October 12/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you

Saint Luke 11/05-13/:"Jesus said to his disciples: "Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,' and he says in reply from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.' I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 11-12/17
Politicians seek to exploit rape and murder/Diana Moukalled/October 11/17
A Nobel for Humility in Economics/Noah Smith/Bloomberg/October 11/17
Palestinian Normalization -- With Hamas, Not Israel/Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/October 11/17
Turkey: Let Them Die!/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/October 11/17
How Palestinian unity efforts can catch Iran off-guard/Hamid Bahrami/Al Arabiya/October 11/17
Who was first to attack the Muslim Brotherhood/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 11/17
Do Pakistanis need to pay the price for US failure in Afghanistan/Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi/Al Arabiya/October 11/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 11-12/17
Lebanon dismisses Lieberman linking Hezbollah, army
U.S. Steps Up Rhetoric against Hizbullah
Hizbullah Says New U.S. Measures Attempt to 'Demonize' Group
Military Source Says Lieberman Remarks 'Totally Contradict with Reality'
FPM Reassures on Maarab Agreement, Says Clemenceau Meeting 'Not Against Anyone'
Berri Calls Budget Session, Says Tripartite Talks 'Not against Anyone'
Bou Assi Stresses Need to Boost Lebanon Stability in U.S. Talks
Politicians seek to exploit rape and murder
US offers $12 million for Hezbollah operatives
Israel’s Lieberman: Next War Will Take Place on 3 Fronts
Future Movement: Hezbollah’s Campaign against Saudi Arabia Harms Lebanon
Bassil from Budapest: We opened our doors, the country got invaded
Machnouk emphasizes attachment to constants
Fenianos lays corner stone for MEA's Green Building
Army: Two Palestinians, one Syrian arrested on terrorism charges
Army Chief meets Zahle MPs bloc

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 11-12/17
Triple Suicide Attack near Damascus Police HQ
Iran Warns of Tough Response if Trump Scuttles Nuclear Deal
Baghdad Pressures Kurdistan by Reopening Oil Pipeline
Russia Sets up Shipping Line to Syria
Erdogan Boycotts US Ambassador as Visa Row Intensifies
KRG says Baghdad preparing for major offensive
Triple suicide attack near Damascus police HQ: Ministry
US official: No negotiated pullout for ISIS from Syria’s Raqqa
Iraq court orders arrest of Kurd referendum vote organizers
US still seeking explanation for arrest of staff in Turkey
Are Egypt and Italy over the Giulio Regeni ordeal?
Human Rights Bodies Denounce Qatar’s Threat to Exterminate Arab Tribes
Azzam al-Ahmed: Egypt Exerted Unprecedented Efforts towards Palestinian Reconciliation
Russia Supports ‘Federal Syria,’ National Dialogue

Latest Lebanese Related News published on October 11-12/17
Lebanon dismisses Lieberman linking Hezbollah, army
Roi Kais/Ynetnews/October 11/17
Rebuffing statements by Israel's defense minister that Lebanese Army has relinquished independence to Hezbollah terror group and that next war will automatically be fought on 2 fronts, Lebanese military official says comments 'detached from reality,' warns Lebanon 'ready to defend its borders.'
A Lebanese military official criticized Wednesday as “totally detached from reality” statements made by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman the previous day in which he argued that the Lebanese army and Hezbollah are “inextricably linked.” “The Lebanese Army has full independence and is subject to the decisions of the political government,” the official is reported to have said in an interview with the Lebanese newspaper Al Joumhouria. Rebuffing Lieberman’s remarks that “The Lebanese army has become an integral part of Hezbollah’s campaign under its command” and that “The Lebanese army has lost its independence,” the Lebanese official said, “(The government's) command is what outlines its military policies, and not anyone else.” In a stark warning to Israel, the official said Israel should avoid seeking any military adventures with Lebanon given its demonstrated military mettle.
“The Lebanese Army has proven its readiness to defend the eastern border against terror and it is also ready to defend the southern border if Israel decides to start a war of any kind,” he said. “Our basic task is to defend Lebanese territory and the army has no interest in merging fronts in war beyond the border,” the official added in reference to Lieberman’s assessment that the eruption of any war on any border would immediately trigger the opening of a second front, with the northern front consisting of both Lebanon and Syria. “In any development that takes place, it will be one area—Syria and Lebanon together, Hezbollah, the Assad regime and all collaborators of the Assad regime. Regarding the Lebanese region, we’re no longer talking solely about Hezbollah,” Lieberman told IDF soldiers during a celebratory event marking the festival of Sukkot at his sukkah in the Kirya IDF headquarters based in Tel Aviv.
According to the Lebanese official, “The US and Britain are providing generous assistance to the army in Lebanon and they emphasize that they will continue to arm it and show continued trust in it. “Does Washington and London arm Hezbollah, as Lieberman says? Does he have information that these two big nations don’t?”During his remarks, while Lieberman didn’t claim to have any such information or claim that the US or the UK were arming the Hezbollah terror group, on more than one occasion he equated it with the Lebanese army. “We’re talking about Hezbollah and about the Lebanese military, and unfortunately this is the reality,” Lieberman told the soldiers. Alluding to the Latin proverb “Si vis pacem, para bellum” Lieberman set out his guiding principle which he said he believed served the best chances to avert war. “My basic tenet is ‘if you want peace, prepare for war.’ Whoever wants peace must prepare for war, and I hope that our enemies on the other side will think carefully about each and every step they take against the State of Israel, so we won’t need to illustrate the strength and abilities of the IDF,” Lieberman warned.

U.S. Steps Up Rhetoric against Hizbullah

Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/17/The United States has stepped up its rhetoric against Hizbullah, slapping rewards on two commanders and urging allies to blacklist the group. U.S. President Donald Trump is due to unveil a new strategy to counter Iran later this week, but in the meantime senior officials singled out Tehran's ally in Syria and Lebanon. Washington and the Lebanese movement have been foes since 1983, when the group was blamed by for deadly suicide bombings against its embassy and a U.S. barracks in Beirut. Since then Hizbullah has become a powerful military force in the region and been implicated in several international attacks -- but also a fixture in Lebanese politics. Some U.S. allies impose sanctions on Hizbullah's "military wing" while tolerating the group's role as a political party representing many Lebanese Shiites in government. But U.S. counterterrorism chief Nicholas Rasmussen and ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism Nathan Sales said that Washington would never accept this distinction. "Countering Hizbullah is a top priority for the Trump administration," Sales told reporters, announcing the rewards for two alleged top-level Hizbullah operatives. Sales said the State Department would pay $7 million for information that leads to Talal Hamiyah, alleged head of Hizbullah's "External Security Organization." A further $5 million is on offer for leads on Fuad Shukr, "a senior military commander" of Hizbullah in Lebanon. U.S. officials believe Shukr was born in 1962, either in Beirut or the Bekaa Valley.
Talal Hamiyah's U.S. Treasury terror blacklist designation lists four possible dates of birth between November 1952 and March 1960, and three potential Lebanese birthplaces. It describes his unit as the ESO as "the Hizbullah element responsible for the planning, coordination, and execution of terrorist attacks outside of Lebanon.""These are the first Hizbullah-related rewards under the Rewards for Justice Program in a decade," Sales said. "The United States and our allies will aggressively target its terrorism infrastructure and financial support networks," he vowed, hailing support from U.S. friends.
But he warned that "more work needs to be done.""Some countries have chosen to designate only Hizbullah’s military wing, leaving its so-called 'political wing' untouched. But that is a false distinction," he said. "Make no mistake: Hizbullah has no political wing. It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core," he argued. The officials' comments will be seen as setting the tone ahead of Trump's announcement of his new Iran strategy, which will be aimed at rolling back Tehran's influence. Hizbullah -- an influential force in Lebanon and key ally to Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime -- will be a target. U.S. Arab friends such as Saudi Arabia are pushing for a tougher line on Tehran, and close ally Israel is always alert to Hizbullah's presence across its northern border.

