October 13/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 15/03-07/:"Jesus told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost."Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 12-13/17
Ehud Barak, Israeli Hawk and No Friend of Iran, Urges Trump to Keep Nuclear Deal/Mark Landler/October 11/17
Analysis With Unprecedented Chaos in Washington, Israel Sets New Red Lines Over Iranian Presence in Syria/Amos Harel /Haaretz/October 12/2017
Iran and Turkey, unrest and its aftermath/Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/October 12/17
Has Kuwait sided with Qatar/Jameel al-Thiyabi/Al Arabiya/October 12/17
Scrutinizing the Kurdish referendum/Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Arabiya/October 12/17
Yemen and the Catastrophic Role of ‘Lone’ Nations/Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/October 12/17
UK: Extremely Selective Free Speech/Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/October 12/17
How Barcelona Became a Victim of the Barcelona Process/Fjordman/Gatestone Institute/October 12/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 12-13/17
US Measures against Hezbollah Leaders Embarrass Lebanese Government
Berri: No Constitutional Violation Greater than Absence of State Budget
Berri, Ibrahim tackle security situation
Aoun adamant legislative elections will take place on time
Cabinet forms Socio Economic Council and adopts law protecting heritage sites
Abi Khalil to announce closing first licensing cycle for oil exploration
Loyalty to Resistance: Adoption of tax law does not exempt government from its responsibility of fighting corruption
Kataeb President, Ambassador of Egypt tackle local, regional affairs
Army Commander meets Ambassador of Ukraine
Minister of Social Affairs meets Congressmen, visits White House
Clemenceau Talks Reportedly Focused on 'Reining in Bassil's Performance'
Cabinet Revives Economic and Social Council, Approves Elections Funds
Hizbullah Bloc Urges Govt. to Tackle Corruption, Tax Evasion
U.S. Collectors Drop Bid to Prevent Sculpture's Return to Lebanon

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 12-13/17
PA to Resume Control of Gaza after Hamas, Fatah Ink Deal
North Korea Looms Large as Trump Challenges Iran
U.S. Withdraws from UNESCO, Decries 'Anti-Israel Bias'
UAE Stops Issuing Visas to North Koreans, Downgrades Ties
ISIS Releases Footage of Sinai Failed Attack
Hamas, Fatah agree to complete Gaza handover by December 1
Abbas to Visit Gaza as Details of Fatah-Hamas Deal Emerge
Aboul Gheit: Formation of Arab Peacekeeping Force a ‘Very Good Idea’
Swiss open criminal case against ex-FIFA official Valcke, beIN CEO
Coptic priest stabbed to death in Cairo suburb
Arab coalition destroy Houthi missile launch site in Yemen's Hudaydah
Egypt extends state of emergency for three months
Kurds offer talks with Baghdad over airport, banks ban
British ISIS bride Sally Jones ‘killed in drone strike’
Turkey expects visa spat with US to be ‘resolved soon’
New intelligence report reveals plot of IRGC mercenaries in Syria
Iran intelligence minister defends jailed nuclear negotiator
We don't need you': Erdogan accuses Washington of 'sacrificing' relations with Turkey
Russia puts Crimea on new bank note
Pakistan Says CanadianAmerican Family Freed From Taliban Captivity
UNESCO director regrets US plan to leave agency

Latest Lebanese Related News published on October 12-13/17
US Measures against Hezbollah Leaders Embarrass Lebanese Government

Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al Awsat/October 12/17/Beirut – The United States stepped up its measures against Lebanon’s Hezbollah group by offering multimillion-dollar rewards for the arrest of two of its officials. Washington has offered up to $7 million for information leading to the detention of Talal Hamiyah, head of Hezbollah’s foreign operations, and up to $5 million for Fouad Shukr, a top Hezbollah military operative. The new escalatory steps put further pressure on the Lebanese government, especially in the wake of recent warnings by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said: “The next war in the north will not only be the Lebanese front, but rather a united front made up of Syria and Lebanon.” “The Lebanese army has lost its independence and has become an integral part of Hezbollah,” he added. While no official stance was issued by Lebanon in response to the new US measures, Speaker Nabih Berri said on Wednesday that foreign threats affect all the Lebanese people, underlining the importance of preserving unity to face challenges ahead. In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, sources from Hezbollah said the US rewards and the Israeli threats would not affect the “resistance work against Israeli and extremist groups.”The sources noted that the new measures were part of a political media campaign with well-known objectives, which came in parallel with the new financial sanctions imposed on the group. Director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs Sami Nader said that the new steps against Hezbollah would embarrass the Lebanese government, which would soon have to give an official stance on the matter. Nader told Asharq Al-Awsat that the most dangerous part of the US escalatory steps was its call on its European allies to stop separating between Hezbollah’s military and political wings, an approach that European countries have used so far in their relation with Lebanon and its government. Nathan Sales, the US counterterrorism coordinator, said in a press conference that the rewards were the first offered by the United States for Hezbollah operatives in a decade. 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 Counter Terrorism Center, blamed the group for a list of attacks around the world, and said it maintains a presence in “nearly every corner of the globe.”He added that US intelligence agencies warned that the group was seeking an ability to strike inside “the homeland.”

Berri: No Constitutional Violation Greater than Absence of State Budget
Naharnet/october 12/17/Speaker Nabih Berri has stressed that “there is no constitutional violation greater than the absence of a state budget.”“In the presence of a state budget, any constitutional problems can be addressed and resolved, but it is unacceptable not to have a state budget after having spent 12 years without it,” Berri told his visitors, emphasizing the need to approve the 2017 state budget next week in Parliament. Berri had 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 and disputes over financial auditing for some fiscal years.

Berri, Ibrahim tackle security situation
Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - Speaker Nabih Berri welcomed on Thursday in Ain al-Tineh the General Security Chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, who briefed him on the security situation. Berri later received a delegation of the African continental council headed by its president Abbas Fawaz, with talks touching on affairs of expatriation and the council's role in Africa. The delegation briefed Berri on the work of the 8th African Continental Council, which was held in Beirut on Monday, and thanked him for his permanent patronage of the African Diaspora.

Aoun adamant legislative elections will take place on time
Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, pledged on Thursday that the imminent parliamentary elections would take place on time, asserting that "no one enjoyed the power to stop them from happening." Lifting the nation and putting it on the back on the right track is a collective effort, the President told his Baabda visitors today. He also promised that the lengthily awaited change would be translated by the people's votes in the forthcoming legislative elections. "The country will witness more of the progress which had begun months ago, en route to social and political stability," the President added. Welcoming a delegation representing the "Gathering of Political Parties, Political Forces, and National Figures", Aoun referred to his era's achievements within the last ten month. "The positions that have been expressed in international forums are very important for Lebanon and would hopefully restore its sovereignty and independence," the President said. "Lebanon has been able to salvage itself since the Israeli aggression back in 2006, when Israel did not aim to occupy Lebanon, but to cause internal strife. The Lebanese have enough awareness and we have surpassed this stage," he explained. The President went on to say that Lebanon today faced a new reality and was currently under great pressure. "We will face this pressure with our unity, solidarity, and national will, which have achieved countless victories in the past," he said, promising to remind the people of his era's achievements on yearly basis.He also refused to have the Lebanese randomly throw blames and accountability at one another. "It is dangerous for anyone to accuse the other without being held accountable. This will make us lose faith in the accuser and the accused alike. This will also hinder the public opinion from making sane judgments against crime," the President added. Touching on the Syrian refugee dossier, the President explained that Lebanon's calls for the return of Syrians to their homeland in no way signified expelling them.
"It is necessary to work for their [Syrian refugees] safety in their motherland, especially since Lebanon is no longer able to bear the burden of the continuing Syrian exodus," Aoun explained. Separately, President Aoun met with Minister of Tourism Awadis Kidanian and the Secretary General of the Tashnag Party, MP Hagop Pakradounian. The President held a round of talks with his visitors on the current political developments and the positions of political parties on the impending elections, as well as the repercussions of the economic, security and social situation in Lebanon. The meeting also featured high on administrative appointments, and the rights of the Armenian community. President Aoun, also had an audience with head of the Health Committee, MP Atef Majdalani. "Talks with the President focused on the health situation in Lebanon and the legislations that serve citizens best in order to provide advanced healthcare services, under better conditions," Majdalani said.

Cabinet forms Socio Economic Council and adopts law protecting heritage sites
Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri chaired today at the Grand Serail an ordinary meeting for the Council of Ministers. After the meeting, Minister of Information Melhem Riachi read the following official information: "The Council of Ministers held an ordinary meeting at the Grand Seail chaired by Prime Minister Hariri in the absence of Ministers Pierre Abi Assi, Jamal al-Jarrah, Mohamad Kabbara, Yacoub al-Sarraf and Raed Khoury. Prime Minister Hariri spoke about the Socio-Economic Council and the names of the proposed members were approved by the cabinet.
PM Hariri said: "The stage is economic and we all carry socio-economic concerns. The Council is a place for reflection and dialogue among all segments of society and the political parties should listen to its views. There is an activation for the role of woman and 12 ladies were appointed, that is 17% of the Socio-Economic Council. The oldest member will call for the election of the bureau, which in turn will elect a President and a vice-president and the government will appoint a director general. We hope that this will be the beginning of a serious and productive cooperation between the working force and the government. The Socio-Economic Council is named by the syndicates and the institutions working within this framework including the workers, trade unions and other councils."
Minister Riachi also said that term of electricity companies "BUS" in Northern Mount Lebanon and the North and "KVA" in Beirut and the Bekaa, was extended till 31-12-2021. He added that the Socio-Economic Council was approved with the names proposed to the cabinet, as well as the law protecting heritage sites and buildings. Question: When will the next session be held?
Riachi: The next session will be scheduled in accordance with the budget sessions that will be held next week.
Question: What did Prime Minister Hariri promise you regarding the board of directors of Tele Liban?
Riachi: This file has been at the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers for more than three month and I raised the issue with all the details and risks facing those working in the TV, especially since the amounts accumulated and I cannot, as Minister of Information representing the general assembly or the state, sign the disbursements for medication, hospitalization, school grants and others that are essential for the workers. Prime Minister Hariri promised to put the Tele Liban file of the agenda of the next meeting.
Question: It is the first time that appointments have been made outside the Baabda Palace.
Riachi: There was a coordination with president Aoun on this issue.
Question: What about the financing of the Parliamentary elections?
Riachi: This item was endorsed.
Question: What did the electricity companies provide so their term was extended?
Riachi: I prefer that you ask the concerned minister, but these companies are providing essential services otherwise, the cabinet wouldn't have extended their term. The renewal of the term of one company was put on hold for now because it is objecting some issues that have to do with southern Lebanon and southern Mount Lebanon.
Minister Khoury
Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury said: "The law protecting archeological and heritage buildings is a law that I worked on, just as former ministers did. It is a historic step to protect heritage and archeology in Lebanon. The importance of this law is that it found ways to compensate the owners of heritage buildings so they can benefit from their properties and maintain them. I consider that through this law that will be referred to Parliament we have accomplished a mission long-awaited by the Lebanese people. I will ask the Speaker to help us endorse this law as soon as possible. I also want to tell all those interested in heritage in Lebanon that from now on no heritage building will be removed to be replaced by sky scrapers but these buildings will be preserved in the appropriate way."

