October 14/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 15/08-10/:"‘What woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, "Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost."Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’"

Question: "How can I overcome temptation?"
Answer: The Scriptures tell us that we all face temptations. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man.” Perhaps this provides a little encouragement as we often feel that the world is bearing in on us alone, and that others are immune to temptations. We are told that Christ was also tempted: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Where, then, do these temptations come from? First of all, they do not come from God, although He does allow them. James 1:13 says, “For God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” In the first chapter of Job, we see that God allowed Satan to tempt Job, but with restrictions. Satan is roaming on the earth like a lion, seeking people to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Verse 9 tells us to resist him, knowing that other Christians are also experiencing his attacks. By these passages we can know that temptations come from Satan. We see in James 1:14 that temptation originates in us as well. We are tempted when we are “carried away and enticed by our own lust” (verse 14). We allow ourselves to think certain thoughts, allow ourselves to go places we should not go, and make decisions based on our lusts that lead us into the temptation.
How then do we resist the temptations? First of all, we must return to the example of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan in Matthew 4:1-11. Each of Satan’s temptations was met with the same answer: “It is written,” followed by Scripture. If the Son of God used the Word of God to effectively end the temptations—which we know works because after three failed efforts, “the Devil left him” (v. 11)—how much more do we need to use it to resist our own temptations? All our efforts to resist will be weak and ineffective unless they are powered by the Holy Spirit through the constant reading, studying, and meditating on the Word. In this way, we will be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). There is no other weapon against temptation except the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” If our minds are filled with the latest TV shows, music and all the rest the culture has to offer, we will be bombarded with messages and images that inevitably lead to sinful lusts. But if our minds are filled with the majesty and holiness of God, the love and compassion of Christ, and the brilliance of both reflected in His perfect Word, we will find that our interest in the lusts of the world diminish and disappear. But without the Word’s influence on our minds, we are open to anything Satan wants to throw at us.
Here, then, is the only means to guard our hearts and minds in order to keep the sources of temptation away from us. Remember the words of Christ to His disciples in the garden on the night of His betrayal: “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Most Christians would not openly want to jump into sin, yet we cannot resist falling into it because our flesh is not strong enough to resist. We place ourselves in situations or fill our minds with lustful passions, and that leads us into sin.
We need to renew our thinking as we are told in Romans 12:1-2. We must no longer think as the world thinks, or walk in the same way that the world walks. Proverbs 4:14-15 tells us, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by; Turn away from it and pass on.” We need to avoid the path of the world that leads us into temptation because our flesh is weak. We are easily carried away by our own lusts.
Matthew 5:29 has some excellent advice. “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw if from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” That sounds severe! Sin is severe! Jesus is not saying that we literally need to remove body parts. Cutting out the eye is a drastic measure, and Jesus is teaching us that if necessary, a drastic measure should be taken to avoid sin.
*Recommended Resource: The Truth About Lies: The Unlikely Role of Temptation in Who You Will Become by Tim Chaddick

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 13-14/17
FULL TEXT: Trump's Speech Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal/Haaretz Oct 13, 2017
China: Reshuffling the Party Cadres/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/October 13/17
France: Facebook Islamists Hunt in Packs/Yves Mamou/Gatestone Institute/October 13/17
Saudi Arabia’s steady pace toward Vision 2030/Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin/Al Arabiya/October 13/17
Yemen and the Catastrophic Role of ‘Lone’ Nations/Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/October 13/17
Iran’s links with al-Qaeda, reality defies conventional wisdom/Faisal Al-Shammeri/Al Arabiya/October 13/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 13-14/17
Lebanese Government Distances Itself from ‘Hezbollah’-Tel Aviv Row
Hariri Invites Pope to Lebanon, Stresses Importance of 'Accord among Lebanese'
Zasypkin Urges 'Unity' against U.S. Sanctions, Rules Out Israeli War
Aoun 'Postpones' Iran Trip, to Visit Kuwait 'Soon'
Ministerial Panel to Discuss Returning Refugees 'without Coordination' with Syria
Paris to Trump: Nuclear Deal Not Meant to Solve Lebanon's Problems
Lebanese Minister of State for Administrative Reforms visits UNIFIL Headquarters
AUB Students Practice Democracy with Heightened Sense of Responsibility: Student Elections Held on Proportional Basis
Chinese ambassador from Baalbeck: China's grants to Lebanese Army aim to boost its power facing terrorism
Army refers to judiciary two suspects over terror links
Salam, US Ambassador tackle latest developments

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 13-14/17
Murder of Coptic priest latest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority
FULL TEXT: Trump's Speech Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal
Iran's Rohani Says Trump Speech 'Full of Cursing, Baseless Accusations'
Saudi Arabia Welcomes Trump's Tough Talk on Iran
UAE and Bahrain also both expressed full support for Trump's more aggressive approach
Saudi Arabia the first country welcoming Trump strategy towards Iran
Russia launches European environmental satellite
French former culture minister to head UNESCO
Truce in Southern Damascus Brokered by Egypt
Lavrov: Tillerson Assures Washington’s Only Goal in Syria is Fighting ISIS
UN Chemical Weapons Investigators to Visit Syria’s Shayrat Air Base
Turkish Forces Say Installing ‘Observation Posts’ in Syria’s Idlib
Abadi’s Clarifications Fail to Eliminate Kurdish Concerns
Baghdad Launches Kirkuk Operation amid Kurdish Reinforcement
6 Egyptian Soldiers Killed in Armed Sinai Attack
Egypt Extends State of Emergency for Three Months
UAE Ends Mission of its Ambassador to North Korea
Statement by the Foreign Affairs Minister on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Latest Lebanese Related News published on October 13-14/17
Lebanese Government Distances Itself from ‘Hezbollah’-Tel Aviv Row
Asharq Al Awsat/October 13/17/Beirut — The Lebanese government is trying to stay away from the recent escalating debate between “Hezbollah” and Israel, which has highlighted a high probability of war between the two sides, despite recent accusations by Tel Aviv that the Lebanese Army has become an integral part of “Hezbollah”.While the Cabinet, which convened on Thursday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, did not tackle the new development, nor did it issue any direct official response to the Israeli statements, President Michel Aoun stressed before his visitors that Lebanon would face mounting pressure through unity and solidarity among all the Lebanese people. “Lebanon has been able to save 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 stated. 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 noted. However, Aoun did not comment on recent statements by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who warned that the next “war in the north will not only be the Lebanese front, but rather a united front made up of Syria and Lebanon.”Lieberman also said: “The Lebanese army has lost its independence and has become an integral part of “Hezbollah”.”
Earlier this week, 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. Although sources close to “Hezbollah” said that “the drums of war are nothing but drums of pressure and blackmail,” stressing at the same time that the possibility of an actual war should not be neglected, military experts are divided between those who assert that “psychological warfare will not turn into a military confrontation,” and those who talk about a 50 percent probability of war, as a result of continued escalation by the parties to the conflict. Retired Brigadier General Dr. Mohammad Ramal ruled out a scenario in which Israel would launch a war soon, stressing that it was “not ready and seriously considers “Hezbollah’s” threats to target the infrastructure and the Israeli society as a whole.”For his part, the head of the Middle East and Gulf Center for Military Analysis, Riad Kahwaji, noted that the size and frequency of Israeli maneuvers, in addition to the American-Israeli position against Iran and Hezbollah, which is taking an upward trend, “all indicate the 50 percent possibility of war, which is not a low percentage at all.”

Hariri Invites Pope to Lebanon, Stresses Importance of 'Accord among Lebanese'
Naharnet/October 13/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday invited Pope Francis to visit Lebanon during a meeting at the Vatican, as he stressed the importance of preserving “accord among all Lebanese.”“God willing, we will see the pope soon in Lebanon and this will be in the interest of Lebanon, in the interest of Muslims and Christians, and also in the interest of the region,” said Hariri after meeting the pontiff. As for the issue of Syrian refugees, Hariri said “there should be safe zones in Syria through which refugees can become convinced of returning safely to their homeland, specifically to these zones.”“Calls for forcing them to return to their country are not on the table, abnormal and inhumane,” Hariri added. “We must, however, protect Lebanese citizens through enforcing the Lebanese law on matters of labor and other things,” the PM went on to say. As for the domestic situations in Lebanon, Hariri said called for preserving the current “accord” among all Lebanese. “This accord is what has saved Lebanese and it can lead the country to the shore of safety and peace,” he added. A statement issued by Hariri's office said his talks with the pope tackled “the latest developments in Lebanon and the region and the repercussions of the Syrian crisis on the Lebanese situations, in addition to the relations with the Vatican.” Hariri is accompanied by his wife Lara and his children Houssan, Loulwa and Abdel Aziz, his chief of staff Nader Hariri and his adviser Daoud Sayegh. They were greeted by the regent of the Papal House Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza.