Hizbullah Says New U.S. Measures Attempt to 'Demonize' Group
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 11/17/A multimillion dollar reward offered by the Trump administration in return for information leading to the arrest of two senior operatives of Hizbullah is part of ongoing U.S. efforts to "demonize" the group, a Hizbullah official said Wednesday. The new U.S. measures, including recent sanctions, will not affect Hizbullah's operational activities, the official told The Associated Press. He was reacting to the State Department's announcement Tuesday of a total of $12 million for information leading to the location, arrest or conviction of the two, as part of tougher U.S. action against Iran, the Shiite militant group's regional backer. The rewards are the first offered by the United States for Hizbullah leaders in a decade, and come against the backdrop of heightened U.S.-Iran tensions resulting from President Donald Trump's threats to scuttle the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. An avowed critic of the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, Trump has called it one of America's "worst and most one-sided transactions" ever. U.S. officials have said he is looking for ways to pressure Tehran. Under the new policy, the White House is focusing on the Revolutionary Guard and Hizbullah -- two Iran-backed entities that have long elicited scorn from much of the West. The State Department on Tuesday offered up to $7 million reward for information on Talal Hamiyah, who it says leads Hizbullah's "international terrorism branch" and has been linked to attacks, hijackings and kidnappings targeting U.S. citizens. Another $5 million is being offered for information on Fuad Shukr, a member of Hizbullah who runs the group's military forces in southern Lebanon. The State Department said he played a key role in Hizbullah's recent military operations in Syria. The Hizbullah official dismissed the accusations, saying the United States is "the last state" to designate people on terror lists, accusing it of supporting terrorist organizations and sponsoring states and regimes "that have a long history in financing and supporting terrorism." "It is part of the continuous efforts to demonize Hizbullah. They are false accusations that will not have any effect on the operational activities of Hizbullah," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with party regulations. Hizbullah has sent thousands of its fighters to Syria to shore up President Bashar Assad's forces in Syria's ongoing civil war and also has been fighting the Islamic State group both inside Syria and along the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Military Source Says Lieberman Remarks 'Totally Contradict with Reality'
Naharnet/October 11/17/Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's claim that the Lebanese Army has become “an integral part of Hizbullah” is a statement that “totally contradicts with reality,” a Lebanese military source has said. Lieberman's remarks “carried a level of contradictions that cannot be taken seriously,” the source told al-Joumhouria newspaper in an interview published Wednesday. “Lieberman considered that the Lebanese Army has become an integral part of Hizbullah, and this statement totally contradicts with reality, seeing at the U.S. and the UK are offering generous military aid to the Lebanese Army and they have confirmed that they will continue equipping the army while voicing their continued confidence in the military institution,” the source said. “The Lebanese Army is fully independent and it implements the decisions of the political authority,” the Lebanese military source added. The source also stressed that the army's “main mission is to protect all Lebanese territory and it has nothing to do with linking fronts or any fighting outside the border.”The Army Command issued an official statement later on Wednesday noting that the remarks attributed by al-Joumhouria to the military source "do not reflect its stance, regardless whether these remarks are correct or not."Lieberman said Tuesday that Lebanon and Syria would constitute "one front" in the event of any future war. "There is now only one front in the north composed of Lebanon, Syria, Hizbullah, the Bashar al-Assad regime and all those who help his regime," Lieberman added, claiming that the Lebanese Army has lost "its independence by becoming an integral part of Hizbullah, which gives it its orders."

FPM Reassures on Maarab Agreement, Says Clemenceau Meeting 'Not Against Anyone'

Naharnet/October 11/17/The Free Patriotic Movement has reassured on the fate of the Maarab Agreement with the Lebanese Forces amid growing differences between the two parties, while noting that the latest Clemenceau meeting was not targeted against the FPM. “The agreement between us does not negate the presence of discrepancies on several topics, seeing as any agreement between two parties does not mean that they should become a single party,” FPM sources told al-Joumhouria daily in remarks published Wednesday. “The presence of some disagreements is normal but there will be no turning back in the relation to the pre-Maarab Agreement era,” the sources reassured. Turning to the latest tripartite meeting in Clemenceau between Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat, the sources said they do not believe that the meeting was “targeted against anyone.”“Claims that this meeting was targeted against the presidential tenure or (Foreign) Minister (Jebran) Bassil or that it is an attempt at reviving the troika era are incorrect,” the sources added. “It was a reconciliation and dialogue meeting between PM Hariri and MP Walid Jumblat under the auspices of Speaker Berri, and it is similar to all the rapprochement meetings between the Lebanese,” the FPM sources went on to say.“The FPM's policy is to encourage rapprochement and openness among all parties, and the Clemenceau meeting falls under this approach,” the sources said.

Berri Calls Budget Session, Says Tripartite Talks 'Not against Anyone'
Naharnet/October 11/17/Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday scheduled an Oct. 17-19 parliamentary session dedicated to discussing the draft state budget. Lebanon has not approved a state budget since 2005 due to political differences between the rival parties. Separately, Berri stressed that the latest tripartite meeting in Clemenceau between him, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat was not “targeted against any party.”“The most important weapon to confront the challenges and threats in the region is unity among the Lebanese. All the steps that are taking place at the domestic level are aimed at enhancing this unity, which is the essential factor to immunize Lebanon,” Berri said during his weekly meeting with lawmakers in Ain el-Tineh. “What we are doing at all levels is part of this effort, including the tripartite meeting that gathered me with PM Hariri and MP Jumblat. This meeting was part of these efforts and normally it was not targeted against any party,” the speaker added.

Bou Assi Stresses Need to Boost Lebanon Stability in U.S. Talks
Naharnet/October 11/17/Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi of the Lebanese Forces held a series of intensified meetings on the first day of his visit to the U.S. capital, the National News Agency said on Wednesday. Bou Assi held talks at the U.S. State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.During his meetings with State Department officials Brian Hook, Simon Henshaw and Michael Ratney, the minister underscored “the importance of strengthening Lebanon’s stability and the need to keep it away from the policies of axes,” thanking the U.S. administration for its “support for the Lebanese Army and all Lebanese institutions.”Bou Assi also underlined “the importance of the return of refugees to Syria as soon as possible, in light of the burdens that the refugee crisis is putting on Lebanon's infrastructure and labor market.” He was speaking at a Washington seminar on the situations of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

Politicians seek to exploit rape and murder

Diana Moukalled/October 11/17
The people of Lebanon have been traumatized by the rape and murder of a young Lebanese woman named Raya Chidiac in a village in northern Lebanon last month. The woman’s murder was not the only tragedy, however, as things quickly escalated once it was discovered her killer was the Syrian man hired by her family to guard their house. The crime took place amid a growing political debate over the status of refugees and concerns raised by local politicians. Very quickly, people started to call for the deportation of all Syrian people in the country, and many signs were raised bearing provocative anti-refugee statements. It is noteworthy that a number of municipal authorities in various parts of Lebanon have issued an official work ban on Syrians, and things only get worse when a security breach or an assault takes place, resulting in more hatred against Syrian refugees and Syrian people in general — as is currently the case. There are more than one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon registered with the UNHCR, which accounts for 20 percent of the total population. This is undoubtedly a huge burden on Lebanon, but all proposed solutions seem improvised and the issue’s aggravation does not compel anyone to find a solution — it actually promotes fear and helplessness. Lebanese President Michel Aoun raised the refugee issue and called for their deportation at the UN General assembly last month. Right after his speech, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil met with his Syrian counterpart, Walid Al-Moallem, at the UN Headquarters in New York City. The meeting was a blow to Lebanon’s self-distancing policy and Bassil congratulated Al-Moallem for the Syrian Army’s “victories” over terrorism — as he put it.
The information distributed after the meeting did not mention Syrian refugees at all, despite the Lebanese minister’s incessant criticism of them previously, when he described them as a burden and a devilry. The million-plus Syrian refugees in Lebanon undoubtedly place a huge burden on the country, but all proposed solutions seem improvised and the issue’s aggravation serves only to promote fear and helplessness. And here rises the inevitable question: Isn’t the Syrian Foreign Minister the best person to reach out to regarding the refugee issue, when 85 percent of Syrian lands are currently safe and controlled by the Syrian regime, according to Aoun’s statement? No one in Lebanon is answering this question. Bashar Assad seized every opportunity to declare his opposition to the refugees’ return to Syria, as he incessantly spoke of the “homogeneity” of the current Syrian fabric. Assad insists that he would not allow those who fled death in Syria to return. President Aoun has a different opinion. The sectarian cleansing practiced by the Assad forces and their Iranian-funded militias has not taken the Lebanese government's stance into account, nor did it consider the fragility of Lebanon’s demographics. The internationally documented sectarian cleansing in Syria followed a strategic plan to alter the country’s demographics. Aoun’s speech and the Lebanese stance towards “the danger of Syrian refugees” are part of local political schemes designed for domestic use and has nothing to do with what is being planned for the region. These policies and schemes do not care much about the life of Raya Chidiac — they seek to exploit her murder.
• Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. Twitter @dianamoukalled

US offers $12 million for Hezbollah operatives
Reuters, Washington Wednesday, 11 October 2017/The United States on Tuesday offered multimillion-dollar rewards for two officials of the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah as the Trump administration prepared to unveil a strategy to counter Tehran’s growing regional influence. Washington will pay up to $7 million for information leading to the arrest of Talal Hamiyah, head of Hezbollah’s foreign operations, and up to $5 million for Fuad Shukr, a top Hezbollah military operative, the State Department said.The rewards are the first offered by the United States for Hezbollah operatives in a decade, Nathan Sales, the US counterterrorism coordinator, told reporters. “Today’s rewards are another step to increase the pressure on them and their organization,” said Sales. Other extremists for whom the United States is offering rewards include Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of Islamic State, and Mohammad Jolani, the commander of al Qaeda’s Syrian branch. Hamiyah has been on the department’s foreign terrorist list since 2015 and Shukr was added in 2013. The United States named Hezbollah as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. Nicholas Rasmussen, the head of the National CounterTerrorism Center, blamed the group for a litany of attacks around the world, and said it maintains a presence in “nearly every corner of the globe.”Pointing to the arrests of two men in the United States in June for alleged activities on Hezbollah’s behalf, Rasmussen said that US intelligence agencies assess that the group is seeking an ability to strike inside “the homeland.”Sales signaled that as part of US President Donald Trump’s soon-to-be unveiled Iran strategy, Washington would press countries that have yet to designate Hezbollah as an international terrorist group to do so. “Additionally, some countries have chosen to designate only Hezbollah’s military wing, leaving its so-called political wing untouched,” he said, apparently referring to the 28-member European Union. “But that is a false distinction. Make no mistake. Hezbollah has no political wing. It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core.”Designating the group as a terrorist organization is “not merely symbolic,” he continued. By not doing so, he said, countries “limit other governments’ ability to freeze Hezbollah’s assets, to shut down its front companies, to eliminate its fund-raising and recruiting capabilities and to prosecute Hezbolah associated networks. The United States will need allies in this fight.”But winning support for an intensified campaign against Hezbollah could prove difficult for the administration. The powerful Iran-backed organization is part of Lebanon’s fragile coalition government and commands enormous support for the social services it provides.

