October 31/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field
Saint Matthew 13/44-46/:"‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
First Letter to the Corinthians 10/01-13/:"I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.’We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 30-31/17
Aoun's Debate Pros & Cons/Elias Bejjani/October 30/17
One Year On Aoun's Presidency/Elias Bejjani/October 30/17
Israel Suspects ISIS behind Failed Assassination of Gaza Security Forces Chief/Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17
Russia is Pushing to Control Cyberspace/David Ignatius/The Washington Post/October, 30/17
What Is a Nation in the 21st Century/Michael Goldfarb/Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17
The Decision to Belong to the Age/Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17
Turkey: Erdogan's Stalinist Purge/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/October 30/17
Turkey and the U.S.: A Poisoned Alliance/Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/October 30/17
Historic Boeing-IranAir deal at risk amid claims of IRGC use/Saeed Jalili /Al Monitor/October 30/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on October 30-31/17
Aoun's Debate Pros & Cons
One Year On Aoun's Presidency
Aoun Says Bassil 'Not Running Country', Hizbullah Arms Need 'Mideast Solution'
Report: Appointment of Lebanese Ambassador to Syria Raises Controversy
Hariri Says al-Hassan's Killers 'Will Pay the Price', Travels to Saudi
Hariri vows to continue elHassan's path and bring his killers to justice
Hariri Congratulates Lebanese Businessmen on Their Release, Hails Efforts Exerted
Rahi returns to Lebanon
Berri Signs State Budget Draft Law, Refers it to Government
Al-Sabhan Calls for 'Toppling Hizbullah', Promises 'Astonishing' Developments
Cypriot President Affirms Continued Support for Lebanese Army
Raad Warns Israel of 'Existential Price', Says Delaying Polls a 'Dangerous Game'
UK Minister Reaffirms Support for Lebanon's Security, Says UK Investing in Lebanon's Future
Sarraf meets Cypriot Defense Minister, signs bilateral agreement on classified information protection
Beirutis speak their minds a year after Aoun’s election
Lebanon and Cyprus strengthen diplomatic ties
Aoun establishes solid record in first year
Arab Women Council names Sumaya Baalbaki as Social Responsibility Ambassador
Army Commander, Fokaides tackle military cooperation
Iraqi intelligence hails Mashnouq, Ibrahim's role in freeing Lebanese hostages
Kataeb calls for swiftly addressing Syrian refugee dossier
Fenianos, Shorter follows up on application of international aviation regulations' standards
Hasbani talks health cooperation prospects with his Saudi counterpart

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 30-31/17
Six Militants Killed As IDF Blast Destroys Tunnel
Kushner Visited Saudi Arabia Unannounced To Discuss Mideast Peace
Iranian Diplomat Imam Call For Destruction Of Israel
Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Surrenders to F.B.I.
Jamal Khashoggi says lack of political life forced him to leave Saudi Arabia
Canada repeals facilitation payments exception in Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act
Saudi FM: Iran is Destroying all Political Solutions
Kuwait Emir Accepts PM’s Resignation
Bahrain FM: Suspension of Qatar’s Membership is Correct Step to Preserve GCC
Saudi Crown Prince, French President Discuss Counter-Terrorism Efforts
Rouhani Pledges to Keep Producing Missiles
NATO Calls North Korea 'Global Threat'
UNRWA Criticizes Armed Groups for Digging Tunnels under its Schools
Spanish Prosecutors Go after Catalonia's Axed Leaders

Latest Lebanese Related News published on October 30-31/17
Aoun's Debate Pros & Cons
Elias Bejjani/October 30/17
President Micheal Aoun's debate today with the Lebanese televisions' head editors showed clearly one prominent positive observation, and that is his excellent and deep knowledge in regards to all the governing issues (files) the journalists raised. On the negative side came his unlawful stance and the claim that the UN Resolution number 1701 legalizes Hezbollah's weaponry, and at the same time tying the fate of this Iranian weaponry with the Middle East Conflict.

One Year On Aoun's Presidency
Elias Bejjani/October 30/17
One year on Aoun's Presidency: True the state some how is back, but back to Hezbollah's hegemony and not to the Lebanese people. Meanwhile the state's sovereignty, independence and the free decision process are still confiscated, The current Lebanon is not the one that was ..No, not the Lebanon that we long for or the one our ancestors handed over to us.

Aoun Says Bassil 'Not Running Country', Hizbullah Arms Need 'Mideast Solution'
Naharnet/October 30/17/President Michel Aoun on Monday dismissed claims that his son-in-law, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, is having great influence on his presidential policies, while noting that the issue of Hizbullah's controversial arms requires a “solution in the Middle East.”“I ceded the Free Patriotic Movement's leadership to Minister Bassil before assuming the presidency and he is not running the country but rather the political party,” Aoun said in an interview with Lebanon's eight TV stations that marked one year since assuming the presidency. “Bassil is competent to run the FPM's affairs,” Aoun noted. Asked about Hizbullah's controversial arsenal of weapons, the president said “a solution in the Middle East would lead to a solution for the issue of Hizbullah's arms.”He noted that there are two reasons why the Lebanese Army has not monopolized the possession of arms in the country.
“The domestic reason is the shortage in weapons. The U.S. army has offered some important weapons with which we fought the battle against terrorism. There is also a financial deficit preventing us from equipping the army,” Aoun said.
“The factors defining the situation of Hizbullah's arms today are (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 1701, to which Hizbullah and the state are committed, the ministerial Policy Statement, and the memorandum of understanding that we reached with Hizbullah before I assumed the presidency. The rest of the problems are the Middle East problems that have reflected on us,” the president added.
“Today we have a bigger problem: the territory which we have not recovered and the (Palestinian) refugee problem. The refugee situation is still frozen until the moment and this requires foreign agreements, especially that we have always come under attack from Israel,” Aoun went on to say.
Asked about Hizbullah's military intervention in neighboring Syria alongside the regime's forces, the president pointed out that “there are 83 nations in Syria and the conflict is not on our soil.”Asked whether he is providing a “cover” for Hizbullah, Aoun said: “I'm not providing a cover for anyone but rather protecting national unity.”Turning to the tensions between Iran and the Arab Gulf countries and remarks by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about Tehran's influence in Lebanon, the president said: “Iran has its presence and influence in the Middle East and that must be taken into consideration.”
“Iran is present in the Middle East solutions and it has its influence on the solutions. It does not have ambitions in Lebanon,” he added, noting that he has not come under any Iranian or U.S. pressures.“Iran negotiated with five European countries and struck a deal with them and it is a regional force that cannot be overlooked... Not all Arabs are against Iran,” Aoun said. He also stressed that Lebanon “cannot be a party in the inter-Arab conflict.”“The Arabs are our brothers and we cannot stand by one brother against another,” he said.

Report: Appointment of Lebanese Ambassador to Syria Raises Controversy
Naharnet/October 30/17/Lebanon has recently appointed a new ambassador to Syria in a move that raised controversy as the new diplomat prepares to begin his duties next month. President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri have signed a decree appointing the new ambassador, Saad Zakhia, who is expected to begin his duties early in November, said al-Joumhouria daily on Monday. The move has raised controversy and Hariri has defended the step in a tweet over the weekend saying “the presence of a Lebanese embassy in Syria confirms our independence and sovereignty.”Presidential Palace circles were surprised at the uproar raised by some about the appointment of Zakhia, said the daily. “The decree is the actual translation of the cabinet's decision to appoint new ambassadors in various countries. The decree, is like other special decrees distributed to all Arab and Western countries,” Baabda circles told the daily on condition of anonymity. On the other hand, al-Joumhouria quoted sources from the Lebanese Forces party who said they “were surprised by the urgency and necessity of appointing a Lebanese ambassador in Syria, despite the fact that there is no political life in Syria.”They added: “Despite our reservation as for the urgency of the appointment, and if we assume that this procedure was routine, we will never accept that the ambassador submits his credentials to (Syrian President) Bashar Assad,” they noted and described the move as an “insult to the Lebanese people, to the Lebanese judiciary and the Arab family.”The sources concluded: “We do not accept the submission of the ambassador’s credentials to Assad.”For his part former MP Fares Soaid said Lebanon must maintain a Lebanese embassy in Syria on condition the representation be kept “at the level of a secretary or a first secretary and not to upgrade who represents Lebanon to the rank of ambassador."

Hariri Says al-Hassan's Killers 'Will Pay the Price', Travels to Saudi
Naharnet/October 30/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri pledged Monday that those who assassinated Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch head Wissam al-Hassan in 2012 “will pay the price” for their murder. “The Intelligence Branch made a lot of security achievements, whether in combating espionage or fighting terrorism, and Wissam paid the price. Those who hated him feared him. They couldn't stop his work so they killed him,” said Hariri at a ceremony inaugurating the Martyr Major General Wissam al-Hassan Avenue in Beirut's Marfa' area. “Those who killed Wissam al-Hassan will pay the price sooner or later, and this is my promise for him and for his little family,” Hariri added. Told by a reporter that some parties have voiced doubt that the culprits will ever be prosecuted, the premier stressed that “justice is coming.”
Separately, the prime minister's office said that he traveled to Saudi Arabia this afternoon on a “work trip.”

Hariri vows to continue elHassan's path and bring his killers to justice
Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri said today: "We pray God to help us continue the path of martyr Major General Wissam Al Hassan, which is the message of Rafic Hariri to build the state and the institutions. The ISF is one of the institutions that must always be supported because it works directly with the citizen. And the Information Branch has done a lot in terms of security, whether in the fight against espionage or in counterterrorism."Speaking during the inaugural ceremony of the "Martyr General Wissam Al Hassan Avenue", located in the port area, Hariri added: "Wissam paid the price. Those who hated him feared him. They were not able to stop his work so they killed him. But God does not forget, and those who killed Wissam will pay the price sooner or later. This is my promise to Abu Haider and his small family, and we are all one family, we will complete this journey together".Question: What do you say to those who doubt that justice will follow its course? Hariri: I tell them that justice is coming. I do not want to outbid on this subject and I will not talk about it, because it is shameful to talk about it. But be sure that those who killed Wissam al-Hassan will pay a high price, and I take it on myself, on the State and the Internal security forces and all security forces. Wissam is the son of this institution and his blood satiated this institution and this country. We must find his killers and bring them to justice. Whenever we will pass by this avenue, we will remember Wissam in his family moments. It is true he was a security man but he was very fond of the family, and those who know Wissam know what I am talking about. We ask God to enable us to continue his journey."

Hariri Congratulates Lebanese Businessmen on Their Release, Hails Efforts Exerted
Naharnet/October 30/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri congratulated three Lebanese men on their liberation over the weekend after their abduction a week earlier in Iraq, Hariri's media office said in a statement on Monday. Hariri contacted one of the former abductees, businessman Imad al-Khatib, congratulating him along with the two other Lebanese, Nader Hamadeh and George Batrouni, on their safe release, said the statement. Hariri conveyed his gratitude “to all those who had worked and contributed to the release of the Lebanese citizens, expressing appreciation for the Iraqi government and intelligence chief for their cooperation and concern in liberating them from their captors.”He also praised the Lebanese security apparatuses for their “relentless efforts to ensure the safe release of the abductees.”Three Lebanese men kidnapped in Iraq were liberated at dawn Sunday in a "joint operation" carried out by Lebanese and Iraqi intelligence agencies.The three men, who were abducted by a gang last Sunday upon their arrival in Baghdad, were expected to arrive in Beirut at 2:30 pm, according to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3). The security operation, which was carried out by Iraqi intelligence, resulted in the arrest of some captors and the death of one of them, while the rest of the gang's members are being pursued.