Abi Khalil to announce closing first licensing cycle for oil exploration

Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - Minister of Energy and Water, Caesar Abi Khalil, announced in a statement that he will be announcing, at 8:35 this evening, the closure of the first licensing cycle for oil exploration in a live broadcast.

Loyalty to Resistance: Adoption of tax law does not exempt government from its responsibility of fighting corruption
Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - "The parliament's approval of the tax law is driven by the need to secure the required imports for the treasury and to cover the cost of enforcing the salary scale," the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc said in a statement issued after its periodic meeting at its headquarters in Haret Hreik. "However, this does not exempt the government from its responsibility to fight against corruption and tax evasion. It is its duty to reconsider its economic approach and the comprehensive tax policy on the basis of scientific and fair standards that contribute to the achievement of national solidarity, strong economy and sustainable development," the bloc said.

Kataeb President, Ambassador of Egypt tackle local, regional affairs

Thu 12 Oct 2017 /NNA - President of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, MP Sami Gemayel, received in Saifi the Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon, Nazih Najjari, with whom he discussed the an array of local and regional affairs.

Army Commander meets Ambassador of Ukraine
Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - Army Chief, General Joseph Aoun, received at his office in Yarze, the Ambassador of Ukraine, Ihor Ostash, accompanied by the military attaché, Col. Oleksandr M. Galkyn, with talks featuring high on the general situation in Lebanon and the region and means of enhancing cooperation between the armies of the two countries.

Minister of Social Affairs meets Congressmen, visits White House

Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - Minister of Social Affairs Pierre Bou Assi, on the third day of his visit to the US capital, held a series of intensive meetings at the US Congress with a number of members of the House of Representatives, in addition to meetings with prominent US senators. He then visited the White House and held meetings with senior US advisors, culminating in lengthy talks with Michael Bell, the US President's advisor for Middle Eastern affairs. Discussions touched on the developments in the region and the situation in Lebanon in all its aspects, mainly the political and the security aspects.

Clemenceau Talks Reportedly Focused on 'Reining in Bassil's Performance'
Naharnet/october 12/17/The tripartite meeting in Clemenceau between Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat focused on “reining in the performance of Minister Jebran Bassil,” a media report published Thursday said.“Dismayed by Bassil, Berri and Jumblat organized the meeting to prevent reaching a real clash, especially after Bassil boasted about 'Lebanese racism',” al-Joumhouria newspaper reported. “This boasting pushed a lot of leaders to warn over the level that could be reached should this rhetoric and behavior continue,” the daily added.The conferees also discussed “the FPM's excesses that are being practiced by Bassil, noting that Bassil's performance that is backed by President Michel Aoun evokes the pre-Taef Accord era,” al-Joumhouria said. “One of the conferees held PM Saad Hariri responsible for Bassil's breach of domestic balances, lamenting that the FPM-Mustaqbal Movement alliance has turned into an FPM hegemony,” the daily added.

Cabinet Revives Economic and Social Council, Approves Elections Funds

Naharnet/october 12/17/The Cabinet on Thursday appointed 71 new members on the Economic and Social Council of Lebanon, reviving it after 15 years of suspension. "This phase is an economic phase and we are all aware of the economic and social concerns," Prime Minister Saad Hariri said during the session. Information Minister Melhem Riachi announced after the session that the Council will comprise 12 women representing 17% of the total number of members. "The eldest member will call for the election of the council's bureau, which in turn would elect a chairperson and a deputy chairperson, while the government will appoint a secretary-general for the council," Riachi added. Al-Jadeed television said the ministers Nouhad al-Mashnouq, Ali Qansou, Avedis Guidanian and Jean Oghassabian voiced objections over the council's appointments. According to al-Akhbar newspaper, an agreement has been reached to appoint Charles Arbid as the secretary-general of the council. Arbid has good ties with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri's adviser, Nader Hariri, the daily said. According to a mission statement published on the council's English-language website, the council is tasked with “prompting inter dialogue, cooperation and coordination between various economic, social and vocational sectors.” It comprises 71 members “representing all sectors, associations, syndicates, vocational and expatriate institutions.” Separately, the Cabinet approved the funding necessary for organizing the upcoming parliamentary elections, with Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh decrying that "this will be the most expensive vote in the world."Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq meanwhile defended the resolution, saying every earmarked amount of money is justified and necessary.

Hizbullah Bloc Urges Govt. to Tackle Corruption, Tax Evasion
Naharnet/october 12/17/Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc on Thursday stressed that “Parliament's approval of the tax law aimed at securing revenues to cover the new wage scale's cost does not absolve the government of its responsibility to combat corruption and tax evasion.”In a statement issued after its weekly meeting, the bloc also underscored the need to “implement the Constitution” regarding the state budget, emphasizing the importance of “achieving general financial regularity in order to create growth and curb deficit.”Parliament has recently approved new taxes aimed at funding the long-awaited wage scale. The bloc's MPs abstained from voting after they rejected hiking VAT from 10% to 11%.

U.S. Collectors Drop Bid to Prevent Sculpture's Return to Lebanon
Associated Press/October 12/17/A husband and wife from Colorado have dropped their bid to prevent a 2,300-year-old marble bull's head from being returned to Lebanon, where New York prosecutors say it had been stolen during the country's civil war in 1981. The sculpture had been on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art until July, when Lebanese officials requested the item's return and it was handed over to New York City authorities. The New York Times reports collectors Lynda and William Beierwaltes sued the Manhattan district attorney's office and the Lebanese government, arguing they had bought the artifact in good faith. A lawyer for the couple said Wednesday they are withdrawing their claim to the sculpture after they were presented with "incontrovertible evidence" that it was stolen.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 12-13/17
PA to Resume Control of Gaza after Hamas, Fatah Ink Deal
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/october 12/17/Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement Thursday on ending a decade-long split following talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo, with President Mahmoud Abbas calling it a "final" accord.
Under the agreement, the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority is to resume full control of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip by December 1, according to a statement from Egypt's government. Abbas welcomed the deal in comments to AFP and said he considered it a "final agreement to end the division" -- though many details remain to be resolved and previous reconciliation attempts have repeatedly failed. It was signed in Cairo by new Hamas deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, at the headquarters of Egypt's intelligence service, which oversaw the negotiations. Celebrations broke out in the Gaza Strip after the announcement of the deal, with residents waving flags of Egypt, Palestine, Fatah and Hamas. Negotiations are now expected to be held on forming a unity government, with the various Palestinian political movements invited to another meeting in Cairo on November 21. An official from Abbas' Fatah movement said the Palestinian president was planning to soon travel to the Gaza Strip as part of the unity bid in what would be his first visit in a decade. Sanctions taken by Abbas against Hamas-controlled Gaza will also soon be lifted, the Fatah official said. The deal includes 3,000 members of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority's police force redeploying to Gaza, a member of the negotiating team told AFP on condition of anonymity. The figure is however a fraction of the more than 20,000 police officers employed separately by Hamas.
End very shortly
Another party to the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the agreement would see Palestinian Authority forces take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. One of the key issues has been punitive measures taken by Abbas against Gaza in recent months, including reducing electricity payments that left the territory's residents with only a few hours of power a day. "All the measures taken recently will end very shortly," Zakaria al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, told AFP. The two sides had been meeting in the Egyptian capital this week with the aim of ending the crippling decade-old split between the rival factions. Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah in a near civil war in 2007 and the two factions have been at loggerheads ever since. Multiple previous reconciliation efforts have failed. Egypt has been keen to improve security in the Sinai Peninsula which borders Gaza and where jihadist rebels have fought a long-running insurgency. An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the negotiations closely.
Fate of armed wing
Last month, Hamas agreed to cede civil power in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority but the fate of its vast military wing remains a significant issue for the two sides. Islamist movement Hamas is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.It has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and the blockaded Gaza Strip has seen deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Faced with increasing isolation and a severe electricity shortage, Hamas has reached out to Egypt for help, hoping to have the Rafah border opened. The crossing has remained largely closed in recent years.
Egypt has also agreed to provide fuel to the Gaza Strip for electricity generation. In return, Cairo pressed Hamas to move forward on reconciliation with Fatah. Previous attempts at reconciliation have repeatedly failed, and many analysts are treating the latest bid with caution, waiting to see if actual change will occur on the ground. Last week, Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah visited Gaza for the first time since 2015 and his ministers took formal control of government departments in the territory. But the move was seen as mainly symbolic, with Hamas still effectively in charge in the Palestinian enclave of two million people bordered by Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea. One of the key sticking points will be the fate of Hamas' 25,000-strong military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. Reconciliation could also pose a dilemma for international efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal since Hamas has not recognized Israel, unlike the Abbas-led Palestine Liberation Organization.

