran, who also support Hezbollah.”
For instance, an amendment added by Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., during last week’s House markup would require the administration to submit a report detailing Russian military support and arms transfers to Hezbollah.
The bill would also sanction any “agency or instrumentality” of a foreign state that supports Hezbollah or fights alongside Hezbollah in combat operations.
The Jerusalem Post reported in September that Iran is giving roughly $800 million a year to Hezbollah, a historic high.
"Hezbollah’s budget is estimated [to be] $1 billion to $2 billion, so the Iran share was not that big and now it seems that it has increased substantially,” said Gebeily.
The House bill directs the administration to sanction government entities on the State Department’s state sponsor of terrorism list if they support Hezbollah. The only three countries on the list are Iran, Syria and Sudan.
In another jab at Iran, the House bill also amends a 2010 Iran sanctions package to include Iranian support for Hezbollah. The extra provisions on Iran come at a time when the White House and some in Congress are expressing a desire to increase sanctions on Tehran’s non-nuclear activities throughout the Middle East in lieu of reinstating the far-reaching nuclear sanctions rescinded under the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Senate has its own companion Hezbollah sanctions legislation, introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. It does not include language urging the administration to sanction Hezbollah parliamentarians and members of the Lebanese government, meaning such language may not survive reconciliation between the two versions if the new sanctions become law.
“I’m in support of the strongest possible sanctions that we can get passed and that’s been the challenge,” Rubio told Al-Monitor. “The House and the Senate have some different constituencies arguing about certain provisions.”
Found in: Shiite militias, Economy and trade
**Bryant Harris is Al-Monitor's congressional correspondent. He was previously the White House assistant correspondent for Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera English and IPS News. Prior to his stint in DC, he spent two years as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. On Twitter: @brykharris_ALM, Email:

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 05-06/17
Saudi King asks Putin to help contain Iranian threat, accepts Russian gains in Syria
DEBKAfile/October 05/17
President Donald Trump’s best Middle East friend and ally, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, arrived in Moscow Thursday Oct. 5 for a three-day state visit, a week before the President unveils his new Iran policy.
This policy, to be announced on Oct. 12 will, according to DEBKAfile’s sources, introduce new sanctions against Iran’s hard-line Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), while refraining from taking the United States out of the nuclear pact (JCPOA).
He is expected to extend this pact on Oct. 15 for another 90 days, by certifying that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the accord it signed with six world powers in 2015.
In his comments on Wednesday, Oct. 4, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that the pact was not the most important aspect of the administration’s Iran policy, when he said: “The JCPOA represents only a small part of the issues we have to address with Iran.”
The 82-year old Saudi king, and his powerful son, Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman, are now persuaded that even in the capacity of President Trump’s senior ally in the Sunni Arab camp he created during his Riyadh visit last April, Riyadh is not precluded from developing relations with the most powerful player in the region, Vladimir Putin.
As far as Riyadh is concerned, Iran’s nuclear program is not much of a problem – the Saudis have long accepted its inevitability. They are far more concerned by the failure of Trump’s Iran policies, new or old, to stop Syria and Iraq from running downhill into the wrong hands.
They see Iran, far from pulling out of the two war-torn countries, deepening its military grip. The Saudis feel they are left out in the cold by proactive Russian-Iranian-Hizballah military cooperation in Syria and control of the Syrian-Iraqi border. This military pact has been strengthened by Turkey, to form a relationship that was celebrated Wednesday by President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Tehran, accompanied by Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar.
For even minimal influence over Syria’s fortunes, the Saudis realize they must open doors to the Kremlin. They also understand that Putin alone has the clout to make Tehran limit its backing for the Yemeni Houthi insurgency, which a Saudi-led coalition is fighting.
Indeed, Russian influence weighed in recently behind Tehran’s decision to withhold from Houthi forces the high-precision ballistic missiles they demanded for wreaking serious damage to Saudi cities.
King Salman arrived in Moscow with four instruments of persuasion in his pocket:
A pact with Saudi Arabia, the acknowledged leader of the Sunni Arab world, would be another feather in the cap for Vladimir Putin when he campaigns for re-election as president next March, as the Russian leader who restored his country’s military power in the Middle East.
Coordination with Riyadh on oil and gas prices and supplies will also be an achievement the Russian ruler can hardly resist, after their first successful foray in manipulating the market together. Last year, the Saudis were able to persuade 10 members of the OPEC oil cartel to cut back on oil quotas so as to boost prices. The rising prices gave Putin the bootstraps for pulling the Russian economy out of a hole.
Salman arrived in Moscow with a huge delegation of business executives, economic leaders and potential investors seeking information on opportunities in Russia.
The king will also show an interest in large-scale arms purchases from Russia – another bonanza for Putin – thereby breaking the US-European military industries’ virtual monopoly of the Saudi market.
In July 2015, when the friendship between the then Crown Prince Salman and President Putin blossomed, Riyadh pumped $10 billion of investments into the Russian economy.
However, two months later, President Putin ordered the massive expansion of Russian military intervention in Syria to rescue Bashar Assad’s rule, although it is anathema to Riyadh. He has never budged from this goal.
This goes to show that even lavish Saudi petrodollars have a limited impact on Putin’s strategic designs for the Middle East. And so Salman can’t be sure even in three days of talks to sway the Russian leader from his path.

King Salman Says Coordination with Russia Continues on All That Promotes Security, Prosperity
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/At the outset of the session, the Russian President delivered a speech in which he highlighted the importance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ visit to Russia and the talks made between the two sides and said ” we made rich-content and trustworthy talks.”Putin said he was glad to welcome the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques during his first visit to Moscow. He expressed confidence that the visit will give a fresh impetus to the development of bilateral relations between the two countries. For his part, King Salman bin Abdulaziz delivered a speech in which he thanked the Russian President for the good reception and warm hospitality accorded to him and the accompanying delegation. “I express appreciation of your speech containing noble feelings. We are glad to be in your friendly country. We are keen to enhance and consolidate relations between the two countries and peoples in various fields,” King Salman said. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques noted identical of the two countries’ views on many regional and international issues. “Bilateral coordination is continuing on everything that promotes security and the prosperity of our countries and serve the international peace and security. We are keen on a continuation of the positive cooperation between the two countries to achieve stability of the global oil markets in order to serve growth of the global economy,” King Salman said. “We are confident that there are vast opportunities for expanding and diversifying economic cooperation between our countries and establishing an economic, commercial and investment base in order to increase exploitation and consolidate the relative advantages in the interest of the two countries and push the trade exchange in accordance with the Kingdom Vision 2030,” the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques added. “The International Community needs to step up efforts to combat extremism, terrorism and the sources of its funding. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia earlier called for establishing the UN Counter-Terrorism Center and donated $110 million for this purpose. The Kingdom also worked to establish Islamic Military Coalition to Combat Terrorism including 41 Islamic states in addition to an establishment of the Global Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh,” King Salman said.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed the need to end the suffering of the Palestinian people, “the Arab Peace Initiative and resolutions of the international legitimacy should be the basis for reaching a comprehensive, just and lasting peace that guarantees the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Al-Quds as its capital,” he said. “The security and stability of the Gulf region and the Middle East are an absolute necessity for achieving international security and stability. Therefore, Iran must commit to stop interference in the region’s affairs and destabilizing the region,” King Salman said. “In Yemen, we emphasize the importance of the political solution to the Yemeni crisis according to the GCC initiative, its executive mechanism, the outputs of the Yemeni national dialogue, and the Security Council resolution no. 2216 which preserves Yemen and its unity and achieves its security and stability. With regard to the Syrian crisis, we are required to put an end to it in accordance with the Geneva resolutions 1 and the Security Council resolution no. 2254 and to find a political solution that guarantees security and stability and preserves Syria’s unity and territorial integrity,” the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques said. King Salman stressed the importance of preserving Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity and its internal efforts to combat terrorism. “We call upon the international community to shoulder its responsibilities with regard to the problem of the Rohingya Muslims and to find a solution that protects them from violence and violations in order to alleviate their suffering,” King Salman added. “I am pleased to invite you to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to continue our consultations towards the issues of common interest and enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all fields,” the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques concluded.