Israel’s Lieberman: Next War Will Take Place on 3 Fronts
Tel Aviv – Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Tuesday that the next war his country wages will most likely take place on three fronts at the same time. He explained that the northern front will no longer be limited to a war against the “Hezbollah” group in Lebanon, but it will also encompass Syria. “In the next war in the north of the country, Lebanon will not be the only front,” Lieberman said in a speech to soldiers. Lebanon and Syria would constitute “one front” against his country, he explained, while making implicit threats to the Lebanese government and army. The minister added that the Lebanese army had lost “its independence by becoming an integral part of ‘Hezbollah’.” Lieberman evoked the possibility of a simultaneous conflict in the north and in the south with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. “The battle will take place on the northern and southern fronts,” he said. “There is no longer war on one front. It’s our basic assumption and it is what our military is preparing for.”He stated however that his country was exerting great efforts to prevent a new war, but given the “new Middle East, chances of avoiding such a conflict are slim.”“We have to prepare for any possible scenario, because the new reality presents us with new challenges. In the past, we used to speak of a Lebanese front, but this is no longer the case,” continued Lieberman. The new northern front now includes Lebanon and Syria, he stressed. “I hope that our enemies on the other side would think very well before making any move against Israel,” warned the minister.

Future Movement: Hezbollah’s Campaign against Saudi Arabia Harms Lebanon
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/17/Beirut- The Future Movement’s parliamentary bloc warned against the campaign launched by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, stressing that such policy would “damage the interests of Lebanon, and distort relations with Arab brothers, especially in the Gulf.”The bloc held its weekly meeting in Beirut on Tuesday, headed by former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora. In a statement issued afterward, it stressed “the restoration of the full authority of the state on its soil, the serious implementation of the Constitution and the Taif Agreement, and the need to strengthen Arab-Lebanese relations for the sake of Lebanon and its people.” The bloc underlined the necessity to maintain the rule of law and order and promote the work of state institutions.
On Hezbollah, the Future deputies said: “The bloc strongly condemns the speech made by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on more than one subject, including his campaign against Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf states.”While it lauded the reconciliation launched at the Palestinian level to promote the rapprochement between the Fatah and Hamas movements, the bloc expressed its concern over “the spread of trends and attempts in more than one country to promote separation such as in Iraq and Catalonia in Spain.”The Future Bloc warned that these changes “necessitate Arab States to preserve the unity of their countries in order to guarantee national stability, within the framework of a civil state in which all people have equal rights and duties”.

Bassil from Budapest: We opened our doors, the country got invaded
Wed 11 Oct 2017/NNA - Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Lebanon shared two positions with Hungary, where he is on an official visit, "the first of which being the firm policy in welcoming refugees; a fact that enabled the country to avoid problems that other European countries have not managed to escape." During a meeting with members of the Lebanese Diaspora in Budapest, at the residence of the Lebanese ambassador, the minister deplored the situation of Lebanon "which has opened its doors to refugees, yet they invaded it." According to him, Lebanese officials did not act against the elements that destabilized security with the necessary firmness so as to preserve security. Bassil said Lebanon "shares with Hungary the protection of minorities, which means preserving diversity and pluralism."

Machnouk emphasizes attachment to constants
NNA - Interior Minister Nuhad Machnouk stressed on Wednesday the firmness of his party's position on the questions posed, as well as the attachment to the constants, denying any concession in this regard. Machnouk met with a delegation of the Beirut National Association, and then with deputy Alain Aoun.

Fenianos lays corner stone for MEA's Green Building
NNA - The corner stone of the new building of Middle East Airlines, was laid this Wednesday under the patronage of Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Youssef Fenianos. The speeches delivered on the occasion highlighted the history of the Lebanese airline (MEA) and its progression over the years. This new Green building will comply with the standards of renewable development. It will include administrative offices, air management units, a computer center, and an information center.

Army: Two Palestinians, one Syrian arrested on terrorism charges
Wed 11 Oct 2017/NNA - The Lebanese Army Command - Orientation Directorate - issued on Wednesday the following statement: "The Intelligence Directorate referred to the relevant judicial authority, two Palestinians named Muntaser Bellah Adel Al-Sarif and Youssef Khalil Nasser, as well as the Syrian Mahmoud Fouad El-Hajj Ali. The former two are accused of belonging to the group of fugitive terrorist Fadi Ibrahim Ahmad Ali Ahmad, nicknamed "Abou El-khattab", affiliated with the terrorist group, Daesh, inside the Ain El-Hilweh camp. These two Palestinians had planned to carry out acts of terror and monitor Army elements' movements in a bid to murder them. They were also tasked with buying explosives and tools from inside Ain El-Hilweh camp to use in manufacturing bombs and explosive belts. They also sheltered terrorists upon the request of the so-called "Abou El-Khattab", and provided them with forged Palestinian IDs so as to facilitate their travels. Moreover, they wired money for the sake of the said terrorist group through an office belonging to the abovementioned Syrian arrestee."

Army Chief meets Zahle MPs bloc
Wed 11 Oct 2017/NNA - Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, received on Wednesday a delegation of Zahle MPs bloc, with talks touching on the country's latest developments.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 11-12/17
Triple Suicide Attack near Damascus Police HQ
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 11/17/Three suicide bombers blew themselves up near the main police headquarters building in Syria's capital Damascus on Wednesday, killing at least two people, the interior ministry said. The attack is the second time in a month that suicide attackers have targeted the capital, which has often been insulated from the worst of the violence in the war-torn country. Two of the suicide bombers detonated their explosives in front of the police HQ on Khaled Bin al-Walid street in central Damascus, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by state media. "The terrorist suicide attackers tried to storm the police command headquarters... The guards opened fire on them, forcing them to blow themselves up before they entered the building and achieved their goals," it added. Police surrounded a third attacker behind the building who also blew himself up, the statement said. The interior ministry said two people had been killed and six wounded in the attack, among them two children. Damascus police chief Mohammed Khairu Ismail told reporters at the scene of the attack that one of the dead was a policeman who tried to stop the bombers. "One of our forces grabbed one of the suicide bombers and prevented him from entering the building, so he blew himself up, killing the sergeant," Ismail said. It was the second time this month that suicide attackers have targeted police in the capital, after at least 17 people were killed in an October 2 attack on a police station in the southern district of Midan.
City largely spared  That attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, which said three of its fighters armed with guns, grenades and explosives had targeted the station. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's attack in the central neighborhood of Qanawat. More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country's conflict began in March 2011, with anti-government protests. Damascus has been shaken by several bomb attacks, despite being largely spared from the worst of the violence in the six-year war. In this month's incident at Midan, one attacker was able to reach the first floor of the police station before blowing himself up. The Midan police station itself had previously been targeted in December 2016, when a seven-year-old girl entered the building wearing an explosive belt that was remotely detonated. Rebel groups have been gradually expelled from territory in the capital they once held, though they maintain a presence in a handful of positions, including the Jobar neighborhood. They also hold territory in the Eastern Ghouta region outside the capital, and have regularly launched rockets into the city.A deal worked out between regime allies Russia and Iran with rebel backer Turkey earlier this year has implemented so-called "de-escalation zones" in several parts of the country, including Eastern Ghouta, bringing a measure of relative calm. But the fight against IS is continuing, with government troops and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters, leading separate offensives against the jihadists in the north and east Syria.