Rahi returns to Lebanon
Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Beshara Boutros Rahi on Monday returned to Lebanon concluding a 24-day pastoral tour in Rome and the USA. Upon his arrival in Bkerki, Rahi told reporters that in Rome, he discussed the tribulations of the East with Pope Francis, whom he urged to raise the voice in order to end war and destruction. "I talked to him about Lebanon that has cordially received Palestinian and Syrian refugees (...) I said to him that Lebanon cannot carry on its message if it remains engulfed with guests," Rahi said. He also explained that his foreign tours aimed to strengthen solidarity and connection between Lebanon and the Lebanese Diaspora.

Berri Signs State Budget Draft Law, Refers it to Government
Naharnet/October 30/17/Speaker Nabih Berri signed Lebanon's state budget draft for the year 2017 and referred to the government on Monday, media reports said. Lebanon's first state budget in 12 years was recently approved during a parliament meeting on October 19. Lawmakers have approved the budget after arduous debate that saw sixty-one MPs vote in favor of the bill, while four lawmakers from the Kataeb Party voted against as eight other lawmakers abstained from voting. MPs who abstained from voting were MP Antoine Zahra of the Lebanese Forces, independent MP Butros Harb of Batroun and six lawmakers from Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance bloc. The parliamentary debate had witnessed heated arguments over the issue of approving a state budget without the submission of final accounts for the past 12 years.

Al-Sabhan Calls for 'Toppling Hizbullah', Promises 'Astonishing' Developments
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 30/17/Firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on Monday called for “toppling Hizbullah” and promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days.”“Those who believe that my tweets are a personal stance are delusional and they will see what will happen in the coming days,” al-Sabhan said in an interview with MTV. Referring to his Sunday tweet about the Lebanese government, the minister said: “I addressed my tweet to the government because the Party of Satan (Hizbullah) is represented in it and it is a terrorist party. The issue is not about toppling the government but rather that Hizbullah should be toppled.”“The coming developments will definitely be astonishing,” al-Sabhan added. Al-Sabhan had on Sunday voiced surprise over what he called the “silence of the government and people” of Lebanon over Hizbullah’s actions. “It is not strange for the terrorist militia party to declare and take part in the war against the kingdom at the instructions of the masters of global terrorism,” the minister tweeted, referring to Hizbullah and its regional backer Iran. “But what’s strange is the silence of the government and people over this!,” al-Sabhan added. Al-Sabhan has taken to Twitter to blast Hizbullah several times in recent months. “In order to rein in the 'terrorist militia party', those who work and cooperate with it politically, economically and journalistically should be punished,” al-Sabhan tweeted on Thursday. “Serious efforts must be exerted to clip its wings domestically and externally and to confront it with force,” the minister added. In remarks published around the same time by Sky News Arabia on its Twitter account, al-Sabhan said “terrorist Hizbullah militias are carrying out acts of killing and destruction and have started declaring wars.”“Hizbullah's militias are targeting our countries in the Gulf in a direct manner and Iran is exploiting these militias to dodge the nuclear agreement,” al-Sabhan added. “We have the capabilities to fend off the epidemic of Hizbullah's satanic militias,” the minister went on to say. He also lamented that “Lebanon has fallen a captive to Hizbullah's militias” and that “millions of Syrian refugees were displaced due to these militias.” Sources informed on the Saudi policies told MTV that the kingdom's escalation against Hizbullah could take several forms that would “definitely affect Lebanon.”“Politically, it might target the government's relations with the world. At the economic and financial levels it could target commercial exchange and funds, and militarily it might involve the possibility of a strike on Hizbullah by the U.S.-led coalition, which labels Hizbullah a terrorist organization,” the sources said.

Cypriot President Affirms Continued Support for Lebanese Army
Naharnet/October 30/17/Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades stressed during talks with Lebanon's ambassador to Cyprus the need to deepen relations with Lebanon at the political and economic levels as he assured continued support for the country's army, the National News Agency reported on Monday. Anastasiades' remarks came during his talks with Youssef Sadaqa, Lebanon's ambassador to Cyprus who visited him on a farewell visit, NNA said. Anastasiades stressed the importance of “strengthening economic and political relations between Lebanon and Cyprus.”He also said his country would continue to support the Lebanese Army.

Raad Warns Israel of 'Existential Price', Says Delaying Polls a 'Dangerous Game'
Naharnet/October 30/17/The head of Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance bloc, MP Mohammed Raad, on Monday warned Israel against carrying out “any new foolishness against Lebanon,” threatening that it would pay an “existential price” in the event of a new war with Hizbullah. “With full confidence, we can say that the Israelis can start a third war against Lebanon, but that this war would put the fate of the Israeli entity at stake... There can be no surgical strike, seeing as the enemy will not know how the war will end, and that's why it is filling the air with screaming, noise and threats,” Raad said. He reassured that Israel “does not dare to breach the equation that the Resistance has created” and that “it knows the strategic or rather the existential price it would pay as a result of committing any new foolishness against Lebanon.” Turning to the ongoing controversy over the upcoming parliamentary elections, Raad stressed that the polls should be held on time. He warned the Lebanese that “some regional forces do not have an interest and do not want us to organize parliamentary elections in Lebanon, because they expect that they will not be able to influence and control the results.” “They want to sow discord among the Lebanese and create obstacles in order to thwart the elections. We believe that this attempt poses a great threat to Lebanon, its stability and the stability of its political life,” Raad cautioned, warning political forces that “this would be a dangerous game for everyone.”

UK Minister Reaffirms Support for Lebanon's Security, Says UK Investing in Lebanon's Future
Naharnet/October 30/17/Minister of State for the Middle East and International Development Alistair Burt has reaffirmed the UK’s “commitment to supporting a strong and prosperous Lebanon,” announcing further support to the Lebanese Army and “celebrating the UK’s investment in Lebanon’s future,” the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon said. At a reception hosted to launch the Association of Lebanese Graduates of UK Universities, Burt formally announced SoUK.LB, a new initiative to help the growing social enterprise sector in Lebanon, which he described as an investment in Lebanon’s economy to boost job creation. He also urged ambitious Lebanese to apply Masters programs under the UK government’s Chevening scholarship scheme. On the second day of a two-day visit to Lebanon, Burt visited the Second Land Border Regiment at Ras Baalbek to see the operations room from which Operation Fajr al-Jouroud was managed and “witness firsthand how the UK is helping the Army move its border posts forward onto reclaimed territory,” the British Embassy said. “A number of brand new military positions have been built by the LAF throughout this area in the last few weeks, putting the Lebanese flag back on the furthest reaches of Lebanese territory, thanks to British support and funding,” the Embassy added. It said the new towers are just some of the 74 positions built with UK support since 2012, which “will soon ensure the Lebanese Army secure the whole border with Syria, from the Mediterranean to Mount Hermon.”
The Minister’s tour also involved a visit to Al Irshad Public School for Girls in Beirut and an Informal Tented Settlement in the Bekaa, where he saw how the UK is helping to manage the challenge of the refugees as well as working on improvements to public schooling for the benefit of all children in Lebanon.
Speaking at the end of his visit Minister Burt said: “I am delighted to be back in Lebanon, a country I know well having visited three times since 2010. A lot has happened since my last visit in 2013. The Lebanese people are generously hosting more than 1.5 million refugees, an undeniable burden. The LAF were the first army in the region to repel Daesh (Islamic State group) in 2014, and in 2017 they have successfully expelled Daesh from Lebanese territory.”
Burt said he held “very constructive meetings” with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri, and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil. “I reiterated the UK’s support for a strong, stable and prosperous Lebanon. We are proud of the excellent bilateral relationship between our two countries. Today I have witnessed first-hand the strength of our partnership in boosting the economy by creating jobs up and down the country; I saw it in our flagship program of quality education in public schools for all children in Lebanon; in our humanitarian assistance to refugees; and in our steadfast support to the brave men and women of the Lebanese army who tirelessly defend Lebanon from terrorism,” Burt added. Extending his congratulations on the Lebanese Army's successful military operation against IS militants on the eastern border, the Minister said “this operation has anchored the army’s reputation as a professional and respected institution that has dramatically increased its capabilities in recent years.”“We are proud of the trust the LAF has shown in the UK as a partner, from the streets of Beirut to the borders,” he added. “I am also proud to see the results of the UK’s contribution of £60 million to build over 70 military watchtowers, and provide over 300 Land Rovers and 3,000 sets of body armor. We have trained 8,000 soldiers and sent 150 LAF officers to the UK’s finest military academies. We are also providing £13 million to improve the police across Lebanon and especially here in Beirut, in support of the ISF’s (Internal Security Forces') own vision for reform by 2022,” Burt went on to say. He also vowed that the UK “will remain by Lebanon’s side in actions and not just words, shoulder to shoulder for security, prosperity and stability.”

Sarraf meets Cypriot Defense Minister, signs bilateral agreement on classified information protection
Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - Minister of National Defense, Yaacoub Sarraf, on Monday met with his Cypriot counterpart Christoforos Fokaides and the accompanying delegation. Both Sarraf and Fokaides held talks over the bilateral relations between the two countries in addition to the means to bolster them on all levels. Afterwards, the two delegations joined the talks that focused on the means to activate cooperation mechanisms between Lebanon and Cyprus, as well as on the details of a draft agreement on fighting wild fires. Both sides also discussed the possibility to embark on cooperation in the field of maritime rescue, as well as on the means to activate aids for the Lebanese army. Moreover, the two ministers signed a cooperation agreement between the Lebanese and Cypriot governments on mutual classified information protection. "At the behest of the President of the republic, I started talks with the Cypriot side to revive the bilateral relations," Sarraf told a joint news conference held following the talks at the Ministry of National Defense. "Last Saturday, a ship carrying aids for the Lebanese military reached Lebanon, and the Cypriot Minister told me that further aids will be dispatched," he said. He also indicated that he received an invitation to attend tripartite meetings between Lebanon, Cyprus, and Greece, to discuss the protection of oil resources in Lebanon.For his part, Fokaides said, "Security and defense constitute the cornerstone of this cooperation.""We see that Lebanon's security has a strategic importance," he added, highlighting the salient role of the Lebanese army in protecting stability. "Cyprus will carry on participation in the UNIFIL," he went on to say. Fokaides also said that his meeting with Sarraf touched on the means to bolster cooperation in the fields of countering terrorism, maritime security, and crises management. "We are well aware of the major challenges Lebanon is facing and the burden it is nearing due to the massive numbers of refugees," he said. "The tumult the region is witnessing makes Lebanon's stability necessary not only for the regional security but also for Europe's," he underlined. "As a member of the European Union, Cyprus seeks to enhance its role as bridge between Europe and the Middle East," he said. "We keep on working with the aim of building a partnership of peace, dialogue, and cooperation in the region," he concluded.