Moscow Welcomes Saudi King, Describes Visit As ‘Most Important Event’
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/Moscow, Riyadh- Official and popular Russian circles applauded the historic visit by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Moscow upon an official invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir said after talks with Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of the State Duma, that King Salman and Putin would sign a package of bilateral agreements of great importance. He described the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques – the first visit of a Saudi king to Russia – as a historic event, stressing that it would contribute to the development of relations between the two countries in various fields. Matviyenko expressed her hope that King Salman’s visit would be successful and fruitful, and would give a strong impetus to the development of bilateral relations. She also expressed her gratitude to the Saudi foreign minister for his cooperation with Moscow, especially with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. “We are well aware that the development of cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia serves not only our common interests but also stability in the region because Saudi Arabia is one of the most influential countries in the Middle East and the whole world,” she stated. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov welcomed King Salman’s visit, posting on his Instagram account: “Welcome to Russia.” “We warmly welcome King Salman and we hope that his visit would contribute to strengthening economic, political, cultural and religious relations between our countries,” he stated. Alexey Gremov, director of the Energy Department at the Institute for Energy and Finance, described the Saudi King’s visit to Russia as a “very important event”, stressing that discussions over oil-related issues between Russian and OPEC countries came following several visits by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih

Saudi King, Putin Eye Energy, Arms Deals on Landmark Russia Visit
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 05/17/On a landmark visit to Russia, Saudi Arabia's King Salman and President Vladimir Putin were set on Thursday to clinch a host of multi-billion-dollar energy and defense deals despite discord over the Syrian war. The first official trip to Russia by a Saudi monarch will also see the leaders of the world's largest energy exporters discuss an extension of an OPEC agreement to cap oil output. "This is the first visit by a Saudi Arabian monarch in the history of our relations and that in itself is a landmark event," Putin said as he welcomed King Salman to Moscow in an ornate gilded Kremlin hall. "I'm sure your visit will boost the ties between our countries," he said. "We aim to strengthen our relations in the interests of peace and security, in the interests of developing the world economy," the Saudi king responded.
'Positive cooperation'
Citing Russia's energy minister Alexander Novak, the Financial Times reported that Russia and Saudi Arabia were expected to sign deals worth over $3 billion (2.5 billion euros), including a $1 billion energy investment fund and a $1.1 billion agreement for Russia's petrochemicals giant Sibur to build a plant in Saudi Arabia. Russia's Kommersant business daily reported Putin and Salman were also due to discuss an arms deal worth more than $3 billion, to supply Riyadh with S-400 air defense systems. Russia and Saudi Arabia are heavily dependent on oil exports and the global plunge of the price of crude that began in 2014 lashed both their economies. OPEC members have joined with Russia and other countries in cutting crude output in a pact that has helped prop up prices. Putin said on Wednesday it was possible to extend an OPEC deal to cap oil output "at least until the end of 2018". The current agreement runs until March 2018. "We strive to continue the positive cooperation between our countries to achieve stability on world oil markets which promotes the growth of the world's economy," Salman said in Moscow. The leaders held one-on-one talks, followed by broader discussions. Once they sign the expected deals, Putin will host a state dinner for Salman. "The political will of Moscow and Riyadh for deeper cooperation on the widest range of issues is clear," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists ahead of the meetings.
Awkward start
The 81-year-old Saudi monarch's three-day visit got off to an awkward start on Wednesday evening after landing at Moscow's Vnukovo-2 airport when the escalator he uses to descend from his plane malfunctioned. The escalator stopped midway, forcing the king to walk down himself, to be met by Russian officials including deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin and a military brass band. His delegation of around 1,000 people occupied all the available hotel rooms in five-star hotels around the Kremlin, including one entire hotel, state RIA Novosti news agency reported. Salman arrived in Moscow along with Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Minister of State Musaed al-Aiban. The head of Saudi's state-owned oil giant Aramco Amin Nasser told Rossiya 24 state television ahead of the talks that the company would sign agreements with Russia's Gazprom, Gazprom Neft and Sibur energy companies as well as with an affiliate of Lukoil.
Discord over Syria, Yemen
The Kremlin said ahead of the visit that Salman and Putin would also discuss the Middle East, "especially focusing on conflict situations in the region." While Russia and Saudi Arabia are partners on the oil market, they are at loggerheads on Syria, where Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad and Riyadh backs the opposition. They also diverge on Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Huthi rebels since 2015, drawing criticism from Moscow. Putin visited Riyadh in 2007 and last met Salman in Turkey in 2015. Salman said he last visited Russia in 2006, before becoming king.

France’s Macron says Iraqi unity ‘essential’, offers to mediate with Kurds
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - French President Emmanuel Macron has offered to mediate between the Iraqi government and Kurds seeking independence from Baghdad, saying the country’s territorial integrity is essential. Macron made the offer after meeting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Paris on Thursday in wide-ranging talks about French support for the fight against the Islamic State (IS) group and rebuilding Iraqi's economy. Macron said France and others are worried about the standoff between Iraqi’s Kurdistan region and Baghdad after last month's disputed independence referendum, in which Kurds overwhelmingly backed independence from Iraq. The French president insisted on the importance of "national reconciliation and inclusive governance" that includes Kurds, "with whom France maintains close ties". Macron said dialogue Baghdad and the Kurds "is the only path", and that his country is "ready to contribute actively to mediation".After thanking France for its support in the fight against the IS group, Iraq's prime minister said he did not want an armed conflict on the Kurdish issue, urging Kurdistan's Peshmerga forces in disputed areas to work with the Iraqi army under Baghdad's control. "We do not want an armed confrontation, we don't want clashes, but the federal authority must prevail and nobody can infringe on the federal authority," Abadi said, standing alongside Macron. While the Kurdish independence vote was non-binding, it has nonetheless sent tensions in the country and the region soaring. In response to the poll, the Iraqi government has cut Kurdistan's direct air links with the outside world, partially isolating the northern region. Turkey and Iran, which both border Kurdistan and have their own Kurdish minorities, have denounced the referendum, while the United States described it as "unilateral" and lacking legitimacy. ---Agencies