Iran Warns of Tough Response if Trump Scuttles Nuclear Deal
Associated Press/Naharnet/October 11/17/Iran on Wednesday warned of a tough response if President Donald Trump presses ahead with his threats to scuttle the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told lawmakers during a closed session of parliament that Iran "will never renegotiate" the deal brokered with the U.S. and five other world powers, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. The nuclear agreement required Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Zarif as saying Iran will offer a "tougher response" if the U.S. breaks the agreement.Trump is expected to decline this week to certify Iran's compliance and refer the matter to Congress. He also is expected to target Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard with new sanctions. On Tuesday, the State Department offered $12 million for information leading to the location, arrest or conviction of two senior leaders of Hizbullah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a Cabinet meeting that Trump's speech will make clear "which is the rebellious government, and which is the side that violates international rules."If the U.S. backs out of the nuclear deal, "it won't be our failure at all, but a failure for the other side," Rouhani said, according to state TV. He added that any effort to target the Revolutionary Guard would be a "double mistake."Trump, who has called the nuclear agreement the "worst deal ever," must recertify the measure by Oct. 15 because of unilateral conditions set by Congress. British Prime Minister Theresa May meanwhile urged the United States to extend the nuclear deal, saying it is "vitally important for regional security." May's office said she and Trump spoke late Tuesday and both sides agreed their teams would remain in contact ahead of Trump's decision on the pact. The British government said Wednesday that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had called Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to underscore British support for the deal. Johnson said the agreement "was the culmination of 13 years of painstaking diplomacy and has increased security, both in the region and in the UK. It is these security implications that we continue to encourage the U.S. to consider."The Foreign Office said Johnson also spoke to Zarif and will meet Ali Akhbar Salehi, Iran's vice president and head of its nuclear agency, in London on Wednesday. China, France, Russia, Germany, Britain and the European Union all ratified the deal. On Tuesday, Salehi warned Washington against undermining the 2015 deal, saying international nonproliferation efforts as well as Washington's international standing would suffer as a result. Speaking at an international conference on enhancing nuclear safety in Rome, Salehi said that Washington's recent "delusionary negative postures do not augur well" for keeping the deal intact. He said Iran didn't want to see the deal unravel but that "much more is at stake for the entire international community than the national interests of Iran."
The U.S. administration has faced two 90-day certification deadlines to state whether Iran is meeting the conditions needed to continue enjoying sanctions relief under the deal and has both times backed away from a showdown. But Trump more recently has said he does not expect to certify Iran's compliance with the October deadline loomin

Baghdad Pressures Kurdistan by Reopening Oil Pipeline
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/17/Baghdad- Baghdad announced on Tuesday its first practical steps to besiege the oil of the Kurdistan Region, as part of a move taken in collaboration with Turkey to retaliate against the Sept. 25 referendum which came in favor of independence. Iraq’s Oil Ministry said on Tuesday that it decided to restore and reopen its export pipeline to Turkey’s Ceyhan port by passing through the two provinces of Salahuddin and Nineveh. Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luiebi instructed the North Oil Company [NOC], the State Company for Oil Projects [SCOP], and the Oil Pipelines Company to prepare an urgent plan to implement an urgent rehabilitation operation, according to an Oil Ministry statement Tuesday. The move is a sign that Baghdad wants to prevent exporting its oil through the Kurdistan Region. The instruction of the oil minister came as the Iraqi government officially asked Turkey and Iran last Monday to stop all their commercial dealings with Irbil, especially those related to the region’s oil.The statement issued by the Iraqi oil ministry also mentioned that al-Luiebi met on Monday with the Turkish ambassador to Iraq, Fatih Yildiz, and discussed development of bilateral relations, particularly in the oil and energy fields. “Yildiz told us that the Turkish government has decided to limit its oil business to the Iraqi government and that the Turkish petroleum company TPAO would soon resume activities at Mansuriya gas field in Diyala province,” the Iraqi oil ministry said in its statement. In a related development, members of the Shi’ite National Alliance inside Iraq’s Parliament demanded that officials accused of smuggling oil be legally pursued. Member of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Iraqi parliament Samira al-Moussawi said she was able to gather the signatures of 93 deputies to “ask the government to present a list of all officials involved in the operation of selling and smuggling oil,” in an allusion to some officials from the Kurdistan Region. Moussawi also demanded the government to speak with Turkey, the US and other states to freeze the foreign bank accounts of officials from the region’s government and to transfer the money to the Iraqi state treasury.

Russia Sets up Shipping Line to Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/17/Moscow – Russia is working on setting up a direct marine shipping line to Syria, reported Russia’s TASS news agency on Tuesday. It also wants its companies to help build an economic recovery in the war-torn country, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced. The report did not specify what a direct shipping line would entail, but any increase in agricultural and other supplies from Russia or help in reviving exports would be a boost for Syrian regime head Bashar al-Assad. Russia, one of the largest wheat exporters in the world, has been backing Assad in the long-running civil war in Syria and has previously helped his government with wheat aid, reported Reuters. “A direct shipping line between Russian and Syrian ports is being established,” Rogozin, in charge of the military industrial complex, told a meeting of a Russian-Syrian commission on trade cooperation, according to the agency. Agricultural goods are currently transported by a company called Oboronlogistika, which is “interested in expanding its services,” he said. Oboronlogistika says on its website it acts under the jurisdiction of Russia’s defense ministry, organizing cargo transportation, customs clearance and warehouse services. Trade between Russia and Syria rose by 42 percent year-on-year to $193 million in the first seven months of 2017, according to Rogozin. However, Syria’s exports to Russia only amounted to $2 million in the period.

Erdogan Boycotts US Ambassador as Visa Row Intensifies
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/17/Ankara – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he would boycott US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass, holding him responsible for a US-Turkish row over the issuance of visas. During his visit to Belgrade, Erdogan said Turkey no longer regarded ambassador John Bass as the US representative to the country, adding that the Turkish government would not receive him on his farewell tour before leaving Ankara in the coming days, following his appointment as ambassador to Kabul. The dispute erupted last week when Turkey arrested a Turkish employee of the American consulate on suspicion of links to the group blamed for last year’s failed coup. In response, the United States stopped issuing non-immigrant visas from its missions in Turkey, prompting Turkish missions in the United States to hit back by adopting the same measures against the US. Speaking at a news conference with President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Erdogan said: “We have not agreed and are not agreeing to this ambassador making farewell visits with ministers, the parliament speaker and myself.” “We do not see him as the representative of the United States in Turkey,” he continued.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called on Washington to adopt a more rational attitude towards the visa crisis, describing the suspension of granting visas to the Turks for “security reasons” as a “blatant contradiction.”Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul rejected earlier this week a request by the US Ambassador for a meeting, Turkish media outlets reported. Commenting on his country’s decision to stop issuing non-immigrant visas for Turks, Bass said in a statement published at the embassy’s website: “The suspension allows us to minimize the number of visitors to our embassy and consulates while we assess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of our diplomatic facilities and personnel.”He explained: “For the second time this year, a Turkish staff member of our diplomatic mission was arrested by Turkish authorities. Despite our best efforts to learn the reasons for this arrest, we have been unable to determine why it occurred or what, if any, evidence exists against the employee.” In March, a Turkish employee at the US consulate in the southern city of Adana was arrested on charges of supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish economic officials warned that the suspension of visas between the United States and Turkey would damage bilateral trade, which amounts to $17.5 billion per year. The president of the Turkish-American Business Council, Kamil Ekim Alptekin, said that the two states needed each other politically and economically, and “we want to solve the problems without their reflection on economic relations, but if it affects national security, no country can make concessions.”In parallel, the Turkish authorities issued a decision to detain 70 officers, suspected of having links to Fethullah Gulen’s movement, after their arrest in Istanbul, Ankara, Kayseri, Izmir, Eskisehir and Yalova.
Those included 62 air force officers, four from the naval forces and four gendarmes.

KRG says Baghdad preparing for major offensive

Reuters, Baghdad Wednesday, 11 October 2017/Iraqi government forces and Iranian-trained Iraqi paramilitaries are “preparing a major attack” on Kurdish forces in the area of Kirkuk, said the Kurdistan Regional Government on Wednesday. “We’re receiving dangerous messages that Iraqi forces, including Popular Mobilisation and Federal Police are preparing a major attack .. on Kurdistan,” said the KRG ‘s Security Council in tweet confirmed by a Kurdish official. Offensives are being prepared in the areas of Kirkuk and Mosul, it said.

Triple suicide attack near Damascus police HQ: Ministry
AFP, Damascus Wednesday, 11 October 2017/Three suicide bombers blew themselves up near the main police headquarters building in Syria’s capital Damascus on Wednesday, killing at least one person, the interior ministry said. Two of the suicide bombers detonated their explosives in front of the police headquarters on Khaled Bin al-Walid street in central Damascus, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by state media. “The terrorist suicide attackers tried to storm the police command headquarters... The guards opened fire on them, forcing them to blow themselves up before they entered the building and achieved their goals,” it added. Police surrounded a third attacker behind the building who also blew himself up, the statement said. The interior ministry said one person had been killed and six injured in the attack. It was the second time this month that suicide attackers targeted the police in Syria’s capital, after at least 17 people were killed in an October 2 attack on a police station in the southern district of Midan. That attack was claimed by the Islamic State group, which said three of its fighters armed with guns, grenades and explosives had targeted the station. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday’s attack. More than 330,000 people have been killed in Syria since the country’s conflict began in March 2011, with anti-government protests.