Beirutis speak their minds a year after Aoun’s election
Dala Osseiran/The Daily Star/October 30/17
BEIRUT: Across the capital last week, The Daily Star asked residents to reflect on President Michel Aoun’s first year in office. While the outlook was mixed on the president himself, condemnation of the state of the country as a whole was ubiquitous. Karim, a 21-year-old student at the Lebanese American University majoring in international affairs and political science, said he didn’t think that Aoun’s presidency has added much to Lebanese society. “I’m not a big fan of President Aoun because of his role in the Lebanese Civil War,” he told The Daily Star, pausing while running errands in Gemmayzeh.
“I think all the laws that recently passed under his leadership are a distraction from the bigger picture.”
Karim wants Aoun to focus more on social issues, and ensure that the Lebanese public gets a better deal. “If there is an increase in taxes, we need to get something in return,” he said.
Ginny, 20, is studying radio and television at a university in the city. She echoed Karim’s concerns and called on Aoun to focus more on social issues and to help the younger generation of Lebanon get ahead.
In Mar Mikhail, 27-year-old bartender Samir blasted the state of the presidency while on a cigarette break, saying the 84-year-old politician was a figurehead put in place just to appease the people.
Youssef, a 64-year-old taxi driver shared Samir’s opinion of Aoun.
“The presidency is an image, the real power lies with those up there,” he said, pointing at the Grand Serail.
“All Aoun does is sign documents, and if he doesn’t sign them, they [ministers] sign it for him.”
But Youssef – unlike other Lebanese who were optimistic despite their criticisms – had a grim outlook on Lebanon’s future. “Nothing moves forward in Lebanon, except the prices,” he complained from behind the wheel of his car.
A wine expert named Antoine had an even darker opinion of the presidency. “Nothing has changed,” he said while sipping a glass of wine at La Cave de Joel Robuchon in Beirut Souks. “Everything is still out of order, traffic is horrible and we have no water or electricity.”
He said he stopped following the news because all politicians do is “put money in their own pockets.”
Antoine also dismissed recently passed laws, considering them pointless because they are neither strictly followed nor enforced. “The landmark law that passed is a joke, people are still destroying historical buildings,” he said, referring to recent legislation to protect heritage buildings. “As I was coming here, I saw someone seizing motorcycles, but the inspector, who drives a motorcycle [himself] wasn’t even wearing a helmet,” he added.
Antoine wants Aoun to focus on eradicating corruption as well.
“I live in Ashrafieh, a wealthy area of Beirut, and I still have no water or electricity because the government doesn’t provide it. Why do we still use generators? Because generators are owned by politicians.”
However, Marie, a 55-year-old freelancer, said she believed that Aoun has potential and that he’s making the best of a bad situation. “He is a decent and good guy, but he took over a damaged country,” she said. “He can’t fix it in so little time.”
She believes Aoun has the tools and the drive to make a positive change in Lebanon “but he needs a good team to help him.”
Marie agreed that corruption is the biggest issue facing the country, saying it has eroded the potential for progress. “Corruption is like having termites in a tree, you can’t just cut a branch, you need to get rid of the tree completely,” she said.
Ingrid, a 34-year-old video editor, said she believed in the president at the beginning of his term, but her faith has wilted: “His good intentions are gone. He promised a lot of things, but he’s not living up to them.”

Lebanon and Cyprus strengthen diplomatic ties
The Daily Star/October 30/17BEIRUT: Ahead of an expected intelligence-sharing agreement between Lebanon and Cyprus, President Michel Aoun Monday met with Cypriot Defense Minister Christoforos Fokaides. Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on a visit to the Mediterranean country last week, when Anastasiades promised a new military assistance package to the Lebanese Army. However, no timeline was given on the agreement. Lebanese Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf also attended Monday’s meeting. Aoun also welcomed the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries, headed by Marisa Matias, at the presidential palace in Baabda. The delegation works with its counterparts in Egypt, Jordan, Syrian and Lebanon - called the Mashreq countries - to strengthen relations with the European Parliament.

Aoun establishes solid record in first year
Joseph Haboush|/The Daily Star/Oct. 30, 2017
BEIRUT: A year on, it’s hard to argue that President Michel Aoun hasn’t made swift work through promises made in his inaugural speech 365 days ago, despite being a divisive choice for the post at the time. As he was sworn in, Aoun said that Lebanon’s “first obligation was to adopt an electoral law that ensures fair representation, prior to the next elections.”
Lawmakers and officials passed a new vote law in June, ending nearly eight years of wrangling. The new system uses proportional representation for the first time in the country’s history. Despite some accusations of gerrymandering and seat-moving between districts for political gains, it is a new system that was agreed without the help of outside influence. Also, the new – and still untested – electoral law makes predicting outcomes and voting patterns more difficult for major parties.
Case in point, few electoral alliances have been announced or formed, even as electoral rhetoric has started to ramp up ahead of the spring 2018 election day. “It is way too early and we honestly do not know because these elections are not going to be able to be predicted like the ones before,” a source within a leading political party told The Daily Star.
The second point in the former Army general’s oath on Oct. 31, 2016 was that “the first of the pillar of security is national unity.”
Even as Lebanon did not have a president for over two years prior to Aoun’s appointment, security in the country had stabilized after the difficult years between 2011 and early 2014 and remained relatively calm compared to the region.
Also under Aoun was the Army’s successful operation against Daesh (ISIS) on the northeast border in August that drove the militant group out of the country.
The offensive concluded a three-year saga that began with the border town of Arsal falling to Daesh militants and ended with a robust Army offensive, with minimal casualties, successfully routing the militant forces from the country. It also ended with the recovery of the remains of 10 Lebanese servicemen, eight of whom had been killed by Daesh sometime after they were kidnapped in 2014.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri formed a national unity government shortly after Aoun took office – in stark contrast to the 10 months it took to form a government under the previous administration.
Parliament and Cabinet’s continuous work is testament to Aoun’s record and the prevailing national unity. However, it has been telling that the usual underlying rhetorical political salvos fired between camps have risen from some of the lowest levels the country had seen in years to worrying heights even when measured against darker periods past.
The unlikely bedfellows of Aoun and Hariri buried the hatchet after a yearslong cold war. Their cooperation has since played a large role in reactivating state institutions and passing laws – including the electoral bill. However, the sense of national unity that helped form a nearly all-inclusive government – save the self-declared opposition Kataeb Party – has been threatened.
This brings us to Aoun’s next declaration: the “necessity to dissociate Lebanon from external conflicts, while remaining committed to the Charter of the League of Arab States, and in particular Article 8 thereof, and adopting an independent foreign policy based on Lebanon’s higher interest and the respect of international law, in view of safeguarding the country as an oasis of peace, stability and convergence.”
Regarding the Syrian war and its impact on Lebanon’s economy, stability and safety, Aoun said he would work on “ensuring a quick return for the Syrian refugees to their homeland ... in cooperation with the concerned states and authorities, and in a responsible coordination with the U.N.” Political divisions have deepened over this issue and the correct way to go about the “safe return” of refugees. This extends to the treatment of the estimated 450,000 Palestinian refugees stripped of their homeland years ago and still living in Lebanon.
Some sides – particularly Hezbollah, Amal Movement, Marada Movement – have called for direct contact with Damascus over the issue. However, others – mainly the Lebanese Forces and Future Movement – have called for coordination with the United Nations and ruled out any direct contact with Syria.
In addition to being the main instigator of closer ties between Lebanon and Syria, Hezbollah has thousands of fighters engaged in the ongoing war. On this front, Aoun has not been as successful in dissociating Lebanon from external conflicts as he vowed. However, he has been markedly mute over any form of criticism of Hezbollah’s participation in the war next door or in Iraq and Yemen. The president was, and still is, vocal in his support for Hezbollah in the face of Israel. He said, “We shall spare no effort and no resistance to liberate the remaining occupied Lebanese territories,” and has called Hezbollah vital to the country’s defense.
Aoun has made his first official trip to Saudi Arabia, but his continued support for Hezbollah keeps the kingdom distant from Lebanon. However, Riyadh has recently selected, pending approval, an ambassador to Lebanon, after a year’s vacancy.
Other key ambassadorial appointments have been made, including to Washington and the Vatican, although the Holy See recently rejected Lebanon’s candidate.
Aoun’s speech at September’s United Nations General Assembly was strong. But worth noting the fact that U.S. President Donald Trump did not meet with Aoun in a sign that political ties with the U.S. are no better than before the new president’s reign.
As successful as Aoun has been with domestic politics, the country’s foreign affairs have not improved much under his leadership.
On the other hand, the former military man clearly has a soft spot for his old institution.
“The strengthening of the Army and the development of its capabilities shall be my obsession and priority in order to enable our Army to deter all kinds of aggressions against our country and to become a guard for its land, a protector for its independence and a keeper for its sovereignty,” Aoun said in October 2016.
But, as long as Hezbollah is in possession of weapons outside of the state’s control, this promise will be difficult to fulfill.
With the appointment of Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun, President Aoun placed the institution in good hands and has been able to “deal with terrorism by pre-empting, deterring, countering and even eliminating it,” as he vowed to do.
In his oath, Aoun also touched on a stable security being reached “by a full coordination between the security and judicial institutions” and he said it was the “duty of the regime to free them from political dependence.”
Judicial appointments were made and judges were transferred from old positions to new, but not without controversy. Renowned Judge Shukri Sader was essentially ousted as the head of the State Shura Council and moved to a lower position, although he had only one year left before retiring. This can only be seen as a significant slight. Sader quickly refused and submitted his resignation, preserving the dignity and respect he had earned by calling for the establishment of an international tribunal on the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
The judicial and ambassadorial appointments were marred by reports of “sharing the cake” among specific political parties, including the Free Patriotic Movement, founded by Aoun, with the LF and Marada appearing to be sidelined in favor of loyalists to the president.
Nevertheless, the Higher Judicial Council issued the death penalty in absentia for the murderers of President-elect Bachir Gemayel, 35 years after his assassination – something the brother of the president-elect, former President Amin Gemayel, was unable to oversee during his time as president between 1982 and 1988.
Habib Chartouni, who admitted to detonating the bomb that killed Gemayel, was in prison during Amin’s term.
Aoun also promised economic reforms, saying, “That relies on planning and coordination between the ministries and computerization in the various state administrations.”
With computerization there could be less corruption and less under-the-table cash flowing into the pockets of officials and bureaucrats, but there is only so much but the president can achieve on his own.
Last week, the Finance Ministry launched a website for real estate transactions, lining up with the transitions to biometric passports, car registrations and driver’s licenses.
Also under Aoun’s watch, the Socio-economic Council was finally appointed after being dormant for over a decade.
A partnership between the private and public sectors was made possible after the government approved the PPP law earlier this year – another achievement Aoun can claim.
Toward the end of his presidential oath, Aoun said, “The most important thing remains that the Lebanese have faith in each other and in their state, that the state is their protector, the provider of their rights and needs, and that the president of the republic is the guarantor of safety and peace.”
He added that the Constitution could not be “implemented partially, otherwise it shall become pale and weak … and no legitimacy for any authority shall rise from it.”
Earlier this month, Parliament approved the first state budget in over 12 years. The historic moment was tarnished, however, because it was passed with a violation of the Constitution, with no auditing of previous years’ accounts and no oversight of previous extrabudgetary spending in the millions of dollars complete before the 2017 budget passed.
Before the budget, a new salary scale was passed, but again it violated the Constitution and led the Constitutional Council to strike it down in its original form after it was ratified by lawmakers and signed by Aoun. Sent back to Cabinet and Parliament for review, a second version of largely the same law was approved in order to fund the new pay scale. However, the fact remained that judges and economic experts said eliminating corruption and leveraging the massive earnings from major local banks could fund the public sector pay hike.
If the president claimed that the Constitution would become weak if only partially implemented, it has become weak. In passing the electoral law, MPs extended their term for a third consecutive time in violation of the Constitution – Aoun was an MP when the first two extensions were allowed – and no parliamentary by-elections were held to fill three vacant seats despite such by-elections being stipulated by the Constitution and the new vote law.
It is easy to cast judgment from the outside looking in and the president of any country is a prime target. But if the president of Lebanon is to realize his motto of rooting out corruption and following through with his party’s moniker of “change and reform,” the president should look at how some of his actions appear to the outside world. In this effort, it couldn’t hurt to limit the number of people who share Aoun’s name in administrative positions. As Public Works Minister Youssef Fenianos recently joked, “Has anyone from the Aoun family not got a [decision-making position]?”