Iraqi Army Retakes Central Hawija from ISIS
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/Iraqi forces have captured Hawija and the encompassing territory from ISIS, however some battles still raged in a pocket toward the north and east of the town where the militants were surrounded, the military said on Thursday. Hawija, where tens of thousands of civilians live, has been under the militant group’s control since 2014. With the capture of Hawija, the militants’ last stronghold in northern Iraq, ISIS will be left controlling only a stretch of land along the border with Syria. i army said it had killed 196 ISIS militants and recaptured 98 villages around Hawija, located near the Kurdish-held oil city of Kirkuk. “The army’s 9th armored division, the Federal Police, the Emergency Response division and (..) Popular Mobilization liberated Hawija,” said a statement from the joint operations commander, Lieutenant-General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah. The offensive on Hawija was carried out by US-backed Iraqi government troops and Shi‘ite paramilitary groups known as Popular Mobilization.The capture of Hawija brings them into direct contact with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who control Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic region claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Kirkuk shaped up as a flashpoint last month when the KRG included the city in a referendum on Kurdish independence in northern Iraq. Iraq launched its offensive on Sept. 21 to dislodge ISIS from the Hawija area, where up to 78,000 people were estimated to be trapped, according to the United Nations. The UN said on Tuesday that an estimated 12,500 people had fled Hawija since the launch of the offensive to retake the town and surrounding areas last month. It said humanitarian agencies have set up checkpoints, camps and emergency sites capable of receiving more than 70,000 people who could flee. The militants continue to control the border town of al-Qaim and the region surrounding it. They also hold parts of the Syrian side of the border, but the area under their control is shrinking as they retreat in the face of hostile forces. ISIS’ cross-border “caliphate” effectively collapsed in July, when US-backed Iraqi forces captured Mosul, the group’s de facto capital in Iraq, in a grueling battle which lasted nine months.The militants’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared the caliphate from Mosul in mid-2014, released an audio recording last week that indicated he was alive, after several reports he had been killed. He called on his followers to keep up the fight despite the setbacks.

Palestinian Government Sets Economic Reform Plan for Gaza Strip
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/Ramallah– Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah presented on Wednesday highlights of his government’s economic reform plan in the Gaza Strip. “We have plans ready for action,” said Hamdallah, who remained in Gaza with a group of ministers following a Cabinet session on Tuesday. “We hope we can invest in industrial areas and gas fields,” he stated, addressing a group of Gazan businessmen.The prime minister was referring to his intention to reproduce the experience of the West Bank in the establishment of large industrial zones, which is still in its early stages, and to start extracting gas from the natural gas field off the coast of Gaza, which was discovered in 1998. The Authority highlighted an initial agreement with foreign companies for gas extraction, hoping that the Gaza gas field would be one of the foundations of the Palestinian economy. In addition, Hamdallah said that his government was looking to improve the business and investment environment in Gaza, to work on the land settlement and water purification projects and to complete infrastructure and sanitation plans. The economic file will be one of the most important issues that the Palestinian government will have to deal with, in the wake of the high rates of unemployment and poverty, and the significant and dangerous economic decline witnessed over the last period. According to a recent study, the Gaza Strip incurred losses worth $15 billion over the past ten years. Hamdallah stressed that his government would work to improve the economic situation, despite the decline of foreign aid by more than 70 percent, the delivery of only 35.5 percent of aid, and with many countries not fulfilling their commitments to reconstruction in Gaza. The prime minister, however, linked the ability of his government to implement its economic plans with the agreement between Fatah and Hamas on the reconciliation files in Cairo. “We hope that reconciliation will be a lever for our efforts in this context, which will contribute to improving our economy and the living conditions of citizens,” he said. Two delegations from Fatah and Hamas are expected to arrive next Monday in Cairo, upon an invitation by Egyptian Intelligence Chief Khalid Fawzi. On Tuesday, Hamdallah presided over a Cabinet meeting in the Gaza Strip, in a move towards reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas parties.

Hamas Names Formerly Turkey-Based Commander as New Deputy Chief
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/The Palestinian Gaza-ruling group Hamas named as its new deputy chief on Thursday a formerly Turkey-based commander Saleh al-Arouri. Israel has accused Arouri of orchestrating a lethal triple kidnapping that helped trigger the 2014 Gaza war in 2014 during which Israeli strikes, Palestinian rocket attacks and the ground fighting resulted in the death of thousands of people, the vast majority of them Gazans. Saleh al-Arouri’s promotion comes as Hamas seeks to close ranks with US-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after a decade-old rift, in an entente Israel says will not revive peace talks unless Hamas recognizes its right to exist and Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah had chaired the first meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in the Gaza Strip for three years on Tuesday, in a move toward reconciliation between the mainstream Fatah party and Hamas.
The Palestinian Information Centre, a Hamas-linked news site, said Arouri, who was born in the occupied West Bank and was exiled by Israel in 2010 after long stints in its prisons, had been elected as deputy to the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh. The Washington Post cited a federal indictment stating that Arouri has been a “high-ranking Hamas military leader dating back to his role as a Hamas student cell leader at Hebron University in the early 1990s.” There, he studied sharia law and the following year was elected leader of the Islamic Faction at the university. After three Israeli teens were abducted and killed in the West Bank in June 2014, Arouri – then in Istanbul – claimed responsibility in the name of Hamas. Israel responded with a West Bank security sweep which, along with the revenge killing of a Palestinian youth from Jerusalem by a group of Israelis, spiraled into a 50-day war in the Gaza Strip, Hamas’ fiefdom. Gaza health officials say 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, while Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians. Israel also pressed Ankara’s government to crack down on Arouri, describing him as the mastermind of the kidnappings and other Hamas militant attacks. Hamas sources said Arouri left Turkey in late 2015 for Qatar and later Lebanon. They declined to give his current location.

Erdogan Says Kurdish Independence Referendum Shows ‘Perfect Ingratitude’
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that his country would soon close its border with northern Iraq and shut its air space in response to last week’s Kurdish independence referendum. According to Reuters, Erdogan said the decision to hold the referendum showed the “perfect ingratitude” of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, which had developed close commercial and political ties with Turkey. “Flights to northern Iraq have already been suspended, the air space and borders will also close soon,” Erdogan said in a speech in the Turkish capital, Ankara. “We demand the KRG take the necessary lesson from their mistakes and take steps to compensate for them as soon as possible,” Erdogan said. On the other hand, Iraq’s central bank on Wednesday eased financial restrictions imposed on the Kurdistan region over its independence vote after receiving a pledge of cooperation from Kurdish banks, an Iraqi banking source said. All but four Kurdish-owned banks were allowed to send and receive dollar and foreign currency transfers on Wednesday, the source told Reuters. It is the first de-escalation measure in the crisis, which erupted after voters in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq overwhelmingly backed independence in a Sept. 25 referendum. The Iraqi government has also imposed a ban on direct international flights to and from the Kurdish region. The central bank had informed the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Tuesday it would stop selling dollars to the four Kurdish banks, and would halt all foreign currency transfers to the autonomous region, banking and government sources told Reuters. The measures are aimed at tightening the central bank’s control over the Kurdish banking industry. The central bank will maintain its dollar sale ban for four of the Kurdish banks pending a review of their cooperation, the banking source said.