US official: No negotiated pullout for ISIS from Syria’s Raqqa
The Associated Press, Beirut Wednesday, 11 October 2017/The US-led coalition battling ISIS said on Wednesday that it won’t accept a negotiated withdrawal for hundreds of ISIS militants holed up in the Syrian city of Raqqa, once the extremists’ de facto capital. The remarks by coalition spokesman, Col. Ryan Dillon, came as coalition allies were working out ways to safely evacuate an estimated 4,000 civilians who remain trapped in the city. The coalition has said ISIS militants are holding some civilians as human shields, preventing them from escaping as the fight enters its final stages for the last remaining slice of Raqqa in militant hands. The city, on the banks of the Euphrates River, has been badly damaged by the fighting, and activists have reported that over 1,000 civilians have been killed there since June. The United Nations estimates 8,000 people are trapped in Raqqa, and has called on all parties to the conflict to take all measures to protect civilians. The UN said September was the worst month in 2017 for civilians in Syria. Dillon said the Raqqa Civil Council, a local administration of Arab and Kurdish officials, was leading the discussions to ensure safe evacuation of civilians as the fight for Raqqa enters its final stages. However, it was not clear with whom the council is speaking inside Raqqa. A Kurdish-led force, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is leading the US-backed battles on the ground. “We are seeing some good progress of civilians that are being able to safely exit Raqqa. The trend has turned into ... a broader effort by the Raqqa Civil Council to get the remaining civilians out of there,” Dillon told The Associated Press. He said at least 700 civilians have been evacuated from the city since Monday. But Dillon added that discussions about the fate of the militants remaining in the city have focused on “unconditional surrender.”
A negotiated withdrawal “is absolutely something that we as a coalition would not be a part of or agree with,” Dillon added. Between 300 and 400 militants are believed holed up in about 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles) of Raqqa, including in the city’s stadium and a hospital, he said.
The stadium is believed to be used by the militants as weapons warehouse and a prison while the hospital is one of their major headquarters. Dillon said that in the last three weeks, up to 15 militants, including a senior leader, have surrendered in Raqqa, a trend also spotted in Iraq as the extremist group’s power wanes in both countries. Dillon said at least another leading figure was arrested among civilians, trying to escape. The battle for Raqqa began in June but after a swift start, stiff resistance by ISIS slowed down the advance by the Kurdish-led fighters. Meanwhile, airstrikes on the city appeared to have decreased, apparently to allow for the evacuations and the talks. The coalition reported five airstrikes near Raqqa on Tuesday.

Iraq court orders arrest of Kurd referendum vote organizers

AFP, Baghdad Wednesday, 11 October 2017/An Iraqi court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of the chairwoman and two other members of the commission that organized last month's vote for Kurdish independence, a judicial official said. The court in east Baghdad acted in response to a request from the National Security Council headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar told AFP. The court issued warrants against chairwoman Hendren Saleh and members Yari Hajji Omar and Wahida Yofo Hermez. It ruled that the three “organized the referendum in contravention of a ruling by the Iraqi supreme court,” which had found the vote unconstitutional and ordered it called off. The supreme court ruling came one week before the September 25 referendum -- which saw voters overwhelmingly back independence -- but the organizers went ahead with it regardless.
On Monday, Baghdad unleashed a legal barrage against Kurdish officials and sought to seize key businesses in a fresh bid to tighten the screws. It had already severed ties between Kurdistan and the outside world by cutting international air links to the region.

US still seeking explanation for arrest of staff in Turkey

Reuters, Ankara Wednesday, 11 October 2017/The United States has not yet received official communication from Ankara as to why local staff of the US mission in Turkey were arrested, US ambassador John Bass said on Wednesday, commenting on a diplomatic crisis between the NATO allies. Bass, whom Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has blamed for the dispute, told reporters the United States did not intend to disrupt its long-standing relationship with Turkey and the two countries would continue to engage on the issue.

Are Egypt and Italy over the Giulio Regeni ordeal?
By Sonia Farid/ Al Arabiya/October 11/17/Almost a year and half had passed since Italy recalled its ambassador to Cairo over the latter’s reported lack of cooperation in the investigation of the torture and murder of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni in what seemed to be a long-standing diplomatic standoff. Sooner than expected, however, on September 14 to be precise, a new ambassador took up his position in Cairo. The decision came as quite a surprise, pleasant for some and alarming for others and while it was seen by Rome as a political necessity, it was frowned upon by parties that linked reconciliation with the full truth. Commenting on the appointment of a new ambassador to Cairo before the completion of investigation on the Regeni case, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said that it was not practical for the deadlock to last longer. "It's impossible for countries that are in front of each other not to have high-level political and diplomatic relations," he addressed members of the foreign committees of both houses of the Italian parliament. “Egypt is an inextricable partner of Italy, like Italy is an inextricable partner of Egypt.” Alfano stressed that the appointment of a new ambassador does mean the Italian government would give up on Regeni. He, however, admitted in the same address that Regeni’s death created dealt a major blow to bilateral relations between Egypt and Italy. Regeni's parents, on the other hand, viewed such a step as a form of abandonment on the part of the Italian state. “It's only when we know the truth about who killed Giulio and why, when his torturers and all their accomplices are handed over to us, alive, that the ambassador can return to Cairo without trampling on our dignity,” they said in a statement.
Secretary General of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Egyptian House of Representatives Tarek al-Khouly said that the appointment of a new ambassador indicates that Italy has finally realized that its relations with Egypt have been subject to a conspiracy. “This was not only demonstrated by the murder of Giulio Regeni, but also by the bombing that targeted the Italian consulate in Cairo.” he said, in reference to the attack that took place in June 2011. Khouly added that Italy was one of the states that supported Egypt following the June 30 protests, hinting at the possible involvement of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to Khouly, the tension between Egypt and Italy lasted for longer than it was supposed to because the Regeni case was blown out of proportion by several parties inside both Italy and Egypt. “But Italy was also wise enough to know that it is better to separate between diplomatic relations and the progress of investigations in Regeni’s case and members of our committee conveyed this to several Italian MPs.”
An Egyptian activist holds a poster calling for justice to be done in the case of the recently murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni in front of the Press Syndicate in Cairo, Egypt, April 15, 2016. (Reuters)
Ambassador and former Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Haridi argued that three main reasons led to the return of the Italian ambassador to Cairo. “First, Italy must be satisfied with what Egypt has done so far in the Regeni investigations and realizes that Egypt is doing its best to reach the truth,” he said. “Second, the growing threat of terrorism in Libya and the impossibility of dealing with this threat without cooperation with Egypt owing to its influence in Libya.” The third reason, Haridi explained, is the problem of illegal immigration, which preoccupies Europe in general and Italy in particular and in which Egypt’s cooperation is also indispensable. “In short, common interests between Egypt and Italy are much more important than any passing crisis,” he said. Kamel Abdullah, expert on Libyan affairs at al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, also said that Italy was concerned to see France starting to get involved in Libya. “Restoring relations with Egypt was then the way to protect its interests in Libya,” he said. Secretary General of the Arab Investors Union Gamal Bayoumi, noted that other interests are also involved between the two countries. “Italy is Egypt’s top trade partner in the EU and Italian tourists, who contribute a lot to Egypt’s tourism industry, are expected to come back after the crisis is over,” he said. According to Jeremy Costa, the Italian government made a grave political mistake or “disaster” as he puts it by sending a new ambassador to Egypt. “Rome’s decision is seen to be largely (if not entirely) motivated by external, mostly economic factors, despite the foreign minister’s assertion that the decision was made to allow for closer collaboration on investigations into Regeni’s murder,” he wrote.
Costa saw economic interests between Egypt and Italy as the main reason for resuming ties and particularly mentioned the case of the giant oil and gas company Eni, currently drilling for natural gas off the Egyptian coast, and the billions of dollars such operations are expected to yield. This, Costa argued, is a bound to significantly harm the Italian government. “Perceptions that the decision is another example of the Italian government putting self-interest before the desires of the Italian people could prove to be extremely damaging for Gentiloni’s Democratic Party,” he explained. According to Costa, the Italian government not only let down it people when it gave up on Regeni’s case, but also risked having its image tarnished in front of the International Community. “The Italian government has given up a golden opportunity to not only show its people that it represents their best interests, but also to lead an international condemnation of human rights abuses in Egypt and around the world. By choosing to instead resume relations with Cairo, it may suffer the political consequences it desperately intended to avoid.”

Human Rights Bodies Denounce Qatar’s Threat to Exterminate Arab Tribes
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/17/London- The Arab Federation for Human Rights and the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK and Europe have condemned a recent threat made by a Qatari professor to use chemical weapons against Qatari citizens if they acted against the Doha regime.
Mohammed Saleh al-Misfer, a political science professor at the University of Qatar and Qatari Emir’s adviser, issued the threat on Oct. 9 in an interview broadcast on state television. In the interview, he warned Qatari tribes not to plan to overthrow the Qatari regime. “The war of Dahis and Ghabra is over, and the Basus war is over (too), and the tribal gathering will not do anything,” Misfer said. “If 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 or 200,000 men gather, a single bomb of poison gas will crush all these tribes,” he added. The two Arab bodies expressed deep concern about the statements and the serious message that has been conveyed to Qatari citizens. The statements are of particular concern as the interview was broadcast on state television, which reflects the official position of the Qatari government. The two bodies called on the international community to intervene and take necessary measures to prevent such threats in a letter sent to the UN Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In this context, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash called on Qatar to drop its terror-supporting policy. In a tweet on Tuesday, Gargash wrote “Qatar’s hosting of World Cup 2022 should include a repudiation of policies supporting extremism & terrorism.” For his part, Kuwaiti political Analyst Dr. Ayed al-Mannaa’ told Asharq Al-Awsat that Misfer’s statements reflect his stances against the Gulf and its unity and come in line with his hostile positions. “I am not surprised by the hostile language used by Mohammed al-Misfer against groups of Qatari society,” Mannaa’ said. “Misfer is known for his stances that are always against the Gulf and the efforts of Gulf rapprochement. He was against Kuwait’s policy during the period of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and beyond, and his positions were always in support of the former head of Iraqi regime, Saddam Hussein.”