Arab Women Council names Sumaya Baalbaki as Social Responsibility Ambassador
Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - The Arab Women Council, chaired by Lina Daghlawi Moukarzel, named the acclaimed Lebanese artist, Soumaya Baalbaki, as the Council's Social Responsibility Ambassador for 2017-2018. The announcement came during a ceremony held in Cairo on the occasion of the fourth round of "Golden Excellence Shield 2017", attended by Council board of trustees and significant dignitaries in the Arab nation. In her delivered word, Mukarzel noted that "art plays an essential role and message that contributes in a great way to supporting social responsibility, aimed at achieving sustainable development." She also pointed out that "the Arab Women Council permanently stands beside the Arab women at all levels."

Army Commander, Fokaides tackle military cooperation
Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, on Monday met at his Yarze office with Cypriot Defense Minister, Christoforos Fokaides, in the presence of National Defense Minister, Yaacoub Riad Al-Sarraf and Cypriot Ambassador. Talks reportedly touched on means of bolstering military cooperation with the armies of both countries, and the Cypriot aids provided to the Lebanese army. On the other hand, Major General Aoun met respectively with MPs Fardi Al-Khazen, Ziad Qadri and Hadi Hobeich. The army commander also met with Environment Minister, Tarek Al-Khatib, with talks reportedly touching on most recent developments in the country.

Iraqi intelligence hails Mashnouq, Ibrahim's role in freeing Lebanese hostages
Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - Iraqi intelligence services thanked all the Iraqi security apparatuses and citizens who contributed to the release of the Lebanese kidnapped in Iraq, hailing the considerable role played by Interior and Municipalities Minister, Nouhad Mashnouq, and General Security Chief, Abbas Ibrahim, in this regard. Iraqi intelligence services also hailed the joint coordination between the Lebanese security apparatuses and their constructive efforts which helped in obtaining the release of the kidnapped Lebanese. The Iraqi intelligence also praised the efforts and information steadily provided by General Ibrahim, which enabled them to free the hostages, namely Imad Al-Khatib, Nader Hamadeh and Georges Batrouni.

Kataeb calls for swiftly addressing Syrian refugee dossier
Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - Kataeb Party on Monday urged the government to swiftly address the Syrian refugee dossier, and to draw on the recent proposal forwarded by Party chief, MP Sami Gemayel, on the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. Kataeb's fresh words came on Monday in a statement issued in the wake of its weekly politburo meeting, under the chairmanship of Party chief, MP Sami Gemayel. The meeting took up most recent developments on the local arena. MP Gemayel proposed during his recent meetings with the Russian leadership that Moscow plays a role of mediation between the Lebanese state and the various sides in Syria to secure the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland. The Russian leadership showed willingness and responsiveness with Gemayel's proposal, as per the statement. MP Gemayel briefed the politburo meeting on the climate of his talks with the Russian officials. Turning to the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Phalange party warned of the current authority's attempts to control the course of upcoming polls and its results.

Fenianos, Shorter follows up on application of international aviation regulations' standards

Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - A meeting was held on Monday between Public Works and Transportation Minister, Youssef Fenianos, and British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter, at the Ministry office, to discuss the issue of airport security and the application of international aviation regulations' standards. The meeting took place in the presence of the Minister Fenianos's Bureau Chief, Shakib Khoury, and a delegation of the Civil Aviation Directorate General. Discussions reportedly touched on the Ministry's adopted measures and steps in terms of the aviation security program at all levels. Talks also touched on the recent visit of the delegation of the British Department for Transport to Lebanon to witness first-hand the application of aviation security standards, in addition to cooperation between the two countries in this field.

Hasbani talks health cooperation prospects with his Saudi counterpart
Mon 30 Oct 2017/NNA - Deputy Prime Minister, Public Health Minister, Ghassan Hasbani, began an official visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the invitation of his Saudi counterpart, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiaa. A meeting was held between Ministers Hasbani and Al-Rabiaa to discuss the current situation of the health sector and the adopted health strategies in both countries, in view of the common aspects in this regard. Prospects of health cooperation and the exchange of expertise highlighted their talks. Hasbani held a series of meetings with several Saudi officials. He is also scheduled to visit on Tuesday a number of hospitals and medical centers in the Kingdom, including "King Fahad Medical City" and "King Faisal Specialist Hospital."

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on October 30-31/17
Six Militants Killed As IDF Blast Destroys Tunnel
Jerusalem Post/October 30/17/Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the explosion Monday, saying Israel will "harm whoever will try to harm us." The IDF blew up a Hamas attack tunnel that reached into Israeli territory Monday, using new technology to detect terrorist tunnels. According to Palestinian media, six Palestinian militants were killed. Arafat Abu Marshould, head of the faction's armed wing in central Gaza, was killed along with a senior associate and two other gunmen. The group said it had put its fighters on "full alert," a source for the Islamic Jihad militant group said.
The armed wing of the Islamist Hamas group said two of its gunmen were killed while trying to rescue Islamic Jihad men working in the tunnel. Gaza health officials said nine people were wounded. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman touted the blast as a show of Israel’s technological advancement. In a Likud faction meeting on Monday, Netanyahu said Israel will "harm whoever will try to harm us." “I told you many times that we are developing groundbreaking technology to deal with the tunnel threat,” he added. “Today we detected a tunnel and destroyed it, and we will continue doing so...We will continue to protect Israel’s borders.”Liberman said the event was “a result of high operational capabilities and also a significant technological breakthrough, which allows us to deal with the tunnel threat much better.”“I think the message is clear to all,” Liberman added, “we will not tolerate breaches of Israeli sovereignty...This proves that despite Palestinian unity, the Gaza Strip remains a terrorist kingdom, and for us, there is no doubt Hamas, who controls Gaza is responsible.”However, the Defense Minister said, Israel is not interested in an escalation. Education Minister Naftali Bennett referred to the destroyed tunnel as "a serious violation of Israel's sovereignty." The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit added that locating “terrorism tunnels” is a part of a wide defense effort carried out by the military since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense, the eight-day standoff between Israel and Hamas that took place back in 2012. “The IDF will will keep taking all measures needed over and under the ground to thwart attempts to harm the residents of the State of Israel and to keep the area quiet, as it was after the Pillar of Defense operation."The IDF Spokesperson added that while the army had no intentions to deteriorate the situation, “it is ready for a variety of scenarios.”
** Staff, Reuters and Yasser Okbi contributed to this report.

Kushner Visited Saudi Arabia Unannounced To Discuss Mideast Peace
Jerusalem Post/October 30/17/Jared Kushner is busy meeting officials as the White House reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly. US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, traveled to Saudi Arabia unannounced on a commercial jet to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace with kingdom leadership. Kushner's trip, first reported on Sunday afternoon by Politico, was confirmed by the White House in a statement. "The senior advisor to the president, the deputy national security advisor for strategy [Dina Powell] and the special representative for international negotiations [Jason Greenblatt] recently returned from Saudi Arabia," a senior White House official told The Jerusalem Post. "The senior advisor has also been in frequent contact with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Saudi Arabia." Greenblatt's visit to the region– which included stops in Cairo, Amman, Jerusalem, and Ramallah– had been publicly shared, unlike Kushner's travel, which was kept under wraps until he arrived back in Washington. While these regional talks will play an important role, the president reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties and that the United States will continue working closely with the parties to make progress toward that goal," the official said. "No deal will be imposed on Israelis and Palestinians; We are committed to facilitating a deal that improves conditions for both parties. Politico notes that the White House has not released any details on Kushner's trip, including who he met with as a representative of the US government. The report goes on to note that he arrived back in Washington to celebrate the birthday of his wife, Ivanka Trump, at the city's Trump International Hotel.

Iranian Diplomat Imam Call For Destruction Of Israel
Jerusalem Post/October 30/17/"The countdown to the annihilation of the Zionist regime has begun."
A day after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani boldly declared that Tehran will continue to produce nuclear-capable missiles, an activity Israel has been warning against for years, a video of an Iranian diplomat urging for the destruction of Israel started gaining traction online. The diplomat and imam Hormoz Gharemani made a hate speech against the Jewish state at an Al-Quds Day event in June 2017 at an Auckland, New Zealand mosque, but his words only started coming under public scrutiny this week. In the video, which was translated by MEMRI, Ghahremani can be heard saying: "The Zionists make divisions in the Muslim world to achieve their goals." He also described a "Zionist conspiracy to infiltrate Muslim countries" and attributed to Israel "terrorism and extremism in the region [as] fueled and funded by the enemies of Islam and the Zionists."Next to speak at the event that was hosted by the lslamic Ahlulbayt Foundation of New Zealand was Imam Hojatoleslam Shafie, who stated: "As you all know, Israel and the Zionist regime hide behind a fake phenomenon...described as the Holocaust, and do not let anybody investigate the Holocaust....Why weren't the Jews given a piece of Germany? Why should [did] they come to Palestine?"The imam said that Al-Quds Day (Al-Quds being the Arabic word for Jerusalem) was founded by the late Iranian Supreme Ayatollah Khomeini with the intention of "dealing a powerful punch to the mouth of the cancerous tumor known as evil Israel." Over the sounds of children playing, Shafie continued, "As Imam Khomeini once said, if every Muslim were to spit in the face of Israel, Israel would drown."He returned to familiar language, describing Israel as a "cancer" which needs to be "surgically removed."Without citing an explanation, Shafie said, "In my opinion, the countdown to the annihilation of the Zionist regime has begun."As the video continues to spark controversy online, the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand (from which both imams operate) are slated to lead the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba tomorrow, and delegations from down under are currently touring Israel before the event.