Zasypkin Urges 'Unity' against U.S. Sanctions, Rules Out Israeli War
Naharnet/October 13/17/Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin has urged Lebanese to show “unity” in the face of the looming U.S. sanctions, as he ruled out an imminent Israeli war on Hizbullah. In an interview with al-Akhbar newspaper published Friday, Zasypkin said he is convinced that the new U.S. sanctions on Hizbullah will not achieve their objectives and that the “balance of terror” between Hizbullah and Israel is preventing a new war despite the latest exchange of threats. “The U.S. sanctions against Hizbullah and the simultaneous escalation against Iran put Lebanon in the eye of the storm, but the sanctions will not defeat Hizbullah or force it to change its political stance,” al-Akhbar quoted the ambassador as saying. “The sanctions are not targeted only against Hizbullah but rather against all Lebanese people,” Zasypkin said. He added: “The solution is to face the U.S. sanctions and pressures through internal Lebanese unity at the political and popular levels.” “Through these sanctions, they want to divide the Lebanese and the response should be unity,” Russia's envoy went on to say. Describing the latest tripartite meeting at Druze leader Walid Jumblat's residence as a “good” move to bolster unity, Zasypkin expressed his belief that no Lebanese political party will “take part in this escalation alongside the Americans.” “We are confident that this pressure will fail,” he reassured. Asked about the possibility of a Hizbullah-Israel confrontation in the near future, the Russian ambassador noted that the escalation in the war of words coincides with ongoing negotiations in the region. “Therefore, the balance of terror between Israel and Hizbullah is reining in war in one way or another. Both sides will suffer losses in the event of a war and all parties are evaluating their calculations,” Zasypkin said. “Will Israel wage a war that Arabs are hoping for against Lebanon and Syria? I don't think so,” the ambassador added.

Aoun 'Postpones' Iran Trip, to Visit Kuwait 'Soon'
Naharnet/October 13/17/President Michel Aoun has postponed his visit to Iran and is planning to visit Kuwait, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Friday. Aoun's Tehran trip had been expected to take place in mid-October. The postponement coincides with U.S. escalation against Iran in connection with the nuclear deal and the Iranian role in the region. Al-Joumhouria also said that Aoun intends to visit Kuwait “soon.” Aoun had visited France last month where his talks focused on the Syrian refugee crisis and the possibility of returning the displaced to their country.

Ministerial Panel to Discuss Returning Refugees 'without Coordination' with Syria
Naharnet/October 13/17/A ministerial panel will soon convene to discuss the possibility of returning Syrian refugees to their country without controversial coordination with the Syrian regime, a media report said on Friday. Prime Minister Saad “Hariri will soon call for a meeting for the ministerial committee tasked with addressing the refugee file,” al-Joumhouria newspaper reported. The meeting “will discuss the paper that has been proposed by Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, which allows the repatriation of Syrian refugees without coordination with the Syrian regime,” the daily said. The paper suggests “security, logistical and administrative measures that the security agencies can implement” in order to return the refugees without political coordination with Damascus, al-Joumhouria added.

Paris to Trump: Nuclear Deal Not Meant to Solve Lebanon's Problems
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 13/17/As U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to unveil a more aggressive strategy to check Iran's growing power on Friday, a French official has said that the historic nuclear deal with Tehran had not been designed to solve all of the region's problems. "Mixing everything means risking everything," a French diplomatic source told the AFP news agency. "The existential threat is the bomb. The nuclear deal is not meant to solve Lebanon's problems," the source added. U.S. allies have not been convinced by the argument that the deal fell short because it left Iran free to develop ballistic missiles and sponsor proxy militias in its region. During a White House speech at 1645 GMT, Trump is expected to declare the landmark 2015 agreement -- which curbed Iran's nuclear program in return for massive sanctions relief -- is no longer in the U.S. national interest, according to U.S. officials. He will however stop short of withdrawing from the deal, instead "decertifying" the agreement and leaving U.S. lawmakers to decide its fate. Trump had repeatedly pledged to overturn one of his predecessor Barack Obama's crowning foreign policy achievements, deriding it as "the worst deal" and one agreed to out of "weakness."The agreement was signed between Iran and six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. -- at talks coordinated by the European Union. While the deal stalled Iran's nuclear program and thawed relations between Iran and the U.S., opponents say it also prevented efforts to challenge Iranian influence in the Middle East. Since coming to office, Trump has faced intense lobbying from international allies and his own national security team, who argued the deal should remain in place. In another partial climbdown, Trump is also expected to levy limited sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards, rather than inviting retaliation by designating it as a terrorist organization.

Lebanese Minister of State for Administrative Reforms visits UNIFIL Headquarters

Fri 13 Oct 2017/NNA - UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary and Lebanon's Minister of State for Administrative Reforms, Dr. Inaya Ezzeddine, today discussed capacity building, joint activities carried out by the Mission in close coordination with local communities and issues related to the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701. During the State Minister's visit to the UNIFIL Headquarters, the UNIFIL Force Commander also acknowledged and appreciated the efforts of the Ministry in developing the institutional and technical capacities of the Lebanese ministries, central bodies, public agencies and municipalities. In his briefing to Dr. Ezzeddine, Major General Beary said that one of the key aspects of the UN Security Council resolution 1701, which forms the core of UNIFIL's mandate, is the capacity building and the extension of state authority in the area of operations. He also noted that the close engagement that UNIFIL's officials have with local authorities has helped in identifying opportunities and addressing challenges together.  After her meeting with the UNIFIL Head of Mission, Dr. Ezzeddine said: "UNFIL efforts are undeniable in Lebanon and through the course of the day here, I have witnessed and assessed your tremendous efforts to contribute to the sustainable development that support the capabilities of the Lebanese government and empower the local communities." During the visit, Minister Ezzeddine inspected some of the projects implemented by the Mission in coordination with the local authorities in South Lebanon: "These projects are one of the factors of building trust between UNIFIL and the local communities and they also help restoring state authority in the area." And she added: "These projects are addressing the direct needs of the municipalities, which is a very important element in building trust and stability in UNIFIL's area of operations." Dr. Ezzeddine also inspected UNIFIL's sewage plant and solar farm. In order to reduce the Mission's environmental footprint, UNIFIL has installed more than 2,100 solar panels, which account for more than 5 per cent of total energy consumption in UNIFIL's headquarters.

AUB Students Practice Democracy with Heightened Sense of Responsibility: Student Elections Held on Proportional Basis
Fri 13 Oct 2017/NNA - The American University of Beirut (AUB) students proved once again their trust in AUB's electoral system as they successfully completed a smooth and impeccable election process this year for the Student Representative Council (SRC) and the University Student Faculty Committee (USFC). This trust is proven by students' participation rate in terms of number of candidates as well as voter participation, by the campaigns held in sophisticated and democratic fashion, by the level of interest expressed by all, by debates held on campus during the campaigns, as well as the fact that several groups were involved and all were represented in the process. President of AUB, Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri, toured the polling stations, inspecting the conduct of the electoral process, accompanied by Provost, Dr. Mohammad Harajli. Khuri noted the democratic atmosphere that accompanied the Election Day and he had a number of side dialogues with the student candidates and voters. Dr. Talal Nizameddin, Dean of Student Affairs at the University, supervised the electoral process, assisted by a number of university professors and administrators. Khuri said: "I am proud of our AUB students who are exercising their right to have their voice heard. We expect before the day is over that 60 to 70 percent of AUB students will have voted for the candidate of their choice. The serious way they go through choosing a candidate, be it a politically oriented candidate or otherwise, speaks very much to the independence of spirit and their ability to give us great hope for the future of Lebanon." 62.3% of the student body voted for their respective faculties through an electronic voting system that was held Friday 10 am to 5 pm at polling stations throughout AUB faculties in a calm yet competitive manner. This came after a two-day campaign on Tuesday and Wednesday that followed a new process of campaign allocation [booths] and presented sophisticated platforms per party. A live and lively debate took place at the end of the campaign on Wednesday allowing representatives of all groups to answer on a stage questions from the AUB community.
The electronic voting system is a pioneering first in Lebanon, fully homegrown at AUB by experts from its IT team who coordinated for months with AUB's Dean and Associate Dean of Student Affairs to design a system that is meticulous, reliable, and most importantly fool-proof as well as hack-proof. It is not an internet system for online voting but an internal server for e-voting to protect from hacking or other outside manipulation. The result? A simple yet accurate system that is accessible only to the students on the day of elections. The only hardware cost was that of the ID scanners.
Solid team-work between AUB's Offices of Student Affairs, Registrar, and Information Technology not only guaranteed that an automated list of eligible candidates was crafted based on received online applications and shared within 48 hours of nominations, but it also continued and intensified throughout election time. Each voter had their ID scanned and checked for eligibility to vote as a fulltime AUB student. Cases of ambiguity regarding inter-faculty transfer, or exact number of academic credits that render the students of a specific year (as SRC votes are cast by class or year), are some of the issues that all three offices collaborate with to clear things out on the spot on the day of elections. A fully updated banner list is provided in advance by the Registrar's office with the names of eligible students and the classes they are in, inserted into the synchronized system and accessible at all polling stations. All else was left for the students: from nominating themselves, to voting and electing their favored candidates.
In his comment about this year's elections, Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Talal Nizameddin said, "It is our wish, especially with Lebanon coming up to its own elections, and in the region that is embroiled in conflict, divisions, and extremism, that these elections more than ever will reflect a spirit of cooperation, even when there is competition, for places… where there is true harmony and where the struggles are on platforms, on issues, not on other factors. I hope that AUB can again rise up to the challenge and prove to be an example and a model for the region." He added, "There are pockets of positive good news and one of them is the elections that we have here every year." A significantly high number of candidates 218 (compared to 212 last year) represented various factions, including the major: Leaders of Tomorrow, Students for Change, and the Campus Choice secular club, who ran for spots on the Student Representative Council. In a ritual of enthusiasm, the results were out within the hour from end of voting. A large computer-linked screen set up facing West Hall broadcast election results to spirited students.
As in every election, access to campus was confined to students and staff with valid AUB IDs, in addition to print, radio and TV reporters covering the event. The Office of Student Affairs, which oversees elections every year, enforced voting rules in the strictest fashion and banned all political flags, posters, flyers, and photos on campus. Student elections at AUB have a long history that dates back to 1949, when the first general elections took place. This annual event was interrupted in 1982 at the height of the 1975-1990 Lebanese war, only to resume in 1994.
The cabinets for both the SRC and USFC will be elected in the coming few days.