Azzam al-Ahmed: Egypt Exerted Unprecedented Efforts towards Palestinian Reconciliation
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/17/Cairo – Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed voiced his optimism that the latest round of Egypt-sponsored dialogue with the rival Hamas group would lead to an end to Palestinian division. He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Egypt has made unprecedented efforts towards the reconciliation file due to the changing regional and international political stances.”The dialogue between Fatah and Hamas kicked off in Cairo on Tuesday. An informed source predicted to Asharq Al-Awsat that they will last two to three days. Ahmed, who heads the Fatah delegation at the Cairo talks, revealed that one of his group’s priorities is enabling the Palestinian government to manage its affairs in Ramallah, Gaza and Khan Younes. He explained however that this process will not take place overnight. Hamas has meanwhile focused its energies on lifting Palestinian Authority (PA) “sanctions” against it in Gaza. Hussam Badran, who is part of the Hamas delegation at the Cairo talks, said on Tuesday that the movement is keen on resolving the repercussions and negative effects of the division on Gaza. “The Palestinians guarantee the achievement of the reconciliation. We are waiting for national factions to play their role to that end and we are communicating with all sides. We are prepared to listen to any criticism and advice,” he continued. A Fatah official in Cairo, Samih Barzaq, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the “unprecedented” measures taken by the PA against Gaza employees will be lifted “very soon”. The PA had in the past few months cut the salaries of several Gaza employees and sacked a number of others in an attempt to pressure Hamas to return the coastal strip back under the control of the Palestinian government. Hamas had seized control of the Gaza Strip after armed clashes with Fatah in 2007. Hamas had declared in September its readiness for reconciliation with Fatah in a bid to end the Palestinian division. This includes holding general elections. Barzaq said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas will commit to the democratic results of the elections. “No one inside or outside of the Palestinian territories can object to the results because whoever wins them will be a Palestinian and he would have won through the votes of his fellow citizens,” he stressed. On Tuesday, the Palestinian cabinet held its annual meeting chaired by Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah during which it addressed his visit to Gaza last week. The cabinet expressed its readiness to assume all duties in Gaza with the approval of concerned factions.

Russia Supports ‘Federal Syria,’ National Dialogue
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 11/17/London- The head of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units Siban Hamo visited Moscow last week and met with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces, who both affirmed that they see a “federal” future for Syria, similar to the Russian Federation, Western diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. According to the sources, a Russian helicopter landed at the Russian base near the town of Arima, between al-Bab and Manbij early last week and took Hamo to the Hmeimim air base, then to Moscow. The sources said that Hamo discussed three files in Moscow. The first dealt with the fate of Deir Ezzor city where the Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the US-led coalition would control the eastern strip of the Euphrates River, while the Syrian regime would control the area located on the western bank. Hamo also discussed the fate of Afreen city in the countryside of Aleppo. According to the sources, he warned that Ankara wants to besiege the city economically and to incite problems. The Russian side affirmed that the entry of the Turkish army to Idlib came as part of the de-escalation agreement reached in Astana and that such development is not linked to Afreen. The third topic of discussion with the Russians was Syria’s political future. “The Russian side clearly stated that it sees a federal system in Syria similar to the one established in the Russian Federation and that it wants to use the strength of the Kurdish Units on the ground to force Damascus into accepting talks on a federal solution in Syria,” the sources said. They added that Russia has already decided to hold a Syrian Summit at the Hmeimim air base on Oct. 29, in the presence of representatives from the sponsors of Syria’s reconciliation, from the de-escalation zones, in addition to figures representing the Syrian regime and the opposition.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 11-12/17
A Nobel for Humility in Economics
Noah Smith/Bloomberg/October 11/17
As you are by now all probably aware, Richard Thaler won this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. All question of whether this is a “real” Nobel can now be laid to rest, since the announcement was made via the Nobel Prize’s official verified Twitter account.
Thaler won the prize for his research in behavioral economics, although he’s far from the first behaviorist to win it — Herbert Simon, Daniel Kahneman, and Robert Shiller all got the big gold medal from Sweden. But Thaler’s work is arguably more wide-ranging and influential than any of those earlier pioneers. And it’s the sheer breadth of Thaler’s research that offers a peek into where the discipline of economics is headed.
Loosely speaking, the economics of the past was a search for a grand unified theory. At first, supply-and-demand was the idea that tied econ together. Later, that was replaced with explicit modeling of economic decision-making as the optimization of a rational economic “agent.” To predict anything from the price of tomatoes in Wyoming to the savings rate in Bangladesh, you would just assume that people maximize utility and companies maximize profit, then write down a mathematical optimization problem that would spit out an answer. This method — sometimes called the neoclassical approach — grew so popular that economists started applying it to sociology, law and politics.
Lots of people justifiably made fun of the unrealistic hyper-rational agents in these economic models. Early behaviorists like Kahneman gained credence by poking holes in the idealized vision of homo economicus. But there was still the hope that a general theory of economic behavior existed and could be found. Kahneman tried to replace standard rational optimization with prospect theory. Behaviorists like Matt Rabin hoped that human irrationality could be represented as small deviations from a single unified theory.
I see Thaler’s research as qualitatively different. Whereas many behaviorists want to replace or tweak the standard theory, Thaler started smashing it left and right. He pointed out anomaly after anomaly. And instead of trying to design a new theory-of-everything to explain the anomalies, he borrowed or created situation-specific theories, such as mental accounting and the endowment effect and so on. Sometimes the theory was a very simple one. Or sometimes, like Shiller, he merely documented where standard theory went wrong, and left the theorizing to someone else.
Critics of behaviorism see this as a flaw. They bemoan the replacement of one theory with many. If you have a different explanation for every situation, the anti-behaviorists say, what’s to stop you from telling just-so stories? These critics tend to see Thaler’s research as a destructive force.
But Thaler isn’t just a bomb-thrower — his approach is far smarter than that. I believe he’s out to create a new paradigm — one that doesn’t rely on a grand unified theory of human behavior.
There’s no reason that economics has to be like physics. Physicists are always trying to unify their theories — to show how what appear to be different forces and principles are actually the same. But human behavior might just not be like that — the way that a person decides which brand of soy sauce to buy might simply be different from the way she decides when to buy Apple Inc. stock. Thaler’s research is all about forcing economists to acknowledge this possibility.
So how can we know which theory to use in which situation? Data. The behavioral revolution goes hand in hand with the empirical revolution now sweeping the wider economics profession. Over the past couple of decades, economists have steadily been theorizing less and measuring more.
Let’s hope this isn’t just a fad, but a fundamentally new paradigm for the field. The old way of choosing between different explanations was to start with the assumption of a grand unified theory and then find the minimum possible deviation that explains the phenomenon in question. The new way should be — and in some cases, already is — to gather a number of plausible explanations and let the data dictate which one applies. Then as economists find theories that each work for a small, limited domain, they can explore other areas where each theory might also apply. Slowly, each successful theory’s domain will expand, and when two of them happen to bump up against each other — that is, when they give equivalent results — economists can work on unifying the two.
This is basically how natural scientists approach the world. Instead of jumping to a conclusion that looks as clean and pretty as physics, economists should more closely follow the methods that physicists actually use.
So behaviorism isn’t really about psychology — it’s about humility. Sometimes things people do can be explained by psychological biases, sometimes by purely rational optimization and sometimes by other things entirely. Thaler is intent on making econ about what works, instead of what we think ought to work. As such, it has the potential to have reach and power far beyond the specific topics Thaler has spent his storied career investigating.