North Korea Looms Large as Trump Challenges Iran
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/october 12/17/As U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to decide on certifying the Iran nuclear deal, the White House has come to see a rapidly escalating standoff with North Korea as both a complicating factor and a cautionary tale. By the close of business Friday, Trump is expected to declare that a landmark agreement curbing Iran's nuclear program is no longer in the U.S. interest. That would not kill the deal outright, but it would pass that decision on to Congress -- a gambit full of risk for the greater Middle East. During months of debate about regional repercussions from Aden to Kabul, indeed, since the hours after Trump was elected, a gathering storm with North Korea has weighed heavily.
The weight of office
When Trump met president Barack Obama for the first time on November 10, 2016, the outgoing leader had an ominous warning for the president elect. Sitting feet from each other in the storied Oval Office, Obama told Trump he would face a fateful decision on North Korea in the first months of his presidency. Trump would have to decide whether to allow Kim Jong-Un to develop the capability to nuke almost any city in the continental United States. Presidents from Obama back to George Bush Sr. had tried inducements and coercion to prevent North Korea from breaking through a series of ominous proliferation thresholds. But year after year, as the Kim dynasty passed through three generations, North Korea marched ever closer to mastering what Winston Churchill once called the "lights of perverted science." Pyongyang covertly separated plutonium, withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and developed a medium-range ballistic missile that could hit Alaska or Hawaii. It perfected an atomic bomb.By November 2016, U.S. intelligence believed that Pyongyang would -- in a matter of months rather than years -- be able to marry intercontinental ballistic missile technology with the ability to produce a miniaturized thermonuclear device, putting the United States within reach. The United States had three basic choices: military action, diplomacy or acceptance. According to aides familiar with the Oval Office conversation last November, Obama felt he had conveyed the gravity of the situation to the neophyte president.
Trump came away feeling like such a serious a situation should have been dealt with long ago. "Look, this should have been taken care of by four or five previous administrations," Trump told Forbes recently. "I feel strongly you cannot allow him to have nuclear weapons." Under Trump's tough-guy doctrine, an unbending message to Iran would make North Korea take notice. But several White House officials described the choice in more historical terms. They have come to believe that tackling Iran today offers an opportunity akin to that which was squandered with North Korea a decade or more ago. Getting tough on Tehran, they argue, affords Trump a chance to prevent a foe from developing nuclear weapons and jamming the next president with a litany of bad choices.
Walking away from talking?
Proponents of the deal argue there is no evidence Tehran is breaching the deal, so it remains the best way to prevent an Iranian bomb. For them too, North Korea looms large. "There would be no more crippling a blow to the prospects for a peaceful outcome with North Korea than walking away from the Iran deal," Ned Price, a spokesman for Obama's National Security Council who spent a decade at the CIA, recently wrote. They argue that Washington's willingness to risk an agreement it signed barely two years ago -- which Iran seems to be adhering to -- and which is still strongly supported by longstanding European allies, sends a terrible message to Pyongyang. One of the deal's diplomat-architects, Wendy Sherman, argued North Korea would conclude it is futile to talk to Washington. "We are likely to lose any possibility of dialogue with North Korea because Pyongyang will assume the United States will not honor its commitments, even on multilateral agreements," she wrote. Whether supporters of the Iran deal or its detractors are correct, Trump's decision looks set to reverberate beyond the Middle East and all the way to the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. Withdraws from UNESCO, Decries 'Anti-Israel Bias'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/october 12/17/The United States said Thursday that it was pulling out of the U.N.'s culture and education body, accusing it of "anti-Israel bias" in a move criticized by the head of the Paris-based organization.  Following years of tension at UNESCO, which is in the process of electing a new director-general, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced that Washington planned to withdraw. "This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO," she said in a statement. The United States -- one of the body's founding members -- has withdrawn once before under president Ronald Reagan, who quit in 1984 over alleged financial mismanagement and anti-U.S. bias in some of its policies. President George W. Bush announced America's return in 2002, but relations soured again in 2011 when Washington pulled the plug on funding to the body after its members voted to admit Palestine as a full member. Washington opposes any move by U.N. bodies to recognize the Palestinians as a state, believing that this must await a negotiated Middle East peace deal. But President Donald Trump's administration is also reviewing many of its multilateral commitments, pursuing what he calls an "America First" policy. The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, voiced "profound regret" over the decision, calling it a "loss to multilateralism." "At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack," she said. In a statement, Bokova said that "despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful."
'Observer mission'
UNESCO, which is best known for producing the list of World Heritage sites that includes the Grand Canyon and other U.S. attractions, has been the scene of diplomatic flare-ups in recent years after Arab countries succeeded in passing a number of resolutions critical of Israel. In May this year, Israel was infuriated by a resolution identifying Israel as "the occupying power" in the divided of city of Jerusalem and calling on it to rescind any move changing the city's "character and status". The text denounced "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem."  In July, the agency again delighted Palestinians when it declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the vote "another delusional decision" by UNESCO, which promotes education, cultural development and free media initiatives around the world. The agency's board members are set to vote this week to elect a new director-general, with candidates from Qatar, France and Egypt in a three-way race for the position. Washington said it would establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the agency.

UAE Stops Issuing Visas to North Koreans, Downgrades Ties
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/october 12/17/The United Arab Emirates on Thursday announced it had stopped issuing visas to North Korean nationals and downgraded diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, following similar moves by Kuwait and Qatar. The UAE government ended the mission of its non-resident ambassador to North Korea as well as that of Pyongyang's non-resident ambassador to the UAE, the government-run WAM news agency said. Abu Dhabi will also no longer grant North Korean companies authorization to work in any of the seven emirates, WAM said. Tensions over North Korea's weapons program have soared in recent months, with Pyongyang launching a flurry of missiles and conducting its sixth and most powerful nuclear test last month. U.N. sanctions against North Korea were last month expanded to include North Korean guest workers, along with textiles and a cap on oil exports. South Korea and Japan have pressured Gulf states to stop employing North Korean workers, whose income goes towards remittances that benefit the regime in Pyongyang, according to Asian diplomatic sources.  In September, Kuwait gave the North Korean ambassador one month to leave the country and stopped issuing visas to all North Koreans. Qatar has also said it would not renew visas for North Korean laborers, with the last work permits set to expire at the end of 2018. Between 2,000 and 2,500 North Koreans currently work in Kuwait, and another estimated 1,000 in Qatar. The UAE is home to some 1,300 North Korean workers, according to a South Korean diplomat.

ISIS Releases Footage of Sinai Failed Attack
Asharq Al Awsat/October 12/17/Cairo- Hours after security authorities in Egypt announced the death of a security recruit who stopped a bomb-laden car driven by a suicide bomber on its way to the Central Sinai Cement Factory, terror group ISIS published footage related to the attack on Wednesday.
In its statement, ISIS said that the executor was called Abu al-Qaqaa al-Ansari. According to security sources, Wednesday evening “a guard at the main gate of a cement factory in the center of the center of Sinai was killed after a vehicle driven by a suicide bomber tried to storm the factory.”Ahmed Ban, a researcher on Islamic movements in Egypt, told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS doesn’t publish failed operations, except for some of its attacks. In the case of the cement factory in Sinai, the circulated footage was meant to “challenge the official reporting relayed by Egyptian authorities and provoke doubts over authorities declaring the security guard to have died as a hero. Since the toppling of former President Mohamed Morsi, terror groups have incessantly targeted the military, security men, security installations and checkpoints. They adopted the approach of carrying out many killings against soldiers, mostly in Sinai— and even targeted a Russian passenger plane flying over the peninsula. An ISIS-linked website published on Wednesday 3 pictures showing at which the suicide terrorist attempted to drive the car into the factory’s premise, the moment of detonation. Sources cite that it was the guard opening fire at the vehicle that prevented a true disaster in central Sinai.

Hamas, Fatah agree to complete Gaza handover by December 1
Reuters, AFP, CairoThursday, 12 October 2017/Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah on Thursday agreed to complete the handover of administrative control of Gaza to a unity government by Dec. 1, a statement from Egypt’s state information service said. It was signed by new Hamas deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, according to Fatah and Hamas sources in the negotiations. Earlier in the day, the pro-Hamas Palestinian Information Center had reported that the two Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation and details will be released at a news conference later on Thursday. Quoting a member of the Hamas media department, the website did not provide further details but said they would be announced at a noon news conference in Cairo, where unity talks between the rival factions began on Tuesday.
The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the West and Israel, in fighting in 2007. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt.
3,000 police officers. Some 3,000 police officers from the Palestinian Authority are to redeploy to Gaza as part of the unity agreement, a Palestinian official said on Thursday. "According to the agreement, the Palestinian government will be able to take over all its roles in the civil and security sectors, for which 3,000 Palestinian policemen from the .... Palestinian Authority will be redeployed," the official involved in the talks told AFP on condition of anonymity. The figure is a fraction of the number of police officers employed by Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

Abbas to Visit Gaza as Details of Fatah-Hamas Deal Emerge
Asharq Al Awsat/October 12/17/Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Gaza for the first time in a decade within a month, a top official in his Fatah party said on Thursday after the movement reached a deal with Hamas over political reconciliation. Abbas “will be in Gaza within less than a month,” Zakaria al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader in the Gaza Strip, told Agence France Presse following a breakthrough in talks between the two sides mediated by Egypt in Cairo. Abbas, who told AFP that the unity deal is the “final agreement” to end Palestinian split, has not visited the enclave since his forces were pushed out in 2007 by Hamas which has controlled it ever since. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to Abbas’ Fatah-backed government. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement Thursday that the Cairo agreement was reached under “generous Egyptian auspices,” but provided no details. An Egyptian source close to the talks said intelligence chief Khaled Fawzi had followed the talks closely. “We congratulate our Palestinian people on the reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo. We make every effort possible to implement it to start a new chapter in the history of our people,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem told Reuters.Some 3,000 police officers from the Palestinian Authority are to redeploy to Gaza as part of the deal, a Palestinian official said. “According to the agreement, the Palestinian government will be able to take over all its roles in the civil and security sectors, for which 3,000 Palestinian policemen from the …. Palestinian Authority will be redeployed,” the official involved in the talks told AFP on condition of anonymity. A party to the negotiations said the agreement would see forces of the West Bank-based PA, which is dominated by Fatah, take control of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Both rivals hope the deal’s proposed deployment of security personnel from the PA to Gaza’s borders will encourage Egypt and Israel to lift their tight restrictions at border crossings, a much needed step to help Gaza revive its economy.

Aboul Gheit: Formation of Arab Peacekeeping Force a ‘Very Good Idea’

Asharq Al Awsat/October 12/17/Cairo- Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has warned that terrorist organizations “represent a threat to the stability of Arab countries,” welcoming the idea of a joint Arab peacekeeping force.“What’s happening in Syria and Iraq is frightening. There are threats to Jordan that lies on the border of these two countries,” Aboul Gheit told a delegation from the Nasser Higher Military Academy (NHMA). The Iraqi army is trying to end the war on ISIS and the battles in Syria are nearing to achieve their objectives, he said.“The current situation allowed foreign troops to be present on Arab land,” Aboul Gheit told the delegation. He also condemned Iran’s threats to Gulf states, saying “some countries are talking about hegemony and control over Arab capitals, and are seeking to expand to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.” The Arab League chief also criticized statements on “religious divisions” and a Shi’ite-Sunni race. He stressed the organization’s rejection of “any foreign interference in Arab territories,” calling for an understanding to the new challenges and ways to beat them. There comes the role of the Arab League in bringing countries closer and uniting their viewpoints. “When you decide to take group action to confront these challenges, we will be here as Arabs,” he said, adding that forming an Arab peacekeeping force “is a very good idea.”But such a move “requires the appropriate circumstances and a unified Arab will.”“Currently, Arab countries do not believe that a proposed joint Arab force is necessary,” Aboul Gheit said. He added that the Arab League would be ready to act when the organization’s Council decides to build such a force militarily.