Chinese ambassador from Baalbeck: China's grants to Lebanese Army aim to boost its power facing terrorism
Fri 13 Oct 2017/NNA - Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, Wang Kejian, said on Friday that his country was providing aid to the Lebanese army to boost its capabilities in its fight against terrorism. The diplomat's words came during a luncheon organized in his honor by PSP Foreign Affairs Vice President, Doreid Yaghi, in Baalbeck, marking the National Day of the People's Republic of China. "We have very close political relations with Lebanon, and the leaders of the two countries are mutually supportive in international platforms," Kejian said. The Chinese diplomat also confirmed that the Chinese embassy was seeking to strengthen relations between the two countries through communication with members of the government, in particular with the Ministry of Economy, in a bid to strengthen Lebanese exports to China. He then mentioned the "Belt and Road" initiative for a new international cooperation within the economic, commercial, financial, and cultural fields, as part of the "Silk Road" project.

Army refers to judiciary two suspects over terror links
Fri 13 Oct 2017/NNA - The Lebanese Army Directorate of Intelligence referred to the competent judiciary Syrian nationals Ismail Omar al-Fadel and Anas Radwan Jarban, over affiliation to Al-Nusra front terrorist organization, and their participation in battles against the Lebanese Army in the town of Arsal back in 2014, a Lebanese Army communiqué said.

Salam, US Ambassador tackle latest developments
Fri 13 Oct 2017/NNA - Former Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, welcomed on Friday US Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard. Talks between the pair reportedly focused on the most recent developments at the local and regional scenes.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 13-14/17
Murder of Coptic priest latest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority
MEM/October 13, 2017/Father Samaan, the Coptic Orthodox priest who was stabbed to death in Cairo, Egypt A priest was killed in a knife attack in a Cairo district yesterday, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church confirmed. The attack took place yesterday in one of Cairo’s poor districts and the priest later died in hospital after he was struck in the head by a cleaver, in the latest assault on members of the country’s Christian minority. The assailant reportedly fled the scene after the attack but was later arrested. However the motive behind the attack is still unknown to authorities. Egypt’s Christians account for about 10 per cent of the country’s 94 million population but attacks against the minority have surged in recent months and a series of suicide bombings claimed by Daesh have claimed 100 since December last year. Read more: Egypt’s Coptic Christians face persecution at home and apathy abroad
The deadliest attack against Coptic Christians happened earlier this year when Daesh gunmen killed at least 26 Coptic Christians and wounded 25 others as they were driving to a monastery in the Minya province, south of the capital Cairo. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has recorded 77 sectarian attacks on Coptic Christians in the Minya province alone between 2011 and 2016, as well as many more incidents of vandalism at churches and schools. The minority group has suffered the worst since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi came to power through a military coup in 2013 and little protection has been afforded to them despite promises made. Bombings at churches in Alexandria on Palm Sunday in April this year caused Al-Sisi to declare a new state of emergency, the second so far under his presidency. Yesterday Cairo extended the state of emergency for another three months which will looks likely to be approved by parliament in the following few days.