Paul Manafort, Who Once Ran Trump Campaign, Surrenders to F.B.I.
New York Times/October 30/17/WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning, after a person close to the case said the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation. The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office. Also charged was Mr. Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates, who was also told to surrender on Monday, the person said. Mr. Manafort walked into the F.B.I.’s field office in Washington at about 8:15 a.m. with his lawyer. Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show. Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.

Jamal Khashoggi says lack of political life forced him to leave Saudi Arabia
MEM/October 30, 2017/Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi said he had left Saudi Arabia several months ago because there is no political life in Saudi Arabia.
In an interview with CNN, Khashoggi called to allow all of Saudi society to participate in the reform process. Khashoggi said he felt “insulted” after an official close to the Royal Court called him and asked him to be silent and not to criticize US President, Donald Trump. “I know many Saudis who went to state security before their arrest and signed pledges not to oppose the government, which is not the Saudi Arabia we should seek. We should seek a holistic Saudi Arabia” he said. Read More: New Saudi mega-city is prince’s desert dream .“We must not get rid of radical Salafism to impress radical liberalism or whatever its name, reform is something that all sectors in the society must participate in” Khashoggi said. Remarking on the 70 Saudis who were arrested by the Saudi authorities, Khashoggi said “later, many conspiracy theories may come out, but we see that the 70 detainees come from different directions and do not belong to a single organization”. “We do not really have political life in Saudi Arabia, parties are banned, organizations are not allowed, so I do not have a really good answer” he said, adding that the only common thing between these people is that they are independent and have expressed concern about one thing or another which is normal in any free society. “People should be allowed to express their concerns and views on any issue, whether economic or social as long as they do not support or call for violence” he said.

Canada repeals facilitation payments exception in Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act

October 30, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada
Canada plays a leadership role in fighting corruption and creating a level playing field for Canadian businesses at home and abroad. The Government of Canada expects Canadian organizations operating overseas to act in accordance with Canadian laws and the laws of the countries in which they do business.
Today, Global Affairs Canada announces the removal of the facilitation payments exception from the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (CFPOA). The facilitation payments exception was repealed by Bill S‑14: An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. The repeal is to come into force on October 31, 2017.
Facilitation payments, also known as “grease payments,” are payments made to foreign government officials to speed up or facilitate routine transactions such as permits. These payments were not previously covered by the bribery offence in the CFPOA.
Quick facts
In 1998, Canada enacted the CFPOA, which makes it a crime for Canadian businesses and individuals to bribe foreign public officials.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimates that the cost of corruption equals more than 5% of global gross domestic product (US$2.6 trillion), with some US$1 trillion paid in bribes each year.
The World Economic Forum reports that corruption increases the cost of doing business by up to 10%, on average.
Related products
The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act
An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act
Associated links
Strengthening Canada’s fight against foreign bribery
Canada’s Fight against Foreign Bribery: Eighteenth Annual Report to Parliament
Global issues and international assistance: Corruption
Paying the price: Confronting corruption in international business

Saudi FM: Iran is Destroying all Political Solutions
Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30/17/Houthi militias are violating all international laws and banning hospitals from operating and treating patients, as well as targeting humanitarian aid convoys in Yemen, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has said.
“When we talk about Yemen and our alliance to support the legitimacy, we have to remember the war of the Houthi and Saleh militias on the stability of the country and taking it captive,” he said on Sunday. Jubeir said the insurgents have “committed crimes against the Yemeni people, launched an offensive on the security of Yemen’s neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and have continuously threatened the stability of the region.” Jubeir's statement came during a meeting in Riyadh of foreign ministers and military officials from the Saudi-led coalition involved in Yemen, including Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE. He indicated that the actions of the Houthi rebels and Saleh forces had “imposed a military option.” The Saudi FM stated that the militias have denied over four million children from their right to education and have recruited over 1,000 children. "This behavior has kidnapped the will of the people and imposed military action after continues violations and assaults that have not yet stopped,” Jubeir stated, adding that the insurgency even targeted the Holy Mosque in Mekka, in a blatant provocation for all Muslims around the globe. “These militias would not have continued operations without the support of the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, the Iranian regime,” Jubeir asserted. He accused Iran of blocking peace efforts in Yemen and smuggling arms and weapons to Houthis and their ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. “Iran is destroying all attempts to find a solution in Yemen, which has led to the failure of all political negotiations between the government and these militias,” he asserted.

Kuwait Emir Accepts PM’s Resignation
Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30/17/Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah tendered on Monday his resignation to Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, reported the Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA).The Emir accepted the resignation and ordered that the ministers will now take on a caretaker role until a new cabinet is formed. The resignation came on the eve of a National Assembly session that was set to discuss a no-confidence vote in Information Minister Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Mubarak al-Sabah. The minister was debriefed last Tuesday. KUNA said that the National Assembly will hold a regular meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday to address a number of articles, most notably the no-confidence vote.

Bahrain FM: Suspension of Qatar’s Membership is Correct Step to Preserve GCC

Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30/17/Bahrain's foreign minister on Monday suggested suspending Qatar's Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) membership until it accepts the demands of the Arab quartet. "The correct step to preserve the GCC would be to freeze Qatar's membership until it sees reason and accepts the demands of our countries. If not, we will be fine with it leaving the GCC," Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said on his Twitter account. The minister also said in another tweet that "if Qatar thinks that its current playing with time and evading will buy it time till the upcoming GCC summit, then it's mistaken. If the situation remained as it is we won't attend this summit."Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on June 5 severed ties with Qatar for supporting extremism and terrorist groups, and issued Doha with a list of demands. "Bahrain will not attend a summit with Qatar, which becomes closer to Iran each day and brings foreign forces (to its soil), dangerous steps for the security of GCC countries," Sheikh Khalid said in another tweet.

Saudi Crown Prince, French President Discuss Counter-Terrorism Efforts
Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17/Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, received a telephone call from French President Emmanuel Macron, reported the Saudi Press Agency on Monday. The two officials discussed counter-terrorism and coordinating efforts to bolster regional security and stability. Prince Mohammed and Macron also tackled bilateral ties between Riyadh and Paris, said SPA.

Rouhani Pledges to Keep Producing Missiles
Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17/President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech in parliament on Sunday that Iran will continue to produce ballistic missiles and does not consider that a violation of international accords. "We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles, and this violates no international agreements," Rouhani said in the speech broadcast on state television. This was Rouhani’s first speech since US President Donald Trump announced on October 13 that he would not certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
And on Thursday, Congress passed new sanctions in response to Iran's ballistic missiles program. UN Security Council Resolution 2231 calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology. In his speech, Rouhani also criticized the United States over Trump's refusal to formally certify that Tehran is complying with the 2015 accord on Iran's nuclear program, even though international inspectors say it is. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), met Rouhani, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on Sunday, an IAEA statement said. "Director General Amano reiterated that the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran are being implemented, and that the JCPOA represents a clear gain from a verification point of view," it said, using an abbreviation for the 2015 accord. "For the future, he stressed the importance of full implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments in order to make the JCPOA sustainable." According to Reuters, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has pressed the IAEA to seek access to Iranian military bases to ensure that they are not concealing activities banned by the nuclear deal. Asked whether Amano had made any requests for new inspections, Salehi said after meeting Amano: "He has no request in this area," Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported. Salehi said Iran could resume production of 20 percent enriched uranium in four days, but did not want the Iran deal to fall apart.

NATO Calls North Korea 'Global Threat'
Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17/NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called North Korea a "global threat" Monday and said he backed tighter sanctions against Pyongyang. "We are as concerned as you are about the provocative, reckless behavior from North Korea," Stoltenberg said in a speech to a group of security experts and defense officials during a visit to Tokyo. "It is really dangerous, it poses a direct threat to countries in this region (including) Japan, but it is also a global threat," he added. Stoltenberg is in Tokyo to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other senior officials including Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. Pyongyang has sparked global alarm in recent months by conducting its sixth nuclear test and test-launching missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, while US president Donald Trump and the North's young ruler Kim Jong-Un have traded threats of war and personal insults. It fired two projectiles over northern Japan in less than a month, ringing alarm bells in Tokyo as Abe called for a get-tough approach towards Pyongyang. "NATO strongly support political, diplomatic, economic pressure on North Korea and we welcome the strengthening of the sanctions" adopted by the UN Security Council in September, Stoltenberg said."But even more important, we need to be sure that the sanctions are fully and transparently implemented," he added. Stoltenberg's visit comes after Abe met with him in Brussels in July to agree on boosting security cooperation.
Stoltenberg has stressed that Washington had the right to defend itself and its allies but called for greater diplomatic efforts. "We don't have to use military force -- peaceful resolution is the aim," he said Monday.

UNRWA Criticizes Armed Groups for Digging Tunnels under its Schools
Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17/The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has criticized armed groups without naming them for digging tunnels under schools in the Gaza Strip. Agency spokesperson Chris Gunness wrote in a statement late Saturday that UNRWA had "discovered the existence of what appeared to be a tunnel underneath one of its schools” in northern Gaza’s Bein Hanoun. "UNRWA has robustly intervened with relevant parties to protest the violation of the sanctity and disrespect of the neutrality of UN premises," Gunness said. "The presence of a tunnel underneath an UNRWA installation, which enjoys inviolability under international law, is unacceptable," he stated. "It places children and Agency staff at risk."He also demanded “full respect for the neutrality and inviolability of United Nations premises at all times. Any activities or conduct that put beneficiaries and staff alike at risk, and undermine the ability of UNRWA staff to provide assistance to Palestine refugees in safety and security, must cease.” One June 1, UNRWA said it found part of a tunnel that passes under two adjacent agency schools in the Maghazi camp in Gaza during construction work. It added that the tunnel was discovered while the schools were empty during the summer holiday. Hamas did not comment on the UN agency’s latest discovery. But the movement’s spokesman Fawzi Barhoum had considered UNRWA’s June statement as “allegations that aim at justifying the occupation’s crimes and encouraging it to target civilians.”Hamas had clarified the issue "with all factions and resistance forces, who clearly stated they had no actions related to the resistance in the said location," Barhoum said at the time. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have built a vast network of tunnels to use them for attacks against Israeli troops in any possible confrontation, to launch rocket attacks and prevent any infiltration attempt into Gaza.

