October 24/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
This people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes ;so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn and I would heal them

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 13/10-17/:"Then the disciples came and asked Jesus, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that "seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand."With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: "You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes;so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn and I would heal them."But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body
First Letter to the Corinthians 06/12-20/:"‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything. ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’, and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’ But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 23-24/17
Remembering the Marines massacre in Beirut, 1983/Dr.Walid Phares/October 23/17
Lieberman: Hezbollah fired rockets on Golan without Assad's knowledge/Ynetnews/Moran Azulay, Attila Somfalvi/October 23/17
Theoretically...Bashir Gemayel's Assassin will be Executed/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17
Syrian Opposition Leaders Dr. Kamal Laboani, Warns Of Iranian Expension/Jerusalem Post/October 23/17/
Fr Georges Massouh: Is the Ecumenical Movement "Heretical/Monday, October 23, 2017
UK's Hateful Hate-Crime Hub/Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel/Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
Saudi Arabia's Bogus Promise: Allowing Women to Drive/A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
Jumping Off Maps is Forbidden/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17
The Rubble in Raqqa Reminds us of the US Military Might/David Ignatius/Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
A Russian Take on 'The Americans' Scares Moscow Liberals/Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg View/October 23/17
The FBI’s Black Phantom Menace/Andrew Rosenthal//Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
Understanding Trump’s strategy on Iran/Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/October 23/17
Can Qatar stay in the GCC/Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/October 23/17
Referendums: The dangers of direct democracy/Adil Rasheed/Al Arabiya/October 23/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 23-24/17
Remembering the Marines massacre in Beirut, 1983
Lieberman: Hezbollah fired rockets on Golan without Assad's knowledge
Israel Says Hizbullah Ordered Latest Golan Fire/
Berri Calls on Expats to Partake in Parliamentary Elections
Aoun Receives Australia's Governor-General, Requests Solution for Displaced Syrians
Six Individuals Detained Over Forging Travel Documents
Berri: Elections are Definite, Ready to Secure Communication Channels with Syria
Aoun to Start Arab Tour Next Month
Mashnouq Hails Aoun, Says STL Rulings within 2 Years
Several wounded in Laylake gunfight
FAO, Agriculture Ministry celebrate World Food Day 2017
Qanso, Kijian tackle recent developments
Berri, Australia Governor tackle parliamentary cooperation
President of Johns Hopkins University visits AUB
Theoretically...Bashir Gemayel's Assassin will be Executed

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 23-24/17
Syrian Opposition Leaders Dr. Kamal Laboani, Warns Of Iranian Expension
Visiting in Israel, Kamal Laboani says US must stick by its' Syrian allies.
Velayati Rejects Europe’s Interference in Tehran’s Regional Role
Iraq dismisses US call for Iranian-backed militias to ‘go home’
Iraq’s Kurdistan region elections delayed as no candidates
Jubeir, UN Special Envoy Discuss Latest Yemen Crisis Developments
Egypt's Parliament Approves Three-Months State of Emergency
Observatory: ISIS Executed Scores in Syria’s Qaryatayn
Catalonia Remains Defiant as Spanish Senate to Vote on Imposing Direct Rule on Region
Five-month Battle with Militants Ends in Philippine’s Marawi
IS 'Executed' 116 in Syria Town Revenge Campaign
Deadly air strike hits Syrian govt-held Deir al-Zor
Israel arrests 51 Palestinians in East Jerusalem raid
HRW Targets France's 'Disgraceful' Approach to Egypt
Regions Prepare Rome Challenge after Autonomy Victory Vote

Latest Lebanese Related News published on October 23-24/17
Remembering the Marines massacre in Beirut, 1983
Dr.Walid Phares/October 23/17
That day, October 23, 1983 I was living in Beirut. Though at the other side of the city, I woke up at the terrible sound of a huge explosion. The bombing, masterminded by Hezbollah, killed 241 US service personnel -- including 220 Marines and 21 other service personnel. A truck bomb had targeted a Marine compound in Beirut, located at a four-story building at the airport. There were about 1,800 Marines stationed in Beirut at the time, dispatched to implement a Peace mission. They were part of a multi-national force with troops from France, Italy and the United Kingdom. Few seconds later another explosion rocked the city. The bombings were conducted by two suicide bombers droving pickup trucks full of explosives crashing into the Marines building and the site housing French paratroopers, known as the "Drakkar.". 58 French soldiers were killed.
Historically this was the major first attack by Hezbollah against US and French targets. Years later Osama bin Laden said the attacks inspired al Qaeda's methods. Prayers for the US Marines and the French soldiers who came in Peace.

Lieberman: Hezbollah fired rockets on Golan without Assad's knowledge/
ليبرمان يتهم حزب الله باطلاق صواريخ على بلاده من الجولان دون معرفة الأسد
Ynetnews/Moran Azulay, Attila Somfalvi/October 23/17
While the defense minister insists Nasrallah instructed 'to compartmentalize Assad and his regime from the execution of this shooting,' IDF clarifies: 'We still don't know who fired on the Golan,' but allows fire was 'likely done without Assad's knowledge.'
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman insisted on Monday that the five rockets fired at it by Syrian artillery cannons early Saturday were not the result of errant fire, but rather a direct order from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the IDF clarified: "We still don't know who fired on the Golan Heights."
“The fire was carried out by a local cell operated by Hezbollah,” Lieberman said during an Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting. “Hezbollah did this in isolation of the Assad regime. There was a personal instruction by Nasrallah to compartmentalize Assad and his regime from the execution of this shooting ... with the goal of dragging us into the Syrian mire."
"Therefore I call here both on the Assad regime ... and also on the Russian forces that are present there, to restrain Hezbollah. And this is another example of why they should be kicked out of Syria as fast as possible," the defense minister added.
However, a defense official noted that "Lieberman's comments on Nasrallah and the rocket fire on the Golan did not come from the army, but are instead based on his understanding, judgment and perspective."
Meanwhile, the IDF did confirm the rocket fire came from Assad-controlled territory, and likely without his personal knowledge.
"Rocket fire in the middle of the night and in an unusual amount (five rockets) leads us to believe it is likely not errant fire," a military official said.
Lieberman's office did not immediately respond to the comments contradicting him. A Lieberman confidant who requested anonymity told Reuters: "The defense minister spoke based on his own judgment and assessment."
The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been warning that Israel, which has largely stayed out of the six-year-old Syrian civil war, could step up attacks in retaliation for shelling across the frontier, or to block Damascus's Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah reinforcements from setting up bases.
That could thrust the Israelis into confrontation with Syria and potential run-ins with its big-power backer, Russia. Israel last battled Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, and has occasionally fired on Syria to attack Hezbollah or Iranian targets during the civil war, but has mainly avoided direct fighting against Syria since their last war in 1973. Twice last week, mortar rounds or rockets launched from Syria hit areas of the Israeli Golan Heights, causing no casualties but drawing Israeli artillery fire against Syrian army posts.Syria's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, after projectiles fired from Syria drew an Israeli attack on three Syrian artillery guns, that Israeli strikes would have "grave consequences".
**Reuters contributed to this story.

Israel Says Hizbullah Ordered Latest Golan Fire/
ليبرمان يتهم حزب الله باطلاق صواريخ على بلاده من الجولان دون معرفة الأسد
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 23/17/Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that mortar and rocket fire from Syria that landed in Israel last week was ordered by Lebanon's Hizbullah, without the involvement of the Syrian regime. Speaking to senior members of his Yisrael Beitenu party in parliament, Lieberman said the fire into the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights was "definitely" not random spillover from fighting in the Syrian civil war, as in several previous incidents. "This was deliberate fire by a local squad operated by Hizbullah," Lieberman's party spokesman quoted him as saying, without elaborating on his source for the information. Israel fought a devastating 2006 war with Hizbullah and has voiced concern the group's involvement in Syria risks opening up a new front. Israel also says that Hizbullah ally Iran is using the Shiite group to help expand its own presence in Syria, which borders Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday used a speech in Israel's parliament to praise U.S. President Donald Trump's refusal to certify the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and to send a warning to Tehran. "Every enemy who threatens us with destruction must know that he places himself in danger of a fatal blow," he said. Hizbullah is also a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Lieberman said Damascus was not implicated in incidents on Thursday and Saturday in which rockets and mortar shells hit open ground in the Israeli sector. Israel responded with tank fire against Syrian military positions, saying that it held "the Syrian regime accountable for any aggression from within its territory." "Hizbullah did it in isolation from the Assad regime," Lieberman said in Hebrew, putting the blame on its leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. "It was a personal order from Nasrallah to keep it secret from Assad," he said, adding that nevertheless Israel saw the Syrian regime as responsible for attacks launched from Syrian soil. "Especially today when it controls 90 percent of the territory," Lieberman said. He called on Damascus and on Russian forces deployed in Syria to restrain Hizbullah, which he said sought to "drag us into the Syrian swamp." "I hope that everyone is sufficiently responsible to prevent that," he added. Israel has sought to avoid becoming directly involved in the six-year civil war in Syria, though it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to Hizbullah. Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it, a move never recognized by the international community.

Berri Calls on Expats to Partake in Parliamentary Elections
Naharnet/October 23/17/Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday has voiced calls on Lebanese expats to register their names at embassies in order to take part in the country's parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2018. “I urge all Lebanese expats to register their names at embassies and cosulates before November 21 in order to participate in the country's parliamentary elections,” said Berri in a press conference. “Today Lebanon has won all the battles to prevent the marginalization of democracy. Your country calls on all Lebanese to recognize the parliamentary elections which requires the preparation of electoral lists in embassies and consulates of Lebanon abroad,” added the Speaker calling on expats to register before November 21. “Lebanon calls on its sons to participate tomorrow in drafting its next legislative council,” he added.

Aoun Receives Australia's Governor-General, Requests Solution for Displaced Syrians
Naharnet/October 23/17/President Michel Aoun received on Monday Australia's Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and his wife Lady Lynn Cosgrove at the Presidential Palace in Baabda. Upon his arrival at the Palace, Aoun and Cosgrove held a private meeting after which they held a joint press conference. “We requested Australia's support in defending our legitimate rights in international forums and stressed the need to implement UN resolutions mainly UN decision 1701,” said Aoun at a press conference after the closed-door meeting with the Australian envoy. He added: “We have focused on the necessity of reaching political solutions to the Syrian crisis and the need to expedite a solution to the crisis of the displaced in a way that contributes to their return to safe areas,” in Syria. “We have agreed on the need to activate bilateral relations at various levels and to develop mechanisms of cooperation,” added Aoun.
For his part, Cosgrove told reporters: “We discussed the relationship between Lebanon and Australia, which is based on social ties and the important role played by Lebanese immigrants in the development of Australia.”The Australian envoy and his wife had arrived in Lebanon on Sunday on a three-day visit. Cosgrove is set to hold talks with senior Lebanese officials, reports said.

Six Individuals Detained Over Forging Travel Documents
Naharnet/October 23/17/The General Security Directorate said it has arrested six individuals suspected of forging travel documents to facilitate the illegal travel of people from Lebanon abroad, the National News Agency reported on Monday. “General Security units have carried out several arrests between October 13-19 detaining six individuals on charges of forging travel documents for the transfer of individuals from Lebanon to European, Asian and African countries,” the Directorate said in a statement. The suspects were all interrogated and referred to the related authorities.