Swiss open criminal case against ex-FIFA official Valcke, beIN CEO
Reuters, Zurich Thursday, 12 October 2017/Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal proceeding against former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Qatar’s beIN Media Chief Executive Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the latest escalation in their ongoing investigation into corruption in soccer. “It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the FIFA World Cups in 2026 and 2030,” Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said on Thursday. In March last year, the OAG said Valcke was suspected of criminal mismanagement and other offences. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Coptic priest stabbed to death in Cairo suburb
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishThursday, 12 October 2017/A Coptic priest of a church in Egypt’s governorate of Beni Suef was stabbed to death in a street in a Cairo suburb on Thursday, according to local sources. The priest, Samaan Shehta, was in Cairo to attend a conference he was invited to in the suburb of Dar el-Salam near El-Marg. Egypt’s Coptic Church released a statement asserting that the death of the priest Shehta occurred near el-salam city. Samaan Shehta was a Coptic priest of a church in Egypt’s governorate of Beni Suef. (Supplied) It added that he was with another priest called Benjamin Moftah. Local sources said that Moftah too suffered injuries during the attack. Meanwhile, security services in Cairo said it was saving no effort to uncover the circumstances behind the incident and to arrest of the killer. However, Akhbar Al–Youm newspaper said that the perpetrator has been arrested and is currently being investigated.

Arab coalition destroy Houthi missile launch site in Yemen's Hudaydah
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishThursday, 12 October 2017/The Arab coalition announced on Friday that it had destroyed a Houthi missile launch site in Hudaydah that is used to target Saudi Arabia. A coalition unmanned aircraft documented earlier this month targeted locations of Houthi and Saleh militias in different areas near the Saudi-Yemeni border. Coalition aircraft managed to destroy military vehicles carrying militants towards the Saudi border in an attempt to plant mines and advance towards the border. Arab coalition fighters also targeted military reinforcements of Houthi militias and destroyed a weapons storehouse and sites for their gatherings in the Bihan district, west of Shabbwa province.

Egypt extends state of emergency for three months

By Reuters, Cairo Thursday, 12 October 2017/Egypt has extended a state of emergency for another three months, starting Friday, the official gazette said on Thursday.Egypt first imposed the state of emergency in April after two church bombings killed at least 45 people. It was then extended in July for a further three months.

Kurds offer talks with Baghdad over airport, banks ban
Reuters, BaghdadThursday, 12 October 2017/The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) offered to hold talks with Iraqi authorities on the status of Kurdish airports, border posts and banks, on which they placed restrictions following an independence referendum. Baghdad took the measures in an attempt to isolate the KRG after last month’s referendum. The government in Baghdad, which declared the vote illegal,  imposed a ban on direct international flights to the northern region. It also demanded that the KRG hand over control of itsborder posts, and stopped selling dollars to four Kurdish-owned banks. “To avoid this collective punishment, we invite (Iraqi Prime Minister) Haider al-Abadi, again, that we ready to any from of dialogue and negotiations in conformity with the Iraqi Constitution,” the KRG said a statement published overnight. It offered discussions “regarding the crossings, internal trade, providing services to the citizens, the banks and the airports.”The statement marked a change of tack by Kurdish authorities, which on Wednesday accused Iraqi forces and Iranian-trained Iraqi paramilitaries of “preparing a major attack” on the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and near Mosul in northern Iraq. An Iraqi military spokesman denied any attack on Kurdish forces was planned, saying government troops were preparing to oust ISIS militants from an area near the Syrian border. Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council issued arrest warrants on Wednesday for the chairman of the Kurdish referendum commission and two aides for “violating a valid (Iraqi) court ruling” banning the independence vote as against the Constitution. Neighboring Iran and Turkey back Iraq’s uncompromising stance, fearing the spread of separatism to their own Kurdish populations. Kirkuk, a Kurdish-held multi-ethnic region, has emerged as a flashpoint in the crisis between Baghdad and Erbil as it is claimed by both sides. Iraqi forces and Shi’ite paramilitaries, known as Popular Mobilisation, are deployed south and west of Kirkuk, in areas previously under the control of Islamic State. The area around the border post of al-Qaim, in western Iraq, is the last Iraqi region still under the control of the militants who overran a third of the country in 2014.

British ISIS bride Sally Jones ‘killed in drone strike’
British militant who recruited online for the ISIS group, has been killed in Syria by a US drone along with her 12-year-old son. Reuters, London Thursday, 12 October 2017/Sally Jones, a British militant who recruited online for the ISIS group, has been killed in Syria by a US drone along with her 12-year-old son, The Sun newspaper reported on Thursday. A convert to Islam from southern England, Jones was nicknamed the "White Widow" by the British press after her militant husband Junaid Hussain, also an ISIS militant, was killed by a drone in 2015. Quoting a British intelligence source who had been briefed by US counterparts, The Sun reported that Jones and her son had been killed in June close to Syria's border with Iraq, as she was attempting to flee the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. A convert to Islam from southern England, Jones was nicknamed the 'White Widow' by the British press. (Photo courtesy: Twitter) US intelligence chiefs were quoted as saying they could not be 100 percent certain that Jones had been killed as there was no way of recovering any DNA from the ground, but they were “confident” she was dead. Her son JoJo was presumed to be dead too, although his presence with her was not known at the time of the drone strike and he was not an intended target, according to The Sun. Other ISIS militants have been reported dead only to reappear. Jones, who before her militant days was once a singer in a punk band, has been the subject of years of fascination by the British press. She was believed to have left her home in Chatham, in the southern county of Kent, in 2013 to travel to Syria, where she married Hussain whom she had met online. She was active as an online recruiter and sometimes posted propaganda messages on social media, including a striking photograph of herself dressed as a nun pointing a gun towards the camera.

Turkey expects visa spat with US to be ‘resolved soon’
ReutersThursday, 12 October 2017/A diplomatic crisis between the United States and Turkey that led them to stop issuing visas to each other’s citizens is “overblown” and will likely be resolved soon, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Wednesday. In remarks apparently aimed at defusing tensions between the two countries, Simsek told an event in Washington that Turkey considered the safety and security of US diplomats and employees in Turkey a “top priority” and described the detention of staff at US missions in Turkey as “routine” investigations. Tensions between the two NATO allies rose in recent days after the detentions of two locally employed staff prompted the United States on Sunday to suspend non-immigrant visa services at its embassy and consulates in Turkey. Hours later, Turkey issued a similar suspension on visas for US citizens. US-Turkish relations were already strained over US military support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and the United States’ unwillingness to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally whom Ankara views as the mastermind behind last year’s failed military coup. “We don’t want this dispute to last more than a second,” Simsek said of the current visa spat at a briefing on US business opportunities in Turkey at the US Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. He added that Turkey is committed to “safeguarding” US government employees in Turkey. Simsek’s remarks contrasted with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s statements on Tuesday that “agents” had infiltrated US missions in Turkey and that Ankara no longer recognized US Ambassador John Bass as a legitimate envoy. Bass told reporters on Wednesday the US government had still not received any official explanation from the Turkish government for why the employees were arrested in Turkey this year.

New intelligence report reveals plot of IRGC mercenaries in Syria
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishThursday, 12 October 2017/A report by the Paris-based Iranian opposition has revealed that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards are amassing Afghan, Iraqi, Lebanese and Pakistani mercenaries in Syria to control a pivotal road between Iraq and Syria that reaches the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. The report published on Wednesday by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) comes as the United States is reviewing the inclusion of the IRGC and associated militias on the US terrorism list. The IRGC has been deploying its militias in Syria at numbers estimated to be more than 100,000 members. The foreign fighters are deployed as mercenaries in clear violation of international norms and laws, the report stated.
Afghan militia flights
The report shows that the IRGC conducts weekly flights from Tehran via Mahan Air and Iran Air to Damascus to transport roughly 2,000 Afghan mercenaries every Tuesday. The men are registered as volunteers and are recruited from among Afghan refugees in exchange for money and grants. The report also states that the fighters are presented with identification cards upon their arrival in Damascus and then transferred to the Shibani camp west of the capital to receive their assignments. Furthermore, mercenaries who have not received training in Iran undergo a training course in this camp.
Iraqi brigades in Deir el-Zor
The report shows that an Iraqi group in Syria, called the Imam Ali Brigades, underwent a training course for several months at a secret IRGC center on the outskirts of Tehran. “Part of the forces of this group are in the Deir el-Zor area, and their commander is Muhammad al-Bawi called Abu Abed” the report stated. According to the NCRI in the past months, the IRGC has focused its forces on occupying the ground route between Iraq and Syria. “To this end, the commanders of the Revolutionary Guards have control over the command of the militias on both sides of the border, they want to gain control over about 400 kilometers of that border strip,” the report read.
Ground operations
Ground operations command in Syria is controlled by the IRGC according to the Intel report which added that the country has been divided into several operational fronts.
Each front has a command post, details of which were disclosed by the Iranian Resistance in July 2016. Javad Qorbani, an IRGC commander, in an interview with the state-run Jam-e-Jam newspaper on January 21, 2017, revealed the existence of three garrisons in Syria, including the garrisons of Roqiyah in Aleppo (northern front), the Nabi between Aleppo and Damascus (central front) and Zeinab towards Deraa (southern front).
Javad Qorbani, a commander of Zeinab garrison, said: “At this garrison, we are fighting at 29 points at the same time, meaning we have 29 front lines” the report stated.

Iran intelligence minister defends jailed nuclear negotiator
AFP/Thursday, 12 October 2017/Iran’s intelligence minister on Wednesday defended a nuclear negotiator imprisoned on spying charges in a rare implied criticism of the judiciary. Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a Canadian-Iranian, was given a five-year prison sentence this month, with the judiciary saying he had provided “information for foreigners and had links with two espionage services”. But the charges were dismissed by Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi in comments carried by multiple Iranian news agencies, including the semi-official ISNA. “The counter-espionage section of the Intelligence Ministry is the authority detecting issues related to espionage,” said Alavi. “As far as this section is concerned, not only has Dorri Esfahani not committed any espionage, but he has intelligently resisted attacks on him by foreign services.” The intelligence ministry comes under the office of President Hassan Rouhani, which led the negotiations with world powers that resulted in the 2015 agreement. Dorri Esfahani has a background in the banking sector and was a member of the supervisory board overseeing implementation of the nuclear deal. From mid-2016, conservative websites and members of parliament repeatedly accused Dorri Esfahani of spying for Britain. Alavi flatly denied the accusations in October 2016, but the judiciary went ahead with the case.

We don't need you': Erdogan accuses Washington of 'sacrificing' relations with Turkey
Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Washington of "sacrificing" relations with Ankara, and has blamed the ongoing diplomatic dispute on a US ambassador "who doesn't know his place.""Let me be very clear, the person who caused this is the ambassador here. It is unacceptable for the United States to sacrifice a strategic partner to an ambassador who doesn't know his place," Erdogan told provincial governors in Ankara on Thursday, as quoted by Reuters.