Bahrainis Stripped of Citizenship Over Training with IRGC

Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/Manama- Bahrain’s public prosecution on Wednesday sentenced two nationals to jail terms and revoked their citizenship after they were convicted of training in Iran and the “possession of weapons for terrorist purposes”.One of the two accused received special training in weapons and explosives provided by the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, while the second facilitated travel for the first suspect. The High Criminal Court convicted them of the counts of charges leveled against them and revoked their nationality, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) cited Terror Crime Prosecution Advocate Esa Al-Ruwaei. Based on a notification from The General Directorate for Criminal Investigation (CID), an inquiry was launched into the case of one the convicts who received military training in Iran. The investigation confirmed that the first convict, who was among the most active participants in acts of rioting, rallying, and sabotage, was in contact with terrorists in Bahrain and abroad, BNA reported. The inquiry also established that he left Bahrain in 2015 and headed to Iran in coordination with terror leaders based abroad, with the help from other elements in the Kingdom. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard trained him on using, dismantling and assembling all types of military armament as well as shooting so as to prepare him to perpetrate terrorist operations. The second convict, who helped the first travel to Iran, was also involved in recruiting him. The investigation revealed that terrorists tasked the first convict with monitoring sensitive locations inside the Kingdom of Bahrain. Based on results of the investigation, the two accused were arrested and referred to the Public Prosecution to face charges, in compliance with constitutional measures. The public prosecution based its charge on the verbal testimony of a witness, the confessions of the first accused and the monitoring of their movement in and out of Bahrain. The two accused, who were provided all legal guarantees, stood trial at the Criminal Court in the presence of their defense lawyers.
The convicts have the right to challenge the verdict before the Court of Appeal within the legal deadline. The Bahraini judicial system also stipulates post-appellate guarantees for the case to be reviewed by the Court of Cassation.

Egyptian FM Says Eliminating ISIS ‘Isn’t the End’
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/Cairo — Egypt warned against the dangers of achieving what Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry put as “an incomplete victory” over terrorist organizations in the region. Shoukry pointed out that eliminating ISIS is not the end, stressing the importance of enhancing cooperation among coalition countries to counter any financing or support being pumped into terrorism. His remarks came during a meeting on Wednesday with Brett H. McGurk, the United States special envoy to counter ISIS. Shoukry stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation among countries partaking in the anti-ISIS international coalition in terms of ending any activity related to financing or supporting terrorism, under the guise of charity and activism. Shoukry reviewed Egypt’s efforts in the framework of the international coalition against ISIS and its various offshoots, highlighting efforts exerted by Egypt and its religious institutions in combating radical ideology and closely reviewing religious discourse and abolishing that used by terrorist organizations particularly content used to influence the minds of young people. Egypt’s foreign ministry later said in an official statement that Shoukry and McGurk exchanged views on assessing the situation against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and what has been achieved on the ground in so far–including ways to deal with the post-ISIS era in Iraq and how to strengthen progress has been made on the ground. In April, US President Donald Trump said during a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that Cairo and Washington would fight militants together. The meeting discussed ways to strengthen coordination between Egypt and the United States in the field of combating terrorism, as well as in international forums and the United Nations. As for Iraq, Shoukry praised the sacrifices made by the Iraqi army, supported by the international coalition, and the victories it achieved in liberating the previously ISIS-held land. Reviewing effects entailed by the Kurdistan referendum for independence, Shoukry points out to the importance of not allowing any internal variables to negatively affect efforts countering ISIS, noting the need to provide international support Iraq so desperately needs to fully complete its mission in liberated areas and advancing national reconciliation efforts.

Sisi Tells Armed Forces to be on High Alert
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 05/17/Cairo- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has lauded the armed forces on their efforts to confront terrorism and backing stability and security, urging them to “remain on alert and stick to the highest state of combat readiness given the delicate regional situation.”Sisi chaired the meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on Wednesday in the presence of top military brass. A statement issued by the council said that the conferees discussed the latest internal security developments amid the tense regional situation. They also discussed the measures taken by the armed forces in securing the border, eliminating terrorism in North Sinai, and consolidating security and stability in the area. At the onset of the meeting, Sisi gave a terse statement commemorating the 44th anniversary of Egypt’s October 6 victory over Israel, saluting the Egyptian people for their sacrifices. “The October victory was not just a military triumph to liberate our lands, but also a victory over despair and frustration to restore dignity and peace,” Sisi said. “Our current war against terrorism requires unity to protect our beloved homeland’s fate and grant a bright future for our children,” he stated. “Together, we are determined to be guided by the spirit of the October War to lead us in victory against the current enemies of life and humanity and for the prosperity and development of our nation,” Sisi added. Earlier, Sisi laid a wreath at the memorial of armed forces martyrs in Nasr city (east of Cairo) and at the graveyards of late presidents Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat and Gamal Abdel Nasser.

'We Don't Want Armed Confrontation', Iraqi PM Says on Kurds
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 05/17/Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Thursday he did not want an armed conflict with his country's Kurds, days after the autonomous Kurdistan region voted for independence in a referendum. "We don't want armed confrontation," he said after a meeting in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron, who voiced support for Kurds' rights while defending Iraq's territorial unity.

Spain Court Orders Catalan Independence Session Suspended
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 05/17/Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered the suspension of a planned session in Catalonia's parliament which separatist leaders have called for the region to declare independence. Judges "ordered the suspension of the plenary that has been called for Monday in the (Catalan) parliament" while it hears an appeal by rival Catalan politicians, a spokeswoman said. The court confirmed the decision in a written ruling. Catalan lawmakers had summoned regional president Carles Puigdemont to address the parliament about last Sunday's contested independence referendum in Catalonia. The court warned that any session carried out in defiance of its ban would be "null." It said the parliament's leaders could face criminal action if they ignore the court order. Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders have said they are not afraid of going to jail if Spanish authorities arrest them over their independence bid. They have defied the court's rulings in the past. Puigdemont carried out the referendum in defiance of a ban by the Spanish court and stern warnings from the national government in Madrid. Thursday's ruling raised the question of how the Spanish state will respond if Catalans decide to push ahead with Monday's session. The vote last weekend saw shocking scenes of police beating unarmed voters and plunged Spain into its worst political crisis in decades. The vote was not carried out according to regular electoral standards but Puigdemont said it had given legitimacy to the independence drive.
He said this week that the region's leaders could declare independence within days. Madrid rejected his call for mediation in the crisis, heightening tensions on Thursday. The national government could suspend Catalonia's existing autonomous status if it declares independence.