Berri: Elections are Definite, Ready to Secure Communication Channels with Syria
Naharnet/October 23/17/Speaker Nabih Berri assured that Lebanon's parliamentary elections will be held, as he expressed readiness to delegate a Lebanese minister to secure channels of communication with Syria in order to return the displaced back to safe zones in their countries. “I am ready to secure a communication channel (between Lebanon and Syria) and am ready to assign a minister for that purpose if they wish me to,” said Berri in an interview to al-Ittihad . “There are some safe zones in Syria that part of the displaced can return to. I am ready to delegate someone if they wish me to if the (Lebanese) government does not want to communicate with Syria,” added Berri, noting that official agencies similar to the General Security and Lebanese Army have contacts with Damascus that can be adopted as channels of communication. On the upcoming parliamentary elections slated for May 2018, Berri assured that the polls will “unquestionably” be held, as he affirmed alliance of his AMAL movement with Hizbullah in the awaited polls. Turing to his ties with President Michel Aoun, the Speaker said: “At this stage, President Michel Aoun and I have the best relations,” expressing keenness to provide any assistance needed to help the new term of Aoun.

Aoun to Start Arab Tour Next Month

Naharnet/October 23/17/President Michel Aoun is expected to start an Arab tour early next month that will include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, al-Mustaqbal daily reported on Monday. Aoun's visit to Kuwait is expected to take place on November 5 for talks with Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah in addition to senior Kuwaiti officials, said the daily. The President will be heading a ministerial delegation to Kuwait, unnamed sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told the daily. Talks are set to focus on enhancing relations and prospects of cooperation between the two countries at all levels, as well as discussing the developments in the region and the ways to fortify the Arab arena in facing challenges, they added.

Mashnouq Hails Aoun, Says STL Rulings within 2 Years
Naharnet/October 23/17/Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq on Sunday lauded the performance of President Michel Aoun while noting that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will issue its rulings in the murder of ex-PM Rafik Hariri within a period not exceeding two years. “President Aoun’s stances greatly improved this year in the direction of more openness towards all parties, understanding of all constitutional mechanisms that are necessary for the country, and political tolerance of opposing ideas,” Mashnouq said during a Mustaqbal Movement seminar. “The settlement that led General Aoun to Baabda has suffered minor shocks that we have managed to overcome,” Mashnouq added. He also pointed out that Aoun is “very keen on political consensus and is abiding by the Constitution and the laws.” “Had it not been for his support, Cabinet would not have been able to settle a lot of files,” Mashnouq added. Separately, the minister said he expects the U.N.-backed STL to issue verdicts in the Hariri case “withing a period not exceeding two years.” The court has indicted five Hizbullah members with carrying out the crime and is trying them in absentia. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has vowed that the accused will never be arrested, dismissing the tribunal as a U.S.-Israeli scheme.

Several wounded in Laylake gunfight
Mon 23 Oct 2017/NNA - Several people got wounded in a brawl that developed into gunfire between members of the families of Ataya and Zoayter in the neighborhood of Al-Laylake, NNA field reporter said on Monday. Laylake locals implored the army and the security forces to intervene in a bid to contain situation.

FAO, Agriculture Ministry celebrate World Food Day 2017
Mon 23 Oct 2017/NNA - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture in Lebanon, in collaboration with the World Food Program (WFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), celebrated today World Food Day 2017, under the theme 'Change the future of migration - Invest in food security and rural development'. The ceremony was organized at the Coral Beach Hotel in Beirut under the patronage of Minister of Agriculture, Ghazi Zeaiter.  The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Agriculture, Ghazi Zeaiter, the FAO Representative in Lebanon, Dr. Maurice Saade, the WFP Representative in Lebanon, Dominik Heinrich, and the IOM Representative in Lebanon Fawzi Al Zioudi. A number of official figures, representatives of embassies, UN agencies, civil society organizations, universities and the media also participated in this event. Following the welcoming remarks by Mariam Eid, Head of the Food Industry Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Fawzi Al Zioudi, the IOM representative in Lebanon delivered a speech in which he pointed out that "the drivers of forced migration are often associated with insufficient food security and rural poverty. Improving agriculture conditions and rural development, particularly with regard to livelihood opportunities, are thus vital to address the current migration challenges." In his speech, Dominik Heinrich, WFP representative in Lebanon focused on WFP's programs in rural areas to enhance the resilience of Lebanese communities hosting displaced Syrians after the Syrian conflict.  Dr. Maurice Saade, FAO representative in Lebanon reiterated FAO's strong commitment to continue to support the Ministry of Agriculture and other Lebanese institutions to achieve their shared objectives of helping Lebanese farmers and rural communities. In his speech, the Minister of Agriculture, Ghazi Zeaiter stated that "migration from rural to urban areas in Lebanon is a major cause of demographic and economic changes, which lead to the decline in the agricultural sector's labor force, as well as a decline in the contribution of the agricultural sector to Lebanon's GDP from 6% in 2004 to 4% in 2015." He concluded his statement by congratulating FAO on World Food Day. An innovative exhibition that showcases FAO and WFP's work in Lebanon during 2017 was displayed at the event. The ceremony also included the distribution of Lebanese apples as a token of the role of FAO in supporting local production and Lebanese farmers. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) celebrates World Food Day on 16 October each year, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945. Each year it is celebrated by more than 150 countries worldwide.

Qanso, Kijian tackle recent developments
Mon 23 Oct 2017/NNA - The head of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), Minister Ali Qanso, on Monday received at the Party's headquarters Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, Wang Kijian. Talks between the pair reportedly touched on most recent developments and means of bolstering relations between the SSNP and the Chinese Communist Party. Minister Qanso lauded China's stance vis-a-vis various causes and its relentless efforts to maintain international security and stability. Qanso commended China's initiatives and steps notably in the areas of economy and development. "China always stands beside just causes and the right of peoples to determine their fate and resist occupation and assaults," Qanso said, hailing its stand beside Syria in the face of terrorism and extremism. Ambassador kijian said that they discussed means of cooperation between the SSNP and the Chinese Communist Party, saying "we look forward to bolstering this relation in the framework of China's cooperation with all parties and forces in Lebanon." Kijian said that they discussed the Syrian crisis, underlining the need for a political solution to this crisis as soon as possible and to secure the return of the displaced Syrians. Both sides also underlined the importance of stability in Lebanon and the realization of development.

Berri, Australia Governor tackle parliamentary cooperation
Mon 23 Oct 2017/NNA - House Speaker, Nabih Berri, received at Ain Tineh residence Governor-General of Australia, Peter Cosgrove, who is on a state visit to Lebanon. Talks reportedly touched on means of bolstering bilateral ties between the two countries and parliamentary cooperation via direct visits or friendship committees. Speaker Berri highlighted the ongoing Israeli violations of UN Resolution #1701, soliciting Australia's assistance for a political solution in Syria. Discussions between the pair also touched on the Arab crises and the Syrian refugee issue in Lebanon.

President of Johns Hopkins University visits AUB
Mon 23 Oct 2017/NNA - President Ronald J. Daniels of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) visited the American University of Beirut (AUB) and met with the president, provost, executive vice president, and deans of AUB to discuss possible future collaborations. During his visit, President Daniels also toured the campus and took in some cultural sites, touring the AUB Archaeological Museum as well as the National Museum and MIM, the mineral museum at Saint Joseph University. "We were excited to receive the distinguished president of Johns Hopkins, Ron Daniels, for three days on campus at the American University of Beirut," said AUB President Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri. "Like AUB, Hopkins is a young university that is just around a century and a half old, but one that is committed to being a research university that can make a difference." "It was an honor to visit AUB on my first trip to Beirut," said JHU President Ron Daniels. "I was deeply impressed with the breadth and depth of the institution, President Khuri's academic leadership, and the team he has assembled to carry out an ambitious vision for the institution. I am certain AUB will continue to graduate men and women committed to discovery and to applying their knowledge to benefit their own communities and those around the world." Johns Hopkins University is located in Baltimore, Maryland and was founded as America's first research university in 1876. It is ranked #11 in the nation by US News and World Report and has a student population of around 24,000, with almost three-quarters of these being graduate students. Since assuming office in 2009, President Daniels has been instrumental in establishing much-needed revitalization projects in East Baltimore and working with the underserved neighborhoods surrounding its campus. AUB President Khuri commented on JHU's approach to community engagement: "Fundamentally, Ron Daniels has walked the talk that we believe in and have attempted to instill at AUB, namely that a great private research university can make a fundamental difference in the lives of the communities it serves," explained President Khuri. "We expect that the visit of President Daniels has been fruitful and will lead to tangible results in terms of meaningful high impact collaborations." The relationship between AUB and Johns Hopkins goes back to at least 1965, when AUB's Faculty of Medicine had a formal affiliation with the JHU School of Medicine. After being interrupted by the civil war, this relationship was revived in 2004 with a new memorandum of understanding for collaboration in research, education, and medical training. In addition, the Hariri School of Nursing has a partnership with the JHU School of Nursing; and AUB's Faculty of Health Sciences has a fruitful relationship with the highly ranked Bloomberg School of Public Health at JHU.

Theoretically...Bashir Gemayel's Assassin will be Executed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.
Misleading slogans were popular at the onset of the 1980s which marked the worst turning point in the region’s history and led to a never ending deteriorating political situation. If terrorism had been contained during that phase, perhaps terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS wouldn't have existed.
Only eleven months after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel was killed in Beirut.
Gemayel was only 34-years-old when he was killed. He was an ambitious outspoken young man, rejecting fierce forces led by Syria which had occupied Lebanon for over seven years. Syrian authorities ruled Lebanon along with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and other rival factions after their expulsion from Jordan.
Iran was establishing a foothold in Lebanon and formed during that bloody year a party named Hezbollah which will later dominate the country and its surrounding.
The murderers of President Sadat belonged to the armed Jamaa al-Islamiyya, while Gemayel’s killer was a Christian who belonged to the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
The two assassinations took place because the regimes of "steadfastness and confrontation" front wanted to disable the peace process.
"Steadfastness and Confrontation" was established to confront Sadat's declaration that he planned to achieve peace.
Iraq's Saddam, Syria's Assad, Libya's Gaddafi competed on leading the violent front which also included Algeria, South Yemen, and the PLO.
In such atmosphere, radical Arab governments played the role of today's terrorist organizations or so-called “liberation” groups.
Habib Shartouni, who assassinated Gemayel, was merely a tool in the hands of the Syrian regime which considered the president-elect a threat to its political and military presence in Lebanon.
Following his crime, Shartouni was arrested and imprisoned for eight years to be released later by the Syrian troops that took control of almost the entire country.
In Lebanon, leaders along with thousands of innocent people have lost their lives as a price for the dirty regional game, which further divided the region and turned it chaotic. The rights of the Palestinian people were lost because the regimes didn't fight back, didn't agree to compromise, and didn't allow the Palestinians to choose their own fate.
Gemayel's assassin is on the run and all what the Lebanese judicial system did was to sentence him to death in absentia. A decision that came 34 years late.
Maybe it would have been better not to issue a sentence rather than having it issued and not respected.
The assassin has made a newspaper interview – not his first - mocking the government and its institutions.
Shartouni is not the only murderer on the loose. Killers of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri are also living freely and safely although the international tribunal has revealed their identities and demanded their arrest along with murderers of other Lebanese officials.
Justice in Lebanon is relative. Ahmed al-Asir is another murderer because he is a Hezbollah foe. He was arrested and sentenced to death; and he might deserve this punishment. However, the judicial system only registered a theoretical sentence against Shartouni, though he personally confessed to killing the President-elect and twenty other political figures.
No one dared to administer justice.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 23-24/17
Syrian Opposition Leaders Dr. Kamal Laboani, Warns Of Iranian Expension
Visiting in Israel, Kamal Laboani says US must stick by its' Syrian allies.
Jerusalem Post/October 23/17/Exiles Syrian Opposition member Dr. Kamal Laboani, currently visiting in Israel, warned against US disengagement from its Syrian allies and the likely takeover of the region by Iran. “Iran is taking over Syria, and Lebanon using Hezbollah as [its] proxy. If the US will not provide aid to the [Syrian] opposition forces, the entire Middle East will be overtaken by Iran,” said Laboani during a meeting Sunday with Communications Minister Ayoub Kara. Laboani stated that Jordan should consider allowing Kurds to pass freely through its territory as that would aid in preventing Iranian expansion.
In an interview with the The Jerusalem Post, Kara said that he wanted to meet the Syrian activist to learn more about the conflict between the Russian camp that supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Iranian camp that is meant to do the same, and try to tease out each side’s motives. Kara stressed that while Israel has no interest to get involved in the conflict in Syria, it will continue to prevent any weapon shipments from reaching Hezbollah and threatening Israel “as we have done in the past and will do again if needed.” Laboani has come under severe criticism in the past for his ties to Israel and calls for the Syrian people to seek out peace with the Jewish state. The opposition leader, who spent 10 years in prison for anti-assad activities, has been called a “Zionist collaborator” and a traitor to the Syrian people.