Russia puts Crimea on new bank note
Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - Russia on Thursday presented a new bank note that shows images of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014. The note worth 200 rubles ($3.50) shows a naval memorial in the city of Sevastopol, where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based, and UNESCO-protected Greek and Roman ruins at nearby Chersonesus. The design also includes a map of the peninsula. The images on the bank note were chosen after a national competition last year to pick symbols of Russia. -- AFP

Pakistan Says CanadianAmerican Family Freed From Taliban Captivity
Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - The Pakistani military says it has rescued a North American family of five who was being held hostage for nearly five years. "Pak Army recovered five Western hostages including one Canadian, his U.S. national wife, and their three children from terrorist custody," an army statement said on October 12. It said that Pakistani soldiers rescued the family during an operation in the northwestern Kurram tribal district near the Afghan border after receiving intelligence from U.S. officials. It did not name the family, but Canadian Joshua Boyle and his U.S. wife, Caitlan Coleman, were kidnapped while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012. Coleman was pregnant at the time, and the couple is known to have had children while in captivity. The Afghan Taliban-aligned Haqqani network released videos of the couple during their captivity. The latest video, which was released in December 2016, showed the couple with two young boys. In it, Coleman begged for an end to their "Kafkaesque nightmare."The Haqqani network has been demanding the release of three of its prisoners in Afghanistan.

UNESCO director regrets US plan to leave agency

Thu 12 Oct 2017/NNA - The director of UNESCO is expressing "profound regret" at the U.S. government’s decision to pull out of the U.N. cultural agency because of what’s seen as longstanding anti-Israel bias. Director-general Irina Bokova said in a statement that the departure is a loss for "the United Nations family" and for multilateralism. She said the U.S. and UNESCO matter to each other more than ever now because "the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security."A native of Bulgaria, Bokova defended UNESCO’s reputation, noting its efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism. She traced the decades-long U.S. ties with UNESCO, and noted that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the U.N. agency. Bokova’s two terms as director have been deeply scarred by the 2011 UNESCO vote to include Palestine as a member, funding troubles and repeated resolutions seen as anti-Israel. -- AP

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 12-13/17
Ehud Barak, Israeli Hawk and No Friend of Iran, Urges Trump to Keep Nuclear Deal
Mark Landler/October 11/17
WASHINGTON — Ehud Barak, the former Israeli leader known for his hawkish views on Iran, said it would be a “mistake” for President Trump to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, both because it would play to Iran’s advantage and because it would scuttle any hope of a negotiation with North Korea.
Mr. Barak, a decorated soldier who was prime minister and defense minister, is the latest and most prominent Israeli to urge Mr. Trump not to disavow the deal — a step the president is expected to take when he announces his broader strategy for dealing with Iran later this week.
“Even if America decides to pull out of it,” Mr. Barak said in an interview on Tuesday, “no one will join — not the Chinese, not the Russians, not even the Europeans. It will serve the Iranians.”
Iran, he pointed out, is complying with the terms of the agreement. It will “continue to harvest” the economic benefits of the deal. But if Mr. Trump disavowed it, that would give the Iranians a pretext for resuming their drive toward a nuclear “breakout” capability, particularly in the latter years of the agreement, when the economic benefits are outweighed by Iran’s desire to join the club of nuclear states.
The lessons of a broken deal will not be lost on North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, Mr. Barak said. “They will say it makes no sense negotiating with the Americans if they can pull out of a deal that has been signed, unilaterally, after a relatively short time.”
Continue reading the main story
An unconstrained North Korea could impel Japan and South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons, he said. In the Middle East, Iran’s renewed drive for a bomb would pressure neighbors like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey to do likewise.
“Think what happens in the next generation if Iran turns nuclear,” he said. “It’s become almost inevitable that we are entering a totally different international landscape.”
As Mr. Trump’s expected decision draws closer, other prominent Israelis are urging him not to decline to certify the agreement. Uzi Arad, a former top Mossad official who served as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, traveled to Washington last week to lobby Republicans on Capitol Hill to preserve the agreement.
On Tuesday, Condoleezza Rice, who served as President George W. Bush’s secretary of state, added her voice to those urging Mr. Trump not to disavow the deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration. “The United States wants to be seen as living up to the obligations that it’s undertaken from president to president to president,” she said on Fox News.
Mr. Barak’s advocacy for the deal is particularly significant because, as Israel’s defense minister from 2007 to 2013, he led the preparations for a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. He warned then that if the Israelis did not act at some point, Iran’s effort to produce a bomb would no longer be vulnerable to any military action.
He and Mr. Netanyahu were closely aligned in that view, but they faced resistance from the chiefs of Israel’s intelligence agencies, who argued that a military strike could have catastrophic consequences and that they were exaggerating the imminence of the Iranian threat.
President Barack Obama implored Mr. Netanyahu to give American efforts at pressure and diplomacy time to work, which he did grudgingly. But the prime minister never liked the resulting agreement. He lobbied against it in the United States Congress and encouraged Mr. Trump to try to renegotiate its terms. (Israel is not part of the deal.)
“Change it, or cancel it,” Mr. Netanyahu said at the United Nations last month. “Fix it, or nix it.”
Under the action being contemplated by the White House, Mr. Trump would essentially kick the agreement to Congress, which would have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran — a step that would almost certainly blow up the deal — or use the threat of renewed sanctions to try to force the Iranians to renegotiate parts of the agreement.
“Like many Israelis,” Mr. Barak said, “I think the Iran deal is a bad deal. But it is a done deal.”
With the agreement in place, he said, “Iran is far from being an existential threat to Israel.” But he added, “It carries all the potential of turning into an existential threat in the longer-term” — a scenario made more, not less likely, by walking away from the deal, he said.
While refusing to certify the agreement would be politically satisfying for Mr. Trump, Mr. Barak said, it would also not help the United States in its campaign to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program, its support for terrorist organizations, or its cyberwarfare operations.
For Mr. Barak, the implications for North Korea are just as far-reaching. The United States, he said, had no military option to destroy the North’s nuclear facilities because of the massive retaliation that the North Korean leader would inflict on South Korea. That leaves only a strategy of negotiations, backed by sanctions, to coerce the North to curb its behavior.
“Kim Jong-un is extreme,” Mr. Barak said. “But he is totally predictable and almost transparent — simple to understand. He just doesn’t want to experience what happened to Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Basically, there is no way he will give up his nuclear intentions.”
Mr. Barak, now 75 and a nonresident senior fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard, said the bellicose threats between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump raised the risks of a miscalculation that could lead to war.
“No one personally remembers the Cuban crisis or the Berlin crisis,” he said. “People at the leadership level don’t have the fingertip feel for how easily the world situation can cascade.”

Analysis With Unprecedented Chaos in Washington, Israel Sets New Red Lines Over Iranian Presence in Syria
مع فوضى لم يسبق لها مثيل في واشنطن، إسرائيل تضع خطوطا حمراء جديدة على الوجود الإيراني في سوريا

Amos Harel /Haaretz/October 12/2017
The situation in the White House requires Israel to act with extreme caution
Israeli defense chief to spell out new red lines to U.S. and Russian officials
It is still the best show in town. Almost nine months have passed since Hurricane Donald hit Washington for the first time, and a little more than 11 months since Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential elections. Sometimes it seems the world has begun to get used to the daily dose of drama.
The Twitter attacks in the early morning hours, the late accounting on Twitter when sleep tarries, the biweekly resignations of senior officials – it is easy to become addicted to the ceaseless action of the most irregular president in the history of the United States.
But then, out of the noise, once every few weeks comes a reminder of the true significance of the matter. One such occurrence was the interview given at the beginning of the week by Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to The New York Times. Corker, who has announced his intention of leaving politics next year, raised the curtain and supplied the American public with a glimpse into what is happening behind the scenes, between the White House and Capitol Hill.
In the interview, and in an earlier press release, Corker raised the following claims: Trump is running the government as if it was his reality show “The Apprentice.”
The alliance of the responsible adults – retired generals John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – is busy most of the time restraining Trump, who could very well push the entire country into chaos. Trump’s statements about foreign affairs are worrying and are capable of unintentionally leading to the outbreak of World War III. Corker finished with something many senators, including his colleagues from the Republican Party, agree with but do not feel free to express.
Walkouts all around
At the same time that Trump was busy with another provocation to distract the public – what seems to be Vice President Mike Pence’s planned walking out of the football game after players kneeled during the singing of the national anthem in protest – Corker supplied a ringing warning, from within the center of the Republican Party. The president’s behavior, as can be understood from Corker’s words, is a clear and present danger to the world
Israel was and remains a secondary sphere for the Trump administration. Corker and others are worried mostly by the trading of threats between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. But Israeli officials, who are in regular contact with their colleagues in Washington, are finding it difficult to hide their embarrassment in the face of the fog and confusion still surrounding the administration’s actions.
Many senior positions in Washington have yet to be filled and it seems that in many cases the administration’s officials are busy with their own personal survival, while they are trying in vain to guess what Trump will say next – and from which they are then supposed to deduce U.S. policy. In the background lies the fear, shared by those in both Israel and the United States, that the pandemonium which characterizes all the administration’s actions is already being exploited by more disciplined, sophisticated players in Moscow, Beijing and Tehran.
The situation in Washington, unprecedented by any standard, requires Israel, too, to act with extreme caution. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his speeches and discussions behind the scenes, is pressuring Trump to cancel or change the nuclear agreement between the six world powers and Iran. The agreement reached in Vienna in summer 2015 is full of defects, but it is doubtful that Netanyahu (or any other leader) can predict how Trump will act in case of conflict with the Iranians.
At the same time, the hopes expressed occasionally from the Israeli left, as if an American president will come and solve once and for all the Palestinian conflict by imposing a forced settlement on the two sides, appears absurd. So far the administration has not demonstrated even a shred of patience, long-term planning or ability to make the progress required for such an effort to succeed where all of Trump’s predecessors have failed.
Of soft speechand big sticks
President Teddy Roosevelt described his foreign policy as “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Trump talks all the time, mostly with resolve, but he has not yet made it clear how big is the stick he carries and whether he intends to use it. The great enthusiasm – in Israel too – that met the cruise missile attack on the Syrian air force base, and the dropping of the “Mother Of All Bombs” in April in Afghanistan, has long since dissipated.
The United States has already abandoned the Syrian sphere to Russia and Iran, which are doing almost everything they want to do. The supreme tests keeping the Trump administration busy are waiting in North Korea and, to a certain extent, in Iran, whose leaders are following the American handling of Pyongyang with great interest.
Trump has hinted in recent weeks that he intends to announce that the Iran nuclear deal doesn’t serve America’s security interests. By Sunday, he is expected to make this stance official.
If so, he will be handing Congress the decision on whether to reinstate economic sanctions against Iran. But America’s decision obviously doesn’t obligate the other world powers – most of which have already announced that they’re sticking with the agreement. The administration’s ability to get new sanctions through Congress is also in question, especially after Trump chose to pick a fight with Corker, whose committee would play a key role in any such move.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Mattis has asserted that preserving the agreement is an American interest, while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, has said Iran isn’t violating the agreement. (This is a matter of controversy, since some claim that the International Atomic Energy Agency has deliberately not insisted on inspecting Iranian nuclear sites that are liable to prove problematic). And Wendy Sherman, the Obama administration official who ran negotiations on the deal for the State Department, said this week that Trump would be making a terrible mistake if he abandoned it.
According to Sherman, Trump is correct in saying that Iran’s actions are creating instability in the Middle East, but he’s wrong to say that these actions violate the spirit of the nuclear deal. She also says that abandoning the deal would have a disastrous effect on America’s relations with the European Union and other powers.
Rare private Israeli dispute
The previous administration has much to answer for with regard to the numerous concessions it made to Iran while negotiating the deal. Nevertheless, it would apparently be a mistake to ignore its officials’ warnings.
On the Israeli side as well, the politicians and the defense professionals differ in their view of the Iran deal, even if here (unusually) the dispute is being conducted in private.
The Israel Defense Forces and intelligence agencies are presumably aware of the agreement’s flaws (first and foremost preserving Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities and the lack of restrictions on its missile program), but also of the risks that could ensue if America abandons the agreement.
Former Military Intelligence director Amos Yadlin, who currently heads Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, remains close to senior IDF officers, and his public statements often reflect the mood in the General Staff and the intelligence community. In an article published this week, Yadlin and Dr. Avner Golov argue that this isn’t the moment to cancel the nuclear agreement.
Instead, they propose that Israel reach deeper understandings with Washington about a possible exit from the deal if Iran violates it in the future. They also recommend strengthening Israeli-American efforts to block Iranian aid to terrorist and guerrilla organizations and taking steps in the UN Security Council against Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
Some senior Israeli intelligence officials are currently more worried about what’s happening on a nearer Iranian front, in Syria, following the Assad regime’s success in the Syrian civil war. Media attention has focused mainly on Iran’s plans to deploy Shi’ite militias, including Hezbollah, along the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights.
But Iran is engaged in a much broader and potentially much more dangerous move, which includes plans to build an Iranian-controlled airport near Damascus and a seaport on the Mediterranean coast in Tartus (next to the Russian one), and possibly also to station a larger number of ground troops in Syria.
In addition, Israel is worried that Iran will replenish Syria’s stock of precision missiles, most of which were used up during the civil war, and that it might attempt to deploy advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles in Syria. These are Israel’s new red lines, which Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will spell out over the next two weeks during meetings with his Russian and American counterparts.
According to American media reports over the last few weeks, support is growing in the Pentagon for taking steps against Hezbollah, and even against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which the administration is apparently considering declaring a terrorist organization. Washington seems to be more willing than in the past to step up its intelligence gathering on Hezbollah, and perhaps even to actively intervene against Iranian efforts to arm the Lebanese organization. Mattis, who sees Iran’s growing influence in the region as a more urgent problem than the nuclear issue, may propose steps like these to Trump as an alternative to imposing new sanctions on Iran.