FULL TEXT: Trump's Speech Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal
Haaretz Oct 13, 2017
My fellow Americans, as president of the United States, my highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people.
History has shown that the longer we ignore a threat the more dangerous that threat becomes. For this reason, upon taking office, I've ordered a complete strategic review of our policy toward the rogue regime in Iran.
That review is now complete.
Today I am announcing our strategy along with several major steps we are taking to confront the Iranian regime's hostile actions, and to ensure that Iran never, and I mean, never, acquires a nuclear weapon.
Our policy is based on a clear-eyed assessment of the Iranian dictatorship, its sponsorship of terrorism and its continuing aggression in the Middle East and all around the world.
Iran is under the control of a fanatical regime that seized power in 1979 and forced a proud people to submit to its extremist rule. This radical regime has raided the wealth of one of the world's oldest and most vibrant nations, and spread death destruction and chaos all around the globe.
Beginning in 1979 agents of the Iranian regime illegally seized the US embassy in Tehran and held more than 60 during the 44 days of the crises
The Iranian backed terrorist group Hezbollah twice bombed out embassy in Lebanon once in 1983 and again in 1984
Another Iranian supported bombing killed 241 Americans, service members they were, in their barracks, in Beirut in 1983
In 1996 the regime directed another bombing of American military housing in Saudi Arabia, murdering 19 Americans in cold blood.
Iranian proxies provided training to operatives who were later involved in al –Qaeda's' bombing of the American embassies in Kenya, Tanzania, and two years later killing 224 people and wounded more than 4,000 others.
The regime harbored high level terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks including Osama bin Laden's son. In Iraq and Afghanistan groups supported by Iran have killed hundreds of American military personnel. The Iranian dictatorship's aggression continues to this day. The regime remains the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provides assistance to al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist networks. it develops, deploys and proliferates missiles that threaten American troops and our allies. It harasses American ships and threatens freedom of navigation in the Arabian Gulf and in the Red Sea. It imprisons Americans on false charges, and it launches cyber-attacks against our critical infrastructure, financial system and military.
The U.S is far from the only target of the Iranian dictatorship's long campaign of bloodshed. The regime violently suppresses its own citizens it shot unarmed student protestors in the street during the green revolution. This regime has fueled sectarian violence in Iraq and vicious civil wars in Yemen and Syria. In Syria, the Iranian regime has supported the atrocities of Bashar al-Assad's regime. And condone Assad's use of chemical weapons against helpless civilians including many, many children.
Given the regimes murderous past and present, we should not take lightly its sinister vision for the future. The regimes two favorite chants are "death to American" and "death to Israel."
Realizing the gravity of the situation, the U.S and the UN Security Council sought, over many years, to stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons with a wide array of strong economic sanctions. But the previous administration lifted these sanctions just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime. Through the deep controversial 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. This deal is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or, JCPoA. As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the U.S. has ever entered into. The same mindset that produced this deal is responsible for years of terrible trade deals that have sacrificed so many millions of jobs in our country to the benefit of other countries.
We need negotiators who will much more strongly represent America's interests, the nuclear deal through Iran's dictatorship a political and economic lifeline, providing urgently needed relief from the intense domestic pressure the sanctions had created. It also gave the regime an immediate financial boost. An over $100 billion its government could use to fund terrorism. The regime also received a massive cash settlement of $1.7 billion from the U.S., a large portion of which was physically loaded onto an airplane and flown into Iran. Just imagine the site of those huge piles of money being hauled off by the Iranians waiting at the airport for the cash. I wonder where all that money went.
Worst of all, the deal allows Iran to continue developing certain elements of its nuclear program, and more importantly, in just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout.
In other words, we got weak inspections in exchange for no more than a purely short term, and temporary delay in Iran's path to nuclear weapons. What is the purpose of a deal that at best only delays Iran's nuclear capability for a short period of time?
This, as president of the U.S. is unacceptable. In other countries, they think in terms of 100 year intervals, not just a few years at a time. The saddest part of the deal for the U.S. is that all of the money was paid up front, which is unheard of, rather than at the end of the deal, when they have shown they've played by the rules. But what's done is done, and that’s why we are where we are.
The Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement, for example on two speared occasions they have exceeded the limit of 130 metric tons of heavy water, until recently, the Iranian regime has also failed to meet our expectation in its operation of advanced centrifuges. The Iranian regime has also intimidated international inspectors into not using the full inspection authorities that the agreement calls for. Iranian officials and military leaders have repeatedly claimed they will not allow inspectors onto military sites, even though the international community suspects some of those sites were part of Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons program; there are also many people who believe that Iran is dealing with North Korea. I am going to instruct our intelligence agencies to do thorough analyses and report back their findings beyond what they have already reviewed. By its own terms the Iran deal was supposed to contribute to regional and international peace and security. And yet, while the U.S adheres to our commitment under the deal the Iranian regime continues to fuel conflict, terror and turmoil throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Importantly Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal, so today, in recognition of the increasing menace posed by Iran, and after extensive consultations with our allies, I am announcing a new strategy to address the full range of Iran's destructive actions,
First we will work with our allies to counter the regimes destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region.
Second, we will place additional sanctions on the regime to block their financing of terror.
Third we will address the regimes proliferation of missiles and weapons that threaten its neighbor's global trade and freedom of navigation.
And finally we will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.
Today I'm also announcing several major steps my administration is taking in pursuit of this strategy. The execution of our strategy begins with the long overdue step of imposing tough sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard core. The Revolutionary Guard is the Iranian supreme leader's corrupt personal terror force and militia. It has hijacked large portions of Iran's economy and resized massive religious endowments to fund war and terror abroad. This includes arming the Syrian dictator, supplying proxies and partners with missiles and weapons to attack civilians in the region and even plotting to bomb a popular restaurant, right here, in Washington D.C.
I am authorizing the treasury department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard core for support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents and affiliates.
I urge our allies to join us in taking strong actions to curb Iran's continued dangerous and destabilizing behavior, including thorough sanctions outside the rain deal that target the regimes ballistic missile program in support for terrorism and all of its destructive activities of which there are many.
Finally, on the grave matter of Iran's nuclear program, since the signing of the nuclear agreement, the regime's dangerous aggression has only escalated. At the same time it has received massive sanctions relief while continuing to develop its missiles program, Iran has also entered into lucrative business contracts with other parties to the agreement, when the agreement was finalized in 2015, Congress passed the Iran nuclear agreement review act to ensure that Congress's voice would be heard on the deal. Among other conditions the law requires the president of his designee to certify that the suspension of sanction under the deal is appropriate and proportionate to measure and other measures taken by Iran to terminate its illicit nuclear program.
Based on the factual record I have put forward I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification we will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout. That is why I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deals many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons. These include the deal's sunset clauses that in just a few years will eliminate key restrictions on Iran's nuclear program.
The flaws in the deal also include insufficient enforcement and near total silence on Iran's missile programs. Congress has already begun the work to address these problems. Key house and senate leaders are drafting legislation that would amend the Iran nuclear agreement review act to strengthen enforcement, prevent Iran from developing an intern... this is so totally important.... intercontiental ballistic missile and make all restrictions on Iran's nuclear activity permanent under U.S. law. So important.
I support these initiatives. However, in the event we are not able to reach a solution, working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated. It is under continuous review and our participation can be cancelled by me as president at any time.
As we have seen in North Korea, the longer we ignore a threat, the worst that threat becomes. It is why we are determined that the world's leading sponsor of terrorism will never obtain nuclear weapons. In this effort we stand in total solidarity with the Iranian regimes longest suffering victims: Its own people.
The citizens of Iran have paid a heavy price for the violence and extremism of their leaders. The Iranian people long to, and they just are longing, to reclaim their country's proud history, its culture, its civilization, its cooperation with its neighbors. We hope that these new measures directed at the Iranian dictatorship will compel the government to reevaluate its pursuit of terror at the expense of its people.
We hope that our actions today will help bring about a future of peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East. A future where sovereign nations respect each other and their own citizens. We pray for a future where young children, American and Iranian, Muslim, Christian and Jewish, can grow up in a world free of violence hatred and terror. And until that blessed day comes we will do what we must to keep America safe.
Thank you. God bless you and God bless America.

Iran's Rohani Says Trump Speech 'Full of Cursing, Baseless Accusations'
Reuters Oct 13, 2017/Trump announced that he will not recertify the Iran nuclear deal and will impose sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard
Iranian President Hassan Rohani said Friday that U.S. President Donald Trump's speech was full of "cursing" and "baseless accusations against the Iranian nation," state TV reported.
Rohani said Tehran is committed to all international accords and criticized Trump for calling Iran a rebel nation. "No president can revoke an international deal ... Iran will continue to respect it as long as it serves our interests," Rouhani said in a live television address, adding that Trump's speech was full of "insults and fake accusations" against Iranians.  "The Iranian nation has not and will never bow to any foreign pressure...Iran and the deal are stronger than ever ... Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps will continue its fight against regional terrorists," Rouhani said.  He added that Trump's decision to decertify the deal would isolate the United States as other signatories of the accord remained committed to it. The deal was not renegotiable, he said. Donald Trump said on Friday that he will decertify the Iran nuclear deal, and announced new sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard. "History has shown the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous it becomes. I've ordered a complete strategic review of our policy towards the rogue regime in Iran. That review is now complete," he said. Trump said he would take "major steps to confront the Iranian regime's hostile actions and to ensure that they never acquire a nuclear weapon." "Our policy is based on a clear eyed assessment of the Iranian dictatorship, its sponsorship of terrorism, and continued aggression around the world."Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately congratulated Trump for his "courageous decision" not to recertify the nuclear deal with Iran.

Saudi Arabia Welcomes Trump's Tough Talk on Iran
UAE and Bahrain also both expressed full support for Trump's more aggressive approach

Haaretz and Reuters Oct 13, 2017/Saudi Arabia welcomed the new U.S. policy towards Iran and said lifting sanctions had allowed Iran to develop its ballistic missile program and step up its support for militant groups, state news agency SPA reported on Friday. The kingdom said Iran took advantage of additional financial revenues to support for the Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah and the Houthi group in Yemen. Donald Trump said on Friday that he will decertify the Iran nuclear deal, and announced new sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard. The United Arab Emirates meanwhile said that it fully supported the new U.S. policy towards Iran and it renewed its commitment to work with Washington to counter Iran's support of extremism, the state news agency WAM reported. "The UAE announces its full support to the new U.S. strategy to deal with the Iranian policies undermining security and stability," WAM said on its twitter account. Keep updated: Sign up to our newsletter. Bahrain has also announced it welcomed the shift in U.S. policy on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and its support for extremist groups in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately congratulated Trump for his "courageous decision" not to recertify the nuclear deal with Iran.

Saudi Arabia the first country welcoming Trump strategy towards Iran
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Friday, 13 October 2017/The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) expressed welcome and support of the resolute strategy announced by US President Donald Trump towards Iran and its aggressive approach, praising his vision in this regard and commitment to work with the US allies, in the region, in order to face common challenges, particularly Iran’s aggressive policies and actions, in the region, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has previously supported the nuclear agreement between Iran and the 5 + 1 powers, in the belief that it is necessary to limit proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in our region and the world, the KSA statement stressed, hoping that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, in any way and in order to achieve security and peace, in the region, the statement added. However, Iran had exploited the economic benefits of lifting the sanctions and used them to continue to destabilize the region, especially through its ballistic missile development program and support of terrorism, in the region, including Hezbollah and the Houthi militias, in Yemen, the statement pointed out.
Tehran’s flagrant violation
Iran has not only done so in flagrant violation of the resolution, but also it transferred such potentials and experience to its client militias, including Houthi militia, which used the missiles to target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, hence exposing falsity of Iranian claims that the development of these capabilities is only for defensive reasons, the statement emphasized. To the contrary, the statement indicated that Iran in continuation of its aggressive approach, through its Revolutionary Guard and Houthi militia, repeatedly targeted international navigation passageways, in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, in addition to Iran’s continuing cyber-attacks against the Kingdom and other region’s countries. From this perspective, the Kingdom reaffirms full commitment to continue to work with partners in the United States and the international community to achieve the objectives declared by the President of the United States and the need to address threats posed by Iran’s policies to international peace and security, within a wider perspective beyond Iran’s nuclear program, to include its all aggressive activities, in order to cut off all avenues for Iran to acquire weapons of mass destruction, the statement concluded.