Spanish Prosecutors Go after Catalonia's Axed Leaders
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/October 30/17/Spanish prosecutors on Monday demanded that Catalonia's dismissed leaders be charged with rebellion after the regional parliament declared independence last week and the central government in Madrid moved to take control of the region.
Upping the ante in the EU country's biggest crisis in decades, Spain's chief prosecutor said he was seeking charges including rebellion and sedition against the Catalan leaders, sacked by Madrid on Friday. Jose Manuel Maza said the officials "caused an institutional crisis that led to the unilateral declaration of independence (by the Catalan parliament) carried out on October 27 with total contempt for our constitution."
Meanwhile, there was so far no sign of Catalonia's dismissed regional president Carles Puigdemont. A Spanish government source told AFP that the 54-year-old was in Brussels.Rebellion is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. A court now has to decide whether to accept the case against the leaders and bring charges.
On Sunday Belgium's immigration minister suggested Puigdemont could receive asylum in Belgium on the grounds that he might not get a fair trial in Spain. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel later insisted that was "not on the agenda."
Puigdemont on Saturday urged "democratic opposition" to Madrid's effort to take control of his region.
Clear your desks
Puigdemont maintains that the result of an independence referendum on October 1 -- outlawed by Spain's top court -- gave the wealthy northeastern region a mandate to declare it was seceding from Spain.
All eyes on Monday were on the regional government building in Barcelona -- where the Spanish flag was flying -- to see whether Puigdemont or members of his former administration would appear. Catalan police, now under orders from Madrid, have been told they can allow the dismissed leaders to enter the government headquarters in Barcelona, but only to clear their desks. One member of the dismissed government, Josep Rull, tweeted a photo of himself "at the office" doing his job as a regional minister. Press reports said he left again shortly afterwards.Late on Friday the Spanish Senate gave Madrid the power to impose direct rule on Catalonia under Article 155 of the constitution, the first time this so-called "nuclear option" has been applied. That followed the unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia's parliament the same day. Madrid took control of key powers and fresh Catalan elections were called for December 21. A spokesman for Puigdemont's party PDeCAT said Monday that it would take part in the election. There had been speculation that it might boycott the vote.
'Psychological war'
Puigdemont's deputy Oriol Junqueras this weekend called Madrid's move a "coup d'etat", defiantly still signing off in a Catalan newspaper as the region's "vice-president."But the international community including the European Union, struggling with Brexit and other challenges, has largely spurned the independence declaration and has united behind Madrid. Donald Tusk, EU president, said Friday that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, 62, "remains our only interlocutor."
Spain's Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis told Britain's Sky News on Sunday it was "hard to see" how Puigdemont and the others would go on government, saying that "reality is sinking in." Sergi Sabria, a spokesperson for the separatist ERC party, appeared to agree on Monday, saying: "For now our republic is not fully able to impose itself the way that we would like."But Sabria said that they would not give up and a separatist source described the situation as the "beginning of a psychological war" with Rajoy's government. "What we have to do is to resist Article 155, in a symbolic manner of course, and to show that the (Spanish) state's power here is weak and cannot totally impose itself," the source said.
Demo for unity
With its own language and distinct culture, Catalonia accounts for about 16 percent of Spain's population and a fifth of the eurozone country's economy. After Friday's declaration of independence, Catalan lawmakers hugged and sang the Catalan anthem. The session was beamed onto giant screens outside and a crowd of 15,000 cheered every "yes" vote. But on Sunday it was the turn of supporters of a united Spain, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets of the Catalan capital Barcelona, waving Spanish and European flags and chanting "Viva Espana". Municipal police said the crowd numbered about 300,000. Organizers said 1.3 million turned out and the central government's representative in Catalonia put the figure at one million. The referendum "was an act of madness that has brought us to the brink," said Alex Ramos, the vice-president of Societat Civil Catalana, a group opposed to independence that organized the rally. "The streets don't belong just to the separatists," he added.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on October 30-31/17
Israel Suspects ISIS behind Failed Assassination of Gaza Security Forces Chief

Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17/
Groups affiliated with the ISIS terrorist group and others operating in Egypt’s Sinai may have been behind the failed assassination attempt against Gaza security forces chief Tawfiq Abou Naim, Israeli security circles said.
Sources from the Palestinian Hamas group echoed these claims, saying that the extremists were likely responsible for the failed assassination.
Abou Naim was slightly injured when a small explosive went off in his vehicle as he was leaving a Gaza mosque where he attended Friday prayer.
Israeli daily Yedioth Adronoth reported the Hamas sources as saying that the agencies leading the investigation predict that a group linked to ISIS may have been behind the plot against Abou Naim. The Palestinian official has led a crackdown against the extremists, explained the Israeli sources, which is why he may have been a target for ISIS. Dozens of radicals have been arrested at Abou Naim’s orders. He was also responsible for setting up a buffer zone with Egypt to prevent the infiltration of extremists into Sinai. The Israeli sources highlighted the arrest of Nour Issa, a leader of one of the pro-ISIS groups in Gaza, and a number of other such leaders as a reason for the attack against Abou Naim. Hamas’ investigations have not only focused on a possible ISIS link, but they are also considering Israeli operatives and sides seeking to obstruct the Palestinian reconciliation. The Interior Ministry in Gaza warned the media, social media activists in particular, against posting rumors linked to the failed assassination, urging them to only rely on official statements.
Hamas has yet to release any information about its investigation and it has refused to confirm or deny the arrest of two people who were spotted at the scene of the attack.
The movement’s leaders, including its politburo chief Ismail Haniya, had accused Israel of standing behind the assassination, saying that it alone benefits from it because Abou Naim was responsible for the arrest of dozens of collaborators.

Russia is Pushing to Control Cyberspace
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/October, 30/17
Russia’s cyber-meddling in the 2016 US presidential election has been accompanied by what US and European experts describe as a worrisome Kremlin campaign to rewrite the rules for global cyberspace.
A draft of a Russian proposal for a new “United Nations Convention on Cooperation in Combating Information Crimes” was recently shown to me by a security expert who obtained a copy. The 54-page document includes 72 proposed articles, covering collection of Internet traffic by authorities, “codes of conduct” for cyberspace and “joint investigation” of malicious activity. The language sounds bureaucratic and harmless, but experts say that if adopted, it would allow Russia to squeeze cyberspace even more.
The Kremlin’s proposed convention would enhance the ability of Russia and other authoritarian nations to control communication within their countries, and to gain access to communications in other countries, according to several leading US cyber experts. They described the latest draft as part of Moscow’s push over the past decade to shape the legal architecture of what Russian strategists like to call the “information space.”
The proposal was floated by the Kremlin early this year, and outlined in an April 4 article in Kommersant. The Moscow daily reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry had described the convention as an “innovative” and “universal” attempt to replace the 2001 Budapest Convention, which has been signed by the United States and 55 other countries but rejected by Russia. Kommersant said “Russian authorities saw a threat to the sovereignty of the country” in the Budapest pact.
Russia’s bid to rewrite global rules through the United Nations was matched by a personal pitch on cyber-cooperation in July from President Vladimir Putin to President Trump at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg. Putin “vehemently denied” to Trump that Russia had interfered in the US election, Trump said in a tweet. Trump then floated a mystifying proposal: “Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded and safe.”
Trump’s suggestion that America join Russia in cyberdefense provoked an uproar in the United States. One Twitter commentator wrote: “This is like the FBI asking the Mafia to form an anti-crime unit together.”
The White House quickly backtracked after Trump’s tweet. Homeland security adviser Tom Bossert told reporters on July 14: “I don’t believe that the US and Russia have come to that point yet in cyberspace. And until we do, we wouldn’t have the conversation about partnership.”
Many US cyber experts share Bossert’s view that although any formal treaty or partnership with Moscow now is unwise, quiet confidence-building discussions might be useful. Those could include military-to-military or technical contacts to explore how to avoid catastrophic cyber-events that might cripple strategic systems or pose systemic risk.
US and Russian officials had maintained such a dialogue to explore norms for the Internet, but so far it has been a dead end. The Russians were led by Andrey Krutskikh, a foreign ministry official who is Putin’s cyber adviser; and on the US side, by Christopher Painter, who was White House cyber chief under President Barack Obama and then cyber coordinator at the State Department, a post he left this year.
These contacts are sensible, but they have withered as US-Russia relations have deteriorated. A high-level working group stopped meeting after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. A UN-sponsored Group of Governmental Experts on Information Security broke up in June after failing to reach consensus on measures for improving information security. Putin’s bilateral proposal at Hamburg quickly disappeared after Trump’s premature endorsement.
The Russians, meanwhile, continue their campaign to regulate cyberspace on their terms, by mobilizing allies to support their alternative to the Budapest convention; Moscow’s biggest complaint is that the Budapest framework, in Article 32 (b), allows the owners of data to control its use, rather than governments. Moscow wants state control of information.
Russia got some global support for its effort at a September gathering in Xiamen, China, of the so-called BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In their formal declaration, the countries “recognize the need for a universal regulatory binding instrument on combatting the criminal use of ICTs [information and communications technologies] under the UN auspices.” The countries “acknowledge the initiative” of Russia in seeking such a binding pact.
If the events of the past year have taught us anything, it’s that Russia views information as a decisive political weapon and wants to control this potential battle space. The global regulatory side of this contest gets little attention, but it could help determine whether open information flows survive in the age of the autocrats.

What Is a Nation in the 21st Century?
Michael Goldfarb/Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17
The recent independence referendums in Iraqi Kurdistan and Catalonia, and the predictable heavy-handed responses from the central governments in Baghdad and Madrid, have raised many questions — a catechism without answers — on the meaning of nationhood in the 21st century. What is a nation? What is a nation-state? Is it the same as a country? Are a people, or a tribe, the same thing as a nation? In a globalized economy what does national sovereignty really mean?
My guess is most Americans don’t think of these questions. They live in “One Nation Indivisible,” even if their country doesn’t feel that way these days. But “what is a nation?” is a question that has been asked with urgency in many parts of the world in the almost three decades since the end of the Cold War.
Fifteen new/old nations emerged out of the Soviet Union alone. Its European satellites also redefined themselves. Within five years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany agreed to be effectively purchased by the West Germans. Czechoslovakia became two nations, created out of negotiation. Yugoslavia eventually became seven countries brought forth upon this earth in bloodshed.
Not all groups have succeeded in the push for a nation-state of their own. The Kurds, despite appalling repression, have never stopped trying to create a nation of their own.
To understand this urge to redraw the map you need to look at modern imperial history. Kurdistan and Yugoslavia’s borders were fixed when the defeated Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires were carved up at the end of World War I. These boundary lines had very little to do with national aspirations and everything to do with the convenience of the victorious empires, Britain and France. The borders were maintained by the imperial powers that supplanted the British and French after World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union.
The challenge to the existing idea of nationhood began with the end of Communism. It expanded when Western nations began to fissure following the financial crash of 2008.
Brexit came out of an internal argument Britons have been having since the crash about what their nation is and should be.
The crash increased support for the Scottish Nationalist Party, which won a majority in the Scottish Parliament in 2011. In 2014, Scottish voters were asked in a referendum, “Should Scotland be an independent country, yes or no?” The no’s had it. But that wasn’t the end of the story because English nationalism had been aroused.
In 2016, David Cameron, the British prime minister, having won the Scottish referendum, decided to try his luck again by offering a vote on Britain’s continued membership in the European Union: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”
The argument against continued membership in the union was made in terms of national sovereignty. It was not a new argument. When the European Union began its slow march toward a federal future in the late 1980s, Britain balked at joining the process. In Margaret Thatcher’s view, joining a federal Europe meant the end of Britain’s national independence. Britain, because of its size and importance within the European Union, was able to opt out of the foundational arrangements of this federal Europe: the Schengen Agreement, which allows free movement of people over national borders, as well as the single currency, the euro.
Fear about sovereignty did to normally pragmatic English minds what fear does to most minds: It made them irrational. During the Scottish referendum the European Union made it clear to Scots that if they voted for independence they would not be fast-tracked into the union and could not use the euro as its currency. No greater endorsement of British sovereignty could have been imagined. Didn’t matter.
When the votes were counted, 53 percent of English voters opted to leave while 62 percent of Scots voted to remain. Two very distinct expressions of national will, but only one is being acted on.
How much did Catalonia’s decision to hold an independence referendum vote owe to the Scottish vote? Did Carles Puigdemont, leader of the Catalan Parliament, make a mistake in assuming that the precedent of peaceful voting in Britain on Scottish independence meant Catalans could have their vote in a similarly respectful atmosphere?
Didn’t he know that a European Union pledge to respect the sovereignty of its existing members would not intervene when the Spanish government sent in the Guardia Civil to stop it?
The Catalan crisis leads to a final question about nationhood: Can Western Europe’s nations hope to preserve their wealth and high living standards in a globalized economy without pooling their nationhood into something greater?
The beginning of an answer to this contemporary question comes from the past. Around 500 years ago, at another time of political and economic flux, a Polish nobleman, whose name is lost to history, was asked about his national identity. He responded, “I am of the Polish nation, of the Lithuanian citizenship, of the Ruthenian people, and of Jewish origin.”
The answer anticipates the view of Albert Rivera, who leads an anti-independence center-right party in Catalonia: “Catalonia is my homeland, Spain is my country and Europe is our future.”
Can Europe become a nation? That’s one of the biggest questions of the 21st century.