Velayati Rejects Europe’s Interference in Tehran’s Regional Role
Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17/Iran’s Foreign Policy Adviser Ali Akbar Velayati warned on Monday European Union countries against interfering in his country’s regional role and missile program. “The Europeans, like the Americans, have no right to interfere in our defense issues nor in our presence in the region,” Velayati told reporters on the sidelines of his meeting with the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, Saleh al-Arouri. Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump decertified the Iranian nuclear deal, asking the Congress to address the “many serious flaws” in the international agreement.
He went on to threaten to terminate the deal with Iran, if the Congress failed to make the necessary amendments. Following a closed-door meeting last week, EU foreign ministers appealed to the US Congress to maintain the nuclear deal with Iran and avoid a return to the sanctions option. However, they stressed the need to dismantle Iran’s missile program. In response to a question about the European position on keeping the nuclear agreement and tightening the missile program, Velayati said: “The nuclear agreement is not related to other issues. The missile issue is linked to the decision of the regime and we do not ask permission from anyone to defend ourselves.” In remarks on Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Tehran would commit to its 2015 nuclear deal with international powers as long as the US Congress did not impose sanctions against his country. However, he threatened to “shred” the agreement if the United States pulled out. On the European stance regarding the Iranian role in the region, Velayati said: “Iran is part of the region and naturally supports its allies in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria,” adding: “We must ask Europe and America, what do they want from our region?”Velayati revealed that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi was expected to visit Tehran during the next few days, describing the visit as “critical” and comes under “sensitive conditions that go beyond mere diplomacy.” On a different note, Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Spokesman Bahram Qassimi said on Sunday that his ministry has submitted a report to the country’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee regarding developments over the last three months in implementing the nuclear agreement.The Iranian foreign ministry said that the US president’s rejection to certify the nuclear deal was an “internal American affair” but at the same time, warned of its impact on America’s obligations to lift sanctions on Iran in accordance with the international agreement.

Iraq dismisses US call for Iranian-backed militias to ‘go home’
Reuters, BaghdadMonday, 23 October 2017/The Iraqi government has dismissed a call from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for Iranian-backed paramilitary units that helped Baghdad defeat ISIS to end operations in Iraq. Speaking after a meeting on Sunday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Tillerson said it was time for the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) militias and their Iranian advisers to “go home”. Washington, which backed Baghdad against ISIS, is concerned Iran will use its expanded presence in Iraq and in Syria to expand its influence in the region. But Abadi showed unwillingness to meet Tillerson’s demand. “No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters,” the statement from his office read. It did not cite the prime minister himself but a “source” close to him. Trained and armed by Iran, the Iraqi PMU militias often supported Iraqi government units in the fight against the militants who were effectively defeated in July when a US-backed offensive captured their stronghold Mosul. They are paid by the Iraqi government and officially report to the prime minister, but some Arab Sunni and Kurdish politicians describe these militias as a de facto branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp. Iraq’s Sunni neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, share Washington’s concerns over Shiite power Iran’s influence in Iraq, where the population is also predominantly Shiite. But the office of Abadi, himself a Shiite, said the forces were under the authority of the Iraqi government. “Popular Mobilization are Iraqi patriots,” it said in the statement. The United States trained tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers in the course of rebuilding the Iraqi armed forces and has over 5,000 troops deployed in the country, providing key air and ground support to the offensive on ISIS.

Iraq’s Kurdistan region elections delayed as no candidates
Reuters, BaghdadMonday, 23 October 2017/Elections for Iraq’s Kurdistan region’s presidency and parliament will not be held as planned on Nov. 1 as political parties did not present candidates, the head of the electoral commission Hendrean Mohammed said on Monday. The commission will refer the matter to parliament to fix a new date, he told Reuters by phone from the regional capital Erbil. The deadline to present candidates expired last week and was extended until Monday.

Jubeir, UN Special Envoy Discuss Latest Yemen Crisis Developments
Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17/Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir received in Riyadh on Monday UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the Saudi Press Agency reported. During the meeting, they discussed the latest developments of the crisis in Yemen, SPA said. The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed bin Saeed Al Jaber, the agency added.

Egypt's Parliament Approves Three-Months State of Emergency
Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17/Egyptian Parliament approved a decree issued by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to extend the state of emergency in the country following the deadly clashes between the police and terrorist groups in desert of Giza resulting in the death of 16 officers and policemen and injury and death of 15 armed men. In addition, Giza criminal court sentenced 11 people to death in the case known as the "Giza terrorist cell". Sisi chaired a top security meeting on Sunday attended by Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhy, Minister of Interior Affairs Magdy Abdul Ghaffar, head of intelligence Khalid Fawzi, and a number of Defense and Interior Ministries' officials. Presidency spokesperson Alaa Youssef stated that the President reiterated during the meeting that Egypt will continue to counter terrorism and those financing and sponsoring it. He called for further enhancing efforts to persecute terrorist elements that took part in the recent terrorist incident in al-Wahat. Sisi also called for intensifying security and military efforts to ensure the country’s borders. The spokesperson stated that the President was briefed on reports of the clashes between security forces and a number of terrorist elements. He reiterated that war on terrorism is different than regular wars and the armed forces and police succeeded over the past few years in reestablishing security and stability. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail recited the government’s statement announcing that the state of emergency is a crucial procedure to maintain security and stability and confront terrorism that is hindering the development of democracies. "The declaration of the state of emergency at the time being is a necessary procedure, just like the case in established democratic countries that viewed the state of emergency as a necessity to preserve their stability and security," Ismail stated.
This is the third time that Egypt announces a state of emergency.
A state of emergency was first declared in April following suicide bombings in churches in Alexandria and Tanta on Palm Sunday that killed 47 worshippers. The state was extended for three more months in July and after the previous three-month state of emergency expired, Sisi issued the presidential decree on October 12. Ismail vowed before parliament that the government would not resort to exceptional measures unless required to confront terrorism, and that emergency law would not be used to curtail the rights of citizens or their public freedoms. According to Article 154 of the Egyptian constitution, a state of emergency cannot exceed six months from its date of declaration. It must also be approved by parliament within seven days. "I stand before you today in the painful and tough circumstances the country witnessed in the past few days, where several policemen sacrificed their lives confronting terrorist elements who have no religion except blood-shedding," Ismail said referring to the deadly shootout. Head of the Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee Osama Heikal said that the days following the Wahat incident were difficult, adding that Egypt was engaged in a war with elements who intend on breaking the nation's morale. "We are fighting an enemy from within, and this enemy bets that the longer the battle against terrorism, the better the chance that we will lose our nerve and morale and become despondent," Heikal said, announcing his approval of the new state of emergency. Head of the Arab Affairs Committee Saad al-Gamal said that Egypt had successfully terminated terrorism during the eighties and will be able to do end current terrorist threats. Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy, left Cairo on Thursday to head to Washington for the Conference of Chiefs of Staff of States, to partake in a discussion on the war on terrorism. Armed Forces spokesperson stated that Hegazy headed to the US upon an official invitation from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The conference focuses on coordinating regional and international efforts to eliminate terrorism and to confront threats and challenges aimed at security and stability especially in the Middle East. Hegazy will hold meetings with senior US military officials to boost military cooperation between the two countries. In related news, Giza criminal court sentenced 11 people, including four people in absentia, to death in the trial known as the "Giza terrorist cell". The court also sentenced 14 others to 25 years in jail and a juvenile to 10 years in prison. The case dates back to 2014 and the defendants are accused of joining an illegal group, attacking personal freedoms, manufacturing explosive materials, and attempted murder of two police officers, as well as destroying a police vehicle.

Observatory: ISIS Executed Scores in Syria’s Qaryatayn
Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17/ISIS killed at least 128 people it accused of collaborating with the Syrian regime in al-Qaryatayn this month before losing the central Homs town to Bashar Assad’s forces, the Observatory for Human Rights said Monday. ISIS has over a period of 20 days executed at least 128 people in reprisal killings, accusing them of collaboration with regime forces, the Britain-based monitor said. Regime forces retook al-Qaryatayn on Saturday, three weeks after the terrorist group seized control of it. ISIS had first occupied the town in August 2015 and relied on the strategically located town to defend another of their bastions, the historic city of Palmyra. But the terrorist group lost al-Qaryatayn to Russian-backed Syrian forces last year. "After the regime retook it (on Saturday), the town's residents found the bodies on the streets. They had been shot dead or executed with knives," the head of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman said. He said what happened in the town was a "massacre." "Most of the ISIS militants who attacked the town a month ago were sleeper cells... They are from the town, know the town's residents and who is for or against the regime," he said. The majority of those killed were executed in the last two days before the extremist organization lost the town again, Abdel Rahman added. There was no immediate comment from the regime in Damascus on the find of the civilian bodies in al-Qaryatayn.

Catalonia Remains Defiant as Spanish Senate to Vote on Imposing Direct Rule on Region
Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17/Catalan lawmakers will meet later this week to address Madrid’s move to impose direct rule on the region less than a month after it voted to secede from the rest of Spain. Last week, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government invoked special constitutional powers to fire the regional government and force a new election to counter an independence drive that has rattled the economy. A vote in the Senate to implement direct rule is due on Friday. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont on Monday called the Catalan parliament to meet this week to agree on a response to Madrid, something many observers said could pave the way for a formal declaration of independence. The assembly will meet on Thursday to agree a response to direct rule. Catalan leaders have rejected Madrid’s move, saying the October 1 referendum gave them the mandate to claim independence from the rest of Spain. "It's not that we will refuse (orders). It is not a personal decision. It is a seven million-person decision," Catalonia's foreign affairs chief Raul Romeva told BBC radio. Romeva was asked whether he believed all institutions, including the police, would follow orders from Catalan institutions rather than from the Spanish government. "And from that perspective, I have no doubt that all civil servants in Catalonia will keep following the instructions provided by the elected and legitimate institutions that we have right now in place (in Catalonia)," he said. Civil disobedience was meanwhile backed by far-left party CUP, a key support for Catalonia's pro-independence minority government in the regional parliament, which called Madrid's actions an aggression against all Catalans." “An aggression which will be met with massive civil disobedience," the CUP said in a statement. Several hundred Catalan municipalities said they were against direct rule from Madrid and asked the Catalan parliament to vote on a motion rejecting it. Several influential Catalan newspapers called on Puidgemont on Sunday to resolve the crisis by calling a snap election before direct rule becomes effective. However, Catalan government spokesman Jordi Turull said this was not an option. It is not clear whether a vote in the region would help resolve the crisis. Spain's Deputy Prime Minister said Puigdemont would be out of a job once direct rule was enforced and Madrid would install its own representative. The Spanish government has said it would call a regional election within six months. "They are president of the regional government and senior figures in that government because of the constitution," said Soraya Saenz de Santamaria during a radio interview. "They are not entrusted with that role by any divine authority," she also said. Catalan authorities said about 90 percent of those who took part in the referendum voted for independence. But only 43 percent of the electorate and 1 in 3 Catalans participated, with most opponents of secession staying at home. The Catalan crisis has raised fears among European countries that it could spill over to the rest of the continent. From Scotland to Flanders and Lombardy, the 2007-09 financial crisis, unemployment and migration have allowed anti-EU and populist parties to feed off discontent with political elites and reopen regional divisions. Two wealthy regions of northern Italy voted overwhelmingly on Sunday for greater autonomy.