Russia launches European environmental satellite
The Associated Press, Moscow Friday, 13 October 2017/A Russian booster rocket has carried a European environmental satellite into orbit. The European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite was launched Friday by a Rokot missile from the Plesetsk launch pad in northwestern Russia. The satellite will map the global atmosphere every day, helping study air pollution. The mission will contribute to volcanic ash monitoring for aviation safety and for services that warn of high levels of UV radiation causing skin damage. The measurements also will help understand processes in the atmosphere related to the climate and to the formation of holes in the ozone layer. It’s the sixth satellite in the ESA’s Copernicus program. Other Earth-observing Sentinel satellites launched earlier provide radar and optical imagery of the Earth, and monitor the condition of the world’s oceans and ice sheets.

French former culture minister to head UNESCO
AFP, Paris Friday, 13 October 2017/Former French foreign minister Audrey Azoulay was selected to head the embattled UN cultural agency UNESCO after defeating her Qatari rival by two votes in a cliffhanger election on Friday. Azoulay, 49, came from behind after six rounds of voting to defeat Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, also a former culture minister, by 30 votes to 28 after he failed to pick up support from other Gulf states that are part of a Saudi-led coalition blockading Qatar.

Truce in Southern Damascus Brokered by Egypt
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/Beirut, Cairo — Three Syrian factions, including Jaysh al-Islam, signed in Cairo Thursday a ceasefire deal in the southern of Damascus to go into effect on the same day. The deal, brokered under an Egyptian mediation, stipulates the opening of the crossings controlled by militants in the area and an end to the forced displacement of residents. It also affirmed the possibility that any militant faction would be capable to join the agreement. The “Cairo Bawaba” website then quoted Mohamed Aloush, the head of Jaysh al-Islam’s political office as saying that the Egyptian side had pledged to lift the siege of the eastern Ghouta region to allow the entrance of aid and alleviate the suffering of residents in the region. In addition to Jaysh al-Islam, the deal includes Jaysh Ababil and Aknaf Beit Al-Maqdis. At the battlefield, regime forces advanced in the city of Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor by controlling at least four new neighborhoods during fierce battles with ISIS militants in the area. “Regime forces, led on the ground by Russian forces, took control of at least four neighborhoods of Mayadeen,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. Meanwhile, last-hours talks were ongoing to secure the exit of ISIS militants and civilians from Raqqa.Reports published on Thursday said that announcing the near liberation of Raqqa is related to a final deal for the exit of ISIS militants from the area. Abu Mohammad al-Raqqawi, an activist in the ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently’, told Asharq Al-Awsat that despite some obstacles facing the talks, there are ongoing efforts to withdraw the remaining ISIS militants from the area. Also in Syria, Reuters quoted two rebels and a witness as saying that a first convoy of the military operation that Turkey is carrying out in Syria’s Idlib province crossed into the area late on Thursday. The convoy included about 30 military vehicles, said Abu Khairo, a commander in a Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group based in the area, and it entered Syria near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, according to a civilian witness.

Lavrov: Tillerson Assures Washington’s Only Goal in Syria is Fighting ISIS

Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/Moscow- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has given assurances that Washington’s only goal in Syria is fighting ISIS, the TASS news agency cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Thursday. Lavrov said he had last had a telephone conversation with Tillerson on Oct. 9, the agency reported. Russia’s defense ministry accused the United States on Tuesday of pretending to fight ISIS and of deliberately reducing its air strikes in Iraq to allow the group’s militants to stream into Syria to slow the Russian-backed advance of the Syrian army. Lavrov, touching upon a possible US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, said it was hard to imagine how it could be legally implemented, TASS reported.

UN Chemical Weapons Investigators to Visit Syria’s Shayrat Air Base
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/United Nations- UN investigators will this week travel to the Shayrat air base in Syria that the United States and its allies say was used to launch the sarin gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province last April. The team from the joint UN-OPCW probe, known as the JIM, left Monday for Damascus and were to go to the Shayrat airfield, a Security Council diplomat, who asked not to be named, told Agence France Presse on Wednesday. The trip to the airfield comes just weeks before the release of a much-awaited report on the Khan Sheikhoun attack that the West and a UN commission have said was carried out by Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The United States in April launched a missile attack on Shayrat after concluding that Syrian aircraft, loaded with sarin gas, had departed from that airfield to attack Khan Sheikhoun. The JIM visit to Shayrat would address criticism from Russia that the panel is biased by refusing to accept Syria’s offer to visit the military base. Western diplomats have expressed skepticism however, suggesting the visit would be used by Damascus to try to bolster its assertion that the sarin gas was released by an accidental air strike on a storage depot in rebel-held Idlib. The joint investigation of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) earlier this year presented a report confirming sarin gas was used in the attack at Khan Sheikhoun that left 87 people dead. Syria’s regime has denied any involvement and maintains it no longer possesses chemical weapons after a 2013 agreement under which it pledged to surrender them.

Turkish Forces Say Installing ‘Observation Posts’ in Syria’s Idlib

Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/The Turkish army has begun setting up “observation posts” in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province in its efforts to create a de-escalation zone, the military said on Friday, although the move was seen partly aimed at containing the Kurdish YPG militia.
“On October 12, we began activities to establish observation posts,” the military said in a statement. Over 100 soldiers, including special forces, and 30 armored vehicles entered Idlib, Turkey’s Hurriyet daily reported on Friday, as it speculated more troops could be sent to the province over the next few days. Idlib is largely controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) which has ousted more moderate rebels in recent months. The Turkish army is backing the pro-Ankara Free Syrian Army that will need to oust HTS members in the area to allow Iranian, Russian and Turkish forces implement the de-escalation zone. The move comes after the Turkish army launched a reconnaissance mission on Sunday as part of efforts by Ankara along with Moscow and Tehran, to set up the zone in line with accords in Astana peace talks. They agreed on four such ceasefire zones in Syria as a prelude to negotiations. Three zones are already in place — in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, in central Homs, and in parts of southern Syria — which are being monitored by Russian military police. However, the Turkish deployment is also intended to rein in the Kurdish YPG militia, which holds the Afrin region next to Idlib, a senior rebel official involved in the operation said. “(It is) in line with Astana 6 resolutions to ensure the area is protected from Russian and regime bombing and to foil any attempt by the separatist YPG militias to illegally seize any territory,” said Mustafa Sejari, an official in an FSA rebel group. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed late Thursday that a military convoy of Turkish forces entered Idlib before heading towards the western part of Aleppo province. The fourth de-escalation zone includes Idlib but also parts of the neighboring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions.

Abadi’s Clarifications Fail to Eliminate Kurdish Concerns
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/Baghdad, Irbil — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stressed on Thursday that his government would not wage a war against the Kurds, but his comments failed to eliminate worries among the Kurdistan Region residents of a possible movement of the federal forces towards the disputed areas between Baghdad and Irbil. Early on Thursday, the Peshmerga forces cut off with sand barriers the two main roads connecting Irbil and Dohuk with Mosul. However, these forces reopened the roads at a later time on the same day. Media official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Mosul Saeed Mamouzini told Asharq Al-Awsat that closing and reopening the two roads were due to the unusual moves conducted by the Popular Mobilization forces currently located in east Mosul, and at the division line with the Peshmerga forces. Mamouzini said: “The Peshmerga had to cut off the roads for a couple of hours for security measures,” adding that armed members with foreign agendas were currently present among the Mobilization forces, who are trying to create problems and incite a strife. The latest developments came after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) accused on Wednesday the Iraqi government forces for preparing a major military attack on Kurdish forces in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and other parts of northern Iraq. A source close to the Baghdad cabinet told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday the details of what happened on Wednesday following the claims.
He said contacts were launched between high-ranking officials from the government in Baghdad to decrease the level of tension. “Kurdish parties called President Fouad Massoum to inform him about the menacing position,” the sources said, adding that the president then called the cabinet presidency, which issued a statement to denounce the accusations. “The government calls on the Kurds to hand over tens of ISIS militants,” the source said. “The Kurds do not mind, but they are waiting to investigate the fate of around 60 Peshmerga members kidnaped by the terrorist group and whose fates were still unclear,” the source added. He said that the Kurds fear that the government’s requests to receive the ISIS militants are simply a pretext for an operation to control the oil fields of Kirkuk and other parts of Iraq.