US to ask NATO allies for some 1,000 more troops for Afghanistan: ambassador
Thu 05 Oct 2017/NNA - The United States is to ask NATO allies to contribute around 1,000 extra troops to help in the battle against the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, the new U.S. ambassador to the alliance said Thursday. Kay Bailey Hutchison said the forces would add to the roughly 3,000 US troops who are already on their way to Afghanistan under President Donald Trump's new strategy against the militants. ---AFP

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 05-06/17
Fatah fears it will be 'trapped' by Hamas in Lebanon-style deal in Gaza

MEE contributor/Thursday 5 October 2017
PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not want to become just an 'ATM machine in Gaza' following reconciliation talks.
GAZA CITY/RAMALLAH, Palestine - As the Palestinian government took the first symbolic and ceremonial reconciliation steps in Gaza, officials in the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said they are deeply concerned about Hamas’ apparent intention to “trap” them in a Hezbollah-style power-sharing deal in the strip.PA President Mahmoud Abbas himself referred to the Lebanese political party, whose militant wing oversees security over certain areas of the country. In an interview with the Egyptian TV channel CPC on Monday, he said: “It should be very clear that I will not accept a copy of the Hezbollah style in Gaza.” Officials close to Abbas told MEE that the president will not accept a partial deal that leaves Hamas in control on the ground while his government takes full responsibility for service provision. “The president will not accept just being an ATM machine in Gaza: either his government takes full control or not at all,” Majid Fityani, head of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said.
Every single gun and every single bullet in Gaza must be under the Palestinian law,” he added. For its part, Hamas has stressed its willingness to make “painful concessions” to make the reconciliation happen. Senior Hamas officials told MEE the movement wants to get rid of the government burdens in Gaza and focus on rebuilding the movement, and entering the Palestinian political system. Hamas rule in Gaza Strip has been in a deep financial crisis since 2013, when Egypt blocked the commercial tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, depriving the Islamic movement of major financial revenues. Following the closure of the tunnels, the local Hamas government has paid only 50 percent salary to its 40,000 government employees. And the financial crisis in Gaza has only deepened since the unprecedented measures Abbas took earlier this year. Abbas cut 30 percent of the salaries of 60,000 allegedly idle PA employees in Gaza and scaled back the payments for the electricity sector. He also sent several thousand civil servants working in the Hamas government and receiving salaries from his government into early retirement, and reduced expenditure on several key ministries, such as health and education.
Abbas’ aides say the president took such tough measures to force Hamas to turn Gaza over to the PA.
Concessions or traps?
Hamas officials tell MEE that they are willing to make concessions in three areas which hindered previous attempts at reconciliation between the two sides: crossings; the security apparatus and government employees. But Fatah is concerned that these concessions are only designed to trap Fatah and burden them with all the trappings of government, party officials tell MEE. Senior Fatah and Hamas delegations are to meet in Cairo next Tuesday to discuss these three policy areas. Abbas also said on Monday that the PA “needs to take over everything in Gaza”. And he stressed that there could be only "one state, one regime, one law and one weapon" in the Gaza Strip. Officials in Fatah reiterated that this is indeed Abbas’ priority. “We cannot accept to rule under the control of Al-Qassam Brigades,” one official told MEE, referring to Hamas' military wing. But it will not be easy for Abbas to walk away from the talks, fearing that Egypt would replace this path of reconciliation with an alternative path, brokered between his rival, Mohammed Dahlan, and Hamas. Egypt helped both Dahlan and Hamas to reach a deal shortly before it invited Abbas for a similar round of talks that led to this current agreement with Hamas. Hamas officials say they are willing to have “creative solutions” for the Al-Qassam Brigades and all various military wings in Gaza. Hamas’ Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar has proposed a “national army” in Gaza that encompasses Al-Qassam Brigades and the other military groups, consisting of thousands of fighters. “There is coordination between Al-Qassam Brigades and all military brigades in Gaza to have one unit and build a Palestinian National Army,” he said in a speech before youth activists a few days ago.
'Creative ideas' being pursued
One of the “creative ideas” being discussed within Hamas is to have Al-Qassam Brigades operating underground, with PA above ground.
Officials say Hamas is also going to propose, in the Cairo talks next week, the introduction of a different system for security services in Gaza, as a “liberated part of the country” and not adopting the PA’s so-called “security coordination” with Israel, and also not sharing security information with any other foreign security agencies. Conflict issues will also be determined collectively, according to Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk, who said in Moscow last week that: “We are ready to share the decision of war and peace with the PA.”“War and peace are national matters and Hamas is willing to share positively the responsibility of the decision on these issues with the PA,” he said. But, he said, “The issue of Al-Qassam’s arms was not on the discussions” in the previous Cairo talks. Some in Hamas believe Sinwar has gone too far in his concessions to Abbas, and he has been criticised on social media. Sinwar said Hamas is unified in its support for reconciliation and that those most behind the deal are Ismail Haniyeh, chair of the political office, and commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Mohammd Daif and the commander of the West Bank, Saleh Arouri. And as far as it is concerned, officials say, Fatah and the PA have no desire to wrest control of Gaza from Hamas.
Egypt's motivations
The first Fatah leadership meeting after the most recent Cairo talks was not decisive and three main positions emerged. Some within the leadership believed that Hamas should not be trusted, and that the party should keep out of Gaza. But a second grouping believed that it would be unwise to reject such an offer, and that initial steps should be taken to gauge just how serious Hamas is. The third position was that the offer had to be accepted, regardless of Hamas’ real intentions, as the people of Gaza desperately need help, and Fatah is the only party capable of delivering such badly needed services.
Abbas concluded by deciding to send his government to Gaza to see how serious Hamas were. But in the meantime, Egypt is still keen to oversee the reconciliation process, and to see it completed. When Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in Gaza on Monday, Egypt sent senior intelligence officers and a media team to monitor the process. PA officials say Egypt abandoned the Hamas-Dahlan talks after they feared it would lead to a permanent separation of Gaza and the West Bank, something the current government did not want to bear historical responsibility for, and this is why they moved towards brokering a deal between Hamas and Fatah. They say also Egypt is to play a regional role in the Donald Trump plan for peace in the region and nothing can be done without Abbas and the PA. Many observers also believe that Egypt's involvement in the Palestinian reconciliation is motivated by a desire to become a prominent regional player, akin to its rivals Qatar and Turkey. The two sides will now meet again on Tuesday in Cairo.