Five-month Battle with Militants Ends in Philippine’s Marawi
Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17/Five months of military operations against ISIS supporters in the southern Philippines that claimed more than 1,100 lives has ended, defense chiefs said on Monday. "We now announce the termination of all combat operations in Marawi," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Clark, a northern Philippine city. "There are no more militants inside Marawi city." The conclusion of the conflict ended immediate fears that ISIS would establish a Southeast Asian base in the southern city of Marawi. But concerns remained about its longer-term intentions and capabilities for the region. Hundreds of local and foreign gunmen who had pledged allegiance to ISIS rampaged through Marawi on May 23. They then took over parts of the city using civilians as human shields. An ensuing US-backed military campaign claimed the lives of at least 920 militants, 165 soldiers and 47 civilians, according to the military. More than 400,000 residents were displaced as near-daily air strikes and intense ground combat left large parts of the city in ruins. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte traveled to Marawi on Tuesday last week and declared the city had been "liberated", a day after the Southeast Asian leader for ISIS, a Filipino militant named Isnilon Hapilon, was shot dead there. However the continued fighting in subsequent days raised questions over whether the city was indeed free of militants. "The presence of the Maute-ISIS was confined to two buildings: one of them a mosque," armed forces chief General Eduardo Ano told reporters on Monday as he explained the situation in Marawi following Duterte's liberation proclamation. "That is where the last fighting occurred and that is the place where we rescued (an) additional 20 hostages. "In that fighting, we gave the chance for these militants and terrorists to surrender. But they fought to the last breath so we had no choice."The bodies of 42 militants were recovered after the final battle, including two women and five foreigners, according to Ano. US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday praised the Philippines for its success. "One of the first things I'm going to do when I get there is commend the Philippine military for liberating Marawi from the terrorists," Mattis told reporters on board a flight to the Philippines to attend the security meeting in Clark.

IS 'Executed' 116 in Syria Town Revenge Campaign
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 23/17/The Islamic State group executed dozens of civilians this month in the Syrian desert, a monitor said Monday, in a gruesome massacre as the jihadists see their "caliphate" collapse. The extremist group last week lost its key Syrian stronghold of Raqa, the latest in a string of setbacks for the jihadist who are facing multiple offensives in both Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said IS fighters massacred more than 100 people in the desert town of Al-Qaryatain this month before they lost it to regime forces."IS has over a period of 20 days executed at least 116 civilians in reprisal killings, accusing them of collaboration with regime forces," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. Regime forces retook Al-Qaryatain, which lies in the central Homs province, on Saturday, three weeks after the jihadists seized control of it. IS first occupied the town in 2015 and lost it to Russian-backed Syria forces last year. "After the regime retook it (on Saturday), the town's residents found the bodies on the streets. They had been shot dead or executed with knives," Abdel Rahman said. "Most of the IS fighters who attacked the town a month ago were sleeper cells... They are from the town, know the town's residents and who is for or against the regime," he said. The majority of those killed were executed in the last two days before IS lost the town again, he added. The regime seized back Al-Qaryatain on Saturday after more than 200 jihadists withdrew from the town overnight, pulling back into the vast desert region that stretches all the way to the Iraqi border. Al-Qaryatain was a symbol of religious coexistence before the civil war broke out in 2011, with some 900 Christians among its population of 30,000. But it was ravaged by IS during the group's eight-month-long occupation of the town in 2015-16, with its Christian sites including a fifth-century church reduced to rubble. - IS decline -At the peak of its power in 2014, IS's self-styled "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq was approximately the size of Britain.But it has suffered a string of major setbacks in recent months, including the loss in July of its most important Iraqi stronghold, the city of Mosul.
Last week, it also lost its most important Syrian bastion, the city of Raqa, after a campaign of more than four months led by the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed militia. The jihadist group is now mostly confined to the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor in the country's east, along the border with Iraq. IS holds around 40 percent of the province, which was once almost completely in its hands, and faces two separate offensives, including by the SDF. The US-backed militia is fighting the group mostly on the eastern side of the Euphrates River that slices diagonally across the province. On Sunday, SDF fighters seized one of the country's largest oilfields from the group. Syria's regime is conducting a separate, Russian-backed offensive in the province, largely on the western bank of the river. In September, the offensive ended an IS siege of nearly three years on government-held parts of the provincial capital Deir Ezzor city. The group now holds just eight percent of the city, according to the Observatory. Elsewhere in the country, IS holds just a few pockets of territory, including a handful of recently recaptured villages in central Hama province, and parts of the Palestinian Yarmuk camp in southern Damascus. An allied group, Jaish Khaled Bin Walid, is also present in parts of southern Syria.

Deadly air strike hits Syrian govt-held Deir al-Zor
Reuters, BeirutTuesday, 24 October 2017/An air raid in the government-held Qusur district of Deir al-Zor city in eastern Syria killed more than a dozen people, Syrian state television and a war monitor said on Monday. State television said jets from a US-led international coalition battling ISIS carried out the air strike and that it killed 14 civilians and wounded 32 others. The war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported that it was not known which aircraft carried out the strike, but that at least 22 people were killed. The Syrian army, backed by Russia and Iran, is fighting ISIS in the city of Deir al-Zor, as well as in parts of the surrounding countryside. Both Syrian and Russian jets have been hitting Islamic State in that area. The US-backed coalition has been conducting air strikes against ISIS in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias to the east of Deir al-Zor across the Euphrates. Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said by phone that he would check the reports, but that there was no reason for coalition jets to strike targets in Deir al-Zor city because the SDF was not fighting there. The rival US-backed and Syrian army offensives against ISIS have clashed several times over recent months as they have pushed the extremists from territory in eastern Syria. The US and Russia have said they communicate with each other to prevent possible points of conflict of violence between the two offensives.

Israel arrests 51 Palestinians in East Jerusalem raid
AFP, JerusalemMonday, 23 October 2017/Israeli police raided a Palestinian neighbourhood in annexed East Jerusalem overnight and arrested 51 people accused of violent protests against security forces, authorities said Monday. The 51 Palestinian suspects from Issawiya were arrested for participating in recent “riots and terror-related incidents,” including throwing stones and firebombs at security forces, a police statement said. They were expected to appear in court later in the day. Palestinian youths in parts of east Jerusalem regularly clash with Israeli security forces during protests against Israel’s occupation. Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community. Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
ALSO: $50,000 payments help grieving Gaza families end blood feuds Police had raided Issawiya along with a number of other Palestinian neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem three months ago, when tensions rose and clashes erupted after Israel placed metal detectors at the entrance to a Jerusalem holy site. The metal detectors were put in place after a deadly shooting in which Arab Israeli gunmen emerged from the holy site and killed two police officers. Since then, the situation in Issawiya and other Palestinian areas has largely been calm.

HRW Targets France's 'Disgraceful' Approach to Egypt
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 23/17/Human Rights Watch urged French President Emmanuel Macron to end France's "disgraceful policies of indulgence" towards Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday ahead of a meeting between the two leaders in Paris. Macron, who raised alleged human rights abuse in Russia with Vladimir Putin in May during his trip to France, will welcome al-Sisi to the Elysee Palace on Tuesday for talks set to be focused on security. Egypt is a major buyer of French military equipment with orders worth more than 5.0 billion euros (5.8 billion dollars) since 2015 including for 24 Rafale fighter jets. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said France should "stop ignoring serious abuses" and pressure al-Sisi by making future economic cooperation and military support conditional on improvements in human rights. "President Macron should refuse to continue France’s disgraceful policies of indulgence toward al-Sisi’s repressive government," HRW France director Benedicte Jeannerod said in a statement. A statement from Macron's office last week said the talks would focus on security and regional security "but also the human rights situation to which France is particularly attentive."Rights groups have repeatedly accused former army chief and now President al-Sisi of repressive policies that stifle dissent in the media and politics, as well as the use of torture by security forces. But the most populous country in the Middle East is viewed as a vital partner by Western countries which fear more instability in the war-ravaged region. At the weekend, 16 policemen were killed in a shootout on a road 200 kilometres (125 miles) southwest of Cairo. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian sent his condolences and pledged solidarity in "the fight against terrorism".

Regions Prepare Rome Challenge after Autonomy Victory Vote
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 23/17/Two of Italy's wealthiest regions were drawing up plans Monday to claw back power and money from Rome after a victory for autonomy campaigners that could deepen divisions in Europe. Over 95 percent of voters who flocked to the polls in the Veneto and Lombardy regions, home to Venice and Milan, supported a mandate to negotiate a better deal with the Italian capital. Turnout was higher than expected and the results should not be underestimated in the context of the crisis created by Catalonia's push for independence, analysts warned. Voter participation stood at 57 percent in Veneto and nearly 39 percent in Lombardy. Both regions are run by the Northern League (LN) party, which was once openly secessionist but has lately shifted its focus to run on an anti-euro ticket in the hope of expanding its influence into the south. The leaders of the two regions, which contribute up to 30 percent of Italy's GDP, will now embark on negotiations with the central government on the devolution of powers and tax revenues from Rome. Once the terms are agreed, they will need a green light from parliament in a process that could take up to a year.
Veneto leader Luca Zaia said the regional council, which was meeting Monday, was aiming to get Rome to agree it could keep ninety percent of taxes, rather than handing them over to a capital it has long accused of waste.
'Growing unease in Europe' -"More than five million people voted for change. We all want less waste, fewer taxes, less bureaucracy, fewer state and EU constraints, more efficiency, more employment and more security," said LN head Matteo Salvini. He said the party was committed to winning greater autonomy for all regions up and down the country. Secessionist sentiment in Veneto and Lombardy is restricted to fringe groups but analysts see the autonomy drive as reflecting the same cocktail of issues and pressures that resulted in Scotland's narrowly-defeated independence vote, Britain's decision to leave the EU and the Catalan crisis. "Lombardy is not Catalonia, nor indeed is the Veneto, but the revival of the autonomist flame here takes place in a Europe which tends towards fragmentation and closing in on itself," Italian political commentator Stefano Folli said. Economist Lorenzo Codogno, a former senior official in the finance ministry, said the 'Yes' victory would likely "add to the sense of uneasiness in Europe". "Following the populist wave, now Europe has also to face a nationalist/regionalist wave, which somewhat overlaps with the populist one, and makes European integration even more difficult," he added. And Folli evoked the fear in Italy that the results, which "captured a growing divide between the North and South", could aggravate deeply rooted antipathies that predate the country's unification in the 19th century.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 23-24/17
Fr Georges Massouh: Is the Ecumenical Movement "Heretical"?