Baghdad Launches Kirkuk Operation amid Kurdish Reinforcement
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/The Iraqi army on Friday launched an operation to retake Kurdish-held positions around the northern city of Kirkuk as Kurdish authorities sent thousands more troops to the disputed oil region over what they said were “threats” from the central government. “Iraqi armed force are advancing to retake their military positions that were taken over during the events of June 2014,” a general told AFP by telephone, asking not to be identified. He said that federal troops had already taken one base west of Kirkuk on Friday morning after Kurdish peshmerga fighters withdrew during the night without a fight. His comments came despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ruling out the use of military force against the Kurds. Ethnically divided but historically Kurdish-majority Kirkuk is one of several regions that the Peshmerga fighters took over from the Iraqi army in 2014 when ISIS militants swept through much of northern and western Iraq. But Baghdad is bitterly opposed to Kurdish ambitions to incorporate the oil-rich province in its autonomous region in the north and has voiced determination to take it back. The dispute on the issue has escalated since the Kurds voted for independence in a non-binding referendum last month. The vice president of the autonomous Kurdistan region, Kosrat Rasul, said “tens of thousands of Kurdish Peshmerga and security forces are already stationed in and around Kirkuk. “At least 6,000 additional Peshmerga were deployed since Thursday night to face the Iraqi forces’ threat,” he told Kurdish TV channel Rudaw. The Kurds reiterated on Friday their call for negotiations following the referendum. But a top aide to Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani vowed that Peshmerga forces would defend their positions in case of an Iraqi military move. Thousands of heavily armed Peshmerga units are now completely in their positions around Kirkuk,” Hemin Hawrami said. “Their order is to defend at any cost.”The orders came after the Kurdish authorities accused the Iraqi government of massing forces in readiness for an offensive to seize Kurdish-held oil fields.

6 Egyptian Soldiers Killed in Armed Sinai Attack
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/Gunmen attacked a checkpoint in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula where authorities are fighting an insurgency, leaving six Egyptian soldiers dead, a military statement said. “Armed terrorists attacked one of the security checkpoints in Arish city, using hand bombs and firearms,” the statement said. Security searched the area and chased the gunmen, the army added. Two of the gunmen were killed and one was injured during the exchange of fire that lasted about half an hour, security sources said. Four army personnel were also injured, they added.Egypt is fighting an insurgency against militants affiliated with ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula where hundreds of security forces have been killed since 2013.

Egypt Extends State of Emergency for Three Months

Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/Cairo– Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has issued an order extending the state of emergency for another three months, starting Friday. The decision, which was published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, stated: “The armed and police forces shall take the necessary measures to confront the dangers of terrorism and its financing, to maintain security throughout the country, to preserve public and private property and to protect the lives of citizens.” 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. Constitutional Jurist Rajai Attieh, member of the National Council for Combating Terrorism and Extremism, told Asharq al-Awsat that Thursday’s decision was a new announcement of the state of emergency, not an extension of the previous one, in compliance with a constitutional provision that prevents the extension of an emergency state more than once, but allows the President to re-declare emergency state after the expiry of the extension period. According to the Egyptian Constitution, the declaration of a state of emergency for a specified period shall not exceed three months, and shall be extended only one time for a similar period, after the approval of two-thirds of the members of Parliament. Attieh stressed that Egypt was facing a real war and was fighting foreign and local terrorist elements not only in the Sinai but also in Cairo, the Delta and all Egyptian governorates. He noted in this regard that the war on terrorism was a strong reason to declare a state of emergency, which is “indisputably necessary to secure Egyptian national security.” Egypt has been witnessing sporadic terrorist acts, especially in northern Sinai. Those have increased over the past four years, following the ousting of former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, who belongs to the “banned” Muslim Brotherhood organization.

UAE Ends Mission of its Ambassador to North Korea
Asharq Al-Awsat/October 13/17/Abu Dhabi- The United Arab Emirates has terminated the diplomatic presence of the UAE non-resident ambassador to the Republic of North Korea, and Pyongyang’s ambassador to the country, in addition to taking other measures that consolidate the international community’s work in that regard. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MoFAIC, has stated that the measures include stopping the issuance of entry visas for North Korean citizens and ceasing new business licenses for North Korean companies wishing to operate in the UAE. The MoFAIC affirmed that the UAE has developed an executive framework in collaboration with state departments in the country to implement UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea and its nuclear program, primarily Resolutions 2371 and 2375. It said it looked forward to international efforts aimed to stop the proliferation of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program that pose a threat to international peace and stability. The statement added that the ministry’s measures come in line with the UAE’s responsibility as a full-fledged member of the international community.

Statement by the Foreign Affairs Minister on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
October 13, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:
“Canada supports an effective rules-based international order, and is committed to a pragmatic approach to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed to with Iran in 2015 and endorsed by the UN Security Council, under the leadership of the P5 1 (China, France, Russia, the U.K., the U.S., and Germany) and the European Union, has helped to curb a real threat to international peace and security.
“I am pleased to announce that Canada will provide an additional $1.5 million to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for its Iran verification work.
“The JCPOA subjects Iran to an independent and extensive verification regime by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and provides the international community with a high degree of insight into Iran’s nuclear program. According to the IAEA, Iran continues to implement its JCPOA commitments. Canada believes that the JCPOA is essential in preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability and in ensuring greater regional and global security.
“Canada is a leading contributor to the IAEA, which robustly monitors and verifies Iran’s implementation of its commitments. Since the JCPOA came into force, Canada has provided $11.5 million in voluntary contributions in support of the IAEA’s JCPOA mandate.
“Canada condemns Iran’s ongoing development of its ballistic missile program and its ballistic missile launches, which are destabilizing for the region. Canada maintains sanctions that target Iran’s ballistic missile program.
“Canada is engaging with Iran in order to protect key Canadian interests, including Canadian consular interests, promote our values, and advance human rights. We continue to oppose Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, its threats toward Israel, its support for the Assad regime in Syria, and its ballistic missile program. We will continue to work closely with our allies and partners to hold Iran to account.”

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 13-14/17
China: Reshuffling the Party Cadres
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat/October 13/17
It is a testimony to the peculiarities of international attention to world events that while every tweet by US President Donald Trump triggers an avalanche of reports, analyses, and outright abuse, little attention is paid as the People’s Republic of China prepares to hold its five-yearly National Congress of the Communist Party in Beijing.
And, yet, China is now established as the world’s largest economy in gross domestic product (GDP) terms and the second biggest exporter after Germany. It also has the world’s fastest-growing portfolio of foreign investments with interests in 118 nations across the globe.
At the same time, at least 10 million Chinese are working abroad, almost always on projects sponsored by Beijing, helping transform large chunks of Africa, South America, and Asia.
According to estimates, there are already more than three million Chinese in Siberia, spearheading a 19th century-style campaign to exploit the region’s vast natural resources. First encouraged by Moscow, the Chinese presence has become a source of concern for the Kremlin which fears losing control of Siberia due to demographic imbalance. This is why Russia now offers free land and seed capital to any Russian citizen who wishes to settle in Siberia. (Few have taken the offer, so far!)
China has launched projects that recall the golden days of European imperial expansion in the 19th century.
The new Silk Route project, the biggest in human history by way of the $1.4 trillion investments, will link the Central Asian heartland to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan, directly or indirectly affecting the economies of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran. A direct rail link, already been tested between Beijing and London, is to be extended to other major European capitals.
China is also studying the building of a Central American railroad as an alternative to the Panama Canal which is incapable of receiving ships with extra-large containers.
In Africa, China has not only established itself as the biggest trading partner but is also emerging as the” wise old aunt” who could bash heads together and persuade local rivals not to upset the apple cart.
In sub-Saharan Africa, China has replaced the United States, not to mention the old colonial powers such as France and Britain, as the principal influence-wielding big power.
On a broader scale, the spectacle of President Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson begging China to “do something” about North Korea’s provocative behavior is a good indicator of Beijing’s growing influence.
Even in the so-called Shanghai Group, a Chinese initiative, it is now Russia hat is asserting itself as the ringleader with the backing of former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
It is not hard to see that China is all over the place. Or is it?
The question is pertinent because the People’s Republic has not been able or has been unwilling to forge a correspondence between its economic power and its political role on the global scene. Economically high profile, it remains low profile politically, earning the sobriquet of “Economic Giant, Political Dwarf”.
Part of this is a matter of choice. Chinese leaders know that they govern a country that is still ridden by deep-rooted poverty and infrastructural backwardness. In terms of per capita income, China is still poorer than Iran, and even the Maldives islands. In terms of life-expectancy it is world number 102 among 198 nations. Thus, Chinese leaders have preferred to remain essentially focused on domestic issues with priority to rapid economic growth. To them, getting involved in international politics seems a risky distraction.
However, the Chinese low profile has another reason: lack of experience in international affairs and the skilled manpower needed for punching below its weight in the diplomatic arena. It is interesting that not a single high profile international post is filled by a Chinese diplomat when diplomats from even Burma and Ghana have held the position of United Nations’ Secretary-General.
Rather than imitating the British or French styles of empire-building in the 19th century, China has opted for the Dutch model of going for a trade and leaving politics to others. But is such a strategy sustainable? You might not want to go after politics but what if politics comes after you?
This is one of the questions likely to be raised at the five-day 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China due to open next Tuesday.
Though China has historically poor relations with neighbors, except Pakistan, it has a neutral profile elsewhere, notably in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and South America if only because it does not bear the burden of a colonial and/or hegemonic past.
Because the Party’s congresses are prepared in secret it is hard to know whether or not a major review of the nation’s foreign policy is included in deliberations. Next week’s congress will have two priorities.
The first is to consolidate Xi Jinping’s position as “supreme leader”, something more than mere Secretary-General.
This could be done by bestowing on him a lofty title as was the case with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. President Xi, expected to be unanimously re-elected for a further five-year term, could also strengthen his position by propelling his protégés into key positions in the Central Committee, the Politburo, the Politburo Standing Committee, the Committee for Discipline and Inspection, and the Military Committee, the party’s five key decision-making organs.
The second priority is a change of generations at the top the hierarchy with new figures born in the 1960s or later moving up the ladder. A majority of the 2300 delegates slated to attend belong to the “new generation.”
The new putative leadership consists of individuals with some experience of the outside world, often through studying in the United States and Western Europe. That could provide a greater understanding of world politics and a keener taste for getting involved.
One thing is certain: the international scene is in turmoil and Russia and the United States, still burdened by memories of the Cold War, might not always be able to provide the answers needed.
For its part the European Union, its economic power notwithstanding, cannot mobilize public opinion for a greater political role internationally. India, another rising power, is bogged down by its surrealistic quarrel with Pakistan while hopes of Brazil emerging as a big player have faded; maybe for decades.
In other words, there is room for China to become a key player in global politics.
Will she want that​​?
We shall know the answer in Beijing next week.