Saudi Arabia and Russia are not Foes
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/October 05/17
With steady steps, Russia returned over the past decade to the Middle Eastern arena. This coincides with the development of its relations with Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, the Syrian regime, and surely Iran. However, Moscow’s relations with Saudi Arabia were going through rocky roads after which tensions became high following different positions on the Syrian crisis. The first thing that comes to mind when discussing the relations between the two countries is the Syrian issue. It remained a complicated point of disagreement between both countries and a barrier to the development of the bilateral relations despite several attempts. However, after decades of discords, June 2015 was crucial in restoring the Saudi-Russian relations during the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Russia under the directives of King Salman. Riyadh and Moscow reached an inevitable result in their future relations that they would rather focus more on common interests available in promising fields rather than disagreeing on issues that affected them negatively.
One can say that Riyadh succeeded back then in breaking the ice in its relations with Moscow. Prince Mohammed’s visit was reflected in the country’s success to overcome the Syrian crisis. They both realized that what brings them together is much more important than disparities. King Salman’s current visit to Russia is a decisive development in the course of Saudi-Russian relations. The visit aims to eliminate elements that affected the relations, or as the Russian Ambassador in Saudi Arabia said that some parties are trying to target the Saudi-Russian relations through the Syrian issue.
Through King Salman’s visit to Russia, a new phase of a coalition began based on joint interests that will be reflected on the region’s stability and security which is a strategic goal both Riyadh and Moscow aim to reach. At the same time, Saudi Arabia continues to present itself as a regional and international player that is indispensable. Saudi foreign policymakers are credited for taking into consideration long-term planning in their relations with Russia through a packet of strategic relations. Side differences or even special relations with the West can’t hinder the success of the Saudi-Russian partnership.
Saudis are also credited for adopting a balanced foreign policy based on diverse options through openness to Russia as well as other international forces. Saudi policy aims to diversify its activity with different partners which grant it the ability to manage the international relations on common interests. Needless to say that as soon as this partnership is activated economically, commercially, and militarily Moscow will have to balance its complicated relationship with Iran. Architects of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy are aware of this aspect especially after Tehran took advantage that Riyadh steered clear of Kremlin’s maze. Indeed, Riyadh disagrees with Moscow on the Syrian issue. But, at the time it is adopting a realistic policy aimed at establishing partners and not allies on the basis of exchanged interests, Saudi Arabia realizes that there is a lot to be achieved from strong relations with Russia.
With 60 percent of Russia’s budget revenues from oil imports, the kingdom is aware that Moscow prioritizes a sort of coordination and agreement with Riyadh on oil prices and production. For the first time, the two countries succeeded in leading the international oil market out of the most critical crisis. They managed to leave the bottleneck and reach a price close to $60 after it fell below $28 two years ago. During an energy forum in Moscow attended by several OPEC oil ministers, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday: “Everyone is interested in a stable market. What we did with OPEC, I believe, is beneficial for all the global economy.” Saudi Arabia and Russia appeared as though they were enemies separated by miles apart. Several attempts to reproach the two countries failed until facts and realities proved that the two states are not like that at all.
King Salman’s visit to Russia is a historic moment that will drive both countries closer and the relations will enter a new phase of further understanding and deeper cooperation.

What Iran Needs Are Not Concessions But Sanctions/ما تحاجه إيران هو العقوبات وليس التنازلات
Heshmat Alavi/The Federalist/October 05/17
With concerns escalating, North Korea should not lead us to tone down our voice and provide further concessions to Pyongyang and Tehran. We should in fact do the opposite.
More than two years after the flaws of a deal between the P5+1 and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program have become obvious, a chorus is busy insisting there is no other option. While the rendered pact, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has failed to rein in the Tehran regime, correct measures are available at hand.
Some argue the JCPOA has successfully slowed Iran’s dangerous drive to obtain nuclear weapons. The Center for a New American Security held a forum titled, “Consequences of a Collapse of the Iran Nuclear Deal,” featuring “a plethora of prominent speakers advocating in favor of preserving the deal, including former senior Obama administration official, Colin Kahl, a chief proponent of the agreement,” according to The Washington Free Beacon.
Yet with limited restrictions imposed on Tehran’s overall nuclear program, international inspectors are not enjoying the access they should to Iran’s controversial facilities. The Obama administration made many promises about the nuclear deal, which we have yet to see materialize. This includes “anytime, anywhere” inspections that have now morphed into a complicated process of practically requesting permission from Iran.
We Do Indeed Have Other Viable Options
The highly controversial Parchin military complex, located southeast of Tehran, was “inspected” by Iran’s own “scientists” to provide samples to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. That is tantamount to asking a murderer to deliver his DNA, in privacy without any supervision, as evidence to compare with that found at a crime scene where closed-circuit cameras recorded his presence at the time of the crime.
JCPOA advocates say the deal isn’t perfect, yet also claim measures against Iran are ill-founded and can be counterproductive. This is not the case.
“The administration could discourage global firms from doing business with Iran by leaving open its final position on the deal, and thus placing at risk their business with America,” as proposed in a recent Foreign Policy piece by James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey.
If not pulling completely out of the agreement, Washington also enjoys the right to reinstitute non-nuclear sanctions in retaliation to Iran’s slate of bellicosities, including ballistic missile advances, supporting terrorism, meddling in states across the Middle East, and domestic human rights violations.
Yes, such measures would disappoint Tehran. Yet knowledge of this regime’s nature suggests such actions will not push Iran to the brink of abandoning the JCPOA ship, as they are benefiting from the present terms.
And yes, the Iran nuclear deal is a multilateral agreement, as European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reminded. Yet also as a reminder, in case of Iran violating the JCPOA terms, the United States can unilaterally launch the “snapback” process and have UN sanctions re-imposed on Iran. In such a scenario there is no need to garner support from Russia or China, both known for backing Tehran, as Security Council veto authority is irrelevant in this regard.
Appeasement Is a Failed Approach
With concerns over this issue escalating, the case of North Korea should not lead us to tone down our voice and provide further concessions to Pyongyang and Tehran. We should in fact do the opposite. This dossier should help us realize that appeasement—the same mentality embraced by the Obama administration in blueprinting the highly flawed JCPOA—has placed us where we are today with North Korea.
Do we seek to trek down the same path with Iran, a state with dangerous influence across the already flashpoint Middle East? One such horrible example is Iran’s involvement in Syria. JCPOA advocates are also describing a “best-case scenario” of providing more concessions to North Korea to muster a “far-from-perfect” pact, similar to the Iran deal, in exchange for Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear development.
Déjà vu. Haven’t we already experienced this with the Clinton administration’s “Agreed Framework” of 1994? Kim Jong Un recently tested his state’s sixth and most powerful nuclear device, claiming to be a hydrogen bomb. As another harsh reminder, rapprochement with North Korea led to the notorious 2010 sinking of the South Korean destroyer, the Cheonan. It is quite obvious by now that a Pyongyang submarine torpedoed the warship and left 46 sailors dead.
Does another South Korea naval ship, or a city for that matter, have to be targeted for us to realize that rogue states such as Iran and North Korea will only consider engagement as a sign of the international community’s weakness and take full advantage of it? Or must a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf come into the crosshairs of Revolutionary Guards’ fast boats for the West to finally open its eyes?
Some think Iran lacks the necessary will and understands all too well how such a move would spark drastic international measures against its interests. JCPOA advocates (read Iranian apologists) have also delegitimized any concern about Tehran’s intentions by claiming pact violations, such as breaching limits set on heavy water—the substance needed for plutonium-based nuclear bombs—as mere “bumps in the road.”
This shows those making such arguments either lack the necessary knowledge of Iran’s belligerent nature in the past four decades, or simply fall into the category of Iran lobbyists. Fierce international sanctions left Iran no choice but to succumb to nuclear talks with knees bleeding. More non-nuclear sanctions are needed to make Tehran understand the international community means business.
“Peace for our time” was the claim made by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in his September 30, 1938 speech concerning the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler. Seventy million people paid the price of that strategic mistake with their lives. Let us finally learn our lesson of appeasement and put aside such an approach for good.
Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, ranging from human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime’s support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program. He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi & blogs at IranCommentary
Photo Adam Jones / Flickr
appeasement diplomacy Foreign Policy Iran Iran deal Middle East nuclear proliferation rogue states sanctions
Copyright © 2017 The Federalist, a wholly independent division of FDRLST Media, All Rights Reserved.