Iran and Turkey, unrest and its aftermath
Radwan al-Sayed/Al Arabiya/October 12/17
A while ago, the Iranians declared that they do not want the region to be called the Arab Mashriq. No one talks about Arabs in zones which Tehran influences in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon except within the context of slander as nationalism is “evil” and Arabs have “surrendered to America and Israel!” They also do not like the term “Middle East” which the westerners use because it reflects an American project in the region and it must not be accepted as it’s based on justifying the establishment of the Zionist state in Palestine. So what’s the name they want? They do not publicly speak about that. They also do not like an Islamic name although they represent “an Islamic revolution.” They do not like it because most of the region’s residents are Arab Sunnis while Iran is a sectarian state with a sectarian constitution. Their official statements are about the “axis” which extends from Tehran to Beirut via Iraq and Syria.
The extension of this axis depends on Shiite militias which Tehran formed and armed. Some of these militias have been brought from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq during the Syrian conflict. There are two tactics which Iran adopts to expand and control the axis and its surroundings: seize the authority via armed force like what’s happening in Lebanon or infiltrate the country like what’s happening in Iraq and Syria, particularly in Sunni-populated areas (Anbar, Diyala and Nineveh and Iraq and Damascus and its suburbs until Qalamun, Homs, the north and the east in Syria.) Since Iran’s hand is loose in all three countries, demographics are amended via two approaches: displacing people and seizing areas the way Israel does it in Occupied Palestine and imposing Shiism on residents who stayed in their towns or who returned to them.
These Iranian policies towards Arab countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen) have not been adopted during the past six years of Arab unrest. They’ve been adopted for years before that and they increased during this phase because Iran either wanted to thwart the change which it viewed as targeted it against it in Iraq, Syria and Yemen or to impose another political regime that acts as an agent to it and that’s part of its axis, like Yemen and Gaza are. As it divides and fragments areas and imposes Shiism on people, its original aims eventually surfaced. This is what happened in Iraq’s Kurdistan. It polarized the party of Jalal Talabani in Sulaymaniyah, which is closest to its borders, and encouraged division between him and the party of Masoud Barzani. When ISIS attacked Barzani’s area in 2014, the developments were dominated by the considerations of the conflict with Turkey as Iran believed Ankara is behind ISIS. This conflict extended to Syria where Iran stood with the Kurds there and facilitated the entrance of the Workers’ Party militia that’s been fighting for three decades against Turkey and in areas neighboring it and Iraq. It also allowed the Workers’ Party to establish bases in the Iraqi area of Sinjar because it’s situated in a central position between the Turkish and Syrian borders.
The Kurdish threat
This led to trouble particularly when the Kurdish threat rose in Iran and Iraq. Turkey has since 2004 tried to extend its influence to Syria via the Syrian regime. However at the beginning of unrest in the region, it adopted two alternative tactics: ride the wave of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood movement in Arab areas in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia and Gaza and prevent the Kurds from emerging on its borders as independent entities in Syria and Iraq. This is why it established special relations with Barzani and why it was not that upset that ISIS emerged and attacked Kurdish areas in Syria and Iraq. The conflict or competition with Iran lasted for three years on lines of contact between Syria, Iraq, Turkey and the Kurdish zone on the Tal Afar, Kirkuk, Sinjar, Syria and Turkey line. Arab Sunnis in these zones found some comfort as they have been in the middle of the Assad-Iraqi-Iranian war against them for years.
The battles’ dust has not settled yet but two new factors emerged in Upper Mesopotamia and around it in the past two years and they are the US and Russia. The US intervened in the interest of the Kurds and against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and temporarily marginalized Iran and Turkey. Russia intervened to support the Syrian regime and left combating terrorism for others. This made Iran and Turkey get close to Russia. A clear alliance sponsored by Russia emerged at the beginning of this year and it aims to act against the interests of the US. This is where rapprochement happened between Iran and Turkey as they are both against the establishment of Kurdish entities on their borders and they both want to use the Russian umbrella to confront American plans in the region.
The scene has not yet manifested a clear horizon as it’s going through major labor as the US is set to announce new policies against Iran.

Has Kuwait sided with Qatar?
Jameel al-Thiyabi/Al Arabiya/October 12/17
The Gulf Cooperation Council annual summit is near. This year’s summit is set to be held in Kuwait. Will the summit be held? If so, will Qatar be invited? What’s the stance of Kuwait, the summit host country? I am afraid the last question’s answer is foggy as Kuwait’s stance is not clear enough even though it’s acting as a mediator.
This raises a legitimate question: Has Kuwait sided with Qatar and is it still humoring it? It actually seems that Kuwait is not rushing its mediation efforts to resolve the Qatari crisis.
We have not seen any activity worth mentioning regarding Qatar ever since Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad visited the US around two months ago.
Kuwait’s emir is in charge of mediating this crisis that’s an unprecedented in the council’s history. He must not remain neutral after efforts were exhausted with Hamad bin Khalifa and Hamad bin Jassim and after they betrayed his mediation efforts several times since the 2013 Riyadh agreement. He is well aware of Qatar’s harmful and destructive practices and knows that Qatar sought to divide Saudi Arabia and tried to mobilize several international organizations against it and that it’s still working to destabilize the UAE’s and Bahrain’s security. He knows that Doha continues to play with fire and harm other countries’ security to achieve the goals of the “Brotherhood” visions and its dream of “domination.”
Kuwait’s lack of clarity towards these issues brings about difficulties and complications. Keeping silent about these matters will surprise the Gulf with what can be called the “fait accompli” policy.
Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah recently said that Kuwait did not yet contact any of the GCC members to discuss the summit which is scheduled for December.
The decision pertaining to Qatar’s participation or absence in the next summit is definitely the leaders’ decision and it will be based on the voting of the majority. Three countries which are Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain will reject its participation while Qatar and Oman will vote in favor of participating. Meanwhile Kuwait is trying to be in the middle and in support of Qatar’s participation.
Sitting in one room
If the Qatari crisis continues, the summit will not be held except according to major agreements as Gulf leaders will not sit in one room with Qatar’s emir and representatives of the Hamad bin Khalifa’s and Hamad bin Jassim’s regime who are stabbing GCC member states on a daily basis via conspiracies and treachery which are a flagrant violation of article 4 of the GCC’s charter. The fourth article is actually about coordination and integration among member states. Qatar, however, is doing the complete opposite as it’s coordinating with Iran and Turkey against GCC countries and it embraces terrorist groups that undermine the latter’s security and stability.
This malicious Qatari behavior is divisive to the point where sitting with Tamim and representatives of the Hamad’s regime is something which the boycotting countries cannot accept.
What’s unfortunate is that Kuwait does not have clear public stances towards these practices. And now the Qatari opposition and some members of the Qatari ruling family have demanded that Qatar have the right to attend the GCC summit in Kuwait. This requires a response from the host country.
Qatar’s procrastination will prohibit Gulf people from attending the Gulf championship amid the boycotting countries’ stance, the absence of a possible solution to the Qatari crisis and Kuwait’s silence over Doha’s practices even though it’s aware of is black history over the past two decades. With all respect to Kuwait’s role, diplomacy and policy but it’s time to review its stance towards Qatar’s behavior and regarding the usefulness of its mediation especially that Doha has betrayed its brothers and it can no longer be trusted except by its “honorable” ally.