France: Facebook Islamists Hunt in Packs
Yves Mamou/Gatestone Institute/October 13/17
The "moderating hubs" for France's social media are generally located in French-speaking countries with cheap labor, in North Africa and Madagascar. In France, rumors abound that Facebook's moderators are located in French-speaking Muslim countries such as Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Facebook never confirms or denies outsourcing its "moderation" work to companies employing cheap Muslim labor in North Africa.
Notably, Muslim hate-speakers continue to proliferate on Facebook, while anti-Islamists face harassment and the loss of their accounts.
These Facebook users, like dozens of others, seem to be the victims of Islamist "packs". Once the opinions and analyses of these Facebook users are noticed, they are denounced to Facebook as "racists" or "Islamophobes" and their accounts are deleted.
Fatiha Boudjalat, the co-founder of the secularist movement Viv(r)e la République, is a prominent figure of anti-Islamism in France. She is interviewed regularly on television and radio, and her op-eds are regularly published in Le Figaro. Recently, on Facebook, Boudjalat criticized strongly an Islamist government employee, Sonia Nour, for calling the Tunisian Islamist murderer of two women in Marseille, a "martyr". A few weeks after that, Boudjalat's Facebook account was deleted.
She is not alone in having been targeted by Islamists on Facebook. Leila Ourzik, an artist who lives in Grigny, a predominantly Muslim suburb not far from Paris, is a Muslim who eats and drinks openly during Ramadan and resists wearing the Islamic veil. Because of her un-Islamic behavior, she is openly insulted and threatened daily, as well as on social networks. On Facebook, Ourzik became a target. Islamists harassed her with insults and threats, posted her picture on pornography websites, and finally succeeded in obtaining the deletion of her account on Facebook. Suddenly, without warning, her Facebook account was shut. "Not once, many times" she says to Gatestone. Why? "I do not know, they never tell you. But one day, it is over, everything is deleted".
Olivier Aron, a dentist and former politician, was taken off Facebook for weeks. Aron is active in debates about Islam and Islamism. He is also not shy. On Facebook, he contradicts Islamists. Islamists, however, do not seem interested in debating. They seem interested in censoring. According to Aron, many of them complained to Facebook. "I suppose they accused me of being a racist and an Islamophobe" Aron said. "Intimidation is everyplace. A man I do not even know discovered my telephone number and all my contact details and sent them to his friends". Consequences were not long in coming. Aron's assistant at the dental office received a frightening phone call: "Tell doctor Aron that soon 'Kelkal' will hit him". Kelkal, an Algerian Islamist terrorist, was a member of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and responsible for the wave of attacks in France during the summer of 1995. Although Kelkal was killed by the police 20 years ago, for many radicalized Muslims, he remains the prototype of "modern" jihadist.
Last spring, Michel Renard, a history teacher in Saint Chamond, was also deleted from Facebook. "Without any warning, without any possibility of talking to someone, suddenly all my writings were gone," he told Gatestone. Renard had posted online extremely detailed analyses of Islamism. "But," he said, "Islamists are extremely active on Facebook. They insult you; they threaten you". Even though Renard refused to be "friended" on Facebook by his pupils, "their parents complained to the director of the school... Intimidation is everywhere, in real life and on the Net".
These Facebook users, like dozens of others, seem to be the victims of Islamist "packs". Once the opinions and analyses of these Facebook users are noticed, they are denounced to Facebook as "racists" or "Islamophobes" and their accounts are deleted.
In France, Facebook deletes thousands of accounts every year. It would be interesting to know how many among them were deleted because their owners questioned Islamism, but no one knows: Facebook never communicates other than by bland boilerplate declarations that clearly seem intended to avoid explaining anything.
What we do know is that "Facebook has 4,500 'content moderators' and that it recently announced plans to hire another 3,000", according to The Guardian. 7,500 moderators for more than two billion Facebook users? That is ridiculous.
The Guardian continues: "There are moderating hubs around the world, but Facebook refuses to disclose their exact number or locations". The question should be, in fact: Does Facebook outsource content moderation to subcontractors, and if so, to which?
In France, three companies appear to be competing as subcontractors for moderating online content: Netino, Concileo and Atchik Services. The "moderating hubs" of these companies are generally located in French-speaking countries with cheap labor, in North Africa and Madagascar. In France, rumors abound that Facebook's moderators are located in French-speaking Muslim countries such as Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Facebook never confirms or denies outsourcing its "moderation" work to companies employing cheap Muslim labor in North Africa.
Notably, Muslim hate-speakers continue to proliferate on Facebook, while anti-Islamists face harassment and the loss of their accounts.
It is a symptom of the dominant denial in the French media that it keeps repeating -- despite massive evidence to the contrary -- that "Islamism is not at war with Western culture." As a consequence, freedom of speech in France is now "moderated" by Muslims in Muslim countries.
Ironically, however, if Facebook were instead outsourcing its "moderation" work to companies in France or Belgium, the result would be the same. Extremist Muslims hunt in packs, while anti-extremists are mainly individuals. The French Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel, for example, France's regulating agency for radio and television, is overwhelmed by a storm of protests each time the French anti-Islamist journalist, Éric Zemmour, appears on television. Zemmour is sued twice a year for "racism" -- simply because Islamist organizations such as the Collectif contre l'islamophobie en France ("Collective Against Islamophobia in France", CCIF) launch campaigns to urge French Muslims to protest against Zemmour's "Islamophobia". Is the same system used for social networks? Given the total lack of transparency of Facebook's decisions, it is possible.
Unfortunately, counter-attacks against these wolf-pack harassment campaigns are still "under construction."
Not only does Facebook censor content using undisclosed "moderators," but the company has also developed a law-enforcement response team that deals with requests from police and security agencies. In France, such requests from courts and justice departments have increased from 3,208 in 2013 to 8,121 in 2016. According to Le Journal du Net, a news website dedicated to current events and media, in 2015, "following government requests, Facebook deleted 37,990 pages in France, compared to 30,126 for India, 6,574 for Turkey and only 85 pages in Russia" during the same period.
Were only Islamist and jihadi pages deleted? What else? Inconvenient history? For governments in Europe, anti-jihadists are considered an even greater problem than jihadists.
In April 2017, Facebook published a report entitled, "Information Operations and Facebook". On page 9, one can read, "In France, for example, as of April 13, these improvements recently enabled us to take action against over 30,000 fake accounts". The "improvements" Facebook is talking about are related to new analytical techniques permitting Facebook to detect serial "fake news" accounts. These "fake" accounts were, unsurprisingly, especially active during France's presidential campaign in the spring of 2017.
For Facebook and for French officials, the big question does not seem to be: "Is Islamism at war with our freedom?", but only: "Is Vladimir Putin interfering with French politics?" Facebook pays attention to that. Facebook cannot afford to ignore politicians' requests. In every country, the big advertising money for Facebook's platform is dependent on the goodwill of the government.
It is important to remember how, in 2015, at the height of the migration crisis, German chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to remove the thousands of anti-mass-migration posts on Facebook. "Are you working on this?" Merkel asked in English, to which Zuckerberg replied "in the affirmative".
Two years later, artificial intelligence tools are on their way to bring temporary peace and quiet to governments in exchange for quick profits -- but not peace to the people.
**Yves Mamou, author and journalist, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde.
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Saudi Arabia’s steady pace toward Vision 2030
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin/Al Arabiya/October 13/17
Celebration of the 87th Saudi National Day came as our nation is witnessing a new phase of development and prosperity, moving steadily toward realizing Vision 2030. It also coincided with the failure of occasional ignorant, hateful and misleading posts on social media aimed at destroying our unity. Religious, political and cultural elites of the community have proved their commitment to our nation’s leadership by standing together as one to help build a bright future for this country and to achieve comprehensive development. The reason for the failure of such messages of hate is simple yet significant; those who are behind them are non-Saudis. Many of them are members of organized e-groups that are run from outside Saudi Arabia and funded by hostile countries. Most importantly, they do not understand the mechanism of the legitimacy of the Saudi regime, which I call “the hidden truth,” which can be explained as follows:
Firstly, the royal family derives its political legitimacy from a long history that dates back 300 years to the 18th century. In 1745, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Saud established the first Saudi state, which was ended in 1818 by the Ottoman army led by Ibrahim Pasha. Commanded by Prince Turki Bin Abdullah Al-Saud, the royal family established the second Saudi state in 1818, which lasted until 1891. The family rose again for the third time to establish the third Saudi state led by King Abdulaziz in 1932. Hence, anyone who is unfamiliar with the Saud family’s long history, and the support they have earned from the people through the three states, cannot understand its political legitimacy.
Due to the strength of its economy, Saudi Arabia is a member of the G20, an international forum for the governments and central bank governors of 20 major economies. Secondly, this state is not only based on its political and religious legitimacy; it can also claim legitimacy through its achievements. Although the third Saudi state has only existed for 100 years, it strives to be a civil state that guarantees the rights and freedoms of all citizens and to be accepted and respected by the international community. In this short time span, it has attained great achievements at all levels, including infrastructure, education, healthcare and industry.
Political, social and economic movement
Saudi Arabia topped the list of Arab countries and was ranked 29th at the international level on the Global Competitiveness Index 2016-2017 of the World Economic Forum. The Index provides insight into 12 drivers of productivity and prosperity in 138 economies.
Moreover, due to the strength of its economy, Saudi Arabia is a member of the G20, an international forum for the governments and central bank governors of 20 major economies. This indicates the Kingdom’s effectiveness in shaping world economic policies and being a safe haven for investments from different countries of the world.
At the political level, President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia on his first official foreign trip, and his participation in three summits hosting over 50 Arab and Muslim countries, confirmed the political weight and the escalating role of Saudi Arabia in the international community and its real impact on the course of many important and thorny issues in international relations. Thirdly, the misinformed critics are clearly ignorant of the local state of affairs regarding the lawfulness of public criticism in Saudi Arabia. They are unaware that the faults of officials are publically and explicitly criticized in the media. Many officials have been sacked and many others subjected to investigation as a result of such public criticism. Thus, freedom of criticism is guaranteed so as not to disrupt social security and stability. Finally, on 25 April 2016, the state and the community started a comprehensive political, social and economic movement in parallel with Vision 2030 declared by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. The community will go hand in hand with the state to realize the vision with clear and systematic plans, leaving no room for those who seek to hinder the projects and achievements. So, those with constructive minds must roll up their sleeves and stay with us. As for those with destructive minds, there is no place here for them.