The Decision to Belong to the Age
Ghassan Charbel/Asharq Al Awsat/October, 30//17
In the past, we used to view China as being very far away from us geographically, but this has changed in the age of globalization and the birth of the “global village.” The development that took place in China last week therefore concerns us in our economy and security because it concerns global international and economic balances.
The 19th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party not only extended the term of President Xi Jinping for five years, but it went much more beyond that. It has enshrined Xi’s political thought on communism in the constitution. This is an unprecedented move that was only achieved by Mao Zedong’s successors after their retirement.
If we take into consideration that we are talking about the world’s second greatest economy and its most populous country, then the introduction of an extraordinary leadership there is a global event that concerns countries near and far.
It is true that the US economy is still on top and that its military is the most advanced. But it is also true that the American system is no longer able to produce a constant stream of extraordinary leaders who are immune to scandals created by journalism and the internet. It was also clear that Russia has, a hundred years after the Bolshevik Revolution, witnessed the rise of a new czar, as the Economist magazine reported. It is clear though that the new czar was able to improve the situation in his country in international balances, more than he did in rehabilitating its economy to be able to compete on the long-term.
The truth is that Xi owes a lot to Deng Xiaoping, who soon after Mao’s death sought to take the major and difficult decision to join the modern age. Deng was the first to give the signal that labels such as “Great Captain” were no longer suitable in our world. “Comrade Deng” took a firm decision to prevent Mao from ruling China from his grave. He preserved the sanctity of the grave, but he opened a window and buried many rulings of the “Red Book” after they were no longer applicable in a changing world. This is how Mao remained a party machine that includes some 90 million members, who are guarantors of stability, while Deng’s disciples embarked on a journey in search of prosperity.
Over the past five years, Xi played a major role in solidifying the image of a new China and in bolstering its position. The world took note of Deng’s students in helping hundred of millions of Chinese get out of poverty and the numbers backed the credibility of dreams.
On the outside, it is enough to point to the Belt and Road initiative, for which Beijing dedicated $124 billion, in order to bolster trade and its influence in new markets.
In January, Xi attended the Davos World Economic Forum where he delivered a speech that ardently defended globalization and warned against protectionist policies. It was said at the time that US President Donald Trump, who had only assumed his post weeks earlier, was the main target of this speech.
Mao’s successor stole the spotlight and it became clear that the Chinese age was coming, albeit a bit late.
As I sat at the forum hall, I felt dejected that the Arab world had not yet taken the decision to belong to the age.
Coincidence would have it that the final day of the Chinese Communist Party national congress took place simultaneously with the opening of the Riyadh-hosted Future Investment Initiative. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the conference was unprecedented in the Arab world because it brought together under one roof businessmen who control $22 trillion of the world’s wealth. Sovereign and investment funds and technology giants came together at an event that would not have happened at that time and place had the decision to belong to the age not been taken.
Belonging to the age is not an easy or light decision. It is a decision to adopt change, openness, coexistence and partnership. It requires a shift in regulations, mentalities and tools. It requires a comprehensive vision, executive plans and the ability to attract partners to join a workshop never before seen in the region.
I had many ideas while sitting at the conference hall, perhaps because I am a journalist who comes from a trend that gives priority to searching for the political mastermind. This trend gives precedence to generals in power or to the opposition. The truth is that the world has changed. It became clear that the decision-making power has been transferred from the old generals to the new ones, who manage financial institutions that are more powerful than countries. The old generals do not have a solution to the economy and they cannot improve the lives of people, except through finding agreements with the new ones.
I met in the hallways of the Riyadh conference Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group that runs some 400 companies. I asked him about the extent of his interest in the conference. He replied: “The best reflection of my interest is the fact that I have visited Saudi Arabia three times in three months. I believe that what Saudi Arabia is witnessing is very interesting. The quality of the participants in the conference demonstrates the world’s interest in Vision 2030 and the change that we have started to sense in the kingdom. I look forward to taking part in the massive futuristic NEOM project.”
“What is happening is very important. The Saudi Crown Prince is thinking about the post-oil Saudi Arabia. He is banking on the youth and their energies and Saudi women in developing the economy and society. He wants to attract Saudi capabilities and lure investors. It is remarkable to find a man who enjoys such courage and such a long-term vision. The truth is I have never met an official who has such a strong drive to succeed,” added Branson.
In the late 1970s, China took the decision to open its windows and belong to the age. It took the decision to belong to these successive technological and scientific revolts and employ them in improving the lives of the people. China is now picking the fruit of these efforts.
In Riyadh, the participants witnessed the irreversible decision to belong to the age. This led the generals of investment and technology to flock to take part in an experience, whose success will set an attractive example to the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Turkey: Erdogan's Stalinist Purge
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/October 30/17
Perhaps even more objectionable is Turkey's persecution of novelists who do not even take part in the political debate. They are hated by Erdogan's Islamist government simply for conveying Western ideas and fighting for freedom of speech.
Turkey's Erdogan is following the Soviet Stalinist method of burying the books, often along with their authors. Turkey is purging culture.
After the failed coup last year, Erdogan fired "21,000 teachers" and "1,577 university deans". It is the beheading of Turkey's academic culture. Shamefully, Europe has kept silent about this ideological massacre.
End of August, Madrid: At the Turkish government's request through Interpol, Spanish police arrested a famous Turkish writer, Dogan Akhanli, who was on vacation in Spain. A few days earlier, in Barcelona, Spanish authorities had arrested the Turkish writer, Hamza Yalcin, a reporter for the left-wing newspaper Odak. Meanwhile, in Turkey, another writer, Ahmet Altan was on trial. Turkish authorities prevented yet another Turkish novelist, Asli Erdogan, from flying to Europe to receive the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize in the German city of Osnabrück.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey has already made headlines for jailing dozens of journalists in a round-up that has transformed Turkey into "the world's biggest prison for reporters". Perhaps even more objectionable is Turkey's persecution of novelists who do not even take part in the political debate. They are hated by Erdogan's Islamist government simply for conveying Western ideas and fighting for freedom of speech. What is happening in Turkey is even more urgent than what is happening in Iran and Saudi Arabia, two other Islamic countries that persecute and jail writers: Turkey is, at least rhetorically, a democracy as well as the Islamic world's purported bridge to Europe.
In August, at the Turkish government's request through Interpol, Spanish police arrested a famous Turkish writer, Dogan Akhanli (pictured), who was on vacation in Spain. (Image source: © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
Nazis used to burn books; Turkey's Erdogan is following the Soviet Stalinist method of burying the books, often along with their authors.
In the last month alone, four great Turkish writers made headlines not for their novels, but for their arrests, trials and persecution. Erdogan's plan, however, goes beyond these writers' fate. Turkey is purging culture. The purge has been called an "intellectual massacre" that "has hit faculties from physics and biology to drama and politics at some of Turkey's best universities, chilling teachers and students alike". After a failed coup, last year, Erdogan fired "21,000 teachers" and "1,577 university deans". It is the beheading of Turkey's academic culture. Shamefully, Europe has kept silent about this ideological massacre.
In an unprecedented move, Erdogan is now promoting a plan to review the school textbooks, with the announced deletion of Darwin's theory of evolution and the insertion of Islamic holy war. At the same time, Erdogan is also asking to remove from the Turkish vocabulary words with a "Western" influence. The word "arena" will therefore be removed from sports stadiums. It is a typical totalitarian maneuver to change the language to control the population. Turkish authorities this week also removed Chopin's music from funeral marches and replaced it with an Ottoman era composition based on Koranic verses.
"In the past, Kemalists or leftists were merely suspicious of the political intentions of Western powers against Turkey", wrote the journalist Mustafa Akyol. "In the latter-day AKP narrative, however... Western civilization, with all its values, institutions, culture and even science, became something that must be doubted, if not outright rejected."
Fazil Say, a famous Turkish pianist, has been put on trial for "blasphemy". In one message he retweeted a verse from a poem by Omar Khayyám in which the 11th-century Persian poet attacks pious hypocrisy:
"You say rivers of wine flow in heaven, is heaven a tavern to you? You say two huris [companions] await each believer there, is heaven a brothel to you?"
Nedim Gursel, a professor of literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, was persecuted for his novel, The Daughters of Allah. The publisher Irfan Sanci was put on trial for "obscenity" for publishing The Exploits of a Young Don Juan, an erotic novel by Guillaume Apollinaire. In today's Turkey, everything that culturally conveys social and sexual freedom is seen as suspect.
A few months ago, Turkey decided to replace plays by foreign authors, such as Shakespeare and Bertolt Brecht, with those of Turkish authors. Turkey also censored The Soft Machine, a novel by an American, William S. Burroughs, whose books had always been translated into Turkish. Of Mice and Men, an American classic by John Steinbeck, was also threatened with censorship.
Sevan Nisanyan, an Armenian, just escaped from jail a few days ago and fled. "Turkey has turned into a veritable madhouse," he said.
He had been sentenced to 16 years and seven months for having made ironic comments about the Prophet Muhammad.
Two verses of "Table" poetry, written by the Turkish poet Edip Cansever were omitted from high school textbooks because they included the word "beer". Songs written by the poets Yunus Emre and Kaygusuz Abdal -- hundreds of years ago -- have also suffered the heavy hand of censorship. The novel Samarkand by Amin Maalouf, a Lebanese laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature now living in France, was investigated for being "vulgar and insulting Islam".
Erdogan's Turkey today looks like Maalouf's East, where the rulers tell the population: "If you want to keep your eyes, ears, and tongue, forget that you have eyes, ears, and a tongue".
*Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Turkey and the U.S.: A Poisoned Alliance
Burak Bekdil/Gatestone Institute/October 30/17
Ever since the Iraqi Kurds held a referendum (and voted "yes") on independence on September 25, Turkey has aligned itself with Iran and the Iran-controlled government in Iraq, who view the Kurdish political movement as a major threat.
Take the most significant geostrategic regional calculation in northern Syria: What Ankara views as the biggest security threat are U.S. allies fighting the Islamic State: the Syrian Kurds.