Monday, October 23, 2017
John said, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us." So Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side" (Luke 9:49-51). This discussion comes in the context of the healing of a young boy from an "unclean spirit" that was living within him, after which came John's question and Jesus' reply in the the next two verses.
What is meant by the unclean spirit cannot be limited to illnesses alone. Rather, it means in particular the evil that man commits against his fellow man. The unclean spirit does not enter into a person by its own force. Rather, it is the person who cordially invites it to dwell within him and guide him along the path of evil. When something serious happens, this person rushes to curse the devil responsible for his evil deeds in order to excuse himself, while he is primarily and ultimately responsible for his evil deeds.
Today, in certain circles of the Orthodox Church, a takfiri language is prevalent, one that regards the ecumenical movement as a "Christian heresy." These extremist circles likewise think that those taking part in the activities of this ecumenist church are heretics. Their list of names includes Antiochian patriarchs, bishops and priests, given the fact that that the patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Beatitude John X, is a leading participant in the World Council of Churches.
We need to start by saying, on a dogmatic level, that in its ecumenical discussions the Orthodox Church has not offered any dogmatic concession in order to please her partners in the Christian faith. One can only pronounce a judgment of heresy against something that touches upon the essence of the faith. That is, what was decided in the Creed and some of the rulings made by the ecumenical councils, such as the decision issued by the Seventh Ecumenical Council regarding the necessity of venerating icons... As for Christians praying together during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity-- that is, outside the mysteries-- this is in no way heresy. Did not Peter and Paul pray together despite their fierce disagreement, so that the Lord might inspire them to the path of peace, reconciliation and love...?
Christ did not ask those who want to cast out demons in His name whether they are His followers or not. He did not ask them to recite the Creed or what church they belonged to. He said one thing: "He who is not against us is on our side.' What is this love-killing pride that wants to monopolize work in the name of Jesus for itself, rejecting that someone else might do work in Jesus' name that it would like to perform? Jesus Himself prevented His disciples from monopolizing this for themselves, when they wanted to monopolize Christ for themselves alone and not for others. It seems like that they are greater than the disciples, God knows.
Along with our partners in the World Council of Churches, we strive to regain visible unity. In order for this to happen, we must take significant steps, including that they are churches, not merely Christian communities, so that we can sit together and dialogue about what separates us. The Church cannot dialogue except with a church that she recognizes, which with she is together in many things and separated in other things. So why focus on the disagreements in order to confirm division and not recognize the things in common in order to make it possible to solve the disagreements? Moreover, no Orthodox has ever said that the Orthodox Church does not realize the perfect expression of what the Creed confesses, "and in one, holy Catholic and Apostolic Church."
What prevents us Orthodox from casting out demons with people of other the churches-- with the Catholic Church, the non-Chalcedonian churches, and some of the Protestants? The first demon that must be cast out is the demon of the schisms and quarrels that divide us, especially in the East. Are they not demonic, those who refuse to recognize the martyrdom of Copts in Egypt, the Syriacs and Chaldeans in Iraq, or of the martyrdom of Catholics in Syria?
A heretic is someone who does not confess the activity of the Holy Spirit in the world, in Christians and in non-Christians. Therefore let us dare to speak of the madness of those who accuse the ecumenical movement and those who work in it of heresy.