Palestinian Normalization -- With Hamas, Not Israel
Bassam Tawil/Gatestone Institute/October 11/17
The most widespread conspiracy theory, which has been floating around for decades and can be heard in almost every coffee shop on the streets of Cairo, Amman, Ramallah and Beirut, is that Zionist Jews, together with American capitalists and imperialists, have a secret plan to take control over the Arab and Islamic countries and their resources.
How exactly are the "Zionists and imperialists" trying to "undermine" the Palestinian "national project"? And what, precisely, is this project? Is it the project of Hamas and many other Palestinians that seeks the destruction of Israel?
The corrupt Arab and Palestinian leaders spread such rumors to divert attention from problems at home, such as corruption and dictatorship. These leaders want their people too busy hating Jews and Westerners to demand reform, democracy and transparency from their leaders. Those valuables, of course, are what Arab and Palestinian leaders still refuse to offer their people.
Why do many Palestinians prefer peace with Hamas? Because they identify with Hamas's dream of destroying Israel and killing Jews. It may be an unpleasant a truth, but that is the bottom line.
When Palestinian women took part in a march with Israeli women for peace this week, they were condemned in the harshest terms by many other Palestinians, who called for their punishment. The Palestinian women who participated in the October 8 event, organized by a group called Women Wage Peace, have been denounced by many of their own people as and "traitors" and "whores."
Conversely, when Palestinian Authority (PA) officials held "reconciliation" talks with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and Egypt during the same period, many Palestinians praised them as "heroes" and "brave."
Judging from the reactions of many Palestinians, especially on social media, they prefer peace with Hamas rather than with Israel.
The thousands of Palestinian women who participated in the march with Israeli women are being accused of promoting "normalization" with Israel. This, in the eyes of their critics, is an abhorrent and despicable act, tantamount to "high treason" -- an offense punishable by death.
Palestinian and Israeli women from the "Women Wage Peace" group participate in an event on September 30, 2017. (Image source: Women Wage Peace/Facebook)
Prior to the women's march, Palestinian activists waged an online bid to stop the Palestinian women from taking part in the "shameful" event. It was a vicious campaign that lasted for several days and that accused the Palestinian women of treason for promoting "normalization" with the "Israeli enemy." One group, The Women's Campaign for Boycotting Israeli Merchandise, said in a statement that the planned march was "hurtful to Palestinian and Arab and international efforts to boycott and isolate Israel." The group pointed out that the march coincided with a "Zionist-imperialist onslaught to undermine the Palestinian national project."
Exactly which "Zionist-imperialist" conspiracy these protesters are referring to remains unclear.
Such rhetoric, however, reflects the mindset in the Arab and Islamic world. The most widespread conspiracy theory, which has been floating around for decades and can be heard in almost every coffee shop on the streets of Cairo, Amman, Ramallah and Beirut, is that Zionist Jews, together with American capitalists and imperialists, have a secret plan to take control over the Arab and Islamic countries and their resources.
What does a peaceful march of Israeli and Palestinian women have to do with Zionism and imperialism? How exactly are the "Zionists and imperialists" trying to "undermine" the Palestinian "national project"?
And what, precisely, is this project? Is it the project of Hamas and many other Palestinians that seeks the destruction of Israel? Is it the project that still talks about a phased plan to destroy Israel by demanding a Palestinian state next to Israel so that it would be used in the future as a launching pad to eliminate Israel?
Palestinian and Arab leaders have long advanced anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Western conspiracy theories. Why do these leaders do so? For one purpose: distraction.
The corrupt Arab and Palestinian leaders spread such rumors to divert attention from problems at home, such as corruption and dictatorship. These leaders want their people too busy hating Jews and Westerners to demand reform, democracy and transparency from their leaders. Those valuables, of course, are what Arab and Palestinian leaders still refuse to offer their people.
Back to the controversial women's march.
The abusive comments hurled against the Palestinian women who took part in the march are frankly embarrassing to read. Even the PLO committee that permitted the participation of the Palestinian women in the march is being pilloried by many Palestinians, with some calling for holding the PLO officials involved accountable.
The verbal abuse is reminiscent of the experience of teenage Palestinian girls who recently participated in a summer camp with Israeli girls in the US. The Palestinian girls endured a massive smear campaign for attending the summer camp, which was organized by Creativity for Peace, an organization in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Like the women from the march, the teenage girls were also cursed on social media and dubbed as "sluts" and "traitors." The abuse reached the parents of the Palestinian girls, for allowing their daughters to commit the sin of dancing and mixing with Israeli (Jewish) girls. The girls, like the women, were also accused of promoting "normalization" with Israel. Sadly, only a handful of Palestinians have thus far dared to come out in defense of the summer camp girls or the women who participated in the October 8 march.
While many Palestinians may be opposed to the brutal and senseless attacks on the girls and women, they are terrified of voicing their views in public. No one wants to get targeted by the abusers, especially if some of these people are affiliated with terror groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.Palestinians have an unfortunate habit of allowing thugs and terrorists to intimidate them, control the discourse and set the agenda. This is certainly not new. Most Palestinians prefer to sit on the fence instead of speaking their minds. This is what happens when you live under ruthless dictatorships such as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that suppress freedom of expression.
Yet this most recent exhibit has an ironic twist. Just as the women were shamed publicly for taking part in an event with Jewish women, many Palestinians were celebrating the "reconciliation" between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip took to the streets to express their jubilation over the "accord," and when the PA Prime Minister and his delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, scenes of kissing and hugging were easy to spot.
What does all this teach us?First, that many Palestinians continue to consider any form of contact with Jews and "normalization" with the "Zionist entity" an act of treason.
Second, that Palestinians do not hesitate to designate their own women as prostitutes and traitors for engaging in the most basic activities with Jews. Such disrespect for women is not, by the way, something that should surprise us about conservative Arab and Islamic societies.
Third, that for many Palestinians, the priority remains making peace with Hamas and not Israel. Why do they prefer peace with Hamas? Because they identify with Hamas's dream of destroying Israel and killing Jews. It may be an unpleasant a truth, but that is the bottom line.
**Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Turkey: Let Them Die!
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/October 11/17
More than 50,000 people have been arrested and some 110,000 others dismissed from government jobs in Turkey's largest-scale crackdown ever.
As cruel as that looks, a case of two Turkish teachers is undeniably worse than just cruel: it displays a remorseless state mechanism.
"Let Nuriye and Semih live!"
Until last year, observers were debating how fast Turkey's drift away from democracy was progressing. Today the talk is rather about how fast Turkey is drifting from undemocratic practice to simple rogue-state practice.
More than 50,000 people have been arrested and some 110,000 others dismissed from government jobs in the country's largest-scale crackdown ever on people with alleged links to terror groups or to the U.S.-based cleric, Fethullah Gülen, whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating the failed coup in July 2016. As cruel as that looks, a case of two Turkish teachers is undeniably worse than just cruel: it displays a remorseless state mechanism.
In March, a professor of literature, Nuriye Gulmen, and a primary school teacher, Semih Ozakca, both victims of the purge, started protesting by going on a hunger strike: a liquid diet of lemon, saltwater and sugar solutions. Since then, their health has reached critical condition. On May 22, the 76th day of their hunger strike, the police broke down their door and detained them. The reason for their arrest? The police feared "that their protest could turn into death fasts and new protests".
At the first hearing on September 15, neither of the "suspected terrorists" was present at the courtroom because the police claimed that if they were brought to court, they could try to escape. After nearly seven months of hunger strike, and their health in critical condition, the idea that "they could try to escape" -- if not a joke -- could only have meant that the Turkish authorities had decided to ridicule themselves. Before the first hearing detention, warrants were issued regarding the 18 lawyers who would defend Gulmen and Ozakca. So the hearing proceeded without the suspects or their lawyers present at the hearing. It was a Kafkaesque scene from a NATO member state in the 21st century.
In the earlier days of their hunger strike, Suleyman Soylu, the interior minister, said that the two teachers had lost their jobs because of links to the leftist militant group Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C). "There are organic ties between these two persons and the DHKP-C terrorist organisation... It is very clear," the minister said. The minister's claim was galactically far from the truth. The teachers' lawyer said they had both been acquitted of the charges the minister had mentioned. In 2012, they were acquitted of being members of a militant organization, but in 2017 they were fired from their jobs for having been suspects in a case in which they had been acquitted five years earlier.
At the second hearing of their trial on September 28, Ozakca was brought to court in a wheelchair, but doctors did not allow Gulmen to be present because of her worsened condition. Ozakca said: "Give us back our jobs and we will stop the hunger strike ... The [ruling government] is trying to tame us by taking away our bread."
Usually, suspects stand trial while still free. Here, the court rejected their appeal to be tried trial without being held in detention. Gulmen should be brought to court from jail "by force, if necessary," the judge ruled. Fortunately, the suspects had not tried to escape! The court could sigh with relief....
Not even sky is vast as the state's remorselessness. At a soccer game in August, a group of fans displayed a placard in support of Ozakca and Gulmen. The placard read: "Let Nuriye and Semih live." Just one line -- it was a simple, peaceful wish that the two teachers do not die in jail during their hunger strike. The governor's officials and the law enforcement authorities acted immediately. From security cameras, they identified the persons who displayed the placard and launched a criminal probe against them on charges of "supporting a terror organization."
Protesters bearing a picture of Nuriye Gulmen and Semih Ozakca during the "Rally for Justice" in Istanbul, July 9, 2017. (Image source: Hilmi Hacaloğlu/VOA/Wikimedia Commons)
The evidence? The placard that read "Let Nuriye and Semih live." In a way, the Turkish authorities were telling the public that everyone should think "Let Nuriye and Semih die" -- otherwise one is a terrorist!
Ozakca and Gulmen should not be left to the mercy of a remorseless state apparatus. They must be lent every kind of international support. "Let Nuriye and Semih live!"
Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 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.