Scrutinizing the Kurdish referendum
Eyad Abu Shakra/Al Arabiya/October 12/17
It was really significant that the coffin of Jalal Talebani, the ex-Iraqi president, was wrapped by the national flag of Kurdistan rather the flag of Iraq, during his funeral in his hometown As-Suleimanyyah.
What we are now witnessing is a virtual ‘divorce’ between the ‘Kurdish political mood’ in northern Iraq and all the Arabs. Even if this ‘divorce’ is neither final nor official yet, it is indeed a psychological ‘divorce’ the reality of which could not be diluted by polite and tactful words.
With a psychological ‘divorce’, as the one we see today in Iraq, Arabic and Islamic names such as Jalal, Mas’oud, Mustafa, Salaheddin and Ahmad Mukhtar are fast disappearing only to be replaced with Kurdish names like Kameran, Dilshad and Showan. Given this fact, it is highly unlikely to maintain a ‘friendship’ between neighbours, as friendships require trust. Personally, I reckon the Kurdish leadership does not trust the Arabs anymore, and many Arabs no more view the Kurds as partner in destiny, history and geography.
Of course, no one must blame Iraq’s Kurds for their negative attitude, given the suffering under Saddam Hussein’s authoritarianism and Nuri Al-Maliki sectarian subservience (to Iran). However, it would not be fair that the Kurds should regard their long association with their fellow Iraqis – indeed, the Arabs – as an ‘unequal’ relationship, whereby the Arabs discriminated against them and sought to marginalise and even obliterate the Kurd’s national identity.
It is true that there are ‘factional’ trends throughout the Arab world, but they are not really different from what is prevalent in similar societies. Some, in many cases, are religious or sectarian; but mostly they are tribal and clannish. Noteworthy, here, is that with periods of extremist chauvinism aside, Arabs in the Near East had no problem living under a Kurdish prime minister or a Kurdish provincial governor; and for that matter, never minded living under a Turkmen, Circassian or Bosnian prime minister of governor. Before the Ottoman Turks ruled the Near East for four centuries, the region lived also for centuries under the (Kurdish) Ayyubi dynasty and the (Turkic, Mogul and Circassian) Memlukes, and yet there are no records of Arabs maltreating the Kurds simply because they were Kurds!
Later, under the two periods of the British Mandate and Independence, I – a son of a father who lived with and befriended the Kurds for years – know of no specific anti-Kurds discrimination. Actually, in ‘post 1920 Iraq’ as well in previous periods the Kurds lived almost like every other Iraqi community; and from their ranks rose prominent figures since the Independence such as Jalal Baban, Jamal Baban, General Bakr Sidqi, Musleheddin Naqshbandi, and Ahmad Mukhtar Baban …Iraq’s last prime minister before the ‘republican revolution’ of 1958.
All the above are facts; and any Arab not inclined to delusions and self-loathing, must realise the dangers faced by the Region; indeed, more than our region if we look further and see what is happening in Western Europe, and America too.
National boundaries
The concept of the ‘nation-state’ is relatively recent, and so are ‘national boundaries’. Germany, the leading country in central and western Europe did not develop its ‘national identity’ except in the 19th century. Before that, the ‘Wars of Spanish Succession’ (1701-1714) following the death of King Charles II of Spain without an heir, set in motion great political developments and redrew the map of Western Europe.
Then, in Eastern Europe, when was the ‘nation-state’ born? What happened in the Caucasus? How did the Russian Empire grow? How did its peoples, ethnic groups, religious and linguistic groups exist even before diversity was – one way or another recognized in the former USSR? Isn’t what is taking place in the Ukraine today a carryover from the old heritage shared and fought over between its Orthodox East and Catholic West … with its partial Polish dimensions?
A big problem with our dangerously unstable world lies in trying to agree on definitions; as there is a disagreement on defining political terms as well as interests.
After Brexit, Europe is no more a dream of great pioneers like Robert Schuman, Charles De Gaulle, Konrad Adenauer and Paul-Henri Spaak. Europe now needs to redefine itself as an idea, a political term, as well as vital interests. The ‘national unity’ of its entities is no more a forgone conclusion, but is now rather dependent on several considerations, conditions and counter-conditions.
Scotland is now waiting for a rise in world oil prices, Catalonia is trying to avoid economic boycott, and other dreamers pursuing secessionist projects are now diligently working out their feasibility far from the slogans of integration, and inclusive ‘Western Civilization’, in the midst of the struggle between ‘expansive’ globalization and ‘reclusive’ racism.
Well. Let’s leave Europe for a moment and look at North America. Is it now more cohesive?
Donald Trump, the president of the USA, the greatest immigrant destination in the ‘New World’, is keen on building a ‘dividing wall’ along the borders with Mexico in order to separate the two nations and prevent incoming immigrant from the south, while insisting that poor Mexicans pay for it! He also wants to ‘stop exporting’ American jobs to Mexico in the hope that the USA maintains its economic well being and industrial base, thus, making Mexico’s poor even poorer, and more insistent on immigrating, despite the ‘wall’.
Across the America’s northern borders, however, Canada’s young Liberal premier Justin Trudeau is happy to head a record-breaking ethnically, linguistically and religiously diverse cabinet, which he describes as “a cabinet that looks like Canada”. Lately, after Trudeau’s appointment of a Lebanese-Canadian as Canada’s new Chief Science Adviser, the opposition’s Left-leaning New Democratic Party elected a young lawyer of Indian Sikh origins as its leader.
It is this real world that our folks, the Kurds, need to recognize before they reach the point of no return against the principles of ‘friendship’ and ‘good neighbourliness’.
Geography dictated that peoples of the world cannot chose their ‘neighbours’, but they can choose to make them either ‘friends’ or ‘enemies’.
Furthermore, millions or tens of millions do not automatically qualify any group for independence; otherwise, why is Uttar Pradesh (with a population of more than 204 million people) is a state in India just like Manipur (inhabited by only 3 millions)?
Both Turkey and Iran are currently opposing the referendum of Iraq’s Kurds, relying on their size, influence and exploitation of the current interests in international affairs. The same applies to Spain as it opposes the Catalonian referendum. It is also worth mentioning here that the USA would not have been the power it is today had it accepted the secession of the southern Confederate States.
In politics, proper calculations are a must; and they should take into account not only internal wishes, but also external conditions.
It is vital to appreciate the dangers of bad timing and double-standards, and also changes of governments and shifts in alliances

Yemen and the Catastrophic Role of ‘Lone’ Nations
Salman Al-dossary/Asharq Al Awsat/October 12/17
United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed presented again, before the Security Council, a new UN proposal to resolve the Yemeni crisis. Possibly, even Yemenis can no longer count the number of initiatives launched by Ould Cheikh whether a proposal, truce or a road-map. Though they are many, none succeeded.
Labels and means varied, yet the UN is neglecting the easiest and shortest road which is to apply the Security Council resolution 2216 which demads Houthis to halt their rely on violence and to withdraw their forces from all regions ruled by them including Sana’a, in addition to stopping the mobilization of children, dismissing current ones and abstaining from provocations or threats to neighboring states.
Throughout 29 years, the UN failed via its former secretary general and then the new Portuguese secretary general Antonio Guterres to carry out one practical step to resolve the Yemeni crisis through applying any of the UN resolution terms. Further, the UN contributed in prolonging the crisis through encouraging insurgents to move forward with their project to kidnap the state.
In plain sight of the UN, insurgents are practicing the collective punishment policy in regions ruled by them and have mobilized around 10,000 Yemeni children.
Strangely, the UN-affiliated international organizations operating in Yemen are lenient with Houthis as if they are not responsible for the comprehensive siege and the crimes, neglecting the clear international resolution and the violations and practices adopted by Houthis and Saleh militias.
This approach encouraged them and caused a shock for the legit Yemeni authority that is acknowledged by the UN, Arab League, international organizations and all states.
It seems that the UN role in Yemen has become an obstacle rather than an aid to reaching a resolution. For example, two years ago the UN pursued to settle truce more than once by which it endowed militias the chance to recover and make a field infringe. Although the truce was necessary for civilians, Houthi militias used it to logistically support their war effort. Off course, the truce quickly collapsed but the UN refrained from announcing that and from holding the breaching party legally responsible.
Mark Malloch Brown, Deputy Secretary-General and Chief of Staff of the UN under Kofi Annan, stressed earlier that the UN is in pressuring need for reforms. In fact, the chaos in the UN will worsen if it continues to depend on false standards that deal with militias as states, thieves as supporters, and prefer insurgents over those who possess international legality.
Who would believe that the UN, which is supposed to be applying the highest levels of credibility and objectivity in its reports, would issue reports against the coalition without double checking the data from the coalition or the legit government?
Antonio Guterres, however, occupies this new position in a world where confidence in the UN and the global values it represents has declined. Until now, his performance is frustrating especially that he lacks high capabilities to communicate and didn’t yet take any decisive stance towards the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya or South Sudan.
Obviously, he didn’t present himself as a strong secretary general whether on the level of foreign leaders or internal reforms.
US President Donald Trump previously criticized the UN, describing it as a “club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”
His description seems to be correct since the UN credibility is scattering and its objectify is on the verge. Despite its original role in being part of the solution, it has become part of the problem and its complexities.
Especially in Yemen, it is no more the united nations but the ‘lone’ ones.