UK's Hateful Hate-Crime Hub
Douglas Murray/Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
The problem is that "hate" is an ill-defined thing. What is hateful to one person may not be hateful to another. What is hateful in one context may not be hateful in another.
British authorities have gone along with a definition of hate-crime which allows the victim (real or perceived) to be the arbiter of whether an offence has been committed. This privilege allows a list of people who believe they have been "trolled" or "abused" online over their "race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity" to be arbiters as well as reporters of any and all such crimes. It is worth considering where this can end up.
Can anyone daring to express dissent against any popular view be reported for "trolling", "abusing" and "committing a hate crime"?
If you were a police officer what would you rather do: sit in the cold outside the house of a known extremist all day, or sit behind a desk with a cup of tea and scrolling through Twitter?
In May, just after the second of four Islamist terrorist attacks in the UK so far this year, British intelligence officials apparently identified 23,000 known extremists in the country. Of these, around 3,000 are believed to pose a present threat and are under investigation or active monitoring. The other 20,000 are categorised as posing a "residual risk". Due to the strain on resources, those 20,000 are not under constant observation.
This is a subject which, since the terrorist attack in May, has caused some agonising among the British public, not least because of the identities of the attackers. Khalid Masood, the Westminster Bridge and Parliament assailant, for instance, as well as Salman Abedi (the young man of Libyan heritage who carried out a suicide bombing outside a concert in Manchester) had both been on the radar of the British authorities -- both had been in the pool of people considered "former subjects of interest" but not an immediate threat. If the authorities had sufficient resources to follow everyone of interest, perhaps they would have been under observation at the time they were planning their attacks. Perhaps, also, a number of people killed in those attacks would still be alive.
The public, though, can be forgiving on these matters. They recognise that resources are not endless, that judgements have to be made and that departments have to choose where to allocate their budgets.
These choices are another reason why the public may judge dimly last week's announcement from the Home Office. Last week, Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the creation of a new national police hub to crack down on hate-crime and "trolling" online. The unit -- which will apparently be run by specialist officers -- will assess complaints and work out whether they amount to a crime or not. They will also recommend removing material from online platforms if they -- at the official hate-crime hub -- deem such material "hateful".
Last week, Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced the creation of a new national police hub to crack down on hate-crime and "trolling" online. Pictured: Rudd (left) and Prime Minister Theresa May (center) meet Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England.
The initiative claims to "improve support for victims and increase prosecutions of trolls who abuse others online over their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity." The Home Secretary has said:
"What is illegal offline is illegal online, and those who commit these cowardly crimes should be met with the full force of the law. The national online hate crime hub that we are funding is an important step to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report the vile abuse to which they are being subjected."
The problem is that "hate" is an ill-defined thing. What is hateful to one person may not be hateful to another. What is hateful in one context may not be hateful in another. Might there one day be people who will claim to find material "hateful" when it is in fact merely material containing opinions with which they do not agree?
There are, quite rightly, already strong and appropriate provisions in place to prevent incitement, which is already a crime. But "hate" is different from incitement. Let alone "hate" when allowed to be diagnosed by such a broad range of people.
In Britain, there is an added complexity. Since 1999 and the publication of the Macpherson Report (into the racist murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence) in the UK, the British authorities have gone along with a definition of hate-crime which allows the victim (real or perceived) to be the arbiter of whether an offence has been committed. This privilege allows a list of people who believe they have been "trolled" or "abused" online over their "race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity" to be arbiters as well as reporters of any and all such crimes. It is worth considering where this can end up. Someone who is transgender, for instance, may well be referred to unpleasantly by somebody online. If someone says they will kill him, that this is already a crime. What, however, if someone simply asks, for instance, what their chromosomes are? What if the "trans" person says he is unwilling to concede that chromosomes matter, and it is how he identifies them -- and that alone -- that matters. Can anyone daring to express dissent against this -- or any popular -- view be reported for "trolling", "abusing" and "committing a hate crime"? Will material which says that chromosomes matter be removed from the internet? It is hard to see how it could remain available, able as it is to cause such deep upset and potential cries of "hate".
Consider furthermore what might happen if someone -- anyone -- were to go along with the official line that Islamism is a major problem but differed with the official view -- which is that this Islamism has no connection with the peaceable and popular religion of Islam. What if they expressed this concern or thought? It is not inconceivable that somebody one day might? How then will the authorities view this? Is it hate? Can things that are hateful also be true? And if so, which do we prioritise: "hateful" facts or "hate-less" lies?
Alert to such criticisms, the relevant authorities have stressed that freedom of speech will still exist within in the UK. And the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for hate crime, assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton, has said: "We recognise and will uphold the right to free speech even where it causes offence -- but this does not extend to inciting hatred or threatening people."
In 2015-2016, a total of 62,518 hate crimes were recorded by forces in England and Wales. The Crown Prosecution Service says that it completed 15,442 hate crime prosecutions during that year. All of which happened at the same time as Khalid Masood, Salman Abedi and 20,000 other "known extremists" were allowed to walk free. And so the priorities of the authorities and the priorities of the public would appear to be dividing: a fact that can only have negative consequences -- whether they are "hateful" or not.
**Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England. His latest book, an international best-seller, is "The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam."
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
Iran's goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.
Iran's message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.
Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East, as it does with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In a historic reawakening, Iran is once again meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. This this does not bode well for the future of "reconciliation" between Hamas and Palestinian Authority's Fatah faction run by President Mahmoud Abbas.The re-emergence of Iran, as it pursues its efforts to increase its political and military presence in the region, does not bode well for the future of stability in the Middle East.
The Iranians are urging Hamas to hold on to its weapons in spite of the recent "reconciliation" agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah under the auspices of Egypt. Iran's goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.
A high-level Hamas delegation headed by Saleh Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas's "political bureau," traveled to Tehran last week to brief Iranian leaders on the "reconciliation" deal with Fatah. During the visit, Iranian leaders praised Hamas for resisting demands (by Fatah) to disarm and relinquish security control over the Gaza Strip.
"We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons, an issue that you consider as a red line," Ali Velayati, a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials. "The Palestinian cause is the most important cause of the Islamic world, and after all this time you remain committed to the principle of resistance against the Zionists despite all the pressure you are facing."
During the visit of a high-level Hamas delegation to Iran last week, Ali Velayati (pictured above in 2016), a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials: "We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons..." (Image source: Hamed Malekpour/Wikimdia Commons)
Arouri and his colleagues rushed to Tehran to seek the support of the Iranian regime in the wake of demands by Abbas that Hamas allow the Palestinian Authority to assume security control over the Gaza Strip. The "reconciliation" agreement stipulates nothing about the need for Hamas to disarm, and Hamas officials have stressed during the past two weeks that they have no intention of laying down their weapons or dismantling their security apparatus in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas views the demand to disarm as part of an Israeli-American "conspiracy" designed to eliminate the Palestinian "resistance" and thwart the "reconciliation" accord with Abbas's Fatah. Hamas's refusal to disarm is already threatening to spoil the "reconciliation."
Arouri was quoted during his visit to Tehran as saying that Hamas "will not backtrack on the option of defending the Palestinian people." He specified that the "reconciliation" agreement with Fatah would not affect the weapons of the Palestinian "resistance," including Hamas. Hamas, he added, will "confront the Israeli-American conspiracy through national unity and reconciliation and by continuing the resistance. The Palestinian resistance forces will always stick to their weapons and will not lay them down."
Hamas also sees the visit of its top officials to Tehran as a rejection of Israel's demand that it cut off its ties with Iran. Hamas officials say they continue to see their relations with Iran as "strategic and significant," especially in wake of Tehran's financial and military aid to their movement in the Gaza Strip.
By aligning itself with Iran, Hamas is also seeking to resist any demand that it abandon its ideology and charter, which call for the destruction of Israel and oppose any peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
Iranian officials apparently do not like Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and are not keen on seeing them return to the Gaza Strip. Iran considers Abbas a "traitor" because his Palestinian Authority conducts security coordination with Israel in the West Bank and claims that it is committed to a "peace process" with Israel. This position goes against Iran's wish to destroy the "Zionist entity."
Abbas, for his part, has always considered Iran a threat to his regime as well as to stability in the region. In the past, he has criticized Iran for "meddling" in the internal affairs of the Palestinians by supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority strongly condemned Iran after a senior Iranian official accused Abbas of waging war in the Gaza Strip on behalf of Israel. The official's statement came in response to a series of punitive measures imposed by Abbas on the Gaza Strip.
Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, accused Iran of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and some Arab countries. He said that Iran's actions "encouraged divisions" among the Palestinians. "Iran must stop feeding civil wars in the Arab world," he said. "Iran must stop using rhetoric that only serves Israel and the enemies of the Arabs."
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are now convinced that Iran is working towards foiling the "reconciliation" agreement with Hamas. They believe that Iran invited the Hamas leaders to Tehran to pressure them not to lay down its weapons.
Abbas and the Egyptians were probably naïve to think that Hamas would disarm and allow Abbas loyalists to deploy in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the "reconciliation" agreement. It is possible that some of the Hamas leaders had lied to Abbas and the Egyptians by hinting that Hamas would give up security control of the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptians, who played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Fatah deal, are also believed to be worried about Iran's renewed meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt see the visit of the Hamas delegation to Iran as a serious setback to the "reconciliation" agreement and as a sign that Hamas is not sincere about implementing the accord.
Some Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials have recently claimed that Israel was not happy with their "reconciliation" agreement and was doing its utmost to foil it. The truth, however, is that it is Iran and Hamas that are working to thwart the agreement by insisting on maintaining the status quo in the Gaza Strip. Iran's message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.
What is in it for Iran? Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East.
Iran wants Hamas to continue playing the role of a proxy, precisely as Hezbollah functions in Lebanon.
The last thing Iran wants is for the Palestinian Authority security forces to return to the Gaza Strip: that would spoil Tehran's plans to advance its goal of destroying Israel.
Iran's continued support for Hamas stems not out of love for either Hamas or the Palestinians, but from its own interest in consolidating its presence in the Middle East.
Many Palestinians see the "successful" visit of the Hamas officials to Tehran as a major setback for efforts to end the 10-year-long Hamas-Fatah dispute. Similarly, the Egyptians are now wary of the sudden rapprochement between Iran and Hamas and are beginning to ask themselves whether they have been duped by Hamas. An Israeli delegation that visited Cairo on the eve of the signing of the Hamas-Fatah deal is said to have warned the Egyptians that the "reconciliation" would not work unless Hamas disarms and severs its ties with Iran. However, the Egyptians reportedly failed to listen to the Israeli warning.
As for Israel, the US and other Western parties, the lesson to be drawn from the renewal of ties between Hamas and Iran is that Hamas has not changed one iota.
Contrary to delusional hopes, discussed on the heels of the "reconciliation" agreement in Cairo and based on lies and thin air, Hamas is not headed toward moderation and pragmatism. By openly supporting Hamas, Iran is once again demonstrating that it aims to fan the fire in the Middle East and continue to sabotage any prospects for peace.
*Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Saudi Arabia's Bogus Promise: Allowing Women to Drive
A. Z. Mohamed/Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
Saudi women will first have to get permission from a male guardian just to apply for a driver's license. Enabling women will still be mainly in the hands of their Saudi male guardians, and many will probably not allow their women to drive.
Any discontent felt by angry men who want total control over their women, household or other people will probably not allow their women to drive. If women are disappointed or frustrated by this domination, the blame will stay mainly within the Saudi family. The woman is not able to blame the government, but only her male guardian. Yes, the government may technically have annulled the driving ban but it has issued nothing actually to help women to drive.
The real challenge King Salman needs to face now is how to deal with calls for abolishing male guardianship -- a far more urgent and significant reform that, after calculating the risks and rewards, might be postponed indefinitely.
On 27 September, the Council of Senior Scholars, the highest clerical council in Saudi Arabia, endorsed the royal decree allowing women to drive, thereby disrupting years of ultra-conservative fatwas and religious opinions by the kingdom's leading religious scholars including current and former grand muftis and council members.
In a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the council said that King Salman had issued the decree to serve "the best religious and worldly interests of the country and people," agreeing that Islam allows women the right to drive.
In attempt to defend previous fatwas banning driving and to avoid alienating dissatisfied hardline adherents to Wahhabi Salafism, the council said that the current fatwas are "based on the benefits and disadvantages of women driving" evaluated first by the ruler and then by clerics and the women's male guardians: "Male guardians will have to consider both sides of this issue." In short, women will first have to get permission from a male guardian just to apply for a driver's license.
It seems that the main and only winner of all this is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It seems that the main and only winner of the Saudi royal decree allowing women to drive is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
For a start, the council's endorsement of the royal decree proves clearly that senior clerics' fatwas and opinions are open to dramatic changes. Their fatwas are not fixed or unchangeable. Council members, including the current and former muftis, had banned women driving. The council's endorsement also emphasizes that the king is more powerful in facing the clerics and cares more about his people. The new decree emphasizes the image of the new king as a powerful, great and disruptive reformer.
These developments also implicitly hurt the image of most of powerful clerics who previously banned women driving, whether they have changed their opinions or not. Such developments lead people to believe that clerics' fatwas have been just reflections of what rulers want, that the clerics are yes-men and not independent.
Development such as allowing women to apply for drivers' licenses throw into doubt all fatwas and statements issued by all clerics, dead or alive, who may contradict any of King Salman's future decrees or decisions. The most challenging one is the kingdom's possible formal recognition of Israel and normalizing relationships with it.
As for deceased clerics, such as the former grand mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz ibn Baz and the popular and influential Sheikh Mohamed ibn al-Uthaymeen, Saudi citizens think that if these clerics were alive today, they would have changed those fatwas exactly as the current council members and the current grand mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Alsheikh did. As head of the council of senior scholars, he endorsed the royal decree -- in direct contradiction to his fatwa last year. Saudi people will now think that senior clerics change their fatwas and religious opinions after the king, and will realize that their authority is secondary to the king's and therefore should not be their main reference.
This change also leads Saudi people to believe that the king knows their "religious and worldly interests" better than the clerics, and that the clerics can be favorably (or unfavorably) flexible and moderate, even about women's issues. Such a shift may be judged favorably or unfavorably depending on how liberal or conservative or liberal one is. If, then, the king is enough, who needs clerics in social and political life?
To ward off any influence that clerics who did not changed their opinions might have, they were quickly deemed extremists, banned, arrested or banned. The online newspaper Sabq said that the punishment for "mocking" royal decrees is up to five years in jail.
King Salman has so far successfully managed to minimize the power of clerics and get their support as well. He was able clearly to show his people that the political authority is in his hand and clerics share nothing of it; they just following him and are not necessarily reliable. The king, however, is still supported by the clerics.
Clerics therefore seems to have lost a big part of their credibility and influence; what remains can be utilized by the king when needed, to lead the judiciary and education sectors to legalize, enforce, and sustain reforms, changes and policies.
It also seems that for the first years of implementing the driving decree, the government may detach itself from direct responsibility for enabling women to drive. Even though a woman can now apply for license, her male guardian may not give her permission to get a license; or he might let her get a license but then not let her drive. The government cannot force him to give her permission to get a license or to drive. The woman is not able to blame the government, but only her male guardian. Yes, the government may technically have annulled the driving ban but it has issued nothing actually to help women to drive.
Enabling women is still therefore in the hands of their male guardians and many will probably not allow their women to drive -- for different reasons. In the view of many, driving exposes women to "evil": to mix with men on roads, gas stations, traffic police departments; women might abuse freedom to drive and go out without guardian's supervision; wicked men may cause harm to driving women, and so on.
Any discontent felt by angry men who want total control over their women, household or other people will probably not allow their women to drive. If women are disappointed or frustrated by this domination, the blame then stays mainly within the family; the government will not be blamed.
The real challenge King Salman needs to face now is how to deal with calls for abolishing male guardianship -- a far more urgent and significant reform that, after calculating the risks and rewards, could well be indefinitely postponed.
*A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Jumping Off Maps is Forbidden
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/October 23/17
A stable Iraq, which comprises all the nation’s components, is needed at the Arab, regional and international levels. The removal of the Iraqi leg from the Turkish-Iraqi-Iranian triangle has weakened the Arab arena’s immunity to non-Arab influence. Therefore, Iraq is needed to restore balance and to control the appetite of countries, the roles of which have caused instability.
The visit of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Riyadh expressed Iraq’s desire to resume its normal role. At the same time, it reflected the Saudi and Arab embrace of this longing. American support for this orientation was present and clear. The launch of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council promises to establish relations on the basis of mutual interests and numbers. Partnership in the war on terror and extremism facilitates the opening of wide doors for consultation and cooperation.
Iraq is vitally needed. Erbil may have misjudged the strategic importance of a unified and stable Iraq when it went too far in the referendum and involved the disputed areas. This is why the message was harsh: jumping off the map is forbidden.
The world does not like jumping off maps. It is a dangerous adventure. The manipulation of the unity and limits of states is feared. It is therefore advisable to look for solutions within the states no matter how late they are and whatever the price will be. Dealing with marriage problems is better than divorce and its high costs.
Nevertheless, in recent decades, the world has been going through experiences that it wished to avoid. Eritrea jumped off Ethiopia’s embrace. The South of Sudan has reinstated its independence and its divisions. Members of the Yugoslav family were dispersed as if Marshal Tito had been forcing them to live under one roof.
Czechoslovakia chose the Velvet Divorce. Masoud Barzani was hoping for a divorce of this kind, forgetting that he does not reside in Europe, and that it is not usual for the people in the Middle East to have a “velvet discussion”.
These thoughts crossed my mind as I was touring Kirkuk last month. The city has become a plight in Iraq’s life over the past decades. Attempts to control it by disputing parties have caused many wars and tragedies.
Kirkuk summarizes the predicament of both the Kurds and the Iraqis. Kurds cannot forget it or give it up. Baghdad cannot let it flee the map to become the nucleus of an independent Kurdish state. In the past decades, Iraq’s neighbors have disagreed over everything except on preventing the Kurds from jumping off the maps, in which they were distributed one hundred years ago. The region cannot tolerate maps to be shredded.
Rebelling against history is much easier than rebelling against geography. History comprises stories and tales that can be circumvented and reinterpreted. Geography has harsh features and fixed judgments.
Geography becomes more rigid when the insurgent lives among nationalities, ethnicities, languages and nations that are ultimately the heirs of empires. When a country regards maps as tight outfits, how would it agree to lose more of its land, wealth and prestige?
Jumping off the map is forbidden, especially in this part of the world, where gunpowder barrels are placed near many wells. This explains the international and regional support received by the Iraqi government in the process of taking back Kirkuk and the disputed areas. It is clear that there is an international and regional agreement on the need to restore the Iraqi State… the restoration of its full presence within the map.
There is a feeling that the return of Iraq as a normal and effective country is needed at the regional and international levels to reinstate balance between the components of the Middle East, especially as Iran went far in its coup against the international borders and has changed capitals and locations of the concerned countries. Abadi’s government has so far faced two major tests: recapturing Mosul and taking back Kirkuk. The tests are completely different. In the first, there was no solution other than to uproot ISIS and to eliminate local terrorists and mobile fighters. The Peshmerga forces were active partners in this battle.
Taking back Kirkuk is not similar to recapturing Mosul. It is an old conflict between the people of the map itself, and victory must never turn into a defeat that would force the other component to live with bitterness waiting for a chance to retaliate. Perhaps for this reason, Arab and international support doubles the responsibility of the Abadi government. Iraq’s real success will be in reintegrating the Kurds, not only in taking back Kirkuk.
Reintegration begins with the return to the provisions and spirit of the Constitution, i.e. the return to the logic of the state, institutions and national partnership. It is no secret that what is happening in Iraq now would not have happened if successive governments had complied with Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, which set out a mechanism to address the problem of disputed areas.
Abadi’s government sent a conclusive message to Erbil that jumping off the map is forbidden. But successfully achieving the State project, instead of defeating the Kurds, is essential.
It is perhaps an opportunity for a comprehensive Iraqi awareness to allow for necessary concessions to make the Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds able to live again in a country that can accommodate everyone… A state of law and institutions; a state that makes its decisions in Baghdad for the benefit of all its citizens; a sovereign state that contributes to restoring balance to this sensitive part of the world…
Jumping off the map is forbidden. Iraq’s Kurds have received a harsh message.
The same message also targeted every group or minority dreaming of a safe haven by withdrawing from the map to which it belongs.