Yemen and the Catastrophic Role of ‘Lone’ Nations
Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/October 13/17
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. It seems that the UN role in Yemen has become an obstacle rather than an aid to reaching a resolution. 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.

Iran’s links with al-Qaeda, reality defies conventional wisdom
Faisal Al-Shammeri/Al Arabiya/October 13/17
One of the most useful maxims is to beware of the pitfalls of conventional wisdom. It is said that Iran and Al-Qaeda could not have any relationship because of the deeply entrenched Sunni/Shia difference between them. Perhaps, this divide does exist but there has been an operational relationship between the two sides, which has spanned for decades. This relationship began in early 1990’s in Sudan, which developed further when Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan and continued even after the September 11 attacks. In July 2011, the United States formally accused Iran of having direct ties with Al Qaeda which resulted in the September 11 attacks. There is strong evidence for such a cooperation which includes Iran providing sanctuary to Al Qaeda operatives and its senior leadership inside the country, in addition to allowing the supply of money, weapons and fighters to the organization through a vital logistics lifeline. It can also be proved that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), the Quds Force along with Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security have been the agencies of this association between the two sides.
The terrorist lynchpin
One of the most notorious terrorists in history, Imad Moghniyeh (who worked at the behest of the Iranian regime) features prominently in this narrative for over a decade. His involvement in providing training, logistical support, and a consultative role remains a consistent thread that was disclosed in the 9/11 Commission Report of the United States. He would not have been involved in such an operation without the knowledge of Tehran or had it not been in the Iranian regime’s interest to see this terrorist attack being successfully carried out. If one looks at the conventional wisdom that discounts the possibility of Sunni-Shia relationship, then please ask why has there never been an attack inside Iran from foreign Sunni terrorist groups?
A closer look at the available evidence easily establishes this relationship. A US court record, submitted for the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania reveals that a representative of the Tehran regime, Sheikh Nomani met senior Al Qaeda leadership in Sudan and that he “had access to the highest echelons of power in Tehran.” Following this initial meeting in Sudan, the court record states that “Iran and Al Qaeda reached an informal agreement to cooperate, with Iran providing critical explosives, intelligence, and security training for the organization for actions carried out primarily against Israel and The United States.” The 9/11 Commission Report has a section specifically covering Iran’s ties to Al-Qaeda, titled ‘Assistance from Hezbollah and Iran to Al Qaeda’. Included in this section is the summation that shortly after these meetings in Sudan, “senior Al-Qaeda operatives and trainers traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives in the fall of 1993. Another such delegation went to The Bekaa Valley in Lebanon for further training in explosives as well as in intelligence and security matters. Senior Al-Qaeda leadership showed particular interest in learning how to use truck bombs such as the one that had killed 241 US Marines in Lebanon in 1983. The relationship between Al Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divide did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier for cooperation in terrorist operations.” The instructors for training in explosives would be Hezbollah. It is Tehran and the IRGC (internationally branded as a terrorist organization) which has financially and operationally supported Hezbollah for nearly 40 years. It was this sponsorship and support that turned the Hezbollah into one of the three most dangerous terrorist organizations the world has ever seen.
Creating and maintaining Hezbollah was not only in Tehran’s interests for exporting its radical ideology throughout the region and the world but it gave it the instrument to carry out terrorist operations when and where it wanted to do so.
Cooperation since 9/11
Since the September 11 attacks, operational ties between Iran and Al-Qaeda have further strengthened. The relationship between Ayman Al Zawahiri and Ahmad Vahidi — then acting as Iran’s Minister of Defense (along with The IRGC’s Quds Force) — proved vital in providing Al-Qaeda safe passage from and eventual sanctuary within Iran, in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Taliban in 2001. This relationship was instrumental in the eventual relocation of Al Qaeda’s operational structure inside Iran, which hosted the terror group’s operatives such as Saif Al Adel (security chief), Saad bin Laden (senior operative), Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah (chief financial officer of Al Qaeda), along with Abu Musab Al Zarqawi (first leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq). These individuals were said to be placed under ‘house arrest’, but n reality Al Qaeda was using Iran as a new base for its operations under the protection of The Quds Force. By providing Al-Qaeda operatives sanctuary in this manner Iran was, and continues to be, in flagrant violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1390 which explicitly prohibits the harboring of Al-Qaeda members.
Iran safe from Al-Qaeda attacks
If one looks at the conventional wisdom that discounts the possibility of Sunni-Shia relationship, then please ask why has there never been an attack inside Iran from foreign Sunni terrorist groups? Why have victims of Sunni terrorist groups in the region been primarily in Sunni areas? Specifically speaking, why has there never been an attack of Al-Qaeda inside Iran or a prolonged campaign of attacks against Iranian interests in the region? Why has every Sunni Arab state which shares a border or is in the immediate vicinity of Iran has suffered an attack from Al Qaeda but not Iran? And why has the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism chosen not to work with Al-Qaeda even as they both share hostility towards the Gulf States and the United States?
Looking from the prism of conventional wisdom Iran should also be attacked on the basis of the sectarian divide and a Sunni group like Al Qaeda should try to attack Iran all the time. Yet evidence shows there has not been a single terror strike inside Iran. Perhaps we will let Ayman Al Zawahiri answer these questions in his own words. Following a September 19, 2008 attack on the US Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, an Al-Qaeda letter whose intended recipient was the IRGC, was intercepted. The Daily Telegraph published some of its contents it and the stated: “Without its (IRGC’s) ‘monetary and infrastructure assistance’ it would not have been possible for the group (Al-Qaeda) to carry out the attacks. The letter also thanked Iran for having the ‘vision’ to help Al-Qaeda establish new bases in Yemen after the group was forced to abandon much of its terrorist infrastructure in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.”