UK: Extremely Selective Free Speech
Judith Bergman/Gatestone Institute/October 12/17
The issue is not hate preachers visiting the UK from abroad. While banning them from campuses will leave them with fewer venues, it by no means solves the larger issue, which is that they will continue their Dawah or proselytizing elsewhere.
The question probably should be: Based on available evidence, are those assessments of Islam accurate? Particularly compared to current messages that seemingly are considered "conducive to the public good."
At around the same time as the two neo-Nazi groups were banned at the end of September 2017, Home Secretary Amber Rudd refused to ban Hezbollah's political wing in the UK. Hezbollah itself, obviously, does not distinguish between its 'political' and 'military' wings. In other words, you can go ahead and support Hezbollah in the UK, no problem. Support the far right and you can end up in jail for a decade.
Apparently, 112 events featuring extremist speakers took place on UK campuses in the academic year 2016/2017, according to a recent report by Britain's Henry Jackson society: "The vast majority of the extreme speakers recorded in this report are Islamist extremists, though one speaker has a background in Far-Right politics...." That one speaker was Tommy Robinson both of whose events were cancelled, one due to hundreds of students planning to demonstrate to protest his appearance. The report does not mention student protests at any of the Islamist events.
The topics of the Islamist speakers included:
"Dawah Training... to teach students the fundamentals of preaching to others... Western foreign policy towards the Islamic world in general... Grievances...perceived attacks on Muslims and Islam in the UK... [calling for] scrapping of Prevent and other government counter-extremism measures [critiquing] arrest and detention of terrorism suspects... [challenging] ideas such as atheism and skepticism... religious socio-economic governance, focusing on the role of religion in fields such as legislation, justice... finance... religious rulings or interpretations, religious verses or other texts, important historical or scriptural figures..."
London was the region with the highest number of events, followed by the South East, according to the report. The most prolific speakers were affiliated to the Muslim Debate Initiative, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), the Muslim Research and Development Foundation (MRDF), the Hittin Institute, Sabeel, and CAGE. Most speakers were invited by Islamic student societies, and a high proportion of the talks took place during campus events such as "Discover Islam Week", "Islam Awareness Week" and "Islamophobia Awareness Month".
One of the most prolific speakers, Hamza Tzortis, is a senior member of iERA. He has said that apostates who "fight against the community[...] should be killed" and that, "we as Muslims reject the idea of freedom of speech, and even the idea of freedom".
That so many extremist speaker events continue to take place at British universities should be cause for alarm. In March 2015, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (CTSA) imposed a duty on universities, among other public bodies, to pay "due regard to the need to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism", yet at 112 events last year, the number of extremist Islamist events on campuses have not dropped significantly. In comparison, there were 132 events in 2012, 145 events in 2013 and 123 events in 2014.
Evidence shows that the danger of becoming an actual Islamic terrorist while studying at British university campuses is also extremely real. According to one report, also by the Henry Jackson society:
"Since 1999, there have been a number of acts of Islamism-inspired terrorism... committed by students studying at a UK university at the time of their offence...there have also been a significant number of graduates from UK universities convicted of involvement in terrorism, and whom... were at least partially radicalised during their studies".
The most well known case is probably that of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who in 2002 was found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl. He is believed to have been radicalized while studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the early 1990s.
While removing extremist speakers from campuses might possibly reduce the risk of radicalization, extremist speakers are readily available to talk to Muslim youths outside of campuses. The issue is not hate preachers visiting the UK from abroad. While banning them from campuses will leave them with fewer venues, it by no means solves the larger issue, which is that they will continue their dawah or proselytizing elsewhere.
What, then, have been recent responses by the British government to the issues of Islamic radicalization and terrorism?
One response has been a proposal to tighten existing law on viewing 'terrorist content' online. People who repeatedly view terrorist content online could now face up to 15 years jail, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced. The law will also apply to terrorists who publish information about members of the armed forces, police and intelligence services for the purposes of preparing acts of terrorism. Tightening the law around viewing terrorist material is part of the counter-terrorism strategy the government is reviewing after the increased frequency of terrorist attacks in Britain this year.
Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that people who repeatedly view "terrorist content" online could now face up to 15 years jail. (Image source: UK Government/Flickr)
Amber Rudd has included 'far-right propaganda' in the new law, saying:
"I want to make sure those who view despicable terrorist content online, including jihadi websites, far-right propaganda and bomb-making instructions, face the full force of the law."
What is 'far right propaganda?' Based on previous British policies, 'far right propaganda' would likely include reading Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch or Pamela Geller's 'Geller Report'. While local hate preachers from legal Muslim organizations freely roam UK campuses, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller were both forbidden entry to the UK in 2013 by the British Home Secretary, because their presence would "not be conducive to the public good". This is what Geller was told:
"After careful should be excluded from the United Kingdom on the grounds that your presence here is not conducive to the public good...You have brought yourself within the scope of the list of unacceptable behaviours by making statements that may foster hatred, which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK...You co-founded Stop Islamization of America, an organization described as an anti-Muslim hate group... You are reported to have stated the following: 'Al-Qaeda is a manifestation of devout Islam ... it is Islam' [and] 'If the Jew dies, the Muslims will die as well: their survival depends on their constant jihad, because without it they will lose the meaning and purpose of their existence.' The Home Secretary considers that should you be allowed to enter the UK you would continue to espouse such views...".
The letter to Robert Spencer was in almost identical form:
"The Home Secretary notes that you are the founder of the blog Jihad Watch (a site widely criticized for being Islamophobic). You co-founded the Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America, both of which have been described as anti-Muslim hate groups. You are reported to have stated the following: "... it [Islam] is a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers... for establishing a societal model that is ...incompatible with Western society..."
The question probably should be: Based on available evidence, are those assessments of Islam accurate? Particularly compared to current messages that seemingly are considered "conducive to the public good."
It is also conceivable that reading quotes from Winston Churchill's book about Islam online would be seen as 'far right' and therefore punishable by up to 15 years in jail. In 2014, Paul Weston, chairman of the Liberty GB party, was arrested on suspicion of religious/racial harassment for quoting an excerpt on Islam from Churchill's book, 'The River War' -- written in 1899 while he was a British army officer in Sudan -- in a public speech.
Another recent government response to terrorism has been to outlaw two far-right groups: Scottish Dawn and NS131, which are aliases for the group National Action, a fringe neo-Nazi group, banned in 2016. Being a member of these groups or merely supporting them is now a criminal offense that carries a sentence of up to 10 years' imprisonment. Amber Rudd said in September:
"National Action is a vile racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic group which glorifies violence and stirs up hatred... Our priority as Government will always be to maintain the safety and security of families and communities... we will continue to identify and ban any terrorist group which threatens this, whatever their ideology".Apparently, however, to paraphrase George Orwell, some terrorist groups "are more equal than others." Amber Rudd recently refused to ban the political wing of Hezbollah, an equally racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic group that has actually committed terror attacks all over the world, as opposed to the banned neo-Nazi groups. Banning Hezbollah's political wing would have closed a legal loophole that allows demonstrations in support of the political wing of Hezbollah, while its military wing is banned in the UK. Hezbollah itself, obviously, does not distinguish between its 'political' and 'military' wings.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had written to Amber Rudd asking her to close the legal loophole after Jewish groups pleaded with him to stop a large Al Quds day march, which nevertheless took place in London in June 2017 and featured Hezbollah flags. While the British government decided that supporters of fringe neo-Nazi groups should be jailed for up to 10 years, it apparently thought that supporting Hezbollah is just fine. In response to Khan, Amber Rudd wrote :
"The group that reportedly organised the parade, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, is not a proscribed terrorist organisation. This means they can express their views and demonstrate, provided that they do so within the law. The flag for the organisation's military wing is the same as the flag for its political wing. Therefore, for it to be an offence under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000, for an individual to display the Hizballah flag, the context and manner in which the flag is displayed must demonstrate that it is specifically in support of the proscribed elements of the group",
In other words, you can go ahead and support Hezbollah in the UK, no problem. Support the far right and you can end up in jail for a decade. Evidently, free speech in the UK has become extremely selective.
**Judith Bergman is a columnist, lawyer and political analyst.
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How Barcelona Became a Victim of the Barcelona Process

Fjordman/Gatestone Institute/October 12/17
The Barcelona Process, promoted by the EU, has helped to facilitate a greater presence of Islam and Muslim immigrants in Western Europe -- thereby also increasing the Islamic terror threat there. That result was perfectly foreseeable.
When the number of people who believe in Islamic Jihad doctrines rises, the likelihood of experiencing jihadist attacks increases as well.
It is unlikely, though, that European political leaders will point to this connection. Doing so would be an indirect admission that Europe's leaders have actively increased the Islamic terror threat against European citizens. This is the brutal truth they do not want exposed.
The murders on the pedestrian street of La Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017 were not the first Islamic terrorist attack in Spain. On March 11, 2004, 192 people were killed, and around two thousand injured, in the Madrid train bombings.
In hindsight, that attack marked a new phase in the modern Islamic Jihad against Europe. After the Madrid bombings, London was hit with deadly bombings on July 7, 2005. In recent years, the frequency of jihadist attacks on European soil has increased dramatically.
It is probably not a coincidence that Spain was an early target of Islamic terror. The Iberian Peninsula, present-day Portugal and Spain, was for centuries under Islamic rule. Militant Muslims have repeatedly made it clear that for them, reconquering Spain is a priority.
The murders on the pedestrian street of La Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017 were not the first Islamic terrorist attack in Spain. (Image source: JT Curses/Wikimedia Commons)
Ironically, some people in Barcelona seem to view tourists who pay for short-term visits as a greater threat than Muslim immigrants who come to stay permanently. One can hear similar reactions among some radical left-wing activists, for instance, in Greece.
Mass tourism can potentially cause problems such as overcrowding and local pollution. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that only a few days before the terror attack in Barcelona, some locals were complaining about an invasion of tourists. One radical left-wing group, Arran, published footage of tourist bikes in the city having their tires punctured in acts of deliberate sabotage. Of course, the problem might be even greater if there were too few tourists.
Meanwhile, a real invasion of Spain and Europe is taking place. For years, huge numbers of illegal immigrants from the Islamic world and Africa have been entering, especially through Greece or Italy. Spain, too, has seen a spike in the number of illegal immigrants. The Spanish-controlled enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa are under increasing pressure as points of departure for migrants.
The Madrid bombings in 2004 were immediately followed by the election in Spain of the Socialist politician José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. His policy of appeasement of Islam and the Islamic world was, sadly, not the first. Western Europe's appeasement of Islam stretches back at least to the 1970s.
With the 1973 oil embargo, Arab countries in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) used oil as a weapon and tool for blackmail. European countries started giving concessions to Arabs to ensure their oil supply and, they doubtless hoped, avoid terrorism. These concessions were not just limited to economic affairs. They also included opening Western Europe up to Islamic culture and Muslim immigration. The author Bat Ye'or has written extensively on this subject.
As part of the Euro-Arab Dialogue, a Euro-Mediterranean Partnership between the EU and the Arabic-Islamic world was launched in 1995 with the so-called Barcelona Process. Its purpose was to strengthen the ties between Europe and the Arab world in the fields of trade, economy, environment, energy, health, migration, education, social affairs and cultural cooperation.
This Process has been in force for decades. Despite it, the increasingly stronger ties between the EU and Arab Muslim countries rarely receive critical scrutiny from the European mass media. There is even a Union for the Mediterranean, which most Europeans have never heard of.
As the official website of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the diplomatic service of the European Union (EU), stated in October 2017:
"The Union for the Mediterranean promotes economic integration across 15 neighbours to the EU's south in North Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans region. Formerly known as the Barcelona Process, cooperation was re-launched in 2008 as the Union for the Mediterranean.... Projects address areas such as economy, environment, energy, health, migration, education and social affairs. Along with the 28 EU member states, 15 Southern Mediterranean countries are members of the UfM: Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Syria (suspended), Tunisia and Turkey. Libya is an observer."
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania in western Africa, a full member of the Union for the Mediterranean, has the same formal status there as Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy and Poland. Although Mauritania was the last country officially to ban slavery, it is still widely practiced there to this day. Yet the country regularly cooperates with the EU on matters of importance to the future of the EU.
The Barcelona Process, promoted by the EU, has helped to facilitate a greater presence of Islam and Muslim immigrants in Western Europe -- thereby also increasing the Islamic terror threat there. That result was perfectly foreseeable. When the number of people who believe in Islamic Jihad doctrines rises, the likelihood of experiencing Jihadist attacks increases as well.
It is unlikely, though, that European political leaders will point to this connection. Doing so would be an indirect admission that Europe's leaders have actively increased the Islamic terror threat against European citizens. This is the brutal truth they do not want exposed.
*Fjordman, a Norwegian historian, is an expert on Europe, Islam and multiculturalism.
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