The Rubble in Raqqa Reminds us of the US Military Might.
David Ignatius/Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
Looking at photographs of the ruined, desolate streets of what was once ISIS’s capital of Raqqa is a reminder of the overwhelming, pitilessly effective military power of the United States.
Perhaps it’s a tribute to the inevitable nature of American force, once it’s engaged, that the fall of Raqqa in Syria this week provoked so little public discussion. Commentators focused on whether President Trump had dissed the parents of America’s fallen warriors, but they barely seemed to notice that our military has achieved a goal that three years ago seemed distant and uncertain.
The heaps of rubble in Raqqa that once housed terrorists and torturers convey a bedrock lesson, as valid now as in 1945: It’s a mistake to provoke the United States. It may take the country a while to respond to a threat, but once the machine of US power is engaged, it’s relentless — so long as the political will exists to sustain it.
The Raqqa campaign is a reminder, too, of something we rarely see in these divisive days — the continuity of US commitments from the Obama administration to Trump. Truly, it was a shared enterprise. Trump deserves credit for accelerating the campaign against the ISIS and giving commanders more authority. But the basic strategy — and the will to resist the militants in the first place — was President Barack Obama’s.
A secure and confident Trump would invite Obama to the White House to meet with commanders and troops returning from the battle. That would remind the world that the United States can keep its word across administrations. Trump, still anxious about his authority, seems incapable of such generosity.
Thinking back to the beginning of this campaign is to recall how fragile it seemed at first. ISIS exploded in the summer of 2014, overrunning Mosul and racing like a firestorm across the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq. The lines of defense buckled. The Kurdish capital of Irbil was in danger; so was Baghdad.
As a condition of US military involvement, Obama demanded a new government in Baghdad that would better win Sunni trust. He was right, and he got what he wanted in the replacement of Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister with Haider al-Abadi, who has had a steadier hand than Iraq-watchers initially predicted.
When Obama announced his goal to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, it sounded like an obtuse and conditional war aim. And it didn’t help that nobody agreed on a name for this enemy, variously called “ "Daesh."
The United States was hardly enthusiastic for the war after long, frustrating battles against militants in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The campaign got off to a slow start. Tribes in Iraq’s Euphrates Valley pleaded for US aid that was initially slow to arrive. The Iraqi military was a mess until the US-trained Counter-Terrorism Service began to display real combat power. But gradually, mostly invisibly, the battle turned: US air power killed tens of thousands of recruits to ISIS, obliterating anyone who raised a digital signal. The US military said little about this harsh campaign, but Syrian and Iraqi fighters saw it, and people go with a winner.
Watching this battle unfold during multiple visits to Iraq and Syria, I saw two factors that changed the tide. First, the United States found committed allies. The toughest fighters initially were Kurdish, the KDP and PUK peshmerga militias in Iraq, and the YPG in Syria. They stood their ground and fought — and died. (This Kurdish loyalty is worth remembering now, in their time of trouble.) The anti-ISIS alliance broadened as the Iraqi military got stronger, and the YPG recruited Sunnis into an expanded coalition dubbed the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Victory came from marrying these committed fighters to America’s devastating firepower. The United States could dial in strikes from an array of platforms — drones, fixed-wing aircraft, advanced artillery. The ruin of Raqqa makes it look like we just pounded everything, and the United States should make a self-critical accounting of civilian loss of life. Honesty about the war’s human cost, and US responsibility for mistakes made in the fog of battle, is the best bridge to the future.
The problem with this campaign from the beginning was that our military dominance was patched on top of political quicksand. That’s still true. Obama never had a clear political strategy for creating a reformed, post-ISIS Syria and Iraq; neither does Trump. Our military is supremely effective in its sphere, but the enduring problems of governance, it cannot solve.

A Russian Take on 'The Americans' Scares Moscow Liberals
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg View/October 23/17
While the US gets accustomed to Russia's potential to make or break its presidential candidates, Russia is living in a dreamlike haze of its own. A good way to understand it is through a television series about US meddling in Russia that recently hit the country's main state-owned channel.
The series (now available on YouTube, but only in Russian) is called "The Sleepers." The eight-part first season is addictive viewing to anyone who has watched Moscow elites up close during the Vladimir Putin era. It has characters based on Putin's top political opponent Alexei Navalny, "system liberals" in the government, muckracking journalists, a troll factory owner, even former US ambassador Michael McFaul (who managed to express delight at the portrayal). The recognition effect is uncanny -- and almost everyone in this Moscow society who doesn't work for Russia's domestic intelligence service, known as the FSB, is either corrupted by US influence or is a Central Intelligence Agency agent recruited and left to await "activation." Even some of the FSB operatives -- the more pro-Western ones -- actually work for the CIA.
Unlike the US sleeper agent series "The Americans," which is set in the Reagan era, "The Sleepers" is very much about the present. With a series of murders (liberals die one after another, and the Navalny character is kidnapped) and a terror attack at an anti-FSB rally, the CIA attempts to destabilize Russia and disrupt a gas deal with China. A real-life agreement signed in 2014, soon after Russia was hit with sanctions for annexing part of Ukraine, seems to be the inspiration. The attempt is ultimately thwarted, though a US agent succeeds in blowing up the entire Chinese delegation, and the US intelligence officer in charge of the operation moves on to Ukraine. So does the protagonist, a patriotic, soulful FSB officer.
In the world of "The Sleepers," liberal convictions and a pro-Western orientation are symptoms of a treasonous bent. They only accuse the state of being oppressive because they are Russia's enemies, a fifth column. "We are those, who, just three years ago, thought there was freedom of speech in this country," rants the series' main antagonist, a prominent journalist and, of course, a CIA asset. "We thought civilization would be here in just a short while.
Watching this in Berlin, I suppressed an impulse to throw my drink at the screen.
But it's even more uncomfortable to watch from Moscow. To the Russian capital's literati, the artsy crowd, progressive bureaucrats and anti-Putin activists, "The Sleepers" is not just a spy series like lots of similar US-produced schlock, just with Russians as goodies and Americans as baddies. It's practically an overt threat. Channel One, which ran the series in prime time, is an official mouthpiece. While it carries some of the most concentrated Kremlin propaganda on its news programs, it has steered clear of lashing out at liberals elsewhere on the programming schedule.
"The Sleepers" was seen as a political statement. Angry, disgusted, sarcastic reactions on liberal-leaning websites followed?: 'The Sleepers' is concentrated ideology," Oleg Sulkin wrote on the anti-Putin website New Times. "What's dangerous about this series?" Natalya Isakova wrote on another liberal site, "Don't we know from the news that Russia is surrounded by enemies and the opposition is willing to kill itself if only that can harm our dear state? Well, the news doesn't have the emotional tension. The series is a chance to hammer ideological maxims into the viewers' hearts."
That, of course, is not how pro-government commentators saw it. State-run RIA Novosti countered that "The Sleepers" fed the Russian critical, creative class "some of its own bitter medicine." But that didn't quite add up. It was directed by Yuiri Bykov, who had been the darling of liberal viewers thanks to a previous film in which corrupt regional bureaucrats were the main villains. As the backlash intensified, he deleted his Facebook account and wrote on the Russian social network Vkontakte that he might end his movie career in order to avoid misleading "those who really want to believe it's possible to change something."
Today in Moscow, it doesn't matter whether Bykov's threat of retirement is genuine or whether he'll start shooting the second season tomorrow. The political conversation is increasingly revolving around cinematic versions of reality. Another hot topic in recent weeks is a movie about the last Russian czar's love affair with a ballerina, which conservatives, including a prominent lawmaker, are trying to have banned for slandering Emperor Nicholas II. A lively discussion of socialite and reality TV star Ksenia Sobchak's bid for the presidency on a mildly anti-Kremlin platform, announced on Wednesday, is about a similar kind of escapism. Her run is transparently sanctioned by the Kremlin while Navalny, who really challenges Putin, is barred from the election. yet liberal bloggers are all too happy to analyze Sobchak's views, goals and potential influence on the election campaign.
The best thing about these TV dreams is that they leave most of Russia cold. "The Sleepers'" viewership share was weak for a prime time series at about 13 percent -- and significantly lower outside Moscow. This apathy signals ordinary Russians' waning receptiveness to propaganda messages, no matter how expensively and convincingly packaged. Indifference is the biggest threat to the legitimacy of Putin's all but certain election victory next year -- and the biggest source of hope for the "fifth column."

The FBI’s Black Phantom Menace
Andrew Rosenthal//Gatestone Institute/October 23/17
When most Americans think of domestic terrorism, they probably think about the Oklahoma City bomber, white supremacists who wallow in Nazi nostalgia, racists who spray gunfire in black churches and lone-wolf psychopaths like the one who murdered at least 59 people in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.
Not the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It’s thinking outside that narrow box.
In a report that was never supposed to be made public, but was on Oct. 6 by, the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division has concluded that there is a real threat from the “black identity extremist” movement.
It said “Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans” has been responsible for “an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence” in the future.
Wait, what exactly is black identity extremism? The answer is: nothing.
It’s a fiction, as others have powerfully argued, including Andrew Cohen, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.
But that doesn’t make the report any less sinister. As Cohen pointed out, the FBI has a “history of surveillance and intimidation of black Americans that frequently goes beyond legitimate law enforcement into paranoia, racism, and political expediency.”
The FBI document takes pains to say that the mere exercise of constitutional rights to protest and even the “rhetorical embrace” of violent tactics “may not” constitute extremism. But the danger — or even the aim — is that the entire racial justice movement gets painted with the brush of terrorism.
The next time there is an act of violence by an African-American against police officers, brace yourself for the right-wing media or the attorney general or the tweeter in chief to seize on the phrase “black identity extremists.”
It has already happened. Fox News obligingly used videotape of Black Lives Matter protests as the backdrop for its credulous account of the report after it was published.
The report inevitably draws comparisons to the notorious Cointelpro operations against black activists in the last century. But it would be unfair to say the FBI has not made any progress since J. Edgar Hoover ordered the agency to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” what he called “black nationalist hate-type organizations.”
The language of the new document is more cagey. But the sentiments are chilling.
The report “conflates black political activists with dangerous domestic terrorist organizations that pose actual threats to law enforcement,” the Congressional Black Caucus said in a letter asking for a meeting with the FBI.
“It relies on a handful of obviously terrible incidents to paint black Americans who exercise free speech against witnessed police brutality as possible violent extremists,” the letter said. (It was referring to six cases since 2014 in which the FBI said the black identity menace was behind attacks on police officers, including the reprehensible shooting of 11 police officers, five of whom died, in Dallas on July 7, 2016.)
The FBI draws a line from the killing by a police officer of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 to all those other cases and warns of a “surge” in ideologically motivated violence against the police.
The report also draws a line from the activists of the ’60s and ’70s to the “extremists” of today. The black threat, it said, had simply been dormant.
There is no such connection. The FBI failed even to make any real connection among the six incidents it cited.
The authors of the report act as though there is doubt about the institutional racism in our country and in some police forces. (I am not saying all white police officers are racists.)
The FBI document talked about “perceived injustices against African-Americans” — perceived by anyone who is really paying attention.
The counterterrorism division said it “considered” the possibility that violence against the police is not driven by their phantom BIEs but decided that was “very unlikely.”
Fifty years ago, Hoover’s FBI spied on civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. It forged letters to create friction between rival black-power movements, which led to a shooting at the University of California in Los Angeles in 1969 that left two dead. Undercover police officers were responsible for framing 21 Black Panthers for a fake bombing conspiracy in New York in 1969.
The list goes on and on.
There is a slippery slope between this kind of intelligence assessment and acts of repression. The FBI has slid gleefully down that slope before. It must not be allowed to do so again.