How Palestinian unity efforts can catch Iran off-guard
Hamid Bahrami/Al Arabiya/October 11/17
After years of schism, the Palestinian groups, Fatah and Hamas decided to end the bloody split. Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian Prime Minister warmly shook hands with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya in Gaza Strip. Conflicts between known Palestinian groups is one of the main reasons to not achieve peace for the long bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is public knowledge that the Iranian regime is fomenting these conflicts by consistently drive a wedge between various Palestinian groups. Adding fuel to the fire through funding and arming Hamas have been one of Tehran's tactics. For those who are familiar with Iranian regime’s policy about the Palestinian crisis, it is bitterly understandable why the regime foments these conflicts. Since 1979 revolution in Iran which overthrew Israel's sole ally in the Middle East, the Islamic regime found anti-Israeli slogans as an ideological lever to persuade public opinion in both inside and outside of Iran in order to facilitate the export of its “Islamic revolution” to its neighbors.
Tehran and its terrorist arm
In fact, a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will effectively disarm Iran's ruling theocracy. Unfortunately, the mullahs have achieved these goals for more than 30 years. However, one should not disregard the fact that international policies, specifically the Arab allies’ indifferent negligence and the failed policy of appeasement provided Tehran and its terrorist arm, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a golden opportunity to intensify the conflict. In recent years, due to IRGC's crimes in support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Hamas finally Fatahoms what Fatah has said for many years.
Furthermore, increased political and economic pressure and the Palestinians public demand put Hamas in an irreversible position. Hence, Hamas unveiled a new policy platform, which distances it from IRGC's goals to destroy Israel. As a result of Egypt's mediation between Palestinian groups, they have now begun to solve their marked conflicts. The different sides involved including Israel, the Arab allies and the US all play specific roles in their favor’s. As history reveals, the Iranian regime will not just give up to lose its lever despite having failed ideologically and legitimately in both inside and outside of the country. Considering that the split between Palestinians secures the regime's regional interests, Shi'ite clerics will no doubt kindle a new fire between Palestinians. The Palestinian Prime Minister leading a unity cabinet in Gaza signals the beginning of reconciliation talks that are of historic proportion. In this regard, the UN Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, highlighted an important issue as he said: "If the region stays engaged, if Egypt’s role continues and if the political parties themselves continue to show the willingness they are currently showing to work with us on this process, then it can succeed."Apparently, Hamas is concerned about a likely failure of its talks with Fatah. The words of its deputy chief is enough to see these concerns. "Bartering or touching the weapons", said Khalil al-Hayat as he drew a red line for the negotiating sides. Although, his words bring a feeling of disappointment, but if the Iranian regime is restricted to arm and fund Hamas, the Islamic group will eventually be disarmed.
Israel's contradictory signals
One of the most effective points to a smooth transition to permanent peace is Israel's understanding of the reality on the ground. Stopping the settlements in the West Bank and accepting the two state solution by Israel will strengthen Fatah’s position in negotiations with Hamas.
In this case, the US should persuade Israel to recognize the 1967 borders. On the other hand, it is crucial that Egypt and its Arab allies push the Gaza residents toward Fatah's goals.

Who was first to attack the Muslim Brotherhood?

Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/October 11/17
The picture is very clear now. It’s no longer blurry. The Muslim Brotherhood, its products and its rival, Al-Sururiya movement, are unwanted, slurred and prohibited. In Saudi Arabia, we are now witnessing a “serious” effort to pursue the Brotherhood’s “cultural” presence. Confronting Qatar’s policies was part of this major conflict on the Brotherhood’s negative impact. Today, I would like to point out a picture that I have noticed emerge in the growth of this campaign against the Brotherhood. The picture as it appears is that many activists on social media, some articles in newspapers and talks on TV are claiming that they are the ‘first’ to warn about the Brotherhood but nobody listened. God bless their modestly. Actually, I once watched a conversation featuring a young reporter point out that she was the only one to attack the group when no one else did. I kid you not, she actually said that!
Ignorance results in much more than this, imagine what would happen if we add arrogance and unjustified audacity to the mix. The Brotherhood’s criticism of its rivals, criticism within the Brotherhood itself, and the rest of the Islamists is as old as the group itself. It is still with us and it is extending over time.
The Brotherhood’s criticism of its rivals, criticism within the Brotherhood itself, and the rest of the Islamists is as old as the group itself. It is still with us and it is extending over time. If we go back in early history, we find the Syrian Scholar Mohammed Kurd Ali, who died in 1953, was the founder and the director of the Academy of the Arabic Language in Damascus, established in 1915.Ali was quoting the words of a well-known journalist Said al-Talai, owner of Al Fayha newspaper in 1947, on the Muslim Brotherhood sportingly. He said: “The Muslim Brotherhood is a group dominated by selfishness, [they were taken away by life’s treasures and consumed by greed], so they worked to achieve fame, money and power using the easiest way; through religion.” (Mohamad Kurd Ali’s memories, Part 2. Pg. 531) In Egypt, the Brotherhood’s criticism varied from inside the group. Just like the criticism between Sheikh Hassan al-Banna and his fellow founder of the Brotherhood Ahmad al-Sukari. Criticism from outside the group included Sheikh Mohammed Nasiruddin al-Albani, an Albanian Islamic scholar who specialized in the fields of hadith and fiqh. We also find Egypt’s great writer, Abbas al-Aqqad frequently criticizing the Brotherhood.
Assassination of Pasha
Of his comments on the group’s assassination of Mahmoud el-Nokrashy Pasha, the former prime minister of Egypt, in a January 1949 article included: “The nation’s loss – el-Nokrashy – may he rest in peace, he put the country at peace by getting rid of several gangs, before this criminal gang, this includes the famous el-Khut gang. They made a mess in the midst of Upper Egypt, killing and stealing money. The gang never claimed to be a religious clergy, no one said that they were at the slightest knowledgeable nor did they have the ability to lie under the name of religion.”Al-Aqqad’s attack affected the Brotherhood negatively to the extent that they threatened to kill him. They even attempted to shoot him while he was sitting on his chair in his famous salon, in a known plan. This was early criticism on the Brotherhood, but from the 1950s to this day, people openly talk without shubstance – any amount of criticism that could be compiled in its own encyclopedia. Have bit of humbleness and a lot of knowledge.

Do Pakistanis need to pay the price for US failure in Afghanistan?

Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi/Al Arabiya/October 11/17
The United States of America began the war in Afghanistan in late 2001 after the mysterious terror attack, said to be carried out by Al-Qaeda, on the World Trade Center in New York and elsewhere in the United States. Following the attack, US President George W. Bush announced that “those who are not with us are against us.”Bush then declared war on Afghanistan to punish the Taliban government on the grounds that it had provided shelter to Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, who was considered to be the mastermind of the terror strikes on America. As a consequence of the explicit threat made by Bush, a large number of countries, including Pakistan, joined the alliance, led by the US, against the Taliban. The continuous air strikes launched by the US on Kabul and other regions occupied by the Taliban strengthened their local foes, especially the so-called Northern Alliances. This led to the defeat of the Taliban and their retreat from the regions that were under their control including the capital city of Kabul. The Taliban militants then headed to the tribal regions on the border with Pakistan. According to some reports, which appeared during those days, some Taliban fighters secured a safe passage to the south by bribing local authorities. The US presence on the ground in Afghanistan was meager and it was the allied forces that waged the ground war. The allies relied on US air strikes that weakened the Taliban and eventually calm prevailed for some time. But that calm did not last long as the Taliban were making preparations for a new round of fighting.
Counter-attack by Taliban
Taliban leaders started threatening the US troops and declared that Afghanistan would not be a safe place either for US forces or for any of the invading forces and that the country would be a cemetery for the invaders as it had been throughout the country’s history. After a brief period of time, the Taliban seized the opportunity for launching a counter attack, taking advantage of the preoccupation of American forces in its war in Iraq. This situation put heavy pressure on Pakistan to fight the war on behalf of the Americans to crush the Taliban. This was after the failure of the Americans, along with their Afghan allies, to defeat the enemy. Pakistan has made several attempts to flush the Taliban out of the tribal regions, but could not achieve the desired results because it was engaged in an asymmetrical and unconventional war. This angered the Americans who in turn accused Pakistan of illicit ties with some unknown groups. In fact, the war in the rugged tribal regions was not as easy as it was perceived to be by the US. Pakistan has made several attempts to flush the Taliban out of the tribal regions, but could not achieve the desired results because it was engaged in an asymmetrical and unconventional war. This angered the Americans who in turn accused Pakistan of illicit ties with some unknown groups. In fact, the war in the rugged tribal regions was not as easy as it was perceived to be by the US. Moreover, Pakistan also had to battle with the Pakistani Taliban and its affiliates. After the attack on an army school in December 2013, the Pakistan army launched an all-out war against various factions of the Pakistani Taliban and crushed them completely. Pakistan asked the Afghan government and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to eliminate the Taliban militants that fled to the eastern provinces of Afghanistan, but these militants went into hiding in those regions and launched attacks against both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Blame game
Even after 16 years of war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and spending billions of dollars, the United States has failed to eliminate the Taliban and install a stable government in Afghanistan. At the same time, the US continues to blame Pakistan and accuses it of not doing enough to eliminate the terrorism that strikes Pakistan itself. The US administration is not ready to acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices and successes, with its limited resources, in eliminating the Taliban infrastructure, albeit with heavy casualties. When President Barack Obama came to power, he found a heavy legacy left behind by his predecessor George W. Bush, and considered that the war in Afghanistan was justifiable and a good war. It was, he felt, a war of necessity, unlike the war in Iraq, which, according to Obama, was a war of choice and should have been avoided. However, in the course of time, Obama also found that the goals of the war in Afghanistan were unattainable, and hence he seriously thought about the prospect of a withdrawal, but his military commanders did not share his view in this regard. Therefore, Obama passed the legacy that he had inherited to his successor Donald Trump.
Trump announced a new strategy of sending additional troops to Afghanistan. Instead of thanking Pakistan for its sacrifices in the war against the Taliban, Trump accused Pakistan of granting safe havens to terrorists and at the same time threatened to expand cooperation with India, which, according to some observers, is involved in many of the developments in the region. While the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the recent statements of Donald Trump, especially those pertaining to Pakistan, the Taliban again vowed to make Afghanistan a cemetery for Americans and turn it into a new Vietnam. However, in a recent interview with the BBC, Ghani invited the Taliban to participate in a dialogue to solve all outstanding problems in a peaceful way. This is what happened with the Colombian government and the rebels who laid down their arms and sat at the negotiating table and reached solutions that were acceptable to both parties. It is yet to be seen whether this strategy will work or if it will meet the same fate as the failed strategies of Ghani’s predecessors.