Islamic Sunset on Germany
Guy Millière/Gatestone Institute/October 05/17
Because Germany had committed genocide, it was impregnated with self-hatred and a rejection of its own identity. Germany turned to European construction and tried to define itself as European, in order not to call itself German.
A gradual replacement of the non-Muslim population with a Muslim population is taking place. Forty percent of children under five and born in Germany today have foreign roots.
The demographer Michael Paulwitz wrote a year ago that unless the current trends are reversed, Germans will become a minority in their own country, possibly in fifteen to twenty years.
Germany's federal elections were supposed to lead to the triumph of Angela Merkel. Their results were rather different from what was anticipated. Merkel's "victory" looks like a disaster: the Christian Democratic Alliance (CDU-CSU) won 33% of the vote -- 9% less than four years ago, its worst result since 1949. The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which governed the country with Merkel during the last four years, lost more than 5%, and fell from 25.7 % to 20% of the vote -- the worst result in its history. Alternative for Germany (AfD), a conservative nationalist party born in 2013, obtained 12.6%, and will enter in the Bundestag for the first time. Die Linke, the Marxist left, received 9%. As neither the SPD nor Die Linke will participate in the next government, and as AfD is radically opposed to the policies pursued by Merkel, she has only two possible partners: the libertarian Free Democratic Party and The Greens: both of whose positions on most subjects seem incompatible.
Angela Merkel will remain Chancellor, but by default, and mostly because there was no other real choice: six months ago, two-thirds of the German population wanted her to be replaced. Only 8% wanted her to remain in her post. Martin Schultz, former President of the European Parliament, who was the SPD candidate, did not offer anything different and led a lackluster campaign.
If Merkel succeeds in forming a coalition, it will be a precarious and unstable assemblage that will keep Germany on the verge of paralysis and make the country the sick man of 21st century Europe.
Germany actually already is a sick country, and Angela Merkel is part of the sickness.
In 1945, Germany was in ruins. It rebuilt itself and gradually became Europe's leading economic power. While regaining strength, it did not assert itself politically and remained discreet, humble, repentant, silently shameful. Because of its role in the war, it was reluctant to recreate an army when NATO powers asked it to rebuild one; instead, it adopted a general position of appeasement that led to "Ostpolitik", a policy of rapprochement with the communist East and the Soviet Union.
Because nationalism had led to National Socialism, Germany rejected any form of nationalism. Because Germany had committed genocide, it was impregnated with self-hatred and a rejection of its own identity.
Germany turned to European construction and tried to define itself as European in order not to call itself German.
This process lasted until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of the country. Reunification was widely perceived in Germany as the fruit of humility and discretion.
Angela Merkel, who had seemed to embody a successfully reunified Germany, inherited this process when she became Chancellor in 2005.
Malfunctions had already begun to surface. The German economy remained prosperous, but poverty was increasing (in 2005, 17% of Germans were officially poor and earned half of the national average income) and the number of working poor was growing.
The birth rate was extremely low. It had started to decline in 1967, and rapidly fell to 1.5 children per woman. The population, in general, was aging.
Germany began to bring in Turkish migrants to compensate for the lack of manpower. By 2000, the number of migrants had reached 3.5 million.
Importing Muslim migrants also brought a slow Islamization of the country. In the main cities, mosques were built. Koranic schools were opened. Islam was integrated into public school curricula.
Merkel constantly sought consensus and worked with the Social Democrats for eight of the twelve years she spent as the head of the government.
Germans seemed to accept this arrangement until she decided to open the borders of Germany to a huge wave of refugees and migrants from the Middle East in August 2015. More than 1.5 million unvetted people entered the country; most were young men entitled to family reunification.
Claims that refugees would assimilate without major problems started colliding with reality. Rapes multiplied. Violence escalated.
In 2016, almost half the crimes in Berlin were committed by recent migrants to the country Jihadist networks took shape. Terrorist acts started to take place. Muslim anti-Semitism led to attacks on synagogues. The costs of welfare rose sharply.
Merkel expressed no regret. She did not even have second thoughts after the elections: she said that if she had to open the borders of the country again, she would do it. She tried to impose her decisions on immigration on the reluctant European countries of Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. She is still trying. Shame is still present in the minds of million of Germans, but fading away. A few years ago, a survey showed almost 70% of Germans were angered at still being held responsible today for crimes against Jews. Roughly 25% of people surveyed agreed with the statement: "Many Jews try to use Germany's Third Reich past to their advantage". Recent polls shows that between one-third and one-half of Germans view Israel as the political equivalent of Nazi Germany. The German government now regularly pretends to give lessons on morality to Israel, but never criticizes terrorist leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas.
Germany remains in a position of appeasing, securing and strengthening economic ties with rogue regimes such as Iran. The German army is so ill-equipped that during exercises instead of weapons, it uses broomsticks. Polls show that the German population now think that the main danger to world peace does not come from Iran or North Korea, but from the United States. Germany is today the most anti-American country in the Western world . Stern, Germany's most popular news weekly magazine, recently put on its cover an image of Donald Trump performing a Nazi salute while draped in the American flag.
Economic efficiency is low. The German economy is essentially an industrial economy and not adapted to the digital age. Investment in GDP has declined; innovative activity is weak; productivity stagnates. Since 2008, annual productivity growth has been only 0.5%. The planned closure of German nuclear power plants in the name of "protecting the climate" raises wholesale electricity prices, while German households and businesses bear the financial burden of paying among the highest electricity costs in the developed world. Unskilled immigrants from the Muslim world cannot replace skilled Germans who retire or pass away. The number of poor people continues to increase. The capacity for receiving immigrants has reached its limits; living conditions in many shelters have become substandard: floors are not cleaned regularly and are soiled for days with blood, urine, feces, and invasion of cockroaches are frequent. The German Commissioner for Immigration recently said that only a quarter to a third of the refugees who settled in Germany could enter the labor market. The others will have to rely on government benefits for the rest of their lives.
Diseases that were nearly eradicated, such as tuberculosis, made a comeback. Vaccines did not exist as Europeans had stopped making them.
The median age in Germany is now 46.8. A gradual replacement of the non-Muslim population with a Muslim population is taking place. Forty percent of children under five, born in Germany, have foreign roots. Since 2005, the population of new arrivals has increased by 24%, while the native population has decreased by 5%. Demographers say that unless the current trends are reversed, Germans will become a minority in their own country, possibly in fifteen to twenty years.
Nothing at the moment indicates that the trends will reverse.
Most of the German press is permeated with political correctness. Newspapers and magazines support multiculturalism, and do not talk about the most urgent problems facing the country: anemic economic growth, population ageing, and Islamization. Many journalists, professors and writers say that German culture does not exist. When books criticizing Islam may become best sellers, their authors are immediately demonized. Deutschland schafft sich ab ("Germany Abolishes Itself") was an enormous success in 2010, but its author, Thilo Sarrazin, was immediately treated as a "racist" and pushed towards the margin of all political debates. Rolf Peter Sieferle, a former counselor of Angela Merkel, wrote several articles describing the self-destruction of Germany. "A society that can no longer make the difference between itself and the forces that dissolve it lives morally beyond its means," he said in 2015. Insulted and rejected by those with whom he used to work, he committed suicide in September 2016. A collection of his notes was published after his death, Finis Germaniae ("The End of Germany").