Understanding Trump’s strategy on Iran
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/October 23/17
US President Donald Trump has slammed the nuclear deal which his predecessor Barack Obama sealed with Iran ever since he was a presidential candidate. Everything he said about this shameful and imperfect agreement is right. Trump thus recently announced a new strategy towards Iran and its Revolutionary Guards.
Obama’s foreign policy was isolationist and this undervalued America’s international status thus allowing its rivals to expand their influence zones and alter balances of power in sensitive areas, including the Middle East, which were out of their reach before Obama governed. He had this strange vision of allying with evil fundamentalists to decrease the threat of terrorism. This was the basis of his policy towards the so-called Arab Spring and the reason behind his alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar in countries where protests and uprisings erupted. However, Obama’s biggest sin was the nuclear deal with Iran.
Obama was looking for any foreign achievement to cover up the failure of his foreign policy. He directed attention towards Iran under the excuse of wanting to suspend its nuclear program. However he overlooked its crimes in the region which include spreading chaos, sponsoring Sunni and Shiite terrorist and extremist groups and flagrantly interfering in the internal affairs of a number of Arab countries. He allowed it to establish militias and plant espionage and terrorist cells and adopted unfriendly policies with America’s allies in the Middle East.
It’s not clear yet what President Trump will really do regarding the nuclear deal with Iran but he’s heading in the direction of cancelling it or amending it. In all cases, he will deal with Iran differently than his predecessor as he’s well-aware of the importance of America’s big allies in the region and he will not give up on them like Obama did.
The European countries that are involved in the deal do not share Trump’s understanding of the region’s fears and they are trying their best to keep the deal, which did not prevent Iran from pursuing its destructive policies and terrorist roles, on. These countries did not convey a real vision to fully confront terrorism and do not seem enthusiastic to eliminate it from its roots which are mainly from Iran and Qatar.
Defending interests
Saudi Arabia emerged as a leading country in the region that bears its responsibility in defending its interests and the interests of brotherly countries. This was the case before Obama’s term ended and the Saudi kingdom continues to pursue this role to eliminate Iran’s expansive illusions and deal with its practices that support terrorism and spread chaos. The Saudi kingdom also leads the Arab coalition in Yemen along with 10 Arab countries.
After saving Egypt from the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, Egypt restored its political weight and supported the Arab coalition in Yemen and coordinated more with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, as seen with its move of boycotting Qatar. Saudi Arabia is reestablishing ties with the Iraqi state and communicating with its politicians and parties. Saudi minister Thamer al-Sabhan’s tour in Syria’s ar-Raqqah after liberating it from ISIS was very expressive especially that Obama’s administration had failed to do anything to ISIS thus allowing it to expand.
Political balances are being redrawn in the region and they’re completely different than how they were before Trump became president. Those who take a look at Trump’s new strategy will realize that the next years will be difficult on Tehran and on the Sunni and Shiite terrorist organizations and militias it sponsors and that Saudi Arabia and its allies in the region will no longer accept this international tampering with the region.
The rivals of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf have not yet understood Saudi Arabia’s new and decisive role and they have not reconsidered their calculations. The best example to this is boycotting Qatar which came after the three Riyadh summits were held under the slogan “Together we prevail.” They did not understand the significance of Trump’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip. Trump met Gulf and Arab leaders there as well as leaders of 50 Muslims countries, and Qatar was only a stop in the way.
From its description, the new American strategy seems like it was formulated in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf or in Arab countries harmed by Iran’s destructive and terrorist policies. America adopted this new strategy after it began to maturely look after its interests and it thus went back to standing by its traditional allies after Obama’s policies harmed the region.
Listing the Revolutionary Guards as a terror group will be followed with blacklisting dozens of terrorist militias, like the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Houthi movement and other groups which Iran supports. Tightening economic sanctions will be of great significance if financial sanctions are added to it to force Iran to submit and abandon its destructive practices which it has adopted for over four decades.
In 2015, I wrote in an article: “Can the Iranian option succeed in the future? Or is failure its fate? Iran will relatively succeed but failure will be its fate as it bets on several factors such as western passiveness. The future foretells that a strict American president will come to change a lot in the US and in international balances.” This is what happened when Trump was elected. The new strategy towards Iran is an important step in the right direction.
The region’s countries do not need a superpower to fight their political or military battles for them. They are strong enough to do so and they’re developing their economies to build more successful and powerful states. This is the case with Saudi Arabia. Some countries however need a superpower’s help. There are indicators that the US’ policy towards the region has changed as after the new strategy was announced, commander of United States Central Command General Joseph Votel said “Washington will work on helping Arab countries deal with Iranian threats.” According to Asharq al-Awsat daily, Votel also noted that the Pentagon is working on establishing new American military brigades and sending missions to the region to specifically provide consultation and help.

Can Qatar stay in the GCC?
Sawsan Al Shaer/Al Arabiya/October 23/17
Those in control of the Qatari media succeeded in isolating the Qatari people from their Gulf surrounding and left them talking to themselves. Qatari media outlets had not found any echo outside their Qatari environment. Al-Jazeera itself horribly failed at marketing the Qatari stance outside Doha. Qatar is not in harmony with its Gulf surrounding, and the upcoming Gulf Summit is an appropriate opportunity for the Gulf media to confirm to everyone and to the Qatari people that Gulf countries hold on to them and to the Gulf Cooperation Council. However, most likely Kuwait will apologize and not host the summit.
Whether the summit is postponed until next year or Saudi Arabia hosts it, we must confirm to everyone that the GCC stands and we’re the most concerned about it. We must assert that our rejection of the Qatari regime’s presence is to confirm that the principles which the six countries agree on are the principles which must be adhered to as if they’re lost, the council is lost and if a member country violates them, it must be deterred so the council remains coherent.
It’s a chance for the Gulf media to remind of the principles on which the GCC was established in the 1970’s. These principles were based on the beliefs of the six countries’ leaders and people, and they confirm that what threatens us is one and that our fate is one. The 13 demands currently asked of Qatar aim to root out terrorism. Qatar became a state member threatening the council’s countries after it tampered with their security and stability and supported unrest in them.
The Gulf summit’s timing is a chance to address the Qatari people who have been recently talking to themselves and who have been dragged away from the source of the problem by their media outlets.
We reject holding the summit with Qatar’s presence because the Qatari regime is a source of threat to the GCC. The 13 demands aim to find a Qatar that’s harmonious with us. It’s the Gulf Qatar that established this council with us that we want.
The Gulf summit’s timing is a chance to confirm this council’s status for Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE. It’s a chance for these countries to voice their adherence to the Qatari people and to the state of Qatar which signed the first agreements with us and to show that the cooperation between Gulf countries in the 1970’s would have led to a union one day when everyone is ready.
It’s a chance to convey that the efforts over the past forty years – though incomplete – were paving way towards a union and that the path must have been adhered to. It’s a chance to address all Gulf people, including the Qataris, and tell them that we are one people and that the 13 demands do not harm the Qataris and are rather guarantees to protect them, and us, from groups that do not wish us well.
It’s a chance to address the Qatari people who have been recently talking to themselves and who have been dragged away from the source of the problem by their media outlets.
The Gulf summit is a suitable occasion to bring up the six principles which the four boycotting countries based their 13 demands on. These demands are:
1. Decrease diplomatic ties with Iran and expel any Revolutionary Guards members in Qatar
2. Not have any commercial activity with Iran that contradicts with American sanctions imposed on it
3. Close the Turkish military base and cancel military cooperation with Turkey
4. Shut down Al-Jazeera channel that’s accused of stirring unrest in the region and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood
5. Close all media outlets which Qatar directly or indirectly supports
6. Stop interfering in the anti-terror quartet’s domestic and foreign affairs and stop granting nationalities to citizens affiliated with the quartet and expel those who have been naturalized
7. Hand over terrorist figures to their countries of origin
8. Stop supporting and funding organizations that the quartet and the US blacklist as terror groups
9. Cut ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIS and list them as terror groups and submit detailed files about opposition figures who are citizens of the four countries and who are present in Qatar and whom the latter supported
10. Commit to be harmonious with its Gulf and Arab surrounding and activate the 2013 Riyadh agreement and the 2014 Supplementary Agreement
11. Compensate these countries for any harm done or for financial losses that were a result of Doha’s policies in the past years
12. Implement these demands within 10 days
13. Submit monthly compliance audits once every month for the first year and once every three months for the second year and once every year for 10 years
In brief, Qatar cannot continue to be in the GCC without complying with the tenth demand.

Referendums: The dangers of direct democracy
Adil Rasheed/Al Arabiya/October 23/17
“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention: have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property”. This anti-democratic diatribe does not come from any advocate of totalitarianism, but surprisingly from the ‘Father of the US Constitution’ and the ‘Bill of Rights’, James Madison (Federal Papers No. 10, 1787 AD). In fact, the ‘Founding Fathers’ ensured that the United States of America becomes a Constitutional Republic, with sufficient checks and balances on direct democracy to mitigate the dangers they thought it is susceptible to.
Ironically, there have been many well-meaning political philosophers throughout history — including Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Nietzsche etc. — who have consistently pointed out the flaws of democracy, with some regarding it worse than monarchy and a precursor to anarchy and tyranny. Even John Locke, whose political philosophies are said to have inspired the French and American Revolutions, was an exponent of representative form of democracy but not direct democracy — as the representative form was designed to check the ills of unbridled democracy, such as populism and majoritarianism.
The disturbing increase in referendums
Therefore the spate of direct democracy experiments since 2016 — such as the Brexit vote against EU membership, the Columbian vote against the FARC peace deal, Thai referendum in favour of military rule, Turkish vote for expanding presidential powers, the Kurdish, Catalan and last week’s Italian referendums — have drawn serious concerns among many Western political experts over the increasing impact of referendums on political stability and their “undemocratic” fallout. It is a disturbing new trend indicating growing public resentment towards failures of democratic governance and state institutions.
Direct democracy has three principal devices: ‘Initiative’ (citizens bypass legislatures by placing proposed statutes), ‘Referendum’ (wherein citizens vote on policy issues, even secession) and ‘Recall’ (citizens vote to recall or replace a public official before the end of the term of office). Another term ‘Plebiscite’ is also used and connotes a non-binding, advisory referendum conducted by a government. However, referendum has now become a generic term for all forms of direct democracy.
With the exception of Rousseau and Anarcho-Syndicalists like Noam Chomsky, referendums have generally drawn intellectual flak since times of ancient Rome, as they seek a simplistic ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response from the electorate on highly complex political issues. To make matters worse, certain governments seek answers from an electorate on a variety of issues in a single vote, like the Turkish referendum this year which asked the general electorate to vote on 21 constitutional amendments in one go.
The general level of voter apathy or ignorance on complex political issues, even in advanced countries, is cited as a drawback of direct democracy. Most voters find it difficult to have the knowledge, inclination or time to fully study and delve into the subtler aspect of a piece of legislation. Their views are often influenced by campaign slogans, jingles, the social media, opinions of family, friends, their race, religion etc. Thus, Winston Churchill once famously observed: “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with a voter”.
To circumvent these problems, Western nations devised a representative form of democracy, wherein people elect officials, who are implicitly trusted to be aware of the subtleties and intricacies of policy and decide on behalf of their constituency. The legislative body and parliament retains opposition members, whose job is to question the majority-backed legislation and bring out a more nuanced understanding on policy issues during debates. However, referendums only uphold the majority verdict and leave no space for the opposing view, even when the margin of victory is narrow (like the Brexit ‘leave’ vote which garnered a little less than 52 percent).
Populism and majoritarianism
Sometimes, the popularity of any political party or leader calling for a referendum can influence people’s views away from the merit of the proposal put up for a referendum. Thus, the electorate ends up voting for a political leader or a party and not on the proposal for which the vote was sought.
Again, the time-specific vagaries and mood swings of an election can often skew the purpose of an important referendum. Sometimes, elections are influenced by populist or emotive issues and may violate minority rights, universal ethical values and curtail civil and individual liberties. This is illustrated by the fact that many dictators, like Adolf Hitler in 1934, have used referendums to legitimise their rule. As a concept, democracy is not limited to the process of elections, but comes with a complete set of political values including civil liberties, minority rights, rule of law etc.
Sometimes, rich regions in an economically challenged or politically unstable country (like the Kurdish region or Catalonia) decide to opt out or secede from their nation, just when the state needs their support the most. Such referendums seem oblivious to the fact that a declaration of independence might not resolve any problem but might trigger greater hostilities and dissensions within the province, the state and the region. It is for these reasons that the Kurdish and Catalan referendums have not been welcomed by the international community.
Therefore, it is important to understand that the buzzword of democracy in and of itself cannot be used to justify indiscriminate political determinism. Democracy is a movement of collective and institutional consciousness that grows over time and requires gradual and sustained nourishment across diverse societies having varying socio-political sensibilities and outlook. The one-system-fits-all approach cannot always provide desirable or sustainable outcomes.