The anti-American sentiment in Turkey (part of which has been fueled by the Islamist government in power since 2002) may push Turkey further into a Russian-led axis of regional powers, including Iran.
In theory, Turkey and the United States have been staunch allies since the predominately Muslim nation became a NATO member state in 1952. Also, in theory, the leaders of the two allies are on friendly terms. President Donald Trump gave "very high marks" to Turkey's increasingly autocratic, Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the Turkish leader's recent visit to Washington when his security detail attacked peaceful protesters.
It is puzzling why Trump gave a passionately (and ideologically) pro-Hamas, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, Islamist leader "very high marks." But in reality, the Ankara-Washington axis could not be farther from diplomatic niceties such as "allies" or "very high marks."
This is a select (and brief) recent anatomy of what some analysts call "hostage diplomacy" between the two "staunch NATO allies."
In June this year, Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Survey, covering a total of 37 countries, revealed that 79% of Turks had an unfavorable opinion of the U.S. That was the second-highest among the countries surveyed, after 82% in Jordan. Anti-American sentiment in Turkey is 27% higher than in Russia, and more than twice as high as the global median of 39%.
There are reports that six Turkish government banks face billions of dollars in fines from the U.S. over alleged violations of Iran sanctions.
Turkey is keeping in jail, among a dozen or so others, a NASA scientist who was vacationing with relatives in Turkey, and a Christian missionary who has lived in Turkey for 23 years. Others include a visiting chemistry professor from Pennsylvania and his brother, a real-estate agent. All of them face long prison sentences for allegedly playing a part in last year's failed coup against Erdogan's government.
There is little doubt that the U.S. citizens are being held in Turkey as a bargaining chip to pressure Washington to extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, a former Erdogan ally and allegedly the mastermind behind the attempted putsch. Erdogan himself does not hide his intentions. If Gülen were handed over, Erdogan said, he would sort out the American pastor's judicial case. "Give him to us and we will put yours through the judiciary; we will give him to you," he said recently.
Early in October, as "hostage diplomacy" intensified, the "staunch allies" U.S. and Turkey stopped issuing non-immigrant visas to each others' citizens -- a restriction that has already affected thousands of travelers. The first ban came from the U.S., then Turkey retaliated. The U.S. move came after Turkey's arrest of a U.S. consulate employee, a Turkish citizen, on charges that he had links to Gülen. The visa ban put Turkey in the same category of countries such as Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen. Erdogan also claims that the U.S. is hiding a suspect in its Istanbul consulate who is also linked to Gülen.
Erdogan apparently wants to raise the stakes. A Turkish court earlier in October convicted -- in absentia -- a Wall Street Journal reporter of producing "terrorist propaganda" in Turkey and sentenced her to more than two years in prison. Ayla Albayrak was sentenced for writing an August 2015 article which, the judges ruled, violated Turkey's anti-terror laws. Had Albayrak not been in New York at the time of the verdict, she would have joined nearly 200 journalists already jailed in Turkey.
Adding insult to injury over the "very high marks," Erdogan claims that the U.S., not Turkey, is uncivilized and undemocratic. In an Oct. 21 speech, he said that the U.S. indictment against his bodyguards was "undemocratic." He said, "They say the United States is the cradle of democracy. This can't be true. This can't be democracy ... I'm sorry, but I cannot say that country [the U.S.] is civilized."
A kind of "transactional relationship" is, of course, understandable, given U.S. interests in a volatile region of the world where Turkey happens to be one of the state actors. All the same, the U.S. administration does not have the luxury of maintaining a game in which it views Turkey as a "staunch ally" and Erdogan as a leader with "very high marks." This make-believe policy toward Turkey will only further poison whatever is left of what once was a genuinely staunch alliance.
Turkey is clearly no longer a "staunch ally." Take the most significant geostrategic regional calculation in northern Syria: What Ankara views as the biggest security threat are U.S. allies fighting the Islamic State: the Syrian Kurds.
Ever since the Iraqi Kurds held a referendum (and voted "yes") on independence, on September 25, Turkey has aligned itself with Iran and the Iran-controlled government in Iraq, who view the Kurdish political movement as a major threat.
Ever since the Iraqi Kurds held a referendum on independence, on September 25, Turkey has aligned itself with Iran and the Iran-controlled government in Iraq, who view the Kurdish political movement as a major threat. Pictured: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, on September 24, 2014.
In addition, the anti-American sentiment in Turkey (part of which has been fueled by the Islamist government that has been in power since 2002) may push Turkey further into a Russian-led axis of regional powers, including Iran. Erdogan will not wish to look pro-American ahead of critical presidential elections in 2019 when 79% of Turks have an unfavorable opinion of the U.S.
Moreover, the idea of unifying Sunnis against the Shiite bloc is more difficult than it may look. Sunni Turks view Sunni Kurds, as an existential threat who are -- allied with Shiite Iran and Iran-controlled Iraq, which contains Kurds.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey also found themselves at the opposite ends of the crisis surrounding Qatar -- all Sunni.
**Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Historic Boeing-IranAir deal at risk amid claims of IRGC use
Saeed Jalili /Al Monitor/October 30/17
US President Donald Trump’s new Iran strategy, including his Oct. 13 refusal to certify that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meets congressional requirements, will push a contract for 80 passenger jets signed between Boeing and IranAir into uncertainty, despite the confidence both companies have been trying to show.
Trump has specifically referred to the $16 billion order by the Iranian flag carrier, saying he has not made up his mind about the future of the contract. “They were going to buy Boeings. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the deal,” he said in an interview Oct. 22, referring to Iran. Meanwhile, there have been reports going so far as to say that the US administration is likely to nix the aircraft order. One report published Oct. 23 by The Washington Free Beacon quotes “US officials and those in Congress” as saying the deal is endangered amid concern that the jets will be used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the United States accuses of promoting terrorism.
State-owned IranAir negotiated the massive order after Iran and six world powers concluded in 2015 an accord to impose restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program. In exchange, Iran was granted relief from sanctions that had kept its aviation industry isolated for decades. Indeed, sales of aircraft to Iran is specifically part of the letter of the JCPOA. Now, the historic aircraft agreement is at risk of falling apart amid Trump’s refusal to certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. Trump has given the US Congress two months to decide whether to reimpose sanctions lifted under the nuclear deal.
The order for 50 narrow-body Boeing 737 passenger jets and 30 wide-body 777 aircraft was secured in December last year. The US Treasury then had its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issue licenses to assure the sale would proceed. Based on US law, aircraft manufacturers must obtain an OFAC permit if more than 10% of their components are of US origin, meaning deals to purchase Airbus aircraft — which Iran has also ordered — need the green light from Washington, too.
IranAir claims its order is safe, even if the United States abandons the nuclear deal. “If the US pulls out of the JCPOA, this will not affect the OFAC licenses. … This will not affect Boeing’s contract with us,” IranAir CEO Farzaneh Sharafbafi stated on Sept. 28. But sanctions experts argue that since OFAC licenses could easily be revoked, nothing protects the order should the Trump administration decide not to allow it to proceed. In this vein, what Sharafbafi suggests “is not possible,” Doug Jacobson, a Washington-based lawyer who specializes in OFAC matters, told Al-Monitor. “Any exports of aircraft or parts would require an OFAC license, whether pursuant to the JCPOA statement of licensing policy or some other US policy.”
In addition to the Boeing purchase, IranAir has ordered 100 passenger aircraft from European company Airbus and 20 turboprop regional planes from the Franco-Italian company ATR, with an option for 20 more. So far, these companies have delivered a total of nine planes, including three Airbus and six ATR planes. The first Boeing jet is scheduled to be delivered to IranAir in April 2018, with the US company expected to start building the wide-body 777s soon.
In a statement issued Oct. 13, Boeing said it will “continue to follow the US government's lead in all our dealings with approved Iranian airlines‎ and will remain in close touch with US regulators for any additional guidance." The company has on many occasions said that it sees itself committed to delivering the planes ordered by IranAir on time. While it has supply permits for these jets, another order it secured in June from another Iranian carrier has failed to get a go-ahead from OFAC. That deal, with Iran Aseman Airlines, involves the purchase of 30 B737 Max jets, plus an option for adding 30 more to the order.
Since OFAC issued permits for the sale of passenger jets to IranAir last year, it has neither said nor done anything further on the matter. However, experts believe there is no such thing as certainty as far as the Treasury sanctions watchdog is concerned. “OFAC policy is at best opaque. And it doesn't tend to answer hypothetical questions,” Joel Johnson, the executive director and an international affairs analyst for Virginia-based Teal Group, told Al-Monitor. “Of course, Boeing has a plethora of lawyers to work the issue.”
Additionally, Johnson said, Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, prohibits the Export-Import Bank of the United States from guaranteeing loans to a country that the State Department has placed on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Iran is on that list. “There is a presidential waiver, but it's hard to see how Trump would give a waiver if he just pulled the plug on the JCPOA.”
Trump said on Oct. 13 he will terminate the nuclear accord if Congress and US allies fail to reach measures to address what he deems as issues with the JCPOA. On Oct. 16, he repeated that threat. This is a possibility if those opposed to the nuclear deal succeed in lobbying US lawmakers to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions. However, Johnson thinks that is unlikely to happen. “Given that Congress seems incapable of agreeing on anything these days, it’s not certain it would vote to restore sanctions, especially if jobs were at stake.” Although Boeing’s IranAir order only accounts for 10% of its annual production, the company has said the deal with the flag carrier alone supports some 100,000 US jobs.
The termination of the Boeing deal could also be considered a win for Airbus, Boeing’s sole prominent rival, unless OFAC puts a stop to it given the use of Boeing components in Airbus aircraft. Indeed, before Boeing secured its deal with IranAir, CEO Dennis Muilenburg said that if his company cannot sell planes to Iran, no other aircraft maker should. Europe is unlikely to want that to happen.
Indeed, Trump’s renewed anti-Iran rhetoric comes at a time when EU leaders have been vocal in defending the nuclear pact amid tens of billions of dollars of deals having been signed between European and Iranian firms after the lifting of sanctions. In this vein, in an Oct. 16 statement, the European Council said, “The EU is committed to the continued full and effective implementation of all parts of the JCPOA.” Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, announced on Oct. 16 she will travel to the United States in November to make sure the nuclear deal is safe in Congress.
**Saeed Jalili is a Tehran-based independent journalist. He has written for a number of newspapers inside Iran, with a focus on the economy and foreign policy.