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party promises to "shake off the Bundestag". The 12.6% of the vote it received will undoubtedly give it a voice. Its leaders are treated by the media and other political parties as the incarnation of the devil. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned against the entry of "real Nazis" into the parliament . A leader of the far-left Die Linke party asked: "Have we not learnt the lessons from the war?". Jewish leaders are scared: Dr. Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany said that AfD uses strategies generally used by aspiring "fascist dictatorships."
The AfD party is not Nazi, however. Its members rather seem to fear that Germany and Germans will disappear under the weight of Islam. The Nazis were anti-Semitic, militarist, socialist, and desired to conquer. The AfD is not anti-Semitic, not militarist, not socialist, and does not want to conquer other countries. Jewish leaders in Germany are frightened because they think that if the AfD is hostile to one minority, the Muslims, it could grow hostile to other minorities. They are probably wrong. There is no comparison between Muslims and Jews. The AfD has strongly supported Israel's right to exist and Israel's right to has to fight the Islamic threat against it.
Some AfD members have made controversial statements about German soldiers, and about the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
At the same time, the AfD is currently Germany's most pro-Israeli party. It is also the only party that clearly foresees the very real risk of Germany sliding towards an Islamic sunset.
Is it possible for Germany to recover? We shall see. What is at stake here, however, is far more than Germany.
*Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.
© 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 Real Roots of Islamic Terrorism
Khadija Khan/Gatestone Institute/October 05/17
Last month, an Islamic preacher was caught red-handed in Britain preaching for ISIS and jihad, and inciting youths to commit violence against non-Muslims. To everyone's purported astonishment, he was not delivering his lectures on websites. He was delivering sermons live in a public-charity mosque -- funded by taxpayers -- in Stoke-on-Trent.
France and Britain remain in the constant grip of Islamist terror, yet their governments, despite having laws prohibiting "hate speech", have so far failed to address the influence that preachers of violence and hatred have with local Muslims.
Blaming terror recruitment only on the internet is just an invented story, like the one that every suicide bomber or those who committed acts of terror in the name of Islam were lone wolves who merely took "inspiration" from terror outfits such as al-Qaeda or ISIS.
Governments in Britain and other countries in the grip of terror posed by Islamists have probably also been using the "online" excuse to shake off any charges of reckless endangerment or criminal neglect that they have might have committed by allowing these extremists to flourish in West.
The terrorists involved in the Parsons Green Underground attack and other incidents, as in Barcelona, were found to have ties with local mosques or seminaries, yet the administrations of these places have refused to take any responsibility, and stated that they are not accountable for the acts of their members.
Another terrorist attacks France and slaughters two innocent women at the Marseille train station. The terrorist was reportedly chanting the Arabic verses.
Within 24 hours, another terror attack took place in Edmonton, Canada outside a football stadium, when a man with a knife left five people injured. An ISIS flag was reportedly found in suspect's car.
The strike in a country known for going extra miles to take in immigrants from the war-torn Middle East exposes the fact that these terrorists are enemies not only of human rights but often if the very people trying to help them.
No soft gesture, however, will deter extremist Muslims unless the whole world submits to their version of Islam.
Western governments might nevertheless once again choose to ignore the existence of religious schools and mosques that serve as radicalization and recruitment centers for extremist Muslims across the West.
The authorities in Europe seem to have been doing very little to clamp down on the recruitment of mainly Muslim youths by terrorists. Many apologists seem to have been trying to confuse people by saying that the internet is root cause of the Islamic extremism and terrorism problem, and authorities have been blaming the websites of terror outfits. Websites do not vote.
France and Britain remain in the constant grip of Islamist terror, yet their governments, despite having laws prohibiting "hate speech", have so far failed to address the influence that preachers of violence and hatred have with local Muslims.
Last month, an Islamic preacher was caught red-handed in Britain preaching for ISIS and jihad, and inciting youths to commit violence against non-Muslims.
To everyone's professed astonishment, he was not delivering his lectures on websites or communicating with the gullible youths through online "chats". He was delivering sermons live in a public-charity mosque -- funded by taxpayers -- in Stoke-on-Trent.
Governments in Britain and other countries in the grip of terror posed by Islamists have probably also been using the "online" excuse to shake off any charges of reckless endangerment or criminal neglect that they have might have committed by allowing these extremists to flourish in West.
The authorities seem deliberately to be ignoring the compelling presence of hardline madrassahs, mosques and faith-schools that might well be involved in clear instances of preaching violence and hate.
Blaming terror recruitment only on the internet is just an invented story, like the one that every suicide bomber or those who committed acts of terror in the name of Islam, whether in Paris, London or Berlin, are lone wolves who merely took "inspiration" from terror outfits such as al-Qaeda or ISIS.
It is laughable to claim that a "lone wolf" has committed a terror attack, especially when the terror outfits such as ISIS immediately take responsibility for them.
The London Bridge attack left Prime Minister Theresa May stating "enough is enough" and sounding finally determined to tackle terrorism a bit.
But the slogan merely ended up on the back-burner as the terror spree continued -- as do the hardline seminaries and recruiters that then led to the Parsons Green Underground attack.
The terrorists involved in that and other attacks, as in Barcelona, were found to have ties with local mosques or seminaries, yet the administrations of these places have refused to take any responsibility, and state that they are not accountable for the acts of their members.
Westminster terror attacker Khalid Masood was serving as a public contact person for the website of the Luton Islamic Center Mosque just a week before he rammed a car into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge and went on to kill a police officer. Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi, who murdered 22 people, including children, regularly attended Didsbury Mosque, which was also known to have home to many other al-Qaeda and ISIS recruits. The mosque was also known for having ties with al-Qaeda-linked jihadists such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
The perpetrators of the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attacks -- Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouance and Youssef Zaghba -- were believed to be associated with the outlawed Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, co-founded by the convicted hate preacher Anjem Choudary. Khuram Butt was even seen brandishing an Islamic State flag in Regent's Park in a Channel 4 documentary.
The Berlin Christmas Market terrorist, Anis Amri, was also reportedly radicalized by a local mosque. One of the preachers of the Mosque, Abu Walaa, is these days on trial with four others in Germany for serving as an ISIS recruiter.
There is a dire need to hold government officials -- and the preachers and administrators of these mosques -- accountable, and to demand that they take action against extremists who target these breeding grounds, or face criminal prosecution. The policy of avoiding the problem by keeping one's eyes shut only enlarges it and sacrifices freedom on the altar of terror.
**Khadija Khan is a Pakistani journalist and commentator, currently based in Germany.
© 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.